Rock BottomR. K. Lilley
I took a deep breath, my face buried in the most divine chest in the world. I’d been awake for a while, but I didn’t even think about getting up. I wasn’t sure if I was more wrapped around Tristan, or he me. We’d gone to sleep clutching each other, and from what I could tell, neither of us had moved an inch.
My leg was thrown over his hip, my arm around his side, a fistful of his T-shirt gripped in my hand like I was holding on for dear life. I was lying on my other arm, enough weight on it that it’d gone numb, and still, I didn’t even think about moving.
His arm was thrown over my shoulders, one leg pushed high between mine. I could feel my own T-shirt riding up to my ribs, his hand gripping a handful of it at my back. We’d been mirroring each other, clinging for dear life, even in sleep.
I felt him stir, and I lifted my head to look up at him.
His beautiful golden eyes were blinking, still blank from sleep. I witnessed his transformation from sweet oblivion and into dawning horror as he remembered.
I thought that might have been the worst thing about losing someone, that moment between asleep and awake, when you had to remember and accept the loss again, relive that moment when your life changed, and you lost something dear. It had been just over a month since his brother’s funeral, and he was still reliving that horrible moment of realization every single morning.
Two days after the funeral, Tristan’s mother had asked him to leave her home and not come back. As wrong as it was, it was clear she was placing all of the blame for Jared’s death at Tristan’s door. I thought he’d taken the falling out well, considering all he’d been through, and I’d been confident that she’d change her mind after she made it out of her own grief, but so far, she was holding firm in her pique.
It was a struggle for me not to get mad at her. But I told myself, over and over, that she was just hurting bad, and that much pain could spill outward. She loved Tristan, and so she would get over this.
Tristan had taken her rejection well, all things considered, but he needed me now more than ever, and I was determined to get him through this.
He’d spent the past month basically glued to my side. He still had his apartment, but he’d slept over at Bev’s house every single night since we’d left his mother’s. He didn’t want to be alone for even a second, and I understood. Solitude was perhaps a necessary component when dealing with grief, but I could not deny this man anything.
We didn’t go out, spending our days playing with the boys, and our nights watching re-runs of Jerry’s all-time favorite show, Arrested Development, over and over again, until we could quote the episodes to each other. We’d make love, fall asleep, then make love again. It was a time of comfort and distraction, of love and avoidance.
To this day, I thought back on those days as the most bittersweet of escapes.
His eyes shut tightly, and his lips sought out mine, seeking comfort through touch. I gave it to him. I was ready and willing to give him absolutely everything.
His fingers let loose their grip on my shirt, skimming up along my back, peeling it off me in a few smooth, swift motions. His shirt received the same treatment from my impatient hands. I rubbed my chest to his as we made direct contact, skin on skin.
He dragged off my panties while I dragged off his boxer-briefs, kissing every part of his body that I could reach, sucking his nipple hard into my mouth until he gasped and tugged me away, his hands in my hair.
He slid his hands down to my hips, gripping tight. He rolled onto his back, and pulled me up to straddle him. “Ride me,” he told me gruffly, using those big hands to tug me into place over his erection.
I arched my back, using one hand to balance on his chest while the other guided him to my entrance. I rubbed him there, letting him feel how ready I was, and just loving the feel of his tip playing over me.
His hips bucked underneath me, pushing him in far enough to make me gasp. “Now,” he growled, “I can’t wait. ”
I pushed down while he surged up, seating me to the hilt.
My eyes closed, my head falling back as sensation overtook me.
I stayed still, just enjoying that perfect contact, until his impatient hands tugged at my hips, urging me to move.
I circled at first, a teasing motion that had him gripping my ass and moaning.
I bit my lip and worked into a rhythm, rocking back and forth, back and forth.
He brought one hand up, kneading at my breast, his other sliding up my thigh, going unerringly to my clit, rubbing in a circle that brought me to the threshold of release deliciously, leisurely.
Those magic hands never missed their mark.
“Please,” I cried, quickening my pace.
He worked me faster, and I froze and shook like I had a fever, letting the waves of rapture take me. I felt him jerking inside of me as I came back down from that addictive high, his face arrested in his own gratifying release. I loved to watch him come, and I held as still as I could, impaled on him, until his eyes opened, and he blinked up at me.
I folded down to lay against him, burying my face in the side of his neck, breathing him in.
He always smelled divine. Like home.
“I love you,” he rasped out. He said it all the time. He didn’t hold it back, now that he’d admitted it, but it still gave me butterflies, every single time.
“I love you,” I spoke softly into his ear.
He gripped me harder. “I can’t ever lose you, Danika. I’m not sure I’d survive it. ”
“You’ve got me. And I’m not going anywhere. Not ever. ”
I meant the words when I said them, but life had other plans for us.
