Horizontal Wine Tasting
November 25, 1995
Lying between Edward’s legs with my head on his hip, it’s as if one of life’s great mysteries has been revealed. Now that I have an all-access pass to his penis, I can’t stop touching it. I’m not trying to get it off—at the moment, it’s relaxed and fleshy, and “needs to rest a bit” before it will harden again. But his dangly bits are new and different and something I don’t have; therefore, they fascinate me.
“This doesn’t bother you, does it?” I ask.
“Me touching your…you know.”
He laughs. “You can touch my…you know…whenever you want.”
Smiling, I trace around the underside of the head. His skin is there slightly rougher than it is on the rest of his penis, but still impossibly soft.
“What about you?” he asks.
“What about me?”
“May I touch your…you know?”
“Yes,” I say, giggling.
“You’ll have to change position. From this angle, it’s hard for me to reach.”
I move up his body, but stop when he shakes his head.
“Just spin around so you’re facing the foot of the bed,” he says.
I do as he says before returning to my thorough study of his penis and ball sack. Then his fingers are inside me, and I concentrate on that. I think it can’t possibly get any better, then I feel something wet and slightly textured above his hand, and though I’ve felt it before, I’ve never felt it there.
I whip my head around to he if he’s doing what I think he’s doing. The sensation stops when he starts to talk, and I have my answer.
“You’ll like this,” he says. “I promise.”
He buries his head between my legs, and I’m unable to focus on anything but how good it feels. My hips move on their own, and I hear noises that I know must be coming from me even though I’m not consciously making them. When I come it’s fast and hard.
I think I like this even more than I like real sex.
November 22, 2009
When Edward goes into the bathroom to change into pajamas, I get out of bed and snoop around his room. Superficially, it’s not unlike the rest of his apartment—modern, masculine, uncluttered. Something about this space is different, and though I can’t pinpoint why, it feels more like him. Maybe because some things here are familiar. The Declaration of Independence still hangs on the wall opposite his bed, and though there’s still a framed picture of his mother on his dresser, it’s now been joined by picture of Edward and me taken after his graduation from law school. His arms are around me and he’s trying to fit me into his robe. It was happy and silly and I was blissfully ignorant that it was the beginning of the end for us. I pick up the frame so I can study it more closely. I look like a baby, but even more surprisingly, so does he.
When he comes out of the bathroom, I make no attempt to hide what I was doing.
“Where did you find this relic?” I ask.
“What do you mean?” He walks over to me and sees the picture in my hand. “Oh. I’ve always had that out. Even after…”
“I bet all your girlfriends loved that.”
He arms across his chest as if he’s annoyed, but I know by his smile he isn’t.
“Is there something you’d like to ask me, Bella?”
There is, but I think his answer will kill me. “I don’t think I so.”
“Are you genuinely undecided or just being passive-aggressive?”
“Oh, please. I’ve never had a passive-aggressive bone in my body.” I pause, giggling. “Except maybe while having sex with you.”
“That was a boner, not a bone—and there was nothing passive-aggressive about it.”
“No. Just the guy to whom it was attached. In all seriousness though, part of me is curious about the past decade. Part of me doesn’t really want to know.”
“I don’t want you to think I’m hiding anything from you.”
“I get that,” I say. “At the same time, this rug looks like it’s the real deal. Persian?”
“Yes.” He throws up his palms, shrugging. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“I’d never forgive myself if I puked all over it, and unless you tell me you spent the past decade in a monastery, I’m fairly sure that’s how I’d react.”
He shakes his head, laughing. “You still say the first thing that pops into your head; I love that.”
“Right. Tell me something—why do all politicians seem to dabble in revisionist history?”
“Why do I suspect your question is not theoretical?”
“Because it isn’t. Come on—you couldn’t possibly have forgotten all the times you warned me about saying what I’m thinking around your coworkers. The phrase ‘potential liability’ comes to mind.”
His laughter stops, and for a few moments, there’s silence. When he finally speaks, he seems contrite.
“I’m sorry, Bella.”
I close my eyes and shake my head. I’m not trying to brush off his apology as much as I’m trying to brush off the memory of how it felt to realize the person I loved unconditionally placed conditions on his love for me. “Don’t be; it’s fine.”
“It isn’t fine—it was selfish and condescending. I have nothing to say for myself, except that I didn’t realize at the time it hurt you as much as it did.”
“It confused me more than anything else. When we first met, you said my lack of filter was one of the things you loved about me. Then you finished law school and started clerking, and I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. Appearances were so important to you–”
“My priorities were wrong.” He wraps his arms around my waist and pulls my back against his chest. “I think that’s why election night felt so anti-climactic. By the time I won, I’d lost everything that mattered.”
I flip the picture of us so it’s facedown on his dresser; I don’t want to think about the past.
Apparently, neither does he. His lips are on my cheek, my ear, my neck. I like that he’s kissing me there, but it’s not enough. I turn to face him, and kiss his mouth. He isn’t hesitant the way he was when we were out in the hallway—this time, his kiss is hard and deep, and I can taste ten years of longing on his tongue.
He holds me tighter, and I feel the all-too familiar hardness of his chest and penis through his clothes. And I want him—I want him so much. But I want so much more than this moment. I want every moment we have left to breathe. I want to own his life the way he owns mine.
