by Zahra Barnes
Jack looked up from between my legs and softly bit my thigh. I clamped a hand over my mouth, but a moan still escaped.
“Is that good?” he whispered.
I nodded wildly. “That swirly tongue thing,” I gasped. “Keep doing that.” We’d come back from dinner at the B&B’s restaurant and fallen into bed immediately. Well, first we’d made out up against a wall. Then he’d hoisted me onto the dresser and nudged my knees open so he could fit his body into that waiting space while he pulled my sweater dress over my head and kissed me all over. Then we’d fallen into bed.
Jack’s hands roamed, clutching my hips and bringing me deeper into his mouth until an orgasm pounded through me. I wanted to return the favor but felt like I’d been lobotomized, so I lay there for a few minutes, breathless and sweaty. Finally, I sat up and pushed Jack back to check out the goods. Grant’s dick had truly been a magnificent work of art, but Jack’s was giving it a run for its money. About seven inches long with none of the unfortunate pencil-thinness I’d encountered in college, I just wanted to wrap myself around it. I know lots of women like jumbo-sized equipment, but I prefer not to fear for my life if I decide to be adventurous and try to deep-throat. I’m not a boa constrictor; I can’t unhinge my jaw the second a guy whips it out. Jack was perfect.
I started to lean over, but Jack sat up and kissed me, then buried his face in my hair. “I just want to be inside of you,” he said. I dug my fingers into his curls and kissed him fiercely, then pulled away so he could roll on a condom.
“You came prepared.” I arched an eyebrow at him.
“Wait, is that weird? Sorry, I just figured—”
“Jack, it’s fine. I’m kidding. Put the thing on and come over here.”
He did what I said, then brushed the hair from my face. “It feels so good to be with you like this,” he said quietly.
“I know,” I whispered as I leaned back and pulled him on top of me.
“Tessa?” He propped himself up on his elbows and hovered over me, our bodies volleying heat back and forth.
“Yeah?” I gazed into his mismatched eyes, memorizing the freckles that dotted his face.
“I think I’m falling for you.”
Overwhelmed, I raised my hips and pulled him inside me. He slid in and groaned into my neck, then started to move against my body.
After he came, he headed south for another round. When I was on the brink of my third orgasm, he looked up at me.
“Want me to keep going?” The grin on his face could only be described as devilish.
I raised my head from the pillow. Was he joking? “Yes! Please, I want it.”
“I’m just so tired,” he said with a mischievous gleam in his eyes. “But I know what will give me an energy boost.”
“What? Just tell me, I’ll do it.”
“If I know we’re going to listen to my mix on the way back, I think I’d be able to do this all night.” We’d listened to my music on the way up.
“Fine, yes, whatever!”
He laughed and went at it with renewed vigor. It was a maniacal method to ensure that we listened to his Coldplay-filled mix the next day, but it worked. That was the kind of thing that was going to get me hooked.
After we were done, Jack propped himself up on his elbow.
“Well, shit,” he said.
“That was amazing. I’ve never had sex like that before. It just felt…different.”
I instinctively reached my hand up to hide the grin that was playing on my lips. Jack scooted over and wrapped his arms around me, and we drifted off to sleep.
The next morning I woke up to a face full of sun. I slowly started to extricate myself from Jack’s arms, getting almost completely untangled before he reflexively pulled me closer. I settled in and thought about the weekend we’d spent at the bed and breakfast in upstate New York. He’d been right when he’d said it would be all about spiked hot chocolate and cuddling. What I hadn’t expected was the incredible sex. I’d told Marley I thought our getaway might be too soon to do it, but when we were in the moment, I couldn’t deny how right it’d felt.
We’d arrived Friday afternoon. He’d cajoled me into going on an admittedly pretty hike, then we’d thawed our frozen muscles in our room’s jacuzzi. I’d brought a bikini for that express purpose, but it had ended up coming off. So had his trunks. After that, we’d mostly stayed in our room except for venturing out for food. We’d spent that night talking until the early morning about everything possible, from our favorite pieces of art to what silly habits we wouldn’t give up (“According to science, sleeping with your feet outside the covers guarantees a good night’s rest. Yeah, like I’m going to make it that easy for the monsters,” I’d said).
Jack stirred and I swiped at my face, hoping I looked more tousled sex goddess than escaped prisoner who broke into a MAC store.
Jack’s hand grazed my ass. “Ready for round two?”
“Isn’t it technically round four? Maybe five?”
He rolled me over so we were facing each other. “I’ve lost count. Let’s just do it again.”
So we did.
An hour later, Jack and I checked out of the B&B. No doubt we were going to get caught in a snarl of terrible Sunday traffic, but I didn’t totally hate the idea of being trapped in a car with him.
We parked ourselves in our seats. As soon as Jack turned on the car, he plugged in his phone and tapped the screen a few times. Coldplay’s “The Scientist” blared through the speakers.
“Lovely music for our trip,” he shouted over the song.
“Yes, exquisite. Splendid. Absolutely sublime,” I said with an eye roll as I buckled myself in.
“Oh, I’ve got a little thesaurus on my hands! What, you don’t want me to serenade you?”
Actually, I could get down with a serenade.
We were well on our way down the Taconic before Jack broached the subject of my work situation. “Have you decided what your plan is about Grey & Boehm?” he asked.
Completely immersing myself in something, or someone, else helped me feel like I was approaching the Grey & Boehm situation with fresh eyes. I knew exactly what I was going to do.
“I’m going to go to Revel and meet with Marian to explain.” By then, Grey & Boehm had made the move to the new office building and was officially no longer its own entity. “If she doesn’t believe me, I’m moving on. I can’t wallow forever,” I said with certainty.
