Note: This is a first draft that is a part of a longer story. Drafts posted may (is definitely) not be in sequence.
The cool air from the airconditioner wafted over her nudity, but the chill didn't bother her. The darkened room was quiet, punctuated by the hum of the climate control system and his faint but steady snore. She pulled her knees up and rested her chin on the knobby protrusion of her joint. There was a gap between her curtains, the lights of the city twinkling beyond the glass like stationary fireflies.
Next to her ______ slept on. He was what the Cosmo sex quiz called a flopper, often falling unconscious almost immediately after sex. There were a few times when she had to push him off, the muscled frame a hefty weight that can suffocate an unwary lover. He was sprawled on over half of the bed, the twisted sheets half drawn to his chest.
She shifted her position to study him. He was a long one, reaching 6 feet in his socks, wide of shoulder, strong of limb. He was fond of pitting himself against others physically; be it tennis, racquetball, football or volleyball, and it honed his muscles to an athletic toughness that was attractive underneath his clothes. Tanned from the outdoors, his inner thighs and buttocks were pale, indicating his northern Indian ancestry. His eyelids were closed, dense, long lashes sweeping the high bones of his cheeks. Puffs of air escaped his parted lips, exposing the edge of his straight, white teeth.
Such a pretty, pretty man.
Such a lousy, lousy man.
Unconsciously she rubbed the center of her chest. The pain had subsided long ago, but sometimes its echoes caught her unaware, making her eyes burn from the force of holding back her tears. She didn't quite know why he's back where he was on her bed, she knew that it's temporary, nothing with him ever lasted. It felt odd to be physically sated, her body languourous from the multiple orgasms he'd enthusiastically wrung out of her; but the wheels of her mind focussed with brutal clarity on the deep unspoken anger within.
She swung her legs off the bed and made her way to the bathroom. All jets on. The water was hot and steaming, almost stinging her tender skin. She squirted a generous amount of soap on the loofah and briskly scrubbed herself, paying scrupulous attention to remove every trace of his touch on her flesh. She shampooed her hair twice and used the leave in serum to condition the long locks. She brushed her teeth vigorously and gargled with the mouthwash.
She exited the bathroom clad in a robe and turned on all the lights in the bedroom. She ignored his sleepy protests, extracted underpants, a sweat pants and a t shirt. The design on the front of the shirt has faded, but it's soft and comforting and she needed all the comfort she can get right then.
"Wassup?" he mumbled, bracing himself on his elbows, squinting against the brightness. He blinked blearily at the sight of her dressed and yawned so wide, his jaws popped. His position threw all those lovely muscles into stark relief, presenting a pretty tableau. Italian masters would kill to sculpt him, she thought dispassionately.
"It's time for you to go. Thanks for dropping by," she said, standing beside the open door pointedly.
He licked his lips at how the soft cotton clung to her damp skin. He sat up and patted the place on the bed next to him invitingly with a smile. "What about a second round? Let me make you scream in ecstasy a few times more."
She didn't return his smile. "No, thanks. I need to sleep and I want you to go right now."
"C'mon," he started to cajole but her stiff posture told him that his efforts would be to no avail. He sighed and clambered off the bed.
"Fine," he said with a huff, raising a hand in her direction in surrender and made his way to the bathroom. Behind the closed door she could hear the toilet being flushed and the shower running. She picked up his clothes that were strewn all over the room and dumped them on the bed. The clothes that she wore earlier were collected with the rest of her laundry and she took them to the washer. The load wasn't full but once the bed linens were added later, she can start the wash cycle.
She turned on the television and flipped the channels randomly, finally settling in for HBO. Some action movie was on, there were explosions aplenty but oddly no gore. Leaving the characters to fight out their differences on screen, she returned to the kitchen and nuked a mug of water with an Earl Grey bag in it. Her grandmother would be appalled at the tea desecration, but she wanted something hot now and did not want to wait for the kettle to boil. She took her mug to the breakfast counter and pulled the sugar container closer to her seat.
"Kicking me out, eh?" his voice was low, the quiet inflection hiding a wealth of unsaid emotions. She stirred her tea desultorily, pulling out the tea bag and throwing it into the sink in an expert overhand toss. The soggy bag landed with a dull splat.
"Yup. Thanks for scratching my itch. Don't let the door hit you on the way out," she sipped the hot brew meditatively. He dressed back in the ____________ and ___________ that he wore earlier in the evening. Although crumpled, he still looked like he just stepped out of a fashion spread.
He said nothing and leaned on the counter facing her, studying her nonchalance. But when she raised her eyes, he dropped his gaze, his cheeks ruddy with embarrassment. Sounds of gunfire from the television set broke the silence.
"Are you going to tell Alena?" he asked, seemingly fascinated by the grain of the granite table top, hands stuffed in his pockets. His feet were bare, she suspect the bulge in his left pocket to be his socks.
"No," she said, taking another sip. "What happened here has nothing to do with her."
He exhaled audibly, shifting his weight slightly and nodded. "Thank you."
"No need to thank me. I like her and I don't want to hurt her. It's bad enough that she'll marry an asshole like you, I don't need to compound things," she rose, mug in hand to flop on the overstuffed couch in front of the television. Her eyes appeared to be watching the screen but she took in nothing, her inward gaze hiding her feelings.
He moved closer to her but kept his distance. The keys in his pocket jiggled, betraying his agitation. "I'm sorry."
"I hurt you. I ... didn't mean to. But we just ..." his shoulder jerked, his toes clenching the deep weave of her black and white rug.
"Yeah, I got it. I'm not gonna be the woman who'll guide you to Paradise," her voice was heavy with sarcasm.
"It's not you ... I ... need her. She ..." he appeared to be casting around for words. "She makes me a better man. She makes me want to be better. It's easy with you, but it's not the same."
"Yeah, a good woman for a good man and vice versa. Does she know that you're not a good man?" her right brow arched disdainfully. Did you not know I once harboured hopes that you will be the one to lead me to Paradise? Did you not know I once hung my dreams of a life together into old age on you? Did you know and did not care anyway? Did you?
He reddened again and said nothing.
"So, what now?" he asked.
"You go home and do whatever you want. Me, I'm going to be hanging out with your fiancee tomorrow and making a mural."
"You don't have to worry. I'm not going to blab to anyone about your lapse tonight. We'll pretend it didn't happen, just a time out of time. Consider it a send off. Vaya con dios," she fluttered the hand not holding the mug.
He knew her well enough that there's nothing else to say. He was relieved in some ways, wretched in others. But he was grateful that she's giving him a way out of a potentially sticky situation and decided to leave before he shoved his foot deeper into his gullet. With a polite nod in her direction, he made his way to the entrance hall, slipping on his trainers. He closed the door quietly and left.
She rose from the sofa, abandoning her tea and opened the door to the balcony. The night air was chilly even during the hot season at the elevation of her apartment. She leaned against the cold ballustrade and looked down at the empty streets. A growly engine coughed and she could see his Cheyenne leaving the parking of her apartment. The brake lights lit once when he approached the intersection and the vehicle disappeared around the corner.
Her eyes were painfully dry as she raised her gaze to the moonless sky. She was like the Alison Moyet song, all cried out. Inside she felt hollow. Maybe she no longer have a heart, if everyone who left her took a piece along with them. He was just another man in a long series of men who left. Men always left. From her father, to Jake, and down to him, they all left. There will be another man, she knew. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but there will be another man who will come into her life, and leave again when it suits them.
The brightness of the city lights obscured the stars, just like how her smiles hid her fragmented heart. She made a moue at her sentimentality and went back inside, closing the door firmly on all her hopes and dreams of making a life with someone else.