In June I flew home to LA to spend time with my family and with Nick.
I came back to my old room to find Berry waiting for me with a giant grin, “sugarplum! You’re back!”
She engulfed me in a hug and tackled me onto my bed. I giggled.
“I didn’t know you’d be here.”
“I’m supposed to be studying for a final but I didn’t want to miss you coming home!”
“I feel so special,” I admitted with a laugh.
“Yeah, you were supposed to.”
We finally sat up before Berry bombarded me with questions, “so, how you liking New York?”
I shrugged, “It’s not so bad now that it's warmer. I mean, there’s still people everywhere, which can be a little overwhelming, and...”
“Would you want to live there?”
“I do live there.”
“Yeah, but long term?”
I shrugged, “I don’t know, I’m starting to feel like I have two lives now. I have friends out there and I have a video interview to be a research assistant next week and I feel like being there is pushing me to stay there, but-”
I bit my lip, “I like the people here. Also, I was born here and I just like it here better, I think?”
Berry listened to me intently.
“I don’t know, maybe if I could bring my New York people here?”
She smirked, “you have this crazy idea of trying to keep people forever, you know?”
“Well, yeah, but if they’re good people, why wouldn’t you want to keep them?”
She rolled her eyes playfully, “it’s irrational, you’ve gotta learn to rotate.”
I stared at her confused.
“Okay, so try to think of it as when you were a kid and you had your stuffed animals. So you’d have a favorite one and that’s the one you’d sleep with until you had another favorite and then you’d switch them out. Or sometimes you’d just be in a different mood you know?”
She shrugged, “I don’t know you can still go back to old favorites but you’re not going to stick with it forever just because, right?”
I bit my lip knowing my confession would not go over well.
“I slept with all of my stuffed animals.”
“Yeah, exactly, that’s what they’re for.”
“No, like at the same time.”
Berry stared at me in silence for a moment. “Are you serious?”
I didn’t respond, I didn’t know how.
She sighed, “oh, you piss me off. Who does that? That’s weird, Vans!”
“I didn’t want them to feel excluded or left out,” I defended quietly.
“They were stuffed animals! They didn’t have feelings.”
I shrugged, “they did to me.”
“Didn’t you have like a hundred stuffed animals, how did you fit them all in your bed?”
I blushed, recalling the memories, “I used to set them all around me or on top of me or wherever they fit and then I just… wouldn’t move so that they wouldn’t fall off.”
A smile pierced her concerned exterior, “you’re too sweet for this world. I mean, truly. I see a lot of who you are and what your goals are in life and I worry for you.”
I shook my head, “I don’t know what that means.”
“It means you do too much for everyone. And fine be kind and be generous but not at your own expense.”
Her words sounded strangely familiar and I didn’t know what to say. I liked helping people. And honestly, it caused me too much anxiety not to.
Berry and I hung out for a short while before she had to get back to studying. “We’re going hiking this weekend, though, so don’t forget.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” I promised.
She gave me another hug and with that, she was on her way.
That evening I slipped into a button-up shirt dress and some comfortable flats before I was in my mini cooper again, for the first time in a long time, headed for Nick’s home. I pulled up to his home where I noticed another car in the driveway. Either he bought a new car or he’s not alone. Can he afford to buy a new car? How much money does he make? How does he make his money, like is it a monthly paycheck or once a year or-
I shook the thoughts out of my head knowing I definitely should not be pondering his income.
I parked in the driveway behind the car that I knew was his before getting off to knock on the door.
I was about to knock when I heard shouting on the other end, “just drop it already, Nick! It’s fine! Leave it alone!”
“No, it’s not! I can’t put my name on it as it is!”
“It’s not all about you!”
“Are you kidding me right now? I’m fucking try-”
“Look, I’m not discussing this anymore. Do whatever you want! I’m out of here!”
The door swung open to reveal an annoyed Kevin. He stared at me surprised, “Vanessa.”
My eyes shifted to the ground as I whispered, “Kevin.”
“He’s… I’m just heading out, um Dani is waiting for me. But-uh, I’ll see you around.”
I stepped aside to allow him passage before looking into Nick’s seemingly empty house. I stepped inside cautiously closing the door behind me. I saw him pacing in the kitchen angrily. He was red in the face. I walked over to him slowly.
His eyes shot up to catch sight of me. He rushed toward me quickly, before wrapping me up in his embrace. “How are you here right now?”
I wrapped my arms around his torso as my face became buried in his chest, “I flew back this morning.”
