If there was anything worse than losing a lover it was losing good friends, but staring at their old picture stuck to his wall Marc knew that was just what had happened. Their friendship that was never supposed to end decayed swiftly like sand running through his fingers, all just because Marc had lost his nerves and admitted feelings he knew he had best kept to himself.

It had been a fun run while it lasted, the first time Marc had ever felt he could trust people in a world were trust seemed synonymous with disaster. Oh well, he had always been better at burning bridges than building them. The part of him that had stopped believing in the world was glad his last ties to said world had been cut, the smaller part that still believed cried silently.

The playlist he had created just for days like this was perfect, full of songs no anti-depressant could ever attempt to counter. It did a fine job of making him feel twice as drunk as he was, even blurred out the ringing door bell to a degree. With a sigh he wondered if he could just ignore it, not feeling like talking to anyone but then the music made it clear he was home.

If there was anything that could possibly worsen his mood the look through the eyehole did just that. Y was this friendly neighbor he got along with whenever they met and with whom he would likely have become friends if his social circle hadn’t been so tight and if he hadn’t been so focused on the ultimately futile task of winning over another woman. He had always felt bad about pushing her away when it was obvious they liked each other, but now he hoped she hadn’t come to talk and just needed some milk or whatever.

There were times when a friendly face and an ear to listen to problems eased the pain of mental scars, but before that the fresh wounds would have to be licked and heal slowly for a night or fortnight. Scars were something to be proud of, wounds just symbolized defeat and weakness.

Opening the door he tried to put up his best impression of a cold hearted, stone faced Marc, fully prepared to deal with her in the doorway and get back to feeling like shit as soon as possible. Something in her face and that posture with her arms locked behind her back let that plan fail before he had a chance to execute it, involuntarily putting a friendly smile on his face.

„Hey.“ Not that cold hearted either, he was on to a damn good start.

„Hey, I walked past your door and couldn’t help but notice you need someone to talk to.“

„Oh yeah?“

„Oh yeah, that music on that volume screams ’someone rescue me please‘, and I just happen to be that someone.“

Again he couldn’t help but smile, there was something incredibly saddening about her genuine smile.

„That’s incredibly nice of you, but I’m afraid the music really just screams ‚let me suffer in peace‘.“

„Nonsense, you’re not going to let me stand out here, are you?“

„‚Fraid so. Look, I really don’t want to be impolite, but…“

Instead of the insulted expression he had expected her smile only widened as she brought her hands to the front, to his surprise holding a sixpack of Guinness.

„I didn’t think I would have to bribe my way in, but if you don’t feel like talking to me maybe you feel like talking to these bottles.“

He felt his resistance dwindle, there was something about someone actually caring about him that he just couldn’t ignore or push away in his current state.

With a sigh he stepped aside and opened the door a little wider, provoking a snorting snicker as she slipped in.

„I guess I should feel a little insulted.“

„Don’t, it’s not about that beer.“

Nelly kicked off her shoes and looked back over her shoulder with that stupidly cute smile that could just wipe away sadness like a windshield wiper, each back and forth keeping the rain at bay until the storm eventually passed.

„Not just any beer, that’s liquid sadness. Perfect for a night like this, tastes best dilluted with tears. Come, I think you have a story to tell.“

He realized the damage was already done and that he might as well adapt to the change of plan, talking just might help after all. Before long they found themselves on opposite ends of his couch, passing bottle opener and bottles. They pulled up their knees and snuggled into blankets, not unlike he had with the others not that long ago when his home had still been a frequent meeting place for them.

She hadn’t been wrong, the dark and bitter taste of Guinness was certainly never out of place but now it fit his mood perfectly, running over his tongue as if it had to tell stories of its own and enticing him to stop holding back his own.

He smiled wrily, wondering where to start.

„Must be a woman“, Nelly helped him while smiling into her bottle, „ain’t no way anything else can leave you that shattered.“

For some reason that sentence alone gave him back that distance to the events he had so desperately lacked and he couldn’t help a snorting giggle. „Sure is, and it’s really not much of a story. She was my best friend, I got stupid and couldn’t keep my mouth shut, now I’m out a best friend and a whole group of friends in the process. Happens to everyone at some point I guess.“

„Doesn’t make it any easier.“

He took another sip, enjoying the silence and clarity it brought to his mind. „No, no it doesn’t.“

„The blonde chick? I think I’ve walked past her on the stairs once or twice.“

„Yeah, it’s probably the one you’re thinking of. Hard to turn away from, harder to look at.“

