The house has been oddly quiet since Nic emerged from the shower after breakfast. The usual shrieks and giggles of her girls are absent and so is the warm voice of her husband. The chickens are the only ones clucking happily in the backyard.
Nic sits on her side of the bed, which belonged to her until it became theirs. After two kids, a few sleepless times alone and many pleasurable nights in between, it now groans precariously with any slight movement.
Crossing one leg over the other, she applies a generous amount of lotion from ankle to knee, then repeats on the other leg. With each motion of her hand the engagement ring, paired with the wedding ring, glimmers in the light. The lavender scent of the lotion provides a sort of inebriation that is suddenly lifted by the sound of boots on the stairs taking the steps two at a time.
“The girls are with your father,” Conrad starts without preamble, “our phones are turned off, the chickens are fed, I have locked the doors and even disassembled the doorbell.”
Glancing over her shoulder, Nic notices his cheeks are glowing with childlike enthusiasm and the effort of going around the house on a mission.
“You did what?”
“I'm taking no chances, Nic! No interruptions today. I’m not detaching from you even if the sky starts falling on our heads.”
“That's… hmm,” there’s hesitation in her voice, “very thoughtful of you. Why did you do all that?”
“I've learned a few lessons over the years.” He narrows his eyes at her while many interruptions seem to cross his mind, then continues, “Between work, the kids and every other responsibility, it's been a while since we had time alone.”
“Yeah, I've missed us lately.”
“I need at least three hours of uninterrupted time with you today.”
“Not complaining, but why today exactly?”
“It’s our 10-year anniversary, Nic,” he offers casually as if she should have known already.
“What are you talking about? We haven’t been married for that long yet.”
“It's been ten years to this day since we went on a date and had our first kiss.”
“You still remember the day?”
Conrad gives her a pointed look. “Of course, don’t you?”
Nic winces and nibbles on her lower lip. The event itself is not forgotten, but the date on the calendar has dissolved on her memory over the many others they had together ever since. They have lived what feels like a lifetime together and yet not much time has elapsed at all. There are so many dates to keep track that she now spares her brain by relying solely on electronic reminders and schedules.
He pins her in place with a stare hot enough for the room to catch fire, her lower belly certainly feels the rising heat. When his eyes shift to her still-trapped lip, it breaks his inertia and triggers movement. In a few strides Conrad bridges the gap between them and sits beside her on the bed.
She allows him to simmer in doubt for a little longer, then drags the next question with exaggerated sweetness. “Do you have anything special in mind, honey?”
“Nice deflection. Let me show you how we can celebrate.”
Conrad elaborates by kissing her gently, then he pulls back a few inches after producing a brief noise of surprise in his throat. He must have tasted the strawberries he fed her for breakfast, sweet and almost out of season, the sound makes her believe he only wants to taste them from her lips for the rest of his life. The tip of his tongue swipes across her bottom lip and he dives in again when her mouth parts slightly, this time eager for a better taste.
He touches her tongue with his at a languid pace while one hand tugs on the tie that holds her hair in a messy bun. The blonde stands, darker and heavy with water, fall lose around her shoulders.
His mouth moves to her shoulder where he drinks the drops falling from her hair, those that he misses roll down her back making her shiver. Nic rubs her legs together to relieve some of the tension brewing there and edge of his mouth turns in a smile that is as mischievous as the thoughts rattling through her mind right now.
Luckily for him, Nic is wearing nothing but underwear, so it doesn’t take long to undress her. He snaps the bra open in one swift motion and throws it aside. Without giving him the complete satisfaction of undressing her, Nic raises off the bed to slide the panties slowly down her hips and drops them to the floor with a flick of her toes before sitting down again.
They regard each other in the bright morning light sipping through the half-closed blinds. His eyelashes glow brighter in the sunlight, they rim a lovely pair of brown eyes that are shifting into black as the pupils grow large. An entire conversation unfolds in a mutual understanding that needs no words to make their flame burn brighter. There's a question in his eyes to which she responds by raising her eyebrows in challenge. I want you now, they say.
