Over the next few weeks, Shawn and I dated. Except, whenever I tried to take things farther than he wanted to go, he would gently push me away. “Not yet, Kara,” he’d say.
When I asked, “Why not,” he’d always tell me that we needed to get to know each other again. What could I really say to that? He was trying to take into consideration my feelings and all I wanted was to jump his bones. What does that say about me?
I did my best to help Shawn ‘get to know me again’ by being with him as much as possible. That meant I found myself at Morgan’s Ale House often. Shawn worked the bar and I would work on my story, watch TV, play darts or just keep him company.
I also watched my brother get a little too friendly with Meili Kendrick. No matter how much I tried to warn Paul to be more discreet since she was married, he didn’t listen. He insisted they were just friends, but I didn’t believe that.
“She’s going through a tough time,” Shawn told me. “Paul’s just trying to keep her mind off of the problems with her husband.”
“If they’re not careful, both of them will have problems with her husband.”
Shawn looked over at the two of them dancing together and noticed, what I’d been noticing for the last few minutes. Some guy was over there taking pictures of them.
“Hey buddy,” Shawn shouted over the music. The paparazzi snapped a picture and looked up at Shawn. “No pictures in here, dude. Leave our patrons alone.”
The guy left, but I knew that he would use the pictures he had already shot. However, when I expressed my misgivings to Paul and Meili, both assured me that they’d been doing nothing wrong. “We were just dancing,” Paul said.
I put Paul and Meili out of my mind as my frustration with Shawn increased. In addition to making sure I was around when he was working at the bar or at his invention table, I also launched a campaign to drive him crazy with lust. I did anything that I thought would provoke a response from him including wear my skimpiest night gown around the house instead of my less revealing night shirt.
When I wore it downstairs for the first time and sat down next to Shawn for breakfast, he nearly choked on his waffles.
“Wh…what are you wearing?!” he coughed, trying to dislodge his food.
“Nothing. Pajamas.” I answered innocently, but I smiled secretly knowing that he couldn’t help but stare at how much I was revealing in them. Unfortunately, he managed to keep his eyes on his food and simply said, “Nice,” as he carefully chewed and swallowed the rest of his meal. After that he made sure not to be at breakfast when I came down.
Not easily put off, I changed my everyday look to something a little more revealing, too. My shirt was a little too club-ish and my pants were skin tight, but I wore them anyway. “Let Shawn ignore me in this!” I schemed and headed out to the Ale House to see what he thought of the new look.
“Hi Shawn,” I said as I sat down in front of him. I leaned in a little so he could better appreciate my neckline…or lack thereof. “Can I get a Spline Reticulator?”
“Sh..Sure,” Shawn stuttered as he saw my new outfit. “Um…Wow. Is that new?” He asked, and I was satisfied that my new look was having the proper affect.
“Oh this?” I said offhandedly plucking at the buckle between my breasts. “No, but I hardly ever wear it. I just found it in my closet again. Thought I’d put it on.”
“Nice,” he muttered and set about making me my drink.
I made sure that I stayed at my seat at the bar during Shawn’s shift. I mostly worked on my next book, Darkness Entombed. I was trying to take advantage of the supernatural craze and write a thriller about mummies. As the bar filled up, I had a hard time concentrating, though, so I eventually put away my laptop.
Seeing me unoccupied, my second (or is it third) cousin Lynette Fields’ (Sydney’s youngest daughter) husband Esteban asked me if I wanted to play some darts.
Lynette was among the last living Fields living in Twinbrook who could have taken over the family farm. She actually grew up there, but she was now a big-shot in the music industry and she hadn’t wanted to be bothered by it. Her husband, a much younger man than her, was an actor. He was annoyingly full of himself, but I didn’t think a game of darts would do any harm.
I guess I didn’t take into account my outfit when I agreed to the game. Esteban spent most of the game looking down my shirt or staring at my butt. I could have dealt with the leers and ogling but he started making comments, too, and at one point reached out to pat me on my butt.
