Alex comes back into the room with a mug on one hand and a glass of water on the other. She places the glass on her bedside table and hands me the ceramic filled with dark liquid before sitting down on the edge of the bed.
“Thanks.” One whiff of it tells me that this is the same one they use in Books and Brews. I take a sip of the coffee and let out a satisfied groan, silently thanking Kaldi for discovering the beverage. Alex meets my eyes through the rim of the cup, an indiscernible expression etched across her face. “What?” I ask.
Alex doesn’t say a word. Instead, she takes the cup from me and places it beside the glass of water. My mouth is in the middle of protesting when she shuts me up with her own. She edges closer to me, probing me with her lips, deepening the kiss.
Oh. This is so much better than coffee.
I reach up to cup her face. She rests a hand over my stomach and suddenly I wished I wasn’t wearing a wool sweater that prevents me from feeling her warmth. As if reading my thoughts, Alex slips her hand inside.
I gasp at the pleasant sensation of her hand on my bare skin. She makes a trail from my stomach upwards until her thumb rubs gently over my ribs and her fingers caress my side, sending tingles that tug at my stomach.
Alex licks and bites my lower lip with a throaty groan. A second later and her tongue starts exploring the inside of my mouth. My hand moves from her cheek to the back of her head while the other tugs on her top, both with the intent of pulling her closer to me. She’s barely doing anything much to be considered sexual, yet my body feels as hot as the coffee I just drank.
Alex pulls back just long enough to let us both catch a breath. She takes this moment to pull me down so I was lying with my back flat on the bed. The mattress shifts as she props a knee on it and the other lands between my thighs. Her other hand is propped beside my head, supporting her upper body’s weight.
She dips her head and kisses the side of my throat. She inhales deeply. “You smell so good.” Her voice comes out low and husky. The hand inside my sweater snakes its way to my back. I arc my back knowing what Alex was trying to achieve and she wastes no time unclasping my bra with one flick.
Her fingers lazily trace a trail from my back to the curve of my left breast. With a flick of her thumb over one nipple, my body jerks, and I make a sound between a moan and a gasp.
“Fuck.” Alex seems to lose control for a moment. She thrusts her leg upwards, hitting the right spot between my thighs that causes me to grab onto the back of her shoulders in reflex. A full-on, unrestricted moan escapes my lips to which Alex replies, “Fuck, love.” There was an edge to her voice—something akin to desperation.
Our lips touch again, and this time all the pretenses of being gentle were thrown out the window. Alex kisses me hard. No, scratch that. She’s not kissing me. She’s claiming me. It’s a new side of Alex I’m seeing. Alex, who always seems so calm, so easygoing, so in control. I take a fistful of her hair in one hand looking for something to grab on to.
An erect nipple finds itself in the mercy of Alex’s thumb and index finger. She twists it lightly and a wave of pleasure washes over me. I can feel the throbbing of my groin getting harder and harder. “Oh my God Alex.” I’m more than aware of the wetness between my thighs. And she has barely touched me.
Her lips leave my mouth and find my throat where she nips hard. Her teeth scrape my skin, but instead of pain, another surge of pleasure is what rocks me. A soft, wet, lick covers the part she just nipped. I find myself gripping her hair tighter.
This time, Alex moans. Encouraged by the reaction, I tug her upwards and plant wet kisses along her throat. Another moan escapes her lips when I start to make laps with my tongue on the base of her throat. “Baby..”
Alex pulls away in a flash. The next thing I know, my sweater is pulled up and she’s sucking on my nipple. It was so sudden and unexpected that I think my moan just echoed through her whole house. She also seems to think the same because she covers my mouth with her hand.
My body jerks in response and I can’t help but bite on her fingers. Instead of complaining, Alex slides her index finger inside my mouth. I gladly suck on it, reciprocating what she’s doing to my breast.
Alex’s head snaps up. She just looks at me for a second, mouth agape, until it closes to bite on her lip. She slips in another finger. I suck on her fingers, now with my tongue lapping around them, without breaking eye contact. I see the lust burning in Alex’s eyes. So raw. So passionate. So intense.
She retrieves her fingers from my mouth. Then she sucks on them.
Oh my God.
Alex looks at me while sucking her fingers, her eyes burning with naked desire that makes my stomach churn in the most pleasant way. This setup is so arousing, so erotic, that I almost want to beg her to touch me—fuck me.
“God, Alex.” I push her fingers away and let my mouth take their place. Our tongues battled for dominance, and once again, my hands find themselves tangled through her brown locks.
Alex starts grinding on me, the pressure between my thighs rocking my whole body with welcome gratification. Her hand inches downward towards where I want them. Just as she reaches my pants’ button, a doorbell echoes in their house.
