Nick shouldn't have been on the pedestrian mall at all that night; October was sliding down off the mountains, blowing away the last of the fallen leaves and making way for an inhospitable winter. He had a spot waiting for him underneath the church at the other end of the mall. He didn't really like sleeping there, among so many others, arranged in rows like crates in a warehouse. All night long, Nick would lie awake, listening to the soft murmur of everyone else's breathing, wishing for the night sky over his head instead of the ceiling. He figured he would make his way back to the church if he had to, but he would rather explore his options, such as they were.
Thing about the church was that they wouldn't hold the door open all night. The people who ran the program did have homes, after all, and families who cared where they were after dark. They had spouses who might actually worry if it took them a little too long to get home. His ex-wife had probably thrown a party once she had finally gotten rid of him. An elegant soiree with expensive finger foods and a harpist. She'd probably told everyone there about how he wouldn't ever be back, and now everyone's life would be easier. And his son had probably heard, but she wouldn't care. She would lead the assembled guests in a rousing chorus of "Ding-dong, your daddy's gone," and his little eyes would swim with tears and --
He squeezed his eyes shut. If he kept thinking like that, he'd want a drink. Other thing about the church was that drunk people weren't so welcome. Which was another reason he was still outside. Nick was just a little buzzed from a couple of mini-bottles he had gotten someone to buy him after work. It wasn't that Nick had ever been a really big drinker, but every few weeks, he got restless and started wanting to move around or run or pick a fight. The alcohol helped a lot. First it was just a drink or two when he started to feel agitated. But soon, he found that if he didn't have the drink, he would sometimes forget what he had spent the night doing. When he was drunk, he might not be fully in control, but at least he knew what was.
At the very end of the mall, where it opened into the toney neighborhood across the street, there was an art-house theater and a boutique filled with extremely expensive furniture. At night, the store was closed, but the theater ran movies until late at night, and the heat was already humming away. As an extra bonus, the back alley led to a high-rise hotel, another place the heat was always running full-tilt this time of year. This was one of Wayne's favorite flops. It was quiet and warm, and the irony of his homeless ass sleeping next to a store full of needlessly pricey furniture really appealed to him. Wayne was a generous sort, quick to offer a stranger a place near the bonfire, or a pull from a bottle, or uniquely unscrambled and level-headed advice. Nick hadn't seen Wayne in a little while now, but maybe he had reappeared since the last time Nick had tried to avoid the church.
Nick slipped through the shadows, away from the parking lot, and around the dumpsters to the theater's fire exit. The smell of popcorn embraced him as he settled down in the doorway. The thick warmth from the mini-bottles settled in his belly, and he drifted off to sleep.
The dream started up right away, the only one Nick ever had any more. He was running across the well-manicured grass of a large backyard, the cool air of evening on his skin. The long strides carried him to the edge of the property, to a narrow creek, which he vaulted before he ran into a thick forest. A canopy of branches sheltered him as he went, sailing over the interlocking network of roots that plunged deep into the earth. All around him, he could hear things moving away, the rustle of quick feet in the carpet of pine needles on the forest floor. He knew that many eyes watched his every movement, hoping to escape his notice, and they were fortunate. In the dream, he chased something else -- something that wouldn't try to hide or run from him. Something that craved the confrontation as much as he did. A strange curtain of gauzy half-light began to descend over him. Nick was waking up.
Conscious again on the steam vent, he felt a sudden chill and turned over with a jolt, almost leaping off the metal grating. Someone was standing over him, staring down at him.
The long coat covered her lean frame, but it hid little. It draped over her slim hips, around her perfect bust, falling around her glorious hourglass figure. Beneath the brim of her fur-lined hat, her eyes seemed to glow amber in the dark. Nick could see the plume of her breath flowing out over her upturned fur collar. The very faint fragrance of her reached him, something he couldn't quite place. Backlit in this deserted corner of the mall, she was like a statue, tall and beautifully formed, but so still and pale that she wasn't quite human. He didn't like the strange, inhuman color of her eyes as she stared at him, but he couldn't look away from her. And so when she extended a slender hand toward him and beckoned with her long fingers, part of him was honestly compelled to follow her. The movement of her fingers was almost hypnotic as they curled back, one by one, toward her palm.
