The mornings were always the hardest. Everyday he had to ask himself why he needed to continue living. He was never sure what the correct answer might be, and so he promised himself he’d figure it out later on. But everyday he rolled onto the floor, put on some pants, generated some coffee, ignited a cigarette, consumed the coffee, and determined the class to which he would devote his attention today, and gradually he’d forget the question entirely.
Some days, though, didn’t fit into this otherwise ironclad routine. This was one of them. Slowly he drifted to partial consciousness, and as soon as he realized that the pillow pressing against his skull wasn’t his own, he woke the rest of the way up.
So instead of clothing, coffee, cigarette, and class, he was reduced to deciding whether he should wake the woman beside him on the full-sized bed.
Lying facedown, her slightly matted, blond–but not naturally so, as he found out recently–hair splashed across her shoulders, a heavy snore rattling out of her nose, she still looked like your typical college sex kitten. Sean smiled.
When they’d arrived at her apartment last night, they skipped the pretense of a cup of coffee or small talk, and instead headed directly for the bedroom. She shrugged off her February coat, tied her scarf on the doorknob to let her boyfriend know she had company, and giggled, “Lose the sweater, or you’re sleeping on the couch.”
Sean didn’t want to sleep on the couch, so he tossed his once-white-but-now-more-of-a-brown, stretched-out cardigan to the floor. It occurred to him that the thorough examination her eyes performed on his body might be due to the fact that she’d never actually seen him without it before. He felt kind of naked now, and he still had a lot of layers to go.
Blushing, she asked, “Is this really crazy, or is it just me?”
It wasn’t just her. “Perhaps you’d feel more comfortable if we simply retired to our corners for the night.”
Shannon bit her lip in thought before crossing her arms in front of her and whipping her T-shirt over her head. “It’s Valentine’s Day,” she replied, “and if I don’t romp with someone tonight, I will not be happy.” She began to pace deliberately, like a cat about to rub up against him. “And you like it when I’m happy, right?”
Most men who were knew her were endlessly fascinated by her cleavage. She accommodated them by making it highly visible, regardless of the weather. A part of Sean wondered how wearing a push-up bra at least three-hundred-and-sixty-five days a year could possibly be comfortable, but the other part was just grateful. Given the snug fit of her blouses, he didn’t expect to be surprised by what he’d see when he was finished blinking. His imagination had always been able to speculate how her bare skin might curve and glow and tease, and it turned out that his imagination had done a pretty good job. It even got the goose bumps right. But it hadn’t counted on her bra, though, which wasn’t lacy, or see-through, or even all that interesting. And because of that, it occurred to him that this was really happening.
“Yes,” he replied.
With a grin, she told him, “Okay, now you go.”
Fumbling with the baggy T-shirts he always draped himself in, he asked, “I don’t get why you don’t just fuck Rocky then.”
“You are such a weirdo, you know that?” Balancing herself carefully, she kicked off her fashionable boots. “I can think of four hundred and thirteen guys off the top of my head who would trade places with you so fast.” She stepped forward, penetrating his comfort zone. “You don’t think I’m a weirdo, do you?”
Flailing and backing away, he attempted to reply, “I…” He lost his balance and fell onto the bed. “I don’t often find myself in this situation.”
“Really?” This revelation seemed to utterly baffle her, and so she put all of her concentration into sorting it out. Unzipping, dropping, and stepping out of her skirt didn’t seem to require any thought at all. “Because you’re totally rompable.”
“That’s something I don’t hear a lot,” he told her as she crawled onto the mattress next to him.
“Are you sure?”
“I have problems…” His sentence stalled when he realized that she was unbuttoning his pants. He tried again. “I have problems being intimate.”
She stopped mid-zip and frowned. “Who said anything about being intimate?” She turned her attention to untying and yanking off his shoes. “You don’t need to be intimate to have sex! My boyfriend and I are totally intimate, but he’s at the bar tonight, looking for lonely girls to comfort.”
After yanking off his socks, she added, “And he’s not being intimate with them.”
“Your relationship confounds me,” he told her.
“Well, I’m not confounded.” She freed his pants completely from his legs with a sharp tug, but sacrificed her balance in the process. He leaned over the edge to find her on the floor, laughing uncontrollably. “Never tell anybody about this,” she pleaded.
With a smirk, he hauled her back onto the bed and kissed her, hard.
Her back arched, her hips rose, and her throat moaned. As soon as she could speak again, she sighed, “So I have to be a total doofus to make you brave?”
“You just had to remind me why you’re one of my favorite people in the world,” he replied.
“Because I’m clumsy like a clumsy lizard?”
He shook his head. “That you’re not even remotely the person you look like.” This close to her face, and with this much light, he could make out crow’s feet around her teal eyes, which was odd, considering that she was two years younger than he, and he was only twenty-three. “So who are you?”
“I’m Shannon, weirdo.”
“Seriously, who the hell are you?”
“Shannon Veronica Heidebrect?”
“I mean…” he began.
“No,” she told him. “I am not going to tell you my whole poopy story so you can fall in love with how deep you think I really am.”
“I don’t fall in love that easily.”
“But you fell in love with her.”
He sighed. “That was an accident.”
“You want to talk about the scars on your arms?” she asked. “The ones that don’t look like an accident?”
“No,” he admitted.
“Well, I don’t want to talk about my poop.” Her fingers crept under the elastic of his boxers. “So how about you take these off, and I’ll get a condom, and we can romp.”
He couldn’t argue anymore. “Okay.”
She crawled delightfully toward him. “A lot.”
With a grin, he said, “Don’t you have to remove something to make that work?”
She looked back at her own underwear. “Oops!” she giggled before rolling her eyes innocently. “Um, could you do me a favor and take care of that for me?”
This morning, he had no idea what to expect from tomorrow, or the day after, but today, he had an answer to his daily question. His finger tickled the small of her back, and she squirmed.
“Good morning,” he whispered.
She replied by reaching for his waist and pulling him closer.