Years of lovemaking echo through her in a split second, all those times that took only one look to become immediately pliant in his hands, enough for him to the trace the topography of her body with equal parts fascination and desire, sometimes with delicate touches, other times roughly, either rushed or at length, and everything in between. This husband of hers is always generous with his love.
Conrad moves to stand between her legs and kicks his boots off while she slides the shirt over his head. Two sets of hands make quick work on the rest of his clothes and her palms land on his torso as soon as he’s naked. Nic knows his body better than any other apart from her own, she is entirely intimate with the mounts and valleys, the many constellations of freckles, the scars and tattoos that have taken permanent residence in an otherwise smooth skin covering lean muscles. The few wrinkles around his eyes have deepened in recent years, though he remains as handsome as the day they met at the 404 Tavern and never fails to impress.
Nic wets her lips, her mouth is suddenly dry, and Conrad releases a strangled groan looking down at her. Incurably attracted to him as ever, she sighs indulgently, briefly torn between taking her time to appreciate the naked expanse before her eyes and the urge to feel him against her.
That is the last time Nic fully sees him because he vanishes behind her on the bed, pulls her by the waist over the sheets until she is on her knees near the pillows and facing the headboard.
The surprising sound she makes is almost embarrassing, almost. But the thrill of anticipation takes over when he kneels behind her, his hands skim along the side of her tights and brush the faded stretch marks that mark the expansion of their family. Conrad doesn’t mind them nor the other imperfections her body acquired over the years. She watches his hands through slit eyes in a dreamlike state, they trail lazily over her navel with warm fingertips drawing unknown patterns and burn lines on her overheated skin. That sensation will take a while to fade, his imprint will linger long after they are done.
Her breasts grow heavy with want, though when Nic begs for his mouth on them, he doesn't comply. Instead, his hands slide up from her waist, each cup a breast and squeeze gently until her nipples harden. Conrad pinches them between thumb and index finger and she releases a whimper of anguish that is not one of pain but of intense pleasure.
Goosebumps raise the flesh on the nape of her neck where his lips press open mouth kisses. She can feel his erection pressing hard against the curve of her ass, fitting there snugly, but it’s not enough to ease the pressure.
The frustration mounts while he's intent on stretching the game for as long as he himself can handle before being filed with a blind urge that can burn them until there's nothing left but their ashes.
One of his hands spreads out lower over her stomach, then makes a slow descent to reach between her legs. Two of his fingers are welcomed inside her without challenge, she's fully wet by now. They move in and out tentatively, each stroke becomes the source of a moan until they abandon her altogether without prior notice. Nic doesn't need to see him to know he is grinning, because he always does when she grunts in exasperation.
But before she has time to protest their absence, he spreads her knees further apart in a wider arch over the sheet and his hand presses gently on her lower back. Nic takes the hint and leans forward slightly, giving him plenty access. There isn’t much space for her to fully bend on hands and knees, so she reaches for the edge of the headboard and closes her fingers around the white wood to steady herself.
Conrad squeezes her butt cheek and gives it a light slap that makes her hiss and look over her shoulder with narrowed eyes, almost daring him, then he does it again with a sly smirk and this time it stings. They are no strangers to rough play, though it seems today is not such an occasion since he leans down and soothes the red mark with tender kisses.
Before long Nic feels the tip of his erection tease her folds. Conrad enters her slowly, inch by inch, allowing her to stretch and accommodate his entire length inside, just as she likes. No movement follows, he's breathing heavily already, certainly attempting to regain composure.
“No more teasing, please.” Nic clenches around him on purpose, signaling she's ready, and feels his hardness twitch in response as he groans.
Her body has missed him desperately lately, in spite of working and sleeping beside him every day. Every cell has grown accustomed to him and requires his attention on a daily basis. She ought to chastise herself for having become this needy as a grown woman that values her independence despite being married, but she gave up caring long ago.