“I thought you said you had a summer load.”
“I do; online,” I smiled up at him to find his temper had cooled almost instantly.
He shook his head at me, “you must have superpowers or something, how do you manage to always show up right when I’m falling apart.”
I shrugged, “I’m just trying to do my job.”
He sighed out the leftover frustrations before releasing me to check his watch. “It’s 10:30 don’t you have a curfew or something?”
I smiled and shook my head, “guess my mom forgot all about curfews when I turned 19.”
He smiled back at me, “A whole year knowing you, huh?”
His lips pouted in thought, “it’s not bad.”
I raised an eyebrow in question, “not bad? What a glowing review.”
He chuckled and kissed my forehead, “well, can’t make you sound too appealing, someone might run in and steal you right from under me.”
I blushed at his words, “under you?”
Nick smirked at me, “how about I get you something to drink?”
He stepped away from me and turned toward the fridge. “I’ve got water, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, diet coke, something stronger?”
We cuddled together on the couch watching a movie, Nick’s thumb stroked my arm soothingly while my brain seemed to be stuck on a loop. Under him. Under him? Like me being under him? Physically? What would he do to me if I was under him? What if his hands were all over me? My mind drifted to his birthday last year and the day after Valentine’s day, my birthday, and I was suddenly trapped in a haze. My body temperature increased drastically and quickly. I squeezed my legs together when I felt the familiar heat building again.
Nick noticed my body stiffen and he immediately stopped what he was doing and focused all of his attention on me. “Hey, you okay?”
I felt the familiar blush of embarrassment growing on my face. I nodded quickly, futilely hoping he’d drop it.
“Ness, what’s wrong?”
I closed my eyes feeling like I’d been caught. I took a moment to try and think my way out of this. His hand reached out for mine as he stroked the back of my hand with his thumb reassuringly.
What can I say to make this go away? If I asked him to drop it, would he? What if he finds out what I was thinking? What would he say? Would he judge me? My heart raced inside my chest with a slight uptick of excitement.
Would it be bad if I just tell him the truth? How would he respond? Would he want the same things, too? I bit my lip in deep contemplation. Only one way to find out.
I took a deep breath and shook my head, “just- uh, my mind wandered to, uh… to us.”
He watched me patiently as he waited for me to explain.
“I, um, I-I like it when I’m close to you.”
The corners of his lips turned up slightly.
“I just mean, well… I like it when you,” I whispered, “touch me.”
He stared at me, frozen, all movements on his end had seized. He was expressionless for longer than I was comfortable with and I held my breath hoping for the moment to pass, or expand, or really do anything beyond this second.
“You what?” He finally let out.
His facade was cracking. I saw his adam's apple bob in his throat before a pink hue began to consume him. Seeing his reaction gave me a confidence that I’d never possessed. I don’t think I’d ever gotten that response from anyone before. I felt the desire to test it.
I licked my lips before looking up at him through my long lashes. My fingertips brushed up the palm of his hand and up his arm in featherlight strokes. “I like when you put your hands on me. It excites just to think about it.”
He let out a shaky breath, “you- you do?”
I bit my lip and nodded before shrugging, “I don’t know, I guess I was thinking maybe we could do that again.”
He seemed to ponder my offer momentarily before he got up off the couch before reaching a hand out to me. I took it fearlessly and followed behind him, barefoot, down the hall and up the stairs. I’d never been upstairs in Nick’s home, but I suppose there’s a first time for everything. He led me into the bedroom at the end of the hall where a large King size bed sat in the center of the room.
Nick cleared his throat as he walked into the room and slipped off his shoes. He rolled up the sleeves of his shirt and kicked off his shoes all while I stared on nervously.
“You okay?” Nick asked.
I swallowed the nerves that were building, “yeah, yes, I just- um…”
I stumbled in behind him feeling the gravity of the situation. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t even know where to start.
“You sure? You seem a little nervous,” Nick shoved his hands in his pockets as he watched me.
I nodded, a bit excessively, “ye-no, I’m… uh…” I closed my eyes trying to figure out how to compose myself.
I opened my eyes to see Nick asking for my hand. I crossed the room to meet him. He pressed a soft kiss to the back of my hand before running his hand through my hair.
“You don’t have to do this, you know,” he reminded me.
I was nervous about trying something new. I was nervous because I’d never even ventured into this territory on my own. Still, I knew what I wanted.
“I’m nervous,” I admitted. “But I-I still want… you.”
Nick studied me carefully before pressing a kiss to my forehead, “you can stop this at any time, you know that, right?”
