Contest: Age of Edward 2010
Title: Bunny Does New York City
Period: 70s, Porn House Edward
Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or the porn flicks mentioned therein.
Thank you, Cesca Marie, for taking the time to beta this story.
1974. Times Square. Spring. A green-eyed, young man is hunched over a table splicing film...
This is it, the line that gets the most laughs from the horny theater crowd:
"Mind if I smoke while you're eating?" rasps Helen to the man between her legs.
I have the volume turned on, floating. I don't have to look up to know what scene is playing.
On screen, Helen's ass is pushed up against a chalkboard, and her legs are propped up on a table. She lights up a Kool, looking bored. Her co-star munches away like he's in a beaver-eating contest. Taking a breather, he looks up at her, and licks his lips. "No, not at all," he says and drops his head back down to business.
Throw in more campy lines, one momentous cock sucking technique, and you've got yourself a hit. We've been featuring Deep Throat at the Skinerama since last year. In the first month, we got Hollywood types, rock stars, diplomats, you name it. Hell, The Times, always pretentious, gave it a category: Porno Chic. Every bored housewife made the pilgrimage to our theater. They spread the word like cheap champagne at their suburban cocktail parties. We packed the house, played the movie on a loop. Life was easy.
That is, until the protesters and moral crusaders took to the streets.
Now the mayor is threatening to raze the city of porno houses and sex shops. But who is he kidding? So we get a few injunctions? The doors re-open within a day. Every theater operator has his hand in City Hall's pockets. The city is broke and the streets are painted in layers of filth. While everyone gets paid in cash, crime removal gets paid in lip service.
The housewives have gone, though. Now all we see are yuppies, lunch box johns, and squares on a dare.
They have shit taste in cinema - even smut doesn't have to look like it was shot by a twelve year old with bottle glasses and a hard on for jump cuts.
But what do I know? I just play the reel.
It's still light out and the house is practically empty. I have time to splice in a frame of Nixon's face between ads for Ivory Soap and Alice in Pornoland. It freaks the johns out – they're never fully conscious of Tricky Dick's Colgate smile, making them squirm in their seats.
Being a projectionist leaves lots of time on my hands to contemplate the world, work on my script, take a nap, jack off.
This is my favorite part of the gig: setting up the film, threading it through the projector, double-checking the focus, and adjusting the lamps before I dim the house lights. Looking out into the theater, I open the red velvet curtains and with one flick of the switch; it's show time.
Through the projectionist's window, I check out the figures in the dark. If you're sitting inside the theater, it's dark enough to not see the guy on your left take out his schlong and give it a pre-show pat. It's dark enough to ignore the wandering hands of couples or bobbing heads of assorted skin hawkers.
But not me. I see it all. I've seen more than enough to make my middle-class balls shrivel up and take the train to Celibate City.
Tonight, Gus sits at his usual spot – bottom right of the theater. He's been a regular since the movie debuted, sometimes sitting through a double-feature. Gus is a gas. He'll hanker down with a bag of popcorn and a Tab, no ice. Every time a scene heats up, his leg shakes, picks up speed and jumps at the money shot. Popcorn flies out everywhere.
It's Ben's turn to play usher and concession bitch so I don't worry about clean up duty tonight. I wouldn't care if it was just popcorn.
It's going to be an all-nighter again.
Just like every lit up joint on 42nd street, we're a 24/7, come and get 'em, pleasure outfit. Everybody wants some.
Me? I may have poked my head into a peep show or massage parlor with my jimmy in constant salute, but that was before. Amid the human wreckage washed up on Times Square, I keep my nose clean and focus on two things: finishing film school and one day directing my perfect muse.
"Hey, baby." I trace my finger around the head-shot of Cybill Shepherd in her ethereal beauty. This girl is a doll, a fucking peony amongst weeds. A friend of mine scored me a small movie poster of The Last Picture Show. I like to keep her picture by the booth window, overlooking the crowd. Since the day I saw her, blonde hair swept aside by a barrette, looking for the world like the girl next door, giving new meaning to coy, I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker. One day I'll meet her and say, "Miss Shepherd, I'm your biggest fan." And she'll look right into my eyes and say, "Why, you must be the great Edward Cullen. I've heard all about you."
Yeah, that's how it starts. I sigh and let the urge to kiss her photo pass through me. No sense in kissing the fantasy; might as well wait for the real thing.
I double-check the sound one more time. On screen, when Alice follows the white rabbit down the hole and is gang banged by the Queen's men, I know it's time to turn the reel over to the feature.
Down below, the doors to the theater swing open. In runs a girl in a white blouse, followed by the lobby lights. She's solo.
Most chicks don't come to these places alone unless they're here to meet somebody. I move around the projector and try to get a better look. I can only make out her profile but she looks young and when the screen brightens up I can see a shocked expression on small features. Holy cow, she practically glows, her face all O's. She's a vision. It's enough to make my heart pump through a microphone and it's a big, loud stuttering sound desperate to exit my chest. I can feel it. Hell, I can feel it and hear it outside of my body. I look around; pawing at myself trying to stop it, then realizing it's in tandem with the film reel fluttering against the projector gate.
I snap out of it and shake it off. If I don't load this just right, the film will burn and I'll have Fat Marcus come barging in again talking about "What the fuck is wrong with you, Eddie?" and "You're costing me my dime if them monkeys don't get their bananas wet, Eddie!" I really don't want to deal with him tonight.
I load the reel before it's too late, averting a crisis. I have to get down there and see what this girl is all about. If no one's with her then I'm going to guess she's here on a dare. This place ain't safe for a girl on her own. Oh she's cute and look at her, she's figuring out this is no MGM musical with flying monkeys and ruby red slippers. She gets up and makes to leave when the doors bust open again and it's Baby Jane running down the aisle with Aro hot on her heels.
Flippin' scumbag, not again.
I run down the side stairs, into the lobby. The idiot, Mike, is manning the ticket counter.
"It's Aro and Jane again. Why the fuck did you let them in?" I smack him on the side of the head. Mike's counting money and pulls his head away. "Ow! Whaddya want me to do? Ain't no stopping her when she's on 'ludes, man."
Inside the theater, I hear Aro yelling at Jane: "Get your ass out here. I paid you for that scene and you're getting back on that stage and spreadin' 'em," he bellows from the aisle. Jane saunters up to him like she didn't just run away and sways in her white go-go boots. She's dressed like a blonde china doll, hair piled in curls and a violent, red smear painted on her lips. Aro's favorite movie is What Ever Happened to Baby Jane and he's been paying homage to it at his burlesque club for months.
"Fuck you, Aro! I want a grown up role. I hate that stupid movie and I hate your scene. How's it gonna get me up there?" She points to the big screen, where two chicks are befriending a double dildo. She huffs past Aro.
