Down the Hall: Part II
By Ophelia Webb
This is the second part of a two-part series. You can read part one here.
After their dinner together, Liz doesn’t see him again for a few days, though she keeps an eye down the hall. They don’t have each other’s phone numbers and there has not been any discussion of planning encounters, and she likes it that way. The uncertainty adds to the pleasure of their friendship, or whatever it is.
The next time she does see him, she’s going out to the store for coffee and he’s coming in from being at the gym. Of course he is. He offers to turn around and accompany her to the world market on the corner, where she likes to buy Guatemalan coffee by the pound and she doesn’t see why not. Even fresh from the gym he’s like a Michelangelo statue and she loathes him for it. He’s supposed to work later, but he’s glad he ran into her. He buys nothing from the store, but offers some amusing observations about the cashier and declares so much admiration for an absurd pair of socks that she can’t help but be delighted that he came along.
This is starting to feel like dangerous territory. Their meetings start to feel more and more contrived, and now they are each going up and down the hallway, knocking on each other’s doors. She’s sort of worked out his work schedule now, but he’s not always home on his nights off. He seems to also know when he can catch her at home. Is it just her or has it been a while since she’s seen any women going up the hallway with him?
The fact is that he isn’t her type and any amount of time she spends meditating on their potential is an investment in disappointment. He’s turned out to be a surprise. A bit vain, a bit dull at first, but it turns out he’s smart. And funny. And kind. But he’s let many of his interests go in the interest of being liked by people who are not all together interesting, themselves.
One evening, he has stopped by “on his way home” and he asks if he can borrow one of her books. She feigns shock and collapses against the kitchen counter, clutching her chest. He pokes her in the ribs, admonishing her for mocking him and then they are tussling and giggling and he is so close that she can smell the gentle warmth of his cologne and, underneath, the smell of his warm skin. It’s astonishing and she is moved to a feeling of awe and she is so distracted that she is no longer present in what is happening. Then she realizes that there is a thick awareness between them. He is looking at her, she is looking at him, and she swallows so hard that she is sure that someone in the next building over could hear it, and then she wants to die.
They don’t do it, though. Kiss. They collect themselves and proverbially clear their throats. He leaves shortly after and her body is so hungry for him that she sits on the couch, crosses her legs and crams a pillow against her chest so hard that she nearly faints from the air she presses out of her lungs while she says fuck over and over again.
When she hears him coming up the hallway the next night, she sprints to the door and peers out the spy hole to make sure it’s him. She doesn’t want it to seem like she’s been waiting for him to come back. Infinite scenarios have been going through her head all day, but most of them boil down to this: act cool. Suave. Play it off like it was nothing. Pretend nothing happened. But then doubt starts to eat at her.
This comes screeching to a halt when she sees a short blonde woman walking up the hallway with him, laughing obnoxiously. Oh, glorious god. She feels like shit for a long few hours, but wakes up and feels stupid for giving someone else so much power over her. So she dances to Carly Simon in her underwear and gets ready for work and decides to be done with it. No harm, no foul, and all that crap.
She’s surprised and simultaneously annoyed when she hears a knock on her door that evening after she gets home from work. It’s him, most definitely him. And she isn’t sure how to handle this and now she has to figure out how to behave.
“What do you say we order some Thai food and listen to some sweet tunes?” he says.
Maybe this is really the thing: she’s the person he hangs out with so he doesn’t have to be alone. The thought is kind of crushing.
“I don’t know,” she says.
Worry clouds his handsome features. “Everything good?”
“Sure,” she says. And now she’s stumbling to find the words that sound neutral, reasonable. “I’m--I’m just tired.”
“Okay,” he says. “No pressure or anything. I just thought…” But he tapers off, and something about the look on her face must have seemed pretty final to him, so he cranks out a small smile and says, “Another time.”
“Sure,” she says. And she sort of feels bad while he goes back down the hallway, but this has all gotten so complicated that she needs to work out exactly what to do with the mess she’s created.
So she sits on her couch for a while and stares at the wall. Then it occurs to her that she could just say something to him. Nothing will be worse than this feels. She doesn’t know if she can go on being his friend while he fucks girls from the bar and hangs out with her when he’s got nothing better to do.
