I nodded absently and made my way into his sleeping bag. Once I was all settled in, he crawled over, grinning.
“What’s so funny?” I asked, already feeling the shivers from the cold. He was right about that at least.
“You’re funny,” he said coming in beside me. The sleeping bag was barely big enough for two. We definitely couldn’t both lie on our backs beside each other. So he climbed on top of me, propped up on his elbows on either side of my shoulders.
I thought I was going to die from awkwardness. He was literally on top of me, holding the sides of my face in his hands, grinning at me with that stretched joker smile of his, only inches away from my face. He smelled like minty gum and smoke.
“Relax,” he whispered. “You’re as stiff as a board.”
No, I thought, you’re as stiff as a board. Which was true, I could feel that against my legs. I almost laughed at the thought. It was enough for a smile to creep on my lips.
“There you go,” he said lazily. He brought his face closer to mine. “Getting warmer?”
“Don’t you think this is a little inappropriate?” I asked, my words coming out like poured concrete.
He raised his brow, lowered his voice, “Would you rather be in a wet sleeping bag? Because you can trade inappropriateness for that.”
“You are such a tease,” I whispered, wishing he would stop looking at me like he was, all languidly, like a sun–soaked lizard or a playful cat.
“Takes one to know one,” he shot back.
His smile started to fade. I don’t think it was over what I said. His expression became more serious. He brushed the hair off of my forehead with his hand, slowly bringing it across, grazing my skin. I wondered if he could feel my heart against his. It was pounding away like a marching band.
I had to stay strong. I didn’t know what his game was, but I couldn’t let myself give into it.
“Good night, Dex,” I said, sounding more throatily than I had hoped.
He kept staring at me in that strange way. Determined yet seductive. Confused and concerned. Then he said, “Good night, Perry” and rolled off of me. We both had to sleep in a spooning position. But with my back to him and his arm draped over my waist, his breath tickling the nape of my neck, this was fine with me.
* * *
I first woke up to my body being shook from behind and then by this horrible wailing sound that was filling the dark tent like a psychotic banshee.
“What? What’s going on?” I cried out, trying to get my bearings in the dark, hazy corners of consciousness.
Dex was the one shaking me, trying to get me to wake up. I rolled on my back and looked up at him in fear. The white of his eyes glowed brighter as I adjusted to my night vision.
The wail wasn’t coming from inside the tent but from somewhere outside. It was unlike anything I had ever heard before. It was definitely from a person, a person not in pain but in maddening personal anguish.
“What the hell is that?” I asked, panicking.
“I don’t know. It just started. I think it’s the nut,” he said, his voice low and creaky.
“There was a nutty leper on the island. He went crazy. Apparently he would roam the forest screaming and laughing and crying.”
“Jesus,” I swore under my breath. This is just what we needed.
“We have to get this on film,” he said as he unzipped the sleeping bag in a hurry and climbed out, fumbling across the tent for the Super 8.
“What? No!” I cried out, making a grab for him but missing. “You can’t go out there.”
“Yes, I can, I have to.” He grabbed his shoes and was about to put them on.
“No!” I yelled, my voice scaring me. It scared Dex too because he put the shoes down and gave me an unbelieving look. “You can’t go out there; there are things out there that want to hurt you!”
“What things, what are you talking about!?”
“Please Dex, just trust me.”
He shook his head. “No way, I’m not missing this. You stay here.”
He started to unzip the tent, the wailing continuing outside, echoing through the forest like a deranged siren. My insides were iced with fear. The corners of my vision started to go black. If he left me alone, I felt like I would die. If he left, he would die. I was sure of it.
I reached out with my hand lurching further forward, coming out of the bag, latching on to his arm with all of my strength. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream. The feelings that were coming up in me were overwhelming, overpowering. My heart was slowing, dropping in my chest, my lungs were tensing, the air was leaving me, replaced with terror.
I couldn’t let him go.
“Don’t leave me!” I whimpered pathetically.
He stopped and fell a bit into my grasp. I pulled him even closer to me.
“I need you,” I said, heartbeats in my words.
He lowered the camera. His eyes softened into dark puddles. The air inside the tent was changing, becoming charged like the atmosphere before a lightning storm. In the dizzying array of emotions and feelings that were swirling around in my stomach and coursing up and down the hairs on my body, I realized we were about to pass the point of no return. Something was going to happen.
“You need me?” he asked huskily, hesitating, lips twitching.
I tightened my grip and swallowed the fear in my throat. I nodded, slowly, deliberately, not taking my eyes off of his. “I need you.”
A wash of concentrated passion came across his face and settled in the darkness between his eyes and brows. I’d seen the look before but never like this, never in this feverish vibrancy that seemed to sizzle out of him.
I pulled him closer, close enough to feel the heat and electricity of his chest and neck. I kept my grip tight and started to shake lightly, my body convulsing with hot, nervous spasms, my breath heavy and labored.
