Ella is attracted to me. I am attracted to Ella. But I’m not sure if I’m ready to act on it.
This must be one of the higher circles of hell, reserved for amateur sinners who didn’t do anything bad enough during their lives that they warrant everlasting physical torture, but were juuuust shitty enough that they get to spend eternity sexually frustrated.
Ella left my house an hour ago, as the sun began to set. Upstairs, the paint is drying in the spare bedroom. We got a heavy coat of primer up to cover that terrible shade of bruised red and then came back downstairs to put together the furniture I bought for the library. The mood eased some after we broke apart from our hug, a sort of cease-fire of sexual tension. We’d let the puppies into the library with us, and the rolly-poly chaos they brought with them had worked wonders to distract us.
Now she’s gone. I’m on the sitting room couch, the puppies are passed out on me, and a fire is going in the fireplace. There is nothing to keep my mind occupied.
I raise my hand and flex my fingers, remembering the feel of her ass filling it up. This is my fault; I initiated the flirtation. When she’d asked for help, I’d turned around to see her holding up that damn lamp, her toned arms on display, and couldn’t keep my gaze from sliding down over the rest of her. The t-shirt she’d been wearing had risen up, exposing the slight curve of her hips, her tight, rounded ass.
God bless the person who brought leggings back into style.
Just above the band of them, a couple inches of Ella’s lower back had been exposed, her skin as pale as cream, the slight dimples on either side of her spine visible. I’d wanted to drop to my knees behind her and trace them with my tongue.
I’ve always been into athletic body types. Dated women who could help hold themselves up if we had sex in a shower, or against a wall. Women who could wrap their long, muscular legs around my torso and use their strength to pull me closer. Or flex their toned thighs over and over as they rose and fell above me.
My attraction to Ella shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s the strength of this attraction, now that I’ve stopped suppressing it, that’s caught me off guard. I want to capture her laughter with my mouth, swallow down that beautiful sound and let her warmth fill me. I want to tease her, unendingly, just to watch the color bloom on her cheeks. I want to thread my fingers into her hair. I want to hear the noises she makes when she comes.
She didn’t freak out when I told her I have depression and anxiety. Nothing about her behavior toward me changed afterward. It makes me want her even more. It makes me wish that I’d just done what I had wanted and kissed her tears away when she cried about the fact that I might have CTE. It makes me want to schedule the tests. Find out once and for all what my fate is so I can move forward with my life. And maybe, with her.
My phone rings on the side table. Doodle, splayed across my lap, jerks up at the sound and nearly tumbles right off of me. Boots, sleeping on his back, wedged in between my thigh and the arm of the couch, twitches his head up to look toward the phone. I scoop it up and answer it quickly to keep from disturbing them anymore.
“Hey, Dad,” I say. Finally, they call me back. I was starting to get worried after not hearing from them.
“Hi, Ben. I have you on speaker with Mom.”
“Hi, Mom. You doing any better?” I ask.
“Yes,” she says, her voice quiet. “Sorry about yesterday.”
I want to ask her about yesterday, press her about what “bad days” means to her, but now doesn’t really feel like the time. Much better to have that conversation face-to-face.
“You don’t have to apologize,” I tell her instead. “I know how stressed you’ve been about me being out here.”
“When did you want us to visit?” Dad asks.
“Ella and I put the first coat of paint on a spare bedroom for you earlier. Just need another day or two to get that finished and then about a week for the furniture to arrive. Did you want to plan for ten days from now?”
“We can do that,” Dad says. “Oh, hey, we finally chose a new staff writer for the website.”
“Nice. Who’d you decide on?”
“Veronica. She was the woman with the ex-army husband who has TBI from his time in Afghanistan.”
“She sounds like the perfect fit. Someone who gets it.”
“She is,” Mom chimes in. “And she does.”
Combat soldiers are right up there with football players when it comes to brain injury rates. We’d planned to expand the non-profit’s website to publish our own articles about the emerging studies on TBI and CTE, and my parents have spearheaded the hiring of the staff while I’ve been out here, asking me to weigh in on some big decisions, but mostly handling it themselves.
