Wounded Read online

Page 17

She twists in the bed, making a little noise in her throat as she does so. She’s facing me now, and her hands are clasped up between our chests, almost as if she’s praying in her sleep. I let my hand rest on her waist, and I just can’t help but let it slide down to her hip.

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  Then her eyes are fluttering open and she’s looking into me. Not at me, but into me.

  So beautiful, soft and lovely.

  One of her hands uncurls, flattens against my chest. I blink hard, desperately, pathetically hoping she’ll touch me. I feel like a teenager again, working so hard for a first kiss, awkwardly groping in the dark back seat of my car, hoping she’ll touch me anywhere, hoping she wants me like I want her.

  This is crazy. I’m married to her, but our relationship is so odd, so hesitant, so careful and exploratory.

  Minutes pass, my hand on her hip, hers on my chest, neither of us moving, barely breathing. I wonder if I should try to make a move, kiss her, or touch her, or let her set the pace.

  My gut tells me to stay still and see what she does, and I’ve learned to trust my gut.

  Her eyes widen slightly and waver as her gaze shifts on mine. She runs her hand over my shoulder and down my arm, just her fingertips along the bicep. And then she’s sliding her palm down my chest again, twisting her hand so her fingers face sideways, cupping my waist and my side. I stay frozen, letting her touch me. She scoots sideways along the edge of the bed, pulls me toward her, and then pushes me to lie on my back, adjusting her own position again so she’s lying half on me, my arm now cradling her head.

  “Okay?” she whispers. “Not hurting you, am I?”

  I shake my head. My fingers are twisting in her hair, smoothing it, toying with strands. I just watch her, examine her lovely features, memorizing, admiring.

  She places her hand on the center of my chest, staring at my body now rather than my eyes. Her fingers move down the fabric of my shirt, a proper regulation green BDU T-shirt now. She slips her fingers under the bottom edge of the shirt and explores upward, pushing the cotton as she goes. I lift my back slightly so the shirt is free to bunch under my shoulders. It’s a bit uncomfortable, so I tug the shirt off with one hand and toss it on the floor next to the bed.

  I don’t know what the doctors are monitoring, since I’m not hooked up to any machines; a random, aimless, displaced thought.

  Her hand rests on my right pectoral muscle, and she traces around my nipple, rubs her thumb across the tip of it, then traces the arc of my pectoral with one finger. Now the stomach, her palm sliding across my taut belly, tracing the grooves between my abs, like she did that one night in her house. I resist the urge to flex for her.

  She runs up the other side of my body, then back down. Farther, closer and closer to my waistband. She’s working up the courage to go farther. I won’t stop her this time. I think she’s just exploring, for herself. Exploring her own sense of desire.

  She takes a breath, slow and deep, lets it out as she snakes her palm down my torso to the fly of my pants. I unconsciously suck in my belly a little, then force myself to relax it. She glances up at me, unsure. I tuck a wayward hair behind her ear, run the side of my thumb over her cheekbone, then kiss her, as slow and soft and sweet as I can manage.

  This seems to give her courage.

  She twists the first button free, then the second. She stops, looks up at me. I quirk one side of my mouth up in a tiny smile and keep playing with her hair. She glances away, smiling shyly. So innocent, approaching this almost like a virgin.

  I lick my lips and focus on breathing evenly as she unbuttons my fly the rest of the way. She puts her fingers in the waistband of my underwear, then hesitates, shakes her head.

  “Hey,” I say. “It’s okay. This is whatever you want. No rush, okay? Just…just relax. ”

  “I am not so much afraid,” she says. “I am only nervous. Unsure of what I want, or what I am doing. ”

  “Just do whatever you want. If you’re not sure, just ask. ”

  She bites her lip and looks at me, long and hard. “I want…I want to see you,” she says.

  “See me?”

  She nods, not looking at me now, embarrassed. “Just see what you look like, first, as a man. ”

  “Oh. You mean you want me to take my pants off?”

  She nods her head against my chest again. “Is it okay?”

  I laugh into her hair. “Of course. Everything’s okay. Listen, only do what you want, okay? I told you, I don’t expect—”

  “I want to,” she interrupts. “I just am not so sure of what to want, or how to want it. You know? I have never wanted a man before. ”

  “And you want me?”

  She nods. “It is frightening, a little, how much I want to touch you. To be touched. ” I can feel her heart beating hard in her chest. “What you did, before, to me. To make me…” she makes an exploding gesture with her fingers, “…that was…I liked it. Very much. ”

  I chuckle. “Me, too. ”

  She tilts her head to look at me, nose wrinkled in confusion. “But you…I did nothing for you. ”

  “It’s not just about that. I enjoyed that as much as you did, but in a different way. Watching you…making you feel those things…I loved it. I’ll do it again, if you want me to. ”

  She shakes her head. “Not yet. First, this. I am afraid to touch you, but yet I want to. I cannot be only afraid. I must know in my heart that it is okay to want. To touch. ”

  I think I sense what she’s saying. “This is different for you. Different from…being with someone as Sabah. ”

  She flinches and goes tense. “That is not ‘being with. ’ It is… ‘doing to. ’ You see the difference? Sabah…she is one who allows men to feel what they want, do what they want. Sabah? She does not feel. She is cold. So cold that she cannot feel. ”

  “Numb. ”


  “That’s the word for when you’re so cold you can’t feel anything. ”

  “Oh. Then yes. Sabah is numb. She pretends. ” A long silence. “I am not Sabah. I am Rania. And I feel. ”

  “Good. No more Sabah. Only Rania. ”

  She nods. “But you are right. This is very different. Maybe you think because I was a whore for many years, I should know much about sex, about men. ” She shakes her head. “No. They do. I…do nothing. Only let them and make the noises they like. ”

  “Not anymore,” I say.

  She shrugs, a tiny movement. “Perhaps. If you say so. ” She’s drifting away.

  I’ve f**ked it up. She’s distant now, cooled off. Thinking about then. About Sabah.

  “I’m sorry I brought it up. ”

  She shrugs. “You need to know these things. I know nothing of sex. Of men. Of what to do, or how. What you might want. What I should want, or like to feel. It is all strange to me. I liked what you did. I did not know I could feel that way. ”

  Page 47


  I roll slightly and kiss her. She freezes at first, as she always does when I kiss her, but she softens into it quickly, opens her mouth to mine, and nudges closer, gives in to the kiss. Her hand slips back onto my ribs, drifts around to my back, and explores it as we kiss, break for breath, and kiss again.

  When we stop, she touches my chest again, drifting back down to my open fly. She glances at me, and the look is the request. I lift my hips and wiggle out of my pants, taking the underwear with them, and then I’m naked beneath blanket. I feel oddly nervous, even though I’m usually comfortable with my nudity.

  She pushes the blanket past my hips slowly. Her breathing is shallow as she gazes at me. I’m hardening under her gaze. The scrutiny is almost embarrassing, nerve-wracking. I’m perfectly still, except for my chest rising and falling with my breath, and my slowly unfurling cock.

  Her hand rests on my stomach, over my belly button. Again, some bizarre instinct causes me to suck in my belly