It was like a battlefield after the final blow had landed: the dead and the dying strewn everywhere, mostly quiet, some groaning gently from the damage inflicted that evening. The scent of alcohol hung like blooded mist in the air, reminding all those still conscious of the cause of their demise.
It had been a wild party.
Somewhere off in the distance the music still played, as cheerily festive now as it had been at the beginning. As Joe came to, lying on the couch, he saw that the lights were still on in the large kitchen, adjoining this massive, drunk-strewn living room, and he could just about make out the motion of dancing – girls, mostly, still moving to the sound of Christmas hits, past and present. They loved that cheesy stuff.
So here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody having fun.
Damn, that shot-downing contest had been a mistake. A quick survey of the battlefield revealed that most of the fallen had been those that had been involved in that surprisingly fearsome liquor jousting. A mixture of male and female – some couples, even, slumped all over the place. Few had gone home, they simply remained. The alcohol levels were simply too high all round.
No one was in a state to speak to that he could see, and that was no bad thing: Joe was in no real state for conversation. Nobody in that room was really in a state to lift their eyelids, either, as far as he could tell. Joe's watch read four in the morning – he couldn't have been out for much more than an hour. In a way, he wished he was still asleep: the alcohol remaining in his mouth reminded him of the dreadful excess inside him, and seemed almost to taunt him, pointing out that come the morning, his head would ache and as the full horror hit, he would regret his actions that evening.
Those girls were still dancing – that was impressive. But they couldn't go on for much longer, surely.
He didn't feel much like sleeping, though he wasn't exactly feeling much like anything. It was that horrible stage of the evening where a partygoer might be overcome with the mournful sense that things were over, the good times at an end, no more chances left to hook up with someone. Failed again. Nothing to do now but recover from the booze. It was a shame – it had been a great night. No wonder those girls were still dancing, changing the music then dancing still, unwilling to call it a day yet.
Over on the other couch, he could see that Morris had got lucky, and though he was asleep, he was asleep with a pretty blonde called Fiona, his limbs entangled in hers, his cheek wedged against hers. Lucky bastard. There were others who had hooked up, too, lying around the room. Some on chairs, some on rugs, some slumped on the bare carpet.
And here he was, alone. Damn it. And he had such high hopes, the party being so well-attended, the booze so free-flowing, the Christmas spirit so apparent after a particularly strenuous year.
Perhaps he should get up, walk on out to the bright kitchen, where the girls were still up and running, laughing, giggling, rocking and rolling. There might be one last momentary chance that some desperate girl might look at him and go for him, turning his poor fortunes around suddenly, to make this Christmas great after all.
But lifting himself up onto his elbows, he felt the room spinning a little. No. That wasn't going to work. Though his mind was sober, his body was not. If he did manage to get upright, he would probably find himself lurching into the kitchen like some kind of zombie, while any attempt at seduction would be viewed by the girls in there as the depraved groaning of the undead after fresh brains.
It was that time of the party where it was too late to drink, too late to party, but too early to get up and head on home. The Dead Zone, you might say. Joe picked up the glass resting next to him on the floor, immediately pleased to find it was water. If only he could return to his unconscious state now, drift back to sleep and wait out the end of the party before making a run for it when it was light, cutting his losses, fleeing before anyone else could see his lack of success.
But sleep just was not coming.
And this being the final social event of the calendar before Christmas just did not make the feeling of failure any easier to bear.
But now, there was movement. A shadow passing across the light emanating from the kitchen. From where he was lying, he couldn't quite see what it was – he couldn't quite see the kitchen, couldn't quite see what was going on. He could only hear the continuing music and the continuing sound of girls talking and laughing.
Now, a pair of legs appeared in front of him: attractive legs, clad in green nylons under a short green skirt. Of course – most of the girls had come as elves. Just like most of the guys had come as Santa. Ah yes, that would explain the bright red outfit… he had taken those heavy black boots off, though.
He could smell her perfume – sweet, fragrant, intoxicating, addictive. God, he needed a girlfriend.
"Any room for a small one?"
