He pins my wrists above my head. I try to move my body to meet his, but he puts considerable distance between us.
“Lo,” I whine, breathing heavily.
“You want me to f**k you?”
“Yes,” I moan and try to reclaim my hands. Touch me!
He edges closer, his body melding into mine, but he stretches my arms even further above my head.
“Lo.” I want to undo his pants. I want him to rip off my shirt. Instead, he keeps teasing me in this locked position.
“I understand that you felt like you owed this guy, but after this, we don’t owe him a thing, okay?”
I try to find words to refute like he’s nice. He’s not. He’s lonely. He’s not. “He means well.” I land on a truth and squirm underneath him. “Lo, please.” I need him. Now.
“Did you fantasize about him?”
I cringe. “What? No.” Is he worried I like him? “I think every word out of his mouth made me dryer and dryer.” How’s that for dislike?
“Then what’s this about, Lily?” He uses one hand to hold my wrists together above my head and then the other to unbutton my jeans.
“He…uh…” I can’t concentrate! “He asked me about comics…and…”
Lo tugs my jeans down, and I easily step out of them. The cold hits my flesh and I ache for Lo’s warmth. “This is really about comics?” he questions, disbelieving.
“I…uh…forgot…condoms,” I say, my mind reverting to sex.
“If you’re on the pill and you haven’t f**ked anyone else, we should be fine.”
I nod quickly. “Can I have my hands back?”
“No.” He rubs his fingers on the outside of my panties, not pushing in. I shake beneath him. “So when he returns,” Lo says, “are you going to kick him out?”
“What?” He stops the friction between my legs. No, no, no. “Lo…”
“I want to know if he’s really here for comics, Lily. Is that the last time we’re going to see him?”
I bite my lip, and he sees straight through me.
“What’d you do?” he breathes, his hands tightening on my wrists. The pressure feels better than it should.
Telling the truth will be a defeat I do not want to claim just yet. So I think on my toes. “He wants to write an article about us…about what it’s like to be the children of consumer moguls. And I said yes because I owed him, and I knew…I knew you wouldn’t agree because he has to follow us around. So I thought the Comic-Con lie would help introduce him to you...”
Lo stares at me with cold, narrowed eyes, and he drops my hands, taking four steps back from me. “He has to follow us around?”
I nod. “I’m sorry. I should have asked you—”
“You know why I would have said no?” He points to his chest. “I hate having to hide alcohol. You don’t get it because sex is something we do in private.”
I frown. “Like you mauling me in front of Ryke? That was private?”
Lo shakes his head. “The most he’ll think is that I’m a horny guy, Lil. He won’t connect that you’re a sex addict. And I don’t need him f**king writing about our problems in a published article for my father to see.”
“It’s for a class grade,” I lie. The article doesn’t even exist! But it’s the best excuse I have to validate Ryke hanging around us. “He won’t publish it.”
“And you believed him when he told you that? It’s bullshit.”
“It’s not!” I refute, my eyes welling with tears. I’ve never tried this hard to guide him towards a good place, and it’s breaking me apart inside. “ImsorryImsorryImsorry,” I slur.
His face shatters and he closes the space between us. “Hey…” His voice softens. He holds my cheeks and wipes the tears with his thumb. “We can tell him that we’re not interested anymore.”
I shake my head and choke on a sob. “No…” Why can’t this be easier? I want to be able to tell Lo to stop, but he won’t. No matter what I say, he’ll keep drinking. This feels like my only option.
“I promised,” I say. “Please…let me…let me keep it.” These emotions need to end. I start to drown in them, and so I focus on things that always make me feel better. I kiss him lightly on the lips.
He kisses back. And then his lips leave mine. He has a hand on the back of my head, and he stares at me like we should talk more, but I’d rather do other things.
I unbutton his jeans.
“Lily…” he says, very softly.
I unzip and yank them down. “Don’t speak.” I’m about to drop to my knees, but he grabs my elbow.
“Lily…” His amber eyes glass over. Is he about to tell me to stop?
I frown in confusion. “What?”
After a long moment, he whispers, “Nothing.” He releases his hold, and I watch his cheeks sharpen to ice. My knees hit the floorboards, and I pull down his boxer-briefs in a systematic routine. He keeps his hand on the back of my head, and I try to forget the sadness in his eyes, the kind that can call on silent tears.
I try to remember the passion, the fire, and for this moment, I make sure to drown him in pleasure.
Our relationship is dangling on thin strings that threaten to break. I feel it. I’m sure he feels it as well. His biggest worry was being able to satisfy me, but that’s hardly a problem. Our selfishness wedges between us. Neither of us is willing to give up what we love for each other. Not yet. And I’m not sure what it’s going to take to let go of our addictions.
