All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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SOC: How do I live the life I deserve to live?

This post was written as a Stream of Consciousness on Tuesday 8 September 2015 between 9:52 – 10:24am. Apologies for any grammatical or spelling errors that occur throughout, they are part and parcel of stream of consciousness writing.

Federation Square Abstract

Before going on holiday, I was apprehensive. Melbourne has been the staging ground of some of the worst, most abhorrent, actions that have ever been inflicted upon me.

It was in Melbourne where I was emotionally abused to the point of suicide and homelessness; emotional abuse that cost me my tertiary education, my income, my social and support network, every possession I’d ever owned and left me a terrified, hollowed out shell of the person I once was; emotional abuse that has caused a lifetime of lost opportunities and trauma of the like I’ve never before, or since, experienced.

It was in Melbourne where I found myself homeless, eking out an existence on the streets of Victoria’s capitol, scrounging for food in bins, begging for loose change on the streets, and doing whatever I could to survive in spite of my new-found station in life as the world’s biggest loser. This too caused untold psychological damage and trauma that I haven’t even begun to deal with.

It was in Melbourne where I was physically assaulted, not once, not twice, but several times. On some occasions I was doing nothing but sitting in a park when a gaggle of alcohol/drug fueled sociopaths set upon me for their own entertainment. On other occasions the assaults were warranted; when I intervened upon seeing a boyfriend beating up his girlfriend, when I refused to hand over money in a run-down boarding house. But whether warranted or not, each assault inflicted emotional damage, each assault traumatized me.

So before going on holiday I was apprehensive. How easily would my traumas be triggered? What emotional pain would I find myself revisiting? How would I control the surge of PTSD symptoms that would inevitably overpower me? How much of my holiday would be lost to the memories of nightmares past?

So colour me surprised when nothing happened. Walking around the Kings Domain, my old ‘home’ throughout my homelessness, brought back memories, but they didn’t come close to overwhelming me as much as I thought they would. Traipsing around my old haunts of Carlton and Fitzroy, major locations throughout my abusive relationship, became more nostalgic than triggering. Even lazing around the city’s alleyways and open spaces, key locations of my various assaults, were more relaxing and subdued than nightmarish or painful. The PTSD that I expected to overwhelm me was only a problem for a brief few hours, brought on by tiredness and exhaustion instead of memories and triggers. And even when the PTSD overwhelmed me, I was able to control it, I was able to occupy my mind with beautiful art or a canister of Cherry Coke, instead of losing myself to the pain of times past.

All of my fears. All of my apprehension. All of my nervousness about Melbourne. Everything I feared proved unnecessary; a complete waste of energy.

My time in Melbourne, rather than being a carefully balanced nightmare of trauma and psychological distress, was a wonderful escape from the terror that (usually) dominates my mind. It was not Melbourne that I should have been afraid of…it was Wodonga.

Since my return two weeks ago, I have been so stressed, so wound up, so overcome with nervous energy, that I’m surprised I haven’t had a heart attack! Not a single minute, not a single second, has seen me as calm, relaxed and happy as I was in Melbourne. I’ve just been well and truly overwhelmed by anxiety, by depression, by PTSD symptoms and the resultant stress that these conditions create.

Hours have been lost to violent, volatile conversations with the ghost of my abuser. There are no triggers in this town of her sociopathic narcissism. There are no reminders of the vile, cruel attacks that she used to direct upon me. But flashbacks, reliving and nightmares have dominated since I returned to this quiet, sleepy little town.

In Melbourne, I was regularly walking past hundreds of people a minute, but not once (not once) did my anxiety present any problems with this. There were no anxiety attacks. There were no panic attacks. There was just me, losing myself into the breathing heart of the city. But since my return, the anxiety has reigned supreme. Within an hour of returning I walked to the supermarket, passed one person, and suffered a crippling panic attack that left me a jittery, bawling wreck on the side of the road. Hundreds of people in Melbourne I could deal with; but one person in Wodonga overwhelmed me.

Throughout my week in Melbourne depression never entered the equation. I was happier than I’d been in years. I was skipping down the street, singing songs to myself and, unless I was taking selfies (I never smile in photographs), had a stupid grin plastered to my face. But back in Wodonga? I don’t remember how to smile; I walk around with a glum and gloomy expression on my face because happiness has escaped my soul; replaced with a dark, black, bleakness as I topple on the abyss between life and death.