"C'mon, guys. You can't make trouble here. Marcus is gonna break my legs if he finds out you been stirring shit up again." I run my hand through my hair cause honestly I can't fight Aro. He may be shorter than me and slick his hair back like a drunk weasel, but he's not above playing dirty, especially if he's on the hard stuff. Tonight, I have no clue which Aro I'm talking to and I'm trying to keep one eye on the cute girl who looks like she's imitating bubble gum under the seats.
Please don't crawl under those seats.
"Stay out of this, Eddie," Aro threatens. At least he's no longer shouting.
"Jane, baby. C'mon, let's get you back out there and show 'em how pretty and pink you are under all that dress, eh?" He runs a long, manicured fingernail down her arm and Jane's eyes cloud over. Aro talks nice but his acid tone betrays his impatience.
"I just wanna be in the movies like Miss Lovelace," she whispers.
"Sure ya do, babe." He coos.
"Guys, can we just, uh, take it outside? This is no place." I'm getting nervous now.
Tucking an appeased Baby Jane under his arm, Aro looks over at me and narrows his eyes.
Here we go.
"Eddie. Next fucking Coppola, this guy," he says to Jane. "When you gonna direct for me, kid? I'll back ya a feature. Already got your star right here," he says, squeezing Jane. She grimaces but looks expectantly at me. "Whaddya say, put that schoolin' to work." He gives me a grin filled with teeth the color of bullets.
"Shit, Aro, you know smut's not my thing," I say with a tight smile. I backup to the exit doors knowing he'll stalk up to me. We work from the same script.
"Quit puttin on airs, ya schmuck. One day you'll be needing some dough and who you gonna get to produce your little artsy fartsy faggot films? You make me the next Deep Throat and I'll buy you all the film you need."
That's the thing about Aro. He has my number. Every asshole on this street has a gimmick and if you open yourself up, they'll take what's yours and twist it and suck it outta ya. He's a vampire. They're all vampires. And he knows he's found my jugular. I've been here before with him and this dangerous shit is exactly what Emmett's been warning me about. I have to fend them off until I can crawl out of this shit hole all on my own. So I do what I always do with Aro.
"Knock knock," I start. This always throws the fucker off.
"What the..." He's too straight to get a joke. From the way I hear his girls tell it, he's only got one funny bone in his body and it makes them laugh when he's not looking.
"Aro. Knock. Knock," I turn my head to the side waiting for the retort.
Aro chuckles and shakes his head at me. "I don't have time for this shit. You know where to find me, Eddie. Just tell the bouncer at The Melody: 'Edward Cullen is here to suck Aro's big fat dick' and they'll let you in to see the P.I.C. Got it?"
I take a deep breath cause I can feel that if I give in to the person in charge now, it'll buy me another day. I'll take it.
"Yeah. Got it."
With a smack on Jane's ass, they leave and I finally exhale.
I almost forget the cute girl smashed in between the seats when I hear the wood creak. Out jumps the girl, running past me. Immediately, it registers that she's running away from me.
"Oh, no. Not her."
I follow her to the lobby where she's stalled between the two exits on either side of the ticket window like a spooked squirrel.
"Ben!" I call out. He comes running out of the theater, zipping up his pants. I roll my eyes and reach behind the concession counter grabbing the spare keys for the projectionist booth. "Lock up the booth and keep an eye on things, will ya?" I throw the keys at him unawares and he fumbles trying to make the catch.
"Where ya going?" he squeaks.
"Don't worry about it. But if Marcus drops by, tell him I'm checking out the competition at The Cameo."
Marcus is a sucker for industry espionage. Something about having worked FBI under Hoover. I believe this like I believe Ho Chi Minh City is the next French Riviera.
Outside, I'm assaulted by the blaring furnace of debauchery that is 42nd Street. It's barely dusk and the sky's already a tub of dirty bath water. It's humid and I wouldn't mind it so much, if not for the hot stench of sex permeating the air.
Everyone's out and about tonight - the hookers in competition for the barest tits, velvet-vested pimps idling curbside, holy rollers handing out "Jesus Saves" flyers to the kids - every one of them slick from serving time on the street. I look everywhere for my scared girl and spot her running towards the Port Authority. It's a hotbed for muggers and the homeless.
She's almost there when I catch up with her.
When she turns to me, all of Times Square fades away in layers. The crowd surging around us fades into ghosts. Debris sweeps itself out to the edges of the city. The neon hum above the XXX shops, burlesque clubs, arcades and diners flicker off.
I hear the one sound I didn't know I'd miss when I left home. I hear night. I hear my blood rushing like an escaped river. Crickets and fireflies surround the banks.
What's before me is just as beautiful. She's all fresh air and apple pie, Sunday mornings and yellow picnic baskets, open windows and breeze. She's wearing simple bell-bottom jeans and a white peasant shirt floating gown-like on her frame. Her cheeks are a young sunset.
But what's more is that her brown hair is waist-long and parted deeply to the side, held together by a single red barrette in the shape of a star.
I'm so sorry, Cybill.
She's whimpers and tries to squirm her arm out of my grasp. All I get is something about "green" and "home" while she stares at me freaked out.
"Yo, bro. Lend me a quarter for a peep. A quarter for a peep, 'cmon."
I'm jarred out of my best New York moment when I'm poked in the back for money. This is a hustle I hear every day - some schmuck wanting a hand out for a peep show or a side alley hit. I keep a hand on Cybill's replacement as I dig in my pocket and throw the guy quarter. Now we have to get moving, when you feed one pigeon, the rest close in with sharp beaks.
When I turn to her, she's like lint on my pants. Yeah, I'm about as safe as they come, Bunny, but we need to get a walk on.
"Hey, Bunny," I say softly, leading her towards a little corner. "I'm Edward. It's cool, ok? It's cool. Shh." I gently wrap her in my arms. She's shuddering and I feel her ease up, mumbling into my shirt.
I pull her back and tell her I don't speak mumble. She gives me a little smile and shakes her head in a never mind. I guess I've missed my chance.
"Listen, I have a shift to finish but I have some time for a coffee. Want to get one with me?" I try to give her my best face. The one that makes my own mother feed me cookies for dinner.
She hesitates. Her eyes shift from me to the street. I try again. "Look, see that over there?" I point to Port Authority. "You weren't going to wait over there, were ya? It's dangerous, Bunny. You can't go there alone. There's more of them," I gesture to the street, "down there than anywhere. Promise I'll take care of ya, ok?" I try to keep the edge off my voice, but I'm getting anxious standing here. She studies my face for eternity until she relaxes and nods. Her eyes take on a clean shine from the now lit up street. It's full on dark now and if there was a question that I'd let her out of my sight, it's been answered.