I was, by nature, a fighter, and no one could say I didn’t fight for us.
I’d have given my life for that fight.
In fact, I very nearly did.
Tristan was in the shower when I finally took Kenny’s call. He’d been trying to contact us both for a week, but some strange instinct had kept me from talking to him. I felt bad about it. Kenny was a nice guy, and he had to be hurting about Jared as well, but Tristan and I had been thriving in our own little world, and it was hard for me to let go of that.
“Hello,” I answered, my voice tentative.
“Danika!” Kenny’s voice filled the phone, warm with relief. “I’ve been trying to call you for a week. How are you? And how’s Tristan doing?”
I sighed, filled with guilt. “He’s okay. Sorry I haven’t answered. It’s just been, well…”
“No worries. I understand. You’re taking care of him, and we all appreciate that. Thank you. ”
That set me aback. I had been trying to take care of him, but I hadn’t expected his friends to thank me for it. “You’re welcome, Kenny. I just want to be there for him. I’d do anything for Tristan. ”
“I’m happy to hear that. I’m glad he had you to help him through all of this. He really needed you. ”
I swallowed hard, choked up at his praise. I wasn’t used to hearing things like that.
“I know he won’t want to talk to me yet, but could you give him a message for me?”
“Of course. ”
“I have Jared’s guitar. I doubt he’ll want it now, but just let him know that I’m keeping it for him. Jared was teaching him to play. Did you know that?”
“I didn’t. ”
“I think it would be good for him to take it up again. It would make him feel closer to Jared, and he needs that. ”
“Do you think that will help right now, or make it worse?” I asked. I wasn’t asking because I had the answer. In my opinion, it could go either way.
“I think it will help.
They were so close. Forgetting his brother is not an option, and staying close to what made Jared whole is the best way to remember him. ”
I could tell by his voice that he believed that.
Later, much later, I would regret telling Tristan about the phone call, about the guitar. Some part of me, the part that liked to wallow in my own misery and dwell on the past, would blame that guitar for everything that went wrong between us, because it brought him back to the band and that lifestyle. But the logical part of me knew that Tristan would have gone back to old habits and old friends, and that whether he sank or swam was, inevitably, in his own hands.
Every misstep that led us down the path to our destruction was our own doing, but to this day, I still hated that guitar.
When we hit the party scene again, we did it in force. We were people of extremes, to be sure, though I’d never have put myself in Tristan’s league when it came to decadence. After several weeks of seclusion, staying home night after night, we began to go out again.
It was supposed to be one night, one party, but that wasn’t how things worked with Tristan.
It was my firm belief that to properly mourn the loss of a person, you had to deal with the silence in your head and accept what it turned into when life didn’t keep you too busy to think. We had some small bit of that, when we spent time alone together, just the two of us. I didn’t think we had nearly enough of it before we started up again with the party scene, but Tristan didn’t agree. He was determined to escape from the silence in his head, at all costs.
I felt helpless to stop him. His demons were so very different from my own.
We found ourselves at another house party, of another friend of a friend, celebrating something or other. I was thoroughly over it by then. The house parties didn’t even have danceable music most of the time, and Tristan took off to talk to Kenny nearly the second we arrived at this one. Frankly, I’d as soon have been home studying or at the dance studio practicing.
The consolation prize for this party was that Frankie was there. She almost made up for the fact that Dean and Twatalie were in attendance.
Unfortunately, long before I found Frankie, Twatalie found me.
I was just grabbing a drink from some stranger’s kitchen when a voice spoke to me from behind.
I stiffened instantly in recognition.
“Well, you are an exotic little piece of ass, I’ll give you that. But I don’t suppose the yellow fever can last forever. His first love is for blondes, you know. ”
I blinked slowly at her random little diatribe, then smiled big. This I could handle. It was the keeping my mouth shut and the claws in that had been a struggle.
“Not all of us can look like Bratz dolls,” I said, my tone idle. “Did your doctor give you a discount when he realized that you’d lost the ability to blink your eyes or close your mouth? If not, you should definitely write a nasty letter. Though, in your case, I guess the more you have in common with a blow-up doll, the better. ” I met her furious eyes straight on, making my expression into one of surprise, popping my lips out and slightly open like hers were permanently; my best impression of a blow-up doll.
“You’re a real bitch, you know that?”
I rolled my eyes, disappointed that was the best she could do. I’d been ready for a real sparring match. “And you’re a tired old Vegas slut of a gold digger. ”
“I’m only twenty-six!”
I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing. It really said it all, that the old part of my statement was the only thing she took exception to. “Sluts that bang old men age in dog years, didn’t you know?”