"Sure," autopilot, and ironic to boot: he wasn't sure what was happening at all.
The girl virtually collapsed on him, ending up lying between his body and the sofa back, wedged against him, her face right up against his, her body melding to his, arm across his chest, leg across his thighs.
"Hi," she purred, "I hope you don't mind – you looked like the best place to crash."
Tara. So soft against him, her skin, that clean, long silky red-gold hair pouring over him, her sugary perfume mixing with a slight muskiness, the scent of a girl who had been dancing all night. What on earth was going on? This dream of a girl so close… "Uh… you're welcome," he replied, his voice rough but gentle, yet unable to conceal his surprise.
Damn, she was beautiful. He couldn't believe it – she was someone who made him tremble just looking at her from across the room. But wasn't she Todd "the Beast" Beaston's girlfriend? What if she was making some ridiculous alcohol-fuelled mistake of identity? She'd open her eyes and realise that mistake, then humiliate him in public. He had suddenly become so incredibly nervous.
Joe had fancied her for ages, though always from afar – she was the most exquisite creature, the kind of girl everyone wanted for themselves, but no one could get near. Joe had always felt a burning sensation in his chest by just looking at her, and on the few occasions that night she'd looked at him as he had been gazing at her, he had felt suddenly weak at the knees, and had quickly turned away to keep from accusations that he was staring at her.
But now she was lying next to him on the couch, draped all over him, in fact. What on Earth had he done to deserve this miraculous turn of fate? Had she got him confused with someone else? He didn't look anything like Todd…
"Mmm… I like where your hands are," she said quietly, seductively, and suddenly he realised that one of his hands was up against one of her breasts, while the other – how embarrassing! – had come to rest on one of her inner thighs.
"S-sorry," he said, pulling his hands away from her.
"No, don't move them!" she whispered urgently as he put them back where they had been, her mischievous almond-shaped eyes locking on his.
God, he could feel the warmth of her breast, even through her green cotton top and, presumably, her bra. Just the thought of it made his heartbeat quicken. And as for the heat between her thighs, and the forbidden texture of her nylon-covered legs, he only hoped she couldn't feel the hardness between his own thighs.
"Are you sleepy?" she asked quietly. He could feel her breath against his cheek, she was so close.
"No," he replied in a similar near-whisper.
"Don't act so shocked," she smiled again. "Relax. I'll go if you want me to…"
"No, you don't have to…" he said, not wanting to act foolish, but not wanting her to leave, enjoying every unexpected moment of this closeness.
"Thought so," she said, sounding genuinely contented. "I'm not drunk, you know."
"Not really. Or only a little. So you don't have to feel like you'd be taking advantage of me."
He couldn't help but shiver, though not from the cold. Was she really saying what he thought she was? He felt her shuffle a little moving slightly against him. And now, he realised his hand was higher on her thigh, in fact he suspected that it was now wedged against her crotch. He could sense the increased warmth there, centring on what should be her most personal area.
Damn! What had he done to deserve this? Was he dreaming?
"I can't believe I'm doing this," she said. "You know, I've been after you for ages." She said. What?
"What? I thought you were with Todd!" How could she have been after him for ages? She was out of his league! The world had gone mad.
"I was never with Todd. He might have liked to think so, but he's a slimeball. I've been trying to catch your eye all night, Joe!"
"I didn't realise."
"Men! You miss even the most obvious signals! I can't believe I had to jump on you to get you to notice me… I had to down three shots to work up the courage!"
Joe's world was reeling, as though he was the one who had just downed three shots. She really wanted him? It was unbelievable. His heart was turning circles inside him. But what if this was some elaborate practical joke, primed to humiliate him? Why would someone do that? He wasn't the most popular guy in the world, but he certainly wasn't unpopular, and no one held a grudge against him as far as he knew.
"I thought you were way out of my league," he said earnestly, truthfully, having nothing else to really say to explain himself.
