Ban de Vendage
November 26, 1995
It’s been five days. The five days I’ve spent with him have somehow erased the memory of the eighteen years that came before them. Much like the birth of Christ set Western calendars back to zero, Thanksgiving Break feels like the beginning of a new age. It’s forever changed my life. Suddenly the thought of sleeping without him fills me with far more trepidation than the thought of sleeping with him ever did. In five days, I’ve gotten used to his arms, his stubble, the heat of his skin. The softness of his body hair is no longer a surprise to me, nor is the hardness of his chest. But then there’s the hardness of his thing, and I doubt I’ll ever get used to that.
I don’t want to think what today is, what it means for us. We haven’t talked about it, and I wonder if he’s dreading my going back to my dorm as much I am. The indiglo display on his alarm confirms I still have several hours before I have to leave, and I’m determined to make the best of them. When I lie back in bed and press my body against his, it’s the same as it’s been the past few mornings—one part of his body rises before the rest of him does. And though he hasn’t put it in me since that one time on Black Friday, I want him to more than anything. I think I’ll forget how it feels if he doesn’t. So I squeeze his butt cheeks with my hands and his thing between my thighs. My hips move, his hips follow suit, and when he starts making noises, I know he’s done being poky and able to start poking. He rolls onto his back and positions me so I’m straddling him. He’s impossibly hard, I’m impossibly wet, and when I lean forward to kiss his mouth, I expect him to put it in me.
Except he doesn’t. He uses it to stroke me between my legs—up and down—but doesn’t put it inside.
“Please,” I whisper against his ear.
When I look at his face, he’s smiling. I think maybe he’s enjoying making me wait.
“Is there something you want?”
As if he doesn’t know. “Huh?”
“Little girls ask for what they want; big girls take it.”
“I don’t understand.”
“This…” He presses it against me, and though it’s so close—just a fraction of an inch—and it might as well be miles away. “…is yours. So if this is what you want…”
“Yes,” I whisper.
“Then you know what to do.”
Except I don’t know what to do. The last time we did this, he did all the work.
“Do you want it in you?” he asks.
“Do you want to make it come?”
“Do you want to come? Because that’s what I want…”
“Then do it.”
So I do, and without realizing what I’m doing, I bring him inside me.
“That’s it.” He puts his hands on my shoulders and nudges me so that I’m kneeling astride him. “Now move however feels good.”
I wiggle my hips slightly to get my balance, and my boobs bounce to the best of their limited ability. Feeling self-conscious, I cross my arms over my chest.
“Don’t hide them.” He takes one of my hands in his and drags it down the front of my body. With our fingers entwined, he strokes me there, and I can’t help but move.
I feel hot, I feel full, and if didn’t hear myself moaning, I’d think I wasn’t capable of breathing. I’m tightening everywhere—around him, in my belly, and when I finally let go, I feel it everywhere.
My first cognizant thought is that this is worth the hype.
We’re in my dorm room all of five minutes before Alice arrives.
“Edward, go away. Izzy won’t talk about you as long as you’re here.”
“You’d think I was your guest or something,” he mutters, shaking his head.
“Aren’t you?” Her eyes dart from me to her brother, then back to me. Her eyes are huge as she claps a hand over her half-scream. “Oh my god! I knew it.” She’s bouncing the same way she does when she’s drunk and needs to pee.
I’m looking at her as I whisper to Edward, “I’d be afraid I’d get stuck like that.”
“Haven’t you noticed?” he asks. “She more or less is.And on that note, I’ll be going.”
I follow him as far as the door. Not only am I not ready to say goodbye to him just yet, but I’m not all that enthused at the prospect of the third degree I realize is imminent.
“I can see myself out.” He’s standing in the hallway, looking in my direction but not at me. “I’ll call you.”
His tone is impersonal, and though I want to think he’s talking to me, but he could just as well be talking to Alice. It feels almost like a rejection, and as much I want to run after him, I can’t—Alice has me by the hand and is pulling me to her bed.
I sit on the edge and brace myself. I expect her to start firing off a million questions a minute, but she doesn’t, and that only makes me more nervous. She pushes her pillow and baby Simba aside and sits in their place, just looking at me. I pick up Simba and hug him against my stomach.
“You’re not a virgin anymore, are you?”
“No.” It’s the first time I’ve said it out loud, and it sounds like a lie even though it’s the truth.
I can’t take the silence. “You knew this would happen–”
“Yes and no. I didn’t think it would happen so fast.”
“Does it bother you?”
“Not the way you think it does. I’m just…” She shakes her head, sighing. “I just want you to know that whatever happens between the two of you, I’m still your best friend. He’s my brother and I love him, but I love you, too.”
Though it feels like a Psychic Friends Network moment, I don’t ask her if she’s having a gut feeling. I don’t need to feed my relationship insecurities with a hefty helping of fatalism.
