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Sleeping With The Devil

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It’s supposed to be easy, something she doesn’t have to think about. It’s void of all feelings, with a touch of rebel. It’s a fuck you to the people who matter to her most, the ones who can’t see how far she’s fallen. How far she’s gone, how much he hurt her. It’s a dangerous game, she knows, getting involved with a married man. Not to mention he’s 12 years older. She’s 19, mad at the world, feeling invincible like only a teenager can. She’s on top of the world, no one to push her down. No boundaries, no barriers, as long as she’s who they want her to be. On the outside, she’s clean cut and innocent, the kind of daughter everyone wishes they had. She doesn’t drink and dresses respectably, speaks politely and doesn’t curse. To them, she looks put together and perfect, on the inside she’s burning from shame.

He’s 30, married with 2 young kids. His oldest is closer in age to her than him. It’s dirty and wrong but somehow it fits her, a life she always knew she was destined to after that fateful day. She was 16 years old, out for a walk, feeling so alone in an unfamiliar place. The one person she knew had abandon her, acting on hormones and lust. She had left because it was what everyone expected, because she always did what everyone else wanted. She had left him there, sitting in his truck, his girl of the moment draped across his lap. He winked as she climbed out, telling her to give them half an hour.

Book in hand, she wandered around the park, looking at the ducks, pausing to pat a dog. She settled on a bench when someone walked up, clearly a couple of years older than her. He was charming as he smiled, complementing her hair, asking if she wanted to go for a walk. She knew that she shouldn’t have said yes, that she should have ran screaming away. But she was 16, mad at her friend, fighting with her mother and in a mood to be wild. He led her to the other side of the park, through a maze of trees, into an empty parking lot. His lips were rough on hers, wrought with tension and desire. His tongue was prying as it skimmed her teeth, the first time she had ever been kissed. She kissed him back as he moved his hands, feeling and pulling, she flinched in pain. He either didn’t feel it or pretended not to notice, stripping her of her shirt. She shivered in the fall air, feeling exposed as the wind whistled by. He kept his lips on hers, his hands moving south, fingers forceful and prying. At this point, she was ready to get everything over with, ready to finally do something adult. He was rough as he discarded his belt, fumbling with the button on her jeans. He was sure in every move he made, trembling in desire as she shook with fear. She closed her eyes, pretending to be enjoying it, dreading that this would fill the rest of her life. He collapsed around her, her legs rubbed raw, he kissed her one more time. He was gruff as he stood up and left, leaving her in a pile on the ground, processing what had happened.

She lay there for a moment, pausing to gather her thoughts and digest that one of her biggest life milestones was over in the blink of an eye. She felt different, stronger, as she gathered her clothes, her sweatshirt torn at the collar, her face scuffed from his beard. She didn’t remember saying no, didn’t remember him asking anything. She supposes that it’s all forgotten, she’s happy to have it over. Walking back to his car, she knows she’s bleeding, but feels more impowered as she slides into the front seat. The girl had gone, lord knows where, but it was them again, against the world, the only way it had ever been. She doesn’t know she’s shaking until he grabs her hand. She doesn’t know she’s crying until he dries her tears.

He’s gentle and attentive, asking what had happened, who was there. She looks him square in the eye, tells him it was her idea. That a guy was there and eager to go, that she was more than happy to consent. She can tell he’s not buying her story, judging from the way he holds her closer. She swears she’s fine, but he knows her better than anyone. Flipping down the visor, she looks like shit, hair sticking every which way, eyes watery, chin scratched. Everything aches as he shifts into drive, his hand not leaving her side. When he pulls into the driveway, he puts the car in park, turning to face her, taking her hand in his. He tries to get her to spill the details, tries to make sure she was safe. He feels responsible for her here, her parents relying on him to make sure she was okay.

She’s already blocked out some of the details, but she’s confident in what didn’t happen. She watches his jaw tense as she relays the story, watches his eyes cloud over with anger. She knows that not checking if he was clean had been a mistake, but if she got something, it was her fault, a true sign that she was not the innocent girl everyone wanted her to be. She doesn’t protest as backs out of the driveway, driving towards the nearest pharmacy. She doesn’t move as he slams into the store, emerging with a stuffed bag ten minutes later.

She refiles through it as he drives her back home. Gatorade, ointment, chocolate, aspirin, emergency contraceptive. He deposits her at the door, making her swear to take the pills, saying that he would take her to the doctor tomorrow whether she wanted to or not. He wasn’t going to let her screw up the life they had planned. She started shaking and crying again, he’s leading her inside. He led her into the bathroom, ran water for a bath, lit her favorite candle and set out her fluffy towel. Since this is mostly his fault, he’ll do what he needs to get back in her graces.

