Meet Beth Nobody

It’s three am.

The entire city is asleep.

But not you.

You’re smirking while you stare at the phone in your hand.  Glancing up occasionally to make sure you’re still alone. I’ve been sending you dirty messages.  Raunchy.  Sexy.  Unsolicited.  Dirty. Tweets. And you’re thoroughly enjoying it.  Refreshing almost incessantly to see what I might send next.  It’s the perfect way to waste away a few hours before an early-morning flight takes you far far away from here.  You know you should sleep, because you wont be able to on the plane, but I’ve become a welcome distraction.  My delivery is interesting, if not original, and for once in a very long time, you’re considering a late night fantasy fulfillment.

You’ve seen my Instagram photos.  I’ve passed that test.  So now it’s just a matter of time.

There’s nothing exceptionally unique about this situation or my dirty messages or even what I want to do to you but for whatever reason, it’s working for you tonight. It’s not loneliness. It’s convenience. I’m perfect for you, for tonight.  Timing is everything.

Our conversation picks up irreversible momentum so you take it offline. From twitter messages to text to telephone. Still flirty and fearless. I paint a picture you want to reenact and use the word fuck quite a lot. You like that. You call me on it and I laugh at myself.  Apologize if I offended you and then you laugh because it’s not rude or crass this time. It’s cute. It’s entertaining. It might even be a little bit sexy.

Finally, you’ve come across someone you want to play with and it’s not just because I’m right down the road. Or more precisely, on the same block as your hotel.  It’s because there’s something different here.  I’m funny.  I’m sexy. There’s a little something extra on the line tonight.  Something you don’t mind exploring a little more.

Something perfect, for tonight.

“What do you want me to do to you?” You inquired.
“Fuck me.” I responded coyly.
“How would I do that? You’re there and I’m here.”
“You could come to my house.”
“But it’s nearly three am.”
“I’ll be awake.”
“But I don’t even know you.”
“You will when we’re done.” I teased.

That’s what got you out of your chair. Knowing. You don’t like mysteries.  You want to know if that something, is anything. You’re in too deep now. You need to know. Leaving this stone unturned would bug the ever-living shit out of you. You’re single-focused now.  So you’re going to seek me out.  Figure me out.  Fuck me. Then move on.

“Do you want to play with me?” I asked.
“Yes.” you sighed.

Your answers got shorter but your responses came quicker until your mind was made up and you were on your way.

Twenty minutes after texting you my address…

I forgot to turn the porch light on so you rasped quietly on my front door in the dark. The rain was coming down hard now, disguising your knock as more raindrops. I was falling asleep waiting for you so I didn’t hear you at first. Inadvertently, I made you wait. In the dark and in the rain.

I heard you curse then knock two more times. Very loud. A split second later you pressed the bell … repeatedly. I was awake now. I jumped from my spot on the couch and pulled my wrap closed as I scrambled to the door. The wind from me passing through the hall made candles in the foyer flicker.  I had the lights off.  All of them.  My house was low lit with cutesy-scented yankee candles.  I thought about blowing them out, but you had been waiting too long as it were.

My stomach was in my throat as I held the front door knob in my hand.  You were just on the other side. Is this really happening? I took a deep breath as I opened the door wide to let you inside.  You were standing there in your black overcoat, black trousers, boots undone and a garment bag slung over your shoulder. You weren’t smiling.  Your clothes were different but still dressy (to me). Thats not what you had on at the red carpet a few hours earlier – you changed.  For me? I noticed this because I was watching you on TV all night. First presenting then accepting an award. You looked debonaire. You still do.

With your car service idling by the curb, we assessed one another in silence. Up and down my body your eyes roamed.  You liked my lingerie.  Noted that my hair and makeup were done.  And you smiled when you noticed my feet were bare. I forgot to slip back in to my heels before answering the door. I twisted my big toe in to the wood floor. At least I had a fresh pedicure.

From undone boot to windblown ombre, my eyes digested you too.  You were far better looking in person than I had remembered. And you had the devil in your eyes.

The devil is a seductive bastard.

I sucked in all the nerve I could muster, licked my lips, grabbed your lapel and pulled you inside my home. We didn’t speak a word. You didn’t gesture to the chauffeur. You simply shut the door behind us with your foot, dropped your belongings by the door and smirked at me.

The air in the room evaporated.

You stood slightly taller than me. Your face so close to mine. Your lips just a breath away. I suddenly felt shy. I’m sure my cheeks were bright pink. What was I doing? You’re a stranger!

You didn’t say a word but you kissed me softly. Your five o’clock shadow scraping my chin as we kissed. Slow. I put my hand on the back of your neck and you dropped your coat at my feet. We kissed sweetly for a moment, getting familiar, finding our rhythm, then our momentum picked up. Passion unfurled and I felt weak in my knees. My balance off.  Thankfully your hands were on my waist to hold me up because I was about to lose it.  God damn boy, you know how to give a kiss.

I buried my hands in your hair to steady myself but I couldn’t catch my breath as you devoured my lips, my neck, my shoulders. You already owned me. After just one kiss. It was crazy. Already intense. My body was aching for more.  I couldn’t wait to get to more.

But…

I had to slow it down.
You just got here.
I didn’t want it to end.

So I did something insane:
I bit your lip.
You pulled back quickly.
Shocked.

Your eyes asked me a thousand questions as you checked your mouth for blood. I was nervous to receive your reaction.  Did I ruin it?  Did you like it? You spun me around so I faced the wall in my front foyer and that answered that. I felt like a bad girl. Being frisked before my arrest.  You were rough with me.  Punishment for being so bad.

We had texted about this. Playful sex. Dirty sex. Angry sex. The best kind of sex. Passionate and violent.  You had a pretty good idea of what I like from our earlier conversation and I was shivering ever so slightly with anticipation for what would come next.

You pushed my legs apart with your knee and directed my hands to the wall above me. Happily I flattened them out like you showed me.  Let you take full control. Full compliance.

You slid your hand down my arm, across my elbow to the back of my neck.  You jerked my head to the side, exposing my jugular.  You danced a fingertip across the veins that were pulsing in my neck. My hair fell away. You left a kiss on my vertebra as your hands wrapped around my ribcage and found my breasts.

You leaned in to me.  I could feel your body through our clothes.  Tight against me.  I removed my hand from the wall, wanting to feel your skin on my hand.  You pinned it back in place immediately.  One hand held both of my wrists in together in front of me.  I sighed as two fingers on your other hand circled my nipple over my shirt.  I rocked my hips so I could slide up and down against you.  You leaned in, allowing me that pleasure.  I could feel you.  No space between us.  And Jesus-Fuck I wanted you so bad in that moment.  Right there in my foyer.

You burrowed your face in my hair until you found my neck again. Nibbling on me like candy, exploring beneath my clothes. Biting and suckling. Tasting me. Awakening me. You were savoring it too.

My body responded generously to your touch. Readied itself for what was to come. My breath quickened. My palms sweat. Your weight was deliciously heavy on me, pinning me still to the wall as we rocked our hips together.

When your breaths became shorter, your hands became heavier. I was ready.  You were ready.  You slid your fingers inside me.  One then two.  Teased my clit from behind.  I wanted so badly to touch you so I fought with you for freedom.  You planted a hand in my hair and growled to remind me quickly who was in charge. It wouldn’t be me.  Not that I really needed it to be.

“Where’s your room?” You groaned in to my ear, a hand lazily rubbing between my legs.

“Up.” Was all I could mutter.  That lazy hand was working magic.

You pushed me forward. Guiding me by my upper arm. A compliant prisoner, I shuffled through the foyer. I looked back at you, over my shoulder, as you ushered us deeper in to my house. It was real again.  Your face I knew but this man I did not. Not yet. Could I trust you? Of course I could. Right?

We reached the staircase and you stopped. Pulled my wrap off, discarded the black silk covering on the ground and tied my hands behind me with the belt from the robe. Your smirk was devilish as you made a double knot.

I wasn’t surprised you wanted it like this. You held my bound wrists by the tether. Directing me from behind again. “Up.” You said before turning me around so you could kiss me again. Bite me some more. Pull gently at my hair. Grind your hard cock in to me.  All while I was tied to myself.

I no longer knew which way was up. You kissed me so hard that I felt it in my bones. Your hands were leaving bruises. Your mouth: hickies. I climbed two steps practically underneath you. Bound with you there directing me upward. Ordering me. Owning me. My body was on fire. Begging for more of your touch. More of your bites.

You lifted my slip up to taste my skin again and my nipples were erect. You liked that. Your mouth did too. I moaned.  I still couldn’t touch you. That began to feel like torture.  Punishment.  You controlled the moment and me.  I wanted to touch you so bad. Feel every inch of you in my hand. Run my fingers across every tattoo. Find your sweet spots and make you moan. But you wouldn’t allow it. My leash wrapped taut around your wrist. A leash for your pet.

Incapacitated and wanting in a lustful dream state as you turned me around.

You smirked a lot. Every time I complied with an instruction.

Getting your way looks good on you.

“Up.” You ordered. I took a step forward but you held me back. “Up!” You demanded again.

I was trying. This part of our game confused me at first. I was trying to be a good girl. Doing what you asked but you wouldn’t allow it. You weren’t making sense.  You were demanding I go up the stairs, but not giving me enough free rein to comply.  I tried to crawl.  It was useless.

You leaned in heavy again. Behind me but your face right next to mine. I saw the haze covering your eyes and it quickly explained away the contradictions. You were drunk with power. You bit my ear. I felt your everything pulsate as you pushed your hips in to my ass. Your gyration launched me forward and I fell to my knees. It wasn’t mean just surprising.

In a moment you fell in behind me and yanked down my panties and freed yourself from your clothes. Your pants at your knees.  You didn’t fully disrobe.

And you didn’t let go of my leash.

My face was pressed hard in to the stairs. For a second I was distracted by thoughts of when it was I had last vacuumed these steps. You moaned in my ear and I came back to the present. You felt so swollen and deliciously huge against me. But you wouldn’t let me see that part of you. I just felt you behind me and could see your face when you leaned over my shoulder to chew on my neck.

You teased me with your tip. Taking just a taste then backing away. I was wet and needy.  Exposed and controlled. I was aching and you were taking your time. It was the best and worst moment of my life.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I thought I was going to explode.

“Do it! Now!” I demanded and you laughed at me. I buried my face in the carpet.

I felt pathetic and needy.

I looked up from the floor and at you over my shoulder “Fuck me?” I begged quietly and at that you pushed yourself deep inside of me with one swift movement. Every inch of you until you could go no more. You were near ecstasy before we even got going. I knew immediately. Your moans were guttural. This was really happening. With each thrust I went closer to the edge.  Opening wide for you and releasing again and again. I moaned so loud I embarrassed myself. You snorted then thrust harder and harder, a hand on my neck and an arm across my chest for leverage until you cried out. Then your body shook as you spilled the whole world in to me. We gasped for air and you collapsed on top of me.

“Hi.” You whispered while you were still inside of me. “I’m Jared.”

– – – – – – – – –

“Beth.” I panted as everything we’d just done came to an end. We were both starving for oxygen. Breathing heavy.  Not moving.  It was over and I could feel you softening inside me.  Still linked together like two animals, doggy style.  You were spent, so was I, but one of your hands remained on my breast.  The other on my tether.

You let out one last moan or maybe it was a gasp.  I had to bite my lips to keep my smile beneath the surface as you slid out of me and backed away.  I was finally able to see all of you within the light of the hall candles. And I swear in that moment I sighed.

There aren’t enough words to describe you, but I’ll try to tell you what I thought in that moment. You were beautiful, Jared, and oddly enough, I was proud of the perspiration on your brow and how you looked in the candlelight.  Dreamy.  The two of us together, what we had done, was written all over your face.  Your hazy eyes.  Your rapid breathing.  I was proud that I brought that out in you.  As silly as that may seem now.

I wanted to say something to you but it was like my words were mixed up and sloshing around in a bowl of alphabet soup between my ears.  I didn’t know what I could say so I just stared at you while you recovered.  You were even better looking than I could have ever imagined.

God! I wanted to have you all over again. And again. And again. Don’t laugh – I was impressed by your prowess and how you made me feel. Of course I’d want to feel that way again. You done good boy.  Real good…

You were on your knees on my staircase catching your breath when I noticed something shift on your face.  You went from simple recovery to reclamation wicked quick.

“Someone made a mess on your carpet.” You snarked.

