I spent hours on my bed the next day, just sitting there. The leather cuffs were sitting beside my left leg. My hand would drift down to stroke them from time to time. However hard I tried, I couldn’t make myself believe what had happened yesterday.
The snow was already melting; soon it would be like the storm had never happened. If there had never been that storm…there had never been that boy either.
I picked up the cuffs, holding them tightly in my hands. The clasps bit into my palms. I didn’t care.
It hadn’t happened. I needed to start thinking straight again. There was no hot boy with long hair covering horns who picked up random girls to torture, torment, and fuck in their very own rooms.
Toby had left without thought, apology, or even any words. Just a sly, quick smile before shutting the door behind him. I wasn’t sure if I had passed out then or just slept. My dreams were filled with his fiery eyes, his vicious thrusts, and the glimpses of horn through hair.
Demons weren’t real. God, I’d have to get myself sent to join Vesta next time she went nuts. She just thought she was a monster; here I was, sure I was being fucked by them.
If it had been real… I didn’t know if I should regret it. If I should feel violated? My strongest thought after the denial was simply: “Where did he go?” With that one smile, he’d turned and left. That had been all.
That couldn’t be all.
No matter that my romantic life had consisted entirely of short flings, I was still a little iffy on the etiquette of a one night stand. If you could call something so forced a one night stand.
But it hadn’t been rape. I’d wanted him the second I’d seen him and no matter how many twisted little mind games he had played with me, I’d been helpless to do anything but give in. It had been terrifying, exciting, rough in all the right ways. So right it was insane. So right it almost hurt.
I had to tell someone.
It had taken almost a day to decide this. The thought was just so ludicrous. What was I going to do, call up Vesta and accidentally spark another fit? No. Fuck no, I wasn’t going to be responsible for her going back to the hospital. And Tristan was free again, too, but…
Yeah. Call up Tristan, a boy who had made me crawl out of my skin since I first met him, to talk about demon-sex. It was one thing to hang out drinking with him and the gang. Even visiting him in jail had only been slightly awkward. But I don’t think I would ever be able to talk to a boy like that about sex.
Boys like him were too much. Which was exactly why I was so overcome by Toby.
That only left me with the options of Tam or Alaric. I would have died for Alaric, killed for him, anything. But I’d been too young and I’d brought Tam, a year older than me, by B&B to meet him while we picked up fetish boots and corsets. She’d gotten bored after her efficient decisions in fashion and thrown herself down on a chair, retreating behind her headphones and whipping a tome of Lovecraftian horror out of her coffin backpack.
I think he’d fallen in love at first sight.
Calling Alaric to tell him some boy with horns had fucked me just wasn’t an option. Not only would it feel wrong, I knew how he would react. He’d get concerned and panicky before pulling back and getting moody. He would try to pretend he wasn’t prying. Good old reliable Alaric. The only thing that had changed about him over the years was that now he slaved away on a tech support line instead of hanging out behind the register in counter-culture boutiques.
I got off my bed, now ragingly mad at Alaric. It wasn’t for any real reason. Except that his being incapable of sharing this part of my life meant there was only one option left. Actually dialling Tam’s number and trying to talk to her like she was a fellow human being instead of the bane of my existence.
We didn’t hate each other. We would hang out at local shows together, dissing the boys who threw themselves at us. Tam would get violent if any of them treated me inappropriately. I’d even once decked a guy who had come up behind her in the mosh pit and groped her. She’d finished it off with a swift kick to his balls (she always wore steel toes in the pit).
But we were never entirely comfortable around each other. Alaric hung in the air between us, a stain on what could have been a perfectly functional—if slightly high strung—friendship.
Tam wasn’t exactly the type for girl talk. On the nights when I left The Warehouse with a boy on my arm, she’d never ask about it afterward. She was also so high maintenance, I felt sorry for Alaric. Her need for the spotlight put me on my worst day to shame. She’d always go out of her way to prove just how smart she was. Everything out of her mouth was bitter and cynical and every other word was always a swear.
That’s why she was such a good fit at Sloth Records, fitting easily in with the punks and metalheads who shopped there.
