I ate dinner with Caleb, sitting at the bar, after hours. Turns out he wasn’t a lacrosse player, but captain of the swim team. He did grow up in a rambling house with his parents and siblings, though, somewhere in Maryland. I could have written a novel about it, with all the talking he did, which was fine.
I had nothing to say.
“Free dinner, by the way, once a week,” he said. To my confused expression he replied, “With the job.”
I continued to sit there, suddenly so weary with heartache I felt almost dizzy.
“You all right? Would you like to go home now?”
Ah, hell. Yes, I would, Caleb. I would like to go home. To him. He’s my home. I miss him so much I think I might be losing my grip.
I realized he was waiting for my answer.
I stood up. “Yes. Sorry.”
“Where do you live?”
“I, uh, I haven’t found a place yet. I just arrived in town today. But I’m sure there’s a hotel I can stay in until I find something.”
“You don’t have a place to stay?”
“Not yet. Any hotels you can recommend?”
I realized I was acting strange. Unusual. I made an effort to seem more relaxed. I smiled at him. “Thank you, Caleb. For dinner, and for the job. I’ll see you tomorrow, then? What time do you want me?”
He was staring at me in that layered way again. “Come on. Come with me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean my apartment is right around the corner. And I have a couch.”
I looked at him. I realized he had hazel eyes, almost amber-colored. “No. No, I couldn’t impose on you like that. It’s really not a big deal for me to get a hotel.”
“It’s really not a big deal for you to crash at my place for a night or two. I promise, I don’t bite. It’ll give you a chance to look around for a place of your own. Until you find one, you’re welcome to stay with me.”
My instincts were pretty good at detecting danger and I sensed Caleb was about as unthreatening as a person could be. He was making a genuine offer. “Are you sure?”
“Of course. Come on.”
I followed him down the brightly-lit street and around a corner. He led us up a side flight of stairs to a top floor apartment that overlooked the water. He unlocked the door, opened it and flicked on a light.
It was a cute, one-bedroom studio, neat enough, although it was very definitely a bachelor pad. Not a feminine touch to be found – or that of a housekeeper, I realized. I’d become accustomed to the lifestyles of the rich and famous, as Eva had put it. It felt a little strange to be back in the land of the regular people.
Caleb rummaged around for sheets and towels. He was in the bedroom, then came out and laid a blanket on the couch. “You’re sleeping in my bed tonight. I’ll sleep here.”
“No. I’m not going to kick you out of your own –”
“I insist. My mother’s words: never let a pretty girl sleep on the couch.”
This made me smile, almost, that he was quoting his mother.
“You wouldn’t make me defy my own mother, would you?” he said.
“I guess not.”
“Please. I’ll sleep easier knowing you’re comfortable.”
“It’s so nice of you, Caleb. I feel bad.”
“Don’t. I can sleep anywhere.” He was looking down at me softly and I noticed for the first time how tall he was. Six feet, maybe. He really was the nicest guy. So easy-going. So uncomplicated. And the gold light of a single lamp flattered his all-American face. “The bathroom’s through there. Help yourself.”
“If you need anything, just let me know.” He stepped towards the couch and took off his shirt in one, over-the-head motion, which messed up his hair. His back was smooth and tanned.
“Okay. Goodnight, Caleb.”
I used the bathroom then crawled into Caleb’s double bed. He’d changed the sheets for me. Since I didn’t have anything else to wear, I slept in my t-shirt and panties.
And I drifted into an uneasy sleep.
Alexander. He was touching me. Running his hands up my thighs, easing them apart. I miss you. His palm cupped me, just resting there, his fingers pressing so gently. I love you. Pushing the fabric to the side, skimming the lips of my pussy with the very lightest of touches. So unhurried, so langorously erotic. Sliding his fingers into the wetness as his other hand pushed up my dress to reveal my breasts. I want you. Squeezing so lightly. Twisting. Harder. His mouth tasting. Hungry. His thumb finding the center of sensation, swirling it. I need you. Harder. Deeper. Tugging and dipping, until the pleasure simmered there on the edge of ecstasy.
Oh, god, I’m going to come.
I was coming. I tried to stop myself but I couldn’t. My climax broke in clenching spills. He’s mine, he’s mine. I want him. Oh, oh god, oh god. I love him.
But someone else was there, in the background. A dark presence, pulling his attention away. Hissing in the darkness.
I’m not giving him up. You’ll see. He’s mine.
The touch was removed, leaving me gasping. He stood up and took a step away. To her. There she was, her belly rounded. With his baby. Wait, I pleaded. I grasped for his hand and held it. She was holding his other hand, crying for her child. Pulling him away. Pulling him apart. No. No. Don’t break him.
I let go.
Oh god. I couldn’t do this. Where was he? I needed him. Why?
I opened my eyes. It was very dark. Someone was standing in the open doorway. Was it him?
“Lila? Are you okay?”
I realized my t-shirt had ridden up, exposing my breasts. My panties were wet and twisted. My core still pulsed. I had come. In my sleep.
But it wasn’t Alexander at the doorway. I pulled my t-shirt down and covered myself with the sheet. And I remembered where I was. “Caleb?”
He came in and sat down on the bed. “You were dreaming.”
“I’m all right. Go back to sleep.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
He was quiet for a while. “I’ll stay with you for a few minutes, okay?”
Caleb stretched out next to me on the bed, his big, athletic body causing the mattress to dip slightly. He lay on his side, facing me. His hand played in my hair, in a comforting, feather-light brush. “Do you want me to leave?”
“I don’t know.”
“It was just a dream,” he said.
Just a dream.