It was a couple of days before the end of their sophomore year, exams all but over. In a few days she'd be leaving to go back to Moline for two long months. She was trying to savour every last moment with Jackson before they would be torn apart, spending every available second with him, wrapped up in him.
Every night she would find him in the tennis pavilion and lose herself in him, letting his hands roam all over her as she breathed him in. Each night his hands would get a little bolder, a little more eager, pushing them towards that invisible line she still held in her mind. She was too consumed by him to push him back, too swept away, her body reacting to his instinctively. She knew she was getting too close, but she couldn't help herself. His hands, his mouth were intoxicating to her, the way he called her beautiful over and over like it was her name.
He pulled her even closer to him, hot breath on her neck, big hands sliding down her back, cupping her ass, grabbing flesh. She moved in between his legs, him sitting down on an equipment locker, head just slightly below hers, angled up towards her. His lips found hers, parting ever so slightly for him, letting him in. She grabbed the back of his neck, nails grazing against shaved hair. He groaned faintly as she dug in a little harder, one hand now spread wide on the small of her back, pinning her to him. She could feel him grow against her thigh, this time it made her press against him even harder rather than to back away. His mouth was holding her in place, relentlessly moving into hers. His hand moved from her ass and found its way to her breast, groping her above the thin material of her top, squeezing and pinching. Intuitively she arched her back, giving him better access, her body mindlessly following his lead.
Her heart was racing, her blood rushing around her veins, thumping in her ears, her nerve endings raw and exposed as he continued to stroke her. She felt a dull thump between her legs, taking her by surprise as his hand swiftly moved under her shirt, pulling down the material of her bra, hands finding bare skin. The sudden movement sent chills down her spine and her eyes flashed open in protest. She struggled to pull away from him, her hands pushing off his shoulders with some effort, as she moaned a strangled "no". She was still pinned against him, eyes wide, breath ragged.
"No, Jackson," she pleaded, his hands jolting away from her as he regained his senses.
"Sorry," he exhaled, trying to catch his breath, eyes hooded, brows furrowed.
She was at a loss for words, sensing they were at odds. She could see he was disappointed, frustrated even. She didn't know what to say to get them right again. She backed away from him, readjusting her clothes, covering herself up. He grabbed her wrist, pulling her back into him, placing one hand on her cheek.
"I got carried away, I'm sorry," he said, eyes steady. "I'm not gonna make you do anything you don't want to do, ok?"
She nodded at his reassurances, still feeling like they were on shaky ground.
Weeks later she was wasting away at her parents house, bored out of her mind and frustrated that she hadn't heard from Jackson in over two weeks. He'd gone away to Europe with his grandfather, she knew, and the time difference coupled with reception issues had made it impossible to stay in touch. He'd texted her once to say he had arrived, but radio silence had ensued, leaving her to dig into her own insecurities once again. She wasn't comfortable with how they had left it, not trusting his sincerity or his reassurances. The next couple of days before the holiday had been awkward, him trying not to push her too far, her trying pretend it didn't bother her. Although they hadn't talked about it, she felt pretty certain he wasn't a virgin, unlike her. She had tried not to pay attention to the whispers and rumours that year they had been apart, but she had got the distinct impression he hadn't abstained from anything at all. She felt hopelessly inadequate and worried that he was somewhere in Europe thinking he could do better than her.
The days passed, her frustration and anxiety growing with each stifling hot day. She was angry at her phone for not offering her what she needed the most, a sign he was still thinking about her. Her sisters were no help, the two younger ones clueless as to what advice they could possibly offer, the oldest one too wrapped up in her own relationship to even notice her. She had attempted to talk to Hannah about it, but she had stopped herself, not sure she wanted her too honest opinions just yet. George had gone away to stay with Tom and his family in the Hamptons for two weeks, so she was impossible to get a hold of.
