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i was only gonna touch you, now i'm in it / swimming in it / i wasn’t gonna love you, now / i’m so fucking deep in it
deep end – lykke li

 

The sky is an unkind grey. It tells on itself. It does not threaten: it vows. Still, with the heady scent of chlorine sticking to her, the day tastes like summer.

Careful—!

A child zooms past, orange floaties and bright blue beach towel drooping over eager hands as the kid zaps through the automatic doors of Covey Community Pool. On cue, a woman carrying a toddler and a matching blue towel appears in her field of vision, nearly waltzing into her.

“Sorry—God—”

“No worries,” Beth tries for cheery, cutting off her unnecessitated apologies.

The woman sends her the half-way smile of an exhausted parent, quickly nodding before her eyes scatter in search of familiar blue. Brief panic licks her features as she scans the lobby, void of her enthusiastic child.

“Where—”

“That way,” a low voice rasps, the hairs on the back of Beth’s neck rising as she instinctively identifies who it belongs to.

No.

Not today.

She was supposed to make it out of the building in one piece for a bright, hard-earned change.

No way she shuffled her six p.m. class out of the pool so quickly only to still run into that jerk. She wants to snap something in half. Maybe one of those pool noodles. Or his neck. With her thighs.

No, wait, not her thighs. That’s too sexual. She wasn’t gonna think about him like that today either.

God, why are all her plans coming apart already? It’s not even seven thirty yet. She hasn’t even made it to the swim meet—the actual challenge ahead, what with the overnight trip and the sharing a hotel room thanks to Gunther’s creative budgeting solutions and the seeing him outside of the walls of the swimming pool they work at, all loosened up and temptingly playful no doubt.

Resolute, she ushers her way out of the lobby without looking back, past the automatic doors, into Detroit’s wet clouds and dimmed lights. It’s like the sun is snoozing today, no matter spring being in half-full swing.

The rain soaks her anyways-damp hair, the cold a good reminder to rid herself of the thoughts purring into her ear thanks to a certain lifeguard.

Setting sail for her car with a weather-specific pace, she almost misses it—the squeak of sneakers, the automatic doors closing a beat too late to only be her passing through.

“Elizabeth, wait up.”

No.

 

Her back to him, the stiffening of Elizabeth’s body doesn’t go past him. Rigid, she’s rigid as she slowly turns, the blue of her eyes bold with kindred fury.

“Rio,” she acknowledges, jaw locked.

The rain chokes them—his shirt gets soaked with not quite humble speed, like the heavens have a word for him, or a reckoning. He can’t get too mad: Elizabeth’s clothes cling to her like some marble goddess shit, a view he knows he better savor.

Can’t get mad at all, not with her eyes doing some lingering of their own. Running outside in a white t-shirt in the middle of Detroit’s spring showers may not have been his best move, but goddamn. Her pink lips part on their own accord, eyes staying south of his a beat too long.

Yeah. His cock throbs.

She shakes herself out of her subtle lust, instead shooting him a familiar withering look, her put-on anger cute, bordering on enticing. He knows how breathy her voice can get in her exaggerated rage. Knows how closely it matches the tantalizing sweetness tinting her crescendos.

“Rio,” she repeats. “I don’t love getting soaked.”

His brows quirk. He doesn’t say it. Thinks it, though.

Still, he offers her the flimsy excuse he thought of, chased her through the rain for.

“Can I catch a ride with you to the hotel?”

Flimsy. Really fucking flimsy. Like her jacket. He’s surprised she’s not cursing him out more for making her suffer through the beating-down rain, what with thin material of the garment.

“What?”

Confusion renders her face with a genuine frown this time.

“You know. The hotel up in Mississauga we’re supposed to stay at so we can get up at buttfuck o’clock tomorrow to watch a bunch of kids swim and hopefully scout some new talent?”

“Why do you need a ride?”

“Car’s in the shop. Besides, it would be kind of pointless to drive in separate cars, don’t you think? You’re going straight to the hotel, right?”

She blinks. Lashes lathered with raindrops. Gazing up at him like she wasn’t aware he overheard her talking to Polly in the breakroom about her plans for the evening. Like her eyes didn’t flicker to his briefly, as he stood in the doorway trying to figure out how to approach her, heat and something troubling dancing in her look.

