Considering how much he enjoyed being naked and showing off his assets, it was weird that Colin had never once sent Ally a dick pic. It wasn’t like she didn’t know what Little Colin looked like--spectacular, by dick standards, which admittedly were pretty low because penises were one of the more poorly designed body parts--he’d told her, and also, it was just such a skeevy guy thing to do, and he was reformed by her love enough to avoid being flat-out skeevy. There were lines, Colin had emphasized, serious-boyfriend lines.
It made Ally feel weirdly tender toward him, because it seemed like such an arbitrary line to draw, especially for a guy like him. There didn’t seem to be any actual difference between him sending her pics from her bathtub and a dick pic that she’d requested because she was stuck at Faneuil Hall all day and bored.
“Your boyfriend is smoking,” her pushchart neighbor had said once, and Ally had sighed glumly and responded with a dejected, “Yeah.” Kadija had given her the O.o face. It was impossible to explain to confident, normal people what it was like to date a smoking-hot guy whose primary ambition at the moment was to have mind-blowing sex all the time and shower her with love. How terrible for you, everyone would say, but sometimes, you know, it really was.
And Ally might be a grown-ass woman now, but she could remember with painful accuracy going out with Jake, or really any other reasonably attractive guy among the list of losers she’d dated, and seeing other girls eyeballing her with undisguised scorn, hearing them whisper behind her back, “What is she doing with him?”
When you threw in the fact that, well, Ally wasn’t entirely certain what really constituted great sex, at least on her part, was it any wonder that she was having a hard time adjusting? People should just cut her some slack.
For most of her life, Ally’d made lists in her head when she was trying to ascertain what she wanted. The list for Colin went like:
1. Breathtakingly hot and built like a Greek god
2. Unbelievably sweet and caring (points 1 and 2 shifted, depending upon activity)
3. Generous in bed and appeared to want to please her even more than please himself
4. Mom, unpredictably, found him charming and agreeable even if he wasn’t a good “prospect” for the long haul
5. Smart and funny and encouraging, had helped her get started on selling her sculptures and marketing herself by building her a website and everything
6. Daisy and Eddie liked him, and invited the two of them over for dinner all the time
7. Thought Ally hung the moon
Most of the discard pile couldn’t even collect three of those points, if she’d been lucky. And maybe that was the problem.
Because Ally was pretty sure Colin knew something was wrong. He’d been nosing around about it for quite a few weeks now, and despite his attempts to mask it, his distress was growing, which made her distress grow. Ally had begun to see the writing on the wall: this windswept romance couldn’t have lasted, and it was her fault that it had died down to a weak breeze. The simple truth was: she wasn’t certain someone like Ally Darling could ever satisfy someone like Colin Shea. He’d be gone before they even hit the six-month deadline that she had always judged successful relationships by, and that date was fast approaching.
“Look, I know I wasn’t his biggest fan at first,” Daisy said to her when the boys were off putting their fantasy basketball roster together or something, “but he really does grow on you, and not like a fungus. I apologize for saying that, by the way. Whatever it is that’s bugging you so much, you really, really need to tell him, because he keeps texting me with increasingly desperate questions and I’m too hormonal for this kind of stress.” Ally’d never had any hope that Daisy would accept Colin, but after he’d written a song for the baby and crooned it (fully clothed) to her belly, her steely resolve to hate him on principle had melted.
“Nooo!” Ally nearly shouted in a panicked flail. “I can’t talk to him about it. I just have to, you know, work my way through it. I checked out a bunch of self-help books from the library. It’ll be fine, I’ll figure it out.”
“That’s four its in one sentence. Spill.” Daisy crossed her arms over her chest, an area that was hard to distinguish from her belly at this point, because they were both so big and they kind of blobbed together in one giant protrusion.
Ally stared into her wine glass. “It--ugh. This is something that really doesn’t share well.”
“I can’t believe you’re saying that to me of all people.”
