Black and Blue

•October 23, 2009 • 17 Comments

“You’re going to break my heart.”

She almost didn’t hear the words.

She was standing just far enough back from the large window to check her reflection. She loved the way she looked in this bra. Blue with black lace. Little black polka dots. Cutesexy.

Perfect.

She was hoping people outside, and in other buildings, were loving it just as much tonight.

She always wondered if the lights from the top floor overhang obscured her a little.

It might be OK if they did.

It might be better.

He always got this same room. The Park Manor, Room 1111. She loved it because it had an absolutely stunning view of the harbour. He knew that.

“You are going to break my heart.”

He said it again. Quieter.

“What? No!” She turned to him.

“You are. You’re going to break my heart. Not on purpose.”

“I don’t understand,” she whispered.

“Everything you do. Fuck. Everything you ARE…”

“Will break your heart?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t… I can change.”

“No. I’d never– Just no.

“Why not?”

“You’re perfect.”

“Clearly not.”

“You are.”

“But–”

“I just can’t handle a broken heart. Not now.”

“Maybe it won’t happen.”

“It will.”

“Maybe I’m worth it.”

“You’re amazing, but…”

“Pussy,” she hisses.

“Pussy?”

“Yes.”

He grabs her wrists. Hard.

“Pussy??”

Before she can answer, he throws her on the bed.

She barely bounces when he is on her.

Large, strong hands pinning her down.

His lips close to hers.

She sees a fire in his eyes that she thought long ago burned out.

She feels his weight.

“It’s just–”

“Be quiet,” he stops her.

“I–”

“I didn’t tell you to talk.”

His mouth is on hers now.

She feels his teeth biting her lower lip, and then pulling on it.

“You… are… MINE…” he growls.

She feels it in her chest.

He suddenly flips her over on to her stomach.

With his left hand, he pins both of her wrists above her head, to the mattress.

His right hand brushes her hair aside.

He kisses her between the shoulders. Then up to her neck. To her ear.

“All… fucking… mine…” he whispergrowls.

She feels the goosebumps form.

Within seconds, her silky blue bra is flung over a nearby chair.

His begins to kiss

slowly

down her spine.

His hand caresses lacy black boy-cut shorts…   moments before they land on the floor across the room.

Then he SLAPS her ass.

Hard.

The force of her gasp surprises her.

**********

She’s back at the window.

But not alone.

His hands hold hers up above her head. She’s pressed, facing out, against the smooth, cooled from the outside, glass.

He wonders if the lights from the top floor overhang are obscuring her stunningly perfect naked body a little.

He hopes not.

He slowly, gently traces his hands down her arms.

Then around to her front.

She marvels at the twinkling boat lights on the choppy harbour, spelling out something in Morse code.

Just for her.

Just for tonight.

Then his hands are back on her sides.

Down.

To her hips.

He kneels.

He grabs her hips and quickly spins her around.

He pushes her back up against the window.

He kisses her softly, teasingly on the stomach.

He puts her right leg over his shoulder.

He kisses her inner thigh.

**********

He brushes her hair aside.

It falls back in front of her eye.

He brushes it again and gently tucks it behind her ear.

He stares.

He puts his hand on her cheek.

She turns to touch her lips to it.

She stares.

**********

He pushes her up against the wall.

Hard.

Dual shower heads, at either end, cause a dreamy mist.

Steamy.

Jungle hot.

Legs around waist.

Wet skin on wet skin.

Cool ceramic tiles on her back.

Sounds echoing.

Dancing.

Intermingling.

Until the echoes are of echoes.

She runs her nails down his back.

Gently.

Then much harder.

He cringes.

He glares.

His hand is in her wet hair. Pulling her head back.

Teeth closing on her chin.

**********

“Here’s the thing…” he whispers in her ear, as she wraps up in the crisp, white bedsheets.

“Okay.”

“I don’t want to just be a chapter in your book. I’d never be satisfied with that. Never.”

He plays with her hair.

“I know…” she says.

“I’m not that guy. I’m not a chapter, I’m who you dedicate the book to… I’m the guy standing behind you, beaming proudly, at the book signing, you know?”

“I get that and…”

“I’m not a stop along the way, baby. I’m the prize you get at the end.”

“I’m sorry if I ever…”

“You haven’t. Not really.

“I… don’t know what to say…

“There’s nothing else to say.”

