#20 How intense is too intense?
A minute later, a knock sounds at the door and I groan. “Go away, Thomas!” I yell at the door. “You just fucked up a perfectly nice morning!”
“Thomas didn’t,” James’ voice says through the door. “I did. Can I come in?”
Oh. He didn’t leave. I rush to open the door and he steps in, hugging me closely and burying his face in my hair.
“I’m so sorry,” he says, sounding distraught.
I want to tell him it’s okay, but it’s not. I’m a little upset with him right now, but he still feels good against me, and I do like him.
“It’s way too soon for me to act like a complete and utter dick,” he mumbles, squeezing me rightly. “I should at least wait until the fifth date to freak you out with my insane jealousy, right?”
“It wasn’t that bad,” I try to reassure him, although I’m a little concerned now. If this is how he acts this early on, and about Thomas of all people, but is he going to react when he meets Aston? Because Aston will always be around, even though he’s my ex. He’s one of Shaughna’s best mates, so even if I didn’t want to continue being his friend – which I do – I’m going to keep running into him. If James and I become serious, he will be face to face with Aston soon enough, and I just know Aston is going to say something about the fact that we used to fuck, because that’s just Aston. He will probably try to bond with James by making a comment about my boobs or something. Yeah, that’s not going to go over well with James.
“Don’t write me off yet,” James tells me almost pleadingly. “I really need to get going, I can’t be late for work, but maybe I can come over after my shift so we can talk? I know it’s a little soon for the big talk about our exes, but I think I should explain why I get like this sometimes. It’s got absolutely nothing to do with you and everything with my last girlfriend.”
“Sure,” I say, curious what she did to hurt him. “How about I meet you at your place this time? I’m curious to see where you live anyway.” And I want to have the option of leaving if things go south, but I’m not going to say that out loud.
“Yeah, sure,” James says. “I’ll text you my address. I’ll be home around six thirty. What do you want to eat?”
“You don’t have to cook for me every single time,” I tell him, smiling in spite of everything. “How about we just order in? I could go for some pizza.”
“Pizza,” he repeats. “Yeah. Sure. We can do that.” He touches my face in a tender caress. “Can I kiss you goodbye?”
Instead of replying, I tilt my head up and put my hand in the crook of his neck, pulling him down to me. The kiss is soft and tender, and it reminds me of why I like James. I’m not sure what to make of this morning, but I’m glad he wants to talk to me later today. I’ve had so many guys who were utterly incapable of talking about their emotions – yes, Leonard, I’m talking about you – that it’s refreshing to find someone who doesn’t scare away from baring his soul to me, even if it’s a bit soon for intense talks like the one we’re sure to be having tonight.
“Enjoy your day off,” James tells me, looking a little more relaxed after our kiss. “Don’t let my stupidity ruin your mood.”
“It’s not that big of a deal, James,” I assure him, not wanting him to feel bad all day. “We’ll see each other tonight. Now go, or you’ll be late.”
“Right.” He squeezes my shoulder and then he’s off, running down the stairs in a rush.
Instead of closing the door, I step out into the hallway and knock on Thomas’ door. He opens up right away, apparently standing in his hallway the whole time.
“You heard all of that, didn’t you?” I ask, seeing his amused expression.
“Yeah, well, you guys were talking with the front door open and I was totally trying to eavesdrop,” Thomas says with a shrug. “That dude is intense as fuck, isn’t he?”
“Yeah,” I agree. “I like him though. He wanted me to tell you that he’s sorry for reacting the way he did.”
Thomas shrugs. “It’s fine. I get it. I’d be scared too if I was up against myself to fight for your affection.” He smirks. “I’m hot as fuck.”
“You’re so cocky.” I roll my eyes. “Trust me, James is a god underneath that uniform.”
“Sure, he’s got muscles, but does he have tats and piercings?” Thomas asks, knowing fully well what I’m into.
“A lady doesn’t ogle and tells,” I say, trying to sound mysterious.
Thomas’ eyes widen. “Really? He’s got tats? You don’t say. He looks so proper. What kind of piercing does he have? I didn’t see any. Nipple?”
