They’re both rushing through their routines, each of them fighting off the grogginess that holds fast when you have to be awake by five in the morning. He’s pulling on paint-spattered jeans, to compliment his paint-spattered thermal shirt. She wraps a towel around her hair and walks naked from the shower, picking a pair of slacks and a blouse to wear without really looking. She’ll do her makeup at work.
She reaches under the bed for shoes, finds his work boots instead. She hefts them his way, tossing them so they land by his ankles. The thud makes her wonder how he walks in them. Beneath the drips of paint they’re a deep, dark brown. She finds a pair of kitten heels and nudges them into the open with her foot while she slips on her underwear.
“You gonna be late tonight?” she asks him as he pours coffee into a thermos.
“Probably. The other guy I was splitting the job with is too wrapped up in a loft he’s working on downtown. I’m pretty sure he’s just bailed.”
“Well, that’s more money, at least.”
She tightens the belt of her slacks and shakes the towel off onto the bed. She comes up to him, topless, hair damp, contacts out so he’s just a vaguely handsome blur, and grabs him by the hips, closing her eyes to find his lips with hers. “My poor blue-collar baby.”
He wraps his arms around her, and the weight of the thermos throws her a little off-balance. Her body leans against his. The kiss gets a little breathier before she breaks it off.
“Save that for after work, babe” she tells him, kissing his nose before she goes to finish dressing.
“In that case, I’ll work at light speed and get home early.”
“Well, my day’s probably gonna run a little long too.” Allie puts in her contacts and blinks them in place, then grins as he comes into focus. “So you’ll just have to be patient, mister.”
“I’m the soul of patience.” John throws on a denim jacket and heads for the door. “Love you!” he calls out as he leaves.
Allie’s day does run pretty long. Around seven she gets a text: “Made it home by daylight. Accomplishments like that warrant a reward, I’d say.” John follows it with a little winking emoji.
Brandon reaches around from behind and cups her breast. His fingers knead her in time with every thrust. She can feel him getting ready to climax. Her moans become small whines, and his body bucks as he finishes.
Then they’re both face down, breathing heavy into the sheets. Her face is red and her breathing’s heavy. Tucked away in her purse, set to silent, her phone vibrates again.
“Love you!” the screen reads.
He sleeps in the next morning. He has another job lined up but this one has to be done at night, when the shops in Harlem are the least busy. He’s still naked and the sheets still smell of last night’s sex. She leaves a note asking him to do laundry, then kisses him on the temple before turning to leave.
“You look like sunshine,” he mumbles.
“Your hair. I…” he swallows to lubricate his voice, “…I don’t usually see it dry in the morning.” He cracks open one eye and smirks. “The light from the window. It makes it glow. Like sunshine.”
She leans her head against the bedroom door and smiles. “I love you,” she tells him, and she does. In this moment Allie loves him so much she could cry if she thinks about it too long.
“You gonna work late again?”
“Alright. I might not be here when you get back.”
“That sounds like a threat.”
He huffs a little laugh. “You know what I mean.” He waves a hand overhead. “The job tonight.”
“Yeah, I know. I tossed your clothes in the machine. Do me a favor and wash the sheets next?”
John makes a lazy salute. “Ma’am, yes ma’am.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
She stays late again. Really late. Around nine her phone vibrates, unseen and unheeded in her purse. “Heading to the job, babe. Washed the sheets and remade the bed. Dinner in the oven. Love you. Like, more than you love me.”
Another winking emoji.
The sheets are bunching under her back but she ignores them. Her lips touch Brandon’s but the kiss never finishes. Their open mouths just barely meet, and they snake their tongues together, the warmth of their breath bathing their faces and fueling the eager pumping in their hips. Her knees are wrapped around his waist, locking him in place. His hands run across her stomach and an electric heat rocks her as they graze her nipples. She’s pulling him in with her ankles. She can feel him finish, again, the second time tonight.
