“With all this ass strolling around, you’ve got to be happy Christine got the flu.” Derek scanned the beach, rubbing his palms together. “Man, am I glad I’m wearing loose shorts.”
Matt grinned. The beach was swamped with chicks playing volley ball, flying kites and sunning themselves on colourful towels, all in tiny bikinis. Spring break was definitely a nice change from back home where the snow still lay three inches thick.
“Happy is not the right word,” he said. “But maybe…”
“Freaking fucking overjoyed,” Derek slapped Matt’s shoulder, “Come on, let’s get some beer.”

Hours after the sun had set, everyone gathered around bonfires. Derek was using the beer case they’d bought as a chair, and Matt sat next to him in the sand. They clinked bottles.
“To getting some action,” Derek said, emptying his bottle in one drag, then pulling out a fresh one from the case beneath him.
Matt heard a muffled voice behind him and turned, squinting into the darkness toward the sand dunes. There were two shadows on top of each other, rolling in the sand. He turned back again. Somebody getting lucky, no doubt. Then he heard the same voice again, but this time whimpering. Was she crying? A guy grunted and the girl cried out. Matt got up, turned toward the dunes.
“Take my beer, would you?” He held the bottle out to Derek.
“What’s up?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think that girl likes what’s happening.”
Derek turned, too, got up from his chair. “Where?”
Matt nodded toward the sand dunes. They both screwed their bottles into the sand and left the bonfire. They were big, broad-shouldered boys, trim for the football season.
“Hey,” Matt shouted. “What’s going on?”
Again came the whimpering voice. “Stop, let me go.”
“Come on, you know you wanna…” the guy said.
His words sent both Matt and Derek running. Matt got there first and pulled the guy up by the shoulders. “Hey man, she said no. Are you deaf?”
“Get the fuck off me,” the guy shouted, his arms flapping around him to hit whoever was pulling him away. Matt pushed him down in the sand. “Jerk.”
The guy scrambled to his feet, then ran into the dunes.
“And stay gone, you hear? You fucking pussy.” Derek shouted after him.
Matt went to the girl. She was trying to get her bikini-bra back on, tears streaming from her eyes. He turned away, then took off his T-shirt and handed it back to her. “Are you okay?”
She was sniffling when he turned again, drying her eyes with the back of her hand “Thanks. I’m okay now. Thanks for helping me.” Then as if she just realised what had happened, she started sobbing again, wrapping her arms around her knees.
“Hey, it’s okay.” Matt sat down next to her, put his arm around her. “It’s okay.” She was petite, disappearing in his big white T-shirt. “Are you here with a friend? Is there someone I can call?”
The girl nodded. “Jennine. She’s supposed to be around.”
“Derek, go and see if you can find a girl called Jennine.”
A few minutes later, Derek came back followed by a tall brunette.
“Oh my God, Sofia, are you okay?” The brunette ran toward the girl next to Matt.
He stood up and went to Derek, hands in pockets, not quite sure what to do. “We’ll be by the fire if you need us, okay?”

About an hour later, Matt and Derek were still by the fire. A deep bass poured from portable speakers. Derek slapped Matt’s shoulder again. He’d done that twenty times since they came back. “Cheers to a hero.”
“Hey.”
Matt felt a tap on his shoulder and turned around. Behind him stood a stunning blond, her hair in a loose ponytail. She wore a short black skirt and a flowery tank-top.
“Thank you for letting me borrow this.” She held out his T-shirt.
“Sofia?” he asked, feeling stupid that he hadn’t recognised her. “Are you feeling better?”
She smiled, all signs of crying hid under a new perfect layer of make-up. “Yeah, I’m sorry I cried so much.”
Matt didn’t even notice the tall brunette behind Sofia, but Derek did. He got up from his chair, beaming at her. “Wanna sit? Hey, wanna beer?” The girls nodded but didn’t move to sit.
“I’d like to buy you a beer somewhere nice if you’d like? To say thanks,” Sofia said.
“Sure.” Derek nodded, letting his eyes rest on the four beers left in the case. There was no reason to leave perfectly good beer behind. “What do you say, we have one last one here and move on?” He threw one to each of the girls, then one to Matt accompanied with an exaggerated wink.

They went to the Eastern Paradise Bar where reggae-rhythms filled the air. The girls had exotic drinks, Matt and Derek had pints.
“Wanna dance?” Jennine asked Derek in a throaty voice as if she was really asking him to fuck her.
“Yeah.” Derek took her hand and followed her to the dancefloor.
Sofia sipped from her drink and sent Matt an apologetic look. “It’s not that I don’t like you, but I have a boyfriend back home.”
“It’s alright. I have a girlfriend.”
“Really?” Her face lit up. “I’m so happy. I mean it’s really difficult here.”
“Tell me about it.” Matt took a swig of his beer to hide the look he’d sent her smooth suntanned thigh.
Sofia moved closer. “Tell me about her.”
“Who?”
“Your girlfriend.”
“Right. Her name’s Christine…”