So, she does it. In her sweatpants and her fuzzy slippers. She goes to his door and knocks and tries to remember what ever made her think this was a good idea. But he answers right away and he looks surprised, but not unhappy to see her.
“Can I come in?” she says.
“Yeah,” he says. “Sure.”
When the door closes behind her, she turns around and looks him in the eye and says, “I’m just not sure what to do.” Great opener, really brilliant way to kick things off.
“About?” he looks cautious.
“This.” She gestures between them and then avoids looking at him all together.
“This?” he says.
“I mean.” She puts her hand up to her chin and wonders if she might be able to melt into the floor if she works hard enough. “I know there’s not a ‘this’. But it seems like--I felt like something almost happened the other night. Maybe I’m crazy.”
“Something definitely almost happened the other night,” he interjects, and she chooses to ignore that until she can finish saying what she is trying to say.
“And I don’t know what to do about this. Because I tried not to like you at all, and then I liked you a bit. And then I liked you a lot. And now I have this thing for you and I don’t know what to do about it.” He starts to speak but she holds up her hand and cuts him off. “Especially when you’re still bringing babes home from the bar and I’m starting to think I’m just the thing you do when you have nothing better to do.”
“Babes from the bar?” he says. Sounding confused. He looks confused, too. He holds up his hands like he might draw sense out of the air.
“Last night?” she says. “Cute blonde girl? And yes, I keyhole spied on you while you walked down the hallway. Weird? Probably.”
He laughed and covered the lower half of his face with his hands. Then his face sobered. “Sorry, that’s not--” then he laughed again. “Sorry, I’m not laughing at you. That was my sister.”
“Your sister.” She looks at him closely, searching for any sign of bullshit for three whole seconds and then she feels really sheepish. “Well aside from that. I wasn’t spying to be nosey. I just didn’t want to jump out the door and surprise the FedEx guy. My point is I--”
She can’t finish what she doesn’t know she’s going to say because his hand comes up to her face and nearly touches it. Very softly, he says, “Can I kiss you?”
She makes a sound that goes something, buh, and then she hears herself say, “Yes.”
And then he is taking her face between his hands and kissing her. And it’s so good that her body goes limp.
Then he looks at her, still holding her face gently. “Was that okay?” he says. “No pressure--”
“Or anything,” she says. And this time she kisses him. And their mouths are melding like butter and she doesn’t remember if a kiss has ever felt or tasted so good. Their mouths move in a perfect pas deux and she has to stop and breathe.
And they keep kissing until all time has ceased to be and there is nothing but the feel of his well- built shoulders underneath the soft cotton of his t-shirt and his large, well-made hands are slipping up the back of hers and fitting perfectly against her hips. They’re rough from the bar, but she doesn’t mind it. The kisses they exchange are growing hungrier. Someone is making soft noises--good god, is that her? And he’s responding in low rumbles and then he is kissing her neck and sliding his hot, plush tongue along her throat and she cannot stop herself from saying, “Fuck me,” in a breathless voice that doesn’t even sound like her own.
He surprises her by picking her up and stumbling toward his bedroom while their mouths still meet and mingle in that hot, melding way. She doesn’t even remember that she marched down the hallway in her sweat pants until he lays her on his Ikea bed and strips them off of her, along with the sweatshirt and the fuzzy slippers.
The look in his eyes while he surveys her body, mostly naked but for the decidedly comfortable pair of purple cotton underwear she is wearing, makes her nearly turn to goo. It is intense and she cannot bear the weight of it, so she sits up and busies herself stripping his clothes away. And of course he’s perfect, every inch of him. Even his dick is the right size, the right shape. It’s warm, throbbing silk in her hand when she wraps her fingers around it and presses a kiss against the delicate slip of silken hair that travels from his belly button to his groin.
His fingers are fumbling with the ponytail that is keeping her mane out of her way and then it's all loose, slipping over her back like heavy water and his fingers are in it, massaging her scalp and rubbing the strands between his fingers.
