“He what?” Dani shrilled.
Johanna jumped from her seat on the couch. She rushed to cover the speaker and yelled to her friend in a hushed tone, “Shut up!”
It had the opposite effect. Dani cackled, then fell into a full laugh, which only served to further Johanna's embarrassment.
“I’m never telling you anything again!” Johanna said.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, it’s just too good. Please continue.” Dani said, still laughing.
Johanna huffed. “Absolutely not.”
“If you don’t tell me, I can’t help you.” Dani said in a mocking sing-song voice.
Johanna sighed. Dani was right, unfortunately. Every time she called, Dani would check on Luke and Johanna’s relationship. Sometimes she offered little tidbits, or an outside perspective that Johanna treasured, but this time the topic was … uncomfortable. Still, Johanna needed the advice and didn't have anyone else to turn to.
“Fine.” Johanna sighed again, closing her eyes as if she could block herself from her own embarrassment.
“Alright, alright. So you two kissed and uh … had fun at the beach, and then?” Dani asked.
“What do you mean nothing?”
“Absolutely, nothing!” Johanna threw her hand in the air and then let it land with a loud slap on her thigh. “He hasn’t touched me all week, and we haven't talked about what happened. When we go to bed we just cuddle, that’s it.”
“What the hell?”
“Now you see my dilemma.” Johanna said, leaning her head back against the couch.
There was a slight ruffle on the line, before Dani spoke. “Okay, let’s start from the top. Tell me what happened one more time.”
“He told me he loved me, I kissed him, he kissed me back, and then we … you know.” Silence greeted her. “If you start laughing again, I’m hanging up.”
“No, no. But you have to see it from my point of view. The two of you are better than reality television.”
Johanna rolled her eyes at that.
“Okay, so he told you he loved you. Did you say it back?” Dani asked.
Johanna paused, then squeezed the bridge of her nose. “No … I just reacted.”
“That’s not the worse thing in the world. If you weren’t ready to say it—”
“I was! I mean, I am.” Johanna took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I love him, Dani. I love him so much.”
The pitch of Dani’s voice elevated slightly, and she sounded like she was smiling. “Okay, that’s good. Are you sure there’s nothing else?”
“Well…” she gulped. “There were things Luke said he wanted.”
“Oh? What things?”
Johanna remembered in vivid detail what Luke had said, the exact list, word for word of what he wanted from her, and she also knew she could never say those things out loud.
“Me,” she said finally, pulling at her shirt. Johanna fanned her chest as the memory heated her skin and set a surge of wetness to her core. “He said he wanted me, and I’ve since told him multiple times that he has me, but he still won’t touch me, and I don’t know what else to do.”
Dani groaned. “It will never stop to amaze me how dense the two of you are.”
“It’s the truth. You used to think it was impossible for anyone to love you, truly love you after they got to know you. You’re better with that now, but it's still a daily struggle, and Luke is the same way. The only difference is he still blames himself for what happened to you.” Dani said.
“Yes he does." Dani said, a note of disappointment in her tone. "He hasn’t said anything to me about it, but the both of you are stubborn. Once either of you get an idea in your head it takes a long time for you to let go of it, unless you have irrefutable proof.”
Johanna opened her mouth to reject that idea, then paused. Dani was right. “What do I do?”
“I think even if you had told Luke you loved him, he wouldn’t believe you, not at first anyway. So if he won’t believe you when you say it, show him. The same goes for this whole, possessive, ‘I’m yours’ thing.”
Johanna bit her lip as she fussed with the material of her shirt again. It was a good idea and it wasn’t something she had tried, but that was a new world for her. “How do I show him?”
Dani made a soft hiccup of delight, then said, “Ah, my friend. Let me teach you the art of seduction.”