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Apples and Oranges

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There had never really been anyone but Jake.

Oh, Abby had thought about it sometimes, of course – she might have been happily married but she wasn’t a saint, and she had indulged in the occasional guilty fantasy. She had fooled around a bit with a few people when she was young too, before things with Jake got serious.

But he was the only person she had ever slept with.

And Abby enjoyed sex. Or at least, she had enjoyed sex with her husband, which had been the only kind available to her and the only kind she had ever wanted. Jake had always been a generous and passionate lover, and she had never felt as though there were anything missing from that side of their marriage. But nor had she felt like it was ever a particularly important part of their marriage – Abby had loved Jake for his quick, creative mind, his open heart, his easygoing sense of humour and his endless patience. She had loved the way he got along with just about everyone, and the way he could fix just about anything, from a water filtration system to his daughter’s hurt feelings when she argued with her friends. She had loved his warm smile and his gentle eyes, and the way she felt small and sheltered and safe when he held her in his arms.

She loved his body too. He was a very attractive man – tall and muscular and broad-shouldered, with that teasing smile and those clever hands – and he made no secret about how much he adored her and desired her. The two of them had enjoyed what Abby had always considered to be an active and fulfilling sex life. Certainly her own experience of sex had always been positive; Jake had always made sure she was taken care of before he finished himself, and she had never felt unsatisfied afterwards.

With Marcus things are...different...

“Oh yeah,” she moans, almost incoherent with stunned pleasure. “Oh...that’s so that, just like that...”

Her arms are wound tightly around him, hands clutching at the flexing muscles of his back, trying to anchor herself against the swelling, rising waves of pleasure. Marcus is inside her, around her, over her, his hips moving against her in a delicious, rolling rhythm, his beard brushing against her with little prickles of sensation as he kisses every inch of her skin he can reach.

“Oh, my God... ”

It’s so good Abby can hardly stand it. She’s close to the edge, desperately trying to hold back, unwilling to let this moment end. She has already come once tonight, writhing and whimpering with Marcus Kane’s head between her thighs, crying out her release as his tongue teased her pulsing, sensitive clit, his fingers buried deep inside her.

She still isn’t used to the idea that reaching orgasm doesn’t have to mean the end of sex; that it can be nothing more than an intensely pleasurable punctuation mark – or several – in an ongoing story written by their bodies that can go on for hours.

Abby’s experience of orgasms had always been of a steady build-up followed by a sudden spasm of pleasure, a brief moment of bliss that dissolved into sleepy, contented languor. She had never imagined anything like the bone shaking, mind melting explosions of ecstasy she feels with Marcus, the way her whole body will pulse and shudder with rapture for what feels like a sweet, white-hot infinity, the way he can bring her to the edge and over it again and again and again...

Abby hadn’t known sex could be like this. She hadn’t known anything could be like this.

She slides one of her hands up to tangle in his hair; when he thrusts into her again her whole body jerks and she tugs sharply at the thick, soft curls. Marcus growls against her skin, tearing his mouth away from her body to capture her lips in a hard kiss.

“Mmm, I like it when you do that,” he says, his voice low and rough against her lips, and so she keeps her hand tightly twined through his hair as the rhythm of their bodies changes, as he hitches one of her legs firmly around his hips and starts to drive harder, faster into her, hitting the place deep inside that makes her gasp and squirm and rock her hips desperately up to urge him on.

The truth is, Abby had thought about what it might be like with him, even long before she and Marcus got to this point. Callie had slept with him a few times in the now-distant past on the Ark; the kind of casual ‘it’s just about sex’ relationship that Abby had never been able to understand the appeal of. Especially since it was back it the period of their lives when he was never anything but ‘Kane’ to her, and the word was usually spoken with a sharp distaste at that. And yes, Callie had said that Marcus was good in bed, but Abby had always good could it ever be, when you didn’t even really like the man? But she had kept that particular opinion to herself and when they had the occasionally giggly drunk conversation she had always told her friend that Jake was good as well, because he was, and they had probably both figured they were talking about the same thing.

They hadn’t been. Like comparing apples and oranges – a phrase Abby’s mother used to use, though no-one on the Ark had ever tasted either.

Marcus Kane is not good in bed. He is incredible in bed.

He knows exactly how to touch her, where to kiss her...he knows when she wants him fast and urgent, and when he should take things achingly, deliciously slow. And it all seems to be utterly instinctive to him, as though he knows not only her but her body too, in a startlingly intimate way, from the moment they fall into bed together.

Abby had worried, a little, that she might think of Jake when she and Marcus were together like this, but it turns out that it’s impossible to think of anything but just this, the two of them together, the improbability and the sheer joy of it. 

