The Glowing Garden Labyrinth

The bells rang out in a cacophony of tinny, resonant sounds, each one high-pitched in their wailing. Behind the colourful striped counter, a tall man in a worn white suit and frayed top hat cheered, announcing Damien as a winner to the frog catapult game. Grinning, one side of his mouth pulling up as he looked over at me, Damien pointed to the stuffed tiger hanging from the carnival booth’s ceiling. I watched as the carnival worker unhooked the plush toy from the ceiling and passed it over to Damien, who was still grinning at me, and then walked away to serve another fairgoer.

“Told you I’d win it for you,” Damien said, holding the tiger up to his chest and peeking over its head. “My frogapult skills are unmatched.”

Rolling my eyes, I reached for the tiger, gripping it by its fluffy sides. “You’re good,” I admitted. Damien raised a brow, pulling the tiger back to him and forcing me a step closer.

“I landed all five of them in the lily pads,” he countered. “I’d like to see you try it.”

I couldn’t help it, my mouth inched up in a smile. Damien’s eyes glittered at my expression and he let go of the tiger, stepping to my side and putting a hand on my lower back, leading us away.

Somewhere in the distance, carnival-goers were readying for fireworks. They’d be set up in the stadium–which I could just see over the big top ahead–where a magician was likely performing tricks for restless kids and their parents.

Damien’s hands grabbed at my shoulders, pulling me back as a fluffy-headed kid with glowing face paint cut a path in front of us, their mother rushing past with a hurried apology.

“I still can’t believe you’ve never been here before,” I said, looking up at Damien. Behind him, flashing blue and pink lights lit up at one of the stands, lighting the dark mass of waves on his head and highlighting the side of his face. Peering down at me, he shrugged.

“I lived too far out, and my mom’s car was always breaking down, anyway,” he said, steering us forward again, turning down between two booths and away from the bustle and din of the center aisle.

“Not even when you grew up, though? I’ve come here almost every year,” I said.

Wrapping his arm tighter around my shoulder, he sighed. “I didn’t really have friends that’d want to go here. And I don’t mix well with crowded places on my own, you know that.”

“We can head out, if you want,” I offered, worried that I was keeping him here now.

Damien shook his head. “I don’t mind. I like it here. I like being here with you,” he said, squeezing my shoulder, then looked around. “What’s down that way?”

I looked to our left, where a building sat abandoned behind a row of carnival booths, dark but for the dimly glowing sign painted above its entrance.

THE GLOWING GARDEN LABYRINTH, it read.

“I think it’s closed,” I said, but Damien was already tugging me toward it. “Damien,” I hissed, looking around to see if anyone was watching.

“Let’s just check it out,” he said.

“It’s closed,” I repeated as we reached it. There was a low metal barrier sitting in front of the entrance in a half-hearted attempt at keeping wandering carnival-goers out.

Damien looked back at me. “Don’t you want to have a little adventure? You come here every year, right?”

I nodded.

“So, then? Try something a little different this time. And besides, if anyone catches us in here, what are they going to do? Call the cops on a couple wandering college students?”

He had a point.

Licking my lips, I nodded. “Fine.”

Damien smiled and stepped aside. “After you,” he said, holding my hand to steady me as I stepped over the barrier, pulling on my skirt to keep it from rising too high.

Damien followed after me, and when we were both inside, I looked ahead.

All around us, the walls were painted in bright, glowing colours. Fantastical garden scenes greeted us in what seemed to be a small lobby.

“Huh, two paths,” Damien said, drawing my gaze forward, where two entrances to the maze were marked off with big painted arrows.

Two paths, one destination, the walls read.

“That’s a little ominous,” I muttered.

“I was thinking cheesy, but you’re not wrong.”

And then Damien turned around, stepping back in the direction of the maze.

“Find bursa eskort me at the center,” he said, drifting away a few steps until I was holding his hand by the fingertips and then his grip was gone.

“Damien…” I trailed, gaze still roaming the walls. “We shouldn’t even be in here. We came, we saw, we should go.”

“Trust me. Please,” he said, gaze intent on mine. “And besides, you have a friend with you.” He nodded at the tiger plush still in my arms.

It was ridiculous, but my shoulders started to relax a bit at his words. Straightening my spine, I nodded. “Okay,” I said.

Damien grinned, but there was something almost sad about it. Before I could ask about it, he turned and started off the left path.

Left alone, I took a deep breath and looked around. The walls were dark–dark enough that I had trouble telling where they started and where they ended. The only hints were the spatters of glow-in-the-dark paint. A bit of worry gnawed at me but I shook it back.

Stepping to the path on the right, I put my hand on the inner wall of the path and started forward. “It’s not a golden thread, but it’ll do,” I mumbled. You couldn’t get lost in a labyrinth if you kept your hand on the wall, right? Eventually, you’d bypass all the dead ends and find the center.

I started down the path, going down twists and turns and a few dead ends. Turns out the labyrinth was bigger than I’d expected. But at some point, I’d walked so far that I knew I had to be getting close.

