It was a matter of logistics.
The gym was far enough away to necessitate a deliberate destination, with membership fees that would not cause consternation when it came to working out the finances, usually in the face of an unforeseen disaster or when we would look at the future, working out where and when we could take some vague idea into reality. It was also far enough that I did not expect to bump into anyone I knew.
My visits there were perfunctory. I would sign in, head straight to the changing rooms past the orchestra of grunts, the whirr of the treadmills and the percussion of weights thrown and lifted with effort. Once inside, I would change into sweats, scrape my hair into pigtails, stand in front of the mirror and take a photograph. Once I had sent it to the account, I would change and leave. A few times, people had seen and tried to hide their disbelief but I was too distracted to care. My heart would already be pounding like I had been working out anyway, and at least I came to the place past January.
I would wait until I was back in the car and call him.
He chuckled. Sometimes I would hear the clatter of his fingers against the keys or the soft rush of a kettle being boiled in the background. I used to wonder if he was alone. I still do.
‘Come on over.’
His voice was a slow soft burr, an amused animal invitation that sent sparks of feeling down through my stomach and made my thighs clench. The clock was ticking and I would keep these conversations short, eager to make good on the emotions that he gave me to play with.
The good ones were when I was with him.
He lived close to the gym. A small apartment set away from the street. I took the back way to avoid having to use the door entry system, although it was a part of town I would not be seen in, I was still cautious, which was part of the appeal for me. If your life is a book, then you want there to be subplots and adventures, hidden meanings apparent and individual to each reader.
I took the stairs two at a time, panting by the time I reached his floor, and not from the exertion. I still knocked though.
That was so I could have the pleasure of that moment. The door opening, seeing his eyes twinkle with delight. If he had been working on something at length, he would forego shaving and I would know the prickling burn his chin would leave as his mouth moved over me. I would walk in and as soon as the door closed, I would leave the notion of propriety behind and we would rush at one another. It was a gentle savagery as his hands would push the coat from my shoulders then reach to cup my ass in his hands. Our mouths would find one another, tongues dancing as he pressed me against the door. In those first moments, our bodies would offer up the terms of the agreement without speaking. His urgency and my need were interdependent of one another. He wanted me, he did not need me and he acted accordingly.
I would be half out of my clothes in moments. We would make every second of it a celebration and an act of defiance, enjoying the adolescent dragging of working around our clothes to touch and kiss one another. He would lop a single breast from my bra and suckle on a swollen nipple, looking into my eyes and daring me to object before he would press it between his teeth and bite down, sending an arc of dark, sweet fire into the base of my spine.
My senses would sharpen and diffuse in the same instant. In letting go, I would find a space within myself and find him there, waiting. If we passed one another in the street, we had learned the art of effecting polite, comfortable indifference but it only fed the people we were in his apartment.
His hand would find my throat, or I would guide it there. He would slip his fingers beneath the waistband of my panties, open me up and find me oiled and ready for him. The orgasms would come, shooting into the sky of my consciousness like summer fireworks. One, two, three sometimes. They were perfunctory, the alleviation of the soul cramp that would build in his absence and different to the more focused, deliberate pleasures he would coax from me later on. Those first moments though, they were about the beautiful velocity of lust and we would collide and part to collide again.
He would climb on top of me, pinning my wrists with his hands or with one hand on my throat and take me. He would move in urgent, intent thrusts inside me, filling and withdrawing as his eyes glittered with power. This would not be the sum total of his desire. He was unselfconscious, and once afterwards, as his fingernails raked down the insides of my thighs, still glossy from his come and mine, that penetration was a choice on the menu. He was not intimidated by the force or depth of my desire and was more than happy to use toys with me.
He would test and torture me and did it from love.
Afterwards, we would lay there on his bed, preparing to become strangers again. He would read to me, sometimes his own work and he found children’s books to recite from, which filled me with an absurd, galloping pleasure like baby rabbits dancing across an open field. He had brought the same brand of shower gel and shampoo I used at home, without mentioning it and we would shower together.
I left him, and I left him, and I left him.
But I knew that my body craved the exercise he offered as much for my heart as my flesh.
The other emotions he gave me, they waited until I was home. Even then, they spoke in his voice and I would see them out the corner of my eyes, and my heart would start the clock until we met again.