I pull her close and push us through the throng.
We cross the street to a few heckles and catcalls. It's nothing heartbreaking, but she sticks out like a sore thumb. Guy or girl, everyone stares, cold and distrustful. Others are hot with want.
NYPD lazily patrols the street with sirens punching through the din. They've seen enough of the human cast offs to isolate only the most violent. If there's no blood, there's no foul - literally. I keep my eyes straight ahead and wrap my arm around Bunny, keeping us moving toward Sal's Diner just a few blocks from Skinerama. I don't bother looking at her face. I already know what I'll see. I'm not sure I can take her reaction to this place.
Every piece of retail is marked up in skin font. Pink and green outlines of naked women pulse above us. Flyers for coming attractions, porn stars, and revues wallpaper every storefront. I feel her look around, curiously absorbent. Passing a burlesque club, we hear guttural applause from inside - the doors open to the street and the stage is purposely angled to entice a peek.
If Sal's isn't too busy, Rose can square away a table by the back exit. It's useful to have an escape route in case there's a stick up. Kids with unloaded guns come through here all the time. If they weren't so stupid, they'd be criminals.
We pass Show World, the sleaziest of all the sex clubs – a three-storied megaplex catering to any fetish and fantasy.
Baby Jane runs out of the club and hops over to me like the fake child she's become. "Edwaaard," she sing-songs. I already know what she wants.
"Walk and talk, Jane," I say, moving along. I give Bunny a little squeeze.
"Can I..." starts Jane.
Her face is caked in gunk. I know she's only 16, Aro admitted as much one day. It nearly sent me packing, wanting to sink my head in the sand. Jane was a naïve, country girl from Gainesville FLA, when she first got here. But now she's got real teeth and the kid act is just that. Her body's been used by Aro and his vultures. I always deny her when she's hopped up, but I don't have it in me today.
"Yeah, tell Ben I said it's okay. But don't stay too long. You saw that shit with Aro. Let's not push buttons."
She squeals and claps her hands like I gave her front row seats to the Copacabana then tiptoes up and kisses me on the cheek. It's nerve wracking.
"Thanks, Edward." she calls back, running off to the Skinerama.
Bunny throws questioning eyes my way. But I have no idea what kind of girl I have on my hands, so I don't bother with an explanation. She'll have to talk if she wants answers.
Sal's is half full. There are two cops getting coffee, so it's a safe place as any for a quick bite. Rose looks over and when she comes up to me, she eyeballs me with Bunny.
Rose is no spring chicken. She can tell right away I've got an innocent here. In the wrong hands, Bunny is worth a jackpot. Every girl on this street is either merchandise or about to be put in the window.
"What's with the school girl, Edward?" Rose asks with a hand on her hip. She looks downright pissed.
"Settle down, Rose. This is Bunny." I introduce them with all the formality I can muster.
"What kind of name is Bunny?" Rose asks me. She's probably mistaking it for a stage name. She's partly joking, knowing me better than that.
"You have a booth by the back, Rose? I don't have much time, still on my shift. We're starvin' here."
"Yeah, yeah, keep your pants on," she snorts knowing full well that I'd double belt these fuckers if they were in danger of magically disappearing.
Bunny hasn't said a thing since our walk over here and I'm wondering if I have to borrow Rose's pen and ticket pad to get some information out of her. I want to know how she ended up in my theater.
We place our order. I get a coffee, and a cheeseburger and coke for Bunny. She's playing with her straw and looking out the window. There's so much graffiti on the other side, there's no looking out. That's not a bad thing.
I'm not sure how to start. She's alone and I'm starting to suspect she'll have to come with me to the theater until my shift ends tomorrow morning. By then, Emmett can give us a ride back to the Village and we'll just have to take it from there. But how do I convince her? Before I begin my interrogation, Rose drops off our food and hovers. She ignores Bunny.
"So you seen Em, lately?" Rose takes her pen out like she's taking another order, but she's avoiding eye contact. Her and Em have been dancing around each other for months.
"Yeah, he was on 9th earlier. He's doing the rounds tonight. Want me to tell him to swing by?" I move so she's forced to look at me. I get her to roll her eyes, instead.
"Sure. There's this new band at the Performance Studio playing on Saturday night. I have off." She's tapping her pen on the Formica table.
"What are they called?"
"You know, I don't really remember. Jasper was going on about them, better than the Dolls, he said. I could use a new scene," she finishes with a shrug.
I know what she means. "Sure, I'll see him..."
"The Ramones!" And for a moment, I think I'm dreaming. It's the loveliest fucking voice I've ever heard.
Rose and I whip our heads towards Bunny who's quickly washing down burger with her coke and turning redder than the theater curtains at Skinerama.
"Did you hear that?" I whisper into Rose's ear and looking at the voice. "Bunny speaks!" I say dramatically, hand over heart.
Rose smacks my arm and gives us a reluctant chuckle. "Smartass. Now she can tell you to shove off." She winks at me and walks away when the door chimes with new customers.
I clear my throat and sink back into the booth smugly. I don't know why, but it's like I've won a prize out of the gumball machine.
"Well, Bunny, you have some 'splainin' to do." I'm all smiles.
She frowns at me, and why is it that the first thing she asks is, "Why do you call me Bunny?" I sigh. It shouldn't be this difficult. I found her, I get to name her.
"I found you, so you know." It's self-explanatory.
"No, I don't know," she says giving me a little huff.
"Well, I get to name you, is all." Now I'm yanking her chain, feeling her out a bit.
"My name is Bella."
Bella. Bell-a. Bel-la. Bellaaaa. Nah, it doesn't work. Her name is too delicate. I say it and it'll break. Plus, it makes my heart go off like a gong. It's thrilling, but disconcerting, and I need to keep my wits about.
"Nah, I like Bunny," I cross my arms and give her a grin, hoping she gives in.
"Okay, Eddie..." she says in what I can't believe is a mocking tone. How does she know I hate that name?
"Touché." I say with a brow lift. I better get this girl's story before she gets under my skin. I lean over the table and get as close to her face as I can without spooking her, although that's looking less likely with her spark.
"Now lay it on me. Why were you at the theater? No offense, but you don't look like the kinda gal to run into a place like that." I watch her face go from blank to fear in a swipe of a hand.
"I didn't pay to get in," she says, looking apologetic. As if I care that Fat Marcus doesn't get her dime. She shreds her napkin and shines those eyes at me. "I snuck past that blonde kid and it seemed safe in there."
"What were you running from?" She looks surprised like I figured out her big secret. "C'mon, it doesn't take a genius. Someone following you?"
She shakes her head and rubs her palm across her head. After letting out air through her nose, she looks up and gives me a timid smile. "You can call me Bunny." She goes for distracting.
