As time passes, details fade. I have a dragon’s long memory for detail, but still, the edges soften as the memories get further away, like soft focus on a camera. For some memories, that’s good. They can’t fade and blur fast enough. If I could wipe them from my memory like an ugly stain, I would in a heartbeat. For certain memories, though, every loss of vivid detail, ever single second that blurs together with the second before and after it, is a loss. Like a grain of sand, taken by the wind, slowly turning my beautiful sand castle into a shapeless lump on the shore. Time keeps stealing those seconds from me, from that night. The longer I wait, the more I lose.
I can’t let that happen. No matter how much it aches to live it moment by moment again, at least I know that if I write it down now, no more seconds will slip away from me.
So, here goes.
Not long after dinner, everyone went home, except for Brad, Ma, Jack and me, since we were already home, and Donovan. He went back to his monitors, looking freshly determined to keep me safe from my unknown enemy.
With Jack, Brad and I all helping Ma, cleanup was quick and easy.
Brad hugged Ma before he went to bed with suspiciously watery eyes, and said, “Thank you, maam. That was the best Christmas dinner I ever had.”
It occurred to me in that moment that I didn’t know much about Brad. I hadn’t known him at all before he moved in, and I hadn’t really learned all that much, since he moved in. Brad wasn’t a big talker, especially not with women. I mean, I knew what brand of beer he preferred, that he could eat an entire box of cereal for breakfast, and that he not only had a full pelt of back hair, but moles in odd places under the pelt. What I didn’t know was anything at all about where he came from, his family, his life before he became my unintentional roommate. At this point, I didn’t even know what he did for a living.
Jack knew a lot more than I did, although even he was mystified by Brad’s new job. If there was one person on earth Brad talked to, that was Jack. The fact that Jack had taken him in when he didn’t even know Brad’s name had earned him a LOT of points with the big guy. It didn’t hurt that Jack was just the kind of guy people talked to. He had a sort of approachable air that just made people trust him.
I trusted Jack, practically from the first day I met him, and I have some serious trust issues.
As Jack and I walked up the stairs, holding hands, I asked him, “Why don’t I ever hear anything about Brad’s family?” I realized, somewhat belatedly, that he hadn’t had so much as a cousin send him a present, or come to dinner.
“Brad doesn’t have any family,” Jack told me. “He was turned over to the system when he was barely a toddler. Apparently, his parents were normals, and they had no idea how to raise a supe with his level of abilities.”
“Where was he raised?”
“In the Box.”
I stopped half way up the stairs. “He was just a baby!” The Black Box was a euphemism for the ultra-maximum security prison where the worst and most powerful supervillains were housed. It was definitely, without a shadow or trace of any doubt, no kind of place to raise a kid.
“He got his powers pretty much at birth. He doesn’t remember, and no one ever told him, but it’s possible he might have killed someone, or seriously injured them, when he was too young to control his strength.”
“But that’s … that’s just … barbaric. You can’t put a baby in prison for life.”
Jack shrugged. “There’s a section for juvenile detention, for supe teenagers who get in trouble mainly, but some kids like him, too. It’s not like they tossed a toddler into general population.”
“But it’s a temporary thing for the kids in juvy. Most of them have a home to go to once they’ve served their time.”
“Brad didn’t. It wasn’t like they could just place a kid who could pick up and chunk the family car if he had a tantrum into any old foster home.”
“So, my roommate was raised in prison, surrounded by juvenile delinquents and a stone’s throw from the most dangerous criminals on this continent. Kind of explains his lack of social graces.”
“Yeah. Pretty amazing that Brad turned out as decent as he did, when you put it that way.” Jack squeezed my hand and we finished our climb to the second floor where his bedroom was. We’d gotten into the habit of walking each other home each night. If he went to bed first, I’d walk him to his door, and we’d kiss good night. If I went to bed first, we’d do it the other way round. “He said some of the guards were really nice to him when he was the youngest kid there, but he was raised more by the older kids than anything.”
As we walked, I leaned into Jack’s warmth. It made me feel cold to think of a little boy having to grow up like that, just because he was born different. Novak’s childhood hadn’t been much better. His mom died in childbirth and his dad never knew he existed. He grew up in the foster system, not getting adopted because he was “deformed.” The man who finally took him in secretly despised him, and refused to even let the young dragon he raised refer to him as family.
My dad was murdered when I was little, but I’d always had Ma. She’d always made sure that I felt loved and wanted, even when I accidentally tore the car door off its hinges, or crushed Ma’s brand new cell phone back when those things cost as much as a month’s rent. She’d shrug and say that they were just things. Things could be replaced. “I forget how lucky I am sometimes.”
