FLESH to flesh: our relationship had always worked better that way, a press of bodies and nothing more. No words uttered. No feelings shared. No emotions spent. Silence, save for the sound of bare skin slapping together. Noiselessness, save for the sound of Brody moaning. Serenity without peace.
We lay in his bed in complete silence as we always did. Music and candlelight filled the air around us, and I couldn’t help but think about how much I truly hated the romantic show he would put on for me. His soft, sensual hands moved down my chest and I shuddered, but it wasn’t the reflex of a man seduced by the touch of his lover. I shuddered because the thought of continuing this charade sickened me to no end and yet in nearly two years, I hadn’t had the courage to end it.
Poor guy. He had always tried so hard to please me: tonguing my nipples with care, working his hands or mouth over the anatomy that refused to perform for him. Even that, the most sensitive part of my body, had given up hope for us. I’d shrug it off. He’d keep going at it, hoping something would change. I don’t think he had ever noticed my almost nonexistence during those intimate moments. Or maybe he did, but couldn’t admit to himself that I wasn’t completely there.
No, that doesn’t even accurately describe just how bad things had become. Truth was, I couldn’t stand Brody’s touch a moment longer. I had endured the agony of his fingers tracing the colorful designs inked on my chest, suffered through the length of his body pressing against mine, but the thought of it almost disgusted me. Don’t get me wrong, Brody was always one gorgeous male, but… my God! Why the production? Why make our fucking into such a ridiculous show when it obviously had no effect on the outcome? Why hold onto something that simply didn’t work?
If you could’ve taken that needy, clingy, high-maintenance personality away from him, he would’ve been one of the most amazing lovers I’d ever had. A sexy man with all the right moves, he had a delicious body and tanned skin that stretched over a perfect form. He took care of himself, good care. His soft brown hair was always kept neat, maybe even too neat. Bright white teeth gleamed when he smiled, and that dazzling, glowing smile filled his big hazel eyes with a happiness nothing in this world could touch.
But somewhere in the mad rush of trying to become a couple, something had changed.
And I had to be especially cruel. I had to be the bastard between the two of us.
The more he liked something, the harder I tried for the exact opposite. He liked running his fingers through my long black hair, so I shaved it all off, blaming the summer heat. When he said that my natural sun-kissed skin turned him on, I stopped going outside so my tan would fade away. All petty details, I know, but I wasn’t going to enable him to hang onto something that needed to go away. Honestly, I didn’t want him to like anything about me. I wanted him to get over it, all of it.
Lots of little things like that had added up over time, yet he never questioned. So many others would’ve called me a cheater, and no, I wasn’t, though I could have. Blindly, he moved through our days, never asking, never assuming. He tip-toed through our lives, careful with my moods, careful not to do anything that might push us farther apart.
His lips brushed over mine, and I pulled away.
“Dom, what’s wrong?” he asked in a soft, non-menacing, over-caring voice that made me want to scream, “Stop being such a girl!” His hand stroked down the side of my face, and I couldn’t stop my jaw from clenching. I could even feel the muscles in my chest tighten. That’s when I knew our time was well past over. His hand jerked back and his face distorted into a frown. “Dominic?”
I couldn’t fake it anymore. Something had to give. Now, don’t get me wrong. I cared about Brody. The guy didn’t deserve to be hurt. I just… I couldn’t do it anymore. This thing we had, it wasn’t love. It was barely like, at least on my part.
“Dom, talk to me, baby.”
“I can’t. I—this…” my hand waffled between us and I could feel my face pinching into a frown, “whatever this is, it’s not working, Brody. I can’t.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“I don’t like screwing you anymore, and yes, that’s all it is with us. That’s all it’s ever been.” I took a deep breath and tried to temper myself.
“You… you don’t like making love to me?”
“Don’t call it that. You know good and damned well that’s not what this is.”
“Speak for yourself, Dom. You know exactly how I feel.” His voice remained soft. He should’ve been pissed. He should’ve been livid. He should’ve raised his voice and called me a sorry son of a bitch or something, but he didn’t. He sounded almost scared. Why couldn’t he just tell me to go to hell?
A sigh escaped my lips before I was aware enough to stop it. I couldn’t even keep frustration from coloring the tone of my voice. “I care about you, Brody. I love you to death, but I’m not in love with you. I never have been.” I had to turn away from him. Tears began to brew in those big hazel eyes of his. His trembling hand started raking through his short brown hair. I knew if he started to cry, I would back down. I did have a heart, after all. “I’m going to pack the few things I have here. Then I’m gone.”
With the most serious expression I could find, I turned back only long enough to say, “Brody, I suggest you move on. This is over.”
No words dared to fall from his lips, only the sound of tears being sucked back. I tried so hard not to turn and look at the wreck of a man I’d left curled in the bed, fought not to run to him and say I was sorry for being an asshole. Not that admitting my sorrow would change the way I felt. It would’ve only made this harder.
I tried to push him out of my mind. So help me God, I felt like a monster for being that way, but something had to give. I mean, I had spent the past year of my life trying for distance. He just wasn’t getting it.
The first six months had been great. I had even given him a gorgeous, white-gold Eye of Horus pendant to let him know he would always be protected, and he had never taken it off. I truly wanted things to work between us, but as I said, something changed.
Maybe it had been the calls at five in the morning just to “hear my voice.” Maybe it had been the grossly gratuitous displays of public affection. I don’t know. I only know that I suddenly felt smothered. He knew he was losing me. That asshole knew I wanted out, and what did he do but make things more difficult? The harder I pushed, the tighter he clung to me. We were both miserable, and it showed.
How was keeping up a lie fair to either of us?
With that thought, I slammed the closet door and saw him jump from the corner of my eye. I startled him enough to bring the tears pouring like waterworks from his eyes. I felt my own eyes starting to burn and knew I needed to get the hell out of there before things ended much worse than they needed to.
I reached for the doorknob, so close to being home free until I heard a very shaky, very quiet “Dominic” leave his lips. Had I known my breath would come out so loud when I let it go, I would’ve kept it a secret until hearing it would’ve been impossible. Yeah, I was completely frustrated—at my wits’ end even, but he didn’t need to know that.
I didn’t turn around, only froze where I stood. “What?” I said, and it sounded so angry.
“Will you please come here?”
“Not a good idea, Brody.”
“Dominic, don’t do this. Tell me… just tell me what I did. How can I fix it? What can I do to make you want to stay? Just… just tell me, and we’ll fix it.”
His voice had started out strong, if not demanding, and faded to a low tremble. Maybe I should’ve turned around. Maybe I should’ve taken him in my arms and told him that everything would be fine. But I didn’t. I had made the decision to walk away well before that day. I stuck by that decision and executed it the best way I could.
There was no going back, no do-over.
Sure, it hurt like hell. Yeah, I wondered if I had made the biggest mistake of my life. But hindsight is always twenty-twenty when you’re standing at the end of the tunnel, looking back at what might have been.
“I have to go,” I whispered as I turned the knob to his bedroom door. How symbolic that moment seemed after the moment had passed. When I twisted the knob, it twisted his heart. And when I closed the door, I shut him out of my life. The end, right?
Not so much.