#25 Did he just get hard?
The next week goes by without anything exciting happening. Khiêm and I fall back into our regular rhythm and I think I’m doing a pretty good job at pretending I’m not thinking about him every single night as I get familiar with the five vibrators he bought me. I found some other good scenes from his audio novels, skipping the rest of the story completely to get straight to the hot sex. The air pulsate vibrator is my favorite by far, although the waterproof rabbit is a close second. The other three don’t do it for me, so I stuff those away in my nightstand, covering them with an old shirt and putting my two favorite toys op top with the bottle of lube. I’ve not needed the lube yet, and since I don’t have a sex life right now aside from self-love, I don’t think I will need it anytime soon.
Khiêm has already been on two dates with Gail, once after midnight to go to a club, and once for a coffee date in the afternoon. Both dates only lasted for a few hours, and he didn’t take her home with him, but he did seem in a pretty good mood afterwards.
One day, he’s going to take a girl home – Gail or someone else. And if I’m still living here, I will be forced to see him snuggle with her on the couch, kiss her, maybe even hear the sounds of them having sex through the walls of our bedrooms. The thought alone makes me want to puke.
There is only one thing to be done. I need to stop fantasizing about him, but since that doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon, I go for the next best thing. I focus on figuring out what I want to do career-wise. We started this whole living arrangement because I lost my job and needed a change of pace. It’s been over a month now, and I still don’t have a new job, or any idea of what I’d like to do.
That afternoon, I sit down behind my laptop with a cup of coffee, doing something that feels a little silly. I fill out personality and career tests. You know, the ones you take in high school so your career counselor can tell you what you should be. Or in my case, to tell you that based on your answer, you’re not good at anything and have no areas that spike your interest.
Yeah, 16-year-old Nia cried herself to sleep that night, let me tell you that. Even back then, I had no faith in myself, no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, and the only thing to make me feel better about myself was… sex.
I can’t go back to being that girl, so I close my eyes and take a deep breath, trying to convince myself to open the email with the results. After ten minutes, I give up. I can’t. What if I’m once again reminded that I can’t do anything, that I’m a useless girl without ambitions?
With a grunt, I get up and walk over to Khiêm’s studio. The light above the door is off, so I walk right in. The moment he looks up from his screen, his expression turns from serious and concentrated into something softer.
“Hey,” he murmurs, getting up and moving to me, rubbing my arms. “What’s wrong?”
“I feel like such a failure today,” I manage to get out, fighting my tears. Maybe I shouldn’t come in here to have him fix me, but right now, I just want some comfort, and he’s so good at making me feel better.
“I told you that I can give you all the validation you’ll ever need,” he says with a small smile. “You are a strong, smart, competent woman and you don’t need some stupid asshole to make you feel good about yourself.”
His words make me feel a little better, but I’m still upset. “Doesn’t feel like it today.” I tell him about the tests, and he perks up, putting an arm around my shoulders as he leads me back into the living room.
“No matter what it says, it’s amazing that you filled those out when your high school experience obviously put a huge dent in your self-confidence,” he says, pushing me back into my chair. “If the tests tell you something you don’t like, we’ll just delete the email and I will tell you all the things the email should, okay? I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of what you’re good at and what your interests are. I can totally serve as a career and personality test, sunshine.” His fingers dig into my shoulders, kneading them softly.
I lean back against him, enjoying his touch. I haven’t allowed myself to get close to him the past week, not even laying down on the couch so he can stroke my hair. He’s been keeping his distance as well, and to feel his hands on me now reminds me of all the reasons I need to keep things strictly friendly between us, even though my feelings are anything but. If he keeps massaging me, I’m going to get aroused, and I’m going to end up kissing him, fucking up the only good thing I’ve got in my life right now. I can’t lose him. I can’t.
“Okay,” I breathe, shrugging him off. “Let’s open this stupid email.”
He sits down next to me, reading the results with me. According to the tests I took, I’m creative, energetic, good at coming up with easy solutions to complex problems, nurturing, and a strange mix of spontaneous and an overthinker.
“Sounds like you in a nutshell,” Khiêm says, grinning. “It should also say funny, wicked smart and sweet, though. Okay, now for the career test…” He klicks on the link, and we both laugh when the website tells me I should be a web designer or pursue a career in fashion. “Well, duh,” he says, rolling his eyes. “Okay, at least this test is legit. I could have told you all of this, though. So… now what?”
That’s a very good question.
“Now I guess I look for courses and jobs to help me figure out what I could do and be,” I say, a little surprised at how quickly my mood changed into happy and excited. “I wanted to do something in fashion after high school, but it’s so hard to make a career out of designing clothes, and Mom was dead-set on making sure I would get a proper job to earn me money and keep a roof over my head when I’m older, so I figured…”
“Fuck fear,” Khiêm says, squeezing my arm. “Do you think it was easy for me to become a streamer slash audio novel narrator slash vlogger slash whatever the fuck else I do all day? My parents and sisters think it’s a ridiculous career. Maybe it is, but who cares? I’m happy, and I’ve got a roof over my head, and some savings as well. Don’t worry about money right now. I’ve got you, Nia. We made a deal, remember? You go after what you want, and you’re not allowed to get a job that doesn’t make you happy. I want you to be buzzing with eager anticipation every single day you wake up.”
