It isn’t working. Something’s wrong. It’s not the condom – it feels like all friction and nothing else. It doesn’t exactly hurt, but it doesn’t feel good either. I straddle Dylan’s lap on the crappy old plaid recliner, my black skirt pushed up to my waist. It’s just the two of us, our sweating bodies and unfulfilled desires. I don’t know whether to lift myself up off of him or stay put. He’s trying, I can tell, but it’s not working for him either. His face is wet with his exertion, but it’s like he’s on Viagra – all push and no release. I wouldn’t even mind if he came first, but not coming at all is another thing entirely. I feel the dread deep down in my belly.
“What’s wrong?” I settle on him, stilling my hips. I try to run my fingers through his hair, but it’s almost too stiff with gel so I give up.
“I don’t know.” His words have no conviction.
“What?” I ask with more force this time. I expect him to pull me off his lap, but he doesn’t. He runs his fingers lightly over my bare hips, the action unconscious as he thinks hard about what he wants to say. I should find the gesture reassuring, but it’s just short of the mark. I wonder why he’s taking so long to say something.
“You never ask me how I’m feeling,” he states simply.
This surprises me.
“What do you mean?” I move my hands to my legs and keep them there.
“You gotta understand . . . You know the rules and so do I and what we’ve got is not normal high school shit.”
“What?” I don’t want to be on his lap anymore with him pushed inside me. I try to get up, but he grabs my arms, keeping our bodies connected.
“Wait,” Dylan says. “Hear me out for once, don’t just run away. You wouldn’t get this from any other guy.”
It’s like a flip has switched and I’m pissed. And humiliated. And angry. It’s like our first kiss so many months ago, and it hurts just as much, maybe even worse. I trusted him with everything and he can still crush me with just a few words. Asshole.
“Go fuck yourself,” I snap. I struggle with him to get off his lap.
“Why so you can rub it in? I’m the freak, right?” I’m practically yelling now. And I’m slapping at his arms.
“Jesus Christ, Holly, cut it out,” he growls before he picks me up and pushes us back into a box of paint cans. One topples out with a clanking thud, but doesn’t bust open. He shoves my ass onto the top box and the box softens under my weight and I think I’m gonna fall, but I don’t. He holds me there.
“Listen to me, will you.” He’s right up in my personal space. His face is within inches of mine and he’s shouting. It makes me flinch. “I’m never gonna give you up. And I’m not gonna run around or desert you for fuck’s sake! You scare the crap out of me sometimes because you’re way too intense and it freaks my shit out, but I’m never gonna say good bye. Just tone that shit down some. Don’t be so insecure.”
“I don’t believe you,” I spit at him. I don’t want to cry.
“Holly, baby, don’t be too blind to see it. Deep down you know it’s true,” he says urgently as he pulls my face towards him and forces me to kiss him. I don’t want to kiss him, but he keeps at it. “Listen,” he says when he finally lets me breathe, “I want you to come with me. If I go to live with my brother, I want you to come, too. I’ll get my GED and get a job. John might be pissed at first, but if I help out, he’ll come around. I’m serious, Holly.”
He looks at me like he can see right through me and it makes me shiver. His gaze is delicious and so earnest that it ignites something in me. The doubt is evaporating with the intensity of his stare. He waits for my answer.
“Okay,” I say, nodding my head.
“I’m never going to let you down,” he murmurs as he starts to move his hips again.
“I love you,” I whisper, letting the backwash of tears fall.
“I love you, too, baby.”
I close my eyes and sigh.
* * *