Yeah, I was born yesterday. I should have started easy.
"Alright, Bunny." I play along. "At least tell me where you're from and, how do you know about this band Rose wants to see?"
"We came in from Seattle last night. Take in the sights, ya know? Hang out in the City, maybe find a job." She gives up on the mess that was her napkin and pushes her plate away. The burger is gone and there's not a fry left. She keeps glancing at the window but unless she can swipe the grime off with Superman vision, there's nothing to see. "I know about the band because I overheard James talking about it."
At the mention of this James, my stomach dips into a tango. I should have just called her Bella like she wanted.
"James?" I croak out and take a sip of my coffee. I hope for a sob story that requires the use of my shoulder.
"Yeah. He drove us out here. I thought we were going to his friends' place but we ended up in some high-rise. Then he tells me I'm supposed to hang out in this dingy apartment with a mattress in the corner and crap everywhere. I mean people are crapping everywhere. The place was crowded with so many strangers. So I say to him, 'James, we should go. Maybe we should just sleep in the van.' and he didn't listen to me. Just pushed me up against the wall and told me to back off." She stops talking and hugs herself. It's a story I want to hear, but not. I feel a shiver cooling my spine.
I take a risk and take her hand. "C'mon over here. Sit with me. I won't bite." When she does, it surprises me, and I'm irritated by her trustfulness. At the same time, I have the odd urge to protect her. For the first time tonight, I wonder what the fuck I'm getting myself into.
"So, what? This James is your old man?" Lots of girls come to the city with their boyfriends seeking a thrill. I hope she's not one of them.
"Really, he was just a friend. I mean, I thought he was. He's a buddy from my high school and we both wanted to come out here, break out and get away from Seattle. We had enough cash to get here. I'm not stupid. I saved up everything! But I didn't know he wanted me to work in one of those places." She gestures to the street and I'm not too surprised to find out this James yahoo wanted to pimp her out. The fact that it's her, though, shakes me.
"Listen to me. I don't know who the hell this James guy is but if I ever lay my hands on him..." She pries my fingers off the table and squints up at me.
"Don't worry, Edward, I ran the hell out of there as soon as his back was turned. I ran out so fast, I left everything I came with!"
She turns around in her seat and we're facing each other when she says, "You seem like a nice guy. If I go out there alone, I know I'm a target for those slimy men. I've seen how they look at me. Just let me stick around. I won't get in your hair, promise," she says, raising her palms up. "Give me until tomorrow to call my dad and he'll wire money for bus fare." She looks at me pleadingly and there are so many ways I want to answer her.
Every one of them new to me.
She slumps in defeat. "I've heard so much about this place. The Big Apple," she mutters to herself. "Everyone wants to come here and, I don't know if I got what it takes to stick it out, ya know?"
I know what she's talking about, but something in her story tells me that maybe I don't agree. So I don't answer.
This part of the city wasn't always like this. Hell, the whole city used to be different. We visited a lot when I was a kid, when it was vibrant. You had old Broadway, The Great White Way, and the supper clubs that mom and dad drove into the city for before it all went downhill. Then there was theater district lined by a twinkling net of brilliant, white lights floating above the sidewalks. It was magic before it had a name. Now, all the marquees are in disrepair and looking like busted out teeth.
There's talk about private investors cleaning up the place up, but who wants to invest in this dump?
My silence misleads Bunny, who's pulling away from me with a hurt look. I can only guess why.
"Oh, now I'm taking you home, huh?" I tease her, stroking an imaginary Van Dyke like a faux villain. The truth is my heart is telling me one thing that my head's never heard before.
"I know I haven't known you long but I have my ways of reading people. Okay, okay, maybe I let James get past me," she says when I cock an eyebrow at her. "I was so very wrong there. But he even met my dad! Oh, forget it! I need to trust you cause you've been a good friend and you obviously know your way around here and I heard you tell that sleazy guy at the theater that you're not into smut." At this she peeks up from under her lashes at me and I'm about to stop breathing until she says, "What do you do anyways? You some kind of movie guy?"
I spit up my coffee. No class, Edward. Now she's got your number.
"I'm a projectionist, at the Skinerama." Her eyes bulge open as I've effectively told her that I work in smut. What signals she must be getting from me must be static and snow. "But I'm a student at Tisch," I offer quickly. "Heard of it?" She shakes her head. "Well, it's in NYU, in the Village - where I stay with my brother. I work for Fat Marcus, that's the manager of the place. He hired me on, knowing I'm in film school. It keeps me in that world, ya know, and I've been saving up," I keep rambling trying to justify it all to her but she just stares at me with those shining eyes like she's got two spotlights on this dumb monologue.
"Anyway, I want to direct. I have a script I've been working on, too..."
"What's it about?" she interrupts.
"Well, it's a comedy, see, and it's..."
"Who's in it?" she interrupts again.
"There's no cast yet. I had a female lead in mind, but..." She's no longer on any list of mine, so I don't bother filling in the blank.
"Oh, you should get a Marilyn type," she says with a little blush that makes me squirm under the table.
"Yeah? You're a Marilyn fan?"
"Yeah," she breathes dreamily at the table. Oh, baby, send some of that this way. I'm taking notice that we're talking easily now. I don't want to leave this booth. I want to stay and watch this girl's fingers loop around the ends of her hair, tugging it lightly, like she's been doing for the last half hour. She keeps talking about Marilyn while I stare at her mouth and the way it smiles, stretching her face into an open canvas. I wipe my damp hands on my jeans and pick at the collar of my t-shirt. It's warm in here. Can't they open a window?
"...I'd probably dunk potato chips in my champagne, too, if I ever had the chance," she gushes.
"You're a funny one," I say, stretching. We've been sitting here for a while and it's time to get back. She's talking about The Seven Year Itch, but I don't tell her that I'd prefer Bacall over Marilyn any day. I want her to keep talking. It's calming her and she needs that if we're leaving together. I have to get her to stick with me.
"Edward?" She's beaming at me like I'm the boy she wants to take to mother. It's getting muggier in here.
"I have to get back to the theater." Her face falls and before she gets panicked, I let her know, "You're coming with me until the end of my shift, okay? My brother will pick us up and then I'll set you up with us until we can figure something out."
She eases up and nods her head resolutely.
"Atta girl. Now pay attention. When we leave, don't make eye contact. Under no circumstance do you step away from me, okay? If anyone heckles, ignore it. Got it?" She takes a deep breath and I don't watch the way her chest expands outward in that white blouse or how her hair falls on either side of her tits. I sure as shit don't notice the white cotton bra peeking out at me.
"Okay, Eddie-boy. Got it!" she says in her worst New York accent. I don't remember the last time I've smiled this much during work hours.
