Saturday, September 4, 2010

Chapter 9 - On the Brink

Soundtrack: A larger chance happened, all them they lie on the rise, on the brink of our lives. – Jason Mraz, “Bella Luna”

Kris leaned over the back of the couch. He wore shorts but no shirt, making it hard for Ginger to remember what it was she should have been doing. He smelled like deodorant and sunshine – he’d been mowing the lawn.

“Do I have to do yard work at your house?” she asked as he nuzzled her neck.

“It’s that or shovel snow,” he bit her playfully. Ginger took a deep breath. She’s completed all the transfer paperwork and now only had to hit send. Kris lifted his head from her hair.

“Sure you want to do this?” he asked, his voice soft. He was concerned that he was asking too much. That Ginger would come out of her infatuation having made an irreparable change. All for him. Kris wanted desperately to be with Ginger. But he’d found himself even more nervous since she’d said yes.

“Are you sure?” she countered. Ginger was sure. Well, pretty sure and that was the best she could do. Moving and transferring were scary thoughts, but she knew she’d be miserable without Kris.

“I’m sure, sweet, but you’re the one making the big change. Please do what is right for you. I will still be here either way.”

She tilted her head back and got a kiss to her lips. “This is what’s right for me.” She hit SEND.

Kris paced the kitchen. His pockets were damp where he kept wiping his sweaty palms. The sunshine was too bright, the washing machine too loud. He sipped a glass of water.

“Okay?” Ginger asked. She wore a sundress and flip flops, like any other day. A can of Coke hissed as she popped the top. “Don’t worry, this will be fine.”

“Right. Hi, we just met but I’m stealing your daughter and making her change her whole life.”

“You’re not making me do anything, Kris. They will be surprised, but they’ll be happy for us! My parents were pretty nuts back in the day. I’ve got some stories in case they decide to give us a hard time.”

The front door opened. “Your dad kill Tanger yet?” Jordan called. He tromped in, followed by Marc.

Marc gave Ginger a squeeze and took her soda. “So, you’re going to be living in sin with Ginger, eh? Any idea how you plan to explain that to her dad? Who you’ve never even met?”

Kris closed his eyes, and Ginger slid her hand inside his. “My parents had my brother before they were married. Talk about living in sin!”

Kris exhaled a little, still had a nagging feeling that she was giving up everything and he was sacrificing nothing. He would have, probably, but it hadn’t even been an option. He wished there was something he could give her to show that he was in this as much as she was. Tires crunched on the gravel driveway.

“Game time!” Jordan yelled.

A green SUV was parked with the back door open. Marc called a hello and went around. Seconds later, he returned with a suitcase and followed by a strawberry blonde woman. She looked so much like Ginger that Kris took a step back. In thirty years, Ginger would look like this. His heart leapt at the idea of still being with her when she did.

“Hi Mom!” Ginger threw her arms around the woman. Jordan squealed fakely and did the same thing. The woman laughed.

“Get offa me, Staal! You’re like an octopus.”

Ginger pulled Kris in by the hand. “Mom, this is Kris. Jordan’s teammate.” Kris reached out to shake her mom’s hand, but she dodged it and went in for a hug.

“Welcome, Kris! Might as well just hug us now.” When he released her, he instinctively reached for Ginger’s hand and found it right where he’d left it. Her mom’s gaze followed his hand into hers.

“Not just Jordan’s teammate, eh?”

“Kris is also my boyfriend,” Ginger said rather proudly, squeezing Kris’ fingers.

Her mom paused a second, tilting her head to look at Kris. “He’s awfully cute, Ginger.”

Kris blushed and everyone laughed. Ginger swung their clasped hands a little and stepped into Kris’ side. She had figured her parents would be cool, but there was always a chance she was wrong.

“Boyfriend?” her dad came around the far side of the car. He was less than Staal height, but still tall and barrel-chested. His short hair was salt and paper and he wore glasses, a t-shirt and shorts.

Kris extended his hand, feeling awkwardly stiff. “Mr. Harris,” he said. Jordan nearly burst his spleen laughing. Ginger’s father shook Kris’ hand politely before taking a swat at Jordan.

“Jordan was, quite literally, raised in a barn. Don’t mind his lack of manners,” her dad said. “I’m Dave, my wife is Kathy. It’s nice to meet you. You sound like you’re from Montreal.” Kris nodded. “Welcome to Thunder Bay. Any friend of Ginger’s is a friend of ours, even if he hangs out with the wildlife.”

Jordan and Marc pretended to look hurt. Then Jordan screeched like a monkey and took Marc down in a pile of arms and legs. Ginger stepped around them and took a suitcase inside.

