I’m here, it said.
Layne let out a slow breath, hit the send button on his phone and then waited.
It was a torpid, muggy night and the city reeked of human confinement. It was the eve of some third world holiday, and the streets were humming, a broiling stew of anger and laughter. Wandering sidewalk idols looking for a corner to happen on. Halfway down the next block a dark haired woman in a summer dress started screaming at the wide open mouth of a darkened screen door with nothing to say back.
kk, the reply lit up the face of his phone.
He felt like a smoke. He’d showered before he left, but his T shirt and light weight drawstring shorts already felt limp and sodden, He felt like a drink. He felt like a lot of drinks. The woman down the street disappeared, but he could still hear the ugly song of her rage. It was a fifty-fifty shot she had a reason for it.
There were a dozen languages spoken on the streets of her neighborhood. She could speak at least two of them, but the universal mantra was fuck this. She spoke that language, too.
The passenger door suddenly swung open and a raw, untamed flower floated awkwardly into the seat beside him. She pulled the door shut and looked at him with half a smile on her face. The half that wasn’t smiling looked full of anxiety.
“Dahlia,” he said.
“Can you please just get me out of here?”
He lingered on her before turning back to the steering wheel. She had a grace about her that came from being young and smooth, but the way she moved never seemed to match her size. Like she didn’t like being as tall as she was. Almost as tall as Layne. Or having those long, strapping thick legs with breasts that came off too small and dainty by comparison.
She was wearing tight, skimpy cut-off denim and a butter colored tank top. Her long, dark hair was streaked with highlights and gentle waves she’d spent some time on putting there. Her thick, plastic glasses sat low because they were too big for the size of her nose. She was always pushing them back up with her finger.
Her bare thighs did that thing where they fatten out a little sitting along the seat. Her skin made him think about ice cream melting.
He started the car and drove. They went three blocks in silence before he asked the obvious question, even though he already had a general notion of the answer.
“They’re just…” she seemed to have to think of the right way to put it… “going off on each other all over again. I can’t fucking listen to it anymore.”
He steered one handed and fingered back his longish, sandy blond hair. It was fine, straight hair, just a little sun bleached and beginning to show slender ribbons of premature grey.
“Your father’s drunk again?”
“Of course. Not again. More like still.”
“I thought your mother moved out?”
“She did. But she’s there most every night. It’s like they can’t live without the misery they put each other through.”
He hit the window buttons on the console and raised them. Some kids had a fire hydrant blasting up and half way across the street. They got out of the way to let the car pass. He hit the wipers as he crawled through the momentary deluge. The hydrant would probably be blasting all night. The city would never send a crew to Dahlia’s neighborhood at that hour of the night.
“Some people are just wired that way,” he said. He was going to say how she needed to get away from them both and breathe the air of the rest of the world, but it would’ve been the hundredth time. She was twenty years old and doing everything she could think of to get to college somewhere out of the city. Or maybe find a job somewhere. But she didn’t have money or a car, not even so much as a driver’s license.
“Those two are wired like a car crash.”
Layne just nodded. They were driving through a section of abandoned factories and tenements. He opened the moon roof and watched pale streetlights slowly strobe across Dahlia’s face as they rolled down streets of menacing shadows. He felt a momentary urge to hit the brakes and put his mouth against the hollow between her collarbones. Her skin was speaking to him. She would taste faintly of salt.
She was ripe with gawky beauty that didn’t know where it started or ended. He’d never met her father. Once he’d started fucking her mother there didn’t seem to be any point in it. He didn’t have to meet him to know Dahlia’s father was a man chased by so many ghosts he’d become one of them. It didn’t make sense – vital, clumsy dancer of silk and cream born in a derailing train.
“Why didn’t you just go out with your boyfriend?” he asked.
Dahlia sighed. “Because he got arrested again. And he’s gonna be gone a long time on this one. And I’m not waiting around for somebody who can’t figure it out.”
“You don’t have time for that,” he nodded.
“Yeah. I know.” She nodded as if she had all the convoluted angles of the nightmare carnival of a life everyone around her kept trying to shove down her throat.
But she didn’t. He knew it, and so did she. He was trying to think of something terse and profound to tell her – something that would lay it all out nice and neat – but everything that went through his head sounded idiotic. In the moment, anything that seemed important finally sifted down to the way her inner thighs shimmered in the pale glow of the dashboard light – that, and the dark hint of a curve where the delicate teacups of flesh plunged behind the neckline of her top.
He wondered if she knew how tired he was of pretending not to want her the way he did. He wondered if she was tired of pretending not to be aware of it.
“Wanna go to the beach?” he finally asked.
Her tone had that yeah sure if that’s what you think we oughtta do attitude behind it, but smug and self-conscious were all over the curl of her vaguely sinful mouth as she looked forward and nodded. A moment later they were slipping under the rusting highway overpass until Layne was pushing the car around the long curve of the entrance ramp onto the highway.