How could Daisy ever understand, when she’d had mostly great boyfriends and positive sex experiences? The best she could offer was the kind of girl-power advice found in magazines and that...whoa. That’s what started her down this road in the first place. No, no, really can’t go there.
Looking up at the ceiling, Ally stuffed an Oreo in her mouth--Oreos and red wine were a highly underrated combination--and said, as fast as she could, “I don’t have the faintest idea what constitutes good sex, and I probably oversold my blow job.”
Daisy narrowed her eyes. “How exactly can you oversell a blow job? As long as you don’t bite it off, all you have to do is put your mouth on a dick to create a satisfied customer.”
“Back before we were--were interested in each other. He was asking me questions about Simon and I might have said that my blow job was great, but it was the hand job I had trouble with.”
“Oh, Ally,” Daisy moaned, and popped an Oreo open to lick out the double stuffing.
“But I mean, is that what you’re so worried about? Because if you’ve never actually given him--”
“I have! I have blown him, multiple times. He didn’t seem especially disappointed. It’s just...I think maybe that’s the only thing I really know how to do at least semi-decently and I don’t even think it’s all that great, and on top of that, I think everything else is probably pretty damn disappointing to him. The way he looks at me sometimes...” She put her face in her hands. It was so mortifying to say it out loud.
“Is this because Colin has had so many women?”
“No! Yes! I mean, maybe?” Ally shrugged.
“Oh my god. He’s never given you an orgasm. That piece of--” Ally reached out and grabbed Daisy by the collar of her fleecy hoodie as she started toward the man cave.
“Slow your roll, there, Sugar Ray. My preggo sister trying to beat up my boyfriend will look a little unseemly to the cops.” Ally waved her hand around, as if that could explain such a deep and complicated problem. “I’ve had orgasms. He gives me orgasms. I just...I don’t know if I’m...” Ally had always believed she had a pretty good vocabulary--she wrote marketing copy, after all--but she felt very What Are Words right now.
Daisy rolled her eyes and pulled a couple of the Oreo sides out of the pile she’d been making, then dunked them in her milk. Ally could tell she was trying to connect all the dots in her head, something she was terrifyingly good at. “You think that because you’ve only had terrible boyfriends who never made the slightest effort to satisfy you sexually or emotionally, or were at all concerned about you as a person, that you can’t be what Colin wants. And that you’re not good enough or pretty enough or whatever enough to keep a guy like that around. And you wonder if what you feel when you have sex is what you should be feeling.”
See? Terrifying. Ally held her hands out.
“I know that Mom was really a terrible mother when it came to giving us the tools to build self-esteem and confidence and to love ourselves first,” Daisy said. “All she ever did was criticize, especially you because you were the first, and tear down any attempt we made to feel good about ourselves. She made us believe that we needed guys--the best possible guys--in order to feel like we’d achieved anything, that getting a boyfriend and potential husband was all that mattered.”
That was all true, but it didn’t change anything. “But Ally, you are worth more than terrible boyfriends. A guy should be a friend and someone who supports you, not just someone you’re supposed to do anything to keep, including putting up with bad sex or being mistreated. You deserve all the nice boyfriends and fantastic sex and total devotion. You deserve a guy like Colin, if he’s as great as you say he is.”
Ally sprayed a mountain of whipped cream from the can on top of her Oreo and nodded at Daisy as she shoved it in her mouth.
“You have to talk to him about this. You have to, because this isn’t something you can solve alone or by reading women’s magazines or self-help books. If he doesn’t know what you’re afraid of, he’ll think it’s his fault.”
Ally’s mouth twisted in a grimace. Daisy might have been right, but she didn’t know--what it was like to be a failure, what it was like to be the one who was always passed over, what it was like to never be the favorite.
“Okay,” she lied. “I’ll tell him.”
