“Aren’t you coming up?” I asked, and for one terrifying moment, I was certain he wouldn’t. And then he began to climb the stairs.
At the landing, I unlocked the door, acutely aware of Ridley’s body behind me. My hair had been pinned up in a loose updo, and I could feel his breath warming the back of my neck.
We went inside, pretending this was normal, that this was like every other time he’d been in my loft, but the air felt electrified. He commented on the dirty laundry overflowing my hamper, and I apologized for the cold while starting a fire in the woodburning stove.
I kicked off my boots and jacket then lit a few candles while he set aside his own jacket and shoes. Now we stood in the center of the room, a few feet of empty space between us, gawking at each other. The floorboards felt cold underneath my feet, and I kept staring at the few buttons of his shirt that had been left undone, showing off the smooth skin of his chest.
I opened my mouth, planning to ask him if he wanted to sit down or have a drink, but the words suddenly felt like a waste. I didn’t want to sit down or have a drink. I only wanted him.
I went over to him, and without hesitation, without thinking, without worry, I kissed him, knowing he would kiss me back just as hungrily. And he did not disappoint. He wrapped his arms around me, pulling me to him, but I didn’t feel close enough. I pushed him back until he hit the wall.
Ridley stopped kissing me long enough to smile crookedly as I started to undo the buttons of his shirt, but even that quick separation felt too long. Then his fingers were in my hair, and his lips were on my mouth, and I didn’t know if I’d ever wanted anything as badly as I wanted him. My body literally ached for him, starting in my chest and working its way down to a desperate longing between my legs.
His shirt was gone, and I’m not sure if he pulled it off or I did, but either way I was grateful. I ran my hands over the firm ridges of his chest and stomach, surprised by how warm his skin felt against mine. Then I felt his hand on my thigh, curious and strong.
Just as his fingers looped around the thin waistband of my panties, Ridley pulled his mouth from mine and looked me in the eyes. “Are you sure—”
But I silenced his question by kissing him again, and I put my hand over his and pushed down, helping him slip off my panties. I stepped out of them and back from him. As he watched me, I pulled my dress up over my head and tossed it to the floor.
His eyes widened in appreciation, and he whispered, “We should’ve done this a long time ago.”
Ridley started to unbutton his pants as he stepped closer to me. He reached out for me, but I pushed him on the bed so he was lying on his back. Grabbing his pants with my hand, I yanked them off in one swift move, and then I climbed over him, letting my body hover just above his.
I leaned down, kissing him again, savoring the moment. Our bodies were so close, I could feel the heat from his. He put one hand on my hip, his fingers gripping me desperately, begging for more.
And then finally, I lowered myself on him, and my breath caught in my throat. He gasped, almost in relief, and closed his eyes at first until we found our rhythm together.
I sat up, taking more of him and moving faster. He was breathing heavier, and just as the delicious heat exploded deep within me, Ridley sat up, still inside of me. He wrapped his arm around me, holding me against him at the moment he finished.
We both leaned against each other, panting, and my body felt like jelly. As if all my bones and muscles had melted into this wonderful, contented goo, and all I wanted to do was stay melded to Ridley like this forever.
But I couldn’t. I leaned back a bit, trying to catch my breath. My hair had come free, and Ridley brushed away a lock that had fallen in my face. He let his hand linger, warming my cheek, and by the look in his eyes, I knew he wanted to say something he wouldn’t be able to take back.
“Don’t,” I whispered.
He shook his head. “Don’t what?”
“Don’t say anything that would spoil this. Let’s just leave this as it is.”
He let out a deep breath. “Okay.”
I smiled at him, pleased that he wouldn’t push anything, and I climbed off him. I blew out the candle on my table and the one next to my bed, so the loft was in near darkness with only the fire in the stove casting light.
I climbed back in bed, lying on my side with my back to Ridley. He waited, sitting on the bed where I’d left him, but now I felt the bed moving as he settled in behind me. I scooted back on the bed, moving closer to him, and he put his arm around my waist, strong and warm against my bare skin.
His body felt wonderful against mine, spooning me to him. I closed my eyes, wishing I could fall asleep like this every night, but knowing I never would again.
The fire had gone out in the stove, so it was cold and dark as I scrambled around my loft. I’d pulled on a sweater and moved onto digging through my top drawer for a clean pair of panties and a bra, but I kept coming up with mismatched socks instead, making me curse myself for not doing laundry more often.
The bed creaked behind me, and I hurried to yank on my underwear. I could make out the dim outline of Ridley as he sat up, and my whole body tensed up as my stomach dropped. I’d been hoping to sneak out of here before he woke up, so I could avoid an awkward morning-after conversation.
“Sorry if I woke you,” I said, since standing in tense silence wasn’t making the situation any better.
“No, it’s no problem.” He leaned forward and clicked on my bedside lamp, bathing the room in dim light.
Ridley sat at the edge of my bed, the covers draped across his lap and covering the more intimidating parts of his naked body. He was hunched forward slightly, staring down at the worn floorboards, and he ran his hand through his tangles of sleep-messy curls.
I waited, hoping he would say something, afraid he would say something. But when he didn’t, I burst into motion. As uncomfortable and even painful as this morning was, I still had a job today. I had twenty minutes to pack and meet Kasper at the garage before heading out to Storvatten.
“Sorry, I have to get going,” I tried to explain so he wouldn’t think I was rushing out on him, even though I would’ve wanted to rush out on him whether I had somewhere to be or not.
“No, I get it.”
Throwing my duffel bag on my old couch, I quickly made trips from my dresser and armoire, loading it up with everything I thought I might need. It was a little tough packing, because I wasn’t entirely sure how long I’d be gone. It could be a few weeks—maybe even longer.