Whew, Kris thought as Ginger poured lemonades and carried them to the back porch. Her parents gratefully dropped into some chairs. Kris chose the wicker bench and Ginger came back with chips, sat next to him and tossed her legs across his lap. Okay, he said to himself as he actually began to relax. Ginger’s parents talked about their trip, where her dad fished and her mom did crossword puzzles all day. Ginger waited for a lull in the conversation.

“I… we… have some news,” she said then quickly added, “I am NOT pregnant. So don’t panic.”

Her father put a hand to his heart. “Not funny!”

Ginger looked at Kris, smiling the small, private smile that he now knew so well. “I’m transferring to University of Pittsburgh,” she announced.

For a moment, everyone was quiet. Then Kathy asked about the transfer, about the program, about the dates. Ginger had it all memorized. Finally her dad spoke. “Where will you be living?”

“… and moving in with Kris,” Ginger asked with a questioning look on her face. Another silent minute passed.

“I suppose Jordan’s there if you get into any trouble,” her dad said a little warily.

Ginger scoffed. “Jordan is the trouble. He can’t wait for me to get there.”

Her mom stood, making Ginger stand and hug. Then Kathy hugged Kris again. “Guess you must be pretty great,” she said. Kris turned pink as Ginger followed her mom into the house.

Man up, Kris told himself. He took Kathy’s seat.

“Monsieur, I know this is quick and no one is more surprised than I am,” he started. “I want you to know that I plan to take very good care of Ginger. For as long as she’ll let me.”

Her dad smiled. “I trust Ginger’s judgment – if she likes you, you must be worth liking. And it’s not me you have to worry about anyway.” Somewhere in the front yard, Jordan or Marc howled in pain. The other voice cheered. “Be careful with my baby, Kris,” Dave said, patting Kris on the shoulder.

“Ready?” Kris asked as he started Ginger’s car.

“As I’ll ever be,” she said.

He’d packed his stuff and some of hers, loaded it into car and bid her parents goodbye. He hadn’t told her a thing except to insist on driving. Map in hand, he made a left somewhere near Jordan’s house and followed the road for 20 minutes. He made a left into the driveway at 17 Sparrow Street.

“Ta da!”

The house was weathered wood, almost gray like driftwood on the beach it bordered. White shutters were tied open on the second floor. It was small, cozy and one of only a few houses luckily unrented in the middle of summer.

“Welcome home,” he said and tossed her a set of keys.

Ginger ran around the front. A wide porch fronted the house, its wooden staircase descending right into the grass. There was a fire pit to one side and the lake lapped the shore a few hundred feet away. The living room was stuffed with comfy couches and an old easy chair. An open kitchen with a big island had copper pans hanging from the ceiling. Upstairs she found a small guest room and a large master bedroom.

“Are those yours?” she pointed to the charcoal gray sheets and duvet that looked just like the ones from Kris’ apartment.

“What did you think was in that huge bag I brought?”

She threw her arms around him with a squeal. “You are,” she kissed him, “the most amazing,” another kiss, “guy I’ve ever met.”

He kissed her back. “I know. So you wanna…” he kicked his foot toward the bed.

She blew a raspberry at him and skipped away. “We live in our own house…” she sang loudly.

Kris breathed a small sigh of relief. He wanted her to love this house, to love living with him. She was doing everything for him and he planned to return the favor anyway he could. Downstairs, she sang as she dragged a suitcase inside. “Our house, is a very, very, very fine house…”

An hour later, Ginger was in shorts with a t-shirt tied around her midriff on the front porch. The sun waned as she husked corn into a compost bucket. Jordan came around the side. “Nice place, Tanger,” he called to Kris who was down at the water’s edge.

“Jordan!” Ginger shouted, though he was barely twenty feet away. “Welcome to our house! Did you bring us a housewarming present?”

Jordan held up a six pack of beer and a packet of hot dog buns. “Armed and dangerous.”

Ginger carried empty plates into the kitchen. She smiled at the official sound of summer as the screen door swung shut behind her. Jordan held his beer out toward Kris.

“She really likes it. Well done, man.”

Kris made the toast and leaned back in his chair. Ginger had taken to the house like a duck to water – putting things away, declaring the quirks “charming” and pointing out a few places she’d like to christen as soon as they could get rid of Jordan.

“Is it always going to be this good?” Kris looked out at the water.

“Nope. Shitty losses, slumps, endless road trips… the season is always hard. But Ginger knows and she’ll make it better. For all of us.”

It was dark when Jordan left. Star shone over the lake and Ginger shouted that she could see fireflies in the yard. Kris padded out onto the porch and gasped. Ginger stood on a pile of chair cushions and towels, roughly arranged into a rectangle. She wore one of Kris’s big button down shirts open over her naked body. Strands of that red hair he’d come to love to much drifted around her face in the breeze.

“Welcome home,” she said.

