Greetings from the middle of a blizzard! I’ve been having a bit of writer’s block lately, but since I’m snowed in right now, I ended up finishing this. This one-shot is based on the lyrics from the song “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum. I hope you guys like it.
I stare at the photographs scattered in front of me, my eyes zeroing in on each individual image as the memories they represent flash through my mind. These are memories of a much happier time in my life, memories I can’t seem to forget because they’ve been written in ink on my soul. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to flush them out.
I peer at my nightstand and notice the time. It’s a quarter after one in the morning, and I can’t sleep. Even though I’m physically and mentally exhausted, my mind won’t allow me this reprieve. I was doing some spring cleaning earlier, digging through my closet when I found an old shoebox full of pictures. I should’ve put it back as soon as I saw it. I know I should have. But I couldn’t resist.
Now there are several dozen photographs staring back at me, taunting me with my mistakes. These memories represent my past, and they could have represented my future as well. But I was a fool, so I pay a price. I’m convinced that the worst punishment of all, the deepest, darkest depths of Hell, exists in the human mind. Being trapped inside yourself, consumed by self-loathing? There’s nothing worse.
I pick up one of the photographs to examine it more closely, my finger lightly tracing over the image. He’s gazing off into the distance, his head turned at a slight angle. The sun is setting in the background, swathing his face with warm amber hues. I remember this day pretty vividly; we had made a pit stop at the Grand Canyon during one of our long road trips from California to Kentucky. He was so content with life in this moment. We both were.
Bitterly, I snatch up the bottle of whiskey sitting on my nightstand. It hurts. Everything hurts. I pour the liquid down my throat, not caring about the burn it causes, just hoping to numb the pain. When I pull the bottle back from my lips, I notice the label.
Jack Daniels, his favorite whiskey. This was probably his, left behind in the aftermath of our breakup.
We have that in common.
I take another swig and close my eyes. I can feel him when I do. I can feel his touch on every part of my body. When I imagine him there, I come alive for a moment, vibrating with warmth. Then I unravel into thousands of tiny pieces again when I realize he’s not actually here.
These stupid photographs are all I have left of him. Pictures of us dancing, laughing; pictures of our drunken karaoke sessions; pictures of us at the state fair; pictures of us looking out into the sunset, our arms wrapped around each other.
A close up of his eyes. I love his eyes, so intricate in color and design. They’re a window into his soul. And when I got to escape into them, it was like being transported somewhere else, somewhere halfway between here and a place where only we existed.
Is he thinking about me the way I think about him? The way I always think about him. I can almost hear his laughter, sweet as sugar. I get a rush from just the sound of it. At least I did because I don’t hear it anymore. I haven’t heard it for months. All I hear is the regret and the guilt and the loneliness. All I taste are my own tears.
Is he yearning for my touch? Is he craving me with every part of himself like I do him? I look over at my phone.
It’s probably a bad idea. It’s probably a horrible idea. But I’m a little drunk and a whole lot of sad. I just need to hear his voice. I want to be wrapped inside of it like a warm blanket. I miss it; I miss it so much.
My fingers are shaky as I dial a number I’ll never be able to forget, and then I hold my breath, waiting.
"Hello?" he answers at last, and my heartbeat quickens.
"Hey," I breathe.
"Brianna?" he says my name wearily.
"I’m… I’m sorry to call you so late," I manage. "I know you’re filming, and you’re probably tired. But I just…" I sigh heavily, frustrated at my inability to communicate my feelings. I want to say more, but my tongue is traitorous, feeling so heavy I can barely lift it to speak.
He’s silent for a minute, and I fear he might hang up.
But he doesn’t. Instead he says, “I know.”
"I miss you so much," I whisper.
He sighs this time. “I miss you too,” he admits.
It’s just four little words, but I feel like that’s all it takes to make me crack wide open. I thought I had no more tears left to give. I thought I had used them all up. But the sound of his voice elicits so many memories, every bit of happiness and every single heartache. My emotions descend upon me like a tidal wave, and I’m useless to stop the tears from flowing now.