The bar was crowded. Sofia was practically sitting on Matt’s lap, pink drink in her hand. His arm was around her waist where her top parted from the skirt, and his fingers caressed her skin whenever she moved. She moved a lot. For the past hour, he’d tried very hard not to think about that soft skin, not to imagine lying next to it, touching the parts still untanned.
She was having the same thoughts, he was sure. She kept touching his hand, bumping her knee against his thigh. They’d gone dancing twice, and the way her ass swayed made him sweaty. She knew exactly what to do. Even if she kept talking about that boyfriend back home.
“Thank God, I met someone in the same boat as me,” she repeated for the umptieth time and slugged back the last drops of her pink drink.
They hadn’t seen Jennine and Derek for hours when they suddenly swung by the table. Jennine’s lipstick was smeared across Derek’s lips.
“Is it okay if I use our room tonight?” Jennine asked Sofia in a breathless manner that left Matt certain she was seconds from an orgasm.
“Jennine.” Sofia’s eyes narrowed, her jaw tightening. “Where am I supposed to sleep then?”
“Come on. It’s just a couple hours till dawn anyway.”
“I’ll be gone at the crack of dawn.” Derek nodded solemnly.
“You can crash at our place.” Matt regretted the words the second they left his lips. As if he needed more temptation.
Sofia moved a couple of inches away, frowning at him. “You sure?”
He took another swig of his beer. “Yeah, I’m getting tired and have to get up early. It’s Christine’s mom’s birthday tomorrow, I promised I’d call in the morning.”
Sofia turned back to Jennine. “Okay, but my bed’s off limits, you hear?”
They were already heading for the door, Jennine grabbing Derek’s ass. Lucky bastard.

Once inside his room, Matt placed two large beer cases in front of the door.
Sofia looked up from her phone. “What are you doing?”
“They warn against break-ins at the front desk, can you believe it? The locks are really crap. You don’t mind, right?”
“Guess not.” She moved further into the room hugging herself.
Matt followed her gaze, swallowing at the sight of all the clothes, chips bags and beer bottles scattered on the floor and beds. “I know it’s a bit messy. Wanna go somewhere else?”
She shook her head. “This is fine.”
Matt pointed toward Derek’s unmade bed and Sofia approached it, sat on the edge. “Just like ours,” she nodded, leaning back down, but quickly coming up again. “It’s wet.”
“Really?” Matt went and put his hand on the sheets. They were soaked. A beer bottle lay in the middle, half empty. Derek, that prick. Leaving behind an open bottle in bed was typical him. Matt shook his head. “Take my bed.”
“No, I don’t want to impose…”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“But I don’t want you to have to sleep in that.” Sofia smiled and bit her lip. Her eyes seemed unusually big and round. Pleading almost. She went and sat on Matt’s bed instead, patting the mattress, indicating he should come and sit. “We’re just going to sleep, right?”
Matt licked his lips, sat next to her. Right.

It was still dark outside, and since their room faced north and into the backside of an old warehouse, the sun would have been up for hours before they’d notice. Matt closed his eyes again and tried to forget the curvy shadow in the bed next to him. He saw her patting the bed and biting her lip again. As if she was begging him to make a move. Of course she couldn’t approach him, not after all that talk about her boyfriend. Derek would never let him hear the end of it, if he didn’t at least try.
Matt swallowed again, feeling his dick throbbing hard against his thigh. But Christine… He turned to his side, away from Sofia. His head was spinning. He shouldn’t have had that last pint.
He’d no idea how much time had passed when he heard her moan. Great, they were probably having sex in her dream. He turned over again, watching her restless body. It didn’t look like she was lost in a lustful sleep, it looked more like she was having a nightmare.
He reached out and put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay,” he whispered.
She turned, rolled into his outstretched arm and calmed down.
Finally he understood what she wanted. Sleepy sex. If they were both practically sleeping, no one could be blamed for what happened. Closing his arm around her, he stroked her shoulder. She moved a little closer but kept breathing slowly and deeply. Right. He got it. Matt closed his eyes too, and let his hands do the work. She was soft, yet firm all over, firmer than Christine. He had to stop thinking about her if he was to go through with this. At first he was just touching neutral areas: arms, legs, thighs, shoulder, neck. Then carefully he slid his hand up her skirt, and when she still didn’t move, he let his fingers sneak into untanned territory. She tilted her body a little, making it easier for him to move between her legs. Matt moistened his fingers with spittle.
Again she moaned deeply. “Love,” she whispered, drawing him in and kissing him greedily. Matt kissed back, feeling her body moving in the same rhythm as his hands.
He was kissing her stomach, halfway out of his boxers when her body tensed as if electricity went trough it. She whispered something short and forceful, but being under the bedcover, he couldn’t hear what. He stopped, careful not to open his eyes. For seconds he didn’t move, waiting for her to say more. Had she changed her mind? Quietly he moved back up beside her, still waiting. His pulse throbbed in his neck. Maybe she just needed reassurance that he was a nice guy, that he’d never hurt her. He wrapped his arms around her, in his bear hug, as Christine called it. The safest place in the world. At first she felt stiff as a board, but then gradually, her body relaxed.
God, they’d been so close.
If she’d changed her mind, she would have moved out of his arms by now, wouldn’t she? Fuck it, if she didn’t wanna do it, all she had to do was say the word. He slid off his boxers, rolled to his side and maneuvering a little, found his way inside her. She gasped but didn’t move, didn’t push him away. He didn’t dare open his eyes to look at her or kiss her though he wanted to. He’d been horny for so long it didn’t take him long to finish, but he’d no idea whether Sofia came. Sleepy sex made it impossible to ask.

