Motion (Page 38)
“Are you okay?”
I nodded hurriedly, breathing in through my nose because I missed how he smelled. Soak it up, buttercup. This might be your last opportunity.
As usual, the fragrance of him had an inebriating, relaxing effect. But for some reason, this time it also made me want to . . . lick . . . something.
Abram continued to stare down at me. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. I’m fine.” I took another breath through my nose. “How are you?”
Abram’s grip loosened a little, like he planned to release me.
So my mutinous mouth lied, “But I think I banged up my shoulder a little. Oh. Oh, ouch.” I lifted my right shoulder, making a wincing face, even though no part of me hurt. Pathetic.
“Is that where the door hit you?” His attention shifted to my offended shoulder and he inspected it, his eyebrows pulling together.
Huh. Clearly, he believed me, and I couldn’t believe he’d fallen for that. Perhaps I no longer require lying lessons.
“This is where it hit, yes.” I leaned forward a smidge, the doors behind him finally slid shut, and the elevator made a whirring sound as it slowly ascended.
I could only assume he’d pressed the button for the third floor when he’d originally stepped onto the elevator from the basement and that’s why we were moving. I hadn’t pressed the fourth-floor button yet, I’d been too busy liking how his body cocooned mine; liking how close he was and how that meant I could feel the warmth of him; liking how his hand slid up my arm to gently prod and smooth over my shoulder, checking for injury; liking how he hadn’t seemed to notice that my hands were on his biceps, enjoying the solid strength and size. Or if he’d noticed my hand placement, he didn’t seem to care.
Basically, continuing to gaze at Abram, I liked everything about the moment, and this was odd because he was—essentially—taking care of me. If you didn’t count medical professionals, I’d never experienced taking care with anyone but a nanny, my sister, and Gabby, all incidences which had occurred many, many moons ago.
He frowned at my shoulder. “I think it’s fine. But if it bothers you, we should ice it.”
“Okay,” I said softly, feeling inclined to agree with just about anything he suggested.
But then he stilled, his eyes cutting back to mine. Abram lifted an eyebrow, his gaze narrowing, assessing, examining.
He let me go. He removed himself to the adjacent wall. He crossed his arms.
Clearing his features of expression, his gaze dimming once more to disinterested and reserved, Abram stared forward and cleared his throat. A renewed pang of regret bounced around inside my ribcage as I watched this transformation, amazed at how much distance he was able to put between us in such a small space.
Clearing his throat again, he glanced at the digital floor readout, and then back to me. “Which floor?”
“The, uh, the fourth floor. The top floor.” The pang of regret sunk to my stomach. Knowing why he’d stepped back and not at all blaming him for putting distance between us, I rubbed my shoulder.
Though it was my heart that felt injured.
Further Applications of Newton’s Laws of Motion
I watched the sunset. By myself. Wondering when Gabby would finally show up. Feeling like the personification of a bookmark.
Bookmark was the perfect descriptive word for this restless paralyzed state of being. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t do. I was a placeholder with no power or free will. My only utility was the fact that I existed. A bookmark.
No longer feeling lazy, I jogged down the stairs to the second floor and changed into the white bikini I’d worn twice but had never used. In record time, I was ready to move. I needed exercise so I could sleep. I needed sleep to set my brain in order. I’ll feel better, more myself, after a good night’s sleep.
Again, taking the stairs, I marched past the kitchen, down the hall, and to the mudroom, determined to expend some energy. Alas, just before opening the door, movement in the pool caught my attention.
Abram. In the pool. Swimming. Déjà vu.
Staring at his form, I was breathing harder than I should’ve been. But that was because I was truly torn. What should I do? My brain was getting a rare workout.
We had a gym in the basement. I could change—again—and use the treadmill.
He couldn’t swim forever. I could wait until he was finished.
I didn’t have to exercise at all. I could go upstairs and read my new book, or good old Moby Dick. A voice that sounded a little like Gabby’s whispered between my ears, It’s the only dick you’re getting any time soon.
