Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bitten to the Core by Robin Slick

Chapter One

There are at least three things I should be doing right now.

If I were a normal person, that is.

For one, I should be painting. I spent two days setting up my studio in Tom Hunter’s screened-in porch and I have yet to do anything there besides stand in the middle of the room and admire my art supplies.

Or, I could be a really good person and go back to New York and run Rob’s restaurant, but I’ve been a really good person my entire life and look at where it got me.

Which brings me to my third and most important alternative. If I had half a brain, I’d be in Paris fighting for Rob, the alleged love of my life, but nope, I’m not doing that, either.

Instead, I ran away.

I packed my bags and rented a house with an open-ended lease in my favorite place in the entire world, a seaside town where I vacationed as a child—Ocean City, New Jersey. Long white beaches, deep blue water, an old fashioned boardwalk, and one hundred fifty miles from New York City. Of course, I had to pick the middle of winter when absolutely nothing is open except a library and a café swarming with candy freak church ladies, but what the hell, it made perfect sense.

Because as we have already established, I am not a normal person.

For me, going back to Ocean City was the equivalent of returning to my parents’ home and sleeping in my childhood bedroom while my mom stroked my forehead and told me everything was going to be all right. Except my mother died twenty years ago and my childhood home is now part of a strip mall housing a Denny’s and a Bed, Bath and Beyond but, oh well, this is the best I could come up with.

So, rather than take any kind of affirmative action, I pace the house like an over-caffeinated zombie until I run out of steam, plop down on the sofa, and turn on the television.

It seems that several weeks of unplanned celibacy have taken their toll. After only a few minutes of watching Ralph Fiennes on a syndicated talk show, I am sent into a total carnal frenzy.

Did I mention that I am a mess?

Not to use a cliché, but oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Two years ago, I was haughtily patting myself on the back, thinking I had somehow managed to successfully turn my life around. With my youngest son in college, I walked away from the roles of dutiful wife in a loveless marriage and cog in an unfulfilling corporate career. I packed my bags for New York City to pursue a career as an artist—something I had put on hold when my two boys were born.

But all did not turn out exactly as I planned.

For one thing, I fell in love. Apparently with the wrong person. And now I am minus one husband and one supposedly great boyfriend.

Alone again…naturally.

I sigh and turn my attention back to the television.

“So, Ralph, you were voted Sexiest Man Alive by People Magazine. What are your feelings on the subject?” the pretty young interviewer asks.

The enthusiastic audience cheers. I merely salivate.

“Sexiest Man Alive? You don’t say. I was not aware of that.” Ralph grins and leans back in the chair, crossing his legs in what he has to at least know is the Sexiest Man Alive position.

“You don’t read People?” she asks him in surprise.

“Afraid not, love.”

“Then I guess you don’t know that they also said you are a member of the Mile High Club.”

“Oh yes, that I did hear something about.”

“Care to spill the beans?”

He looks at her with a wicked glint in his eyes.

“I really can’t comment. The lady in question is in litigation with her employer.”

“She was a stewardess on the plane, according to People.”

“Well if it is printed in a magazine, then I suppose it must be true,” he says, clearing his throat for emphasis.

There’s a few seconds of dead air after that, but good old Ralph, smirk firmly in place, breaks the silence.

“Let’s move on, shall we? I have a new film to promote and I do believe you have a clip to show your viewers here and at home.”

No, no, your viewers at home want to hear about the Mile High Club! Come on, be a sport, Ralph. So you did it in the bathroom on the plane? You bad, bad boy.

That has to be hot as hell. I wonder if the lavatory in first class is different than the tiny metal closets used by us plebs in coach. Though really, the thought of being crammed up in such an enclosed and forbidden place with Ralph Fiennes makes my knees go weak.

There’s something just so nasty about that fantasy, between the motion of the plane, the idea that hundreds of people are just a few feet from the door—maybe someone is even standing directly on the other side, waiting for his or her turn and they can overhear everything…

Oh my.

I shiver while I rock back and forth on the sofa, both to keep warm and for devilish reasons I’d prefer to keep to myself.