Clutching the tiger plush against my chest, I turned down one more corner and smiled.

A light was glowing up ahead.

Found you.

Letting go of the wall, I hastened my step, walking that last bit of distance and turning the corner–

Only to be met by hands on my upper arms and a clothed chest in front of me. Gasping, I stumbled back, my fall stopped by the person holding me. Looking up in shock, I let out a frustrated breath and smacked Damien on the chest.

“You shit. I thought you were going to mug me or something,” I hissed, my heart beating in my throat.

Damien said nothing, instead searching my gaze.

“Damien?” I asked. “What’s wrong?”

Instead of answering, his hand came up to cup my chin as he leaned down, capturing my lips with his. Frozen at first, my eyes soon fluttered closed. I melted into his kiss, shivering when his hands drifted from my arms to my waist, then under my shirt to press against the small of my back.

Pulling away, I looked up at him. In the blacklight, he was hazy, an impression of himself that was both unclear and beautiful. And despite not being able to see his expression all that well, his eyes shone bright.

“Damien,” I tried again. “What is it?”

Sighing, he pulled back, turning his head to look around at our surroundings, which I just noticed were set up to look like a garden, with painted green floors, colourful rocks big enough to sit on, and a glowing, wooden apple tree.

“Do you ever get the feeling that life is just dragging on?” Damien asked.

I frowned. “Yeah, sure. All the time.” Reaching up, I brushed a lock of hair from his face and cupped his cheek, running my thumb over his skin. “What’s got you so contemplative all of a sudden?”

“I just…I feel like time keeps passing and no matter how hard I try, I can’t catch up to everyone else. I can’t catch up to you.”

“Me?” I asked, my brows pinching together. “Why me?”

Damien shrugged. “You got a full ride to college, you’ve already had like three art exhibits.”

“None of which translated to anything more than ‘exposure’,” I said, grimacing at the last word. “You have a steady job and your own apartment. If anything, I feel like I can’t catch up to you.”

Damien shook his head. “It’s not that, sweetheart.”

“So then?”

Stepping back, he ran a hand through his hair, pulling at it, and scrubbed his other hand over his mouth. “I want more than a steady minimum wage job,” he said. “And I can’t do that without going to college.”

“You said you didn’t want to go to college.”

“I don’t. I can’t afford it, anyhow.”

“Well, what about your music, then? I’m sure there’s stuff you can do there.”

“You’re not getting it,” he said.

“Well,” I said, frustrated. bursa escort bayan “You’re not being very clear about this. You obviously want something more that you’re not telling me about.”

“I don’t want something more,” he said, his jaw ticking as he rocked on his heels.

“So then?” I pressed, stepping forward.

“I want more for you,” he said, throwing his arms out to the side before letting them drop back down, hitting his thighs with an audible smack.

My shoulders sunk. “What?” I asked. “More for me?”

“I clean people’s cars for a living. I live above a garage.”

“I don’t understand what you’re getting at here,” I said, taking another step toward him and placing my hands on his forearms. “I’m happy. I don’t care where you work. If I cared about that kind of thing, I wouldn’t be pursuing a career in painting, of all things.”

Damien slipped his hands in mine and ducked his head. I knew if the lights were on, he’d be seven different shades of embarrassed right now. “I just want to give you the most I can.”

“And you are. And I’m happy.” Why is that so hard to believe, I thought to myself.

“You’re too good to me,” Damien mumbled, pulling me flush against his chest and burying his head in my hair.

“I’m exactly as good to you as I should be,” I countered, though it was muffled against his chest. Damien sighed deeply, his chest rising and falling against me.

“I love you,” he said. “I really do.”

“I love you, too,” I said, warmth spreading through my chest at his words.

“Anyway,” he started after a few seconds, his voice back to its usual, mischievous tone. “I promised you adventure, didn’t I?” he asked, his hands playing with the hem of my shirt.

I pulled back, looking up at him and raising my brows. “What are you getting at?” I asked.

He tilted his head forward, a lock of hair hanging in front of his face as he cast me a wicked grin. “Well, there’s no one here but you and me, and these blacklights are kind of romantic, don’t you think?” His hands slipped under my sweater again, tracing patterns on my skin.

“I’m not having sex on that floor,” I deadpanned.

Damien laughed, the sound bouncing off the walls of the labyrinth in the best way. “It’s pretty gross, isn’t it?” he asked, looking past me to the floor.

“I’m pretty sure I stepped on gum somewhere back there,” I said.

“Gross,” he confirmed. “You can just sit on my lap,” he said. “One of those rocks looked nice. Ergonomic, even.”

“You’re such a dork.”

“I’ve never claimed anything less,” Damien said, pulling me with him as he walked backward and dropped to one of the stones, which was long like a bench, leaning his back against the glowing wooden tree.

I eyed it, uneasy. “That thing’s bolted down, right?”

Damien looked up behind him, leaning back and bumping against the tree a couple times. “It seems solid,” he said, then tugged on my hands. “Come here.”

