I ran out of the men’s locker room as fast as I could.

I threw on my sweaty shorts and t-shirt, and while I knew that I was still soaking wet and my clinging clothes were no longer covering much, I had to get out. I didn’t want any explanations or introductions. I got what I needed, and found out what I wanted to know.

I fucked up, and nothing could change that. And getting caught wasn’t going to improve the situation.

I gathered my bra and panties hastily in a ball in my right fist and checked to make sure I left nothing behind but a trail of wet footprints across the black floor. Behind the closed shower curtain was a spent man with sweet eyes and a naughty smile kneeling in the shower, the taste of my pussy still fresh on his lips.

It was nearly five in the morning and the early birds were going to begin to trickle in. My legs felt shaky and weak from the power of my orgasm, from the fear of getting caught, and from my own brazen boldness as I slipped unnoticed into the empty women’s locker room and dressed quickly. I covered up with my baggy sweats and crammed my wet feet into my sneakers, yanking at the laces. I shoved the rest of my crap into my bag and hurried out of the gym. My cheeks were burning and I could tell that I was flush with a combination of exertion and shame as I passed the front desk, mercifully unseen. The lone employee on that early was talking in low tones on the phone behind a door that was three-quarters closed, and without looking back, I pushed through the glass doors out to a world that had not yet begun to wake up. I shivered in the pre-dawn chill, running to my car and throwing it into gear, putting as much distance between myself and the gym as I could.

There was no point in looking back. I knew I wouldn’t stop even if he had caught up to me. I took the long route home, and as the miles between the strip mall complex and our house added up, my breathing finally returned to normal. By the time I pulled into the yard and killed the engine, I had almost convinced myself that the whole thing had been a dream.

I slipped silently into the house, putting my keys down quietly instead of tossing them onto the chaotic clutter of the breakfast table like I did every other morning. I didn’t linger in the kitchen and dive into a cold container of yogurt or mix myself a protein drink, but I kicked my shoes off by the door and tiptoed barefoot into the bedroom like a thief. I made it to the bathroom without waking Mandy, and when I was safely in the shower with hot water running down my body, I exhaled forcefully, like I’d been holding my breath for hours.

I shut my eyes so hard that I saw spots and stars and flashes behind my lids, but it didn’t keep the images of my current crop of sins from mentally assaulting me.

His sweaty t-shirt clinging to his biceps.

The way he wiped the sweat off of his face with the collar of his shirt.

His smile in response to mine that said all I needed to know about what he wanted to do to me.

The sweet look of shocked surprise when I interrupted his shower.

His hard cock.

His knowing hands.

His willing lips.

I shuddered under the hot water and ran my hands down my body, letting the familiar smell of my own shampoo tether me back to reality. I don’t know how long I stood there just mindlessly soaping and rinsing, soaping and rinsing, but eventually, the flashes of him—and the others before him—stopped filling my head.

A sudden draft of cool air and the sound of the plastic rings sliding on the shower curtain rod startled me, and my eyes snapped open, but I couldn’t turn around. Even when I felt Mandy’s cool hands on my hot, pink skin and her soft breasts pressed against my back, I stayed frozen, my hands frozen flat against my thighs. Her long, supple fingers weren’t content to just stroke my ass, though, but sought out the warmth between them, and reluctantly, I turned and faced my lover.

I kept my head down, my eyes focused on my own bare feet. I let my hair hang around my face like a flame-colored curtain, hoping it would hide my expression and mask the transgression I was sure I wore like a mask. Her knowing hands caressed my breasts, teasing the rosy nipples into hard points, but still I couldn’t look at her. My guilt was palpable in the small, steamy space.

I knew I couldn’t keep acting out on every panicked thought that crossed my mind. I knew I shouldn’t. I kept telling myself that it was just cold feet, and with the wedding only a few weeks away, I was acting out of anxiety. That once we were married and it was done, I’d be happy with being with just one person for the rest of my life.

One woman for the rest of my life.

I tried to remember what it was my therapist said about my apprehensions. It’s okay to feel freaked out; it’s not always okay to act on those feelings.

I looked at my beautiful fiance and smiled. It felt weak and forced, but Mandy’s eyes were as big and brown and as trusting and free of guile as a cocker spaniel’s. Her sleepy face was open for the reading, her whole body aching to love and be loved. A sharp pang of guilt tore through my heart as my lover’s soft lips pressed against my hot, wet neck, even as I felt a new stirring between my legs.

I said the words in my heart. This is the last time, I promise.

I took Mandy’s face in my hands and kissed her. Mandy yielded softly and gently as she always did, her whole body trembling with willing submission and desire. My hand slipped between her soft, slick thighs and parted them, easing her open with practiced skill and finding her already wet and hot. Even then, my mind wandered, and I found myself almost detached from the scene, wondering what it was like to fall so easily, to submit so willingly, to be open and vulnerable in someone else’s hands.

I’ve never felt that.

I turned Mandy around and put her hands against the cool shower walls, spreading her thighs wide and slipping my fingers inside. I ran my free hand over Mandy’s soft ass, tracing the ink lines of the tattoos that adorned her tender flesh, remembering the occasions for most through the soft-focused lens of time.

Mandy spread her legs wider, offering herself, never taking.

I only know how to take.

