This summer I’ll be publishing The Dex-Files — a collection of stories and scenes from the books from Declan “Dex” Foray’s point-of-view. Some will be of scenes that are from the books, like the Strip Club Scene in Dead Sky Morning, others will be scenes that are totally new (like, what happened to Dex after the end of Book #5 On Demon Wings?).
DO NOTE: The following excerpts and scene’s from this upcoming book are ONLY for people who have read the entire series.
DO NOT read The Dex-Files or the scenes below until you have read the whole series thus far (Books #1-#5). Though I will never give away everything in Dex’s head and a lot will remain a secret until the series is over, there are some insights into that strange head of his that should remain a “mystery”, at least for new readers.
One last thing:.……SPOILERS!!!
If you have read the series, then feel free to read on:
The Dex-Files: DARKHOUSE (#1)
The first meeting
The room smelled like shit. Shit, seaweed and decades of decay. It was too bad Smell-O-Vision never went anywhere, because the smell of the old lighthouse would have been just as terrifying as the sight of it.
Speaking of, there wasn’t much to see here. Downstairs was empty. This floor gave up nothing except doors that wouldn’t open and I was beginning to doubt Old Captain Fishsticks was actually haunting the place. Just because pansy-assed ghost hunting shows were clamoring to film the lighthouse, didn’t mean anything was actually here. Had I been duped by the hype? No. Not me. That was impossible.
I stopped in the middle of the room and sighed, the camera feeling extra heavy on my shoulder. A migraine tickled my temples and I pinched the bridge of my nose, hard. I hated feeling like a fuck-up failure. I couldn’t go back to Jimmy empty-handed. I suppose I could, seeing as the Nazi didn’t really know what I was up to, but it didn’t matter. He’d sniff it off of me like some fucking dog. He’d know I was down here, trying to find something better for myself.
Then there was Jenn. She was worse. She said she was sad when I left the show, but I could see through those tears of her. I knew what they meant. She was secretly pleased I took off with the tail between my legs, like she won yet another battle or something. Three years with someone and you get to know their tactics pretty well. You can see that smug smile beneath the “But I’ll miss you.” The one that says I’ll be nothing without her, that I’ll fail on my own.
I didn’t want Jenn to be right. But looking around this disgusting, dark relic with the kelp and the crashing waves outside, waves that seemed to laugh at me, well, fuck, she probably wasright. Again.
I chewed on my lip absently and looked above. I had more of this place to see. I wasn’t going to give up yet. After all, I was here. And even though the monsters were hidden behind veils of prescription, I was still the same boy as I was back in New York. They still wanted me, even if I couldn’t see them.
My pride would be the death of me one day.
A loud clatter sounded out from the floor below. It sounded hard, like something had toppled over from a great height.
I froze, feeling just a little spooked. I walked across the room and paused near the staircase, waiting for more.
From downstairs came a scurrying noise, like a very large rat was poking around. I carefully turned off the camera light and waited. My ears listened hard, trying to figure out just what the hell it was. From what I remembered, ghosts didn’t usually make much noise. They didn’t move around like they were trying to be quiet and failing at it. Rats didn’t move like that either, especially not on the West Coast.
I picked up another sound now. Footsteps. Then a metallic jangling.
It was definitely a person.
I was definitely fucked.
I took in a deep breath and ignored all the possible scenarios that waited for me below. What was the point in figuring out who it was, or what was going to happen? If I got out of there without them seeing me, then worrying was fruitless.
I made my way down the stairs, pausing every other step to keep track, until I reached the bottom floor. I could hear tiny gasps of ragged breath coupled with a whimpering sound. I could see only darkness, except for weak light that spilled in through one of the rooms. There was a window where there hadn’t been a window before.
You need move your ass now, I thought to myself. But before I could do anything, I felt this…this…I don’t know what the hell it was, like a magnetic pull, like the air before a thunderstorm. An energy rolled toward me like a freight train. It made me stop, stunned and still.
There was another whimper, almost like a sigh, then feet slapping the damp ground.