Every touch feels bound up in their long, complicated history; even as they kiss, as they murmur words of adoration against trembling skin, Abby still remembers every harsh, bitter word that once passed between them, the burn of the shock-lash, the sting of betrayal. She remembers too every soft tentative smile, every reassuring glance, their hands clinging together in the dark, the slow painful resurrection from the ashes of their old lives into the new.

Marcus can only ever be himself, and he is so present with her, body and soul. She’s aware of him, every moment. The surging, animal strength of him, the power held in check as he moves in smooth rolling thrusts, faster and faster, pressing deep inside her, the sweat that slicks his skin, the way his hair tumbles over his brow. He’s losing himself now, just a little, as she is; the arm that’s bracing him above her is trembling, his breath coming out in ragged gasps.

“Abby...” he mumbles against her lips, clumsy words a counterpoint to strong, sure movement, snatched between frantic kisses. “Abby, you’re so...oh Abby...”

He says her name just to say it, she thinks, and wonders if it feels as good in his mouth as it sounds to her. No-one else says it quite the same way – she is someone different in his voice, in his eyes, in his arms, transformed into something precious and extraordinary. Jake had made her feel loved, always, but Marcus...Marcus makes her feel worshipped; he sees her entirely and loves her all the same, unconditionally adores even the darkest places in her heart. There is not one part of her that he doesn’t want with every fibre of his being; even naked and entangled as they are his longing is palpable. He is greedy for her.

 “Marcus,” she breathes, and the response in his body is immediate, and they’re both lost, beyond speech. There’s nothing else in the world but this. A groan tears from his throat with every thrust now, and the sound of their mingled cries is so unbelievably erotic; this tangible rhythm of their shared pleasure spilling from their lips into clumsy harmony in the air, the knowledge that even as every movement of their bodies feels so indescribably good to her, it feels just as good to him. In this moment she is as aware of the sensations of his body as of her own, pleasure reflected infinitely back upon itself and his hand – oh God – is on her breast and his mouth is on her mouth and he’s so deep inside her she has almost forgotten what it’s like to be separate...

“Oh my God...Marcus...I’m so... oh... ”

She squirms, desperate for relief, for release, her body wound tighter than she knew it could go, every muscle quivering, taut as a bowstring. And it has never...she has never...

Apples and oranges, she thinks wildly. Abby has eaten oranges at Lexa’s table, brought from some distant southern trader, a rare exotic delicacy. She pictured them hanging heavy from the trees, glistening and swelling and ripening in the sun – ohh – and when she sank her teeth into the flesh the taste of it burst vivid on her tongue – oh God, yes – a tide of sweetness sliding down her throat, liquid sunlight, an indescribable pleasure she could not have imagined in a lifetime of cold space...

“Yes...” she gasps. “Yes, yes yesyesyes...ah..!”

Marcus moves inside her and Abby shudders and swells and bursts, the chaos of her thoughts disappearing into sunlight, sweetness overwhelming every sense. She exists only in her own body, incandescent, infinite, arcing like summer lightning, clinging to the man in her arms as the only anchor in relentless waves of sensation. She doesn’t even hear the wild cry that’s torn from her own throat.

As the storm passes and the pleasure ebbs to a degree that’s almost bearable, Marcus slides his hand between them and rubs her sensitive clit with the pad of his thumb, pressing firm little circles into her slick, twitching heat, and Abby rises to another peak with sharp intensity, spills over, and she is sobbing, writhing beneath him with a pleasure so intense it’s almost pain.

Marcus holds her tightly as she comes back to herself, quivering and spent. The sounds of pleasure falling from his lips are becoming more desperate as he thrusts, shallow and frantic, into her, breathless gasps of dazed ecstasy, coming faster and sharper as he nears his own release. Abby forces her exhausted eyes open because she likes to see him when he falls; she is greedy for him too, and she wants every part of him, this side of Marcus no one else gets to see.

“Come on honey,” she murmurs, her voice soft and throaty, raw from crying out. “Just let go.”

Marcus shudders with pleasure – his eyes close and his mouth falls open into a fervent moan of bliss. He looks how she feels; wholly given over to the physical, the rest of the world fallen away as he releases inside her, the firm, hot length of him pulsing urgently in the tight embrace of her body, his hips pressing hard into hers.

They collapse, panting and inelegant, onto the bed. Abby can feel her heart hammering in her chest, and wonders vaguely what it feels like to have a heart attack. It’s probably not a good idea to be indulging in this level of...exertion, at her age. Not with this frequency, at least.

It’s worth it, though. God, yes.

Abby has read a few romance novels in her time – the Ark database was full of fiction, though mostly admittedly of the more literary kind. Still, there were a fair few titles with what were tactfully referred to as ‘adult content’, and no shortage of home-grown erotic stories written by people on the Ark over the years that did the rounds regularly as well.

