Dark Hunger


Page 8



Joe’s voice, pointed and sharp, with a tone of victory that I knew from high school. Sam’s voice was quieter, lower, more melodic and flowing. A cadence I didn’t remember came forth as he and Joe conversed. It made something inside me echo with a wondering. Would he ever talk to me like that? Something familiar and casual was in his tone, the way you talk to a best friend or an intimate confidante.

Being in the band with Trevor, and Joe, and Liam, had allowed Sam to forge a relationship with all of them in a way that I couldn’t understand. Liam I knew all too well and Joe I’d debated over the years. Trevor was a bit of a mystery to me—hot as hell, and confident and cocky, but we were just on a waving and a ‘hi’ kind of level.

I heard Joe mention Darla’s name and that nice, floaty buzzing feeling that I had as I heard Sam speak ended like someone snapped their fingers. Darla. The way she had tongue fucked Joe and Trevor on that stage and then turned to Sam...I closed my eyes, as if smashing the lids together could smash her. Who the hell was she? Some kind of band whore you pass around? That friendly affect and the whole fakey-fake Midwestern thing made my stomach turn. She’d come over to my table and been all friendly and nice and then, it turned out, she was just another hole for the band.

At least, that’s how it seemed.

“...Darla...share...” Joe said. I couldn’t catch the rest.

Share? Sam and Joe and Trevor shared Darla?

What?

Sam never struck me as the kind of guy who did that. Polyamory was big at my college among a small clique of gamers and the cosplay people. Not musicians.

Then again, four years is a long time for someone to change. I certainly wasn’t the same girl at that debate. But whatever they were saying was intense, their words hushed then loud. Dammit! If only I could get closer.

Turning my head slowly, I saw that they were behind a bush. There was no way that they could see me. My shoulders dropped and I stretched my arms out, not realizing how tense I’d been. My heart slammed in my chest as I caught a glimpse of Sam, his arms akimbo, his body loose, an old, well-worn pair of jeans hugging his hips, those long legs relaxed. They were twenty feet away from me at most, and there were enough holes in the hedge that I could catch as much of an eyeful as I wanted. His red hair was grown out in that slightly long look that so many guys had now. His eyes were narrowed and focused on Joe, who stood a few feet away, gesturing with his hands. Sam just nodded slowly and then said a few words, Joe interrupting him repeatedly.

Suddenly, Sam crossed his arms over his chest, the biceps bulging. Long tendons popped out in his forearms, those arms leading to hands that tapped out so many rhythms.

I was a goner, wasn’t I? I stood and picked up my thermos and walked closer, still hidden by the shrubbery. Phrases like ‘can you take over for me?’ and ‘Darla’ made my blood run cold. Were they really talking about swapping this woman? What exactly was his relationship with her? What were all of their relationships with her? Some sort of kinky three-men-one-woman thing? Was that even possible? This was making my head hurt.

A plume of jealousy poured up inside me from my knees, up through my pelvis, and into my throat. What kind of woman gets three men interested in her at the same time? The thought made me blush with rage. And arousal.

Anger drained out as my eyes remained riveted on the two of them and I let myself explore that idea—just for a moment—because, why not? Ideas aren’t inherently bad. There’s nothing wrong with letting yourself imagine something new that you could do, even if you never, in a million years, thought that you’d actually act on it.

What would it be like to have Liam, and Joe, and Sam, all at once, touching me? Hands on my lips, other hands on my breasts, and other hands going lower, finding a very eager red nub. Six hands.

And one me.

Sam

Joe’s phone buzzed in his pocket. He reached in, took a look, and said, “Oh, shit. I have to go—it’s my mom.”

“Dance, monkey boy, dance.”

“Shut. Up.” He looked me square in the eye and shook his head slowly. “Sam, you know for years I really felt sorry for you.”

I pulled my head back. “What?”

“You and all the shit that went down with your dad our senior year.”

A cold flush poured over me and I frowned. “Yeah, so?” Where was this coming from? I didn’t need pity.

“It’s just with this,” he held up the phone, “and my mom practically pulling on the diaper strings, sometimes I wish I had the guts that you have, man.”

“Guts?” I asked. Guts? It didn’t take guts to tell my dad off and walk away and figure all this out on my own, I thought. I didn’t really have a choice. It was that, or watch my soul die. Joe was looking at me like he expected me to say something.

“Joe, at least you have a mom who gives a shit.”

“Your mom gives a shit.”

“I know. She’s just...she’s just too weak to leave him.” Guys don’t talk like this, so there was something really awkward and weird about the fact that Joe was having this after school special moment with me.

“I’m too much of a pussy, aren’t I?” he said. Back to Guy Talk. “You’re a total pussy, Ross.”

“Hey, I owned up to it. You don’t need to dig it in.” He rolled his tongue inside his cheek and punched me in the shoulder.

“You weren’t a pussy, though, to go out to Ohio and rescue Trevor.”

“I didn’t rescue Trevor—Darla rescued us both.”


