- Text Size +
Author's Chapter Notes:
Note: updated warnings for sexual content.
It was one of those rare New England summer nights when the temperature hovers around 100 degrees and humid. Claire, who had asthma, was having trouble breathing in the heat, and a sheen of sweat had completely covered her, like a second skin. To escape the boxed-in feeling of the City apartment, we drove to the beach and were camping out among the dunes, where the air coming off the Atlantic ocean was marginally cooler than that blowing around in the apartment in Boston.

Claire had moved in with me eleven months ago - and an amazing eleven months it had been. We'd celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas together. It as new to have someone there with me, someone spending time with me every day. I'd never had someone that I'd been quite this close to before, and Claire's proximity made me feel wanted, something that I'd been lacking until that point.

Plus the sex was like... woah.

We were laying on the beach that night, under the stars, on an old comforter that Claire had pulled from the bed. We'd dragged along a cooler we filled with ice cubes and bottles of Coca-cola and cups to drink the water as the ice melted. Claire had stuck a couple bologna sandwiches in, too, which we'd shared for dinner, even though they'd gotten kind of soggy from all the ice. Claire had wrapped her body around mine, her head rested on my chest, looking away toward a jetty that stuck out into the ocean with a lighthouse on the end. The silouhette of a seagull in her nest stood in contrast to the lamp as it spun.

I was staring at the stars, though, thinking about death - or rather, whatever is after it. The stars had always fascinated me in this way, which sounds unusual until you remember that the stars we can see today have already died. Their afterlife is the light that travels from where they were to where we are, millions and millions of miles away. The stars are proof that there is something beyond death, some lingering part of us, that is our ultimate beauty, our purpose.

The nature of my ability to life forever and watch time weave her web was the cause of the desire to know there was something more. Knowing there was a Beyond made it easier to let go of the people I'd seen move in and out of my life, passing into death.

It was this desire for Beyond that fueled my interest in ghosts and paranormal activity. More than anything, I wanted to believe in seances and ouija boards and ghosts, I wanted to believe that it was possible to contact those who had died, because then my friends, too, could live forever. It was an understandable desire, wasn't it? Considering everyone that I loved had died.

Except for Claire. But the painful knowledge that one day she would pass away, one day she would be cold and still and absent, terrified me more than any other possibility. More than death for myself.

The thought had made me tense, and Claire must've felt the shift in my body, because she moved to straddle my waist, looking down into my face. "What is it, baby?" she asked, bending down to kiss the most sensitive place on my neck.

The moonlight reflecting off her scarlet hair gave her an almost iridescent glow, like the aurora borealis in the dark Alaskan sky. Her green eyes looked dark, as her hair shone. It was like being straddled and kissed by a masterpiece of artwork. I felt myself instantly stiffen, and Claire looked down at the place where our bodies met and smiled naughtily, aware of what had changed. "Oh I see," she whispered.

I laughed quietly.

"Oh Nick," she said, shaking her head, "I really do love you, you know."

"And I, you, my Love," I responded.

She grinned. "Forever," she whispered.

The terror returned at the word, and I looked away, my eyes trailing the rocky jetty. She tilted her head and touched my cheek, "What is it?"

"I am afraid of the future," I admitted.

"Why?" she asked.

I looked up at her. "Because one day I will lose you, and I don't know how I will live without you."

Claire shook her head, "I'll never leave you."

"Someday you won't have a choice," I whispered.

"You mean death?" she asked. When I nodded, she sighed and kissed my jaw. "Even then, I would never leave you. Never, ever."

I laughed sadly, wishing that there were a way that she could be telling the truth.

"Don't laugh at me," she pouted down at me, and I looked up at her. "I will always be wherever you are, forever. Because even if I die, you are my Heaven." I was sure she could see the sadness in my eyes, reflecting in the smile I gave her. She leaned down and our mouths touched again. She ground herself against me and ran her fingers up my shirt as we kissed. It felt so good. I put my hands on her hips, holding her to me, and the ocean roared dully beyond us.

Perhaps the ocean's hum was why we didn't hear him approaching until it was too late and he'd already shined his flashlight on us. Claire stopped kissing me and withdrew her hands from under my shirt, her face flushed with both the passion and the heat. I rolled my eyes up and tilted my head back, exposing my neck, to look up at the officer standing over us. Away on the lot, I could see his cruiser's headlights beaming down across the sand, and his footprints leading from the walkway. He cleared his throat, "Good evening," he said.

Claire rolled off me and landed with a soft thud on the sand. I sat up and turned around to face him.

"The beach is closed," he informed us. Thankfully, he didn't seem interested in reprimanding us.

"Sorry officer," Claire croaked. Her face was the color of a strawberry, her freckles standing out against her nose like seeds.

"Yeah, we're sorry, we were trying to -uh- get some air," I explained, "We're from Boston... the city's hot tonight."

The officer nodded, "Well, move along , kids."

Claire and I stood up and collected the blanket from the sand and the cooler while the cop watched. Then he escorted us back across the sand to the car.

It wasn't until we were in the car and I was driving home, the air streaming through the windows around us, that Claire started laughing hysterically. "You should've seen the look on your face!"

