Fiona was racing along the pavement on Brunswick St, if you could describe it as ‘racing’, the way blocked by the pavement cafés, the buskers and the small tables outside each shop. Her umbrella was up, but it was more or less useless. The summer thunderstorm had caught everyone by surprise. It was bucketing down. At the next corner, she tried to maneuver past a table and chairs and slipped and fell heavily, twisting her ankle.
“You all right?” The voice was male, genuinely concerned, and held the comforting promise that he would take control if he was allowed to.
She looked up, into anxious grey eyes. Despite the pain of her ankle and the embarrassment of the situation, she took the time to appreciate his looks. He didn’t have a shred of surplus fat on him. His chin was firm and nicely shaped, his mouth generous and agreeably curved, his body absurdly slim and flat-stomached. She supposed that if his chestnut hair hadn’t been sodden, he would have been total eye-candy. As it was, he was very nice to look at.
“I think I’ve twisted my ankle.”
“May I?” he asked, reaching for it.
She nodded, “Of course.” Somehow he didn’t seem like the sort of guy to take advantage. Not that she was frightened. Fiona Hopkinson was pretty good at looking after herself and others. She supposed that was why she found it so hard to make and keep boyfriends.
He felt her ankle carefully, gently, but with an authority that comforted her.
“Are you a doctor?” she asked, enjoying the way his hands moved over her skin.
“No, I’m a dancer. I’m used to sprains and twisted ankles. Feels as if it’s not too bad. But you should put on some ice, and then a tight bandage.”
“Is there a chemist nearby? I could buy an ankle bandage. Would that be enough, do you think?”
“Probably. Here.” He helped her up. He was strong. “Lean on me.”
Together they hobbled to the nearest chemist shop, which was over a block away. The summer storm had stopped as quickly as it had started, but the two of them dripped steadily. They didn’t speak as they negotiated the pavements. Fiona was in greater pain than she was prepared to admit to, and was glad of Mark’s strong body and his firm grasp.
At the chemist, Mark helped Fiona choose the bandage. Neither knew quite how to end the encounter – more intimate than a casual chat in the street, but not intimate enough for more. As she finished paying, Fiona decided that she had to take the initiative, and suggested coffee. They went into the nearest café.
He asked the waiter for some ice blocks. When they came, he wrapped them up in his handkerchief, and said “Let me look at it,” before lifting her leg onto his lap. They were sitting on opposite sides of a small café table, and he shifted his chair sideways so that he could do it more easily. He took off her shoe and pressed the icepack against her ankle.
“I’m Fiona. Thank you for all that,” she said, waving her hands to indicate her ankle and everything associated with it. The casual familiarity of his touch, the assured way her held her ankle, the way he assumed she would be comfortable with his hands on her – all these filled her with a dreamy languor, wonderfully pleasant and satisfying. She felt that she would be quite content to sit here forever, with her foot on his lap and his hands resting nonchalantly on her leg.
“Oh yes! Intros are in order.” He grinned at her. “I’m Mark. And it’s my pleasure to help.” He looked down at her ankle. “I’ll just keep the ice against it for a bit longer, and then I’ll put on the bandage. It will probably be all right. But you might want to have a doctor look at it, just in case.”
No, thought Fiona, I’d like you to look at it again. She felt cosseted and comforted by the competent way he’d taken control – there was no chauvinism in it, just a serene consciousness that he knew what to do better than she did.
“I’ll go on Monday,” she promised, telling herself that she would only if it felt no better.
He raised his eyebrows in quizzical disbelief, and she smiled ruefully, amused that he’d seen through her.
“Who do you dance with?” she asked.
“I used to be with the Australian Ballet. I run a dance school now, teaching the mostly unteachable.” He grinned, self-deprecating, not at all minding that she hadn’t recognized him. She learned afterwards that he’d been principal for the last two years before he retired.
That accounts for the body, she thought. I suppose he’s gay. She was surprised how much this hurt.
So she was taken aback when he said, rather shyly, “Would you like to come out with me sometime?”
“That’d be lovely,” she replied, after a moment to gather her wits.
“Tonight?” he asked, with the slightly hopeful look of a small boy in a toy shop.
“Yes. I’d love to.” It was Saturday. She had been going to spend the evening with Adam, but Mark was much the more interesting prospect. She hadn’t been out with a bloke for months. They exchanged mobile phone numbers.
He phoned at around six, and asked her for her address. He arrived in a battered Volkswagen Beetle just before eight.
As they drove off, he asked, “Do you mind vegetarian? We can go to an ordinary restaurant, if you like, but the one I had in mind is special.”
That’s one of the ways he keeps himself so slim, she thought. A vegetarian ballet dancer. No wonder he has no body fat. She didn’t mind – any restaurant would be OK, with him. He seemed just right. She felt suddenly happy. “Sounds lovely,” she said.