Before I had chance to process that the footsteps were coming toward me, something collided straight into my chest. There was a scream, a girlish shriek (not my own), and I was shoved backward by something small and solid. The ground smashed into my shoulder, then my head, but it didn’t matter. The CRASH of my camera was the most painful thing of all.
I groaned and rolled over, feeling for the machine.
Oh please, please, please, please, please, I thought in a panic. I can’t afford this, I can’t afford this!
I heard the other person, the beast that hit me, stirring and moaning, then they hit the ground again with a thump that sounded painful. Part of me didn’t give two shits about the asshole that might have ruined the most important thing in my life. The other part of me felt kind of bad, especially when it became apparent that the asshole was some fucking chick. She was making little terrified squeaks.
Then she made no noise at all.
Motherfucker. Now I had a broken camera and some trespassing broad who was either dead or unconscious.
I hoped she wasn’t a cop.
My hand made contact with the camera, and from the initial feel I was copping, it didn’t seem like much damage was done to the outside. My fingers instinctively found the light and switched it on. I let out a breath of relief as the darkness was violently illuminated.
As was the girl, lying on the ground beside me. Her eyes were closed and she wasn’t moving.
Shit, shit, shit.
I got on my knees and placed my hand on her neck, feeling for a pulse. She stirred a little and moaned, which meant she was at least partially alive. Not dead. I hadn’t killed her. So I had that going for me.
I couldn’t see her properly in the competing darkness and blinding glare, but she seemed damn young. She was small, with a round face that glowed ghostly pale. A camera hung from her neck and onto the floor. Without thinking, I reached up and brushed a strand of black hair off of her forehead. She was warm, almost feverish. Still not dead.
At my touched she moved a little and tried to open her eyes, raising her arm up to block out the light.
“Don’t move,” I said, my voice coming out broken and hoarse. The last thing I needed was for her to wreck herself even further. Just because she was alive, didn’t mean she was well.
She dropped her hand reluctantly and I took the light away from her face, placing the camera down on the ground beside her head. It created crazy shadows along the planes of her face. Her pert nose turned into a beak. If I let my imagination run away with me, there were a million things she could have morphed into. I was lucky I hadn’t skipped my pills earlier, like I had been thinking about doing.
I touched her face again, just to make sure she was still a person. She was. She was still soft, and warm, and alive.
Was I being creepy?
Her eyes fluttered open and I could barely make out a shade of blue in them before panic tore them wider and she tried to jerk away.
I pressed her shoulder down to the ground to keep her still.
“Seriously,” I told her. “You might be really hurt. Please don’t move.”
She obeyed and lay back down.
“I’m OK,” she said through dry lips. Her voice was light and scared. But she didn’t sound like she was in any trauma. Her eyes searched my face without really seeing me.
I still had one hand on her shoulder and the other on her face.
I was definitely being creepy.
I took my hands away and inched back a bit to give her space to breathe — and me space to run. She looked no older than 20, so she obviously wasn’t a cop but she was here, in a place I had no right to be. I eyed the hall in the darkness, wondering if getting out of the building was going to be as hard as getting in. I hoped she wasn’t about to call for help. Or press charges.
She eased herself up and looked warily around the darkness, her eyes focusing on the camera. I could see the wheels turning behind those shadowed eyes, wondering what the fuck was going on.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. Even though she technically ran into me, I had to placate things before they escalated.
“I was upstairs and I heard this crazy clatter from down here,” I explained, my voice speeding up as my heart raced. There was too much adrenaline in my system and the medication was screwing around with it. “And I thought maybe it was the cops or something. I didn’t know what the fuck to do. I thought I could get out of the way I came in, but I saw you there, and then I saw the window probably at the same time you saw the window and I’m…I’m so sorry if…well, you’re obviously OK.”
There was a pause. She didn’t seem to buy any of that.
“Who are you?”
The million dollar question. What would my answer be today?
“That depends on who you are,” I said honestly.
In the shadows I saw her cock her brow.
“I asked you first.”
Why did I have to run into the most questioning people? I exhaled and reached back into my pocket. My new business cards were printed just last week – she’d be the first person to have one.
Whoever she was.
She took it from her hands, hesitant, like I was handing her poison. So suspicious. Tsk, tsk.
