Love Story In WhitebyLucyH©
Note: This story should make sense on its own, but it's also an epilogue to my previous story, "Soft as Glass." It's the same characters years later. If blood and branding bother you, you may want to skip this story.
Jamie lay on the bed, with his eyes closed and his head on Lene's lap. Although the video they'd been watching had finished several minutes previously, they hadn't gotten around to moving. The curtains fluttered in the summer breeze, and lawn mowers droned in neighbours' yards.
Lene stroked her husband's soft white hair. It wasn't that long ago that it was salt-and-pepper, but when it grew back in after chemo, not a single strand of black remained.
Jamie nuzzled her thigh. "Is it just me, or do movies just keep getting stupider every year?"
She chuckled. "It's us getting smarter, I think."
"Ah, that explains it. Smarter is good." He opened his eyes and rolled onto his back so it was easier to look up at her face. "And at least one of us is getting more beautiful."
Lene smiled, feeling self conscious. "Now one of us is getting sillier." The face that looked back at her from the mirror these days belonged to an old lady. She had a hard time even thinking of it as her own reflection.
"I'm not being silly, sweetness. You're lovely. Sure, you've got a few smile lines here and there, but you got them from smiling at me."
She was about to protest, but stopped. When she looked at his face, she didn't see some old guy, after all. She saw Jamie, and he looked pretty damn good without those dark circles under his eyes. With his complexion, he looked like he'd been basking naked in the sun, even in the dead of winter. The contrast with his white hair made his skin look even darker than it used to. Lene stroked his cheek with a couple of fingers. If he looked that good to her, why couldn't she look good to him? "Thanks."
He kissed her fingers the way he used to do after she slapped him while they made love; his lips lingered on her skin, soft and reverent as he let out a slow warm breath. For a moment, she thought she must be imagining things, but when he looked her in the eyes, the heat in that gaze was unmistakable. "Do you ever think about playing with me?" he asked.
Did she? She'd buried those feelings deep when he got sick, and the hospital visits and medications took over everything. Every now and then, though, something would remind her of how much they'd enjoyed it when she tormented him. Just a week ago, for instance, she'd been searching for an old photo album and found half a dozen sterile needles on the top shelf of the closet. Yes, it was fair to say that she thought about it, at least. "Sometimes, but it seemed like maybe you'd had more than enough pain for one lifetime."
He pointed the remote control at the T.V., and the screen went black. "From cancer, yes. From you, never."
Her vision blurred with happy tears. "It's good to have you back." In the last couple of weeks, Jamie had started to act like his old self again. He'd invited the kids over for dinner, cooked something amazing in the wok, and argued with them for an hour and a half about politics. A day later, she'd found him in the garage giving his bicycle a tune-up. Now another essential piece of Jamie was surfacing. It was more than she'd dared to hope for. "I almost can't believe it..."
"Well what did you expect? I didn't fight for my life so that I could lie around not having any fun." He pretended to be offended, but he was smiling too much for it to really work.
Lene laughed and a tear rolled down her cheek. "No, I know you better than that." She wiped her face with the sleeve of her sweater. "But I was so worried about you for so long."
"Yeah, I was worried about me too. But here we are - just you and me – and I can't help thinking we have better things to do than watch movies."
His comment brought her back to considering her own state of mind, and the fact that her libido hadn't stirred much lately, even when she recalled the wonderful sex they used to have. The worry put a damper on her excitement. "I don't know if I can get back in the groove just like that. I guess I need..." She sighed and felt frustrated with herself for not knowing quite what she wanted to ask of him. Did she need time to adjust to the idea that her sex life wasn't over? Cuddles and petting? Verbal seduction?
"No pressure. You don't have to be in heat just because I suddenly am." He stretched and rubbed the back of his neck to get the kinks out. His sleeve fell back, revealing a white line on the back of his wrist. The mark wouldn't look like much to a naive observer, and Lene was so used to seeing it that she didn't usually think about it. When she paid attention, though, Jamie's scars told stories of some of their most intense moments together.
