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Imposter- Thriller


July 11, 2016

“I was never really loved. I guess that’s where it began. My mother wasn’t a mother, more like someone who just used me when it was convenient for her. I wasn’t wanted so what did it matter?” Ava thought about how her mother used to leave her at the Hannaford when she was little. She’d just walk in, take Ava to the bakery section for a free cookie then leave. The lady at the bakery never called the police on her mother. Or anyone else. And after a while, she took Ava in-kinda-sorta. Ava would go behind the counter, have all the free cookies she wanted and watch as Big Peggy whipped up treats for the display cases.

“Go on,” Dr. White urged.

“I’m not a slug you know. I would have worked more, but it’s hard to get a work permit signed by your parent when you haven’t seen them. I tried to do better. I tried to help out.”

“Where was your mother?” he asked.

“Who knows? Strung out somewhere is my guess. I haven’t seen her in almost a year.”

“So you tried to help out at home but it wasn’t enough,” he restated.

Ava rolled her eyes and twirled her hair. “Yeah, and eventually I got too cold, too hungry and too fed up. I thought if I just took the easy way out the world would be a burden short finally.”

Dr. White, didn’t take the baited statement and moved on. “What happened when they released you from Stonehurst?”

Ava didn’t want to rehash the recent past. She was bone tired from sleeping with one eye open for the last month. What she wanted was a hot shower, a warm meal and a bed. Scratch that, what she really wanted was a family. One that counted. One that loved her.

“I went home,” she said.

“Ava, I’m trying here. You’ve got to help me out.” Dr. White looked irritated with her simple answers. Ava rolled her shoulders but she knew if she wanted this visit to end she needed to play the game.

“I went back to the studio apartment but the building had been condemned. Which was probably my fault. The EMT’s probably reported it when they picked me up. I tried to sneak in but I couldn’t. It was like our lives were just a pile of crumbs on a table, and someone came along with a rag and wiped them away. But that’s life, right? You think a place is a possession, but it isn’t.” Ava looked out the barred window. The sun was blazing and the sky was bright blue. She wondered if life would ever feel as beautiful as the sky looked. A slew of people were now interested in her. People, she decided, were curious creatures. No one noticed her before. But now, now everyone noticed her.

“Why didn’t you reach out to one of your State-appointed counselors or try to find your mother or other family?”

“For what? So I could stay in a shelter and feel even worse about my life? Or find my mom only to find her passed out on some dudes bed? Or end up dead from drinking  because rural Maine is a wasteland? I figured I was better off homeless. I know that I have nothing to look forward to outside of being a retail person, or possibly taking out student loans for college. And why? I ask myself that question hundreds of times, and the only answer I ever get is to land a job that I would probably hate, and spend years of my life staring out a window wishing for more. I don’t want that kind of life. A kid like me doesn’t really have options.” Her voice caught between anger and panic. Goals receded into the distance while reality stretched on, until it became only natural to desire something beyond oneself. Maybe it was just some TV or time on Facebook or window shopping. Maybe a sleeping pill to ease her to sleep. Maybe a narcotic to tame the physical and psychological pain. Maybe just simple love and affection. Maybe there was a cure for what ailed her. She wouldn’t know until she exhausted all avenues.

Ava adjusted herself in her chair. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and continued. “I went looking for Gary instead. He might have been a heroin addict but he was about the only thing in life that showed any sort of affection toward me.”

“Did you find him?” Dr. White asked.

“Yeah. At Howie’s bar near the tracks. You know it? It’s a little hole-in-the-wall craptastic place.”

Dr. White shook his head. “Can’t say I have.”

“Well it was Gary’s favorite hang out. He bought me a soda and let me hang with him for the night.”

“Where did Gary live then?”

Ava laughed. “Gary didn’t live. Gary only survived for his next hit. After Howie’s booted him out he took me to his friends place with him.”

“What time was that?” Dr. White asked.

Ava thought it over. She never was good at details. “I dunno, maybe like eleven or so?”

