“What was it like with Roma?” Janelle asked as she lay on Van’s bare chest.

“What was what like?”

“You know…sex.”

Van played in her hair. “Real men don’t kiss and tell.”

“Well, I’m not a man so let me tell you about Michael.” Janelle gave a short laugh. “Michael was narcissistic even in bed. One time I caught him making sex-eyes at himself in the mirror…kinda like Zoolander without the corresponding charm. It took every ounce of strength I had not to laugh in his face. I kept waiting for him to strike a pose or flex his biceps.”

“Something tells me you’re used to being the center of attention.” He soothed her head down when she rose in protest. “Relax. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing…in bed, that is. How else will you know what turns you on? I don’t believe you have ever been made love to; no one has focused solely on your needs. For you, sex has been banal, ticking boxes when it could be so much more.” He spoke quietly, allowing his fingers to trail down the tender skin between her shoulder blades. “Each touch should carry his intentions of pleasing you when his words fail. Each kiss, you fall deeper in love with him. If he falls short, he doesn’t deserve to be in your bed.”

Janelle lay perfectly still though inwardly she gagged for Van. Ironically, she wouldn’t have given him a second glance two days ago. Suddenly, in her mind at least, Van was a sex God and possibly the future father of her children. Misty images of them playing with their perfect brown babies in their perfect garden in front of their perfect house, and waving at their perfect neighbors danced in her head. Thinking she’d fallen asleep, Van called her name and snapped her back to reality.

“I’m awake.” Her dusky words were almost inaudible over the hollowing wind. “You’re right, though. I’ve never had that.”

“Maybe one day you will.” Van sighed. Janelle’s skin felt heavenly beneath his fingers.

One day? Half naked, Janelle purposely left the door open for him to stake his claim right then! Van sensed as much and rolled her flat on the bed, and leaned so close, their lips nearly met.

“One day a man will make love to you. He will be the last to do so.” He drew a tight breath. “Trust me, he’s worth the wait.”

“Oh Lord.” Janelle panted, anticipating the moment their lips would touch. “You’re not a religious fanatic, are you? I mean, I can compete with other women. But The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost require an entirely different skill set I don’t possess.”

“Janelle,” Van thumbed her hair away from her face. “You talk too much.” He dipped his head and kissed her lips so passionately she melted beneath him.

Janelle closed her eyes as his mouth drifted down to the hollow of her neck, across her collarbone, then retraced its path to her lips. Her hands ran through his hair. Her nipples were peaking and her thighs tingled. Certainly, no kisses had ever shattered her soul the way Van’s were, no touch left her so weak while simultaneously acutely aware of her sensuality; as if through his hands, she was discovering her own body. Janelle was alight. Van planted kisses from her right ear, and across her jaw line to her left. She leaned her head back, exposing more of her neck which he dutifully devoured with quiet earnestness.

Keening moans escaped her lips as he kissed, licked, and kneaded her breasts everywhere while somehow managing to avoid touching her aching nipples. She nearly exploded when he gave her neglected nipple a soft suck. The room was dark but Janelle could just make out Van’s eyes watching her watch him sucking her ample breast. The faint sight of his pillow-soft lips seizing her nipple, and Van’s erection pressed against her thigh drained her sanity. The thin layer of cotton panties that covered her slit was now sodden, and she was well on her way to an out of body experience.   

“Open your legs,” said Van. His long poetic fingers parted Janelle’s thighs, ensuring no friction soothed her agony. “Don’t cum. I swear I’ll make it worth the wait.” With that, he turned his attention back to her breasts. Eventually, Van kissed a slow, delicious trail from her larynx to her navel. Janelle arched upward, toward his mouth, straining for ever elusive contact.

“Stop teasing me.”

He kissed her inner thighs. “Teasing you?” Van position himself flat on his stomach between her bent legs. His hands gripped her thighs, and kissed where her juices soaked through her underwear. “I haven’t begun to tease you.” He traces his name on her panties with his tongue. “Do you wax or shave?”

“Whatever you prefer.”

