Authors: Marion Studer
I stay stunned, shaken and without breath.
Holy shit, what was going on?
Does he really have this feelings for me?
He can break your heart again so easily, Chloe! What if he decides to leave again? What if you are left on the curb again, broken and alone? What if you are not enough for him? What if they chase him away with whatever reason? What if he doesn't tell you what is going on? What if …?
I ignore it all, because I'm done. Done thinking about what
. Done thinking about him being next door and still so far away. Done with being just friends. My heart aches, my body aches. Better to have him for a little while than never knowing how it could have felt.
I work in a fury, all my anger; my frustration goes into hard labour.
At the mill I ignore the stares and bullying from McAllister, keep my head straight and do my deed. At home I finish my goals every day in record time, but without real enthusiasms.
I can see Chloe in her garden, walking in and out of the cottage or snuggling up in her swing bench, watching me and Rufus in return, with the saddest expression.
And my heart hurts for the friend I lost a second time.
My heart aches for the love I feel for this girl.
My body burns for the things I want to do to this girl.
I have hurt her, disappointed her, and the realization brings a painful tightness to my chest. The minute I have decided to walk away from her, I knew I would but I did it anyway. Now I feel like a piece of shit.
I'm the world's biggest asshole. I am. I hurt her. How could I? I don't know how to face her. I don't even know what I can say that will make anything right between us again. I don't think there is ever anything I can say to make things right. I just have to try… and fix it somehow.
After days of living the life of a zombie I decide to throw everything holding me back from Chloe into the wind. I can’t go on like this.
The opportunity arrives with another hot summer day. Loud music floats from her cottage, unlike the stillness from before, and so I go in search of her eager to know what’s going on.
If she still wants our friendship in spite of it all, than we can work something out and maybe in time I will show her my whole true feelings. I expect nothing, but hope for everything.
Walking into her living room I find it empty, but see the blackboard sitting on the coffee table and take it with me. I follow the sounds coming from the room on the right and stop dead in the door frame.
Chloe, standing on a cardboard box, painting. But what really takes my breath away is her perfect little butt in red shorts, hypnotizing me in their sway.
My eyes travel up and stay revel to the creamy skin showing between shorts and blouse which she wears in an alluring fashion showing off her back and tiny waist. Then my eyes glide down her perfectly formed bare legs to her bare feet. My eyes literally pop out of their sockets. She is breathtaking and I feel the heat growing in me.
I clear my throat before I tell her how dangerous it is to stand on a box not able to keep quiet anymore. Not that I not enjoy the show, but it really makes me squirm to see her putting herself in danger.
She stops painting and I feel her hesitation to turn around and I can’t blame her but after some resignation I sense she wants to tell me something, so I give her the slate.
When she finely decides to turn around the box breaks and I catch her in my arms. Her eyes closed, her chest is rising and falling rapidly as if she is having trouble breathing and damn if I haven't the same problem. The air is heavy between us and it’s filled with ache and want.
She glances up suddenly and I'm lost in the deep depths of her eyes. Deeply I inhale the subtle fresh scent that is all Chloe. It's her. It's childhood. It's us together.
Then my stance breaks and I kiss her, loosing myself in her. This kiss is ... so good… and more. What is it? I haven't felt like this kissing anyone... ever… like coming home. I feel it everywhere, and I want her to feel it too.
It's the first taste of Chloe’s lips and I'm about to go from hell to heaven. Years of dreaming and days of longing for her, touching her, feeling her are crushing down on me. My body reacts immediately and leaves me hot and like an addict craving for more.
Christ, I'm blowing my first opportunity of winning her back and I need to take this slow, let her get used to the idea of us… of us together if there ever will be a fucking chance.
I take a moment, exhale, and try for a bit of calm. With great strength I back up. I need to calm myself down. I need to offer her my full friendship first. I have to get it together. I can't act like this.