“So you went to whose house then?”

“Some guy they call Fat Mike, which is dumb because the dude is stupid skinny.  He squats in a shit hole building near Exchange Street.”

“Go on,” Dr. White said.

“So we get there and Gary and Fat Mike go into another room. I sit on the couch for a while with my backpack just waiting. Fat Mike comes back out and says Gary is passed out. So I get up to leave but Fat Mike says I can stay until he wakes up. Says I can sleep on the couch.”


“Anyway I don’t know this dude so I don’t want to sleep out in the open. I tell him it’s cool- I’ll just sleep with Gary. I mean, Gary was more like a dad to me. He is like fifty or something and even though he is a hopeless addict, he is always kind to me in his own way. Watched out for me and stuff.” Ava shrugged and twirled a clump of hair around her finger.

“Yes, Gary was very concerned when you were found.”

“Yeah. I talked to him. We’re okay.” Ava smiled. Gary was strange and a hot mess but reliable when it came to her. Dr. White made notes on his legal pad. His pen made a scratching sound on the paper. So many notes. She shook her head. Ava wondered how any of this was pertinent information to the case.

©2016 K. Larsen

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Here’s to you!

In honor of you, the reader, I post….

A chapter.


*unedited* subject to change*



Willa: It’s not just a ‘friend’ weekend o’ fun 😉
Friday 3:48pm


Milana: Oh jaysus. Have an orgasm for me!
Friday 3:50pm

Willa: LOL, can do!
Friday 3:55pm


Milana: Ok hottie, have a fab weekend fling!
Friday 4:00pm


Willa: So I yelled out “that was for Milana!” That wasn’t weird right???
Friday 11:00pm


Milana: OMG! Bahaha, that is THE BEST! Love it.


I snort as I type my response. My phone rings almost immediately after I hit send. I lift it, glancing at the screen and smile. Shaking my head in amusement I swipe to answer.

“What are you doing?” I answer laughing.

“Shh, I just wanted to say hi. I’m in the bathroom washing up.” Willa, my best friend whispers. I chuckle because it’s not as if I need to whisper.

“Gross! You kill me, you know that. Please hang up the phone and go back to your weekend fling,” I say. I roll my eyes and giggle at the situation. Classic Willa. Queen of the overshare. No one can amuse me more than she does though.

“Brat. I just wanted to make sure no one had abducted you since I know you’re walking home alone right now, but-consider me gone.” She snickers. Before I have a chance to think of a witty comeback the line goes dead. I swear Willa has a sixth sense. She may be a TMI kind of person but she’s my person and I love her to the stars and back. I tuck my phone into the outside pocket of my purse and breathe in the night air.


I approach the house. Tall and brick and formal. Really the two-story building is drab and unwelcoming in my opinion. Three large granite steps up to the door. I shove my hand into the outermost pocket of my purse to find keys as I take the first step. I breathe in another lungful of the crisp night air and recap my pathetic life silently. I think about the way I wasted two hours reading a women’s magazine earlier because apparently I want to punish myself. I was overwhelmed by all the dieting options. Juicing, smoothies, pills, calorie cycling. Who has time to do that stuff? Who want’s to crap red for a week simply because they’re on an all beet juice cleanse to lose a measly ten pounds? Instead of being able to learn any useful information, I sat, stuffing my hand into a bag of salt and vinegar chips wondering why I have an extra ten pounds on me lately. College was a fail. Holding down a steady nine-to-five job was a fail. God, it’s like I’m looking for the least possible amount of responsibility possible in life. I take the next step up squashing my self-degrading thoughts.


“Peaches.” A deep baritone voice rings out. It cuts through the night. Fills the silence. Startled I whip around scanning the empty street. Then he steps into the glow of the street light. I cringe. First the bar, now here. This is a new tactic. A new approach that unsettles me. I school my features quickly.

“Bryce?” I call out. “What are you doing here?” I prop a hand on my hip, feeling put out.