Jack nodded approvingly and I studied his strong profile. He clenched his jaw in that way hot guys do and a corresponding zing shot straight to my nether region. “That sounds like a good idea. When are you going to talk to her?”
“I was thinking tomorrow. I need to figure all of this out soon, especially if I’m going to need to find a new job. There’s just no point in waiting.”
Jack reached a hand over and cupped my knee. “I’m really proud of you. I know that sounds weird, but I am.”
“Thank you. It’s not weird, that’s really sweet.” Heat rose to my cheeks. I hoped Jack would chalk it up to the unseasonably hot sun beating down on the car windows. He pulled his hand back and gripped the steering wheel.
“Listen, I don’t know if this is the right time to bring this up,” he said.
My heart plunged. Really? Was he about to tell me he had an STD? Or that he was moving somewhere far away? Abu Dhabi, perhaps? He and Grant could frolic in the sand together and talk about the intricacies of my vagina.
“You know how we talked about Quinn?” Over dinner on our final night at the B&B, we’d delved into the ex conversation. I’d told him what had happened with Grant and he’d divulged the breakdown of his relationship with Quinn, his college sweetheart. They'd ended things almost a year prior to our first date.
“Yeah?” My voice squeaked a little. I cleared my throat. “Sure. What about her?”
“I’d always been worried it would take me forever to get over her, or to feel the same way about someone else. I guess I felt kind of broken. But I could really see us, you and me I mean, going somewhere good. Becoming something good, rather.”
I sank into my seat in relief, reveling in the soreness of my muscles, delicious evidence of what we’d been up to all weekend.
It was my turn to reach out and rub his denim-clad thigh. “So can I,” I responded.
At that moment, my phone buzzed with a text from Marley.
“How goes it? Text me so I know Jack hasn’t gone psycho and hacked you into pieces. Didn’t you see The Shining? Winter getaways with men named Jack are dangerous.” Marley was so special, in both a sweet way and a touched in the head way.
“Seriously amazing!” I followed that up with heart-eyed emoji and an eggplant one alongside it.
“Get it!!! Come over tomorrow to spill,” she wrote back.
When Jack pulled up to my apartment, he hopped out and got my bag even though I protested. My street was one-way and the drivers were rabid when it came to people blocking the flow of traffic.
“The coast is clear, it’s fine!” he said. We snuck a few extra kisses on my stoop until someone behind the car started leaning on his horn.
Jack pulled away and tugged on the sleeve of my puffer coat. “What are you doing tomorrow night?”
“Telling Marley all about what just happened.”
“Of course, how could I not have guessed. Talk me up. Okay, the night after that, let me make you dinner at my place. I want to hear about what goes down tomorrow in person. ”
“You really know how to woo a girl.”
He smiled and kissed my mouth, quickly followed by my forehead and my nose. That was new. Then he ran to the car to avoid getting rammed by the livid, red-faced man whose way he was in.
I got up to my apartment and unlocked the door. Again, Celine was gone. I didn’t even need two full hands to count how many times I’d caught more than a glimpse of her in the past month. Whenever I saw her, she said how busy she was with her fashion line or that she was off to some cool event. I missed her bubbly Frenchness filling every corner of our apartment, but I loved having the place to myself.
I got ready for bed then stood in front of my closet to figure out my power outfit for the next day. Better then than in the morning, when indecision would only fuel my uncertainty about what I was going to do. After half an hour of raiding my closet, distressed by its lack of kick-ass clothing worthy of Olivia Pope, I decided on a serious black sheath with heels. I would freeze even under my coat, but at least I’d look professional doing it.
I turned to my dresser to choose my accessories. I needed something simple. Strong. Classic. Studs would do the trick, as would the Bulova watch I so rarely wore. My mom had gotten it for me at a vintage store as my graduation present. I was astonished that no one had snatched it up before she’d gotten to the pretty, diamond-speckled thing. It was delicate and worth so much more than anything else I owned, so I only wore it on special occasions.
After looking through my dresser’s contents once, I couldn’t find it. My dresser was crammed with haphazard cosmetics and jewelry, so I assumed I’d just missed it and started again. Still no luck. I took everything off the surface one by one, refusing to believe that this was anything more than my eyes playing tricks on me. This is like when Izzie had that brain tumor on Grey’s and couldn’t see the scissors right in front of her, I thought to myself.
Even though it was absurd, that was my first instinct: that a dreadful illness had to be behind me not seeing the watch in its velvet case. It definitely wasn’t that I lost it. Nope. My mind wouldn’t process the thought. When I still couldn’t find it after tearing the rest of my room apart, it occurred to me that I must have left it behind at Grant’s. I was annoyed that now I’d have to breach the silence that had been helping me move past our breakup, but I fired off a polite email asking him if he’d seen it among his things before he left.
I knew I’d feel somewhat naked the next day at Revel, no matter how well I was dressed. As fragile as it was, the watch felt like armor every time I wore it. I sorely needed some to confront Marian’s blistering rage. Her fury was unparalleled. Once, I’d forgotten to email her about a minor call she’d missed until the next day. She’d glared at me and clutched the glass in her hand so hard it had cracked. You’ve got everything you need, I told myself. If Marian demanded evidence that Liv was lying and I was telling the truth, well, I had the recording. My dad was right. I wasn’t going to let Liv steamroll me because of an unfortunate family situation. It was going to be next to impossible to see her backstabbing face without slapping it. My anger gathered steam and I realized the next day might be even more explosive than the sex I’d just had. I had to keep calm, but Liv and Marian both had volatile personalities.
I checked my phone, hoping Grant had seen my message and responded instantly. Nothing. I reassured myself that the watch was safely at his place, hidden amongst the clutter and left behind in my rush to leave. I put everything back on my dresser then got into bed, tossing and turning before finally giving into restless dreams of snakes and gnashing teeth.