It was only when he reached around to my waist and pulled me across his lap so my legs were straddling him that my chest constricted.

I could feel the blood rushing from my face, my palms started to sweat. My breath was still ragged, but I couldn’t pull enough of it into my lungs. A type of dizziness started to take over.

I had to get out of there. So I did what was most familiar to me.

I ran.

In a flash, I had untangled my legs from around him and hopped off his lap, running to the bedroom and slamming the door behind me. I dove into the bed and buried my face in the pillows, trying to catch my breath.

Jake didn’t come in after me. Instead, I heard the front door slam.

He left me.

Why can’t I just be normal?

Jake was capable of sharing with me his deepest, darkest shit, and I couldn’t just forget that I was a freak for a few minutes and let us enjoy one another. All I wanted was him, his touch, his kiss—his everything. But I had no clue how to get around the barriers I had created for myself.

I was so afraid that, just as it seemed like we’d been getting it all together, I had gone and torn it all apart.


THE CEILING FAN CLICKED AND ROCKED as it spun around and around. With each wobbly rotation, the chain danced and jingled. The pale light of the moon shone through the open window, casting the shadow of a palm tree onto one of the bare walls of Jake’s room. Its umbrella-like leaves looked like long teeth, rocking in unison with the fan.

The air was thick and hot around me. My long sleeved shirt clung to my skin like a wet paper towel. Moisture beaded on my forehead. I felt almost feverish. Hot, cold, hot, cold. Trying to find some relief, I kicked off the sheets and pulled off my pajama pants, tossing them to the floor. I laid back down on top of the damp sheets in only my long sleeved shirt and panties. The air from the fan felt cool on my wet skin, licking the length of my bare legs. My nipples were already aching. Now, they became painfully hard.

It had been hours since Jake left.

It was going to be a long, long night.

Had my crazy pushed him away so soon? He was supposed to be leaving in only a few hours. Maybe, he’d already left without saying good-bye.

I had sprung from Jake’s lap like he’d repulsed me when the truth was just the opposite. My body was more alert and alive with him then it had ever been. I could still feel it, too.

I was about to scratch my tingling skin right off my bones.

My fear, my body, and my aversion to sex needed to get together and figure their shit out.

For the first time in my life, my body craved touch. But, my past wouldn’t allow me to lower the wall between us—the wall that kept me at a safe distance from everyone, including the one who made me feel safest of all.

I tried to sleep, but I knew it would bring with it dreams of Jake’s beautiful face, his calloused hands, his soft lips, the way the harsh lines of his face softened when he laughed. I knew most of all I would dream about his eyes. Those sapphire pools had woken me up and reminded me of what it was like to feel—just feel, something, anything. Everything. Jake had broken through all my numbness and reminded me that I was okay, just as I was, and that I was human after all.

Damaged, but human. Just like him.

I realized then, even though I’d only known him a very short time, I loved him. I loved all of him, the good and the bad, the light and the dark.

I promised myself that when—if—he came back, I would lay all my cards on the table. I would show him the Abby I’d been hiding. It was possible that he’d run. He might be disgusted with me by that point, but I was always going to be me, flaws and all. Holding onto my secrets for the sake of a few more days with someone I know I didn’t deserve anyway suddenly felt overwhelmingly selfish.

It was time.

Ready or not.

Definitely not...but whatever.

I was in love with the angel and in lust with the devil. If I were honest with myself, I’d have to say that I was in love with the devil, too.

The bedroom door slowly creaked open. Jake’s massive shadow covered the shadowed teeth on the wall as he moved toward the bed. He was wearing his black sweats and a black wife-beater. He paused and looked me over from head to toe before crawling onto the bed beside me. He pulled me into his arms, drawing my back against his hard chest. He softly kissed the back of my head and sighed into my hair.

I sighed, too. From relief. “You came back.”

He used his fingers to make circles along my naked thigh. I tensed, aware now that I was wearing only panties, and we were on top of the covers. I checked to make sure my shirt was in place. Thankfully, it was.