They'd dragged the heavy wooden chair with arms into the kitchen, and Lene had tied Jamie to it with every bit of rope they had. She turned the front burner on high, and finished off the bondage by duct taping his hands and arms to the arms of the chair to immobilize them completely. It was probably overkill, but better safe than sorry. Jamie kept looking over Lene's shoulder at the stove.
Lene dropped the roll of tape and put a hand around Jamie's throat. His pulse surged hard and fast, and her heart's tempo sped up in reply. "Nervous?"
Jamie tilted his head up towards her face. "A little," he lied.
"A little? Well, in that case, don't worry, because this is only going to hurt a little." Lene leaned over and claimed a kiss before he had a chance to respond to that. She loved the way he got quivery when he knew she was about to do something really painful to him, and she delighted in his soft whimper when she tightened her hand on his throat just enough to remind him that he was at her mercy. She drew the moment out, savouring it until she couldn't stand it anymore.
Lene plucked a fancy fondue fork out of the utensil rack – a wedding gift they'd never found a use for until that night. She held the tip against the burner to heat it up. "I bet my Aunt Alma didn't quite have this in mind when she gave us these."
"Probably not. Uh, do you think maybe you should gag me?"
"No. I'm only going to do this once, and the neighbours won't call the police unless you carry on for a while." She rested her free hand on his shoulder. The tension in his muscles fed her desire. After this, she was definitely going to have to take him to bed and ravish him repeatedly.
The tip of the fork eventually glowed red like the burner. Jamie barely breathed.
When the handle of the fork started to get noticeably warm, Lene said, "Now you can ask for it, dearest."
It took him a few seconds to work up the nerve. "Please-burn-my-wrist." It came out as one word.
"With pleasure." Lene touched the metal to his skin. She'd meant to count out the seconds, but the hiss of hot metal against flesh, followed a fraction of a second later by Jamie's unbridled shriek, bumped the numbers out of her brain. He fought against the bonds with all his strength, and suddenly all that rope and tape didn't seem like overkill at all. The violence of his reaction, and the intense pleasure it gave her, seared the moment into her brain as indelibly as it marked his skin. Lene even remembered the shape of the little wisp of steam, forty years later.
What she did with the fork after that, she couldn't remember, but she wasn't holding it a minute later when she straddled his lap and held him while he dealt with the relentless pain. He panted, whimpered, and muttered obscenities interspersed with words of love. She petted him and babbled about how much she adored him.
"What?" Jamie asked.
Lene snapped back to the present. "Did I say something?"
"No, but you thought something. Where'd you go?"
"Your scar. I was just remembering."
Jamie turned his wrist so he could look. "That was rather mischievous, putting it where we'd see it all the time. Do you have any idea how many times I've noticed this mark and thought about how lucky I am to have a wife who enjoyed giving it to me? I loved that your panties were completely soaked when I took them off you afterward."
"Were they? I guess we remember different things." Lene undid a couple of buttons of Jamie's shirt. "I know what I need right now. You. Naked. Your skin is wonderfully pornographic."
"I'm glad you think so." He lowered his hand to give her access to the rest of the buttons; she'd long ago gotten him into the habit of letting her undress him instead of doing it himself.
Lene opened up Jamie's shirt and slid it off of his shoulders. She trailed her fingers down his arm, over four thin diagonal slashes. Those were the first scars she'd ever given him, the night their first daughter, Sylvia, was conceived.
Jamie lay on his back under Lene, with his arms flung out at his sides, and she made love to him on a bed of pine needles. Tears leaked out of the corners of his closed eyes, shiny in the silver moonlight. Beautiful. He wasn't really crying, though. It seemed more like his eyes were watering from pain. She'd already put him through more that night than ever before, but there was one more thing she'd promised to do: cut him.
