Body of Water Ch. 01byMugsyB©
So along with my usual fare, I've managed to find time for this story. I started it ages ago and then I let it sit. Recently, I got back to it, tweaked it and did what I could to it. Now it's ready for posting.
This story is a bit different for me. It's a genre I've never tried and honestly, choosing which genre to put it in was a challenge because it's not a typical fantasy or non-human story. In any case, I hope you enjoy it and as always, take care and happy reading!
The dream was always the same.
The tide pushing, pulsing with need and then ebbing. My body felt the tug and rolled with it, like a piece of driftwood cast away. I didn't fight the feeling. I was limp, empty of the strength to swim, or even float.
The water pulled me under and there were flashes of light, and bright color. They might have been fish, maybe the reflection of the sun off the shallows.
I didn't know, didn't care to know.
The water eased over and around me, tugging with infinite gentleness. I soared, shifting, sliding, sinking deeper into it until my senses left me.
Then, for a long time, nothing.
Like every morning, the urgent bleating of my alarm clock woke me and shook the dream from my mind. I yawned, stretched and smacked my hand down on the 'off' button.
"Shut up." I rolled over to bury my face in my pillow. I indulged myself for only a minute before throwing my covers back.
Shower first, then clothes, and after that, I hurried downstairs for breakfast. The house was quiet; usual since I'm the last one to rise every morning. My two roommates worked odd shifts - both of them nurses - and were the first ones up, or the last ones home in the morning. My job was less taxing; I worked as a designer for a new home builder. I worked Monday to Friday, had weekends and holidays off and rarely worked overtime.
As I scanned the newspaper, I munched on a piece of toast. After licking my fingers clean, I glanced at my wristwatch. The time showed half past five. I scowled and looked up at the digital clock on the stove. 7:34.
Dammit. I undid the clasp of my watch. Another one.
I have terrible luck with watches. I buy them, I wear them and they die. I used to try to replace the batteries, but that never worked. The watch would run for a few weeks and then die. No amount of battery replacing would change it. Someone once suggested that I spend a little more on a watch; her theory being that I bought crappy watches for twenty bucks, and that's why they never worked for longer than a year. I refused to spend a hundred or more dollars on something when I couldn't be guaranteed of success.
So I'm a cynic; sue me.
With a sigh, I tossed this latest bit of machinery in the garbage and scooped my purse up from the counter. I drew my jacket on and slid my feet into shoes. In minutes, I was driving through rush hour to my office in the industrial quadrant of the city I lived in. Calgary was a booming hub in the western prairie.
The company I work for, Landbourne Homes, has been a fixture in the homebuilding market for over twenty years. They're family-owned and operated but occasionally, an outsider could rise through the ranks. I didn't hold onto to such an ambition but it was a pleasant place to work. The managers were strict but fair and overall the company was run like a well-oiled machine.
I'd worked for them for five years, starting as a temporary receptionist. They'd worked around my school hours as I got my degree in interior design and offered me a job in their design center when I finished. I'd been doing that job for almost two years now and, while it didn't fill me with a complete sense of joy, it was a good job; low stress, well-paying, and it afforded me the chance to meet new people every day.
Today passed much the same as all my other days. I organized my files and started seeing customers at nine. A break at noon - lunch and a book at the picnic table out front - then back to another client meeting at one. I drove home through afternoon rush hour again at five and started making dinner.
As I was browning the chicken, my roommate, Angela, strode into the kitchen and inhaled deeply.
"Oh, thank God, you're cooking!"
I returned her smile and opened my arms for a hug. Angela was the most affectionate of the three of us, undoubtably the reason she was such a fantastic nurse. She towered over my five-foot-three frame by six inches but she was lithe and willowy instead of robust. She kept her dark blond hair short, cropped close to her head, and it liked to stick out in every direction. Her eyes were a bright blue, almost always crinkled at the corners as she smiled or laughed.
She released me from the embrace and turned to the stove. "Mmm, smells fantastic. What is it?"
I laughed and bumped her hip - or rather, the muscle below her hip - with mine. "It's chicken and garlic right now. In about a half hour, it'll be a stir fry with veggies."
"Awesome!" Angela took another deep sniff before leaving me alone in the kitchen again.
