Dealer in Wanting

Hi all! I know it’s been awhile since I last posted, and I apologize that this blog has been lacking all things writing and updates on my fantasy work lately. I’ve been extremely busy with my 9-5 as well as working on getting The King’s Blade ready to query hopefully this winter. That said, I’ve been doing some short story writing on the side I thought I’d share with you. As per usual with my short work, this story is not fantasy and is intended for an adult audience. Appropriate trigger warnings follow.

Trigger Warnings: The following short story is 1,685 words and contains content revolving around rape, domestic violence, touch aversion, and emotional abuse. It contains mild sexual content, some profanity, and other adult content and themes. Please read cautiously.

Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual people, places, or events is coincidental or fictionalized.

Dealer in Wanting

In the split second before he kisses her, she thinks she shouldn’t let him. Every warning sign and red flag races through her mind. Every tick against him—from his lack of faith, to his arrogance, to his disrespect of women—barrels into her.

The human brain has over 100 billion neurons, each firing about 200 times per second. Every time one fires, 1,000 other neurons receive that information, too. Meaning twenty million billion bits of information move through one’s brain every second.

Plenty of time for a decision to be made before he reaches in. More than plenty.

In hindsight, when she’s alone, clutching her sheets that still smell like him—cinnamon, why do they always smell like cinnamon?—she’ll slow that split second down and play it on repeat. Then, she’ll know a decision was made. Days later, she’ll watch herself make it. She’ll feel with visceral clarity his hand on her thigh. See the intensity sparking in his hazel eyes. Sense the predator lurking behind them. She’ll admire the brush of his long, light brown eyelashes against his cheeks. Hear her blood racing in her ears. Taste the cigarette smoke on her wetting tongue. Feel the churning of her stomach as her mind does battle with her desire.

She wants this boy who is all wrong. Wants him with a desperation that transcends her best reasoning. She wants him to kiss her, wants him to want her. Because her greatest sin is her greatest desire: She wants to be wanted. By him. By anyone.

So it’s not surprising that when she senses his desire, she reaches forward to meet him halfway. It’s not surprising that the whiskey on his breath tastes like a thousand bad decisions, and her brain no longer devotes a single neuron to caring.

Her animal brain has control now, and the only things those twenty million billion bits of information want to know is where are his hands and his tongue and his teeth. Someone wants her. Even if it’s only right now. Even if it’ll hurt tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that. All she cares about is now.

Being wanted is like a drug, and some people deal it out the same way others deal pills. He’s one of them—one of these dealers in wanting—and she knows it. She knew it hours before he reached in. She knew it the moment he spoke of emotional unavailability with pride. She knew it when he said she wasn’t like the other girls. She knew it when he tried to argue with her over the wage gap. She knew it, and she didn’t care, because he kept feeding her more of the drug.

But the animal brain controls more than lust, and in her, there is a beast more difficult to deal with. Its name is fear, the most primal of all emotions.

Soon, those 100 billion neurons are diverted. What started as a pleasant trip warps. Her heart still pounds, but for a different reason. Now, fear drives her emotions.

His weight is heavy—stifling. He’s too rough with his biting. She sucks in a breath through her teeth that he mistakes for a groan, or maybe doesn’t. He bites harder.

Her vision spots as his hands shift to her hips. He keeps kissing her, but she can no longer taste him: not the cigarettes, or the whiskey, or the bad decisions. She shifts her gaze to the left, toward the open window. Blinding white dots dart across her line of sight though it’s pitch black outside. Her throat closes. In a moment, she’ll lose consciousness.

In hindsight, she wonders if he would’ve noticed. Then, there was no space for philosophical ruminations. All that existed was 100 billion neurons firing at 200 times per second with fear lancing through every single one.

To be fair, the fear wasn’t put there by this handsome, hazel-eyed boy who deals in wanting. Not really.

Fear is an ancient thing, like a sleeping dragon who awakens at the sight of gold. And her fear has existed for as long as she has.

It was put there by another weight on top of her when she was sixteen. One that didn’t stop when she froze and her vision blurred. One that whispered to her that no one would want her now. It was reinforced by the next person who did want her, at eighteen, a coke dealer who liked to choke her during sex and asked her to pretend she was being raped. It wasn’t hard to comply. It required no imagination.