“Not saying,” I insist. I don’t think James would appreciate me talking to Thomas about this.
“Oh fuck, did he pierce his dick?” Thomas asks, laughing. “Fucking hell, no wonder you like the guy. I guess I’ll have to visit my piercer if I want a shot with you, huh?”
I shove him playfully, trying to diffuse the situation. “Don’t you have to leave for your big presentation?”
“Yeah, I do,” he agrees, grabbing his briefcase. “Dylan will kill me if I’m late. Thanks for picking out my tie. Bring James over next time he’s here, okay? We’ll have a beer and I’ll show him I’m just a big old douche with a big mouth and not a threat at all.” He winks at me. “Unless you want me to rile him up, of course. If you’re sick of him, I can always hint at us sleeping together last week.”
“Don’t you dare,” I warn him, the thought alone making me feel sick. “Please don’t.”
“I’m just kidding, babe.” He leans in to give me a peck on the cheek. “You know me, I’m not that guy. I’m still glad we fucked though, since it’s obvious the two of you are already getting serious. Guess our window closed again, huh?”
I shrug, not needing to answer that. He knows that I always try to focus on no more than one guy at a time. Now that I’m dating James, Thomas and I are back to friends. No more benefits. Thomas knows that. I never have to explain to him what I want or need.
“I’ll just wait until this James guy is out of the picture,” Thomas says with a grin. “They never last longer than a few months. You really know how to pick them, Fran. I can’t wait to find out what’s wrong with this one. From what I just overheard I’d say it’s going to be jealousy. You’re not into that.”
“Shut up.” He’s right, which is exactly why I’m getting agitated. I’m still hoping it will be different with James, but my track record makes it clear that I’m not in the habit of finding nice guys. They’re either horribly wrong for me, or they get themselves someone else to fall in love with instead.
“Got to go, see you later, babe.” Thomas grabs my ass through my thin robe before stepping out into the hallway. “Just had to cop one more feel before going back to being a good boy and letting James have you.”
I laugh, shaking my head at Thomas. He’s such a douche, which is exactly why I like having him around, I guess. I shut his door behind him and walk back into my own apartment while he waits for the elevator. Lazy fucker. At least James took the stairs. A smile creeps onto my face thinking about James. No matter what happened this morning, I still feel a little giddy because of the great date we had and the amazing sex after.
I’ve got a few hours before I’m meeting up with Shaughna, so I go back to bed. I don’t manage to fall back asleep, so I call Joshua to apologize for yesterday. He picks up right away even though it’s still early. I’m glad he doesn’t sound like I woke him up.
“Are you okay?” he asks in a kind, gentle tone. “I was worried about you.”
“I’m fine. Just had a moment. Sorry for spazzing out on you.”
“No problem. You met my ex Jasmine, right? I’m used to much worse than a few tears after playing guitar, trust me.” He doesn’t sound hung up on her at all, making jokes about her. Good for him. Shaughna told me how Jasmin used to make Joshua feel like he wasn’t good in bed, always making snide remarks, while all that time she was fucking other people behind his back. Some girls are such bitches. I wonder if he’s still into Shaughna, though. From what she told me, he wanted to date her for real, but she shut him down and stuck with Dshawn, who is for sure the love of her life.
“Do you need your blow-dryer back?” he asks when I don’t say anything. “I can’t really drive over to you with my leg and all, but I’m sure I can have Yord drop it off for you.”
“I’ve got some free time, so I’ll just head over to your place right now,” I say, already getting out of bed. “How about I take you shopping for one of your own?” I offer, happy to have something to do this morning that’s not obsessing over James or cleaning my apartment. “You said you want to get out of the house, right?”
“Sounds great.” He chuckles. “Maybe this time we can get through an hour together without me breaking any bones or you bawling your eyes out, huh?”
“Right,” I agree, grinning as well. He’s so easy to talk to. “See you in a few, Josh.”
“Oh wow,” Shaughna says when I’m done telling her all about my week. “Bloody hell, Fran, we really need to catch up more often. And I need to meet this James guy. He sounds both perfect and horribly wrong for you, all at the same time.”