“Come here.” He pulled her closer and nibbled, nuzzled, licked her pussy through the layer of material, forcing her to lie still and endure his sweet torture. Cautiously, delicately, he placed the flat of his tongue against her clit and alternated between long licks and short burst of spin tingling taunts, punctuated wet kisses.

“Oh shit! Wait…no, no…don’t stop.” Janelle prevaricated, twisting the sheet in one hand, Van’s hair in the other. “Don’t stop. I’m gonna cum.”

“You’re cumming already?” Van kissed her mound. Self-satisfaction crept into his tone. “I haven’t taken your panties off.” He nibbled her tiny nub, then sucked.

“Sweet Mother of God! Let me cum!” Janelle wiggled and squirmed. Van had reduced her to a quivering blob of blaspheming goo.

Van pulled her panties free, tossed them into the darkened room, and breathed her scent. His nose rubbed against her clit while his tongue thoroughly explored her lips, flicking and sucking her tight hole at leisure. It had been quite some time since he’d pleasured a woman and none more worthy or as captivating as Janelle. Unaware of what their future held, Van savored Janelle, giving her clit undivided devotion, while stroking her g-spot with a gentle rhythm. Soon the room filled with the wet sounds of him committing her body to memory with his tongue, touching every centimeter of her flesh within his reach, and the heaviness of her gasping moans.

“Shit, Van!” Janelle rose up on her elbows. A beam of moonlight shone across Van’s back, knelt between her wide parted thighs. One of his large hands massaged her hip, the other worked magic inside her. If he could turn her out with his mouth, she thought, there was no telling what else he had up his sleeve. “God damn, I’m shaking.” She caressed his head and looked down at him, looking up at her. She felt him smile without missing a beat. “Va…woo…” Working out the logistics of his tongue while reconciling the conservative man she’d been ready to dismiss with the man buried between her legs reduced Janelle’s speech to unintelligible syllables. The familiar swell of orgasm sent her back against the pillow. Soon it reverberated and pulsed through every cavern of her being, heralded by a deep, throaty wail. Weakly, she clutched his arms until the spasms died away.

Normally, she didn’t allow her lover to continue consuming her after orgasm as post-coital attention was painful. Van was the exception. He was gentle, attentive. Pangs of guilt and shame of how she’d mistreated him crept where her pride once dwelt. Sensing something was weighing on her, Van rolled Janelle on top of him; his finger entwined in her hair and tantalized her lips with a deep kiss they both foolishly permitted their hearts to crave.

Afterward, she lay in the curve of his arm, studying the pout of his lips with her fingertips. “You’re not a religious fanatic, then?” A smile developed beneath her fingers.

“No, I’m not. I’m waiting.” He explained. “Since my last relationship, I’ve forgone sexual intimacy – well, intercourse. I’m waiting for ‘The One’.”

The One?” Janelle repeated.

“Yeah, the woman I’ll spend my life with.”

Janelle was dazed. Van obviously possessed formidable self-restraint because she didn’t know a man alive who could withstand such pressure. Testing his resolve, her hand crept down his abs, and over the front of his boxers. “You mean, if I touched you here…”

He clasped her wrist. “Then I’d stop you.” He rolled on his side, sweeping Janelle’s hair away from her face, just making out the disappointment she tried to conceal. “I want you. God, I want you.” He said carefully. “But I’ve wanted you from the moment we met, and that terrified me because I knew you didn’t care for me.” He pulled the covers over Janelle’s shoulders. “After Roma…well…since then, I don’t make a habit of getting my heart broken by unobtainable women.”

Janelle heart sank in her chest. “Roma cheated?”

“Worse. She strung me along for years.” Van’s eyes drooped, becoming more thoughtful as he explained. “Roma and I worked for the same realtor. She’s in commercial property, I in estates and tenancies. Like you, I have a knack for selling expensive shit to people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” He shrugged. “Anyway, the bubble burst – companies closed their regional offices – commercial properties weren’t in high demand which meant Roma was lucky to close two deals a year whereas every fat cat in the market for foreclosed high-end property beat a path to my door. Roma’s situation worsened rapidly so when our leases expired, I purchased my parents’ sleepy little cottage in the foothills and supported both of us.”