I put my hand over his heart and gently push him away. “I don’t think I’m ready for this. Not that I don’t want it, but…”
His breathing is labored as he nods. “It’s okay. I mean…that’s not why I asked you to spend the night.” He glances down at his chest then smiles. “If I were trying to seduce you, I would have skipped the shirt…probably the pants, too.”
I believe him, but not because of what he’s wearing. I know what his seduction attempts are like, and spontaneity aside, they’re more suave than this.
“May I borrow something to sleep in?”
“Of course.” He opens the top drawer of his dresser and hands me a white undershirt.
I’m unable to hide my smile, as I go into the bathroom. I peek inside his medicine cabinet while brushing my teeth with his toothbrush. When I see bottles of Klonopin and Xanax, I spit into the sink. I close the cabinet door quickly, and splash water on my face, hoping to cool my blush. As I strip out of my clothes, I try not to think about why he would need to take anxiety meds. Then I pull his undershirt over my head, and all I can think is how much it smells like him. And that makes me smile, even if I am a bit worried.
I come out of the bathroom to find him lying in bed on top of the covers. I stretch out beside him, and as familiar as it feels, it’s also different. Despite the fact I’m getting into bed with a United States Senator, he feels attainable—like despite earning a place in history, he’s stepped down from his pedestal. When he was a law student, I could barely reach him. Now I think I can hold him.
So I do.
“I want to know you again,” he says. “I’ve missed so much of your life.”
“You haven’t,” I say. “The past ten years didn’t feel real. I mean, I did things—I went on with my life. But it was more like I was watching than actually participating. Kind of like a dream you expect to end any minute, but it never does.”
“When did that start?” he asks.
“Christmas, when I left our apartment and hailed a cab to the airport.”
“You went straight to the airport?”
He angles himself away from me and looks at my face. “Did you know where you were going?”
“Not until I got up to the ticket counter,” I admit.
“And when you got off the plane?”
“I got the cheapest hotel room I could find. Two days later, I found a roommate through the classified ads.”
He shakes his head. “I can’t believe you moved site unseen to a city where you knew no one.”
“Oh, that changed quickly. My roommate looked out for me a lot—he still does. Even though I got my own place a few years ago, we’re still close friends.”
“Yes, he.” I look down at the bed and trace my index finger along one of the stripes on the duvet.
“Why do I feel jealous?”
“You have no business being jealous of anyone,” I mutter, rolling my eyes.
“Oh, I think I do,” he says, laughing. “I may not have a right to be jealous, but it would seem I have reason—you wouldn’t be staring at the comforter if I didn’t. So what’s his name?”
“Carlisle.” I know it will hurt him the same way I know hearing about him with someone else will hurt me. At the same time, I don’t want him to think I’m ashamed of myself. “He actually reminds me a lot of you. You have different coloring, but freakishly similar facial features and mannerisms. Anyway, within minutes of meeting him, I knew I could trust him. We had kind of a friends-with-benefits thing for a while, but never anything more than that. There wasn’t any drama, but there wasn’t any passion—for either of us. Anyway, about he year ago, he married the executive chef at the restaurant he owns, where I work, too.”
“Does that get awkward—the three of you together like that?”
“Carlisle doesn’t work with us—even if he did, it wouldn’t matter. I introduced the two of them so it’s not as if she didn’t know from the start. Besides, my job is my happy place; it would take a lot more than that to make me uncomfortable there.”
“What else is there?”
“That’s it. I live in Chicago. I work as a sommelier. I go to Europe once a year. My best friend is a dude. I still have no filter.”
“Seriously? Ten years of your life can be reduced to five sentences?”
“Pretty much,” I say, shrugging. “I’m sure it would take much longer for you to bring me up to speed.”
“You already know everything.”
“Uh uh.” I shake my head. “I’m not talking about what I could see on C-SPAN or read in People.”
“Neither am I. Most of what you’d learn there isn’t true, anyway.”
“Then tell me something that is true.”
He thinks for a moment; when he answers, he’s staring at the ceiling. “The euphoria lasted about a minute. By the time the confetti began to fall, it was already over and I was back to feeling empty.”
“The thrill of winning a Senate seat. I’d always thought it would be this great rush, and everything I’d heard supported this. One of the party leaders went so far as to say it was better than sex–”
“And you wonder why everyone thinks politicians are liars.” I say, laughing. “Nothing is better than sex.”
“I beg to differ.” He looks at me, and though his voice is teasing, his eyes are intense. “Nothing is better than sex with you.”
I close my eyes, sighing, “You’re making me want more than anything to give you a refresher course.”
“I wouldn’t object–”
“It wouldn’t help anything.”
“I know.” He threads his fingers through mine. “We should probably talk about something else.”
“I’m worried about Alice.”
“She says she’s fine.”
“Do you believe her?” I ask.
“No,” he admits. “But until she’s ready to tell me, there’s nothing I can do—well, besides spend every spare minute I have with her, which is more or less what I’ve been doing.”
“That makes me feel slightly better,” I say, yawning. “I mean, if things were really bad, you’d know.”
“I should let you get some rest; you must be exhausted.”
“I don’t want to waste any of my time with you.”
“I’ll be here when you wake up,” he says, kissing my forehead. “I promise.”
I wiggle my way underneath the covers as he turns off the light.
“May I hold you as you sleep?”
“Yes,” I say, but it’s a half-truth—I’d let him hold me forever.