She had trouble sleeping, her mind constantly whirring, the nights too hot, her legs covered in annoying mosquito bites. She was tossing and turning, about to finally drift off when she heard her older sister stir and get out of bed. She could hear her getting dressed and carefully tiptoeing across the floor so as not to wake her, before sliding out of their open window, jumping down on the garage roof below. April carefully followed her, peeking out of the window trying to figure out what Libby was up to. She saw her skipping excitedly towards her boyfriend, who was waiting on the dirt road leading up to their house, leaning against his battered old pick up. She watched her sister leap into his arms, climbing him like a tree, legs wrapped around his waist. Their embrace was unbearably heated, tugging at each others clothes, hands moving hungrily over each other. She had to look away, their moment too intimate for her to witness. She heard the doors slam and the truck drive off, as she climbed back into bed.
When she woke up the next morning her sister was back in her bed, snoring softly. She waited for a little while, until she couldn't anymore.
"Libby!" she whispered loudly, waking her sister up instantly.
"What?" she moaned iritiably, rubbing her eyes and pulling the covers tightly around her.
"I saw you last night," she said quietly, eyeing her sister intently from across the room.
"Shit!" Libby groaned, hiding her face in her hands. "Please don't tell mom, ok?"
"Are you guys doing it?" she whispered, eyes wide in anticipation.
Libby laughed, stifling the sound with her hand before nodding her head. April gasped, suprised at her older sister. Despite Libby being two years her senior her parents had kept her on a pretty tight leash, boyfriends generally being discouraged. She hesitated before asking her next question, blushing slightly at her own words.
"What's it like?"
Her sister rolled her eyes at her, but straightened her face when she saw how serious April was. She pondered her question for a while, smile slowly spreading across her face.
"It's pretty great," Libby finally said, sincerity in her voice. "It's just...different."
"Did it hurt?" April said, voice barely audible.
"A bit," she admitted, eyes blinking rapidly, some unnamed emotion twinkling inside. "But only for a bit, and then it got better. A lot better."
"Do you love him?"
"Love?" Libby shrugged. "I don't know. I like him a lot."
April processed all the new information she had been given, mind racing away, suddenly lost in her own thoughts.
"Are you thinking about it?" Libby's question yanked her out of her reverie. She shrugged, biting her lip nervously.
"Look," Libby lectured, voice stern.
"Stop being so neurotic about it. You obviously really like this guy, and that's great. You don't have to rush into anything, ok? Just relax, breathe, be patient. You'll get there when you are meant to get there."
She rolled over on her back, sighing heavily, covering her face in her hands. Just then her phone beeped, text message from Jackson appearing on her screen.
*I miss you*
School couldn't start fast enough for her, she was desperatly counting the days until she was back at Hartwell. She was ready to start her junior year, eager to see her friends, impatient to be reunited with Jackson. She dumped her things into her new room, finally old enough to be awarded a single room, though thankfully just next door to George. She popped her head into her friends room to say a quick hello, before she rushed out in search of Jackson.
She ran into him just a few minutes later, him also rushing towards her, big grin on his face. He picked her up, seemingly without effort, twirling her around before planting a big kiss on her. She squealed happily, breathing him in. He put her down carefully, cupping her face in his hands and kissing her so deeply she no longer knew who was breathing for who. Pressed against him, their kiss was impatient, eagerly reacquainting them. She stepped back, words flowing out of her, mouth not telling her stories fast enough, and his ears not big enough to take them in. They ran their hands over each other, eyes following, each trying to take in the changes in the other. Once the words had finally run out, she leant her forehead against his, simply taking in his presence.
"You." he whispered, kissing her forehead. "Are." he continued, kissing her nose. "Mine." his mouth finding hers.
"I'm yours," she breathed into his mouth.
They stood there looking at each other, saying nothing, but knowing that nothing meant everything.
The next weeks were torture for her, each day bringing her closer to her inevitable conclusion. Every time he touched her, he left her skin on fire, every time he kissed her, she was left trembling. She was distracted, her nightly runs losing their effect. She found herself pulling away from him after the sweetest kisses, not trusting herself to let them run deeper. He was bemused at her reaction to him, not understanding what she was doing.