"Okay, Bunny, get ready for your close up." I elbow her playfully, wishing this lightheartedness would follow us outside.
I clear the check with Rose at the counter and just as I'm turning to collect Bunny, three of the strippers from the Kit Kat Club stumble in. I know these girls cause they'll bring clients in to my theater and think it's a gas to put on a live show while the porno's running in the background. Fat Marcus laid into on me one day cause he didn't get a cut. Otherwise, he would have put them front and center on the marquee.
Tanya Denali is the Kit Kat's money-making machine. She's the Evel Knievel of strippers. Her body is her motorbike. Word is, she wanted to one-up Linda Lovelace's performance with bestiality and ordered a pony for her stage show.
The pony didn't make it but it did wonders for Tanya's name and a number on my stomach.
Tanya hasn't changed out of her Wonder Woman getup. My imagination is useless here. She's followed in by Jessica and Lauren in painted-on shorts; their pussy lips are flapping in the wind. I avert my eyes because staring - and how can you not - invites trouble.
Thing is, the day they were at the theater, one of them barged into the bathroom with her john when I was taking a leak. One look at me, and lots of backstage gossip later, led to an unfounded interest in my dick. I busted out of that bathroom so fast, I was halfway up the stairs when Jessica ran up behind me and asked if she could suck my dick.
She's blonde and petite and could have been pretty behind the black spider eyes but there's no chance I'm sticking my jimmy in her Venus flytrap.
"Ooooh! It's Eddie, mon cherie!" One French john and Tanya thinks she's fucking Josephine Baker. She swaggers over, led by her swinging shoulders. She corners me at the counter and puts her arms on either side of me. The stench of Whiskey Sours is hot on her breath. "Bonjour, Eddie."
I look over at Bunny, who's looking over at me with a blank expression. Shit. This can't be happening. I look over at Rose and gesture over to Bunny. She takes the hint and sits with the girl for me. The diner's filling up and Rose can't play interception forever.
"Hi, Tanya. How was the show?" I say into her tits. Best to play nice first. I hear cackling from the other girls and carefully move Tanya's arms to get past. Jessica sidles up immediately.
"Go on, Eddie. Don't be shy. Show Tanya what I seen. She didn't believe me when I told her how big your..."
"Shove aside, Jess," Tanya says pushing Jessica out of the way. "You should think about a scene with me if you're really pulling a Holmes-sized dick. Bet I could make you come ten times over, Eddie."
I shudder. First they want me to film and now they want me to act. This is too much.
"Sorry, Tanya. But I'm with my girl and we're just about to leave." Rose comes over with my girl, when Tanya looks over and kindly offers, "Oh, she's cute. She can come, too. More the merrier." Tanya's posse cracks up and it's not till I see Lauren stroke Bunny's hair, lustily checking her out, that I lose it.
"That's it! Hands off, Lauren." Bunny slaps Lauren's hand away and moves to my side with a glare for Tanya that could wipe paint thinner.
"I'm ready to go, Edward," she says firmly. I'm impressed, but in pain. Because she's gripping my side so hard, I barely choke out a hasty "Later" to the pussy parade.
I hear them laughing behind me and for once I'm relieved they're high on shit that keeps the mean in. Any other time and that could have gone down all wrong. Some of those girls don't get bouncers where they work and have to pull security detail while spreading their legs. One minute, a guy's getting his balls massaged and the next he's cupping the family jewels for breathing too hard.
We're crossing 44th, on the way back to the theater, when we hear sirens up ahead. The police have crossed off the walk and we detour around Broadway. It's a busy night and we're hoofin' it, but the press of bodies push and pull. We're two pinballs exposed to the gaudy arcade. Bunny and I have our arms around each other. I can tell she wants to look up like all newcomers do. She's a long way from Seattle now.
We're nearing the homestretch. A horn blares when we step off the crosswalk, making us jump. "Watch where the fuck you're going, asshole!" Damn, traffic is now all plugged up with cabs and pimpmobiles. Everyone's murdering to get out of Midtown.
At the Skinerama, Emmett comes out holding a hooker by the arm. Her john takes off down the street. Emmett makes no move to catch the guy. "You lock-up the product, not the customer," he's said to me in the past. He's cruising the beat solo tonight. I don't see another officer with him and that makes me nervous. He's a rookie but he says there's no money in the department budget for more officers. Resources are stretched tighter than a tube top on a 9th avenue whore.
I know the girl he's talking to. Her name is Angela and she's one of the nicest girls I've ever met. She's a rare breed because she works without a handler. She brings in customers, but she's quiet and discreet. I've never seen her give more than a hand job during a show. It must be a slow night for her if she's with Em. He won't book her or throw her in lock-up. More than likely, he'll take her to the precinct so she gets a warm place to sleep and whatever's hot on the break table.
We jog over to Emmett and Angela. He's got a perp in the backseat.
"Edward, where you been, man? I've just stopped by to check in. Numb-nuts back there says you went to the Cameo." Don't know if he's talking about Mike or Ben but it's all the same to me. Emmett worries and I'm fine with that. He's the reason I don't get my legs broken by half the people I meet. Street smarts only gets me so far.
"Actually," I pull Bunny to stand in front of me, and fess up. "I've, um, met a girl. We were at Sal's." Both my brows go up in hope of silent understanding.
One up and down appraisal of Bunny, who by the way, is just staring at my linebacker-sized brother with an open mouth, and he knows I didn't just pick her up at Show World. One hand on his club, he leans over and offers her his hand like he's meeting the Queen of Sheba or something.
"Bun— I mean, Bella, this is my brother Emmett." I make the introductions but it displaces me. My brother is shaking hands with someone on 42nd street and not arresting them. He touches no one if he can help it. Bella, to her credit, takes his war-weathered hand in hers and he softens up like butter in August. When she's done shaking his hand, she tucks her body into my side like a present. Emmett sends me a "we'll talk later" bat signal.
"Alright, then. I have to head back to the precinct with this one. It was nice to meet you Bella," he tells her with a smile full of teeth.
Angela is bouncing like there's a pogo stick up her ass and tugs on Em's uniform. He looks down at the offending hand but she ignores him. "C'mon Officer Cullen, I need to use the bathroom," she whines.
Next to me, I hear my girl gasp and then a scream so loud, my ears ring. Letting go of my hand, Bunny runs over to Em's police cruiser, and before I know it, her fist makes contact with the perp in the backseat. He's a mustachioed, dirty blonde, skeezeball. I'm so shocked, it takes me a beat too long before I move to help Emmett drag her away from the car. "Bunny!" I yell, trying to help Emmett. She's a wriggler and a shouter. I don't think Emmett and I have struggled so much since we went fishing with dad and caught that 200 pound marlin. At least the marlin didn't scream in my ear: "You fucking asshole! I could kill you!"