The clouds tear apart, thunder kicking up a fuss. He can’t tell from her expression if she’s gonna leave him out in the cold or take him in. It’s a wet waiting game. Staring at her, only distantly aware of the water making its way inside his shoes, gripping his body like a fervent lover. Like Elizabeth, the night they’d—

Her lips purse together. Decidedness decorating her movements as she points a finger at him, prodding his chest with it.

“Fine. But you better behave.”

 

“You’re soaking my car seat.”

It’s the first thing she can think of to break the five minutes of silence, the heating rasping as it slowly wakens the only sound to accompany them but for her windshield wipers laboring away.

“We could’ve had this conversation inside, darlin’, but you ran off the second you saw me,” he rasps, tilting his head towards her.

His body is slung next to her in a far too comfortable manner. She knows he could make his home anywhere, that graceful confidence allowing him versality. She decides to ignore his words.

He notices.

“Can’t be that bad, sharing a small space with me. Hell, last time we were in a confined space like this I believe had you mewling with pleasure. Come on, darlin’, you remember.”

Her cheeks mirror the traffic light, growing red with no hesitance. If her next breath is more ragged, she can accept that.

It is only human after all. To be affected by his nearness. His reminders of a time gone by. A time when she came on his cock and her pussy gushed with ardent desire for him.

She can’t justify the thighs squeezing together, though.

That won’t do. Her cunt is gonna have to behave. Patiently wait for some alone-time after the swim meet. Then she can ride her fingers and squirt thinking about his touch, his voice.

“You ever think about it?”

God. She trembles.

 

She thinks about it.

It’s the barely-there quiver to her lips that tells on her. He’s never felt this triumphant.

Except maybe the night they got drunk and naked and dumb together. Fucking like rabbits awaiting a hunter’s fate, making the most of their liquor-infused now. In the locker room, in the shower, against the wall. She even rode him in that plush red chair in the breakroom once it cleared out, staring into his eyes like she expected—wanted—him to greet her the next day. Wanted him to touch her like that all days.

He so dearly wanted to give in to that wordless demand.

And then morning came.

With morning, she remembered her illogical contempt for him. Hastily dressed, barely looking at him, rushing away before he properly got up from their make-shift bed on the floor built out of foam mats, ones he timidly returned to the storage room while his hangover hammered against the hurt sifting through his body.

It’s been a while since he felt that miserable, getting everything he wanted and having it batted out of his hands so fast like the claws of a feline, like fate didn’t favor his sustainable bliss.

She ramped up her animosity afterwards. Never let him explain, or apologize, or just fucking talk to her. Always ran off, or strategically let those adorable eight-year-olds clamoring for their shared attention distract him. Always had a buffer at hand.

But he’s done. Over it.

She doesn’t get to ignore him.

He hears the message. But he still wants her respect.

Teasing her isn’t likely to garner him much of that, but his petty side wants some acknowledgement. Wants her to face what they had, what she did. Wants her to meet his eyes for real this time. Wants her honesty.

“Rio,” she softly sighs, eyelids fluttering.

It’s too close to her voice when he first entered her. Her face soft like it was before they fell asleep. He can’t take it.

“What, you thought you could just ignore this forever?” He scoffs. “Baby, I’ve been inside you. You don’t get to ignore me.”

She exhales harshly.

“Shut up.”

 

It’s the heat of almost-tears that forces her to bite down and step her foot on the gas, biding by the speed limit but focused on ending this as soon as humanly possible. Never mind the hours ahead in her tiny car.

She hates him.

She hates him for reminding her of what they did. Of the chasm of pleasure he split inside her like an unapologetic, inevitable meteor. And now she gapes. Every day. A hollow space of lust with a current of—

Not love.

Love is too big. Inappropriate.

Nevertheless, a spring of it meanders through the gap he made bare-handed.

She can’t let him inside.

“Elizabeth.”

“Yeah,” she breathes, staring ahead.

“You’re crying,” he notes, voice soft. Her throat closes up, his observation sending more tears down her cheeks. She didn’t even notice.

“There’s a gas station at the next exit. Take it, I can drive,” he gently tells her, hand jerking towards her until he thinks better of it.

Good.

