(“Reverse psychology’s failing miserably…it’s so hard to be left all alone…
Telling you is the only chance for me…there’s nothing left but to turn and face you…”
I’ve waited long enough. Days. Weeks. Months. Watching you with him. Listening to the two of you at night, hearing sounds through walls as thin as parchment. Turning away as he nuzzles your neck, and you blush, beautifully, and whisper in his ear.
I never meant for it to be this way. I never meant to fall for you. I’m sure, with what you know now, that statement seems lame, but for what it’s worth, it’s the truth. Just as the truth remains that you’re with JC, and not with me. And for a very brief moment…that could have changed.
I tried to reason with myself…tried to think thoughts of nobility and friendship…reminding myself that you were both friends of mine, and it would be wrong to hurt either of you…even though hurting one of you was the key to making me happy.
Making you happy.
Don’t you know that, honey? That I could make you happy? That taking a single chance, like you did that night, would be all you need to feel more joy than you have in ages? It’s true…
I remember the way you looked at me, after that first kiss we shared…you were confused. And aroused. You were wondering where it all came from; where these emotions so seemingly hidden had boiled for so long. Well…
I could spout off a hundred dime-store clichés for you, words about your smile, the sparkle in your eyes, your passion for anything and everything that comes into your world. I could wax philosophical about opposites attracting, and barriers bridged through mutual interests.
But I think…I think…it started with your perfume.
Yes. I’m almost sure of it.
The club was hot that night. Remember? Hot. Dark. Smoky. It was some dumb suggestion of C’s…a goth club. A “change of pace.” A chance to cavort with the freaks and the naughties. You were wary at first. Hell, I’m pretty sure you thought he was crazy, but he looked at you with that longing glance and you agreed.
The club was situated in an alley…the very picture of stereotype. Blinking, buzzing neon sign. Red letters. Megaera. I wasn’t quite sure what it meant. You’re the mythology buff, not me…but we walked in the door and it was like night had fallen with a heavy, frozen fist. Smoke swirled through my lungs. My eyes burned. And after a few moments of dizziness…I could see again.
People…writhing…sweating…pulsing with the dark rhythm of some unknown symphony. People dressed in black, eyes rimmed with heavy kohl, tender skin pierced by sharp metal and decorated with permanent, eternal ink.
I could feel the accusation like a physical force. We didn’t belong there. Not one of us. Not JC, with his liquid leather pants tight against his ass, his thin mesh shirt stretch taut across pale flesh…Not you, with boots to your thigh and eyes darkened with shimmering, iridescent shadow…and not me. Not even with a pouting glare and an outfit to match. WE were the misfits. WE were the outcasts in this city of exiles.
“C, I don’t think…” I started, but he waved me away. There was something menacing in his eyes…something dark and glittering and dangerous. His hips rocked suggestively to the pounding bass of the music, his jaw clenched tight against some bitter taste lodged in the back of his throat. Those eyes…those silvery eyes perused the room with the vengeance of a king…and yet…I think he felt inadequate. Something akin to disgust made his body vibrate with tension, but like the rest of us…he was drawn to it. Transfixed.
“Let’s go, baby,” He whispered to you, pulling tightly on your wrist, drawing you forward.
I think you were afraid. I don’t think you would in a million years admit it…but as the bodies brushed past you, crowding your space, leaning into your back and staring at you with wanton desire, slippery fear filled your lungs until you couldn’t breathe.
You looked back at me, once, helplessly, fingers extended in desperation, and I was spurred to move. I followed you. Followed C. Watched you disappear further into the club, skin flickering under glittering lights, shadows cast by dripping candles.
He finally stopped in the corner of the room…beyond the bar…where the shadows were the thickest and navigation was conducted by touch. He cocked his head to the side, a reedy sigh escaping his lips, and stood motionless. Watching.
They were on a chair, a man and a woman, bodies moving rhythmically, hands passing across flesh and slick leather, teeth bared in disturbing smiles. The man watched as the woman rose and fell against him, wild hair falling over her back, mouth moving without sound, eyes closed in what might have been ecstasy.
