Drowned by Passion: The Perils of Water Sex by Eiluned Price
For your homework, take the first example from above, and write it into a realistic water sex scene.
- Bella settled with a sigh in the warm, deep water of Edward’s bathtub, and wriggled in between his long legs. He swept her hair off her shoulders, wrapping it around his fist, and kissed the side of her neck.”You still taste like chocolate,” he murmured against her skin.A giggle interrupted Bella’s soft moan. “Hmm, I wonder why,” she said. “Maybe because you practically painted me with it. Like what happens to that woman in ‘Goldfinger.'””I did,” he agreed. “Which did you like better: the chocolate or the strawberries?”Oh, I can have some fun with this, she thought. “The honey,” she purred.
The reaction against her back was immediate and satisfying. Bella had done some painting of her own, on some select inches of Edward’s anatomy, and those inches obviously remembered it fondly.
Bella twisted and turned so that Edward had to release her hair, letting it float behind her.
“Again?” she asked, with a knowing smile. He nodded happily.
“Again would suit me just fine,” he said, and she sat up and straddled his hips, the movement making the water slop over the side of the tub. She lowered herself down on him, and all she could think was–
Or rather, that’s all I can think while reading this–even ignoring the death of foreplay, there are at least three things that bother me in this little scenario, which I’ll run down in a moment. Don’t get me wrong: getting all wet and bothered in a private place that isn’t a bedroom has a lot of appeal, and it can give writers a break from thinking about how to remove their characters’ clothes. But when it comes to writing smut set in bathtubs, hot tubs, showers, swimming pools and various bodies of water, there’s an ocean of issues to consider.
Here, I would argue, is a more realistic version of sex in the water (even if it involves a cold-ass vampire):
- I immediately glided over to him, the water in the hot tub making my movements much more graceful than on land. His chest was warm, so were his arms, so were his hands.”This is perfect, too,” I said, and Edward pulled me to him so I could wrap my legs around his hips, my bottom grazing his thighs, and–ah, his hard length pressed directly and deliciously on my clit. We both moaned at the contact, and his arms encircled my back so the currents couldn’t float me away. His own lack of buoyancy made him an immovable stone.We kissed and touched and enjoyed the warmth eddying around us. This position allowed me to drag my nipples against his, and he tipped his head back so I could nibble on the side of his neck as best I could. Our lovemaking this morning had been confirmation that even if I couldn’t get purchase on his skin, even if my teeth were ineffectual against him and my hands weak, he obtained intense enjoyment from my touch, even more than I did from his. I ran my fingers as lightly as I could down his back and over my interlocked ankles. Down as far as I could go, and he shuddered and mumbled quietly. I had explored his body so much over the last month, but most of it was still terra incognita, and would remain so until my senses sharpened. I had so much to look forward to . . .But for now my, body had more immediate needs. I lifted myself slowly, thrillingly, against his length till I was at the tip, and then pushed down against him–and stopped in shock at the unfamiliar sensation. Edward’s eyes snapped open, and I raised myself up again and down to find the same sensation and stopped once more. I looked at him in puzzlement and said something that I’d never had to say before to him.”It’s . . . uncomfortable,” I confessed, confused. “I don’t know why.”
He didn’t seem surprised, though. “I wondered if this would happen–the water washes the lubrication away,” he said softly, and I felt a pang of disappointment that my fantasies of making love in a hot tub wouldn’t come true.
When I posted that scene in Getting Warmer, I got thanks from readers who said that it accorded more with their experience with sex in the water than was generally depicted. As Renee tells Bella in Sare Liz’s story The Day the Earth Stood Still:
“Water: good for foreplay, bad for sex.” (Because Edward is a bright boy, though, he figures out a way to deal with the lubrication issue.)
In my “research wink wink” (to borrow GingerWombatkat’s formulation from the first lesson in this session), I’ve found that there are many pleasant things to do in tubs, but, to my disappointment, intercourse isn’t one of them. (I should note here that I’m not any kind of expert on matters sexual; I’ve just been married for a while to a man who really likes jacuzzis. I should also say that I’ll happily accept that some of you out there may have wonderful sex immersed in the water. In which case, I a) envy you greatly and b) haven’t met you.)
For the rest of us, there are problems, some of which I set up in the introductory passage. First problem, as you can guess, is lubrication. The heroine might be aroused beyond words, but if the water washes the slickness away, it doesn’t do her much good.
And while in a rare double standard favorable to women, hand jobs in the water can work for us (yay, clitorises!), they aren’t as pleasurable for men–the water makes for unpleasant friction. An illustration of that occurs in in.a.blue.bathrobe’s terrific Tropic of Virgo: she makes it a sign of how desperate Bella has made Edward that he gets himself off in the shower despite the discomfort of the water under his hand.
One solution to all this is lube, though not the water-based kind usually available at the drugstore, since they wash away too. I’ve never used the silicone-based lubes recommended for this situation, so I can’t say how well they work. In any case, the hurdle for writers aiming for realism is not only having lube handy, but having it be the right kind–and in all my reading of fics, I’ve never seen a water scene with lube (if you have, let me know in the comments; I’d be interested to see how it was done).
Another solution is getting the necessary body parts out of the water. Mr. Price reminds me of an enjoyable evening that involved getting worked up in a hot tub, and then standing and holding onto the rim . . . well, you get the idea. Anyway, no lube needed, and we weren’t distracted by the possibility of heat stroke in the heat of the moment.