Allie’s already showered and asleep when he comes home. She picked him up a sandwich, and he eats it while he comes down from the coffee he drank a little too liberally through the night. Finally he strips away his painting clothes and tosses them in the hamper. John spent most of the night by the shop’s doors, and the gusting winter wind has worked its way through to his bones. Even half an hour in a steaming shower can’t work the chill loose.
She feels warm as he climbs in bed beside her. He presses himself against her and wraps an arm around her waist. Without waking up, Allie turns on her side and curls against him. In these quiet hours, it comforts him to think that they are so natural together one could see their love as automatic.
Beneath the sheets, pressed naked against her, John falls asleep in the gentle heat.
Brandon rocks his hips with each nod of her head. He holds fistfuls of her sweaty hair as she works her way up and down. Each thrust lifts his waist clear off the bed. His abs have to be tired, but he’s so close and so into the moment that his rhythm only builds. “Oh, yeah,” he groans. “Aw, fuck yeah.”
And then he’s done, groaning and holding her head in place until he’s completely spent. They lie like that for awhile afterward, and when Allie finally looks up, she sees someone out of the corner of her eye. Someone who hadn’t been there a moment before.
She looks up and sees John, looking right at her. After a pause he turns and starts to walk away.
“John!” she calls, and gets up to chase him. “John, wait!”
He stops, and turns back around.
“What are you doing here?” she asks.
He shrugs. “Finished the job earlier than expected. Thought I’d pop by and see if you wanted a sandwich or something. You gonna be late again?”
“Not too late.” A grip hands her a robe, and she slips it on. “We should be done by tonight.”
“Sweet. You hungry?”
“Starving. Like literally to death.”
“Methinks the lady doth protest too much.” He checks the time on his phone. “Panera okay?”
“Oooooh, yes! Something in asagio bread.” She makes a pressing motion with her hands. She does this all the time when she speaks. If she asks for soup she makes a little bowl shape. Coffee and she pretends to tip a cup. It’s juvenile, but it tugs at his heart when she does this. It’s why she does it, actually.
“Your wish is my command. Back in ten.” He leans in to kiss her, but she ducks it with a sheepish grin.
“Uhhhh…we’ve been at it for awhile now.”
Now he grins. “Ah. Okay. Uh…any facials?”
“Then in that case,” and he kisses her forehead. Her face has always been so sensitive. She feels a quivering warmth ripple down her cheeks and through her scalp. In her head, she sees an image of herself, melting like ice against him. “I love you,” he adds. He almost sings it, because saying it in plain words somehow always feels dishonest. Or really, not honest enough.
“I love you too!” She actually does sing it, because she’s nothing if not honest.
“Hey, Allie!” Lenny calls from his director’s chair. “You ready for the next scene?”
She thinks about it. They’ve been working a few hours now. She doesn’t want to be too sore when she gets home. “Maybe. Is there an ass scene in this thing?”
“There can be. You up for it?”
“There’s no rush, kid.” Lenny’s Boston accent clashes with the supportive tone he’s trying to sport. “We can wrap this up tomorrow if you need us too.”
“Nah, let’s get this thing done. I got another shoot tomorrow night. I hate it when my schedule gets crowded.”
“Your call, hun. Hey, Brandon, you get that?”
“Got it!” Brandon calls back. The fluffer leaves to double up on his lube. “Be ready in fifteen!”
“Alright, folks, take thirty to eat! We’ll shoot this after and then we’re done.” Lenny waves his aide down. “Steph, call accounting so they can add the ass work before they cut Allie’s check.”
In contrast to the day’s filming, their lovemaking that night is tender and slow. To a voyeur it would almost seem like they’re simply cuddling. He only touches and kisses her wherever she isn’t sore. As he pecks his way down the bridge of her nose she finally climaxes. The gentle, billowing orgasm makes her think of a warm blanket, caught in a breeze on a clothesline.
She feels him finish in her hand, and she continues holding him as they fall asleep. His body presses her to the bed, shielding her from the chilly night. She wraps a delicate hand around one shoulder, anchoring him to Earth. They sleep like that, exhausted from the work that is being alive, and being in love.