Karen massaged her distended belly. “Was it as good as you remember?”
“I’ve been eating nothing but rice and beans for the past two years,” said Karen’s son Shane, “I can honestly say it was better than I remember.”
She ruffled Shane’s hair.
Karen and her son lounged side by side on the green sofa in my father’s den. After four years at Northwestern University and two in the Peace Corps, Shane had finally returned to our small, rusty town in the shadow of the Adirondack Mountains. While I wasn’t particularly excited to have him back across the street, I did appreciate the feast Karen and my mom had insisted on serving in celebration of his return.
“Desirae helped, of course,” Karen said.
Shane’s mouth curved into a tight smile. “I imagine it would take a few people to cook that much food in a day. Thanks, Des.”
“Don’t mention it,” I muttered. I tucked my legs beneath me on the blue recliner and wiped the sweat from my upper lip. My parents, being frugal types, had never opted for air conditioning, claiming that the mountain breeze and north-facing windows would be enough to keep us cool in the summer. I begged to differ.
My mom yawned. “We’re just glad to have you back. It’s been, what, six years since we had you over?”
“Too damn long.” Karen rose from the sofa, a little uneasy from the third glass of wine she’d had at dinner. “Well, it’s almost eleven, and I have an early shift at the hospital. You coming, Shane?”
“Oh, Shane, you’re welcome to stay.” My mom stood up from her chair. “I’m sure Desirae would love to pick your brain about life post-college.”
I scowled. Our mothers had been friends for decades before Shane’s family moved into the farmhouse opposite ours. He was nine at the time, and rather disgruntled about the whole thing, but it didn’t take long for him to warm up to the idea of living in a place where he could catch toads and climb trees and pretend to hunt mountain lions. I’d always been a tomboy, even at the age of six, so it wasn’t a stretch for our parents to assume we’d become fast playmates, which we were—until he got bored with me.
“I could stay for a bit.” He sipped his leftover beer from dinner.
I cocked an eyebrow and bit my tongue to stop myself from asking why.
“All right. I’ll leave the back door unlocked.” Karen kissed Shane’s forehead and then rounded the coffee table to hug me against her hip. “Goodnight, Desirae.”
“I’m heading to bed, too.” Mom rubbed her eyes. “Shut the lights off when you’re done?”
I glared at the cedar shelves stacked with books and Blu-ray documentaries as my mom’s footsteps retreated down the hall and up the stairs.
“How was your last semester?” Shane asked.
“Fine. Animal Reproduction and Genetics was a bitch, but I passed with a B.”
I chanced a glance at him with the expectation that he wasn’t going to meet my gaze, but he did. He looked so much like Karen with his blonde hair and blue eyes, though much taller at six feet two inches and significantly broader. In fact, it looked like he’d put on about twenty pounds of muscle since I’d last seen him. As much as I wanted to deny it, he looked good. Too good.
Shane set his empty beer bottle on the coffee table.
“You graduate next year, right?”
“Yep.” I fanned myself. “Assuming my internship goes well. A little ranch in North Elba agreed to take me on for the fall semester. I’m pretty excited.”
Shane turned his gaze to the bay window.
“That’s cool. Any post-college plans?”
“I’ll probably just look for a job. I don’t have your sense of adventure, so it’ll likely be somewhere close to home.”
“Home’s not so bad.
“Says the guy who hasn’t been back in years.”
“Touché.” Shane chuckled. “You’re an equine studies major, right?”
“Yeah. How’d you know?”
“My mom probably told me.” Shane perused the line of bottles in my dad’s liquor cabinet beside the couch. “Think your old man would mind if I partook?”
“I doubt he’d even notice. He barely touches it these days.”
“Promise you won’t tell on me?” He smirked.
I crossed my arms. “Knock yourself out.”
He selected a particularly nice bottle of whiskey, twisted off the cap, took a whiff and sipped, clearly impressed.
“Hey,” I gestured to the bottle. “I’ll have some.”
He slid it across the coffee table, his eyes meeting mine. This time, I was the one who looked away.