By Sunday, a thunderstorm confines us indoors, and Connor drops by unannounced—for no reason at all other than to share a beer with Lo. I’m starting to believe he likes hanging around us. After arguing who would win a game of chess, Lo and Connor crack out a board and play between chatter and sips of beer.
I flip through a Cosmo magazine on the chair, reading about new sex positions. I realize what’s important to me may not be important to other girls. And I’m okay with that. Sex is something I genuinely love. In my case, probably too much.
Rain patters against the windows, and I ignore texts from my sisters about missing the luncheon. I also find Ryke on Facebook and send him a quick message about the new lie. When I scroll through my phone, I see his response.
And he bought it?
I type back. Yeah. I think so.
“You shouldn’t make that move,” Connor tells Lo, pointing to his rook. “There’s clearly a better one.”
Lo takes his fingers off the rook and scrutinizes the board set on the coffee table.
A new message pops up. Is he drinking right now?
Connor leans forward in the chair opposite the couch, hunching over the pieces. He points to the bishop. “That’s the better move.”
“How about you play your own game, and I’ll play mine?” Lo shifts the rook.
I glance down at Ryke’s word bubble. I’m coming over.
My stomach churns. Lo never really accepted the idea of Ryke following us around, but I burst into tears, so he hasn’t denied the idea either for my sake. Everything just feels strained and messy.
I send, Now?
See you in twenty.
I internally groan.
Connor slides over a measly pawn. “Check.”
“What?” Lo gapes. “But that…Oh.” He rolls his eyes. “There’s no way for me to win, is there?”
Connor smiles as he picks up his beer. “I’d say you could win the next one, but you won’t.”
Lo forfeits by flicking over his king.
And then the buzzer chimes. I stiffen. Can he be here already? No. He said it would take twenty minutes, not twenty seconds. Right? I glance back at the messages and realize he never specified. Oh, I’m so not ready for this.
I shake off nervous jitters and go to the foyer. I feel Lo’s eyes on me all the way there.
“Want another beer?” Lo asks Connor.
Lo stands and acts casual as he opens the fridge in the kitchen.
I press the button on the speaker box. “Hello?”
“Miss Calloway, Rose is here to see you.”
I relax and press the button. “You can send her up.”
“Rose?” Connor heard the security attendant’s voice.
My eyes widen. I forgot Rose dislikes Connor. “Uh…yeah.”
Amusement swims in Connor’s bright blue eyes. “She’s not going to be pleased to see me.”
Lo hands him a beer and finds his seat on the couch. “Join the f**king club. She hates me, and yet she keeps torturing herself by showing up here.”
“Don’t be rude,” I warn both of them. At the end of the day, she’s still my sister and I love her no matter what any boys say.
Lo mumbles something into his…whiskey. He must have just switched. I worry that I’m not trying hard enough like Ryke says, but the only way to stop him from drinking is to become a needy girlfriend and make him focus on my addiction. So far, it has only put tension in our relationship.
I’m afraid that he’s going to start resenting me for keeping him from something he enjoys.
So I let him drink his whiskey until an abrasive knock pounds on the door. With two deep, motivational breaths, I turn the knob. “Hey.”
Rose stands with a sopping umbrella. She shrugs off her fur coat, revealing a high-collared black and white dress that fits her slender frame. Her normally straight hair frizzes on the sides and sticks out in strange places.
“It’s hailing,” she says with scorn.
“Really? I thought it was just raining.”
“It was until I stepped out of the car.” She comes inside and places the umbrella in the corner and hangs her coat on a hook. I wonder how much longer I can stall her by the foyer to lengthen her inevitable view of Connor.
She runs her fingers through her hair. “Do you have coffee?”
“Yeah, I’ll get you a cup.” I lead her towards the kitchen, but she detaches halfway there, her head whipping over to the adjacent living room.
“What?!” she shrieks. “Lily Calloway, you did not invite him over here without telling me first.”
Lo interjects, “Last time I checked, Rose, your name wasn’t on the lease agreement. You don’t have a say in who comes over to our apartment.”
Rose turns her back on the guys. “What is Richard doing here?” she hisses.
“He just showed up.” I hand her a steaming mug and put a hand on her back, guiding her to the living room.
Lo flashes her a dry smile. “Does that remind you of someone?”
“Shut up,” Rose snaps. “Do not compare me to him.”
Connor rises like a good prep school boy, and Rose stands her ground while I grab my magazine and scoot in beside Lo. I’ve circled some of the positions I want to try with red magic marker like the Spank Me Maybe, Mission Control and Wild Ride. Lo points to the most submissive of the three, a picture of a guy pulling the girl’s ponytail as she straddles him backwards, and he whispers, “Later.”