"Out of your league? You're kidding!" she said, and he felt her hand tracing over his chest, her leg sliding against his affectionately. She really meant it! There was no way she could be pulling a fast one here. Besides, he had his hand right up against her… well, under her skirt. No girl would let a guy do that in something as weak as a practical joke – they'd risk being called all sorts of names if they did. Letting just anyone do this…
"You are single, aren't you?" Tara asked now.
"Of course," he said.
"Mmm… not for long, though, I hope…" she kissed him, her hand reaching up to caress his cheek and pull his lips to hers. It was so wonderful, as he brought his own hand up from between her legs – relieved to have a chance to avoid being seen as too forward in that respect, though to some degree he realised he was suffering from poor logic by feeling that way, nervous logic, early relationship logic – to tuck her silky hair behind her ear and trace the incredible softness of her face as he kissed her in return.
He felt her tremble a little as they kissed, exploring each others' velvety lips, tentative tongues touching, then withdrawing before touching again. So, she was feeling the same kind of nervousness as he was. That, more than any other factor proved to him that she was serious.
The kiss was so amazing, growing gradually in intensity as they both gained in confidence, he'd never experienced anything like it. The chemistry between them was undeniable, even at this early stage, the electricity that sparked between them was sensational.
She was so sweet in every respect, her perfume swirling around him, her soft mouth as their tongues danced together, their hands running through each other's hair, stroking each other's face. Even just kissing her, he felt that his cock was completely erect between his thighs, and as her leg moved over his, he could tell she could feel it now – and knowing that only made his heart beat quicker.
"My God, you're incredible," she whispered breathlessly as the kiss broke at last.
"You're not so bad yourself," he grinned, and she followed suit.
"You really think so?" she said.
"Absolutely," he replied, and kissed her again, now running his hand slowly down her throat, her arched back, her firm but round behind, in awe of her feminine curves. Pulling her close to him, he pressed his hardness against her thigh, provoking a low groan from her even as they continued to kiss.
He felt her hand on his hardness now, gently exploring its shape, tracing its size. She was serious then? He trembled a little, hoping she didn't notice. God, it hardly seemed real, such an enchanting creature in such intimate contact with him, even through the bright red Santa suit.
"Touch me," she whispered, and he drew in an involuntary breath – she was serious, then. He moved his hands up under her shirt, caressing her soft, toned stomach and then skimming uncertainly over the rough lace of her bra. He felt her affectionately squeeze his cock through his pants, approving his touch.
Sensing the stiffness of her little nipples pushing against the fragile material, he gently coaxed her small but perfectly formed breasts, a warm feeling spreading throughout his torso as she responded to his attention with quiet moans and deeper breathing. And as his fingers slipped over the top of her bra, dipping down to sample the unbelievable softness beneath, that breathing quickened.
"We should go somewhere…" he whispered, but as his fingers grazed across her sensitive hardened buds, she shook her head.
"There's no one awake in here but us," she insisted, and he felt her urgently pressing her crotch against his powerfully erect cock.
"I'm not sure…" he said. The sounds in the kitchen had now gone out, though he hadn't yet noticed through the incredible distraction lying next to him on the couch, the laughter of the dancing girls had fallen quiet. "What about…" he indicated the kitchen.
"I don't think there's anyone in there now," she whispered. "Wait, I'll turn out the lights."
Tara pulled down her top and quietly jumped up to head out to the kitchen. As he waited for the petite beauty to return, Joe felt his heart beating like there was no tomorrow. Look at her: such a sensational sight in that tiny pleated green skirt and flimsy cotton top, those shapely legs in elegant nylons. What had he done to deserve her?
The light went out.
There was a slight chill in the room now that she was gone. Or was that just part of his nerves? The room was so still, he could hear the slumbering breathing of those around him – they sounded sound asleep, but were they? What did it matter now? They were all hammered, it was dark, nobody was going to see them.
Where was she?
He didn't know for certain just how long it took to get to the kitchen and back, but it didn't seem like it had taken this long for her to get there and put out the lights. Had she gone? Had she somehow used the need for darkness as a pretext to ditch him, mistake having been realised? He wouldn't have been particularly surprised if she had – she was too good for him, surely? But after the few moments he'd already had with her, that would be such cruel fate. Whoever had coined the phrase 'it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all' had clearly never fallen in love. Joe didn't know if it was love yet, but he knew for sure he was hooked. It would be too cruel to take her away now.