I picked up the camera and aimed it at the card. It gleamed under the light. So did the chipped polish on her gothy-looking fingernails.
She read it out loud and flipped it over, then looked up at me, somehow even more confused. The light lit up her face better.
“Are you from West Coast Living or something?”
I let out a small laugh. “Fuck no.”
I started to rock back on forth on my feet, needing an outlet for the energy that was rumbling inside my bones. She was a curious little thing, but something about her made me nervous. Wary. Like she could be even more dubious than I was. Like she had a million secrets to tell and I would never hear any of them.
Whoever she was.
“Well, Dex Foray, I have a feeling that whatever you guys are doing here tonight, you’re doing so without the permission of my uncle, who owns the lighthouse.”
Shit. Fuck. Shit.
Her uncle owned the lighthouse. I felt the routes in my brain rewire as they prepared for the extra adrenaline, the gallop of my heart.
“There’s no one else here,” I said. “It’s just me.”
She laughed, clearly not believing me.
“Look, I don’t care,” she said and there was just enough ease in her voice to make it true. “I’m not going to report you. I shouldn’t even be here myself. Just get your crew together or whatever and get out of here before you do get in trouble.”
I stopped rocking. What the hell was she going on about? My crew?
“It’s just me,” I told her again. “Did you see someone else here?”
She frowned but kept her gaze on mine. “Yes. I heard you upstairs, and I was going to go out the window, but I saw the shadow of someone pass by. Outside.”
A shudder ran down my spine and roll of nausea waved through me. I skid a bit closer to her, my pants dragging on the damp ground.
“Are you sure you saw something?”
If she had seen something, and it obviously was not me, then I was hooped up the ass. Maybe she was too, but I just couldn’t get a proper reading on her. That weird energy slinked off of her in bursts and messed with my head a little bit.
“Yes, I saw someone,” she said with a tinge of doubt. “Someone walked past the window, swear to God.”
I wasn’t sure if her God was one I could hold truth to.
“Where did you come from? Did anyone come with you?”
Like your uncle…or the cops…or your 250-pound MMA boyfriend.
She shook her head. I placed the light closer to her face, feeling like I needed to do a bit of interrogating to get to the bottom of this. She winced at the glare.
“Sorry,” I mumbled. “I…well, nevermind.”
“Nevermind?” she spat out. Her eyes narrowed and not from the light. “You just broke into my uncle’s lighthouse. Don’t you tell me to nevermind.”
Whoa. All I was going to do was apologize again for doing exactly that. Well, fuck. Forget it. I was done. I was out of here.
With a grunt, I got to my feet and stretched up into the moonlight that was now creeping from the nearby window. It would be an easy escape. I picked up my foot to go, but I stopped.
I couldn’t leave like this.
She looked so helpless at my feet. And I did have manners somewhere.
I reached for her hand. She eventually took it, feeling all too tiny in mine, and I brought her to her feet. She staggered a bit, almost keeling over, her camera swinging, and all I could think about was maybe she fell a lot harder than I thought. Maybe she wasn’t really “all there” and we’d need an ambulance after all.
I put my hands on the sides of her arms and stepped closer to her, trying to keep her from faltering. She was short as hell and that was saying a lot since I wasn’t very tall to begin with.
“You OK?” I asked, already knowing she was the type who’d say she was fine even if her limbs were chopped off. I saw a flash of something – hope? — in her eyes before she twisted us around and I was illuminated and her face was hidden in the dark. I searched out her features but couldn’t get them. It was unnerving to not see the round pale face and watchful eyes.
“Just a bit dizzy,” she said. The fact that she admitted that much didn’t sound very good. I began to think where the nearest hospital was, whether I could get her there in the Highlander, if I would need to call her uncle first. Who would then slap me with some trespassing charges and a possible assault charge, because men were dicks and no one would believe a girl could run into me, especially not one pixie-sized.
“Good,” I said, trying to look into her eyes, trying to keep things light. I smiled, thinking it might help my cause. “Promise not to sue?”
“I won’t. Can’t speak for my uncle, though.”
Damn it! Just where was he anyway? Why was she exploring a lighthouse in the dark without him?
