Carbon

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Chapter 15

I fixed one of the crooked picture frames in the hallway. Familiar faces and not-so-familiar faces smiled back at me. Mom always wanted the house to look nice for visitors—even for Heath, which was ridiculous. Only if she had known his room probably housed a rotting corpse! She would employ the whole family to just cascade the house in Lysol and bleach. Somebody came out of my room, startling me. I was not expecting anyone walking out of there; I thought I left it empty, and no one stalked behind me I thought. And then I recognized the pixie-like figure.

Devin glided down the hall towards me with a grin on her face, and her hair gently bounced as she slid gracefully to me. I longed to meet her halfway, to touch her, to be near her, to feel her. I needed to be with her, but I was frozen in awe.

I was lost in her beauty, vanity… just her everything. She must have noticed my stare because she abruptly stopped and smiled meekly. Her petite body stood perhaps three feet away, and her blue eyes sparkled in the dim light. Strands of her straight blonde hair slid off her shoulder to her chest as she tucked her chin into her neck shyly. “You don’t like it?”

Her petite breasts fit snuggly into sleek, black, lacy lingerie. Her tawny skin was mottled strategically in sparse clusters of a couple freckles or moles. Her skin glowed like the moon, and her eyes shone like bright diamonds. Her slender torso curved from her waist out to her fit hips. Two dimples rested furtively on her lower back, caught by a minute shadow. A slim finger wrapped a blonde strand of hair, twisting it as she shifted her hips side to side. Her lip rolled under her teeth as she stared intently into my eyes. Her muscular thighs bulged from under her skimpy, lace thong, and she noticed my gaze, twisting her back around for me to see her voluptuous buttocks. As she stood, her muscles could be seen contracting and relaxing with each of her movements, really defining that undefinable ass.

God bless soccer and squats.

Heat rushed to my face and to my groin. This is what I had lusted for and what I wanted, but I knew I couldn’t expect this from her. I was going to respect her because that is what she had come to expect. I wasn’t going to lure her or cat-call or seduce her. Devin designated her body as hers.

Happily surprised, I hoped she was expecting for me to follow through with this.

“I can change if you want…” she whispered timidly.

I finally connected to her gaze and shook my head, “No, no—” I was embarrassed I had been absorbing just her body. Her mind was even more miraculous—the way she analyzed people, her stories she birthed, the sketches of her memories, her crooked commentary, her thought process was just resplendent. No one seemed to understand, and I didn’t initially comprehend the oddity that is Devin. Somehow, she transfixed and ensnared me in an addiction that I still can’t understand.

“Are you sure?”

I snatched her hands from her sides and wrapped my hands around hers. Our eyes locked, and I couldn’t help but just stop. Put a pause to it all. I cracked a smile and shook my head. Overwhelmed with excitement, nervousness, anxiety, happiness, just everything. Here I was with the girl I’ve pined for and loved for what seemed like forever.

“What?” she murmured.

My hands slid up her arms and rested on her fragile neck. I pressed my lips against hers, and my face pulled away so I could just really see her. I chortled, “You’re just too much.”

She smiled.

And then she pressed into me. Her lips folded over mine, and I could feel her heartbeat thud against my chest through my shirt. Her hands fell to my waist. Her warmth soaked into my skin, and I almost felt like I couldn’t breathe. My hands went to her lower back, and I remember she grabbed my right hand and just clenched it to our side tautly—like she was never going to let go.Her weight shifted into me as she rolled onto her tip-toes. I kissed the freckles on her collar, her shoulders, her chest. I felt her shiver as she smiled into my neck.

Her weight rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet, humming into my chest. I nuzzled my face into her thin hair, taking in her smell, her taste, her sound, her soul. I just held her as she swayed and turned us in a circle like some dance. I was the worse dance partner as she led me, but I didn’t care. It was just time for me to revel in her presence.

Devin pulled her face from my chest and stared at me. A small smile stretched on her face as she summed me up confidently. I just smiled at her because I had no better response. Blood rushed to her face and chest, turning away from my gaze like a child ashamed.

I turned her face back to me, and I kissed her like she should have been kissed every day of her life. I felt her smile against my mouth, and then she kissed me back, mixing her DNA with mine. My heart pounded as the sweet taste continued to fulfill my aching need for Devin. Her muscles tensed under my hands as she shifted further into my chest. My hand shifted under her jawline and cradled her against me.

She pulled our hands behind her and left mine resting on her cheek. Her hands then hooked around my neck. My fingertips kneaded into her bottom, coming across tiny knots in the muscle and the bumpy path of ligaments and tendons. She tore away from my affection, traveling up my neck. Her lips brushed against my ear.

I inhaled, and her teeth pressed into my earlobe lightly.

And I lost it.

I slammed her into the wall; the framed photographs of my childhood shook above us. Air escaped her lungs from the impact, and I gave her mine. My hand knotted into her hair, pressing my body against hers to just get more of her; my heart ached ravenously for her. Her hands slipped under my shirt; her cold fingertips pressed into my abs. I separated from her quickly and ripped my stupid shirt off, throwing it blindly on the floor. My arms encompassed her waist and pulled her into me, reconnecting. Her nails dug into my flesh as she slid down the wall, bringing me down with her.

