By Irina Slav
“Are you thinking about it?” he murmured into her ear singeing it with his breath.
“Me? No. I don’t really think that much. Almost not at all,” Melissa said, feeling the heat of his body beside hers, close but not touching it. He chuckled.
“Sure?” he said.
Melissa closed her eyes and tried to draw a deep breath. She couldn’t. Her heart was beating too fast.
“No,” she said quietly. “I’m not.”
“Let’s go,” he said, putting an arm around her waist and pressing his palm lightly to her side.
Two hours ago Melissa had just arrived at this riverside café with three friends for a nice lunch out in the open on one of the fewer and fewer sunny days as autumn started seeping through the last remains of summer. Beany had brought Dennis and had introduced him to everyone. A friend of her brother’s, she’d said. Just moved into town. Beany had this urge to mother people that made Melissa scoff at her this time.
Yeah, right, she’d thought, looking him over. This one is not for mothering and Beany, my girl, you know it. As the lunch progressed she started feeling a little bit ashamed of this initial thought. Beany was her usual sunny self and, Melissa had to admit, she wasn’t giving too much attention to Dennis. In fact she almost didn’t talk to him, which seemed to be completely fine by him.
The silent type. Watching everyone with these deep blue eyes, smiling here and there, hardly opening that beautiful mouth. Here Melissa caught herself picturing very clearly how she was kissing that mouth and at this precise moment Dennis looked directly at her.
A wave of heat washed over her and she wasn’t sure if it was embarrassment or desire. Probably both, she decided. He was still looking at her, as if he didn’t care in the least if it would attract attention or make her feel uncomfortable. But she wasn’t feeling uncomfortable, not exactly. Not at all. What she was feeling was horny.
“Excuse me,” she told Andie who sat to her left and chattered with Beany. “Time for a fag.”
“When will you quit?” Andie asked, looking up, before moving her chair aside to make way for Melissa. “Didn’t you promise Eric you’d quit?”
“I did, but then Eric went and slept with that bitch from his office, remember? So any promises I made to him are now kind of null and void,” Melissa said and couldn’t help a glance in the direction of Dennis, who sat across the table from Andie. He was watching her. Again. The heat wave struck again. Andie put one hand on her mouth and the other on Melissa’s arm.
“Sorry, hon, I totally forgot. I’ve no idea why. Please forgive me.”
Melissa smiled at her friend and patted her shiny black hair. Andie had the shiniest hair in the world as far as Melissa was concerned. And not a lot underneath it.
“It’s okay, Andie, it’s only been three months.”
“It has? Are you getting better?” Andie asked, concerned. She lived in London. She didn’t come to visit too often.
“I’m fine,” Melissa assured her, squeezing the hand still on her arm and then gently removing it. “I’m completely happy but I want a smoke now.”
Andie smiled and went back to her conversation. Melissa turned and walked a few yards away, to a bench that some thoughtful soul had put next to the ashtray on the boardwalk by the river. She first lit her cigarette and then sat down and gazed at the water.
She looked up and there he was, standing between her and the sun. He made her think of a cheetah. Lean, elegant, full of suppressed energy that would remain suppressed until the moment when it bursts out and turns the creature into the fastest killing machine on earth. Dennis didn’t look like he was going to run, though. He didn’t look like a chaser. He looked like a pouncer.
“Of course,” she said, the words coming out of her mouth with effort, as her brain power seemed to have focused on making sense of the flurry of thoughts about the man looming over her. No, he didn’t exactly loom, he wasn’t that large. But he had a large presence, Melissa decided. That was it, yes.
Dennis sat next to her, too close for a stranger in her opinion, and lit up. He took a deep pull on the cigarette while she watched him in fascination. She hadn’t seen anyone smoke like that since her teens, like he was devouring the cigarette.
Realizing she was actually staring at his mouth, she quickly looked away. The river was safe. She stared intently at the river. What she saw was Dennis’ dark blond hair, his straight, somehow dainty nose, and his eyes, so dark they looked kind of black. Melissa blinked very deliberately, cursed herself for not going through with that one-night stand that had made itself available a month ago and smoked.
Dennis was quiet, which was making her a little nervous. When people were in each other’s company they talked. Didn’t they? It wasn’t the only thing they did together but it was a big part of the whole communication business. The biggest. That’s what they had mouths for, right? Then he spoke.
“I don’t want to sound like an old cliché but I seem to be making you nervous. Or is it the river?”
“You look nervous,” he repeated, not taking his eyes off hers. They were smiling a slow and very indecent smile.
“I’m not nervous,” Melissa said. It was true. She wasn’t nervous, she was impatient and she had to get away from here before she did something stupid and embarrassing. She could talk, though, couldn’t she? Talk to him.
“I’m fine, really,” she said, burning under his gaze.
“Oh, I didn’t say you weren’t fine, just nervous. In a kind of good way,” he clarified. He looked so completely at ease, so in control, so unlike her, she thought with a bit of resentment.