It was so dark: he couldn't even see his hand as he put it out in front of him.
What if had all been a dream? What if he was just waking up now, in the dark, alone, the party over? Tara had never been there, never spread her divine body over him, never kissed him so tenderly, never pressed herself against his rock-hard penis, never moaned softly as he slipped his hands over her palm-sized, lace-covered breasts, slipping his fingers under her bra to squeeze her hard nipples…
"Miss me?" she whispered into his ear.
Oh, it was real! It was real! What rapture he felt as she clambered back onto the couch next to him, kissing his cheek as her hand touched down in his lap, reclaiming what was clearly hers for the taking. He felt as though his entire body was on fire, reacting to her sweet feminine scent, the soft warmth of her touch, the raw sexuality of her slender curves.
"Of course," he replied, finding her mouth with his again.
"Mmm… now we can do anything," she purred.
"As long as it's quiet."
"Of course," she giggled briefly, and surprised him by unzipping his fly and spreading her fingers around his bare cock. "Mmm… look what I found."
"You're a naughty girl."
He inhaled deeply as he kissed down her neck, savouring that exhilaratingly musky essence of her perfume as he reached the slight rise of her breasts and the edge of her cotton top, still slightly damp from her earlier dancing excess. Her skin was slightly salty from her efforts, and as he pushed up the garment to expose the gentle camber of her taut stomach, he tasted that salty zing again, circling her navel with soft kisses.
Tara was doing her best to keep her moans to a minimum, but was finding it difficult as he found her hard little nipples poking through the thin lace of her bra. Taking the lace-covered pebbles into his hot mouth, she sucked in her breath, waves of arousal pulsating through her petite form. And when she felt him slip her bra from its promontory position, enveloping her bare buds in that heavenly heat, his tongue swirling over her sensitive flesh, she couldn't help but tremble a little.
Coaxing her, massaging her small but exquisite breasts as her pinched her throbbing nipples with his gentle lips, sucking them to tease out her quiet moans, he didn't care an ounce that she had given up on his own pleasure for the moment. He was providing his own pleasure, just by tending to hers. This, the most beautiful creature he'd ever known, allowing him the most intimate access, the most sensational contact. And to hear her small, girlish moans resulting from his attentions – even if she was supposed to be keeping quiet – gave him satisfaction enough for now.
For a while, he tended only to her breasts, but after an age and a half, he moved so that he could lie between her legs, while Tara lay on her back. He kissed her nipples a little while longer in this new position, revelling in their stiffness, the sign of her excitement. But as he did so, his hands stroked gently over her velvet tummy again, then down to her warm thighs, seeking out the exhilarating texture of the nylon stretched so thin across her skin.
She moved, opening her legs wide to give him all the access he could, and despite the removal of his lips from her breasts now, she moaned in pleasure as the back of his fingers traced up to the edge of her crotch, where the heat and the moisture was unmistakable.
Caressing her stomach with the softest of kisses now, tasting the salt of her earlier perspiration every time his tongue ventured into new territory, he pushed up her tiny skirt now, and ran the back of his hand delicately along the edge of her panties, which he could feel even under her nylons.
He caught the first hint of a deeper scent now, more full-bodied and powerful under the gilt coating of her sugary perfume. The unrefined aroma of female arousal: a scent that teased something almost primordial within his soul. His fingers now reached the centre of her heat, where her moisture was most apparent, seeping through her panties and the sheer material above.
"Please…" she whispered as he cupped her most private area with his palm, and she pushed up her hips slightly to reveal her need.
But he wanted to prolong the incredible moment for a while longer. Shuffling down a little, he pressed his mouth and nose against one of her legs, just above the knee. Breathing her in, running his face gently across the artificial texture of her nylon-clad thigh slowly, edging up towards the centre of her desperation. As he approached the top of her thighs, the temperature and the heady scent of her excitement increased, sending his senses reeling.