The waiting room of Bella’s gynecologist was quite possibly the scariest place on Earth. It wasn’t the pale pink walls, the Lifetime Original Movie being shown on TV, or the lack of quality reading material. Surrounded by pregnant women, it was impossible to forget that sexual intercourse made babies. I’d known this since I was nine, but I still found it terrifying.
Bella gestured for me to sit down before giving her name at the front desk. She went over to the water cooler in the corner, and filled a small paper cup before sitting down next to me. I noticed her hand trembling as she depressed the blue tab on the cooler. She was clearly very on edge. I wondered if this was more about the IUD insertion or the results of her HIV test. I knew if I asked her, she wouldn’t answer me honestly. Maybe she’d relax if she laughed a bit.
“I wouldn’t drink that if I were you,” I whispered.
She looked at me perplexedly. “Why not?”
“Look around. Everyone here is pregnant. That’s hardly a coincidence.”
Bella was not amused. “You’re sitting in an obstetrician’s waiting room. Obviously, everyone is pregnant.”
“They probably drank the water, too. Don’t worry. I’ll save you.”
I took the cup out of her hand and downed its contents in one gulp. She may not have laughed, but she did smile.
I reached over and stroked her hand. “It’s going to be okay, you know.”
“You can’t know that,” she said quietly.
“I do know that.” I would have felt better reassuring her if I knew why she was so freaked out.
We sat in silence until they called her name. She stood up and followed the nurse as if she were walking to her own execution. No one is ever that nervous over a fifteen-second procedure. There had to be something she wasn’t telling me.
I picked the magazine off the table beside me and glanced at the cover. It apparently was geared toward teenage girls. I held it up and it fell open to the advice column. I scanned the page, curious to see what questions plagued the minds of girls my age.
One boob is bigger than the other. What’s wrong with me?
Can you get pregnant from anal sex?
Are blue balls really blue?
I flipped the magazine shut and put it back on the table. Bella’s issues were far preferable to that foolishness.
Twenty-three minutes later, Bella reappeared seeming much calmer. As I drove her home, she played with my iPod. She scrolled through the play lists as if she was looking for something to talk about besides her appointment.
“Do you feel okay?” I asked.
“Yes. It wasn’t bad.” She rested my iPod on her lap and stared out the window.
I carried her up to her room when we arrived at her house. She protested, but I insisted. I placed her in the center of her bed and got in next to her. I pulled her into my arms and pressed my lips against the top of her head.
I took a deep breath. “Why were you so scared earlier?”
“I was afraid it would hurt.”
I wasn’t sure which annoyed me more—the fact that she was lying, or the idea that she clearly thought I was dumb enough to believe her. “We both know that wasn’t it.”
She smacked her lips and sighed. “Fine, then. Specifically, I was scared about getting my blood work back, of having an STD. Given my history, statistics were not on my side. There. I said it.”
If what she was telling me was true, that she beat the odds by not catching anything, it could only mean one thing.
I was fucked.
“Bella, how many men have you slept with?”
I didn’t want to ask. I knew it was none of my business. Somehow, though, I had a strange feeling it was relevant, that those experiences (regardless of how little they meant to her at the time) were significant.
She was very defensive. “Why does the number of partners I’ve had concern you so much? This is now the second time you’ve brought it up. You claim it doesn’t matter, yet you won’t let it drop.”
Partners. She always uses the word partners.
Was she fucking kidding me?
“Wait, we are just talking about men here, right? I asked about men and you responded with ‘partners’. That can only mean one thing. You’ve played for both teams.”
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. When she finally answered, her voice was barely more than a whisper. “What definition of ‘played’ are we working with?”
My cheeks were burning and my breath became shallow. I was determined not to panic without clarification.
“So, there have been women, too?”
Bella rolled onto her back and stared straight up at the ceiling. “You never answered my question. Either it matters to you or it doesn’t. If it truly doesn’t matter to you, then you should drop it.”
Her avoidance was confirmation enough. My mind began to play a montage of Bella in various stages of girl-on-girl action.
Bella sucking on a breast.
Bella writhing in ecstasy with another woman’s head between her legs.
Bella and another hot brunette taking turns sucking off a red-haired teen aged guy.
Okay, so the guy in question in that last image may have been me. I couldn’t help it. I was appalled and aroused in equal parts. There was no way in hell I was going to let Bella change the subject.
