She laid in bed, sheets tucked up under her arms, just below her breasts. Next to her, Oakley’s panting was slowing down. He laid on top of the sheets, long as the day is long, golden and magnificent. There was a glint of sweat on his forehead, matting a few curls against his face. What a beautiful bastard. She let out a little sigh. Wasn't it a shame.
“How was it for you?” he asked, rearing his head and turning to look at her, self-satisfied grin on his face.
Her eyes fluttered, her eyebrows raised.
“Er…” She struggled for words. Just lie, woman! Why was it so hard?
He frowned, the little scrunch on his nose simply adorable.
“What?” he was outraged, and a bit panicked. Where were his praises? Where was her swooning over his stamina and prowess?
She bit her lip. “It was fine” she said. “It was great.”
His frown became deeper. Well, she was aware that she sounded quite flat. Before he said anything else, she turned and flicked the light switch off.
All that shines is not gold, she thought to herself. Lying on her side, she sighed again.
At breakfast she heard him flirt with Clarice and Beata, so charming and cool and smooth. She realised she didn’t feel the pang of jealousy that had been nagging her all these days. Had she looked the same as them, moon-eyed and permanent silly smile plastered on her face, playing with locks of her hair and giggling at all his jokes?
When later that day they left for a drive, and possibly drinks, she happily stayed behind, relishing the quiet. She saw Oakley turning his head for a second before he hid his eyes behind his sunglasses, shirt half unbuttoned, that concavity between his collarbones still alluring. She had been wearing sunglasses herself, and her hat, while lounging by the pool, reading her book under the orange light of the Tuscan sunset. And she had pretended she did not notice his quick glances.
She had not gotten laid in a while. Perhaps it had been too long since she had had only her fantasy to get her going. Perhaps her expectations had been too high. He was only nineteen, for Christ’s sake. She supposed he was not bad. Perhaps when she was twenty he would have counted as a good fuck.
Well, she was not twenty anymore. She had more experience, and higher standards, and while delicious and inherently sexy, Oakley fell short of them.
Now that she had stopped following those youths up and down the countryside, she found time to read, to take long strolls on the dusty paths with the baking sun on her back, listen to crickets or cicadas or whatever those things were, and contemplate the nature of punishment in ancient greek mythology. Because if that wasn’t like the torment of Tantalus, she didn’t know what it was. Wasn’t Oakley like a ripe, plump, juicy fruit dangling just out of reach, and didn’t it sort of turn to ash in her mouth when she had managed to reach it?… Sort of.
She did miss the buzz he had put in her belly, that flutter of bees and butterflies under her skin whenever he spared her a look, or a word, or a smile, and she had to admit she had enjoyed that dance on the edge of a knife, the “was he or wasn’t he” that had kept her up a few nights, and made a little adventure out of her days, laden with suspense and mystery and drama and a good deal of comedy. He had made her feel alive, and she was grateful for it. She had forgotten to be careful what she wished for.
She guessed she was back in Certain Age Land, none of this high-school corridor vaudeville, with all its cat and mouse and hide and seek shenanigans. Perhaps she was getting too old for games after all. It was a sad thought. Men her age might not be as playful, cocky, arrogant and maddeningly sexy, but then again, they might have a better idea what to do with her when it was the time of truth.
The problem was, it wasn’t really over and done with. Oakley might not be talking to her, but he was definitely not ignoring her either. What had been passing, nonchalant glances and easy smiles before, well, before The Romp, had graduated to insistent, fixed stares, that persisted even after she had caught him at it, given him a little, polite smile, and looked away. It was getting a bit unsettling.
Every time they bumped into each other, she thought he was going to say something, but stopped himself at the last second. On the fourth day, before dinner, after having spoken a total of seven words up to that point, they met in a corridor. She smiled, tight-lipped, and made to walk around him.
“What exactly was wrong about it?” said Oakley as she was passing him by.
Her eyes went wide with surprise, and she gaped with an acute lack of something to say.
“Seriously, what?” he insisted. “You came, didn’t you?”
She was really at a loss for what to answer. She had been brought up, after all, under rules to the tune of 'if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.'
“It was fine, Oakley” she said. “I mean it.”
She didn’t. It showed. He looked puzzled for an instant, and so young. What the hell had you been thinking of, woman?
“I’ve had lots of sex” he declared, emphasis on the lots, “and I’ve never had any complains.”
No refunds or devolutions.
“Of course not, dear” she said. She stopped herself at patting his forearm, because she was old enough to be at least her aunt, but she definitely wasn’t.
She walked away, biting a smirk. That grumpy frown of his. The Apollo of the Scrunched Nose, she said to herself, and giggled.
A couple of days later, they were all on a picnic in an olive grove. There was an old, ramshackle shelter, fashioned with a repurposed ship sail, hung between two olive trees and a stake on the ground. They ate cheese, bread, olives and figs, and chatted and sang songs, and somebody broke into poetry.
