The First Time
Outside, snowflakes large as leaves were piling in drifts on their balcony. Inside, the fire was mellowing to embers behind the brass grate. They had made love and now lay in each other’s arms, naked under piles of covers, not sleepy, but just content in the dim, magic hours of midnight. The cuckoo clock chimed a quarter-hour, which never failed to make them smile.
“We need to get one of those,” he said. “Put it in our bedroom so I can always remember this night.”
”Remember the first time we made love?” she asked.
“I remember every time we made love.”
“You do not.”
“I do. Most of them, anyway. Definitely the first time, though.”
She raised up on an elbow, the other hand moving in slow circles on his torso, making him want to purr. “You were nineteen,” she said thoughtfully.
He chuckled. “I couldn’t believe it…you were such a woman.”
“I was a kid."
“Not to me. You were…I mean, just out of my league. It was crazy. I couldn't believe this gorgeous grad student wanted me…”
She eased over to lay on him, crossing her forearms on his chest and resting her chin atop. She was tousled and still a little sweaty and completely adorable. “I remember how you looked under me…like when I was pushing you back to lie down so I could get on top of you. You were shaking.”
“I was overwhelmed. I told you…you were the most beautiful girl I’d even seen. And it was just a dream for me…”
“Tell me more.”
“About what? That night?”
“Whatever you remember. Close your eyes. Think back and take me there.”
He knew she wanted a story, and it would have been easy to protest that he couldn’t remember enough of the details, but for her, he would try. He closed his eyes, let his body rest and sink into the mattress, let her warm weight press on him, press him back through the years. He put his hand into her damp hair. Always her hair anchored him to the past, to those early heady days of love. He wound it around his fingers, reached for something. A sense memory.
“You had that hair gel that smelled like grape candy,” he said slowly.
“Mm-hm,” she hummed encouragingly.
“It was March, right? No. February. Valentine's Day?”
“The day before, actually.”
“I think I was trying to wait until Valentine’s Day but then…I couldn’t.”
“Everyone else has Valentine’s Day. We have Valentine’s Eve.”
“We were in your room,” he said. He kept his eyes shut and let his mind drift, reach back, gather up the memories, and he just let himself talk, ramble, sketch it out for her, and he was astonished at how easily it came back to him...
She was busy with writing or some involved project at her desk, her head bent over her work and the lamplight picking up the red bits in her dark hair. He was reading Rolling Stone, perfectly comfortable in her silence, yet he kept looking up from his magazine. Something about the room kept drawing off his attention. Something was important here.
He looked around. The room was larger than most dorm rooms, more spacious because only one person was occupying it, with the added luxury of an adjoining bathroom. He gazed at the furnishings and decorations he’d been looking at for nine weeks now. The little coffee machine, her tapedeck, the brass baker’s rack where her clothes were stacked. He began to notice his own possessions among hers. His cap was on the dresser by the bathroom door. His coat hung in the closet. His shoes on the floor, his wallet and keys on the desk.
His gaze passed by the open bathroom door again, stopped, backtracked, and looked through the door to the sink, and his toothbrush in the rack next to hers. He had a toothbrush here. That was her doing, not his. They weren’t sleeping together, not yet, but he had been sleeping over quite a while, and at one point she had simply bought him a toothbrush. There it was. In her bathroom. In her room. Which, tonight, felt very much like their room.
He tried that on. Our room. He went a step further. Our place. This meagre ten-by-ten space where he could set down his bits and pieces and have a toothbrush in the bathroom. A place with a door they could shut and seal themselves off from the world.
Then the concept that had been tantalizingly evading him all night revealed itself, and the concept was privacy. Private moments were few and far between at college. The point of college was socialization, you had to make a concerted effort to get away from people, even the sound of their voices was a constant background hum everywhere you went.
Tonight, here, it was quiet and peaceful within the walls of Katherine’s room. Just them. No interruptions. No one and nothing else, nowhere to go.
“What are you thinking about?” Her voice floated into his thoughts. She was looking over at him, soft and rumpled in her sweats and t-shirt, her long hair spilling over her shoulders, her upper lip curling into that smile he loved.
I love her. It wasn’t a revelation. It was a simple fact. It was part of this room. He was here. He was six weeks shy of his twentieth birthday and he was in love.
