His breath wafted over onto my neck. Warm and content, as relaxed as the rest of him. Inches away, my body was all latches and locks– even when intimate. I only know how to stay stiff when close to men’s bodies, when even the sweetest lover can sour into a predator with the wrong word.
“You’re so tense,” he purred in that dreamy baritone akin to pillow talk. I was facing away from him. My eyes squeezed shut. “Do I tell him? Does someone I barely know deserve a secret that’s never felt air?” my mind raced in the milliseconds between his question and my response. “A man hit me once,” I whimpered. I gulped so hard the saliva and air was a boulder slowly rolling down my throat the whole way down. The ominous silence ravaged my nerves.
His arms made closure where there was distance, each bicep cradling me. His core was now the brace upholding my spine. “I am so sorry,” he articulated clearly into my ear. These weren’t sweet nothings. Where there had been some seductive play there was now sincerity. “It’s fine,” I shrugged. I didn’t want pity. I hadn’t ripped my way through this ruthless life to have some random man to tell me that a man shouldn’t have beaten the shit out of me. I knew that.
A gentle squeeze followed my rebuff. “No, I’m sorry,” he repeated, squeezing again. I muttered “Fuck you” into the pillow. The warm breath was even closer now. He lingered by my ear, until I whipped around to face him. Now, eyes locked into one another, breath heavy in exchange, he brushed his hand against my cheek, “I’m sorry you were hurt. I’m sorry that happened to you”. My jaw shook at something I’d waited so long to hear hailing from such an unexpected place. I couldn’t thank him. “Thank you” couldn’t pass my lips not only because he didn’t get to be my savior, but because I was certain that if I said anything, I would weep. So, with his hand still resting on my cheek, I smiled. My body, a slab of granite for so many before him, softened to flesh. We reminded silent, transfixed by each other’s eyes until sleep arrived.