"What's wrong, babe?" he asked in frustration, as she had just pulled away from him again.
"You're just a bit too...distracting...at the moment," she apologised, throwing her head back and running her hands through her hair.
"I don't know what that means," he sighed, still clueless to her internal struggle.
"Oh, god," she groaned. "Don't make me say it."
He gave her a blank look, not comprehending.
"I can't trust myself with you," she tried, struggling to find the right words.
"Every time I start kissing you, I'm afraid I won't be able to stop."
She blurted out the final words, blushing furiously, afraid to look him in the eyes.
"April," he whispered, voice hoarse.
"You're killing me right now. You know I would never force you into something you're not ready for, but right now I think you are literally trying to kill me."
He grabbed her arms, brining her closer, forcing her to look at him. The intensity of his eyes, bright globes of blueish-green probing her, undid her. She felt a warm glow burn in the pit of her stomach, spreading down between her thighs, making her bite down on her lip. She knew with utmost certainty that he was not pushing her to cross over that invisible line in her head, but that she was pushing that line far ahead of herself.
That night she was fast asleep, when she was jolted awake by her door opening. She was delirious with sleep, unable to recognise the figure hovering by the entrance immediately.
"Hi," a familiar voice whispered.
"Hi," she responded, still unsure who was in her room.
She had just regained her senses as the figure reached her bed, and she finally realised Jackson had snuck into her room, and was now climbing into bed next to her. Panic gripped her, more scared that he'd get caught than why he was there in the first place.
"Jackson!" she hissed quietly. "There's no lock on the door, what if someone comes in?"
He shushed her, sliding into the narrow single bed.
"It's the middle of the night, everyone is asleep," he assured her.
"Mind moving over so I don't fall out?"
She shifted closer to the wall, giving him more space, initial panic subsiding as she listened to the quiet dorm around her. Her eyes adjusted to the dark, finding his shining eyes in the soft glow of the streetlight outside her window.
"What are you doing here?" she whispered softly.
"I told you," he murmured, face hovering just above hers. "You're killing me."
He kissed her sweetly, his lips soft against hers.
"You know I love you, right?" he whispered so quietly in her ear she wasn't sure she heard him correctly.
He wrapped her up in his arms, stroking her hair, holding her still against his chest for a while. She tilted her head towards him, parting her lips as she kissed him hungrily, her heart beating hard in her chest. She breathlessly pulled him on top of her, needing his hands on her. She sunk her fingers into his back as he grabbed a fistful of hair, letting out a stifled groan into her mouth. He dug into her hip, his hand searing hot on her bare skin, making her hitch her leg around his ass and bring him in even closer. He shifted them slightly to the side so he could run his hand underneath her t-shirt, hand burning her as it travelled up her ribs. She arched her back as he reached her breasts, desire rippling through her as he pinched her nipples. She bit down on her lip, struggling to keep quiet as he kept circling his fingers around her swollen skin.
His breath was hot against her skin as he left her mouth, moving down to let his tongue continue what his fingers had started. She thought she could hear him muttering "so fucking beautiful" between kisses, but she could hear very little apart from the blood thumping in her ears and her own heavy breathing. He found her mouth again, then rested on his elbows above her, holding her gaze as one hand found the elastic of her panties, slowly tracing the top with his fingers. He was asking her permission, which she wordlessly gave. His fingers felt foreign against her flesh, but her body responded to him instinctively, tilting her hips upwards to more of him, thighs tightening around his arm as he slipped his fingers inside her. She lost herself to the heat of it all, the world disappearing underneath her as he finished her, her whole body convulsing underneath his. He whispered her name into her neck as he pulled away from her, making her twitch by placing soft kisses above her collarbone. Before she had a chance to gather her wits he was gone again, slipping out of her room as quietly as he came. She could still taste him on her tongue.