Dee lay on her hide-a-bed looking at the popcorn ceiling as she waited for Eli to finish. He’d shown up unannounced, well after eleven, without offering any explanation of why he hadn’t called or come by after their mutually-orgasmic night together two weeks ago. Nor did he offer any tokens of romance—no dinner, no wine, no flowers, no pot. Dee’s first impulse was to slam the door in his face, but then he flashed that goddamned smile of his and she melted. The door had barely closed behind him before he was naked and waiting in her bed, like a panting, eager-to-please puppy.
His enthusiasm for her feet had not waned in the least…until she took off her slippers and he saw her toenails in their bare, unpainted state. “Oh, no!” he had said so forlornly she thought he might cry. “What happened to the red nail polish?” Dee assured him there was plenty of polish to be found in the bathroom medicine cabinet, which he fetched with the athletic proficiency of a Border Collie. She had lain there, naked, watching with a mix of fascination and amusement as Eli painted her toenails with the utmost care, his cock growing harder and longer with every nail he brushed with Maybelline’s ‘Naughty Cherry’ red lacquer.
When the polish had finally dried, thanks to Eli’s incessant blowing and hand-waving to quicken the process, he began sucking and licking her toes. Dee laid back and waited for the magic to happen as it had their first night together, but it just wasn’t meant to be, perhaps due to the lack of Chianti or Blue Nun or pot, or just the lack of any kind of build-up, period. For all of his sucking and licking, her toes just weren’t interested. In fact, the whole toe-sucking act on this night proved more irritating than stimulating. When Eli commenced humping her feet, as he’d done on that first night, Dee lost all patience. It had been so long since she’d been properly fucked by a man, with a cock and not a toe, that she could wait no longer. She sat up, grabbed Eli by the arms, and pulled him on top of her.
“But,” Eli resisted, as he looked back at her feet, “I wasn’t done yet…”
“Could we do it the old-fashioned way? For tonight?”
“It’s just that…” His words trailed off as he glanced forlornly back at her toes.
“Please, I really need to feel you inside of me. You can play with my feet all you want to, after.” Dee reached down and grabbed his cock to guide him inside her, but the rock-hard erection she held in her hand was melting faster than a stick of butter on a Phoenix sidewalk in July.
“Sorry…” he said.
Dee, refusing defeat, pushed him off her and began giving his cock CPR with her mouth. As she sucked and licked and stroked it slowly back to life, she was hit by a sense of disturbing déjà vu: She was reminded of Newt and Arkansas and their depressing single-wide and the bedtime sexual routine they’d repeated night after night after dreary night. Dee squeezed shut her eyes and pushed back the memories, determined to resurrect Eli’s cock into the hard, pulsing ramrod her body so craved.
“That should do it,” she said and pulled Eli back onto her as she guided him inside. She waited for Eli to take over, to start thrusting away like a sex-starved madman, hammer her senseless and drive her like an unresisting nail into a mind-splintering orgasm. She waited…and waited…
Finally, his body began to move, sliding back and forth inside her, leaden and methodical, a painstakingly slow tempo he maintained, without deviation, for longer than Dee could stand. In frustration, Dee grabbed his ass cheeks and tried to quicken his pace but Eli would not be hurried. The hot, frantic passion he’d had on their first night together was oddly absent and it was all Dee could do but lie there, staring up at the popcorn ceiling, while she waited for him to chug, chug, chug along until he finished. When he finally did, Dee was left dangling from the edge of a virtual cliff, her own orgasm lost somewhere down in the distant, murky waters at the bottom of the precipice.
Eli pulled out and rolled off her. “Sorry, it takes me a little longer doing it that way.”
Without so much as a post-coital sigh, Eli slid out of bed and reached for his clothes, sending a wave of panic through Dee. “Are you leaving already?”
“I need to get going. I’ve got an early day tomorrow,” he said, pulling on his pants.
“But, but…” Dee was grasping for any temptation she could think of to make him stay. “What about my feet? Don’t you want to do my feet? My toes?”
Eli offered her a conciliatory smile as he finished dressing. “Maybe some other night.” He kissed her forehead, then left, closing the door behind him, taking with him any chance of orgasmic release for Dee.
Dee sat on the bed and stared blankly at the door, wondering what the hell had just happened. Growling in frustration, she threw herself back against her pillow and swallowed the bitter truth: Eli was, indeed, a taker and not a giver, incapable of anything more than casual, non-committal sex. Dee wanted more. After all those unfulfilled years with Newt, she wanted to be wooed, romanced, and appreciated. And with a young son in her life, she wanted a man who would accept both her and Tad as a package deal.
Eli was not that man, and he never would be.
And then there was the issue of his race—not that it mattered to her, but that it would only serve to complicate her already-strained relationship with her parents, both of whom were born and raised in the Old South with bigotry embedded in their DNA. Everything considered, the decision to cut it off with Eli was an easy one. She would call him tomorrow and tell him, in no uncertain terms, she was done with him.
Dee switched off the table lamp and settled under the covers. The sexual frustration had passed and, now, with the decision to dump Eli, a sense of peace fell over her. She closed her eyes. Sleep came easily…
The sound of breaking glass was so distant, so muted, Dee wondered if she was dreaming it, just as she wondered about the thing that was now pressing into her neck—it was cold and hard and persistent. Dee struggled to exit the deep sleep state she was in, willing and pushing her eyelids to open.
Through the dark, she could make out a man in a white ski mask standing over her, holding a large screwdriver to her throat.
“Don’t scream. Not a word, do you hear?”