I thought I had offered my body to the stranger in the locker room. I tried. I could picture myself in the same position, back arched, body eager and hungry, my pussy soaked and aching to be filled. But even as I gently worked my fingers inside her body, stroking her hard little clit and making her tremble with each deep thrust, I felt the gift of it. I knew the difference.

I offered myself to the man in the gym. At least, I tried to. I want to give myself to someone. To be the one who is the gift, who is a present to be opened and enjoyed. I didn’t gave my body to him, and he took me—but that offering was a challenge. I dared him to fuck me. The truth is, I needed him, and so I took.

I offered myself to the artist that runs the quirky little gallery and gift shop on Third Street, and she took me to her studio where I posed for her. She lay me down on an antique fainting couch and spent hours on every part of my body, paying homage to every detail in a way no one ever had. In the end she gave me orgasm after orgasm after thundering orgasm, and I left full, bloated, and sated: full of all she had to give. I left with more than I was able to give.

Mandy only gave. She never asked, or demanded. Her body was a ripe sacrifice, and one that she offered freely and with love every time. Even though I was the one kneeling behind her, pulling her ass to me and using my tongue to make her shake and moan with pleasure, it was only because I wanted her.

I ate her pussy like a ripe fruit newly fallen from its branch, letting her juices run over my chin. She was musky and sweet and tasted like heaven. I licked and sucked, and it was so good. I lost myself in her.

I needed to be able to give to her. I told her I loved her, that I wanted to be with her and her alone forever. I wanted to be her prize, to give myself to her and let her take me and use me, but I just couldn’t.

I don’t know how to give.

I would keep taking from her until she was used up and dry, a wrinkled shell sitting across the breakfast table from me, or lying with her breathing shallow and soft beside me in the night.

My hands were gripping her ass, feeling the fullness of her in my grasp, her flesh squeezing between my fingers as if she couldn’t be contained. It was as if she would always be bountiful and lush, and like a glutton, I was not going to leave the table until I had gorged myself on her.

I shut off the water and wrapped her shaking body in a towel, spinning her around and gluing my mouth to hers. Thick, open lips kissed me back, her tongue seeking mine, tasting herself on me.

I guided her back to our rumpled, shared bed, and lay her down, arranging her pillows and making her comfortable. I was going to dine—to feast on her. Even if it was for one last time.

I covered her body with my own, my desire for her throbbing between my legs as hers went around my back. I could feel her heat and her wet pussy beneath my own, my own small tits flattened against her ample breasts. I kissed her over and over, drowning in her, coming up for air long enough to run my hands through her damp honey-blonde hair and twirl the crimson-tipped ends in my fingertips.

I slid down her body, seeking a hard nipple and drawing it into my mouth. I sucked, making her back arch with pleasure. Her full breasts were more than a handful, spilling out of my grasp, defying me to restrain them. I didn’t try. I kissed them, and made love to the pale nipples. I used my tongue to follow the outline of the Elvish quote that ran along the soft slope of her breast, smiling at the sweet, nerdy girl and the passions I never fully understood.

She shivered as I moved lower, running my hands over the soft curve of her belly and running my nose through her still damp pubic curls. A pair of red cherries tempted me, inked in just above her bikini line and I nibbled them, imagining the much younger woman who was getting her first ink.

She parted her legs for me almost unconsciously, again, offering herself in supplication, longing to give me all the things I desire. I wanted her to take my mouth and my hands as a gift, but I knew I was doing it for me. I wanted to make her writhe, to pant, to lust for me, to ache for more, to cry out with pleasure, so I spread her with my hands, parting her blonde curls and pressing my lips to the pink, quivering clit. I kissed her softly at first, teasing the tender flesh with my tongue. She lay still, not daring to breathe, not wanting to break the electric connection of my butterfly-soft kisses on her most tender spot.

I sucked gently, drawing it between my lips and stroking with my tongue, and she arched again, her hands grasping the wrinkled sheets, her head thrown back against the down-filled pillows. Her hips thrust against me, and I obliged her, sliding my fingers inside. She moaned as I filled her, letting me coax out her orgasm. She didn’t hold it back from me, but forced it into my hands, pressing it on me, begging me to take it from her, wanting to fill my mouth with it and let me swallow it down.

I would take it. I watched her respond to my sucking and licking, watched her beautiful, full body moving of its own accord, letting go of its treasure. Her hands pressed against my hair and she begged me not to stop. I knew she was going to come and I was ready. Her body tensed as the first waves of pleasure struck her, and I felt her throb and pulse around my tongue and fingers as she released to me. I drank of her, a gush and flow of fluid as fresh as the sea. I bathed in it and was baptized by it.

I kept going, lightening my touch, making her move against me, forcing me to take every last bit she had to give, laughing and crying with joy and pleasure.

When she lay still, breathing heavy and deep, I rose from the mattress. She pulled on me, pulling my bare body to hers. She wanted to give more. She reached for me, for my swollen cunt that dripped with longing for her, but I couldn’t let her give me anymore. I kissed her and told her to get ready for work, that she was going to be late, and with a stretch and a giggle, she bounced into the bathroom.

I was too full for words.

I lay still and waited for the sound of the shower to start.

I reached between my legs and with a efficacy born of practice and necessity, I brought myself to a swift and joyless orgasm. And when Mandy left for work, I began to pack.