As Catherine kissed her cheek goodbye, April was relieved to be going back to Hartwell, ready for her days to hold more distractions from Jackson. The last few days had been agonising, her body wound up like a spring. It was as if she could physically feel it inside her, trembling against its own confining pressure, threatening to uncoil at any moment. She mentally cursed herself for letting her conscience triumph over her carnal instincts a few days back. Stupid, stupid conscience. She hadn't anticipated their all-to-brief moment of pure lust would actually make things worse, it was already so bad that it had been inconceivable that it could feel worse, but it did. The burn of knowing she had wasted a chance to find release clouded her mind, bruises forming under her skin where she had given herself imaginary kicks for being so fucking proper.
As soon as the car accelerated away from Jackson's family home, all previous inclinations to be proper escaped her. The privacy screen barely separating them from the driver felt like reinforced concrete compared to the figurative fences of guilt, shame and duty their parents had erected for them back in Boston. They tore into each other, each inhaling the other's breath, blurring the lines between them. In her consuming kisses she was apologising to him, and him to her. Her lips was welcoming him home, her tongue reestablishing their connection, her teeth confirming that she was his, all of her. And yet, as much as she had needed to connect with him physically, she knew each kiss was hurting both of them, well aware that this would not be enough. They were destroying each other little by little, but unable to stop it from happening, continuing to test their limits, flying too close to the sun. Each time he brushed against her breast she winced, each time his tounge probed her she flinched, every throb between her legs making her cower. Finally, they broke apart, shaking, her mouth dry, her lips swollen, her chin sore from his slight stubble. Pain mixed with relief washed over his face, and it was simultaneously the most beautiful and heart-breaking thing she had ever seen, knowing that his feelings perfectly matched hers.
She had anticipated that Hartwell would be abuzz with gossip and scandal upon their return, but thankfully most people seemed disinterested, a few frat boy jokes and some not very subtle high fiving directed at Jackson aside. Hannah and George seemed to find her humiliation amusing, her stories of Jackson's mother's bluntness fanning the flame as opposed to the intended commiserating. Hannah cackled loudly, wiping tears from her eyes as April recounted the incident from the morning she had fallen asleep on Jackson's bed.
"So, still no make-up sex?" Hannah giggled breathlessly, wicked glint in her eyes.
"No," she groaned in frustration, slumping against the wall of George's room.
"I can't get suspended again. I'm just going to have to keep busy, you know. Like, maybe I should join the hockey team, or learn to play an instrument or take up Italian or...something! Or maybe I can watch a bunch of horror films or teen pregnancy shows or really really sad news before I go see him? Or maybe I can just avoid him, maybe just never speak to him again, that's doable, right?"
She rolled her eyes at her friends who were both laughing at her, no sympathy at all, leaning her head back against the cool wall.
"Oh my god, what is wrong with me?" she sighed, closing her eyes. "I'm so weak."
"Come on, April," George laughed, placing her hands on april's shoulders, barely maintaining a serious expression.
"You were really unlucky you got caught. I mean, what are the chances that Jackson was in your room the one time a year they have a fire drill?"
"Dr Holden was pretty serious about the whole 'don't have sex' thing," she pouted, briefly recalling the headmaster's stern reprimand.
"They have to say that," George continued, managing to contain her hilarity with some effort.
"No parent in their right mind would send their kid to boarding school if they didn't have rules against sex, and of course they had to make an example of you, but those rules are mostly for show."
George paused for effect, arranging her face in a mock serious expression.
"They know they are fighting a losing battle, against the most unstoppable biological force of all - horny teenagers."
George delivered her final statement with such over exaggerated drama that April was forced to laugh, despite herself.
"What does the even mean though?" she finally managed, still at odds between her conscience and her immorality. "That everyone is doing it, but just not getting caught?"
George and Hannah exchanged glances, nodding seriously in unison.
"But it's like Fight Club, you know?" George said, stony faced, kneeling on the floor in front of her.
"And what is the first rule of Fight Club?" Hannah joined in, mimicking George's expression.
"You do not talk about Fight Club."
"And what's the second rule of Fight Club?" George continued, faux intensity in her eyes.
"Ok, ok, I get the point!" April hissed, waving them off.
"You do not talk about a Fight Club!" George and Hannah shouted in unison, cracking each other up.