“Okay…”

She stares at the window. Then at the ceiling. She tries to move her foot closer to his, but he is further away from her than she realized. She takes a deep breath and…

“Break up again next Thursday?”

“Friday? I have to work Thursday.”

“Pussy.”

Nights of Amateur Faith

•October 22, 2009 • 14 Comments

They met at Park Manor. It was a Tuesday in 1968 and the air was heavy with that suffocating feeling of a summer that would never end. They ran into each other in the elevator, complete strangers pushed together by the bustle of people who thought they were too important to slow down.

That sleepy, sticky Tuesday, back when they were still young enough to make fearless decisions, blind decisions, decisions based entirely on amateur faith. Things were simple that night, it was before they ever dated, before they were married, before their daughter was kidnapped and never found again.

Tonight, the eve of their 46th wedding anniversary, they were checking back into the hotel, for the 46th time, just like they had done every year before. It was the only tradition they hadn’t abandoned, even though it had been about 20 years since they had really been in love.

When they met, Roger worked on the hotel’s maintenance staff. Maggie’s father owned the whole damn building, and a few others around town. She and her family lived in the penthouse. The night of their first date, Roger watched her come down the enormous staircase, leaned back against a smooth marble column in the lobby, and thought, “Damn, this girl could be a brat; I bet she doesn’t even put out.”

It took Maggie about six full minutes to travel the length of the staircase in her pink, sparkly, high heeled sandals.  Despite the strange events that had lead him to this date and his initial concerns of how to get out of it if it was as awful as he predicted, Roger couldn’t take his eyes off her.  The combination of her bubblegum pink halter dress and those crazy shoes made her look like a flamingo, or a showgirl, and he was pretty sure that people with hair that red weren’t supposed to wear bright pink clothes.

So he stared at her out of curiosity, with his round blue eyes, noticing that there was something addictive about her confidence, something striking about the fact that she was either unaware that she looked like a flamingo, or she just couldn’t possibly care less.

The date started with milkshakes and ended with a few hours in his car, half talking and, surprisingly, half kissing.  He drove her back to the hotel, unsure of what do about her. She was nothing like the “nice girl” from church that his mother kept trying to fix him up with, and he didn’t know what role she could possibly play in the bright future his family was always insisting he had in front of him.

Maggie pursued him tirelessly for the next couple of weeks. She couldn’t stop thinking about his electric blue eyes. He had never met anyone with hair that red. Her hair, his eyes, Maggie and Roger were like fire and ice.

Weeks went by. She hunted him more fervently; he collapsed and gave in, not just a little bit, but powerfully.  They started dating.  He did well enough at the hotel to get promoted.  She took private, tutored lessons in the penthouse during the day, mostly for painting but also for mathematics and reading and other things she considered mundanely necessary.  He saved money, never drank, and wrote songs about her.  He sang them off key in his car when they were naked and consumed with each other.  She fell more deeply in love with him.  Her father retired and took her away for a year, to France, to study art and accents and buttery croissants.  They missed each other violently.  He wrote her everyday and she wrote back; mad, passionate letters filled with declarations and promises. One night after she returned from France they shared secrets. He told her that he was desperately afraid of heights. She told him that she didn’t eat green foods. They got married and were an inseparable couple.

Her father passed away. She sold some of her paintings. He got promoted again and became influential around the city. She got pregnant. He wrote a song about it and planned to name their baby Jack, in her father’s memory. Their excitement about being parents was tangible. She had a miscarriage. They spent a few days going back and forth from the doctor’s office, making sure everything was okay, that they could still have another baby. Their relationship grew stronger.  She made new friends and went to art galleries on Saturday mornings.  She cooked for him every night, rich soup and decadent bread, thick roasts of meat and delicate pastries.  He rubbed her back before bed.  They read to each other when they couldn’t sleep.  She got pregnant again.  They held their breath.  She gave birth in May in the middle of the night to a healthy baby girl named Sarah. Their obsession and love for Sarah surpassed either of their expectations.  She breastfed, he changed diapers. Sarah grew more gorgeous every year. By her seventh birthday she was spunky, endlessly energetic, and virtually fearless. For some reason, everything that came out of her full lips sounded like a question.

“I’m Sarah?  I’m going to be a ballerina when I grow up?  Sometimes my mom lets me eat ice cream in the living room?”