Since she didn't have the patience to disinfect only the spots that she planned to cut, she emptied the entire bottle of rubbing alcohol over his arms and her knife. His nostrils flared. Lene placed the blade of the small kitchen knife against his arm. Jamie tensed up, and he clenched his teeth, but he let her cut him.
The shallow gash darkened with blood, and his breath came in ragged gasps. He squirmed under her and his hands curled into fists, but he left his arms open wide for the next cut, and the next, and the next. He'd been non-verbal for a while, but as she finished the last cut, he shouted "Yes!" The word was magic; his surrender rolled through her like a shiver, and she came so hard it made her dizzy. It didn't make any sense, but it happened.
Lene's fingers explored the texture of the scars left by those cuts – slightly raised and smoother than the surrounding skin – while she bounced the memory around in her mind. She dreamed about that night sometimes, and sometimes it seemed like she could still smell pine and damp earth when she woke up. She drew a deep breath, half expecting to smell it just then, but the only scent in the air was fresh cut grass.
"I don't think it's just pornographic. I think it's a love story. That one says I was yours when we were twenty. This one says I was yours when we were thirty." He twisted around to show her the back of his shoulder, where he bore a mark from the time she'd split his skin open with a whip by accident. "I wanted it so bad. I know you don't believe me, but I swear I was hoping you'd draw blood."
"I never said I didn't believe you - just that I should have been more careful." Lene didn't feel guilty about it anymore, though. That was a long time ago. She leaned in and rubbed her face against his scarred shoulder, like a cat. The heat from his skin felt good on her cheek.
Jamie stroked her arm. "I'm glad you weren't more careful. I love it when you're fierce. You know that. Life is too short to go around being careful all the time."
Lene left that remark alone; they'd had this discussion dozens of times, and said all there was to say about it. She worried about hurting him seriously if she didn't hold back a little. He'd say he seriously needed to be hurt. Even when they were arguing, she loved the way he begged for it. And when they weren't arguing, she loved it then, too. How many times had she tied him to the bedposts and had him ask her to do something that he knew would have him struggling with all his strength minutes later? Lene found herself kissing and nipping at Jamie's neck as she thought about it.
He nudged her head against his throat. "Mmmm. What about the cut over my heart? We were, what, forty something?"
"Something like that," Lene murmured, with her lips touching his skin. "I remember it was about the time all my friends were buying self help books about how to spice up their boring sex lives." That year, the blood on her mad scientist Halloween costume had been real, dripped and smeared all over her lab coat while they went at it like bonobos on ecstasy. She remembered how the hem of the lab coat soaked up the red from his chest when she had her legs flung over his shoulders. His contribution to her costume was still drying when they'd arrived at the party fashionably late.
"I want you to give me another mark to celebrate," Jamie said.
"How shall we do it this time? Have anything in mind, since you've apparently been thinking about it?"
"Yep." He retrieved the syringe driver from the dresser – the device that they'd used to deliver painkillers for a couple of weeks when he had a hard time keeping any food down, and which the home health care company had yet to swing by and pick up. As it turned out, they wouldn't need to collect it, because Jamie smashed it to smithereens against the marble countertop in the bathroom. Crap. Weren't those syringe drivers expensive?
Jamie came out holding a jagged scrap of plastic between two bloody fingers. She saw red and forgot about the bill. He handed over the plastic fragment and slipped his fingers into her mouth without having to be asked.
She let the taste of copper and salt pool on her tongue for a moment, and she felt like the luckiest woman in the world to be married to this wonderful, passionate man. To have the privilege of writing their love story on his skin in their shared secret language, stroke by stroke, year by year.
"I want you to carve our initials into my skin, like people sometimes do with trees and picnic tables and things."
Lene tested the edge of the piece of plastic with her finger. "This isn't very sharp."
A smile oozed onto his face, slow, sweet, and dark. "Then it'll take a while."
Her heart fluttered.
Jamie closed the window and came to bed.