He took her to an Indian restaurant on Smith Street, right in the center of the strip of restaurants and shops that catered for students, counter-culturals, and poor immigrants. They found a parking close by, and Fiona was glad, because her ankle still hurt when she walked. Mark noticed her pulling her mouth a little as she put her weight in it, and he silently offered her his arm to hold. She was touched that he noticed and that he cared. It pleased her that he didn’t try to take advantage as many men would have. When they got to the restaurant, he let go of her arm easily and without fuss, and didn’t touch her once during the meal.
“So why did you stop dancing?” she asked him when they were settled at their table and had ordered.
“I haven’t. But male dancers lose technique quickly as we age. Women can go on ten years longer than men. And the pay isn’t that wonderful.”
“Don’t you miss it?” It seemed so glamorous and exciting to her. She doubted that she would have given it up so easily.
He smiled a little at her unspoken horror. “No. There’s a time for everything. And I’m still involved with ballet – I have friends who still dance, some, anyway, and I teach dancing, and even though most of them will never be great dancers, it can still be fun.”
At the café that afternoon, after he’d thought the makeshift icepack had been pressed long enough against the sprain, he’d dried her leg and put the elasticized bandage on her foot. She could still feel the warm proficiency of his hands on her skin. If I’m not careful, I’ll be falling in lust with him, she thought. She didn’t know how to approach the topic. She knew it was a cliché about ballet dancers, but in truth, he didn’t seem much like a normal bloke. Yet he’d asked her out – but what if he was gay? Was it worth wasting time getting to know him and like him? It was bad enough having a gay brother. She loved Adam. But at least if he’d been straight he would have had straight friends who might have asked her out. Jasper, Adam’s only friend from uni, had asked her out, but she’d refused him. She had known that Adam was in love with him, even though Adam hadn’t told her. She’d felt that Jasper had been incredibly insensitive and heartless even to ask, and she told him so, her forthright language making his handsome face flush with anger.
Dismissing these ramblings as pointless and futile, she realized she’d missed one of his questions, and had to ask him to repeat it.
Fiona had brought a bottle of wine, but she drank most of the bottle herself because Mark had to drive. By the end of the meal, she was slightly pissed, drunk enough to know that she ought to be careful not to say or do anything stupid. But Mark showed no desire to take advantage of her mild inebriation, and she found herself trusting her instincts and him in a way she hadn’t with a man for a long time.
He helped her up to her flat, and at the door she was deciding whether to ask him in when he took her hand in his, and leaned in to kiss her. His lips were warm and firm. He was a good kisser. Some of the blokes she’d gone out with had been wet and sloppy kissers. Some had clearly seen kissing as merely a brief preliminary to get through before trying to fuck her. They were the kind who didn’t much care whether she came or not when they made love. Mark didn’t seem like one of them. He took kissing seriously.
As he kissed her, he held onto her with just the right degree of strength. He pulled back, and his grey eyes looked at her, full of desire. She could feel his arousal pressed against her. Not gay, she thought, definitely not gay, and was all at once filled with an intoxicating mixture of lust and happiness. She took his hand and pulled him into her home, made reckless by the alcohol in her bloodstream, by the relaxed intimacy of the evening, by her need for sex.
He took her to the bed and kissed her again. He traced the line of her chin and her neck with his lips. He removed her bra smoothly and easily, and instead of falling upon her nipples like a hungry puppy, he started off by just breathing on them, his mouth only just above her skin, making her shiver with excitement. Then he ran the tip of his tongue around them, softly and warmly, and she felt them tighten. Only after he had licked them till she was ready for more did he take them into his mouth. He was very good at this. She had a moment’s concern – just how many girls had he had? Then she smiled wryly to herself, remembering that only a few hours ago, she’d been worried that he might be gay.
He moved his warm, mobile mouth down over her stomach towards the top of her jeans, and at the same time, his hand moved up her legs towards her crotch. He began to rub her slowly through the denim.
“Wait,” she whispered, and pulled him up so that she could kiss him on his mouth. She tugged at his t-shirt and drew it up his torso. He took it with one hand and lifted it off himself. She moved her head down the firm muscles of his chest and took the nub of his nipple into her mouth. Men weren’t as sensitive as women, in her experience, and anyway she had the feeling he would like it, so she bit it, not hard, but enough to send a jolt of electric discomfort through him. He gasped, then laughed softly, and gave a soft growl of satisfaction when she did it again, harder.
He undid the buttons of her jeans and slid them off her, and in a moment his mouth was on the soft cotton of her undies, warm and promising, his tongue pressing against her. He began to lick her through the fabric. When at last he drew her panties off her body, they were wet with more than spit. She heard the sound of the wrapper tearing and then the snap of the condom, and then, still kissing her on her mouth, her neck, her chin, her breasts, he entered her.
He angled himself so that every thrust sent a thrill through her, and paced himself to her needs. She felt the familiar wave of exquisite pleasure break inside her and she groaned with ecstasy. He came too, only moments after she did, her opening still clamping round his tool in the aftershocks of her orgasm. They lay together, in that perfect moment of intimacy that comes after you have made love with someone you care for, and have experienced the delight that leaves your limbs languid and your body sated.
