“Welcome to Thorne's Gallery. Can I help you?” I hear her voice and my ears tingle from the sweet sound. I turn from closing the door behind me to see her walking up to greet me as though I'm a client or customer. Our eyes meet and I see her jaw fall as she realizes who I am. She stands still in her tracks and her stunned expression gives me an unsure feeling. I don't know what to make of it. She's either shocked in a good or bad way, I just wish I knew which of the two possibilities so I can act accordingly. “Adrian!” She gasps and runs up to me. I flinch in fear of a slap but her sudden embrace comforts me instead. Our hug lasts long enough for me to know that she's missed me, even if she tries to deny it. Still holding the gift under my arm, I pull back so I can shift it and she steps back.
“What are you doing here?” She's almost breathless from the excitement.
“There's only one reason for me to come here Veronica, to see you after all this time.”
Her long brown hair cascades as I run my fingers through the front strands and across her cheek. Her skin is like satin to the touch and a sensation runs from my fingertips to my racing heart. She blushes with a shy smile and I can see her green eyes light up even brighter than they naturally are. My first instinct is to grab and kiss her, to show her how much I've missed her and want her back in my life . . . but I'm unsure if it's the proper thing to do considering I have no idea what she's been hiding from me. There may be harsh secrets lurking that would give me good reason not to give in so easily to the temptation. I resist the craving of her lips against mine and clear my throat along with my mind.
“Is there a good time we can get away to talk, just you and I?” I ask before I can change my mind and go in for the kiss.
“Uh, yeah sure, how about in fifteen? I'm actually just getting things closed up for the evening if you want to meet outside then and we'll take a ride to my place?”
“Sounds great. I'll see you in fifteen minutes then.” I nod and turn away.
I couldn't stand there another second trying to fight off what I really wanted to do, so I head outside as quickly as possible. I get in the car and leave the door open while I wait for her to come out. The gift I had tucked under my arm the whole time is now sitting in the passenger seat. I think I'll wait to give it to her when we're alone and more comfortable with my surprise visit. I don't want to give her too much to take in at once or anything. As I sit and wait, I drift into a fantasy of how I hope the evening plays out. Without warning, she walks up and breaks me from the naughty scene beginning to play in my head.
“Come in for a minute.” She nods her head toward the gallery. “I just closed up and my assistants are heading out now, but there's something I want to show you before we leave.”
I follow her inside and she leads me to the main hall of the gallery. She stops and turns to the wall and my eyes land on what she points out with her body language. I'm taken by the display that's in front of me, a painting of hers that I've never seen or even known of. A painting of myself in black and white, lying on a bed with a single blood-red rose next to me. My eyes trail down to the bottom corner where I see her signature and the name of the painting, 'Bed of Thornes'.
“This is stunning.” Is all I can manage to say with my jaw open in awe of her work.
“It's the painting that I created to submit to the panel of the institution. This is the piece that got me accepted and the very first painting to be mounted on the walls of this place. I stare at it every single day, thinking of how much this canvas covered in paint strokes changed my life – our lives, and just how much I really miss fucking you.” She says without a sign of hesitation.
Not sure exactly how to respond, I look away from the painting and lead my gaze upon her. I nearly voice my thoughts but am stifled by the fear of coming off as a complete fool. I wish I could get more from her, I wish she missed me as I have her. I've missed the sex without a doubt . . . but there's so much attached to my feelings outside of just that. Knowing she wouldn't understand, I keep my mouth shut and give her a silent grin. The painting is incredible to say the least, but it would've been nice if it reminded her of me in more ways than the one.
“I'm flattered.” I say and leave it at that.
“You don't like it.” Her voice holds a slight quiver of disappointment.
“What? No. I love it.” I say in hopes that she doesn't hear the 'but' in my response.
“But?” Well shit, that worked.
“Veronica, I love the painting.” This time I speak with a solid foundation so there's no lingering question. The last thing I want is to get into depth of the 'but' right now, it's too soon for such a discussion.
She takes a moment, which I assume she's deciding whether or not to believe me, and the awkward silence is finally broken.
“My place it is?” She asks.
We leave the gallery and I follow closely behind her as she drives along the roadways to where she's been staying since she left Dallas. Even in the evening light, the scenery of this place is breathtaking. I hope to be able to see more of it before leaving Paris to go back home after my visit with her. After a long winding road, we pull in to the destination and both get out of the vehicles at the same time.
“Nice ride by the way.” She snickers.
“You can compliment the wonderfully accommodating French guy for his desirable taste in cars.” I kick at the tire to showcase my sarcasm.
“It's a real beauty.” She laughs.