As she emerges from the bathroom, he’s surprised how frail she looks, more girl than woman. It’s hard for him to remember that she’s still 16, even though she acts so much older. He holds her as she tries to sleep, hiccupping with sobs occasionally. All he can think of was that this was his fault, that she was the most important person in his life and would be for the foreseeable future. He had let her get hurt, he knew she was angry and he still let her go. So, he figures he owes it to her to make sure she doesn’t mess up her life on the account of him. So, he stays with her that night, holding her as she sleeps. Their lines of friendship are already so blurred, he figures one night won’t make a difference.

The next morning, she’s bruised and sore, whimpering as she wakes up. He tossed her a protein bar, threw her some leggings. No matter how much she was going to protest, he was hauling her ass to a doctor. He wasn’t letting her stupid choices screw up the next 3 years. They had worked too hard for this, sacrificed too much.
She wasn’t protesting as she slammed in the car, throwing her skating bag in the backseat. She looked at him with a glance of defiance as she crossed her arms and propped her feet on the dash. He backed out of her driveway, ignoring the look he got from her roommate, just pulling in from adventures of her own. He keeps telling himself that he’s doing this because she’s his best friend, because best friends watch out for each other and keep each other safe.

In the parking lot, it’s starting to become more real, the reality of her actions starting to sink in. She had sex, in a park, with a guy she’ll never see again. Her best friend, someone who she had grown up with and was totally reliant on, was hauling her ass to Planned Parenthood because she couldn’t get it together. She was the one who was the brains of the pair, yet he was the one who was thinking now. She was losing it and she was scared, god was she scared.

“Don’t tell my mom okay?” she whispered, tears once again in her eyes.

He squeezed her hand and nodded, led her inside. She’s back to the girl he grew up with as they walk inside, all confidence and grace, yet she keeps his hand glued to hers, like she can’t go through with this alone. He’s kind of embarrassed but she’s keeping cool. She explains what had happened in even tones, what she wants and why she needs it, the importance of keeping it quiet. She’s insistent that he stays beside her, no matter what she has to do. Since it was his idea to haul her here, he doesn’t fight it at all. She’s kind of a mess during the appointment, looking to him for guidance. He’s trying to reassure her, but it’s all so messy. Everything about their relationship is complex and him taking her for this appointment isn’t helping matters. But he soldiers on for her, since this is partly his fault, even though it’s grossing him out. The doctor seems impressed, complimenting their relationship, saying that most boyfriends wouldn’t dare be near the building. He smiles as she squeezes his hand, wishing it were that simple. But now there are things that he can’t unsee but it’s her and they’re doing this, for them, for the gold. He thought they were close before, but this brings it to a whole new level.

Back in the car, she can’t look him in the eye, he’s running his fingers through his hair, trying to clear his mind. She’s hushed into a stony silence, a look of fear still on her face. The bruises are still molten on her arms, he knows what their coaches will think. One day, he thinks, they’ll look back on this and smile, but for now, they are teenagers, drowning in an adult world.

Out on the rink, she’s in rare form, flying down the ice faster than he can keep up. She’s insistent that he throws her as high as he can, she’s sticking every landing, ice spraying behind her as she whips around the corner. She’s completely fearless and confident in every choice that she made, pushing him harder and faster than he had ever been pushed before. If their coaches notice a change in their relationship, they don’t say it. But it’s hard not to notice the way he caresses her back, the way she wraps her legs around him as he prepares to throw her again.

In a space of an afternoon, he thinks they’ve matured, have increased their partnership to a new level. It doesn’t surprise him when she kisses him the next day.
Over the next year, their lives are a mess, filled with passion, angst, and regret. They are channeling their rage and feelings for each other in a way they hadn’t before. On his fourth or fifth girlfriend, he wonders if it’s worth it, but she’s still going strong and he would never be willing to give up before her.
Still, he notices the hollow look in her eyes, the way she shies away from his touch and the forced smile plastered on her face when her so called boyfriend picks her up after practice. He’s so much older than her, with a slimly presence and a giant, toothy smile. He hates seeing his arm swung so casually over her shoulders, the way his car screeches out of the lot after practice. So, he pushes his feelings down, lives for the moment, and tries to forget that he can no longer see the girl he grew up with, the one with stars in her eyes.

It’s a miracle they get through the next 3 years, but they do, in mainly one piece. She accepts that he loves to date around, he learns to be okay with her fascination with older men. They don’t talk about anything with meaning, learn what they know through the gossip mill. She doesn’t let it show how much it hurts when her ex ends up with the competition. She knows how much better they are, so she throws herself into another relationship, with someone almost twice her age.
She knows it’s wrong, but she’s not thinking about that. To her, it’s a man who cares about her, one who tells her she’s beautiful, one who buys her flowers. So, what that she hasn’t met his family, so what that his wife shoots her a death glare every time she walks into a room? She’s lonely and he makes her feel something, and at this point, anything is better than nothing.

He’s amazed at how good she is at pushing things down, at pretending that everything is okay. She knows that she’s the face of the sport, knows that whatever she does will be front page news. He used to think that he knew her better than anyone but seeing her at her lowest makes him question everything he knows.

