Roman à Clef: May 2016

South Bend, Indiana

Whipping her hair in his face, she tossed her head back as she felt his warm chest heaving against her back. Removing his slender fingers gently from her inner thigh, he kissed her on the neck as she placed her hand on the back of his head, tangling her fingers in his dark combed hair. The two sat in the driver seat breathing heavily as they stared straight ahead at the empty parking lot.

“I should have opened the windows,” he smirked.

Holding the steering wheel of his dark SUV for support, she slid off his lap and into the passenger seat, grabbing her stuff off the vehicle’s floor.

“It’s not that stuffy in here,” she said with a grin as she buttoned the top of her dress. Turning to look at him, she placed her hand on the side of his face and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. “I should get going—it’s a long drive back for me.”

“I’m sorry about earlier,” he said in a soft voice as he zipped up his pants.

Tucking her hair behind her ears, she frowned as she leaned over her lap to grab her shoes. “I don’t want to talk about it, okay?”

He nodded his head. “I need you to know that though—that I meant it.”

She sighed and looked at the window, suddenly sitting still and looking ahead. “A storm is coming,” she said, turning to him. “Do you see it?”

His eyes glued to her intensely, waiting for her to say something, watching her every action and relentless in his gaze. He knew she wanted to avoid the argument they had earlier. It wasn’t easy for him to watch her heart break through every tear she shed.

“Are you mad at me?” he asked.

She scoffed. “Did you not notice what we just did?”

“Come on, I’m serious.”

“No, of course not,” she replied softly. “It’s just—there’s no point in wishful thinking, don’t you think?”

“My life is not what you think it is,” he said leaning in.

“Then explain it to me, okay?” she stressed with frustration. “I am so sick of this back and forth with you. I love you, you big idiot…”

“I know…” he replied. “I know it every day.”

“I don’t think you do because you never would have done what you did.”

He took a deep breath, rested his head against the headrest and bit his lip. “This was not how I imagined my 30s, you know? Let alone my 20s…”

“What 20s? You never had your 20s—you told me yourself,” she said turning her body towards him and curling up in the passenger seat. “I wish you got to do what you wanted, I really do.”

The two of them looked at each other in silence as the clouds rolled over, darkening the city sky. He placed his hand on the side of her face as she turned her head to his palm and kissed it.

“You can’t keep hurting me,” she said, tears swelling up in her eyes. “I know you don’t mean it, but…you need to figure it out, new chapter or not.”

“You are the last person I want to hurt,” he said.

“One of the last—one of the last, don’t forget that,” she said as she sat up and sighed.

“No, listen,” he said. “Don’t leave just yet, alright? I want to explain myself.”

She raised her eyebrows. “What’s to explain? You told me you have bad days, you think about me—you play video games, you think about me—at work, you think about me—you build shit, you think about me but you don’t…”

“Stop it, please,” he said. “You know me by now.”

“I don’t think I do,” she said jadedly.

He looked down at his lap and back at the street, watching a couple walk to their car.

“Did I ever tell you about her t-shirt? Or the baptism?” he asked.

“Yeah—and the Jesus one?” she asked.

His scoff turned into a smile as he nodded his head. “It’s weird—it’s…it’s not me and I don’t ever want to be that fanatical—does that make sense? I act out sometimes because I don’t like how it feels as if I’m being pitied on—as if I’m an outsider and I feel judged and criticized all the time but maybe it’s an indicator of our incompatibility, you know?”

She looked at him and nodded faintly as if in agreement.

“I think back to the t-shirt some days and the baptism—and it’s like what you said, you wanted her and me to be what you and I have, and I can’t see it that way…”

“What are you saying?” she asked.

“I don’t know which version is me or what I want anymore but I know that isn’t something I ever imagined my life being…imperiled to,” he said.

Imperiled to?!”

“Yeah,” he said, squinting his eyebrows as he looked at his lap.

Imperiled?!” she repeated. “You are so dramatic—oh my God, do you ever hear yourself?”

“No,” he laughed as he leaned over to brush her hair off her face. “I have you for that.”

She smiled at him and felt it coming—the sweet side, the manipulation, the lies, all of it. She had to keep her guard up, but she knew if she did, he had a way of breaking it down to get exactly what he wanted.

“I want you happy,” she said choking up. “I can’t imagine you not being happy—I can’t.”

“I’m happy right now,” he said in a reassuring tone as he moved in closer, kissing her on the forehead.

“I really should go,” she said, wiping her eyes carefully with the tip of her finger. “I have assignments to work on and—”

“You miss me?”

She caught his dark gaze hard on her as she nodded. “You can’t keep playing me…”

Inching over to her with the gears between them, he hugged her warm body as she began crying quietly in his arms. She was so small in his grip, smelled of jasmine, peonies and flowers he couldn’t name that lined his mother’s garden.

“When you asked me earlier and we argued, I said I wouldn’t ever tell you,” he said softly, brushing her hair back as he rested his mouth on the back of her head. “But I’m telling you now—I’m telling you now because I mean it.”

She watched the clouds moving towards them as he whispered, gently and softly with his warm sweet breath saying her name several times and words she had never heard before. She held his arms tight in comfort as the large, dark clouds rolled in before them, the sky darkening with every word he said.

Suddenly, a faint tapping at the window and then a pitter-patter erupted as the clouds dropped faint beads of water onto the parking lot, bouncing gently on the front of his windshield.

Straightening up, he looked at her hard in the face, his brown eyes stuck on hers as she sat across him. “Did you hear what I said?”

She nodded her head and leaned over to kiss him hard on the mouth, tears rolling down her cheeks as he held her face in the palm of his hands. He could feel the warmth of her breath brushing against his lips, sending a tingle down his spine. Leaning in closer and imagining a second round in the front of his SUV, he pulled her in, their lips moving together, their hands on each other’s body.

She felt his tongue glide against her lower lip as she quivered. She could feel him smile in her mouth as the two continued kissing, his grip tightening on her hips as he snuck his hand up the side of her dress. His mouth lingered on her skin as he licked her collarbone, cupped her breast and squeezed.

Moving her head back as the thunder roared above them, she pulled herself away from his intoxicating lips and sat back in her seat, sighing. Leaning back, she turned to look at him in a daze, watching his mouth, beautiful and red, thick and throbbing and aching to be on hers.

“I should have left when I had the chance…”

He looked at her puzzled with their eyes locked on each another. “What—I—did you hear what I said?”

“I did,” she said softly. “And the storm’s here.”

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