Author: Lisa Mantchev &
Published by: Skyscape
Release Date: Nov 10, 2015
Genres: Dystopia, NA, Sci Fi
Published by: Skyscape
Release Date: Nov 10, 2015
Genres: Dystopia, NA, Sci Fi
My shirt’s open in a flash, and her lips are on me, her tongue tracing hot little swirls along my skin. My arms close around her, one hand still buried in her hair, the other stroking along her spine, fingertips trailing along the exposed skin, and she shivers despite the warmth radiating from her.
She’s a whirlwind, a hungry, passionate, desperately fuckable whirlwind, and I’m swept up in her wake.
The only furniture in the room is a little bench against the wall, since you need the space for couples, trios, and other gatherings of willing bodies. I sit down quickly, pull her closer, my hands on her ass as she climbs onto my lap, straddling me. Her afterthought of a shirt brushed aside, her chest against mine, I can feel her heart pounding like a speaker about to blow out.
Grabbing two fistfuls of my hair, she yanks my head back, exposing my neck. She chuckles as she kisses along my jawline, then bites . . . not too hard, but not gently, either, like she’s marking me as hers.
Her hands run down my neck and across my chest, her fingernails grazing my skin, one hand resting on the tattoo emblazoned over my heart. She pauses a moment and whispers the top name aloud— “Bryn”—before her mouth meets mine again. My eyes slam shut as I lose myself in her lips, her tongue, her little gasps for breath before she dives in for more. Our hands roam and grasp and tease, but it’s all background to one endless, ravenous kiss. She’s insatiable, a five-story drop, and I take the plunge, succumbing to gravity and falling falling falling with her.
She tastes like hard liquor and candy and sex and longing and . . . something else. Every brush of her tongue against mine makes it sharper, until it’s all I can think about, until even the promise of a gorgeous girl against me fades.
Apples. She tastes like apples.
I tense up and pull away from the kiss, and for the second time tonight, I think I’ve surprised her. She leans close as if to kiss me again, only to purr in my ear, a rolling seductive sound that gives me shivers.
But the spell is already broken.
Velvet curtains. Bryn. Apples.
Someone in the club is dealing applejack.
“Did you take something? Did you take little green translucent tabs of something?”
Her warm breath finds my ear once more. “I’m sorry, love, I only had the one. But I can get more, enough for both of us, and—”
“Where? Where did you get it?” I shout with a fury that startles us both.
She leans back and takes a moment before answering. “From Adonis. The guy on the dais. He gave me a taste while we were danc—” “I need you to listen to me.” I stand up, awkwardly dragging her to her feet, and I grab her face with both hands. Locking eyes with her. Hazel. Clear. No ruptured blood vessels, no discoloration. Doing quick calculations in my head: skin temperature, time elapsed since she took the tab. If something bad was going to happen . . . It would’ve by now. Lucky girl. “Take anything, anything you want. Sample anything else in the whole place and get as blissed out as you like, but please, please don’t ever touch that rancid garbage ever again. It will fuck up your soul.” She looks baffled by my spur-of-the-moment plea. I’m sure I would, too, in her place. I pull her close and kiss her again—a gift for me, an apology for her—and then I bolt.
Making a beeline for the illuminated dais at the center of the Palace of Wonders, I have no problem spotting him, even if we’ve never crossed paths before. Shirtless, crowned, grinding against a pair of waify young things wearing bioluminescent body paint and spaced-out smiles.
I hustle up the glowing side stairs and onto the platform, barging in on the soon-to-be threesome.
“Hey, apologies, ladies, but I need a moment with His Majesty.”
The glow-in-the-dark sexpots step aside, dazed eyes already looking for a new plaything, and he looks suitably pissed. But three magic words make it all better.
“I can pay.”
He sizes me up—torn shirt with no buttons, half-mauled chest, dark jeans with a little bit of roof dust still clinging to the legs—and shrugs, gesturing me toward a side exit. “Fun inside, business outside.”
We step out into the heavy mist of the alley, and the door shuts behind us. Standing with his back to me, he reaches into both pockets. From one, he pulls a handful of silvertip sticks and a lighter; from the other, a stack of green-tinted tabs, individually wrapped and ready to share. “What’s your pois—”
I don’t give him the chance to finish, charging him as he turns and slamming him against the opposite wall. His head bounces off the brick. I’m ranting away in my head, bordering on raving.
That’s for the girl in the alcove and Bryn and Rina and every other person you’ve torn to pieces with this fucking life-ruining shit . . .
He collapses to the ground, drugs still in hand, and I lean close, almost snarling. “Where’d you get this? Huh? Who’s your supplier?” I snatch the whole stack from him, cracking one tab open and sparking the lighter beneath it.
The applejack flares up in an instant, burning hotter than I expect, and I drop it into the garbage can against the wall, dumping the other tabs in after it. Each one bursts into flame with a whoosh, incinerated in seconds. This is some potent shit.
I turn back toward the scumbag dealer. “Who keeps you stocked? Is it Re—”
He punches me in the leg, and pain arcs through me. I crumple to the ground in a heap, twitching.
Fuck. Took too long. My hand still clutches the lighter tight, the nerves frozen and nonresponsive. I can’t even speak.
Standing now, he kicks me in the gut, hard. He leans down and smiles, showing me the glowing set of knuckles on his hand. Brights. Should’ve known. Then two furious kicks to the chest, punctuating them with “should kill you for that” and “wasted all my best shit.” I’m still so rattled by the shock from his modified knucks, I can’t cry out. I wheeze, trying to get my breath back, and he gives me three more kicks, just for good luck, I guess.
The security door swings open, and His Majesty instantly steps away from me. Blinded by the light from the doorway, I can barely make out the shape of the bouncer. “What’s going on out here?”
Slick as bacon grease, His Majesty goes into spin mode. “Guy wanted a hit of riprap and got a little aggressive, that’s all.”
“Should I bring him inside and call the greys?”
But saving his own ass saves mine by accident. “Naw, let him sleep it off in the alley. You know how these little tweakers can be.”
Curled up in pain, I’m in no position to argue. I just lie there on the cold, damp asphalt as he spits in my face and struts through the security door. It slams shut behind him, and everything goes dark.
_______________________________________________________________________About the Author:
When not working on puzzles for Penny Press or writing about them for PuzzleNation, Glenn Dallas is an author of short stories and at least half of one novel. After appearing in the acknowledgments of several outstanding novels, he looks forward to returning the favor in the future.
Lisa Mantchev is the acclaimed author of Ticker and the Théâtre Illuminata series, which includes Eyes Like Stars, nominated for a Mythopoeic Award and the Andre Norton Award. She has also published numerous short stories in magazines, including Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Weird Tales, and Fantasy. She lives on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State with her husband, children, and horde of furry animals. Visit her online at www.lisamantchev.com.