Dark Hunger


Page 4



“They all are.” I grinned back as ferociously as I could.

“Liar.”

“But I’m a good one, aren’t I?”

That got her laughing. “I’ve known too many good liars in my life,” she said, “I could use a few people who tell the truth.” The first chords of a song reverberated through the building and Darla sprinted away. “Come backstage when it’s over,” she shouted, waving over her shoulder. “I’ll make sure you can get in.”

A new song, one I’d never heard before, started to trickle out from the instruments onstage. The melody and harmony intertwined like tendrils from a vine growing with little buds, eager to reach the sun and bloom. I could feel my heart slamming against my chest and then a flood of warmth, then heat, then fire as Trevor opened his mouth and everyone came together in perfect harmony.

Sam

I don’t know why we never thought to record a song called “Random Acts of Crazy” before. Then again, how many bands record a song with their name as the title? It made sense, though, when you looked at what happened to Trevor. How many people wind up naked, on the side of the highway, nothing on them but a guitar, and end up falling in love?

Damn, if that guy didn’t have all the luck.

As the song progressed, I could feel myself shifting, the way that I always did when I was playing. The beat came naturally—when to pull back, when to lean in, how to keep time with the improvisation that Trevor threw into it, how Joe and Liam knew to keep up. We were all working together, and the word ‘team’ seemed so cheesy, like something out of a class we’d had to take in high school. Team was the most overused word on the planet when it came to educational institutions.

Funny how flow was never uttered.

I didn’t often look out into the crowd when we were playing; normally the lights were too bright or the place was too dark. Some sixth sense, though, told me to look up, and so help me God, it was like seeing a ghost in the crowd. She sat at a table alone with empty glasses in front of her. Turned away just a little, her eyes not on us, but on some spot over to my left. Was that really Amy? Why was she here? Gorgeous. Look at her. The long brown hair that spilled over her shoulders was styled differently, bringing out those eyes, wide and round, underscored by cheekbones that made me want to plant kisses on them every hour, on the hour. She had a smile that turned the regular world into a weak facsimile of truth. She was the only girl—woman, now—who had ever made my mind echo with the word ‘love.’

I had loved Amy from afar all through high school—too scared to approach her for what turned out to be exactly too long, finally taking the plunge four and half years ago when the stakes were too high. Just as I worked up the nerve to step up, I found all I could do was walk away.

High school seemed like another life, not just my past, but an entire separate lifetime lived out in some sort of fuzzy dimension that ran parallel to who I was.

It came back now, a deep, heavy macrobeat that thrummed in half-time with my heart, making me slow down, making time slow down—because with someone like Amy, you want time to tick one thousand years per second.

And it still wouldn’t be enough.

The song was wrapping up and my brain fused back together, the two pieces integrated, my hands itching to feel her cheekbones, her jawline, that soft spot on her neck where I had buried my nose in a stolen embrace. She’d thought I had been comforting her, but I had just been reaching out, wanting to enter her world. It had turned out that she had wanted to enter mine.

And then I shattered everything.

Amy

Here’s the thing about bookish girls...we know a lot more about sex than you would ever imagine. We read. Our eyes flit to anything with words assembled on a page, from the backs of cereal boxes to brochures at the pharmacist’s, to our mother’s hidden Penthouse Forum magazines, and copies of My Secret Garden and Madonna’s book Sex.


We read.

Reading opens up a whole new layer of existence when it comes to our bodies and sexuality. It fuels our fantasies, gives us concrete ideas for what a sexual fantasy even is, and creates this tantalizing layer of existence where we know so much, have read so many ways that people relate to each other intimately, erotically, sexually, and yet, we have so little physical, tangible experience.

Do you see the problem? It’s pretty obvious, right? Which brings me to the next thing that you really need to know about bookish girls, and it’s this—librarians are hot. Really hot. Most of us wear glasses because our eyes are blown from taking in so much information about the core of human existence that we just can’t handle it all without help. Plenty of us look boring and dull on the outside, but again, you’ve got to realize, we read.

When I was ten, I discovered Stephen King’s novel, The Dead Zone. My mother had left it on the coffee table when she finished it, I was bored and it was summer, so I started reading. Adult fiction was like this whole other world. More to read than American Girl books and Judy Blume? The children’s librarian at our local library had guided me to read a lot of the Judy Blume books by then, and was moving into things like To Kill a Mockingbird and Holes and Fade. A lot of the Robert Cormier books were most interesting to me, but this was another world. Stephen King’s topic, supernatural abilities and horrible visions, was outside my usual subject matter, but that wasn’t even close to the newest experience with that book.