“One more question before you give us a synopsis of the movie clip we are about to see, Ralph. Now I don’t want to go breaking any hearts here, but I also read you are no longer single. Care to comment?”

“I’m seeing one woman exclusively, yes.”

The audience and I groan simultaneously.

“Do you want to share her name with us?”

“Not particularly. She is an artist and isn’t in the business so you would most likely not know her, anyway.”

Oh, God. She’s an artist? I’m an artist, too! Come to me, Ralph. I’m here all by myself and available. You know you aren’t monogamous. No one in the “business” is.

“I understand that she turned down your sexual advances for two months before finally agreeing to sleep with you.”

Ralph stares at her like she is something he would normally scrape off his shoes, and I’m embarrassed to be even watching this program, but at the same time I am practically jumping up and down waiting for his answer.

“Was that in the magazine as well?” He arches an eyebrow and cocks his head. Between the British accent, his sweptback hair, and magnificent face, I am losing it.

“Yes it was, along with juicy side dish that you finally enticed her by doing impossible yoga positions while naked.”

“Good lord, did someone have a webcam in my room?” To his credit he laughs, but his host isn’t letting him off the hook just yet.

“So you are telling us this is something you do?”

What? What does he do? Use a webcam? Naked yoga? Naked yoga with a web cam and his artist girlfriend? Can I find it on the Internet? Is it on YouTube?

“Well, if one is to look at the actual definition of yoga, which is the conscious state of harmony of body, mind, emotions, and inner self, then it would make perfect sense that I practice it while nude.”

And then he slides off his chair and assumes the tree position while never taking his smoky, sensual eyes off the camera.

I run upstairs like a wild woman.

Make your mind a blank, I tell myself as I fall on the bed and kick off the covers. Just think about Ralph Fiennes, hot and heavy airplane sex, and naked yoga.

Which isn’t hard to do at all.

“Lift up your shirt, Elizabeth. Let me see your breasts,” I whisper to myself in a hoarse British accent which, big surprise, sounds nothing like my boyfriend Rob.

I do as I say and raise one arm over my head so that my bare tits are straining upward while I use the other hand to alternately massage them, stopping only to intermittently pinch my nipples.

“You are so beautiful. I want you completely naked. Take off your bottoms.”

“But I’m afraid.”

“I won’t hurt you, I promise. I want your first time to be something you will always remember.”

Oh, boy. The hell with the yoga and the plane. I’m about to lose my virginity to Ralph Fiennes.

I pull my sweatpants all the way down until they fall to the floor.

“Do you want me?”

“I’m not ready,” I whimper.

I slowly inch my hand between my tightly closed thighs. “I just need to touch your pussy. If you’re wet you won’t feel any pain. Open yourself for me. Try and spread your legs as wide as you can. All I want is to make you happy.” My fingers are relentless as I probe and stroke every inch of my body while I toss and turn on the bed.

“I want you to make me happy, too.” I bring my finger to my lips, wet it with my tongue, and run it gently along my clit, back and forth, up and down, teasing gently and then applying just the tiniest bit of pressure.

“Do you want to feel my cock deep inside of you?”

“Yes! Oh God, please!”

I thrust my entire finger all the way inside while rubbing myself back and forth with the palm of my hand.

“Grab my ass. I want you to feel me come.”

I take my other hand and place it on top of the one currently fucking me and force my finger in even further while simultaneously vibrating my clit with all of the frenetic movements.

I climax so hard I hear ringing in my ears and my teeth are vibrating.

Damn, I’m good.

It takes me at least ten minutes to catch my breath after that orgasm. I hug the oversized down-filled pillow, now a likely candidate for future debauchery, to calm down a heart that feels like it’s beating out of my chest.

So this is what I have been reduced to.

At least it works.

All right, I feel better now. Excellent. Time for a bath. I can’t believe I’m actually leaving the house tonight.

* * * *

“The Ocean City Poetry Society meets at the Ocean City Library, 17th and Simpson Streets, Ocean City, New Jersey, the last Tuesday of every month.”

When I heard the announcement on the radio earlier that day, I laughed out loud—half because knowing Ocean City the way I do, I found it hilarious—and half in relief because it was the last Tuesday of the month and I wanted to go, which was very good news. I seriously needed a reason to get out of the house. I had been moping around and wallowing in depression for weeks.