We spend the next thirty minutes talking about plans for the website, potentially shooting another PSA, and the lawsuit against the USFL. Our lawyers already filed an injunction against the league’s commissioner for his Twitter rants, and, thankfully, the judge granted it. Mom, a savage edge in her tone, voices the hope that he ignores it and gets fined, and/or imprisoned, and/or charged with contempt of court.
I can’t help but sympathize with her. The man is a monumental jackass. He sides with the team owners and the corporate sponsors, always, more their crony than a functioning figurehead. It’s obvious what dictates his decisions: greed. The league will lose money if the courts decide in the favor of the players. Which means that he will lose money. Or get fired. Personally, I hope he gets the axe long before we go to trial. God knows he deserves it.
By the time I get off the phone, the puppies are up and bumbling around the sitting room, batting at toys, playing tug of rope with each other, and generally being tiny puffs of cuteness. It’s been a while since they’ve gone out, so I get up off the couch and coax them toward the front door.
I bundle up, then crack it open. Boots takes two steps toward it, gets hit in the face with an arctic blast of wind that blows his ears back, and then turns around and takes off at full speed into the house, projecting an almost audible stream of nope, nope, nope, nope.
Doodle is a little braver. He gets to the threshold, steps his front two paws down onto the porch, and then immediately tries to reverse, crying pitifully when he can’t pull himself back up the step. I scoop him up and set him down inside, closing the door against the wind. He walks over to the nearby puppy pad, squats down, and pees on it.
“Totally get it, little dude,” I tell him. “I wouldn’t want to take a piss out there either.”
My phone dings from inside my pocket. I pull it out to see a text from Ella.
Puppy pictures. Need them. Going through withdrawal over here.
I grin. What’ll you give me in return?
We’re bartering now? Okay, how about more cribbage lessons so you stop being such an epic loser?
We played best out of three the other day. I got to see the skunkarooney dance again. One of these days I need to stealth record her doing it. The blackmail potential is off the charts.
Hmmm. What else you got? I text back.
She sends me a picture of Fred and Sam, sprawled out over her living room floor. Looks like Jack wore them out. It’s only been a couple of days, but I miss those hyperactive weirdos. The puppies are adorable, but their personalities haven’t fully developed yet. Fred and Sam have their own presences. I can’t wait to see how they interact with Boots and Doodle. Ella said they’re even more puppy obsessed than we are, which I find hard to believe.
Fair trade, I text back. Hang on a sec, I have to get them in the same room.
I scoop Doodle up from where he was chewing on the laces of my discarded boots, then go to find his brother. Boots is in the kitchen, his paws up on the trash can like he’s going to knock it over for the second time today, the little gremlin.
“Come here, trouble,” I say, hefting him. He whines and cranes his little head around to look at the trash can in open longing.
I bring them back into the living room, set them on the blanket by the fire, and take an embarrassing amount of pictures of them. The last one comes out the best. They look like they’re smiling at the camera. I send it to Ella.
I JUST WANT TO SQUEEZE THEM, she sends back.
You’re that aunt who pinches cheeks, aren’t you?
Only Evan and Michael’s. If I pinched Willow, she’d seek revenge.
I’m going to have to meet that kid one day.
Woah. Where’d that come from? I mean, granted, I’ve been curious about Willow since Ella told me about the now infamous Christmas Eve Poopsicle Incident, but it was in a vague way. Like, it’d be fun to watch a kid that cute act like such a little hellion. For an hour or two, max. But now that I’ve texted it, I realize that I mean it in a more concrete way. I want to meet Willow. And Michael and Evan – no way that a child can be as perfect as Ella claims. I want to meet her hippy mom and her grounded dad. I want to talk to Jacob about his work in Africa. Ask Megan, who Ella said actually found her birth parents, what that process was like.
I want to know all of them. I want to watch them interact with Ella. I want to see her tease her siblings like she teases me. I want to experience the chaos of such a large family firsthand.