I never once though of ending my life when I was in Melbourne; but since being back in Wodonga, the suicidal thoughts have returned, overpowering my belief that I’m a decent person and leaving me convinced that this world, and everyone in it, would be better off without me. After all, what do I bring to the world? What magic do I pass on to the lives of others? I’m just nothing. A nobody. This world would be better off without me. That I’m convinced of; when I’m in Wodonga.

And that is the crux of the issue, the life lesson that my holiday in Melbourne taught me; the major problem in my life isn’t my anxiety, isn’t my PTSD, it isn’t my depression, bipolar or suicidal ideation. My major problem in life is Wodonga, this sleepy hamlet where there is nothing to do, nothing to feed my passions and nothing to occupy the cravings of my mind. For me to get better, for me to recover, for me to live the life I deserve to live, I need to leave this place. And I need to leave soon, before the stress-caused heart attack strikes and I am taken from this world forever.

But how?

How does someone living in abject poverty move house?

Yes, I’ve reached the conclusion that I need to leave this suffocating town, but there is no way I can. The money I receive from the government doesn’t  cover my costs as it is. Last week I had to humiliate myself at the food bank as I couldn’t afford to feed myself. Whilst I’m walking around with a hole in the crotch of my jeans so big that I can put my hand through it, but the measly DSP I receive won’t allow for the cost of a new pair. So how do I realise my realisation and leave this unhealthy place when I can’t afford accommodation, can’t afford deposits, can’t afford anything?

The thought of being trapped here stresses me out something rotten, but that’s exactly when I am; trapped. Enslaved within a town that is damaging and detrimental to my mental health because, as I live in abject poverty, I have no choice of where I live or what I do with my life. Life. I don’t have one in Wodonga. I just have pain and trauma. I just have stress and depression. I could have a life somewhere else. Somewhere like Melbourne or London or Glasgow or Edinburgh or Inverness. Somewhere where my heart would be allowed to sing and I could occupy myself with cultural, artistic and inspirational pursuits. Where I could distract myself from the trauma of my life and allow myself to skip and sing and be happy.

But how?

Before going on holiday I was apprehensive. I thought I would be overwhelmed with pain, but instead I was showered with happiness. The pain came when I returned to the town that I hate; the town that, for better or worse, I have been forced through poverty, through lack of choice, to call home.

A town that will continue to suck the life from me until I’m nothing but the empty, worthless, shell of the man I once could have been.

 


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The day has finally arrived!

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Well, the day has finally arrived. In just a short few hours my support worker will be picking me up to drive me to the train station, where I will board a train that departs for Melbourne, and then…I will be on holiday! For one whole week I will be able to gallivant around Melbourne doing all sorts of exciting, bizarre and wacky things. Art galleries, museums, aquariums…they will all be my oyster! I will get to take random photographs of street art, architecture, the hustle bustle of city life and (of course) the occasional selfie! For seven days I can do whatever I like – or rather, I can do whatever my anxiety and extremely strict budget ($15 a day) allows!

Meadhbh is super excited about the trip. She’s been squealing and babbling for days about all the things we can do in Melbourne. She doesn’t understand the budget may interfere with some of our plans, so there may be a chance she’ll be let down throughout the trip, but it’s nice to have her happy and excited. Audrey, too, is longing to walk the galleries of the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) and check out the numerous laneways that mark Melbourne as the place to be. It’s rare for Audrey to be so excited about something, so it’s nice to know she can get giddy and overwhelmed, instead of being the staunchly stoic person she usually is. Shay, meanwhile, is gagging at the mouth over the sheer number of “quality totty” (his words) that he’ll get to check out (read: perve on) throughout our adventure. Despite his misogyny, it’s wonderful to have him focused on something positive, rather than endlessly pointing out the negatives which is his standard.