“Who would do such a thing?” I kidded back.

“Pigs.” You remarked and you let the tie from my robe slip from your hand. It cascaded down and fell soft on the back of my legs. I felt released. Tossed back. Unbound. It was a funny feeling.  A feeling I immediately did not like.  I didn’t mind being chained to you.  I think being unchained is going to be a problem.

“Care to untie me?” I asked as you stood up.

“You look pretty good like that.” You said before leaning back down to free me.

I turned myself around on the stairs and massaged my wrists while I watched you pull up your pants, zip up then rehook your buckle.

It’s over.

You grabbed my wrap from the floor beside you and tossed it my way.  I caught it mid-air.

“Cold?”  You suggested.

“No.” I sighed.

You leaned in above me and mumbled. “Was this everything you had hoped for … Beth?” My name sounded like water freezing on your lips. Icy. Uncomfortable.

I felt my cheeks flush and the pit beneath my stomach flip flop hearing you speak to me.  It felt more intimate than what we had just done.  But what did I know, I was still reeling while you were rebuilding a wall.

I responded a little too enthusiastically and very close to your face.

“Yes.”  I said again and I placed my hand on your cheek and tried to kiss you.

You pulled back quickly, forced a smile and reminded me: “I’ve got a plane to catch.”

Oh.  I forgot about that.  Don’t go. I thought to myself.

Don’t go. Don’t go. Don’t go.

I recited the words in my brain again and again but I didn’t dare say them aloud.  This is what we had agreed to, in not so many words, you would be leaving after the fun was done.  You had a plane to catch.

“Can I get you … ?” I started to speak but you stopped me by putting your pointer finger to my lips.

“My car is waiting.  You should go to sleep. It’s probably 4am.”  A forced smile appeared on your face.  An actor’s smile. Or maybe it was a smirk. I wont believe it was a grimace.

I’m not sure what my face was registering as you fixed yourself in the hallway mirror but my heart was sinking and you didn’t care.  You winked at me and it sunk further.

I refused to ask if I’d see you again.  Refused to be pathetic though I wanted so bad to throw myself at you.  Yes, I can do this.  I knew you were coming for a one-night stand.

Let him go.  

Let him go.

I thought that would be the right thing to do.

So I did.  I let you go.  Without another word.

A moment later you were fully dressed and you slipped into your boots by the door. Overcoat and garment bag slung over your left arm.  Just like you had arrived.

If you’d had a hat on, I bet you’d have tipped it just once.

“Thanks Beth.”  You said casually as you opened my front door.

I reached out to the air between us.

And then you were gone. 

– – – – – – – – – –

The time that passed between then and when we met again was significant.

I spent the year changing every thing about me.

Adjustment.
Realignment.
Forgiveness.
Rebirth.

Before I met you I had settled neatly in to a perpetual state of complacency. Just idling by the proverbial curb. Hiding from life.  Spending ten hours each day behind a reception desk where I trolled twitter more than I answered phones; followed by endless nights spent with forkfuls of left overs I didn’t bother to reheat. My lover: Netflix.  Six seasons of Lost, eight of Dexter, five of Breaking Bad under my belt.  My future plans: season two of Orange is the New Black.

My life was boring and predictable. I was alive without living and I had come to terms with that. I didn’t need more than what I had.  I was content with my pathetic humdrum existence.  It truly was ok.

Then I had you.

And everything changed.

That night with you really fucked me up.  It turned my little world upside down and made me question everything about my life and who I was and how I was living.  I became this introspective little psycho who couldn’t get out of her own mind long enough to even do her job.

It wasn’t that what we did was bad and I felt gross or guilty or that I was slut shaming myself.  No, nothing like that at all. The sex was intoxicating.  Electrifying.  Ridiculously hot. And I’d do it again and again if I could.

That’s the problem: It happened only once.  That is what destroyed me.

I felt like I blew it.  I couldn’t keep that night in proper context.  It changed me. Spun me around and barfed me out. I pined for you.  Like a pathetic and needy puppy.  I couldn’t let it be.  I couldn’t move on.  I couldn’t stop thinking about you.  All the fucking time !

To put it simply – I was a fucking mess.  For months. I wasn’t happy with myself anymore and I stopped letting the people around me in.  Hashtag I lost it.

Day after day as I sat behind my reception desk, with my phone in my hand, I tortured myself with memories of one night.

Wait. Let’s be real, one hour of one night.

I sat there praying for a text to come in and following you around the globe (via your tweets, gossip blogs, TMZ) and I wondered what we could have been if we had met some other way.  We had undeniable chemistry.  I blamed twitter and I ran through my mind what I should have said to make you stay. Something should have been said. Then I would ask myself why I needed to be the one to throw out the magical line that would have made you see me as something more than a one-night thing when I know you felt what I felt too. And then I would get mad at you. It was torture.  And not the kind I like.

But life moved on and so did you.  Without looking back.

I didn’t text you.  Didn’t call.  I deleted my twitter account.  Erased my fingerprints from your life.  Undeserving or unwelcome, I didn’t want to find out which.  You were gone and that was that.  I bucked up. Got over how bad I fucked up.  Grew my hair out, finally found some girlfriends, beat myself up at the gym and took up running.  Every footfall on the pavement taking me further away from the memories of that night.  Loud music (not your music) blaring in my ears to drown out the gasps and the moans that once haunted me.  I ran a 5k.  Then I ran another.  The Boston Marathon after that.

Gladly, I quit that God awful job with too much downtime for me to think. Boxed up my townhouse near your old hotel and I left that staircase of memories behind.  Found a less crappy job at a boutique hotel on the other side of the city.  And I was busy.  A lot busier than before.  It wasn’t long before I stopped picturing you answering me when I asked the next customer What brings you to Baltimore? I finally stopped hoping you would accidentally stumble in to my hotel lobby. And by mid-Spring, I forgot about you entirely.

– – – – – – –

The night of the Champagne and Tulips Black Tie Gala at the Museum of Art started off famously.  I wore a teal open-back gown with a borrowed diamond cuff bracelet and little dangling earrings. My long hair styled half up with romantic and playful ringlets spiraling down my shoulders. Red lips.  My makeup subtle but still sexy.

Max, my date, wore a rented black Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo with a white bow tie and black wingtips.  He liked to hold my hand and knew how to twirl me around the dance floor to the soft music of the band. So I let him.

We danced for more than an hour before we stepped outside for a little fresh air. The night air was crisp but it felt divine. I was preoccupied by small talk with another couple out enjoying the night air when you appeared on the steps above us.

I didn’t have a moment to absorb that it was you standing there before you spat at me:  “What are YOU doing here?”

I looked up at you incredulously.  Did you really just ask me that? This is my city! “Hello to you too, Jared.” I said coldly.

You came down two steps so you were just one above me and leaned in. “Are you following me?” You growled as you grabbed my wrist and pulled me towards you.

That was strike two.

“You have some nerve!” I shouted and I wrestled my wrist out of your grip.

“Is everything ok Beth?”  My date queried.

“Yes!” You and I both responded in unison.

“You’re trembling.”  Max observed.

You removed your tuxedo jacket and quickly slung it over my shoulders.  “She’s fine.  Give us a minute, would you?”  You instructed my date.

He acquiesced after I waved him off and you ushered me up the stairs by my elbow back in to the Art Museum.

“Who the fuck are you to come at me like that? How dare you suggest I’d follow you anywhere!  Who do you think you are?  Screw you!” I spat as you directed us away from the party and down a few steps to a low lit gallery.

“Shut up!” You ordered.

“I will not!” I shouted and you pushed me up against a wall.  “I don’t know who you think you are talking to…” You cut me off mid sentence with a hard and deep kiss that melted me in to the wall.  I slapped your shoulders two or three times then fell in step with your kiss.  Buried my hands in your hair.  Leaned heavily in to your embrace.  You slid your knee between my legs and pushed them apart. This felt familiar. Your jacket slipped from my shoulders and fell to the floor.  You pulled at the fabric of my dress raising it higher and higher until I was nearly exposed.  I looked around us, unsure of how private this part of the gallery truly was.

You were ravenous as you searched beneath layers of fabric for that spot you know so well. My hands held tight to your strong shoulders. “Who is that guy you were with?  Who is he?” You demanded as you peppered my lips with kisses and your hands roamed beneath my dress.  We got reacquainted while you gave me the third degree.

“My date?” I panted as you kissed my throat. “Just some guy…”

“I saw you dancing with him.  I didn’t like it.”  You snarled.

“He’s just a friend …” Your lips covered mine.  I couldn’t speak.  I didn’t want to speak.

You pushed my panties aside and slid your fingers inside of me.  “I didn’t like it.”  you instructed as you slid one, then two fingers deep inside me.  Your eyes burned in to mine.  A stare that stole my soul.  “I didn’t like it.”  You said again as you watched me writhe beneath your touch. You nibbled on my bottom lip and circled your fingers in and out of me. I closed my eyes tightly and moaned softly.  Your fingers tricked and teased me.  My whole body responded to your touch.  Memory response.

I’ll behave.  I promise. Just don’t ever stop.

You slid my panties down to my ankles and over my feet then tucked them in to your pocket with a wicked grin.  You traced my inner thigh with a fingertip and kissed me deeply. Slower now. I undid your dress pants and let them fall to your knees. You lifted me up against the wall and I guided you inside of me.  You bit my shoulder once deep within.  Manhandled my breast.  “I don’t want you to see anyone else.” You demanded as you pounded yourself in to me.  Rapid and deep.  Thick. Deeper. Faster. Until I unwound.  You were giving me what I wanted but you wanted something in return.

“Tell me you wont” you ordered.

I put my mouth to your ear and whispered: Fuck you.

You whimpered.

Right before you ripped my dress, you asked me to promise you that it would be only you but I didn’t say a word and your eyes rolled back in to your head and your body shook anyway.  I felt you pulsate and throb inside of me until you were empty. I don’t know who was in control of that moment, but it definitely wasn’t you.

When it was over, I brushed your hair back from your face and kissed you softly. You pulled away quickly and my heart sank.  Again.  That rejection felt too familiar.  You don’t like the softer side of intimacy.  Or maybe it frightens you that I want to kiss you that way.  Either way, I wanted to vomit all over you.

You were looking at something off to the side of us when you backed away from me quickly and pulled up your pants. “Here’s Johnny.” You snarked and you motioned to the stairs.

My date, Max, was standing there holding my clutch purse in his hands. His face was red with fury.  

– – – – – – – – – –

“Oh My God!” I blurted out.

Then I shouted “Max! Wait!” and I looked to you and back at Max who was exiting swiftly.  I fixed my dress, put my hand on my heart and begged him to stop and listen to me.  My words fell across his retreating back as I shuffled shoeless after him. “I have to explain Max…Please let me explain?”

“No need.” Max said as he turned around quickly with a snarl on his lips “I know a star fucker when I see one.”

“Ouch.” You jeered from somewhere behind where Max and I stood.

“Yeah ouch.” Max mimicked “Congratulations on the Oscar win Jared.” he said to you over my shoulder.

You didn’t know what to say or do so you simply nodded.

“…and con-gradu-fucking-lations for fucking my date in the middle of the Art Museum. Great year for you dude. Jesus Christ!” and then Max stormed out of the gallery leaving me behind with my jaw on the floor and my pride in a cleaning bucket nearby.

Tears started rolling down my cheeks.  I’m not that kind of girl!  I’m not!

You noticed my tears and it made you really uncomfortable.

“Beth …?”

I put my hands up to my face and started to cry pretty hard.  My back shook and my knees felt weak.  I was ashamed and embarrassed and felt ridiculously alone. There’s no way to explain exactly what I was feeling that night. No one would ever understand this roller coaster ride you kept taking me on.

All I knew is I had just blown it with a man who promised me tomorrow for one more moment with you.  A lover who left me behind a year ago without ever looking back.

You didn’t want me.  But here I was again, giving my life up for you.

“Listen … Beth?  I don’t know who that dude is or was to you but …”  you walked closer to me and put your hand on my shoulder. “But whoever he is.  He has no couth.  Don’t … let him get under your skin.  Who cares what he said?  It’s not that big of a deal.”  You were searching for the right words, I think, but there really wasn’t much to say.

“I’m not a star fucker Jared.”

You counseled me “I know you’re not.”  then gave me a very weak hug.

“This is so bad.” I declared as I wiped my tears from my eyes. “I work with him.”