A lazy grin spreads across his handsome face as he saunters toward me. He looks like some frat boy casanova. My phone vibrates in my purse. Not now Willa, I think. Bryce stops just inches from my body. He’s domineering. Taller than me even though I’m standing two steps up from him and in heels.

“Surprise,” he answers as his arm darts out toward me. I flinch but he only tucks a tendril of hair behind my ear.

What. The. Hell.

“Yeah,” I offer sarcastically, “definitely a surprise.”  I back up, taking the next step carefully. “Listen, it’s not really a great time so… I’ll see you later.” I clutch my bag to my chest and turn away, heading for the door.
“I wasnt done talking.” Irritation laces his voice.

I sigh knowing how this battle will go before it’s even happened. “I know, but I was done listening,” I call out over my shoulder confidently as I fumble with my keys. I just need to get inside. It’s safe inside. One large hand clamps over mine. My breath leaves me in a strong gust. He drapes an arm over my shoulders, tucking me against his side. My heart rate explodes.

“Let me,” he offers while taking the keys from my hand. Sweat beads on my forehead, despite the chill, threatening to drip down and ruin my makeup mask.

“Okay, thanks,” I mumble. He grins at me, Bryce-with dusty-blond hair and oversized black-rimmed glasses that cover endless blue eyes. Eyes that hide things. Eyes that lie. Eyes that never give away intent.

“You have such a pretty face Milana, why don’t you show it anymore?” he asks while scrutinizing me.

I swallow the words I want to say and stare at the ground like a dog dominated by its alpha. He slips the key into the lock with ease and turns it. I slink inside submissively. He follows, shutting and locking the door behind him. I hate the sound of that lock clicking. My feet pulse in my stylish but tight, green Loubotin heels that peek out under my jeans. I shift my weight to relieve the tension a bit.

Bryce stares me down in silence. I shift again nervously.

“Feet hurt?” he asks. I respond with a silent nod. “Why don’t you get into something more comfortable?” he says approaching me. His hands are tucked into his jean pockets which calms me a bit because it means they’re contained, for now.

I set my purse on the entry way table and kick off my heels one at a time. The loss of those extra three inches makes Bryce tower above me even more. He’s so handsome. I hate handsome. It distracts. Good looks hide intentions.

“So,” I ask moving toward the kitchen. “Why are you here?”
“You aren’t happy to see me? I kind of expected a warmer welcome than that after our run in at the bar Milana.”

I reach into the cabinet left of the sink and pull a glass down. “I’m happy, I just… I wasn’t expecting you.” I fill my glass with tap water then watch him over the edge of the glass while I take a sip. This could go a million different ways. And all of them probably awful. He seems extra uptight. Coiled to his breaking point.

“Hence, the surprise aspect,” he chuckles low and deep. A hand leaves his pocket and runs through his hair.

“Yeah,” I answer leaning a hip against the marble counter top. I don’t know what to say so we stand there in awkward silence together. A standoff of sorts.

“I’ve missed you,” he says taking my glass from me and setting on the countertop. The glass has a lipstick stain on the rim. Bright pink. His palms cup my face. His thumbs stroke my cheeks softly. I put my palms on his forearms and add a little pressure. His jaw twitches but he doesn’t remove his hands from my face. Instead, he leans forward, resting his forehead against mine. Anger fills me. Anger I rarely let myself indulge in at the tenderness, the intimacy of his action. His head tilts, grazing the corner of my mouth with his. A half-kiss. His mouth trails to my ear. “Haven’t you missed me?” he whispers. I tug against his fingers but they hold me in an iron-clad vise. He pulls back to inspect me. The icy chill in his frozen eyes cools the sweat on my neck and causes goose bumps on my forearms. “Peaches,” he snaps. “Answer me.” Something goes slightly wrong in my stomach at his tone. I need to get my head in the game.

“Don’t call me that. Yes. Yes, I mean, of course I missed you. This is all very unexpected, you know? I don’t know what to make of it,” I blurt. He sighs and drops his arms as he backs away from me. Good. I need the space.