“Thanks,” I mumbled. I took a generous sip, struggling to conceal my distaste for the burning in my throat.
“You need some ice there, kid?”
“I’m fine,” I snapped, handing the bottle back to him.
Shane drummed his fingers languidly against the glass, watching me with half-open eyes. “I saw the old ATV in your garage this afternoon. We had some pretty good times with that thing.”
“Yeah, we did.” The memory of us as skinny, frantic, mud-spattered kids, trying to drag that heavy hunk of rubber and metal out of the murky water darted across my mind’s eye. I smiled in spite of my irritation. “Do you remember when we crashed it into the creek and didn’t tell my dad about it for three days because we knew he would ground me?”
A similar look of amusement spread across Shane’s Nordic features. “And how we promised not to say anything, as though he wouldn’t notice?” He scrubbed at the golden stubble along his jaw. “We were pretty naïve, weren’t we? Still, we always looked out for each other. That has to count for something.”
I bit the inside of my cheek.
“What?” he asked. “We were best friends.”
“For a while, sure. But we hardly ever saw each other once you started high school and it wasn’t because you graduated to a different building.”
Shane frowned at the bottle in his lap.
I rolled my eyes.
“Come on,” he said, “that wasn’t it.”
“Uh, yeah, it was. You turned fifteen and were suddenly too cool to be seen with me. All you wanted to do was play video games with your other friends. You were hardly ever around.” I could hear my voice becoming shrill and accusatory.
Shane shook his head. “You’re exaggerating.”
“No, I’m not. We used to do everything together. We kept each other’s secrets, watched Indiana Jones a hundred times, spent hours out in the woods playing games, building tree forts, jumping on your death-trap of a trampoline. Then, one day, you just didn’t want to anymore. You turned into some kind of pod-person who’d forgotten what we were to each other. I was standing in front of you but you looked right through me, like I wasn’t even there.”
I felt twelve again, chest tight and eyes welling with tears. I didn’t care. It was time I’d told Shane all the things I’d wanted to say since the day he abandoned me in the woods to go hang out with his friends. I remembered the sense of panic I’d felt after spending an hour searching for him and the betrayal I stomached when I discovered the truth.
“I knew you were there,” he said quietly. Shane ran a hand through his hair and sighed. “I’m sorry, Des.”
We sat there a while in the dim lamplight. Shane stared into the darkness outside, sipping whiskey, and I studied my feet and wondered if I’d been too harsh.
“Do you remember how we used to play hide and seek in the woods every summer?” he asked.
That had been our favorite game. Two or three nights a week, we would grab flashlights and head out into the twilight, chasing one another across my parents’ property, calling out, “Five more minutes,” whenever one of our mothers would yell for us to come home. Some nights I’d count, listening for the direction of his footsteps as he sprinted through the forest. Other nights, I’d hide, tucking myself under shrubs or behind fallen logs, waiting for the thud of his shoes or the crack of snapping twigs.
“Do you remember the last time we played?”
I bristled. We’d gone out there so many times that it was hard to recall details from any particular night, but something about that last time had felt…different.
It happened a week before his sixteenth birthday. Shane had shot up by about four inches over the course of a year. He was leaner then, just shy of skinny, but still broad-shouldered with a mop of straw-colored hair. One balmy evening in August, after dinner with our families, Shane suggested we head out into the woods for a game of hide and seek. Shocked that he would even want to spend time with me, let alone play our favorite game, I leapt at the opportunity. He counted and I hid. I remembered the sound of him bursting through leaves, him tackling me to the ground and lowering his weight on top of me, tickling me until I cried and not stopping until I head-butted him in the chin. I remembered running home afterwards, angry and confused as to why he’d been so rough with me.
Shane’s voice wrenched me back into the present. I rubbed my eyes.
“You looked like you were distracted by something.” Shane’s stare was direct, but his twitching fingers betrayed him.
“I don’t know. You tell me.” He took another sip of whiskey before screwing the top back on and setting it on the table.
I squinted. “I remember you being an asshole.”
Shane’s gaze dropped to the floor.
