Color image of tide rolling in near pier with bright sun

By the Sea, Part 3: The Tide

“The Tide” is the final installment in a three-part series. Click here to read part one, “By the Sea,” or here to read part two, “Driftwood.”


Anya came to him shouting, bounding across the shore, the wind catching her hair and the sand battering the soles of feet she’d stripped from her sandals before she left them in the backseat of her car. Her belly was tight from such a well of emotion she felt she could blow like the wind, one way, then another, but she didn’t want to ignore the pain in her side anymore, the bruises on her arms that she’d stared at, long and hard, sure this was it. This was now.

They met in a collision so forceful it seemed contrary to all they’d been—their chests slamming tight, their mouths wild, their hands seeking one another, needing one another, puffs of breath spilling from their lips as they clung. Josh kissed away the drops rolling from the corners of Anya’s eyes, and she smoothed her thumbs over the line of his brow, both of them whispering their love and their tales as the wind kicked up the water once more. This time the sea didn’t sing to them, but for them, washing onto the shore and summoning them close, then retreating to leave the smooth spread of sand upon which they were meant to lay.

Color image of tide rolling in near pier with bright sun

Birute Vijeikiene ©

Once Josh drew back from her, he cupped the sides of her face. She thought maybe she was crazy, or they were completely out of their minds—but when his palms, warm and sweet, held her tight, Anya knew this was right, knew the shivering inside was part of the course, part of their fairy tale. One cannot have joy without pain, and they had surely had theirs—she saw the trouble in Josh’s eyes that melted when he looked at her, felt the certainty brimming between them as he pressed his lips to hers, kissing her like he never wanted her to leave again. Like he never would, either. She leaned hard against him and his knees gave, taking them down to the wet shore, and Josh pulled her onto him until she straddled his hips and felt the power she found with him. With him she wasn’t broken, afraid, or weak. She was everything she wanted to be, everything she could be, and as he arched up against her Anya felt the way his body told her this, and the desire in the trail of his hands over her skin. She kissed him as they both fumbled with his shirt, and once he shrugged it off his shoulders she lifted her dress up over her head. He gasped, for she’d come naked beneath, not wanting anything to stop them this time, both of their lives discarded to leave only them, this moment, this truth they’d sought. When Josh spread kisses over her breasts and eased out of his pants, she’d never felt more alive, more real, than they were now.

They had come here many times, but never had they done this, naked here, so open, so free. The waves crested and swelled, reassuring them, dancing in the sway of the wind as Josh ran his hands up her sides, lovingly touching her scars. Anya leaned back above him, letting him see all of her. For so long they’d snuck here in the dark, their short visits a rush to touch, to kiss, to move together before time slipped away and they were forced to leave each other once more—but now, she imagined that time stood still as Josh stroked her skin, then thumbed the split of her folds. They murmured there with wanting sighs, hungry and needy but slow in their caresses, until finally Anya could wait no more. She guided him into her, and Josh groaned at the touch of her hand, at the silky feel of her encircling him tight. And once Anya began to move above him, digging her knees into the sand and rolling her hips to take him deeper inside, her body quaked with the choice they’d made. They rode it gleefully, confidently, their excitement filling the moans that carried onto the wind, surrounding them in a chorus that stirred the pleasure in her, stronger this time, lifting her soul like it always had with him. Anya closed her eyes but Josh slipped his fingers into her mouth, drawing her gaze as she shuddered above him. The spasms of her cunt gripped him, urged him, made him mutter words of love before he, too, came, and she fell over him there on the sand, their bodies hot and slick, shaking with this new union, this wholly different love they’d opted to share—theirs and theirs alone. When their breaths slowed she peeled herself off him, trailing a finger down his chest and smiling at the mirrored trace he made over her belly and along her leg.

“We’re going to be happy,” he said. “I know it.”

She nodded and took his hand, pulling both of them up from the shore. They were covered in sand so Josh led her forward, into the water they’d never dared go before. The waves licked at their feet as they walked into it, and Anya squealed at how cold it was against her skin. Josh cupped it and splashed it over her before she did the same right back, and then the two of them ventured until their legs were submerged, the water cocooning their calves, knees, and thighs, the current so strong it tried to rock them from their stance but failed as they wrapped their arms around one another, kissing there, close.

“This is real,” Josh said. “We’re real. And I think we’re going to be okay.”

Okay echoed in Anya’s ears and she closed her eyes, loving that Josh’s lips came soft again, peppering her upper lip, then the bottom one, before he kissed her full and strong.

Maybe he was right and they would be. Or, maybe they wouldn’t. But Anya knew what surged between them was magnificent like the tide—here now, loud now, sweeping up against their legs as they held one another beneath the moon that had hardly waned. It was as if it had lingered well past its reign to see how the next part of their story began, smiling upon the embrace that molded them together, and sending the wind to kiss their cheeks and gust around them with a whistle of encouragement that had been there all along.