“I knew you'd like it.” I chuckle from her contagious laughter.
“Come in?” She suggestively asks.
“My pleasure.” I proceed to follow as she leads the way.
We step inside and the place doesn't look like a temporary set up at all. It looks more like she's become quite settled, which has me questioning her intentions of a return. The furnishings are that of a home, cozy and detailed as such. Seems to me she's made this her home now. Books are lined in an elegant flow on carved shelving, canvas on a tripod in the corner where plants of all kinds are growing in crafted pots. The fact that I can tell she isn't living out of bags in an empty efficiency apartment lets me know the answer. She didn't plan on coming back to Texas. If she did, she wouldn't have made herself so comfortable here in this house.
“Can I get you something to drink?” She offers.
“I could use something containing alcohol if you have it.” I internally beg for a way to escape my own overwhelming thoughts.
“Will Château Gruaud-Larose work?” She holds up a wine bottle from where she stands behind the marbleized kitchen counter.
“No idea what you just said, but if it's what it appears to be then it'll do just fine.”
She gently pours each of us a glass and hands me mine.
“France is renowned for producing some of the best wines in the world and is home to prestigious wine-making regions. This is one of their finest.” She holds up her glass.
“I'll drink to that.” I raise mine to meet hers with a toast between us.
“What's that?” She points to the burlap wrapped gift that's tied off with twine and peeking out from my bag that I slipped it in to hide it until the right time, much good that did.
“Oh. Nothing.” I dismiss her curiosity and play it off by changing the subject. “So life in Paris has been treating you nicely I see?”
“I have no complaints of the lifestyle . . . if that's what you mean?” She raises an eyebrow and takes a sip from her glass.
“It's pleasant to see you doing so well for yourself here.” I hint my words her way. “Do you miss the gallery back in Dallas?”
“There's nothing that can replace where it all started. That gallery holds a special spot in my heart. No matter how fancy of a new building or home I'm lavished with, I could never let go of my roots.” She picks up the bottle of wine and refills her glass. I may have stricken a spark in her. This is what I want, to bring out the fire and passion before the conversation leads to us.
“Were you planning to return to your roots?” My questions become bold.
“What makes you think I wouldn't?” Her sips from her glass turn into swallows.
“It's not that I assumed you wouldn't, just curious of your plans since you left the way you did.”
There's a pause in the back and forth between us and her body language changes as she pulls back. I can tell bringing up that day bothers her, which surprises me none-the-less considering I didn't know she'd feel badly about such things. I'm unsure of which bad it is; embarrassed, ashamed, frustrated, what? I push the limits since the moment of awkward silence isn't getting us anywhere. I pour myself another glass and down it before taking a deep breath to let it all out.
“You walked away from me like I was nothing to you . . . and have completely thrown me away since you've been gone. You haven't given me one second of your time. I know that you're aware I've been trying to contact you for the last couple of months. What made it so easy for you to say goodbye and never look back? Then I come here only for you to pretend that it didn't even happen that way? I'm confused. I need you to admit right now what the fuck I was to you – what I AM. Can you honestly say that what we had was nothing? Just a fling? Just some game you thought you could play with me? Is that how you really feel? I want the truth, I didn't come here for more of your secrets and lies. I'm not leaving without answers.” My demands turn the mood so intense that I can feel a darkness surround us.
I look in her eyes deep enough to make her believe me. The problem is that I'm not sure even I believe me, but playing it cool just isn't going to do the trick this time. I'm not one of those alpha males that has all things under control, I can't tell someone what to do and expect them to do it, I've never been that way. To think talking to her in this manner will change anything is possibly the worst way to attempt to get her to reveal what she's been hiding. I'm not fooling anyone with the shot at manliness I just took, but I'm done with her bullshit, so 'Mr. Nice Guy' needed to take some time off for the night. Nonchalantly, I lean back like I didn't just lay out a spread of as-real-as-it-gets on the table and I wait for her to blow.
Instead, she breaks.
“I don't know where to begin Adrian. I'm sorry . . . that's a hard thing for me to say . . . I'm not the apologetic type of person. My pride takes over. I want to confess some things that I've been holding back. I need to talk to you without any judgment.” Her hands fidget around the stem of the wine glass.
“I'm listening.” I sit back in the chair and brace myself for the worst.