Nick had heard about things like this happening. Some wealthy society matron picked up a reasonably healthy male from the street to satisfy long-denied hungers. He didn't think it was real, or that such a thing would happen to him, even with her standing right there. Deep inside, he felt a surge of heat. He had been around women since he had come to live on the street, but like the rest of the civilized world, they tended to keep their distance. Their eyes danced away from him as they edged past him on the street. This one was staring right at him. As good as it felt to be desired -- for her gaze was clearly predatory -- it felt just as good, if not better, to be acknowledged as a human being, to be judged useful for something, even if it was just for sex.
Her eyes flashed again from the shadows that concealed her face. Her fingers curled back toward her palm. When Nick made no move to get up, she slowly turned her hand over, palm down, and held up her index and middle finger. Then she curled those two fingers into hooks.
It felt like fingertips digging behind his eyes, pulling at them hard, as if to force them from the sockets. He squeezed his eyes shut, but the pain surged deeper into his skull, and he had to cry out, turning away from her.
"Please!" he shouted. The pain ceased. Gasping, he opened his eyes, rubbing them and then checking out his hands to make sure that he could still see and that the hot wetness on his hands was colorless and not bright, arterial blood. He looked up to find her still standing there, still perfectly composed. Her breath issued from her in slow, regular intervals. Slowly, she raised her hand again and curled back her fingers, four, three, two, one, toward her palm.
Nick got up and went with her.
He followed her away from the mall, her pace slow and languid like a sleepwalker's. They drifted past the policemen posted around the mall as if she had somehow made herself and Nick invisible. Her house was at the very end of the street, far from her neighbors. They walked around it on a gravel driveway. Nick was reassured to see a very sensible Volvo station wagon parked in the garage as they climbed up the rear stairs to the back door. Only real people drove Volvos. This was just some lonely society woman, a former trophy wife, in search of a little action. He had almost forgotten about whatever it was she had done to his eyes. He had been drinking a lot lately anyway.
In the dark, he could see that her place was sparsely furnished. The refrigerator in the kitchen looked ancient, right down to its rounded corners, the handle shaped like a car door's. Across from the kitchen was a closed door. Nick saw the hunched shadows of two couches in the living room, but no television. She didn't turn the lights on before leading him up the stairs, their steps echoing on the hardwood floors. In the upstairs hallway, he saw two doorways on one side, a single door at the end of the hall, and the doorway to which he was now being led.
She opened the door and then stood back to allow him inside. Uneasily, he slid by her, noticing that exotic scent again as he moved. As soon as he crossed the threshold, she turned on her heel, still draped in that long coat, and left the room. He heard her footsteps receding down the hall and down the stairs, one by one, in that same hypnotic pace. He froze, his senses on high alert, as she moved about downstairs. A door opened and then quietly closed with a click. And then silence.
It looked like a dorm room, with a metal-framed bed against the far wall, beneath the window. The air was still and smelled ever so faintly of bleach. The worn mattress had begun to dip in the middle; it hadn't been turned in this lifetime. The blankets were thin and the pair of pillows was fairly flat, but it looked like paradise to him.
He crept over to the bathroom and yanked the shower curtain open with a jerk, half-expecting to see an attacker, a yuppie assailant waiting for him with a hammer or something like that. The rings made a loud metallic scrape on the rod. Finding the tiled enclosure empty, he leaned in and turned the water on full blast, as hot as he could get it. The pipes began to rattle, then whine as the room filled with steam. Nick began to giggle in spite of himself. He stripped eagerly and all but leapt into the shower. The force and heat of the water stung him and he sucked in a breath. Water sluiced over him. He raked his hands through his hair, not wanting to think about what the water carried off him and into the drain.
Showers were not impossible to come by in Nick's world; there were places a man could go to wash his hair and rinse off the day's hard labor or the night's excesses. This was not a thing like any of those showers. Hot water, fresh soap, privacy -- all in seemingly limitless amounts -- all these things were foreign to his world. He rubbed himself raw with the brand new bar of soap and his hands, scrubbing his hands like a surgeon, digging his fingertips into his scalp, the back of his thick neck. He sat on the edge of the tub and put one ankle on the opposite knee so that he could scrub his feet. The hot water showed no sign of stopping.