I resumed dinner preparation and was just dishing it out when my second roommate, Harlowe walked into the house. His name was Isaac Harlowe, but he refused to answer to his given name. So, Harlowe it was. He shuffled into the kitchen and one glance told me he'd just come off of a double shift. Harlowe worked as an ER nurse and he was exhausted most days.
He smiled a greeting at me and slumped at the kitchen table, folding his arms under his head for support. His dark hair was messy, the normal curls flat and dull. His dark, long lashes swept his cheek as he blinked and yawned. I carried the first plateful of rice and chicken stir-fry to the table, setting it down in front of him.
He snapped upright, as though I'd just woken him from a deep sleep. He blinked at the food in front of him and blew his breath out. "Thanks, Nerina."
As always, his smile - weak or not - was enough to give me a few butterflies. I smiled back and started serving up a second plate. Angela blew into the kitchen, dressed now in her pajamas and bright pink fuzzy slippers. She chattered away at about a mile a minute and it was all Harlowe and I could do to keep from bursting into laughter.
We sat together around the small kitchen table and ate. We shared what happened during our days and relaxed in the living room afterward.
I sat on the couch with Harlowe stretched out beside me, his feet against my thigh. Every now and then, I glanced over at him to see his eyes drooping and his chin dropping to his chest.
He really was a very handsome man; I'd already admitted that he gave me a fluttery feeling in my stomach on occasion. Nothing so grand as full-on jitters, but I could easily admit that he was good-looking. Dark hair, dark eyes, tall, broad-shouldered, kind, a good sense of humor - when he's not fighting sleep after two twelve hour shifts.
"Jeez, Harlowe, why don't you just go to bed?" Angela's exclamation startled him so badly he kicked me.
"Oh shit. Sorry, Rina," he mumbled as he sat up and swung his long legs off the couch.
"It's all right." I lowered my eyes to the book in my lap.
"You scared me, Ang." Harlowe turned to our roommate.
"I know," she replied from her spot on the floor in front of her chair. "I meant to. You've been up for almost thirty hours. Go to bed."
"It's not even eight o'clock yet."
"You're going to sleep until morning, trust me."
Harlowe glared at her for a minute before grunting and pushing himself up from the couch. "Fine. I'm going to bed."
"Good night, Harlowe," I called as he walked away.
As he passed by Angela, he nudged her with his foot. She toppled over, distracted by the show on TV and shrieked with laughter as he hurried away.
"You'll pay for that!" she hollered.
I giggled and hid my face behind my book as Angela turned my way. I felt her weight hit the couch beside me and laughed when she tried to yank the book out of my hands. We struggled for a few minutes before she conceded, relaxing back on her end of the couch.
"I don't know how you can even focus on a book while the TV's on."
I raised my eyebrows at her and smirked. "I guess my brain hasn't been rotted as much by television as yours."
Ang snorted and rolled onto her side to watch the rest of her show. I smiled and turned my attention back to my book. It wasn't the first time her or Harlowe had mentioned my habit of reading while we all sat in front of the television. I had always been able to read and comprehend my book with all kinds of background noise.
At the moment, I wasn't focusing on the words before my eyes. I heard and felt Angela's warmth next to me and listened to the distant sounds of Harlowe getting ready for bed. My eyes grew heavy and I yawned the next time a commercial came on.
"I'm beat," I groaned around another yawn. "I think I'm going to go have a bath and then read in bed."
"You really know how to live it up, Rina."
It was a running joke in the house that I was the boring one, in spite of my less demanding job. Angela had often ordered me out of the house on a Saturday night, practically begging me to have a social life that she could be envious of. I just wasn't that type of person. At twenty-seven years old, I was done, if I had ever really lived, that is.
I chose to ignore the jibe this time and stood up. "What's your shift for the rest of the week?"
"I'm on mornings until Wednesday and then afternoons. I might even get Saturday night off." Her eyes widened and she looked up at me. "We should go out!"
"Oh God, no," I groaned and tried to move past her.
"Please, Rina." She grabbed hold of my arm before I'd moved beyond her reach. "When was the last time you had a night out?"
"Drinks with your cousins? That doesn't count. You were home before eight!"
"I think it counts."
"You're coming out with me on Saturday. We'll go to the Firehall and pick up some hot guys."
