Moonlight Confessions

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Oh, how she tested him. All the time. Yet he couldn’t leave. He couldn’t keep himself from taking every minute with her that he could, even if she was determined to push him over the edge. Why should he even do this anymore? It was starting to feel stupid. Juvenile, even. He wasn’t some high schooler in youth group. He was a full-grown man with a perfectly healthy appetite. Sure, things had gotten a little out of control. Sure, there had been that one AIDS scare. And that time a particularly wild orgy ended with a visit from some very sexy and very unhappy firefighters.

But this last year had changed him. Cleansed him. He’d gotten what he’d been searching for by undertaking this little challenge. He’d learned the value of women. Of relationships. Of patience, and moderation. He’d achieved his masochistic goal of torturing himself with all the things that he craved from his old life. What more could he gain from this deprivation? What would he gain by getting married? She obviously didn’t want to do that. If only the deal had been to simply abstain for a year. He could have a family without getting married. If he and Lanie started sleeping together, and then maybe even living together, they would be a family with Dre.

He stared at the ceiling. One of Lanie’s lights needed to be changed, soon. It cast strange shadows all around him.

What if she got tired of waiting? She was just as sensual as he was. She’d go back to Jake, surely. Just like when Ben had been incapacitated. He was surprised she hadn’t already. Jake didn’t have any stupid rules. Jake pleased her in all the ways that Ben longed to, and eventually, they’d start a serious relationship, and then it would be weird for Ben to hang around here all the time. He’d be edged out. He’d be left out in the rain, looking in through the window at Lanie and Jake and Dre sitting around the dinner table, maybe with a few more kids and a couple of dogs, living the life he almost could have had, if he’d just loosened up.

He could claim her. He could claim this family, even without a ring. And then later, if they were ready, they could get married, but until then, they’d just be free to enjoy each other. And if they drank their fill, and wanted to go back to being just friends, they could do that, too.

The back door to the yard slid open quietly, and he turned to the darkened living room. “Lanie?”

“Come here.”

Her voice sounded strange – husky and low. His skin prickled. “What are you doing?”

Padding into the living room, he saw her framed in the glass door, a silhouette in the moonlight. When his brain comprehended what he was seeing, the sight electrocuted him.

She was completely naked.

It was too dark to make out much. But she was backlit from the right, and the side of her body was devoid of any hint of bra or underwear. He was frozen. A slow agony spread through his entire body, and he couldn’t stop blinking.

“Hey there.” Her hands brought a pile of her sinfully loose hair above her head, revealing the slender column of her neck, the slope of her muscular shoulders.

“Lanie…what are you…the boys are upstairs.” He blinked, and blinked again, wanting to close his eyes, but not able to look away.

“They’re asleep. Come here,” she bade again, spilling her hair from her fingers in a black, springy cascade. “You can look, can’t you? Even if you don’t touch? And you can touch, can’t you, as long as you stay inside the lines?”

She was teasing. Tempting him. Drawing him in.

For an entire minute, he didn’t move. Then, with leaden feet, he took a step back, despite his body urging him to go to her. “Lanie, stop this. Why are you m-making this so hard?” His clumsy, stammering words were anything but authoritative.

“Pun intended?” she inquired, slowly sliding her hips in an isolated, hypnotic wave, flowing like a cobra. He gritted his teeth against the unintentional and very poor choice of words.

“Difficult, Lanie. You’re making this difficult. More difficult than it needs to be.” He tried to find his dom voice again, that commanding tone that had surprisingly worked on her. But he had nothing to use on her, and he could not go over there to restrain her. Nearly every thought in his mind had fled, and she filled every one of his senses. She smelled like fresh grass and sunshine and the pomegranate that had been in the salad. She looked like a mirage. She sounded like she did in the dreams he had of her on a regular basis. What would she feel like? How would she taste?

