Wolf approaches me like I’m a small animal poised to take flight. His fingertips slide down the inside of my arm, like he’s afraid of leaving a smudge. Like I’m some kind of porcelain freshly glazed but not yet fired, too fragile to be held. He sits beside me with a sigh.
“Why am I doing this?”
I don’t completely understand, but up this close I can see his dazed confusion, creased around his eyes and the unconscious scratch of stubble. He smoothes the same line again and again, shaking his head.
“You’re not mine to have.”
I tip my head to one side. It’s interesting, knowing where people’s boundaries lie.
He clasps his hands under his chin, elbows on knees. Turns only his face to me. “I’ve been telling myself that I can feel what I like, it’s what I DO that matters.”
I try to hook his gaze with my own, but it’s sliding into the corners of the room faster than the evening shadows. “So, you can dine me and wine me, buy me presents, draw me…”
He closes his eyes, enunciates harshly. “That’s different.”
“I don’t understand how." I’m not trying to be cruel, just clear. This is how I see the world.
He raises his eyebrows as if to speak, but then finds a stray thread on one knee that needs attention. Rolls it between thumb and forefinger just for something to do.
“You’re not mine to have.”
“Am I anyone’s?”
“Well. You wear a wedding ring.”
“Yes. I choose to. “
His lip folds pensively under his top teeth. “All the time. All the time that we’ve drunk tea and I’ve tried to decide if your eyes are truly green or some witchy hazel, and I’ve watched you… It’s been okay, so long as I didn’t lay a hand on you. Well, not – he waves a hand expansively through the air – but it’s felt allowed. Permissible.”
“We could go on like that,” I offer. I’m testing.
He swallows again, shakes his head. “I don’t want to. I mean – I want to, but I don’t want to. I – I want this. I want this so badly.”
“You don’t have to take it. I’m offering. You didn’t come over here and undress me. You made me want to undress myself.” It’s a fine line, but I’ve always been about semantics.
He reaches a hand, slowly runs the back of his fingers down my thigh, shudders at the contact of our skin that can’t be explained by therapy or cold or friendship.
I close my eyes, and his hand is behind my ear and down my neck, across one shoulder. The same single hand, fingertips tentative, suddenly cool, brushes my breast, and my eyes open slowly into his, only a few inches away.
With the warmth of his uncertain breath on my cheek, I watch him watching my nipple tense, pulled to attention and pulling his breath sharply up in his throat. I am so aroused that I can do this – evoke this in him. One more light graze, then he moves to the tip of my nose, lip, chin, clavicle, cleft, touching so gently I have to listen for the contact with my whole body. He seizes me suddenly and urgently, wrapping his fingers between my ribs as if about to hoist me overhead, winding me like a ball of string. We go backward on the bed.
For a while there is nothing but our mouths. They seem newly joined, fused and inseparable. He kisses the way he argues, passionate and forceful, backing down when he feels I’m convinced, tapering phrases with less weight, less force, but somehow the same intensity. He kisses like a concerto, until we kiss ourselves stalemated and wake from a daze like lovesick teenagers. No-one’s winning this war.