The guy in the backseat is out cold. Being handcuffed left him vulnerable to The Spitfire from Seattle. Damn, she scares me a little. Emmett stops struggling with Bunny and asks me what the hell is going on. Angela is laughing but clutching her stomach like one more guffaw and she's going to leak right here on the sidewalk. Em throws her the keys and she gets in the passenger seat.
"That creep," Bunny points to the guy, "is the guy that brought me here and wanted me to...ugh!"
So this is James. No wonder she's about to commit murder on her second day in New York. He had it coming, but I wish it was me who clocked the bastard. Now I'd look like a putz if I sucker punched an unconscious guy.
"What the hell, Edward?" Emmett's yelling at me when he hands me Bunny. She looks ready for round two.
"Don't tell me she works for that guy!"
"No way, Em. She ran away from him last night..." Bunny stills as I explain to Emmett what she told me. She's breathing hard and spewing creative obscenities. Again, I'm impressed. I pause my story and look at her a few times, "motherfuckingsonofawhore..." Wow. Did she get off the subway with a mouth like that or just gulped down too much New York City air?
"Shit. Okay. Listen, missy, you can't just go around doing that! Stick with Edward here and I'll come get you both when he's done." My brother is shaking his head, still reeling. "Edward, I just picked this one up from The Kit Kat on drunk and disorderly." He glances back to James.
Angela's tapping at the window, trying to get Em's attention. He ignores her. "Seems like Bella's punching bag has a record in three states for bringing minors to the McNeil brothers. One of the girls at the club recognized him. "You a minor, kid?" Em asks Bunny.
"No, I'm nineteen, and I'm no kid," she mumbles. Slightly calmer, she puts her forehead, resignedly, on my chest.
My gut's had more twist and turns than a rat maze tonight. I just want to sink down on the filthy sidewalk and hold Bunny. The thought that she could have been involved with Aro, and his brother Caius, in their sex operation allows a new fear to settle in my bones. I feel murderous and paralyzed all at once.
"You, okay, Edward?"
"Yeah, Em. I'll, um, see you later," I say, clearing my throat.
"C'mon, Cullen, before I piss all over your seat, already!" Angela's dancing in her seat. Emmett decides not to call her bluff and makes to leave. I know he's going to corner me for an explanation tomorrow, and the last thing I want to do is rehash this night.
"Bunny?" he mouths to me as he pulls away. Yeah, yeah.
I'm watching my brother turn his siren on and pull in to traffic when I feel a hand on my face. I must look like hell because she's giving me the sweetest eyes and she's stroking my brow that's all twisted up. "Hey, it's going to be okay," she says, smoothing her soft hand over my face. Does she really believe that? I almost want to.
"Let's go upstairs." I whisper. Her gaze shifts a bit and her lip curves up on one side, a gleam in her eye.
"I'll show you my projector," I tell her with a wink and a grin. She laughs and we go into the Skinerama. Mike is barely awake at the concession counter and gives me a half-hearted nod until he notices Bunny walk in front of me. He may have caught me staring at her ass, but he gives me a thumbs-up because I've never brought a girl into my booth before.
I fish out my keys and reach around to unlock the door. Being so close to her is becoming normal, if such a thing existed. The booth is empty. Ben must be around somewhere but I'm not worried, the second film of the triple feature is halfway over. If I thread the final flick into a second projector, it will be queued up and I can put my feet up for a while.
I tell Bunny to get comfortable but she's already perched on a stack of film cans, stretching her arms over her head. It's been a long night for both of us and I don't know when she last slept. She's so beautiful even in her sluggishness that I'm momentarily distracted from my work. I re-thread the film a few times before I get it right, although I can do this with my eyes closed.
"Who's she?" Bella notices and walks to the picture of Cybill. Before I can answer, she goes on to say, "Oh, wait. Hold it, wasn't she in...in..." She snaps her fingers trying to remember, her bottom lip tucked behind her teeth in concentration.
Reaching around, I quickly tear the photo off the wall. "Eh, she's nobody," I tell her. "Ben keeps this up here. He's got a dumb crush," I say, stuffing the photo in my back pocket.
"Oh." She smiles and it's fluorescent, not unlike the signs on our marquee. I'm standing over her with my hand on the wall. I can make out the little rhinestones in her barrette. The humidity curled her hair and the fly-aways are riotous around her face. She's standing in front of the projector lamp and backlit like a perfect fucking angel. Her chest moves quick. My heart responds with the flutter and the crazy beating again. It's almost too much. I step back suddenly, breaking the tension. I need to breathe. Is it stuffy everywhere in this city?
Bunny clears her throat and walks around the cluttered room, tracing patterns on a shelf lined with rolled up posters. "So, do you ever…" She blushes and shakes her head, clearly embarrassed. I think I know what she'll ask.
"Say it." I encourage her.
"No. Say it. Out loud."
And I laugh because no one's ever asked. I can't respond. For the first time, I'm shy to admit that I do. Instead, I turn on the volume in the room, covering us in a cloud of wah-wah pedals and electric guitar, punctured by gasps and moans. I check for Bunny's reaction but her back is to me and her hair shields her face. I want to lick the back of her neck from spine to hairline. Did I embarrass her?
She cocks her head my way, but I can't make out her expression. "Bella, I'm sorry," I say, fully contrite. "I wasn't making fun of you. Seriously, it's no big deal, you know?"
I'm about to turn off the volume and cut my losses when she whispers, "Can you tell me what's on the screen?"
"What?" I think I have the sound too loud and the fucking temperature has risen at least ten degrees. My back is sweaty.
"I'd like for you to describe to me what's on the screen," she says loud and clear but still looking away.
The last scene in The Devil In Miss Jones, finds Justine getting ready for a brutal orgy that I'm not about to narrate. I settle for a compromise.
I turn the volume down and start, "Well, um, the girl, Justine…ya, she's dressed…Bella, are you sure?"
"It's Bunny," she says through a smile. "And, yes, tell me, Edward. Out loud."
"Ha. Okay, Bunny." I'll play.
"Justine is in her bedroom wearing a negligee."
"Are you sure? You don't sound sure."
"Bunny, you've got to stop interrupting. Or I won't tell you the story."
She's a good six feet away from me but I can see her shoulders shake. She's playing with her hair again, those slender fingers looping round and round the shiny ends.
"So Justine's in her black negligee and the plumber walks in. He's a tall guy, dark red hair."
I need to milk this.
"And she's got her back to him, directing him to her kitchen sink." I take a few steps forward.
"He gets closer and reaches around, pressing his body against her back." I move slowly toward her. I can see her breathing thickly.