I continued, “I remember you pushing me onto the fucking ground and tickling me until I couldn’t breathe.”
Shane pursed his lips and folded his arms over his chest like I’d confirmed his worst fears.
“I’m really sorry about that, Des. I was…confused.”
“Confused about what?”
Shane regarded me with wide, apologetic eyes. He opened his mouth, but snapped it shut at the sound of footsteps on the stairs and in the hallway. My mom peered into the den, her eyes heavy with sleep.
“Can you guys run outside and make sure I put the cement blocks on the garbage bins? I really don’t want raccoons getting into them again. I’d do it myself but I’m barefoot and exhausted.”
“Sure,” I said. “No problem.”
“You’re a dear. Flashlights are in the pantry.” She turned to leave, but paused when her gaze dipped to the half-empty bottle of whiskey on the coffee table. “Try not to knock the bins over in a drunken stupor.”
I waited to hear my parents’ bedroom door click shut before I stood up to stretch.
Shane rose from the couch and didn’t even try to hide the fact that he was checking me out.
I retrieved the flashlights and stepped out into the humid night. Shane was already in the yard, shirtless, staring up at the moon. His chest muscles rippled with each deep inhalation of the lilac-scented air and I couldn’t help but wonder what it would feel like to run my hands over his skin. He lowered his gaze from the night sky to me, his eyes cloudy with whiskey and moonlight.
“I already checked the bins,” he said. “Blocks are in place.”
“Oh, all right.” I paused. “I guess we can go back inside.” The second I said it, I knew I didn’t want to. I felt oddly at home under the stars with my estranged friend, the trees towering overhead, the woods inviting us to come and play.
Shane walked up to me, hand outstretched. “Give me one of those.” He gestured to the flashlights. He fiddled with it for a few seconds, as though weighing an idea in his mind.
“Let’s play a game,” he said, his eyes boring into mine.
“Which one?” I croaked, painfully aware of his closeness.
“Come on. You know the rules.” Shane put his hands on my shoulders and turned me toward the nearest opening in the trees, the sweet scent of expensive whiskey on his breath. He pressed himself against me and I felt the distinct impression of something firm and rod-like at the small of my back. My pussy tightened automatically.
“I’ll count to one hundred.” His lips grazed my ear.
“Oh. Okay,” I stuttered. My breathing was erratic. I swayed against him as though my body needed confirmation that his erection was real. It was. He slid a hand down my arm, across my belly and slipped it deftly into the waistband of my shorts, giving my entire pussy a squeeze and slight fondle. I gasped.
Shane emitted a low, animalistic growl before withdrawing his hand and hissing, “Now, get.”
He smacked my ass and sent me sprinting into the darkness, my right butt cheek smarting and the rest of me horny as all hell.
My legs carried me through the woods faster than they’d had to in a very long time. I ran as far into the canopy as I could before the density of the trees forced me to turn on the flashlight. Fumbling with the on/off switch, I paused for a moment and crouched low, listening.
There was a slight breeze, but not enough to muffle any significant disruptions to the natural stirrings of the forest. My pounding heart reverberated through my chest and up into my head as beads of sweat dripped down from my hairline. I heard nothing. No footsteps, no voices, no snapping twigs. He was probably still counting.
I took a deep breath and pressed on, hoping I’d placed enough distance between us that he wouldn’t be able to see the glow of my flashlight in the dark. I wondered what would happen if he found me. Scratch that, when he found me.
I ran, dodging prickly shrubs and exposed, gnarled tree roots. I recognized the thick trunk of a sycamore as though I were traversing the route from memory, and dove behind it, shutting off my flashlight and taking a second to catch my breath.
The only sounds I could make out were the soft buzzing of mosquitoes, frogs chirping in the nearby creek, and the water’s quiet gurgling. For a moment, I wondered if Shane had been too drunk to navigate the darkness alone. Maybe he’d lost his footing somewhere and tripped over a fallen log or protruding root system. I considered going back.
About forty yards behind me, I heard the sharp crackle of a pinecone being crunched underfoot.