She started drawing figure eights with her finger on her thigh. “Do you still think about my mother? I mean…like you did before…when you were fucking her?”
She was looking at him. He turned to her but then turned just as quickly back to keep his eyes on the road and shook his head.
He lowered the rear windows and gave the gas a gentle punch. With all the windows and roof wide open the car filled with a cool/warm wind. Dahlia leaned back against the headrest and closed her eyes. Long, fine strands of chocolate hair whipped around her placid face. The smile playing on her lips spoke of some arcane inner dialog unfolding in her mind. It was a subtle smile, but there was something selfless and unrestrained in it, too.
He punched the gas a little harder and the 320 began to spread its wings. Dahlia’s fingers pressed into the meat of her lush, inner thighs. His heart dove into a long fall off a cliff.
He wasn’t exactly sure when she figured out he’d been fucking her mother, but it couldn’t have been long before she started showing up to hang around his office or the café down the block where he escaped for his own little mental health breaks. It wasn’t long before the text messages and nighttime calls started coming. Neither of them ever mentioned anything to Dahlia’s mother about knowing each other.
Whatever it was, it was something of their own.
“How come you and my mother quit fucking?” she asked without opening her eyes.
“Because I was just an experiment in courage for her,” he said. “After she left your father we just fizzled.”
“Did it have anything to do with me?”
He didn’t answer, and she still didn’t open her eyes, but her lips curled deeper into her smile.
He pulled off the highway and the air cooled down as he drove through a series of streets that felt dark and deserted after the city. They were moving through an area of summer beach homes. Most of them were occupied, but everyone was inside at this hour, settling down to the soft hum of their air conditioners. Dahlia opened her eyes to look at the quiet, manicured streets. The area was filthy with grass and flowers.
They turned onto the last street that followed the shape of the shoreline. The houses along the water were further apart, and he drove until the road dead ended. He pulled into the last driveway, curving around the side of a moderately sized cottage.
“What is this place?” Dahlia asked, as Layne shut off the engine.
“The beach,” he said. “C’mon.”
He got out of the car and followed him behind the house. He crossed the wide backyard to an old set of stone steps that dropped the few feet down to the beach. When he sat down to slip off his sandals, Dahlia stepped onto the sand and let her flip flops fall off her feet.
“Does somebody live here or something?”
“Not really,” he said. “My family owns it.”
She looked at the house and then out at the dark beach. “Nice.”
She looked at the house and then out at the dark beach. “Nice.”
He stood up and they walked toward the water, leaving their sandals near the steps. Dahlia walked close and their elbows kept nudging so he took her by the hand and they kept walking until their feet were touching water.
“I wanna go in the water,” she said after a long but easy silence.
“Go ahead,” he told her. “You can shower inside after if you want. I know where the key is. There should be water, but probably no electricity.”
“You have to take me in,” she said, squeezing his hand.
“I’ll be right here,” he said with no intention of getting wet past his knees. “You’ll be fine.”
“Nooo, you gotta take me in. I don’t know how to swim.”
She gave him the combination of a pout and sneer he’d only seen a couple times before. He let go of her hand and pulled off his T shirt. She looked unsure of what she should do next, but when he stepped back on dry sand and untied his shorts, letting them drop off, she took the same step back.
He watched her trying not to look at him in nothing but his dark boxer briefs as she opened her cut offs, unzipped them and shoved them down over her broad hips. Her panties were scant and probably a little too small considering the way they were riding her ass and haunches. Layne thought they were probably sheer, too, but it was hard to be sure when there was only a quarter moon to go by.
She started to take her top off, but she hesitated and then seemed to change her mind. Layne stepped as close as he’d ever stood from her and gripped the bottom hem of her top.
“Might as well let it go,” he told her. “It’s not gonna do you much good soaking wet.”
She lifted her arms and let him pull the top past her lush mane of dark hair, fumbling over her glasses and then up her arms and off. The pout of her breasts almost made them seem bigger than they were. They were capped with pale sienna areolas that covered nearly half the surface of each puff. Dahlia looked away from his face but he drew her back with a finger on her jaw. They were nearly eye to eye.
Layne could hardly breathe. He placed his palms against each side of her neck.
“You’re the rarest kind of beauty there is,” he said, pinning the eyes half obscured behind the thickness of her glasses.
“What kind is that?” she asked, somewhere between confused and curious.
“The selfless kind.”
“I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but I think you mean it like something good.”
He was burning up inside to touch her gathering nipples and brush his mouth lightly across hers, but he just turned and led her by the hand into the water. It was calm, and she let him lead her in until the water was just below their hipbones. The barely perceptible roll of the surface swelled and touched Dahlia’s pussy. Layne watched her moonlit breasts jump with a quick gasp of surprise. Her panties were wet now, and so were his boxer briefs. Her nipples stood out so hard and thick he could almost feel the vibration through her hand.
