Pots and pans clanked as Justin not-so-quietly prepared himself something to eat in the kitchen while I fed Bea. She fell asleep on my breast, so I put her upstairs in her crib. It was earlier than her normal bedtime, so I knew she would probably be waking me up in the middle of the night.
When I returned to the kitchen, Justin looked like he’d been waiting for me. He was wearing a gray hoodie that was halfway zipped up over his bare chest. He had the hood over his head. Looking quite tense, he was pulling at his sleeves.
“We need to talk, Amelia.”
He lifted his face to look me straight in the eyes. “I don’t want you going out with him again.”
“You can’t dictate who I go out with.”
“Well, I don’t want you going out with anyone.”
“I don’t understand how you think you have a right to say that.”
“Then hear me out.”
“You said you don’t want anything serious right now.”
“Neither do I. I just got out of a long-term relationship. I really can’t handle serious at the moment.”
“So, you think I’m the perfect candidate to screw around with? Don’t you have enough options? How about that redhead that gave you her number the other night when you didn’t even notice Bea and I standing right there.”
His expression turned angry. “What? You came to Sandy’s that night?”
“Yes. You played Daughters. It was very touching.”
“Why the fuck didn’t you tell me you were there?”
“You were busy.”
“You were all I could think about that entire night, Amelia. Every fucking song, I was thinking about you or Bea. That’s the truth. I don’t even remember that woman’s name.”
“Well, that’s irrelevant I suppose. Get back to what you were saying…about wanting me to be your whore.”
“It’s not like that. AT ALL, Amelia.” Looking uncharacteristically nervous, he said, “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. You’ve made it clear that you need someone to satisfy your needs. I don’t want you fucking around with some random guy who doesn’t care about you. Contrary to what you might think, I do care about you. So, I want to be the one to take care of it for you.”
“Take care of it? You’re making it sound like having sex with me is a surgical procedure.”
“Far from it. And take care of it isn’t the right term anyway. Technically I’d be fucking you into oblivion.”
“I’m not going to be anyone’s mercy fuck, Justin.”
“That’s not what I’m saying.” He slipped his hands under his hood and pulled on his hair in frustration. “Fuck. Do you have any clue how badly I want you? I need this just as much as you.”
“I’m sorry, but you’re really confusing me. You care about me, but you don’t want to be with me. You just want to fuck me. It just seems like an oxymoron.”
“I want to give you what you need today…not tomorrow or ten years down the line. Today. It just so happens that what you need is also what I need. I need to satisfy this fucking itch that has been eating away at me for over a decade. I need to be with you on a physical level before I fucking explode. But I just can’t put a label on everything right now. I can’t make promises for the future because that would be irresponsible. There is too much at stake. I won’t make a promise to that little girl only to let her down.”
“So, you’re suggesting that we forget everything else, just start a physical relationship with no expectations.”
“That was what you said you wanted with some random guy, right? Why not with me? It’s a fuck of a lot safer.”
“Because I don’t think that’s possible with you. I don’t think I can compartmentalize years of feelings in order to have a casual sexual relationship with you. You matter too much to me. I will always want you in my life. If we have sex, we can never take that back. I would never be able to look at you the same.”
“You’d never be able to walk the same.”
“Can you be serious?”
“I am being serious.” He smiled. “Okay…in all honesty, I want you to think about my proposition. I’m just asking you to consider living in the moment, having a little fun with me, taking things day by day.”
“Take things day by day and then one day wake up and find you gone?”
“I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.”
A part of me wanted to leap into his arms and take him up on his proposition right there on kitchen counter, but the logical part just couldn’t agree to this. “I don’t know.”
“If there’s anything I can do to help make your decision easier, let me know. Just think about it. You don’t have to make a decision right now. Sleep on it. Or sleep on me. Whatever you decide.”
He started to walk toward the stairs.
“Where are you going?”
“Upstairs. I’ll leave the door open in case you decide there’s something you’d like to watch later.”
I’d gone straight to my own room that night and didn’t come out because I couldn’t trust myself around him. Was he even serious? A small part of me pondered whether he was just pulling my leg with that proposition. Maybe this was some grand scheme to get back at me for hurting him a decade ago… lure me to succumb to his sexual charms then tell me it was just a joke.
Tossing and turning, I considered all the pros and cons and came to the conclusion that while sex with him would be amazing, it would only result in my getting hurt. It would also ruin our second chance at friendship which was still new and on shaky ground.
At the same time, I was completely turned on, my panties soaking wet from the way he was speaking to me. Just the thought of being with him was getting me off.
At some point in the middle of the night, I must have fallen asleep while ruminating. When I woke up the next morning, it was after 11AM. I hadn’t slept that late in ages.
The sun was streaming through the sheer white curtains of my bedroom window. Had I dreamt my conversation with Justin last night? It occurred to me that Bea was missing from her crib.
I ran downstairs to find Justin sitting in the living room.
“She’s right here. Check this out.” Bea was slowly crawling toward him as he lured her with a new stuffed toy. It was a long rainbow-colored stuffed caterpillar that squeaked.
“Come on, Bumblebee,” he said to her. I loved his nickname for her.
Bea was inching toward him; it was her most impressive attempt at mobility yet.
“She’s crawling toward you!”
“I know. We’ve been practicing all morning.”
“Where did you get that toy?”
“I picked it up for her the other day from the toy shop downtown.”
“So you came inside the room this morning and took her out of the crib?”
“No, she walked downstairs herself, Amelia,” he quipped. “Of course. I peeked in on you because you never sleep that late, wanted to make sure you didn’t pass out from diddling yourself to thoughts of me last night.”
“Not quite. Although you were on my mind.”
“Anyway…she was just sitting there in her crib, looking at me, quiet as a mouse while you were snoring. So, I took her downstairs so you could stay sleeping. You had a pumped bottle in the fridge, so we finished that off.” He looked down at Bea. “She’s my breakfast buddy now.”