“Fuck,” I breathed.
There was just enough moonlight piercing the canopy that I could make out the thin, glimmering line of the creek about twenty yards away. I had to try.
I dashed toward the creek like a frightened deer—like prey—my shoes thudding with each stride. Closing in fast was the rhythmic thumping of Shane’s shoes against the forest floor, a determined predator with longer legs and a hell of a lot more stamina than I could ever muster. Still, if I could get across the creek I’d have a fighting chance. There were foothills and rock outcroppings at the edge of the mountain, plenty of places to hide.
The muscles in my side burned as ragged breath chafed my throat. My lungs begged me to slow down, but I could hear Shane making headway. Not directly behind me, but to my right. He was trying to cut me off. I could see the creek, maybe thirty feet ahead. I pushed through the cramp in my side, my screaming calves, all the while painfully aware of the soft ache in my pussy, the twinge of arousal behind my clit.
My right foot hit the raised bank of the creek and I used it as leverage to catapult myself over the water and onto the other side where I stumbled, but managed to regain my footing just in time to catch a glimpse of Shane out of the corner of my eye, slick with sweat, gleaming in the light of the moon, sprinting toward the creek like a catamount.
I ran. I ran until I reached the foot of the mountain and then I scrambled, throwing myself over moss-covered boulders and under fallen trees. My lungs betrayed me as I wheezed, panting, making too much noise.
I noticed a shadowy outcropping with a decent amount of space beneath it and hurled myself under the jagged stone, trying not to think about the spiders, centipedes, and other critters that undoubtedly lurked there.
Finally, I could rest.
Closing my eyes, I breathed deeply, attempting to slow my runaway pulse. I could still feel my pussy throbbing, anticipating the inevitable while my brain tried to maintain the delusion that I might get out of this unscathed, un-fucked—
Shane had grown up in these woods, too, and thanks to his dad, had seen them through the eyes of a hunter. It was only a matter of time before he found me and ate me alive.
Dear God, I hoped so.
Drenched in sweat with my hair matted to my face, I was able to concentrate. The frogs were louder on this side of the creek and I could hear the delicate screeching of bats further up the mountain, the fluttering of their tiny, paper-thin wings. I wondered where Shane was, if he’d seen me come this way.
Suddenly, strong hands latched onto my limbs and dragged me out onto the bare rock at the foot of the mountain. I shrieked.
Fuck, he was beautiful, the moonlight casting a cool glow over his angular features. But his eyes were crazed, ravenous.
Shane straddled me, and in one swift motion, pulled my arms over my head and held my wrists firmly with one hand. With the other, he yanked my shirt up over my breasts, exposing their hard, sensitive nipples. He paused for a second to take me in, gliding his fingers across my skin, as if he couldn’t quite believe what was lying in front of him.
“You win,” I said, my throat dry from panting.
His eyes met mine.
I breathed into my fear, inhaling all the way down into the depths of me, my head reeling, caught between my mind and my body and the wanting in my pussy.
I knew this man. Six years apart hadn’t changed anything.
“Fuck me, Shane.”
Shane clamped his mouth onto mine. I relished the softness of his lips and his whiskey-laced tongue, as well as the prickling of his stubble and the force of his kiss. I bit his bottom lip as he squeezed my breast. He rolled the nipple between his thumb and forefinger, pinching it slightly, making me cry against his mouth. He released my hands and leaned down to gently suck the tormented nipple, holding it between his teeth and flicking it with his tongue. I buried my fingers in his hair, tugging at it in turn with his assault on my breasts. His hands ran down my sides to the waistband of my shorts, pulling them over my knees and feet and tossing them to the side as I kicked off my shoes.
I spread my legs wide for him, allowing the warm summer air to caress my folds. Shane gave my nipple one last flick with his tongue and flashed me a devious grin before moving down to position his face between my thighs. I whimpered and cupped my own breasts in anticipation.