Nothing good lies down the path of their bodies touching.

 

The rest of the drive goes by quickly. Except it doesn’t. Every second is excruciating, sitting next to the man she loves. The only upside was her clothes drying somewhat, but when they arrive in Mississauga the rain is even worse than back home. It’s enough to soak them all the way through.

She quickly follows him inside, shivering from the cold, surprised to find he’s slung her overnight bag over his shoulder already.

A warm, worn hotel room greets them after a quiet elevator ride. The bed looks plush, big enough for her to sleep on one side without touching him. Now that she’s here she feels the rain’s cold all the way, a stubborn coat to her bones.

“You can shower first,” he offers, teeth clattering.

One look at him and she knows she can’t do that to him.

“No, you go. You look about five minutes away from a pneumonia.”

He shakes his head. “Elizabeth, just go.”

She sighs. Weighs—options, futures, excuses.

“We can share.”

He’s stunned silent. It feels like a prize, however fleeting.

“I’m still wearing my bathing suit underneath,” she admits. Another time saver that was supposed to guarantee she wouldn’t end up near him.

He nods quietly.

So they find themselves in the small bathroom, peeling off wet clothes in silence, save for the occasional shiver.

He turns on the shower, unbuckling his belt and struggling to get out of his jeans.

Steam fills the room as she finally rids herself of her leggings, meeting his eyes when she rises. Their clothes land in a wet pulp on the floor. She doesn’t want to think about how long it will take to dry them. How long she will be stuck here with him.

He’s in his boxers, she’s in her red one piece, rushing closer to each other to squeeze into the tiny box of a shower.

She moans when the warm spray hits her. His lips twitch, eyes briefly closing in enjoyment of his own.

“That’s better,” she confesses, like it needs stating, like he doesn’t feel the relief of warmth himself.

He purrs in agreement. She allows her breath to hitch—her closed eyes doing the shielding. She doesn’t need to see him.

She makes it quick—letting her hair get soaked by the hot water, her body wrapped in the comfortable heat, so she can hop out of the shower without looking at him or touching him or wanting him.

When she steps out of the spray of water, he makes a protesting sound before it’s cut-off. She lets her eyes jump to his.

“What?”

“Nothin’.”

“‘Kay,” she murmurs.

Wrapping herself in a surprisingly fluffy towel, she turns her back to him. Makes the awkward movements of taking off her bathing suit while strapping the towel to her chest, determined to not let it fall, the cold patches of skin where spandex covered her now revealed to the foggy air of the hotel bathroom.

It’s no easy feat. She squirms, nearly losing the towel until she realizes she can just step out of his line of sight. If the situation was any less dire, she’d laugh at herself.

Once she’s out of the bathing suit, her towel tucked tightly, swaddling her body with all its might, she squeezes her hair, eager to get rid of the clinging cold.

The sound of water stills and Rio’s out of the shower, too. She hands him the other towel, eyes focusing on the way the droplets cling to his chest, his biceps.

“Thank you.”

She nods quickly, turning around to cover how his hoarse voice, his shining eyes make her feel.

There’s something about this moment—the intimacy of wet bodies getting dried in the silence after rain, the sight of him cast in the yellowy warmth of the bathroom, the knowledge that this night will be starkly different from any other moment they’ve shared—that makes her simultaneously melt into a softness and desire to just be near him and combust into countless frigid fears.

How is she gonna make it out with a one-pieced heart?

 

He takes a moment. Needs it. A few seconds of air to himself, so his thoughts—ones involving Elizabeth naked and wide-eyed, purring at him in pleasure, ones involving her cold and mean the weeks that followed—can pause their stirring.

He can’t make sense of her. Can’t place her distance or that dedication to the rivalry he thought they both understood as play—until she began favoring avoidance over his company.

She only let up on special occasions, like the company-wide christmas party, when she danced with him when he asked her to, five drinks deep. Twirling her around the room, lights blurring around him, eyes stuck to her beautiful face, the way her eyes gleamed at him, the way she laughed when he tried to dip her.

Or like his birthday, when she sweetly hugged him and tried to casually hand him a gift while blushing so much he thought—for a second, he thought she was into him.