"Do you ever think about us?" I sob.
"All the time."
I sniffle, wiping at my tears. “I’m so sorry, Josh.”
"I’m so sorry I hurt you."
He sighs again. “I know you are.”
I hold onto his words like they’re tethering me to the earth, afraid that if I let go, I might just slip and fall. Fall into a big black hole that swallows me up and never lets me escape. I need to keep the conversation going somehow.
"How’s filming going?" Small talk, I know. But it’s something.
He sucks in a breath and exhales again slowly like he’s not even sure he should be talking to me. Finally, he says, “Filming is going really well. Panama’s an amazing country. The people and the culture and the food? It’s all so incredible. I feel very lucky.”
"That’s good to hear," I say.
"Where are you now?" he wonders.
"I’m home," I tell him. "I was cleaning out my closet earlier, and I actually found all of these old photographs of us." After a brief pause I add, "I’ve just been sitting here staring at them, thinking about the way things were."
"Yeah? What are the pictures?"
I describe them to him, and when I grab one of the pictures from the state fair, I can’t help but chuckle slightly. In the photograph, I look completely unenthused, my face pale and greenish as though I’m going to be sick.
"What’s so funny?"
"Do you remember our second date?"
He chuckles on his line as well. “Of course I do. You threw up all over me. It’s s not something I’d forget.”
"I’m surprised you even talked to me again after that, nevermind asked me out on a third date. Why did you, anyway?"
"It wasn’t because you threw up on me. That was pretty gross,” he tells me. “It’s the fact that you scarfed down like a dozen corndogs before agreeing to get on the fastest roller coaster they had with me. It was nice to see a girl who wasn’t afraid to be herself in front of me, you know? I knew that if you were down for that, you’d down for pretty much anything. And you were.”
I stare at the photograph once more, my chest tightening at his words. “We had some good times together,” I say sadly.
"We had some great times together,” he amends.
"I wish I could see you again," I blurt out, unable to contain myself.
He sighs once more. “Bri,” he objects.
But I’m pretty sure the alcohol has caught up to me by now, words spilling out of my mouth without regard for anything.
"I’m so lonely without you. And maybe that’s what I deserve. But I can’t help how I feel. All I want to do is kiss you and hold you and feel you inside of me again. No one can do the things to me that you did. Nobody. And I’m just… I’m so empty inside.” He tries to object once more, but I carry on. “I know I said I wouldn’t call. I know I said I’d leave you alone. But I need you.”
I can hear the sharp intake of breath on his end, but he remains silent.
"Josh?" I practically whimper. His breathing is jagged now. "Tell me you need me, too."
"I have to go," he says instead, his voice wavering slightly. "Take care of yourself, Bri."
I feel completely shattered by his words, not even having the strength to combat them. And when I hear the dial tone piercing my eardrum, I put the receiver down slowly. Then I finish off my bottle of whiskey and curl into a ball on my bed, my arms wrapped around myself as the tears stream down my face.
When I hear the sound of lightning strike in the distance, I lift my head and notice the photographs surrounding me. Angrily, I toss them back into the shoebox and shove them into the closet. The sound of raindrops pounding down upon my window catches my attention. It’s pretty fitting. Mother Nature seems to be experiencing the same kind of inner turmoil as me, my anguish reflected in the storm.
I lay back down, staring into my empty room, wishing I could just shut off every single feeling I have. After a while, I hear what sounds like my doorbell ringing. I furrow my brow, wondering if I’m just imagining things. But then I hear it again.
Cautiously, I shuffle down the stairs, wondering who could possibly be at my door at this late hour. When I finally swing it open, I’m pretty sure all the breath in my body has been knocked right out of me. Josh is standing there practically drenched, the rain pouring down his body at a furious rate. His brown locks are matted down to his head, the white V-neck t-shirt he wears beneath his black leather jacket soaked through and through, clinging to every ridge and contour of his body.