“Why are you here?” I asked, more and more curious about this little goth girl.
She dropped her gaze to the ground, even though I couldn’t see her anyway.
“We’re having a bonfire at the beach,” she said. Her voice went higher, younger, and I got the distinct impression that she was feeling guilty about something. “I got sick of hanging around teenagers and wanted to come here. My uncle never let me come here when I was younger. I didn’t tell anyone, I just left. I was hoping to film stuff.”
Hoping to film some stuff? As if she couldn’t get any more intriguing. What kind of stuff, exactly. What had she heard about the lighthouse?
She let out a small gasp and started fiddling with something. Her camera. I picked up mine and shone the light on her and while she was squinting uncomfortably at the glare, I took herSLR in my hand and peered it over. Aside from scratches that were probably there before, there was no damage.
“It’s fine,” I told her, trying to sound reassuring. “I thought you wrecked the shit out of mine when you ran into me.”
I patted my camera which made the light bob against her face. She didn’t look very impressed. Who could blame her.
“You’re right,” I said, before she could. “Who cares? I probably deserve to have this camera smashed.”
Even though it would put me back at square one. I couldn’t think about that.
I froze. The sound had come from upstairs. Where I had just been. Where nothing else had been. Unless…
I looked at her, putting the light closer to her face. It was Bad Cop time again.
“You sure you came alone?” I whispered.
She replied, “Are you?”
I nodded. She didn’t. It then occurred to me that I had no clue what her damn name was. She never offered it up. I didn’t know anything about her.
This could have all been a trap. They might have known I was coming here. I don’t know how, but maybe they saw the Highlander from a distance. Maybe trespassers were a weekly occurrence. Maybe they lured ghost-hunters here and then robbed them. Or raped them. I’d probably let little miss doe eyes do the honors, but I had no idea how strong her uncle was.
She dropped her eyes from mine and looked at the window. The only easy way of escape.
But if she was thinking of running, that meant she was afraid. It meant she didn’t know who, or what, was upstairs.
And if they didn’t come with her…they were already here.
I leaned into her and smelled something like a fresh breeze radiating from her neck. It took me a moment to find my tongue, find the words to say, “Are you one hundred percent sure that no one else came with you here?”
I wanted to pull away for her response but that energy, that smell, kept my nose and mouth locked near her neck for just a few more seconds.
Who doesn’t like pie?
“Oh come on, just shoot the freaking zombie already!” Matt or Tony yelled at me. I couldn’t tell which one. They both looked the same and sounded the same – deafening.
I’d been playing video games with Perry’s cousins for the last hour while she checked her emails and we waited for night to fall. My zombie-hunting “skills” seemed just as useless as my ghost-hunting skills and the noises and the graphics were fucking up my equilibrium. I mean, shit. After what went down in the car, running into that psycho, Dame Edna lady again, I was surprised it took me this long to realize everything was doing my head in. I had enough.
“That’s it,” I said, throwing my controller down on the couch and getting up. “I’ve died for the last time.”
The twins made a noise in unison. It sounded like false disappointment. It was eerie.
Then they continued playing like I had never even been there. Also eerie.
I made my way over the kitchen and started to pull out my notebook from my overnight bag. It still smelled like apple pie here, the one that Perry managed to bake earlier. What possessed her to try baking was beyond my cloudy brain. Just one more thing to scribble down on my mental notepad headlined PERRY and sorted: things I needed to get to the bottom of.
It was good too. Not the best thing I’ve tasted in my life, but it was good considering she randomly cooked it in her uncle’s place. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had homemade apple pie. Had I ever? The only time I could think of was the God awful Christmases with Jenn and her white-ass rich folks, and if I knew them, they probably ordered those pies from some epicurean pie catalogue for old farts.
But the thing is, it wasn’t so much what it tasted like but what it smelled like. The damn pie smelled like home to me. But apple pie didn’t exist in my fucked-up youth, and if it had, it wasn’t at the hands of my mother. Perhaps a nanny had baked every now and then. I don’t know, I didn’t care to remember that shit. That whole period was blocked out for very good reasons.
But the smell still stirred up memories that never could have existed. It felt…like, warm. Good. Honest. How the hell did those things belong in my life?
