Nate is gone when I wake up. He was restless last night but I pretended to sleep. Cowardly I guess. I was afraid he had regrets and I didn’t want to hear them. I had no regrets. Sitting up I enjoy the pull on my muscles. The muscles in my upper back are tight from clutching his shoulders and between my legs I’m sore in places I didn’t realize got sore. My lips curve up in a sly smile. I feel so knowledgeable this morning. Like every risque joke ever told finally makes sense.
In the short time it takes to roll out of bed and pick up my phone from the nightstand, I’m already missing him. When mom laid out exactly why going to this specialty clinic in Europe made sense, I bought into it totally. I’d only be gone for a short time. The boys wouldn’t feel responsible for me if I overextended myself. And, maybe most importantly to me, they wouldn’t see me if I totally loss my memory or forgot how to walk.
The brain stem radiation and chemotherapy may result in the loss of gross and fine motor skills, they warned me. I might have to relearn how to even hold a fork or how to walk or catch a ball. Gingerly, I cupped the back of my head. Fluid is collecting there. We’re watching it and by “we” I mean mom, dad and my team of doctors. None of the Jacksons know. I don’t want them to. It’s rare for an older kid to get hydrocephaly or “water on the brain” and even rarer for it to develop months after the craniotomy.
“You’ve always been special,” Dad joked weakly when the doctors told us that they’d never seen a case like mine. That’s the real reason I’m going to Switzerland—to be studied and treated by an international team of experts and—more than likely—to have a permanent drainage tube installed in the back of my head.
Dr. Mosher said that there were plenty of functioning adults that had permanent shunts. It just meant no contact sports and no activities where I could fall on my head and break my shunt. In other words, no gymnastics. He suggested volleyball. I was too numb by then to respond so I shook my head and he probably took it for agreement.
But all that seems like a distant memory now. Usually I’m on my phone first thing in the morning, checking in to read my texts from friends at school. Right now I’m too busy examining my body.
My face doesn’t look different. I guess I thought I’d be able to see some outward sign that I no longer was a virgin. My hair is still short and my skin looks its general pale tone from lack of exposure to the sun. There are faint bruises on my hip bones and a few marks on my collarbone but Nate was apparently careful not to leave anything too incriminating. I’m both disappointed and relieved.
I flick off the Do Not Disturb on my phone and there about twenty text messages. Three of them are from Nathan. I skip the rest.
Nathan: You pushed me off the bed when I tried to kiss you good morning. Miss you already.
Nathan: U still sleeping? RU OK? Text me. On my way to class but will check phone.
Nathan: Charlotte. For real. Text me.
I stop and take note of the time. It’s almost noon. I’ve slept for hours. No wonder he’s worried. I send him a response right away.
Charlotte: I just got up. Don’t know why I’m sooooo tired. 😉
He texts me immediately as if he’s been waiting.
Nathan: Christ. Gave me a heart attack. I won’t live until graduation at this rate.
I giggle at his exaggeration. I can just picture his serious face but his eyes would be smiling at me.
Charlotte: Can’t have that now that I’ve just learned exactly why all the North Prep girls are chasing after you.
Nathan: There are other girls at North Prep. I only see you.
Oh. my. god. He slays me. I clutch my phone to my chest and the mirrored reflection shows that I’m wearing the silliest, stupidest, biggest grin ever.
Charlotte: You need to come to my room immediately after school.
Nathan: Nope. Meet me at MY room at 3:45.
Nathan: Because when you’re gone I want to lie in that bed and be surrounded by our memories.
I want to stick Nathan in my suitcase and carry him with me. My resolve wavers but a press of a hand against that soft spot on the back of my skull reminds me that my primary goal is to get better so that all my tomorrows are spent with Nathan, having a family, growing old together, making new memories.
Charlotte: I love you. Too much. Like my heart isn’t big enough to hold it all.
Nathan: My heart is big enough for both of us. I’m always going to take care of you C-girl.
Charlotte: Hurry back.
I can’t erase my smile and it’s the thing that gives me away. Both my parents are in the kitchen when I finally leave my bedroom. Normally it’s just one of them during the day and often they only pop in to check on me and then they’re gone for a few hours doing work stuff. Mom’s cheeks look flushed and Dad’s wearing a smug and very satisfied grin. I recognize that grin. It’s…holy shit, my parents are home for a nooner.