Vanessa, however, has been in overdrive. Over the last few days, in the lead up to our holiday, her abuse has been escalating. She’s been quick to point out all the bad things that happened to me in Melbourne, bad things that I will be reminded of as I roam the city and revisit locations from my past. These triggers are things I know she will seize upon; they will cause her to abuse me, to bombard me with critical comments and hurtful words, but I’m hoping my anticipation of her abuse will allow me the strength to ignore it. After all, I’m determined not to have anything (especially Vanessa) ruin my holiday.

Because I don’t have a laptop or smartphone capable of accessing the internet (abject poverty, remember!) it’s doubtful I will be online much over the next several days. I may visit an internet cafe if time (and money) allow, but don’t go expecting many updates or photographs over the next seven days. Know that I will be okay. Know that I will be having a good time. And I promise I’ll update you all on my adventures upon my return. And yes, you can expect a plethora of photographs to decorate your screens when I do have internet access again!

I have a few finishing touches to add to my packing, so will sign off now. Suffice to say, I am exceedingly excited, and can’t wait to board the train!

Wishing you all a happy, safe and healthy week. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! ;)


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Finally, something to look forward to!

The last time I left Wodonga – the town I reluctantly call home – was in November 2013. I have wanted to leave it again ever since.

You see, I’m not the biggest fan of this rather desolate, uninspiring town. There is nothing to do. Nothing to see. Nothing to become passionate about. There are only a scattering of shops selling the same mundane, unessential items and an arts scene so miniature it barely registers. For a place to mean something to me, it needs to challenge me, it needs to inspire me, it needs to take my passion and multiply it ten fold. London does this. Inverness does this. Vancouver does this. Wodonga does not. All Wodonga does is suffocate me. All this insipid, uneventful town does is squeeze the passion from my soul leaving nothing but a hollowed out husk of nothingness.

So, it is with great relief that I can announce I will be leaving Wodonga.

Alas, not forever.

Just for a holiday.

But it is a holiday I’ve been waiting over eighteen months for, and a holiday that I cannot wait to begin. Last week, after months of trying to make it work, I finally got my finances in order (with a lot of help from my parents) to afford a seven-day break to Melbourne. I leave on the 19th August for seven days of fun and frivolity in the capital of Victoria. For seven whole days I get to explore the city, bathe in its culture, soak up its arts and feed the passion that has gone hungry for far too long.

I will be going to the art galleries. I will be going to the museum. I will be going to the ocean. I will be going to Lord of the Fries! I will be going to a gathering on the 21st that will challenge my social anxiety to its core. I will be doing anything and everything my heart desires; everything that it has wanted to do, but Wodonga has prevented, for the last eighteen months.

I cannot wait!

And I’m not the only one.

Meadhbh has been exceedingly excited ever since I booked the accommodation. She’s been throwing in her two cents worth about what we should be getting up to. She’s eager to spend time looking at the awesome street art that decorates many of Melbourne’s alleys and laneways. She’s keen to window shop all the elegant clothing stores that she knows we can’t afford to buy anything from. And she’s made me promise we’ll go to the aquarium to wave at all the fishes, penguins and turtles.

Audrey too is excited about the impending excursion. She, more than me, feels culturally hungry due to the dearth of options available in Wodonga. She loves art and everything to do with this avenue of life, so she cannot wait to roam the corridors of the NGV again, soaking in all the fantabulous art that is on offer. Shay, is keen to check out all the hipster chicks and professional totty (his words) that populate this international destination. He believes there is far more feminine talent on offer in Melbourne than Wodonga and is eager to perve on as many people as he possibly can. Whilst Vanessa, ever the abusive sociopath, is looking forward to reminding me of all the pain and torment that I’ve experienced in Melbourne throughout my years there.

And she’s right. However excited I am about visiting Melbourne, however overjoyed I am at being able to spend some time away from Wodonga, it is not going to be easy. I will be bombarded with memories of not only my abusive relationship but also the years I spent homeless, destitute and forgotten on Melbourne’s fair streets. Those memories may overwhelm me at times, so I’m going to have to be careful, to be alert to triggers and potential minefields, but I refuse – stubbornly so – to let this impact on my first holiday in over a year and a half. Melbourne has been bad to me – but for many years, it was good to me. And it is these memories I hope will float to the surface. After all, I need – nay, deserve – to have a good time.

For it’s been far too long since happiness visited me.