When we got home, the apartment was still hotter than Hell. We walked through the door and started shedding layers until we were both laying on the carpet in the living room in our underwear. Claire was holding her inhaler with one hand, and I was absently running my hand through her hair.

"That thing you said on the beach," I said, suddenly, looking down at her, "About me being your heaven?"

"Yeah?" she asked. Her voice was strained as she struggled to breathe. The sound of her struggling made me nervous and I found my eyes flickering constantly to her numbers to make sure she was okay.

"If I could die," I said, "You would be my heaven, too. I just wanted you to know that."

Claire smiled. "I may die if this heat doesn't stop."

"You aren't gonna die," I said, "I've been watching your numbers very carefully."

"Heatstroke, then," she whispered, closing her eyes.

I looked around and saw a glass of condensing ice water that we'd carried out from the kitchen. I smirked, an idea forming in my mind. "Oh?" I asked.

Claire nodded miserably. "This is New England, not Nevada, I don't understand."

I kissed her nose and reached for the glass at the same time, while she was distracted with my lips on her face. "Mmm," she mumbled.

"Hey I know something that'll cool you down," I whispered in her ear, my voice low, suggestive.

Claire giggled, "Nick, that'll make me hotter."

"No, not that," I crooned, "Although I'm cool with doing that, too, but I was thinking of this..." I poured the water over her in a swift motion, and she screamed in surprise, while I laughed and discarded the glass on the floor.

"Oh my God! I'm gonna kill you!" she screamed, sitting up and rubbing water from her eyes where it had pooled. The water streamed down from her hair and made her light yellow bra nearly see through. "Nick, the carpet's soaked."

I laughed, "Ah so what."

Claire jumped up and ran into the kitchen. I stood up, "No way in hell am I sitting still while you go get a glass of water to get me back with," I yelled, "Just so you know." I could hear the faucet running. "I'm not stupid," I said, smiling.

She came around the corner carrying two more glasses of water and ran at me, squealing. I ducked out of the way as water from the first glass went flying past me and hit the wall of the hallway. "Take it like a man, Carter!" she yelled, coming at me with the second glass.

"You throw like a girl, Lawson," I shouted back, escaping down the hall.

She followed, her laughter echoing in the hallway, a slight wheeze breaking through it. "You are so getting soaked," she threatened, holding the second glass at the ready.

"Am I?" I asked, ducking into the bathroom. I closed the door behind me, and I heard her barrel into it just as I locked it.

"Wuss!" she yelled, knocking.

"Wuss, am I?" I yelled back.

"Biggest wuss I ever knew!" she answered. She stopped knocking.

I leaned against the door, listening. "Do you know many?" She didn't answer, "Claire?" I called. Still no answer. She must've gone to reload, I thought. I opened the door and stuck my head out, to be greeted by the splash of the second glass of water. She was leaning against the opposite wall, a gigantic grin on her face.

"Ha! I got you!" she dissolved into giggles, dropping to the floor.

"Okay, that's it." I grabbed her, lifting her off the floor. She kicked at the air, but I carried her into the bathroom, into the shower, and turned it on. The ice water started pouring from the nozzle and she squealed as it hit her back. I was standing with her, it was hitting my head, cascading off of me and down onto her, making my hair fall forward, drenching us both. The water ran down my spine and I felt my boxers getting soaked. Her little yellow bra was officially transparent and I cupped my hands around her gently, grinning down as the water made her hair hang in heavy, dark auburn-looking strings around her face.

"Fuck that feels good," she whispered as the water cooled her temperature.

I started massaging her chest and she groaned, biting her lip and closing her eyes. I bent my head down, the water splashing off my cheek and getting in our eyes, and began kissing her neck, drinking the cold water off her skin. She pressed into my hands as they moved against her and her fingers scratched their way down my spine, touching each vertebrae in a way that made a chill crawl through me.

It was the most amazing sex we'd ever had, standing there in the ice-cold downpour, drinking the water from each other's bodies and feeling it make our skin slippery, washing away the sweat that had glazed us. And when I put myself inside her, it was euphoric. My palms pressed against the shower wall, my head tilted back, water pouring onto my face. Claire's face pressed into my neck, kissing and nipping gently at my skin, her arms wrapped around my neck, holding herself up. I could feel her knees weaken as she got closer and closer. Our hips moved together, our skin only separated by the water.

"Oh Nick," she suddenly moaned in my ear, "Ohhh."

The sound of her made me press all the harder into her, made me feel as though I was standing on the edge of a great precipice. She brought her legs up around my waist and hung there from me like a spider-monkey, clinging to me. I brought my face into her neck now, her head tilted back, and kissed and sucked at her neck, the tips of her breasts rubbing against my chest rhythmically. And then, she was calling my name. I pushed into her one last time, as deeply as I could and held onto the shower curtain pole to steady myself, my knuckles white, my toes curling beneath me as I, too, let go.

We tumbled into the bottom of the shower, sitting in the curve of the bathtub, Claire straddling me, me still imbedded inside her, our chests heaving. She fell forward, gasping, sliding off me, and laid down across my chest, her wet hair hanging like a curtain over my shoulder. The water continued to rain down over us.

"See?" she gasped, but not because of her asthma now, "Heaven."