“Sleep well, dear?” Mom asks, her tone completely cool despite the tinge of red around her cheeks.
“Yup,” I say. “Nathan’s a big comfort.
Dad coughs and shifts around with some discomfort as if he’s still trying to hide that sex exists in this world. I wonder if he was a horndog before he met my mom. I bet he was and that’s why he’s all embarrassed now. Past sins and all. He should be grateful I’m in love with his best friend’s son. And I tell him so.
“You should be happy it’s Nathan and not some random jerkface from school.”
“We are,” Mom answers and shoots Dad a repressive look. He merely grunts.
Inside the refrigerator I find the makings for a sandwich. Humming, I assemble bread, turkey, a couple slices of bacon and tomato along with lettuce, cheese and mayonnaise. I’m ravenous and it takes me almost no time to demolish half the sandwich.
There’s a weird silence and when I look up from my plate I see both parents gaping at me.
“What?” I ask wiping a finger along the side of my mouth. “Do I have mayo on my face?”
Mom smiles but her lips are trembling with some kind of repressed emotion. Dad clears his throat and this time he talks for both of them. “It’s just nice that you have your appetite back.”
I take a big bite of the second half of my sandwich. “Um, okay. But it’s because of Nathan, you know,” I say slyly, “he’s always on me to eat more.”
I hadn’t had much of an appetite before but now? Now I do. And I’m going to need to have a lot of fuel for the next two weeks that I have left with Nathan if last night was any indicator. My big ass grin is back but I hide behind my food this time.
My parents stare at me but eventually their faces grow big smiles too.
“Nate’s welcome any time,” Dad says as he watches me finish the last of my meal.
Even if it means that his baby is having sex I mentally translate. I’ll let Nathan know he can sleep under the covers tonight.
“I’m going to sleep here tonight,” I whisper to Nathan as he and his brother and two other random people on the internet work together to kill enemies on their internet screen. He pauses the game and whips off his VR glasses.
“Hey,” Nick objects but cuts himself off when he sees Nate’s look. Nick says something in his microphone and pushes out of his chair. “I’m going to piss.”
Nate waves him off. When the door to the game room closes, he turns to me. “How did you get the okay for that?”
“I ate an entire sandwich today.”
“Is this code?”
I reach for the hair on the nape of his neck and feel him shiver against me. “I told my dad you were responsible for my increased appetite.”
“You didn’t,” he groans but his head dips down in an unspoken gesture for me to pet more of his head.
Taking advantage of Nick’s absence, I straddle Nathan’s lap ostensibly so I can get a better angle for the head scratching but really I want his body next to mine. He’s so warm all the time. I love it. It’s like having my own personal heater. His hands drop to my hips and pulls me closer until the centers of bodies are flush against each other and this contact heats me up in a completely different way—from the inside out. I start to rub against him, drawing on the memories of our interaction last night. He made me feel amazing and I want to replicate those emotions over and over and over. As many times as I can.
He groans and tightens his hold on my hips but doesn’t push me away. I tug on the hair at his nape and his face falls back obediently. When I kiss him, his lips are firm and soft and those remind me of that hard length that is pushing insistently against me. We kiss for a long time. They are lazy kisses. The types of kisses you exchange when you have all the time in the world, sitting on the beach or laying on a blanket at a concert in the park. They’re kisses that shut out the whole word so that it’s just you and him and everything on the periphery is a beautiful blur like an Impressionist painting.
“I need to tell you something,” he says finally pulling away from me. I don’t want to stop and follow him as he draws back. Talking isn’t half as interesting as licking his tongue or having him give me tiny bites along my lower lip.
I know what it is that he wants to tell me but I don’t really care about that nonsense but he isn’t deterred and pushes me back. With a serious face on, he holds me an arms width away. “Charlotte.”
“I already know.” I say and when at his surprise, his grip weakens and I dive in for another kiss.