Colin was on the couch (fully clothed) when she got home, peering over the top of his newspaper as he smiled and nodded his head to the beat of whatever he was listening to on her (really expensive) headphones. For a guy who was as wired in as Colin bragged about being, she found it quaint and amusing that he still subscribed to a newspaper--Ally liked them just fine, but she’d expected him to do everything online.
“Oh! Yum, thank you.” He’d brought her favorite ham and cheese foldover from the bakery down the block and fixed her a glass of iced tea. This had been delivery overload day: two wedding cake toppers, one bar mitzvah centerpiece, and a custom piece for a Boston Home magazine layout, and she was utterly fried. Ever since Daisy’s wedding (and no small thanks to Colin, as well), she’d had a steady stream of sculpture requests, and she was often swamped--but it was a good problem to have, and the income had allowed her to take a part-time job.
Her mouth was full of foldover when she noticed Colin had taken his earbuds out and he was slowly unbuttoning his shirt.
Ally narrowed her eyes. “Is there something about me stuffing my face that makes you horny? Because it can’t be coincidence that every time I’m scarfing down food, you start stripping.”
He whipped his shirt off, swung it around, and sent it sailing over to the desk chair. Then he undid his jeans and shoved them down with a flourish. Today was apparently a commando day. He liked to keep her guessing. “I can’t help it,” he said, “you’re just adorable when you eat. I love that you actually love food.”
Ally wolfed down the rest of the pastry and gulped her iced tea. Swallowing, she observed dryly, “If I stopped working it off, you wouldn’t appreciate it so much.”
“Just more of you to love,” Colin insisted, pulling her to him.
“Guys always say stuff like that, but when the Spanx come off or the clothes go up a size, then they’re not so cheerful.”
He gathered her up in his amazing arms and carried her to the bed, then peeled her clothes off one by one. A shower would have been preferable before they got down, but there was always that nagging voice in the back of Ally’s head screeching about how making a guy wait for sex was just going to make him lose interest in her. It was a voice that sounded an awful lot like her mom’s.
Pushing her legs apart, Colin kissed the backs of her knees, up along the inside of her thighs, where he bit lightly at the crease of hip and thigh and brushed his fingers over her skin. His other arm curved around her leg, fingers playing chords on her thigh, and she sighed and quivered at the promise of what he was going to do. Back before they’d actually made love the first time, Ally had assumed that Colin must be pretty damn good in bed for so many of those girls to stick around and put up with him, that he had to do more than just get off himself and leave them hanging; her beliefs had been well founded.
Which is what made her so queasy: he was great in the sack, she hadn’t lied to Daisy about that, he was generous and funny and preposterously sexy. But the assholes Ally’d slept with didn’t really teach her much about sex that was useful, other than that she wasn’t having the kind of sex she really hoped for. Sex just...wasn’t that great, and if she hadn’t had Daisy to compare notes with, Ally would have gone through life thinking that was all there was. No one’s first time was all that great (at least no girls that she knew), but the thought of Gerry Perry squeaking above her like a mouse being crushed in a trap made her shudder with revulsion--and it had all been kind of a slow downhill crawl after that. No matter how much Ally had molded herself to be what she imagined her boyfriends wanted (god, the goth phase with Dave was so humiliating), it never resulted in anything resembling fulfillment.
Colin’s head popped into view, that little set of parentheses formed between his brows that she adored, and he ran his tongue around his lips, which--Jesus. He pressed his mouth to the inside of her right thigh. “Al. This has got to stop.” His voice was low, vibrating against her skin, sending a lovely tremble through her lower body. Wait.
“What?” she asked, trying not to betray her anxiety. He slid up till he was looming above her on his elbows, staring down with eyes fixed intently on hers. “Oh.” The tremble had abruptly moved to her lower lip. “I can’t--I mean, I always knew--I mean, I don’t blame you. I understand.”
“What is it you think I’m talking about?” Colin asked, narrowing his eyes.