He kisses her again and they slip up onto the bed so they can lie side by side. He pauses to strip off her panties in one smooth move. They both freeze for a moment, full of the thrill of having their skin pressed together. And then they kiss again with a new fury. Her hands roam over his skin and his do the same to hers. And when her fingers travel back down to give his dick another gentle squeeze, he slips his fingers over her backside and then runs them through the wetness between her legs.
He puts them in his mouth, tasting her, and then kisses her again, returning his fingers to her cunt, dipping them in and out and teasing them over her swollen clit until she moans.
“You’re so wet,” he whispers against her lips.
“Oh god,” she says, because she can’t help herself. His fingers are light, but certain. There is nothing uncertain about the way they are touching her.
“Pardon me,” he says and slips further and further south, pausing to lap at her nipples, before he finds his way in between her spread legs and he does not hesitate to kiss her pussy hungrily and set his tongue to work, slipping in and out of her and lapping at her clit, all hot, wet, velvet, and rich, pleasure. He slips two of his fingers into her, carefully finding his way to her G-spot. He doesn’t stop until she crushes a pillow over her head and screams, eyes rolling into the back of her head while her orgasm blows through her.
He moves onto his knees and pulls the pillow away, kissing her deeply. She tastes herself on his mouth and takes it all in.
“Fuck me,” she whispers. “Please?”
He laughs softly, sounding dreadfully amused and sexy all at once.
“It would be my pleasure,” he says.
Then he is pulling back, and she can hear the sound of him rustling in his bedside table, the sound of a condom wrapper. Thank god one of them has sense because she almost forgot. She sits up and takes the condom from him, unwraps it with trembling fingers and they kiss each other hungrily while she works it down the shaft of his cock. Then she lays back and he is sitting back on his heels and pressing the head of his dick against her opening. She pulls her knees in closer and he slips inside of her.
“Oooh,” he says. There is sweat on his brow and that intense look is back on his face, multiplied by a thousand. He runs his hands up and down her thighs and kisses her knee before he begins to move in and out of her. Gently. Slowly. Every push of his hips coaxes a moan of pleasure from her. They lock eyes and he cracks a smile, she cracks a smile. He licks his thumb and uses it to stroke her clit, watching her face carefully with his burning eyes.
He fucks her harder now, but she is open and ready for him and it’s everything she wants. She sits up and pulls him down, holds him against her.
“Harder,” she whispers into his neck.
And he does, he fucks her with deep, luscious thrusts of his hips. Their mouths meet every now and then, taste each other hungrily, before they wander away again, lost to the rhythm of pleasure.
Then he’s rolling over and pulling her with him.
“Your turn,” he whispers against her lips. And he doesn’t have to tell her twice. She straddles him and slowly lowers herself onto his cock, letting her eyes close while she feels every inch of him easing into her. And the way he fits into her, he hits her G-spot every time she lifts her hips. The pleasure is fucking diabolical. She comes again before she even has a chance to get started. She catches a glimpse of his face, intense and fascinated. Then he’s pulling her down for a kiss.
“From behind now,” she says.
“Oh fuck,” he says. And they untangle themselves and rearrange in a spill of limbs. He grasps her hips and she guides him into her and they’re off again. She’s so wet that he glides into her like a dream and she slips her fingers up to her clit and strokes herself.
“Oh my god,” he says. “That is so hot.”
The climax is building again when he says in a choked voice, “I’m going to come.”
And thank god, she’s there when he lets go. His final thrusts push her over the edge and she’s shrieking into the pillow and he’s gripping her hips to keep himself anchored to the bed.
For an eternity, they stay where they are and breathe. Then he gets rid of the condom, cleans himself off and offers her a towel like a gentleman.
“Holy shit,” he says, when she sits up.
“Yeah,” she says. And exhales long and slow. “I don’t even think I can move.”
“Thanks for stopping by,” he says, smiling. Teasing.
“Keep that up and I’ll stop by a whole lot more often,” she says.
And they grin at each other in the embarrassed, self-conscious way that new love birds do. And they definitely fuck again. And again. Until they fall asleep.
He wakes her up with coffee and a kiss the next morning and she wonders how she ever thought he was lame.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
In addition to being a writer of fiction, Ophelia Webb is also a visual artist. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with two cats and many, many books.