Come Alive

Page 5

“Nice,” Marcus said with a grin. “Two women at the same time? I promise not to tell.” He made a crossing motion over his heart.

I was a tad confused. “Two women? I don’t have two women.”

“What happened to the super hot Maxim babe? Your girlfriend?”

“Jenn?” I asked. “We broke up.”

He shook his head. “I swore I just saw you guys in here.”

“It’s mid-March, Marcus. That was back in December. We broke up. I’m with Perry now.” I felt like I was talking to a two-year-old.

He stared at me like he didn’t quite believe me. “And,” I added, feeling defensive, “Perry’s also a super hot babe. She just wasn’t in Maxim. Because it’s a shitty publication.”

Marcus nodded, his eyes going over to the other side of the restaurant where Perry was coming out of the washroom area. “She is pretty hot, I’ll give you that. You lucky bastard. Her breasts are so much better than the other ones. Gotta get them when they’re young, am I right?”

“Hey,” I growled at him. “That’s my girlfriend you’re talking about.”

And there it was. I had just said the G-word. I had just publicly announced Perry as my girlfriend. Thank god she was too far away to hear it.

“Now, if you don’t mind, we’d like another round of beer, stat,” I said to him, watching her come closer. She was turning a few heads as she walked and I was met with this strange combination of worry and pride.

“Gotcha,” Marcus said, firing his hand at me like a gun. He walked past Perry, ogling her bouncing breasts like I wasn’t there. I gripped the edge of the table and tried to keep Hulk Dex at bay. Now wasn’t the time. In the middle of the Canadian Rockies was, but in the middle of Zeke’s Pizza in Belltown wasn’t.

“I ordered you another beer!” I told her, smiling too much.

“Uh, thank you,” she said, taking her seat. She moved her purse to the corner and gave me a funny look. “You okay?”

“Great,” I said, my voice unnaturally high. I needed to calm the fuck down. What the hell was wrong with me?

She pursed her lips, studying me. I felt like she was looking into every crevice. I busied myself with a beer, wishing Marcus would bring back a pitcher instead.

“You’re nervous,” she observed.

I almost choked on my beer. “No, you’re nervous!”

“Yeah, I am, Dex. But you know what? I think that’s okay now. I think we should be nervous. I don’t think we ever gave us this chance.”

She put her soft hand on mine, milky white against light tan.

“I’m pretty sure I used to make you nervous,” I told her. “When you first met me. You looked like you were about to run away every five minutes. Every time you were in the car with me it was like you were being trapped with a mental patient. Which, I mean, was a fairly accurate assessment.”

She smiled and squeezed my hand and the affection was doing weird twirly, tingly, unmanly things around my heart. “You did make me nervous. You make a lot of people nervous, Dex.”

“Cause I’m too awesome for them to handle.”

“Yes, well, that’s also true. But I was nervous because I didn’t know you…I didn’t know how you thought. I didn’t know what you thought of me.”

“And now?”

“Now I know you. I’m starting to know how you think. And I think I know what you think of me. I’m nervous for a whole new set of reasons. Because I’m…scared. And I’m excited. This, this us, this is totally new for me.”

We stared at each other and I felt blessed with her bout of honesty. “It’s new for me too. But new can be good.”

Marcus came by with the new beers and the pizza and he escaped with only a death glare. As I munched away at my prosciutto pie, I found my mind wandering to the time I first met her, that fucked up night in the lighthouse. I’d felt something at that moment for her, whether it was lust or a certain connection, I couldn’t be too sure. I had no idea I’d be lucky enough to have her sitting across from me at Zeke’s as something more than a stranger. I had no idea that this tiny little woman with all her insecurities and bravery would become my everything.

“What are you thinking about?” she asked after she drank a healthy swig of her beer.

“About the first time we met.”

“In Oregon?”

“In the lighthouse. You ran into me. Remember?”

“That’s something you can never forget.”

“So what was it like for you?”

She put down her beer and stared out the window. Fat raindrops began to fall, hitting the glass with the gusts of wind that were whipping up. Looked like a stormy night, much like the one that brought us together.

“I thought you were…”


She let out a laugh. “Well that was a given, considering you were in an abandoned lighthouse, alone, and trying to capture a ghost on film. Seriously, if that’s not nuts, I don’t know what is.”

I finished my beer and wiped my mouth, leaning back in my seat. “Oh, I don’t know, Miss Pot Calling the Sexy Kettle Black, how about a girl who decided to go off by herself in the darkness to explore said lighthouse, just for, what was it again? Kicks?”

“I don’t do anything for kicks.”

“Well you kicked in the window with your weird ninja moves.”

“At least I wasn’t trespassing,” she shot back, as if it all happened just yesterday.