I looked at Perry as she came into the kitchen and sat down at the table across from me. Her face was anxious, like she was having another battle inside that head of hers. There was something about her that stirred up the same feelings. Maybe this had nothing to do with apple pie at all. Maybe it’s that she made it, and when she handed over that first slice and met my eyes, I could see she made it for me. And no one had ever made me anything.
Naturally, I wasn’t about to tell her that. It was retarded, actually, to even think this funny little girl thought of me more than some crazy mustached fucker in her uncle’s kitchen. She just met me. She didn’t know me. And if she thought she did, she was mistaking me for someone else. Someone who didn’t hide medication in a hollowed-out book.
I kept my mouth shut and began to write an overview of the day. I still managed to watch her at the same time, watch her debating whether to tell me something or not. A glint of something gleamed in her blue eyes. It was almost…hot. Was she thinking something naughty? I found myself shifting uncomfortably in the chair.
“So,” she said, her voice high and self-conscious. “A local ghost hunter’s club in Salem was hoping I could come aboard their team and perhaps show them around the lighthouse.
The…fuck? I stopped writing, trying to process what she was saying. Competition? Already? I knew I should have fucking got her to sign a contract. I knew I was being a fucktard by just trusting that she’d stick with me and not go to someone else with this fucking access, someone who actually knew what they were doing. All that shit we said to each other in the car, all the things I said – that didn’t mean shit, did it? Fuck I was a fool.
I cleared my throat and tried to sound casual. “And?”
She shrugged. “I haven’t gotten back to them.”
How considerate, I wanted to say but I shut my mouth. This was not the time to fly off the handle. I knew I wasn’t thinking straight lately, especially today, I knew I was predisposed to say shit I didn’t mean, hell, shit I didn’t even think. I couldn’t fuck everything up now, not when we were so close.
“Well, you can do whatever you want to do,” I lied through my teeth. “You’re a free agent. We haven’t signed anything.”
Cuz I’m a dick-grabbing monkey, that’s why.
My cell phone rang, preventing me from saying anything else ridiculous. It was Jenn but I was grateful for any distraction.
“Hey babe,” I said.
“Dex?” Jenn’s voice sounded tinny through the poor reception. “Sorry to bug you on your little adventure but Cynthia and Relece wanted to have a girl’s night out and…”
She droned on but I had quit listening and was watching Perry again. Her nose twitched (how cute was that?) and a faint flush of red crept up her neck and onto the side of her face. She straightened up in her seat as soon as she noticed me looking but it didn’t stop the girl from looking like she’d rather be in a million other places than sitting here in front of me. I hoped she wasn’t seriously thinking about that pussy ghost hunting club. Who the fuck decides to form one of those?
“….and I know you won’t be home till late, but I won’t be there until probably much later. Is that OK?”
“Yeah, that’s fine.”
“You sure?” Jenn asked and from her tone I knew she didn’t give a fuck if I said it wasn’t. She’d still go out, as she always did. I didn’t even know why she was calling to ask. Maybe she wanted to check up on me.
“Seriously, I don’t mind. Go do whatever it is you girls do.”
After I told her I’d be home in the morning now, I hung up the phone and decided to jump right back into it.
“OK, where were we?” I said out loud. What did we need to know for tonight?
“She doesn’t mind you staying another night?” Perry asked.
I raised my brow. Odd question. Why did she care?
“No,” I said, not wanting to talk about how pathetic our relationship truly was. I let my gaze fall to the window where the wind was shaking the trees loose. I breathed in and let that smell of home bring my heart rate down a notch.
“Do you have anymore pie?”
“There’s a slice or two I put back in the fridge…” she said, as if she wasn’t sure.
“Would you mind getting me a piece of pie?” I asked. I wanted to see if she’d do it. And if she’d hand it to me again with that look in her eyes. I needed that look right now. I sensed some changes inside, the wiring coming loose and needing a good cauterizing. My thoughts were getting lost.
She tried to look annoyed but she failed at it big time. Cuz she still got out of her chair and walked over to the fridge. She opened the door and had to bend over in front of me to get a bottle of milk. My God she had one hell of an ass. Not too big that your dick would get lost but just big enough to get a good, meaty hold of and squeeze and smack and come until the cows came home.