“I’m not sure what you mean. How can anyone be nervous in a good way?” she asked through a tight throat. She swallowed.
“An attractive way is what I meant. Does this sound better?”
She looked him straight into the eye.
“Only if you mean it,” she said with a sudden determination that surprised her. But in a good, attractive way, she told herself.
“Oh, I do,” he said and moved slightly closer to her until their legs touched. He rested his right arm on the back of the bench just behind her back but not touching it. Melissa’s heart skipped a beat.
They were silent for a while. Melissa had no idea what he was thinking or, she admitted to herself, she did but she was embarrassed by it. It didn’t make sense but there it was.
She tried to distract herself with anything that could catch her attention. A ripple made by a punt. A sharp burst of laughter from the café to their left, which seems miles away and centuries in the past. A distant car horn. A waft of something musky… That was Dennis. The distraction effort failed spectacularly and her head filled with images of the two of them.
“Are you thinking about it?” he murmured. He had somehow moved even closer, his head almost touching hers, his lips on her ear. Melissa started. Apparently her thoughts have shown on her face. There was no way she could lie convincingly. Besides, why should she?
“Me?” she said. “No. I don’t really think that much. Almost not at all.”
“Sure?” he said.
“No,” she admitted. “I’m not.”
He gently tugged on her and they got up from the bench, his arm still around her waist.
“My bag,” Melissa said, turning to the left, to the café where their friends were sitting, oblivious to the heated developments by the ashtray. Dennis let go of her, walked quickly to the table, said something to Andie and she passed him Melissa’s bag without even a glance in her direction. In a heartbeat he was back at her side, passing her the bag and taking her hand in his. Then he led her along the boardwalk to the park.
“Where are we going?” she asked after a while. Not that she really cared that much. She just hoped it was close by.
“My place,” he said. “Just round the corner.”
“You live in the park?” she tried to joke, if only to regain some kind of control while she was feeling his skin touch hers. His hand radiated heat. She wondered if hers was doing the same to him as well. Hopefully.
“Round the other corner,” he said with a smile. “Across the road from the park, to be more precise.”
Melissa didn’t care about precision but nodded her head in understanding. So, it was close. Good.
It was close, or they just walked fast. In what seemed like a minute they were in front of a door at the end of a terrace house in an alley off the main road. It was quiet. Dennis unlocked the door and stepped aside to make way for her. Melissa walked into the sunlit house. She couldn’t help looking around just a bit.
The house looked normal enough, tidy and cozy. Before she could make another observation she felt Dennis’ hands around her body, pulling her gently but insistently, pressing her to his chest. She felt his heartbeat, strong and fast, just like hers. She put her own arms on top of his and pressed. His lips brushed the side of her neck lightly, just enough to pour some more oil on the fire already burning her alive. She turned, patience gone now, and pulled his face to hers. Finally her lips were on his and it was just as good as she’d imagined it.
Every suck of his lips, every touch of his tongue sent the flames inside her higher and made them hotter. His hands added their own contribution to what was effectively the temporary destruction of her mind, her logical, sober mind. That was now in the past, she was all sensations, all taste and smell, and sound, and touch, most of all touch.
The smooth skin of his neck, the texture of his shirt, the softness of his hair between her fingers. She tasted and smelled and heard, and touched, and couldn’t get enough of it. Suddenly he pulled away from her and before she could start protesting, scooped her in his arms and walked up the stairs.
She wrapped her arms around his neck and held tightly. Up the stairs, into a short, narrow corridor, and to the left where there was an open door. The bedroom. Melissa registered with delay that Dennis was surprisingly strong for his frame. She was no small woman but he’d lifted her so effortlessly she felt tiny and light as smoke.
Once inside, he put her down on the floor by the bed and began tearing at her clothes, impatient to get to the body underneath. Melissa was just as impatient. She couldn’t help a moan when his hand cupped her naked breast and squeezed gently. She pressed herself to him and undid his belt. A second later they were on the bed, tangled up, hungry, impatient. Dennis bit her neck.
There was a click. Melissa Feller lifted the visor of her helmet and removed the helmet with a sigh. She looked to her right, to a black faux leather armchair identical to the one she was sitting in. Lying in.
“Dennis, what did I tell you about biting last time?” she asked, exasperated.
Dennis Landon took his helmet off and shook his head as if to clear it up.
“Sorry, Melissa, I got kind of carried away,” he said with a sheepish smile. He pressed his fingers to his temples and rubbed them vigorously.
“I can see that,” said Melissa, arching an eyebrow. “And while I’m certainly flattered, please don’t do it again. No biting. Simple to remember, right?”
“Right,” Dennis agreed and looked away. “So, same time next week, then?”
“Yes,” Melissa said and got up. “And I want that market report on my desk by the end of the day. Do you think that’s doable?
“Sure,” said Dennis, standing up. “It’s done, I just need to have one more look at it to make sure it’s all correct.”
“Great,” she said and walked to the door of the windowless, quiet room. They called it the recreational room. “See you, Dennis.”
“Bye, boss. Same time next week.”