So thank you, Mr. Ralph Fiennes, and thank you, Ocean City Public Library.

I have my way with myself again in the tub. My clit is still swollen and it only takes a few seconds of a steady stream of warm water strategically sprayed from the hand-held showerhead to send my eyes rolling backward.

“Oh, Johnny!” I scream.

For, um, Johnny Depp.

Okay, so I’m a loser. But I’m willing to bet there are millions of other losers out there just like me.

Which is confirmed when I walk up the stairs and enter the reading room on the library’s second floor. The M&M gang is here, seated primly on metal folding chairs. One of them is knitting with a Bible on her lap. That would be Dottie.

I met Dottie and her pals last week when I went out to what I thought was a hip little café for breakfast. Yeah, well, they might have had cool specials like pumpkin pecan pancakes and coconut custard French toast written on the blackboard menu posted in their plant-filled window, but it turned out to be a hot spot for church ladies. There were six of them seated at a round table in the middle of the restaurant, all wearing red t-shirts emblazoned with a large M&M on the front and her name embroidered on the back in three inch yellow letters. If one was to believe what was written on her shirt and her proprietary air at the head of the table, Dottie was their fearless leader. I curiously watched them bow their heads and chant prayers over their coffee, both annoyed at the intrusion and maybe a little jealous of their ability to achieve spiritual contentment oblivious to other patrons sipping coffee and reading newspapers.

Though I did have a private snicker that their husbands must come in their mouths, not in their hands.

So here we were, together again, at the Ocean City Public Library. I grab a seat in the back and do a quick scan around the room. Oh, perfect. There’s the Waiting to Die Because We’re Stuck With Our Wives Since We Retired quintet—five men who hang outside Opal’s Apple Cider Donut Stand on the boardwalk all year long, even now when it’s boarded up and closed for the winter.

Hey, it’s cool. For once I’m the youngest person in the room, and by several decades yet. But, oh good grief, what type of poet could they possibly have booked? Am I going to have to sit here for two hours and listen to someone in a pink cardigan reciting Hallmark greeting cards?

Probably. I look longingly over at the refreshment table. Wine and cheese? No boxed cookies from the supermarket and pitchers of Kool-Aid?

Yeah, yeah, I really need to stop being such a snob.

The librarian steps to the podium and announces our special guest.

“Hullo,” says a warm, British voice.

What’s this? I glance up at the speaker. He is our poet? Oh, there is a God. Long, shaggy dark hair, five o’clock shadow, large expressive eyes and, if that’s not enough, he’s my apparent soul mate. Like me, he is completely dressed in black and wearing a t-shirt and jeans topped with a black leather jacket.

You would think by now I’d have learned my lesson about these types of men, but no, no, there you have it, I’m almost sliding off my chair with lust.

And then he starts to read from his work and our eyes lock because we both know I’m the only one in the room who has a clue as to what he is talking about, and at the same time I’m thinking it’s been two and a half months since I’ve had sex. My boyfriend is in France allegedly promoting a cookbook that we wrote and illustrated together, but what he is really doing is taking care of his ex-girlfriend, who may or may not be grievously injured as a result of a terrible motorbike accident in Paris.

I wonder how old the poet is.

Hopefully nearer to me in age than my eldest son, but upon closer inspection, my stomach sinks. I mean, he could be forty, but I doubt it, though he’s got the kind of look where he could be anywhere from twenty-five to thirty-five.

Please let him be thirty-five. At least a six-year age difference wouldn’t fall under the dreaded May-December category, would it?

Oh, what do I care? He’s probably splitting from here the minute he finishes, anyway, unless the M&M gang kidnaps him and takes him down to the church basement where they will wrap his naked torso in chains and commit unspeakable sins.

Right, Elizabeth. You’re normal. Can’t you have thoughts like other people?

Nope.

It’s weird but everyone rushes out en masse as soon as the poet is finished reading. I’m so embarrassed on his behalf that I walk over to tell him that I think he is brilliant.

