We at RT have been vocal in our love of A.R. Torre‘s erotic mysteries — we gave her Girl in 6E our July Seal of Excellence last year. It’s the story of Deanna Madden, an agoraphobic web cam girl with murderous tendencies. In Torre’s follow up, out next week, RT Top Pick! Do Not Disturb, has Deanna trying life on the oustide. It is, as one might guess, a challenge. Check out the excerpt below!
I remember first-date jitters. My first date was with a boy named Josie. His name should have been the first tip-off. The second should have been his excellent sense of style, movie selection (Hairspray), and his propensity to wave his hands in the air excitedly when describing the latest season of America’s Next Top Model. But I was fifteen, naïve, and spent the entire dinner tongue-tied and nervous, clasping and unclasping my hands underneath the Ruby Tuesday table while wondering what I’d do with my hands when he kissed me at the end of the date.
He didn’t kiss me. There was an awkward handshake before I fled inside my home, the rest of the night spent bawling into my pillow while I dissected every piece of the date and tried to figure out where I went wrong. Being born without a penis. That’s where I went wrong. If only I’d had a fairy godmother patting my shoulder consolingly while giggling into her fabulously embroidered handkerchief.
Now, eight years later, those first-date jitters are back. But they are of a completely different variety. I stare across the table at Jeremy, and wonder if I will make it through the date without trying to kill him.
The good news is, he is most definitely straight. Straight in an all-American beautiful way that makes Josie look like last week’s lunch meat. I focus on his features, a strong face housing thick lashes that frame deep brown eyes. Eyes that are watching me closely, a smile playing across the sexy mouth that hides a perfect set of pearly whites. A smile. He should not be smiling. I frown at him, which prompts a laugh from his side of the table.
“Stop scowling.” He reaches across and grabs my hand, capturing it before I can slide it under the table. “It only makes you sexier and…” He pauses, carefully examining the surface of my hand, his large palms dwarfing my smaller one. “I can’t have pissed you off already. We haven’t even ordered.”
Ordered. My villainous thoughts get distracted by the concept of restaurant food. I, since my one successful venture into the light, have started to tinker with the idea of grocery shopping. Stopping my food-by-mail program and entering the world of raw meat, fresh fruit, and local produce. Surely my nutrition was a worthy excuse to leave the apartment. I close my mind to that justification and look at the menu, gingerly touch the edge, flip it open, and stare at the possibilities.
All thoughts of death and mayhem disappear when I see the steaks, scattered among the images causally, as if it is no big deal to have a hunk of red, fresh meat—one that will be touched by the sizzle of the grill and nothing else. I swallow, worried that I will physically drool all over the laminated pages.
We are interrupted by a waitress, an exhausted stick of deep wrinkles and frizzy hair, who barely glances our direction as she pulls out her order pad. “What’ll you have?”
Jeremy looks at me. “Please, go ahead.”
My eyes dart across the page, indecision gnawing at my gut as I scan from one delicious entrée to the next. “I’ll have the filet, please.”
“Side?” she drawls.
“Baked potato, please. Loaded.” The thought of fresh sour cream and, ohmygod, real butter sends a shot of euphoria through me. Jeremy sends me an odd glance and I realize, my cheeks stretched tight, that I am beaming.
“Yes, please. With Ranch. And could I also get a side of broccoli?” My eyes trip and stall over the vegetable list. “And mushrooms,” I quickly add, her pen stalling as she glances my way. Her pen. It is cheap, a Bic whose end has been chewed down to a twisted, gnarled end of missing plastic. I wonder, my eyes catching on it, if—jabbed quickly enough—it would stab through the tanned skin of her neck. “And green beans.” Her mouth twists in a grimace of sorts. “Please,” I add. Please. Please let me stand over your body and watch you die. I’ll add a pretty please if you promise to bleed heavily.
Jeremy orders quickly, and FrizzyOMonday flees, as if she knows she is escaping death. I watch her retreat, pulled back to the present by Jeremy’s voice.
“Hungry?” His wry tone gives me pause, and my gaze flicks back to him.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t think about the cost.” My eyes drop to the menu. “I planned on paying for my portion.”