„Fits the image in my head. What’s her name?“

„I am kind of trying to forget.“

„Not for now, try to remember things while they are still fresh. In a year she might be a fading memory, a ghost of the past that makes you shiver and hiss in shame when you think about her, hardly knowing why you liked her enough to do this to you.“

Leaning back into the pillows Marc smiled to no one in particular. „Wouldn’t be the first time.“

„Tell me about it. So, come on. Name, what was it you liked so much about her?“

„Aw, whatever. Sarah. Actually I don’t think it fits her that much, or rather the person she really is. A bit bland and if you look at her the first impression is just that, bland. Then I got to know her a little and my impression changed to ‚a little bland, a little bitchy‘, but with a fun note. The kind where you’re happy you are on the right side of things.“

„Then you get to know her more, start seeing the hidden layer where she’s a bit lonely, a little desperate for friendship and trust. You start seeing parts of yourself in her, next thing you know every movement she makes kind of looks divine, the smile looks mysterious in the dying light of the evening and the sentences you exchange seem to have a hidden meaning.“

„You sure sound like you’ve gone through that before.“

„Mh.“

„I guess in the end I liked the challenge more than the actual prize.“

„If you can see that already you are off much better than I was. Took a good year out of my life the first time, really not a time I like remembering too much.“

„I can imagine. Thanks that you are though, it feels a lot better to talk than I imagined.“

„And thinking you almost closed that door for good.“

And there it was again, that feeling that Nelly was talking on two layers. With an inner sigh he leaned back again. Not this time.

But there was that smile again, how had she called it? A little mysterious, a little teasing and with a hint of ‚don’t even think about it‘ mixed in for good measure. Only this time it was followed by a slightly embarrassed and apologetic giggle.

„I’m sorry, I really shouldn’t play with you that way, not now.“

He was more than slightly annoyed, but his ‚I’d appreciate that‘ came out a lot softer than the words had sounded in his head. A little weak, a little begging and a whole lot pathetic considering the circumstances.

The tension was almost palpable for a second, but then Nelly branched the distance between them by extending a foot and bumping his knee with her toe.

„Hey, lighten up. I’m sorry, I mean it. It’s funny to tease most of the time.“

Marc smiled, relaxing his muscles. „It actually was funny coming to think of it. How can it be so easy to walk into the same trap twice in days.“

„Because it’s easy to sell people what they need or want. Like, I’m pretty sure I could sell you a foot massage right now.“

Against better knowledge Marc chuckled. „And what would that cost me? Hypothetically speaking of course.“

„Oh, just a new bottle because mine’s empty.“

„That… feels like an acceptable price, but you know you can get that for free.“

He opened another bottle and handed it over before finishing his own and grabbing one for himself. He wasn’t exactly sure if beer and talking had eased enough his mind enough or if he was just getting too drunk for his own good, but he sure wanted that foot massage now. Any physical contact, really.

„Yeah I know, but maybe I simply like to make up for my slip. Come on, no excuses.“

While he was still wondering if he should or not Nelly had already moved forward, lifting his feet and resting them in her lap. Marc slid down, resting his neck against the pillows with closed eyes, enjoying the moment.

„You know, for what it’s worth you’re not so bad at making up.“

Her fingers dug into his feet. „Nothing compared to my making out skills.“

„There, you’re doing that again. That just earned you another five minutes.“

„Right, my bad.“

They were in that strange zone now where they could freely joke. A demilitarized zone, combatants realizing they weren’t all that different in the end, tossed around the battlefields by forces outside their influence. Even her touch felt friendly, caring when the same from Sarah would have put his senses at full alert and steered his thoughts into weird directions. Not that his thoughts were all that pure now, but this was a different game altogether and he could handle it. For now.

„You are thinking about her, I can feel the tension.“

„Yeah, sorry. It’s hard not to.“

„That’s okay. Try to relax though, it’s like pressing squares into round whores.“

Marc let out a little laugh, part to the joke and part to her fingers tickling the sole of his feet.

Nelly stopping momentarily to take a sip before she continued ripped him out of the flow enough to realize in a moment of clarity that the demilitarized zone he had thought them in was a mere illusion, the cease-fire fragile and temporary.

In the end they belonged to different sides of the ever raging war, but for a few invaluable moments nothing of that mattered and Marc realized he liked a good enemy much better than a bad ally.

The feelings inside his head were conflicting wildly, the majority warning him that he was playing with fire, likely to get burned. The minority put up a hard fight though, and the longer he felt Nelly’s fingers circling around his toes the more its voice seemed like the reasonable one.

Finally he realized that he could either lose a fight he had never fought at worst or fight a winning battle at best, all signs pointing to the latter.