“I was always curious as a young girl and always looking into things that kids shouldn't even be aware of - sexual things. I've never been abused in any way, it's nothing like that. I was brought up in a loving household, one that most wouldn't imagine would have the issues I have in my own mind. It started early on but continued to grow with me. Apparently it's an illness, according to my new-found psychiatrist, which took me until now to admit that I have a real problem. An addiction of sorts. I never wanted to face it. A few months back, shortly before meeting you, I began realizing how some of the things I had formed habits of over the years weren't normal. Not that we know what normal is. Sex is normal for humans and acceptable to a degree in society. What's not condoned as normal is the addictive nature of it. When a person; can't go without it, never stops thinking about it, feels as though they need it every moment of each day, doesn't want to share their sick fantasies with anyone, tries to not get too close, scared of what others will think, hiding everything, keeping secrets, telling lies . . .
It's beyond just liking, or even loving, sex. This is something that needs attention from a professional, something mentally implanted in someone's mind that they can't control. It's a demon that eats away and makes it almost impossible to function at times. I lied to you, yes. I lied because I was afraid. Afraid of what you would think of me, that you would see me as a monster. Afraid you wouldn't understand. Afraid that you'd hurt me and walk away, afraid of you breaking my heart, afraid of losing you. Some people can't handle this sort of thing, because on the flip-side of it all, they're afraid. Always fearing that the person will be unfaithful, cheating and lying behind their backs, selfishly getting their fix. Those who try to cope with a person of this condition have just a hard of time as the person dealing with the actual illness . . .
It's like someone that has a drug addiction, or gambling, shopping, whatever. It's all the same when it comes down to it. Adrian, I didn't want to put that burden on you. I didn't want to hurt you. I couldn't stand the thought of not only losing you, but you running scared of me and my problems. I don't know if any of this makes sense. It may sound like a load of crap, especially to someone that's never been exposed to such a thing and doesn't know what comes with it. It's hard enough to admit it to myself, let alone to anyone else. I've been taking classes and attending one-on-one sessions to try to bring myself to this point. It's been a long road. I haven't told anyone about this until you. This is my first step, coming clean.”
I stare at her in shock. This isn't what I expected to hear at all. In some ways it's better than I imagined, but in others it's definitely something I can see being difficult to handle.
“What is it that makes you addicted? What type of things is it that you're doing that's considered not normal?” I ask in hopes to get an idea of what she's dealing with.
“Masturbating more than I should. It's healthy and normal to do so, but there's a problem when a person can't even go a couple of hours without it. Randomly sneaking off to get my fix. Watching others perform the act by watching porn, but not just any porn – men jerking off. I'm addicted to constantly subjecting myself to this, it gets me off when I watch them. The intense sight and sound of a cock being stroked until it cums makes me weak. The urge to have sex from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep. Anyone can want sex all the time, but most people without this mental issue aren't going to feel this urge so consistently . . .
I mean, at some point they have breaks from the thoughts or the need, it'd become boring or over-done if their bodies never rested. There has to be a resting point for most normal people, enough time in between to keep their mind and body refreshed and renewed to want it again. Most would grow tired of always wanting it, it'd be too much or exhausting in some form. A person suffering from this addiction though, is the opposite. It's never enough. I could have sex and want to have sex again after each time of having sex just to fulfill the times of having sex and the thoughts of the sex that create wanting more sex. It all turns into one big collision of never enough sex! My body sustains this, it allows the creation of these hormones and the drive of the non-stop arousal. Most of it being mental, the rest being physical . . .
My emotions don't have room to grow, this is why it's hard to love. It's difficult to show emotion when the other factors are always there, taking over. My mind stays in sex-mode. It's a wonder I get anything else done. To be honest, that's why I try to focus on work so much. It's the only thing that I've found that seems to help curb the appetite somewhat, even that doesn't always cut it . . .
You think I'm crazy.” She finishes.
I sit there with a stunned, but blank, face. Not sure what to think or how to react. My initial thoughts were blown away and thinking this was just an excuse or some made up shit to use against me, to make me feel like she's in the right for hurting me the way she has, that I'm the crazy one. But after hearing her out, there's more to it than I ever realized. It's hard to understand why she couldn't confide in me before or why she felt as though she couldn't. I know that it's something she has struggled with, but if she loves me at all, I just wish she had felt comfortable enough before now. I think what I'm most afraid of is how to handle her.
“Will I be enough for you?” I ask, feeling less than sufficient.
“The problem is . . . nothing's enough. You're all I want, but there's nothing that seems to fill the void. Hence why I'm now seeing a therapist and attending classes to get the help I need.”
“So where do we go from here?”
“It's hard to say, I've avoided this situation for so long that I didn't have anything worked out should it arise.”
Without warning, I'm no longer interested in talking. My thoughts turn to wanting to run my fingers along her skin, wanting to taste her lips. I push aside everything that's just been told to me and stand up from my chair to pull her up from hers. She gasps when I bring her in closely and press her body against mine. I brush my lips to hers and feel the electricity that I've missed for too long.
