Silence blanketed the house, every creak of the staircase or wooden floors seeming much too loud. Brad held his breath and winced at every little noise. Even his heart sounded overly noisy beating a staccato rhythm as though he had just run for miles. The thought that he ought to take up running again struck him, unexpected and irrelevant at that moment. It was only one more thing that had been part of his life for so long; one more thing he missed.
They walked past the boys’ rooms and Brad was relieved to hear no sound from either. No light filtered underneath the doors. He had called earlier to tell them not to wait for him and go to bed. Joey, the oldest, had scoffed into the phone and reminded him that as a college student he didn’t care all that much about curfews. But there had been something else in his voice too, the quiet thankfulness that Brad had called to check on them. Brad had hung up in a hurry, spluttering, when Joey had asked him to say hi to Melissa from them.
They finally reached the master bedroom. With a slightly shaky hand, Brad pushed the door open and tightened his other hand over Melissa’s as he drew her in. He let go just past the threshold so she wouldn’t have to stumble in the dark in an unfamiliar room.
“Just a second,” he breathed, and hurried to the bedside table. His fingers fumbled over the knob before he managed to twist it. A soft muted light pooled by the headboard, throwing shadows across the room. Brad turned around, and for a second, even less than a second, his mind played a trick on him. For this briefest of instants, he could see Joan standing against the closed door, long hair loose on her shoulders, her summer dress hugging her curves and—
And it wasn’t Joan standing there.
His heart lurched at the realization. A wave of guilt immediately followed.
“Don’t,” Melissa murmured.
She came forward, slipping off her sandals before she reached him. The bangle bracelets on her wrist jingled when she raised one hand, then the other, cupping his face between them.
“Don’t,” she repeated, just as quietly. “I understand it’s difficult for you. I do. I’m not asking you to forget her. I only want to try to make you happy again. From all you’ve told me about her, I just know she would have wanted you to be happy.”
Brad’s throat felt too tight for words but he pushed them out anyway. “You do make me happy. I just hope I can make you happy too.”
She gave a shallow nod. “You do. So don’t think. Don’t remember. Don’t feel. Just this time, be.”
She pressed her mouth to Brad’s in a short, sweet kiss.
“Be with me,” she continued, her lips moving against Brad’s like a caress. “Be happy. Just be you.”
Another kiss, and this one was longer if just as sweet, her tongue pressing gently against his lips before sliding in alongside his. Brad tilted his head to deepen the kiss but Melissa pulled back. She observed him for a few seconds. Brad had no idea what she could possibly see in him, no idea why she had been interested in him at all even after she had realized how broken he was, a piece of him gone forever. She hadn’t tried to take Joan’s place in Brad’s heart; she had only made a place for herself right next to it.
“If you’re not ready,” she said slowly, gravely, “we can stop. But I think you are ready to move forward. And I think you want this as much as I do.”
Brad couldn’t deny that last part, not when she was so close to him, her body tight against his, too close to ignore his cock pressing hard and thick against her upper thigh.
Tentatively, he laid his hands on her hips. After a beat, he slid them upward, along her torso then to her back, and gently pressed her forward. He had time to see her smile before he closed his eyes and kissed her again.
She was only the second woman he had ever kissed, and every time they did—every time his lips caressed hers, a prelude to a deeper kiss—he could only marvel at how familiar this felt. How familiar, and at the same time, how strange. There was no difference in height between them, and while he was used to tilting his head down, he didn’t need to now. The sheer taste of her mouth was different, too. She was a tea lover, and the flavor often lingered on her tongue, replacing the coffee aroma he was familiar with. And then there were her hands, never resting on his shoulders like he half expected, but instead rubbing along his arms, stroking his back, adding caresses to the sensual touch of their mouths and tongues.
She let out a little sigh when they parted and looked at him again from under heavy eyelids.
“Can I…” she murmured, but rather than completing the question, she showed him what she meant by trailing her fingers over his chest and to the front of his shirt, starting to undo the buttons.
Brad remained motionless in front of her, hands at his side, watching her face as she made quick work of his shirt, then his undershirt. Her eyes remained focused on her task, progressively growing darker along with her need. When his bare chest was revealed, she made a small sound of appreciation and ran her fingertips in loops and arabesques over his skin until Brad was shivering under her touch, goose bumps blazing down his arms.
Her eyes flickered up to his face again, and for the second time she whispered, “Can I?”
… continued in Eighth Vision of Destiny – Brad