In the bedroom they let go of one another, a careful distance between them. Her gaze fell on his bed, duvet still crumpled where he had tossed and turned in his sleep the night before. He followed her eyes and smiled gently, wrapped his hands around her elbows and pulled her close to him to kiss her again. Tentatively, she fiddled with the buttons on his shirt, tugged at the lowest one and brushed her knuckles against the bare skin she found there. He gasped in to her mouth in response.
Bolstered, she worked her way up the buttons until she could push the shirt off of his shoulders. Despite the fact that she’d seen him with his shirt off before, so many times, it was different somehow with him looming over her, lips parted and hands on her hips. He was warm underneath her fingertips as she traced the expanse of his chest; the dip of his ribcage, the downy hair that trailed down his stomach and beneath the waistband of his trousers. The elastic was well used and gave easily when she slipped a hand down below the fabric and took him in her hand. He watched her the entire time, expression awed, and she felt him bring his hands round to cup her behind before reaching up to pull the hem of her top up.
Pausing before he lifted the material up over her breasts, he leant down to capture her lips in his; searching for something that she couldn’t quite identify.
“I’m sure,” she answered a question he hadn’t asked, but when he relaxed even more against her- reached down to pull her exploring hand up and kissed her palm- she realised just how nervous he was. Pulling back, she met his eye. “Are you?”
“I want this, I definitely want this,” he confirmed with a nod, a soft kiss on her lips and then his hands resuming their exploration of her skin. With a pounding heart, she helped him to tug her shirt over her head and watched as he pulled back almost imperceptibly to look at her.
This was brand new. He had seen her in a swimming costume before and, once, a particularly modest bikini in her back garden. Breath held, she waited for the feeling of embarrassment, of exposure, to wash over her. It never came. James’ eyes roamed over her and it felt right; his eyes shone and a little reverential smile played about his lips as he reached up to cup her breast and tilted his head to kiss her again. Without any sense of doubt this time she ran her hands down to the waistband of her trousers and tugged, shuffled and stepped out of the fabric. Then she was naked in his arms. He moaned against her, pulled her tight against his chest and splayed his hands out across her back.
The bedsheets were cold against her skin when he eased her down, kissing his way along her jaw, but he warmed her with his body. She had to remind herself that this was James, her James, as he kissed his way along her neck and ran his hands all over her. The sweet, quiet boy she had grown up with and who was now exploring her bare skin with a confidence that she had not expected. He touched her until she could no longer bear it and she was pulling him up to kiss him, feel his tongue plunge in to her mouth and his thighs pressed against hers.
When he pulled away to trail kisses back down her body she relaxed in to the pillows, arms thrown above her head, and let herself enjoy the feel of him. As his lips found her breasts she sighed and shut her eyes; his hands tightened at her waist and he made little noises of appreciation as he moved his mouth over her. Then, she felt the chill of the air across her breasts, sensed the mattress shift and heard the sound of him fumbling with something on the night stand.
“Mmm?” she murmured as she propped herself up to look at him. He was sat back on his haunches and watching her- condom held between his fingers. Even in the low light his eyes shone brightly and the look he gave her told her exactly what she needed to know; he saw her as his everything as much as she saw him as hers.
“I never realised…” she started, but her voice caught in her throat. He crept closer to her on the bed, held himself over her propped up on his elbows. The earnest way he looked at her buoyed her and she kissed him before continuing. “I never realised how much I need you.”
Then he kissed her again and took her breath away.
In the morning she woke up alone, although the bed was still warm and she could hear him padding around in the kitchen. Swinging her legs out of bed, she tested the pressure on her ankle; sore, but nothing too serious. She pushed herself up, pulled on her shirt and walked carefully out in to the living area to find him.
He was in the kitchenette, wiping last night’s cutlery and plates and piling them carefully on the side. For a moment she drank in the sigh of him; he seemed freer somehow, his natural tendency to slouch suddenly gone, and he hummed quietly as he moved around the kitchen area. Last night, when they had laid curled up together in the darkness, she had been worried that there would be no way of reconciling her relationship with her best friend and these new feelings. But now she sighed, feeling the pounding of her heart in her chest, and calmed herself with the knowledge that this new warmth was the most natural thing in the world.
Eventually he turned, looked momentarily shocked to see her standing there and then grinned his lopsided grin, pushed his hair out of his eyes and held out his hand to her. She went without hesitation, breathed in the scent of him as his wrapped his arms around her. The cottage was far too cold to walk around with nothing on, he was back in his warm pyjamas, and already she missed the feel of his bare skin on hers.
“’Morning,” he murmured in to her hair, “How’s the ankle?”
She flexed it experimentally, felt the dull ache that she had expected, and shrugged.
“I’ll be fine, but probably need to stay off of it today,” she replied and when she looked up at him he was smirking. She gave him a look off mock horror and slapped his arm gently. “What is that face for?”
“Just thinking of all the things we could today instead of going for a walk. I think there’s an ancient game of Monopoly in one of these cupboards,” he said it innocently, but something stirred deep in the pit of her stomach and she stepped closer to him.
On tiptoes, she stretched up so that her lips were close to his ear, wrapped her arms around his chest and pressed herself in to him.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard you swear before,” she breathed, teasing. He shuddered, but his lips twisted in to a grin. “’Fuck’,” she moaned in mimicry, her breath rolling across his ear. With a gasp, he grabbed her and pushed her back against the kitchen top, tipping her head back to kiss her again.
She had woken up in the night with his arms around her and him gently nipping at her earlobe with his teeth; he’d been promptly dispatched, clad in nothing but his glasses, to fetch another condom from her toiletry bag in the bathroom. When he had come back to bed he was shivering, but warmed himself on the heat of her while she squealed and tried to escape his icy grasp. Then, on her knees, she had heard his breath become more laboured; felt his hands scrunch in her hair until he pulled her up and kissed her again. There hadn’t been much sleep after that.
Now, he yawned against her mouth and she giggled, reaching up to plant a kiss on the tip of his nose.