I must have been pretty obvious in my leering. Wasn’t I trying to impress her, not creep her out?
“Were you staring at my ass?” she said. She sounded surprised but she was glaring at me, so I had no idea what the fuck she was thinking. Did she like the idea? Was she going to tell her mafia uncle to pour cement in my shoes and chuck me out in the Pacific?
“Yes,” I told her. Why lie? I’d put on the cement shoes if I had to. I’ve done worse for a woman.
She made some exasperated sound and shook her head. But she still came back with a piece of pie. She was beet red now and avoiding my eyes. Maybe she liked my attention after all.
“Obviously, I’ll need a napkin too,” I told her. Pushing buttons, pushing buttons.
“Obviously,” she muttered and she tossed one to me. I took it with all the grace of a dandy and folded it in my shirt pocket. I was a gentleman over everything. An ass-appreciating gentleman. We are the finest kind of man. I should open my own ass-appreciating gentleman’s club one day.
I shoved the pie in my face (pie-appreciating gentleman that I am) and noticed she wasn’t having any. To think of it, she hadn’t had any earlier either. That’s probably why I thought she baked it for me…she certainly didn’t bake the desert for herself.
Oh no, don’t tell me she’s one of those self-conscious girls who have absolutely no reason to be self-conscious. I eyed her full breasts and couldn’t fathom why she’d want to diet.
“You’re not having anything?” I asked, pointing my fork at her in an accusatory fashion, hoping she’d prove me wrong.
“I don’t like pie,” was her stupid answer.
I laughed and a pie of pie shot out. “You don’t like pie? What kind of person doesn’t like pie?”
I poked her with the fork to make sure she was still real. “You can’t be trusted.”
She took a swipe at the fork, looking annoyed. “You’re the one with the fork.”
Without thinking, I reached over for her hand and opened it, soft and warm. I placed the fork in it and gently closed her fingers over it.
“Now you have the fork,” I said softly and sat back in my chair. She stared down at the fork, thinking. I stared down at the paper. Thinking. Sometimes you came across women who had everything going for them…looks, personality, smarts, and they had NO fucking idea what they were worth. How amazing and beautiful, they were, how they oozed sex and secrets. Then you had those women who knew they had what you wanted and used it. Repeatedly. Just to get what they wanted. It was an unbalanced universe.
Now I could see that Perry was the former. She did look self-conscious and unsure of herself at every turn. She was always pulling down her shirt or tugging up her jeans, or keeping her chin as far away from her neck as possible. She’d cover up her breasts with heavy jackets and boxy shirts, like they were something to be hidden. The girl was fucking nuts and for all the wrong reasons. It made me feel strangely helpless.
“I just want you to enjoy all the pies in life, Perry,” I said, gazing at her, trying to get her shy eyes to meet mine. “That’s all.”
I wondered if she’d let me try.
The Dex-Files: RED FOX (#2)
The Bar Scene
“Sexually frustrated?” Perry asked, her voice struggling to be heard in the noisy bar.
I turned my head away from my beer bottle and looked at her in surprise. The girl must have been psychic, though I could see from the way her round eyes were slanting at the corners that she might just be drunk.
I had to smile. “Yes.”
There was really no use in denying it. Even with all the bullshit going around and the feeling that my brain was splitting in two, it was having to sleep next to her every night – and just sleep – that was fucking me up the most. I looked down at the beer bottle label that was sticking to my fingers in moist chunks. Christ, I couldn’t be more obvious.
She didn’t appear put off. She rarely did. It was one of her annoying super powers.
“Because your girlfriend isn’t here?”
“Sure.” That was part of it. But even if Jenn were here, God help us all, it still wouldn’t have gotten rid of the constant boner adjustments.
I took a long gulp of my beer, hoping that she would get the hint and not pry any further. Perry didn’t seem to have control over her lips half the time and not in a good way and it was only a matter of time before I said something really stupid. I didn’t trust myself without the meds.
