Four Years Ago
“You’re an idiot!” John jerks me further up his back to get a bit more comfortable and I grip a little tighter with my thighs to prevent me slipping back down before he repeats. “You’re an idiot for working with a busted ankle tonight.”
“Says the idiot carrying me half a mile home at one in the morning.” I kiss the soft hairs on the back of his neck and smile against his warm skin. He smells of fresh cut wood and mint from a recent shower.
“It’s bad enough you have to work on a school night but you needed to rest, it looks like a freaking balloon now.” He lifts my leg, but the dim street lamp fails to highlight his argument as my ankle is covered by my jeans and hidden in the shadow of the dark night. He’s not really mad, he’s never really mad and he sighs as I rest my chin on his shoulder and my arms. hug him just a little tighter.
“I need to work and it looks worse than it is.” He grumbles under his breath and continues to walk me home -- well, carry me home. He meets me each night I work late at the local pub. It’s a small village pub and I do a little cooking in the evening, serve food and help behind the bar. It’s not strictly legal but I’m not likely to tell; I need the extra money and the late nights pay better. It’s the only thing John and I ever argue about, I won’t take his money and he thinks Kit, my sister, should contribute more. He gets no argument from me there, but he works just as hard. His money is going toward a place of his own because his Dad has given him notice to quit like some troublesome tenant. He needs every penny and at least I still have a home. He shifts again and I can feel the tension in his shoulders, this is the second time he has carried me today. The first was when the injury happened, when I decided to throw myself off the eight foot stone wall.
For the last seven years when my mum was happy enough to let me wander a little further afield, John and I would do just that. Miles and miles of footpaths and bridleways, fields, riverbanks, and woodlands we explored together and I only ever had the vaguest sense of where we were. I was always in a state of constant surprise that we had managed to find our way home. John would tell me I shouldn’t really leave the house without a ball of string tied to my front door, but I didn’t need the string. I had John, who always knew where we were and where we were going. He had given me a leg up so I could grab the top of the wall and using his shoulders I just manage to pitch myself up and sit on the top. He told me to wait, not to jump, and that he still loved me even though I had hopped off and twisted my ankle so bad he had to carry me home. After nearly three miles across the fields he also told me I was a dumb-ass.
For the second time in less than twenty-four hours, John carefully lowers me to my feet by the back door. The house is quiet but my mum has left the kitchen light on, which filters a warm glow across his soft dark features. He is frowning and I know it has nothing to do with how much his back is probably hurting. “I hate that you have to work, Boo. I hate it might affect your studies.” He is holding my gaze, his eyes serious and pained.
“I know, but it won’t, I won’t let it. I know how important-” I don’t finish because he huffs in frustration. I reach my hand to his cheek, his smooth skin hidden beneath his evening stubble. I try to ease his tension and get a smile from his lips by covering them with my own. I am bolder with him now and the tender touch is quickly consumed with pent up passion that is slowly destroying me and driving me insane. I turned sixteen at the end of the summer, it’s nearly Christmas and he is almost seventeen. I kind of thought he would be just as eager as me to experience each other in a way we had promised. I had the briefest meltdown when I thought that at best he had the patience of a saint or at worst he just didn’t think of me that way. I was very wrong on both counts and he assured me he thought of me like that every second of every day, but he wanted to wait. He wanted to make sure I was ready and not just because I had reached a legal age and I know he knew I was, but he also wanted it to be perfect. He had saved his wages over the months and had bought the raw materials to fashion a unique promise ring. A smooth band of silver looped in a heart, which was beautifully distorted to look like the symbol for infinity, and had two shiny blue stones set where the metal crossed. He gave this to me on my birthday, his promise to me, and I was so ready to give myself to him as my promise to him. This weekend he was moving into his own place and had a special day planned. With no expense spared he promised, but said we would play the rest by ear, adding that he’d had enough self-restraint to last him a life time.
He groans against my lips and I can feel his smile against my mouth as he pushes my shoulder back trying to break away, but I stretch my neck to try and keep the sweet contact a little longer. I let out a heavy sigh and mourn the loss of warmth when he finally succeeds with the separation.
“I’ll meet you after college tomorrow, now go get some sleep so you can study hard.” He kisses me once more, but with tight lips. It’s a definitive dismissal and I pout, but he laughs and shakes his head at his own personal struggle to leave.
“I can’t wait for the weekend,” I whisper and grin when I hear him draw in a sharp breath.
He flashes his bright white smile, “Why? What’s happening…Ow!” He grips his ribs as I retrieve my finger from jabbing it in his side.
“You’re an idiot!” I try to hold my narrowed eyed scowl but end up laughing with him. He steps back to me his body all hard heat and muscle. He cups my face, his mint fresh breath kisses my skin when he whispers back, “Me too,” and with one last kiss he starts to walk backwards down the path.
“I saved for this because although I know it’s just for one day, I want it to be special. I want to treat you like a princess.” His eyes are darker now because his face is in the shadow of moonlight, but I can feel his fire.
“It better not be just for one day.” I choose to misinterpret his meaning and am rewarded with a deep laugh as he chooses to misinterpret me.
“Well, in that case I’m gonna need a second and third job, princess.” He quips.
“Dumb-ass” I call after him. It’s not about the money, he treats me like a princess every day, but I’ll wait for him because as crazy as I might think it is, it’s important to him. It was the worst choice.