Nine sleeps to go…

 


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25 Songs, 25 Days: Babe, I’m on Fire

Day 06: A song that reminds you of a best friend

Babe, I’m on Fire | Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

hairbrush

To understand Samantha you have to understand one thing; she was a spanking aficionado. She passionately loved everything and anything to do with spanking. She liked looking at spanking art, adored watching spanking movies and cherished being spanked herself. She wasn’t a pain slut. That’s not why she liked being spanked. She liked being spanked because she had a genetic urge to have someone smack her (as she called it) naughty little bottom.

So when we met in Adelaide, when I was lost to the nightmare of a manic phase, and obsessed with slapping as many female posteriors as I could, it was a match made in heaven. Within hours of us meeting she had manipulated herself over my knee for a playful spanking session in the middle of an Adelaidian park. But then she left to continue her travels and my manic self moved on to finding another play partner.

Four months later I was sitting in front of a computer. My manic phase had long since ended and I was consumed with a nightmarish depression. I was homeless. I was destitute. I was lost. Waiting for me when I logged onto Facebook was a message and a friend request. Both were from someone named Samantha Campbell. I had no idea who she was or how she found me, so when I read the message, a beautifully written question as to whether I was the same Andrew Lake who spent the evening with her in Adelaide, I was taken aback. I had little to no memory of Adelaide, especially the time I spent when I was manic. I didn’t accept the friend request, but I did respond to her message, asking for more information. Within days she had responded with an equally beautifully written tale of bottom slapping, endless conversation, spank bets and spanking. She even included photos; photos of me, with a ravishingly beautiful woman she identified as herself. After reading her latest missive, I accepted her friend request.

For months we communicated with each other online, exchanging emails, Facebook posts, comments and endless MSN chats. She filled in my missing memories of Adelaide, we discussed my mental health and dissected what I had been writing on my blog. But we also did other things. We chatted about our mutual love of spanking, we indulged our fantasies with cyber-spanking sessions and shared personal, intimate fantasies we had both been harboring for years. Through these online sessions we became firm friends. She was often the first person I thought of when waking up in my park, and the last person I thought of as I bedded down with my blanket for the night. Unlike every other friend I’d ever had, Samantha knew me, intimately, because I hid nothing from her. Not my mental health. Not my fantasies. Not my kink.

Upon returning to the UK in early 2008 I knew what I wanted to do. Samantha was back in Stirling, studying fashion and design, so I wanted to see her. I wanted us to be face to face, sharing ourselves in person, instead of through fibre-optic cabling. It took months to organise. Months that we spent continuing to chat online, email each other almost daily and getting to know each other on deeper, murkier levels. Nothing she learned about me seemed to phase her. She just accepted it. Accepted me. In April of that year we finally matched our calendars and I jetted off to Glasgow for a reunion with someone I had gotten to know so well. It was awkward at first, but within hours we were comfortable around each other, gleefully playing off each others words, happily teasing and playing in the cultural capital of Scotland.

And no reunion with Samantha would have been complete without spanking playing a pivotal role. She had written to me before we met, asking if I would be willing to help her fulfill a lifelong dream. It took me a while to come around, to be confident enough within myself to perform her desire, but I agreed. And in a hotel, late one evening, I took Samantha over my knee and gave her a jolly good spanking. It wasn’t abuse. It wasn’t assault. It was two consenting adults sharing in a mutual passion. And she (and I) loved every second of it.

In order to mask the noise of our indulgence we hooked up an iPod to play music throughout our session. It was Samantha, always with a heavy sense of irony, who chose the song. And it is a song that – no matter when or where I hear it – reminds me of the time I spanked Samantha Campbell.

It is the anthem of our friendship. A song that fills me with warmth, happiness, joy and contentment. A song that reminds me that, no matter what, it is the people we meet who have the greatest influence on our life. Samantha accepted me for who I was. She didn’t try to change me. She didn’t want me to pretend to be someone different. She wanted me to be Andrew; mental health, kink and all.

That’s why she will always be one of my best friends. If not my bestest friend.

You can read more about my friendship with Samantha in these posts:

~ One Night in Adelaide ~
~ One Day in Glasgow ~
~ Dearest Samantha ~
~ [NSFW] If you care about what other people think, you will always be their prisoner [NSFW] ~
~ [NSFW] I don’t have a dirty mind, I have a sexy imagination [NSFW] ~


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But who can remember pain, once it’s over?