Oakley sat opposite her, shirt hanging half-open, lean and tanned and lovely. She glanced at him every now and then, drawn to the glow of his skin, infused with golden light. He had given her so little chance to taste him and enjoy him that night. And it had been too dark to appreciate every freckle and every mark. It was a crying shame.
They had picked up the picnic things and were making their way back to the cars in a long, dusty snake. She closed the march, just because it was in her mood to keep her distance. She saw him lagging behind, until she caught up with him.
“What exactly did you not like?” said Oakley.
She huffed and muttered “Oh for god’s sake.”
He counted on his fingers. “There was foreplay, and oral, and personally I thought the kissing was good, you came…”
“You’re not going to drop it, are you.”
“No.” The spoiled brat. “I just think it’s unfair that you won’t tell me.”
She sighed. “Alright, Oakley, you asked for it.” Now she counted on her fingers. “It was rushed, mechanic, there was no sensuality there, you seem to be aware of only two erogenous zones in the female body, and one in the male, there was no passion, no humour, no spontaneity. It was rather more like gymnastics than making love. It’s as if you had a choreography and you were determined to follow through with it, whether I liked it or not. You were not looking at my reactions or paying attention at all to me. Not to my pussy, to me. You were fixated on reaching orgasm, and bugger everything else in between. And for the love of god, Oakley, your sex talk. Please, please, please stop using porn movies as a guide. It’s bloody embarrassing.”
He gaped, his eyebrows took a sad lilt, his mouth curved downwards. He looked ten years old, and desolate. She wanted to cuddle him.
“Well, you did ask” she said. Harrumph. Have I been too harsh there.
They walked for a couple of minutes in strained silence. The crickets were bloody loud. Were they even crickets.
“The other girls I’ve been to bed with… Well, they tell me I’m good at it” said Oakley, still with a hint of arrogance, in spite of the pounding he had just received. This boy’s ego would outlast the clash of the continents.
“Yes, darling, they’re twenty. At twenty, I didn’t have a clue either. At twenty, if I didn’t come after five minutes when a man was eating me out, I thought the problem was mine. At twenty, I faked orgasms and I talked bollocks to make the boy I had been with feel good about himself. I’m so bloody glad I’m not twenty anymore.”
Oakley looked mildly shocked. Which was amusing. And on him, very fetching.
They walked the rest of the way without another word.
She was enjoying the shade under the porch, the low light of late afternoon sneaking in under the tiled roof, a fragrant breeze taking the heaviness of the suffocating summer heat off her, as if it was a thick veil, when he turned up, fidgety, visibly riling himself up to talk. She watched and waited, a low undercurrent of alarm setting in. What now, by Jove.
“I can do better than that” announced Oakley all of a sudden, clenching his jaw, trying to appear, well, composed and not as nervous as he was.
“I don’t doubt it, sweetie” she said, not really sure what he wanted from her.
“No, really, I can” he insisted, fists tight by his sides.
“I’m sure you can” she nodded. And she almost patted his arm again.
“I’ll prove it to you” he declared.
She raised her sunglasses up to her forehead to look him straight in the eye. “You’ll prove it to me how, exactly?”
“Let’s fuck again” he said.
She arched her eyebrows, and if her jaw was not hanging open yet, in a second it would.
“Let’s fuck again. I’ll prove that I can do a lot better. It wasn’t my best shot.”
She huffed in dismay. Just a kid, remember, just a kid.
“Oakley, darling…” Grappling for words. “No.”
His turn to be speechless. It didn’t last long though.
She rolled her eyes and sighed.
“Because… because I’m not interested” she said.
“Why not?” he repeated.
“For Christ’s sake Oakley. Because… because I have already had you, and it wasn’t very good, that’s why.”
Now she said it. His eyes, dear me, like she had just kicked a duckling.
He recovered. He squared his jaw, raised his chin -those rosy cheeks still plump and round with youth.
“I want another chance” he said.
She couldn’t verily believe her ears. Now her jaw hung slack. Compose yourself, woman.
Shaking her head in disbelief, she said, “Well, that’s too bad. Because I’m. Not. Interested.”
His clenched jaw made him look about as fierce as a wolf cub. He sat down on the lounging chair next to him, right on the edge of it, and stared at her with glinting, focused eyes.
“What do I have to do?” he said.
“To get another chance.”
“Oh, will you just leave it alone, Oakley.”
“No, seriously. What.”
“Oh gee, I don’t know” she said, sarcastic. “Perhaps, make me want it?”
“Make you want it?” he repeated. Oh, dear. He had actually taken that as an instruction, and he wanted to make sure he got it right.
“Yes, dear. Am I speaking Greek here? Make me want it, seduce me, make me feel attracted to you.”
“I thought you already were.”