“Wait, I just found out my girlfriend may be a switch hitter, and I’m supposed to just drop it?”
“I don’t swing the other way, Edward. Not regularly. I experimented with women a few times just to see if it was something I’d be into, and it wasn’t. I like cock. End of story.”
I had the distinct impression she’d liked a whole lot of cock. She would never be content with just mine. I didn’t even know how to use it for anything besides pissing and my own gratification. It was hopeless.
“‘Experimented’ can mean a whole of lot of things, Bella.”
“And I’ve probably done them all.”
I swallowed, trying to ignore the burning in my cheeks. “All of them? As in everything? With both genders?”
“Yes, everything. But you claimed the past was irrelevant. So, either man up and stick with your previous statement, or admit that you’re ashamed of me and get the fuck out of my house.”
“I could never be ashamed of you.” I loved her too much for that. “But I have to wonder if you are ashamed of yourself.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Why? Because you can’t wrap your mind around sexual confidence?”
There’s confidence, and then there’s coming off like a professional. What I did know of Bella’s sexual history read like the plot of a porno.
What if she’d made some movies? I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself. I wasn’t a porn connoisseur, but I’d seen enough of it to know that the women usually didn’t look like Bella. Then again, I wasn’t familiar with the amateur kind. If she was experimental enough to lick pussy, the idea of her permitting someone to video it wasn’t that far-reached.
Maybe, when the time came, she’d let me videotape us. After I got better at it, of course.
“Sexual confidence is not the problem,” I decided. An amateur porn career is a different story. “Why won’t you just talk to me about it?”
I was beginning to seriously doubt my ability to satisfy her.
“Fine. We’ll talk. What do you want to know?”
“How many partners?”
She didn’t trust me with her number. Her conquests must go well into triple digits.
“I’ll skip that one for now. How many of your partners were women?”
“And you…you went…” I was too distracted by my mental image to finish my sentence.
Bella licking another woman’s labia.
There went my cock.
Bella was livid. “You’re guilt-tripping me for not wanting to discuss sex acts that you can’t even say out loud. I’m not the only person in this bed with communication issues.”
I just blurted it out. “So, you’ve gone down on two women.”
“I’ve gone down on one woman. Two women have gone down on me.”
Bella writhing in ecstasy with two other brown-haired women working between her legs.
I gulped. “Simultaneously?”
“No, individually. Why does this bother you?”
“Because now I don’t just have to worry about the possibility of losing you to another guy, I also have to worry about women.”
“Actually, you don’t have to worry about losing me at all, unless, of course, you continue to bring up things from the past that don’t matter.”
I knew women found insecurity unappealing, but I was out of bravado.
“How will I ever be enough for you?”
“Hey,” She cupped my face in her hands. “You are everything for me. You have no reason to feel insecure. I knew having this conversation would give you a complex, and that’s the main reason why I wanted to avoid it. I just want to keep you safe, to make sure nothing I’ve done in my past can come back and hurt you.”
“So that was really it?”
I wanted to believe her. “Thank you, Bella, for getting tested, for getting the IUD, for being with me. ”
I placed a chaste kiss on her lips. I wanted more, but I knew it would be nothing more than my ego wanting to stake its claim. She deserved more than that from me, even if nothing we did together would be new to her. Meanwhile, I was obsessed with the idea of her and another woman. This was prime masturbation material. I just needed more details.
“So, when you went down on that chick, how did that work? Was she going down on you at the same time? What did she look like?” I licked my lips in anticipation.
“Edward, you’re kidding me.”
“No. That’s hot.”
She lightly smacked my chest. “Funny, three minutes ago you seemed more than a little freaked out about it.”
“Oh, I was. I kind of still am. But now that’s out there, a visual image wouldn’t be the worst thing. It might help me, you know, when I’m alone.”
“You don’t need to jerk off to mental images of my past sexual encounters. Just tell me when you’re ready. I’ll get you plenty of your own to remember.”
She climbed on top of me and her breasts pressed against my chest. She explored my mouth with her tongue while rocking her hips against mine. She sucked lightly on my neck before resting her head on my chest. Twelve seconds later she was asleep. I held her and mentally replayed the afternoon’s conversation.
