Thunder rolls in the distance, earlier than predicted by the weatherman. Across the desk, Donna, the travel agent, ohs and gives you an eager look.
It doesn't rain often in Los Angeles.
You offer her one back and fiddle with a brochure on San Francisco she'd given you. San Francisco was the first city to come to mind last night. Even after Kit had scoffed at you moving there, the idea persisted. You know it isn't like it is in Vertigo or Bullitt, but the city has its appeal. It isn't Los Angeles, and it isn't that far, and that's all that matters now.
Donna had been confused when you'd come into Gateway Travel asking about relocating. Usually, she'd said, travel agencies didn't handle moves. However, you explained your censored circumstances. You'd asked about boarding houses or hostels or just cheaper long-term accomodations. She'd brightened, her brown eyes sparking, and led you to her desk.
"Okay, hon, I have two places I think are right for you," Donna says while staring at her computer screen. "I got one by the university—which isn't as quiet as I'd like, but it's still budget-friendly. The other is between the financial district and Chinatown. You'd probably have to share a room with another girl…" She glances at you to gauge your reaction. "But there's secure storage and breakfast every morning. Communal showers and kitchen, but clean."
"I'll take that one."
"Are you sure? There's no privacy."
You don't need privacy. You need a fresh start. There's five thousand dollars in your pocket to help you with that. You can get a job as a clerk in the mailroom of some corporation, or whatever, and plan your next steps.
She hesitantly says, "Well, okay then. It's one-thirty a week. I can book you for a week, starting tomorrow."
You'd called Greyhound when you woke to learn there was one bus going to San Francisco this evening. It was an overnight trip, so you'd arrive before morning rush-hour. You like the thought of watching San Francisco come alive for the day through some diner window.
You pay for the room and Donna's fee with cash. She slips the receipt, printed directions to the hostel, and a few brochures into a manilla envelope. She says you have twenty-four hours to cancel the booking. You don't think that'll be necessary, but you thank her all the same.
She hands the envelope to you just as the first heavy raindrops hit the pavement. The light beyond the blue-and-yellow awning at the front of the building turns murky. The smell of concrete and cool, moist air wafts in through the open door as the pattering speeds.
"Do you have an umbrella?" she asks.
You reply you don't with a shake of your head. She hums and holds up a manicured finger, saying there might be a spare in the back. She disappears for a minute and comes back with a clear umbrella. The agency logo printed on the canopy is dated and faded. You offer to return it, but she waves it off.
"You'll need it in San Francisco!"
You laugh before thanking her for everything and leaving the agency. Luckily, the umbrella is big enough to shield you from most of the rain. You're more concerned about keeping the envelope dry than anything else.
When you reach your place, the rain slows to a steady downpour. The super, who is arguing with someone on the telephone, doesn't notice you shaking out the umbrella and ascending the stairs to the third floor. In the apartment, Kit stands at the kitchenette sink, elbow deep in soapy water.
"Hey, house ho," you greet her as you take the dripping umbrella to the bathroom.
She sunnily replies, "Fuck you, babe!" as you pass behind her.
You walk the envelope to your bed and take off your jacket, tossing it between the stacks of clothes surrounding the big half-packed duffle. Earlier, you'd cleaned out the bathroom and your dresser; stuffed your dirty laundry in a trash bag and gathered all you'll need in plain sight. All that was left to do was fold the last of your clothes, find the old school folder with your documents, and pack.
Kit finishes with the dishes and dries her hands with a thin hand towel. She walks to the vanity table by her bed to perch on the mismatched chair.
"You want any of these photos?" she asks as she slips her jean jacket on. She always did run cold.
You look over to see the ones she means. There are Polaroids of you and her inserted under the frame of the vanity mirror. At least two of them were taken at the Banana. One was from a shawarma place that had closed three months ago. The photo you especially like was taken at a Danger Dog cart that had parked near the Chinese Theatre one evening, and you ask for it.
Kit grins and tugs it from the frame. "We look so dopey."
That's why you like it. It had been a good night.
As she brings it to you, she says, "San Francisco's not that great, you know."
You stash the photo in the big purse you're going to travel with.
"Bad climate," she adds. "It's foggy, unpredictable."
You turn to her. "I'll wear a sweater." The Mom is silent, but discernible.
She goes to her bed, hugs her teddy bear to her chest, and plops at the foot of the bed.
"What're you gonna do there?"
"I don't know. Get a job?" You rummage between the mattress and box spring of your bed, thinking you'd secreted the school folder there. "Maybe go to school?" You find the folder and place it on a stack of clothes. "I got pretty good grades in high school."