You were silent for way too long.  Then you said: “Oh shit.”

“Yeah.  Oh shit.” I groaned.

“No. I mean…shit! Shit!” Then you got angry and you started interrogating me about exactly what type of person Max is. And it took a moment before I realized you weren’t angry about the embarrassment that would inevitably befall me when I returned to work the next day. You were worried about yourself.  Worried that this little trist of yours would get out.  That Max would tell some tabloid what he walked in on just to get revenge.  And that angered me more than I ever thought possible.  As if I would date a guy like that.  Max was crushed by what happened.  He wouldn’t go broadcasting that.

“Oh, fuck off!” I said and I forced myself out of your embrace and slipped my heels back on.  You were surprised by my reaction but nonplussed just the same.

I started to leave again.

“Don’t follow him.” You warned.

“I have to. He drove me here.”

“I’ll call you a car.”

“Of course you’d say that.”

“What exactly do you want from me Beth?”

“Not a fucking thing.” I said and this time I made it to the stairs before you caught up with me.

“Don’t do that.” You called out after me.

“What?”

“Pretend that you don’t want me around.”

“You can’t just come in to my life when you feel like it and ruin everything!” I pouted.

“I didn’t ruin anything and you know that.” You sighed.  “You wanted me just as much as I wanted you tonight. Mark or Max or whatever his name is …is not who you want. I am. And you know that.” You pulled gently on the end of my hair “Aren’t we lucky that we ran in to each other tonight?  We clearly had some catching up to do.”  You smiled sweetly.  The devil inside you lay dormant for a moment even though the words you were uttering were cocky and a little tricky.

I had nothing to say back to you.  You were right.  But I didn’t want you to know that.  How did you know that?

“I haven’t thought about you a single time.  Not once!”

“Bullshit.”

I almost stomped my foot while swearing “I haven’t.”

“Well I’ve been thinking about you.” You said kindly as you moved in closer to me and tucked a strand of my hair behind my ear gently.

That line would have been great if I believed you.  I smiled anyway.  Can’t help but wish it were true.

“You’re a mess.” You said as you slid your tuxedo jacket over my shoulders once again.

“Yeah.  I know.” I agreed.

You asked me then “What am I going to do with you?”

“You’re going to call me a cab.”

“Alright we’ll get a cab.” You agreed.

“We?”

“Yeah.  I’m not letting you go … yet.”

“Yet?”

“Yet.”   

– – – – – – – – – – – –

“Where are we going?” You asked. “I thought you lived by that hotel.”

“I moved.”

“When?”

“About a year ago.”

You looked at the passing row homes and back at me.  “Why?”

“Needed a change. Make a left on Charles.” I instructed the cab driver who nodded in response.

“What’s here?”

“A new life.”

“What was wrong with the one you had?”

I quickly changed the subject.  “My neighborhood is called Station North.  It’s up and coming as they say. Arts and entertainment district. Has a lot of history. You might like it.”  I pointed out Red Emma’s Books and Coffeehouse.  “That’s my regular hang spot….Vegetarian.”

You were reading the street signs, shop signs and historic placards as we worked our way through the night streets to my nondescript walkup and not paying much attention to me.  You absorbed every detail.  Categorized it and filed it away somewhere in your brain. I enjoyed watching you take in Baltimore knowing that you were learning, not just looking. Unfortunately the ride was relatively short.

When the cab driver stopped by the curb in front of my building, you plied him with a few bills and got the door for me.

“Thank You.”  I whispered to the cab driver and then to you.

I gathered the tatters of my gown in my hand and limped to the stoop.  Somewhere in the middle of the madness back the art museum, my heel broke. “Third floor … walk up.” I admitted as I slid my key in the front door.

“Nice.” you teased as you came in to the vestibule behind me.

“Yeah, if I let my candles burn long enough I can almost mask the smell of the food fermenting over there at China Moon.”

“Is that what that stench is?”

“Smells wicked but their dim sum is killer.” You rolled your eyes at me. “Ah, yeah. I forgot you don’t eat meat.  Come this way Mr. Vegan.”

We climbed three flights to the top floor, each wooden step creaking while the next croaked beneath us. My apartment is the smaller of the two that occupy the third floor but I have better windows.  I unlock three deadbolts before letting us inside.

“Overkill?” You ask. I don’t bother answering.

I toss my keys in to an unused ashtray on a small table by the door and press my answering machine on to playback my messages.

“Nobody has one of those anymore!” You declare in horror.

“I’m not nobody.” I murmur as I delete six or seven messages without listening and toss my clutch on the bed.

My apartment is just shy of 400square feet and I’ve filled every inch with my new life and books.  Lots of books. A tall and wide window with a built in bench seat stretches across the far end of my studio apartment. The lights from the street twinkle beneath it. I’ve collected a slew of unmatched pillows that I align along the window bench. I drink my morning tea, read my books, check my email and day dream from that spot quite often.  It’s the nook in my tiny apartment that feels the most like home to me.

In front of the window seat is an old recliner with a hand knit throw hanging across the back and magazines on the seat, an ancient television, stacks of books on the small scale coffee table, piles of books on the end table, neat lines of books inside built in shelves, and against the white brick walls.  Hundreds of books.  I’ve read every one.  Some more than once, twice, even three times.

My apartment looks like a library. A mad hatter’s library.

A shaggy throw rug that has seen better days breaks up the space before it becomes my kitchen/dinning then bedroom again but there are books all over those spaces too.

I see your eyes absorbing the confinement and the clutter and I can’t read your reaction.  My cheeks fill with color then my lip thins.  This is my sanctuary.  Don’t you dare judge!

“I have a bit of an addiction.” I confess to break the silence. “I love books.”

Your eyes widen as if to say No Shit Sherlock and you nod.  “I see.”

I take two steps deeper in to my space to offer you the penny tour.  You follow me. “Kitchen.” I say as I point to a small white and gray kitchenette.  All the essentials, none of the frills.  “Dining.” I point to a floating island in the middle of the space, flanked by two bar stools. “Bath” I point to a door by the front entrance.  “Bedroom” I point at the bed I thankfully made earlier that is tucked under an eave next to the bath.  “And…living.” I say and I puff a pillow that was a little too lazily positioned on the window seat.

The brick walls around my apartment are peppered with art from local street vendors and unknown artists in the area.  I love each like a Picaso.

“I wont ask what you think. I’m sure it’s not fancy enough for you.” You were lost in your thoughts so you didn’t hear me.

“What?” you questioned then you added “I don’t do fancy.”

“Then you’re in the right spot.”  I tease. You say nothing. Instead you find yourself in front of a stack of my books.  You read a few titles, pull one out, read the back cover then tuck it back in the stack before picking another from a different stack and reading the inside cover of that.

“I’m going to freshen up.” I say and I leave you with my books and head to the bathroom.

I’m removing my makeup in front of a vanity mirror when you join me a few minutes later. A book tucked under your arm. You watch me as I remove thick layers of black eyeliner and smoky eyeshadow.

“You look pretty without any makeup on.” you observe.

“Thanks” I say and I run my wet washcloth beneath my eyes to remove the last bit of foundation.

“Are you ok?” you ask.

I lie and say “I’m fine.”

“I know you’re not fine.  Is this too weird?”

“Yes.” I confess as I sit back in my vanity chair (which is really just a stool from Ikea).  It is too weird.

“Should I go?”  You ask as you pick at the wood that makes up the door frame with your fingers.  I’m not sure how to answer this.  It would have been far easier to answer this question last year when you’d never have asked it.

“No.” I say without really knowing why.  “Stay.”

You put the book you were holding on the back of the toilet, took a brush from a basket by the sink and ran it carefully through my hair to remove my knots.  It was the oddest yet sweetest moment.  It was then that we really started to talk.  You told me your story and I revealed mine.  Your Mother was young when she had you.  Mine died when I was eight.  Both of us moved around the United States like vagabonds making school a difficult, daunting and always unfamiliar place.  To survive the pain of my youth, I wrote terrible poetry.  You, unfinished songs.  A guy named Andrew Day loosened your front tooth in a fist fight.  I sacrificed a clump of hair to Becky Sullivan after scratching her face pretty good.  We were both dreamers.  Burdened by fantasy and invigorated by possibility.  We dissected our potential and regaled one another with our plans for a brighter future.

And we discovered after hours of pillow talk that we aren’t that different after all, except you believed in hope and sometime a long time ago, I had given up all of mine. 

– – – – – – – – – – – –

You joined me for a soak in my claw-foot tub where we sat and talked legs over legs until the water ran cold. As our laughter and storytelling waned, my eyes focused less on your face and more on your veiny cock bobbing beneath the water.

You were easily distracted too, your hands casually kneaded my bare breasts again and again. We were prunes but we were also horny again.

You climbed out of the tub first.  Water cascaded down your back, over your infamous ‘Brazilian bubble butt’ and slid down a thigh. I was tempted to follow each water droplet with my tongue.

You dried yourself with a towel and offered one from the shelf to me.  I stepped out of the tub and slipped on pooled water on the tile.

“That was graceful.”

You laughed and held me close.

“You’re a mess.” You reminded me.

“Shoe fits.”

“Yeah it does.” You said before laying your lips on top of mine and kissing softly.  Once to my bottom lip.  Once on the top. I put my arms around your neck and let my towel fall to the floor.  Your fingers then your lips traced a pattern along my jaw line, across my neck, dipped in to the well within my collarbone, along the side of my ribcage then back up to my breast where you pinched my exposed nipples lightly before wrapping your mouth around one then the other.  Your desire getting stronger with each tease.  My body feeling weaker by each breath on my flesh.

I busied my hands with your long hair when you dropped to your knees and teased my sweetest center with your mouth. I braced myself on the edge of the tub while your tongue set to exploring.  Little nibbles and slow licks.  Flickers of a talented tongue and then my unexpected release. I was standing up.  I didn’t know that could, like, happen, while standing up.

You returned to my mouth.  I could taste the nectar of my release on your tongue.  A smile danced across your face.  Contentment reveled in your eyes.

This moment was different than our others and I don’t mean in our choice of sexual positions.  It felt emotionally different.  We were different after talking all night.

Your erection begged for my attention so I wrapped one hand around your thick and throbbing dick.  The other cupped your balls, carefully massaging both while I stroked your cock enthusiastically.  My thumb paying extra attention to your sweet spot by the head.

We had been together before but this was the first time I was allowed to experiment and explore.  Your sweet spots were everywhere.  I massaged and tickled and suckled and ran my fingers across every one.

“Mmmm” you moaned and you kissed me softly again and again.

Mmmm. I thought too.  If only you were my man. Then you lifted me up in your arms and I wrapped my legs around your waist so you could slide yourself inside of me.  You walked us both, as one, over to the sink where you planted me on the counter to balance us.

You thrust hard in to me again and again never taking your mouth off mine.  Our moans and our gasps for air intermingled within our kisses.

You were on fire, I released again and again until you were ready and you asked me if I had had enough.

“Never.” I moaned.

“You like this?”  You asked as you slowly slid in and out of my swollen center.

“Yesss” I hissed.

“This?” you asked as you thrust harder and deeper again.

“Oh God YES!” I shouted.

“Do you want me to cum?”

“NO!”

“Selfish bitch.”

I giggled “Yeah.”

“Tell me you want me to cum.” you demanded as you fucked me like a rabid dog.

“No!”

“Do it!”

“Soon, Jared.  Soon!” 

– – – – – – – – – – –

That night we slept naked in my bed. Two lovers finally exhausted by our insatiable desire for one another.

You held me in your arms until morning.  I woke before you and daydreamed about forever.  I didn’t dare wake you.  One of your arms hung lazy over my ribcage. The other beneath me.  Cradled.  I felt safe and secure and like the luckiest woman in the world.

You were hot at my back even though a cool spring breeze was sneaking in from an open window across the room.  If I dared, I’d have rolled over and watched you breathe, instead I just counted your respirations.  Listened to life roll in and out of you.  Waited for you to rise to the surface and join me inside this bright lit room.  To hear your voice again.  Revel in your smile.

Which Jared would you be today?  Would it be the stranger who craves distance and oozes elusiveness from every pore?  Or the late-night storyteller?  Maybe another man.  One I don’t know yet.  The one who will make tomorrow yesterday and right now, forever.

A trash truck roared beneath the picture window at the end of my studio.  I cringed.  Fuck the real world for trying to penetrate this moment.  They get too much of you.  Let me have this. I pleaded to the cosmos.  Please?