“You okay?” He smiled. Calm. Everything was calm. The sea. The air. Everything but the bottleneck of rushing blood through his veins.
“Yeah. I think so. I never been in the water at night like this. Just daytime when there’s a million people around. And never any deeper than this.”
“Good. I want to do something you never did before.”
“I never did anything like this before.” She smiled, but it didn’t make her look any less nervous about being in the water at night.
Layne stood in front of her and took hold of her other hand, so he was holding her by both. “Lets get wet,” he said, grinning.
He squatted down to his neck in the water, and Dahlia went down with him. Keeping his grip on both of her hands, he reared back and submerged his head just long enough to get wet. He let go of her hands and reached for her glasses, carefully pulling them away from her face.
“Go ahead,” he told her.
He tucked her glasses on top of his head so he could hold her hands again while she leaned backward. Her delicate, nub-tipped breasts just broke the surface as her head went back. She came back up quickly, sputtering and giggling at the same time.
“Feels good, huh?” he said as he lifted her glasses off his head and set them back on her face.
She smiled in a way he’d never seen before, with a look of private joy that came off as secret and liberating at the same time. It should have seemed beyond the simplicity of just dunking your head backward in the sea, but it wasn’t. Not for the moment they were in.
Layne guided Dahlia up by her hands and led her deeper into the water, walking backward as she followed. Her body was faintly shimmering now between her fresh skin of sea water and the weak light of the moon. When the surface was just lapping at the under curves of her breasts, he stopped. Looking back at him through dry glasses, her wet hair slung straight back and droplets of water dangling off the tightly gathered flesh of her nipples, she made him think of some Olympian chamber maid who never got into the story books – as if she were half goddess born to a mortal, but then forced into a life of servitude to save the gods from scandal.
“I didn’t know how much of the city was lying on my skin until it washed off,” she said.
“Yeah.” He let go of her hands and slid his left arm around her waist, holding her where their bellies were touching. He touched her jaw with his right, tracing his thumb along the curvature of her bone, until he came to her chin and slid the pad across her lips. There was pale moon glare hitting her glasses, but he could still see her eyes because of the way they kept slipping down her small nose.
His hand moved down her throat, pausing long enough to feel a few pulses of breath go in and out of her body. He felt the strange sensation it was the same breath that was going in and out of him at the same time. The electricity sparking back and forth between her cells was sifting into him, too, turning his blood into something luminous. As his fingers slid over her collarbones and shoulders, finally reaching the satin pliancy of her modestly impudent breasts, dangerous revelations filtered through his mind while the silent slam of his heart jolted straight through his cock.
“I guess you know I’m done being careful around you,” he said, firmly rolling a hard nipple between his fingers. At the same time, his left hand pushed her panties down past the full curve of her ass, cupping her thick cheek and pulling her tighter to him.
“Kinda got that,” she said, half in a whimper.
When he moved in to kiss her, her mouth was already opening and their tongues came together even before their lips touched. His left hand clamped down hard on her ass cheek, pulling at her cleft while his right kneaded the firm swell of breast under his palm. His cock was straining against the confinement of his saturated boxer briefs, grinding at her body. He could feel her hands groping under water, searching for the shape of his ripe cock through the prison of fabric binding him in.
He groaned into her open mouth when she pushed the waistband of his briefs down over his hips and cock. She was a big girl with big hands, stroking his shaft and balls without a shred of hesitation. His right hand plunged down into the front of her panties, finding the pure silk of her shaved pussy. While the fingers of his left ground deeper into the cleft between her ass cheeks, the tip of the middle finger seeking the tight bud of her rim, the right searched deeper between her thighs. She parted her feet wider, giving him room to explore the yielding surface of her warm slit with his fingers.
He reluctantly released her mouth and stroked at the slippery lips of her slit. He sent a finger inside her, driving more pressure against her taut rosebud behind at the same time. She purred with heat when the finger went deep inside her pussy, curling back, stirring and searching.
“I just wish every cell we’re made of could all be touching at the same time,” he groaned. Then he drew his finger out from her pussy and easily found her swollen clit, rubbing firm circles over her pearl while the finger touching her rim slid inside, no more than halfway to the first knuckle.
“Just push this inside me and it’ll be practically the same thing,” she said, pulling harder and deeper breath into her gently heaving body. Her grip tightened on his cock at the same time, squeezing his shaft so hard it seemed to stop the pulse raging through it.
Tapping his finger against her pebble hard clit, Layne pushed his other finger deeper into her ass, stroking inward just once, slow and deep, gently corkscrewing as he drew it back out. Slowly. So very very slowly.