Room 418

•October 21, 2009 • 33 Comments

Of course it was a bad idea, she realized now. When the hotel had called her assistant to admit that they had made an overbooking error, she should have found another hotel. She should have told Him that he could keep the room, that it was no problem for her to stay somewhere else while they both attended the conference. She should have smiled brightly and said all the right things. She should have avoided his eyes after their last meeting, the feeling she felt in her stomach- between her legs. She should have walked back to her office instead of lingering- gathering her papers… waiting eagerly for him to suggest they share the room. She should have done so many things, said so much more- instead he suggested what she had wanted, what she had hoped for- and she replied with “Yes”.

She studied him as he slept in his bed across from hers. His lanky body was sprawled out, his legs tangled in ivory sheets. She liked to imagine him naked, she allowed herself to pretend that he was- that the t-shirt and boxers she had seen him come out of the bathroom wearing last night were figments of her imagination. She watched his chest rise and fall, imagining herself falling asleep beside him, inhaling his scent. She ached to move into his bed and curl up against him, stealing his body heat, pressing herself against him. She had allowed herself to visualize anything but the idea of his mouth on her body, she wouldn’t allow herself to imagine that. Not here. Not now.

But as her eyes settled on the sliver of skin that she could see with his boxers slung low around his hips, her mind raced thinking of what he must taste like, how salty his skin would be if she climbed into his bed and ran her tongue along the edge of his waistband. She thought of how good she wanted to make him feel. She slid her hands beneath the sheets, between her legs and moaned softly. She did not  look at his wedding ring.

He had asked her out two months after joining the firm. Over the photocopier he suggested lunch. When She declined, he proposed breakfast, dinner, a trip to Hawaii, marriage. Startled, she laughed out loud- the kind of laugh she hated doing, the kind that showed her fillings but he had smiled back, noticing only that if he stood close enough he could smell her hair. Gardenia. His smile only broke when she explained she was already seeing someone. He moved on, their relationships always overlapping each other- never both being single at the same time.

He got married last winter to an intern. A fucking intern. She skipped the wedding, blaming a ‘family emergency’, took two days off, and went to bed with a bottle of vodka and the cold realization that it’s possible to only realize you love someone after they declared love someone else. She wondered how the intern did her hair for the wedding, if the intern got His jokes. She wondered how many times they fucked on their wedding night. She called in sick for one more day.

She woke before he did, staring at the richly embossed wallpaper covering the hotel walls. She thought of how regret was like a knife that could cut you over and over, a wound that did not heal with time, or flings or bottles of vodka. She had lost count of how many times she wished she would have agreed to lunch, or dinner or Hawaii or marriage. How happy she could have been- instead of shamefully stealing whatever time she could, watching him sleep in this hotel on this weekend. What a fluke someone had overbooked the rooms, her excitement at this news had only been outweighed by the sadness that it never had to be like this to begin with.

She laid in bed like she did every morning, allowing herself a few minutes to imagine a thousand things, a lifetime of moments with him that would never happen, then she crawled out of her bed, past His still sleeping body and into the bathroom to shower to try and wash away her regret.

He laid there listening to the water run in the shower, thinking of how it had taken every ounce of determination not to pull her into his bed as she tiptoed past him towards the bathroom. How despite his best efforts, he could not rid her from his mind- how she clung to his insides and refused to let go. He thought of how dangerous it had been to call her assistant and make up the fib about the overbooked rooms. He should have been ashamed at the way he tricked her into staying with him, but he had needed her. He had needed more of her, more time with her, more moments to count her fillings when she laughed.

He breathed deeply.

Gardenia.

Still.

Always.

The night before.

•October 20, 2009 • 15 Comments

Something always brings me back to you.

The gilt framed mirror in the bathroom confirms my deepest fear.  Dark circles.  I haven’t slept in days, nothing new.  Coffee and cigarettes, diners until the wee hours of the morning, life as a soundtrack playing in the background. 

There, we are the same.  No matter what I say or do I’ll still feel you here ’til the moment I’m gone.  Nomads, the creatives, with paint-stained hands, callused fingertips and wanderlust.  WE are waiting for our big break.

You hold me without touch.
I am waiting for him to open up.
You keep me without chains.

 How many times have we called it quits?  I never wanted anything so much than to drown in your love and not feel your reign.  I pace the floor.  Back and forth, from the bed to the door, trailing a finger along the antique dresser. 

How many times did he say “I can’t do this anymore”?  Set me free, leave me be.  Then he got down on one knee and I put every time I cried myself to sleep right out of my head.

