“Honey I’m home!” Tossing my bag down on the tiled floor of the foyer I glance up the stairs to see a pair of black, knee high boots stomping their way quickly down the stairs toward me and my mood improves considerably. It was a long flight, I’m tired and hungry and I’ve been thinking about this moment for hours.
“I thought you said you’d be home by dinner?” Becky throws herself into my arms, wrapping her arms around my neck and her black and white striped tight clad legs around my waist.
“Our flight was delayed. Does this mean you missed me ma colombe?” I ask, tilting my head back so she can’t press her full red lips against mine and so I can reacquaint myself with her pretty face.
“Of course I did, I’ve had to sleep in that big bed all by myself,” she replies, that sultry grin of hers’ replacing the happy go lucky grin that met me at the door as she raises an eyebrow and gives me that ‘if you know what I mean’ look.
“Well I’m here to remedy that, man chaton sensuelle,” I growl, heading for the stairs with her still wrapped around me, but I don’t get any farther than the landing before she’s squirming out of my arms and hopping down onto her feet.
“That’ll have to wait,” she sighs, giving me a peck on the cheek and reaching for her leather jacket which is hung over the pommel at the bottom of the stairs. “I have to go to work.”
“Work?” I glance at my watch and then up at her. I feel like whining. I feel like throwing myself down on the ground and kicking and screaming until I cry myself out in a good old fashioned tantrum.
“Yeah, I got a job at a mortuary, doing make up on stiffs,” she grins, slipping her arms into her jacket.
“But I just got home,” I pout like a child as she zips up her jacket, covering up the soft, curve clinging black sweater that had just felt so good against my skin.
“And if your flight had been on time, we’d have had time to get reacquainted but as it is…I’ll be home before breakfast. First funeral is at nine. Can you imagine having to drag your ass out of bed that early for a funeral?” she laughs and then reaches for the door.
“Fuck the job Becks, stay home. I’ll pay you to stay,” I add desperately as all of the x-rated visions that have been swimming around in my imagination all afternoon start blinking out of existence like popping balloons.
“You’re sweet,” she grins, taking the few steps back to where I’m still standing, dejected, on the landing. She cups my face in her hands and presses her mouth over mine in a long, soft kiss that doesn’t make her leaving any easier, at all. “But I have to pay for my text books somehow.”
“Books?” I mumble as she wraps her arms around me again in a bear hug.
“Oh, yeah, I started taking some courses,” she replies happily, kissing my cheek again and then heading for the door in a way that clearly says she really is going this time. “So I’ll be home for breakfast but then I really have to get a nap in. I have a business communication class at three.”
“Class?” Ostie!, Now I really need a fucking soother. All the way home all I could think about was burying my cock deep in her pussy and having her make those little noises that I like and now it sounds like not only am I not fucking getting any, but that I won’t be getting any anytime soon either. “Wait a fucking minute. I just got home. You can’t just…what the fuck is going on? I thought you’d be sitting here with your feet up watching movies.” It sounds bad the minute I say it but as insulting as I realize it sounds, I don’t want to take it back either.
“Things have changed, a little,” she adds, holding her finger and thumb up in front of my face like a tiny pinscher and grinning. “But don’t worry you’ll get used to it.”
“And if I don’t want to get used to it?” She doesn’t ask that question, just keeps smiling like she knows something I don’t, like maybe the secret to cold fusion or maybe how to cure world hunger.
“Look, by the time you’ve unpacked and had a nice long tubby time,” she sniffs near my hair and makes a face, “and get cleaned up a little, if you want, you can meet me at the funeral home and we can go for coffee, say around three?” she suggests, still wearing that damn cat that got the cream grin that is making me feel crazy.
“Hang out with stiffs?” I ask, perplexed.
“Oui,” she smiles and then presses her lips to mine in a soft, almost maternal sort of kiss. “Well, I hung out with your friends, so, y’know, fair is fair.” When faced with a reasonable sort of argument like that, what choice do I have?
“Alright,” I grudgingly reply, knowing that I sound like a petulant child and not really caring that I do.
“You have a face like a slapped backside.”
“Fuck! I didn’t even hear you come in!” Max complains as he looks up from contemplating the bottom of a half empty wine glass. Navel gazing my mother would call it but I just call it moping.
“Front door was unlocked. Pretty stupid in this city if you ask me,” Trina adds from where she’s standing at the top of the stairs, looking like some kind of sex shop catalogue model in thigh high black stiletto boots, a short black leather skirt and a red and black velvet corset top.
“We saw you come home and then we saw your girlfriend leave,” she adds, tilting her head to one side so that all her long, straight ebony hair falls down her arm. Max looks over at her and then at me.