Instead of replying, she turned so he could see her in profile. The curve of her slender waist, flaring out and back down to her bowed thighs and calves. Motion rippled through her slowly, creating a song that he wanted to turn into a duet. Knowing exactly how to give him the best view of her rolling stomach and flowing hands, she gracefully gyrated her hips and chest. It was as though her body parts were no longer connected to each other. Each one was its own silk ribbon, undulating in slow motion. He licked his lips, tasting salt. Unlike the bubbly and fun group dance, this was rich and decadent.

All he had to do was go to her.

But this wasn’t the way that he wanted it to go.

“There’s so much more to us than sex.” He wasn’t sure where the words came from, but as he said them, he realized they were truer than he had meant. Desperately, he clung to this new line of thought, although it was tenuous.  “You’re my best friend, Lanie. Above all that, before all of this, you were the one person I could count on. The one person in my corner when I was at my absolute worst. You fought for me, and held me, and you’ve always been there when I needed you.” 

She paused her sensuous belly dance, and he could tell she was looking at him again. Immobile, and attentive, she was a picturesque, shadowy statue.

He could breathe just a little more. “I don’t know why, but I need to do this. I need to keep my promise. I think that’s what it comes down to, for me. I promised God. And if he’s not real, I promised myself. If I break it, that would break something in me, because I need my word to mean something. Even when I wish with all my heart that I could take it back. But it’s not a promise if you can take it back.” 

She faced him again, and crossed her arms, legs apart. Fighting stance. He cringed. “Not all promises are keepable. Sometimes things change.”

“Maybe so. But I don’t like being manipulated.”

“Oh, and you haven’t been manipulating me?” She tossed her head, proud as an Arabian mare facing a rattle snake. “You tease me every chance you get! You act as though my feelings for you are a lighter that you flick and flick just to play with the flame.”

Is that what he’d been doing? He shook his head. “I was just trying to excite you. Get to know your body. Keep things interesting so you didn’t get bored with me.”

She collapsed to the floor, and he sprang forward automatically, before realizing she was squeaking with laughter. “Did you just say you’re worried that you’re boring?” she crowed, hands to her face. “Did I hear that correctly?”

He shuffled a foot, crossing his arms. “Well, yeah. I didn’t want you to think that abstaining meant we had to give up any sort of physical relationship. I didn’t want you to…” But he couldn’t admit the last part. About Jake. 

She wrestled with her laughter. “Ben Murray Goldberg, you are the furthest from boring that anyone can get. You’re a walking nightmare. A constant headache. You’re going to make me drop dead from a heart attack one of these days. And that’s coming from someone who’s spent the better part of the last ten years living in disaster areas and active warzones. I could use a little boredom.”

“Then what’s all this about?” He motioned to her nakedness. “Obviously, you’re after a challenge.”

She paused, a slender finger resting on her chin. “I know you want me. And I want to help you along with whatever’s holding you back.”

He took in a shuddering breath. “You’re hurting me, Lanie.”

Her head turned sharply to him. But she didn’t say anything.

If he didn’t make the decision now, he wasn’t sure he ever could. He wouldn’t let her use him. He remembered Jake’s words about the things that she used to survive. Manipulation was how she managed things. It wasn’t her fault. “As much as I feel like it might kill me…I think I need to spend less time here. A lot less.”

“Wait – ”

He cut her off, grabbing even tighter to his very shaky resolve. “And I promise, this isn’t me playing hard to get. I’m not trying to be coy, or lead you on. I really need some space from you, because I’m drowning here.”

“Just a minute, okay?” She yanked a shirt down over her head, then shimmied on her cotton shorts.

Striding toward him, she stepped into the light from the kitchen. He took slow, deep breaths when she clasped his face and looked intently into his eyes. He was frozen.

“Please don’t touch me right now,” he whispered hoarsely.

To her credit, she immediately removed her hands. Ben tried not to think about the fact that she hadn’t put her bra back on, or her underwear. He remembered the day that Dre had come, when she’d barely missed him with that bullet. She’d been basically naked, then, too. Would the lethal and the erotic be forever enmeshed in his mind? “I’ve got to go.”

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~ Romans 15:13

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