At her neck was a thin strip of leather, studded and buckled tight against a slender throat. When the light caught the metal I could see another piece of leather, too…one that dangled…lengthened…and ended in the fist of the man below her.
“A leash,” C breathed, and my blood froze.
He turned to you then, eyes silvery clouds, and simply looked. He made no move to speak, to touch, to even breathe for several long moments…and then…his fingers came up, slowly…tracing your breasts, palming your hips…before coming to rest at your neck.
“Would you?” He asked, and I knew his eyes, as mine did, watched you swallow heavily, skin stretching and moving against working muscles.
He pulled you close then, palming your ass, moving his hungry lips below your ear, teeth closing around a small piece of skin.
“Please, baby…” Begging, desperate. “Please.”
Our eyes met again over his shoulder. Helpless. Confused. Frightened. This new brand of man, this man whose dark secrets had spent ages locked in a steel-cased vault, was someone foreign to you. You didn’t know. You couldn’t have. But I did. The rest of us did. The rest of us knew about JC’s “habits,” his kinks and his fetishes and his dirty little perversions that would forever banish him from the pages of Tiger Beat had they been revealed. It’s my theory that he’s ashamed of his desires…that his darker sexuality has been caged for so long that it simply grows, festers until it manifests itself in the inky darkness of a seedy club in a neighborhood at best questionable.
“You don’t have to,” I whispered, though I knew you couldn’t hear me. “You don’t have to…”
Weakly, you pushed him away, arms falling to your sides, feet shuffling instinctively backward. Your face fell and your eyes widened and liquefied at the look on his face, the hurt anger and confusion so clearly visible in his stoic stare. I knew how he worked…how he chose awkward moments to be vulnerable, and never forgave those who chose to reject him, though most times said rejection was justifiable.
“Josh, wait…” You said anxiously, as he began to walk away. His long legs carried him across the floor quickly, and you struggled to keep up, hands reaching out to his retreating form. I followed you from a discreet distance, mouth set in a grim line.
You exited the club, returning to the alley where mist shrouded the dirty streets.
“Josh!” You screamed again, words breaking on a sob, “Please…”
His body slowed, stilled, waited. “Please?” He echoed. “Please?”
“Yes,” You begged, turning him around, pulling his face down so you could meet his eyes. “Please…”
“Is that how it works?” He said slowly, and I flinched from the mocking in his voice. “You beg, and I cave? I say yes when you ask? Tell me, Carrie, does the inverse hold true as well?”
My hands curled into fists at my side. Low blow. Playing dirty. Clockwork.
“I…I can’t, JC,” You said quietly, and your face was once again wet. From the mist or tears, I couldn’t be certain, but moisture covered your face in streaks, and you shivered where you stood, looking up into the eyes of a stranger.
“I wanted to touch you,” He murmured, bringing a slender hand to your cheek. “Wanted to know what it would be like…to have you…to possess you…to own you like that. Wanted to feel you above me…feel the life pulsing through you…knowing I could control that life with a flick of my wrist. I wanted all of it. Wanted you…” His voice was low, hypnotic, fading into silence as he backed away. “It doesn’t matter now,” He said quietly. “I’ve pushed my limits for you, Carrie,” He whispered softly. “But you won’t do it for me…”
And then he was gone, body disappearing in thick white fog.
You stood trembling for only a brief moment before hitting your knees, arms wrapped tightly around yourself, sobs rushing from your lungs. I could no longer stay silent. I could no longer simply watch. I stepped out of my hiding place and slowly dropped down beside you, gently pulling you into my arms, soothing words falling from my lips into your hair.
“Why, Justin?” You cried brokenly, hands fisted into the fabric of my shirt. “Why?”
“I don’t know,” I answered, and my heart broke from the anguish in your eyes. “I don’t know.”