Kris slid his hands inside the shirt, wrapping a hug around her middle. Their lips met softly. Ginger felt that this celebration would be sweet and slow. They lay down on the lumpy heap of whatever she padding she could find and Kris ran his thumb across her lip.

“Ginger,” he whispered, “thank you.”

“I haven’t done anything yet,” she nipped at his finger.

He pressed it over her mouth. “I mean thank you for being with me. For being here.”

She kissed the palm of his hand. “I could not be anywhere else, Kris. But don’t worry, I’m scared too.”

Kris closed his eyes and tightened his arm around her. She still fit against him the way she had the first day, the day that seemed so long ago. Ginger had taken over and Kris found the memory of days before he met her getting fuzzy. Here, in her arms, at their house, he wondered how he’d ever wanted anything else.

“I’m scared that you’re giving everything and I’m giving nothing,” he finally admitted. He hooked her hair behind on ear. “That you’ll change your mind and I will have taken so much from you.”

Ginger ran her hand up behind his neck. “I’m just making a change. I still get to study what I want, I have you guys to hang out with, Jordan says Pittsburgh is a great place. I’m going to love it Kris. You’re not taking anything, I am giving it to you.” She kissed his lips, thinking the matter settled. But Kris wanted to get through this one last thing so he could stop worrying.

“What am I giving you, Ginger?”

“Smile, Kris,” she said. He did, tentatively. “No, mon beau mec, I want the real one.” Kris laughed at her French, like she’d known he would. “That’s all I want. Give me happy and I’ll be happy.”

Kris kissed her through his smile, wishing he could concentrate all the happiness he felt into something he could pass to her lips. She responded with a request, from her body, that there might be one other thing he could give her after all. He let Ginger remove his shirt and he kicked off his shorts. Her legs circled his back, holding him close, and he found that she was already ready for him. She wanted him, not just like this but in the real way that might be hard later, might get rough. Thank god, he thought as he guided himself between her legs and took her breath away.

Ginger looked at the roof of the porch over Kris’ shoulder, thinking that she’d grown up a lot in just a few weeks. She’d never even wanted a house before but now wherever Kris was felt like home. She’d assumed she’d stay in Canada, but now the prospect of the US thrilled her. New places, new people, a new life. That’s how Kris made her feel: new.

A single tear slipped down her cheek. That’s new too, she almost smiled.

“Are you okay?” he paused.

She grabbed his cheeks and kissed his mouth. “Perfect.”

Kris moved inside her. The smooth skin of her legs was like satin and he felt her muscles contract as she met him thrust for thrust. She pressed her calf down along his side and over his thigh, the motion creating an exquisite space inside her. Kris explored it with an extra twist. Ginger moaned encouragement. He put his head into her hair, took a deep breath and rolled his body down into hers. Fingernails to his back to him he’d done it right.

Ginger saw everything – the sky, the branches of the tree black against the darkest blue. Kris’ hair caressed her face as he planted his hands on her hips. She pulled away when he did, giving herself the full, long glide of his cock every time he went back inside. It was flawless and hard, turning her like he was winding clock. His soft lips grazed her neck, biting the soft flesh barely enough to keep from leaving a mark. He breathed rhythmically, pacing himself like athletes do, measuring his exertion for maximum endurance. Her hands moved over his perfect, sculpted body, another finely honed tool of his trade. As the ridge at the head of his dick popped out of her then quickly drove back in, her body contracted against itself.

“Kris,” she breathed.

Tell her, tell her now, his brain said. No, it’s more than this. Don’t tie it to this single incredible thing she can do for you. It’s everything.

Ginger’s body quivered again, rippling against Kris’ cock like waves in the lake. He uncorked himself again, heard her gasp and then dug deep, lifting her off the pile of towels that smelled like sunshine. She put her head into his neck and stayed close as he held her, plumbing his throbbing erection into the hot core of her body, feeling her sweet juice coat them as her pussy begged for more. He couldn’t get close enough to her, couldn’t hold tight enough, go deep enough. His body trembled like water when you’ve filled a glass just over the rim. He was all surface tension now.

Ginger moaned into his shoulder, unselfconscious that they were outside where anyone could hear. His flesh was hot to the touch as energy broiled off his body. When he squeezed his dick all the way into her, pushing the last inch out of sheer insistence that it be the best sex she’d ever had, she bit her lip to keep from crying out louder.

“I can’t,” Kris gulped. He’d almost lost it twice already. His cock was twitching as he drove it into Ginger’s slick pussy, feeling her body snatch greedily at his.

“Kris,” she squeaked, as he cupped her ass, lifted her slightly and swung for the fences. Like she’d heard the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd, the cord in Ginger’s body snapped and bounced. She cried out, an orgasm hitting her body like a line drive. A second later, Kris bucked and burst so far inside her he thought he might be lost forever.

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