There was always that latent desire to fuck in her. He chose to deny her that, to instead walk away and leave her prickling with his rejection. He could be cruel. He smiled without humor or mirth and left the house with a shard of dark light behind his eyes. She’d followed him.
“What the hell do you want, Liz?” The words were pushed past a jaw clenched as tightly as every other muscle in his body must be.
The tears were there, but she sucked them deep into her soul. She wouldn’t let him see that side of her, never would; never had, as a matter of fact. “How can you not know that?”
His hands were fists, shoved deep into his trouser pockets. She knew he wanted to hit her. Instead, he slapped her with contempt. “How in God’s name am I supposed to know something that you will never tell me?” In mid-sentence he paused, inhaled, and quieted his voice. He turned away.
“Walk away,” she murmured. “Leave, like you always do. Go back to her-”
Her sentence was clipped when he spun back on top of her, over her, his gorgeous face inches from her own. Before he could speak, she challenged him. “Yes, I know about her.”
“Who? Goddammit, Liz, you don’t know anything!” he ground.
She stepped out of the embrace of his body that threatened to annihilate her. “I know why you haven’t touched me in months. Why would you need to? It’s not like I need anything, is it? I’m here to get your fucking coffee and make your fucking dinner-”
He dropped his chin to his chest, and she watched his fists clench and unclench in time with his jaw. That latent desire crept back in, pushed heat up her body and into her cheeks. When his voice came out, it was deceptively soft. It hid the razor blade in his words until it was too late. “The reason I have not touched you lately, Liz, is because you are an ice queen.”
Now she turned her back on him. She wondered how she could be cool on the outside, and consumed by fire on the inside. And she knew she’d never been quite brave enough to show him the fire. It was still there, though.
The black water lapped gently against the wooden pilings and a foghorn sounded far away. The softness of the lake’s distant rolling shoreline, black over midnight blue water, belied the tension of the two bodies on the dock. She balled the side seams of her cardigan in her fists and swallowed hard. She listened to his quick, shallow breaths. “You want to push me.” It was a chilling realization; at the same time she didn’t quite believe it. He wasn’t a monster. He had a temper, yes. But he also had control. Too much control most of the time.
His breath caught at her words, then slowed. He cleared his throat. When his voice came back it was gentler. “Liz.”
She faced him, surprised he’d stepped closer so she had to lean back to meet his eyes. There was no light in them. There was a hurt that reflected her own. “How’d we get here, Jack?”
He almost smiled, and she wanted to touch his face. His face that was still young, though his eyes had seen too much. Instead, she found his hand, unfurled his fingers, and cupped it against her cheek. “I guess I don’t know how to be different for you. I still feel like a kid on a first date, and I hope you’re going to kiss me good night, but then you just want to shake my hand and be my friend-” Her voice was tinged with desperation, and he thumbed over her cheekbone and made a hushing sound. His breath covered her face and it was warm and stale with cigarettes. “I do want to be your friend,” he whispered. It was almost tender.
She stiffened. Her voice raised. “Well I don’t!”
“Dammit, Liz, then talk to me! Tell me what you do want!”
And it came out in a white-water rush, roaring between them and sweeping her up in its relentless current. “I want you to fuck me, Jack. I’ve always wanted that. I want you to come home and not need food or sleep or anything until you’ve tasted me.”
The silence slipped and lapped around them. “I want to be all you need. All the time. And I know that’s not realistic, so I’d settle for weekends.”
He moved beside her, lowering himself to the mossy planks. His gaze drifted out over the water. “How did we get here?” he mused. He lit a smoke, offered it to her, and lit another for himself. He inhaled deeply, held the smoke in and blew it out in a silver cloud that glowed and dissipated around his head.
“What if,” he said, then drew again. “What if I told you I do feel those things?”
She looked down at him, at his shock of curly brown hair and his glinting eyes watching the surface of the lake, and exhaled her own cloud of silver smoke. “I would ask you why you hide it from me. Why you share it with someone else.”
He looked up at her. “Who told you that? There isn’t anyone else.”
She dismissed him.
“I’m not a liar, Liz. I’ve never lied to you, not in 13 years of marriage. You can accuse me of being neglectful, of being distant, unavailable, whatever. Not lying, though.”
She let his words sink in for a moment, then sat down facing him, with only a couple of feet between them.
He searched her face. “What have I done that all of a sudden, you can’t trust me?”
She didn’t know. The accusation had been floating around in her head for a long time, maybe years. It festered as daily life moved in and out and routine became its own prison.
He took a deep breath, and reached out to lay a hand on her ankle. He pulled once more on his smoke, then flicked the butt into the water. “It’s hard to grow old together. Even if you love someone so much it hurts.”
One drop escaped her hold on control. She knocked it away angrily, before he could see.
He was up on his knees, facing her. She knew the lines of his body beneath the thick sweater and jeans, beneath the trench coat he always wore. He was looking into her face and his hands were moving from her face to her shoulders, down her arms. “Listen to me, Mrs. Wolfe. I have never loved anyone like I love you, and I have never, never touched anyone like I used to touch you.”
“Then why did you stop?”
He leaned in and caressed her lips with his, and they were soft and dry, and the moisture of his breath warmed her. He pulled her into his body, and he was hard and soft, vulnerable and powerful; her skin warmed and reached for him. A silent voice in her chest wanted to tell him where to touch her and how, but it was trapped. His hand slipped beneath her blouse and caressed her bare skin, teasing up goose-flesh. His hot breath tumbled against her neck when he said, “I don’t know. It just became… hard.”
She wrapped her arms and legs around his body and looked up into a sky that was bottomless, too dark to see but still too light for stars. With each new touch, she arched against him, she held the pillar of his neck between her hands and feasted on his mouth, and felt love and lust and the latent desire to fuck well up and engulf them both.