“It’s a date, you’re not paying for your half. And I don’t care about the cost. It’s just…” He shrugs, smiling at me as if I am an interesting display. “You’re so tiny. I guess I expected, with all the diet boxes that are delivered, that you’d be a dry salad girl.”
I grin. “The diet plans are easy. And don’t require much thought. I haven’t … it’s been a while since I’ve had real food.” I don’t expand on the thought. He knows. Knows that I’ve locked myself in my apartment for three years. Knows that, other than my road trip of mayhem two weeks ago, this is the first time I’ve left the sanctuary of apartment 6E.
“Maybe I could cook for you sometime.”
I smile weakly. “Let’s see how tonight goes.”
“You’ve been good so far.”
“She hasn’t brought the steak knives out yet.”
He laughs, as if it is funny, as if there is no real threat of danger. I frown.
“Stop doing that,” he warns. “And please, relax a bit. I’m not gonna let you hurt me.” I’m not gonna let you hurt me. An odd statement for a first date, but one that fits us well.
“Don’t be so sure you can stop me.”
“Can you be naked again the next time you try? I enjoyed that.” His serious tone catches me off guard, and laughter suddenly bubbles out of me, uncontrolled in its erratic path.
It is, quite possibly, the strangest first date in history. But I behaved. I gripped my steak knife tightly and avoided putting it through his skin. I focused my attention on the food, diving full force into the deliciousness that was unpreserved, unboxed cuisine. He was amused, chewing his food slowly as he watched me, staring with an awe that was unnerving. Undeserved. Then he ordered every dessert they had, and watched with unreserved glee as I dug in. We left the restaurant by six, and fifteen minutes later, were back at my doorstep, the sight of this side of the door unfamiliar, foreign.
I place my hands on the steel, noticing that the 6E metallic sticker is slightly crooked and barely hanging on, and that my doorknob is brass, while all of the other hardware silver. Of course it’s different. Mine is the only one designed to lock someone in as opposed to keeping strangers out. I turn to Jeremy nervously, fingering my key as I try to figure out what to do.
I am out of practice, and unsure of my level of control. I feel panic grip my chest, the hallway entirely too small, the warmth and scent of his body, right there, and all I have to do is reach out and we will touch.
He leans against the opposite wall, his posture loose and relaxed, as far away from me as he can reasonably be, my tension easing slightly at the move. “Thank you,” he says softly. “For the date.”
I blush, the words ones I should have thought to say. I am out of practice, but am fairly sure that the girl typically thanks the man, especially when he foots the bill for half the menu. “Thank you.”
“I’d like to kiss you, if you’re comfortable with that.”
I hesitate. This is stupid. We spent three days together, two weeks ago, our bodies wrapped around each other during the night, his mouth soft on mine countless times during that period. I know his kiss, know that I want it—want more than it. But two weeks ago—I was broken during that time, and he was healing me. Now, I am back to normal, and my urges are as strong as they’ve ever been. I worry over what will happen when he is that close, worry how my psychotic mind will handle the experience. Whether it will slink to the background and lie low, allowing me to enjoy the experience. Or, if it will bare its teeth and come out to play. I drop my keys on the floor and hold out my hands. “Could you hold me still? Just in case.” I avoid his eyes when I say the words, my gaze fixated on my wrists, outstretched and waiting for his touch. Then I feel him step closer, see his strong hands wrap, one wrist in each hand, and pull.
He drags me forward, his hands spreading mine and swinging them around my body, till they are joined at the small of my back, the new position bringing his body flush to mine, his arms wrapped around me, my face in the crook of his neck, his breath quickening as he walks us backward till our hands hit my door and his body pins me to it.
It is too much, the rush of sensations. Sensations that I have forgotten, either intentionally or through neglect. The hard press of hips against mine, the hard brush of him against the thin material of my dress, one leg sliding in between and spreading my legs, my pelvis grinding, without thought, on his thigh, the movement causing a quick intake of breath to hiss through his lips. “Deanna…” He whispers my name as he lowers his mouth, and there is a brief moment of quiet as our lips pause, inches from each other.
“Like this?” he whispers, and all I can do is nod a response.