“You’re right. I’m sorry. I should have called first,” he says. I nod and give him a half smile. “Let’s sit. Catch up.”

I study him, wary of his suggestion. “Okay.” The word is drawn out, etched with suspicion.

He walks to the living room and I follow silently behind. My raw nerves make me dizzy. I watch as he sits on the cream colored couch. I choose the armchair across from him, and stiffly perch on the edge. I can’t read the dark cloud that has settled over his face. The silence eats at me as he sits back straight, shoulders relaxed, and flashes a smile. His temper existing just below the surface. The tension thickens between us. I grit my teeth and wait him out. I’d rather he lead.

“How are classes going?” he asks.

“Good. I like the subjects this semester,” I answer vaguely. The truth is a tricky thing. People think it’s a weapon to aim at someone but it’s just as likely to blow up in their own face. I clutch the armrests of the chair.

“How’s Dan?” he asks with a sneer. And here we go. The first of small clues to how this will go down.

I scoff and scoot back into my chair further. “Dan is none of your business.” I lift my chin higher.

“None of my business?” he laughs. “Milana, you are my business and if Dan is your business then he’s mine too,” he says.

“Leave him out of this. Please.” I grind out. His mercurial moods, his unreadable face—it confuses me. Makes it hard to know how to respond. Difficult to understand what he wants. My mother always said you can’t trust men. When my parents were still together, there were always parties. Men with slicked back hair. Women in sun-dresses. Glasses of wine scattered on any available flat surface. And even after Dad left us, there were still women. All the single moms who brought their kids over, along with all the makings for their drink’s. They’d sit up late talking in hushed voices about their ex-husband’s proclivities, while us kids played Uno in the next room.

Bryce’s voice snaps me out of my thoughts. “Is that how you pay for this pretty townhouse? How you enjoy everything college has to offer?”

Offended I question whether to spit at him and stomp away or not but I don’t want this to peak. “It’s late Bryce, maybe you should go.” I’m sure to ask him as nicely as I can muster.

“Go?” he laughs. His finger pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

“Yeah, as in, leave,” I say. I bring my thumb up to nibble on my nail but stop when I remember the perfect polish of my manicure. I massage the back my neck instead.I grip it tightly and squeeze.

“Oh no, no, no. Milana, I think you’re missing the point. I’m here to stay for a while,” he says. My shoulders slump just a little at his words and the tension in my neck doubles.

“Bryce, please. I’m tired. Tomorrow we can have lunch or something.” I bite my lip in anticipation. Will he go without a fight?

His blue eyes dance in a dangerous way. “Lunch or something? That’s what we’re relegated to now? Lunch?” He pushes up from the couch and approaches me. I can see his thoughts quickly turning stormy. He runs a shaking hand through his hair, an enormous knot twisting in my gut makes it suddenly hard to breathe.  He slouches toward me like a big cat homing in on its prey.  His right hand moves to my face, his fingertips curl into the hair at the base of my neck. I want to move, to run away but I’m frozen like a possum, hoping the predator will pass me by. My scalp smarts at his grip, but I refused to rub my head.  His nostrils flare. “I can remember a time when you begged me to take you, hard and fast. Definitely not a lunch or something,” he spits out.  He’s leading, as I wanted him to. His hands on me make me feel strong but the feeling is all wrong.  I’m some sort of freak who feels no pain. I hold onto the fire he’s spitting as if it were rain. I am nothing without pretend. I am nothing without a man.  I know my truths. His face gets hard and I can tell he’s grinding his teeth. I bite my lip and shrug my petite shoulders in indifference.

He loathes indifference.

Clearing my throat I  start in on him. “Why do you do that? Make me feel cheap and used? I’m not that person anymore you asshole. Things change,” I spit the last words at him. The successful lie makes me feel invincible for a moment. Yanking the handful of my hair, he tugs me closer to his face. His fingers wrap tighter, burning my scalp. Bring it, I think.