When Conrad finally moves, she sighs in relief.
He rolls his hips with ease and his leg muscles clench beside hers. All the nerves endings flourish under her skin, firing electric spasms that her brain can't assimilate all at once. A loud moan is lodged somewhere in her throat and Nic reminds herself that they are utterly alone in the house before letting it slide out tentatively.
Having two young children that take nearly all their spare time and sleep in the rooms down the hall is wonderful and all they've wanted, but intimacy pays the price, both in frequency and sound. It’s liberating to be able to call his name out loud and dissolve in the pleasure he gives her without regard for volume.
Minutes tick by on the bedside clock and the morning drags on at a leisurely pace with neither urgency nor schedule, just the two of them floating in the rising tide of desire.
All the while, Nic registers the shifts in the sounds he makes so she can adapt to them and be a participant as always instead of a bystander.
“Feels so good,” Conrad mumbles huskily behind her.
“It's like we've been doing this for years.” She manages a note of breathless mockery even as he increases the pace.
After mastering the art of reading the nuances of her moods, Conrad graduated into long, non-verbal conversations with her body to which she responds in kind. While his mind has always been harder to unveil and understand, his body was not difficult to figure out. He is always quick to respond, giving back as good as he takes, as if he can only fully express himself physically. For better or worse, Nic now understands his love language like a rare dialect.
She tightens her grip on the headboard until the knuckles turn white. Like a lifeline, that piece of wood is the only tangible object preventing her from drowning prematurely in the deep waters of pleasure even when all she desperately wants is to submerge in them.
“Faster,” she requests loudly while pressing backwards into him.
"Slow down, Nic. I want to take my time to savor all of you while we can."
He's hinting of time alone without kids, work or friends, but somehow there's an underlying note that speaks of the fragility of life and the need to enjoy every moment together because it might not last. The future is never granted, he often tells her.
Conrad’s hands hold her hips tighter, his fingers dig into the flesh and guide her to his own slow rhythm. For someone with a reputation to be rather impatient, he is thrusting in and out of her with remarkable calm resolve.
One particular thrust is so intense that she almost collides with the headboard, then bounces back hard on his lap with a long moan. Conrad must me acutely aware of her imminent unraveling because he does it again, this time with more precision and an arm around her waist to prevent her from getting hurt.
Abandoning the leaning position altogether, Nic straightens backwards until her back hits his chest.
While resting her head on his shoulder, she turns her face to him, one hand curls in his hair and pulls him towards her lips. The kiss is sloppy at first, hurried, then they shift enough to find a cadence that makes both breathe a sigh of satisfaction.
When their lips eventually part, Nic notices his cheeks have that adorable red flush that only she can induce. Conrad presses his face against her neck out of habit, the roughness of his beard scratches the pulse point below her ear making her giggle, of all things, and in turn his own laughter ripples all over her skin.
There's an obscure voyeur side in her that wishes they could turn around to watch his face in the shiny surface of the mirror reflected alongside her certainly flustered features, the imperfect picture of lust.
Her entire body starts to shake, her legs quiver the most and the bed squeaks under their combined weight, the poor frame has taken a lot of punishment over the years. The headboard is rocking dangerously against the wall. His teeth bite her shoulder, not hard enough to dent the skin, then his tongue brushes over the spot, along the curve of her neck, and capture her earlobe while he continues to grind deeper into her.
Even after all these years sex still feels exhilarating, the feel of all of him inside her remains the same and simultaneously never like before.
An urgency is growing, his thrusts become more frantic, lacking rhythm. Conrad’s close to the finish line, though he doesn't rush towards it alone. Instead, he takes her hand in the hopes of bringing her along. With his own, Conrad guides her right hand down until it disappears between her legs and moves her fingers to press into her clit. His other hand anchors itself on her breast, twisting the nipple, and all she can do is shudder. Nic circles her clit lightly once in a way that comes naturally to her, then again more roughly and faster, all the while his hand remains on top of hers as she touches herself.
