Ella was attracted to me. I was attracted to Ella. But I wasn’t sure if I was ready to act on it.
This must have been one of the higher circles of hell, reserved for amateur sinners who didn’t do anything bad enough during their lives to warrant everlasting physical torture, but were juuust shitty enough that they got to spend eternity sexually frustrated.
Ella had left my house an hour ago, as the sun began to set. Upstairs, paint dried in the spare bedroom. We’d needed a heavy coat of primer to cover that terrible shade of bruised red. We came back downstairs when we were done, and got to work putting together the furniture I’d bought for the library. The mood had 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 worked wonders to distract us.
Now she was gone, and I sat alone on the living room couch, the puppies passed out on me, a fire crackling in the fireplace. There was nothing to keep my mind occupied.
I raised my hand and flexed my fingers, remembering the feel of her waist beneath my palm. This was my fault; I initiated the flirtation. I had no one to blame for this but myself. When she’d asked me for help with that light fixture, I’d turned around to see her holding the ugly thing up, 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 and her tight, rounded ass.
God bless the person who’d 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.
My attraction to Ella shouldn’t have come as a surprise. She was my type, after all. Not just physically, but emotionally and even mentally. It was the strength of my attraction, now that I’d stopped suppressing it, that caught me off guard. I had spent the entire afternoon wanting to capture her laughter with my mouth, swallow down that beautiful sound and let her warmth fill me. I wanted to tease her, unendingly, just to watch the color bloom on her cheeks. I wanted to thread my fingers into her hair. I wanted to hear the noises she’d make when I made her come.
She hadn’t freaked out when I told her I had depression and anxiety. Nothing about her behavior toward me had changed afterward. It made me want her even more. It made me wish that I’d done what I wanted and kissed her tears away when she cried about the fact that I might have CTE. It made me want to schedule the tests. To find out once and for all what my fate was so I could finally move forward with my life. And maybe, move forward with her.
My phone rang from the side table. Doodle, who’d been splayed across my lap, jerked up at the sound and nearly tumbled right off of me. Boots, sleeping on his back, wedged in between my thigh and the arm of the couch, twitched his head to look toward the phone. I scooped it up and answered it to keep from further disturbing them.
“Hey, Dad,” I said. Finally, they called me back. I’d been worried after not hearing from them.
“Hi, Ben. I have you on speaker with Mom.”
“Hi, Mom. You doing any better?”
“Yes,” she said, her voice quiet. “Sorry about yesterday.”
I wanted to ask her about yesterday, press her about what “bad days” meant to her, but now didn’t really feel like the time. Much better to have that conversation face-to-face.
“You don’t have to apologize,” I told her instead. “I know how stressed you’ve been about me being out here.”
“When did you want us to visit?” Dad asked.
“Ella and I put the first coat of paint on a spare bedroom for you earlier. I 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 said. “Oh, hey, we finally chose a new staff writer for the website.”
“Nice. Who’d you decide on?”
“Veronica O’Leary. She’s 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 chimed in. “And she does.”
Combat soldiers were right up there with football players when it came to brain injury rates. My parents and I planned to expand the non-profit’s website to publish our own articles about the emerging studies on TBI and CTE, and Mom and Dad had been spearheading the hiring of staff while I’d been out here, asking me to weigh in on some big decisions, but mostly handling it themselves.
We spent the next thirty minutes talking about plans for the website, potentially shooting another PSA, and the lawsuit against the USFL. Our lawyers had filed an injunction against the league’s commissioner for his Twitter rant, and, thankfully, the judge had granted it. Mom, a savage edge in her tone, voiced the hope that in his hubris, the commissioner would ignore the injunction and get fined, and/or imprisoned, and/or charged with contempt of court.
I sympathized with her. The man was a monumental jackass. He sided with the conservative team owners and the corporate sponsors, always, more their crony than a functioning figurehead. It was obvious what dictated his decisions: greed. The league would lose a lot of money if the courts decided in the favor of the players. Which meant that he would lose money. Or get fired. Personally, I hoped he got the axe long before we went to trial. God knew he deserved it.
By the time I got off the phone, the puppies were up and bumbling around the living room, batting at toys, playing tug of rope with each other, and generally being tiny puffs of trouble. It had been a while since they’d gone out, so I pushed up from the couch and coaxed them toward the front door.
I bundled up and then cracked it open. Boots took two steps toward it, got hit in the face with an arctic blast of wind that blew his ears back, and then turned around and took off at full speed back into the house, his little body projecting an almost audible stream of nope, nope, nope, nope.
