Fate, he writes.
STANDING ON THE balcony, our rain-drenched bodies flush, his gaze soft, I feel my last vestige of self-control washing off me, rinsed clear along with the desert heat and grime of the day. There’s nothing left but Alex and me.
His lips press closed then part, and mine mirror them, his breath warm against my mouth. Every shallow inhale I take draws us a little closer until my tongue just barely grazes his rain-dampened bottom lip, and then he adjusts to catch my mouth just a little more with his.
A fraction of a kiss. And then another one, a bit fuller. A twist of my hands in his hair, the hiss of breath between his teeth, and then another brush of his lips, deeper, slower, careful and intent, and I’m melting against him. Shivering and terrified and exhilarated and every shade between as our mouths sink together and pull apart, his tongue sliding over mine for a second, then a little deeper, my teeth catching on the fullest part of his bottom lip, his hands moving down over my hips, my chest arching up into his as my hands glide down his wet neck.
We come together and apart, the little gaps and short breathless inhalations nearly as intoxicating as each taste, test, scrape of his rain-slicked mouth moving over mine. He draws back, leaves his mouth just hovering over mine, where I can still feel his breath. “Is this okay?” he asks me in a hush.
If I could speak, I’d tell him this is the best kiss I’ve had in my entire life. That I didn’t know just kissing could feel this good. That I could just make out with him for hours and it would be better than the best sex I’ve ever had.
But I can’t think clearly enough to say any of this. My mind is too busy with the grip of his hands on my ass and the feel of his chest flattening mine out, his wet skin and the thin, drenched clothes between us, so I just nod and catch his bottom lip between my teeth again, and he turns me against the stucco wall, presses me back into it as he kisses me more urgently.
One of his hands twists into the hem of my T-shirt where it hangs against my thigh, and the other grazes up my stomach beneath it. “What about this?” he asks.
“Yes,” I breathe.
His hand lifts higher, slips under my bathing suit top, making me shiver. “This?” he says.
My breath catches, heart stumbles over a beat as his fingers lightly circle. I nod, pull his hips back to mine. He’s hard between my legs, and instantly I feel a little light-headed. “I think about you all the time,” he says, and kisses me slowly, drags his mouth down my neck, goose bumps fluttering out in his wake. “I think about this.”
“I do too,” I admit in a whisper. His mouth moves over my chest, kissing me through my wet T-shirt even as his hands work the fabric up over my hips, my ribs, and then my shoulders. He pulls away long enough to peel it over my head and discard it among the plastic sheeting.
“Yours too,” I say, heart leaping. I reach for the hem of his shirt, pull it over his head. When I toss it aside, he tries to move toward me, but I hold him back for a second.
“Do you want to stop?” he asks, his eyes dark.
I shake my head. “I just . . . never get to look at you like this.”
The corner of his mouth twitches into a smile. “You could have always looked,” he says in a low voice. “Just so you know.”
“Well, you could’ve too,” I say.
“Trust me,” he says. “I did.”
And then I’m dragging him in against me, and he’s roughly lifting my thigh against his hip, and I’m sinking my fingers into his wide back, my teeth into his neck, and his hands are massaging my chest, my ass. His mouth moves down my collarbones, sliding under my bikini, teeth careful on my nipple, and I’m feeling him through his shorts, then reaching into them, loving how he tenses and shifts. I push his shorts down over his hip bones, my mouth going dry at the feeling of him against me.
“Shit,” I say, a realization hitting me like a bucket of ice water, “I went off birth control.”
“If it helps,” he says, “I had a vasectomy.”
I draw back, shocked out of the moment. “You what?”
“They’re reversible,” he says, blushing for the first time since we started this. “And I took . . . precautions, in case I want kids and the reversal doesn’t work. They usually do, but . . . anyway, I just . . . didn’t want to accidentally get someone pregnant. I’m still always safe—it’s not like . . . Why are you looking at me like that?”
I knew Alex was a black-and-white thinker. I knew he was ultracautious, and I knew he was the most thoughtful, courteous person on the planet. But somehow I’m still surprised all of that added up to this big decision. It makes my heart feel like a sore muscle, all heat and achy tenderness, because it is just so him. I tighten my arms around his waist, squeeze him to me. “It’s just that of course you did that,” I say. “Above and beyond caution and consideration. You’re a prince, Alex Nilsen.”
“Uh-huh,” he says, his expression both amused and unconvinced.
“I’m serious,” I say, pressing closer. “You’re incredible.”
“We can find a condom if you want,” he says. “But I’m not—there’s no one else.”
I’m sure I’m blushing now and probably smiling ridiculously. “That’s okay,” I say. “It’s just us.”
What I mean to say is, if there’s anyone I would do this with, it would be him. If there’s one person I truly trust, want all of in this way, it’s him.
But that’s how I say it: It’s just us. And he says it back to me, like he knows exactly what I mean, and then we’re on the ground, in a sea of discarded plastic, and he’s tearing my top off, pulling my bottoms off too, pressing his mouth between my legs, clutching my ass in his hands, making me gasp and rise against him as his tongue moves over me. “Alex,” I plead, knotting my hands into his hair, “stop making me wait for you.”