I know the answer to Brian’s question now. I know how I really feel about Ella. This is more than just simple attraction.
The question is, what the fuck do I do about it?
My phone chimes with Ella’s response.
I’m watching the little hooligan tomorrow morning. Jane has a deadline, and Dave has a meeting down in Portland he can’t miss. I’ll send you plenty of pictures and updates so you can make a more educated decision about whether or not you want to become one of Willow’s minions.
Sounds good. Stay safe. Don’t let her coerce you into petty theft or larceny.
No threat of that. She has bigger schemes. Primarily, world domination.
I grin and set my phone down. The fire is starting to burn out, and it looks like the puppies are right there with it. Boots yawns in a way that makes me want to pick him up and mush my face into his fur. Beside him, Doodle is lying on his side, a toy just out of reach. He’s halfheartedly batting at with one paw even as his eyes slide shut. I now understand why some people make Instagram accounts just for their pets.
“Okay, you two, time for bed.”
I scoop them up and carry them upstairs to my room, which, like the sitting room, is relatively puppy-proof at this point. One night was all it took to realize just how much stuff they can get into. My king-sized mattress sits on a low platform that the puppies are able to scramble up and down from. I’ve never been a fan of tall beds piled with pillows and squishy mattress covers. I sleep on my back, so the firmer, the better. I don’t even have a box spring.
I set the dogs down on the bed and change into gym gear. They might be tuckered out, but I still have energy to burn off, from all the revelations that came from my talk with Brian yesterday, to making my mom cry and the realization that she might be depressed too, to the tension between Ella and I earlier. I still feel like I’m wound too tight, and I need that rush of endorphins that comes from a hard workout followed by the mindless bliss of exhaustion if I have any hope of falling asleep at a reasonable hour.
“Please don’t wreck anything, you little brutes,” I tell the puppies, pausing to pet them before heading downstairs. They look too tired to really get into stuff, but I bet I’ll probably come back up here to find my laundry basket pulled over and half the clothes strewn across my room.
I don’t turn the music on in the basement, on the off chance that they manage to knock something large over. They’re too small to do that – rationally, I know they are – but they’re so little and helpless and adorable that I’m paranoid something will happen to them and I’ll never forgive myself. I should get one of those baby monitors so I can keep an eye on them when I’m not in the same room.
Jesus, I’m going to be one of those dog owners, aren’t I?
I roll my eyes at myself and get down to business. Today is legs and back. Everyone has a favorite workout routine, as well as a least favorite. This is mine. Sure, it’s fine while I’m lunging and squatting and leg pressing and supermanning. It might even be semi-tolerable tomorrow, if I drink enough water and eat enough potassium. But two-day leg sore is an asshole. You can’t do anything without feeling it. Sitting equals ass pain. Standing equals calf annoyance. Taking stairs requires a monumental effort.
I grin mid-lunge. Last week when I was two-day leg sore, Ella kept asking me to get her things. “Can I have that wrench?”, “Have you seen that paint sample anywhere?”, “Do you mind grabbing me another glass of water?” It took me a stupid amount of time to catch her grinning. I’d seen the look on her face as I hobbled out of the room we’d been working in to search for an alleged lost bolt and realized that she’d been intentionally tormenting me the whole time. Evil woman.
Usually when I work out, my mind goes blank, but this time, thoughts of Ella continue to creep in. I’m in the middle of a set of pull-ups when I remember her trying to get the last herringbone tile into place on the kitchen wall without having to make another cut, and the five minutes straight of swearing when she realized she’d have to. I pause to stretch and think of the text she’d sent me a few nights back. “Hey, I think this would look great in the dining room.” This was followed by a shortlink that I thought would take me to an image of a painting or a mirror or a buffet, but instead redirected me to the Benny and the Jets video, like it’s the new Rick Roll or something.
I finally give up on achieving that blank state of mind I usually find down here in my Basement of Blood, Sweat, and Jump Rope, and let thoughts of Ella take over. I think back to her holding up that light fixture. Remember the way her hips flared like they were made for my hands to hold onto them. What would have happened if I’d fallen to my knees behind her? If I’d turned her around, tugged down those leggings, and tongue-fucked her up against the wall, one thigh hooked over my shoulder, her fingers buried in my hair as she guided me on?