“Hey!” I said, pushing his hand away. “Lay off or I’ll tell Lynette!”
“Sorry, sorry,” Esteban was immediately contrite. Lynette was not known to be nice when she got upset. Everyone at the orchestra was very afraid of her temper.
I would have continued playing darts, but Shawn had also seen what Esteban was doing and came over to ‘protect me’.
“My shift is over, Kara. Go wait for me in the car,” Shawn ordered, when he came up to us. I gave him a look that I hoped rivaled my cousin Lynette, but I went to get my things.
Shawn stayed and whispered a few threats to Esteban that I couldn’t hear. I did hear Esteban’s somewhat drunken reply, though. “Sorry man, didn’t know she was your girl. No hard feelings.”
I was waiting by the door and not in the car when Shawn finished with Esteban. Instead of getting mad at me for not obeying, he said, “Come on,” and started dragging me outside. I yanked my hand away.
“Hey! I’m not your girl! Yours or anyone’s. I can take care of myself!”
“Get in the car, Kara.”
Since I didn’t want to get a cab and I thought we were due for a good fight anyway, I decided not to continue to argue at that point. I got in the car. We rode back to our house in tense silence. Shawn was really angry. I had a few things I wanted to say to him also, but mostly I was hoping whatever fight we’d have would lead to make up sex. I was already tingling in anticipation. I just hoped he wasn’t so mad that he would put me off yet again!
As soon as we got into the house, I turned on Shawn. “How dare you order me around like that! I’m not a child!”
“Me!” Shawn got upset. “I was rescuing you from the drunken letch, Esteban. He’s always groping on some young girl.”
“I had it under control!” I said. “You aren’t my keeper, Shawn. We’re not even officially dating anymore!”
“What are we doing then, Kara?! Sure as hell feels like ‘dating’ to me!” Shawn turned from me, clearly exasperated. “You’re driving me crazy!” he said.
“Well you’re driving me crazy, too!” I shouted. “You act like we haven’t had a past together. Like we’ve just met. Can’t you tell that I want more than that?” I followed him to where he was pacing angrily in the living room.
“Shawn, I love you. I really do. I just want us to be like we were before.” He turned toward me and I implored him to understand what I was saying with my eyes. I wanted him to see the love there and want me as much as I wanted him.
“How can we be like we were before Kara? You left me.” He looked sad, wounded.
“I moved, Shawn. I didn’t leave you.”
He shook his head, “No, before that.”
“What do you mean?”
He sat down on the couch and pulled me down with him.
“Do you remember that day we skipped school together?” I nodded. “Well after that, you sort of…distanced yourself from me.” He paused. We both remembered what had happened that day. I blushed, remembering how awkward and embarrassed I’d felt.
“You stopped wanting to hang out with me,” Shawn continued. “You stopped talking to me. I actually thought you were going to break up with me.”
I shook my head in denial. “I wasn’t! Shawn, I swear. I wasn’t. I loved you.”
“Did you? It was hard to tell. I kept thinking that I must have done something wrong that day. I didn’t know what, but after we…we had sex…after that, nothing was the same. I knew it was my fault, but I didn’t know what to do to make things better.”
Finally understanding dawned on me. I leaned back against the couch and smiled as reassuringly as I could manage. “Is that what this is all about?” I asked. “You think you did something when we were together that made me stop wanting to be with you?” I could tell that that was exactly what he thought. “Oh Shawn!” I held him, kissed him. “No. It wasn’t you. Not you. I promise. It was me.”
Shawn laughed. “We sound like a bad break up scene. ‘It wasn’t you; it was me’,” he mocked, and I laughed too.
“Seriously, Shawn. I never blamed you for anything. I was just…embarrassed, I guess. We had sex and I didn’t know how to feel afterwards. I didn’t feel sexy. I just felt awkward.”
“Me too,” Shawn said.