I couldn't help but laugh at her. "Pick up some hot guys?"
"Yes! When was the last time you got some?"
The question threw me and I didn't have a ready response. I gaped at her and felt the heat creep up my neck.
"I figured it'd been a while." She gave a knowing nod and patted my hand. "Go have your bath and we'll talk tomorrow."
"Oh...OK" I hurried from the room without even saying good night.
Angela meant well. We'd been friends for a long time and roommates for even longer but there were things about myself that I kept private from everyone, including her.
I didn't sleep around but it hadn't been ages since I'd been with a man.
I love the bathroom in our house. It was large for such a small house but then, it was the only bathroom. The bathtub was deep, with a sloped back, one of those fantastic soaker tubs. Whenever I have bath, which was nearly every night, I made it hot and I pulled the heavy, opaque curtain across so it felt like I was in my own little cave. It also allowed my two roommates the option of coming in to use the washroom, without having the embarrassing seeing-the-roommate-naked-in-the-tub incident.
It had only taken us three such incidents to bundle our finances and splurge on the high-quality, thick shower curtain.
As always, a bath relaxed me. Sometimes to a dangerous level; dangerous for my books, that is. I don't know how many have ended up doused in bath water because they slipped from my sleeping fingers. Suffice it to say that I need a second bookcase just for my bloated paperbacks.
Tonight, I felt the fatigue coming and tossed my book on the bathroom floor before closing my eyes. Then I just sank down, letting the water swirl through my hair and warm every part of me except my face. The heat and buoyancy of the water relaxed me even further and my lips parted on a deep sigh. A ripple went through the water as I inhaled again and I felt the blood slide through my body.
Another slow breath. Another rocking swish of water and blood.
The faint noise of the television downstairs faded and I listened to the thrum of my heartbeat instead. The water carried the steady bump of the organ to my ears.
A heartbeat, slower this time.
The water stilled. Then my body stilled.
There was no more steady hum of blood pumping or air filtering through lungs. The water pulsed instead, pressing in and then pushing out. It met the resistance of porcelain and sighed, a painful rush of longing.
The air whooshed from my lungs and I jerked awake, sloshing water over the side of the tub. I blinked my eyes open and felt disoriented by the dimness of my cave. I sucked in another deep breath and felt a shiver run through my body. The water was cold.
Jesus. I sat up. I ran a hand up my face and through my hair, wringing some of the cool moisture from my hair. How long was I asleep?
Shivering, I reached down and unplugged the stopper. As I got to my feet, I pushed the heavy curtain aside and reached for a towel. A few minutes later, I shuffled across the hall to my room. The rest of the house was silent, dark. I sighed as I climbed naked into my bed, rubbing my forehead.
I didn't like falling asleep in the bathtub. No matter how often it happened, it made me uneasy. Not because I feared drowning myself. It was more that the dream came faster when I soaked. Maybe it was something about the water slapping the bathtub that brought it on but whatever the reason, it was unsettling.
I had only been lying in my bed for five minutes when I heard a soft tapping at my bedroom door.
"Come in, Harlowe."
My door opened and my tall, dark roommate closed it behind him and made his way over to my bed.
He leaned over me. "Can I sleep with you?"
We both knew that he wasn't asking to 'sleep.' We also both knew I wouldn't say no. I shimmied aside and made room for him.
His hands found me beneath the covers. "You're naked."
"I was in the bath." I didn't resist as he pulled me towards him.
His soft chuckle brushed my naked shoulder and I turned my head, blinking until his dark outline came into focus. "For four hours?"
I glanced over his shoulder at my clock and, sure enough, it was past midnight. I had been in the tub for roughly four hours. I wondered if Angela or Harlowe had come into the bathroom while I slept in the tub. Then Harlowe's next exhalation was warmer and I dropped my chin to look into his dark eyes.
"You're cold." His lips were so close they brushed against my cheek.
"Warm me up."
He did. His hands were sure, skilled, as they slid over my skin. I was soft and probably a little wrinkly from my long sojourn in the tub, but he didn't care. It was one of the things I loved about Harlowe; he never judged, never criticized me when I wasn't the epitome of femininity. He came to me as a man and I accepted him as a woman.