The woman is so unselfconscious most of the time that I pray she’s no different when it comes to sex. Would she tell me what she liked? What she wanted?
“Fuck,” I mutter, dropping the weights I’m holding to the floor. My dick is tenting my gym shorts.
I give up on the workout and head back upstairs. The dogs are passed out on the bed, my room still – thankfully – in one piece. I pace into the bathroom, flick on the light, shut the door behind me, and turn on the shower. My clothes get impatiently discarded on the floor while the water heats up. I see a tendril of steam rise from the spray and step inside. The second I’m in, my hand is around my dick.
Since the drop in dosage, my sex-drive seems to be returning to normal. Up until this point, I’ve kept my masturbatory fantasies strictly to memories of past encounters. Only now am I willing to admit what an effort that was. How thoughts of Ella kept trying to sneak into them. For the first time, I take the fetters off of my mind and let her take over.
We’re back in the upstairs room. I’m staring at her ass instead of putting up painter’s tape.
“Little help here,” Ella says, arms straining overhead as she holds onto the light fixture.
“No prob,” I tell her, striding over.
I don’t drop to my knees. Instead, I wrap my hands around her hipbones and slowly pull her back toward me, so she can feel how much I want her.
“Ben,” she says, my name coming out as a moan.
She lets go of the light to arch backwards, wrapping her arms up around my neck. Her fingers dig into my hair, nails scraping over my scalp. The light fixture slides sideways and gouges out a line of drywall that I could not give a single fuck about. Ella’s swanlike neck is bared to me, and I press my lips against her pale skin and kiss my way upward. She turns her head to the side, giving me better access. I tug her earlobe into my mouth and slide my right hand forward, across her lower abdomen, toward the band of her leggings.
She widens her stance in invitation and presses her ass back into my erection.
I groan into her ear and slide my hand into her pants. She’s not wearing any underwear, and I meet no resistance as I work my fingers lower, searching. I slide them through her soft curls and stop when she moans, “There, right there.”
The elasticity of her leggings is a boon, because it keeps my hand pressed tight to her as I slide my middle finger torturously slow over her clit, back and forth, around in a small circle, then back and forth again. I bring my other hand up from her hip to cup her small breast over her t-shirt. Her nipple is already taunt beneath my fingers, and I run them over it in the same rhythm that I’m playing on her clit.
Her breaths start to come faster, deeper, her hips shifting slightly as she moves with me. I slide my right hand further down, meeting with the slickness of her arousal when I near her entrance.
“God, Ben,” she says, pulling her arms from around my neck to brace her hands on the wall.
I slide a finger inside her. She’s tight, but so wet that I don’t meet any resistance. My fingers are long enough that I reach deep, feeling the muscles of her sex clench around me when my palm hits her clit. I work my hand forward and backward, letting Ella’s hips dictate my tempo. The heel of my palm brushes over that sensitive bundle of nerves with every stroke of my fingers, and it’s not long before she begins to make small sounds of pleasure with each pass.
Her hips pick up speed, and I match them, working her faster, driving my finger deeper, pressing my palm harder. She uses the wall to shove her hips back toward me, framing my dick between her cheeks as she grinds into my hand.
“So close,” she says, the words a plea.
I add a second finger, and a moment later, she falls over the edge, her hips losing rhythm, her head thrown back against my shoulder, her eyes squeezed shut and her mouth falling open as she comes, moaning my name.
“Ella,” I groan, coming right along with her, spilling myself all over the shower wall.
I have to brace a hand against the tile to keep from faceplanting into it, that’s how strong my orgasm is. When it’s done, leaving me shuddering and gasping, I have to turn around and lean my back against the wall just to stay upright.
If it was that good just from a fantasy, what would it be like in real life?
I’m suddenly dying to find out.
Copyright © 2018 by Navessa Allen
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.