Between the Beautifuls

Or

I'm With the Company

Part Seven

Pomegranate Daffodil

"Okay, go," Esmond tried to hold back his drunken laughter.

They lay on the couch together, their legs handing over the armrests and their heads meeting in the middle, ear to ear. They held their hands above them, their index fingers and thumbs connecting to make sort of a square, as though it were a TV screen they had created with their hands.

As Esmond said those words they both kicked their legs up, stretching them over their heads so their legs would meet up inside the square.

Clara laughed as she nearly lost her balance, having to break their square to use one hand for support. Their toes just managed to meet when Clara lost her balance and tumbled off the couch, yelling out in victory.

"We did it!" She exclaimed to the floor.

"Hardly!" Esmond collapsed back onto the couch and started fumbling around for his drink. He nearly knocked it down as he finally grabbed it and brought it to his lips so he could chug it down.

"I need to work on my coordination," Clara pushed herself up on her elbows, scanning the coffee table for her drink.

"Well, alcohol is the perfect tool for helping with coordination."

The sun was just beginning to set, but neither of them was keeping track of time anymore. Hours had passed since Clara had fled her home to come here, and true to his word Esmond had ocean of liquor that they were quickly drinking their way through.

Clara was aware of the fact that she was drunk because she had stopped thinking f everything in terms of numbers, but she enjoyed the release from thinking for a night. Them trying to touch toes over their heads was the perfect example to that, completely devoid of thinking but endlessly fun.

Esmond had a harder time realizing he was drunk, but he was trying to keep that from getting in the way of his drinking more.

"I can't find my drink," Clara gave up on her search.

"Hm…" Esmond looked at his now empty glass. Was it his glass? "We need more alcohol."

He got up, the condo swimming around him as he stumbled back into the kitchen.

"Hey," Clara called over from the floor, not finding the strength or will power to get back onto the couch. "Why do you always get me drunk?"

"I do believe," Esmond squinted, trying not to poor the whiskey all over the counter, "that you get drunk all on your own around me."

"Ah… you make me want to drink…" she started giggling.

"Do I?" Esmond almost sounded hurt as he barely managed to make it back into the living room.

Clara managed to sit up against the couch and he handed her the fresh glass of straight alcohol. Clara took a long sip then shuddered, making a disgusted face as Esmond slumped onto the couch next to her.

"Great stuff, right?" Esmond took a sip.

"It tastes like burning…"

"That means it's good."

"It's like pain thinner."

"Probably works the same too."

"Why do people drink?"

"To get drunk."

She thought about that for a moment.

"Success," she held her glass straight up. "Cheers."

He reached over and clinked his glass against hers. "Salut. Here's to forgetting all life's problems."

"Great… I just remembered all my problems."

Esmond laughed. "Sorry. No more problem talk… no more Hawksley talk." He washed the taste of Hawkley's name out of his mouth with another swig of the whiskey, then realized to his dismay that he had already emptied the glass."

"I'm not the only one with problems."

"Hey man, my problems are over."

"Sonya leave the country?"

"She doesn't have to leave the country for me to get over her."

"That's how you did last time."

"I wish your memory sucked like everyone else's. I don't like you remembering everything."

"Well, the alcohol will help that," she took another sip, the whiskey going down a little easier this time.

"You know, I really think I have gotten over her… I think I've been over her for a while… and at the same time I think I might love her for as long as I live."

"Make up your mind."

"My mind does strange things," he looked down at her. "I feel weird talking to the top of your head. Come back on the couch."

"My legs are content to not move."

He sighed, then slid down to the carpeted floor. He looked over at her and smiled.

"Why'd you love her for so long?"

"I'm a glutton for punishment, remember?"

"Yeah, but… for half your life? Have you ever loved anyone else?"

"I've loved lots of women," he winked at her.

"I mean emotionally," she rolled her eyes.

"Yeah, me too… Hey, I thought this was your night to get over your problems."

"No, it's my night to forget them, your night to get over them. We can take turns."

"Sonya's not a problem anymore… honest. For the past month, I haven't really felt the same around her. It's like, she's become less… or rather, like I've become more."

"I like the sound of that. I wish I could become more."

"More than a Doctor? You want another Doctorate or something?"

"Ha, maybe some day. I used to want to be a Doctor you know… I mean a real Doctor. A medical Doctor."

"Hey, you could totally do that."

"I know."

He laughed. "So do it!"

"I like what I do, I like lecturing."

"You like being the smartest girl in the room."

Her eyes seemed to stab into his soul. "Oh, and you don't like being the best dancer in the room?"

"That only happens when I'm around students… Oh… Wait, are you telling me you're smart at math like I'm good at dancing? Always a First Soloist never a Principal Dancer?"

"Hardly. In my world Professors are Principal Dancers… Hawksley is like a First Soloist."

"Maybe that's the problem. Maybe he's jealous of you."

She shook her head. "Our glasses are empty."

"Oops," he reached over to grab her glass and their fingers met, they were warm and soft and for a moment he didn't want to move, he just wanted to feel them, to be connected to her, just like trying to touch toes or ears… his eyes gazed at her still face, at all the other parts of her he wanted to touch.

"Esmond…" she whispered.

"I don't think about Sonya as much anymore because I keep thinking about you."

"… Me? What for?"

He smiled at her. "You linger on the mind."

Their fingers slipped away from each other as he took the glass and with all the grace a drunken ballet dancer could muster got to his feet without using his arms and bounded into the kitchen.

