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Ariana Katz

6 min


The Gap Between Lust & Love

When nothing but sex feels right

by Ariana Katz

Who am I kidding? There is no 'our,' just like there is no 'us.' In fact, I should probably end it. Us. The 'us' that never actually began.

The Gap Between Lust & Love | When nothing but sex feels right

I lie on my side in bed, staring out the window at the Oakland Hills with a tissue in my hand and soft, slow tears burning my eyes. His limbs are still wrapped around mine, in a protective bubble I could melt into. His pelvis presses hard against me and his left leg nestles between my legs. Two bodies linked perfectly together like fallen Tetris pieces.

Strangely, his hot morning breath arouses me, and the feeling of his beard tickling my shoulder comforts the uneasy feeling that sits hard in the bottom of my stomach. For a moment, anyway. Then our conversation from the night before floods back and I feel my throat closing and chest tightening. I have to get up.

Two nights ago we had been so happy. How is it possible to suddenly feel so miserable? I had been out seeing my friend’s band play at The Legionnaire when he texted me out of the blue. We had a date planned for the next night, so hearing from him was unexpected, and admittedly, thrilling. I knew inviting him to join would mean he would meet some of my friends for the first time, but I didn’t hesitate. Texting him back immediately, I let him know where I was and told him he should join.

Two nights ago we had been so happy. How is it possible to suddenly feel so miserable?

Less than 30 minutes later I saw him come in and scan for me over the crowd. We locked eyes and both broke into cheek-pinching grins. He swam his way towards me through the sweaty mass of the tiny upstairs room and immediately pulled me toward him into a lingering kiss. I’m telling you, those rom-coms have something going for them. As we kissed, the gyrating bodies and pulsing brass band rhythms surrounding us seemed to just fade away.

“Hi,” I said, smiling up at him once we separated.

“Hi,” he said back, eyes beaming.

We spent the next few hours drinking whiskey and dancing to the New Orleans-style brass band before stumbling back to my place.

“I like having you around,” I said.

“I like being around,” he responded.

It unraveled from there.

“I like you… a lot, actually,” I confessed quietly as we shared another — and extremely unnecessary — glass of whiskey in my room. “I feel something in ‘us’ that I haven’t felt in a long time, maybe ever.”

I don’t remember the exact words exchanged next, but I remember his downcast eyes, face in hands, and hunched-over shoulders as he sat on the edge of my bed.

“I really like you too,” he insisted, “But, I just really need to be single right now. I am not in a place to start thinking about the long term.”

“Who am I kidding? There is no “our,” just like there is no “us.” In fact, I should probably end it. Us. The “us” that never actually began.

Back in bed, I unwrap his arm from around my chest and release his hand that cups my breast, pulling away to go to the bathroom.

Just a few minutes before, we had been entangled in a different way. Despite the tears, we hadn’t been able to help it. I still feel the sticky residue left on my inner thighs. Not that he came inside me, we were always careful. ONE condoms had, in fact, seemed to become “our” condoms.

Who am I kidding? There is no “our,” just like there is no “us.” In fact, I should probably end it. Us. The “us” that never actually began.

I get it. I am trying to get it, anyway. He is five years younger than I am and this is the first time in his post-college life that he has been single. His job is in transition and he doesn’t know where it will take him. I told him I understood. We had held each other and cried, cursing shitty timing.

Yet still, I can’t help but think, “What an idiot!” Clearly he likes me, more than he’s willing to admit. It’s so clear to me how well we mesh, not only sexually but intellectually, and I know how rare that kind of connection is. Echoes of our giggling in bed one night a few weeks ago come back to me. We were joking about writing new slogans for ONE Condoms’ marketing department.

“ONE last stand!” I exclaimed.

“What about, keep it ONE hundred?” he offered.

I had taken notes of these ideas and filed them away, most likely never to be followed up on. But always there, just in case.

Staring at my face in the bathroom mirror, red eyes and splotchy cheeks, I try to intellectualize the pull in my chest. It’s the familiar tug of the so-called heartstrings, though it’s been a long time since I felt it this profoundly. The strings have worn thin with age, laden with past heartbreak and loss. Worn so thin it’s as if there is only one meager heartstring left. After years of important but inevitably disappointing loves, it makes sense that the final string hangs heavy, that I’m so afraid to break it. It could snap so easily.

Shaking the thoughts away, I laugh at myself in the mirror, feeling ridiculous. I breathe deeply into the eucalyptus essential oil that I keep around for just these moments and head back to bed. I’m not ready to walk away. It’s not over yet, anyway.