“Not horribly wrong,” I disagree, sipping my tea. “He’s sweet. I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for his behavior. Besides, I kind of get it. You went through this with Dshawn, right?” I remember her telling me about her boyfriend’s insecurities about Shaughna’s wild past.
“Yeah,” she agreed, nodding. “We had horrible fights in the beginning, mostly because he kept running into guys I slept with who made stupid remarks to him about my tits or something. We got through that, though. And he didn’t freak out on after only three dates. We were already practically living together by then.”
She makes it sound like that’s better than my tiff with James, but I don’t think it is. At least James and I can dive into it early on. This way I can find out if he’s right for me before we’re in too deep, right? I’ve already wasted so much time on guys like Leonard, Mustafa and Aston. I need to know sooner rather than later if James and I are compatible.
“Maybe don’t tell him you slept with over a hundred guys, though,” Shaughna jokes, winking at me. “Dshawn had a lot of trouble getting past that, no matter how hard he pretended it didn’t matter.”
“I didn’t sleep with that many guys.” Doesn’t she know that already? Does she think I sleep with every guy I kiss in a club? Oh God, does everyone think that about me?
“Right, okay, eighty then.” She laughs. “Your number must be close to mine, right?”
“Erm…. No. I’ve slept with 24, including James.”
Her eyes widen and she almost chokes on her drink. “Holy shit, I thought you slept with way more than that! Why does Aston keep saying you’re in the slut league with us if you’ve only been with 24 guys?”
“Because he thinks I’m a slut,” I bite out, annoyed now. “I didn’t realize you thought of me like that too. I’m not exactly hard to get, but I don’t sleep around either.”
“But… you had a threesome, right?” Shaughna asks, a little confused.
“Yeah, twice, with Thomas,” I confirm. “Just because I’m adventurous doesn’t mean I sleep with every guy I meet. I’m not some floozy.”
“Are you calling me a floozy?” Shaughna asks, getting angry as well. “Real nice, Fran.”
We stare at each other for a while, and then we both burst out laughing. This whole fight is ridiculous.
“Sorry,” she says, wiping away tears of laughter. “You’re right, I’m a total slut, and I own that. I thought you were like me. I didn’t mean to offend you. I’m sorry I didn’t know. I just assumed… sorry. I guess I just always thought that when I left the club with someone new while you were kissing someone in the corner, you ended up in someone’s bed just like me.”
“I usually just go home and masturbate,” I confess, laughing at her surprise at finding out I’m not as sexually active as she thought. “And after Aston, I didn’t sleep with anyone until last week.”
“And now that you’re back in the game, you decided to give Thomas and another go and then ride James’ huge pierced dick,” Shaughna jokes, grinning. “I totally understand. Good for you. If you want to throw another one in the mix, I seriously think you should consider Joshua. You guys are already hitting it off as friends from what you just told me, and he’s really good in bed. He’s not massive or anything, but he’s really attentive and he just makes you melt.”
“I’m good with James for now.” She’s so eager to push me into Josh’s arms, but I just don’t feel it with him. I do like hanging out with him though, and we made plans to meet up in a few days, but I can’t imagine kissing him, let alone sleeping with him. Besides, I really want to focus on James right now to give that a chance.
“If tonight goes well and James doesn’t turn out to be a possessive creep, we should have dinner soon,” Shaughna says, getting excited at the prospect of meeting my new guy. “You, me, James and Dshawn. I think we should hold off on introducing him to Aston and Annabel. From what you told me about his run-in with Thomas, I don’t think Aston and James will get along very well.”
“Yeah,” I agree immediately. “Let’s not open that can of worms yet. Besides, I may be okay with Aston dating Annabel, but I’m not really eager to spend time watching the guy I’m still getting over stare into his girlfriend’s eyes all night. At least until I’m completely okay and further into this thing with James.”
“Dshawn and I can meet him though, right?” she insists, her blue eyes alight with curiosity. “Next week?”
“We’ll see,” I tease. “Depends on how well you can behave yourself.”
“I’ll tell Dshawn to be good.”
“It’s not him I’m worried about, you skank.”
She throws a pillow at my head, almost making me spill my tea. “You’re one to talk, you slut!”