“You say it’s over. But you’re always coming back to me. What are you afraid of?” Ashton asked me intently, not letting our eye contact waver.
“I…” All the words I should have said slipped away. I did want him. I didn’t want to be afraid. I wanted to let him love me and let myself love him. Instead of the constant cycle of non-labeled relationship that I had forced Ashton into for the last three years.
He leaned closer and I pulled further back feeling the countertop dig deeper into my back. His dark woodsy scent flooded my senses. We were in our friend Gemma’s kitchen in downtown Milwaukee, having the same argument about a relationship label we had a thousand times before.
“Raleigh.” He whispered, running his hand over my cheek. “I would never hurt you.”
I looked away. I knew it wasn’t fair, but I couldn’t help where my mind wandered every time we were together. The little voice in the back of my head that told me he would change at any moment. He would keep things from me, just like my ex. An ex who should have been out of my system by now, but the scars from what he did never seemed to fade.
Gemma told me it was because I held onto those scars like a security blanket. Using the past as a way to guard myself against any love in the future. I knew she was growing tired of my constant cycle, but I didn’t know how to break it. All I could do was keep my pain to myself.
I had no expectations for anyone to empathize with me when I never changed.
I could feel Ashton’s eyes on me, fighting with himself about wanting to stay but needing to walk away.
I felt his lips on my ear, sending tingles down my spine.
Abruptly he pulled back and slapped his hands on the island.
I searched his dark face, waiting for him to tell me it was over. He ran his hands through his dark brown hair. I couldn’t help but admire him, he was so beautiful. Tall and lean, he looked amazing in his green checkered shirt rolled up around his elbows.
His dark eyebrows scrunched up in despair. “I can’t do this anymore, Raleigh. It’s too much. You’re either with me or you’re not.” He looked up at me hopefully. I looked away at the hurt flooding his eyes.
He turned away, “You’re not.” He sighed, “I hope one day you let someone love you because you’re worth loving. You’re worth everything.” And with that he turned and walked out of the room.
I sucked down a dry, painful swallow. Everyone else was up on the roof deck, so no one would see me slip out. Ashton’s right, I did always come back to him. I wanted to be near him, constantly. It wasn’t fair to him. Especially when I could never be what he needed.
I slipped out the door and into the warm summer air of the city. More than anything else I was angry at myself. I wanted to be someone else. Someone who hadn’t been in an abusive relationship and beaten into nothing. Both physically and mentally.
After hours of walking arouhttp://www.romanticalaid.com/where-one-ends-love-begins/nd and arguing with myself, I knew what I needed to do. I needed to take back my life. A better version of me would let Ashton have someone better than me. But dammit, if he was going to offer himself to me, I was going to take him. All of him.
Before I knew it, Ashton’s row house stood dark in front of me. My hands shook from nerves. I didn’t know if he was home yet, but I hoped he was.
I rang his doorbell even though I knew where he kept the key. I would lay it all out for him and if he wanted me even then, I would give him everything I had. Everything that I didn’t deserve to lose because asshole treated me wrong.
He opened the door and rubbed his eyes, surprised then resigned.
“Raleigh. I can’t keep…” He started tiredly.
“Just wait.” I interrupted him, which was a first. Normally, I closed up whenever he’d try to talk about the next step. Surprise slid over his face. “I want you to listen. I know I’m broken. I let that asshole have too many parts of me for too long. I don’t want him to have this control over me. Every day I fight it.” I stopped for a quick breath. Ashton’s face was expressionless as he waited for me to finish. I tried not to think of all the things he could say and instead I focused on laying it all out there. “I know I won’t be perfect. I know there’s a risk you could walk away, but I’m willing to risk it. I know I can be stronger now.” I swallowed, “I want to be with you.”
I paused trying to gather courage, “I just don’t know if I’ll be enough.”
I glanced up at Ashton. Expecting to see an expression on his face, but he was blank. His lack of expression sent me into a tail-spin panic.
“I, I am obviously too late, and this was dumb. I’m sorry.” I stuttered and turned to walk or run away. Humiliation started to flood my face with color when I felt his hand on my arm.
“Darling, give me a second. I’ve been waiting three years for you to say that you’d finally stop making me chase you in circles.”
I sighed in relief and turned back to him, “You have?”
He chuckled, “Yes, I want you. I’ve always wanted you. I’ve just been waiting for you to accept it.” And with that he pulled me in for a deep kiss.
This kiss was different than all the ones before. It wasn’t full of guarded emotion and things we couldn’t say. This kiss had every bit of love and passion I’d been holding back.
A fire ignited like a match to gasoline. I wanted him, I needed him. Now that I finally put my heart on the line and he was still there in front of me.
I pressed myself into him and pushed him back through his front door. I slammed the door shut behind me.
I pulled back, “I assume you invited me in with that kiss.” I smiled up at him, at this perfect man who waited so long for me.
He laughed again, “I’m doing a lot more than inviting you in.” He threw me over his shoulder and I yelped.
“Hey! A little notice,” but he didn’t care, he was a man on a mission, carrying me into his bedroom. I smiled into his back, elated at feeling like I finally beat back my demons.
He threw me down on the bed and started kissing me again. I slipped my hands under his shirt and traced along his back. He ground into me, letting me know how much he needed me.
I reached down and pulled at his jean button in desperation. He took pity on my plight and whipped off his pants in one swift motion. He really was the most beautiful man I had ever seen. His body muscled from his morning runs and whatever else he did to look that amazing.
I grabbed the hem of my dress and lifted it over my head. Before I knew it he was on me again, slipping his hands into my underwear gliding them down my legs.
His hands slowly traced back up my legs. I sucked in a breath.
“I need you. Bad.” I said almost panting.
His eyes darkened, and he kissed me again, moving slowly. It only created a hotter fever across my skin. I didn’t want to move slower I needed to move faster. He needed to move faster.
“More, please” I begged, all traces of shame gone with my avalanche of desire.
I tried to pull him closer to me. I wanted to feel him against me, to make sure he knew exactly what he meant to me. Maybe even though I was terrible at expressing my feelings I could show him everything I felt.
Ashton propped himself up on his arms and gazed into my eyes, “I need all of you, every minute of every day.” He kissed each of my cheeks before gently kissing my lips.
“Yes,” I whispered to his lips, feeling the truth in my words. I reached my hands down to his ass, trying to pull him into me, showing him what I needed.
He didn’t need anymore convincing. His tip brushed against my opening creating a deep burn inside.
He pushed into me filling and stretching me with sweet salvation. “Yes,” I said again, his face finding the space in between my shoulder and my neck. My hands gripped his shoulders too tightly as I pushed my hips in a rhythm against his.
Sweet kisses trailed down my neck as his rhythm overtook all my thoughts.
“I love you, Raleigh,” he whispered as we climaxed. I wrapped my arms tighter around his shoulders and held him close to me.
“I love you too, baby.” I said, feeling a tear of relief slip down my cheek.
Read our other short story Almost Wedding Day