Twisting the tray from side to side breaks the ice with a satisfying crack. I’ve almost gone so far as to pour water into my glass before I stop. Memories from last night surface and I recall sitting up in bed picking popcorn out of my bra.
Dan is wearing elastic-waist pajamas. I can see the edge of his boxer-briefs peeking out of the top but their waistline is much the same scenario. Everything has been so relaxed today. He’s perfectly content—humming to himself!—while he finishes scrubbing the sink. He would never see it coming.
I pad softly across the linoleum, careful not to make a sound. The glass of ice waits poised in my hand. Dan finishes rinsing the sponge. In one fell swoop I wrench back a handful of pajama-and-boxer and let loose a frozen torrent.
Dan jumps, surprised, but he’s still reacting more to the grabbing than anything. While he knows something has happened, he doesn’t yet know what.
I can’t contain my devious grin while he searches my face. Then—there it is. A yelp, a jump, a shake. Cube after freezing cube tumbles from his pant legs. More yet are trapped inside his underwear. He hops from foot to foot and tries to push them out. Then he changes strategy.
“No!” I squeal, giggling wildly, and tear out of the kitchen.
I circle the table and he pauses just across its diameter. I try to feint left. He jerks then corrects his course and lunges. I backtrack.
We’re stuck in a dead heat. A draw. One of us will have to make a break for it.
Throwing caution into the wind, I take off away from the table and leap over the couch. He struggles to follow my maneuver. Probably something to do with the glassful of ice melting in his underwear. I can’t stop shrieking like a child and waving my hands like an idiot. If I don’t make it to my room, he’s going to tickle the fuck out of me.
My heart leaps as I crash through my door and tug it closed behind me. It stops short of snapping shut. One tattooed arm pries it open.
I jump back and seize a pillow from my bed like a shield. “No!”
Then the tickle-fingers. Just the sight of them breaks something inside me and I start laughing so hard I can’t breathe. Once, twice, three times I whack him with my pillow. He yanks it away and I trip backward onto my bed.
We land hard and he quickly takes both the figurative and literal upper hand. One knee wedges between my legs to keep me from kicking. His hands snatch my wrists in turn, pinning them above my head.
Dead heat. Stalemate. My armpits are terribly exposed but he can’t tickle me as long as he’s holding me down. My chest rises and falls as fast as my heartbeat. Desperate laughs push through my tight-pressed lips.
This close, his face a spare few inches from mine, I notice a field of freckles for the very first time. Light, almost invisible, they dust his nose and cheeks. Freckles don’t seem like something Dan should have.
The lunatic laughter dies in my throat but my chest still rises and falls. A muscle in his jaw works. Green eyes dart rapidly between mine, thinking. About what, I’m not sure.
When we landed, his chest pressed down against mine. Now I feel his thin, worn sleeping t-shirt against my thin, worn sleeping t-shirt. No bra in between. On either side, only skin.
His hands, coiled around my wrists. My breasts, curving against his chest. Our lips, inches apart. This is starting to look like…something.
Our eyes stay locked. The longer we remain like this, the more the next movement matters. The stakes are shooting up. Maybe, if I could move, I could just tickle him back…
His knee shifts a fraction, hardly anything at all. Or maybe I imagined it. A rush of heat flows between my legs—so strong and so sudden I’m sure he could feel it. The fabric is so thin it might as well be bare skin. Goosebumps erupt down my arms. My nipples pull to points against him. He must feel them too.
I’ve been staring into his eyes so long…however long this has been—an infinity— and I mark their swift change. Something has happened there. Some choice, some determination…
Some noise rises from my throat. I’m not even sure if it was a sound or just a feeling, but I sense how it changed me. The space between us starts to close.
* * *