That’s where it gets tricky, baby…because I do know. I knew. And I suppose I could have warned you, but you wouldn’t have believed me. Joshua, you’ve said over and over, is an angel.
But that boy’s wings are broken, and his heart no longer soars in the sky.
I tried to be good, sweetheart. I tried. I should have said no when you whispered, so softly, “take me home.” Because I knew, as you did, that we wouldn’t be going to your place. So I drove, fingers tapping nervously on the steering wheel, stomach slowly rolling as you sniffled sadly in the seat beside me. I opened the garage door and led you inside, offering a hot shower and a stiff drink and dry clothes and whatever else I could think of to make you comfortable. To erase that filthy feeling you spoke of in a low, lost voice. I was so nervous. So very anxious. And, I’m ashamed to admit, hopeful. Hopeful that you’d finally see the love I’d been forced to hide. That you’d look at me in a different light. That the “angel” you were so sure was Joshua…was…
I couldn’t finish my thoughts. I bit my lip and nervously walked into the kitchen, grabbing the first bottle my fingers touched.
“I’m gonna go get that shower,” You said softly, and I nodded, not daring to respond.
It seemed like you were gone forever, but maybe it wasn’t that long. I remember counting the clicks of the clock until the liquor began seeping into my bloodstream and my head became muzzy.
You reappeared sometime later in a clean pair of sweats and a soft cotton t-shirt. Britney’s. My head fell to my hands and I closed my eyes, leaning over the counter.
“Justin, what?...oh…oh God, I’m sorry…I’ll…”
“Don’t worry about it,” I said tonelessly. “Not a big deal.”
You were always good at reading emotions. Hiding was something I prided myself on; I could have written novels on my ability to keep people at a sharp distance, and yet you bridged that gap effortlessly.
“J…” You said gently, and when I drew in my next breath I could feel your body against my back. I shuddered, made to walk away, but your fingers covered mine on the countertop, and I could feel your face resting against my shoulder.
“It still hurts, J, doesn’t it?” You whispered.
Damn you. Damn you and your perfectly lucid observations.
“No,” I said with as much conviction as I could muster, but you were turning me around and looking in my eyes a moment later.
“I know it does,” You said softly, but I shook my head. The truth was, it didn’t hurt. Hadn’t hurt. Not for a long time. Not since you. And I was terrified to tell you that.
“J, what is it?” Concern colored your features and instinctively you brought your hand to the back of my neck, fingers playing against the soft hair there. So hot. So sexy.
“Carrie,” I choked, averting my gaze. “You probably…um…probably shouldn’t touch me…”
I could feel the blush tainting my cheeks, felt the heat kissing my shoulders and neck and jaw. When I mustered the courage to look at you once more, your eyes were wide and your lips were parted. I bit back a moan, cursing my stupidity, wishing against all heaven that I hadn’t had the drink.
“You’re…” You swallowed, understanding dawning on your face, “You’re hard…” There was something like wonder in your voice, a reaction so innocent it was almost laughable…and yet so endearing I wanted nothing more than to lean forward and press my lips to yours.
“Yeah…” I breathed. “I’m…I’m sorry, Carrie…it’s just…”
Moment of truth. Sink or swim. Cage emotions or taste freedom. Edge of the cliff. I closed my eyes, and jumped.
“I want you,” I whispered, as quietly as I knew how. I hesitated a moment, then gently took your hand, weaving your fingers through mine, bringing your palm to cup my cheek, closing my eyes at the tender contact. “Have wanted you. For ages…but…couldn’t…not with…”
“Don’t say it, J,” You begged. “Not now.”
I swallowed, exhaling on a shaky sigh. I opened my eyes slowly, looking down at you. You were so trusting, baby. So vulnerable. I couldn’t help myself…
“Carrie,” I murmured. “Can I kiss you?”
Heartbeats pounded in suspended time as I waited for your answer. I was sure you were going to reject me. Sure you were going to slap my face. Sure you were going to run out. God knows you had every right to. Instead…you nodded. Didn’t speak. Didn’t make a sound. Simply nodded. Waiting for me.
