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I wake up to him kissing my neck and running his hand between my thighs. I sigh and turn my head to kiss him. He needs a shave, but I’m too distracted to tell him that. And besides, I like the stubble. I’m tempted to tell him to let me sleep another hour, but he runs his fingernails along my stomach, and I come alive against him.

Eventually I turn over and pull him close, careful to keep the injured finger clear of his writhing back. Kissing his shoulder, I can see the bruised, stitched flesh, torn and marred, in heavy contrast to his smooth tan skin.


I would have really appreciated it if she’d told me sooner I was losing her. I knew we were going to break up, but I couldn’t have gauged how vicious she was going to be about it.

We’d been getting along lately, though, so I guess I misinterpreted that as a reconciliation. In hindsight it was pretty clearly just a cease-fire.

She was doing her makeup in the bathroom. She was naked, her hair fresh and dry, and before I jumped in the shower I came up behind her and kissed her neck. My hands slid along the curve of her hip.

“Get the fuck off me!” She jabbed me sharply with her elbow. Not enough to hurt, not in the body, anyway. But enough to startle me back.

“Jesus! What was that?”

“Are you trying to make me put out my goddamn eye?” she snarled. Even curled back across her teeth, her pink lips looked remarkably kissable. Eyeliner gave her a stare like sharp wire.

“Alright! I’m sorry.” I put my hands up in surrender and stepped into the shower.

“Oh, don’t sound so fuckin’ wounded.”

I didn’t answer, just started my shower. After a minute or so I heard her groan. “Turn it down! The steam is gonna fuck up my hair!”

I ignored her. I let the heat scald away my irritation with her. By the time I stepped out, she’d already left for work.


When he and I are finished we hold each other, our chests pressed together, me breathing heavily just behind his ear. His hair is sweaty, but when he sweats it’s with a clean, almost sterile odor. I run my fingertips against his scalp, ignoring the slight sting of my injured finger. We both need a shower. We’re clearly not done fooling around just yet.

Every so often he gives me a lazy kiss to my temple. We both doze off a few minutes. When I wake up I can feel him getting ready to go again. When Brittany got her stuff, she stripped the linens straight from the bed and threw them in the car. Soon Bobby and I are tangled in the act of consecrating the bare mattress anew.


“Christ, all I’m trying to do is talk to you-…”

“That’s all you fucking do. You talk about things but you never fucking do them. Goddamn, you’re boring.”

“Babe, just…”

“Just get the fuck back, alright?”

“Goddamnit,” I caught the door to the bathroom before she could close it. “Do you want us to break up or what?”

“No! I just want…”

“You don’t even fucking know what you want! All you do is endlessly bitch at me…”

She pulled the door. I tightened my grip, holding in place. Before I could say anything else, she threw her entire body into pulling it closed, grunting in anger and effort.

My finger made a dull, wet sound as it was smashed against the frame.

I remember yelling so loudly it felt like a roar. Brittany covered her mouth against the drips of blood spotting the carpet. She kissed me over and over on the forehead and told me she was taking me to the emergency room. She ran off to get dressed and grab her keys. While she was getting ready, I climbed into my own car and drove away.

I heard her come home from work around nine. I’d locked myself in my room. On the table in the kitchen, I left a note, telling her she had a day to get her stuff out. That’s all it said. Now that I think of it, I haven’t laid eyes on her since seeing her disappear into her room. This room, where Bobby and I are now.


When Bobby gets out of the shower I’ve set up a tray with toast and eggs. A carafe of coffee is on the desk I moved in here yesterday.

Bobby dries his hair. “God, I love you.”

He says it lightly, and I pretend not to notice him gauging me with his eyes. Seeing how I’ll react.

Oh, no.

His phone vibrates again. Text from Mark: “Hey babe. Flying back in tomorrow.”

Bobby tosses the towel over the curtain rod. He pours coffee without getting dressed. I take in the sight of him, and run my thumb along the stitches in my finger.

Maybe he’s sincere, but two days into this I’d prefer it if he wasn’t. I never touched him before Brittany left. Never thought of it.

While he stands there I contemplate going to him, kissing his body, going further and further until he’s against the wall and shuddering above me. I think about him trying to do that with Mark, a man almost twenty years older. Always tired, always busy, always out of the house when Bobby gets home. Maybe Bobby does love me. But he also can’t.

Bobby types something into his phone while he drinks his coffee. He winks at me while he sips from the mug. The tip of my left middle finger is deep blue and purple. Between the stitches I can see the skin beginning to heal. The flesh is smashed and shredded, but still it comes together.


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Summer Dress

summer dress 2


She and I have both gotten kind of drunk, and we spend most of the walk back to my place stumbling against each other. We do our best to navigate the sidewalk out of the corner of our eyes while we kiss. Her blue-green summer dress feels smooth against my hands. In the heat it makes me think of water.