Then I read the chalkboard. She thinks I don't like her, what the f...? She is all I'm thinking of. She is all I'm wishing for.
I close the distance between us again and gently force her eyes back up to mine and - yep - there goes my heart, and my senses and I make her feel how intense my feelings for her are, and there is no mistake what she feels in her hand for anything other than what it is, desire. Hot and heavy desire.
And it is shameful that my body reacts this way. Damn shameful. God, what I am doing? We need to tend our friendship first, before we go any further.
Taking all my willpower I step away and march out of the house, hoping like hell to see her at dinnertime.
I just walked a few feet when I hear three soft knocks behind me. It makes me stop, my head peaks up. There… a little pause… than one more.
I swirl on my heel, the blood rushing out of me for just a split second, just to shoot back in again with a big tug.
Our sign we used as kids to let the other know, we needed each other. My breath falls in short rough spurts.
She starts down the two steps, her hand shaking as it leaves the railing. Then she bursts towards me and I lift her up catching her trembling body in my arms. She links her legs around my waist and her lips crush into mine, taking out all air from my lungs. I'm in a near catatonic state for just a second.
I can't pull her any closer, as she fanatically clutches herself onto me, just short of crawling inside of me.
Our lips never leave when I make my way towards my house, almost tumbling over Rufus, kicking the door shut with my foot, not caring to leave an astonished dog outside.
With her in my arms I stumble to the couch where I let us down, Chloe straddling me and a warm indescribable feeling washes over me. I have her in my arms. I can feel her heart beat just as fast as mine and I have a moment of utter happiness, a feeling close to being complete.
I wrap myself around Tucker as tight as I can. Overcome with my feelings I kiss him in a frantic urgency which slowly morphs into a slow dance of our tongues. I probably was hurting him with my need for closeness, but all I want to do is hold on to Tucker so tightly that air cannot pass between us.
For a moment his heart and mine are beating in time together. His hands roam over my body and I'm hyper aware of his every touch, his smell, his everything. He gently pulls away and he searches my eyes like he was trying to read my very thoughts. He looks very controlled, but I can also tell he is using his self-restrain when I see the muscles in his jaw tighten.
“You smell like childhood, Chloe.” He chokes out and the corner of his mouth turns up into a lopsided grin. Oh my, how much I love this smile of his, but I'm not in the mood to let any thoughts about my childhood or my past invite this moment, so I slowly untangle myself out of our embrace and get up. I see a pen and some paper sitting on the edge of what seems like the plan of building the deck.
I'm not a little girl anymore!
I shove the piece of paper into his hand, almost angry. I don't want to remind him of our childhood in a moment like this and a frustrated huff escapes my mouth.
He looks at the paper and sigh, running his hands through is hair, he inhales deeply. He lifts himself out of the couch, steps in front of me and pulls both hands up to his chest where I can feel his heart pounding beneath my palms.
“Do you feel that?” he ask me, looking deep into my eyes.
“This is what you do to me. Every time I think of you. Every time I smell you. Every time I see you. You make my heart race.”
I swallow hard, because I'm feeling just the same way and I'm fighting so hard not to let tears well behind my eyes.
He takes me into another tight hug and places a slow burning kiss onto my lips. His hands glide slowly over my body again and I can feel his attraction to me against my thigh. Suddenly with bravery leaving me I push both hands onto his chest, I need to stop him right now, I look up at him. His eyebrows arch upwards knowing there is something important for me to say. My eyes force to communicate of their own, but to no luck and frustrated I take the pen again. I write onto the paper,
I'm not a child anymore, but I have never...
then I cross it out again; just to start with
Frustrated and angry I look at my attempt to tell him something very important, but I don't know how.
He simple looks down at me for a while, studying me and with his thumb and forefinger lifts my chin up to him. “You are telling me that… you are still a virgin?”