“Show me how much you've missed me.” She begs with a whisper.
I grab her waist and turn her around, pushing her forward to lean over with her hands on the bed. I practically rip off her clothes in the heat of the moment and toss them to the floor. She purrs with arousal and my cock stands at full attention. The anticipation of feeling her on my dick gives me the fear that I won't last long, so I trick my mind and use foreplay to show her that I really mean it. In an instant, the things she taught me come flooding back to my head. I lean down to grab my belt and massage her ass before giving it a lick from the black leather. She lets out a loud cry of pleasure and I trace her body with the tip. I see the goosebumps rise on her skin as the belt's tip glides across it. Reaching forward, I grab her hard nipple with one hand and tug. My other hand drops the belt and leads to her pussy as my stiffened cock rubs against her hip. The warmth of her wet lips surrounds my fingers and I can't resist.
I bend down to taste her and the sweet aroma suffocates my senses. I don't know how long I can hold out once I'm inside of her but I want her to come more than once. I decide to wrap the belt around her spread legs as I sit on the floor between them and use my tongue to redeem her first orgasm. She screams out as her body jolts forward and twitches. I stand up to watch her finish coming with her face down in the mattress and her pussy throbbing. I tap my rock hard flesh against her swollen clit to her know that I'm not done with her yet. Grabbing her hips, I flip her body onto her back and slide her fully up on the bed. Her shaking legs and whimpers give me more of a reason to fill her with what she's been missing.
She grabs the belt from my hand and wraps it around the back of my neck to pull me to her. The head of my cock meets her wet entrance and I kiss her nipples with a nibble before leading up to her glossy, red lips. I push inside her while our lips lock and our tongues dance together. My blood rushes as I feel her pussy tighten around my shaft down to the base. I lean up to lift her legs over my shoulders, the belt still against the back of my neck as she tugs at it with each pump. My hands tightly grab onto her hips while I slam in her as deeply as our bodies allow. My balls slap her bottom with each motion in. Her breasts juggle around while I make sure she feels every inch. My moans match hers and our breath becomes shallow as we near climax. One beat of the heart that's about to burst in my cock causes it to release with an intensity of hot come inside her snapping pussy. Her orgasm meets mine in a punctual manner.
I stay in position long enough to feel the pulsing of each other until my cock begins to go into coma-mode. I slide out of her and collapse next to her on the bed. We lay with our eyes meeting one another and our breathless bodies heaving. After moments of no words spoken and taking in what just happened, she turns to look away from me.
“There's more I need to let you know.” She says as she sits up and wraps the sheets around her torso.
I feel my heart race and jump into my throat, causing a solid ball that's difficult to swallow. I try to prepare myself for what she's about to tell me, but I fear there's nothing in the world that can prepare me for what's to come. She opens her mouth and I tremble with nerves.
“Since I've been here . . . since I've been away from you . . . myself wasn't enough.”
“What the hell does that mean?” I ask.
There's a long pause before she continues and my anxiety gets the best of me.
“What are you talking about, Veronica?! You slept with someone else? Is that it?! Tell me!”
She put her head down and from her reaction, I know the answer. How could I be so stupid? What made me think that she could go this long without it? My stomach begins to turn in knots at the idea. I don't want to think about another man touching her. To know that it's true destroys me and I lose it.
“You couldn't tell me this before we fucked? Who? Was is worth it to you? Do you even give a shit that you're breaking my heart? You've been breaking it for months and now this?! Don't tell me. It was more than one guy, it was multiple . . . am I right? Any of them happen to be Clayton? I saw the two of you meeting up today. I might be a fool for loving you but I'd never do something this stupid. I'd never purposely hurt you.”
She lifts her head with tears streaming down her flushed cheeks. “I wasn't out to hurt you, Adrian, it was never my intention.”
“Your intention?” I chuckle. “I don't think you have any. You’re out for yourself and that's all you'll ever be. You're a cold and heartless bitch. I'll leave you to your fuck-fest with strangers. I'm out of here.” I throw the gift I had for her on the bed.
“Don't go.” She jumps up from the bed, still naked, and stands in front of me to stop me from walking out of the door.
“You know, I don't know why I even bothered coming here in the first place. I should have moved on a long time ago. Don't go? Isn't that all I asked of you before you decided to leave me behind to come over here and sleep with all the French men your little heart desires? Oh wait, you have no heart. My bad, I must have you mixed up with someone else.” I put out my arm and move her to the side. “Enjoy your boy toys and your career. Looks like that's all you have left going for you. Sad.” I shake my head and walk out the door, slamming it behind me.