Her sexual history truly didn’t bother me. She’d been willing to have sex with me on our first date. I already knew she was promiscuous. Her experimentation with bisexuality didn’t bother me, either, when looked at in context. Bella wasn’t incredibly self-aware. She seemed like the type of person who would need to try a different sexual orientation before settling on the obvious one.
She was very uncomfortable talking to me about her past. She didn’t trust me. This bothered me more than if she’d fucked the entire student body of Penn.
Still sleeping, she rolled off my chest onto her stomach. I went downstairs to clear my head. I sat at her piano and began to play. Two hours and twenty-four minutes later, she crept up behind me and pressed her chest against my back.
“As if there was ever any question.” I finished the piece I’d been playing and pulled her down on to the bench next to me.
“Do you know anything about music theory?”
“There are seven unique tones in a scale,” I began. “For the sake of simplicity, we’ll start with C major.” I sang softly as I played, and her eyes stayed fixed on my hands. “‘It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, and the major lift…’”
She smiled. “‘The baffled king composing Hallelujah.’ I love this song.”
“He’s calling out the notes he’s playing, you know.” I played it again and showed her the keys on the piano.
“I can’t believe I never noticed that. I guess I always focused on the rest of the song. It’s incredibly moving. Sometimes I feel as though the last verse is the story of my life.”
I turned away from the piano and looked at her. Her foot was twitching at the ankle and her shoulders were slightly slumped forward.
I wished I could remember which lyrics were in the last verse. I had a suspicion that what she’d just told me was far more significant than anything she’d confessed to me earlier.
“Middle C is this key here.” I pointed it out to her. “Why don’t you stroke it?”
She trailed her hand down my chest toward my cock.
“I would love to stroke it.”
So much for music theory.
“Bella, you know that wasn’t what I meant.”
“Are you telling me to stop?”
“I don’t want you to stop,” I admitted. “But I don’t think this is the time for that. I know you’re still cramping from your appointment, and I don’t want our first time to be in response to my insecurity. You don’t need to prove anything to me.”
“Okay.” She rested her hand on her lap. “It’s very late. Do your parents know you’re here?”
“Yes, but I should probably get going.”
I got up and she walked me to the door. I gave her a quick peck on the lips. I knew the longer I lingered, the harder it would be for me to leave. “Goodnight, Bella.”
When I arrived home, I was somewhat surprised to find my dad on the couch waiting for me.
“Don’t you ever sleep?” I asked.
He laughed. “Not since you started dating. So how’s Bella?”
My dad gave me a look. “What’s wrong?”
I sighed. “Have you ever been the less experienced one?”
He looked at me confusedly.
“Sexually, I mean.”
“I was a virgin on my wedding night,” he joked.
“Thanks, Dad. That’s helpful. Just so you know, I was asking you for advice as a friend.”
“Have you and Bella…”
“No,” I interrupted. “At this rate, we never will. She intimidates me. I’ll never get up the balls.”
“Maybe we should start at the beginning. You do realize that your balls are not what you need to worry about getting up?”
I sighed. “Forget it, I’m going to bed.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make a joke out of your concerns. I know this is hard for to grasp because you’ve never had a failed relationship, but trust me on this. If there are men in Bella’s past, they are in the past for a reason.”
“But if I’m the worst…”
Out of several hundred, I added silently.
“There’s so much more to physical intimacy than the act itself. You may not know what she likes, but she does. Let her show you, and if you’re unsure, ask. Believe me, she’ll tell you. However, if you’re truly as distraught as you seem, you’re not ready.”
I rolled my eyes.
“I’m serious,” he continued. “I’m not preaching abstinence. Hell, when the time comes, I’ll buy the condoms. It’s just not something you should rush.”
“Says the guy who lost it at sixteen only to become an epic manwhore at college.”
“The circumstances were different. I wasn’t emotionally involved, therefore it was impossible for me to get hurt. You claim Bella is the one…”
“She is,” I insisted.
“That makes it that much easier for her to hurt you.” He got up and walked to the steps. “I’m not telling you what to do. I’m just giving you some things to consider. Good night, Edward. I love you.”
“I love you, too, Dad.”
As much as I didn’t want to admit it, he had a point. I sunk into the couch as he disappeared up the steps. I noticed his laptop sitting on the coffee table. I flipped it open and Googled the lyrics to Hallelujah. After I read the final verse, my decision was made.
I wasn’t going to have sex with Bella until she was in love with me.