This story, which I tell in three parts, took place in a span of about 10 years. As I began to feel compelled to share it a couple of years back, I did it anonymously because it was very difficult for me to share something so intimate with the world. But broken hearts come with lust just as easily and as often as they come with love, and most of us can relate to both experiences. This story is a little of both, and it made the most sense to start at the end. I hope you enjoy!
Standing there waiting for the elevator she felt a wave of familiarity. It was exactly one year since since she had boarded a plane for destinations unknown, and one year and 19 days since she had exited that elevator for the last time, heading towards a future of possibilities.
The ride felt somewhat familiar and a few seconds later, and one floor down, the doors opened. As she stepped out she thought of him just a few feet away. She pushed the thought out of her mind. “I’m not here to see him.”
She looked down as she walked and saw her heavy but stylish winter boots, “he’ll make a joke about the military. I know it.” She took inventory of herself. “I look cute, I’ve lost weight. My ass looks great in these jeans. Damn it, someone already mistook me for a student, that had to count for something.”
She walked into the office suite and knew he was there right away. She could feel him; the same way that for 10 long years she could always feel his presence. She stared straight ahead gleefully greeting old friends. His office was just to the left, two more steps and if he was sitting at his desk, he’d see her. She smiled, took a deep breath and took the steps.
She didn’t dare turn but forced herself to do it. He was looking up at her, “Hi,” she said, unable to look him directly in the eyes. Again, she forced herself and saw his surprise and uncertainty. They looked at each other for what seemed minutes.
She heard someone speak, the spell broken. From the corner of her eye she saw him get up from his chair. He approached the door way, she moved towards it. They hugged, awkwardly. In Latino fashion, he kissed her on the cheek. It didn’t occur to her to do the same. This hug, this type of greeting, it wasn’t their way.
She hadn’t felt this small standing near him since, well, since the last time they had sex— sex being the only time she was around him without a pair of at least 2” heels.
She remembered, they had been at his house. It had been her first time there and in any part of his life outside of work. They usually only saw each other at work or at her place, so that night, being at his house, that night was special and it would be burned into her memory forever.
It was three years earlier. A hot summer night and no air conditioning at her apartment made for no sleep. They had been talking about the heat earlier at work. He had offered— partly in jest, she was sure— his house as a refuge from the heat: “You can sleep on my couch.” She had looked at him with a look that said ‘yeah, right.’ They could barely be in an office alone together without losing control. In his home? For the night? That was just asking for trouble.
It had been a while since they’d been together. They were just barely speaking again after getting past the aftermath of one of their many wars; this one worse than usual as it involved another woman, which according to the gossips, he was ‘gaga’ over. A rumor that had never been spread about their relationship or whatever it was they had had.
This latest war had left her broken heart as a casualty.
When she text him that night asking if the offer was still open, he replied something to the effect that yes, it was open but that she was entering the lion’s den (or was it the wolf’s lair) at her own risk. She had laughed; it wasn’t him she was afraid of, it was her fragile heart. The one with an inability to resist him.
She hesitated for a minute but knew it was futile. She gathered what she would need and headed to his house; ready to play their game of let’s pretend we’re not going to have sex.
The butterflies in her stomach were dancing. It was always this way with him. Whether it was his name on her caller i.d., a text message, or person to person, he had the power to send her brain reeling: logic be damned.
She arrived at his house, he showed her in and the game of pretend began as expected. He gave her a tour of his apartment and then they sat to watch TV. After a few minutes of television and small talk he suggested that she might be more comfortable changing into her pajamas. “You might be right,” she said as she stood to go change.
She returned a few minutes changed to short shorts and a tank top, and was met approving eyes. The outfit was just enough without being too much. Lingerie would have been too obvious and would be straying from the unwritten rules of their game of pretend. He had put a blanket and pillow on the sofa for her while she was changing, so she settled herself there while he sat on the floor.
They continued to watch TV and talk until the appropriate amount of time had passed and he could make a show of going to sleep in his bed.
“Good night,” he said.
“Good night,” she replied.
Minutes later he yelled from his bed, “There’s plenty of room here if you’re not comfortable on the sofa.”
“I’m good, thanks,” she replied.
“That sofa isn’t the best, you have a bad back, so if you want I’ll leave room for you.”
I can be strong, we can be just friends. She thought to herself.
Minutes later, as if her body had a mind of its own, she walked towards his room shaking her head at her own weakness.
“No funny business,” she insisted.
“No problem,” he replied.
She took the side of the bed next to the wall; leaving a few inches between them. Her mind a haze of thoughts as she willed him to touch her while simultaneously thinking, this will not end well.
Minutes passed and he inched towards her. The chemistry between them that always made the air around them so thick she couldn’t breathe, was at its strongest. He reached for her, began to caress her.
He’s obsessed with my ass, he will always be obsessed with my ass. She didn’t resist but she didn’t move to give him better access. He moved closer, moved her legs, touched her there just right, as he knew how to do and she was gone.
Tonight it had been different, tonight they reached a new level of intimacy.
She laid there sleepily as he cleaned her gently with a towel. She waited until he returned to bed, ready to sleep in the comfort of his arms, the next natural steps in their new intimacy. He had allowed her into his life; surely he would want to hold her.
She felt him climb into bed in the darkness. She turned to look at him as her eyes adjusted to the dark and found herself staring at his feet.
In another time this would be funny, it wasn’t then.
The comforting arms weren’t offered. He must have sensed her silent confusion, “This is more comfortable, besides I won’t snore in your ears,” he said. She knew him, knew his excuses; recognized them in his voice. Her heart stopped, fell, and shattered into a million pieces as she finally admitted to herself that he would never want her for more than her body.
Sleep wouldn’t come as her mind replayed their history like a broken record with a melody of silent tears.