My brain was alive with fantasies and platitudes and moments I wished I’d never remember and memories I wanted to relive.  It made me restless.  Not being able to see you as you slept was torture. Your finely carved face.  Your stubbly cheeks.  Your long eyelashes. The vulnerable you.

I had to get out of my own head but sleep was eluding me and my thoughts were in overdrive.  I was going to ruin this too. I shut my eyes tight.  Drowned out the daylight and prayed for more sleep so I wouldn’t wake you.  Sweet mercy, I begged, let me sleep again!

Then I felt your fingers twisting the baby hairs at the nape of my neck.  Your lips grazing that space behind my earlobe. A hand rediscovering my breast. Your arousal evident against the skin of my backside.  Insatiable.  Delectable.

You pulled my shoulder softly so I rolled to my back and you slid your body on top of me.  Your face above mine. Twisted tendrils of your ombre’d hair hanging down between us.  Eye to eye.  Until a kiss.  You rocked your body back and forth slowly on top of me.  Your feet intertwined with mine.  Our eyes stayed linked.

“Morning sunshine.” you said with a smile.

“Morning breath!” I warned as you moved in for another kiss.

You swatted my hand away from my mouth and kissed me again after saying “Like I care about that right now.” Your voracious erection pulsated along the inside of my leg “It’s not bad anyway.” you advised.

You landed another kiss on my lips and I spread my legs to let you in. I draped my hands lazily over your shoulders as you made love to me.  Slow and dreamy.  Staring in to one another’s eyes until they glazed over.  When I reached the point of no-return I shut mine.

You said “Look at me.” So I opened my eyes and quivered beneath you as you brought yourself in and out of me.

Deep within I felt an orgasm building, peeking, then washing over me like silk and oxygen and all the essentials needed to sustain life. The release forced my eyes shut again.

“Open.”

Through half closed eyes I looked up at you.  I saw ecstasy in your eyes. My pleasure was yours.  You smiled.  I returned your graciousness with a kiss.

“Breakfast of Champions?” you whispered in my ear.

“Goodbye Blue Monday.”

“You’ve read it?” you asked as you massaged my breast and rocked slowly inside of me.

“Twice”

You smirked then shook your head.  A soft snicker snuck out of you too. Before I could say more, you lifted my legs up to my chest.  You watched yourself enter me over and over. I was jealous of your vantage point.

You backed all the way out before sliding all of you up inside me with a heavenly moan.  Every inch of you deep within until the pressure felt too intense and you backed yourself out quickly.

You used your thumb to rub circles on my swollen clit while you watched me for a response.  I writhed, beyond the point of ecstasy, I was on another planet: Mars.

Until I sat up and flipped you over. “My turn.” I whispered and I floated down on top of you.  Sank you deep inside me just where I like ya.  I rocked my hips and glided myself up and down your throbbing shaft.

Quickly, I was spent.  You flipped me over on to my back and finished yourself off hard; the way I like to be fucked.  The way you like to fuck.  Like I need to be fucked.

After you came, hard like it was the first time, you laid your head down on my chest while you softened inside me.  Our breathing slowly returned to normal and you slipped out of me.

My answering machine clicked on then off quietly in the corner. You didn’t seem to notice but I did.

“Every time.” I observed.

“Every time what?” You asked as you suckled my neck.

“Nothing – never mind.  That feels nice.”

“You like that?” you asked as you tasted my skin again.

“Yeah.” I panted “I like everything you do when you’re doing it to me.”

You smirked “I like doing those things I do to someone like you.”

I sighed.

You fell asleep on my chest while playing with a strand of my hair.  I watched you sleep this time while I danced my fingers lazily up and down your back.  Stranger in my bed.  Maybe I know you well.  But more than likely I don’t know you at all.  Carnal knowledge is a facade.  A smoke screen. Trickery.  Successful magic performed by the cheapest of magicians.  Pull a bouquet out of this hat.  A rabbit.  It’s all bullshit.  Every last kiss.  I know bullshit.  Can smell it in the air.  I started watching the clock, wondering when exactly it would be that you’d take your leave.

Your body undulated to a far off slumberous beat until my alarm rang out and it was time for me to get ready for work. You rubbed your eyes and greeted me again. I was too lost in my own thoughts to acknowledge you as my answering machine had clicked on and off eleven times in so many minutes.

I know what that means. The Who behind the calls.  The What.  I’ll never know the How.  But, I fear, I’m well versed in The Why. Here we go again.  Sweet mercy.   

– – – – – – – – – – —

After work that day I took a long and wasteful hot shower.  Every inch of me was sore and covered with love bites and bruises.  Collateral damage from a night well spent.  I thought about you while I let the water wash over me.

You left on a good note.  A high.

After a long and romantic kiss in the front doorway of my apartment, I watched you walk down my stairs and you kept looking back until you were out of sight.  You left behind smiles and happy sighs.  I could still feel your fingers in my hair and the warmth of your stare as you held me in your arms long after you were gone.

You lingered in my doorway forever.  A new bond between us holding you in place.  Your forehead on mine when you suggested I join you in Los Angeles for a few days. I declined.  I would most definitely lose my job and you were heading out on the road again anyway.  I’d just be delaying the inevitable.  Of course that wasn’t what you wanted to hear but I think you respected my decision all the same.

You took with you my many phone numbers, addresses (both physical and digital), various user ids, Snapchat … Instagram. It was comical but you wanted them all.  A bevy of contact options recorded in your iphone.

I suspected you wouldn’t call but was pleasantly surprised by your mid-airport selfie and your dirty Snapchat that followed.

After my shower, I put on big pajama bottoms, an old 30 Seconds To Mars T-Shirt (so I could feel connected to you in some small way), giant fuzzy socks and tied my wet hair up in a loose knot on top of my head before sorting my mail and listening to the old answering machine.  Eight more messages. Against my better judgement I turned the volume up.  I thought maybe you might have left me something there.  I was eager to hear your voice.  I was right.

After the first message began and I heard a different voice, I fast forwarded to the next.   You were giggling and said something about the Captain telling you to shut off the phone but first you said something in French before the call ended.  French?  I don’t speak French but it sounded real pretty.

I was smiling and thinking about you when the answering machine clicked forward to the next message.

I know he spent the night you fucking whore!

I jumped forward and hit delete before I would hear any more.

The contents of my stomach lurched up in my throat.  He found me.  Again.  I didn’t want to believe it when the hangup messages started a few days ago but I knew it was inevitable that he would find me again.  He always finds me, no matter where I go. Every single time.

I hesitated for a moment then erased the rest of the messages without playing them back.  Double checked the deadbolts and put the door chain in its track before running to the bathroom and puking my brains out.

He’s watching me again.  I had to think, no time to get sick.  Remember the protocol.  Call Sargent Andrews.  Put everyone on notice.  High alert.

I absentmindedly rubbed the bone beneath my eye and remembered with disgust the first time he hit me.  And the time after that when I needed my jaw wired shut for it to heal straight and of course the last time he attacked me, when he made me lose the baby.

And then I promised myself no matter how crazy it got, I wouldn’t tell you about it.  This part of my life, this insanity, would be a secret. I only wish now, that I had kept that promise.    

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Damien Joseph worked at the car wash next to the ice cream shop where I had a part-time job.  He dried hoods while I scooped ice cream.

I was sixteen when I met him, he was twenty-one.  His age didn’t bother me.  I’d been acting like an adult since I was eight and my Mother went ahead and died leaving me with that drunk no-good bastard Father of mine to tend to.

Damien’s attention was nice, at first.  All the other girls in the ice cream shop creamed over him.  He was cute, in that dirtbag-going-nowhere-got-tattooeth kinda way.  He even smelled like trouble.  But he had a Camaro and liked to drive it wide open on the backroads in Townsend.

I loved speed.  Lived for the adrenaline rush you’d get right before you hit a bend in the road.  He was deadly and I craved death something awful back then.  Wanted to be with my Mommy probably.  Didn’t think death could be worse than living that’s for sure.

When Damien got a motorcycle a few months later, I became a permanent fixture on the back of his bike and he became a permanent fixture in my life.  The natural progression of two nobodies becoming a somebody together.

For my eighteenth birthday he tattooed my name on his neck and fractured my eye-socket.

I wasn’t feeling good that day.  Didn’t really know why, just off, and I told him I wanted to stay in for the night and all hell broke loose.

Damien, being the super charmer that he is, thought my 18th birthday would be the perfect day to get hitched.  Perfect to him meant: A trip to the court house where I’d pay for us to get a marriage license, free cake from my work and a room for us at the Crown Inn all wrapped up in a tidy little bow. A bow that I would purchase for myself.  My flowers too. Seeing as I was 18 now and could rent motel rooms all by myself, he wanted me to leave work early to go reserve us The Honeymoon Suite (if they had one). A room for ‘Mr. and Mrs. Damien Joseph’ to return to after that super romantic court office visit.

He was just horny and thought I’d give it up if he put a silver plated ring on my finger (a silver plated ring I would have probably had to have fronted him the money for).

The idea did not appeal to me at all.  I had a bed in my Daddy’s house I could sleep in for free.  Damien could come and go there for free too.  And he had been for over a year now.

I was in no hurry to marry Damien Joseph or sleep with him for that matter.  He argued all day with me about it.  All day on my birthday. He’d come up to the window at the ice cream shop and yell at me for not wanting to get married.  Berate me after buffing a Buick for letting him get away.

The girls in the shop thought I was stupid to say no.  They wondered who I’d find better than Damien around Townsend.  It never occurred to them that I hadn’t planned on spending the rest of my life there scooping ice cream.  According to them he was so romantic and he was clearly crazy about me.  They were right about one thing.

Didn’t really matter in the end though.  By eleven that morning, I felt like shit and got off work early to go home, crawl in my bed and die.  There was no way I was in any type of condition to do anything but sleep.

I walked next door to the car wash and found him around back smoking something out of a small glass pipe.  Immediately, I knew I should turn around and walk away but he spotted me.  Asked me what was up.

I told myself to forget it, to just walk away because he’s a mean somebitch when he’s high; but, he was talking normal for the moment so I figured maybe it was mini-water bong or something like that. Weed chills him out.  What did I know about his paraphernalia?  I didn’t even smoke weed.  Damien did enough of that for both of us.

“They let me off early cuz I’m sick.” I told him.

“You look fine to me.”  he exhaled smoke.

“It’s my stomach. I’ll call you later or something.” I mumbled and turned to walk away.

“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?” he shouted.

“I just told you.” I said sharply.

Damien growled “You don’t tell me a mother fucking thing.  Ya hear?”  He strutted towards me.  Chest puffed out. Pipe still in hand.

“Dude, I’m just going home to sleep because I don’t feel good.  We can hang out tomorrow. Jesus.”

And then he punched me.  Like a man hits another man.  With great force.  Repeatedly.  Until my eye gave way and the bone poked through my skin.  And an ambulance came and he was arrested.

Happy Birthday to me.

– – – – – – – – – – – —

You came to visit me after you rocked the socks off of the Eastern European Echelon but before you headed out to Asia for another leg of the LLFD tour.

It felt like forever and a day since I last laid eyes on you. But that wasn’t true. I watched the videos your fans would upload to youtube each night after your concerts.  Sang along to my favorite songs and giggled as you flirted with the girls in the audience.  Bringing them up on stage and making their “ovaries explode” as they liked to say in the comments below the videos.

I felt so lucky to have known a part of you.  Even if what we had was insanely brief up until that moment, it still meant the world to me and would for the rest of my life.  You were my special someone.  Who knew for how long.  I wasn’t naive enough to think we were anywhere near forever.  But we were something right now.  Something.

Twenty-four hours of you all to myself seemed like a dream.  A fantasy I made up just to get me through the week.  But when you said you’d try and make it happen, I believed you would try your hardest. And you pulled it off.

Even though you knew you’d probably regret tripping time zones so hard core, you snuck off tour.  When I worried about your health from sheer exhaustion, you joked that we’d spend most of the time in bed anyway.  You’d sneak sleep somewhere.  I trusted you knew best so I invited you home.

“I’m here.” Your snapchat read over top of a picture you’d taken down your pants.

I took a picture of my nipple with my iPhone and typed out “Bouncing down the stairs” before sending it to you.  We were straight dorks but it was fun to us.