Sleepy little cottage? What a waste. I bet she gutted the place of its charm and installed all new mod cons. Roma doesn’t strike me as the sleepy little cottage type.” Janelle’s assessment was correct.

“She wasn’t, well….” He collected his thoughts, rather pleased a cottage appealed to Janelle. “You see, I wanted a stable family and a sensible lifestyle. For a while, Roma wanted the same. Then, as my star rose, I became her safe harbor until someone better came along. And I fell for it hook, line, and sinker.”

“I hate her!” Janelle spat. “Women would kill for a guy like you.”

“Don’t get on your high horse, Little Missy!” Van laughed. “My stock shot up with you only because I resemble Captain America. Which, might I add, is the best movie of all times. I’m literally fighting off women left and right nowadays.” He joked, lightening the mood.

“No!” Janelle pounced on him, and gently bit his earlobe. “You’re mine.” She kissed him softly with a sincerity she’d expected.

Van hesitated, because despite the intimacies they’d just shared he hadn’t lost sight of pain such a woman as Janelle could inflict if he allowed himself to be sucked in too quickly. “But I’m not yours.” His index finger stroked down her neck. “You didn’t want anything to do with me, did you?”

Janelle, too ashamed to respond, climbed off him and rummaged through her purse for her phone. She found the text message she’d sent Debra from the restaurant and gave the phone to Van who read it quietly. Janelle felt his angst keenly.

“I’m sorry.” She climbed back into bed, resisting the urge to touch the man she’d grown familiar.

Quiet filled the space between them. Neither knew what to say. For a few unguarded moments, Van foolishly believed Janelle’s condescending behavior was a mask, that deep down she was the frail woman piecing her life together. In fact, it’d all been a farce, entertainment until the weather let up or their friends arrived. The childish message itself didn’t register and easily attributed to nervousness. Her spitefulness struck a nerve, as if she’d reopened the cavern of insecurity Roma left, and poured salt. Neither she nor Janelle accepted as he was. It was a bitter pill to swallow but one he would bravely.

“I’m a 7, huh? I’m a 7 only because I resemble someone else, and own a Rolex; a watch I wouldn’t have worn hadn’t I broke my $40.00 Timex.” Van handed Janelle her phone. “You can have the damn watch. It’s was a gift from a client – it’s worthless to me.”

“I’m so sorry. We agreed to start over, and I felt I should be honest with you.” She placed her hand on his chest and felt the muscles stiffen as he moved away from the temptation of her naked body. “There’s no bullshit with you. I don’t have to paint a pretty picture. I don’t have to pretend, and I like that. I wrote…”

Don’t. Don’t explain.” He interrupted and turned to face her.

“No, hear me out. I want honesty, full disclosure.” Janelle started. “I wrote that message because you intimidate me – you weren’t overawed at first sight – you were frank, too frank – you saw through me and I was terrified. And I’m venomous when I’m afraid.” She inched closer to Van who, this time, didn’t pull away. He moved one of her wild curls away from her cheek and studied her. 

“Truth is, I’m not Michael. My weekends aren’t spent in exotic locations unless I’m meeting a client. I’m not Captain America. I don’t leap into burning cars to save kittens. I’m flammable – that kitten is on its own.” His eyes roved over hers, and he spoke clearly. “Though selling properties to snobs isn’t backbreaking labor, I jealously guard my leisure time. Most often, I’m in my workshop or on the lake with my father. That may sound boring but that’s who I am.” He said brightly but the sun in his tone didn’t deceive Janelle. “So, peculiarly, it’s better this way. I’d rather know where we stand now than get my hopes up. You go your way, and I’ll go mine. Obviously, you’re not The One.” 

“I could be.” Her voice broken, scarcely her own.

“But you’re not.” Van kissed Janelle’s forehead, and held his lips there a second too long. “The One would know.”