“I need you,” I said again with utmost poignancy, making them the most important words I had ever said.
I thought I saw a smile at the edge of Dex’s lips.
And then they were on mine, kissing me. Dex lunged forward and grabbed my face with his hands, holding it in a tight squeeze, his wet, warm lips frantically pursuing my mouth, tongue dancing with mine in a vibrant frenzy.
I was caught off guard but didn’t waste any time in getting caught up. I pawed back at him as we both fell backward onto the sleeping bag. The days of wanting him, needing him, were over and he was in my hands. He was the soft skin I felt beneath his shirt as I gripped him around his waist and pulled him forward. He was the hot tongue on my neck, licking and sucking beneath my jawbone. He was the tingly rush I felt between my legs, the heat on my limbs, the intoxicating lust that swam around in my head and made all fears dull. I only felt pleasure. Even the wails of the night were unheard.
I pulled his shirt off over his head and threw it somewhere across the tent. I raked my nails over his chest and tattoo and brought his mouth up to meet mine. Our kisses weren’t neat or sweet, they were messy and dripping and with a deluge of pent–up lust and buried emotions. His hands found the slice of bare skin between my pajama top and bottom and my nerves leaped with the contact of his fingers. With one hand he pulled down at my pants. A quick calculation of what underwear I was wearing flashed through my mind but I was distracted by his other hand, which was disappearing under my shirt.
He alternated between being gentle and rough on my breasts. It sent shivers through my body and caused my leaden head to fall back on the sleeping bag. It had been awhile since I was with a man; it was almost like I was experiencing this all for the first time. I decided to help him out by pulling my shirt off myself.
There was that slightly awkward pause when I discarded my top beside me and he had leaned back. There was no denying it or hiding it. I was pretty much naked beneath him and he was taking his sweet time taking it all in. Part of me wanted to squirm with insecurity and embarrassment, part of me wanted to enjoy it. All I could do was blush furiously.
He, on the other hand, wasn’t blushing. He looked like a madman possessed by desire and sheer want. Watching him was a turn on. His eyes were heavy, his breath raspy, his lips in a relaxed leer. And he was looking at me. At all of me.
He came back down and started ravishing my neck, from the earlobe all the way to my collarbones, tickling, biting and blowing hits of hot steam from his lips. I moaned despite myself, feeling the hairs at the back my neck rise along with my chest that was coming up to meet his wet mouth.
While he made work of me, my hands flew down to his pants and tugged them down with my hands and then slid the rest off with my feet. If I was going to be in my underwear, he was too. I couldn’t see what he was wearing in the darkness or between the flashes of skin, but it felt like a soft pair of boxer briefs, and from the feel I got at the front, it would have been a very complimentary sight indeed. I groped him firmly with my hand, which brought out a moan from both of us. I wanted him, every inch.
He had other plans. He scooted back, leaving my upper body exposed to the cold air that felt like a gentle caress against my sweaty skin, and brought his head down to my legs, spreading them wider with his hands. With one hand he teased the soft underside of my knee with his finger, and then bent his head down and did the same with a flicker of his tongue. It was enough to make my eyes roll back in my head. He took his tongue and let it wash up the inside of my thighs until it skirted the sides of my underwear. He teased the area for awhile until he decided he had enough and pushed it aside.
And then he got right into it, his tongue going at me, soft and hard, fast and slow. He moaned and panted, the vibrations causing my back to arch and my hands to grip the hair on the top of his head. I joined in, losing all self–consciousness, losing all sense of reality. I was vaguely aware that my sighs and cries were competing with the wails outside of the tent but neither one of us cared. It was just us in the tent, it was all we needed, all that mattered.
Just before I was about to be pushed over the edge, he slowed and then came up, his sweaty, heaving chest sticking against mine, the weight of his body sending a feeling of deliciousness over me. He brought his hands down and brought a few fingers inside, while holding back my hair with the other hand, tugging on it roughly. He kissed me, both of us breathing hard and trying to express more than we could before.
He looked at me with so much intensity it was unnerving. He pulled at my hair again and stroked me with his other hand, determined to see me give in to him. His eyes were as rapturously intrusive as his fingers were.
I wanted to give in. I wanted to let go. I was so close. What I wanted even more was to have him inside of me, filling me. I wanted him to feel like I was feeling. I reached down for him clumsily, but he pressed himself harder against my leg, as if he was playing hard to get.
He went back at my neck, obviously knowing a sweet spot when he saw one. Within seconds I was a blurry mess of his soft, slick hands, nibbling teeth and something like starlight. I closed my eyes, unable to stop it from happening.
My world was blown wide open. There was heat and sweat and cries and whimpers and spasms and shivers and thirst and a fuzziness that obliterated everything around me. I was floating far away, above our bodies, above the tent, above the island. I was above the clouds, above the earth, above the moon. I was safe. I was whole. I was a million things I had never felt before.