A proposal is a promise.  I don’t want to fall another moment into your gravity.  A guarantee that the charade of this big white dress and publicly spoken vows will not be in vain. 

A reassurance that the boy can keep up his grown-man façade — But you’re on to me and all over me —  and won’t drive away one day in a tour van, tattooed arm hanging out the window, forgetting all about the girl in the song. 

He is a magnet for misfits and rebels, the encourager of long-shot dreams, the denouncer of practicality.     I am cautiously carefree, a closeted adventurer, the voice of reason.  You loved me ’cause I’m fragile, when I thought that I was strong.  He is smoke and mirrors. 

This love makes me transparent, vulnerable.  He is everything I want, the problem and the cure, my addictive personality’s worst nightmare.

Tonight, I am full of clichés and Pinot Noir.  Never the type to pin all her hopes and dreams on a man, and yet he takes my breath and holds it in his hands.  Set me free, leave me be.   My heart is tattered from the years on my sleeve.  I live for a smile, a look, a sign.

I don’t want to fall another moment into your gravity.

At the eleventh hour, with the adjoining hotel rooms full of family and friends, I am afraid.  I live here on my knees as I try to make you see that you’re everything I think I need –

Our common ground is rocky at best — you’re neither friend nor foe though I can’t seem to let you go.  Tomorrow I pour myself onto the altar; he will hide behind an easy smile and serious eyes.  We start our forever on uneven footing, and if the old ballroom downstairs could predict the future as well as it holds onto the past, I’d let it read my palm and seal my fate.

The one thing that I still know is that you’re keeping me down.

I am a mistress already, second fiddle to a lifestyle and a dream.  He will try his best.  His love is honest, but hesitant and flawed.  He will take everything I have and more.  And I will gladly give it.  You’re on to me, on to me, and all over.

Something always brings me back to you.

Ready or not, here comes the bride.

**Song lyrics italicized, Sarah Bareilles “Gravity”**

Checking in.

•October 19, 2009 • 11 Comments

Exhaling, he flicked a still-lit cigarette into the street. The spark flew high at first but quickly disappeared into the reflections of streetlights on the wet concrete.

Whoever said smoking wasn’t cool was full of shit.

He coughed twice as the last draw singed the back of his throat.

Touché.

The crowds were still cheering and the cameras still flashing a mere three blocks away. He had never loved three blocks so much in his life. He shook his high leather collar up to his ears and turned toward the fading facade, giving the doorman a quick nod before opening the glass door to the side of the more popular revolving edition.

Score one for the underdog.

The cracked tiled and cloudy mirrored lobby was as tired as ever. There were four…no…five new stains on the deep crimson carpeting running past the marble reception counter to the vintage elevator boasting its original caging and questionable safety. A young lady fidgeted in her white shirt, black skirt uniform behind the front desk trying to get just the right amount of cleavage.

“Miss?”

She jumped but recovered albeit with one undone button too many.

“Oh – welcome to the Park Manor…Do you have a reservation?”

Her eyes danced between meeting his and the television broadcasting the red carpet scene from around the corner. Her face flushed as she realized exactly whose eyes were unabashedly tracing the freckles on her chest.

“Oh! Hello Mr. Lancast-”

“The room is booked under Collins.”

“That’s right…I forgot. So sorry.”

“No bother.”

She stared a moment too long before digging out his usual room key from the numbered rack behind the counter – the city’s last stand against electronic key cards. 212 was easy to find but she used this as the opportunity to slip that one button back into the loop. And then another for good measure.

“The kitchen is open until midnight tonight and breakfast will be served from seven to…”

She looked up to see he was already halfway to the elevator and trailed off, making a point to stare at his ass as he waited for the gates to open.

Now we’re even, perv.

She unbuttoned again as the platform rose out of sight.

Closing the door behind him, he settled into the unassuming anonymity of 212, cracking the neck of the Jack Daniels waiting for him on the bedside table. From the window, he could see the moving spotlights carving short-lived dreams into the clouds. They didn’t look as tempting as they used to.

Stripping down to a pair of faded jeans and kicking his Converse toward the door, he fell back onto the bed only to light another cigarette while using the obligatory yet inconsequential No Smoking sign as a coaster.

He turned the television on and tossed back his first of many shots.

Now let’s see what kind of asshole this Lancaster chap is to skip his own premiere.

Again.