"She lets her head fall on his shoulder and she rubs herself on him." I'm straining now and take a deep gulp of air. I'm close enough to touch her hair and I do. Bunny stills for a second and leans back toward me. I get closer.
"He kisses her neck and fondles her tits." Wait, I can say tits to her, right?
"She moans and turns her head to him and they kiss." My nose is in Bella's hair. My face is in Bella's neck. My hands are on Bella's hips. My chest is pressed against Bella's back. My dick is grinding right above Bella's ass.
I hear a moan. I pop my eyes open and step back in one swift move.
"I'm sorry," I stutter. "So sorry, I didn't mean to…"
I hear her grunt in frustration and it hits me. That wasn't me who moaned. She liked it?
"Are you okay, Edward?" she says, shying away again.
"Come here." I grab her and hold her in my arms. My heartbeat's not calming down, but it doesn't want to drum out of my ribs, either. I hold her a while, working to get my head on straight when I feel her hands in my back pockets. I lift her chin and force her to look at me.
"Your eyes are sooo pretty," she breathes at me.
That's it, baby.
"Yeah?" I smirk. This girl and the things she says. I got nuthin'. Words aren't my thing. If I can film it, I can tell you what I feel. But words are a different kind of lens. I'm focused on her smiling lips.
"They're like the bottom of a Coke bottle." Obviously she's the one with words.
I take the bait and give her a sweet kiss, but she pushes my resolve with tongue.
In no time my hands are working at her shirt, surrounding her face, gripping her ass. My fingers itch when I touch her. There's no satisfaction, just a warm alert ringing in my ears. She's so firm and small and squishy all at once. I can't contain her. Grabbing her by the hips, I wrap her legs around my waist. She's moaning into my mouth and I push her up against the far wall. My groin, with no direction from me, presses into her and now I'm greedy. I'm not satisfied with only her mouth. I swipe my tongue on her throat, her shoulders, along her neck, and behind her ears when I hear a delighted squeak.
"What was that?"
"Wh-wh-whaat?" I say into her ear. She tucks her shoulder into her neck, giggling. "I'm sorry," she says between breaths. "I'm ticklish there."
"Here?" I say blowing on the spot behind her ear.
"Yes!" She laughs harder.
"How about here?" I keep with the torture.
"Yes!" she wiggles around in my arms trying to get her neck away from my mouth. I laugh and put her down. Her amusement settles down and she rests her head on my chest, catching her breath. I hold her and I am so relaxed, I could nap like this. It's quiet in here but for the flitter of the projector.
"Why are you still here? This place?"
I hug her so tight and squeeze my eyes shut, taking in a shallow gulp of air. I don't want this question, it has too many answers.
"C'mon. I want to show you something."
Opposite the projector lights, are iron stairs mounted to the wall. They lead up to the building's attic. I climb up and shove at the trap door. It opens into the center of the building's top floor – a storage room and makeshift prop loft, housing relics of the theater's past. I look down the opening and see Bella standing at the bottom of the stairs looking up at me, wary. She looks like a Bunny alright, all brown eyes and soft white skin, afraid to hop out of her hole.
"It's alright. Come up." She makes her way up slowly, first her head and then the rest of her.
"It's dark up here," she whispers, dusting off her hands.
"Not for long." I pull on a chain overhead and the egg-like bulb floods us in a sepia glow. I chuckle when I hear her gasp.
"What is this place?" Her tone is reverent and excited. Her eyes adjust to the space and they pause at the standing racks of clothes. The left half of the room is a storage space for theater costumes. The rest of it is a junk heap of furniture, busted sets, paint, and curtains strewn about. She immediately ducks through the heap of clothes. Her head bobs between the coats and dresses. She weaves around austere oak racks pinioned by wigs, hats, and scarves. I lean along a wall lined with mirrors and frames, covered in sheets of canvas. I watch her play with a black feather boa.
Sitting on a deep purple velvet divan, she repeats her question.
"The Skinerama used to be the Lyric Theater decades ago. Not sure when, but the projection booth used to be a sound booth before we started showing films."
I sit with her on the divan and put my head on her lap. Her fingers slide along my scalp.
"What do you think?" I ask into the open room. My eyes feel heavy.
"I think it's wonderful. Almost magical, you know? Like nothing else exists." Her voice halts a bit and it's sad. "So you stick around because of what it once was?"
Her tone is curious, but I know she's not only asking about the theater.
"Yes. No. I love film. I love this city and it drives me crazy. When I think about leaving, I freak. When I think about staying, I freak. It never ends." I sit up and look at her. She's got to know where I'm coming from, right?
"You follow?" She shakes her head like I'm a two year old telling her a story.
"Fine." I mutter, plucking her off the divan. Why can't she just read my mind? "Follow me, good lady."
"Where to?" Now she asks. I've been pulling her along all night and now she asks, now it matters. She'll be the death of me.
I point to another set of wall stairs leading up to the roof. "There's more."
"More?" She's doubtful, but I give her a get-going shove. "There's always more," I answer.
The City skyscrapers rise up and meet us as we poke our heads into the night and spill out on the roof. I know she has never seen anything like it. It is our very own Stonehenge – an overwhelming, awe-inspiring, steel cathedral for the unwashed masses. A fat moon shines on us like a thousand floodlights.
"Grass? Flowers?" An artificial meadow is in her backdrop, waiting for her.
"It's called Astro Turf. It's fake but feels like the real thing. Uh, a friend of Rose sells this stuff to stadiums. One night he takes her to his suite, at The Plaza, no less. Guy wanted to be like Rockefeller, maybe, so he's got this stuff all over the room, on the bed, floor. All over. Says he wants to roll around in it, pretend it's the 50 yard line, I don't know. So Rose, she gets to pretend she's his Dallas cheerleader and, in turn, he gives her this." I shrug and scratch the back of my head. There's more to it but Devil's in the details and he's not invited up here. "Anyway, the flowers and rest of it, that's the girls."
She's taken off her shoes during my rambling and sinks her toes into the cool turf. Running her foot over it, she looks at me thoughtfully, and nods in understanding.
Bella is surrounded by potted flowers in a full spectrum of colors, shapes and sizes. Some are more brilliant than others in the moonlight. They brush along her knees and linger on her thighs as she walks among them.
"So beautiful," she says quietly, fingering a magnolia. Rose must have brought that up here, it's her favorite flower. "Edward, this is amazing. It's gorgeous. This feels so alive!" She twirls with her hands at her sides.
Oh, that's it.
She was a frightened sight hours ago but now, look. Now, look.
"Yeah." I agree, walking through a row of daisies, suddenly brave. Her infectious joy jumpstarts my body to action. "Yeah," I repeat, swooping her up, into my arms.