At my building’s front door you stood in a halo of daylight.  Resplendent though noticeably road weary. “Jared!” I screeched and I threw myself at you. The energy and emotion from all of your letters, silly texts, flower deliveries, book deliveries, post-card deliveries, late night phone calls, early morning facetime sessions funneled through me and back in to you inside my intense embrace.

I had fallen in love with you while you were away.  I had no idea.  It shocked me.  You had the same look on your face.  And you held me just as tight.

“I’m home.” You cried and you slid your hands under my arms and lifted me up. We danced around the vestibule like two kids.

“God, I missed you.  Shit, I had no idea how bad I missed you.” You planted kisses all over my face, then you dragged me quickly up the stairs like a school child.  Three flights were nothing for our eager limbs to climb with the quickness.

“What’s with these fucking locks?” You questioned as I undid each deadbolt. Keep quiet. I told myself.  You rubbed your body up against me while I fumbled with the keys. I could feel you throbbing through your pants.  It made me quiver with anticipation.

Once the door was open we stumbled in to my apartment together. You kicked the door shut behind us. Lips locked while we tore one another’s clothes off.  You were ready already.  So was I.

Your dirty messages since you landed on terra firma prepared me for what was going to happen the moment you got here.

“I’m not going to last very long.” you teased as you pushed me backwards on the bed and slid my panties down my legs.

I smiled at you and sighed.  You’re back.

“That’s ok. I just need to feel you inside me again.” I whispered coyly as I threw my arms around your neck.

“Don’t say anything more or I wont even make it inside you.” A moment later we were making love. You reclaimed what is yours with a simultaneous release.

All of your romance sent by wire over the last few months had sustained me but this…this was terribly missed too.

“I missed you so much.” I said.

You sighed a sweet sigh and said “I missed you too babygirl.”

– – – – – – – – – – – –

“I’m quitting the band!” You declared as you pulled up your pants. “Fuck ‘em.”

You leaned over and smacked my lips with yours before slipping in to a shoe. “Would you date a guy on the unemployment line?”

I was laying on the edge of the bed wrapped up in a sheet we had soiled beyond comprehension over the last twenty-four hours. Your visit was rapidly coming to an end. Neither of us was ready for goodbye.  But you were getting ready to go just the same.

“I’ll take care of you.” I teased back. “Be your sugar momma.”

You pinched my chin. “You’d take real good care of me, wouldn’t you?”

“You bet your fine ass, I would.”

“Don’t doubt it for a second. Where’s my other shoe?”

“By the door.” I advised.

You walked the few steps around the corner to the foyer and grabbed your shoe before announcing “Hey, you got mail.”

You came back to the bed with a plain manila envelope in your hand. It was oversized and unaddressed. “Here ya go my dear.”

“For me?” I asked, assuming this was your doing. Eagerly, I took the envelope from your hand, undid the clasp on the back, peeked inside and saw several large photographs. My heart sunk when I absorbed the subject of the first photo.  I had zero interest in seeing what the rest of the pictures were of.  It was instantly obvious to me who had taken them, it was definitely not you.

How the hell did he get in my building?  Not once, but twice!  Maybe more? Considering the timing, I immediately assumed you were in the photographs too but I didn’t want to tarnish the last 24 hours with Damien Joseph’s vantage point so I didn’t examine the photographs further.

“What ya got there?” you asked as you buttoned your shirt.

“Nothing.” I said and I threw the envelope on my end table like it was junk mail.

“Doesn’t look like nothing.” you said and you picked up the envelope innocently.

“Don’t!” I shouted.

You looked at me like I slapped you. It immediately felt disgusting to have a secret between us.

“Never mind.  No. Go ahead.”  I gave you permission to open the envelope with a wave of my hand and assured you “I can explain.”

You opened the envelope and asked “Explain what?” as you slid out five large black and white photographs of you and I taken from inside my building last night. They looked like the photographer had been standing on the stairs inside my building when you arrived.

“What the fuck?” you asked. “You can explain this?” You tossed the envelope on the bed beside me. The pictures fanned out. There was another of us at dinner at Red Emma’s. One taken from across the street of just our heads as we cuddled with our books on the bench beneath my picture window. The rest were of your arrival in the vestibule.

My empty stomach churned. 
I couldn’t believe I was breaking the promise I had made to myself already.

“I have a stalker.” I confessed.

“A what?”

“Stalker … A crazy ex-boyfriend?”

“Oh that’s cute.  Are you kidding me?”

“He’s from a real long time ago Jared. Like from when I was a kid.”

“Sure.”

“He is!”

“Why don’t I know about this guy? I thought you barely dated anyone growing up.”

“I didn’t and he’s why … After him, I couldn’t trust anyone again.  I keep expecting them to go ape-shit on me.”

You sifted through the pictures again with a pained look on your face. “I thought you trusted me?” you asked.

“I do!” I climbed off the bed with the sheet still around me and crawled in to your arms. “You’re the only guy I’ve ever really trusted Jared. You need to understand that.”

You draped your arms loosely around me.  I slid mine around your waist. You weren’t angry with me, you were just surprised and probably confused.

“So what does he want? Money? Tell him to fuck off, I don’t do payoffs.”

“It has nothing to do with you.”

“Yeah right.”

“It doesn’t. He probably doesn’t even know who you are. He’s a hillbilly-redneck-white-trash loser living in a condemned-trailer waste of oxygen freak-of-fucking-nature that likes to come around every so often and ruin my GODDAMN LIFE!” I shouted.

My cool evaporated and I lost my shit, rapidly.

“Calm down.”

“I am so sick of this!” I screamed and I paced my minuscule apartment wrapped in a sheet.

“We’ll call the police.” You decided. “Get a restraining order against him and he’ll have to leave you alone.”

“Wont do any good.”

“Why’s that?”

“He walks right through them.”

You looked astonished.  “Then you have him arrested.”

“That makes things worse.”

“You can’t just do nothing!”

“Yes I can. I have to.”

“Bullshit. I’m not just going to stand here and let him…”

“You don’t understand Jared. This isn’t the first time he’s done something creepy like this. He’s crazy.”

You pointed your thumb at the photos spread across my bed. “You can say that again. Fuck.”

You pulled your hand through your hair and exhaled loudly.

“He just needs reassurance that I’m not with anyone else and he’ll leave me alone. Maybe I’ll tell him we broke up. He’ll believe me. And it’ll be over with.”

“No fucking way are you doing that!”

“You don’t understand … He wont hurt me if he thinks we’re over.  Let me talk to him.”

Your eyes bugged out of your head and you clenched your fists “You think he’s going to hurt you? For being with me?”

I said nothing.

You stepped forward and put your hand out to me “Has he hurt you before?”

I looked down at the ground.

“Jesus.” You shook your head and began pacing as well.

I put my hand on your wrist  and said as calmly and as reassuringly as I could muster “I know it sounds crazy. But please understand. I’ve been living with this for a long time. I know how to play the game. Ok?”

“No. No games. You’re getting on a goddamn plane and going to my house in L.A. until I come back. Then we’ll figure out what to do with him.” You pulled out your phone and started typing messages. Responses start flowing back in as quick as you sent them.

“Jared? I’m not going to L.A., I’ll lose my job.”

“This has gone on far too long.  You’re going to do what I tell you to do.” you said and then you put your hand over your mouth to stop yourself from speaking.

I sighed and walked over to the window. Damien Joseph was out there somewhere. Plotting. Planning. Getting ready. The end of what me and Jared were building is nigh.

You pulled me away from the window and in to your arms again. “I didn’t mean that like that.”

“I know.” I sniffed.

“All I meant was, you can’t stay here. We already know he can get in to your building.  It’s not safe.”

“I’ll stay at work tonight and I’ll leave a note on my door for him to meet me somewhere in the middle of the day tomorrow. A very public place. And I’ll talk to him.”

“I want to be there.”

“You can’t!”

“This dude is crazy and you’re trying to reason with him.”

“I’ve done it before.”

“Didn’t work babygirl. He’s back.”

“It has been a long time since he last came around.”

“How long?”

“Over a year.”

“A year! That’s nothing!” you paused “Wait…is he the reason you moved?”

I looked back at the floor.

While I appreciated your concern and understood where you were coming from, I really wanted you to mind your own business, get on your goddamn plane and let me deal with Damien Joseph all by myself. If the cops can’t get Damien to behave, you sure as hell weren’t going to be able to either. You getting involved would mean two lives ruined. Mine is already in the shitter, yours can’t follow suit. Especially not now. You’re on top of the world.  The Oscar has put opportunities at your feet that will never come back around. You’re not giving them up for some chick you met on twitter and a redneck with a meth habit from Townsend!

It really is better to handle this my way but I didn’t have the proper words to convince you I was right. So instead I yelled at you. Insulted you. Cursed you and ran you out of my home. It was easier this way. Painful. But easier. I couldn’t let Damien Joseph any where near you. And if losing you was what it took to keep you safe, I was willing to do it. Damien would kill you if he got his hands on you. Of that I was sure. 

– – – – – – – – – –  – – –

You wouldn’t let me get away that easily.  Before your plane took off you called me and talked me down off the ledge.  I apologized and promised to stay at the hotel until I was sure Damien Joseph left town. I swore I’d call you the second our meeting ended, if it ever happened.

Damien was laying low.  Hadn’t heard a peep from him for days though I left a post-it on my door each day asking him to meet me at the Dunkin Donuts over on Liberty Heights Avenue.

“How’s Ukraine?” I asked you late one night your time, early afternoon mine.

“Sad.”

“Sad?  I thought you’d have a lot more to say than that. A revolution in action and all you’ve got to say is ‘sad’?” Something didn’t sound right in your voice.  I couldn’t tell if you were exhausted or angry about something.

“Not sure what to tell you Beth.  I’m sorry. I walked around a little in Kiev.  Didn’t see enough though, the kids wouldn’t back off.”

“You hate that don’t you?”

“Somedays.”

“And others?”  I put the phone to my opposite ear.

“If they’re not there … I’ve done something wrong, but I’m free.”

“The zoo needs spectators to stay in business.  Be careful how much you wish for privacy.” I warned.

“But if I were an animal in a zoo, I could fling my poo at them when they get too close.” you teased.

I laughed.

Our conversation was strained.  Talking about zoos while dancing around the elephant in the room.

I tried to sway the conversation in a different direction.  Bring a little flirt back in to the mix.

“I’m going to wear a sexy zoo keeper outfit for you next time I see you.”

“Training whip?”

“Yeah.”

You sighed and it broke my heart.  “I miss you.”

“I miss you too.”

“I wish you would stop being so goddamn stubborn and come out here.  You don’t have to do backstage or any of that crap.  I know you don’t want that.  But we could at least be together.”

“I have a job.”

“I would take care of you.”

“That’s not who I am.  I don’t want to be taken care of by anyone.”

“Yeah.  That’s going to end up being our biggest problem.”

“Why?  Because my life is so fucked up?  I clearly need a handler?” I poured the glass of iced tea I was drinking down the sink and tossed the cup in recklessly after.

“No. Knock it off.  Not that.”

I snarled at you “Then what?”

“I want to be with you.  I miss you.  Who knows, maybe you’ll find somewhere better than Baltimore out here.”

“I’m not worth all that Jared.”

“Why are you so hardheaded?”

“I’m a realist.  What we have works this way.  When you start throwing in airplanes and champagnes, it’ll die because that’s not real life.”

“It’s my life.”

“It wont be forever.”

“Ouch.”

“I’m just being real.  Lets not mess this up with fantasy.”

“You drive me insane.”

“Yeah but you love me anyway.”

“That’s because I’m a fool!”

“Aw, you love me?” I snarked fully expecting you to laugh me off.

“Yeah, I do.”  you declared very softly through the phone.

I would have given anything to have been in your arms in that moment or even be on my way to your arms like you were requesting but I just couldn’t do it.  I told you that I wouldn’t let Damien Joseph run me out of town, even if the running was to be with you. But that’s not really what was happening inside my head.  The man I loved just declared to me that he was in love too and I was too afraid to leave town and join him lest Damien Joseph follow me there.  He was already winning and the game had just begun.  But you were safe.  As long as you stayed far far away from me, you always would be.      

– – – – – – — – – – – — – — – – – –

“Call him!” Damien demanded.

“He wont answer.  I told you we broke up!”

“Give me the goddamn phone!” He growled as he snatched the phone out of my hand.  One hand was still around my throat holding me up against a brick wall down an alley by Dunkin Donuts, the other was assessing the apps on my phone.