I nodded again feeling a mix of nerves and butterflies and a swirling storm of mixed emotions.
Nick kissed my cheek before his lips met mine in a soft embrace. Immediately, all of my fear and worry began to vanish.
After a moment I felt him begin to pull away, so I tiptoed before he could to stop him. His hand gently grazed against my jawline and I felt a trail of warmth wherever his hands went. My hands reached for the collar of his shirt. He was delicate in every single one of his actions and it felt painstakingly teasing. With every second that passed, my body craved him more and more and the slow, featherlight touches weren’t enough to quench my appetite.
It wasn’t much longer before I felt an overwhelming urge to move forward. My hands quickly started tugging on the hem of his shirt. Nick’s hands quickly moved to stop me as he broke our kiss.
“Slow down, Ness.”
I looked up at him confused. Did he not believe me when I said I wanted this?
He sighed, “this is new to me, too.”
I was shocked by his confession. I always saw Nick as a worldly guy, he’d been everywhere, tried everything, knew everything.
“I just- I want to make sure I get this right.” His jaw flexed as he stared me down intensely.
I couldn’t help the smile that crept onto my face. He was nervous. I’d never seen this side of him.
“I trust you,” I promised.
Nick exhaled in relief as his forehead connected with mine before wrapping both arms around my waist.
My hands hung from his shoulders before I reached up to meet his lips again. It was difficult and almost painful to move as slow as we did. My heart spent what felt like hours beating so hard, I felt it might burst out of my chest.
Slowly but surely, he reached for the top button of my dress and worked his way down. Goosebumps rolled across my skin in waves over and over again. I felt absolutely exhilarated being so vulnerable around him. I felt like I could hand myself over to him completely and know that I’d be safe in his embrace. When he finished unbuttoning, he pulled the two sides apart and stopped to examine the skin underneath.
I felt a heat creeping up my neck and into my cheeks. Having his eyes so focused on me was both unnerving and arousing. His jaw flexed and he swallowed harshly as his eyes scanned every curve. I stepped toward him as my dress finally slipped off my shoulders and pooled on the floor. His hands wrapped around my bare waist and his lips crashed into mine more forcefully.
I reached for his shirt again, more carefully this time, playing with the hemline around his waist before my hands finally found the flesh under the fabric. I felt the goosebumps across his skin as the fabric began to bunch in my hands as they traveled higher and higher. He pulled away long enough to discard his shirt before pulling my body against his. Feeling his hot skin colliding with mine was exhilarating. I’d never felt anything like it before. I pulled him in closer trying to increase the contact between the two of us. His hands slipped below my waist, over my underwear before firmly squeezing my ass.
“God, Vanessa,” he groaned out, almost in pain.
I pulled away to kiss across his chest from one collar bone to the other. His lips quickly found mine again before he lifted me off the ground and I wrapped my legs around his waist. He walked us over to the edge of the bed before laying me down onto it.
He hovered above me while my hands kept tracing the valleys on his arms. His hips collided with mine and I felt a familiar rush of butterflies as they migrated between my legs. My hands reached around his hips and pulled them toward me urging him to do it again. He complied with my request before whispering against my collar bone.
“I love you.”
I pulled his face up to meet mine before kissing him fervently. I wrapped my legs around his waist and my arms around his neck trying to keep him as close as possible. I felt him smile against my lips as my touch became rougher, hungrier, more desperate for him.
My hands quickly trailed down to his jeans. I tried unbuckling his belt when his hands stopped mine.
He pulled away and shut his eyes as he tried to control his breathing. “Ness, I-I can’t-”
I shook my head, “I’m sorry. I just- I wanted to touch you, too.”
Nick’s eyes were pained as he seemed to struggle in an internal battle.
“We don’t- we can stop if it’s too much,” I promised him.
For an instant the idea crossed my mind that he was always the one saying that to me, not the other way around, and yet, here we found ourselves.
He finally nodded before releasing my hands and allowing me to continue. My hands slowly undid his belt. Then the button. The zipper. I used my feet to begin sliding his jeans off of him. Once they were down to about his knee he stopped what he was doing to kick them off the rest of the way. I took that as my chance to crawl to the top of the bed and crawl under the bedding.
Nick’s eyes focused on me with a look of lust and pain before he met me under the sheets. I reached out for him first before he pulled me into him. One hand played with the curls at the nape of his neck while the other rested on his hip. After a few minutes, my fingers curled around the waistband of his briefs and he sucked in a sharp breath. He broke our kiss trying to figure out how to proceed.