The part that captivated me and that catapulted me to where I am now, twelve years later, was a sex scene. It was the first sex scene I had ever read—unsurprisingly, as I was only ten. An incredible sex scene in a hayloft. Reading this, and rereading it, and re-reading it, my ten-year-old brain was drawn to how poetic it was. Morality aside—the woman in the scene was married to another man, and sleeping with the main character—to me it was most important that it was so sweet, and tender, and new.

I knew the basics; my mom was a high school guidance counselor and had explained sex to me much the way she’d explained Internet safety and the finer points of college application polishing. It was an Important Fact To Be Covered for the purpose of making me well rounded and safe.

But this – this was something other than these parts do this to make a baby. There were emotions involved in this—and there was pleasure. It stunned me that two people would be together and try to reach something greater than themselves.

I was hooked.

That was it. That was what I wanted to read. I didn’t want to go out and do it, for goodness sake; that wasn’t at all in my mind, like, for years. But what I wanted was access to that world. Adults could interact with each other on this level that actually made me look forward to growing up.

Deciding right then and there that I would learn as much as I could about how adults related to one another, I saw that books in the adult section—not the children’s wing—were the gateway to this other world. Librarians at our local library had to approve kids under twelve for a library card to access the adult section. Convincing them became my mission, and I did it, pretty quickly. It wasn’t hard to use some solid examples of great works of literature that allowed me to have that ever-important sticker on my kid’s library card, and then I went for it.

Danielle Steele, Kresley Cole, Jackie Collins, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn – the big ones, mostly still from whatever the local library stocked on the shelves. When I had read through all of the books they had written, I just kept going. Thank God for the Internet, too. Book bloggers made all the difference for me. Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen—at those ages I didn’t really have a compass for what to read, but the book bloggers gave it to me.

I think I was seventeen when I ordered my first sex toy off a major online retailer’s website. Hiding it from my mom was the hard part. Figuring out how to use it was easy. A little too easy. The Internet had taught me the difference between clitoral orgasms and vaginal orgasms. My toy collection grew. My inventory of clitoral orgasms grew, but the vaginal ones remained elusive.

And when I’d found an actual boyfriend in college—I met Brent at a band competition of all places—sex turned out to be, um...OK. He was a drummer. Don’t overread into that. Brent had a saying: “the first time’s for me and the second time’s for you.”

I think that speaks for itself.

Watching the way Sam moved on stage, embracing the music through the instrument he played, I saw him seeking an intimacy, a connection to something greater than himself. Seeking what I sought. Sam and I could do that for each other. We could create that world again, the world in that first embrace. All of this came to the forefront of my mind, my lips, my fingertips, and my core when I watched Sam making love to his drums. The way he moved, the way he fingered those sticks, how his body reached out to embrace each part of the instrument he played—he really was the one who got away. There was nothing I could do about that now, just sit here and watch him, and make love to him with my eyes, while he made love to an instrument.

I’d have bet he could touch me in ways that would make my breath hitch, my blood pound, my mind shatter into a million tiny pieces, and then realign in my flesh only to explode again, the thin sound of the molecules in motion all chanting his name. Sam could do that. I could do that to Sam. We could create another world together like he did in his embrace of me, except now we’re not seventeen, we’re not under our parents’ thumbs, and we’re not adversaries. Did he have a girlfriend? Was there a chance for anything with him right now, or was I fooling myself? The swell of the music drove too many competing rhythms through my blood.

It was time to stop thinking.

It was time to just listen.

Sam

It shouldn’t have been a surprise when Beth dumped me. What had been the actual surprise was that she ever dated me at all. She was one of those girls who look like the bored friend in all those ads for cool clothes. You know, the women with small tits and flat stomachs, and little, thin, tanned legs that cross perfectly, with the skirt that practically shows how many hairs they missed at the last waxing. Beth was way too pretty and popular for me, and I knew that, knew it for the entire time that we dated.

She was at Amherst and I was at UMass, and we met, of all places, in a bar. Cliché, I know. I’m okay with cliché. She liked me because I was a drummer, a bad boy, at least until we were headed toward our final semester of senior year, and something in her decided that she was just done with me. Having her dump me six weeks before graduation hurt less than it should have; that was the first clue.

When I look back and really think about the times I felt hot and bothered, and way out of control over a woman, there aren’t many. With Beth there was a little bit in the beginning, but then it settled into a routine of being dragged around by the nose and doing her bidding. I went along because, hey, she had a libido and an appetite for sex the way that a teenage boy has an appetite for pizza. The sex was fan-fuckin’-tabulous, but the love, and some of those other words that you hear about in relationships like respect, or mutual appreciation, or some of that other crude shit that our psychology and human sexuality professors used to claim were part of the human experience. That? Beth wasn’t into that.

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