We take our time removing each others’ clothes, lazily tossing them about the room.

I step out onto our balcony overlooking the glowing San Francisco hills and let the heat of the sun fill my pores for a moment. Stepping up behind me, he wraps his arms around my stomach and rests his chin on my shoulder. After a moment I turn to face him and we embrace in a sweet but urgent kiss.

It has been three weeks since we have seen each other and we both vibrate with an undercurrent of need and nervousness. A need to re-explore each other and a nervousness at what that might mean. I can tell he’s missed me, as I’ve missed him. But neither of us says so.

Giddily, we pick up the daybed and move it to the center of our large room to face the hills. It’s a corner room in the Hotel Kabuki, eight floors up with a fabulous view. The room is bathed in the golden light of sunset, drenching us through both windows. We take our time removing each others’ clothes, lazily tossing them about the room.

Sutro Tower stands like a beacon in the distance, a proud watchguard of the city’s inhabitants. Yet despite the outside world appearing so glaringly San Francisco, inside we are transported to Japan. Traditional Japanese art decorates the walls and crimson accent pieces harmonize against the stark black furniture. The king size bed rests untouched on the other side of the room as we move to the daybed, taking full advantage of this unique piece of furniture.

My eyes close as I lay back and let him kiss his way down my body. Bass from the small yet mighty Big Jambox speaker reverberates through my tongue, my chest, my womb. Further down, my pussy vibrates too as he slowly inserts the purple, handle-shaped Minna Ola and tantalizingly twists it back out, taking full advantage of the ability to set personalized vibration patterns.

He is knelt on the ground, face positioned diligently over me: a sculptor poised over his marble figure, lost in inspiration. His movements connect the beat to my body parts, as if I am a paint-by-numbers designed just for him. He pushes the Ola back in again and squeezes the soft, pouched end, making the toy purr harder. I can barely focus.

My brain waves pulse in time with the tune. The music soaks into my skin and swims through the marrow of my bones. Suddenly my back arches involuntarily and a warm flooding fills my vulva as his mouth engulfs me, tongue moving, applying suction… I can’t take it. It’s as if my entire body is swimming. The warmth of the sun soaks through the open window, adding to the floating feeling.

Another slew of beats oozes out of the custom-designed purple and turquoise Big Jambox. It clashes strikingly against the muted browns, greens, and reds of the Japanese-style room, yet I realize in a moment of distraction that it matches the purple Ola that pulses deep inside me. A ridiculous thought to have while building toward orgasm, but the brain is a confusing beast.

I lock focus back on our bodies and the daybed supporting me. White hotel robes drape around us like Grecian cloaks, making me feel like Aphrodite. Or perhaps — more fitting for the scenery — a prized geisha. It doesn’t matter. In this moment I could be anyone in any time period. My reality floats in the far corner of my mind and I happily ignore it.

I look down and smile at his intense concentration. One hand guides the Ola, teasing my outer labia into expanding and growing rosy with desire. The other hand reaches up, his gaze with it, to clasp onto my right nipple. We both smile, simultaneously realizing the decadent ridiculousness of the moment. A one-night vacation only 15 miles from where we both live. The Hotel Kabuki has become our escape from roommates and adult responsibility. I can see the sunset out the window of our corner room, our 24-hour sanctuary.

I know there is something here that makes wading through the uncertainty worthwhile.

His fingers, which hold my nipple fast, twist hard right as his other hand orchestrates a deep pulse of the Ola straight down onto my clitoris. My brain soars back into the land of lust. His smile is replaced with concentrated lip biting and mine melts away into mouth-slackening pleasure.

I let the music soak through my muscles, the bass intermixed with the treble of electronic chords. My breathing shortens and reflexively I reach behind my head to grab the back of the oh-so-perfectly-designed-for-sex settee. I need support, something to grab, to keep me grounded so I don’t float away as the pressure builds. I almost want to pull away but I force myself to float, sucking in a deep breath and holding it. One more hard press on the Ola pouch and I am gone; flashes of light and color fill my brain, my back arches, my calves and fingers flex and every muscle in my body contracts. Gone, carried away beyond the hills.

No, it’s not over yet. I may not know exactly where we stand, but as I lay there in post-orgasmic bliss, fingers tangled in his thick hair as he looks up at me adoringly, I know there is something here that makes wading through the uncertainty worthwhile.

That remaining delicate heartstring will have to hold out for just a little longer.

Rated X For Sex

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