He finds her after their third to last show, sobbing in a corner, completely alone. He knows that they haven’t been on the best of terms and he knows that he’s been an ass. But seeing her there, shaking, breaks his heart. He sinks down beside her, pulls her into his arms, attempts to calm her as she sobs even harder. His partner is an extension of him and he feels her pain almost worse than he would feel his own. She doesn’t deserve him, she knows that much. The way he drops his bags, how he holds her like she’s the Mona Lisa.

Her life has spiraled out of control, she’s put herself in the middle of a crumbling marriage. He had said that everything was fine, that no one would find out. They didn’t use labels and put in very little thought, acting on their feelings and theirs alone. When it was just the two of them, it was good until it wasn’t.
She had been stressed out with her family drama, not speaking with her father and her mother looked at her like she lit the moon every night. She could get away with anything, as long as no one found out. So, she was a little more reckless, because she knew that no one would care. And no one did, until she said something that was enough to make him run.

It probably wasn’t the best time to tell him, but what would be? She was feeling vulnerable and scared, he was right there. Granted, she probably should have made absolutely sure, but she was scared. Scared that her world was going to come crashing down again, scared that her dreams would be dead before she even got the chance to try for them. Scared that she would be stuck for the rest of her life with a man who looked at her like revenge.

She thought that he would hold her, let her cry out her fears. She thought that he would wait with her, support her, love her. But, like everything else in her life this year, he got up and left, leaving her gasping through tears, surrounded in a sea of empty, as he left to go to his wife. But that’s what she got for sleeping with the devil.
He’s not used to seeing her this open, to seeing the fear so evident on her face. He kisses her hands, pulls her to her feet, swinging both of their bags on his shoulders. Hand in hand, they stop at his room, he dumps their stuff and grabs her a snack, pulling her back out into the hallway.

Outside, the air is cool, a hint of fall in the air, the smell of a season of change. She can only focus on moving one foot in front of the other, on his hand in hers. He seems so much more grown up now, expertly maneuvering the aisles of the unfamiliar store. He finds what he’s looking for, grabs 3 boxes and heads towards the front. He pauses, grabbing three bars of chocolate and a six pack of beer. At times of dire need, diets be damned.

He’s happy to see that she’s no longer shaking, but her eyes are still laden with fear. Back in his hotel room, he throws her some old clothes, tells her to clean up and then she can get down to business.

It’s weird to her how nice he’s being, she half expected him to laugh in her face, to rub it in that she, ironically, was the one making the bad decisions that could ruin their career. The hot water calms her thoughts and she emerges dressed in his baggy clothes, to find that he was all prepared.

He handed her a bar of chocolate and a bottle of water, sipping a beer himself. Mindlessly he thumbs through the channels, looking for something to distract them. He settles on cartoons, of all things, something he remembered watching as a kid. She’s fingering the boxes, reading the instructions, and trying to do all that she can to keep from bursting into tears.

When she stands up, he raises his beer to her, as she clutches the packages of the only tests she ever wanted to fail. When everything is done, she settles in to wait, five minutes seeming infinitely long. He pats the bed beside him and she curls gratefully into his arms. She forgot how much she missed this, missed him, missed them. He smells like home and she’s trying not to cry again. Her boyfriend, she thinks, always smelt like another woman’s perfume. Her partner, however, is the one who inherits her.

The timer buzzes and he squeezes her hand, gives her a look of reassurance and support and she knows, that deep in her heart, he will always love her. So, she walks the twelve steps, a life not lived flashing in front of her as she inched towards her fate.

The second she sees the results, she sinks to the floor, face in her hands as she sobs with relief. For the first time in her life, she was happy to fail. The relief is instantaneous, it’s like she can finally breath, free of him and any potential thing he might have left behind.

When she comes out bearing the tests, her face streaked with tears, it’s all he can do not to hug her and jump with joy. Thank god, thank god, thank god. They switch to a celebratory mood, toasting their beers to the most random things, laughing at tv, some stupid reality show now playing.

It feels like old times, like before things ever changed, before feelings got in the way. Tomorrow, it will be hard to explain to his roommate why she’s sprawled in his embrace, clothed in only an oversize t-shirt, his hand splayed across her stomach. It’s descriptive of everything they aren’t and for one night, she doesn’t care.

The next morning, it’s not weird when he kisses her, when the people next door see her sneaking out in the hall. At this point, she truly doesn’t care about anything but her dreams. It doesn’t hurt that he’s part of it. They’re back to the way they are supposed to be and for now, everything is okay.

Back on the bus, she has to face her fears, sitting directly next to his wife, sour expressions on both of their faces. She gives him a small smile, a quick shake of her head before walking past. He’s not worth any words to her.

Sitting in the very back row, holding two cups of coffee, with a bag at his feet is the one who taught her what a partner was. He stuck with her through the good and the bad, through pain and heartbreak, happiness, and tears. He’s never left her side and, as she settles in beside him, she hopes he never will.