I immediately crawl off the bed and get in the shower because I feel dirty. I feel guilty for having him do what he just did and I’m hoping the shower will somehow wash away that guilt. I scrub every inch of my body with soap until my skin hurts, but it doesn’t help. I’ve successfully taken another intimate moment and ruined it for him. I could see the shame in his face when he left. When he walked out the door, refusing to look at me.
I turn off the water and step out of the shower. After I dry off, I grab the robe from the back of the bathroom door and put it on. I brush out my hair and place my toiletries back into my cosmetic bag. I don’t want to leave without telling Holder, but I can’t stay here. I also don’t want him to feel like he has to face me again after what just happened. I can call a cab to take me to the bus station and be gone before he comes back.
If he’s planning on even coming back.
I open the bathroom door and step out into the hotel room, not expecting him to be sitting on the bed with his hands clasped between his knees. He darts his eyes up to mine as soon as he sees the bathroom door open. I pause mid-step and stare back at him. His eyes are red and he’s got a makeshift bandage made out of his t-shirt, wrapped around his hand and covered in blood. I rush to him and take his hand, unwrapping the shirt to inspect it.
“Holder, what’d you do?” I twist his hand back and forth and take in the gash across his knuckles. He pulls his hand away and re-wraps it with the piece of t-shirt.
“I’m fine,” he says, brushing it off. He stands up and I take a step back, expecting him to walk out the door again. Instead, he stays directly in front of me, looking down at me.
“I’m so sorry,” I whisper, looking up at him. “I shouldn’t have asked you to do that. I just needed…”
He grabs my face and presses his lips to mine, cutting me off mid-apology. “Shut up,” he says, looking into my eyes. “You have absolutely nothing to apologize for. I didn’t leave earlier because I was mad at you. I left because I was mad at myself.”
I back out of his grasp and turn to the bed, not wanting to watch as he places even more blame on himself. “It’s okay.” I walk back to the bed and lift the covers. “I can’t expect you to want me in that way right now. It was wrong and selfish and way out of line for me to ask you to do that and I’m really sorry.” I lay down on the bed and roll away from him so he can’t see my tears. “Let’s just go to sleep, okay?”
My voice is much calmer than I expected it to be. I really don’t want him to feel bad. He’s done nothing but be here for me throughout all of this, and I’ve done nothing for him in return. The best thing I could do for him at this point is to just break it off so he doesn’t feel obligated to stand by me through this. He doesn’t owe me a thing.
“You think I’m having a hard time with this because I don’t want you?” He walks around to the side of the bed that I’m facing and he kneels down. “Sky, I’m having a hard time with this because everything that’s happened to you is breaking my fucking heart and I have no idea how to help you. I want to be there for you and help you through this but every word that comes out of my mouth feels like the wrong one. Every time I touch you or kiss you, I’m afraid you don’t want me to. Now you’re asking me to have sex with you because you want to take that from him, and I get it. I absolutely get where you’re coming from, but it doesn’t make it easier to make love to you when you can’t even look me in the eyes. It hurts so much because you don’t deserve for it to be like this. You don’t deserve this life, baby, and there isn’t a fucking thing I can do to make it better for you. I want to make it better but I can’t and I feel so helpless.”
He has somehow sat up on the bed and pulled me to him during all of that, but I was so caught up in his words I didn’t even notice. He wraps his arms around me and pulls me onto his lap, then wraps my legs around him. He takes my face in his hands and looks me directly in the eyes.
“And even though I stopped, I should have never even started without telling you first how much I love you. I love you so much, baby. I don’t deserve to touch you until you know for a fact that I’m touching you because I love you and for no other reason.”
He presses his lips to mine and doesn’t even give me a chance to tell him I love him in return. I love him so much it physically hurts. I’m not thinking about anything else right now but how much I love this boy and how much he loves me and how despite what’s going on in my life, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than in this moment with him.
I try to convey everything I’m feeling through my kiss, but it’s not enough. I pull away and kiss his chin, then his nose, then his forehead, then I kiss the tear that’s rolling down his cheek. “I love you, too. I don’t know what I’d do right now if I didn’t have you, Holder. I love you so much and I’m so sorry. I wanted you to be my first, and I’m sorry he took that from you.”
Holder adamantly shakes his head and shushes me with a quick kiss. “Don’t you ever say that again. Don’t you ever think that again. Your father took that first from you in an unthinkable way, but I can guarantee you that’s all he took. Because you are so strong, baby. You’re amazing and funny and smart and beautiful and so full of strength and courage. What he did to you doesn’t take away from any of the best parts of you. You survived him once and you’ll survive him again. I know you will.”