East Beach, Port Fairy

East Beach, Port Fairy © Addy

“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see.”
  ~ Margaret Atwood ~

Seven years ago today I went to Port Fairy to end my life.
Weeks of planning culminated with me sitting on the East Beach with a knife,
my pain having grown too severe for me to deal with.

To this day I can remember with intimate clarity how much I wanted to die,
how much I craved for my insignificant ‘life’ to be over.

Alas, it wasn’t to be.

As I stared out over the Southern Ocean I was reminded of all I would miss,
of the passions that burned in my soul and the desires I’d yet to achieve.

A part of me has always regretted choosing life on that lonely night,
but hidden beneath this regret is pride; of my strength, of my belief,
of my stubborn determination to not let life beat me.

Perhaps one day it will,
but not today.


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Day 08: Love, lust and lots of kisses

It’s been so long since my last kiss I don’t remember how to do it any more. But as my abuser (always the most trustworthy of sources) described my kisses as “atrocious”, “sloppy”, “cringe-worthy” and “worst ever”, perhaps my lack of lips to lock is for the best.

Today, for your amusement, and in no particular order, I present eight of my more memorable kisses.

kiss

“Unless you were born on another planet, have a bizarre hatred of Spider-Man and/or suffer from an allergy to water, you will have re-enacted this scene.”

1. The last time I kissed someone…

The last kiss I received was on 4 February 2009. It was one of those bitter-sweet, over-flowing with emotions kisses that come when you know it’ll be the last time you see someone. The sort of kiss where you lift the woman into your arms, cradle their posterior as they wrap their legs around you and nearly topple to the ground through lack of oxygen as neither of you want it to end. But, of course, it must. So you tear your lips away and utter a pained ‘goodbye’ before watching them walk out of your life, leaving only memories and vanilla lip-gloss to remember they were ever there in the first place.

2. Homage

Unless you were born on another planet, have a bizarre hatred of Spider-Man and/or suffer from an allergy to water, you will have re-enacted this scene with someone you love. How far you go will depend on how authentic you want the experience to be. Fortunately for me, given I don’t look all that hot in skin-tight spandex, I didn’t have to wear the full costume. I did however have to hang myself upside-down from a wall, in the pouring rain, whilst being blinded by a mask (which she ordered me to wear!)

Sure, I nearly broke my neck, but goddamnit I’d do it all over again for a kiss as spectacular as that! :p

3. What the hell am I doing?

We hadn’t exactly chosen the most romantic of movies for our first ‘date’, so perhaps it was the months of boiling over sexual tension that fuelled Kathy and I’s first kiss minutes after leaving the cinema. On some random Fitzroy street we stopped, stared at each other for a few heartbeats and then, whilst fighting back insane anxiety, I cradled her face, leant forward and kissed her. I was shaking. She mistook my chin for my lips (and she had the gall to say my kisses were ‘sloppy’!) I seized a surreptitious butt squeeze in case I never had the chance again. She nibbled my top lip. Then I lifted her off the ground in one of those ‘what the hell am I doing?’ moments.

Regardless of what Kathy did in the following months, including giving me a complex so severe I doubt I’ll ever kiss ‘confidently’ again, I’ll always cherish this beautiful memory.

4. “You taste like cheese,”

The first time I kissed Samantha was in July 2007. In my post One Night in Adelaide, I described it like this:

Given all that had happened, given all the alcohol flowing through our system, given all those pheromones and chemicals, it wasn’t long before we were lying beside a bush with lips locked firmly together.

Courtesy of her orange flavored lip gloss, the ice-cold air and the vodka she’d been consuming all night; kissing her was like taking a long, slow drink of a perfectly brewed alcoholic beverage. As she pulled back, her eyes lingering in the empty space between us, she whispered “Cheese,” and returned for more.

It was me who came up for air next, cradling her head with my left hand. “Cheese?”

“You taste like cheese,”

“I haven’t eaten cheese for days,”

I went to kiss her again, only to have her pull away with a sudden, drunken laugh. “Fuck, why do you taste like cheese?”

