Pretending Ch. 05
(C) 2009 All Rights Reserved
"Rachel! Rachel, look out!" Connie was shouting and pointing, but nothing was coming out. The SUV loomed larger and larger as it approached from behind. Connie had seen it in the side mirror and watched in horror as it grew and grew, until the grille filled the little glass. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear, she thought with dread.
Suddenly the little Corolla was in the air. Connie felt her stomach flop as the center of gravity shifted. The horizon swirled as she looked out the windshield, making her dizzy. For ages, the car was almost floating. It would have been pleasant except for the fact that she knew what would happen next. She always knew.
She tried to brace herself, to shift position, but she was frozen. Her legs wouldn't move, nor her arms. With no warning, the car was on the ground. She never felt the change in direction; there was just a loud smack! and the car stopped moving. Pain suffused her and she began to cry. Simon, please, find me, please, hurry. The thought ran through her mind in a loop but she couldn't move again, this time trapped by her seatbelt and the weight of the vehicle. How long would she lay here until someone found her?
Simon woke up, groggy. He thought he had heard someone call his name and remembered Connie was next to him. Had she been dreaming about him? He wondered that with a mix of hope and guilt. Raising up on one arm, he saw her shaking on the bed, tears running down her face. She was saying his name quietly, pleading, like she was calling for him. She sounded terrified; he realized she was dreaming about the accident.
Sitting up, he tried to gently shake her awake. "Connie, babe, wake up." Simon gave her shoulder a quick squeeze. When she didn't wake immediately, he began to worry, even though he knew she was only dreaming. "Come on, sweetie, wake up." He shook her a little harder. "It's only a dream, I'm here."
Connie's eyes popped open and darted around the room, her breath coming in short gasps. It took a moment for Simon's voice to penetrate her thoughts. "I'm here, sweetie. It's all right," she heard him say. He was running his hand along her arm, and it felt nice. Calming.
"Simon?" Her voice was just above a whisper. She focused on him and felt a huge wave a relief wash over her.
He nodded. "It's over, you were just dreaming." He moved his hand to push some hair back from her eyes, then stroked her cheek. "Okay now?"
She nodded, then threw her arms around his neck, hiding her few remaining tears. He pulled her closer and soothed her.
With Simon's arms around her, and the warmth of his body next to hers, Connie calmed down. She did not, however, let go.
This is what it would be like, she thought. If we really were together, we could do this all the time. He'd be here whenever I woke up. I should just tell him . . . She knew she wouldn't. Simon was just doing this to help her out. She didn't want to scare him away; if she lost Simon, she didn't know what she would do. She couldn't imagine he'd want to continue splitting an apartment if he knew she had a crush on him. Pretending would have to do.
As Connie calmed down, Simon made no move to release her. He stopped reassuring her, but continued to stroke her back. She fits me, he thought. I could just hold her like this for hours. He wanted to tell her, but wasn't sure. He had sensed that she might return his feelings over the last couple of weeks. At certain times he would catch an expression on her face, or notice her body language, and was fairly sure that she wasn't pretending at all. Then he would wonder if he was just hoping too much.
At last, Connie's grip on him lessened a bit and he lay back, still keeping his arms around her. She looked up at him, her eyes a bit puffy from crying. Although he couldn't see how green they were in the dark like this, he could imagine.
"Had the dream?" She nodded. "I'm sorry." He kissed her forehead. "I was hoping you wouldn't." He moved a little and kissed her temple, then her cheek. He knew he should probably stop, but it was too easy, too natural, to keep kissing her.
"It's not your fault," she said. "And it was better, to wake up with you here." She wasn't sure if what happened next was intentional, but suddenly they were kissing like the night he'd tickled her on the couch. Simon had been giving her such sweet, soft kisses, and then she turned her head a little and their lips met. They both stilled for a moment, but then the kiss resumed, with matching passion on both sides.
Bad idea, bad idea, Connie kept thinking, but the thought was swept away by the intensity of Simon's kiss and her reaction to it. She buried her fingers in his hair, keeping him close. His body felt warm and solid and for the first time in ages she felt safe. Safe and excited at the same time, she realized. Her body was warm, and not because there were too many blankets.