He places his palm over my heart, then pulls my hand to his chest over his own heart. He lowers his eyes to my level, ensuring I’m here with him, giving him my complete attention. “Fuck all the firsts, Sky. The only thing that matters to me with you are the forevers.”
I kiss him. Holy shit, do I kiss him. I kiss him with every ounce of emotion that’s coursing through me. He cradles my head with his hand and lowers me back to the bed, climbing on top of me. “I love you,” he says. “I’ve loved you for so long but I just couldn’t tell you. It didn’t feel right letting you love me back when I was keeping so much from you.”
Tears are streaming down my cheeks again, and even though they’re the exact same tears that come from the exact same eyes, they’re completely new to me. They aren’t tears from heartache or anger…they’re tears from the incredible feeling overcoming me right now, hearing him say how much he loves me.
“I don’t think you could have picked a better time to tell me you loved me than tonight. So I’m happy you waited.”
He smiles, looking down at me with fascination. He dips his head and kisses me, infusing my mouth with the taste of him. He kisses me softly and gently, delicately sliding his mouth over mine as he unties my robe. I gasp when his hand eases inside, stroking my stomach with his fingertips. The feel of his touch on me right now is a completely different sensation than just fifteen minutes ago. It’s a sensation I want to feel.
“God, I love you,” he says, moving his hand from my stomach and across my waist. He slowly trails his fingers down to my thigh and I moan into his mouth, resulting in an even more determined kiss. He places a flat palm on the inside of my leg and puts slight pressure against it, wanting to ease himself against me, but I flinch and become tense. He can feel my involuntary moment of hesitation, so he pulls his lips from mine and looks down at me. “Remember, baby. I’m touching you because I love you. No other reason.”
I nod and close my eyes, still afraid that the same numbness and fear is about to wash over me again. Holder kisses my cheek and pulls my robe closed.
“Open your eyes,” he says gently. When I do, he reaches up and traces a tear with his finger. “You’re crying.”
I smile up at him reassuringly. “It’s okay. They’re the good kind of tears.”
He nods, but doesn’t smile. He studies me for a moment, then takes my hand in his and laces our fingers together. “I want to make love to you, Sky. And I think you want it, too. But I need you to understand something first.” He squeezes my hand and bends down, kissing another escaping tear. “I know it’s hard for you to allow yourself to feel this. You’ve gone so long training yourself to block the feelings and emotions out any time someone touches you. But I want you to know that what your father physically did to you isn’t what hurt you as a little girl. It’s what he did to your faith in him that broke your heart. You suffered through one of the worst things a child can go through at the hands of your hero…the person you idolized…and I can’t even begin to imagine what that must have felt like. But remember that the things he did to you are in no way related to the two of us when we’re together like this. When I touch you, I’m touching you because I want to make you happy. When I kiss you, I’m kissing you because you have the most incredible mouth I’ve ever seen and you know I can’t not kiss it. And when I make love to you—I’m doing exactly that. I’m making love to you because I’m in love with you. The negative connotation you’ve been associating with physical touch your whole life doesn’t apply to me. It doesn’t apply to us. I’m touching you because I’m in love with you and for no other reason.”
His gentle words flood my heart and ease my nerves. He kisses me softly and I relax beneath his hand—a hand that’s touching me out of nothing but love. I respond by completely dissolving into him, allowing my lips to follow his, my hands to intertwine with his, my rhythm to match his. I quickly become invested, ready to experience him because I want to and for no other reason.
“I love you,” he whispers.
The entire time he’s touching me, exploring me with his hands and his lips and his eyes, he continues to tell me over and over how much he loves me. And for once, I remain completely in the moment, wanting to feel every single thing he’s doing and saying to me. When he finally tosses the wrapper aside and readies himself against me, he looks down at me and smiles, then strokes the side of my face with his fingertips.
“Tell me you love me,” he says.
I hold his gaze with unwavering confidence, wanting him to feel the honesty in my words. “I love you, Holder. So much. And just so you know...so did Hope.”
His eyebrows draw apart and he lets out a quick rush of air as if he’s been holding it in for thirteen years, waiting for those exact words. “Baby, I wish you could feel what that just did to me.” He immediately covers my mouth with his and the familiar, sweet mixture of him seeps into my mouth at the same moment he pushes inside of me, filling me with so much more than just himself. He fills me with his honesty, his love for me, and for a moment…he fills me with a piece of our forevers. I grasp his shoulders and move with him, feeling everything. Every single beautiful thing.
Monday, October 29th, 2012 9:50 a.m.
I roll over and Holder is sitting up next to me on the bed, looking down at his phone. He shifts his focus to me when I stretch, then bends down to kiss me but I immediately turn my head.