“No Milana. Things don’t change.” Unwinding his fingers from my hair, he trails them down my neck, along my clavicle, and down my arm. “But I’m not a monster.”

I breathe a sigh of relief but remain silent. “Maybe I should go.” Bryce stands up jerkily to his full height, pulling me with him. He’s watching my body, scanning every inch as though I were naked. He’s cooling down. I let out a massive yawn and rub my eyes.

“So, tomorrow?” I turn nervously to face him as he moves towards the entryway.  The muscles in his jaw clench and unclench.  I think about this morning. I slept until seven and stubbed my toe on the edge of the bed as I stepped over a mound of dirty clothes. I opened the fridge to find emptiness staring back at me. I hopped in the car but it wouldn’t start. It was too damn hot to walk but I didn’t have a choice and I prayed that my debit card wouldn’t get declined at the store while I was stuck behind an old woman with the pace of a slug. I think about how heavy my head feels on my neck, bent like a crane under the weight of a wrecking ball. How the blues threaten to come again. About how living’s no fun when you’re broken. I stare at my glossy nails, contemplating how much to say, the short dark hair falling over my face making me wish the chestnut strands provided some sort of real protection. I’m no fool though. They offer nothing in the way of safety. Life’s a tough game and I make the most of it.

“Night Bryce.”  He reaches for the doorknob, pauses then twists, pulling the door open. My chest rises and falls noticeably waiting for him to step through the threshold and shut the door behind him. “See you tomorrow.” I let the words hang out there like laundry drying in the wind.

“Yeah, tomorrow,” he says. He steps outside and slams the door shut. I inhale in an attempt to center myself.


I head upstairs for bed. I take the stairs too fast, reaching the top step but thinking there is another, I stamp down on the landing clumsily and lose my balance. My knee locks and then all I can think is-I must look like a baby gazelle learning to walk. How freakin’ awkward is that? It’s weird to think about your own life from outside yourself. It’s like having a front-row seat to your own demise. I’m overcome with exhaustion. I grab onto the handrail, catching myself. My lungs drag in his scent of his spicy cologne. Words desert me. His hands wrap around my waist like a noose. I squeak in surprise. His grip is tight and his fingernails dig white crescents into the sensitive skin at my waist. He pulls me toward him, till his chest touches my back. “You know what Milana, I think I want to stay. I think I deserve it. I think you want me to,” he whispers.

“This is how you want it, Bryce?” I ask lifting up my chin. He growls under his breath, grabbing my elbow and holding firm as he spins me to face him. Ripping from his grasp I dart down the stairs to my purse and rip my phone from its home in the outside pocket. His hand snatches it from mine. My heart beats wildly in my chest but I stand tall and fake confidence. “I don’t think so,” he grits out. I reach for it anyways. He hurls it against the wall. Pieces fly and rain down to the floor. My shoulders slump. Grabbing my keys from the sideboard he stalks to the door and crosses his arms. I curse the day they installed the fancy deadbolt that requires a key from the inside or out to unlock it. My irritation flares.

“This is wrong. You cannot keep me hostage in my own place,” I shout.

“Such a silly, naive girl-of course I can,” he says through clenched teeth. “and I intend too.”

I run then.

Straight to the back door. Knob in my hand, I twist and pull. The door flies open just as I fly backward. I land harshly on my hip. I bite my lip to keep the tears from flowing. Bryce kicks the door shut, locks it and sets the alarm. “See? Now if you try anything stupid, I’ll know. I’m faster, stronger and more determined than you Milana. Don’t test my patience.” I scoot backward on the tile floor away from him. He slams his hands on the counter, “Dammit Peaches.” Bryce is unpredictable and rash. Even when I can’t see him- I can sense him. It’s almost as if he has this air about him. An aura that states ‘I’m conquering the past in order to rule the future and I’ll destroy anything that gets in my way.’ and right now, I’m in his way.