“Thank you,” he replies. “This is quite odd, isn’t it?” He waves his hand around the empty room.

“Yeah, it’s perplexing alright, but I’m only here on a vacation of sorts so I’m not hip to the natives and their culture system. What I can tell you is that this appears to be a very morally conservative town and they may have taken some offense to the material you read tonight.”

He looks shocked and is about to reply when the librarian appears in the doorway and clears her throat.

“I could use a drink,” he says instead, looking over at the refreshment table. Holy crap, someone already walked off with the wine and cheese. I wince and because I am a kind and caring person, I take one for the team.

“A drink? That sounds good to me. There’s a decent bar around the corner if you’d like some company. It, um, appears we’re being asked to leave,” I say loudly because the rudeness being shown this man is astonishing.

Okay, so maybe it’s not that I’m a kind and caring person who feels sorry for him. Let’s be honest here, what I’m really thinking is, “Fuck me, suck me, do what you will with me, Poetry Man.”

We walk out without so much as a goodbye or a thank you from anyone and five minutes later pull up a stool at Schooner’s Tavern, which is devoid of any customers. An ancient bartender watching a rerun of Murder, She Wrote on an ancient television tries not to show his displeasure at being interrupted.

But what the hell, this could prove to be interesting, and at least I’m back out in the world again.

As soon as I get the opportunity, I ask the poet how old he is.

“Twenty-nine,” he says, taking a swallow of beer. “And you?”

“Forty,” I lie. “In fact, today is my birthday.”

Hey, if I’m going to lie, I may as well lie.

He looks at me and grins. “This is the best you can do?”

I’m not sure if he means, “This is the best you can do?” because it’s a lousy fib, or if he means, “This is the best you can do—spend such a momentous occasion with a poet who had a speaking engagement at the Ocean City Public Library?”

But since I am now on my second vodka martini and it is well established that I am a cheap drunk—a very cheap drunk—I look at him and say, “What can I tell you, I’m horny.”

Apparently I am not that drunk after all because I am instantly mortified. Kill me now. Please. I’m begging you.

“Oh? Just how horny are you?” he asks, looking at me through those all too familiar man-in-heat narrowed eyes.

“Horny? Who’s horny? I’ve had great sex with myself the past seven days in a row,” I reply, adding to my heretofore-unknown plan for suicide.

He laughs. “What’s your name again?”

“Elizabeth. And what’s yours?” I actually had no idea, though I’m sure had I ventured outdoors in the past few days, there were probably posters plastered all over town.

“Andrew. Andrew Kent. You really didn’t know that, did you?”

“Nope. Sorry. I feel guilty, I swear.”

Not.

And to prove it I reach over in front of him and grab a handful of peanuts, half of which I drop on his thigh.

He brushes them off and shrugs. “Now why would you feel guilty?”

“I guess it’s a dumb reason, but maybe it’s because I’m a painter and you are a poet and we should all be aware of each other and support each other and all that happy stuff.”

“That makes absolutely no sense at all. But whatever. Let’s have a toast for your birthday. Cheers!” We clink glasses and I feel more like an idiot than ever. Worse. A cradle-robbing idiot.

“So, you are a painter. Is that what brings you to Ocean City, Elizabeth?”

“No. I’m here nursing a broken heart. Or not. I have no idea, actually. My boyfriend and I are separated at the moment, and I’m not sure if it’s real or in my head and...wait, why are you looking at me like that?”

“Because you are very pretty, you know.”

“I’m screwed no matter how I answer that, aren’t I?”

“In a perfect world, yes.” He grins.

“Oh really,” I say, because I can’t think of anything else.

“Really.”

There’s an awkward pause between us made worse by the sound of me furiously chomping on peanuts. This is because I am extremely nervous he’s going to feel me up or finger me in public in front of the pissed-off, ninety-year-old bartender, after which we will be arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior and make the headlines of the Ocean City Gazette.

Or, I’m going to end up in a body bag, identified by my dental records.

Of course there’s an even worse scenario—maybe he doesn’t want to touch me at all.

Who tells a total stranger that they’re horny? I mean, who over the age of sixteen, that is?

Luckily one of us is more mature than the other.