“And now you’re leaving her?”

He blew out a looooong puff of air. “I’m leaving everything, aren’t I?” he said, starting to walk slowly toward the apartment.

“Yeah, you are. But that takes guts.”

He laughed. “It doesn’t take guts to pick the seventh best law school in the country over BC. In fact, it’s kind of the easy way out.”

“What do you mean ‘the easy way’?”

“It’s programmed in me, man. This is what I have to do. Climb, climb, climb. Scrape, scrape, scrape. Get to the top. Ditch Trevor and Darla.” His voice took on a hard tone.

“You’re not ditching them, though, You’re moving seven hours away.” He started to walk a little faster, his head down. I found myself following, even though I was heading the other way. “You’re not really breaking up with them, are you?”

“Breaking up?” He came to a dead halt, his voice cracking. “Breaking up? You make it sound like we’re in some kind of a....”

“You are in some kind of a...” I stumbled. “What the hell do you call that thing that the three of you are doing?”

He leered at me. “Really incredible sex.”

“OK, you can call it that.”

“No,” he stopped and put a hand on my shoulder, and dipped his head down, his eyes boring into mine. “It’s really incredible sex.”

“Yeah, I know, Joe. I hear it. I’m on the couch, remember? And, by the way, you guys are out of whipped cream.”

“We’re out of condoms, too,” he said, absentmindedly, starting to walk at a faster pace toward the apartment.

“You’re going to give all this up for Penn,” I said dryly.

“I’m going give all this up for Penn,” he confirmed. “But I’m not breaking up with them. Ah, geez,” he cringed. “Breaking up with Trevor...that just sounds so...fucked up.”

“The whole situation is kind of bizarre,.”

“Yeah, I know,” he admitted. “But it’s the first thing that’s felt real, too,” he confessed. “What feels real to you Sam?”

Amy. Her name flashed through my head.

Joe stopped and said, “I gotta run, man. See you later.” He took off like a shot, abruptly ending whatever conversation we just started to actually have. Shit got real when you talked about what was deep inside you. Another person could help you find things, beliefs that were buried so far inside you didn’t even know they were there, things that you could never discover on your own, like trying to tie your shoes with just one hand—you could do it, but it was a hell of a lot easier with two.

Amy

The all too familiar sound of Darth Vader’s marching music floated through my ears and I panicked, realizing my phone was ringing. Dammit! Mom’s ringtone. I grabbed the phone and quickly pressed Accept.

“Hello?” I whispered.

“Amy? Are you OK?”

“Mom.” Of course it was Mom. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

“Why are you whispering?” she said. There was urgency in her voice, a tone of weariness combined with worry that she always had—I couldn’t remember a time when my mother didn’t sound like that.

“Nothing. I’m just...I’m out in public and I’m just trying to be respectful of other people,” I lied.

“Oh, OK. Well, that’s good. So, honey, I’m calling with great news!” Oh boy, here it came. Evan. This was going to be about my brother Evan. Evanfest. Evanpalooza. Evan-o-rama. I steeled myself for a twenty minute conversation where Mom would talk about nothing but my brother—not that it was anything new.

I walked as fast as I could back to the park bench and sat down, curling into myself, covering one ear, my phone pressed hard against the other. “Yeah, mom, what’s going on?”

“Evan is coming home.”

Surprise! I thought. “That’s great!” Mustering as much enthusiasm as I could, I slipped into the very familiar role that I was expected to play: dutiful sister, supportive daughter.

What I wanted to say was, “That’s great, Mom! And by now he’s probably as high as a kite.” Or, “Wow, they let him out even though there’s no way he’s actually clean!” Or, “So, who did he bribe this time to get a few hits while he was in rehab?”

When you live with a brother like Evan, you develop a radar—a bullshit radar—and it was one that was so finely honed in me that it made me want to reach through the phone and slap my mother silly for her enthusiasm and optimism.

The rush of words that came out of her mouth was like Old Faithful—a geyser of completely trite, stereotyped statements. “Oh, honey, he’s on his way home right now. He just had to stop for a few minutes to get something to eat and then he’ll be here, and he is going to move back into his old room, and we’re going to get him enrolled in classes at Bedford Community College, and he’s decided that he’s just going to completely turn his life around, and he’s going to apply for a bunch of jobs. And...”

My throat tightened. I could feel the bile rising in it. My body began to rock slightly forward and back, as if I could pick out some kind of tempo that would keep the truth at bay, that would allow the split in my head between the brain that needed to play along and the brain that was screaming in abject horror at being trapped in this position. My shoulders tightened up around my ears, and the all too familiar hot, burning stomach began.

But none of that mattered, right? What mattered was that I was being supportive to my mom, that I was the good little girl. “That’s really wonderful, Mom,” I choked out. “I’m sure Evan is going to do whatever Evan puts his mind to.” Carefully chosen words designed to tell the truth, and yet, to someone whose entire emotional landscape depended on systemic denial, they seemed supportive.

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