We never asked for more than a few hours in each other's arms. It was understood. We were free to date elsewhere, though he had no time for that and I had no inclination; not because I was in love with Harlowe. I just didn't feel the need to 'play the field,' as Angela would put it. Instead, Harlowe and I found comfort in each other's embrace, in each other's warm breath and honest, physical responses. Maybe if he stirred something deeper inside me, I'd feel more. I didn't. I loved him, but I wasn't in love with him.
Still, I'm a woman and he's a man, and his lips were very soft against mine.
I parted my lips for him, tasted the tang of several hours of sleep on his tongue as it swept into my mouth. He pressed his hot palms into my skin, pressing down as they slid over my back. I could feel the warmth of his touch even after his hand moved on. He touched my back, cradled the sides of my breasts and parted my thighs with his knee.
I was wet when he cupped me and some distant part of my mind ordered me to respond as he fondled my soft folds. My body was reacting as it was supposed to, I knew that as well. So I sighed into Harlowe's mouth and rose to his touch as he knelt between my legs.
The covers were thrown back in another moment and Harlowe kissed a path from my mouth to my stomach. I knew where he was going to end up and my body responded. I arched off the bed, pretending to stifle a moan. His tongue slid between the swollen lips below my waist and he drank my wetness. I felt the bed rocking as he moved, trying less than gracefully to remove his boxers.
Then I opened my arms as he rose back over me. I could feel the hardness of him sliding against my thigh. He was breathing hard and his body was tense where I touched him, gripping his shoulders.
"You're so beautiful." He dropped hot, moist kisses on my throat. "I love how you taste."
I smiled because he was so kind, such a considerate lover. Then he was cupping me, thrusting fingers inside of me and I jerked against him. I was unprepared for his touch that time and it gave me an unexpected jolt. I think I enjoyed it.
After that, I was ready. He fingered me, sliding thick fingers in and out, as he whispered in my ear, telling me all that he longed to do to me. I held on to his shoulders, lifting my hips off the bed and I moaned as he replaced his fingers with his rigid organ. He eased into me, always so slow, the perfect gentleman, even when caught up with passion. I felt him stretching me, felt my body shifting and sliding to accommodate him.
There was a rush of sensation as he stroked me just above our joining. I moaned and he clamped his lips over mine, taking my cry into his mouth. I made more noises as we rocked together. I dug my fingers into his shoulders, squeezed my thighs around his hips and thrust in response to his movements.
It felt nice, it always felt nice, and I wished that it felt more than nice.
I wanted fireworks.
I forced out a cry as my body rocked with an ordinary orgasm and then he released himself a minute later. For a short while, we lay entangled together. That, I didn't mind. He was warm and I had indeed been chilled after falling asleep in the bathtub.
"I hope you don't have to work early." I was always the first to break the comfortable silence between us.
I felt his chuckle and smiled at the sensation of him still softening within me. I may not react as I longed to, but I was still a woman and I could appreciate Harlowe's essential maleness.
He kissed me again. His tongue slid between my lips to dance around mine and I let him, enjoying the kiss for what it was. Then he eased out of me and relaxed on his back.
I snuggled against his warm body and fell asleep.
The dream came slower this time. It was as if my slumber in the tub, however brief, had somehow delayed it. Still, it came. Minutes, or hours, after I climaxed in Harlowe's arms, the dream slipped over me.
I wasn't on the water to begin with this time. I stood on a smooth, white, sandy beach. I was aware of the fine grains of sand beneath my toes and I had the fleeting thought that it felt familiar. It was impossible of course. All the beaches I'd ever been to had been rocky or rusty red.
The thought was gone as quickly as it came and I felt my body start to float. Somehow I'd gone into the water. It swished around my outstretched limbs and I sliced a hand through it. The motion tilted me on my side and I sucked in a mouthful of water. I didn't feel it filter through my system. You know that feeling; a cold swallow of water on an empty stomach, sliding down your throat and coating your insides. Instead, I absorbed the water.
That was when I noticed the waves rolling over my head. I started turning, spinning with the water.
Cold familiarity washed over me. Now the dream was the same as it always was.
My body stopped struggling as the water swirled around me. It pushed and pulled, rolled me until I didn't know where the surface was. My heartbeat slowed. My eyes closed.