“Whats the goddamn passcode?”

“I don’t know Damien! I can’t think straight. You’re scaring me!”

“Whats the GODDAMN PASSCODE?” he bitch slapped me.

“12-26”

“What’s his name?” I refused to tell you.

“What’s his goddamn name?”  He slapped my face then punched me until my jaw felt disaligned.

“I’m never going to tell you!”

“Then I’ll just figure it out myself.  Lets see who you’ve been sending dirty text messages to this week.”  Damien Joseph rifled through my phone with ease like he had done this a hundred times before.  Knowing him, maybe he has.  “Ooh! No. Even better! Let’s Facetime your boyfriend!” Damien snorted.

“Don’t Damien! He’s not my boyfriend!” I cried “You’re just going to embarrass us both.  He doesn’t care about me.  You’re right.  He just used me.  And now he’s gone.  Please don’t call him.” I pleaded and I begged but that just fueled him further.

“We’ll ask him about all that when we see him face-to-face in just a few….” I tried to wrest my phone from his grip but he was like an animal.  Stupid human strength.  Out of control.  “Facetime is such a convenient little app, don’t you think?”

He pressed a button to connect with you and I prayed with the whole of my soul that you were on stage or on a plane or in the middle of nowhere … anywhere but a location with a cell signal.

“Beth?” you questioned when our two iPhones connected “I can’t see you. Are you ok?”

“She’s just fine Jerry.” Damien appeared on the little screen in your phone.  You gasped and I cringed.  I didn’t want this to happen.  I’ve given up everything I have ever wanted since I was eighteen years old to avoid a moment like this for fucks sake.  But, here we were.  The three of us.  Damien Joseph and I in an alley in Baltimore, you on a smart phone in Herzegovina.

“Where’s Beth?  Put Beth on the phone!” you demanded when you saw his face instead of mine.

“You want to see Beth? She’s right here somewhere.  Beth?  Oh, Bethy Beth Beth.  Your honeybunny wants to talk to you.” Damien taunted before putting the phone in front of my face so you could see me bruised and bleeding and held by the neck.

“I’m fine.” I tried to say calmly, then I screamed at you. “Hang up the phone Jared!”

You flipped the fuck out when you saw my face.  Shouted and cursed  at Damien and he laughed maniacally at you helplessly ranting and threatening him through the phone.

“Oh yeah? Call the police.” Damien offered a few times “They’re not going to do a goddamn thing Big Timer.  Never have.  Never will.  No one gives a flying fuck about your girlfriend Jerry.   Nobody.”

“This stops now!” You shouted.

“Look at her Movie Man… I think she’s crying.” he chortled and scanned the phone camera up and down my body “See me choking your precious babygirl? Want me to stop?”

You screamed for him to stop. “Ok. I’ll take my hand off her neck.” Damien removed his hand from my neck and I gasped for air over and over.  Then he ran his hand down my body.  His hip holding me in check.  My hands were free but I knew better than to engage. It would be over soon, I was more devastated that you had to witness this than the fact that it was happening at all.

“See this?  You like that better?  Like it when I touch her pussy?”

“Damien?” I begged “Don’t…please?”

“Shut up!  You’re done talking … you fucking no good dirty cunt.  I should kill you for this!”  I started trembling again.  He was insane.  Worse than I had ever seen him. “Hey Jerry…?”  Damien looked back in the phone screen to make sure you were paying attention then directed the camera back on me and he grabbed me viciously “Do you wear a rubber when you fuck her?  You don’t need to, you know.  This cunt is worthless.  Can’t have kids Jerry.  No babies for you.  She’s useless! A useless dirty whore Jerry.” I closed my eyes and prayed for it to be over soon.  “You dump your cum inside her all you want.  Aint gotta worry about child support with her.  I know you Hollywood types worry about that kinda thing.  Big money.  But not with her.  That why you like coming by late at night Jerry?  Isn’t it?  Aint gotta worry ’bout this whore trapping you.  No.  You listening to me Jared … Leto?  You like spilling your disease inside this dirty cunt?”

Damien humped my leg and grabbed my breast. Then … With the back of his wrist he hit me hard across the jaw.  Blood spurt from my mouth and his hand returned to my throat. He cackled then said “Whoopsie.  Did I do that?” All the while holding the phone up so you could see what he was doing to me.

After the next several blows rained down, I started to check out of my body.  The skin on my face felt seared and raw.  Blood was pouring out of the cuts his knuckles were leaving behind.  You saw all of this.

“What’s she do to you with that mouth Jerry?”  He ran his dirty fingers across my lips.  I clawed at his skin but it didn’t phase him. “She suck you off? Lickie licke eh?”

With the phone itself he hit me again.  Hard.  Right on my mouth.  Then his hand returned to my neck angrier than it had been before.   “I taught her all those moves Jerry.  Every last one.”

At this point, I was barely breathing. Damien Joseph’s words started to fade away.  I could feel his hands like hot pokers burning every inch of my womanhood while he taunted you.  He was going to kill me this time.  I could feel it happening.  But first he would rape me. And he was going to make you watch. This I knew for sure.

Somewhere in the distance, I was floating above the whole event now.  Not a victim just a spectator.  My body was ready to give way.  As Damien Joseph ripped off my top I could hear your distinct voice begging him for mercy and then … nothing.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I woke in a low lit hospital room with you by my side.  It was late night or perhaps very early morning.  The city lights were twinkling outside the room’s one window but it was very quiet.

An IV was pumping fluids in my veins and a blood pressure cuff was filling, monitoring me and then deflating periodically on my upper arm.  I was stitched, bandaged, casted and in a lot of pain. You were sleeping lightly in a chair pulled close to my bed, your head on your arm, your arm on the railing of my bed.  Snoring softly.  Exhausted.

My mouth felt very dry.  My throat felt like ice climbers had hacked their way through. Or I had swallowed a bucket of glass. My lips were like I played spin the bottle with a cheese grater.  I was a total and complete mess.  My arm was most definitely broken. So was my ankle.  I had gigantic multicolored bruises everywhere. My forearms were the worst.  Defensive wounds.  My face was swollen too – I couldn’t believe I was alive to be honest.  Every inch of me hurt.  Damien showed no mercy.

A nurse flittered in to the room and checked the fluid level in my IV bag. “Oh, you’re awake!” she announced.

I put my pointer finger to my lip quickly to shush her.  I nodded to your sleepy self and she smiled.

“He came in around midnight.” she whispered before she went back to her tasks.

“He shouldn’t have.”  I croaked.  My voice weak and unconvincing.

The nurse gave me a quizzical look then asked “Is it ok he’s here?  Police cleared him but if you want him out…”

“No.  I just mean … he has better places to be.”

She stopped what she was doing and turned to me before saying “Honey, I don’t want to get in your business anymore than I already am but I don’t think there’s anywhere in this entire world he’d rather be than by your side right this very moment.”

“He should be on tour.”

“I doubt that matters to him much right now.” she said as she fiddled with the monitors and checked all my tubing.

“You think?”

“He’s real worried about you.”

“He was on the phone when …”

“I know honey, I know.  You don’t have to talk about that.  Get some rest, ok? How’s your pain?”

“Pretty bad.”

“Let me see what they’ll let me give you ok? Maybe some Tylenol?”

“Something stronger than that?”

“Doubt it. But I’ll check.”

She floated out of the room and I thought to myself: That’s odd.  Why can’t I have one of those pain killers that would numb me for days?  Perco-whatever or Vico-din-din-din?  All things considered, aren’t I the type of patient that shit was invented for??

While I waited for the nurse to return with something/anything to numb my pain, I watched you sleep.  My hand with the IV was closest to you but I ran it through your hair anyway.  I wanted to touch you.  Feel some part of you to remind me that I’m here and alive and that my life does have some good in it.  You are still in it.  No matter how bad that is for you, in this moment, your presence is everything I need.  Everything I have.  The only thing I want.

My hand wasn’t as soft in your hair as I thought and I accidentally woke you. Your face lit up when you saw that I was awake too.  Then a heaviness filled the space around your eyes.  Your veins were high on your skin.  You looked stressed-the-fuck out.

“Beth.” you sighed and I started to cry at the sound of your voice. “Don’t cry !”

You stood up and came in quickly to hold me but stopped yourself before you got too close.  I was like a China doll, delicate and on a high shelf.  It was awkward for the both of us. So used to wanton access to every inch of the other.  I wanted to be in your arms but you were afraid to break me.  The space between us was too wide.  It made me cry more.

You shifted my blankets so you could sit on the bed and took my unencumbered hand in yours.  “It’s going to be OK” you reassured me.  “You’re going to be just fine.”

We sat together but were miles apart inside.  My tears fell but my lungs no longer cried out.  You tried to find unbruised skin to touch but you were limited so you mainly held my hand.  Even wiping away my tears worried you.  We both were broken.  Pathetic versions of our former selves.  Vulnerable.  Weak.

“As soon as they sign your release papers, I’m flying you home to LA.” You declared after a lifetime of silence.  Your tone didn’t leave much room for debate but I wasn’t about to let you do that.  Though I was flattered by the notion, there was no way would I allow you to take on my burdens as yours. Not for a single second.

I shook my head no and whispered, my voice hoarse and constricted,  “This isn’t your problem to fix Jared.”

“Don’t move your neck!” you warned “Jesus Christ!” I put a hand up to my neck and felt the brace there.  Wow.  Damien Joseph really did a number on me this time. He fucked me up good.

“Jared” I said as I put both of my hands on top of yours  “that’s very kind of you to offer but I’m not going anywhere.  This is where I live.”

“He’s going to kill you if you stay.”

“He’ll find me wherever I go.” I advised.

“He might figure out where you’ve gone but he will never ever be able to get near you again. I have a security team that will protect you twenty-four hours…”

I sighed.

It is going to be hard to convince you to walk away.

We returned to relative silence.  The only sound coming from my monitors and the nurses movement in the hall.  You were angry with me.  For the right reasons but angry just the same.  Once again I was at a loss for words.  How do you explain to someone you love that you love them too much to let them stay?

* * *

“Jared?”  I asked you as you tapped away on your telephone. You looked up at me and let your eyes answer my call.  They were moist. “Is there something else I should know about what happened…” I stuttered.  Not knowing the full details of what happened to me after I blacked out, while knowing you likely witnessed every minute, was eating at me.  I had to ask, though I wasn’t sure I was ready for the answer: “Did … Did …” I looked at my feet “Did Damien rape me?”

“No.”

I collapsed in to a pool of reverence.  Thankful to God for the littlest of mercies. “Thank God!”

You leaned forward and put your hand on my knee which was hidden beneath the hospital blanket “The cops said something or someone must have scared him off.”

“So he got away?”

“There’s a warrant out for him.” You said as you sat up straight.

“But he got away?”

You nodded simply. Then added “There’s an officer stationed outside your room right now.  No one is allowed in or out but me and Nurse Katie.”

I looked out the hospital room window.  A warrant for his arrest might as well be a warrant for my death.  He’d be after me for the kill now.  No doubt about that. An officer outside doesn’t matter.  He’ll wait until complacency sets back in and get me then.  He has the patience of a psychopath.  Time isn’t a deterrent.  Los Angeles or Mayberry.  I’m not safe anywhere. And if I’m not safe, Jared, that meant you weren’t either.

“I’m sorry I brought you in to this mess Jared.” I began  “I don’t want you to feel like you have to be here or anything. I’m ok.  Really. You should go back to the band and get back on your tour.”

“Stop acting like I care because I’m obligated to rather than I actually do! It’s an insult.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Stop fucking apologizing!” you groaned.  “Jesus!  You’re too much.  Look at you!  I never should have let you meet up with him alone.  I knew this guy was bad news but I left anyway! What kind of man leaves his girl to deal with a lunatic all alone?”  You rubbed your temples and revealed a pained and guilty face.

“This is not what I want!” I cried “You have nothing to feel guilty for! I told you to leave. Damien Joseph is the bad guy, not you!”

“I should have been with you.”

I crawled down to the end of my bed where you were “You don’t belong inside this nightmare Jared.”

“Neither do you!”

“Please go home Jared.  This isn’t meant for you! You’re so much better than this!” I was so angry in that moment.  Not for what had been done to me; this type of violence and Damien Joseph are, unfortunately, part of the fabric of my life; but for what he had done to you.  He made you second guess yourself.  Feel helpless.  It was so misdirected and unacceptable to me.  You were the good in my life and here you were at my bedside feeling bad.