I glanced up at Maximus and Bird talking across the table from us. I hated Max again. I didn’t know if it was being off the meds or whatthefuckever but his rockabilly bullshit act was wearing thin. I didn’t like how he acted like he knew everything and I didn’t like the way he was trying to win Perry over. He would deny it, but I knew exactly what the fucker was trying to do to me. And Perry was too innocent, her self-esteem too ravaged to pick up on it.
To cement my point, Dire Straits came on and after Perry proclaimed her sudden (and surprising) love for the band, the douchefucker stood up and asked her to dance like he was a Cajun Rhett Butler.
She agreed, taking his hand with a look that was pretty close to glee, and he led her to the packed dance floor. I looked back at the beer just in case she wanted me to notice what was going on, notice them together. My fingers started picking at the label again. I wouldn’t give them that satisfaction.
“You care about her a great deal,” Bird said in his ‘I’m an old man’ voice.
I shot him a look and resumed concentration on the beer, taking respite in the monotonous movements. I didn’t say anything. There wasn’t anything to say. It was the truth, that’s all it was.
“It’s OK, Dex,” he continued. “I would too. But you have to respect each other. You have to move slowly. You are both too much the same.”
“What does that mean?” I snapped at him. I felt bad, once again I wasn’t in control of my emotions, but Bird’s face was impassive and gave nothing away.
“You know what it means,” he said and he left it at that. I did know what he meant. That’s what made the whole situation harder.
We sat in silence for a bit, then he excused himself to go to the bar, promising to bring me a beer. I wanted to stick my fucking head in a pitcher but I needed to take it easy. Drinking never really helped me in the way I thought it did. And those thoughts always came when I was three sheets to the wind.
I managed to avoid looking in Max’s and Perry’s direction but that all went fuckaloo whenU2 came on and Perry wasn’t back at her seat with fingers in her ears.
Instead she was still on the dance floor. Slow dancing. With ginger fucking Elvis. They were dancing close, way too close. Her breasts were crammed up into his chest, he was holding her like he was about to turn her over his knee and spank her six ways from Sunday.
And she was letting him. She looked like she was enjoying the body pressure as much as he was. I could only imagine the way his chubby must have been grinding against her. Not that I wanted to imagine that. I shuddered, feeling the curious mix of disgust and envy carry through me. Feelings, fuck, I wasn’t used to this.
I was still making a disgusted face when Bird came back but to his credit he just handed me my beer and didn’t say anything. It was taking all my willpower to peel my eyes away from the couple and concentrate on something else.
This came in the form of Cheri and Amanda, two MILF’s who had been eyeing me since I sat down. I’m sure they probably went after any guy under 35 who didn’t clean his ears out with his car keys, but I decided to be flattered. I grinned at them and as expected they teetered over to me on tacky plastic heels, smiles broad, breaths rank.
I didn’t really hear a word they were saying, I was just trying to look handsome and not breathe in through my nose. One of them, Cheri, maybe, took a liking to Bird which he didn’t seem to mind. Bird didn’t strike me as someone who had a wife waiting for him at home, though he could have certainly done better than some old lush with wrinkled cleavage and brown-speckled teeth. I felt like throwing up in my mouth but I played up my virility and asked Amanda, maybe, if she’d help choose songs from the jukebox with me.
We walked to the box through the sticky crowd and I kept Perry and Max in my peripheral vision. On the outside it looked like I was having fun, on the inside I was paranoid as fuck. I kept fearing that he’d grab her and take her away somewhere dark and private. The thought of him touching her, kissing her, bothered me to no end but Amanda was watching me and looking confused at my expression. I smiled at her again, all good vibes and good sex, and let her select some shitty songs first before I requested mine.
We had just gotten back to the table (where Bird was trying to give Cheri a very politeGTFO) when Max and Perry finally removed themselves from the floor. I wanted to make some cutting remark to him and cut him down a peg but there was a weird aura of tension just steaming off. Something had gone down between them and even though it soothed the spite in me, I was a bit concerned for Perry.
Apparently, so was Amanda. The minute she saw Perry’s sweet, worried face she grabbed my arm, sinking her Pepto Bismol –colored talons into my skin.