I wait until Alice is asleep before dragging the phone out into the hallway. The standard-issue gray wire is just long enough for me to be able to shut the door to our room behind me. I sink crossed-legged onto the floor; even through my jeans, I feel the cold. I place the phone at my side; the bell inside it makes a quick clang that echoes through the mostly empty corridor. I pick up the beige plastic receiver and dial Edward’s number; he answers immediately. I picture him sitting at his desk barefoot, wearing the jeans and flannel shirt he had on when he brought me back to my dorm.
I haven’t missed anything—more than likely, he’s just studying—but it seems as if I have. That makes me sad, and my sadness makes me feel a little pathetic. Then I remind myself that he’s my boyfriend and it’s okay. It’s normal to miss him and need him and wish I weren’t headed into my extra-long twin bed alone.
“I wish you hadn’t left,” I say.
“It wasn’t that bad, was it?”
He’s talking about Alice’s cross-examination. I don’t think it occurs to him that as far as I’m concerned, the worst is yet to come.
“She took one look at me and knew we…” I look around. There are other people in the corridor, and though they’re not close enough to hear what I’m saying, I lower my voice to a whisper just in case. “…you know.”
He laughs. “I’m not surprised.”
It’s not the response I expect, and though I know it’s irrational, I can’t control where my mind goes.
“Why? Are you in the habit of doing that with all of your houseguests?”
I regret saying it even before the silence on the other end implies he’s pissed at me.
“Isabella.” His use of my full name confirms it. “I’m going to assume that was something you said without thinking and that you didn’t mean to cheapen the significance of the last five days.”
He’s speaking out of anger, but it’s the most assurance he’s ever given me, so I cling to it. My face is hot, my palms are sweaty, and as tempting as it is to speak emotionally, I know he won’t respect that. Taking deep breaths, I count to ten and formulate my response.
“It’s impossible to devalue something that has yet to be appraised…” I blow all the remaining air out of my lungs and rest my back against the door. I can’t believe some people put that much thought into everything they say; I’m fucking exhausted from a single sentence.
“You want to know what you mean to me.”
I do, but I’m afraid to say so. I don’t think there’s any way I can mean as much as to him as he means to me. After this morning, I’m not ready for that kind of reality check.
He sighs. “What do you want to know?”
“What about it?”
“I hate the thought of you doing that with anyone but me.”
“It doesn’t appeal to me, either.”
“The difference is you have.”
“You think this is about sex for me.”
“I didn’t, but then you didn’t even kiss me goodbye, and now I don’t know what to think.”
“Oh,” he says after a pause. “I think I understand now.”
“Good thing one of us does.”
“I didn’t think of it as a goodbye. I mean, I’m right across town–”
“And I miss you so much already.”
“I do nothing but study during the week anyway. I explained this to you…”
“You just have to make it until Friday. On weekends, I’m all yours.” He sounds as if he’s trying to reassure me, and it almost works.
The problem is that I want to be with him all the time.
November 23, 2009
It’s been a decade, but it’s still all too familiar. I wake up in his arms, my borrowed t-shirt having ridden up my body at some point during the night. He’s hard even though he’s asleep—the evidence is poking into my back. I’ve had this dream too many times to count, and I know what to do about it. I slide my hand into my panties and pretend I’m not alone. It isn’t until I feel his warm sigh against my neck that I realize I’m not.
“Don’t stop on my account.”
“I didn’t mean to…I mean I did…but I forgot where I was, and I thought I was having a very real sexual fantasy.”
“What do you think?”
His chest rumbles against my back as he laughs.
“This might be the most mortifying moment of my life,” I mutter. “And you know me, and that’s quite a statement.”
“Blame my raging hard-on. We’ll call it even.”
“This is real isn’t it?”
“It always was.”
We lie there in silence and he absentmindedly drags his fingertips back and forth along the side of my body, from the bottom of my ribcage to the top of my cotton underwear.
“This right here.” He rests his hand below my waist where my hips are at their fullest. “This is new.”
“This.” He cups my flesh. “You didn’t have this ten years ago.”
“Cellulite?” I ask, only half-kidding.
“No, curves. I like them…they make you softer.”
“You’re hard enough for the both of us.”
“Touchè.” He runs his fingers up to my ribcage and back again. “I want to try again.”
“This isn’t the time to have this conversation–”
“Why not? Do you want to waste another decade?”
“No. But I know nothing has changed.”
“Everything has changed.”
“I’m not talking about the size of my ass.”
“Neither am I, Bella. Just… please give me this weekend. If you still think we can’t work, I won’t try to convince you otherwise. But if you decide you want to try, I’ll do whatever it takes.”
I don’t think before I answer; I don’t want to second-guess myself and take it back.