The need. It is stronger than my blood lust; it is overriding any thought in my head. I want this man so bad. I want him alive, and I want him to fill me with that life, that sweetness.
Our mouths meet and I taste the sweet flavor of a mint, feel the rough brush of a tongue against mine, and lose any thought in the sweet clash of restrained lust. His kiss pushes for more, his hips pressing me against the door, his hands pulling my wrists down slightly, causing my chest to arch into his, my head to come back, my mouth to break from his for a moment. When his lips return, they are soft, barely brushing across my mouth, a tease that I need more of; and he pushes forward and deepens the kiss, my mouth greedy in its response. I am restrained, his hard leg between mine, my dress pushed up, the rough feel of his jeans rubbing a delicious friction against my thin panties. A small sound escapes my lips and it breaks him, his left hand taking over my wrists, wrapping them both in his strong grip, his right running smoothly up my leg, slipping under my dress and moving upward till it hits my hip.
I struggle against his restraint, wanting to run my hands through his hair, lift up his shirt, travel over the lines of his abs, dip my hands under the waist of his jeans, and feel the heat of his bare skin under my palms. His thumb lazily rubs a delicious pattern on my inner thigh, and I lift my leg higher, wrapping it around his body and gripping him to me. His mouth is perfect, not too pushy, taking his time and enjoying my mouth while turning every knob on my body to full-fledged arousal. Then he withdraws, give me one soft brush of his lips before releasing my hands and stepping back, my leg arguing with him, pulling at him before giving up and joining my other, my body slumped against the door, my eyes on Jeremy, questions pushing at my mouth but none yet spilling out.
“Good night?” I sputter. This is unexpected. My ego may be overinflated from webcam chats with fifty-year-old men and confused transvestites, but I’m used to being sought after, ten hours of my day spent virtually between the sheets with strangers. Now, with a flesh-and-blood man in front of me…I get a kiss and a good night.
He glances at his watch. “You told me to have you inside by seven.”
The elevator picks that time to groan, a loud rumble that will turn into a screech, the laborious journey just noisy enough to make its occupants wonder if this will be the trip that doesn’t take, if this will be the moment that it settles into place and says “Fuck you, I’m not moving another foot.” It does make the climb, and I tense as I watch the doors open. Another view I have never seen. This long hall, and the motion of the doors. I’ve heard them a thousand times, always envisioned the bodies that step off, the looks on their faces, the scent of their skin. A figure shuffles off, and I feel a moment of recognition at the scrawny build, previous sightings distorted by my peephole. A pale hand swipes at short dark hair, the man shifting the backpack higher as he glances at us from down the hall.
“You’re barking up the wrong tree,” he calls out, his voice bouncing off filthy walls as he moves closer. “She won’t open that door.”
I smile at the voice, non-muffled without the door between us, and glance at Jeremy to see if he understands the man’s comment. His face surprises me. Tense, his back leaving the wall, his posture stiff as he straightens. I have forgotten that he knows Simon, that they have bitched countless times over the package of pills that he delivers monthly.
Simon pauses, a hitch in his step, when he is ten feet away, his eyes warily recognizing Jeremy. “Oh. Hey, man.”
Jeremy says nothing, nodding at him in acknowledgment of the greeting.
The druggie’s gaze jumps left, and stares me up and down, his eyes taking their time. “What—delivery boy bring you to see the freak show?” he cackles. “I’ve got stuff a lot more exciting in my place. If you want…” He steps closer, smiling, and I see Jeremy’s fists clench.
I smile brightly, using the young innocent smile, the one that my clients love, the one that dissolves all tension and puts them all at ease. He moves closer and I jump into action, bringing my knee up quickly, into the soft flesh between his sweatpanted legs, the hard impact causing his eyes to tightly close, his torso doubling over as all air leaves his chest in one brittle exhale. He wheezes and I bring my forearm up, under his chin, and press hard, pushing him back against the wall, my four-inch heels putting us at eye level with each other. “Hi Simon,” I drawl, watching his eyes jump to mine, a hesitant recognition at my voice in their red-rimmed depths. “Welcome to the freak show.”
Do Not Disturb will be available in stores and online next Tuesday! In the meantime, why not check out some more mysterious tales on our Everything Mystery page?