Doodle was a little braver. He got to the threshold, stepped his front two paws down onto the porch, and then immediately tried to reverse, crying pitifully when he couldn’t pull himself back up the step. I scooped him up and set him down inside, closing the door against the wind. He walked over to the nearby puppy pad, squatted down, and peed on it.
“Totally get it, little dude,” I told him. I wouldn’t want to take a piss out there either.
My phone dinged from inside my pocket. I pulled it out to see a text from Ella.
Puppy pictures. Need them. Already going through withdrawal over here.
I grinned. What’ll you give me in return?
We’re bartering now? Okay, how about more cribbage lessons so you stop being such a loser?
We had played best out of three the other day. I’d been blessed with the skunkarooney dance again. One of these days I needed to stealth record her doing it. The blackmail potential was off the charts.
Hmmm. What else you got? I texted back.
She sent me a picture of Fred and Sam, passed out on her living room floor. From the looks of it, Jack had managed to wear them out. It had only been a couple of days, but I missed those hyperactive weirdos. The puppies were adorable, but their personalities hadn’t fully developed yet. Fred and Sam had their own presences. I couldn’t wait to see how they interacted with Boots and Doodle. Ella told me they were even more puppy obsessed than we were, but I found that a little hard to believe.
Fair trade, I texted back. Hang on a sec, I have to get them in the same room.
I scooped Doodle up from where he was chewing on the laces of my discarded boots, then went to find his brother. Boots was in the kitchen, his paws up on the trashcan like he was going to knock it over for the second time today.
“Come here, trouble,” I said, hefting him. He let out a whine and craned his little head around to look at the trashcan in open longing.
I brought them back into the living room, set them on the blanket by the fire, and took their picture. They looked like they were smiling at the camera. I sent it to Ella.
I JUST WANT TO SQUEEZE THEM, she texted back.
You’re that aunt who pinches cheeks, aren’t you?
Only Evan and Michael’s. If I tried to pinch Willow, she’d seek revenge.
I’m going to have to meet that kid one day.
Woah. Where had that come from? I mean, granted, I’d been curious about Willow since Ella had 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 hellion. For an hour or two, max.
As I stared down at my text, I realized that I meant the words in a more concrete way. I did want to meet Willow. And Michael and Evan. I wanted to meet her hippy mom and her grounded dad. I wanted to ask Jacob about his work in Africa. Talk to Jane about the way she always took such interesting angles in the articles she wrote.
I wanted to know all of them. I wanted to watch them interact with Ella. I wanted to see her tease her siblings like she teased me. I wanted to experience the chaos of such a large family firsthand.
I knew the answer to Brian’s question now. I knew how I really felt about Ella. This was more than just simple attraction. I wanted to be part of her life. I wanted her to be part of mine.
The question was, what the fuck did I do about it?
My phone chimed 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.
I smiled, looking forward to it. 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 shook my head and set my phone down. The fire was starting to burn out, and it looked like the puppies were right there with it. Boots yawned in a way that made me want to pick him up and mush my face into his fur. Beside him, Doodle was lying on his side, a toy just out of reach. He halfheartedly batted at it with one paw even as his eyes slid shut.
I now understand why some people made Instagram accounts just for their pets.
“Okay, you two, time for bed.”
I scooped them up and carried them upstairs to my room, which, like the sitting room, was relatively puppy-proof at this point. One night was all it took to realize just how much stuff they could get into. My king-sized mattress sat on a low platform bed that the puppies were able to scramble up and down from. I’d never been a fan of tall beds piled with pillows and squishy mattress covers. I slept on my back, so the firmer, the better.
I set the dogs down on the bed and changed into gym gear. They might be tuckered out, but my mind was still running a hundred miles an hour, 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 me and Ella earlier.
I felt like I was wound too tight. I needed that rush of endorphins that came from a hard workout followed by the mindless bliss of exhaustion if I had any hope of falling asleep at a reasonable hour.
I paused to pet the puppies before heading downstairs. “Please don’t wreck anything,” I told them.
I didn’t turn the music on in the basement, on the off chance that they somehow managed to knock something large over. They were too small to do that – rationally, I knew they were – but they were so helpless that I was paranoid that something would happen to them and I’d never forgive myself. I needed to get one of those baby monitors so I could keep an eye on them when I wasn’t in the same room.
I was going to be one of those dog owners, wasn’t I?
I rolled my eyes at myself and then got down to business. It was legs and back day. Everyone has a favorite workout routine, as well as a least favorite. This was the one that I dreaded. Sure, it was fine while I was lunging and squatting and leg pressing and supermanning. It might even be semi-tolerable tomorrow if I drank enough water and ate enough potassium. But two-day leg sore was an asshole. You couldn’t do anything without feeling it. Sitting down led to butt pain. Standing meant calf annoyance. Taking stairs required a monumental effort.
