This is just the first chapter of my book. R rating is for latter chapters, this first is strictly rated G.
It's a story about love at first sight, and the dangerous thing that that can turn into.
I, Gwen Harrison, who under normal circumstances am an indefatigable optimist, had sunk into an acute state of depression after the love of my life (and live-in boyfriend of the past three years) broke my heart via answering machine.
Having ensconced myself in my cheerful purple and green bedroom for nearly a week, I'd done nothing but sleep, watch Soap Operas and cheesy Lifetime movies and Oprah (as well as Oprah after the show on We: Woman's Entertainment) on my tiny TV. Occasionally, I would venture out from under my cozy, daisy patterned quilt cocoon, but only in order to use the toilet or to fetch fresh bottles of water from the fridge.
I was so despondent that even my desire for food had been rendered null and void, and if you know me, than you know just how serious that is.
Ever since my mom taught me how to make the perfect apple pie when I was six years old (in order to distract me from some now long forgotten sorrow), I have taken refuge from all of life's problems and disappointments by doing the one thing that I know I do well; Preparing (and then eating) good food.
But this time was different and my desire to retreat to the kitchen was nil. The thought of food, always a comfort and reminder of my mother's love in the past, turned my stomach now.
Three days had passed since the last time I'd eaten and I wished that the hunger pains would return, if only to distract me from the greater, sharper pain in my heart. But the pains of hunger had long since disappeared, replaced with a slight feeling of nausea and a light-headedness that turned the room into a tilt-a-whirl whenever I stood up.
You're pathetic, you know that? I told myself for the hundredth time.
In the past I'd had no patience for people who threw themselves pity parties, yet now here I was, the guest of honor at my very own party full of pity.
Stop lying here like so much road kill on the highway of love. You even stink like road kill! The least you could do is take a shower, maybe have a little something to eat. Abusing yourself like this isn't going to bring him back, you know that, right? Oh yes, I definitely knew that.
Is this really what love at first sight turns into?
I knew I should be working. I had a deadline in two days, yet I hadn't even begun the portrait of Mrs. Mullen's poodles.
It isn't at all like me to throw $200 down the drain that way, but not even the thought of the blow Mrs. Mullen was likely to deliver my reputation as an up-and-coming Pet Portrait Painter by bad mouthing me to all of her Hoity-Toity friends was enough to galvanize me into action.
I kept trying to talk myself into getting up, getting on with life but I had no energy, despite the fact that I'd been sleeping for fourteen hours a day ever since it had happened.
Ah, to sleep, perchance to dream! That had become my mantra, for with dreams would come my heart's resurrection...
I'm seventeen, standing beside the carousel at sunset, the taste of mint-chip ice cream mixing with my coconut sunscreen as I lick a stray dribble from my wrist.
The thick, pink tinged clouds are voluminous with the coming rain, and only a handful of sixth or seventh graders still ride, twirling languidly, on the carousel's final circuit.
A sudden whisper in my ear makes me jump slightly, a shiver of apprehension creeping down my spine.
"Are you ready?" His voice is hushed, deep and rough around the edge.
"Ready for what?" I ask warily, my back still towards him, wondering if I'm about to be robbed.
"Ready to fall in love at first sight," he growls.
I turn quickly around, ready with the super charged raised eyebrow that says 'All delusional, egotistical freaks must keep at least three feet away from me at all times, else contend with a kick in the groin,' only to find a pair of eyes the same color as my ice-cream smiling straight into my own.
"What?" I ask, blinking stupidly.
Looking into those strangely beautiful eyes of his is disorienting. I find my eyebrows drawn together in a slight frown of confusion, rather than raised up in the fierce, incredulous scowl that I'd intended.
"I said: Are you ready to fall in love at first sight?" he repeats with a friendly, crocked grin.
I take a minute to appraise this stranger while shoveling the last bit of ice- cream cone between my bubblegum-pink glossed lips.
Tall and lanky, with short, spiky, platinum blonde hair. Maybe a year or two older than me. He doesn't look like a crazy man. And he has a nice voice when he's not whispering gravelly, but still...
"Look buddy," I begin dismissively.
"I'm Sam Parker. And you are?" he cuts me off before I can say more, his tan, square hand extended my way, the white-blonde hairs on his arm glinting in the carousel's light.
"Gwen Harrison," I say, nonplussed. I take the offered hand automatically, a warm, surprising buzz zinging from his palm to mine.
Flustered, I snatch back my hand and reach up, adjusting my pigtails with a self conscious tug.
