After being dumped by two men in the space of five days, I began to reflect. Well, first I felt sorry for myself, but eventually I began to reflect. And what I reflected was that I missed Dean.
Which was really only natural—I had been dallying with Aaron, and Jed, and Daniel—lovely boys, all—to keep myself from thinking about Dean, whom I missed, and loved. Because I hadn’t cried much, and thought I had come to terms with the fact that we had no future together, I’d thought I’d put him behind me.
Since our breakup, we’d gotten together sporadically for dinner, and after the first, awkward meal, our dinners had been punctuated by lots of kissing and cuddling. I had, however, refused to sleep with him. My feeling was, if we didn’t have sex, there was no emotional danger. My feeling was, also, why should I have sex with him? If he wanted to fuck me so badly, let him attempt to get me back. Shallow, but true. So we hung out, and held hands, and he gently tried to cajole me into bed, which put me in the comfortable position of denying him and feeling superior—for either denying him or for not wanting to have sex with him, I didn’t know which.
But I hadn’t seen him in a few weeks. Dean had cancelled on me on election night—we were supposed to watch the returns together, but instead he stayed in Atlantic City to play poker, and I’d been angry, unwilling to express my anger, and frustrated and lonely. When we finally did see one another, it was almost Christmas. This time last year, we’d been an official couple, planning to spend the holiday together.
“I didn’t realize that not wanting to get back together with him didn’t mean that I don’t miss him,” I announced to Ashley, the recipient of all my Dean-related musings.
“You haven’t really mourned him,” she pointed out obligingly.
So when we met to see a film, I was anxious. We had some time, so stopped for a drink at a sushi place first. I sat there sulking, wondering if Dean was seeing anybody else.
We discussed our Christmas plans. As usual, Dean was spending the holiday with his mother and one of his sisters, something he viewed more as penance than a cause for celebration. On the other hand, he was going to the resort where his family had spent the last umpteen Christmases, a place I’d visited with him last year. It was a wood and stone nineteenth century hotel about two hours from New York City. They had a spa, and the night we’d arrived, we’d sat in the outdoor hot tub overlooking the mountains, sleet melting on our warm faces. The hotel was still owned by members of the same family who’d founded it over a hundred years ago, and they ran it like a very lavish summer camp, with group activities and assigned dinner hours. We’d stayed in a room with a four poster bed and a wood-burning fireplace. Christmas had been like a Victorian dream, complete with tree-trimming parties and ice skating, and I’d loved the hotel so much I hadn’t wanted to leave.
“Well, on Christmas Day, I’ll probably go to the movies and out to dinner with my parents.” This is, of course, the traditional New York Jew Christmas.
“Do you want to come to the hotel?”
He’d asked me before, and I’d demurred – I’d loved being asked, but thought it a terrible idea. But now, I really wanted to go. “Do you want me to come?” I asked, like a passive-aggressive teenager.
Dean gave me a look. “Yes, of course.”
So probably he wasn’t seeing else. At least no one he expected to be sleeping with over Christmas. “OK,” I said sullenly, and tentatively stretched my hand towards him.
He clasped my palm and smiled.
I went up the day after Christmas, and Dean met me in the hotel’s lobby. He was wearing the same sweatshirt and jeans he always wore, and when he hugged me it felt like nothing had changed. He took my hand and we traipsed up the oak staircase to the room we would be sharing.
This room also had a fireplace, and the thin wooden shutters on the narrow windows were open to show an expanse of snowy lawn. “I have presents for you,” said Dean. He gave me a copy of Holidays on Ice, and a Scrabble travel edition. We started a game, and he ate some of the cookies I’d made him. But this was mostly a prelude to the energetic wrestling the queen-sized bed seemed to invite. We rolled around for a bit in the late-afternoon semi-dusk, nipping and kissing like a pair of kittens.
“I have an idea,” Dean whispered. He was lying on top of me.
“The winner—” he gestured to the abandoned Scrabble game nearby, “Gets to decide if he or she wants to sleep with the loser.”
“Did you say ‘why’?”
“What? I didn’t say why! I said ‘OK.’”
“Oh,” he kissed my neck.
“Really, Dean,” I gazed at the ceiling. “Of course I’m going to sleep with you.” I sniggered. “How churlish would it have been to accept your invitation and not have sex with you?!”
“Oh, so you’re going to have sex with me to be polite?” Dean looked skeptical.
“I wanted to come up here. If I had to sleep with you to do it, so be it,” I said virtuously. I buried my mouth in his neck.
Later we joined the rest of the party: his mother, sister, family friends—just like old times, I thought, half horrified, half delighted. At dinner, with his hands tugging my hair, and exchanging kisses and jokes like any happy couple, I wondered if the others knew or care that we were not actually dating, because we sure were acting like it. After dinner we all went for a walk in the moonlight, our feet crunching over the snow. Dean and I held hands in peaceful silence.
He was so familiar. But back in the room, making out, unbuttoning my cotton jersey and wrapping his mouth around my breasts, I felt detached, and I wondered if that was the price I was going to pay for having sex with Dean: I was going to be aware of just how stupid an idea it was not just after but while we were fucking.
But meanwhile his skin felt good against mine. He turned out the light, and started to go down on me. Then I froze: I was willing to fuck him but apparently oral sex was a bridge too far. “Stop,” I croaked.
“You don’t want me to—”
“But you’re so yummy.” I shook my head. Dean licked his fingers, and rubbed his index finger across my clit. Suddenly, I was annoyed: he should know better. “Lighter,” I hissed.
And then it was all too familiar, the way he fitted his dick into me, the way he lay ¾ on his side, the way we pressed against one another. “Oh, sweetie,” he said, his voice hoarse. I waited.
“Oh, Lily,” he said. I clutched his shoulders. “Do you want to get on top?”
“No, it’s OK,” I said, but he insisted. I had no interest in coming: I wanted to stay uninvolved, which is probably something I should have realized before we started fucking. I rode him a bit but, even though he knows how, in order to come, I need my partner to stay as still as possible, moving only to lick my nipples or, you know, moan my name in a sexy manner—but despite all that, Dean clutched my breasts clumsily and jerked beneath me. Perversely, I was pleased. “It’s OK,” I said at last. “You come.”
We rolled back so that he was on top of me again. “I love you, Lily,” he said. This was what I’d been waiting for, and I forgave him everything, everything. “I love you, too,” I whispered.
Thus our weekend. The following night we sat in the hotel bar – a dimly lit place with plush seating and plum-colored cocktails, and Dean said, “Well, now that we’re having sex again—”
“Dean,” I said, taking his arm. “This is a one-off. I mean, this is wonderful, but.” We looked at one another. “This isn’t daily life.” I mean, again, if we weren’t dating, why should I have sex with him? Why should he have all the benefits of a relationship without any of the attendant requirements, like seeing the person on a regular basis?
“So we could come up on President’s Day weekend and have sex then?”
I admit, I was tempted: “We’ll see.”
And instead of articulating I miss you, this is hard, I just told him that I’d been having a rough time. Until recently, I hadn’t really had the chance to miss him—we’d been seeing one another. If I had called him and said I must see you, please come over, he would have done it. And I didn’t want to get back together with him but he smelled so good, and was so funny and kind and he loved me and I’d been happy with him.
That night again I wouldn’t let him go down on me, and when I rode him and he pushed up against me, interrupting my rhythm, I said, “Dean, you know how I like it,” in a distracted, irritable way. Then I ground myself against his cock until orgasm.
“I love you, Lily,” he said, jerking against me. I felt a wave of love and despair.
"Oh baby,” I said sadly, “I love you, too.”