“Plus Tanger has like, no food in house. It’s like he’s living on protein shakes and bananas,” Jordy adds from behind the door of Max’s fridge which he currently is holding wide open as he rummages through its’ contents. “Score! Beer!” I watch him emerge with two coronas, opening one as he walks towards Tina with one held out towards her. It doesn’t surprise me when she shakes her head at the proffered bottle. “Fine, whatever, more for me,” my big blonde friend grins as he walks over to one of the overstuffed leather chairs in Max’s living room and drops into it. “So you’re back and your chick leaves. What’s with that?” And that’s why I suggested we come over here, because I knew Jordy would get right to the point and I feel better about his asking Max that particular question.
“She’s working, apparently,” Max grumbles, going back to staring into the deep red liquid.
“Good for her.” I’ve been hoping that was what she’s been doing, all the coming and going at odd times but I haven’t asked. I’ve been doing as she asked. I’ve been staying away; however, my enthusiasm earns me a dirty look from Max.
“And she’s going to…some class ‘er other as well,” he adds, downing the rest of his glass before pouring himself another one from the half empty bottle sitting beside it.
“Then super good for her,” Trina remarks, walking around me towards Max and grabbing the bottle before he gets a chance to put it back down on the coffee table in front of him. We all watch as she takes a long swig before she curls up on Jordy’s lap and snuggles into him like a big, contented panther. “What?” she snaps when we all continue to stare at her. “You’ve been all but calling her white trash yourself Talbot,” she adds, using the bottle to point at him, “so good for her for trying to do something with herself. Not that I can believe that you’ve actually been a good example to her but…whatever works.”
“I didn’t say she’s…,” Max begins but when we all give him ‘the look’ he sighs and shrugs his shoulders. “I just want someone here when I get home, not out gallivanting.”
“She’s not gallivanting, she’s trying to improve herself,” I point out, immediately defending her, which earns me a raised eyebrow from Trina, who knows too much.
“It’s not like you’re in love with her anyway,” Trina adds like there’s no argument to be had, like that’s the truth and none of us even look at Max for one, until he replies.
“I might be.” It’s three words and there said in this childish, churlish sort of way, but those three words make my heart sink. All I want is to prove to Rebecca that I’m the one who loves her and the Max I know would never say those words and I know it’s only a matter of time before she realizes it unless….
“Might be? Well that’s one hell of a romantic statement,” Trina scoffs but he has her attention. He has all of our attention.
“I may not know what it feels like okay? But I missed her, the whole time I was in Haiti, I missed her and I couldn’t wait to come home to her and now that I have and she’s…she’s fucked off somewhere, I really hate it. That has to mean something, right?” He puts his hand on his stomach, like it hurts and I’m hoping like hell that it’s just a combination of bad airline food and rich wine but the immediate look of sympathy that crosses Jordan’s face and the guarded glance he sends towards Trina crushes me.
“Well, well, miracles never cease,” Trina laughs but no one else does.
“Good for you man,” Jordan says finally, giving Trina a little shove that nearly sends her sprawling to the floor. She turns and gives him an evil look but Jordan isn’t looking at her. He’s looking at Max and the look he gives him tells me that he’s more than just a little jealous of Max finally ‘fessing up to having a heart. “But you should tell her, y’know? There can be a lot of…mixed up shit if you don’t.” Part of me wants to hold my hand over Jordan’s big mouth for saying it, for saying anything, but the other part of me, the diehard romantic part has the fucking pompoms out and is cheering him on but for him, not for Max.
“Je ne sais pas si je suis prêt.” I feel my hands roll into fists when he looks at me for advice. I remind myself that I’m supposed to be his friend and more than that, I love her and want her to be happy, even if it’s not with me.
‘You’re hiding and you know it’ I tell myself as I carefully apply a soft peach lip gloss to the old woman’s thin lips while I try to ignore the dark stitches that hold her mouth closed. I knew that Max was coming home tonight and I could have come in later. In fact, I probably could have asked for the night off. The family that runs this place doesn’t really need me here at all. I’m pretty sure they took me on as some kind of charity case, a favor to the professor at the local college who’s taken an interest in my struggle to learn, which I was never very good at in high school, but I’m trying.
I thought I was ready for Max to come home. I believed that I could jump into his arms and be happy. We’ve been talking and texting and emailing and I really thought that we were making a connection and that I was feeling something for him again, but the minute I kissed him…the minute I knew I had to make a decision between coming to work or going upstairs and getting into bed with him…right then I knew. I knew I couldn’t do it.