Nathan dodges me and I end up with my lips on his ear. Fine. I haven’t spent much time here. I wiggle closer and run my tongue along the outer edge and down to his lobe. As I suck, he moans and his fingers clench on my butt. Ohh he likes it there so much. I smile to myself and store this knowledge away. He’s not able to speak until I pause to switch sides.
“Wait,” he pants out. “I have to—”
“That everyone at school thinks I’m pregnant because they know we’re having sex?”
He tenses and then let’s out a breath, like he’s relieved. “Yeah. Who told you?”
“Greta texted me. Are you the father?”
“Would you like that?”
“Yes.” There’s not a moment of hesitation and it fills me with so much joy that we’d have a family together someday. I can picture us now, taking our kid down to Navy Pier for the first time and riding the carousel.
“But not now.” I tease him.
He smirks and presses his lips against the base of my throat which sends a bolt right between my legs. I tip my neck back to give him greater access. “How many will we have?”
“Two? Ten? I don’t care,” he murmurs against the soft vulnerable skin of my throat.
“Two. I’m the one having them.”
“Good for me.” He swings me up in his arms. “Let’s go practice.”
I fasten my mouth to his, licking the inside of his mouth so thoroughly I could recreate it from memory. His response is to pick me up and carry me across the hall. The sound of his kicking the door shut no doubt declaring exactly what we’re doing inside his bedroom.
Alone, we become frenzied. I’m pulling his t-shirt off and he’s got his hands at the buttons of my blouse. Somehow I find myself on my knees before him, pulling his jeans down. His erection is right at my face and it occurs to me that I’ve never done this before. I’ve never wanted to do this before but now, as his shorts jut out in front of me, it’s irresistible. Saliva pools under my tongue. Slowly I slide my hands up his thighs, the light coarse hair unfamiliar under my hands. I didn’t get to touch him enough last night. Above the waistband of his shorts, I see his abdomen contract. The surrounding air is thin as if Nathan has sucked it all inside him.
My fingers stop at the bottom of his boxer briefs and he rocks back slightly on his heels.
“Do you want me to?” I ask looking up at him through my lashes. His face is shows strain and his eyes glitter in the afternoon light.
“Only if you want to,” he answers hoarsely. At his side, his fingers are clenched like he wants to reach for me but is holding himself back.
“You’ll have to tell me what to do.” I slip my fingers over his shorts. There’s a wet spot where it looks like the tip of his head is and it’s got me all kinds of curious. Grabbing his waistband, I pull down until his dick is released. It pops out and points straight up. There’s a drop of liquid on the end which grows larger as I stare. In fact, I think his penis is also grower larger or maybe from this angle, so close up, it looks huge. I dab my finger on the fluid and suck it off.
“Salty,” I say. “Not bad.”
“Shit, Charlotte,” he groans. “You’re killing me.”
I shrug. “I’m just surprised. Other girls say it’s gross.”
“You don’t have to do this.” But his actions say that he wants it bad. He’s nearly trembling with the effort to not grab my head between his hands. Despite the fact that I’m on my knees, I realize I have so much power over Nathan right now. Like he’d do anything I’d ask of him.
“I want to.” I stroke my finger over the dark red tip. It’s velvety soft. “I can’t stick the whole thing in my mouth though.” There’s a big vein on the top and I trace that from the top to the root. His dick bobs as if it is almost sentient, seeking more of my touch.
With a choked laugh, he grabs the base and wraps a big fist around it. “Slide your lips down to the top of my hand.”
“Where do I put my hands?” I ask wishing it was my hand around the base.
“Anywhere you want.”
“Here?” I place my hands against his rock hard thighs.
“Yes,” he pauses and then opens his hand to release himself. “Or you can hold on with both hands.”
I make a circle with my palms and slide them down over his penis. “Like this?”
He stumbles. “Shit. I can’t stand up.” With a breathless laugh, he toes off his jeans that I hadn’t gotten around to completely discarding. He pulls me up to my feet.
“But I want—“
He cuts me off with a firm kiss. “I know and so do I but I’m going to fall over because I’m so turned on so if you don’t mind, I’d like to sit on the end of the bed.”
“You’re going to teach me to give you a good blow job, though, right?”
His eyes bright with desire and laughter, he croaks out. “The best.”