"I'm surrounded by morons," she huffed, shaking her head at her friends' inability to appreciate her dilemma. She waited a few minutes for them to simmer down before she attempted to speak again.
"So do you guys do it here?"
It was too soon, they were having none of it.
"Did you forget the rules already?"
George narrowed her eyes at April, then smiled coyly and nodded once, letting her know that she too was an unstoppable force. April moved her eyes to Hannah, who shrugged, smiled her most innocent smile and batted her lashes.
"But he's such an asshole!"
She regretted her words as soon as they left her mouth, wishing, as she did on a daily basis, that her lips would engage her brain before they let words out. She clasped a hand over the offending mouth, eyes wide as she waited for Hannah's reaction.
"I know," Hannah laughed. "I tell him every day, I think that's why he likes me."
"But seriously, April," George lectured, earnest look on her face. "Talking about it is what will get you caught. That and fire alarms."
She made a valiant effort to distract herself from her raging hormones, filling her days with school, friends and her runs, leaving her hands idle for as little devil's work as possible. The college admissions process was well underway, offering her a respite, a focus point she could handle.
Her and Jackson were assigned the same college advisor, Mr Canlas, one of the younger, more relaxed teachers on campus. During their first group session Jackson had surprised her, saying that he was hoping to get an athletic scholarship to play basketball at a division 1 school, mentioning names like Baylor, Austin, Indianapolis, all miles from any of the schools she was considering. She pushed it to the back of her mind, instead entusiastically telling Mr Canlas about her top choices, all west-coast, all Ivy League, all impossibly hard to get into. Mr Canlas seemed to share her enthusiasm, smiling widely, offering little encouragements, suggesting they meet regularly to work on her applications.
As she left the session, Jackson trailing behind her, silence fell between them, suddenly realising their relationship had an expiration date. She eyed him carefully, searching his face for clues as to what was going on behind those piercing blue-green eyes, now blinking furiously. She could practically hear his brain working, struggling to find words to cover the range of conflicting emotions the frown on his face betrayed. In the end he found none, instead wrapping his arm around her, pulling her into his chest as they walked through campus in silence.
She knew he'd come to her room that night, she was already wide awake, expecting him, as he slipped through her door without making a sound. He said nothing as he climbed into bed next to her, just pulled her towards him, clutching her tightly. She pressed her face into his chest, tears welling up in her eyes as she grabbed at his sweatshirt, the rustling of her sheets and his steady breath the only sounds filling her ears. They were connected, each of their bodies yearning for the others presence, and nothing could ever feel more right than this.
Now that they were finally alone there was no rush anymore, she was savouring the moment, having missed the intimacy of moments like this with him. Her lips searched for his, gently tracing the soft curve of his mouth with the tip of her tounge. As the kiss deepened, there was a quiet need, not an urgency or a ravenous hunger, but an insistence followed by a certainty that gratification would find them. He moved over her, mouth never leaving hers, his big hands wound into hers, bringing them over her head, pushing them into the mattress. He broke away briefly, lips still touching hers, mouthing 'I love you' into her swollen skin.
"I love you too," the words slipping out of her mouth barely audible.
As his lips met hers again, her head tingled with an icy chill, reverberating down her spine. He pulled her t-shirt over her head, running his hot hands over her cool skin, leaving trails of goosebumps where he had touched her. He took of his clothes while she slid out of her panties, wanting to be rid of the final physical barriers between them, craving contact.
Bright moonlight filtered through her window, lighting them up, his dark skin against her pale skin. She didn't need to see him to know what he looked like in this moment, every rippling muscle beneath taut skin, every crevice, every soft curve long since etched in her memory. They melted together, her opening herself to him as he filled her, letting him consume her, own her.
His mouth held on to hers as he fell into her, his fingers twisting into hers, and though he felt familiar to her in every sense, they felt different together. The insistence between them, the connection pulling them together left her breathless, her stomach in free-fall, weightless inside her as if she was on a roller coaster. He brought her closer to the edge, pausing only to open his eyes and fixing his dark eyes in hers as he pushed her over, and as she fell she finally saw herself as he saw her. She looked into his eyes and could see that he knew her, that he knew what she felt, what she thought, what she craved. She yearned only for him and he only for her, and knowing this absolute truth had her mind flying.