"Yeah, I can see that about you. I could see that."
You study her for a second, watching as she absentmindedly rubs her chin on the top of the teddy bear's head. It's a guileless thing to do. You're going to miss her so much. She notices you watching her and raises her eyebrows in a silent question.
"Sure you won't come with me?"
Kit sardonically surveys the messy apartment. "And leave all this?" She laughs. "Not in a million."
You nod in understanding. This is what Kit knows. And while you get that, you can't do it anymore. You can't stay. There's too much temptation to revert to a person who'd be grateful for any scrap offered—no matter how bad it tastes. No, you have to aim higher.
"Come here," you say.
As Kit tosses her bear to the side and stands, you pluck a few hundred dollar bills from your wallet. You fold them between your fingers and tuck them in the breast pocket of her jacket.
"Whoa!" she says as she watches your hand. "Whoa, what is this?"
"It's part of The Very Superior Old Pale Scholarship Fund." You bite your lip to keep from crying and clap your hands together. "We think you got—" You tug at her jacket with each rasped word. "—a lot of potential, Kit De Luca."
"You do?" she asks, sincere. "You think I got potential?"
"Uh yeah!" You keep your eyes wide to stop the tears from falling. "Don't let anybody tell you different, okay?"
Kit's eyes go glassy, and she nods. "Okay."
You take your hat—a cute newsboy cap you'd found at the thrift store—from the peg rack on the wall and place it on her head.
With a grin, you say, "Take care of you."
"No, I can't, I can't!" She pulls it off with a giggle, leaving her hair a fluffed mess. "It's your favorite!" She shoves it at you and turns away.
You play with the hat, and Kit plods to her bed.
"What time's your bus?" she asks as she situates her bear against the pillows.
With a glance at the clock on the microwave, you report, "I gotta leave in an hour."
You drop the hat onto your bag and don't know what to do with your hands.
"Okay, yeah, well, I gotta split, 'cause good-byes make me crazy." She rushes for you with shoulders hunched and face hidden, tackling you with a hug. "So, take care of you," she mutters into your shoulder
"Whoa," you whisper and wrap your arms around her.
You smooth her thick hair down as you rock from side to side. She smells of coconut conditioner, lipstick, and apple-scented dishwashing liquid. You realize you'll probably never smell this combination ever again.
She suddenly releases you, grabs her purse from the bed, and dashes out of the apartment. You wobble as the door snaps closed. You sag, feeling as if the threads holding you up have been cut, and blunder your way to Kit's vanity chair.
Despite the clock ticking down, you need a moment. You sit until the tears stop and you feel steadier. You go to the bathroom to wet a washcloth with cold water. You pat your overheated face and then dry off.
After wringing the washcloth out, you go back to packing. You fold and roll and stuff until the duffle is packed tight. You stow the travel envelope, school folder, and your wallet in your purse. Your knuckles knock into something hard at the bottom. You nudge your wallet to the side to see the Batman pencil case. You forgot you'd thrown it in there last night.
For a second, you wonder if you should leave it.
Your throat tightens. No, you can't leave it. You and Pale had won it fair and square.
You zip the duffle and place your purse on top. There's about fifteen minutes before you need to catch the metro going downtown. You get your jacket on, and the apartment key clinks in a pocket. It's the only key you have, but you don't need it now.
You set the key on the kitchenette counter and go to the window looking out onto the street. The rain slows to a drizzle, then a sprinkle, until it dissipates altogether. Within two minutes, it's sunny again. Thin steam rises from the pavement, softening the bitter edges and almost hiding the garbage in the gutter.
Distant honking mars the unusual quiet that had descended upon the block. You open the window and lean out to see through the trees a white limo barreling down the street. It looks like one from the hotel, but it couldn't be.
The limo honks and someone pops through the open moonroof. You think you recognize that someone, and your heart skips a beat.
That someone yells, "Yo, princess!"
You almost don't believe it, but the voice is Pale's.
The limo honks again until it comes to a stop at the curb. With nothing obscuring your view of the limo, there's no denying it is Pale. He's here for you.
He sees you in the window and throws his arms up. "Princess!"
You laugh and wave to him with a shaking hand.
"Get your ass down here, baby!"
You duck inside to go to the bigger window that leads onto the fire escape, continuing to laugh until your eyes water. You open it and step onto the landing.
Pale looks at you from the sidewalk. "Had to be the top floor, huh?"