I reconsidered calling Vesta. No. She’d just gotten back. It wouldn’t be fair. Besides… Tam was the one person in the world who would be able to talk me back into reality right now. More like slam me brutally back into it.
I went to find the phone and swore at myself the entire time as I dialled Tam’s number.
Three rings, then she picked up. “Hellllo?” Her voice was perky. I was immediately creeped out.
“Merceeedeees!” Tam laughed, not sounding at all like her usual grumpy self. “I was just thinking about calling you!”
I had to fight the urge to make sure that I’d dialled the right number. “Why?”
“Oh, Mercy… You’ll never believe it! The incredible asshole finally got his head out of his ass and he proposed!” Tam almost shrieked that. “Alaric proposed. To me! I was drunk, and so was he, but he told me he really meant it today, sober. And I really meant it today, sober. So it’s real! He really proposed, I really said yes, it’s amazing!”
I had to remind myself to breathe. I blinked back tears before narrowing my eyes. “Alaric—”
“Proposed! And he made the ring himself, Mercy! Himself! His own hair, braided, with golden beads…”
Alaric and Tam…were getting married.
I wanted to hang up and start throwing things. Snap a few CDs, use the shards to gouge Tam’s eyes out. I had given Tam to Alaric, blown my only chance with him forever. And I hadn’t realized how badly I still wanted him until now.
“Oh,” I finally managed to say.
Tam didn’t hear me, since she was giggling and hissing at someone on her end—presumably Alaric—to shut up. Then Tam was hissing louder, not missing the mouthpiece as
much anymore “baby, it’s Mercy; keep your hands to yourself. She doesn’t need to hear that.”
No, I didn’t need to hear that. I tried to think of something, anything, to say, but I just kept on picturing Alaric with his hands all over the girl I handed over to him.
“Sorry, Mercy. You know how much of a prick he can be sometimes. But he’s a prick I’m going to marry!” She laughed. “God, who ever thought I would be a married woman?”
“I didn’t see it coming,” I muttered. Images of them together at the altar. The entire hall draped in black, everyone but the parents dressed in black. Some dark and romantic affair. Alaric was obsessed with dark romance. One of the biggest reasons I had always wanted him.
I closed my eyes. I had to tell someone about Toby, but how was I supposed to tell Tam, of all people? Especially now?
“Oh, Mercy, I had the greatest lay of my life last night. We were both so drunk and I had to get over this weird psycho God chick who cornered me at the club.” Behind her, Alaric’s voice raised in alarm to ask “should you be sharing that with her?”
A wave of anger swept over me. Before I could control myself, I blurted out “well, I had a great fucking lay myself.”
A long spell of silence on Tam’s line, before she finally congratulated me haltingly. “Well… Wow, Merce, how long’s it been? That’s so great for you. Really.”
I ground my teeth together. Great. Just fucking great. I wasn’t going to tell Tam anything else. I managed to mutter “yeah, he was a real animal” before I hung up.
I looked out the window, saw the water running down the gutters from all the snow that had already melted. With a sigh, I fell back onto my bed and decided to try to sleep. Maybe when I woke up this time, I’d realize that everything from the snowfall on had been a dream.
Tam hung up the phone slowly, a little bit dazed. She sat on the edge of her bed as I looked at her questioningly. I draped myself on the bed behind her, wrapping my arms around her body. “What’s up, sweet?” I pulled her closer, making her fall back on top of me. Letting out a soft grunt, I complained that she didn’t have to fall that hard.
Shaking her head, Tam grimaced a little. “Well, Mercy’s finally over you, fuckwad.”
“Yeah, she fucked some guy last night and apparently it was really good. You know she’s never actually enjoyed any of those idiots she dragged out of The Warehouse with her.”
I pulled myself out from under her, letting her fall onto the bed. “What?”
She braced herself on her elbows and stared me evenly in the eyes. I could see the jealousy starting to coil in her eyes. Mercy had always been a sore point for Tam. “Apparently he was a real animal.”
“Is she okay?” I couldn’t help it. I’d known the kid since she was 14 and she had a track record of really stupid romantic choices. I kept expecting the police to find her dead in some alley. “I mean, was he right for her? Why’d she do something like that?”