Sam rocks back on his heels, plants his hands in the pockets of his baggy red swim trunks, and continues to grin at me.
His roaming gaze takes me in from head to toe; from my jet black curls to my eyes the color of coffee with a heavy splash of cream, from my pink baby doll Tee with the blue and green rhinestone fairy that I'd hot glued to the chest shining softly to my pleated white denim mini skirt and, finally, to my black and white kitty face Mary Janes.
"That's pretty cool," he says, jerking his chin in the direction of my crystal-studded silver jaguar necklace. "Are you as wild as that cat?" His tone is teasing, but his cool mint eyes appraise me seriously, only a hint of the smile on his full lips around their corners.
"Sometimes," I answer honestly. "Depends on the day."
"Do you feel wild tonight, Gwen? Feel like taking a chance?" The shadows are purple bruises all around us now, thunder whips overhead. I can taste the impending rain on the breeze, heavy and sodden.
He steps forward, reaches for my hand once more. I eye it consideringly.
"What kind of chance?"
His grin turns wolfish. "The best kind."
My heart thunders more wildly than the storm's roar overhead, and I wonder if I'm crazy to be so tempted by this stranger.
My hand reaches haltingly for his of it's own accord. My mind races, pondering all sorts of grisly possibilities; rapist, gang member, escaped mental patient, serial killer, the list goes on and on.
Our fingers touch gently, and my mind is made up by the resultant spark of electricity.
He clasps my small hand firmly in his own, tugs me forward. There's something about this boy, every nerve ending in my body is hyper aware of his proximity. My breasts tingle above my pounding heart, I can feel a blush prickling it's way up my neck.
We stand chest to chest, his breath warm and spicy-sweet against my up-turned face. I inhale deeply, slowly, trying to steady my anxiety. His gaze is intense now, hot. He lowers his lips to mine in slow motion.
He tastes like oranges and cinnamon and his mouth is searing, wet and hungry on my own. He crushes me against him, and still I want to be closer. I want to crawl under his skin, become a part of him.
Both so desperate, so consumed with desire, that neither of us notice as the sky spills forth it's burden, sheets of cool, salt tinged water drenching us in seconds.
When he pulls away minutes (hours, days, I've lost all sense of time) later, we're both breathless, trembling. The pier has emptied, the carousal is dark.
"So how does it feel? Love at first sight?" he asks, cradling my face between his palms, his thumb gently stroking rain water from my kiss swollen lips.
I look into his lust fogged, minty eyes and smile. "I'd say it's more 'love at first kiss.' And you tell me," I answer.
"It feels like magic," he says with a grin. And I couldn't agree more...
Jerked awake by the sound of shrill chimes pealing, I sat up, looked around in confusion for a moment before I realized that the phone was ringing
Still half lost in my dream of our bright beginning, I fumbled blindly for the receiver. "Hullo?" I managed groggily.
"Gwen? Are you all right?" the smokey female voice sounded concerned.
"Wha? I'makay," I slurred, rubbing the sleep from my eyes.
"Are you drunk?" the caller demanded disbelievingly.
" Of course not!" The question annoyed me to full awareness. "Lila, you know I don't drink."
"Than what's the matter? You don't sound so good."
"I was sleeping."
"At four in the afternoon? Are you sick or something?"
I hadn't told anyone yet, not even my best friend. I kept thinking that he'd come strolling through the door any minute, begging forgiveness and telling me what a huge mistake he'd made.
"I'm..." I couldn't bring myself to say 'fine'. I've know Lila all my life, and have never been able to lie to her.
"What's up with you girly? I haven't heard a word since Friday. How'd your big seduction go, anyway? You and Sam hot and heavy again or what?"
I swallowed the giant lump in my throat. "Or what," I whispered.
"What do you mean, or what?" Lila asked suspiciously.
"He...He left me Li," I cried, hating how broken-up I sounded . "Sam actually left me."
"You can't be serious! You two are, like, the perfect couple!"
"I guess not. Not anymore."
"What happened? Is there someone else? Are you Okay? Of course you're not Okay. Why didn't you call me?" she fired rapidly, in true Lila fashion.
"I couldn't talk about it. I just couldn't."
"Well, you're gonna talk about it now. Just stay put babe, I'll be there in five."
"No, Lila, don't..." I started, only to find that I was speaking to the dial tone.
He tastes like oranges and cinnamon, his mouth is searing, wet and hungry on my own. He crushes me against him, and still I want to be closer. I want to crawl under his skin, merge together, body and soul.