Ally’s eyes went round. “Aren’t you breaking up with me?” she asked timidly, heart thundering in her chest.
“What?” he barked. “No! I’m not breaking up with you. Why would you--”
“Because the sex is bad! I knew I would disappoint you, I just hoped it would be a while longer before you gave up.” She frowned. “You’re not breaking up with me? Are you sure?”
“Okay, one, the sex is not bad and two, even if it were, I wouldn’t break up with you over it, and three, I love you. What is it you think I meant?”
She glanced away, unsure if she should be relieved or even more anxious. “You said it had to stop.”
“I meant whatever’s bugging you that you refuse to tell me about. You keep--I don’t know, you seem to pull away sometimes when we’re having sex, or I can feel your body tense up and not because of an impending orgasm. Though I do love the way you come--your fingers and toes curl and your eyelashes flutter, it’s so precious.” His eyes darted anxiously to the side. “Oh, shit. Do you not like the way I eat you out? Am I doing something you hate? I won’t take it personally if you draw me a diagram for what you like.”
“No,” she said in a small voice. “It’s--I thought--you’ve had so many girls and I know most of them are better at this than I am. They certainly look like they’re better at this.”
“Aaauuugghh,” he groaned, rolling over on his back, slapping his forehead. “I want to kill these assholes you dated before for making you think this way about yourself.” He made claw-hands.
Ally rolled on her side and drew lazy circles on his prodigious biceps, because it was easier than looking into his puppy eyes with the sinful lashes. “Back when I thought you were just the obnoxious guy across the hall--”
“I was pretty obnoxious, wasn’t I?” Colin almost sounded proud.
“The champ. But I remember seeing you the day I broke up with my last boyfriend, that tempeh-sausage-loving fuck. Mom always made us believe that without a guy we were nothing. Preferably a guy like Jake, of course, but any man would do in a pinch. I just thought that’s what I deserved, an asshole like Rick who fucked me from behind so he didn’t have to see whether I was satisfied or not, and freeloaded off me because those jobs at the food co-op don’t pay well, but wouldn’t even go to my sister’s wedding with me. Daisy said she’d always been suspicious of him because he wanted to do it doggy style so much. She said, ‘No one likes it, even the dogs are just waiting for it to be over with.’”
Colin erupted into laughter. God, he had such a great laugh.
“It just wasn’t that much different from any of my other experiences. I tried to make them happy by being what I thought they wanted. Guess I always just figured there must be women who do like doggy style, or giving head, or hand jobs, or any other thing, and that they were getting something out of it I never did. I didn’t know there were things I could expect. Or even deserve. Till you.” Eventually she brought her eyes up to meet his; he was watching her with such compassion it made her go all soft inside. “I’m such a fucking disaster and you’re so goddamn hot and sexy you’re like looking into the sun during an eclipse. Sooner or later you’ll figure out I’m not enough.”
“Oh, Al. Please don’t say things like that.” He curled around her and tucked her face into his shoulder. “You’re not a disaster, but even if you were, you’re my disaster, and a very sweet one at that. You’re gorgeous and sexy and... You were right when you said I wasn’t a decent guy back then--and the only reason I am one now is ’cause of you.” He stroked her hair for a while. “So, have you not been satisfied this whole time? Have you been faking it?”
“No! No, it’s been great. Orgasms ahoy, matey! But I can’t compete with the kinds of women you slept with before.” Ally didn’t want to get snot on his skin, but she could feel that stingy sensation creeping up in her sinuses that meant she would burst into tears soon. Especially if he was really kind to her.
Colin stuck some pillows behind him, scooted up against the headboard, and then pulled her into his lap. His huge, strong hands framed her hips and he looked solemnly into her eyes. That was the thing that always struck her--he looked at her eyes when they were talking, not her tits or her pussy. Even when they’d jumped in the harbor, he’d taken her hand and just...stared into her eyes. “First of all. I love sex with you. I love not-sex with you. I just want to be with you. Not everyone likes sex, you know, and not even I am always on top of my game.” He exhaled deeply. “If we figure out that you’re one of those people who doesn’t like it? I’m a total horndog, no doubt about it, and we’d have some figuring out to do, but it’d be okay--that’s not why I’m in love with you.”