Turning away in disgust, she let out a frustrated sound. “Fuck, you still like her, don’t you? Stupid prick! You go off and do something all romantic last night and here I’m thinking we’re forever, but you’re still hung up on some girl you knew before me. I’m sorry I had to interfere in your life. You should’ve gone for her when you had the chance.”
“Baby… Sweet… I never liked her, Tammy, not like that. She was a friend, she is a friend, but she’s the youngest of us, Tam, and she’s so rash sometimes. I just don’t want to see a friend hurt.” I pulled Tam back into me again. “I’ve got you, silly bunny, and you’ve got my ring on your finger. Hair is magical. Ever noticed almost every love spell, you need the hair of the person you’re after? It gives you power over them, to sway them to your will, when you have this part of them. And you have mine around your ring finger, and you’re all I need.”
“Alaric…” She nestled back into me. “I know I’m a whack-job, baby. Not as much as Vesta, but a whack-job no less. And whenever some girl is equally whacked out enough to want a retard like you, I get a little uppity.”
“It’s okay, sweet. I love you.” I kissed the back of her neck, holding her tightly. “And the main reason I worry about Mercy is because she’s so much like you.” Before I even had a chance to realize what I’d said wrong, Tam jerked away from me and stood up, glaring.
I opened his mouth, unsure of what to say, trying my best not to grin as she glowered at me. When Tam got mad, she got so mad it was hard to take her seriously. The light that glinted in her eyes could be a source of constant amusement to me for hours. “Tam…” I tried to sound reassuring.
She grabbed my arm and yanked me off the bed, stepping over me to perch on it herself once more. “That’s it, fucker. No sex today.”
I couldn’t help but grin now. “Gimme a chance to talk, babe!”
“You are in such deep shit right now, fucker.”
“Tam, of course you two hate each other, since you’re both busy hating yourselves. You’re like reflections of the same person—” I had to stop mid-sentence as a pillow got launched at my face hard enough to hurt. I grinned some more. “But Tam, it’s you I love.”
She said nothing, picking at an unravelling seam on her bedspread. I climbed back onto the bed, slowly. Carefully. Testing, I reached out a hand to lightly touch her arm. “It’s you I love, Tam.” A moment. When she didn’t hurt me, I pressed on. “And desperately want,” I whispered in her ear.
Shrugging me off, she tore at the seam. She seemed to enjoy the sound of it ripping out. “Sure, you’ve proposed to me.” A quick glare, then she stared anywhere but toward me again. “But that doesn’t mean I won’t get pissed off when you get all swoony about another girl.”
“I’m not getting swoony!”
“Fine. Is panicked a word more suited to your behaviour? So what if Mercy got laid? She’s a big girl; she can make these decisions for herself. I think it’ll be good for her, not to be hanging off you all the time. Maybe then me and her can finally get along, because I won’t be worried about her sneaking in after you behind my back. So don’t be such a fucking concerned little goody-goody just because she’s suddenly developing a life that doesn’t revolve around you or any of the others that got away.”
“No, the more you protest, the more shit you’re going to get yourself in. I know you did like her before, she was just too scared to let you make a move, and it’s only because you met me that you aren’t still pining over the poor girl. I’m sure she wishes she’d never introduced us, and sometimes I wonder if you don’t wish the same.”
I was grinning again. I wasn’t concerned by Tam’s accusations. I’d been with her for three years; I knew she liked getting angry. Liked going off on tirades. Sometimes needed it, to exorcise the beast inside her a little. Fights like this, if they were even actually fights, almost always led to amazing sex. I wiped the grin off my face before she saw it and got back off the bed. “Fine, if you feel that way.” I headed toward the door.
“You get your ass back in this bed, motherfucker.” Throwing another pillow at near-lethal velocity, she sat up straight. “Now.”
“Yes. Mercy can take care of herself, and there’s only one person whose sex life you should be concerned with. That’s mine. So you worry about who I’m fucking, and leave Mercy out of your thoughts.”
“Worry about who you’re fucking?” I looked back at her.
“That’s what I said.”
“Me?” I let her see my grin now. She smirked back at me, holding the last pillow on her bed threateningly.
“Be good, for once. And we’ll see.”