The tension builds where their bodies meet, her fingers draw concentric circles again and again, increasing the friction while he thrusts into her devoid of any semblance of restraint by this point, driven only by the urge to reach the peak and to fall from the greatest height into each other.
The world narrows to the size of the bedroom, then it only encompasses the boundaries of their bed, everything else beyond is blurred and unimportant to her. Her lugs burn with the need for air.
A confusing swirl of pastel colors from the wall and those of the hanging painting unfolds in front of her eyes, prompted by the wave that rises between her legs, curls over her breasts and breaks on her face in a deep blush. Her back arches away from his chest, her mouth hangs open and the sounds have the shape of his name. Other waves follow, some less intense than others, but all have the same pattern.
The tight control Conrad had until then slips and snaps, he releases a guttural sound that is loud enough to shake the house foundation and a tremor that although starts in him reverberates through her body as well.
Conrad drives deep into her one last time, stiffens and pulls her flush against him while he empties himself, heart and soul pouring out, warm and pulsing like a small beating heart inside her core. He calls her name multiple times with the same tempo of the blood pounding in her ears, until the word fades into an intelligible groan of primal release.
In the fragile haze of the aftermath that will eventually vanish like drops of dew on a summer morning, Nic becomes confined in an endless period of time, when everything is motionless. Her body feels boneless, a breath is trapped deep in her lungs, then it rushes out as she shudders and falls limp on the bed, head hitting the pillow.
Conrad collapses with far less grace beside her. Their bodies gleam with a thin layer of sweat.
Her hand reaches out only mustering enough energy to lightly caress his face with the back of her fingers. His beard is denser nowadays with an intentional messy trim. His hair is tussled all over, courtesy of her hand.
Her eyes prickle, she's embarrassingly overcome by emotion without invitation. It's been too long since they were this wild, this free, this loud. Nic had almost forgotten how vocal she can be when given the freedom, gasping and moaning his name in dissonant octaves that bounce against the walls and in turn make him groan in pleasure. Knowing each other's bodies after years together does not lessen the elation of each touch, the strong pull of desire, nor the sweet lull of fulfilment in the end.
Nic stretches luxuriously and her bones crack more than usual, her limbs are practically numb, but her body aches pleasantly.
They rearrange themselves so she lays her head on his chest, flush against him with their legs tangled, his left arm around her shoulders.
As their breathing slows down, they caress the boundaries of each other's bodies silently telling each other what words cannot convey in the moment. Conrad ventures to speak first, disturbing the quiet peace that has descended upon them.
“It keeps getting better, huh? I'm never going to get tired of this, of us.” Conrad manages to say between gulps of air. There's a ridiculously indulging smile pressing his lips.
“Don’t sound so surprised, we’ll always be amazing together, even as we grow old.” There’s mocking emphasis in her voice and he laughs wholeheartedly.
The mood shifts. It's no longer purely sexual. It gives way to an easy intimacy that runs as the undercurrent of their relationship, the binding string that will keep them together for decades to come.
"I'm also taking you out to dinner. No white tablecloths, I promise."
"Good, I was starting to think you only wanted me for sex."
Conrad laughs again, the sound rings in her ears as melodious as a musical instrument.
With eyes closed, Nic traces the eagle, anchor and globe inked on his chest with the tip of a finger, already knowing the lines by heart. She feels lightheaded in his arms while picking up the scent of his skin mingled with sexual exertion and the lotion that is now as much over him as it is on her.
"Happy 10th anniversary, sweetheart. May we have many more like this." His husky voice rumbles in his chest below her ear accompanied by the strong beat of his heart. These are the sounds that have lulled her to sleep for years.
Nic smiles, body and soul entirely sated, and whispers through the fog of exhaustion before melting further into his warmth, "I love you Conrad, always will."