Alex almost jumped. She verbalizes her irritation with a string of Tagalog swear words I didn’t bother translating.
“A visitor?” I ask between ragged breaths.
She shakes her head. “No, that’s mom calling us for errands. We have about one minute before either her or Sophia comes barging in here.” She looks at me, her face the picture of frustration.
I imagine I’m mirroring her expression. A part of me just wants to say fuck it and just lock the door. Then the logical part of my brain, the one not consumed by pleasure and the promise of a mind-blowing orgasm, reminds me that my girlfriend’s parents are somewhere inside this house and someone can come barging in this room any minute. Well, fuck.
I take Alex’s face between my hands and lift it slowly. One look at those sea-green eyes almost made me do exactly what I thought of doing. Almost. “There’s no need to rush, love. It’s okay.” I rub her cheeks gently with my thumbs.
Alex closes her eyes and takes a very deep breath. When she flips them open again, her eyes have calmed down, but there’s still an unmistakable hint of lust in them. A sigh of resignation escapes her lips before she lets her whole body fall on top of me, her full weight pressing on me.
Both her hands are safely tucked away from my body and are resting on the mattress of her bed. “Ugh. Sorry. I didn’t mean to lose control.” She mumbles as she nuzzles my throat.
“Don’t be,” I assure her while making soothing motions on her back. I like it.
“Am I heavy?”
Alex somehow makes herself heavier, getting an Oomph from me. She laughs, rolls over to the side, and props an elbow up to support her head. The change in her moods is astonishing. With a genial smile present on her face, it’s hard to imagine she was about to strip me off one minute ago.
True to her words, her door burst open less than a minute after and a younger girl who looks like Isa comes in. “Pops said he needs a hand with the car.” When she realizes her sister isn’t alone, her eyes widen and she backs away. “Sorry,” she mumbles so quietly I almost didn’t catch it, then shuts the door.
“Ugh.” She buries her head under one of the pillows. “Of all the times to be asking for me.”
I throw my legs over the side of her bed. “You have a doorbell inside the house to call for you?” How strange.
“It’s an all-purpose doorbell. If it rings, one of us has to go down and find out what mom wants. It’s mostly Soph, though. She’s the errand girl.” She jumps out of the bed. “Let’s go down. You can play with James while I step on the pedals while Pops works under the car.”
When I stand up, I feel the awkward sensation of my unfastened bra hanging loose inside my sweater. “One sec.” I reach behind my back to fasten it, but Alex moves behind me instead.
“Let me.” She says, not waiting for my reply and reaches for the straps under my top. Another batch of tingles run through when her fingers make contact with my skin. Thankfully, Alex is just as fast in fastening them as unfastening them. She lets her fingers graze through my back, to my sides, then to my stomach.
Her tall frame envelopes me in a hug. “All done.” She whispers close to my ear and drops a kiss on the small skin exposed by my neck. “Let’s go meet your future in-laws.”
James is the first one who spots me. Small, sweet James who drops everything he was holding to run towards me and tackles me with the most force an 8-year-old can muster. “Julia!” He wraps his arms around my hips. “You’re here!” He’s practically jumping with joy.
I crouch down to his eye level. “Yes, I am.”
“I don’t think my brother ever greeted me with that much enthusiasm before.” Alex chuckles.
James drags me to the living room where a puzzle is left half-finished. The girl from before is sitting on the floor, crouched over the coffee table with a sketch pad and a pencil drawing of a boy. When she sees me peering, she rushes to cover the drawing, her face turning a shade of crimson.
“It’s a good drawing.” I smile at her.
“Thanks,” she murmurs.
Alex lightly places a hand on my back. “That’s my sister, Sophia. Soph, Julia.” She gestures between the two of us.
Sophia gives me a shy smile and a barely audible, “Hi,” before going back to her sketching.
“Can you stay here for a bit? I won’t be long. Or at least, I don’t think so.” Alex frowns.
“It’s okay, take your time.”
With a squeeze of my hand, Alex disappears to what I assume is the direction of their garage.
I spend the next thirty minutes helping James complete his puzzle during which time Isa entered with a bunch of snacks to munch on. I also took that time to take in their living room. A few family pictures hang in the walls and atop the cabinets. At the one-hour mark, Isa starts showing me photo albums.
From a butt naked Alex, to an Alex reciting a poem in kindergarten, to getting an academic award in middle school, to getting the world championship. I chuckle when I see a picture of her with braces. Almost half of the album shows Alex playing chess. “She really does love playing.”
After a beat, Isa replies, “She does. She learned how to play the game even before she was able to read. Since then, she’s stuck to a board at every chance she gets. Her whole world revolved around it.”