I search his eyes, not sure of his reaction to my confession. My eyes slip behind him to the clock sitting on the bookshelf; it is a few minutes past two in the afternoon. I don’t know why my brain registers something so frivolous. And like clockwork my nerves start rattling around. Finally I exhale a breath of air, letting my eyes focus on Tucker again and slightly nod my head.
His stare burns into mine, letting the moments tick by.
Did I made a mistake by telling him?
I'm getting really concerned when he suddenly slams his lips against mine with such intensity that it shoots a wave of tremors straight down my toes and I suddenly feel electrocuted. The sensation from his hands on my body causes me to tremble beneath him. I hear a guttural moan before he pulls away and rests his forehead on mine. He flashes his best smile and then starts to look apologetic. I can see all this different motions run through his face.
Finely he says with a serious growl in his voice, “I don't know what to say to that Chloe. It's rather unexpected. I just think I would have thought about you dating seriously. I mean, look at you, you are so beautiful and men must line up for you. I don't know what really is going on in you, Chloe, I can only guess it has something to do with your step dad and how you grew up. I can't say it bothers me, that you are still... I mean I'm actually very glad you didn't... I mean I'm... Shit, I want to say I'm simply happy about it.”
Released I smile but keep on studying him.
He slowly traces his finger along my neck and closes in on my eyes again. “I dated a few times, but there was always something holding me back. I couldn't lay too much of feelings into the relationships. I can't blame the women, I just felt like I was waiting.....”
I lift an eyebrow and hold in my next breath, my heart pounding hard against my ribs, almost afraid of his answer.
“I feel like I was waiting for
My body hums and a wave of warmth ricochets through me. Struggling to breathe I manage to wrap my arms around his waist and press my face into his chest. The truth was, I'm overwhelmed - deeply. I ache, literally ache for Tucker. An ache so deep and heavy that it feels like I will be crushed under the weight of it.
Time stops. We lean into each other holding on, just like years before, pulling strength from each other. But this time for a very different reason.
Learning to trust
“Want to go for a swim?” I ask, chocked up in emotions. I need to lighten up the moment before I do something so stupid and carry her up to my room. Not that it is the foremost thought on my mind, but I want to do this right with Chloe.
Chloe. I still can't grasp my fortune to have her close to me. Chloe all grown up and even more beautiful then I dreamt of.
I see her shake her head and once more her eyes drift away. What’s the matter?
“You don't like to swim?”
She shakes her head a second time, a sad look inviting her face. Recognition hits me. Even after all this years I recognize certain facial impressions and it is as if I was holding an old well read book, knowing every turning page. And then there are those crystal clear blue eyes. Her eyes are the direct path to what's going on in her head.
“You don't know how to swim?” incredible I ask.
Chloe stays quiet, avoiding my eyes, while I stare her down. I chuckle at her embarrassment, take her hand and tell her that I will teach her. Vehemently she shakes her head, eyes big and full with fear. “Chloe, I won’t let anything happening to you. You are safe with me. We will take baby steps. Okay? Don't you think it is time for you to learn how to swim?”
Still avoiding looking at me, I see a deep crimson red creeping up her cheeks.
“I'm right by guessing you don't own a bathing suit? I don't mind if you don't wear one,” I wink at her, as dreadful eyes hit mine, “but I understand if you wear some underwear. It will do.” I press a quick kiss onto her lips. While turning to leave the room I tell her to join me around six for our first swim lesson and a later dinner. I bring her a little stepladder to do her painting more safely and finish some of my own work.
While I move more boards my thoughts go back to the time Chloe and I where best friends. It wasn't just that she needed someone to care for her that solicits to me. Neither of us having any siblings brought us just that closer and I didn’t hade a problem to play with a girl. Especially that Chloe never refused to jump right in with me in whatever mischief I planed. She never complained about dirty clothes or holding a worm for my self-made fishing rod.