“But I do! I do like sex! In theory, at least! It’s not off the table, okay?” She squeezed her thighs around his hips for emphasis, and felt his dick twitch underneath her bottom.
“Okay. But I’m just putting that out there, because it’s important. Second of all. There’s a hell of a lot of things we can try that should make us both happy. But you have to talk to me. You can’t keep this kind of stuff from me if we want to find out what those things are. Stop thinking I’m gonna ditch you.”
Ally made her brave soldier face and saluted him. His thumbs rubbed little circles at the crest of her hips.
“Tell me what you do like,” he said, all husky and come-hither. “What is on the table?” God, he had a voice made for a sex phone-line.
“I like kissing, I looove kissing. And I like when you go down on me.” One of the first things Colin had admitted to her was how much he loved eating pussy, and she’d nearly choked on her own spit. She’d never had a guy say that to her before; they’d always acted like it was a chore they had to complete before moving on to the main feature of them and their dicks.
“Well, good,” Colin said, kissing her ear, sucking the lobe. “So there’s two mutual interests. What else?”
“I love wrapping my legs around your incongruously tiny waist when you’re inside me.”
“Another co-sign. We’re on a roll.”
“I haven’t really formed deep opinions about anything else.”
“Well, was doggy style terrible for you? Uncomfortable? Gross you out?” Colin was fondling her breast now, just caressing it. Not like he wanted to get her hot, only making her feel loose and relaxed.
“I don’t know. I guess...I felt like they just didn’t want to see me, you know?” Ally dropped her head, she was probably scarlet by now. For some reason she could talk about the most disgustingly intimate details of her body with Daisy, but with her lover, it was excruciating. “Like Barrett remembering me once he looked at my lady parts. He liked to go down on me, that was pretty much the only thing he did like, so after a while it felt like he didn’t care about me--he just liked pussy, any pussy. And he didn’t even remember my face.”
Colin closed his eyes, the muscle in his jaw twitching the way it did when he got pissed off. He breathed in deeply. “Okay. So they never used their fingers on you or played with your breasts or kissed your neck, whatever sensations you liked, when they were in you from behind.”
“Do you like it better when you’re on top or when I am?”
“I don’t know that I have a preference.” Either way she got to watch his reactions, feel his body move against hers, and most important, look into his eyes looking into hers.
“What about other stuff? Do you enjoy blow jobs, or do you feel like that’s something you have to do? Have you tried anal sex?”
“Yes on one, sometimes on two, and no on three.”
She could tell he was trying to remember which questions he’d asked, and Ally laughed, ran her tongue along the edge of his ear, dipped it inside. He loved that, she’d found out quickly, his ears and neck were really sensitive and it made his legs quivery.
“Do you think you’d want to, or is that off the table?”
“Not sure about butt stuff. What are your feelings about butt stuff?”
“My feelings are very positive. I’m too sex-obsessed to rule anything out, so naturally I’ve tried it.” He grinned and slid his hand down to squeeze her ass very gently. “And if you don’t want to try it, that’s fine, but if you’re willing to do me, I’d love it.”
“Really?” she said, squinching her face up, looking at him out of one eye. That was unexpected. “Like, a dildo or something, a strap-on.” Her friends would no doubt have something very awful to say about that.
He shivered. “Exactly.” This was doing really strange things to her insides. As embarrassed as she was talking like this, it was also kinda crazy exciting.
“Okay. We can put that on the table. We’ve got a lot of things on the table now.”
“Any kink interests? Do you want to be tied up--”
“No!” That came out a little more forcefully than she’d meant, but his response was a smile and a kiss.