She had always assumed those stories were exaggerating, that the kind of desire they described was only a fantasy. She had figured that claw marks on skin and cracked headboards were hyperbole, that no-one would actually scream when they came. She had known that nothing in reality could really feel that good.

Strange, how you always assume your own experience is the only one that’s real. The stories seem  tame now, by comparison.

Abby feels wrung out, slack and stupid with bliss. Her body has drifted off somewhere far away, but Marcus is reassuringly solid, so she curls around him and measures time by the beat of his pulse under his skin. His arm wraps around her possessively, another gesture born of sheer, unthinking instinct. However close she is, he always wants her closer.

“Are you okay?” he says, his voice soft and slightly hoarse from exertion. “You’ve gone a bit quiet on me.” He smiles, almost shyly. “I might take it as a compliment.”

“I’m okay,” she says drowsily, and nuzzles into his neck. “I’m wonderful.”

He chuckles, and Abby adds it to her inner list of things she has now that she never dreamed she would; the sound of Marcus Kane moaning her name in pleasure, the taste of his skin when she kisses the sweat from his shoulders, the way his body ripples with laughter when he is pressed naked against her and she is curled naked against him.

It’s so good, it’s all so good, every single part of sex that stretches far beyond just the physical act, a litany of her own little miracles to savour.

“You are wonderful,” he says, with such frank, tired honesty that it’s almost a confession. And then, a little quieter, almost to himself: “I had no idea.”

“Of what?”

“That it would be...” He trails off. His hand strokes her back, fingers idly tracing her spine as he searches for the words. “I imagined what it would be like,” he says, in a tone that suggests he almost expects to be berated for it. “Being with you.” He’s obliged to pause for a moment as Abby tilts her head up to kiss him, unable to resist. She can’t help but be charmed by his carefully vague words, considering that they are currently naked and sticky with sweat in each other’s arms. “I knew it would be good,” he admits, when they break apart, smiling against her lips. “I’ve never wanted anyone the way I want you.” She smiles back at that, and he suddenly looks a little nervous. “I mean I know for you it’s not...” he adds hastily. “I know you’ve...but I’ve never...I just had no idea it could be like this.”

Abby has never known Marcus to stumble over his words, but now he sounds faintly embarrassed and it’s very endearing.  Strange that he’s so hesitant and unsure of what to say after his body has already just so eloquently said it for him, but then Abby can’t think of any way to tell him that it’s never been like this for her either. She can’t put it into words in any way he would really believe. There’s a part of him that will always see himself as second place, and she thinks: Not in this. God, never in this.

And then she thinks: Not in anything.

Things are...different, with Marcus. Everything is different, and maybe that’s why Abby finds she can think of Jake with regret, but not with guilt, or at least not when it comes to this. She loved Jake, will always love Jake, and she loves Marcus, and those two facts don’t seem in any way incompatible. In some ways the two of them are very alike, and in some ways they couldn’t be more different, and Abby finds neither of those realisations cause her any pain.

She kisses him again, and he kisses her back slowly, deeply, the hand that isn’t wrapped around her back coming up to cradle her face. Marcus is so good at kissing too; he kisses with his whole body, pouring everything he has into it. He kisses her as though kissing her is all he has ever wanted to do and all he intends to do for the rest of his life from this moment on.

“I love you,” she says, when her lips are free to speak again, and if seeing him when he finishes inside her is wonderful, this is even better – seeing the look in his eyes every time she says those words. “But you are an idiot sometimes.’re not the only one who imagined what it would be like, you know.” She smiles. “I had no idea either. You are so much better than every fantasy I had about you.”

Now he looks torn between delight and sheer astonishment. “You fantasised about me?”

Abby can’t help but laugh. “I didn’t do you justice,” she says. She snuggles into his embrace, pillowing her head against his shoulder contentedly. “Maybe I’ll tell you about it tomorrow,” she murmurs. “I don’t want you to get too smug.”

“But I’m allowed a certain amount of smugness?”

He’s teasing her, but she’s too tired now to think of a witty reply. “Since you just gave me the best sex of my life, I think it’s only fair,” she says.

She actually hears his breath catch in his throat, but she’s drifting off to sleep, halfway there already, and thinks vaguely: Tomorrow. I’ll just have to convince him tomorrow.

After all, they have the rest of their lives together for her to tell Marcus what he means to her, and show him what he does to her.  It’s going to take some doing, to make him understand that he isn’t in some fundamental way unworthy, to make him believe that she wants him as badly as he wants her.

Still, Abby has a lot of experience in arguing with Marcus Kane. She feels like her chances are pretty good.