“Trespassing gets you everywhere. If I hadn’t broken in and explored that lighthouse, I wouldn’t be exploring you right now.”

She rolled her eyes. If she hadn’t seemed so nervy I would have joked about the futility of a Keep Out sign on her vagina.

“So that’s it,” I pressed. “You thought I was nuts? Nothing else?”

“Obviously I thought you were cute.”

“Just cute?”

“Hey, you think I’m cute.”

I shook my head. “I think you’re cute and sexy and gorgeous and outstandingly fuckable. You meet all the requirements for one infuriatingly hot piece of ass, an ass that I’d love to shoot hot—”

She shot me a warning look. The mother of a family of four across from us was giving me the stinkeye. Whoops.

“I’m sorry,” I apologized to the mother. “It’s our first date.”

“And will probably be your last,” she muttered to herself and turned back to her kids. One was still staring at me with a frightened expression. I’d forgotten I had that effect on children.

“I get it,” Perry said quickly, bringing my attention back to her. “Though I have to say your wooing skills need some work.”

“These are my wooing skills,” I said, raising my hands and wiggling my fingers, “and from what I can tell, they work just fine.”


“Miss Palomino.”

We watched each other for a few moments before breaking out into simultaneous grins. For a first date it was going pretty well. For Perry and I, getting to know each other on another level, it was going spectacularly.

And we hadn’t even gotten to dessert yet.


I woke up in the middle of the night noticing two strange things while my brain struggled to catch up. One was that the clock radio was flashing at 3AM, as if the power went out at that time, bathing the bedroom in sporadic hits of red. The other was Perry sitting on the edge of the bed.

I blinked hard and eased myself back on my elbows. My mouth was dry. “Baby? Are you okay?”

She didn’t move. Her long dark hair covered her back and she was facing away from me, her face obscured. She was wearing a long white nightgown that had frills at the wrists. It was weirdly familiar but I knew she hadn’t gone to sleep wearing it.

My chest started to feel tight.


I didn’t want to reach over for her. I was too afraid of what I might find.

“Answer me, please,” I said, my voice shaking. I sat up straighter and stuck out my hand, reaching very slowly for her shoulder.

She felt like ice. I tightened my grip.


She twitched. I held my breath.

Then she turned around.

It was the face of my mother.

“Declan,” she said in an inhuman voice.

I screamed and screamed and screamed.

Everything went black.

Then I was waking up again in my bed. The clock wasn’t blinking and I was alone in the room. My mother wasn’t at the end of the bed anymore but Perry wasn’t next to me either. I looked at the clock. It was 3AM.

I touched my forehead and found it was wet with sweat. I exhaled slowly, gathering my strength and wits, then got out of bed. I slept bare-ass naked so I slipped on a pair of boxer briefs that were lying on the floor and went out into the apartment. The bathroom was empty.

“Perry?” I asked quietly. Fat Rabbit looked up from the couch, his white head glowing in the darkness, then went back to sleep. I moved closer to the kitchen and saw the balcony door was open a crack, cold air flowing into the room.

I opened it and poked my head outside. Perry was sitting on a chair on my small rounded balcony, bundled in my house robe, staring at nothing. She was smoking a cigarette, her hair being whipped around by the wind.

“What are you doing?” I asked, more horrified that she was smoking than anything else.

She gave me a tired smile. “I just needed to clear my head.”

“Well, clear it inside where it’s not freezing cold,” I admonished her, motioning for her to come in.

“It’s almost Spring.”

I shook my head at that. “Why are you smoking? Where did you get that anyway?”

“Sorry. You had a whole stash hidden in the den in one of your hollowed out books.”

“Ah fuck. Well…please come inside, I’m worried about you.” I stepped out and reached for her arm, ignoring the split second hesitation, the fear that she might turn into my mother. But that was a dream. This was real.

And she felt like Perry, warm and solid underneath my robe. She got up, stubbing out the cigarette on the railing and flicked it over the edge. I didn’t like this one fucking bit. Not just the smoking itself but that it was so unlike her to smoke.

I ushered her inside and brought her over to the couch and took her hands in mine.

“Now talk,” I told her, her face dimly lit by the streetlights outside.

Her eyes darted to my crotch. And no, this time I did not have a boner. I’m not an animal.

“It’s hard to talk to you when you’re in just your underwear. Makes me want to do things to you.”

And shit. My dick twitched.

No, no, no, focus, she’s just trying to distract you with sex, I told myself. I shook my head vigorously and squeezed her hands.

“Later, Perry. I want to know what’s wrong first. Why are you sitting on the balcony at three in the morning smoking? I’ve never seen you smoke before. And why were you going through my books?”

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