The fear was put there by the catcalling and the strangers who groped her at bars. It was put there by every violence committed against her in the name of “love” and “beauty.” It was put there when she was shoved and slapped and kicked and grabbed. It was conveyed by every touch that came without her permission.

Over and over, the fear was put into her and reinforced. The sleeping dragon awoken again and again, his forked tongue flicking as he hissed, “Your body isn’t yours. It belongs to everyone and no one. Except you. Never you. Never yours.”

So it’s not surprising when she starts to black out as the hazel-eyed boy kisses her.

What is surprising, however, is that even one of those 100 billion neurons manages to fire in her defense. To cry out in protest. To fight the fear pouring from the animal brain and its ancient history.

But one neuron does stand up, signaling to 1,000 others. Soon, her throat opens. She grabs his hands and pull them from her hips. She twists her lips away from his. She can taste again—cigarettes, and whiskey, and bad decisions. In a whisper, she tells him they should take it easy. They should. As if it’s a decision for them both. As if her body doesn’t simply belong to anyone bigger and stronger than her. As if it belongs to her. As if the dragon can be slain by one sub-microscopic, resilient neuron. By one neuron inside of one girl who wants to belong to herself. As if that matters.

The hazel-eyed boy sits up. Their legs are still wrapped together though she’s not sure how they got that way in the first place. He blinks, and some of the intensity leaves his gaze. Singular focus is replaced by the muddy softness of inebriation. Her vision clears. Her heart slows. The weight—physical and emotional—is lifted. “How easy do you want to take it?” he asks.

Another second passes. Another twenty million billion bits of information is tossed around her mind, most of it confused. The hazel-eyed boy has asked her this question as though she has an intrinsic right to answer it. As though he understands that her body belongs to her and not him. As though there is no truth in the world other than this: What is attached to us is ours and no one else’s.

This has never been her truth, but it seems it has always been his. And in that moment of confusion, she loves him like she’s never loved anyone else. The dealer of wanting has laced his product. He’s provided her with the only thing she truly wants: ownership over her body.

True, others have given this to her. But not with such simple grace. Not when the animal brain was at fever pitch. Not when she was so cognizant of her own desires.

This truth of him, of his reality, hits her like a lightning strike, and she is lost. There’s no going back. There likely never was. He won her before he even walked inside. Her body was his, because she knew he wanted it, and it never belonged to her anyway. Her heart, though, is ceded when he toys with refusing her body.

Soon, she will realize he wants neither, at least not long term. But tonight, she is his.

With a strength she often forgets, she tells him she isn’t interested in one-night stands. She tells him that if his intention is to ghost, she doesn’t want to go any further. She tells him this as if not going any further is an option. He might think it is. But it’s a lie. Before, fear would have compelled her forward. Now, wanting does. Either way, this night was destined to have only one end, no matter what brave words might issue from her.

He untangles their legs with a vehemence that borders on masterful. He cannot believe she would think so low of him, he proclaims with a lovely indignity that makes her breath hitch in her chest. A beautiful performance.

She rushes to fix what she’s broken, but all that falls from her lips is a weak, simple truth. “I don’t know you.”

Indignation sparks like arrogance in his marvelous hazel eyes as he declares they’ve spent several hours together. His voices lifts into a haughty timbre as he questions why he would spend the time getting to know her if his only intent was to fuck her and leave.

She’s heard this refrain on repeat from man after man after man. Why she bothers with an honest question is beyond her. She never receives an honest answer in return. Yet hope compels her forward. One day, her honesty will be met with honesty. One day.

The obvious answer to his protestations—players know how to play—floats to her tongue, but she bites down on it. In several hours, many centillions upon centillions of bits of information have passed between them. She does know him.

He’s a liar.

But she doesn’t care, because she’s high on laced wanting and willing to accept his lies. So she smiles and pulls his weight back on top of her as she winds her legs around his and kisses him once more.

Tonight, a liar has possession of her heart.

Tomorrow, there will be withdraw that makes her scream and howl and rage.

But tonight, she is high.

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