I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen anything more beautiful in my life, my eyes completely transfixed. Both of us seem strangely paralyzed by the moment, unable to form words or thoughts. We’re standing right in front of each other, and yet we’re still miles away.
Finally, I find my voice. “What are you doing here?” I ask cautiously. “I thought you were in Panama.”
He swallows slowly and then shakes his head. “I flew home for the weekend, and I… I don’t know,” he tells me honestly.
I step aside to let him in out of the rain. He takes a deep breath before walking into my living room.
"I can hang up your jacket," I say softly, and he hands it to me wordlessly. I shake it out a bit before placing it onto a hanger in the front closet. "Do you want some coffee? I can probably find you some dry clothes to put on…"
I’m rambling, I know. But I’m not exactly sure what else I’m supposed to be doing. This doesn’t seem real.
"Bri…" he breathes my name, cutting me off. The longing in his voice is so palpable, I can feel it. It mirrors my own. My breath hitches in my throat, and I turn around to look at him.
When our eyes meet, it’s clear he’s not here to catch up over a cup of coffee.
Josh licks his lips, stepping right up against me, only inches separating us. Despite just coming in from the rain, I can feel the heat emanating from him. My heart thumps loudly in my ears, drowning out the sound of everything around us.
I stare at his mouth in anticipation. And when he places his hands on my cheeks at last, I part my lips and close my eyes, waiting for what I know is coming. At first, it’s a gentle kiss, slow and languid like he’s testing the waters. But I can hardly stand it anymore; the ache inside me is so unbearable. Right now I don’t need gentle. I just need him.
My tongue slips inside his mouth, wanting to taste him so bad, wanting to lose myself in the sensation. We stand in the middle of my living room, kissing with the fervor of two people who just discovered the joy of it. Josh’s fingers tangle through my hair, and I clutch at his soaking wet t-shirt, desperate for his delicious kiss. His body is pressed against mine, hard and wet and hot. He smells so fucking good. He tastes so fucking good. I can’t get enough.
We stumble backwards clumsily, clawing at each other now. My back slams into the wall, Josh pinning my hands above my head as his lips seduce every inch of my exposed skin, licking a trail around my throat and across my jaw, igniting the fire cracker inside of me.
He releases my hands at last, and they instinctively wrap around his head, fingers tugging through his hair when he grips my hips tightly. My legs eagerly envelop his body, pleading for more as he presses his crotch against mine, letting me feel just how badly he needs me as well. I practically yank his wet t-shirt over his head and throw it to the side, desperate to feel his naked skin, loving the way the muscles in his back ripple beneath my hands.
"God, I need you so much," I breathe into him, our mouths fusing together with urgency as we continue to suck and pull at every piece of skin and clothing imaginable.
His breath is hot in my ear, sending a shiver straight to my core. “Say it again,” he commands softly.
"I need you.”
His strong hands finally settle into the small of my back, holding me against him as he carries me up the stairs. I shed myself of my t-shirt along the way, grinding my lower half against him, yearning for the friction. And then he lowers me onto my bed, crawling on top of me on all fours as I sink into the mattress beneath his weight, his erection strained against his jeans as it presses into my thigh. When his tongue swirls around one of my nipples, I purr softly, breathing deeply as my body becomes fully alive, radiating with satisfaction.
His tongue tells enchanting stories on my skin, following an invisible trajectory that only he knows. He draws seductive patterns around my belly button before his mouth is hovering over the part of me that’s literally pulsing for him.
Slowly, almost agonizingly so, he kisses me through the thin material of my underwear, and I whimper as my hips buck toward him, begging for him to give me what I so desperately crave. Then he pulls my underwear to the side, his tongue becoming intimate with me as he licks a torturous trail along my lips. He curls it rigidly as it flicks against my clit, his whole mouth finally enclosing around me as my eyes roll into my head, and I dig my fingers into the sheets.
“Josh,” I say his name pleadingly, desperate for more.
