Last Light
Author:M. Pierce

I grinned when I hit Send. Hm, this was fun.

 

Fifteen minutes later, I crept through the basement to the patio door. Chrissy must have gone to her room, and Mom and Dad were sleeping—I hoped. Jay was gaming. He didn’t look at me as I passed the computer. Only Daisy, our ten-year-old springer spaniel, showed an interest in my mission. She snuffled around my feet and whined as I peered through the glass.

 

I could just make out the pale cords of the hammock in the dark. I cleaned my glasses and looked again. It seemed to be swaying gently.

 

I let myself out, not Daisy, and strolled toward the back of the yard. Spring wind rushed through the trees. The stars looked like little sockets of fire, and I felt slightly displaced, which is what spring nights do to me.

 

I glanced back at the house. Lights out, good …

 

“Hello, little bird.”

 

I froze.

 

Matt lay in the hammock, arms folded behind his head, legs crossed at the ankles. He wore a T-shirt and pale torn jeans. I knew those jeans. I knew how they hung low around his hips. His hair was disheveled. He smiled at me.

 

In two words, he looked fucking edible.

 

“The last time you came out of your house for me, all furtively, I mean, you were wearing some tiny”—he gestured at me—“tiny things, under a big old housecoat. Such a powerful memory for me, Hannah. Mm … when I remember that, I—”

 

“Okay, okay.” I laughed reluctantly. “I think I know where you’re going with that.”

 

“Come keep me company.”

 

My feet carried me closer to the hammock. “I’ve been thinking, you know, and—Matt!” I shrieked as his arm snaked around me. He yanked me onto his body. The hammock swayed perilously. From inside, Daisy sounded the alarm—three throaty old-dog barks. I giggled and she went quiet. “You’re a jerk.”

 

“You wouldn’t have come out here if you were really angry with me.” Matt tucked my body against his. His hands traveled over me, remembering me in their greedy way. “Mm, Hannah bird. I’m lonely for you. I bet you called to check up on me. Afraid I’ll drink?”

 

“Should I be?”

 

“Should I drink? Will that make you come take care of me? I like when you dote on me.”

 

Matt’s hands made a persuasive case. He stroked my back again and again, the pressure and pace of his palms sensual. I pillowed my head on his chest. I breathed in the scent of his body wash. Oh, freshly showered Matt … fuck me …

 

No! Ugh. What the hell?

 

“No drinking,” I said. “Of course no drinking. That’s not a joke.”

 

“I know, I know.” Matt sighed. His hands were under my shirt, rubbing my sides. My toes curled and uncurled. “I’m kidding. Contrary to popular belief, I take my sobriety very seriously. So what were you saying—something about thinking?”

 

I trailed my fingers over Matt’s neck. I remembered last July and how we lay in this hammock, and how Matt kissed me against a big cottonwood. That same longing existed between us, not at all diminished. Was it because we stayed apart so much? Would our passion fade if we stopped all this stupidity and attempted a real, durable relationship?

 

“I was thinking, I have a stipulation.”

 

“Fancy,” Matt murmured.

 

“If I move back in, you have to start seeing Mike again. Regularly. Or another therapist, I don’t care.”

 

Matt’s arms stilled. “Why? I’m fine now.”

 

“No, you’re not. You think you can keep me in the dark, but you can’t. The way you lie to me … it’s a problem. It’s like a chronic problem. Your lists? The way you flip out when you can’t control something? What about the fact that you can’t say good-bye? Look, everyone has issues, Matt. Everyone could benefit from a professional, objective opinion—”

 

“Fine.”

 

I lifted my head. “Fine?”

 

“Fine. I’ll see Mike. Whatever. Come home.”

 

I kissed his chest. “Not yet.”

 

There were other, darker things I wanted Matt to open up about—his anger, the loss of his parents, and that mysterious suicide attempt in college—but not tonight. Tonight I missed him, and I needed this peace and sweetness to help me forget our screaming match at the condo.

 

“Hannah?”

 

“Mm?” I looked up at him.

 

“Did Nate try anything funny with you? You know, did he—”

 

I touched his lips. “No, he would never.” My mind wandered back to the Hotel Teatro. I pictured Nate’s friendly smile, then the glint of wickedness in his grin as he watched me swirl my scotch. “He’s so loyal to you,” I whispered.

 

“We’re loyal to each other,” Matt said. His voice was sad.

 

I snuggled against his body and kissed his neck. It was easy to fall into those small gestures of comfort. Matt’s hands resumed their roaming, and soon he was pulling my body against his in a way that said, I want to fuck.

 

“Oh, no you don’t.” I giggled.

 

“Hm?” He squeezed my ass.

 

Fuck, though … that felt good. I wiggled my hips against his.

 

He sighed. “Hannah, I miss you…”