“Do not call me that. Get the fuck out!” I scream.  He lurches toward me fast and confident. He pins me to the ground. His  hand clamps over my mouth and nose. My eyes fly to his. Bryce stands over me, hand pushing hard against my face. I grab his arm, trying to rip it away. His flesh tears beneath my fingernails but he doesn’t flinch. His forearms as immovable as  concrete posts.  My front teeth cut into the inside of my lip like razorblades and my mouth starts to fill with blood. The dirty metallic taste gags me as it slides down my throat. Kicking, my legs flail side to side, missing his body entirely. My emotions swell and stretch. My eyes beg, plead for him to stop. Darkness starts at the edges of my vision as he holds one hand over my mouth and the other around my throat. He keeps squeezing, but then, like returning from a dark precipice, one thick finger at a time, his hands are gone and I can breathe again. Blood in my mouth drips down my throat and I have to sit up to avoid choking. I sputter, and blood-thickened spit dribbles down my chin. I wipe it away with the back of my hand. My pounding heart sends blood, warm and disgusting, pouring out of the cut on my lip.  Bryce kneels near me, silent. I ignore him and stand on shaking legs, and walk away.


That was too close.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Bryce’s voice growls behind me in a mix of amusement and annoyance.

I open my mouth to scream but all that comes out is a pathetic gurgle. He chuckles. I don’t look back at him. I walk upstairs-slowly. He follows. When I’m in the bathroom I take stock of myself in the mirror. Fingerprints, red and angry dot my neck. Blood leaks from my bottom lip. My hair’s a rat’s nest. Bryce appears in the mirror behind me. Spit collects at the corner of his mouth,  a sure sign of his eagerness. Then, with one punctuating tug of his facial muscles, he smiles. My brain starts rattling off useless facts to calm me. Ninety percent of women’s activities are about getting male attention. It’s biological. It’s normal. It’s just how life is.

What I really want is a little white chill pill.

“I’m tired. Get in the shower. You’re filthy,” he says as if nothing happened. He turns the spray on hot. I give in. I pull my blouse over my head before wiggling out of my jeans. I step into the spray in my bra and panties. He says nothing. He wants me naked.  I know why and I know what’ll happen once I am, but the pounding in my face and hip reminds me he’s capable of worse, so for now I’ll meet him halfway. I don’t have a death wish.

“Here, wash with this.” He shoves a  bottle in my hand. With trembling fingers I pop open the cap. The bottle’s slippery and my hands are unsteady. He snatches the bottle from my hand and pours the liquid into my hair—roughly rubbing it into a bubbly froth. Shaking, forcing myself to breathe slowly and push down nausea as my mouth fills with blood again I let him wash me. I’m sure he can see my hands tremble. I’m also sure he enjoys it. This is what Bryce thrives on. I think about sneaking out again, but the risk is incomprehensible. As the blood and invisible filth that covers me washes away, swirling at the drain, he steps back, leans against the wall and lets himself slide to the floor, pulling his legs in close to him, happy to simply watch me again. “Peaches,” he sighs and I cringe at the term. I lift my chin a little.

I am not Peaches.


“Peaches,” I sigh watching her. The vein in her neck pounds insanely fast. She’s covering something up, something she doesn’t want me to know. I want to ask but I don’t. She looks at me with big, round, needy eyes, making me feel guilty and angry in the same instant, without knowing which emotion precedes the other. It’s the anger I can’t hold back though.

I can never hold it back.

“Stop calling me that Bryce.” Her voice is flat. Defeated. I need her fight. I crave it. Defeated is pointless. Defeated is something I can have any day of the week. Defeated is boring.

“Why? Where the hell did you even get that nickname anyway?” I ask as she steps from the shower and grabs a towel. Mmm, that body.

She huffs at me. “It doesn’t matter. No one calls me that.” I can never tell with Milana if she’s acting or sincere. It’s part of the draw I feel to her. I want to tell her to leave me alone, to never touch me again, but I need so many things right now. And the gentleness in her touch, the warmth of her hand on my skin, it makes me remember all the things I don’t have. I want something to fill up that chasm that gapes inside me.

