Everytime he moved to dry his hair with his towel, his solid chest muscle would ripple. Sian’s face heated up. She tried to look everywhere else but his chest. Unable to find anywhere else, she fixated her gaze to the floor. She felt him walk towards her.
“Did you drink the wine?” he asked her.
“Oh , yes,” she said, looking up at him once and then hurriedly looking down again.
“Are you drunk?” he asked, leaning down towards her, “You look flushed.”
She could smell the pleasant scent of the soap or the oil still lingering on him. She looked at him and her eyes fell on his lips. She saw that he was too close and swallowed. Her heart thumped against her chest. Perhaps it was because only a robe covered him, his features stood out more.
“How many glasses did you drink?” he asked.
“Just two,” she stammered.
Everytime he spoke, his breath tickled her cheeks. She didn’t know what to do with her hands, so she clenched them tighter, her knuckles turning white.
“Are you nervous?” he asked.
“How do you know?” she asked, surprised.
“You clench your hands like that whenever you are nervous,” he said looking at her hands.
“Really?” she asked, looking down at her hands which were squeezed together to the point that they were pale. “Have I always done this?”
“You didn’t know?” he asked, smiling softly. “From the time we were kids, you always did that, when you were nervous.”
She loosened her hands so that they relaxed into their normal colour. “I didn’t know I did that,” she said.
“Well, most people don’t really know about their own little habits,” he said.
He filled a glass for himself and took a sip. “Do you want one more?” he asked, shaking his own glass.
“I am okay,” she said. She felt like she was already out of her mind. If she had one more to drink, she didn’t know if she would remember anything.
“So did you think about it?” asked Alan, drinking from his glass.
“Huh?” said Siana, absentmindedly.
“When you talked about a guy finishing too fast,” he said, “What’s your standard for s*x?”
Siana’s lip quivered. She had no idea about ‘standards’ present in s*x. She didn’t know much about it. Hell, she had never done it in her life before. She had just blurted it out to make him leave. She knew remotely about s*x from other people, especially Yulia. She didn’t respond.
Alan crossed his hands and looked at her embarrassed face. “You said a rabbit finishes in three seconds,” he said, “If I hold out for that long, is it ok for you?”
“Uh…,” Siana stammered, “Yeah, I guess.”
She had no idea how long a man had to last. She silently prayed for this conversation to be over. “So, after we are done and you don’t like it,” he continued, “I have to back away from my proposal. Don’t you think that is unfair for me?”
Siana was bewildered. It was unfair for her that she had been dragged into this when she had made herself clear a hundred times. “How is it unfair for you?” she asked, confused.
“You could lie,” he said.
“Lie about what?” she asked.
“You could lie even if you were satisfied with me,” he said, “You could lie about it and I would have to step away from you. It will be better if you let me know your exact standard.”
“Standard?” she stammered. ‘What on earth is he going on about!?’
“Yes,” he said, “Don’t you have a number or something that you usually keep a count of, in your head? Or anything similar?”
Siana blushed. He was asking outrageous questions to which she, or anybody else for that matter, would have an accurate answer. She felt anxious and panicky.
“Or do you not have a standard at all?” he asked, looking at her.
“I do!” blurted out Siana.
“Then tell me,” he said.
She was racking her mind for any bits of information from Yulia. She was clueless about it. Five minutes? Isn’t that too short? I’ll just say twenty minutes, she thought, Will that be enough? Having no idea about it, she looked at the floor.
“Is it that you are too embarrassed to answer?” he asked, “If that’s it, can I set the standard?”
“What?” she asked, disbelievingly.
“Just hear it once,” he said, “If you don’t like it, you can reject it and set your own.”
It sounded logical. She could just refuse if she didn’t like it. ‘But then he will ask about my standard again,’ she thought. But if she allowed him to set the standard, she couldn’t just make bad s3x a premise and escape from this marriage. Alan seemed determined not to leave her with a choice.
“It’s really shady that you aren’t talking,” he said, “ I am getting suspicious. Don’t tell me you don’t want me to set a standard because then you would have no chance to lie later.”
“It’s not that,” said Siana hurriedly.
“Then tell me your standard,” he said.
“Alright, alright, jeez,” she said, “I will tell you.”
He nodded and smiled. Siana felt a new bout of nervousness gnaw at her heart at his smile. “Lie down on the bed,” he instructed.
“What? Why?” she asked.
“It’s just easier to explain this way,” he said, “so please lie down.”
She looked at him suspiciously, then made her way to the bed and laid herself down. “Now what?” she asked, feeling stupid.
“Raise your arms,” he said, “And grab anything.”
“What the…,” she said. “Anything?”
“Yea,” he said, “Anything. Headboard, sheet, pillow, anything.”
Siana thought he had gone crazy. She fumbled around and found a pillow over her head. She grabbed it. “Now what?” she asked.
“That will be my standard,” he said.
“What?” Siana said, skeptically, “Your standard? That’s…”
As she said this, Alan walked towards the bed. The edge of the mattress furrowed as he got on it. Before she could speak again, she found him above her, looking down at her.
“Hey!” she said, beyond embarrassed, “Why are you here? We still aren’t done talking.”
“Oh,” he said with a smirk, “My standard is that if you are still grabbing that pillow by the time I’m finished, you win. If you let go of that midway, I win. Easy, right?”
“How can that be?” she said.
“Why not?” he said, “it’s simple. If I win, you have to marry me. If you win, I will back away from you.”
“Alan,” she said, exasperated, “this is complete, utter nonse —.”
Her words were cut short as Alan lowered his head and kissed Siana’s slender neck. He was s!cking at her soft flesh. The feeling of his lips and tongue on her skin made her body tremble. Without realising it, she m*aned.
Alan chuckled. “Can you really last till I am done?” he asked.
“Oh shut up,” she said, a faint blush creeping across her cheeks. “I am just embarrassed.” She was flustered with his strange standard he had set. “What about you?” she snapped, “You still haven’t started.”
“Alright,” he chuckled, “It hasn’t started yet. We will let this slide this time.” His breath tickled her neck and her body tightened with nervousness.
“Relax,” he said, gently caressing her back, soothing her. She was nervous and anxious. She only knew about s*x theoretically. It was something she had never experienced before. The thought of the unknown terrified her.
Everywhere he touched her, she felt a chill over her spine. Her heart beat faster and faster. She felt blood rush to her head and her cheeks. Siana tried to calm her breathing, while Alan untied her waistband and opened her gown. The chilly air touched her skin and she shivered.
Had I known this would happen, I would have worn some underg*rm*nts, she thought to herself belatedly. Alan’s eyes ran through her whole n*ked body and rested on her bre*sts. She felt extremely shy at the man who wasn’t able to take his eyes off her. She wanted to cover her chest, but she recalled the bet and held onto that pillow.
“Alan,” she said timidly.
“Yeah?” he said, tearing his eyes off her body to look at her face.
“Can you turn off the lights?” she asked.
“Why?” he asked, “Are you too embarrassed to show off your body?”
Siana nodded, avoiding his eyes. “I don’t mind. I can see you even with the lights off,” he whispered, “But you will be more sensitive to things with the lights off, is that okay?”
“What?” she asked, confused.
“Your senses will be heightened when it’s dark,” he said, “Close your eyes and try it.”
“You are lying,” she said and closed her eyes, skeptically.
“I am going to touch you now, alright?” he asked.
Siana nodded. A rustling on the blankets signalled his hand moving towards her. His warm breath spread over her skin. Siana bit her lower lip. Everything was indeed more noticeable when it was dark.