Dee was instantly awake and acutely aware that she had not been dreaming and the sound of the breaking glass wasn’t so distant after all. It was her living room window—the intruder’s mode of entry—the remains of which now lay in scattered shards on her carpet. The intruder yanked Dee by the arm into a sitting position on the edge of her bed, gouging her neck with the screwdriver in the process. Dee winced at the pain but bit her lip to stifle her response, fearing her screams might wake Tad. She didn’t know what the intruder would do to Tad if he knew there was a child in the house, so her protective instinct told her to do anything and everything to avoid waking her son, assuming he was not already awakened by the breaking glass. Dear God, she silently prayed, let Tad stay asleep.
The intruder stripped a case from one of the pillows and yanked it down over Dee’s head.
“Put your hands behind your back. Do it. Now!”
Dee complied, not wanting to say or do anything that might anger him. Her mind fought the impulse to panic as she felt the intruder tying her wrists with what felt like jute or a thick, rough string. The intruder pulled the string tight, cutting into Dee’s wrists, and knotted it several times to make sure it was secure.
Dee’s heart stopped as Tad called out from his bedroom—half-crying, half-screaming, as if he’d just awoken from a bad dream.
The intruder’s head jerked around at the sound of Tad’s voice.
“Please don’t hurt my son. Do what you want with me, but don’t hurt my son.”
“Please, I’m begging you. I’ll do anything you want—”
“I said shut up!”
“Tell him to shut up, or I’ll shut him up myself!”
“Tad, baby, you need to be quiet! It’s okay, everything’s okay!”
“Tad! Listen to Mommy! Be quiet!” It hurt her, having to speak to Tad so harshly. She began to cry. “Mommy will be there in a little bit, okay?”
The apartment fell quiet except for the faint, muffled crying coming from Tad’s bedroom. Dee suddenly felt a hand, large and indelicate, kneading her bare breast as if tenderizing a cheap cut of meat. The hand’s motion grew rough and erratic the more he groped her, as did his breathing. He took a nipple, now erect, and began rolling it between his thumb and forefinger, then squeezed it…hard.
Dee gasped from the pain.
“Does that hurt?”
Dee didn’t reply. She reasoned no response was the safest response.
He squeezed her nipple again, even harder. The pain brought more tears to Dee’s eyes but she managed again not to scream.
“How ‘bout that?”
Again, Dee stayed mute. Her mind, however, was talking fast and furious, telling herself to remain calm and quiet, rationalizing that trying to fight her way out of this situation was not only futile but potentially lethal—he was armed and twice her size.
The intruder’s hand moved from her breast to the back of her head where it fisted her hair. He pressed his hips close to her pillow-covered face. She could smell the musk of his sweat and feel the heat from his groin. The unzipping of his fly sounded in her ear.
Through the thin fabric of the pillowcase, Dee thought she saw a flash of bright, white light. In the next instant, a commanding voice cut through the darkness, coming from the direction of the broken window:
The intruder dropped his hold on Dee’s hair and pushed off of her. Her knees instinctively drew up to her chest to protect her exposed, naked body. She sat, in an upright fetal position, muscles taut and trembling, and listened as the pounding of heavy footsteps retreated from her, followed by the sharp crack of wood and the bang of a door slamming against a wall.
The commanding voice yelled out again, this time coming from the direction of her front door.
“Drop the screwdriver or I’ll shoot!”
“I’m here, Tad! It’s okay! It’s okay, baby!” Dee cried. Near the front door, she could hear the scuffle of bodies and a crack of something hard against a skull, a groan, then a resounding thud of a body falling to the floor. Through the pillowcase, Dee could see only blurred shadows mixed with the flashes of the bright, white light. Then a rush of footsteps came at her as the white light grew brighter and brighter until, finally, a hand lifted the pillowcase from her head…
The bright light flooded Dee’s face, blinding her. She shut tight her eyes, in reflex.
A voice beyond the light source rang out: “Are you all right?”
Dee nodded, tears of relief pouring from her closed eyes. She heard the click of the lamp switch on the end table and, in the next moment, another click as the bright light vanished. Tentatively, she opened her eyes…
Before her stood a Phoenix Police officer dressed in a pressed and creased navy blue uniform, a flashlight in one hand, a police baton in the other. He was the most beautiful vision she’d ever seen, his face shining and reflective and dark as obsidian, with liquid brown eyes that looked deep into her own. Her hero.
“I’m Officer Dawes. Are you injured?”
Dee shook her head.
“Is there anyone else in the apartment?”
“My son…he’s in the bedroom.”
As Officer Dawes rushed to Tad’s room, several more officers arrived, spilling in through the busted front door and swarming throughout every corner of the apartment. Officer Dawes soon returned with a terrified Tad in his arms whom he set down on the bed next to Dee. Tad clung to Dee as the officer cut the string from her wrists and pulled the bed’s blanket over her shoulders and snugged it protectively around her.
The intruder lay on the floor, hands cuffed behind his back, dazed but conscious, blood soaking into the carpet from the head wound hidden beneath his ski mask.
As Dawes tended to Tad and Dee, another officer searched the intruder’s pockets and withdrew a wallet. Opening it, he read from the perpetrator’s driver’s license:
“1942 Thunderbird Road, number two twenty-eight—isn’t that right upstairs?”
Dee gasped, “Joe? I can’t believe he could do this.”
“Name’s not Joe,” said the officer reading from the license. “Says here his name is Mark Smith.”
“Mark?” said Dee, confused. Then it hit her: It wasn’t Joe, the scraggly, pot-smoking kid who’d helped her move—it was the clean-cut, apologetic kid who dressed like a Mormon missionary, Joe’s roommate…