He grabbed vodka this time. He was sticking to the classics, the hardy drinks that burned everything it touched and possibly helped grow hair on your chest.

"Hey, I can put ice in them if you want, vodka on the rocks," he turned around and Clara was standing in the doorway to the kitchen. He was shocked for a moment, then smiled. "Ice? Rocks?"

"I should stop."

"Yeah," he looked at the window, the darkening sky. "Me too, I have work tomorrow, showing up hungover's probably a bad idea…"

"No, not drinking."

"… Then, stop what?"

She moved forward, Esmond suddenly found himself face to face with her. She moved quickly, or maybe the alcohol had just slowed him down. He hand were holding the sides of his face, she stood up on tiptoe.

Just like a dancer, the thought barely managed to flit through his mind.

She kissed him.

Their lips touched just for a moment, his mouth parted and his head instinctually moved forward, but suddenly she took a step back.

"No, you should definitely not stop that… there should be more than that," he mumbled through half closed eyes.

"I want to kiss you," she whispered.

"Okay."

He grabbed her shoulders, pulling her closed as he leaned down and kissed her. Their lips firmly pressed against each other, their tongues gently feeling out each other. Esmond felt a wave of dizziness and had no idea if it was from the alcohol or the feel of her body against his.

She pulled away and Esmond nearly fell over as she disappeared from his fingers.

"No," she said hurriedly and Esmond opened his eyes in time to watch her start walking to the door.

"No?" He asked meekly.

She looked back at him, pleading with her eyes for him to understand. "I love him."

She opened the door and left.

Esmond walked over to the door, blinking at the sudden departure, feeling more confusion than disappointment.

"No…" he mumbled to the empty air, the word was vile.

There was a knock at the door, he looked around the apartment to see if anything had been left behind, then he reached forward and turned the knob.

Clara stood before him, tears streaming down her cheeks.

"Can I come back in?"

"Depends on why you want to come in…"

She reached out, grabbing his shirt and pulling him in close.

"Wait, wait, wait," he held her at bay, "if you keep kissing me, other things are going to happen… are you sure you want them to."

"… Yes," her voice wavered only slightly

"Do you really want to sleep with me?"

"Yes."

"Say it."

She pulled him down, so she could whisper in his ear.

"I want you to take me inside, and I want you to make love to me… I want you, only you, right now."

Esmond felt unable to form words for second. "Okay," he finally choked out.

He pulled her inside.

Esmond had wondered on a few occasions what Clara's body looked like under her ill-fitting rags. This was something he had never thought of with Sonya. Sonya never hid anything, couldn't hide anything, she wore skintight clothing as part of her job for crying out loud.

He knew without a doubt that if someone were to strip away Sonya's tutu she would look like a pencil before him.

Clara looked like a women when she was naked.

Curves and fat in all the places he had ever wanted a woman to have those. She was like a warm duvet he could fold himself into. There were no bones jutting out of her body, only inviting softness. He felt every inch of her perfect soft skin and pulled her close to him, not wanting to let go.

She fell asleep on his chest, her head resting under his chin and her black hair – far more wild now than he'd ever seen it – draped itself down her back and onto his shoulders as though it were a blanket.

Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew she wasn't his to hold as she slept, that he had no right to run his fingers down her side or breath in the sweet smell of her sweat, but he didn't care, because he knew without a doubt that he was completely hers.

Esmond woke up with the warm sun on his body. Summer was now upon them, and Esmond knew that after such a hot spring a boiling three months was ahead of him. The blankets had long since been thrown off the bed and he hadn't gotten dressed before falling asleep, so he spent a moment lying naked in the summer sun before he remembered that someone had fallen asleep with him.

He sat up and found Rex at the end of his bed, looking up at him.

"You're not who I was looking for…" he muttered and Rex started washing himself as though he were shrugging Esmond off.

He grabbed some shorts and got out of bed, only feeling slightly used and abandoned. Not actually that unusual of a feeling he realized. However, he quickly realized there was a strange smell in the air, and a noise coming from the kitchen… a sort of sizzling noise.

Without wasting another moment he went to the kitchen and there was Clara, dressed and cooking bacon on the stovetop… sort of. She looked up at him and smiled.

"I made you breakfast."

"Oh…" Esmond looked at the shriveled up and blackened pieces of meat and bit his lip. "I think they're done."

"Really? I didn't want to undercook them," she turned the stove off.

"Oh, you definitely didn't undercook them."

"I burn them, didn't I?" She frowned.

"Burnt bacon is still bacon. You can't go wrong with bacon," he walked over to her and kissed her on the cheek. "Good morning."

"Morning."

"I'm glad you're still here."

She took a deep breath, a slight feeling of uncertainty passing through her. "Me too."

(Oh man, I "teehee"d a few times while writing this chapter. For some reason making these two kiss made me feel oddly self-conscious. I was kinda going back and forth between writing a sex scenes, but the second I got to the point it just didn't feel right… and if writing them kissing made me blush, what would writing them having sex be like??? Now, before you think I'm a prude, I have written sex scenes before, but it just isn't right for this story. Fill in the blanks at home. Sorry for the uneditedness of these chapter, but I'm getting to the point where I finish them and don't even want to give it a once over. In the past few weeks I've been realizing that the length of this story is completely wrong. It either should have been a short story, or way longer. Being that it's already too long for a short story and I don't want to make it twice as long, we're back to 11 chapters. I know when I'm done there will be a major edit to fix all the little problems. Gee, can't wait for that…)