“I can’t just unsee what I saw.” You stood up and paced the small hospital room.

“I’m fine.” I said and I tried to sit up again.  Pain shot through my entire body but I stuffed it down. “Don’t you have a show tonight?”

“Are you kidding me?”

“I told you I’m fine Jared.  Don’t let him control you too!  Please?  You have to go.  Go back on tour.  I’m fine. Trust me.”

My words got under your skin like splinters.  I saw them reflected in your eyes.  Daggers or poison darts.  Bleeding you all the same.

“Go home.”  I requested again.

You were quiet for a few minutes.  Watching the twinkling city lights fade as the sun rose. “You’re pregnant for fuck sake.” You said without turning away from the window.

“Preg…?” I couldn’t finish saying the word.  I just put a hand to my womb and started to cry. My soul swelled as my heart crashed.  What a mind-fuck.  An explosion of tears funneled out of me.  Inaccessible breaths.  Snot and all.

You sighed as you came back over to me “They told me last night.”

“They’re wrong.”  I threw my legs over the side of my hospital bed, pain in my back quelled by the new pain in my heart  “I can’t have kids Jared.” I reminded him as I stood up and untwisted my IV from the bed railing.  “I told you that.”

“Apparently you can.”  You reached over to the table where a cup and a pitcher of water were sitting and grabbed a paper with your scribbling on it.  “See these numbers?” you said as you handed me the paper “They’re your HCG levels and according to those numbers you’re about ten or eleven weeks my dear.”

“I can’t be.” I looked at the paper then back at you then back at the paper and round and round.

“You are.”

I began to feel very defensive as the possibility of me actually being pregnant started to sink in. “I didn’t do it on purpose! I was told it was impossible for me to get pregnant.  I swear! I’m so sorry.”

“STOP! Stop. Stop!” you urged as you walked over to me and directed me back in to the bed. “I know you were telling me the truth.  Stop.  The doctors explained it.  It’s ok.  Stop talking.  I’m not mad.  I’m not.”

Dumbfounded. No, the mess between my ears was way beyond that. Confounded.  You absentmindedly rubbed my leg while lost in your own thoughts.  I ran away in to mine.

Memories I’d give my life to forget filled my head.  Then gratitude.  An unmistakable stream of gratitude trickled in to my consciousness slowly.  Here I was on the worst day of my life hearing the best news of my life.  And there you were, by my side, exactly where … maybe someday … I’d come to believe, you belonged.

* * *

“Ten or eleven weeks?”  I asked you.

“Yes.”

“Are they sure those were my test results?” I joked.

“They did an ultra-sound in Emergency.” You smoothed my hair and looked deep in to my eyes as you spoke. “I already met the little alien.  Strong heart.  Tough kid.”

“Wow.”

“I did the math.” you teased “Sorry to tell ya, but it’s mine.”

Incredulous.

“We’re having a baby?” I asked again.

“We’re having a baby.” You affirmed. You leaned in and kissed me very softly.  “Now you see why we have to get you to L.A.?”

“We?”

“Yeah. We.”

I acquiesced with a sigh … finally. “Los Angeles or bust!” 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – — – –

“My place is in the Hollywood Hills.” You said as we wound our way up the 405 and across the 101 in the back of a chauffeured town car.

“Ok.” I nodded not really knowing what that meant.  Of course, I assumed you lived in some sort of celebrity village.  Gated world filled with colossal houses with salt water infinity pools and guest quarters.  But I pretty much assumed that meant Beverly Hills not Hollywood Hills.  Either way, I figured it had to be fancier out here than Baltimore.  Then again, you don’t do fancy, do you?

I rolled down the window and slipped my hand out in to the air.  My fingertips danced on the wind and my palm rode an invisible roller coaster up and down on the breeze. The skin on my neck and face was healing quickly but was still too tender to keep the window open long with my hair whipping around. It stung when my hair hit my flesh.

They painstakingly tended to my lacerations repeatedly during my hospital stay but the doctors still thought a little plastic surgery might be in my future.  You thought it was too early to tell anything like that and wouldn’t entertain any plastic surgery talk, not yet at least. I was still so swollen and black-blue-purple-green from the bruising.  Either way, I wasn’t entirely worried.  I was moving to nip/tuck central.  If it didn’t heal right, I’d just have it fixed. Someday.  After the baby.

All around us were hills peppered with houses both big and small.  Some with roofs like back home others with orange ceramic tiles. Spanish. Custom.  It was cool to see so much variety.  I grew up in flatlands with neighborhoods where every third house was the same as the one before it.  I liked seeing an apartment building then a fancy glass house then a row of bungalows.  Seemed like every dream could be won here.

You were reading a few things on your iPad.  Emails.  Whatever.  Ignoring me.

“My baby daddy has an Oscar!” I shouted out the open window to get your attention. You laid your hand softly above my womb without diverting your eyes from your computer.  So much for that.

I watched the hills fill with more and more houses.  As we wound around a nonsensical highway system the landscape started to look less and less like a place where dreams are made and won and more like a smelly armpit.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Work.”

“Where’s your guitar?” I teased “Is it invisible?”

I was restless.  7 hours on a plane, a nervous run through an airport, baggage left for a stranger to fetch, new faces, new places, new loves, new drugs (pre-natals!) … did me in.   There was too much new, I needed a little of the old to get me through the rest of the ride.

I slid myself closer to you.  Brushed your hair back and nibbled on your neck.  Ran my hand across your crotch.

“Talk to me.”

“I’m doing this right now so I can spend the rest of the day talking to you.”

“Ok. Fine.” I pouted.

You pinched my chin softly and returned your hand to my womb for a moment.

“We’re almost there.” you informed me.

“Ok. If you say so.”

You took my hand in yours and laced your fingers with mine.  “I’m glad you’re here Beth.”

“Thanks.”

“It’ll be ok. You’ll see.”

You kissed the top of my hand and held it tight as you read and read and read on that piece of obnoxiously convenient technology.

Another fifteen minutes passed.

I leaned in and tried to read over your shoulder.  It wasn’t juicy.  No emails about caviar and champagne laden rock star riders, tore up hotel rooms you had to explain or mysterious smells on the tour bus that needed quick identification.  You were doing actual grown man work.  Investments.  New technology.  You were all growed up Jared!

I went back to starring out the window and promised myself I’d never leave the house again without a book in my purse.  I tried hard to stay out of my head and just focused on the landscape as Los Angeles rolled by.  Tall buildings started popping up.  Shit holes sprinkled along the side of the highway.  Lots of palm trees. Miles of chain link fence.  Ivy and mess.

“What’s that place?”  I asked as we exited the highway at Cahuenga Blvd. “That, my dear, is the Hollywood Bowl.” you said and you finally put your tablet and telephone away.

“Oh my God! You guys did a VyRT from there!”

“We did.”

“Show me around?” I asked admittedly giddy. My fingers poking lightly at your knee “Where’s the star walk and Fredrick’s of Hollywood? Eh?  The Hollywood sign? Isn’t the ocean around here somewhere?”  I was starting to get excited. Maybe LA wouldn’t be so bad once I knew which end was up.

“One thing at a time woman.  You’ve got to heal first.  And we gotta talk about the way things work around here.  It’s not as easy for me to come and go here as it was in Baltimore.”

“Great.  We’re in prison.” I flumped back in my seat.  My enthusiasm was waning again.

You shook your head “The papps are still on my dick because of the award.  They hang around the house.  The last thing I need is for you to be photographed for the first time beaten to shit.”

“Oh.  Yeah.  I didn’t think about that.”

Cahuenga became Ventura Boulevard and we made a left in front of a donut shop and drove up in to the hills.

“It’s not like that everyday.  Once the cops catch that fucker, we can relax a little. After that and after you’re healed, we’ll announce the relationship and introduce you to the Echelon. Maybe not in that order. They’ll get a kick out of you I’m sure.  Especially, since you used to be one of them.”

“I still am one of them.”

“Good answer.”

“It’s not a line.  I met a lot of really cool people at your shows and I totally dig the music.  Nothing has changed just because you knocked me up!”

“You dig?”

“I dig it.”

“Right on.”

“Har-de-har-har” I said.

“That’s my house.” you pointed to a white wall on our right with a little ivy creeping over the top.  “But there’s a lot of people there right now so we’re just going to stop for a second to pick up some of my things then we’re going to go up the hill a little to a place I think I might do something with.  My house is also the studio you know.”

“Yeah, I was wondering how all that worked.”

“It wont.  Not for us.”

The driver parked the town car in front of the house I’ve seen on VyRT a dozen times and in online tabloid magazines twice that.  While we idled, I tried to orient myself to what I knew about your place from your video streams and Artifact.  Your awards were in the kitchen.  Studio downstairs.  Pool.  I started to feel like a creeper instead of your lover so I sat back in my seat and tried to figure out how the hell one pronounces Cahuenga Blvd.  Once I figure that one out, I’ll work on the pronunciation of your street.

“So, where we going?” I asked after you filled the trunk with a few items and bless all that is holy: your guitar.

“I just picked up the key to a place for sale up on Wrightwood.”

“Wrightwood? Like I know where that is.”

“Up the hill from here.  It’s a little three bedroom ranch.  Pool.  Great security.  Needs some TLC but just cosmetic stuff.  Might be fun to redo if you like it.”

“You’re going to buy it?”

“Maybe.  It’s a great price and Shannon likes project houses.”

“Your brother?”

“Don’t worry, he knows all about you. So does my Mom. You’ll meet them both one of these days.”

“I’m not ready for all that yet.”

“When you are …”

The house was fantastic.  Gated.  Secluded.  Single story.  Huge windows.  Sliders everywhere.  Sunshine.  Private and peaceful (you could hear the highway just a little bit, that I was thankful for.  Too much quiet is bad for my health). The Master Bedroom over looked the pool.  The second and third bedroom hung together at the front of the house with a Jack and Jill bathroom between.  All of the bathrooms were hideous, kitchen too.  But the floors were outstanding.  The ceilings were high.  It had a lot of potential.  I loved it.

“Do you like it?” you asked as we stood in front of the stone fireplace and you flicked the gas on to check for function.

“It’s really nice Jared.  Too much red brick but I can see the potential.”

“Yeah.  Could be a great house for a family.” you snuggled me in and kissed my hair.  “Still hard to believe you’re having my baby.”

I cocked my head back “I’m sorry.”

“I don’t mean it like that. Of course it’d be you having my baby.  It’s just freaky that I’m going to be a Father.  I have no idea what that means.”

“Jared?  Did you forget, I don’t know how a Mother acts either?”

“We’ll figure it out.” you said reassuringly “Our baby will have the two best parents a kid could ever ask for.”

“Yeah she will.”

“He!” you teased.

“She.”

“You can’t tell, can you?”

“Naw.  Just wishful thinking.  I always wanted a girl.”

“50 percent chance of being right.”

“I like those odds.”

“Me too.”

“Should we look at the nursery again?”  you asked.  I nodded and took your hand.  L.A. isn’t a bust after all.    

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

“JAYYYYYY” I shouted from high in our property.  “Jared!?”

You came running across the lawn and up the brick steps towards me frantically screaming “What? What?”

“Look! There’s a fire pit up here!” I was standing on a landing carved out of the hill that climbed upward at the back of our property. The old occupants must have forgotten a few things.  There were some patio chairs around a stone fire pit in a little spot on the back of the lot.  An enormous set of steps led up to me but it still seemed like a secret spot in the garden.

“Jesus Christ! You scared the fuck out of me!” you said as you climbed the steps to me.

When you reached the landing where I was standing, I put my hands on your hips and said “Oh no.  Not that.  Anything but that.”

“You can’t just scream …” I ran my hand over your crotch feeling every sleepy inch of you. “Like that.” your voice trailed off.

“Can we build a fire up here?” I asked as I slid my hand inside your pants to feel you. Your dick is so thick.  Lengthy and full.  Even when sleeping. I stroked slowly, my thumb focused on the tender underside and you grew hard in my hand.

“Yeah. Whatever you want” you mumbled, your attention drawn to the motion of my hand on your cock. I kissed you a few times and you softly kissed me back.

“I want to fuck you, Mr. Leto.”

“Are you sure you feel ok?”

“It’s our first night in our new house Jared, we have to christen it.”