He gleefully rose and rubbed the soap between his palms, stirring up a thick lather. With a low groan, he closed one slick hand around his cock. It sprang to life at once, rising from an unkempt thatch of coarse hair. As he stroked his thickening meat with one hand, he reached for his balls with the other, squeezing them tight as he massaged lather into his sack. He shuddered in the shower's sultry heat and pumped his cock harder. An image of the strange woman arose in his mind. He imagined her slim and pale like porcelain under her coat. She would have red, red lips, lush and perfect for wrapping around his cock. The rich scent of her, spicy and musky and warm, would intoxicate him. He was sure she would have hair the color of flame to grab in his hand as he fucked her mouth. Maybe it would feel cool around his dick. She seemed like that sort.
With a strangled cry, he came hard in his hand, the milky jet of his cum striking the tiles in front of him. A smile curled his lips. How long had it been?
Spent, and now a little lightheaded from the heat, he rinsed the thick lather from his tall frame and shut off the water. A thick towel hung from the rack, and he dried himself with a vigor that might have been purgative. Beneath the tan garnered through day labor, his skin was suffused with pink.
He stepped out of the shower and propped himself up on the sink. He wiped the mirror with his fingertips, clearing a stripe across it with a squeak. Bright green eyes seemed to leap out of the washed-out background of his face, coated in stubble that ranged in color from gold to white. He spread his lips, firm and maybe a little too pink, over his teeth. In startling contrast to the hard, leathery darkness of his skin, his teeth were still strong, even and brilliant in their whiteness. He brushed them twice, just because he could.
Finally, he filled his palm with a dollop of real, drugstore shaving cream. A little moan broke from him as he spread it onto his face. It felt so cool and soothing -- so fucking good -- before the scrape of the razor. His face tingled afterward, and he studied himself in the mirror.
The face that regarded him belonged to a harsh cousin of the man who used to take a shower like this every morning before work. The cheekbones stood out a little more. The eyes were a little colder. A little gray showed in the wet, sun-bleached hair. He was hard now, all over, hard with day-labor muscle from working like an animal, hard with hunger for all the things he had lost.
He wanted a drink.
He left the bathroom with the towel around his hips and every intention of going downstairs for something to eat -- and if he found a beer, then so much the better. But then he saw the bed, an ugly thing that was mostly springs but still light-years beyond anything he had slept on in far too long.
He sat on it, eliciting a chorus of squeaks before he swung his legs up onto the thin mattress. He turned over, amid more squeaking, until he was flat on his back. He turned to look through the window and out onto the night sky. The streetlight cast a sallow glow over the room's meager contents. He wondered if there was anything to wear in the closet, which suddenly seemed to be miles away from the bed, or if his imagined yuppie assailant might have been crouched there instead of in the shower.
Nick didn't remember falling asleep.
It was a blessed unconsciousness, deep and black and dreamless, but the soft sound of the bedroom door closing brought him instantly awake. He was disoriented for a moment in the strange new environment. For the first time in years, he expected to see his little boy tiptoeing toward the bed, his plush lion clutched by the tail in one little fist.
Instead he saw her.
He rose up on his elbows to look at her, spreading his legs just a little to relieve the throbbing ache of his hard-on beneath the thick towel. Her bare feet made no sound on the hardwood floor, and the black robe she wore seemed to ripple around her like a fathomless pool, sliding over the curve of her hip, the peerless white of her long legs. She was exactly what he had imagined in the shower. Red hair that glowed with gold as it flowed over her shoulders. Skin like a doll's, fragile and inhuman. Those strange eyes, green and gold in the dark.
She slid her hands up to her shoulders, skimming them over her sides, and then she pushed the robe open. The belt slid open as it fell from her body with a whisper. His eyes fell on ripe, round breasts; he knew they would fill his hands, the coral pink areolas a perfect fit for his mouth. His nostrils flared as he caught her fragrance in full for the first time, mysterious and foreign like crushed flowers and burning incense.
She put her knee on the bed, which dipped beneath her weight with a squeak. She swung her other leg over him, and he lay back, drinking in the sight of her as his cock bobbed up toward her. She reached for his thick hard-on and squeezed it with a smile.