"It's the best view," you reply and flick away tears.
"Alright, I ain't waitin'—I'm comin' for ya."
Before you can tell him he doesn't have to scale the side of the building, he's pulling the ladder down and climbing. You hurry around the railing towards the steep stairs. Through the slats of the landing you watch Pale inch to the stairs, his back tight to the building.
You take a few steps down as Pale makes it to the foot of the stairs. He death-grips the railing behind him. When he sees you, he holds out his arms to you. His eyes sparkle, the skin at the corners crinkles as he smiles—radiant and hopeful.
You chuckle with a shake of your head at his bravery and descend a few more stairs. He meets you halfway, holding on to the bannister with a white-knuckle hold. Now eye-to-eye and him pressing his front to yours, you can truly breathe again.
"So, what happens after they leave that cave?" he asks.
"They go find one of their own."
He grins, enjoying the idea, and tilts in to kiss you. You put your hands at his waist as your lips meet. You kiss him, tasting the last traces of his mint toothpaste. His lips are as soft as you remember. His nose presses into your cheek like it did the other night. A hungry, loving purr comes from his chest as he deepens the kiss. His tongue slides against yours, all hot and silky. You move with him, like you've been doing it for years instead of days.
It feels like an answer, a mutual rescue, and a promise.
October - New York City
Your first midterm is tomorrow, and it's after one in the morning. You should've already taken a shower. Hell, you should already be asleep. Yet here you are, still sitting on the couch in your sweatpants and trying to drill the last of your Sociology notes in your brain.
The deadbolt on the apartment door clicks. Keys jingle and a paper bag crumples as the door opens.
You set aside your notes and go to the entryway. Pale whispers curses as he attempts to pull his keys from the lock. You clear your throat, and he starts.
"Jesus Christ," he mutters as he faces you.
"Nope, just me."
He snickers as if thinking smart-ass, but then frowns. "What're ya doin' up?"
You step forward and take the bag from him. "Studying," you reply as you carry it to the kitchen.
He yanks his key free of the lock, closes the door, and hangs his leather coat on the wall hook. He doesn't admonish you for still being awake. Instead, he comes into the kitchen and presses against your back, arms braced on the counter. You freeze with your hand on the loaf of bread at the top of the bag. He noses aside your hair to kiss your neck. His belt buckle digs into the small of your back.
You'd missed him all day, kept thinking about him after he left for work.
"Sorry I'm late," he softly says. "Stopped at the bodega down the block."
"You didn't have to do that. I could've picked up a few things after school."
"Nah, I'm gonna make ya breakfast tomorrow."
You grin, because you love when he cooks for you. "What's on the menu, chef?"
"Eggs in a basket, side of sausage, fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt."
You turn in his arms and rest your hands on his chest. Stubble peppers his chin. Signs of tiredness are all over his face, but his eyes are very much awake. His hair is getting shaggier, too, and he'll probably want a trim soon. Of course, you'll try to talk him out of it as best you can.
"Thank you," you say and raise yourself on tip-toe to kiss him.
He kisses harder than you expect. An arm winds around your waist as his other hand cups your ass. You stretch against him and push your fingers into his lush hair, tasting beer when you suck on his bottom lip.
He groans and holds you tighter. His hips roll, and the bulge of his growing erection pokes your belly. You smile into the kiss. Evidently, you weren't the only one who'd been yearning all day.
"What?" he asks as he breaks the kiss.
"Let's go take a shower."
Pale's expression turns predatory. "Fuck yeah."
He releases you, grabs the paper bag, and shoves it wholesale into the fridge. You laugh, reversing out of the small kitchen, only to have him seize you by the backs of your thighs and hoist you off your feet. You squeal as you hang onto him.
He kisses your throat. "Looked so cute in bed this morning." He marches around the corner to the dark bathroom. "Couldn't fuckin' stand it."
"I really missed you."
"Well, I'm here now."
He lets you slide down his firm, broad body until your feet touch cool tile. He holds your face to kiss you again. You fumble for the lightswitch as you kiss him back.
Once you find it, and the bathroom floods with light, he straightens and coaxes you to face the mirror above the sink. His hands glide up your upper arms to pull your cardigan off your shoulders. He drops the cardigan and guides the hem of your t-shirt up until you have to raise your arms.
He follows the bottom band of your plain bra with his hands before cradling your breasts. He kisses your shoulder as he tweaks your nipples through the fabric. You arch into it, breath catching. Your nipples tighten, and he hums in approval.