I grinned mid-lunge. Last week when I’d been 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 had taken me way too long to realize what she’d been doing. It was only as I hobbled out of the room we’d been working in to search for an alleged lost bolt that I thought to glance back over my shoulder. I’d caught her grinning in a way that told me she’d been enjoying my torment just a tad too much.
Usually when I worked out, my mind went blank, but without the distraction of music, thoughts of Ella continued to creep in. I was in the middle of a set of pull-ups when I remembered 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 that followed when she realized she’d have to. I paused to stretch and thought 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 short link that I assumed would take me to an image of a painting or a mirror or buffet, but instead it redirected me to the Benny and the Jets video, like it was the new Rick Roll.
That was it. There was no way I was going to achieve my usual zen down here in my Basement of Blood, Sweat, and Jump Rope. I gave in and let Ella take over my mind, picturing her holding up that light fixture, remembering 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 off those leggings, and given her head up against the wall, one thigh hooked over my shoulder, her fingers buried in my hair as she guided me on?
The woman was so unselfconscious most of the time that I prayed she’d be no different when it came to sex. Would she tell me what she liked? What she wanted?
“Fuck,” I muttered, dropping the weights I was holding. My dick tented my gym shorts.
I gave up on the workout and headed upstairs. The dogs were passed out on the bed, my room still – thankfully – in one piece. I paced into the bathroom, flicked on the light, shut the door behind me, and turned on the shower. It took a minute for the water to heat up. I stripped my sweaty clothes off as I waited. A tendril of steam rose from the spray. I pulled the shower door open. My hand was around my dick the second I stepped inside.
Since dropping my dosages, my sex-drive had been slowly ramping up. I’d kept my masturbatory fantasies strictly to memories of past encounters. Only now was I willing to admit what an effort that had been. How thoughts of Ella kept trying to sneak into them. For the first time, I took the fetters off of my mind.
We were back in the upstairs room. I was staring at her ass instead of putting up painter’s tape.
“Little help here,” Ella said, arms straining overhead as she held onto the light fixture.
“No prob,” I told her, striding over.
I didn’t drop to my knees. Instead, I wrapped my hands around her hipbones and slowly pulled her back toward me, so she could feel how much I wanted her.
“Ben,” she said, my name coming out as a moan.
She let go of the light to arch backward, wrapping her arms up around my neck. Her fingers dug into my hair, nails scraping over my scalp. The light fixture slid sideways and gouged out a line of drywall that I did not give a single fuck about.
Ella’s swanlike neck was bared to me. I pressed my lips against her pale skin and kissed my way up it. She turned her head to the side, giving me better access. I tugged her earlobe into my mouth and slid my right hand forward, across her lower abdomen, toward the band of her leggings.
She widened her stance in invitation and pressed her ass back into my erection.
I groaned into her ear and slid my hand into her pants. She wasn’t wearing underwear, and I met no resistance as I worked my fingers lower, searching. I slipped them through her soft curls and stopped when she moaned, “There. Right there.”
The elasticity of her leggings was a boon, because it kept my hand pressed tight to her as I slid my middle finger torturously slow over her clit, back and forth, around in a small circle, then back and forth again. I brought my other hand up from her hip to cup her small breast over her t-shirt. Her nipple was taut beneath my fingers, and I teased it to the same rhythm that I played on her clit.
Her breathing started to quicken, her hips shifting slightly as she moved with me. I pushed my right hand further down, meeting with the slickness of her arousal when I neared her entrance.
“God, Ben,” she said, pulling her arms from around my neck to brace her hands on the wall.
I slid a finger inside her. She was tight, but so wet. My fingers were long enough that I reached deep, feeling the muscles of her sex clench around me when my palm hit her clit. I worked my hand forward and backward, letting Ella’s hips dictate my tempo. The heel of my palm brushed over that sensitive bundle of nerves with every stroke of my finger, and it wasn’t long before she began to make small sounds of pleasure with each pass.
Her hips picked up speed, and I matched them, working her faster, driving my finger deeper, pressing my palm harder. She used the wall to shove her hips back toward me, framing my dick between her cheeks as she ground into my hand.
“So close,” she said, the words a plea.
I added a second finger, and a moment later, she fell 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 came, moaning my name.
“Ella,” I groaned, coming right along with her, spilling myself all over the shower floor.
I had to brace a hand against the tile to keep from faceplanting into it, that’s how hard my orgasm hit. When it passed, I was left shuddering and gasping.
If it was that good in a fantasy, what would it be like in real life?
I was suddenly dying to find out.
Copyright © 2019 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.