B/W image of driftwood on beach at sunset

By the Sea, Part 2: Driftwood

“Driftwood” is the second installment of a three-part series. To read the first installment of “By the Sea,” click here.


When Josh told Anya he loved her, she didn’t just hear the words but felt them, little drops of rain kissing her cheeks to ease a storm that bent trees against a backdrop of lightning and dark, tumbling clouds. The phrase was a breath that moved through her, filling her up, making her whole. When she said it back, the movements between them grew deeper, sweeter, their bodies playing to it, for it, dancing as if to a symphony.

This night, they climbed the pier, Josh whistling as the wind blew Anya’s dress up and aside, giving him a view of where he’d just been, where she’d craved him. She’d surprised him when he met her, aching more this time, grasping at his hands and running them over her as they tangled themselves on the shore and he found the liquid desire already soaking the short curls of her sex. This had made him moan and bury his face between her thighs, lapping at her as she hooked her ankles around his back. He’d whispered of her salty musk, of the sweet pool he wanted to crawl into and live in for an eternity if he could only find a way in. When he rocked forward with every thrust of his tongue, the motion sang a lullaby that built within her, making her shudder at the slide of his fingers inside. He rubbed fervently, urgently, at the bud of nerves that craved his touch, never retreating until she bucked and thrashed against the sandy floor. And when Anya had let out her cry, he’d hardly waited to slide inside her, filling her with a lusty groan that left them laying there afterward winded and surprised at how it could seem better. Familiar. Perfect.

So when they reached the top of the dock and toppled to the damp boards like two clumsy children, Josh curled himself with Anya all over again, resting his head in her lap and staring up at her while she fondled the tousled strands of his hair. Tonight the surf barely made a sound, the white crests absent from view, the water lazily slapping the piles that held this stoop up beneath them, propping them in some version of solidity they didn’t really have. A solitary seagull flew overhead, letting out its caw, and she tilted her eyes up to watch it coast through the black ocean above while her fingers stayed laced in Josh’s hair.

B/W image of driftwood on beach at sunset

Mark Shreves ©

“What if we were real?” he asked, and Anya thought she saw the stars twinkling, heard them telling her yes, heed this question. This one is very good. It loomed between them, rife with wonder, complication. She heard his breath, a low raspy sound that made her imagine what it would feel like to sleep beside him like they did only once, the night they’d somehow managed escape and tumbled through the door of a cheap seaside motel. He’d had his hands beneath her skirt before the door was shut completely, his lips sweet on hers, kissing away everything, whispering of how much he loved her, how he had counted the minutes until they would see one another. It was as he found her hips that he confessed she made him feel alive, like they were the only two people in the world who understood one another. Anya had lifted her head in eager agreement, both of them falling to the bed, clutching at one another, needing each other more than anything. They’d made love again and again, their bodies never drifting apart in the moments between until they fell asleep to the occasional whoosh of a car on the lonely, coastal road outside. She’d dreamt of taking his hand and running into the sea, splashing and laughing like she remembered doing once long before, when she was young.

Josh squeezed her tighter with the arm he’d weaved around her waist, and drew her back with the slip of his hand up her side until he could circle her neck and reach his fingers into her hair. She’d felt this same hold not a day before from someone else, those fingers rough, tugging her to see his face, and she’d barely moved her head in muted agreement, for any other answer would never do. She had lain there, silent, smothered, kissing without kissing, her mind dancing off to remember these fingers. Josh’s fingers. They were soft, gentle pads sketching love on her scalp, reminding her that both of them were happy, here by the sea.

“What if we were?” she asked. Anya tore her eyes away from that wafting bird to the look shining in Josh’s eyes that she’d seen before. The moon was out again tonight, not as bright, but lighting his face enough to show the deep lines in his forehead from trying in his other life, and his pupils spreading like oil in the middle of two vast blue lakes. The question was as difficult for him as it was for her, because—despite his love for her and the way he came to Anya desperate for something warm, something real—to leave his life would rain a storm of agony on someone else, a fragile, loveless truth they’d avoided speaking of for some time.

Josh rolled into her lap, his body warm, so warm, knees curling up into his chest so that they grazed her hip as his arms encircled her waist. His breath fell hot through the fabric of her dress, stirring her in spite of the gravity of their words, the tenuous sanctity they shared between them. Would it be the same if they were real? Would she feel the same for him, and him for her?

Would they be better?

“I think we’d be happy,” he said.

“Do you?” Anya didn’t want to break it, this raft carrying them along.

Josh lifted his head. He grabbed her skirt and pressed it up, exposing her to the humid air as he rested his head back on her thigh and peered with a wisp of a smile at the wetness between her folded legs.

“Don’t you?”