I have to smile recalling the time I dared her to eat one of the soft bodied creatures. After inspecting the worm for a moment she just swallowed it and tried to keep a brave smile only to tell me for hours that she still could feel it moving in her belly. Or the day I got to sick to play outside. There was a knock on the window and when I turned in my bed, I could see puppets made out of cardboard, dancing on the sill. I could make out me and her in the drawings and she put up a play until I was laughing, forgetting why I had to stay in bed.
No, Chloe never complained, even after her mother married her step dad Frank and the abuse began. First there was just yelling and shoving, but with time it got so much worse. I told my parents and at first they tried to talk to them, but soon the rage of Frank let them give up on it and most of the time, they where working, not knowing what happened.
So there was just me and I did my best to give Chloe a place to feel safe. More then once I prayed for her, my own rage against Frank growing every time, until one day I couldn't take it anymore.
My hands start to shake and I shove my fingers through my hair. With a peek at my watch I notice it is almost time for the swim lesson and I walk over to the cottage.
Before I can knock on her door, it opens and Chloe is standing before me, wrapped in a towel. I have to smile at her grudging expression.
So… some things have changed after all. If she could talk she probably would complain at this moment.
My eyes are thrown to the slightly visible scars on her arms and I have to swallow the uprising anger not willing to let it over- shutter the day. Quickly I connect with her eyes, take her hand into a firm grip and lead her to the lake. Rufus like always splashes right into the water. Chloe comes to an abrupt stop, watching the riffles in the wake of the dog, nervously biting her lower lip. I let go of her and slip out of my shirt and my pants. When I look up I can see Chloe's attentions fully on me, her eyes gliding over my body before coming to rest on mine. I recognize the darkening of her blue eyes as the same feelings I'm getting looking at her. I reach out and slowly pull on her towel until it falls to the ground, leaving me holding my breath as I scan her perfect body, protected only by a pink bra and matching panties.
I swallow hard and our eyes lock for a few seconds. I all but have to restrain myself not to pull her over my shoulder and leap to my bedroom with her and to forget about the swim lesson.
Oh right, the lesson
I take her hand and walk slowly into the water, glad for the coolness to turn my thoughts to the task at hand.
As the water level reaches my chest I can feel a tug on my hand and I glance over. She is almost eaten up by the water and her fearful eyes plead with me to come to a stop. I let go of her hand and quickly dip under only to emerge again and shaking the water out of my face and my hair I then take a big breath and feel some tensions leaving my body. I tell Chloe to do the same, but she only shakes her head, while her eyes are glued to my chest. I chuckle and reach for both her hands, “I'm right here, nothing will happen to you. It feels so good, believe me.”
Her eyes sweep up to mine like searching for something and she slowly let herself glide into the cool darkness her hands tightly gripping mine. Seconds tick by and when she emerges she takes a big gulp of air and presents me with the greatest smile. My heart swells with something I never felt before.
I explain to her what I had in mind for her first lesson, utterly aware of our almost naked bodies I take a step closer and place my hand flat onto her stomach. Instantly I can feel her muscles tighten at my touch and her body starts to tremble. I tell her to let her full body weight fall onto my hand and to keep it vertical. Her hands grip my arm and careful she puts her weight onto my flat hand, trembling like a leave on a stormy day. My other hand I place on her back to stabilize the balance, her warms seeping into my skin, distracting my thoughts for just a few heartbeats.
“I've got you, baby.” I muster to choke out and strengthen my grip just a little more. Chloe stays very quiet and just floats on the surface while I cautiously step deeper into the water. I slowly turn in a circle to get her acquainted to the feel of her in the water. I won't ask more of her for today, seeing the fear in her eyes. I'm threatening water until I can feel her relax under my hands. Rufus chose this very moment to swim towards us, splashing cold water into Chloe's face and she gets up in a huff, giving me the chance to wrap both arms around her little body, blowing little kisses onto her smiling face.
She nods, still smiling and I lean in for one last passionate kiss and then I lead her back to the shore. Parting, Chloe goes to get dressed and I start the BBQ for dinner.