She huffed. “Well, what can I say, this has sort of… cooled off.” She really, really, really hated to have to be so blunt. But he just didn’t get it, did he?
“So how do I seduce you?”
On the one hand, she wanted to burst out into laughter. He was so earnest, so ridiculous, so far away from Oakley the king of cool that had first captured her in his nets. On the other hand… what was that thrum deep in her underbelly, that prevented her from just sending him packing? He was adorable, and hell-bent on getting her. Hm.
She surprised herself by answering with a higher degree of sincerity, and a much lower degree of irony, than she had intended at first.
“I don’t know, Oakley, what do you normally do? I should say you’re quite adept at flirting.”
“Yes but… But now you would know what I’m doing and why. It wouldn’t be spontaneous. I’d feel self-conscious.”
Yes, well, she thought, it wouldn’t get as awkward as this, whatever it is they were doing. Seduction for dummies.
“Just… can you give me a hint?” he begged.
She sighed deeply. “There’s the classic methods. Tell me nice things about myself.”
“Seriously?” she glared.
He cleared his throat and pondered. “Ok, ok. You’re… pretty.”
She tilted her head, disapproving. Coming from that snake charmer who dated twenty-year-old Italian beauty goddesses, to be called ‘pretty’, and in such a hesitant tone, more than anything made her want to slap his face.
He noticed her displeasure.
“Your hair is very nice.”
She rolled her eyes. “Is that the best you can do?”
“You have a nice body.”
“Oh, hold me, I’m getting weak at the knees” she mocked.
“What’s wrong with what I’ve said?”
“Do you see me swooning yet?”
He frowned, deep in thought.
She sighed, and relented. “It’s just… It doesn’t make me feel very special, Oakley. You could be saying that to anyone.”
“Not really. Some girls are ugly as fuck.”
“Oh, forget this” she snarled. This was a very bad idea, and a waste of everybody’s time. There was no making a man out of that cocky, bratty baboon.
“No, sorry, please! Can you lend me a hand? Please…”
She huffed. The damn puppy eyes.
“Let’s set this straight, alright?, once and for all. Are you attracted to me at all, or is this just an exercise to heal your pride or something?”
He blushed. He actually blushed.
You’re hanging by a thread, young man, she told him via telepathic waves.
“I like you” he said, blushing red as a poppy.
“Be still, my heart” she mocked.
“I mean, you’re sexy” he insisted.
“Sweetie, I’m afraid this is hopeless.”
The puppy eyes, with a hint of what, to her, appeared as sincere disappointment. She sighed.
“Ok. Tell me what you like about me. But it has to feel like you have really been looking, alright? Just tell me… tell me what attracted you in the beginning. What did you first noticed about me that interested you?”
She rolled her eyes. “We’ve covered that, didn’t work.”
“No, wait. I was going to say… When you wear those braids. They’re cute. They make you look like a little girl.”
Hm. “Ok, I’m listening” she said.
“You’re clever, and very cultured. And you’ve, eeerm, you’ve had lots of experiences. You’ve lived a lot. It’s not what I’m used to.”
She squinted, and urged him with a nod to go on.
“When you talk to people your age. You’re more relaxed, and you laugh more, and you look so self-assured. Like there’s a joke you all know that I don’t get. I find that intriguing. Like I'm only getting snippets out of you, like there is a lot of you I haven't really seen yet.”
She smirked in spite of herself. We have a Cyrano among us, she thought.
“Better” she said.
“You don’t wear make up.”
She frowned slightly, not altogether sure where he was going with that, or that she would like it once he got there.
“It’s like you… Like you’re just yourself and if they like you, fine, and if they don’t, they don’t, like you’re above it. Like you don’t have to try. It’s kind of… Um… I like that.”
She was smiling frankly now, though her eyes were still skeptical.
Oakley was on a roll now.
“Your body. It’s kind of… harder? I don’t know. Softer but harder. Sharper.”
“O...kaay… Can’t say I follow, but… ok, I guess.”
“The way you were when we were fucking. You really had no patience for my crap, did you?” He laughs. He dazzles.
She can’t help herself and laughs as well. “Yes, well, life is too short.”
“When you told me to shut up. That was hot.”
Oh, dearie. She was definitely a bit flustered now. Who would have guessed. She gave him a long, assessing look. He looked puzzled. She grinned.
“That’ll do, boy” she said.
His eyes went wide.
“W… wait, is that it? Are we going to fuck now?”
She huffed, exasperated. “Does it look like I want to fuck to you?”
He appeared confused.
“Oakley, it’s really not that hard. You will know when I want to fuck you, because I will be all over you, alright?”
"...Alright." He ruffled his hair. "I don't know what to do now."
"Just let me read" she said, replacing her sunglasses and opening her book where she had left it. Her mouth was pursed to try and contain her little smirk.
"Alright then" he said, standing up, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, ruffling his hair again. And he left.
She allowed herself to smile properly now. This should be fun.