And I kiss her. I kiss her and I don't mean to, but I dump every frustration out on this kiss, pleading and urgent. I kiss her, dropping the weight of every asshole hounding me, every hustle thrown at me. I kiss her with all of my hopes in throat and my dreams in my grip. I kiss her until I can't breathe.
Cannot, do not want to breathe.
She pulls away first. "Wow," she pants. "Is it hot up here?"
And my chest rumbles, loose.
"So you like it?" I ask into her hair, rocking us slowly. "It was Rose's idea. She was a dancer once but shit got rough for her. Then Angela…"
"Yeah, the girl that left with Emmett. And Jane and others. I give them the key to the booth and they each come up here to get away. It's scary out there, Bella, I'm not going to soften ya up, but it's not all rotten." I make sure her eyes are on mine. For once, I check the bullshit at the door.
We sit on a corner of the turf, amongst tin cans with potted lilies. The moon is hidden behind a building. A sliver of shadow frames her lips.
"Tell me something." I pull at the shoulder of her blouse, exposing milky skin and getting her attention. She's looking at me in a way that makes me want to clear my throat. I do. "How'd you clock James like that? I mean that was fierce back there. If I do anything, you know, that makes you mad and you want to punch me…" She puts a finger to my mouth, hushing me.
"My dad's a cop," she says ruefully.
My mouth drops open and for a second I consider sucking on her warm finger, but I'm still processing her words when self-preservation kicks in and I take it in my hand, instead.
"Yeah, that's the response I always get." She sighs. "Anyway, he taught me how to hit. It's not so hard. He always says, 'If you have to hit someone, you have to commit to it. Don't make a fist unless you're 100% sure you'll follow through.'" She imitates her dad with a low voice and exaggerated frown. This is so endearing, I can't suppress my irrational desire to meet her cop father one day. She's making me bananas.
"He also taught me to shoot and fish."
"You wont find fish in the East River, but I can always use a bodyguard," I tease.
She snorts and shoves me. "That's your job," she blurts and blushes so deep; the color sinks into her cleavage. Suddenly, my chest puffs out and my back straightens.
"Oh, yeah?" I pick at her blouse again, snapping the elastic at her shoulders.
"Oh. I didn't mean…you know, if you want…not like I need, it's…"
"No, you're not taking that back. Besides, what kind of benefits do I get? This a union gig?" I pull the blouse down her shoulders. I kiss them. She lets me. Her skin is a silky landscape I want to explore from left to right, over the dips of her collarbone, below the vanishing point of her blouse.
"I suppose I would have to pay you," she says, swinging a leg over and climbing on my lap, facing me. Getting it. "I suppose," she starts, brushing my neck with ends of her hair, "I could ask you to take a pay cut."
"Why would I want to do that?" I pull her flush against me. She sucks in a surprised breath. Our space is so tight, I can only think in Bella. Bella hair against my cheek, Bella breath on my brow, Bella scent of grass and sun. Bella, Bella, Bella. Her real name no longer disarms me or makes my head fuzzy.
"Because I want to do this." And she dots my jaw with kisses. I close my eyes and run my hands from ass to spine to the backs of her shoulders, tugging on the damn blouse again. I can't help this. I don't want to be that guy but it's been a dog day and I've got this beauty on my lap, kissing me.
"Bella," I whisper, pulling back. She gives me a confused look.
"Bella?" she repeats, cocking her head at me.
"Bella. Baby. Bunny." I kiss out each name on both cheeks and her forehead like a prayer. "Can I see you?" I ask, dropping my eyes to her chest. She responds by leaning back and supporting herself on her hands.
"Go for it." A smile plays on her lips. Her eyes dance bright.
I pull her blouse and bra down, trapping her arms in. Out spill her breasts into my hands. Creamy skin peeks between my fingers, all goosebumpy. I'm digging on their weight and texture. I groan and my hips twist up. I just want to grind on this girl.
She moans and arches her back. Her breasts spread to either side of her torso and I'm speechless by their abundance. Quarter-sized nipples strain against my kneading hands. "Come," I say to them, bending over and taking one in my mouth. Man, no amount of porno compares to this.
I trail licks under her tits where they fold over my cheek. She tastes like saltwater taffy. Vanilla. I love the weight of them against my nose and sigh and rub my face into them. I don't know which one of us is directing this scene. Me, or Bella with her hand stroking my hair. I'm so into my part that I didn't notice when she untangled herself from her blouse.
My dick is straining but I'm tuning it out. I can't take more tonight. I'm afraid if I fuck her, I'd blow into smithereens.
She's holding me to her chest and kissing my head. Sweet thing. I start to obsess about tomorrow and the day after that and I panic thinking this show is only passing through town and I'll never get to experience it again. I'm no longer kissing her nipples. My ear is on her heart and I squeeze and I interpret the roar from my chest in whispers.
Don't go. Over and over. It's my mantra. Don't go. Don't go.
"I don't want to go." And my heart responds.
"I won't go." It is telling me things I want to hear.
"I'll stay." Its voice is violet and baby's breath.
"It's okay." I'm shaking and warm all at once.
"It's okay." It's her. She's talking to me, been talking to me. She's rocking me and my voice is tight. When I gasp for air, it's short.
I need her to talk more. I like her words and I've got nothing more to say. I'm tired of my own sound. Meanwhile, the hum from the street slices through in beeps and clangs and sirens and horns. It's electric and pulsing all at once. The depraved concert is desperate and pleading for release that never comes. Yet, the pandemonium is muffled when I'm in her arms.
After a short silence, she says, "Knock, knock." And I take a stuttering breath, willing my body out of this intense emotional fucking lockdown.
"What?" I'm bemused and she's smiling down at me, her hair wrapping around my shoulders. I kiss her chin.
"Edward. Knock, knock." She's makes like irritated. Oh, there's that glint. She kisses my top lip, then the perimeter of my eyes.
"Who's there?" I whisper, playing.
"Botany." Still kissing.
"Botany who?" I say into her lips.
I open my eyes and, like my body, it fills with light.
"Botany good books lately?" She barely gets the punch line out before she's in hysterics.
And I lose it. That's the worst joke I've ever heard and I tell her. But it punctures my fear, releasing it into the City. We collapse on our sides and
she fixes her top. We talk for a bit, and it's like touching, because it's Bella.
She tells me her last name.
I reluctantly stand and stretch.
"Miss Swan, I'm your biggest fan," I say with a wink. The light on her face has changed; we've been up here so long, the sun will rise soon.
"Shall we?" I pull her up.
She answers by circling her arms around me and placing her hands in my back pockets. They like it there. Cybill's picture is there. Bella finds it and gives it a look that girls give when they're putting up with you. She crumbles the picture and throws it away, shaking her head.
"We shall." She says looking up at me, beaming.
For Mama Luv