We stumble through the front door, and I have to stretch out my arm to set the lock while she pushes me deeper inside. I very nearly fall on my ass as we make our way down the hall, and a couple of times she steps on my feet. She’s already undoing the buttons on my shirt, and when we fall onto the mattress I pull my arms from my sleeves and yank down the straps of her dress.

We roll over, and I peel the dress off her, kissing my way down as I go. Her pale thighs clench and shake as I make my way down her legs. The dress slips past her red flats with a whisper. I reach overhead and slide her panties down until they join the dress.

Her fingers are working their way through my hair. She runs one leg back and forth against the crotch of my pants. I tease between her legs with the tip of my nose. She gives a small moan through her heavy breathing.

The gaff is such a small, thin thing. The strings that hold it in place are so fine they’re almost invisible in the dark. The patch at the front is a slim rectangle of black satin. The garment holds tight to her, so tight it’s practically a tattoo.

When I pull it down everything stays in place. She’s turned on but she’s had practice keeping everything under control in case of arousal. Now she reaches down and works a lavender nail inside, slowly rocking her wrist until her finger is in to the middle knuckle. She hooks it and pulls it back out, and her cock and scrotum unfold from her. It’s almost like it’s blooming. I think of rosebuds, and the imagery makes me smile and give a small chuckle.

I feel her tense up. “What?” she asks.

“Oh, just,” I grin and chuckle again. “It made me think of a flower.” I laugh and imitate the motion with my hands. I lower my head to go down on her but she slides away from me, crawling backwards until she’s on the edge of the bed. Her thighs are crossed, and the gaff hangs between her knees.

Now it’s my turn to ask: “What?”

She just sits there, looking hurt. She covers her chest with one arm, and scoops up the bra she threw off with the other.

“Maybe we shouldn’t,” she tells me. She runs a hand across her face, down each cheek.

“Why not?”

“If you’re not comfortable.”

“I’m totally comfortable.”

She looks unconvinced. “No. We really don’t have to. It’s okay.” She slips the bra on and fastens it, then runs her hand across her face again.

“Hey, what is this?” I crawl across the bed to her, but she turns around. I scoop her hair off her neck and kiss her shoulder. She slides away from me a bit, tucks herself, and pulls on the gaff before getting up. The strings are so fine she looks bottomless from behind.

“You’re clearly not comfortable,” she says as she walks over to her dress.

“Of course I’m comfortable. Babe!” I get up to follow. “I wasn’t laughing at you, I swear! I was just happy. I was enjoying myself!”

She slides on her panties and picks her dress up. Earlier the feel of it made me think of water. Now, in the moonlight, it looks as though she’s dangling a small wave from her hands.

I come up to her and try to pull her close, but she squirms away from me. She flicks the dress, then slides it on overhead. She runs a quick hand across her face again, and it’s only just now occurred to me why she’s doing that. She’s checking.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you self-conscious.”

“I’ll just call you tomorrow. It’s okay.”

“No, it isn’t! You know that doesn’t actually bother me, right?”

She finishes adjusting her dress, then squints and dabs at each eye with her fingertips. Her breath hitches and she ducks her head so her black hair hides her face. She bounces on her heels in frustration, the flats making a hollow slap against the wood floor.

“I just…” She takes a moment before finishing her thought. “Can I please just have a second?”

I leave her to it, closing the door and making my way to the kitchen. It’s probably best I leave anyway. I’m boiling mad now, and feeling, as most bullies do, like I’m being treated unfairly. I need to cool off before I make things worse.

I’m halfway through a glass of ice water before she comes out. She finds her clutch by the sofa, then turns and finds me sitting in the kitchen. She’s quiet for a long moment.

“I’m sorry,” she says, and she sounds so small when she says it I just want to jump off a bridge.

“You don’t have anything to be sorry for,” I admit.

She runs her fingers through her hair, touching her cheek each time. “Can I call you tomorrow?”

“No. I’ll call you.” Because I just can’t resist the urge to be a victimized son of a bitch. Of course the comment hurts her, worries her. I can see her eyes widen a little, her pout deepen a little. Jesus Christ, haven’t I hurt her enough already?

I let the quiet hang there until she lets herself out. I wait a few minutes before slamming down my glass and grabbing my keys. I run out after her, racing to where she’s walking, already a block away. I have this half-baked idea to offer her a ride, but it’ll probably devolve into me just begging her to come back inside. I’m still in my undershirt. I never closed my fly. I see her under a streetlight. The image of her walking alone makes me want to stop, fall down, and cry, but instead I wave my arms and I call her name. I’m desperate to catch her, and even more desperate to hold on.

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