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“I didn’t know I was sick, but now that you mention it…”

“Shut up,” I tell him. “I just want you all to myself for one night. Is that so bad?”

“No,” he answers. Suddenly the moment feels too serious. Both of our eyes are dewy, and our body language has become stiff and awkward. It’s the most peculiar moment Judah and I have ever had. He flags over our server, and we hurry out into the rain.

By the time we reach my building, our clothes are soaked through and my arms are aching from pushing Judah’s chair up one of the steeper Seattle streets. We shiver in the elevator, laughing at my streaked makeup and Judah’s nipples, which are visible through his white shirt. Our chortles vibrate through the hallway, and then stop short. Johan is standing at my door, sheepishly holding a bottle of wine.

“Hello, gorgeous,” he says, pulling me in for a kiss. I feel my body stiffen and try to relax. He’s doused himself in cologne, and underneath I can smell the slightly fishy smell of the ocean. I turn my body away from his and look at Judah who is watching us with a strange expression on his face.

JOHAN OVERSTAYS HIS WELCOME. A strange thing to say about my own boyfriend, but it’s true. Once I brought wine into the room, both of them relaxed. Johan chatted about fishing boats and his catch for the day, while Judah listened quietly, nodding and smiling at the right times. When the conversation dwindles along with the hour, Judah announces that he is going to bed, and that he’ll leave the two of us alone so we can have time together. I shoot him the dirtiest look I can muster, ashamed of my feelings about Johan. Judah is only here once in a while, I think.

I watch him wheel himself into my bedroom and close the door. Johan looks toward the bedroom strangely. “It’s breezy in here tonight.”

“I’m tired,” I say. He nods. I walk to the door ahead of him and hold it open, biting down my guilt. I just want him to leave, so why am I with someone I just want to leave?

He kisses me at the door, but I pull away and step into the hallway, closing the door behind me so we have can privacy to talk.

“What is it?” he says.

“Why did you come here tonight?”

He looks embarrassed, glancing over his shoulder and down the hallway like he wants to make a dash for the elevator.

“I wanted to see you,” he says. “Is that so wrong?”

“I told you I was busy this weekend.”

“You don’t look very busy. I thought … I thought you were seeing someone else.”

I’m breathing as hard as a horse. Can’t he see that I am? Surely he could pick up on what was between Judah and me. I feel rage—the type of rage that makes me do stupid things. But breaking up with Johan is not stupid; it’s necessary. Like throwing out clothes that you’ve outgrown.

A door opens down the hall and my neighbor steps out, walking toward the garbage shoot with a giant, stinking bag of trash. I wait until he’s back in his apartment before I look at Johan.

“I’m in love with someone else.”

Johan looks confused. I don’t blame him.

“I’m breaking up with you,” I say. He opens his mouth to protest, but I shush him. “There’s nothing you can say to change my mind. Not, I didn’t mean it like that, or you’re acting rashly. I’m not. Your visa expires soon. You have to go home. I’m not coming with you, Johan.”

He’s full of words. I can tell by the look on his face. In the end, he merely nods and walks away. I feel an immediate sense of relief.

When I go back inside and latch the deadbolt, my eyes are on my bedroom door. The light is off, which means Judah is probably already in bed. I take a quick shower and curl up on the couch with my cell phone. Then, without overthinking things, I text Judah.

Are you awake?

I vigorously chew on my lip until my cell phone chimes.

I am now.

I hide my face in my pillow for a second, then start typing again.

Sorry. I think he’s jealous. He showed up to check you out.

His reply comes quickly.

I’m sure his jealous streak was sufficiently assuaged after he saw my wheelchair.

What difference does that make? You have bigger arms than he does.

Wheelchairs are heavier than fish!

I giggle and roll onto my back so I can keep texting him.

I broke up with him.

The text dots appear, disappear, reappear like he can’t decide what to say.

And then…

That’s good. So now I can kiss you.

I choke on my own spit as it pools in my throat. My body feels warm, and all of a sudden I’m breathing like I just ran five miles through a field of feelings. I get up and cross the living room, pausing at the bedroom door, only slightly hesitating before I push it open.

I can see the swell of his body under the covers, the light on his phone as he holds it above his head.

“Judah,” I say. He drops his phone on his face and makes a groaning noise. I laugh, then launch myself at the bed. I crawl up his body and straddle him. He’s holding his phone again, but as soon as he sees what I’m doing, he tosses it to the nightstand. Light pools in from the kitchen. His face is anxious … intent. I lean my body down until our chests are pressed together and kiss him. The first time Johan kissed me it was awkward, the slow acclimation of lips pressing together until we somehow found a rhythm. With Judah, it’s natural, like we do this all the time. My self-doubt races in, and I begin to pull away, but Judah wraps his arms around my back and holds me there. We both smell of toothpaste and shampoo. He kneads my back as he kisses me—his lips fluent and his tongue rhythmic. I feel his hardness between my thighs and know that if I were to touch myself, I’d be wet. When he is assured that I won’t leave, he moves his hands to my hips and rotates them down in a circular motion, then back up. He is grinding our bodies together, as if to declare that everything works but his legs. I moan into his mouth, not just to feel the weight of him inside me, but to know what it’s like to be that deeply connected to someone I love.


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