She knew it was too good to last – he was good-looking, likable and wonderful in bed. Why would he ever stay with her? She wondered, in the post-coital sadness that always afflicted her, whether he would ask her out again, and felt her eyes start to fill. Angrily, she brushed the tears away. He looked at her, and then kissed her, softly and tenderly, and said merely, “Don’t”. She marvelled at the delicacy that kept him from quizzing her about her mood, knowing that it was not because he didn’t care, but because he did. He kissed her again, gently, and took her into his arms, and they went to sleep, their legs entwined and their bodies, sticky with sweat in the hot February night, comfortable against each other.
In the morning, she woke with a start, feeling the unfamiliar weight of his torso against her, then stretched luxuriously and pushed back against his chest. He wrapped his arm round her and snuggled up against her back, giving a small grunt of satisfaction, scarcely drifting up from his own slumber.
When she awoke the second time, it was to the smell of coffee and toast. She lay in bed savoring the feeling of being half in love, of knowing that a man, a handsome, likable, sexy man, had found her desirable. He came back into the bedroom, dressed only his boxers, carrying a tray with orange juice, coffee, and toast.
“Morning, beautiful,” he said. Damn, he had a great smile.
She was suddenly shy. “Hello to you, handsome.”
After they had breakfasted, he lay back on the pillows and smiled at her, his head cushioned on his hands. “I’ve got to go.” His reluctance was obvious. “I have a class at ten.”
“Bugger!” She leaned across and kissed him. His mouth tasted of coffee and marmalade and him. He slipped his arms around her and pulled her into a tight embrace. His hand reached down to the sweet folds of her vagina, and he began to gently caress her, while his clever tongue plundered her mouth. She pushed herself down on him.
“I want you in me,” she gasped, reaching for his dick through the fly of his boxer.
“No condom!” he replied, his erection hard against her.
“It doesn’t matter.” She couldn’t believe she was saying this, she, Fiona Hopkinson, social worker, who saw all the consequences of unsafe sex. I must have it bad, she thought. She didn’t care.
“No!” And he deftly flipped her over so that he was on top. She felt his tongue take the place of his fingers. This time he took it quickly. As she climaxed, his tongue slid inside her, and she felt herself clamp round it as each wave of bliss washed through her.
He lifted himself back up the length of her body. The grey of his eyes had gone dark with lust.
“Let me do you,” she said, reaching for him.
“No time,” he said, grinning, his face flushed, as he rolled off her and lay on his back next to her.
“Yeah, there is! Enough for a quickie!” she replied, reaching for him as she spoke.
She clasped his cock in her hand, and leaned over to chew gently on his nipples. She stroked him, occasionally licking her hand to slick it up, and tasting him on her skin. He came all over his stomach and her hand, groaning with pleasure. She found it very satisfying. She had always enjoyed making a man climax, if she liked him. It was such a simple satisfying act of giving. She’d never understood women who regarded it as a special gift, which they would confer on their man like a boon from some high-born princess. Sex was for sharing.
He lay against her a moment longer. “Can I have a shower?” he asked, his eyes on her face. “It’ll save time.”
“Of course. Let me get you a towel.” Reluctantly, she got out of bed and fetched him one from the cupboard.
As she walked back towards him, he said, almost reverently, “You’re so beautiful.”
She was to remember this later, when disaster struck.
He showered fast, and left, giving her a quick hug and a kiss. “Tonight?” he said, his smile pleading, his body firm and warm in her arms.
“Yeah.” She smiled. “Give me a ring.”
As she herself showered, she decided not to tell Adam about Mark for the time being. She felt a superstitious fear that talking about him would make it not real. She didn’t want to tempt fate. She was happy.
As Mark drove away to the studio – he kept tights, t-shirt, dance g-string and pumps in a sports bag in the Beetle, so he didn’t need to go home – he wished he’d told her the truth about himself. He wanted his relationship with her to continue. He hadn’t believed it when he’d seen her face as she looked up at him from the pavement, at the sense of familiarity and connection he’d felt, a feeling that had just become stronger the more he talked to her. Of course, there’d been an obvious reason for that. Yet the connection between them had gone on building all evening, climaxing in the love-making. He’d heard about falling in love at first sight, and he’d always thought the stories were romantic rubbish. Now he was not so certain. He knew he’d made a link with her that went much deeper than mere sex, superb though that had been. Just thinking about the sex made him get hard again, his erection squashed uncomfortably into his jeans. Yet, strong though it was, that was the least of the bond he believed had developed between them.
He should have told her up front. And he hadn’t. And now the two – no, three – things that mattered, three interrelated facts about himself, had the capacity to destroy their relationship. He wondered how and when he would tell her, for he knew he had to, and what would happen when he did. There seemed no way out of the tangle. Whatever happened now, he was going to hurt someone, and be hurt himself. For the first time in years he wished he was someone other, with a simple life – a Labrador, two kids, a house in the suburbs, and an uncomplicated love life.
© Nick Thiwerspoon. All rights reserved.