Second problem: Where are Bella’s knees? If she and Edward are in one of the crappy molded plastic bathtubs pervasive in modern American houses, they’re digging uncomfortably into his thighs. (Even in my substantial and exceptionally deep prewar porcelain tub, there’s not enough room for a pair of knees to bracket a pair of hips.)
Billionaire Edward (or Billionaire Bella–I wish she were more common) may well have a conveniently wide bathtub, but it would bear describing. There are, of course, other places with the right type of tub: Mr. Price and I were recently in a hotel with a very comfortable square tub that accommodated our knees quite nicely–sadly, the right kind of lube was not lined up with the little complimentary bottles of shampoo and shower gel, so we had to change venues. But your ordinary bathtub just isn’t going to work.
Third Problem: Any moment now, the shrink from downstairs is going to come pounding on the door to complain about the leak in her ceiling from all the water spilling from the tub. Again, Billionaire Edward’s got an infinity tub with drains all around it; the rest of us have unhappy neighbors and a bill from the plasterer.
So what is our couple to do? Unfortunately, oral sex poses a special problem: vampires don’t have to breathe, but we mere humans do. There is a wonderfully erotic, very popular AH, I’ve just read in which Bella gives Edward a blow job in a bathtub, and for the life of me, I don’t see how she can do it without a snorkel (which would definitely hinder her performance) unless Edward is freakishly endowed, or the water level is a lot lower than anyone would want to sit in. It’s a minor glitch in a great story, but it is momentarily distracting.
As for cunnilingus, the logistics give the phrase “muff diving” a whole new meaning. And as for anal sex in the water, without lube–let’s just draw the curtain and turn away with a shudder, shall we?
Which leaves us with foreplay (which I hope is what is going on in that waterfall shot in the Breaking Dawn trailer. Please?). Anyway, foreplay in all its many varieties gives us a lot to give our characters to do in wet situations, and that’s what the Bella and Edward in the introduction should try instead.
So what about showers? you ask. It’s a good question, since shower encounters seem to be the most common water-related ones in fics. The great thing about showers is, of course, that you can get away from the water and let natural lubrication do its work. But it’s not all smooth sailing.
Once more, the ordinary American bathtub poses logistic problems. With its sloped sides and slippery curved bottom, it is not conducive to the most common shower positions I’ve seen in fics–against the wall and standing doggy. What’s better are shower stalls, with their flat floors, and lack of ledges. And what’s even better than that are shower rooms, which have more space to maneuver.
But I have to confess right here that I’ve never had up against the wall in the shower be a success: too slippery, too uncomfortable, too tiring. I’m clueless on how to make it work other than to have a vampire be one of the partners.
Sorry. Your advice is welcome.
Standing doggy, on the other hand–yeah, that can work, at least for a while. It’s best when one partner can hold on to something securely bolted into the wall and push back. It’s a mood-killer when your hands slip and you whack your head against the wall.
Meanwhile, oral sex, while doable in showers, especially ones with something to hold on to, introduces some characterization problems, I think. Is your hero the kind of man who would be comfortable seeing his lover on her knees on a hard, rough floor? And is it erotic to have a heroine who stays in possession of her senses enough to remain vertical? (Here’s another instance when a vampire partner would be useful.)
A final shower note: hot water runs out. The stories I’ve read have been pretty realistic about this. I suspect because it’s happened to all of us at some point, the shock of cold water gushing down on us before we finished rinsing out the conditioner. Some AUs, like The List by Laura A. Cullen, cleverly have Bella get turned on by cold water because of its similarity to a certain vampire’s temperature.
(For me, there’s an irony in this commendable nod to reality: while I live in an apartment that is too small, doesn’t have enough closets and is so hot that sweat is trickling down my back as I write this, Mr. Price and I could soap each other up in the shower all night long and never run out of warm water. It’s one of the best things about living in New York City. Or as my future father-in-law more colorfully put it when I marveled that three people could have separate, simultaneous scalding showers in his apartment: “I’m paying for a Manhattan co-op. I better get as much hot water as I fucking want.”)
There are other dangers lurking in the water that are less important for fic writers than in real life, but they’re worth mentioning.
Disease and irritation: Sex in the water means water ending up in places it shouldn’t be, and sometimes that water has chemicals or bacteria. I remember one fic (my apologies for not recalling the title) in which Edward objects to Bella’s suggestion of a romp in the ocean because it’s “U.T.I . sex.” Smart guy.
Pregnancy: Condoms and water don’t mix. With lubrication washed away, they’re more likely to tear (from the extra friction), and if water gets inside they can slide off.
Other nasty chemicals: Many sex toys described as water-safe are treated with BPA and phthalates, chemicals that do useful things to plastics but also, studies are finding, mess up hormones. You don’t want them rubbing up against your (or your characters’) delicate tissues.
Overcooking: In that great classic of volcanology, “Dante’s Peak,” an attractive young couple are frolicking in a hot spring in the Cascades when the water becomes a geyser, a sign of impeding eruption. It would be a sad fate for Edward and Bella to discover a heretofore unknown volcano in the Olympic National Forest in such a way.
Having just spent 2,000 words pouring cold water (sorry) on the idea of hot tub/ swimming pool/ pond sex, I feel obliged to say that hey, it’s your own story, and you can write whatever you want. That’s the beauty of fanfic. But I would also argue that there’s already such a big element of fantasy in our stories–a hero who is heart-stoppingly beautiful, fabulously rich, brilliant, talented, and, above all, eternally besotted with the heroine–that a dose of realism in the smut is a necessary counterbalance. It’s good for our stories, and good for our readers who are inspired by them.