We stood in front of the door to Jack’s bedroom. He smiled with enough warmth to melt quartz crystals and pushed a stray lock of dark hair back from the side of my face. “Don’t we all.”
I’d have had to be made of stone not to kiss him right then.
Our lips touched gently at first. We’d gotten the hang of kissing over the nearly two years we’d been dating. Our lips knew each other as well as we did. I tilted my head just a little and he did, too, as if we’d choreographed it. It was a dance we knew the steps to intimately, from hours of passionate practice.
Without thought, our bodies moved closer, our arms enclosing each other in warmth, swaying and shifting together to find the perfect fit. Our mouths opened in the same moment, and the familiar taste and texture of his tongue touched mine.
I moaned softly. It just got better. Our first kiss had been awkward, with bumping teeth and blushing, and one hand barely touching my arm. With every time we practiced this dance, we moved together more smoothly, and it got so much better.
His arms around my waist pulled me in close.
I melted against him and felt exactly how much he was enjoying the dance.
He twirled me around and pushed my back up against his bedroom door, trailing hot kisses down my jaw and neck. One hand buried itself in my hair, pulling it away from one side of my throat and ear so his tongue could work magic unhindered.
I threw my head back and ran my hand down his back to squeeze his tight backside. I wasn’t the only one that had put on muscle from firefighter training and Krav Maga classes. He would never be bulky, but Jack’s body was a work of art that would shame Michelangelo.
My hands plunged under his Dragon Ball t-shirt and up the skin of his back, nails tracing along the skin.
He shivered and moaned into my mouth, goosebumps rising on his back, and pressed harder against me. Jack’s leg slipped in between mine. His body matched mine perfectly from hip to chest. I don’t know what ever made me think our height difference mattered.
This was going way beyond a simple good night kiss.
The hands I knew so well ran up the smooth, human skin on my sides that still felt strange to me, thumbs caressing just under my bra, silently waited, asking if I wanted to take the next step in the dance.
Oh, I did. I so did.
I “Mmmph,”ed a yes, and pulled him harder against me in case the message wasn’t clear enough.
His hands cupped my completely human, normal, unarmored breasts, thumbs rubbing across both nipples.
My knees got warm and squishy like they didn’t have any interest in holding me up anymore, not that it mattered. Jack’s body held mine almost painfully hard against the polished wood of the door. I panted like I’d run a marathon. “Jack,” I whispered. “I want …”
His mouth that had been burning a trail down my throat from my ear, kissed the mound of my right breast and I forgot how to speak. All I could do was make little keening noises.
Jack leaned his leg into me, and I rocked my hips against him instinctively, shuddering at how indescribably good that felt.
“Jack!” I gasped.
He looked into my eyes from inches away. His eyes had turned from deep brown to black as midnight as his pupils blew wider than a drug addict’s. One trembling hand came up and cupped my cheek. “Are you sure you’re ready?” His voice was gentle, and ready for my denial, even while his body pressed me against the door like he wanted to go through me.
I’d never gone beyond this point, with anyone, ever. I licked my kiss swollen lips. I hadn’t planned for this to be our night. I’d been thinking about Christmas and dinner and people coming over and helping Ma and getting people the perfect presents. “I’m not wearing the right underwear,” I wailed softly.
Jack chuckled. Most guys would have taken that as a no, but fortunately Jack spoke fluent Dee. “You can wear the green lacy ones next time.”
I touched his face. I pushed his shaggy bangs back from his forehead, feeling the fever heat in his skin. I traced his dark eyebrow and cupped his cheek in my hand, thumb stroking the sharp angle of his cheekbone. There would only be one first time, but I thought maybe, like kissing, it would be something we just got better and better at as time passed.
It was the next step in the dance.
Jack was the one partner who made me truly want to finish the dance. I trusted him completely. And I wanted him completely. I nodded. “I’m sure.”
Jack’s hips bucked a little against me, and his eyes fluttered shut. He swallowed hard. His eyes opened, and I’d never seen anyone look so … hungry.
He kissed me like he was drowning, and needed my mouth to breathe.
I rocked my hips on his leg again, craving that electric heat I’d felt before.
His hand slid down and cupped me through my jeans.
“Oh!” I gasped again. I grabbed onto his shoulders as I my knees actually gave way.
He turned the knob on the bedroom door, so I lost my support. His strong arm took its place behind me. Jack would never let me fall.
My sexy firefighter hooked his other hand under my thigh and lifted me, our bodies still fitted perfectly to each other.
When my hips rocked again instinctively, I rubbed directly against the hardness that strained the zipper on his jeans, and he groaned right along with me.
He carried me to his bed.
We fumbled and giggled as we added these new unpracticed steps to our dance. There was even a little pain, since this was all new to my completely normal human body, but Jack made it all perfect.
Jack made that night the best night of my life.