They both scrambled to shove panties and briefs down and off at the same time. He took several more steps backward, guiding Dahlia along with him, until they were shoulder deep. He pulled her in close, gripping the full spheres of her ass while her long, round thighs encircled him. She held onto his shoulders and rolled her hips. Her slit felt hot and slick as she ground against his stalk under the water.
She leaned back and lifted her breasts above the surface. Layne leaned down and sucked each one deep and hard while she moaned and ground her pussy in anxious circles against his cock. She tasted of skin and sea water.
When he finally let her nipples go free, he chuckled low in his throat and pushed her legs off his hips. She looked momentarily confused when her feet had to search for a purchase in the sand below. Layne took a deep breath and went down. Searching the braille of her body with his mouth, he found her pussy and spread her open with his fingers, drawing her clit out and closing his mouth around the bud. For as long as he could hold his breath, he sucked on Dahlia’s sweet, throbbing clit, rolling his tongue in constant swirls. Somewhere up above the water’s surface there were muffled growls and cries, and then her fists gripping and yanking at his hair as she tried to push his mouth harder and tighter into her pussy.
Layne finally had to surface for air, finding Dahlia half dazed, with her glasses hanging off on one side. He took a few pulls of air, getting ready to take another deep one and go back down for more, but she was quicker. She filled her lungs with a near violent breath and went down. Her glasses came off as she submerged, and he grabbed at them before they could float down where they’d never find them. Just as he was tucking her glasses on top of his head, he felt her mouth close over the head of his cock.
“I swear to fucking Purgatory, Dahlia,” he groaned as her lips and hand stroked in concert along the fat shaft of his cock. “I am never ever taking you back home again…”
She sucked and stroked him longer than he would ever imagine she could hold her breath. Finally, she released him and broke the surface, hurriedly pulling her legs around his body once again.
“Just get inside me,” she sputtered, her breath still working to level out.
“If you want me there so bad…put me there,” he growled, gripping her ass and spreading her cheeks apart while she held onto his shoulder with one hand and reached for his cock with the other.
Gripping his hard shaft, she guided herself onto him, using her legs around his body to balance herself. She held his aching shaft in place and slid herself onto him, swallowing his rock hard flesh deeply into her sumptuous body. She began riding him, using the buoyancy of the water, and Layne drove back at her with deep, urgent thrusts. The sluice of the water around their bodies created a swirling counterpoint to the slippery skin-scrape of his cock stroking in and out of her pussy.
“You should learn to be careful what you say to people when they’re sucking your cock underwater and you think they can’t hear you,” Dahlia managed to huff out between breaths.
Layne pressed a finger against her rim, following the rhythmic grace of her grinding rolls. At the same time, he pushed his other hand between them, fighting to keep her clit trapped between the pinch of his thumb and forefinger.
“And you should know when your sly little tricks to make someone fall in love with you are working,” he groaned back at her.
The moment he caught her clit in a firm twist, the movement of her hips started to feel confined, as if she couldn’t control her muscles anymore. Layne thrust his cock into the snug, hot sleeve of her body with deep, forceful lunges, twisting her clit as she started to cum.
“Like the way you keep pushing your glasses up all time,” he said, gasping for air as he shoved hard enough to ripple the water around their bodies. “And the way you walk like a dancer…looking like you’re always on the verge of falling down…but you never do. The way you ask questions. The way you talk…or don’t…or gnaw on your bottom lip when you know damn well I can’t take my eyes off you.”
He was finally pushing his hard flesh into her maw so hard he couldn’t get enough air to talk and fuck at the same time. The next time she came, her inner walls rippling up and down the length of his driving cock, he moved his hand around to grasp her cheek and drove the left finger deeper in her ass. She wailed out a rush of breath and he dove for her neck, suckling her throat while he drove his exploding prick desperately into her gripping sheath.
Suddenly everything was nectar, cum and sea water. Their bodies began to slow down, and Layne became aware of the luxurious scrape of her dainty breasts against his skin.
She tightened her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck as she nestled her face against his shoulder. He held her tight. Feeling her breathe. The water held them up. With her heart beating against the right side of his chest, it felt like he had two of them beating inside his body. For the first time in his life, he understood how love and sin were meant to converge all along.
He touched the top of his head to make sure her glasses were still there, then he touched the wet hair touching her spine.
“Guess we’ll have to head back to the city pretty soon,” she said softly.
“Why?” he replied.
“Yeah…I mean. Long as you want.”
“What if that’s a long time? Like…really really a long time?”
“Don’t know. See when we get there.”
He was going to tell her time was like walking, and each step was its own moment. You just had to try to make each one come down somewhere solid enough to get you by to the next. He was going to walk her back to the sand, but he decided against that, too.
In the whole of the ocean surrounding them, she was the one, solid place he had to come down to. He lifted his feet and they floated, each holding the other tighter than the other.
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