Given I still can’t explain why I tasted like cheese – though I suspect alcohol played a part – it’s a good thing Samantha didn’t have a lactose intolerance. We remained in that state of perpetual kissing for a good half an hour until neither of us was feeling the cold around us.

kissing

“On some random Fitzroy street we stopped, stared at each other for a few heartbeats and, whilst fighting back insane anxiety, I cradled her face, leant forward and kissed her.”

5. “You taste like hash browns,”

The last time I kissed Samantha was in April 2008…but I won’t tell you about it just yet for I’m writing a post about that day and don’t want to spoil the surprises :p

Rest assured, hash browns were indeed involved! But what did we do with them? And do you really want to know? :p

6. German lessons

Normally I’m an exceedingly dutiful employee. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t even consider bending the rules or using a position of authority for such illicit gains, but when presented with a woman as beguiling as Annalisa, even the most straight-laced of managers can find themselves doing things they would later never regret.

Six days after arriving in Alice Springs during a period of hypomania, I was, of course, feeling hypersexual. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the rather hot German backpacker Annalisa caught my eye. After hours of flirtatious conversation washed down with copious amounts of the amber liquid, she and I found myself in the only place I had to be private at two in the morning; my office.

Cue hours of exceedingly naughty kissing that would make the current manager want to scrub their office down with hospital grade disinfectant!

7. That’ll show ’em!

Louise and I shared so many incredible kisses that picking out one or two from the tens of thousands we shared is almost impossible. ‘Firsts’  aside (first kiss, first kiss in Australia, first kiss in the shower, first kiss in public, first kiss used to dislodge a rogue piece of spinach etc…) one of the most memorable occurred in early 2001, not long after we met.

I was filming a short film as part of my college course when Louise came wandering to the set to have a peak around. After greeting her with a bashful peck of the lips my cameraman (and fellow film student) urged us to kiss with a little more ‘oomph’. Given we were still in the early days of our relationship I was somewhat nervous when it came to PDAs so hesitated; knowing full well this kiss would be recorded for all eternity and no doubt played for my entire class several (dozen) times.

Louise, however, didn’t hesitate. She grabbed my shirt and yanked me forward, immediately planting a kiss that wouldn’t have looked out-of-place in an R rated movie. Hands were grabbing body parts, teeth were biting lips (and necks), blood was flowing to various body parts and if it lasted a few more milliseconds nudity would have been involved!

Minutes after sending me into a tizzy and steaming up the lens of the camera, Louise broke away from the kiss with a naughty grin, turned to the cameraman, and said “did you get all that, or do we need to go again?”

We did go again, only this time we waited until I returned home several hours later. For obvious reasons! :p

8. The first time I kissed someone…

My first kiss occurred on the 30 December 2000. In a Sunday Stealing post, I described it like this:

I was twenty-two (yeah, I know…it’s all part of the perils of being socially anxious!)

Whilst studying at Inverness College I decided to visit the island of Berneray (in the Outer Hebrides) for a quiet, uneventful New Year. On my first night there a woman named Louise appeared out of the darkness and I was immediately enchanted by her hypnotic eyes, heart-warming smile and excellent posterior.

After a fair amount of flirting throughout the first twenty-four hours we found a drinking game stashed away on the hostel bookshelf and began playing. Somewhat tipsy we took a break and I went outside for a cigarette (at the time I was smoking cherry menthol rolling tobacco with liquorice papers) and she stood there staring at me with a cheeky grin on her face.

“Could I kiss you?” She said, awaiting a response.

Nervous to the extreme – but desperately wanting to lock lips  – I nodded yes and she took a few steps closer, tossed the cigarette to the ground and threw herself upon me as if suddenly possessed by a voracious kissing demon. After a few uncertain moments she pulled back and looked at me, completely aware my entire body was shaking uncontrollably.

“You’re shaking,” She whispered, rubbing my arms.

“Sorry, it’s…I…well…I’ve never…kissed anyone…before,”

She smiled sweetly and started kissing me again, much more slowly, not caring one bit that I was doing my best vibrator impersonation.

kisses

“As she pulled back, her eyes lingering in the empty space between us, she whispered “Cheese,” and returned for more.”