Originally published April 21, 2015 for the A to Z Challenge.
“What was that?” Bruce swatted at his ear.
“What was what?” Jessica pressed her lips against his forehead, shingling his brown hair with her fingers.
“I don’t know. It sounded like a fly, or something.”
“Am I making you nervous?” Jessica kissed him on the lips. Then down to his chin. Then underneath his chin, and lower on his neck, near his throat.
“Not at all.” He reclined onto the pillows propped up on the headboard as Jessica moved further down. She kissed his collarbone, then his bare chest. She traced her tongue around the sharpened outlines of his abs. His abdomen convulsed as he chuckled under her light touch. She migrated down to his navel, biting the skin on the outer edges. When she reached the thin trail of pubic hair just below his navel, he suddenly shot up.
“There it is again. That buzzing.”
Jessica searched the bedroom, and her eyes immediately fell on her phone lying on the edge of her nightstand. Bruce picked up the vibrating phone and looked at the picture displayed on the screen. “Is this him?”
“He looks kind of weird. I mean, he has his hands in his pockets. He’s leaning to the left but his head is cocked to the right. He’s smiling, but it’s like he’s trying to show all of his teeth at the same time. Almost like he’s sneering at you.” Bruce leaned his head to the right and bared his teeth to demonstrate.
Jessica snatched the phone from him. “You look like a washed-up rapper.” She tossed it across the floor, and it landed where the door was cracked open.
Jessica climbed onto Bruce’s lap and wrapped her arms around his neck. “I don’t want to think about him. He’s history.” She sighed loudly, her breath ruffling through his hair. “You have experience with stealing girlfriends.” She arched her back. “Steal me.”
Bruce quickly flipped her over and positioned himself on top. “Alright,” he whispered. He sucked on her neck, and she wrapped her legs around his waist as he thrust his hips into her.
Jessica felt as if she would melt, her body like jelly underneath her skin. Two years of built up resentment, dissatisfaction, force appeasement to a tormented love gushed from her pores and onto the sheets in an ocean of sweat. Bruce kissed the tops of her breasts, and she remembered what she had always desired in a relationship. Someone to kiss her, comfort her when she was down, whether that was by lending a shoulder for her to cry on, or through unbridled sex. He intertwined his fingers with hers and pressed her hands on either side of her into the mattress, and she remembered she just wanted to be with someone who made her feel comfortable being herself, whether that meant watching her favorite black and white Alfred Hitchcock movies with her, going bowling just to order the chili cheese fries from the concession stand and using the bumpers to cheat, or dancing under arches of water shot from rusted fountains in the city park with giggling, half-naked two-year olds. He pressed deeper into her, quicker in pace, and she remembered how much she loved to fight. Why have sex in the morning when they could wrestle? Pin each other to the ground; winner got to take a shower first, loser cooked breakfast.
She never had any of that with Whitmore. Whitmore had a plan. He had seen too many movies, read too many blogs. He believed relationships were all about romance, love, working toward marriage. He never allowed them to grow into friends before he began planning a wedding and a family. He’d convinced her that pursuing a friendship wasted time. No one could wait that long. He was so eager to settle down, he never learned her middle name, or her favorite type of food, or what she enjoyed doing in her free time. He missed getting to know her.
She dug her nails into Bruce’s back and released a buoyant moan. She didn’t know what the future held for them, but she wanted him to help her rediscover her passion, the fire that burned within her whenever she became involved with a man who asked for nothing but her company.
Suddenly, there was a loud, piercing bang. It echoed off the walls, rang in Jessica’s ears, ricochet within her skull. Bruce pulled out of her and sprang from the bed so fast he nearly hurt her.
“That sounded like a gun shot. It sounded like it came from your living room?”
“No one else is here. My door makes a lot of noise. I would’ve heard if someone was inside.” Feeling vulnerable, Jessica crossed her arms over her exposed breasts, placing a hand on the opposite shoulder.
“Maybe it was outside your door?” Bruce said.
“There’ve been some break-ins. It could be my neighbor.”
“Stay here. I’ll check it out.”
Bruce stepped into his jeans and walked around the corner. Jessica scooted to the edge of the bed, wrapping the bed sheets around her shoulders. She heard Bruce open the door. She heard a heavy thump. Then she heard him gasp. Seconds later, he was standing in the doorway, his lips pressed together. He refused to make eye contact with her.
“You need to call the police.” His voice was short and weighted.
“Why? What is it? What happened?”
“Just—” He bent over and picked up her phone from the floor. “Call the police.”
Jessica was about to dial 9-1-1 when she saw a series of incoming texts from Whitmore.
I need to see you. Are you home?
I’m in the parking lot.
Why won’t you answer the phone?
I want to make us work. What do I have to do to make us work?
I want to marry you Jessica Ryan. That’s what I came to ask you.
So this is it? You’re done with me?
I don’t understand what I could’ve done.
Goodbye, Jessica. It’s obvious you don’t love me as much as I love you.
Just like Layla . . .
Jessica slowly looked up at Bruce. “What did you see?”
“You shouldn’t go up there.”
Jessica dropped her phone and pushed past Bruce. She sprinted to the living room, and as if she had collided with an invisible brick wall that had suddenly risen from her floorboards, she collapsed to her knees. In front of her, face down, half his body inside across the threshold, lay Whitmore, blood spilling from his right temple. There was a smear of red on the front of her door, midway and on down to the bottom, from where his head hit and slid down as his body fell underneath him. Poking out from underneath his chest was the gun he used to end his life.
Jessica wanted to cry. She wanted to scream, but she couldn’t find her voice, and she realized that all fluids related to Whitmore, tears included, had been purged from her body while she had sex with Bruce. The only word she could muster out of her mouth was, “Oh.”
Behind her, Bruce spoke into the phone. “Yes, I need an ambulance. A man is dead.”