Dark Hunger


Page 10



“Gotta eat.” Mike shrugged. “Laura and I didn't really even get dinner going,” he added guiltily. The sight of the unfinished meal made him go cold. Memories of what had transpired a few short hours ago, the promise that held everything – he had to get out of there.

“I don't really – you know, just being here bothers me.” Smoothing the bedsheets, Dylan looked around the room. “I just – ”

“Yeah. Me too.”

“Did we fuck this one up?” Dylan's eyes begged him to say “no.” Mike couldn't. He wasn't a liar by nature, not even a social liar, and right now he didn't have an answer. Whether they could reach Laura or not, on her terms and her timeline, would be key. Trying right now, when she was raw and hurt and bewildered, wouldn't do anyone any good.

“I don't know.” Dylan grabbed a shirt, some ratty Rush concert t-shirt his older brother must have bought at a concert in the late '80s, and tossed it on. Mike wanted to say the exact right thing. Perfect words that would solve this problem. That, however, was the problem with words – he never could use them well enough to make any mess better. In fact, he always seemed to make it all worse when he opened his mouth.

Action made so much more sense.

“What time is it?” Dylan asked, looking around the room for the clock. He fingered a hole in the hem of the shirt, worrying it bigger.

“It's gotta be past two. And good grief, man, you're a billionaire. Buy a new shirt. Hell, buy the band Rush. You can afford it.”

“Geddy Lee's not my type.”

Mike stared out the window. “The night is black, without a moon.”

“And if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. What's next, Mike? You gonna rickroll me?”

“Over pancakes?” Mike grabbed the keys to his car, a new Grand Jeep Cherokee. Loaded. Paid cash.

Dylan's eyes lit up. “Jeddy's pancakes? They're open twenty-four hours. I could go for some chipotle maple sausage crepes.”

Ugh. “Whatever happened to a simple short stack?”

“You are so vanilla.” Mike arched an eyebrow dramatically in response. Dylan backpedaled. “OK, OK, not so vanilla. Just boring.”

Mike's feet itched to run. Pancakes first. If he carb loaded, he could bang out a good half marathon later. “Jeddy's it is,” he agreed. Dylan fairly bounced out of the house. So easy to please.

“The ride's a good hour.”

“Worth it!” Dylan shouted as they ran for the jeep.

If only chipotle maple sausage crepes solved everything.

"You what?" Josie's voice was as close to a shriek as Laura had ever heard, her face flushed with shock and awe. "You WHAT?"

Laura literally ducked and covered, her face so hot she imagined it would burn her fingers if she touched it. "I know. I really am a slut." One call to Josie and her friend had come over bearing a large box of Godiva chocolates, a bag of salt 'n vinegar potato chips the size of a third grader, and new fingernails: Beetles album covers. Abbey Road was currently shoved in Laura's face, accusing and menacing.

"A slut? Hell, no! You're a goddamned queen! Holy shit, Laura! You're living every woman's dream!"

That was not what Laura expected to hear.

Not one bit.

"Huh?" She peeked up at Josie from between her fingers, like taking a glimpse of a scary horror movie. Little Josie was buzzing like a hummingbird, face flushed, upturned nose and pursed lips making her cuter than ever. Laura had hated how Josie was “cute” while Laura was “smart.” Josie was “petite” while Laura was “big boned.” Josie was “pretty” while Laura had “such a pretty face.” Not that it got in the way of their friendship all these years, but the parents, the adults in their life – everything and everyone had to fit neatly into a category. A word. A phrase. And if you didn't –

You ended up in a threesome with two guys who were still mourning their dead shared girlfriend.

Maybe categories weren't so bad.

"OK, not every woman's fantasy, but uh, most of us..." Josie's voice trailed off and now, to Laura's surprise, it was her friend's turn to be embarrassed. "Two hot guys, both after you, wanting you in their bed and in their hearts – and they're not gay? Huh? So you get two guys' attention all the time. Who wouldn't want that? You fucking lucky bitch." Josie spat out the last word with contempt. Not the kind of contempt Laura was primed to hear, though. This was the sound of jealousy.

"Hold on! HOLD THE FUCK ON! So you have wanted a threesome?" Laura leaned forward. Her turn to wag a finger in someone's face. To her surprise, it felt good. She saw the appeal.

"Sure. Ever since that one time in college."

Laura's eyebrows shot up. "You did? You had one?"

Biting her lower lip, considering her thoughts, Josie cringed. "Yeeeesssss. Once."

"AND YOU NEVER TOLD ME?"

"I was too ashamed."

Shame. Was Laura supposed to feel shame right now, after what had happened with Mike and Dylan? She didn't. And didn't think she ever would. Shame might have been front and center in her chaotic bundle of twisted emotion with the two men, but it had faded fast. That shame had been less about the pleasure they'd just shared and more about her worry that she was the butt of some cruel joke. Once she had some distance, her wise mind kicked in. What did she have to be ashamed of? She'd done nothing wrong.