I continued, “I also thought that maybe, if I told you that I didn’t want to have sex again, that you’d be mad. That’s why I hardly said anything. I was afraid that you’d want to…you know…do it again…and I didn’t want to say no and have you be mad at me.”
“I wouldn’t have been mad,” Shawn swore, and I nodded agreement. “I know that now,” I said, “but at the time, I wasn’t sure. I had heard so many stories of boys pressuring girls. I just didn’t want you to be disappointed.”
“I thought I’d been a bad lover,” Shawn admitted. “I knew you hadn’t enjoyed it. Guys talk about it, and we all know that it hurts girls…the first time. I thought that I’d hurt you and that’s why…”
“No! No. It wasn’t that bad. We were both just inexperienced. We were kids. Too young, really, to be doing that,” I tried to reassure Shawn. My God, maybe that’s why he had been putting me off so much, he didn’t want to disappoint me sexually, like he thought he had when we were kids.
“I know that now, Kara. I know we were inexperienced. I just didn’t know it then. It took me a lot longer to realize that it wasn’t my fault.”
“I’m glad,” I said. Then I cuddled closer to Shawn. “I always thought you were wonderful,” I whispered in his ear. “I still do.” Then I kissed him. I put everything I had into the kiss, too.
When we pulled away, we were both breathing hard. He had his hands on my breasts, which was easy enough considering my top. I had mine under his shirt, rubbing all over his chest.
“Let’s go upstairs,” I invited, “I’ll show you that you aren’t a bad lover.”
“Wait,” Shawn said. I groaned. Not again! “No,” I said, and kissed him again, rubbing myself against him. “I don’t want to wait.”
“No,” he said, and pushed me away, sitting up on the couch so that we weren’t touching anymore. I pouted, I’m not ashamed to say it. “Why?” I demanded angrily.
“Because,” he hesitated. “God, I want you Kara!” He looked at me hotly and ran a hand through his hair. “I want you, too, Shawn,” I said, and leaned over to kiss him again, but he put his hands on my shoulders to keep me away.
“Wait!” he said again, almost desperately. “Wait. I have to tell you that I’ve been with other girls since you left Desert Shores,” he said in a rush. Then he looked at me, as if I was going to explode.
I didn’t. Instead I sort of deflated. I collapsed against the couch. “You’ve had other girlfriends?” Shawn shook his head, no.
“They weren’t my girlfriends. They were just…girls.”
“So you had sex with them.” Shawn nodded. “But I didn’t love them. I have only loved one girl, you, Kara,” he explained as if what he was saying made things better.
I stood up, unable to sit next to him anymore. I wrapped my arms around myself, trying to keep myself from crying like I wanted to.
“We weren’t together anymore,” I whispered, trying to be reasonable and rational about what he’d confessed, but I wasn’t feeling reasonable or rational. “I suppose I shouldn’t be upset that you had sex with other girls.”
“No…er…yes…I mean, I thought you’d be upset, that’s why I wanted to tell you before we…” Shawn tried to tell me.
“It’s ok,” I I interrupted, though it wasn’t. Then, because I just couldn’t hold in my emotions, I lashed out. “I suppose these girls helped you become a better lover. You were so terrible with me, that you needed guidance, right?” It was an awful thing to say, and I could tell I had hurt Shawn turned to face him again.
“Yes, a little,” he said, finally. “One of them was an older girl, graduated with Will, I think. She worked at the tattoo shop where I worked part time. She thought I was a virgin and took great delight in ‘teaching me a few tricks’ as she said.” He snorted in disgust. At himself or at her, I wasn’t sure.
“We were only together the one time. It was sex…and honestly, it wasn’t very good. I felt pretty used after, dirty. I realized after her, that I preferred our love making to the emotionless groping in the dark. I may not have known any “tricks” and it may have been awkward with us, but at least I had loved you.”
I didn’t want to hear about Shawn’s other women, but I didn’t tell him to shut up, either.