Shane gave my clit a long, languid stroke, prompting me to arch my back and push myself toward his mouth. Holding a leg in each arm, he stroked my inner thighs as he circled my sensitive nub with the tip of his tongue, watching my face all the while. I clenched my teeth, maintaining eye contact. After what felt like hours of torment, but was probably more like ten seconds, he set to work on devouring my pussy, placing his entire mouth over it and sliding his tongue deep inside me. I writhed against him and he tightened his grip, holding me firmly in place, as if to say, “You’re not going anywhere until I’m done with you.” He licked and sucked my clit, keeping his pressure constant, his attentions steady, knowing just when to go hard and when to ease up.
I could count on one hand the number of times my college boyfriends had made me come from oral sex: four. Just four. Shane handled my pussy like a well-trained animal, with a firm touch and a cool temperament, neither rushing nor unnecessarily prolonging.
“You taste incredible,” he growled.
My muscles tightened as his tongue rolled firmly over my clit, my body shaking and spasming as wave after wave of pleasure washed over me. It was like my entire lower half was one giant nerve, sensitive to even the slightest caress. I convulsed a few more times as he lapped at me.
Tilting his face upward, Shane curved his mouth into a wry, glistening smile.
“Wow,” I breathed.
Shane dove back for more. I cried out, digging my nails into his scalp and clinging to his hair as he once again took possession of my pussy, like my clit was candy and all his teeth were sweet. Soon, I was once again writhing beneath him, his fingers biting into my hips as my pussy erupted into another orgasm, this one harder and more intense than the first.
Shane crawled forward, positioning himself between my legs. I kissed him, tasting myself on his lips as he nudged his erection against me through his athletic shorts. I needed to see his dick. I needed to touch it, to taste it.
I shoved him onto his back and straddled him. I grasped his hand and raised it to my face, taking the long forefinger into my mouth.
“Oh, fuck,” he whispered. “I hope that means what I think it does.”
I let his finger slide down my tongue, out of my mouth, and onto my chest. Slowly, I rose off him and crawled backward so that my face was level with his groin. Shane hoisted himself onto his forearms, the eagerness in his eyes practically boring a hole through me. I tugged at his shorts, carefully drawing them down over his erection and then off his legs entirely, along with his shoes. I wanted him naked. My own shirt was still bunched up above my breasts and I took the opportunity to remove it. Shane’s eyes roamed across my body, sweeping over every inch of me as though they were another set of hands.
“Aren’t you glad you came home?” I settled between his thighs and wrapped my hand around his dick.
“Very. If I’d known…”
I slid my hand up his shaft, squeezing the head slightly and then drawing it down again. He gasped and bowed his back, thrusting himself into my palm.
“If you’d known what?”
“If I’d known what was waiting for me, I would’ve come home sooner.”
“Well, I wasn’t exactly waiting for you.”
“No, I know.” He swallowed hard. “I should’ve come back anyway. I’m sorry.”
I took the head of his cock into my mouth. Shane moaned and eyed me intently as I swirled my tongue around the tip, flicking it at the opening and along the rim.
“Well,” I said. “You’re here now.”
“Yeah.” He smiled and panted. “I am.”
I pumped my hand along his shaft, planting kisses along the sides and bottom. A few drops of pre-cum escaped from the tip as I fondled his balls with my other hand. I pulled one into my mouth, eliciting an enthusiastic groan from him.
“Christ, you’re good at this,” he said.
“I found ways to keep myself busy while you were off globetrotting.”
Shane laughed. I skimmed my tongue lightly down the underside of his shaft and then back up again, devouring his dick entirely in one go, pumping my hand in time with my mouth as I milked him from base to tip, squeezing and rotating with each pass. Shane moaned and grasped a fistful of my hair, but didn’t attempt to push or control me. He propped himself into a reclined seating position, resting his weight on one taut, outstretched arm.
I continued jerking his shaft in my slick palm as I paused to catch my breath and rest my jaw. “Do you want me to suck you off or fuck you?”
“Oh, Des,” he breathed, cupping my chin in his hand. “I have to fuck you. I need to fuck you.”