Simon found he could not hold on to a coherent thought, especially when Connie ran her fingers through his hair. He'd never imagined it would feel so good--so right--to hold her, to kiss her, to feel her body pressed against his. His hands moved as though under their own control, running through her hair, stroking her back, sliding down over her hip, then back up, under the t-shirt she wore to sleep in.
She gasped and he moaned softly when his hand encountered her bare skin. "Connie," he murmured, "you feel . . . so amazing." Her reply was lost as his hand slid further up and he kissed her again, urgent and tender at the same time.
Somewhere Connie knew she should stop, but she didn't want to. Simon was making her feel too good. One arm was holding her close as his mouth covered hers, the other was free and stroking her skin, moving a little higher each time until he reached her breast. She couldn't help but freeze for just a moment, and so did he. She didn't stop him and so he continued, brushing his thumb over her nipple.
Dimly, she realized how much her body was responding to his touches, and how she wanted him to feel the same. Her hand started to move down his body until she reached the hem of his shirt. She tentatively slid her hand under so that she could feel his skin. He hissed out a breath and moved his lips to her neck. She smiled to herself at his reaction. Fair's fair, she thought.
Simon wanted her. He wanted to kiss her, touch her, feel her shake while he made her come. Her hand on his body was driving him crazy, her touch so soft and a little uncertain. He broke away for just a moment, removing his shirt and hers before she could react, and then carefully pressed her back down on the bed, kissing her all the while.
"Simon . . . " she whispered.
He kissed her neck, her shoulder and along her breast, where he took a nipple in his mouth. She arched her back and he couldn't hold back a groan of satisfaction. Her body was beautiful; he loved the way she moved. He imagined how it would feel when they moved together, when he was inside her. He couldn't wait to find out.
Connie could think of nothing but how he was making her feel. When she cleared a little, she moved her hand down until she found him, hard under his shorts. When she rubbed her hand along the material, Simon rested his head on her chest, breathing heavily.
"Stop . . . " His voice was rough. He didn't want it to end so soon. Moving his lips back up to meet hers, he reached down to the waistband of her pajama pants and began to push them down. He had just slid them over her hips when Connie went still and started shaking her head.
"No, no, no."
He stopped but didn't move off of her. Confused, he wondered what he'd done. His hesitation made it easy for Connie to slip out from under him, but he recovered before she could leave the bed.
Connie tried to free herself, holding back tears. She'd gotten carried away and forgotten about her leg. My alligator skin leg, she thought bitterly. Everything else had fled her mind--concerns about her weight, about the pretending, about the nightmare--until Simon had almost bared her leg. Better that she should stop him now, even though she didn't want to, than to have him turn away in surprise and disgust.
"Connie, please, calm down," he said. "Please. Tell me what's wrong. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. I just--"
Connie moved a little, attempting half-heartedly to leave again; Simon kept her close. "It's . . . my leg," she whispered. "I didn't want you to have to touch it."
"Oh, sweetheart." He rolled back so he was on his side and brought her with him. "I don't care about that. I never have." He let his fingers move through her hair, hoping to calm her and keep her next to him.
"I should go," she said after a few minutes, but made no move to do so.
"Stay, please. We'll just sleep, I promise." He kissed her forehead. "I like having you here."
Connie nodded against his chest. She wanted to stay. Simon found her shirt for her and turned away while she put it on. Then he put his arms around her again.
When he thought she'd fallen asleep, she spoke up again. "Maybe . . . maybe we should cancel this whole Thanksgiving thing."
His heart caught and he tried to think before answering. After what had just happened, he couldn't let her change her mind. Should I just tell her? he wondered, then decided no. She was still too skittish and might think he was saying it just to make her feel better. "If we do that, your mom will never let you hear the end of it," he said. He hated taking that track, even though he knew it was true.
Connie sighed. He was right. "Okay. I just didn't want . . . didn't want you to feel obligated or anything."
He tightened his arms around her for a moment. "I don't, I really don't."
Relieved, Connie slept.
To be continued.