Jenn and I have always had terrific sex—but it’s a familiar, practiced kind of awesome. Asking her if she wants to be fucked hard, making her beg to come, bending her over a desk and nailing her without bothering to take off our clothes just because it’s dirtier that way—has never, ever crossed my mind.
“No, I guess not. Thought you’d slap me if I did.”
“What would you have said if I told you?”
I take the dildo from her, turn it around in my hand appreciatively. “I’d have said . . . make sure you have extra batteries.”
She giggles, drops the dildo back into the box, and rests her head against my shoulder. “I love you.”
That brings me back to serious. “So don’t do this.”
She just smiles sadly. “There’s all kinds of love, Stanton. Ours is what makes the best kind of bond, one that will last our whole life. But it’s not the marryin’ kind.”
“That’s not true.” I take her face in my hands. “I’m in love with you, Jenny.”
Her eyes are dry, but there are tears in her voice. “No, you’re not. It’s an echo. Of who we were, the promises we made, the passion we had. But an echo’s not real—you can’t build a life on it. It’s just a memory of a sound.”
I stroke her cheek with my thumb, hearing her words but not really listening. “I just wish . . . I wish I had known that the last time I kissed you was gonna be the last.” I trace her lips with the tip of my finger. “I would’ve taken more care to remember. Let me kiss you now, Jenn. Give us that. And after, if you still want to marry him, I swear I’ll stand aside.”
I see it in her eyes. Desire. Maybe she regrets not cherishing that last kiss more, too. She stares at my mouth and her hands cradle my jaw. I lean in closer—giving her time to say no.
But she doesn’t.
And then our lips touch, brush, mold together. She sinks into the kiss with the barest of moans, and I pull her nearer. I move my mouth over hers, and she tastes just the same—just like I remember—sweet summer cherries.
And I wait for that feeling that always comes—that undeniable pull that makes me want to touch her everywhere, all at once. I wait for that sensation of certainty, flawless perfection—that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and the woman in my arms is all I could ever ask for.
The problem is . . . those feelings never come.
My heart doesn’t hammer in my chest, my hands don’t shake with the need to caress. There’s just . . . nothing. I mean, I’m in a dark room with my mouth pressed against a beautiful woman—so there’s something. But it’s not what it’s supposed to be—not powerful or mind-blowing, not tender or exciting.
It’s nothing like when I kiss . . .
I’m reminded of the fairy tales I read to Presley when she was smaller. The ones where the kiss always broke the spell. Lifted the curse.
Opened the eyes.
We slowly pull away, and Jenny and I stare at one another.
“You feel it too, don’t you?” she asks.
“Like tryin’ to squeeze a puzzle piece into the wrong slot . . . like there’s somethin’ missin’. You feel that now, don’t you?”
In a shocked whisper, I finally admit to myself—and her, “Yeah. That’s it—exactly.”
I put my hand on her shoulder. “Jenny, I—”
Suddenly she covers her mouth with her hand, her face morphing into a mask of regret and guilt. “Oh my God! What have I done?”
She stands up and paces, talking with quick, horrified words. “Oh my god ! I kissed you! Three days before my weddin’! Three days before I’m about to stand up in front of God and my family and promise myself to another man! A man who’s done nothin’ but love me, trust me, respect me! Oh my fuckin’ God!”
“Calm down! It’s all right. We don’t—”
She turns on me like a viper. “Don’t you tell me to calm down! JD’s always been intimidated by you. You were like—a legend to him. He always worried that I couldn’t love him like I loved you. He never thought he could measure up . . .”
I can’t stop the satisfied smirk from tugging at my lips. “Really?”
She points her finger and grits out, “Wipe that smile off your face or I’ll slap it off!”
My smile flees in terror.
“How am I gonna tell him? How am I supposed to explain without him feelin’—”