“Come on Peaches, tell me,” I taunt. She wipes the fog from the mirror with her small hand before inspecting herself-or rather the marks I’ve left on her.

“The priest who raped me said my pussy was succulent like a peach. I was twelve.” Her voice drips with honey, too sweet for good intentions. I roll my neck, rubbing the cord of muscle with a strong hand. Her eyes latch onto mine. I don’t know what to say so for a moment I say nothing.

“Shit. That was a good one,” I chuckle.

She shoots daggers from her eyes. I’d be dead right now if they were a truth.  “It’s not a joke,” she hisses.

Damn. I long to reach out and rub her shoulders but that’s too tender. Too much of a lie. I reach out and touch her hand instead. She pulls it away as though I’ve bitten it. “Shit Milana, really…that’s… Jesus. Seriously?” I worry for her. This could be a fact. A true fact about her past-her life. It slips me up. Makes me lose my edge for a moment. “I’m sorry. I had no idea,” I say and I mean it.

She bursts out laughing as she runs a brush through her wet hair. “No Bryce. That did not happen.”

Anger fills me. I push up to my feet. Her laughter stops as the back of my hand rakes across her face. Stunned, she whips her face back to mine.

“Asshole,” she grits out.

“Why would you fuck with me like that?” I bark back.

“So you’d stop calling me Peaches,” she shouts while touching her cheek gingerly.

My pulse drops, slowing. Her eyes, wide and vulnerable, flit across my face, each of her breaths coming faster than the one before it. Licking her lips with the tip of her tongue, she lets out one long, slow blow that tickles the stubble on my chin.


“I need you,” I say. She hears the truth as well as my lie. She leans forward and pulls my face toward her, gently pressing her lips against mine. I stand stiff. They give more than I expected. Under my palms her shoulders relax and my mouth follows suit. Letting out a low groan, her kissing grows urgent and hungry. I’m just as hungry. Any space between our bodies too much. I want to hold her down. I’ve tried so many times to capture that look in her eye for myself but my heart is as black as night. If I stick around, I’m bound to lose my mind over her. I studder like a broken clutch when she touches me. She’s a spider underneath my skin, an itch that needs to be scratched. And that’s why I’m here isn’t it? To scratch that itch?


Our connection is pure lunacy. Incalculable. Insufferable. She’s poisonously pretty. Her tongue massages mine. Deviously dirty. I bite her bottom lip. My heart is cracked like the dusty desert ground. She bites mine back. Yesterday is right behind me like a loaded gun and tomorrow looms with unknown outcomes. I pull back to take her in. Her bra and panties cling-still wet-to her body. The red lace hiding very little.

“Let me poison your heart a while,” I say.

“No.” She shakes her head. Her face is hard. “That was a mistake. I shouldn’t have kissed you,” she says. Her words injure. Like a hot knife cutting through a slice of ego of ambition. “In fact, I think …” her voice is timid, she’s uncertain. “I think you should really leave Bryce.” My heart speeds up from the way she says my name. It’s torture, my name on her lips.


I grab her wrist and tug. She stumbles into me. “Not happening. It’s after one am. We should sleep.” She tries to tug out of my grip but I don’t let her. She’s so petite. So delicate. So mine.

“Let’s go.” I pull her from the bathroom, across the hall to the bedroom. When we’re both inside I shut the door.

She watches me like a hawk. “You don’t seriously think I’m letting you sleep in here, with me?” She’s pissed. Her fight’s back. Good.

“You don’t seriously think you have a choice do you?” I volley back.

“Bryce, no. We are not sharing a bed.” Her hip is jutted out, her arms crossed over her chest. Her mouth a firm line.

“I don’t trust you to be alone without doing something stupid. Toss me a pillow, I’ll sleep here,” I say pointing to the floor in front of the door. She glowers at me but yanks a pillow off the bed and throws it. It lands at my feet. “Wanna spare a blanket princess?”