Understanding what I want, he slips one finger inside of me at first, and when I groan at the sensation, he adds another, sending my body into a complete frenzy. He hits all the right spots, knowing exactly what to do to please me.
"You’re so wet…" he murmurs into my skin, like he’s forgotten exactly what he does to me.
"For you baby," I rasp. "Only you."
He looks up at me at my declaration, his gaze penetrating as he licks his lips. Then he curls his fingers towards himself, scraping against my walls in such a perfect way, I can’t help but cry out.
“Fuck," I howl.
When he pulls his fingers out at last, he glides my underwear off my hips and over my legs quickly. Then he begins to undress the rest of himself, his fingers nimbly undoing his belt buckle. But I’m insanely impatient now, sitting back up to rip his belt away from his jeans as I toss it onto the floor and yank down his zipper. Both of us push his jeans and boxers off of his hips and down his thighs, my eyes zeroing in on his beautifully erect penis, imagining just how amazing he will feel inside of me. It’s been far too long. My hand grasps onto his cock, caressing him up and down, loving the way his face contorts with desire. He hisses against my skin before pushing at my shoulder.
I lay back down as he wrangles his jeans off of his legs completely. Then he settles over me again, his knee nudging my thighs apart as his lips dance over mine once more. Wasting no more time, he slides into me at last. My fingers grasp at him tightly as I swallow him into my sex, groaning at the sensation.
This is exactly how it’s supposed to be, him and me connected like this forever. It’s not just home, it’s everything that makes sense in this world. Josh works himself into a perfect rhythm, and I meet him at every turn, stroke for stroke. I feel like I’ve finally woken from this wretched nightmare I’ve been trapped in for the last several months. Despite everything else that has happened between us, our bodies have not forgotten a single thing.
He pulls me closer against him, wrapping my knees around his hips as moves deeper inside of me, hitting a spot that’s so good, my back arches off the bed, and I wail loudly as my fingernails dig into his flesh.
"Shit," he breathes into my neck. "You feel so fucking good." I return the sentiment, loving the feeling of him draped all over me, hot skin against hot skin, the potent smell of sex in the air.
His hips are as deadly as his fingers, and I’m losing my mind in the feel of him. “Don’t stop,” I beg as he slides into me like his life depends on it now. After another moment, I pull myself into an upright position, altering the angle of penetration as I wrap my arms around his shoulders. I seek his lips again, my tongue slipping into the hollow of his mouth as my fingers clutch at the short locks at the base of his neck. His arms envelop the middle of my back, melding my body tightly against his own, the perspiration on our skin causing us to stick together. I want to feel every single part of him.
He’s buried inside me, seeping into the very fibers of my being. I rock against him, tightly gripping his shoulders, swallowing him up into my very core. It’s intense, mind-numbing, and I never want it to end. His heat inside my depths, throbbing, making me feel alive. I’m floating on a cloud, drifting off into another place. A place where I don’t have to think, just feel. And this is a feeling that is so good, so very good. My hips roll desperately, begging him to take me there. Take me to my happy place, free me from the demons that haunt me. I need this so very bad.
Burn deep inside me, raging hot. Light my body on fire with your tantalizing flames. I want to dissolve all around you, melt into your skin…
He holds my hips still when he can’t take it anymore then thrusts himself up inside as I lean back and hold on to his knees for support. A litany of “yeahs” and “fucks” spill from my lips, his thrusts unrelenting. His fingers reach between our bodies to find my clit again, tantalizing me there as his hips still leave me breathless with every beautiful puncture.
Then I’m colliding into him again, fast and furious, hungry for this feeling. My body is screaming, my insides consumed by the pleasure.
"You gonna come for me?" he whispers into my ear, his hips and fingers simultaneously sending me into the brink of insanity. I feel myself contracting around him, squeezing him tightly as a delectable warmth builds in my groin. And then it finally hits me, spreading like a shockwave throughout my system, spilling right out of my lips. My skin is on fire, the embers coursing through my veins like a drug as I cling to him desperately. Josh thrusts a few more times as my orgasm washes over me and then I feel him shudder, groaning as he releases himself inside of me.