My knees sunk into the floor, and I braced myself with my hands as her sides. Her hands slid down my chest as I leaned in closer to where we were against the wall. Her blonde hair splayed out neatly onto the cream carpet, and my fingers fell into the strands, caressing the velvet gold. Her back arched as she kissed me, leaving the rest of her body flat on the floor.

I ripped myself away and fiddled with my belt and my pants, trying to hastily get out of them.

Devin sat up and grabbed my hands. I turned to her, kind of hurt she was stopping me and also extremely worried. I didn’t want a cold shower. A smile carved into her face, she innocently chirped, “Why don’t we take this into the bedroom? I mean, I want to do this, but I need a comfier place, you know?”

I laughed and heaved a relieved sigh. I hopped onto my feet and pulled her off the ground, trying not to let her lose her balance. She stumbled for a minute before I grabbed her forearms. Her head rocked back and she laughed.

“You okay?”

Devin continued her fit and kind of pushed me off of her. “Yeah, I just got up too fast!”

Funny, I also had the same feeling.

She lightly paraded around me, eyeing me furtively as she brushed past me. She took two steps forward and then stopped for a moment like she forgot something. I can’t lie; I enjoyed this view and could have for years. Her hand combed all of her hair away from her back over her shoulder in a wide twist, cinching it together with both hands. She longingly glanced over her shoulder and asked, “Can you unhook my bra?”

A stupid smile ripped through my face as I cockily sauntered over to Devin, standing as close as I could without her noticing my leg against her ass. My fingers traced her vertebra and fell into the back of her bra. I unhooked the bra with a quick snap, feeling a little self-conscious I couldn’t be more suave about it like the actors in the movies. If I was suave, she would have taken it on the floor.

Her small tattoo was barely noticeable—small enough to hide with a bra and light enough to be hidden in the dark. Free. I desired to know the reason behind it, but she always gave me a new story when I asked.

She slid the straps down her arms and let the bra drop to the floor. She stepped over it and walked determinedly to my bedroom door at the end of the hall. Her eyes didn’t even check to see if I was coming with her; she knew. I shuffled around the bra and sauntered as coolly as I could while I tried to remember if I had any condoms and how I should do this…

The muscles in her back slithered under her skin seductively as her hips swayed with her gait. The tensing of her calves and butt emphasized the gloriousness of what soccer does to the body.

How did I get myself into this?

My foot went across the threshold of the room, eyes still focused downward, and then I noticed my carpet wasn’t cream—it was blue. Out of the corner of my eye, Devin’s calves flexed as she crawled into the bed, folding her legs underneath her as she nestled into the bed. The lavender sheets under the minimalist comforter wrapped around her body. She never turned to me to even reassure I was behind her. My eyes caught the posters of charcoal works framed in hearty, unfinished wood. Some of the wood still had scars and knots from its former life. The room lacked a television—replaced with a floor-to-ceiling bookcase where one would expect a television in a teenager’s room. To my left sat a pile of books needing to be read, but that person was preoccupied with another book currently. Straight ahead of me was a backpack full of soccer cleats, pumps, and socks. Heath’s mom still hadn’t cleaned up his room since his funeral.

“Taking my sloppy seconds, Ned?”

I turned back to the bed, and a tall, muscular man sat up beside Devin, his bare chest gleaming in the dull light. Her hand was placed delicately against his abs, and a sense of envy boiled in my gut. Devin glanced over her shoulder, questioning how I would react to her beau in bed with her. He shook his head, distorting his messy hair into its natural bombastic explosion, and his emerald eyes glared at me from under the mop. “How’s that Google contract going?”

My hand shot to my left eye. Shit, I didn’t have my contacts in. I immediately reached for my bed stand, but I forgot I wasn’t in my room anymore. I was flustered by the idea that even he was ridiculing my obscure eyes and the stupid defect I came upon.

Heath chuckled and buried his face into his hands.

I tucked my chin in, and my fists clenched. My best friend mocking me in front of this girl I had strong feelings for crushed me. I felt my face contort into a fierce grimace as I tried to hide my anger from Devin.

And then she kissed him. She twisted away from me and perched on her knees, reaching for him. Her hands rested on his neck, and his glare didn’t turn away from me. Her elegant lips fell onto his gently. I imagined her breasts pressed against him, and her heart tuning to his rhythm. I could tell Heath was smiling. His tongue unfolded into her mouth, and his hands snatched her ass cheeks severely. A squeal escaped Devin.

Heath separated himself from Devin’s lips, pushing her to his neck. He sneered cockily, placing his hand on the crown of her head, petting her like a dog. “You didn’t know she likes it rough, right?”

A bubbling rage swelled under my skin.

“Don’t give me that look, Ned. You were going to do the exact same thing. Fucking her when I’m dead? That’s low for you, Ned. I thought I could trust you with my things.”