Opening one eye he looked at her, the smile on her face in that irresistible triangle of inviting, waiting and playfully innocent. „You know exactly where my thoughts are going, don’t you?“

Her head tilted to the side she nodded ever so slightly, smile transformed into a grin. „Mh. I’m just afraid I can’t just make a move on you when you’re half drunk half vulnerable and you can’t make a move because you don’t want me to feel like a rebound fuck.“

Marc’s dick was telling him he definitely could and should make a move, but instead he snickered. „I guess that means we won’t get anywhere from here then.“

The snicker turned into a barely suppressed squeal as Nelly dug her fingers deep into his feet. „Wrong answer, try again.“

There were only so many times Marc could lie to himself that he didn’t want any part in this game. „I’m sorry, I meant to say ‚let’s get naked‘.“

A second later her fingers were gone from his feet, leaving a cold harsh lack of touch in their wake, but when he opened his eyes he noticed they were needed to get her out of the worn sweater. Marc tried to get upright to help Nelly out of her clothes, but she pushed him back down. Catching her hand in the process Marc pulled her down with him, catching her fall with hands, body and lips that offered a landing pad for hers.

His hands around her neck he pulled her in close, their lips not leaving each other’s until they were both out of breath. There was something in her eyes that outweighed everything else, a genuine desire that had nothing devious and even seemed… relieved. Only now did he realize that Nelly must have waited for this moment a lot longer than the hour Marc had had to see the light, such a feeling didn’t develop overnight.

Marc ran his fingers across her forehead, brushing a strand of hair out of the way before they continued their way down her cheek and neck and slightly tucked on her chin to bring her in for another kiss. This time their lips only touched for a brief moment before she put a finger on his lips, keeping him locked down harder than any weight could  have.

„We have all night to be nice together, but I don’t feel you inside me in ten seconds flat I might just die in a case of spontaneous combustion.“

„I can do it in nine.“

„All talk no walk“, she uttered while she got up from the couch to get out of shirt and pants, standing over him naked before he had even gotten out of his shirt.

„Too slow. Poof, there I go. Hope you enjoy fucking my smoldering remains.“

„All night long. Was nice knowing you.“

„Oh, you’ll get to know me alright.“

With that Nelly helped him out of his jeans that had barely found their way to the floor before she was on top of him, her hand guiding him into her. There was no resistance, only wet warmth engulfing him as he slid into her. Marc followed her gaze go through phases of hunger, love and hate with everything in between before she settled on a determined look that could have scared weaker minds.

Her hips played along, bouncing up and down on him at a furious pace as soon as she had balanced herself with her hands pressing his shoulders down. He wasn’t a player in this game, he was the playing field. Not that he could complain, all room for complaints in his head filled with the image of her breasts hypnotizing him.

He knew she wouldn’t be able to keep that pace for long before she would have to slow down, but then his time would come and their roles would change. For the time being he just had to lie back, hold her hips and push his own hips up now and then to make sure she couldn’t settle into a rhythm.

The moment she slowed down noticeably his hands on her hips turned her around before he was on top of her. Her eyes told him she was confused, as if she had just woken up in her bed with her head facing the wrong direction. His first thrust came hard, harder than she had expected and forcing a squeal out of her. An embarrassed, slightly annoyed smile raced across her smile, then disappeared when his next thrust made her eyes lose focus, staring at some point in the distance.

Marc grabbed her by the neck, holding her steady while he watched Nelly go from hungry over begging him to keep fucking her to only begging with her eyes because her voice was gone, all air used for moans, squeals and half-hearted attempts at words that made no sense.

She came almost silently, her head sinking into his hand and her body losing all tension in a series of shivers. Her pussy tightened up so much that he came close to coming himself, only kept from filling her up immediately by the desire to look into her eyes while he did so. As soon as some sense returned into Nelly’s eyes she looked at him and nodded with a satisfied and exhausted grin. Marc tightened up all muscles and thrust as deep into her as he could, a myriad of bad memories and decisions wiped from his mind as he came inside of her and struggled for balance while his dick tried to move in any direction and ultimately decided there was no way out.

Only now noticing how cold a properly heated room could feel without clothes on they hurried back under the blankets, looking at each other from opposing sides of the couch like they had not long before, only completely different.

Nelly put up a smile that seemed to tell a story of its own even though Marc couldn’t read it, her left cheek pulled up in a sleazy, secretive way that fucked with his mind worse than her body ever could have.

„Any regrets?“

Marc nodded, feeling the same kind of smile distort his own face now.

„Yeah, wasting a year of living next to you on another woman.“