“You’re dancing with me, sugar,” she commanded. She was surprisingly strong for her size and her sun-raped arms had no problem dragging me to my feet.
“Like I have a choice,” I said, trying not to laugh. This was one hungry cougar.
I gave Perry a quick wink as we went past and decided to give Amanda what she’d been waiting for: Someone young. Someone fun. I grabbed a cowboy hat off of some random Joe Blow and gave “Crocodile Rock” my best moves.
It had been a while since I was able to use some of my theatre school skills, other than fucking Michelle in the orchestra pit and taking hits between monologues. I knew it didn’t matter if I screwed up or looked like a retard because that wasn’t the point, but I was surprised how easily it came back to me. Again, all I could think about was how deep I felt the music, how deep I was feeling…everything. Though I was swinging Amanda around, my mind dwelled on what my medication was hiding half the time. Besides the very obvious.
“You’re good,” Amanda said to me, holding me close to her, trying to take back the control. People were clapping and watching us with amusement and she was basking in the glow.
“It comes naturally. But so does being bad,” I said with a smirk.
“I can see that. Your wife must be pretty pissed.”
Wife? Oh right. Fuckity fuck. I didn’t need to eye the ring on my finger to remember the whole charade. Not that the town of Red Fox gave two shits whether I was really married to Perry or pretend married, but it didn’t hurt to keep up appearances.
“She’s pretty understanding,” I said.
Amanda nodded. I noticed her earrings were clip-ons and dangerously close to slipping off. This was one sweaty, stanky ass bar.
“You’re the understanding one. Most men here would be all macho about it if their wife was dancing with another man. But I could see he wasn’t a threat at all.”
Oh really? I wanted to pry her for her cougarly wisdom but I bit my lip instead. We danced some more and then we were interrupted by another woman. She said her name was Mary Sue (naturally) and she was years younger (possibly even underage) with desperate eyes that screamed at me, like dancing with Dex Foray was the most excitement she’d ever get. That made me really fucking sad. How pathetic this town must be to find a fuckup like me as their savior.
I danced with Mary Sue, going through the motions, thinking about the fake wedding band on my ring finger. When the song ended again and I could see more women approaching me (look, I get that I can look pretty hot, but no one should attract this many rednecks), I decided I had enough. I knew what song was next and I knew who I was dancing with. My wife.
I walked toward her, ignoring the women and focused on her face until her big blue eyes met mine. She looked so small and dainty sitting there among Max and Bird, drinking and trying to have fun even though a world of danger whirled around her. I could see the strain on her face, I knew she was always hyper-aware of what lurked in the dark. I knew because Bird was right. We were too much the same.
I stopped in front of her and tipped my hat in the most awkward imitation of a cowboy.
“It’s our song,” I said to her over the piano notes of Billy Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman.” I held out my hand, hoping she’d take it.
Her eyes lit up and she took my hand. I quickly grasped it, cool and white between my fingers. I led her to the floor and put my arm around her, bringing her in hard and fast to my side. She was mine. For the sake of appearances, she was my wife, but she was mine anyway. She didn’t know it yet, but I did. It was wrong and it made no sense, but she belonged with me. No one else, not anyone else.
It was a shame that I was the one who belonged to someone else. I wondered if I’d ever have the strength to correct that or if I’d punish myself forever.
We started dancing slowly, side to side, and I put one hand behind her back, where it was hot and small, temptingly close to her ass. The other held her hand. I kept her as close to me as possible, but I didn’t want to impose like Maximus did. Besides, the last thing Perry needed was to feel my hard-on on her hip, even though it was fucking tempting to let her know what she was doing to me. I entertained the idea that she might even like it. It was a high school dance all over again.
I had to know. I stared into her eyes, lost in the storm, and started singing along with Joel. Softly, and at a distance to start, then I leaned into her ear where it smelled like sunshine and baby powder. I closed my eyes and sang, feeling my breath bound off of her ear in hot clouds. It was taking all of my willpower to not take this further, to not wrap my lips around it and lick the lobe to see what it would taste like. See if I could make those eyes roll back and make her forget everything that had happened to her. I didn’t want to be Red Fox’s savior, but I wanted to be hers.