She wanted to believe him. Wanted to believe the disruption they’d cause would be worth it, that the love between them would build and overcome, powerful like the sea. Josh dipped further into her lap, his mouth grazing the tender swell of her clit. Then he puckered his lips and blew a stream of air over her, until Anya tilted back her head with a quiet moan.

Maybe it would. Maybe they could.

“I want this. You, Anya,” he said. “Don’t you see how much I love you?”

Josh pressed his mouth flush against her, his tongue swirling as he took her hips in his hands, and she trembled while the sea churned rhythmically beneath them.


To read the final installment of “By the Sea,” click here.

Sepia lowlight image of woman faced away, wearing garter belt.

Flash Fiction: “A Taste”

She’s been waiting her whole life for him, she thinks, and she raises the coffee to her lips.

They’ve been eyeing one another across this diner for the better part of an hour, all while he’s pretended to read his paper and eat his late night bacon and eggs, and she’s forgotten to finish the soup that grew cold not long after she ordered it. She’s been distracted by the rules skipping through her head—don’t stare too much, cross your legs like a lady, don’t forget to eat with your mouth closed—but with the gazes they keep casting back and forth, she doesn’t think these things are really all that important anymore.

Anna pays her check and rises from her booth. She imagines she’ll be the first to leave. That he’ll follow her outside, giving her a moment to reflect on whether he’s stalking her, and if she’s supposed to run. Or if instead she should give away everything she’s actually feeling—the unsteady ticking of her heart inside the safe housing of her chest, the unusual race of her once regulated breathing, or, more than that, the heat that’s slickened at the peak of her thighs, making all this thought a perilous landscape of impossible, inexplicable desire.

But the man is the first to leave. He walks right by her, deliberately meeting her gaze. The brush of his hand on hers cannot be a coincidence, nor the look in his heavy-lidded eyes. And so it’s Anna who follows him outside, Anna who walks in measured steps behind him, Anna who glances up at the stars, just once, reminding herself how small she is in this world as he turns the corner and she’s left to decide one way or another.

Don’t talk to strangers, her mama said.Sepia lowlight image of woman faced away, wearing garter belt.

But mama’s been dead a long time now.

Anna finds him leaning against the backside of the building, staring beyond the edge of the bluff at the water below, where the waves ebb and flow like the surge in her veins. In her head, as she comes to face him, she anticipates the things he might ask of her. What’s your name? Why have you followed me? What are you looking for tonight?

He asks none of this. What he does is take her wrist and pull her to him, so that her breasts are flush with his chest and he’s breathing down over her face. She believes he’s asking for her approval, which she gives in the one kiss they will share—their lips merging, opening, exchanging the bitter trace of coffee, the hint of greasy bacon, and the sweet, sweet taste of spit. His hands are on her ass, molding her flesh, squeezing her closer. She welcomes this, then the way he swings her round to face the building, sliding behind her so his entire body lines her back. Anna gasps when his fingers slip under her skirt, because now he knows just how anxious she’s been for this. For him. Never show a man how much you care she remembers, but his fingers are in her, riding up and hot in the wet desire she doesn’t know how to hide. His teeth find her neck as he wedges her tight to the wall, and Anna’s open mouth grazes the fading building finish. She tongues the wood as he unfastens his pants, then the salty air that kisses her lips and makes her feel alive when he presses his cock to her ass.


This is the murmur she’ll remember him by, a quiet, desperate groan that elicits the wild bob of her head. We don’t take risks. Good girls don’t take risks she’d been told, but as he drives inside she wants nothing more than to risk it all, again and again. Every thrust of his cock brings another moan, another moment, another physical expression she held buried so far inside. She spreads her fingers on the building and arches her back, letting him sink deeper, closing her eyes while the waves sing behind them and he moves faster inside her. He bites her neck again, surely tasting the glisten of sweat that’s broken out along her chin. Her body shakes when he slides a finger in her mouth and she closes her lips around it, the taste of her cunt on his skin. She’s only partially surprised she comes before he does, her whimpers preceding the muffled grunts he makes into her hair. He fills her with the honest, heated greeting of a perfect stranger.

For a minute, they stand like this, Anna smashed between his body and the building. His come is seeping out around his slowly softening shaft, dripping onto the panties barely pushed aside before he marked her as who she really is. Who she’s wanted to be.

The man places a kiss on the edge of Anna’s mouth. It’s tender and indifferent all at once, but she understands the intention behind it, what he’s learned, too. Thank you.

She is still standing against the wall after he tucks himself away, pausing like he’s supposed to, waiting to see if she wants to say something, or if there’s anything else she needs. But there isn’t.

When he’s gone, Anna spins around, her back to the building as the chaos of her belly becomes a soothing warmth that brings a smile to her face.

She’s never taken a risk before.

And she’s been waiting her whole life for this one.

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