“Where do you live when you’re not nursing a broken heart, Elizabeth?” He playfully picks my fingers off of the bar and then tickles my palm. Okay, so much for him not wanting to touch me. When I don’t pull away, he starts making sensual love to my hand, pumping his thumb in and out between my index and forefingers. I pretend it’s not happening, just like I pretend there isn’t a warm, quivery puddle forming between my legs.

“New York. East Village, actually.” At least I think that’s where I think I still live, although the apartment belongs to my boyfriend Rob. Or is that my ex-boyfriend, Rob? He wouldn’t just put me out on the street, would he? Oh, who cares? I have money of my own now.

That brave voice is the alcohol speaking, not me.

“New York, huh? I should have guessed that. Somehow I doubt there are any other women in Ocean City, New Jersey dressed in black jeans and a Lou Reed t-shirt.”

“Sadly, there aren’t that many of us left in New York, either,” I reply. “But since we are drawing stereotypical conclusions here, I guess the same could be said for you. London, then?”

“Nope, New York as well. Coincidence, huh? But not the East Village—the slums of Brooklyn.”

“Slums? Who are you kidding, Andy—can I call you Andy? Brooklyn is all yupped up now. You aren’t a writer unless you have a Brooklyn address.”

“Trust me, I live in the underbelly. Poets are apparently not paid as well as painters.”

Since I am not about to launch into anything personal like my finances or worse, throw any emotional baggage at him on our first “date”, I stay quiet. Or as quiet as I can while he continues to lightly touch my fingers and I struggle not to spill vodka martini all over both of us.

He walks me home, I invite him in, and pretty soon we are sitting side by side on the ugly plaid sofa in my off-season rental home with our tongues down each other’s throats. I give silent thanks that Tom Hunter, the owner, had the good sense to use thrifty sixty-watt light bulbs throughout the place, making it both sexy and lit up just enough to see each other yet effectively conceal our age difference.

We take a short breather, but it is pretty obvious we are both about to burst with unabashed passion. While I shiver at the possibilities, anticipation is fifty percent of the experience and I intend to have it all.

“Can I get you something to drink? I have some Pinot Grigio,” I say huskily.

“Pinot Grigio would be lovely.”

I open a bottle of wine and we proceed to get even more wasted, and then at last—after another hour of teasing and touching and hints of what we’d really like to be doing to each other—we weave our way upstairs to the bedroom, giggling like kids. We collapse on the bed and simultaneously shed our clothes, haphazardly throwing them piece by piece at chairs and the dresser and even the floor, which is where everything ended up, anyway.

And then we are naked and glowing almost otherworldly courtesy of the pale yellow moonlight streaming in through the blinds. We study each other’s bodies with lust-filled eyes and the mood in the room suddenly shifts, turning dark and mysterious and erotically charged.

“So tell me what you like,” he whispers. We are on our sides, facing each other. His hands are on my hips and he presses himself up against me, hard.

“This,” I say, raising my leg and draping it over his backside so that my pussy opens and curls around his cock. “And this,” I add, shifting so that he can easily slip inside of me.

“You don’t want…you don’t need…any foreplay? You’re so wet, you’re sopping.” He gasps.

“You know, I just said that to myself earlier today,” I reply. “Oh, God, Andrew. You feel fantastic. What a perfect fit you are. Yeah, yeah, keep moving just like that. Oh my, who needs foreplay with someone like you?”

“You said that to yourself earlier today? Who needs foreplay?”

“No, no, I said I’m so wet. I said it out loud while I was bringing myself off.”

He stops for a minute and stares at me with glazed eyes.

“While you were bringing yourself off? For real?”

“But of course. Doesn’t everyone?”

“Yes, but few will admit to it.” He pants as I grind myself against him. “I want to watch you. I want to see how you make yourself come.”

“And so you shall.” I squeeze the back of his thighs, drawing him even closer. “But for now, I want to feel you deep inside of me, something else I coincidentally told myself earlier.”

“Do you always have dialogue going on while you pleasure yourself? That’s so bloody hot. Did you use a vibrator?” He thrusts himself all the way up to what feels like my breastbone and I moan loudly as he quickens the pace. I try to keep up with him and the sensation is exquisite. His cock is huge and—yeah, yeah, I know I’m drunk, but I swear I can feel it throbbing.