Growling at the window, I shoved the crass—albeit true—thought to the side. There were several logical paths available to me. But instead of taking any of them, I gathered a deep breath, squared my shoulders, and opened the door. No doubt I was being stubborn and stupid.
But I wanted to go swimming.
Abram using the pool was not a reason for me to avoid swimming. We could be friendly. We were adults, at least in the eyes of the US government. We would be able to manage a civil conversation. Why would he care if I went swimming? He wouldn’t.
He won’t. . .
Strangely, this thought did nothing to make me feel better.
Still breathing harder than I should’ve been, I opened the door and left the house. Making a short detour to the little pool shed tucked against the façade of the brownstone my parents had torn down, I grabbed a pair of goggles and a towel. And then I approached the pool, my eyes following Abram as he continued his laps, ignorant of my arrival.
Setting the towel on one of the nearby lounge chairs, I cleared my mind of all dissent and stepped into the pool, hustling to the side he wasn’t using. But he must’ve seen my legs or sensed a shift in the force, because he stopped swimming mid-lap and stood, wiping his eyes and frowning at me.
He was also breathing hard, which was to be expected given the fact that he’d been swimming for an eternity.
Giving him a tight smile and a head nod, but no eye contact, I dipped the googles into the pool and ignored the frantic beating of my heart. Goodness, I’d forgotten how perfectly formed he was up close with no shirt, and this time rivulets of water were dripping from his perfectly formed . . . form.
“Lisa.” He moved a step closer.
“Abram.” The end of his name caught in the back of my throat, necessitating a thorough throat clearing.
He waited until I’d finished clearing my throat before asking, “What are you doing?”
“Uh, well, you see, if you get the goggles used to the temperature of the water before you wear them, they won’t fog as much.” I rubbed the lenses with my fingers, staring at the action of my hands with an intensity of concentration more befitting rocket science. I would know.
“Not the goggles.” He moved again, the ripples of water caused by his body now meeting mine. “What are you doing?” he asked, slower this time.
“I’m going to swim some laps.” Finished acclimating the goggles, I pulled them on, correcting the suction around my eye sockets.
I felt his eyes on me. I felt them as assuredly as if he’d touched where he looked. That meant I had the urge to lower myself into the water up to my neck before he spied what my nipples thought about being the subject of his attention.
Spoiler alert: They liked it.
But I didn’t lower myself, even though they’d tightened into traitorous stiff beads. Given historical data, everything about this situation and my body’s reaction to it should have alarmed me.
First, I wasn’t usually scantily clad while around another person.
Second, if I was, it occurred in near or complete darkness, and only after a great deal of discussion surrounding expectations. On the off chance that it wasn’t dark, my nipples didn’t typically have an opinion about being gazed upon one way or the other.
However, as Abram drifted closer, I discovered my well of wary was running distressingly low. Some reckless part of myself encouraged the rest of me to remain standing, betraying boobs be damned. Abram wanted an eyeful? Fine with me.
My irrational thoughts were as follows: I liked him looking. I wanted him to look. I wanted him to like what he saw and think about me later. I couldn’t talk to him; I couldn’t kiss him; I couldn’t touch him. But I could stand here, in this bikini, and give him a memory. Hopefully a nice one.
And inexplicably, if I were being honest with myself, Abram looking at my body made me feel absolutelyfuckingfabulous.
See? Clearly, I was sleep-deprived and veering into Gabby’s mentally unhinged lane.
“You’re going to swim laps in a bikini?” he asked, his voice a little rough.
“Yep.” I adjusted my hair so the rubber strap of the goggles didn’t tug uncomfortably.
“In a string bikini?”
“Yep.” The pool was cool, my cheeks were hot. I dipped my head all the way underwater, getting my hair and face wet while sneaking a glance at Abram’s glorious torso, illuminated to perfection by the pool light, and made a nice memory of my own.
I am an Objectifying Olivia. I am Hypocritical Helen. I am a Lying Lisa. I am Winnifred the Worst.
Breaking the surface, I wiped my nose and lips of water, and backed up to the edge of the pool. Freely accepting that I was behaving irrationally, I smoothed my hair away from my face with both hands, the action probably doing great things for my chest headlights.