We’ve been together since ‘the incident.’ But very carefully, reserved and well planned.  A pillow here.  A leg over there. Patient and carefully positioned sex.  More mechanical than sensual.  But I was feeling pretty good today.  Pretty good and really fucking horny.  I wanted our spontaneity back and to be manhandled by your lust again.

“We’re not actually in our new house right now. It’s down there.” You pointed down the hill to tease me.

“I want to christen every inch of this property.” I said and I continued to rub your cock. You moaned when I sped up my hand job

“Mmm”

“You like that?” I asked.

“Yeah” you croaked and I bit your shoulder softly. While I nibbled your neck, you slipped a hand under my t-shirt to caress my boob. My nipple slipped between your fingers and you twisted it slightly before giving it a pinch.

“Mmmmmm” I moaned now.

I wanted to taste you.  To feel your throbbing dick in my throat but I was sure my jaw wouldn’t allow it.  The pain might be worth it for the pleasure it would give me but I didn’t think you’d have the heart to go through with it.

You pulled your hand away from my breast and ran it down my stomach until it disappeared inside my shorts.  You tickled my little patch of hair before searching for my clit.  Your middle finger rubbed my bud back and forth.  At a similar pace to my strokes.  We both moaned.

Our kisses brief but our lips still touching as we gasped for air.

You backed off me for a moment, your eyes glazed and sparkling with lust.  You looked around for a place to sit.

“Over here.”  You said and you slipped your workout pants off.  Your blue briefs came off with them.  You sat on the edge of one of the newly discovered patio chairs.  Your cock high and ready for mounting.  I scooted out of my shorts and pulled my top over my head.  My bra was already off my chest so I left it clasped around my upper waist.

I took a moment to look at you naked on the patio chair.  Your long hair cascading down your chest, covering a nipple and your PIA tattoo.  Your cross necklace dangling down but hanging higher than the ends of your hair.  Your tight stomach. Tattooed arms and wrists.  Massive cock straight up off cut hips and muscular thighs. So fucking handsome.  Every inch of you.

I turned around and backed myself slowly in to your lap before impaling myself with you.  Deep at first.  I like to feel all of you inside of me. Filling me completely.  Then I rose and fell in long strokes up and down your cock. You unclasped my bra and let it fall to the ground.  My boobs bounced up and down as I rode you.

Your hands aided my hips until you slid them under my butt to watch yourself disappear inside of me.  You kissed my spine and squeezed my breasts as our pace got faster and faster.  I hadn’t reached my peak yet and you were well aware so you slid your hand around my thigh to my pussy where you vigorously rubbed my clit.

One hand on my breast, one on my bud.  Your hot cock inside me.  It was only a moment, not two, before I released and called out your name.  A moment later, you did the same and moaned mine.

“Home sweet home.”  I teased

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

“I’m going to head down to the other house for a few hours to do some work. I’ll leave you my AMEX so you can go online to buy some things for up here.  Towels, plates …books?”

You smiled and you made the card snap when you laid it on the brand-new white-marble kitchen counter.

“Oh my God I’m living a scene from Pretty Fucking Woman!”

“Knock it off.  We need to actually move out of the hotel and in here now; Julia Roberts!”

“Har Har” I snarked.

“I’ll be back tonight!” you called as you left through the garage.  “Mind the budget!”

What, no kiss?  I was getting used to being the neglected old wife.  Almost two months had passed since I moved to LA.  You bought the house.  Hired the contractors.  Paid the bills.  I floated around the pool, shopped online and filled my fat face with everything not nailed down.

The baby bump had arrived and so had a ravenous hunger followed by epic puke fests.  I got fatter by the day. Bored-er by the minute.  Insane-er by the second.  Still didn’t officially exist here.  Hadn’t changed my license.  Hadn’t gone exploring.  Just hidden away in my tower on the hill waiting until I’m presentable or for a call from Sargent Andrews saying they caught Damien Joseph and he was already rotting in his cell where he’d be for all of eternity.

But according to you, my dear sweet Jared, I should be very busy.  My job while I’m homebound is to take this blank pallet (this home) and turn it in to something special.  But I don’t want to. I’m not Martha Stewart.  I don’t want to be Martha.  Just get one of everything from Pottery Barn and call it a day.  I’ll light the candles on the mantle once someone else sets it all up. I promise!  But I don’t want to design anything.  God forbid it’s all wrong.  Not my thing.  Nope.

I don’t have Princess syndrome.  I have I don’t give a fuck about statement pieces-itis.  But here I am, and there you go.  Out the door again.  To a lunch.  To a dinner.  To the opening of a tin can. This is all so … BORING!

* * *

Later that night you came home and found me passed out on a chaise lounge out by the pool.  I was drooling and you said snoring but I’m not sure I believe that part.  You peeled my book off my face and planted a kiss on my lips.

“It’s dark out here.” You said.

“It’s dark in there too.” I responded.

“You didn’t buy any lamps? I thought you were going to shop today?”

“I don’t want to buy lamps!” I cried.

“What? Why are you crying?”

“I don’t like it here Jared.” I puffed out my bottom lip and crossed my arms over my chest. “I don’t have a life!”

You looked around at all you had given me and then back in my eyes.  “I didn’t know you were unhappy.”

“I’m bored!”

“Of course you’re bored.  Would you like to go out?”

“Would I – HELL YES I WANT TO GO OUT!” I shouted.

“Ok then.  Let’s go out.  Go get dressed.”

“Ooh! Where we going?” I asked as you ushered me inside.

“Santa Monica?”

“Sounds good to me!”

So we went and it was wonderful.  You held my hand and we strolled the boardwalk.   You bought me ice cream and even cheagan vegan’d a lick.  We oogled babies in carriages, I won you a teddy bear and as far as we know, no one recognized you. Not too bad for a Tuesday. I should whine more often!

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

The next morning there it was.  In your email asking for a comment and on my favorite gossip site’s homepage.

Jared Leto & Mystery Pregnant Woman Late Night Stroll

Jared Leto Shows Off Pregnant Girlfriend

Jared Leto Settles Down and Starts Family with Mystery Woman

“Um.” I mumbled as I read the articles in bed next to you. You didn’t say a word.  You just clicked off your email and sunk back in to your pillow.

“And so it begins.” you grumbled from behind your hands.

“Sorry.”

“It was going to happen eventually.” you rolled over to face me and propped yourself up on an elbow  “You’re not a secret.  It just annoys me because this is none of their business and now they’re going to dissect our lives in to bite sized pieces so others can digest it.  It’s pointless exposure.  An invasion that’s so fucking unnecessary … Ok, I’m going to go shower.” You flung the covers off of you and scampered off to the bathroom.

I listened to you pee then turn on the shower before I was sure you weren’t coming back and it was safe to open my laptop again.  I looked at all the pictures.  Googled a dozen articles.  Even trolled around twitter. All with a giant smile on my face.  Freedom.  I could taste it!

The Echelon was a-flutter.  Most seemed to think I was just fat (thanks Häagen-Dazs) but there were a few that could identify my stage of pregnancy to the minute.  I hunted down the girls I used to chat with on the daily, they did remember me and they were talking about me. Nicely.

I wanted to tweet until my head exploded but your shower was already over.

I closed the laptop and picked up my novel.  I was rereading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (or at least pretending to).

“Well, Beth” You clapped your hands once to get my attention “Feel like getting married today?” 

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

“Grab your computer.” You ordered.

“Are you kidding me? Why?”

“You mean you don’t want to marry me?”

“Of course I want to marry you. I love you.” I said and I snuggled up next to you on the couch “But what’s the rush?”

“The rush is, I don’t ever want a single person to look at this…us….and think we aren’t who we are.”  you kicked the stack of gossip rags that sat on our coffee table and they scattered to the ground.

“When did you start caring what other people think Jared?” I asked as I gazed at our two faces and my big belly on the cover of US Weekly.

“The day I met you.”

I shook my head.  I highly doubted that.

“There haven’t been many people in my life who I have needed like I need you.  You’ve changed me.”

“I doubt that.”

“Shannon says you thawed me out.”

“Jared” I sighed and I put my head on your lap. “I don’t need you to be my husband.  I love us, just as we are.  I love you as you are.  Freakish flaws and all.”  I tickled the back of your knee.  You hate that.

You wiggled away from me and smiled.  “Get your computer.”

“Ok but why?”

“We’ll fill out the marriage certificate papers online then go to the court house to finalize it.”

“You’re serious?  Today?”

“Today.”

“But…”

“I want to marry you right now.  A dress and a church aren’t what makes this official.  Who would we invite anyway?  We just need us … and the government” You smirked and I was brought back to a moment where once again, a quick trip to the court house seemed like a good way to hold on to me forever.

“You’ve thought this all out already?”

“When these bastards figure out who you are” you sighed “I want your last name to be Leto.”

How could I argue with that?

You buried your hands in the hair by my ears then skimmed them down my neck as our kiss became more passionate.  Your mouth was firey.  Heavy breaths as you kissed me like the past.  Alive.  Full mouthed.  Tongue in and out, twisting and curling and taking me over.  You were claiming me biblically before you claimed me legally.

My hands quickly undressed you as your mouth moved from mine to my neck, to my collarbone then to my breast.  You pulled at my clothes to disrobe me but your passion got ahead of you. You fumbled with my buttons, stumbled on my zipper.  Nerves.  New nerves.  Like we were coming together for the first time again.  You laid me down on the sofa.  My leg found the back and I propped it there.  You positioned yourself between my legs.  Pressing in to me.

You kissed between my breasts and softly over my growing womb. “I love you baby.” you said to my belly button as your hand cupped the tight skin around my womb. “And I love you Beth Nobody.” you sniffed as tears filled your eyes.

You kissed my mouth again and I remembered our first kiss.  Dirty and dangerous.

“You’re the one. Holy shit.  You’re the one!”  your forehead pressed in to mine.  Your eyes were glossy.  Full with tears. I sat up and pulled your shoulders down in to me so you could kiss me from above.  This was my happy place now.  Underneath the man of my dreams.  My savior.  My best friend.  My husband?

“Yes I will marry you Jared Leto.” I said as the tears escaped my eyes.  “Today.”

You smiled big and turned me on my left side so you wouldn’t squish the baby. “I want you so bad right now” you whispered in my ear.  I scooched myself in to your lap and threw my leg over yours.  You entered me and moaned immediately.  So tight.  Two spoons.  You slowly moved your cock in and out of me.  Your tip teasing my clit.  Balls deep.  Your root teased too.  Slow and melodic.  Rhythmic and steady.  You came deep within me. Shuddering and calling my name.  Your wife.  Today I will become your wife.

– – – – – – – – – – – – –

Liberty was born on a Sunday. Her entrance in to this world ethereal.  Her blue eyes were aware and bright.  Swaddled in your arms until you brought her to my breast.  A new love bigger than anything we had ever known. Soul smacked.

Daddy’s girl took her first steps in to your arms.  Squeaked out your name and filled you with joy.  You taught her to swim in the pool out back at our ranch on Wrightwood.  When we moved to North Crescent you built her a slide then a diving board.  She would sing in tune with your guitar.  Two voices perfectly harmonizing the alphabet, Elmo’s song and Six Little Ducks.  Her fingers danced quickly over the piano keys.  Your little sponge.  Your little girl.

I learned to cook.  Taught pre-natal yoga.  And settled gladly in to a life with you, my husband, and our miracle child.  Time whittled away at the walls we built.  Eventually we let our guard down and went on living.  Your career flourished.  Music faded to the background while you concentrated on movies.  Your investments grew.  Life was good for us.

But … in the back of my mind always was a nugget of fear.  A knowing that Damien Joseph was still out there.  Cops long ago stopped returning our calls requesting an update on the case. Damien Joseph had vanished.  Hadn’t resurfaced for years.  That was good enough for them.  But I knew better.

Late at night after a long day, spent from love making and life building you’d confess that sometimes you thought about him too.  He still owned a piece of us both.  It wasn’t the fans or a rogue paparazzo that made us cling to Liberty so tight, it was him.

So, it goes without saying I wasn’t surprised when he appeared back in our life.  Liberty was nine. Her brother Danny, just three. We were lazying away the day on the beach in Malibu. Your friend’s beach front castle borrowed for the week.  Danny was collecting shells and Liberty was learning to surf.  I was a hundred pages deep in a mystery, you were watching a bird swoop in and out of the waves.  Our day was very California.  Lovely really. Until a bullet ripped through my temple and I fell in to your lap.

~FINI~

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