"Love how sensitive ya are, baby."
You reach over your shoulder to touch his cheek. He kisses your palm and fondles your breasts, squeezing and caressing them.
He whispers, "Love these tits."
His eyes glitter in the mirror. He presses against your back, his growing erection nestled in the seam of your ass.
"I'm gonna get ya wet and touch ya everywhere." He unhooks your bra, and you wiggle it off. "Gonna fuck ya 'til ya can't walk," he promises as he returns to cradling your breasts. "Get ya all messy, then clean ya up."
The thought of him coming in you has you squirming against him and nodding.
"Want that, princess?"
"Yes, Pale," you sigh.
His hands sweep down your torso to push your sweatpants and underwear down to the tops of your thighs. He doesn't bother going further as he rests his chin on your shoulder. He teases you with hands on your thighs, his fingers dipping between. He strokes your slit, finding it wet, and chuckles darkly.
Your toes curl at the sound.
"Yeah, ya like that, dontcha?"
You meet his eyes in the mirror and repeat, "Yes, Pale."
"That's my good girl." He kisses your neck and holds your hips. "I'll take care of ya."
He releases you, and you choke back a protest. You thought…
You thought he was going to finger you, fuck you, and clean you up.
"Get undressed and start the water for us," he says as he steps back.
You bite your lip and nod. You push your pants and underwear down the rest of the way. He takes off his watch and chain, leaving them in a pile of gold by the soapdish. You propel the mottled-glass shower-door open and turn on the showerhead. The water that jets out is icy, but it'll warm quick enough.
One at a time, Pale props a foot on the toilet seat and unties his black Derbies. He tucks his hair behind his ears before pulling the shoes off along with his socks.
Just as he reaches for his belt, you step to him and place your hands over his. "Let me."
"Ain't I supposed to be takin' care of ya?"
You retort, "Don't you want my hands on you?"
He raises his eyebrows to cede the point and smiles. You grin back and unbuckle his belt. As you slide it from the belt loops, he asks:
"How's the studying?"
You let out a breath. "I… I don't know. I think I get it? It's just so much already, and I dread finals, and..." You shake your head and drop the belt. "I don't know…"
"Hey, hey, hey," he croons and tilts your face towards his. "NYU don't let in dummies, right?"
"Right." Though, you don't exactly believe it. You definitely fooled the admissions board.
There's a thread of steel in his voice when he says, "Hey."
You square your shoulders and try not to pout.
"I don't love dummies, either. I got good taste."
Warmth flows outward from your chest until your eyes burn with tears. He finally said it.
"Aw, shit—don't cry, baby. Ya can do this. I'm sorry." He gathers you into a hug, and you press your cheek to his chest. "You're smart and talented and pretty. Ya got so much on these snots ya go to school with."
You hang onto him as you soundlessly laugh, tears soaking into his shirt. He curses some more and smoothes your hair away from your temple. You look at his face to see him worrying at his lip.
"I love you, too."
He freezes for a second before meeting your gaze. "Yeah?"
"Good. Help me get these fuckin' clothes off."
You grin and focus on unzipping his slacks. He undoes his cuffs and a few buttons before reaching behind his neck to yank his oxford shirt over his head. You fist his undershirt and draw him in for a kiss.
He doesn't hesitate as he kisses you fiercely. His slacks fall to the floor as he reels you in with hands at the small of your back. You grip his biceps when his tongue slithers into your mouth. He groans, and you know it means he can't take not being in you for much longer.
He pulls back to order you into the shower. You playfully whine and kiss his lips again. He leans into it for a moment like he can't help it.
A sudden spank on your ass makes you jump. The sting and heat has your cunt clenching on nothing.
With a smirk, he says, "Shower."
"Yes, Pale," you say and amble backwards to the shower, trying to keep the grin off your face. Two can play at that game.
You step under the spray without closing the door. The nearly-too-hot water sluices down your body, and you follow it with your hands. You don't look at him when you circle your nipples, luxuriating in the warmth and the feel of your own hands, but you know he's watching.
The only warning you get that Pale's coming for you is the stomping of his big feet. The shower doors rumble in their tracks, and then he's against your back. His hard dick prods at the cheek of your ass as he crowds you to the tiled wall. He runs his wet hands down your sides, over your hips, even going as far as your thighs.
He delicately kisses his way up your spine. You cat into it as you whisper his name and push your rear out. Water streams over your shoulder, down your back and ass. It runs in rivulets between your legs until he stops it with his hips tight to your behind.