Mouth twitching, I slid onto his lap, my legs hanging off the sides of the rock as I straddled him.

“Comfy?” he asked, biting his lip as he looked up at me.

I hummed an affirmative, lacing my arms behind his head and playing with his hair. After a moment, Damien pulled me down toward him, covering my mouth with his.

His lips were warm on mine as he kissed me, kissing first my bottom lip and then my top, nipping gently and laving away the sting with his tongue. When he bit again, I gasped, and he took the opportunity to slip his tongue into my mouth, tangling with mine in lazy strokes.

One of Damien’s hands slipped up my sweater while the other slipped up my skirt, toying with the fabric of my panties, twisting in it and pulling so it was tight on my skin.

Pulling away, he ran his nose against mine. “Can I?” he asked, pulling on my panties even as his other hand traced patterns just below my bra.

In a matter of minutes, I was so turned on that my nose was warm and I felt like I was burning up. I nodded. “Of course.”

Damien grinned against me and kissed me again, his hand under my shirt slipping up to the cup of my bra and pulling it aside. He pulled away from my mouth and pushed up my sweater, then pulled the unlined cup of my bra aside again, leaning görükle escort forward and taking my nipple into his mouth.

He sucked, nipping gently and sending shocks down my spine before pulling away and doing the same with my other breast.

All the while, his other hand was toying with my panties, tracing the skin of my inner thigh until finally, finally, he slipped his hand under the fabric, running his fingers through my wetness. I shivered, leaning into his touch as his fingers found my clit and started to rub in slow circles.

“Grind against me,” he said, licking a line up the valley of my breasts. Gripping his shoulders, I did just that, working myself on his lap while he worked his hand against me.

I felt my pleasure climbing higher, already reaching toward its peak. The feel of Damien hardening beneath me only hastened my pace, and a few minutes later, I came, breaking with a gasp and a moan and Damien’s name on my lips.

When I came down from my high, Damien pressed kisses to my face, cradling me against him while my breathing steadied. After a minute, I pulled back. “What about you?” I asked, grabbing at the waist of his jeans.

Damien swallowed and looked behind me. “How comfy do you think you’d be lying down on this thing?”

I twisted around to look at the rock. It looked clean–far cleaner than the floor–and while it was a bit bumpy, it didn’t look terribly uncomfortable.

“I can manage,” I said.

Damien grinned. “Good.” And then he gripped my waist, helping to maneuver me so that I was laying on my back on the stone and Damien was standing, one foot on the floor while he kneeled on the stone with his other leg.

I watched, licking my lips as he unbuckled his belt and unzipped his jeans, pulling them down a bit along with his boxers before pulling his cock out.

“I thought you said we didn’t have to have sex,” I said.

“Sex is a broad term,” he countered, then grabbed my thighs and brought them up so my ankles were resting on his shoulders. “Pull your shirt up.”

I did as he asked, then shuddered as his hand went back under my panties, drenching his fingers in my slickness before retreating and wrapping around his cock, pumping slowly.

“I’m surprised you didn’t think ahead to bring lube,” I commented.

He shrugged. “What can I say? I was too excited to see you tonight.”

And then he pulled my legs together, slipping himself between them and thrusting, fucking my thighs. Reaching up, I linked my hand in his where he held my leg, his fingers still wet with my release.

“You’re so beautiful like this,” he said, turning his head to kiss my calf. “Your hair’s mussed up and you’ve got this look on your face. Fuck–” he broke off, his eyes squeezing close and his mouth dropping open as his hips quickened, his jeans rasping against my bare thighs with every thrust.

“I’m not going to last very long,” he said, making me smile. God, was there anything more fulfilling than hearing him say that and knowing I was the cause?

“We’re going home after this,” Damien said, his breath coming out hard. “And we’re sleeping in my bed, and I’m going to hold you the whole night.” Groaning, he buried his head against my leg, his grip on my hand tightening.

A moment later, his hips jerked and he moaned, a hoarse, raw sound. I watched as his face tensed and he came, release shooting onto my stomach as his chest heaved. When he was done, he let go of my legs, slumping down to lay at my side and press breathy kisses to the side of my face.

Looking down, I raised an eyebrow at the sight of his release on my stomach. “I forgot this place was blacklight for a second there,” I said.

Damien lifted his head and stared down at me before chuckling. “Here,” he said, reaching over the side to where my purse lay, discarded at some point during our tryst. Reaching inside, he pulled out a bundle of napkins from the concessions and cleaned me off.

And then we just lay there, until the fireworks started outside and the carnival-goers passed us by.

“Come on,” I said, starting to sit up. “Let’s go home.”

Damien sat up, buckling up his pants and smoothing down his shirt. When he looked up at me, he grinned and reached forward, smoothing my hair.

“Ready?” I asked.

“Ready.”

And we set off, sneaking out of the labyrinth the same way we entered, this time going down the same path, holding hands all the while. And when I looked up at him as we exited, I sighed and snuggled in closer to his side, happy to be heading home with him by my side.

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