“My God, woman, I could fuck you all night like this.”

“Don’t make that offer unless you intend to stand by it,” I manage to say despite the fact that I’m about to have a seismic episode that very well may register a ten on the Richter scale.

Oh, hurrah, does this guy know his way around a woman. He has it down, baby, with exquisite control to boot, even after all that alcohol. What a lucky find.

He rolls me on my back and fucks me even harder and faster, but just as I begin that familiar, tingling climb, he senses he is going to lose me and it is still too soon for his liking. With a wicked grin he wisely switches up, changing his lovemaking technique to long, slow strokes—pulling all the way out, then sliding all the way back in and enticing me further by gyrating his hips.

Oh, as if that is going to keep me from going over the edge. Okay, then, may as well bring out the full artillery. I wiggle my hand down to touch myself and as soon as that happens he exclaims out loud and we both get wild all over again. His body goes totally out of control and he screws me deeper and deeper into the bed as if he is trying to dig his way to China before the heat rising from our bodies causes us to fuse together first, if not combust altogether.

In fact, I’m combusting right now. Jesus.

“Don’t come yet,” he breathes.

“I don’t know if I can hold back…it feels so good…oh, God…”

He stops and pulls out of me, appearing to shake and uncertain if he can hold back much longer himself.

“Let me suck on you for a bit,” I say, struggling to catch my breath.

“I don’t know about that,” he says dubiously. “Oh, what the hell. It’s a good a plan as any.”

Yeah, like he was really going to say no.

He shimmies up on his knees until he is straddling my face and I take only the head of his cock into my mouth, wrapping my lips around my teeth and teasing him with my tongue.

And then I raise myself off the pillow and apply a little suction—just the tiniest bit—while lapping at his shaft with sharp, little calculated licks.

“No, I can’t!” He pulls out and sits back on his haunches a bit unsteadily. “You little vixen, do you want me to erupt in your mouth?”

“If you’d like.”

“Oh, I’d like alright, but I’ll take a rain check which you can rest assured I will collect later. But for now, roll over, please.”

Uh-oh.

“On my belly? Err...not, um...you know, right?””

“No. Not that. No worries. Other than I think I’m going to fill every single pore of your body with seven liters of molten semen when I do come, that is.”

I turn onto my stomach and pull myself up on my knees so that I am open and exposed to him that way now. He groans, wraps his arms around my waist, and enters me doggie style. My hand never leaves my pussy. He grabs my breasts to both steady himself and drive me thoroughly out of my mind while relentlessly pumping into me. Once again I find myself struggling to make it last as long as I can, but oh no, I can’t. It’s too late, and I let out a strangled scream as I experience wave after wave of release.

He comes with a delighted growl ten seconds after I do.

Holy cow.

But a few minutes later, with the blanket wrapped around our ankles, he inexplicably ruins the moment by murmuring, “So what are you thinking about, now that you are forty?”

I stare at him incredulously.

“Death and disillusionment, mostly,” I say after awhile.

“Ah, it’s just like being twenty-nine, then,” he yawns.

Oh shit. I forgot to include dismemberment.

“Yes, exactly the same,” I say, looking around for a weapon, but all I can see on my nightstand is an emery board which is, alas, made of paper.

He misunderstands and reaches for me again, and I remember just what twenty-nine-year old men are good for. Funny how quickly I forgive him for his tactlessness.

He sits on top of me.

“How can you do this again so soon?”

“I stay hard for a while after I come. I won’t shoot any more seed, but I bet I can bring you off again,” he says.

Shoot any seed? For some reason, hearing him say this with that English accent is almost as good as the hand action he’s employing between my legs while thrusting in and out at a leisurely pace.

He’s a good pupil, this Andrew. He obviously pays attention to what a woman likes, which is a rare and admirable trait.

It isn’t until the wee hours of the morning, while I listen to this beautiful man-child snoring next to me, that I realize the magnitude of what I have done.

I mean, I just fell into bed with a total stranger and I’m supposed to be in love.