It happens in an IKEA of all places.

It was your idea to stop, too, at the last minute. You needed a bunch of boring things:  towels, a lighter duvet for summer, wine glasses to replace the ones you’d broken last week.

‘Ok,’ he’d said, and swung the car into the exit lane. ‘But I need meatballs.’

You’re halfway through the linens section and you’ve got your eye on some dark red towels  when he touches, just grazes your elbow. You stop and look back at him, over your shoulder. He’s got his fingers on one of the sheet samples, the ones that are tufted out so customers can test the feel. The one he’s touching is bright candy pink and he doesn’t even speak, just cocks an eyebrow and dimples. You know what he’s thinking about – the horrifically bubblegum-tinted bedroom in the little B&B where you’d spent a weekend last spring, most of it in bed.

You blush warm.

“Remember what we did there?”  he says, and in some alternate universe where you’re able to play it cool around him you probably roll your eyes, but this isn’t that universe and in this one his flirting still reduces you to flustered babbling, so instead you just look back at him and flush almost as pink as the sheet. It’d been your fifth time together, and the first time he’d brought up orgasm denial. He hadn’t used that term. He’d rolled over after your second round and you’d kissed for awhile, slow and exhausted and sloppy. Then he’d run a hand down your body and let his fingers rest soft and easy between your legs and he’d said, I really like making you come. You’d sort of meant to say something funny, light, but instead you’d let out your breath and kissed him hard, lots of tongue, an oh-my-god kind of kiss. Then he’d broken it off and said, in the same tone, I think I’d really like making you stop too.

It’d taken you a few seconds, and then your eyes had done a nervous sort of skitter across his face and rested vaguely just above one eyebrow. Have you done that before? you’d said, and he’d nodded, almost imperceptibly. I like it, he’d said, fingers brushing up along the shell of your ear. I don’t know yet if you will.

The ‘yet’ had made something flip dizzily under your ribs, and by the time you’d staggered into the kitchen two hours later to find something to eat you’d found out that you both, in fact, did like it. Liked it a lot.

Now, in the linen section, surrounded by carts and sticky toddlers, he hooks a finger through your belt and tugs. ‘C’mon,’ he says, and leads you on through lamps and bathroom fixtures and laundry baskets and down the escalator ramp to picture frames and mirrors. He doesn’t say a word but there’s a tension in his shoulders and a couple times he looks back and grins with his eyes narrowed a little.

Your belly tightens.

When you’re past mirrors and into picture frames and cookie cutter art, he goes around a corner into a tiny cul-de-sac of massive screenprinted canvases.

‘OK,’ he says, when you’re mostly out of view behind the end of a long shelf. ‘Touch yourself.’

Your head jerks up a little and your eyes widen, nervous, but before you can say anything he puts one of his hands into the back of your hair. It’s a light touch, barely there, just fingers gripping gentle at the roots, but the instant he does it your breath descends into a long shudder and your eyes lose focus a little. This is something else you found out about yourself, with him.

‘OK,’ you say, and loosen your zipper, stick your hand into your jeans. It’s weird, surreal, to touch yourself, feel the nub of your clit slip sideways under your fingertips while not 15 feet away people are pushing carts piled with plastic wine glasses and appliqued pillows. On one level you’re acutely aware of it, so aware it quickens your breathing and makes your adrenaline spike. On the other – well, his fingers are still rubbing against your scalp. He’s standing a foot away from you, casual, other hand stuck into his pocket, not even looking at you.

‘Good girl,’ he says, in a perfectly normal tone of voice. ‘Inside your panties or out?’

Your mouth has gone dry and you lick your lips.

‘Out,’ you say, and you’re surprised at how firm your voice still is. The cotton under your fingertips is damp already.

‘Put them in,’ he says, and then, ‘don’t hold back, honey.’

You’re blushing now, can feel the heat radiating up off your neck, and when your fingers slip easy into the slick between your lips, brushing over the swollen flesh of your cunt, you let out a tiny moan – more of a breath, really, but he hears it, and his hand tightens in your hair.

‘Quiet,’ he says, again completely easy, but he shifts a little and you notice, almost abstractedly, the line of his cock stiffen inside his jeans. You’re shifting yourself, sneakers shuffling a little on the floor, biting your lip. Then he moves a foot over and slips a hand down the back of your jeans, presses the tip of one finger firm against your asshole. Your vision slips a little, at that, and you push back involuntarily against his finger. There’s a woman looking at vases twenty feet across the room and your fingers are so slippery now they’re starting to lose their rhythm but you’re close, so close, and –

‘Stop,’ he says, and his hand tightens over the curve of your ass. It takes you a second to pull yourself up: your whole body is strung tight and trying to twist itself tighter. His finger hasn’t moved. When you finally blink and look around there’s no one close, well, no closer than they’d been two minutes ago.

‘Wha-’ you say, confused, trembling.

‘I wanna be inside you,’ he says, and other than that you don’t register much for the next six minutes, just his hand slipped down to the small of your back and a rush of IKEA landscape: plants, pet baskets, the huge flatpack warehouse. On the other side of the tills he gives you a glance and you duck into the infant change room, stand against the wall, still a little lightheaded. He slips inside a moment later and locks the door behind him.

He’s already unbuckling his belt as he turns around and he pushes his jeans down over his thighs and holds out his arms almost in the same movement.

‘C’mere,’ he says, mouths it, really, and you’re shrugging out of your own jeans, one leg all the way, struggling where it sticks over your ankle. Then he’s picking you up by the waist and you’re wrapping your legs around him, snugging in close and spine-tingling against his cock. It slides up alongside your clit and you grip his neck and ride right there a little, eyes closed and head fallen back, just the barely-there brush of him against the ache of your cunt. Then he grunts and lifts you an inch or two and pulls you down onto his cock, his hands somehow holding you up and pressing you down at the same time. You’re so worked up by now that the feel of him pushing you wide open makes you start to shake a little, tremble long and constant all down the length of your spine. Your hands tighten around his neck.

‘Not yet,’ he’s saying, and it takes you a second to try to respond. You get your eyes open and he’s looking at you maybe harder than you’ve ever been looked at before. ‘No,’ he says, ‘no,’ and your eyes stay on his, begging, and you’ve stopped breathing because if you breathe you’re going to come, you’re going to tip over the edge and –

‘No,’ he says, again, and now his breathing’s gone ragged too and he’s got you up against the wall between the change table and the toilet. You’re taking in little gasping-gulps of air and the your belly is an aching coil of tension, swelling, about to break, and

‘Fuck,’ you say, loud, ‘fuck, fuck,’ and he clamps a hand over your mouth and your nose both and holds it there. His hand is shaking a little and you buck your hips up against him.

‘Now,’ he says, and takes his hand away, and you lose all control of your body, can’t feel your limbs as individual things, you’re all melting disembodiment against, around, the jerking muscle of him. He presses you against the concrete, leans some of his weight through you against the wall.

He’s still inside you when you hear someone try the door handle.

‘Fuck,’ he mouths at you, suppressing a grin. ‘Fuck, shit.’ He lets you down and you hastily grab a paper towel and struggle back into your jeans. He pauses with his hand on the door and glances back at you.

‘Post-coital walk of shame?’ you say, dimpling. He grins, tips his chin up a little.

‘Just the walking part,’ he says, and opens the door.


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