Little does he know that I already wake up like that each morning, but the anticipation is more about him than anything else. Even his hand on my arm right now makes me feel hot and bothered. I shrug him off like I did before, needing some distance to gather my thoughts.
“Maybe… maybe I could get an internship or something,” I speak my thoughts out loud. “To pad my resumé. I really don’t want to go to college. Maybe that’s stupid, but I’ve never liked going to school, and I’ve been making my own clothes since I was 13 and realized that my tits might never come in the way they did for other girls, and that shirts would always be too big on me on top.”
Khiêm’s eyes travel to my chest, and a strange look passes over his face. “I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with your breasts. You just have a slender, petite body. Big double Ds would look weird on you. You might topple over.”
I laugh at that image. “True, but an A cup would have been nice.”
“What’s this then?” he asks, motioning at my breasts, still staring at me.
“AA,” I reply, growing hot under his gaze. I’m not wearing a bra – I almost never do when I’m just hanging around the house – and my nipples are starting to grow hard, poking through my shirt. “Smallest size there is. Tiny little titties over here.”
“Again, I think there is absolutely nothing wrong with them,” he grunts, his gaze snapping back up to my face as he clears his throat. He shifts uncomfortably in his chair. “So… an internship?”
Am I imagining things, or is he adjusting his junk as he waits for me to answer? I glance down involuntarily, and I don’t think I’m imagining things, because there sure as fuck is something hard pressing against the straining zipper of his jeans, making his pants look tight instead of baggy.
Is he… hard… from looking at my breasts?
My tiny little AA cups suddenly feel like the most beautiful breasts in the whole damn words, and a small smile curls up my lips. Without deciding to do so, my hand is already on his knee, slowly sliding up his leg.
With a sharp inhale, Khiêm jumps up, turning his back on me. “Erm… more coffee?”
What just happened? Did I misinterpret his reaction to me?
Judging by the way he’s shifting his weight from one foot to the other, his hand shifting his junk again, I don’t think I’m misinterpreting things at all. He’s hard, and he’s… I don’t know, embarrassed, maybe? Appalled, even? It’s clear that while I wanted to explore this, he doesn’t. He got away from me so fast that I’m left reeling.
“What kind of internship do you want?” he asks, his back still to me as he pours coffee into our mugs.
“Erm… I don’t know,” I breathe, completely out of it. Should I address what just happened? He’s obviously not going to. But what if this was just an involuntary reaction to being so close to a girl while we talked about breasts? There is no knowing if this is actually about me, as a person, or just about Khiêm going through a dry spell, like Marcus suggested. He’s dating Gail now, and him getting hard doesn’t mean anything… does it? It’s not like guys can control that sort of thing.
“I should get back to work,” he says, avoiding my gaze as he puts my mug on the table. “If you need any more, erm, advice or validation or something, you know where to find me.”
“Yeah,” I breathe, staring after him as he leaves to room. For the first time since we met, I realize he has a nice ass. It round and tight, filling out his jeans quite nicely.
Part of me feels like I should follow him and demand to know what he’s thinking, but I don’t. I don’t want to lose our friendship, and I don’t think I could deal with him telling me that he doesn’t want me. The way he talks about me, makes me feel beautiful, strong and worthy… I need that in my life. At least until I can do that for myself. I’m getting there, slowly but surely, but for now, I need his sweet smile, affirming words and cheeky jokes more than I need to know what the hell is going on between us.
I can deal with the awkwardness that seems to rear its head every few days, as long as it keeps dying down. I can deal with picturing him naked when I get myself off at night, without ever getting close to the real thing. I can even deal with him dating Gail if I really have to. What I can’t deal with is the idea that opening up to him about how I feel might scare him off and make him put even more distance between us than he already is. He’s rapidly become my best friend, the one person I truly feel safe and cherished with. I can’t fuck this up.
I force myself to google internships the rest of the day, even managing to set up three interviews for later this week. I will hardly get paid and they’re entry-level sort of things that only require a high-school diploma, but that’s fine with me. I don’t mind starting at the bottom. I’m excited about doing something with my skills aside from making clothes for myself.
It’s Khiêm’s turn to cook, but he seems completely out of it today, burning all of our food so badly we can’t possibly eat it, so I end up making grilled cheese sandwiches for us instead. We eat them on the couch while watching Friends, and we slowly relax, getting back to our regular banter.
When he goes to his studio to stream, I send a group text to Aimee, Ayaan and Holly, asking them to meet up at a cocktail bar. I need some girl talk and I need it now.