Milana’s body goes tight, rigid. For a moment I feel bad. She lives in a cell made of skin. Held captive. Sealed inside herself-always. It’s gotta be tough. She stomps to the armoire, throws the doors open and digs around until she finds a spare blanket. She nudges the doors shut one at a time with her hip. I meet her halfway. She puts the blanket in my hands. “Do not touch me while I sleep Bryce. I mean it.” Her voice is firm. I wink and nod. She frowns at me. Her defiance is a turn on.

I watch as she pulls a nightgown over her head before carefully removing her wet undergarments, then crawls into the massive king sized bed. The covers pulled up to her neck. She stares at the ceiling refusing to look in my direction. I spread the blanket on the floor near the door, kill the lights and lay down. I listen to her uneven breaths fill the silence. This time is different and yet, the same. Our game just beginning again. I crave a Bourbon . Bourbon is easy to understand. Tastes like summer on hot breezy day. I’m awake until those same breaths become slow and even and shallow. I fall asleep thinking of all the things I can do to her. All the ways to make her beg.

I stand by the bed feeling my full height. Bedside Milana the clock shows four am. I have no idea what I’m doing out of bed: I don’t need to relieve himself, I didn’t have a dream or some element of the day that’s kept my mind running. It’s as if, standing there in the darkness, I’m unencumbered. I don’t  feel tired, despite the hour, nor is my conscience troubled by any recent incident. In fact, I’m alert and empty-headed and inexplicably elated.


The bedroom is large and uncluttered. My footsteps are muffled by the deep carpet as I cross the room the pile still plush enough to hold the beautiful Ms and Vs the cleaning lady left as strokes of their vacuum cleaners’ wands.  I stop at the window, pulling back the curtains with care so I don’t wake Milana. I lean forward, press my weight onto my palms against the sill, exulting in the emptiness and clarity of the night.

I work hard, everyone around me works hard, and for what? I think about the plastic-wrapped tuna sandwich with a bottle of mineral water that I had yesterday. In the cramped coffee room where toast and microwaved popcorn smells filled the air. At a few minutes before four, I stopped working, threw out my earplugs and the remainder of my coffee and hurried home. Excited. I wonder about this sustained, distorting euphoria that I get from my time with Milana. From the anticipation of what it will be like.



His hands were fused to the steering wheel. His employee’s, they flaunted their ugliness as if it were a cruel joke, not on them but on those who watched. Emma was everything they were not. Beautiful. Inside and out. Her mother’s hair was auburn. Emma’s was black-brown with streaks of red. Even after all these years he could see her mother’s face clearly in Emma. Her mother’s eyes were like Emma’s but wider, and clearer. They shared the jawline and high cheekbones, but the whole of Emma’s face was breathtakingly stunning, even more so than her mother.
Why would a woman cast off a two year old without a word, or a touch? There one night, gone the next morning. Emma had asked that very question just last week.  Emma’s mother had been gone for eight years now. Eight years. He knew fifty years wouldn’t make Emma care less. Time wouldn’t dull the pain or keep her from wanting to get her mother back. On her deathbed, Emma would still be wondering where her mother was, why she had gone, whether she was dead, or just didn’t give a shit about her daughter. He turned the key, and backed out of his parking spot. As he drove to the school to pick up Emma from Color Guard practice he worried that his daughter would never quite get over the curiosity surrounding her mother’s disappearance.


His parents used to sing ‘you can’t always get what you want’ when he was a small boy and whining about wanting something. His parents were wrong. He could get everything he wanted and thus far, he had. He didn’t anticipate that changing any time soon.

He had never been the marrying type. Once a long time ago he thought he was but it was a farce. A terrible lie. He’d never intended on having a child in his home either but he was content in the fact that he had his daughter, his practice and that he was sexually satisfied to boot. A rap on the window startled him. Emma’s beaming face stared up at him. He let out a loud laugh and unlocked the car doors so she could climb in.