“Okay, bondage for you is a no. Would you have an objection to tying me up?”
“You want that?” Somehow Ally hadn’t figured him for that kind of guy.
“I’m not into the whole lifestyle thing, and the really serious stuff is a big nope, but I could definitely go for being cuffed or tied to this headboard, having you tease me for a really long time with some sensation play. And I may have a few handcuffs in my drawer.” Ally could totally imagine him stealing handcuffs from his father or one of his cop brothers for sex purposes.
“I can do that.” She paused. “I think I’d like to do that.” The thought of Colin letting--wanting--her to have her wicked way with him made Ally’s neck sweat.
“Toys?” he asked, and waggled his insanely expressive eyebrows. That had been one of the first things she’d fallen for: how good his eyebrow game was.
“Okay, good, we’re putting a big pin in toys.”
Underneath Ally, his hips moved with tiny, slow rolls and she was already wet. Colin ran his fingers down along between her ass cheeks, a shivery, pleasant tickle. His cock was hardening and he leaned toward her, kissing her wet and deep while he fumbled for a condom.
“If this doesn’t work for you, tell me,” he said against her throat and lifted her up and onto all fours. He knelt behind her, cupping her breasts in his hands, rolling her nipples between his fingers gently, kissing down her back. “But let’s see if we can change your opinion on the matter of doggy style. Call it a science experiment.”
This already felt light-years different from the other times someone had fucked her from behind, with his hands ranging around her body, caressing, smoothing, tickling, all while he kissed her back. His fingers slid over her clit and oh! Ally quivered and bucked against him as he slid inside, and he was teasing her with those cruel rolling hips of his. Colin’s teeth scraped tenderly along her shoulder, he bit lightly on her neck. “You with me?” he asked, one hand playing with her breast, the other stroking and teasing her pussy. The sweet pressure of him inside her while he played with her was divine.
“All the way with Colin Shea,” Ally wheezed, completely undignified, but goddamn he was good at this and she was laughing and he was laughing and it was wonderful. The way he cared about how she felt, the way he wanted to please her and didn’t mind that she was a dork and a disaster, maybe even liked it a little. That sweet tension building inside from the magical things his fingers and lips were doing. “Hey!” she exclaimed, “what about reverse cowgirl?”
Colin’s laugh rumbled through her as he sat back, pulling her down atop him. “Giddyup.” Ally felt relaxed and happy and satisfied, unworried about how she looked, moving with abandon when he thrust into her. His fingers continued to work their magic on her and she felt him tighten beneath her, thrusts slowing until he stopped, breathless. She’d always appreciated that he didn’t feel the need to announce he was coming. But still he held on to her as she gyrated, never stopping, whispering, “Ally, Al, you feel so good, do you feel good, too? You think you can come for me?”
“Don’t stop,” she said, even though she knew that he wouldn’t, he wasn’t like anyone else she’d been with and just because he got off didn’t mean he was finished. Then she was there, she was so very there, almost dizzy with it, laughing because the climax crescendoing through her was so unexpected.
Colin disposed of the condom and slid up next to her, and Ally didn’t even care that she was sweaty and gross and her hair probably looked like a fright wig. Of course he looked fresh and only slightly rumpled and happy, and he was gorgeous beyond belief.
As he slipped his arms around her, Ally smiled at the adorably smug smile on his face, and the completeness she’d never been able to imagine with a guy burst in her all at once. Tonight was just a tiny step toward the future, but for the first time Ally didn’t feel the need to hide what a disaster she was--Colin knew she was a disaster and loved her anyway. If he was going to dump her, it would be for bigger reasons than that she had morning breath or wasn’t a huge fan of butt sex. Ally could talk about what worried her and they would be okay. There was plenty of time to figure it all out.
“I know you think you're not perfect,” Colin said against her neck. “But you’re perfect for me.”