I don’t remember leaning in. I don’t remember sighing, don’t remember the clock chiming four, don’t remember the headlights that flashed over closed blinds as we moved closer together…but I do remember the exact moment my lips landed on yours.
Soft, Carrie…your lips were so soft. I brushed my mouth across yours, just testing them, content, in the beginning, to go slow…to test the waters before diving in. But you…you tangled your fingers in my hair, stepped closely into me, and parted your lips, begging for deeper, hotter contact.
I gave it to you. God, I gave you everything I had. In a moment I was licking across your lower lip, nibbling as lightly as I could, moaning softly as you met my tongue with yours.
You liked to tease, baby. Loved the push-and-pull, back-and-forth dance of lips and tongue and teeth…so responsive. So infinitely desirable. I could feel my control stretching, a thin band of taffy over very eager fingers. I pulled you tighter, even dared to grind my hips against yours, earning a desperate sigh from your mouth as I did so.
That kiss…God…that single, sultry, sexy kiss…stretched into endless kisses, into wandering hands and smoldering, meaningful looks, until my head spun and my cock, hard in my pants, began to drip. My nipples tightened from where they rubbed against your full breasts, and I swallowed a groan, the tenuous grip on my control slipping. I pulled back, panting heavily, head down, eyes closed.
“We can’t, Carrie,” I gasped. “We just can’t…”
Calm. Assured. Compassionate. You smiled wistfully, whispering that you knew. That it was all right. That you understood. I bit my lip, body screaming to close the distance, to soothe some of that desperate ache, but I resisted, biting on lips bruised and swollen, still wet from the taste of your mouth.
“Justin,” You murmured, and I dared to open my eyes. You were moving toward me again, slowly, and I willed myself to keep my hands at my sides.
You brushed your fingers over my chest, tracing the tight muscles through the fabric of my shirt, and I cried out. Dizzy with want. Overwhelmed by a desperate, aching need.
“Relax, baby,” You murmured. “Let me take care of you…”
And then I felt it…felt your hand slip beyond the waistband of my pants…lower…over sweaty skin…and then…
Stars flashed behind my eyes and I groaned helplessly as your fingers curled around my cock. I wanted to touch you, needed to feel your skin, but I knew that wasn’t part of the deal. It wouldn’t be anything more than a hopeless fantasy. I shuddered, scrabbling for control, fingers opening and closing against empty air, craving touch, contact. I settled for bringing my knuckles to my mouth, gnawing in time to the sure strokes of your hand, letting your voice carry me away.
“That’s it, sweetness. Come on, baby…let go…you know you want it…just let go…”
Let go. Let go. Let go.
I came with a fierce cry, shattering into nothingness, knees failing and body slumping to the floor…before I surrendered to the siren call of slumber.
I woke up alone, in my bed, covers tucked securely around my chest. I don’t remember climbing the stairs, or removing my clothes, or falling into the blessed comfort of clean soft sheets…but when I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply, the vaguest images skittered across my mind. You. And I. Yes.
I fell asleep with your perfume scenting the air and my tears slipping onto smooth blue fabric.
It’s been weeks since that night, Carrie. Weeks since I felt your skin on mine. Weeks since I’ve tasted your mouth. Weeks since I remembered what it feels like to really FEEL. Watching you with Josh, all things forgiven, so you both say, has had me dying inside, a piece of a time. Numb. Empty. It’s hard to watch the two of you, to see his hand possessively touch the small of your back, to see his mouth latch onto yours, to see his hands travel over places I once only dreamed of touching.
But it’s no longer a dream. I’ve tasted. And I’ve touched. I’ve sampled heaven only to feel the gates crash closed with brutal finality. Instead, I’m condemned to live in purgatory, watching the man who calls me his best friend with the woman I’m sure I could love. If you would just let me.
Josh said he wants to own you. Don’t let it happen, Carrie. Please.
© 2002 ~A.