Shawn paced a little. I didn’t move. Then he started talking again, “The second one was a girl I went out with a few times. I thought I might actually be able to fall in love with her. She was a scientist. Smart. She liked to invent things, too, and I thought we had a lot in common. She had red hair…more orange than strawberry, though.”
I closed my eyes and pictured myself choking a girl with nerdy clothes and stringy, carroty hair. Shawn continued and my fantasy became more violent with every word.
“Her name was Amelia. She ended up being pretty wild in bed. Much more than I was ready for, actually. She liked things…rough,” Shawn gave a choked laugh. “I thought I could love this mousy scientist, but could barely stand one night with her. She liked to scratch.”
“Bitch,” I mumbled. I kicked the image of the girl I’d built in the teeth.
“Yeah, she was a bitch, actually.” Shawn continued. “I hadn’t realized it. I wanted her to be different. I wanted her to be a girl I could love, but she wasn’t. So, after I broke up with her, I decided to leave the Shores and come to Twinbrook.”
“So you didn’t get what you wanted, and then you came out here to Twinbrook to find me? Wonderful,” I made it sound like it was anything but.
“Yeah, my pathetic attempts at forgetting you didn’t do anything but make me want you more. I decided I would come to Twinbrook and wear my heart on my sleeve. I thought I’d try to make you love me again.” Then Shawn started pulling off his shirt.
“If you think I’m going to have sex with you now, you better think again, Casanova,” I shook my head and stepped back from him. Whatever mood I’d been in before was completely gone.
“Wait, Kara. I want to show you,” I heard him say muffled by his t-shirt as he took it off. He turned his shoulder toward me. “I had this done before I left. My heart, on my sleeve, just like I said.”
In spite of myself, I looked. I saw his heart tattoo, the one I’d seen before, but couldn’t make out. It was a heart on fire and inside a name was written: KARA. My name.
“Am I supposed to swoon now? Fall at your feet because you have my name on your arm?” I took a deep, shuddering breath. I was pretty moved by it, actually, but I didn’t want to be. He’d been with other women. I was so jealous, I wanted to punch someone. I didn’t have those girls handy, so Shawn would have to do.
“I hoped you’d see it as a testament of my feelings for you.”
“You love me. Big deal,” though it was a big deal. “You slept with other girls while you loved me. I couldn’t even get to third base, but you were able to go all the way!”
“What?” It was Shawn’s turn to feel jealousy. I wanted him to feel what I was feeling.
“Oh, don’t think that I haven’t had other guys interested in me! I haven’t been sitting hear in Twinbrook wasting away without you. I never thought I’d see you again, so I tried to move on.”
“You had other boyfriends?”
“No,” I said bitterly. “Just like you, I didn’t love them.” I paused momentarily, but then I gave into my rage again, “But unlike you, I didn’t have sex with them! They were both French, too! Hot French guys and I could only think of you!” I broke down and started sobbing.
“Kara,” Shawn tried to grab me and hold me, but I was going a little crazy. I was crying and screaming about Francois and Vincent and pounding on Shawn’s chest to punctuate my anger and frustration.
“Shhh, Kara, shhhh. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Shawn tried to soothe me, to calm me down.
“I hate you!” I repeated, as I cried.
“No you don’t,” he said. “You don’t.” Then he kissed me. And I responded. Because I loved him…no matter what had happened in the past and before he’d come back into my life. I loved him and wanted to be with him no matter how upset I was or disappointed or raging with jealousy.
Finally, he picked me up and carried me up both flights of stairs and into my bedroom. He seemed to be kissing me the whole time, so I’m not sure how we made it there.
I finally got what I wanted. Shawn took me to my room, took my clothes off and his own, and laid me down on my bed.
“This isn’t sex,” he whispered.
“We’re making love.”
And it wasn’t awkward, I wasn’t embarrassed, and Shawn was definitely, definitely not a bad lover.