We stare at each other for a while, heaving slowly as our racing hearts return to a more steady rhythm. I search his eyes, trying to understand what I see there, not ready to part with this feeling. I palm his cheek gently, leaning in for a kiss. And before I can even stop myself, I whisper, “I love you,” against him.
Because I do. I need him to know that. I’m not a perfect person by any means. I’ve made mistakes in my life that I can’t undo. I’ve been weak and selfish and cowardly. I’ve trampled on his heart, and not a second goes by where I don’t wish I can’t turn back the clock, make different decisions. Better decisions. Despite all this, I love him with everything I am and everything I know.
His eyes turn glossy, and he tenses beneath me. Then he removes me from on top of him and wordlessly shuffles over to my bathroom, closing the door behind him. I watch him go with a sinking heart, feeling like the walls are starting to close in on me. I hear the toilet flush after a moment, and then he steps out, looking at me like he’s just lost his best friend.
"What’s wrong?" I ask timidly, afraid of what he’ll say.
He doesn’t answer, picking his boxers off the floor as he slides them back on. When he grabs his jeans, I pry, “Josh?”
"I have to go," he says to the ground, grasping tightly onto his jeans as he pulls them up his legs.
I shake my head emphatically, my lip quivering. “No, you don’t.”
"I have an early flight," he says as he zips up his jeans and reaches for his belt.
"Don’t do this," I plead, crawling toward the edge of the bed. The tears are starting to cloud my vision, pooling in my eyes. "Don’t run away."
"This was a mistake."
"It wasn’t," I insist, standing off the bed and grasping onto his arm.
He pulls away quickly like he’s been burnt, locking eyes with me defiantly now. “I shouldn’t have come here. All of this was one giant mistake.”
It feels like I’ve developed a sudden case of vertigo, like the world is turning upside down, and I might stumble and fall to my knees at any moment. “Please stop saying that.”
He turns to leave the room, but I grab his arm again. “We can’t talk about this?”
"I have nothing else to say."
A tear rolls down my face. “So that’s it then. You’re just going to fuck me and then leave?”
He clenches his jaw. “Yeah… yeah, that’s it. And you can stop acting like a victim in all this. You’re the one who cheated on me, remember?”
"Of course I remember!" I sob. "I can’t ever forget what I did to you. I fucked up! But you were gone for so long, and I got lonely. It’s not an excuse, I know that. I’m not making excuses. But I didn’t do it to hurt you. You know I didn’t."
He swallows slowly, his voice raw as he says, “It doesn’t change anything.”
"I love you, Josh.”
"No!" he shakes his head at me, protesting. The tears have welled up in his eyes as well. "Stop saying that! You don’t get to say that to me anymore. You don’t have the right."
My shoulders slump as I ask, “Why can’t you forgive me?”
"I forgave you a long time ago," he says flatly. "I just can’t trust you."
"So why are you here?"
"Because hearing your voice…" He shakes his head, wiping angrily at his tears. "You’re not the only person who’s ever needed somebody, okay? And I hate that I need you. I hate feeling this way more than anything. I wish I could just erase you from my memory so it would be easier to forget you ever existed."
His words are a blow to the gut. “Josh…” I whimper, broken.
"I love you, Bri. I might always love you. But I can’t be with you," he tells me sadly. "I deserve better. I know I do."
And I have nothing to say to that because I know he’s right. He deserves the world.
"Please don’t call me anymore," he says with resignation. "I mean it. Don’t call me."
I watch him walk out of my bedroom for the last time, knowing that he’s also walking out of my life completely.
There’s nothing I can do or say to fix this. There’s no happy ending to this tale. I’m standing in quicksand now, and when I finally accept that fact, I allow myself to slip into the depths below.
Suggested listening material: Need You Now
(thanks to Sammy for this banner)