Daylight was pouring through the window when he woke up to the sound of bottles rattling. He sat up halfway, rubbing his eyes. Sofia had a beer case in her arms.
“What’s up?” he said.
“I need to get going. Jennine called.” She swallowed, unmoving. Her eyes were big and red rimmed.
“Okay, let me take the beer case for you.” He moved to get out of bed.
“No, I got it.” She put it on the floor, pushed the other one to the side with her foot and unlocked the door. “Bye.”
“See you around.”

When Derek opened the door hours later, he sniffed, looked at Matt still in bed, then at his own bed. “It smells like sex in here.”
“What?”
“No, you stud, you didn’t?”
“Didn’t what? I’ve been sleeping.”
Derek went to Matt’s bed, sniffed some more, then yanked away the sheet exposing his bare ass. “You’ve had sex.”
Matt smiled, grabbing for his boxers. “I’ve been sleeping. Can’t blame a man for what happens when he’s sleeping.”
Derek grinned. “You sneaky bastard.”
Matt came to the edge of his bed and looked at his phone. Fuck, it was already two in the afternoon. Christine had left several messages.” He called her.
Derek went to the bathroom as Matt tried to make Christine understand that he’d been sleeping, that he hadn’t forgotten about her mom’s birthday. Someone knocked at the door. Phone glued to his ear, he went and opened it, surprised to see two police officers outside.
“Matthew Lawrence?” the tallest of the officers asked.
Matt took the phone down. “Yeah.”
“We have a warrant for your arrest. You’re charged with sexually assaulting Sofia Johnson.”
“What?” The phone dropped to the floor. “No wait, that’s a mistake. There was another guy down at the beach. It wasn’t me.”
The smaller officer looked at a note in his hand. “You are Matthew Lawrence, currently renting this motel room with Derek Jameson?”
“Yeah, yeah that’s me, but I haven’t assaulted her. I saved her.”
“Matt Lawrence, you have the right to remain silent…”

***
Two hours earlier, a woman police officer had approached Sofia who sat in an interview room at the police station, blanket wrapped around her shoulders.
“My name is Angelica Settler, I’m an investigator with the Sex Crimes Unit. Would you please tell me, from the beginning, what happened tonight?”
Sofia nodded, tears streaming down her cheek. “I only met him because he saved me from a real creep at the beach, and wanting to say thanks, Jennine and me invited him and his friend to a bar. I made it clear from the beginning that I had a boyfriend, that I didn’t want… that, and he told me he had a girlfriend, too, so I wasn’t worried. We had been drinking a lot, but not pass-out a lot, just enough to keep the buzz going, you know? Then Jennine and Derek came back, asking to spend the night at our room, Jennine’s and mine. Matt said I could stay at their place. First I was sceptical, but then he started talking about his girlfriend again. It was cheaper, right? Than getting another room, I mean. And I was tired.
I should have left when he put those beer cases in front of the door, but he did it so casually, I didn’t really think about it. Then Derek’s bed was soaked in beer. I’d been checking my phone as we came in, he could have put the bottle there, I don’t know. He offered to sleep in it, but that was disgusting, and I trusted him. I made sure there could be no misunderstandings and said, ‘We’re just sleeping.’
He agreed.
Then I woke up to him kissing my stomach, his fingers already inside me. It felt as if everything inside me closed up. I couldn’t even speak. I know I managed to say ‘no,’ and it made him stop for a while. But then he grabbed me in his arms, holding me so tightly I couldn’t breathe, let alone scream, showing me that he could squeeze the life out of me if he wanted to. That’s when I realised that even if I managed to get him off me, I couldn’t escape because of the beer cases in front of the door. You understand? He would have been at me long before I got them moved out of the way.
When he finally stopped squeezing me, I didn’t even dare breathe. For minutes, we lay like that as if he was making sure I understood that he had complete control. I did. I didn’t move a muzzle. Then he… he raped me. I stared into the ceiling, trying not to think about what he did to my body. I was crying, but made sure to keep still. He never even looked at me, you know? He never even looked at me. When he was done, he rolled over, pretending to sleep, and when he finally did, I crept out and called 911.”
Sofia wrapped her arms around herself, her eyes felt raw from crying. She looked at the officer, feeling more tears welling up. “I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I shouldn’t have gone to his room with him, that I was asking for it, but I wasn’t. I really thought he was a good guy.”

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