“Do you trust me, Nick?”
His eyes remained closed while he battled some internal debate. “Stop me if you want to.”
My hand ventured into the other side of the fabric in search of him.
I wrapped my fingers around him to the best of my ability before stroking him back and forth.
His breathing was shallow and rapid before he growled out a “fuck!”
I felt him beginning to pulsate in my hand similar to the feeling I felt between my legs.
“Ness,” he whimpered.
I picked up speed incrementally but his hand reached for my wrist. “Ness, god that feels…” he took a deep breath. “Incredible, but I- if you keep going…” he pulled my hand out while he worked to regain a steady breath. “I want to focus on you.”
He pushed my shoulder so that I rolled back to lay flat on the mattress. He positioned himself above me before brushing my hair out of my face lovingly, “you’re beautiful, you know that?”
I couldn’t help the blush that consumed my cheeks as he kissed my nose. He planted butterfly kisses across my face before his lips wandered across my jaw, down my neck. His lips lingered around my collarbone before his teeth nipped at my bra strap. I gasped in surprise as the strap snapped against my skin. I could feel him smirking at my reaction but I was too enthralled to care.
His lips ventured through the valley between my breasts before lightly nibbling on the sensitive flesh. My back arched in response and my hands became entwined in his hair as I pulled him in closer. He let out a breathy chuckle as he kissed down to my ribs and still kept going lower. He licked the skin just above the waistband of my panties and it felt like my entire body was electrically charged. His hands lightly tugged on the thin fabric that was my panties and my hips lifted to make it easier. His lips kept moving down. Kissing the newly exposed flesh and inching closer and closer toward uncharted territory. My hips dropped back onto the mattress in a panic while Nick stopped what he was doing to look up at me.
“That’s too- I can’t do that.”
Nick nodded silently.
“I just- this is all new and I’m not ready for all of that. I mean-“
“You don’t have to explain. I can stick to your limits.”
I sighed out a breath of relief before Nick’s lips met mine.
I played with his hair while his hands helped me discard my panties altogether. He positioned himself between my legs and made every assurance that my body was on the brink of overload before his hand began to masterfully pleasure me. I gasped in response.
I nodded quickly before biting my lip and burying my face in my hands in embarrassment. Nick placed soft kisses on my hand, “talk to me, Ness. I don’t know what you want if you don’t tell me.”
I inhaled sharply before removing one hand to speak to him. “That feels-”
I gasped in excitement as he applied just a little more pressure.
“Oh, god, Nick!” I whimpered against his shoulder.
“What do you want, Ness?”
“Just, please keep- keep going.”
Nick kissed my forehead while my hands scratched at his shoulders lightly. It wasn’t long before my entire body was on edge quickly approaching the elusive brink.
“Nick, I think- oh, god! Nick, I think I’m going to-“
Before I could finish, I was burying a muffled moan in his shoulder while my body began to convulse beyond my control.
My entire body felt drained of all energy. I couldn’t feel the space around me anymore. My limbs felt like they were made of lead. I couldn’t move even if I tried. Nick laid beside me and kissed my temple before lifting me toward him as I rested limply against his chest.
We laid in silence for a few moments before I was able to speak again. “I- that was- I’d never done that before.”
Nick chuckled as he stroked my hair, “me either.”
I shook my head against his chest, “no, I mean, not even by myself.”
Nick was silent and I was kind of glad I didn’t have to see his expression. “It’s just- I was always so… It felt wrong and scary and- I don’t know, I guess I didn’t trust myself.”
Nick kissed the top of my head as he tightened his grip around me. “Thank you for trusting me.”
I kissed his chest before sliding my arm around him.
I awoke with a jump when I felt Nick stroke my hair. “Hey, it’s just me. Didn’t mean to scare you.”
His voice was groggy and sleepy and I couldn’t help but smile. “I know, it’s just a bad habit I’m trying to break.”
His arms stretched around me giving me a light squeeze. I looked up to see him with his eyes still half shut and his hair disheveled.
A smile quickly consumed his face before he kissed the tip of my nose, “me? Have you checked the mirror lately?”
I giggled as I stretched out my legs. I buried my face in his chest again, breathing him in. “I like this. I want to do this more.”
He chuckled, “you know, I’ve had a very similar idea. Just kind of waiting for the missing puzzle piece.”
I glanced up at him confused. What puzzle piece? What is he thinking? He shook his head at me.
“No worries, I can wait.”