Alex takes this moment to come back, along with a tall man hovering behind her. One look at him tells me who Alex takes after. From the light brown hair, to the sea-green eyes behind his half-rimmed glasses, to the way his smile seems to precede a mischievous deed. “Oh, didn’t know you had a visitor.” The t-shirt he’s wearing is riddled with grease that stretched up along his arms.
“Pops, this is Julia. Julia, this is my dad, Anthony.”
I stand up from the couch. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Alvarrez.” I start to hold out my hand, but he interrupts me.
“Oh, no need for that. My hands are dirty. And call me Tony.” He says, his voice low and deep.
At a young age, I’ve mastered the art of projecting confidence in front of men and women who are older than me. I’ve shaken the hands of some of the most influential entrepreneurs and held my ground against them. But right now, in front of my girlfriend’s dad, I find my hands shaking in nervousness.
Thankfully, Isa speaks up. “I was just showing Julia your baby pictures,” she tells Alex.
Her daughter palms her face. Unlike her father, not a speck of dirt is on her. “Of course you did. Is that like a mandatory thing? I should also go and show your baby pictures to your guests.”
Isa waves her comment away. “Julia, dear, you should stay for dinner. I’ll tell you about the time Alex ran away from home because—”
“Ma!” Alex scowls at her mom, trying to hide the embarrassment showing in her cheeks.
“As much as I would love to hear about that, I really have to go,” I say with added remorse. “My dad’s expecting me for dinner.”
“No worries. Remind me next time you’re here, and I’ll tell you all about it.”
“I’ll go get my things upstairs,” Alex says before rushing up to her bedroom, taking the stairs two at a time. Not twenty seconds pass and she’s back with drawstring shorts I have no doubt she just threw on over her boxers and a hoodie. Alex places an arm on the small of my back. “Let’s go.”
I say my thanks and goodbyes and by the next minute, Alex is driving me home. By the next hour, she’s coming to a stop in front of my house. Alex gets out of the car and opens the door for me.
“Thank you,” I say and give her a big hug. The smell of her freshly washed hoodie mixed with her perfume was too hard to resist; I hold on for another minute. “Can I borrow this just for the weekend?” I ask, tugging at the fabric.
Still with her arms around my waist, Alex raises an eyebrow and pretends to think about it. “Only if you bring me packed lunch on Monday.”
I grin. “Deal.”
Alex starts to take off her hoodie, much like the time she did before I left for Japan. I was too focused on her that I didn’t hear the front door open. Just as she hands me the hoodie, my dad pulls the gate open.
“Julia.” He says softly, then turns his attention to Alex. Alex, who’s in a tank top, shorts, and slippers, in front of my dad who’s still in his corporate attire save for his suit jacket. I want to punch myself in the face. “And who might this be?” My father evaluates Alex and doesn't bother hiding the disapproval in his voice.
“Dad, this is Alex Alvarrez.” I look at my girlfriend, her face still wearing that easy smile. If she’s nervous, she didn’t show any sign of it. Before introducing my dad, I pray to whoever’s listening to Please don’t make Alex laugh out loud. “Alex, this is my dad, Christian Gray.”
Before my mom passed away, it had been some sort of entertainment for us. My dad complained all the time about people misspelling his name since the release of the book. Whenever dad’s name is said out loud, we single out the people who chuckled. Then afterward, dad will intimidate them for a bit. But now, anyone who so much as twitches at this, the deal is off.
At least Alex didn’t laugh—not out loud. But I did not miss the way her nostrils flare, or the way she clamps her jaw shut, or the way her voice almost cracks, trying to hold back laughter when she says, “Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Gray.”
It was my turn to rein in my laughter. As if using Mr. Gray wasn’t enough, she just had to add pleasure in the same sentence. We are so going to get a kick out of this later.
He firmly shakes her hand. “Ah. You’re that girl.” The words roll out from his tongue in the tone he often used with those whom he thinks is inferior to him—coated with condescension.
“We’ll talk about this later.” He says in a voice that usually meant I’m in trouble. He turns his back to Alex in a gesture of dismissal and makes his way back inside the house. “Julia, come. Janelle is waiting inside.” Before I could say anything, he was gone.
Alex lets out a breath when my father was gone. She leans on the side of her car, her hands buried in her pockets. “That sucked.”
“I’m so sorry.” I hang my head in shame of how my father acted in front of her. “Do you want your hoodie back?”
She chuckles, frees one hand and ruffles my hair. “Go inside. They’re waiting for you.”
“I’m not mad,” she says softly. “And I understand it’s just a dinner with your childhood friend.”
I raise my head and meet her eyes. “I’m really sorry.”
Alex pushes off from her car and glances in the entryway before kissing the top of my head. “Good night, Julia.” She stalks to the other side, giving me a half-smile before going in. Then she was gone.