Or that time one of her pupils sprained her wrist after class and Elizabeth stayed with her for hours—cried harder than the kid, too, afterwards. Let him hug her and rub her back until her sobs eased. Blinked up at him with eyes so bright from the tears, so wide from whatever she was feeling, he almost leaned in. Almost kissed her then and there.

Or. You know. Last time their office threw a party. Anniversary of the company and whatnot. The time he got her to ditch the party, steal a bottle of booze and join him in the locker rooms. Drinking and talking and—and—kissing and giggling and falling in the deep end, and not the kind he fishes eager students out of.

Worst part is, he doesn’t know where he went wrong. She seemed so incredibly into it at the time. Hell, she was the one who jumped him after their second drink together, the one who pressed her pretty lips to his jaw, his neck, his lips until she effectively stole his breath.

Surely, she knows their rivalry was mostly just a ruse to amuse the kids? Something to keep them entertained?

Sure, maybe they bumped heads a few times over who should get the nicest locker (the one in the right corner, far away from the door), or who should clean up the kids’ vomit after class, or who should be the one to call Gunther and ask for more pool noodles.

Still, she’s gotta know he likes her by now. She makes waking up at five bearable. She’s his favorite part of the day.

So, he takes a moment. Needs it.

 

The view out the window is filtered by hundreds, thousands of raindrops, a sea of shadows and indigo broken by the occasional red glow of a braking car and the steady orangey hue of streetlights. They sit side by side on the bed, matching towels warming their bodies. She’s suddenly stricken with exhaustion.

“I’m so tired,” she lets out, surprised she confesses it to him.

“Then sleep,” he simple states, like it’s an option. Like she’d make it through the night sleeping next to him without crying over tacit heartbreak, heartlonging.

They’ve been here before. She barely made it through. Waking up in Rio’s arms, so cruelly close to her heart’s greatest desires.

Just sex. Just. Sex.

That’s the mantra she needed to push herself through everything that happened that night.

She would have to be okay with it. This thing between them. Just sex. She would have to dampen her greed for his love. She would have to will herself into something breezy. Play like casual sex is something she can pull off.

Maybe… Maybe that could be a way to make it through? Just sex? At least that way she could—could—touch him. Hold him, if she’s lucky. Kiss his soft lips again.

Bad idea. Bad.

One look at him, wrapped in nothing but a towel, beautiful eyes regarding her softly, and—

 

“Rio?”

Her voice is so small and sweet it makes his cock jump. He needs to get a fucking grip.

“Yeah?”

“Do you think we could have sex again?”

The words barrel through him like—like—like Elizabeth’s presence in his life.

Her first day at Covey Community Pool enough to make him a goner. That shy smile, high voice, all packed in that out-of-this-world body, it was enough to send him crushing on her. Hard.

He’s not even sure what happened. How he ever got to touch her, how he ever got his hands on her soft tits, her pretty pussy. How it slipped away so quickly, too.

His pulse quickens at her suggestion. Heartbeat tripping over itself as he imagines all the ways he could touch her, all the ways they could do this. In a bed, no less.

Still. There’s only one question to ask.

“Are you gonna be able to look me in the eye after?”

 

Her exhale is forceful.

Why does he sound so soft?

Like—

Oh.

Like he didn’t approve of her quick getaway last time?

Something like shame wants to join her as she thinks back on her self-imposed clean-break-meets-great-escape, body propelled into action thanks to feelings so grand flight seemed like the only option.

“Yes,” she quietly offers without further comment or thought. The best and least she can do.

“Can you at least look me in the eye right now?” he asks, voice rough.

She shivers, only now fully registering she’s been staring vaguely ahead, the glittering scene of nighttime behind the rain-touched window an easy target for cowardly distraction.

Stirring, she turns her body until they’re face to face. Meets his eyes, bright, blown and so goddamn full it’s almost too much. She swallows her lack of spine, keeps staring into eyes that take her breath and her heart, too. Raises her hand, touches his cheek. The scratch of his beard underneath her palm.

“Yes, I will look you in the eye after.”

 

He swallows. Jaw shifting underneath her soft hand.

This is it, then. He gets to—they get to—they will—

Jesus. What is about her that gets him so nervous?