His shaft rides in the cleft, heavy and feverish. You rub yourself against it, rolling your hips and biting your lip. It's not enough.
He growls, "Want my dick in ya?"
"Want me to come deep inside ya?"
Again, you nod.
He hums, pleased. "Gonna fuck ya so good, princess."
"Promise?" you ask.
He slides an arm around your waist and turns your head with his other hand. He kisses you, and it's off-center, but it doesn't matter. His lips are soft, puffy, and wet. You suck at the side of his bottom lip, and he thrusts against you.
Then his hand is between your legs. He massages your clit with two fingers. You groan and squirm, caught between his clever fingers and damp torso. It almost alleviates the aching in your cunt.
"Please," you whisper, pressing your chest to the steamy wall. "Want you."
The palm holding your face slides to your neck. He urges your head back and kisses your shoulder. All the while, his fingers work your body until you writhe and jerk in his embrace. Climax looms like a stormcloud.
Pale stops, and his touch becomes feather-light. You whine for him, for orgasm, for his cock—anything. You need him.
He sweetly shushes you and leaves sucking kisses on your neck. His hands glide over your hips and stomach, the undersides of your breasts. You rub yourself against his erection to get him to move.
He stills you with hands on your undulating hips. "Can't get in ya if ya keep movin'."
You halt and tilt your pelvis, bracing against the wall. His hips pull back, and he guides the smooth head of his cock to your dripping pussy. You breathe deep as he slides, inch by inch, inside you. He fills you up, making your breath catch at how his dick stretches you.
Even after months of taking him raw, the perfect feel of him never gets old.
He bends over you, resting his damp forehead on your shoulder. His fast breath warms your back, and your cunt throbs around his girth. His hands go to your waist, holding you as if to center himself. His lips move over your skin, and it feels like words.
Over the sound of water, you catch: "Never get enough of ya."
You rest your temple on his hair as your stomach swoops.
Leaving a hand at your waist, he spreads the other low on your belly. He begins to move, thrusting in a smooth, short rhythm that you desperately want to keep still for. Your ass jiggles with every push of his strong hips. It adds a wet, slapping beat that's unmistakable and obscene.
He surrounds you with strong arms and towering height. Protective and possessive. The tips of his increasingly wet hair drags across your skin.
Just as you think to reach between your legs, he does it for you to circle your clit again. You don't know if you want to squeeze your legs together to keep his fingers against you or spread to make it easier for him. He works your body, stroking in time with his thrusts. His fingers feel so good—as does his big, pistoning cock.
Your mouth drops open as climax pounds through you. It overtakes you, and you only feel the pulse of orgasm. Your cunt clenches strongly enough to make your hips jolt forward over and over.
He groans and doesn't stop, doesn't slow. He's merciless as he fucks you through it. You hold onto the slick wall as much as you're able and push back. He growls in your ear, and the hand at your waist clamps down.
You gasp "oh fuck" as your body tightens. Your cunt clenches again on his thrusting dick. Your knees quake when the dam of orgasm breaks for the second time. It's too much. You're flooded, brimming with seizing ecstasy.
"Please—fuck!" you cry. "Come in me, please…"
He goes faster, fucking moans straight from your chest. You don't know how much more you can take—you're so sensitive—but you'll take it all from him. You want it all.
A broken groan echoes in the shower stall as his thrusts slow. He rams deep and intense until he goes taut. He moans as if in pain as the first spurt of come hits your cervix. His cock pulses with each delicious surge.
Your eyes go half-mast as you relish the feel of Pale filling you. His hot mouth pants against your neck as he grinds against your ass. He kisses any of your skin he can reach.
Once he stills, he hugs you and rubs the bridge of his nose down your shoulder.
"So fuckin' good, baby." He punctuates with a kiss. "Love fuckin' ya." A kiss. "Love this pussy." Another. "Fuckin' love ya. Never wanna pull out."
But he does—easy and slow. The warm gush of his come dribbles down your legs. You want to reach down and feel it. He does it before you can and offers a glazed finger. You suck it clean before turning on shaky legs to kiss him. You share the thick taste of tangy-salty-bitter.
He groans into the kiss and maneuvers you both under the spray. With gentle hands, he soaps you up and rinses you off. He shampoos and conditions your hair. He kisses your collarbones and jaw, the lobe of an ear and your lips. You kiss him and kiss him, savoring each one. You cradle his blushing face in your palms and stare into his bewitching eyes.
No one has ever loved you like he has. You don't want anyone else to, either.
He grins like he knows.