[Spoilers!] “After the Bridge” Deel 4 / Part 4

Cassandra Clare heeft het vierde deel van haar nieuwe korte verhaal After the Bridge (met Jem en Tessa) gedeeld. Het vijfde en laatste deel volgt waarschijnlijk morgen.
Spoilers voor Clockwork Princess.

Cassandra Clare has shared the fourth part of her new short story After the Bridge (with Jem and Tessa). The fifth and final part will probably follow tomorrow.
Spoilers for Clockwork Princess.

 

Part 4

* * *

Jem had the feeling that later his hands would sting (he’d never torn a corset apart before), but at the moment, he could feel nothing but Tessa. She was sitting astride his hips, her eyes wide, her hair pouring down over her bare shoulders and breasts. She looked like Venus rising out of the waves, with only the jade pendant to cover her, shining against her skin.

“I think,” she said, her voice gone high and breathy, “that I need you to kiss me now.”

He reached up to draw her down, catching hold of her slender shoulders. He rolled them over so that he was on top of her, balanced on his elbows, careful of his weight. But she didn’t seem to mind. She adjusted herself under him, curving her body to fit his own. The softness of her breasts pressed against his chest and the hollow of her hips was a cup to hold him and her bare toes ran down his calves.

He made a dark, needy sound low in his throat, a sound he barely recognized as coming from himself. A sound that made Tessa’s pupils expand, her breath come quickly. “Jem,” she said, “please, Jem,” and she turned her head to the side, pillowing her cheek on her unbound hair.

He bent over her. This much they had done together, before. This much he remembered. That she liked to be kissed in a line down her throat, and that if he followed the shape of her collarbone with his mouth she would cry out and dig her hands into his back. And if he had been terrified of what came next — not knowing what to do, or how to please her — it was washed away in the rush of her responsiveness: her soft cries as he ran his hands down her legs and kissed her chest and stomach.

“My Jem,” she whispered as he kissed her. “James Carstairs. Ke Jian Ming.”

No one had called him by his birth name in over half a century. It was as intimate as a touch.

He wasn’t entirely sure how the rest of their clothes were discarded, only that somehow they were lying on the wrecked remnants of her silk dress and petticoats. Tessa was not soft and pliant under him as he had long ago imagined but responsive and demanding, lifting her face to be kissed over and over, running her hands over him, each brush of her fingers igniting sparks in nerve endings he had feared long dead.

It was so much better than he had imagined. He was surrounded by her, her smell of rosewater soap and her soft skin and her implicit trust. It was not only that she trusted him not to hurt her; it was more than that. She trusted that his inexperience would not matter, that nothing mattered except that it was the two of them and they had always sought to make the other one happy. When he faltered and said, “Tessa, I don’t know how to —“ she whispered against his mouth and placed his hands where they should go.

A sort of lessoning, but the gentlest he had ever received, and the best. He had not quite ever imagined this, that their responses would be mirrored, that her pleasure would magnify his own. That when he slid his hands up her legs she would wrap them around his waist of her own accord. That every thought would flee from his head except for the feel of her under him and then around him as she guided him to where he needed to be.

He heard himself cry out as if from a distance as he buried himself in her. “Tessa.” He clutched at her shoulders as if grasping for the shreds of his control. “Tessa, oh God, Tessa, my Tessa.” Coherency had left him completely. He babbled something else as well, not in English any more, he didn’t know what, and he felt her tighten her arms around him.

He was breathing in gasps as he moved, struggling for the last shreds of his control. His eyes were closed; light blazing behind his lids. So much light. He struggled desperately to hold onto himself, not wanting it to be over, not yet. He heard Tessa’s voice, whispering his name; they were so close, closer than he had ever believed possible. Her hands slid down his body to grasp at his waist. There was a thin line of concentration between her eyebrows; her cheeks were bright scarlet, and when she tried to say his name again, a ragged gasp swallowed it up. One of her hands flew to her mouth and she bit down hard on her fingers as her body tightened around him.

 It was like a match to tinder. The last remnant of his control evaporated. He buried his face against her neck as the light behind his eyes fractured into kaleidoscopic colors. He had carried the darkness of the Silent City with him even when he had left the Brotherhood. And now she had opened his soul and let in the light, and it was brilliant.

He had never imagined this. He had never even imagined imagining this.

When he came back to himself, he found he was still gripping her tightly, his head bowed down on her shoulder. She was breathing softly and regularly, her hand in his hair, stroking, murmuring endearments.

He drew away from her reluctantly, rolling to arrange the two of them so that they were lying face to face. Most of the daylight was gone; they looked at each other in a dim twilight that softened all harsh edges. His heart was beating hard as he reached out to swipe his thumb across her lower lip.

“Are you all right?” he said, hoarsely. “Was that —“ He broke off, realizing to his horror that the brilliance in her eyes was tears. One rolled down her cheek, unchecked.

“Tessa?” He could hear the wild panic in his own voice. She gave him a quick, trembling smile, but then that was Tessa. She would never show disappointment. What if it had been awful for her? He had thought it was amazing, perfect; he had thought his body would break in pieces from feeling so much bliss at once. And he had thought she had responded, but what did he know? He cursed his own inexperience, his hubris, and his pride. What had made him think he could —

She sat up, leaning over the coffee table, her hands doing something he couldn’t see. Her unclothed body was outlined in the twilight, unbearably beautiful. He watched her with his heart stuttering. Any moment now she would stand up and pull on her clothes, would tell him that she loved him, loved him always but not that way. That theirs was not a passion, but a friendship.

And he had told himself that he could bear that, before he had come to the bridge to confess himself. He had told himself that he could take her friendship and nothing else, that it was better than not being near her at all.

But now that he knew, now that they had shared their breath and bodies and souls, he could no longer step back. To be only her friend, never to touch her again, would tear him into a million pieces. It would be more agony than the heavenly fire had ever been.

She turned back to him, holding something in her hands.

“Jem?” she said.

(TO BE CONTINUED WITH ONE FINAL PART TOMORROW)

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