Neither had Dylan and Mike. Well, at least, not in terms of the threesome. Behind the scenes was a whole 'nother issue...


Defiance rose up, welling like a geyser, ready to explode. "I'm not ashamed."

"I never said you should be. Frankly, I'm – impressed. Stunned. Gobsmacked." Josie chuckled, sitting on the couch and folding her tiny legs under herself, looking like a kitten curled up on the sofa. "You amaze me. Laura, you have found it all. Are they really as hot in real life as they are in those pictures?"

That brought Laura up short, and all she could do was to slump down on the couch across from Josie and blink. Found it all. Dylan, with his swagger and zest for life. Mike, with his quiet contemplation and steady sweetness. The two really did complement each other and when you put them together with her they made –

Everything.

“What about the fact that they ganged up on me? Hid their real relationship with each other from me? I mean, I felt so, so – caught off guard. There I was, naked and in bed with Mike, and oh, hi! Dylan pops in.”

“Sounds like the beginning to every other letter in Penthouse Forum. 'Dear Penthouse Forum, I was minding my own business trimming my rose bushes in the buff when the mailman and the meter reader just popped in...'”

The pillow wasn't hard enough to knock Josie down, but Laura threw it anyhow. A brick would have been better. “It's not like that.”

“Then what is it like, Laura?” Josie frowned. “It was voluntary, right?”

Huh? “What do you – oh!” Laura pressed her fingertips to her lips. “Oh, no, no, no, Josie it wasn't – yes. It was completely voluntary.” Both women exhaled.

“Good.” Josie chuckled. “You had me worried there when you said 'it's not like that.' What did you mean?” She played with the loose tassel on a throw pillow as Laura thought for a moment, pulling her feet under her in a mimic of Josie.

“Uh, I meant that it wasn't cheap and tawdry, like those Penthouse letters. Dylan shocked me – can you imagine one guy you're dating walking in on you having sex with someone else?”

Josie reddened. “Um. Well. Ah. Uh...”

“Is there anything you haven't done?” Laura screeched.

“My situation didn't exactly end like yours!” Josie shouted back. “You ever try to get dressed while crawling out a second-story window?”

Dumbstruck, Laura squinted at her friend and shook her head slowly. “Sometimes I don't think I even know you.”

“College was a time of exploration.”

“Translation: I also slept with a lot of professors.”

Josie shrugged. “Can't get through organic chemistry any other way.”

An ambulance flew past, the lights spreading a disconcerting disco glow throughout Laura's living room. The clock read 3 a.m. What kind of friend comes over in the dead of night with one call?

The kind who, apparently, fucked her way to a high GPA. Laura tucked this detail away for later. Right now, she had her own mess at hand.

"I feel like a freak, Josie." Laura wailed, rubbing her eyes. She peeked through her fingers. “Though less of a freak now that you've shared.”

“I'm a giver.”

“You're a – well, that's one word. I guess I'm a giver, too. More like a sucker.” Laura straightened her shirt and cracked her neck. Aches began to emerge. Minor pains that reminded her of the contortions she had engaged in hours ago. Delicious twists and flexes. “And I mean it – I feel like a freak.”

"No, you don't. You just think you should feel like a freak. Deep down, Laura, you don't – not really." How could Josie be so sure?

“How do you know what I feel?”

“I know you feel like buying me a latte.” She sized Laura up. “Nope. Scratch that. This is definitely more than a latte conversation. We need us some pancake breakfast at a sugar shack.”

“It's July, Josie. The sugar shacks are closed.”

“Okay. I'll settle for Denny's.”

“Gross.” Laura recoiled. She'd waited tables there for three years in college. The only superbird she wanted to see was her own middle finger flipping off her old manager whenever she was in town and drove past.

“Well, excuse me for not knowing the proper gourmet etiquette for what to eat while talking about your best friend's threesome.”

“Brie and Nutella, actually,” Laura intoned, faking sincerity. “Haven't you read Dan Savage's column on it?”

Ding! Laura's laptop made an all-too-familiar sound. Her Home Page was the online dating site – who could this be?

“Laura! Batman's calling. Or maybe the Green Lantern. Iron Man's taken – Gwyneth got him already.” Josie grabbed her arm and dragged her to the door. “No – you can't answer it. We need to talk about the two you already got before you get any more hot guys. Leave some for the rest of us!”

Laura whiplashed her head between the front door and her laptop. “But...”

“Nope – and now you're definitely buying. Hope you have lots of cash, because I am starving. Flash Gordon can wait.” Laura ran back to the table, slammed the laptop shut, and trotted back to Josie, the streetlights outside her door blinding her as she realized she was starving.

The night air whipped against her cheeks, refreshing and cleansing, like a baptism of reality. Walking a few blocks, she and Josie searched out a good breakfast joint.

“What time is it?” Josie asked.

Laura checked her phone. “3:12.”

“Jesus,” Josie muttered. “You're getting me a giant stack of pancakes, eggs, bacon, a milkshake – the works. Three in the fucking morning.”

“Yer getting' old, Josie. We used to just get started at three a.m.”

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