He underestimated alcohol’s bounty, last time. Though, honestly, he can’t take full blame. She’s barely spoken to him tonight, it’s not exactly the easiest set-up for some nasty, mind-blowing sex. The tentativeness of it all a dangerous intimacy he doesn’t know how to handle.

“Will you kiss me?”

He meets her eyes. Nods. Again. Brings his face closer to hers, until all he can see is the swimming pool blue of her eyes, until all he can feel is the soft gasp of her breath, until all he can taste is her tongue, kissing her, kissing her, kissing her, until they come up for air.

She looks dazed. He wants to never leave. He wants to stay in this moment forever, in the anticipation of her touch, that magical, tense what-if that sets his insides on fire.

A hand clutches his thigh.

“Rio?”

“Uh-huh?”

“Can I sit on your lap?”

His throat bobs. He nods quietly, watching in simple amazement as she crawls on top of him, a soft puff of air escaping her lips as she sinks down on him, wrapping her towel-clad body around him, the towel spreading to give way to parted legs.

His hands find a route over the soft fabric of the towel, caressing her thighs as he peers up at her, clocking her flushed cheeks, the wet lips, that stunned, shy look in her eyes turning swiftly into stubborn territory.

“Why are you so pretty,” she mutters, bringing a hand to his face to stroke a line from his cheekbone to his jaw. He doesn’t suppress the smile.

“Could ask you the same thing, darlin’.”

Her lips quiver.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” he hums, eyes glued her lips, raising his hand to cradle her head and pull her towards him and kiss her and kiss her and kiss her.

 

She gasps when she feels his tongue in her mouth. Gasps louder when he moans her name, and really, she can’t hold back anymore, scrambling for the towel wrapped around his waist, rubbing herself on him until his fingers squeeze her hips and he grunts.

“You want it?”

“Yes,” she mewls, not caring about how desperate she must seem—she can’t help it, she’s butter in his hands, his attention so intense and his touch so overwhelming.

He lifts her up by her thighs, getting up off the bed, kissing her deeply in the process, before turning around and throwing her on the mattress. Her legs spread to make room for him and he crawls on top of her, peeling off her towel and throwing it somewhere on the floor.

“Fuck…” he cusses, eyes roving her skin. He kisses her, sucking her top lip inside his mouth until she’s panting, wrapping her hands around his shoulders.

“’m gonna eat your pussy,” he mumbles between kisses.

“O-okay,” she stutters, lids fluttering at the prospect, at his soft lips on her hot skin, the scratch of his beard leaving traces of red.

And he does, he eats her pussy, he kisses her so hungrily she can hardly believe it’s really happening, he fucks her slow and hard and deep and—

 

It is the dreamscape. Between her lashes, he dances. Holds her, kisses her. Touches her againagainagain a million times. He belongs to her. They’re in the water, they’re out of it. It matters none. He’s hers. Hands full of each other. Names in mouths with no greed or fear or rivalry. Just. A lovely vowel or two. Bursts of pleasure and intensity.

It’s in the dreamscape where she finds ease. Timeless support of water carrying them through tensions, cowardice. Promises exchanged, kisses given, love lived.

Under the covers, her body trembles, his fingers reach her spine, awake? asleep? Touching her, touching her is what matters. He’s there.

In the dreamscape. In the bed.

The bed, where she stirs, Mississauga’s morning stretching, buzzing cars, chattering friends walking home from a party, the bustle of a Saturday full of plans for those who wake to see it. The day expects them. Needs them elsewhere. Outside the heat of this hotel room. The bed he fucked her in.

The whisper of morning nudges her to wakefulness, body shifting ‘til she registers the heat of another sticking to her.

“Rio,” she sighs, not not dreamily, until—

“Morning,” he says, smacking his lips together before turning around.

Oh God. He’s really here.

His eyes—bright, awake, sizzling with a heat that sends a thrill down her spine—take their time meeting hers, distracted by her naked body.

She swallows. He is the devastating fact in her bed. Visions from the dreamscape, here in hotel sheets. Within reach.

Reach. She could. Reach out and touch him. He would be real. He would be real and he would be here and he would—

The glaring alarm disrupts any tender anything. But it doesn’t matter.

He’s still here. He’s still here. Within reach.

