Page 124 of We Were Once

My shoulders ease, and my back molds to the mattress as he takes the sides of my panties down, leaving a trail of kisses across my belly, my hip, and lower. As much as I yearn to feel him inside me again, I won’t pass up his mouth working its magic first.

It’s been so long since I’ve lost myself in anyone . . . since Joshua.

As I run my fingertips through his hair, the tension from my legs disappears when his mouth touches my lower lips. Feel. I release another breath as the tip of his tongue slides through me and his lips kiss me as if he were kissing my mouth. It doesn’t take long before a wave of emotions beckons my shores, and the tide tightens my hold on reality. His heavy breath coats me, whispering, “You’re so beautiful,” the words whisked away under moans of pleasure.

I succumb to the feel, the sensations of him, edging me closer to the cliff. There’s no reprieve as I lose track of time and place. All that exists is the bond between Joshua and me and the stars that shine for us.

He’s quick to reach into the nightstand and retrieve a condom. I move higher, resting on his pillow. The musky scent presses down on my memories, suffocating my attempt to stay here, to stay present.

He returns and repositions himself. Caressing my face, he holds me here with him. I’m kissed with need when he enters me—slow and steady. I suck in a harsh breath, forgetting how full I feel with him. A delicious stretch, that familiar burn that subsides just as quick. I push my hips to his, closing the distance between us until he’s buried deep inside me.

Emotions rush through me as his whole being, his body and soul roll through me. Nothing was ever less with him; it was everything.

Everything.

Consuming me with every thrust, he places hot kisses on my neck. The groan that precariously balances between pleasure and a deep ache that comes from years of pain. Running my hands up his back, I weave my fingers into his hair and dip back to catch sight of his eyes. I’m not only exposing my body and heart to him, but my soul as he stills, open for him to see all of me.

When he opens his eyes, I whisper, “I’ve missed you. I feel it. I feel you.” My breath stolen off my tongue as I speak . . . taken, overwhelmed from being with him again.

He drops his head beside mine, and our bodies move together as we chase what bliss tastes like. Breathing each other in instead of air. This is all I need. All I need . . . “Joshua,” is kissed from my lips to his skin covered in a sheen of sweat.

Our bodies seek the release, but my hands want more time to enjoy the size of him covering me. It’s too much to hang on, and I call his name again, the word alone a prayer echoing through the apartment until my release hits, before biting my lip and diving into a beautiful abyss.

My name whispered on the wings of his own release, leaving me floating limitless until we come down together. I could lie like this forever—our bodies sharing secrets, my bones jelly on the bed underneath him. Coherent, but weighted in us. Selfishly, I want it again. I want him.

A tear slips down my cheek to meet his pressed to mine. He looks up and kisses it. “Don’t cry, baby.” The sweetest name I was ever called becomes the one that brings gravity to fall on top of me. “What’s wrong?” Still peering into my eyes, he whispers, “You can tell me.”

I’m vulnerable to this man, my heart already losing the battle. Twisting those other three words on my tongue to snuff them out, I reply, “Don’t hurt me,” instead. My greatest fear is to have to live after losing him twice.

“I won’t.” Memories of a broken promise stay locked inside my head.

Closing his eyes, he breathes me in as if I’m air to him, filling his lungs again. But it’s the relief I see in his muscles that makes me think he’s in just as deep as I am. He rolls to the side, and with one arm over his forehead, I find the other and our fingers fold together.

We were once too young to last, but six years later, can we leave our love in the past? I know the answer already. “I believe you.”

45

Joshua

I believe you. . .

Those were some of the last words she said to me before the accident.

“I believe you . . . I love you bigger than the sky, Joshua . . . Watch out!”

That final exchange we had has played on a loop in my head. She doesn’t remember them at all. I remember more than the end. I remember how her fingers rubbing the back of my neck was comforting. That sunset reflected gold in her eyes. Her laughter like distant music lost in the wind. That she looked at me like I was her home.

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