Sweat formed on my chest as I fought back the urge to beat the snot out of him.

Heath wrapped his arm around Devin’s lower back, keeping her up from sinking after holding an awkward position for so long on an unstable base. His emerald eyes pierced me in the chest from behind Devin’s shoulder. He pulled them to her, her back facing me as she kissed him like she did with me.

Jealousy cascaded over me like a torrent from a spigot. I heaved deep breaths as if that would somehow make me feel any amount better.

Heath noticed my jealousy and genuinely looked at me sympathetically. His hands twisted her hips to give me the view I was so excited to see earlier, and she ignored him, distracted by the fact she had to pleasure him. He called over her shoulder, “She likes it from the back, too, if you want to join.”

I clenched my jaw down so hard I thought I broke a tooth. My arms shook with all of these overwhelming emotions of jealousy, envy, anger, and… I guess heartbreak. My muscles ached as I disobeyed the urge to relax my muscles.

Heath shrugged and slid Devin’s thong off slowly, glaring intently at me, daring me to intrude. Noticing my reluctance, Heath threw the panties at my feet, expecting perhaps more of a reaction. “C’mon, Ned… do something.”

I didn’t move.

And then Heath shoved Devin on her back, causing her to fold meekly under him, and she let out a scream abruptly, startled by his sudden movements. He faced me again and nodded for me to come over to the party. “Ned, she wants you to join.” He turned her hips so her butt faced me once again; he was hoping to tempt me and persuade me over. Frankly, he was doing a spectacular job between Devin’s vanity and her preservation. “Come on, you wanted her just a second ago. A little different when someone else’s dick is in her?”

And then I sat up. Sweat crowned my shoulders as my heart beat against my ribs like it was encaged. I thought I was going to vomit as I tried to control my breathing. I glanced down and noticed the blue sheets and the navy quilt. I snapped to my side to see my bed stand with a faux voodoo doll Lexi made for me at Vacation Bible School—I don’t know, she calls it a “voodoo doll”— beside my normal alarm clock, claiming it to be 3:21 am. I fell back into my pillow and sighed, thanking God it was a dream.

“Ned?”

I sat up again and saw Lexi standing there with one of her stuffed animals wrapped in her arms like a mugger’s booty. I rubbed my eyes and asked, “What’s up, Lex?”

“You were kicking the wall, so I wanted to make sure you’re okay.”

“I’m perfect,” I moaned. I rolled away from her and shoved my pillow on top of my head as though I was protecting myself from a nuclear war. “Go back to bed.”

“Mrs. Summers always says to wash your face after a nightmare to wipe off the boogies from the Boogey Man.”

My brow furrowed as I computed what my sister just said, as I couldn’t decide if this was another dream or I lost my marbles. Or both. I yanked my pillow off my head, and I looked back at her in confusion. “What?”

“That’s where eye boogies come from.”

“Alright, good night.”

“I’ll wash my face, too!”

I groaned as I got up and went to the bathroom she and I shared where she sat on the toilet seat while I splashed cold water on my face. Her small feet rocked back and forth a little as I kept trying to rub the image out of Heath and Devin. I didn’t mind at all when they were together, but now I can’t stand to even remember those times.

I could not understand why they were together—being totally different but also very turbulent at times.

“What was your dream about?”

I dried my face with a hand towel and turned to my little sister. I shook my head and scoffed, “Nothing.” Frustration kept taunting me as I tried to just forget everything. I rubbed some dried drool off my cheek vigorously.

“I had a dream that I was at school, and I got in trouble for saying the right answer, but it wasn’t the right answer, and Mrs. Summers was upset I didn’t know the answer.”

I leaned on the marble edge of the sink, “What was the question?” My elbow slid through a few droplets of water I carelessly dripped, but I maintained balance as I shoved my hip into the cabinets below the sink.

“Two plus two.”

I furrowed my brow quizzically and crossed my arms, hoping my sister could distract me. “And do you know this marvelous answer, Miss Alexandria?”

She pulled Moon, her stuffed cow, into her chest and blurted, “Four, duh, but everybody said it was five—including Mrs. Summers!”

“Well, you’re right, and they’re wrong.”

“No, I’m wrong because everyone else said so!”

“Everyone thought Einstein was nuts and wrong, but isn’t he laughing at us right now?” I assured, turning back to the mirror and reevaluating a zit begging to be popped.

“So I’m a genius? Mom said don’t pop zits.”

“Yep, and Mom doesn’t need to know. Can I ask you something since you are a genius?”

“Yep.”

“Do you think it is okay to date your best friend’s ex?”

Lexi hummed a song from an animated movie that I probably slept through entirely after she begged me to watch it with her, and she advised, “As long as your friend doesn’t mind.”

I sighed. God, I wish I could ask Heath. I turned back to the mirror and felt the inflammation around the zit radiate further into my face.

“Mom said…”

“Mom said for you to go to bed and stay in bed, but who is up with me?”

She crossed her arms and remained silent the rest of the night.


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