 

Standing shoulder to shoulder, trembling in the humid heat of the pool, the bleachers full and loud with the excitement of kids and family and fuck knows who else bothered to show up for this. No one as tired as they are. Maybe a hungover parent or swimming assistant. No one with their hands full of complicated feelings and scorching memories.

His shoulder rubs Elizabeth’s. The light and the lines on tiles shine peculiar shadows on her face, casting it a specific kind of angelic only a swimming pool can do. He can’t keep his eyes off of her.

The grin slips onto his face without pause. He’s so happy to be here. Six thirty on a Saturday, chlorine-tinged heaven only because she’s here. She’s here and smiling that secret smile, that I-just-saw-you-naked smile, that I-want-you-naked-again smile, that shy look in her eyes.

All too easy, recalling the slapping of skin on skin, her breathy little moans, his own exerted grunts, the feeling of her velvety cunt gripping him tight. Licking the sweat by her forehead, like she’s his. Tender touches, everything.

It’s too much. Skin buzzing with it, throat dry, he reaches for her water bottle, his own forgotten in his locker at Covey, too busy chasing her through the rain without thought but with success at last. Quenching one of his thirsts helps somewhat—until he spills some water, her smile fading into a stunned and delectable expression, invitation to debauchery.

Unforgivable, the sound of the whistle, his attention needed anywhere but her lips as he remembers they’ve got an actual job to do. He closes his eyes in frustration, only to open them and feel instantly lighter thanks to the desire on her face. She’s so hot in her lust, it makes him wanna scream.

 

Cheers from parents, friends, coaches flood her ears as she dutifully drags her gaze from his lips towards the pool where a handful of swimmers eagerly get set for their big moment. She’s never cursed her job more than this very second.

She leans into him, wanting that closeness, despite everything.

Not despite. Because of everything. The memory of him—his eyes! His eyes looking at her! His eyes looking at her, looking at him, as he enters her, as he takes her, as he makes her his—is too soft to be relived in the middle of a swim meet, but her effort is worth considerable laud. Really, she’s used to it of course. Dreaming about his lips in the middle of a class, teaching six-year-olds how to do a butterfly stroke or what have you.

She wants to touch him again. It’s a fucking—not itch. Ache.

Touching him is magic: ignition, portal, center. The heart of things. Blazing. Like every moment matters. Pulling at presence. Laughing at time, because its flight means nothing with him. When he touches her, she lives threefold. The skin-to-skin, the feeeeeling, the conversation between their eyes and whatever they’re a window to. Looking at him while he’s inside of her has to be her favorite thing in the world. The closest thing to timelessness she’s sure to experience. In that reprieve a calm like no other. A safety in the middle of sizzling stroke, gripping touch. So tragically alive, so fatally enjoying one another.

The unfortunate business of living so much more enticing in that moment, in that precious thing of skin. When all she can taste is them. It could be the close, the end. The pregnant pause between acute hedonis and anything that should unfold thereafter. The endlessness only that until something else erupts, until the rest of the world catches up with them. A tragedy of its own sort and caliber.

She wants to rush off that lively beast and make a run for the portal. Reaching for his hand, carefully carelessly, she takes a breath (deep, at last) when he clasps her fingers in his.

She could kiss him, feeling so grateful that he responds to her bid.

She could kiss him.

The thought dizzies her all the way. Could she? She could. She could. It leaves her trembling into him, until he wraps her in his arms, unclasping their hands only to hold her closer to him.

“You okay?” he asks, softly, the words purred into her ear, soft and sweet and just for her, no one else.

And that’s it. Here, right now, at this swimming pool, he is only hers. He is no one else’s. Rio belongs to her, here. Anyone who spares them a thought would think it, too. They came as a pair, of course. Even more so: he is gentle with her like a lover, touches her like he’s happy to, looks at her—looks at her.

“‘lizabeth?” he murmurs, concern in his voice.

She nods, blinking up at him. And there’s so much happening around them, and there’s kids jumping into the pool, and there’s timers being set off and there’s records getting broken and there’s a crowd cheering, and her eyes are on his, and his eyes are on hers, and he belongs to her.

 

In the dreamscape, they’re in a pool. He carries her, dives after her. Tastes her body. Sucks the love right out of it. Slippery lust lavishing, holding them back, propelling them forwards. Standstill. Freefall.

 

On the bleachers, he is hers.