He glanced at the clock on her desk, the clock that woke the both of them most mornings. “It’s after one,” he said. A Tuesday night was now the wee hours of Wednesday morning. He didn’t have to leave. No curfew to keep, no rules to obey, no parents to answer to. He could stay. He was allowed here. He belonged here.
He put aside his magazine and swung his feet to the floor. Reaching for the arms of her chair, he turned her in it to face him, and then slid off the bed so he was kneeling between her feet. She looked at him, and he looked back, ensnared in her gaze, unable to look away, harboring no desire to. His hands slid along the sides of her face, fingertips in the hair over her ears. Not closing his eyes, he found her mouth with his, kissing her softly once, then again, once more, nudging her lips apart so he could feel her breathe into him.
Her knees pressed against the outsides of his legs, her hands glided up his arms. His own hands moved, down her shoulders and arms, the feel of her warm skin under clothes, the lift of her chest as she arched into his hands holding her breasts now, her mouth opening, the slide of her tongue on his, the grape-candy smell of her hair.
He pulled her off the chair into his lap, tucked her good into one elbow and kissed her, the other hand stroking her hair, her neck, her breasts, sliding down her stomach, across her sweats, cupping between her legs and holding that damp heat that he had created in her, he, him, it was for him.
He stopped kissing her, held her tight to his chest, staring in her eyes. Something deep within him began to tremble. “I love you,” he whispered in her mouth.
“I love you.”
“I’m so in love with you.” The trembling intensified.
She kissed him again, held his head in her hands, turned it this way and that as she kissed his mouth, staring in his eyes. He wanted to fall into those eyes forever, fall clear into her body and be inside everything he loved about her. Nine weeks. He was done waiting. He was sure.
“I’m ready if you are,” he said softly.
She, five weeks shy of her twenty-second birthday, could have teased him. But she didn’t. Her own limbs were shaking now, and she drew in a deep breath and let it go slowly.
“You sure?” she whispered.
He nodded, his forehead to hers. “Positive.”
“You love me?”
“You want to be inside me?”
“Yes.” He groaned it, catching her mouth up in his again, desire coursing like a flooded river through his young body, coiled tight with heat and longing, yearning to coil up with hers.
She got up from his lap, stood up and turned off the lamp, plunging the room into darkness. Only a small slice of yellow-orange streetlight came through a gap in the curtains. She held her hands out to him, he took them, and she brought him to his feet and started undoing the buttons on his shirt...
“Shaking,” he said now, years later, in a hotel room in Switzerland with that girl, now this woman, lying on him, silhouetted in firelight. “Getting out of our clothes. Shaking. Kissing, rolling around, touching, shaking. You putting the condom on me. Shaking. You were so confident. You just got on top of me and like took me and put me in you and it was the greatest fucking thing ever.”
He drifted in the memory, parts of which remained vivid enough to make his toes curl. He was starting to get hard again, just remembering sliding into her body for the first time.
“We did it three times,” she said.
“Well, the first time didn’t last long. I couldn’t handle you.”
“The second was longer,” she conceded. “And the third time…well…” She leaned and kissed him slowly. “Third time was magic."
He slid his hands into her hair. “Every time was magic,” he said. “But that first time was a gift. I don’t think you’ll ever know what it meant to me…”
He kissed her, momentarily captured in the emotional complexity of that evening, remembering he’d known without a shred of doubt that he was in love with this girl. That combined with the beauty of her body and how she had just put him on his back, got on him and guided him into her—it left him reeling. He hadn’t been a virgin, but it had been like nothing he’d ever known. Not before. Not since.
"It meant the world to me," he said. "Being your lover, it...changed me."
“I know,” she said against his mouth. “Maybe I didn’t know then but I know now.”
Desire was closing over him like quicksand, dragging him down into syrupy longing. “I’m so hard for you," he said.
“Put me in you…like you did the first time.”
She rose up over him, her thighs snugging up his sides. One of her hands on his shoulder, the other reaching for his cock, sliding along it, squeezing him, guiding the head to that pulsing heat, letting it part her, open her, and then she let go of him, leaned on both his shoulders and he slid full into her, deep, deeper than he’d ever been. He wasn’t shaking now. He was strong, on fire, burning bright, older now and able to handle it when she sent him reeling.
“You move in me like you were born to,” she whispered.
“I was born to.” He took her hands, looked up at her, looked up into the past as she stared back down at him from the present. “I was made for this.”
The embers of the fire smoldered, the snow piled up against the windows, the cuckoo chimed another quarter hour.