He closed his eyes when he touched her. Her hands were cold, and pleasure swelled up in him, making him moan, making his hips rise up toward her. His hands clawed at the coarse blanket, and he opened his eyes to watch her. She lifted her face to the cracked ceiling, and a sound issued from her, a rich, throaty squeal, as if she were an animal about to feast on her prey.
His dick twitched in her tight grip, and she rubbed the head with her thumb, her cold flesh on his heat as he smeared pre-cum over the tip. He reached for her tits, filling his hands with the soft flesh, He rubbed her nipples with the rough pads of his fingers, then with a groan, he squeezed hard, his palms making those nipples rock hard, and she let out a loud cry, her white teeth flashing in the darkness.
He pulled himself up then until he was sitting up with her on his lap. She pulled his cock, stroking it until it ached. He put one arm around her waist, pulling her closer until he could take her hard, pink nipple into his mouth. He licked the swollen bud, flicking and swirling his tongue over and around it before sucking on it, hard. She growled, spreading her ivory thighs and rocking her hips toward him. Then she impaled herself on him, and his whole body went stiff as she took him.
Her cunt felt like white-hot steel right from the forge, ablaze with heat and tight beyond his most rapacious fantasies. She was so tight he could hardly move. She regarded him with those piercing eyes, her breath coming in tight little hisses between teeth clenched in a chilling grin. He was certain he would erupt in her at once, blasting wave after wave of cum into her implacable cunt before he even got the chance to really fuck her. But it was as if her pussy's viselike grip kept his spunk from escaping, creating a pleasure so intense that pain began to creep down into him.
She released a long sigh, rolling her head back on her shoulders, the fiery hair sweeping back over her shoulders. Her nails dug into the hard flesh of his shoulders like cut glass, and a low throaty laugh gurgled up from her. Her cunt released its tenacious hold on him, and he spat out a gasp of relief. His cock seemed to swell within her, and she began to move, her hips swaying and rocking in an ancient dance as she rose and fell on his pole. The pink tip of her tongue swept over perfect white teeth. He grabbed her ass with both hands, pulling her down onto his shaft. He had never been this hard, this ready to burst with every stroke. Icy sweat sprang out onto him in beads.
She began to smooth her palms over his body, over his shoulders, down his cheeks. She flattened them against his chest as if trying to hold him in place, stroked him as if he were something wild that might suddenly turn and strike. She quickened her pace, panting eagerly as she rode him, and her touch began to burn on his skin. A squeal broke from her, so high and piercing he had to force his eyes shut.
Her razor-sharp nails cut across his back, up to his shoulder. Pain lanced over him, making him grunt before the sensation dissipated into smoldering heat. His fingers raced swiftly up her arms and nested in her hair. He pulled it hard, dealing her pain for pain. The sight of her skin, stark in the moonlight, kindled another blaze low in his belly. His cock pulsed within her and she began to stroke him again, that laughter bubbling up from her throat.
He grabbed her hips and slammed her onto him, his cock buried in her up to the root, and then he exploded inside her, his own roar of delight drowned out by her screams of pleasure. His balls ached as he filled her with his cum, each pulse ripped from him until he could give no more.
His body shuddered once inside her before his insides melted into warm jelly, and he collapsed backward onto the bed. The scratchy blanket ignited the scratches on his back, making him hiss with pain. His eyes drifted closed and he panted hard. Her hands, suddenly cool against his overheated flesh, stroked him, gently pulling the golden hair on his heaving chest. As the ringing in his ears subsided, he thought he heard a quiet sound from above him -- a sound almost like purring.
A moment later, she shifted on his lap, easing off his still hard cock. He remembered the feeling of the air, cool on the moist skin of his dick, and then sleep overtook him, almost before he knew it.
He awoke in the same position, his body aching, his legs tingling. A rosy glow lit his room. He tried to get his mind to work. Was it sunrise or sunset? He shivered a little from the late October cold and slowly hauled his protesting body up onto the bed, rolling it into a fetal position. Ordinarily, he would be out there, probably in the rolling hills outside town, building a fence of split rails or a wall of stones and daydreaming about a hot bath, a hotter woman and a warm bed.