‘Adulterer’, I call myself as I smooth some rouge on the old biddy’s high cheekbones. It’s not really fair, I know, maybe a little harsh to call myself that considering Max rarely, if ever, has even called me his girlfriend. He’s called me lots of things, cute things and things I can’t translate but they sound a little slutty, but he’s never said anything about being exclusive and yet….
And yet, even though I’ve been telling myself he could have been having it off this entire time with someone down in Haiti, some black skinned beauty with full lips and a caboose to kill for, I don’t really believe it. He was too happy to see me, too ready to take me upstairs and take his pent up sexual aggression out on me and the reality of it is, I know that if I’d just given into it, I would have liked it.
That’s the fucking problem though isn’t it? I like the way he rolls in the bedroom. I like the whole scratching, biting, room wrecking sex. I like getting sweaty and being that naughty girl who needs a spanking. I like waking up feeling like I’ve had a really good night and knowing that everyone will know it just by the way I’m walking.
But now I also know that I like the soft, sweet, tender, gaze holding way of doing it too. Not that I’d ever had anyone want to do that with me before. Not that anyone’s ever looked at me the way that Kristopher did and tell me things like….
“I think I owe you an apology.”
I nearly jump out of my skin, and I definitely break off the eyebrow pencil as I stab it into the stiff cold flesh of the cadaver under my hand. Hazard of the job I guess.
“I wasn’t expecting you…this early,” I add, because in truth I wasn’t expecting him to come at all, or maybe I was hoping he wouldn’t. I wince at the thought, but keep my head down, dabbing away the tiny brown shards the broken eyeliner pencil has left behind.
“I brought a peace offering.” I look up to see Max holding two stainless steel travel mugs and what looks like a box from a bakery, complete with those sort of grey stains the white cardboard get when something ooey gooey good is in them. My stomach growls in response. He looks around for somewhere to put them down and finally decides on the top of a metal travel cadaver carrier. Someone’s loved one had to fly home.
“You don’t have to apologize. I’m the one who didn’t say anything to you,” I sigh, putting the pencil and rouge away in my tackle box and turning to face him, leaning on the white lead lined coffin with it’s plush pink velvet interior. Now that’s how a society dame goes in style.
“Yeah but I didn’t react very well did I?” Max holds the cup towards me and push off, telling myself that this is what I wanted, that I have to try to make it work. “I was just being selfish,” he adds I sniff at the contents, closing my eyes in bliss when I realize that it’s Mexican drinking chocolate. “Forgive me?” he asks as I open my eyes.
“I can try,” I smile, peeking into the box to find real cream éclairs, not those cheap ones with the aerosol whip cream, but the kind with real honest to goodness vanilla custard. “Mmm, I can try very hard,” I add as he holds one up for me to take a bite of.
“I thought about you, well…I thought about us a lot while I was in Haiti,” he says while I chew and want to tell him he doesn’t have to say things like that but I can’t, too much chocolate and custard in my mouth. I even try and pass the message on with my eyes but he either doesn’t get the message or ignores it and continues. “I realized how much I looked forward to talking to you and even getting your emails really made me smile. I was really looking forward to coming home to be with you. Do you understand what I’m saying, mon chaton?” I stop chewing, but I don’t swallow, half afraid I’ll choke if I do so instead I shake my head and wait. “I think that it’s not just fun between us anymore, ma belle. Savez vous ce que j’essaie de dire?”
“It’s not?” I reply stupidly, my mouth still full of cream which I quickly wash down with the thick, rich drink, that warms me right down to my belly.
“I think you know that it’s not,” Max smiles, taking the mug out of my hand and putting it down before taking my hand and kissing first the back of it, paying special attention to each and every knuckle before turning my hand over and kissing the centre of my palm and then the inside of my wrist, before turning his gaze back up to meet mine and the expression in his eyes, those eyes that always remind me of the colour of a deep natural pool, makes my chest hurt. “Mon coeur tu appartient. Do you know what that means.” I shake my head, silently, knowing how big my eyes must be right now, sure that there’s chocolate and cream leaking out the corners of my mouth and hoping, praying that even though this is what I’ve wanted him to say, that it doesn’t mean what I know in my heart it means. “It means that I am falling in love with you Becks. It means that you’ve got me twisted around your little finger and I don’t want loose.” He waits for me to say something and I just keep staring at him, hating myself for not being able to say anything back. I hate myself for wanting to love him and not being able to but mostly I hate myself for not being strong enough to be honest and just tell him that I love his best friend.
“That’s good,” I whisper and smile when he smiles at me, like that could ever be enough, and then I let him kiss me and I kiss him back and the sweet, rich taste of the chocolate turns into bitter acid in my mouth.