Shane pulled me on top of him, the length of his dick rooted against my groin, my nipples sliding across his pecs as I straddled his hips. He slipped his tongue between my lips and the faint taste of whiskey and us coalesced in our joined mouths. Cupping my ass, Shane positioned my pussy over his shaft so that he could grind my clit along his length. I held his face in my hands, my heart pounding in my ears, his heat and stiffness making me even wetter.
Slick from summer heat, we slid against each other. I broke free from his mouth to kiss and nibble at his neck and collar bone, biting down hard on his shoulder. Shane flipped us over, my back smacking against the warm stone. He nudged my legs apart with his knees and positioned the head of his dick at my folds. I studied his face, his hungry eyes, his lips slightly parted over clenched teeth.
Shane pushed inside me, stretching my walls and filling me entirely. I cried out as my muscles strained to accommodate him, the sensation quickly converting to pleasure as he gradually withdrew and then thrust into me again, building up in speed and intensity. Shane hovered over me, braced by strong, powerful arms. The front of his thighs brushed the backs of mine as I wrapped my legs around him. I grabbed his shoulders and pulled him down to rest on his forearms so that I could kiss his jaw. His thrusts came faster, more forceful, his eyes betraying a loss of control over himself. I touched my forehead to his, concentrating on the sense of fullness between my legs and the weight of his body upon mine.
My pussy gripped him tighter, forcing him to push harder as I bore down, yielding to yet another orgasm. Shane, overcome by his own climax, grunted and groaned as he slammed into me with such force that he had to hold my hips in place. I loved it, the mingling of pleasure and pain.
Shane pulled out and collapsed onto me, his face resting above my breasts, our chests heaving. I combed my fingers through his hair and cradled his head in my arms. We lay there a while, him drifting in and out of consciousness, me staring up at the blanket of stars, the moon barely out of sight behind a line of towering pine trees. I closed my eyes and inhaled the scent of the woods around us: moss and dirt, lilac and pine, algae and bacteria from the creek, our own sweat.
The familiar scents of summer.
Shane raised his head to look at me, his eyes heavy with fatigue. I touched his lips, still pink and swollen.
“So, what now?” I asked hesitantly.
“What do you mean?” He glided his palms along my sides.
“Well, you’re here, but for how long?”
Shane rose onto his forearms and gazed down at me. He laid his palm between my breasts, just above my heart. “I don’t know.”
I turned my face away.
“Hey, Des,” he said, cupping my cheek in his palm. “Talk to me.”
I took a deep breath. “I don’t think I can take losing you again. If this was just a one-time thing, then fine, let’s keep it that way. We don’t need to start dating or hanging out. You don’t have to come over for dinner just because my parents invite you. This was fun, but I—”
Shane laid a finger over my mouth and kissed my forehead. “Des, listen to me. I’m sorry I was gone so long. What you said earlier about me growing up and distancing myself was the truth, but it wasn’t all of it. The last time we played, I realized that I had feelings for you that I didn’t know how to handle. I was a stupid kid and I let myself get carried away and I hurt you. After that, I knew I had to pull away. I’m sorry I didn’t say something, but I honestly couldn’t find the words.”
He ran his thumb across my bottom lip. I opened my eyes. His expression was pained, earnest. I reached my hand up to cradle his cheek and he kissed my palm.
“So, does that mean you’re staying?”
“But what about work?” I asked. “There’s nothing here for you in Gainsville.”
“There’s something very important for me in Gainsville.” He stroked my cheekbone. “Besides, you only have one year till graduation, right?”
Shane trailed kisses down my neck, over my collar bones, and onto my breasts and stomach, until his face was once again between my legs.
“Right.” I sighed, my body practically melting onto the stone beneath us.
“I’m not leaving you again, Des.”
Rachel Woe is a forbidden love junkie who probably watched too many inappropriate movies as a teenager. A longtime lover of risqué fiction, she used to smuggle Story of O and The Sleeping Beauty trilogy to school, folded inside brown-bag book covers. On the rare occasion when she’s neither reading nor writing, you can find her camped out at the back of the cinema or on the hunt for a perfect Irish eggs Benny.