Carnival Nights: Carnival #2 (4 page)

CHARLIE

W
aiting for Blue to return with the goods—as he likes to call them—gets more tiresome as the seconds tick by. I’m positive that in the time he’s been gone, Gina and Shane have rekindled their fractured relationship. She sits on the counter while Shane stands in between her legs. Beside me, Cookie calls for another round from the bartender. He’s just as annoyed as I am, but for different reasons.

He wants the girl he can’t have and I just want Blue to come the fuck back.

I tap Cookie on the shoulder as he stands hunched over the bar waiting for our drinks.

“Yeah?”

I smile and scratch the skin above my mouth. “What’s wrong?” I know full well the answer, but I’m just trying to engage with anything but the empty space between the bar and me.

“Why would anything be wrong?”

“Fine,” I sigh.

“But let me tell you anyway.” He shifts his weight so that his elbow rests on the metal bar. “I’m only telling you this because I’m drunk—”

Sure.

“—but there’s this girl I like—”

Gina.

“—it’s not like you know her or anything–”

I do.

“But even though we work together, it’s like she doesn’t even know I exist.”

“She knows you exist,” I say with a light laugh, “but maybe she doesn’t know that you’re in love with her.”

He frowns. “Again, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I do,” I say. “You’re talking about Gina.”

Just in time, the bartender pushes four shots in our direction. Cookie grabs one of the shots and shoots it quick and straight.

“I take it we’re not going to cheers then.”

He grabs another shot and downs it. “Cheers.”

Hey, that was mine.
I turn to the are-they-still-together lovebirds to hand them a shot, but find them excavating each other’s mouths. “I think they’re too busy to drink,” I say to Cookie and push one shot his way, and the other my way. “Cheers?”

“Oh, yeah,” he smirks. And before I’m even able to pick up my glass, he’s downed another shot.

“Cheers right back at ya.”

“Nobody saved me a shot?” Blue questions, rather boisterously from behind me. I almost spit out my shot in sudden, inexplicable terror. Like a serial killer just walked up on me.
Never watching a horror film again.

I spin to face him, taking notice the way a mischievous smile is hitched across his lips. “I’m insane for saying this, but I’ve missed you.”

He chews on his lip contemplatively. “I’ve only been gone about twenty minutes.”

“Nineteen too long.”

“I got the goods.”

See? The Goods.
I bite into my lip. “Then what are we waiting for?”

* * *

T
hrough the thin fabric of my jeans, I can feel the metal cooling. Long past summer and a little into autumn the temperature has a notorious reputation of dipping after sunset. My legs dangle off the side of the hood, my feet tapping against the tire. Blue fumbles with a baggie in front of me, making sure to keep his back against any stray passerby.

Cookie, with his legs kicked out in the grass, stares into the sky. I’m not sure what he’s looking at, because all I see are clouds. Stars are for dreamers and it’s been a good while since I can recall seeing them. Maybe star watching was a Lakeview-Charlie kind of thing, and like so many other things, that’s become foreign to me.

“Five pills,” Blue says. Cookie, Shane, and Gina all rise and circle him vulture-style. “Five tickets to ecstasy.” He smiles. “But first, a disclaimer... I don’t actually know what this is. I’m told it’s ecstasy, but could very well be something else—”

“Like bath salts?” Gina interjects her intonation void of legitimate concern that it could actually be anything else.

“I’ll take my chances,” Cookie says as he rips one of the pink pills out of Blue’s hand, throws his head back, and tosses into his mouth.

“Well, there’s that,” I mumble.

“It’s definitely not bath salts,” Shane says as he grabs two pills and hands one to Gina. “I know Roxie, and she’s the real deal.”

“I’m sure you do...” I hear Gina groan under her breath.

New prognosis. Gina and Shane will be at each other’s throats before the end of the night.

Blue folds his palm into a fist, covering the last two pills. He moves to me so that he rests right between my swinging legs. “Happy Birthday,” he says softly, but full of sincerity. It sounds like a whisper, but vibrates with adoration. With two simple words, I know just how much he loves me. So when he continues with, “I love you,” I just melt. Melt against the cold metal of the hood of Shane’s car. Melt against the touch of his hand on my arm. Melt into him.

He’s my world.

And I’m his.

“There is nowhere in the world I’d rather be than here with you. It’s the only place I feel safe,” I say, then smirk because of the irony, “which might be a ridiculous thing to say, if it weren’t true. Just know that I love you.”

He bites into his lip. “You know you just rhymed, right?”

“Did I?”

“You are so sexy when you rhyme.” He caresses a hand across my thigh, staring intently into my eyes.

“Shut up,” Cookie yells, feigning disgust at our dramatic declarations of love. “You’re going to make me sick.”

“That might be the alcohol,” Shane says.

“Or the drugs,” Gina adds.

Cookie pouts his lips. “No, it’s definitely them.”

Blue turns his head to the other three misfits. “Can you guys give us a few minutes?”

Cookie stumbles backwards, the drug somehow already taking hold of him. I fear he’ll suffer a fall with his still-recovering leg. “Where will we go?” he asks as he squints at us.

Blue throws an eyebrow up. “Inside?” he suggests.

“Oh, right...”

Blue watches as the three disappear past the raging fire and into the neon-lit blackness of the warehouse. He then turns back to me, both of his palms holding me at the waist. “It’s a good night for mischief, don’t you think.”

I place a hand against his chest and grin. “It’s my birthday and I’ll get high if I want to.”

“I know this isn’t the life you wanted—”

“Easy.” I push against his chest. “Let’s not talk about any of that tonight. We can’t change the past, but we can choose to live in the moment and let go of regret.”

“You would make Plato so proud... if he were still alive that is.”

“He’s definitely dead. But maybe he watches us from the stars above.”

“I think you’re already feeling
it.”

“Oh, yeah,” I laugh, “I can feel myself drifting away.”

Blue nods in agreement, feeling the same way. Then something catches his eye above, and his attention shoots toward the sky. Slowly, I crane my head up to see what he sees, catching the tail end of a shooting star.

“Make a wish,” he breathes against me.

“Two wishes in a night? I’m the luckiest girl alive.” I chew into my cheek as a thousand different wishes fly through my mind like a warp-speed slideshow.

I wish...

I could go home.

I had a million dollars.

Dylan would come back to life, in a non-zombie kind of way.

I could travel the world.

I could be the 50
th
president... or is it already too late for that?

“I wish this night would never end,” I say out loud. It’s not the wish I’d choose if I still believed in them, but it’s the one least likely to put a damper on the evening.

Blue closes his eyes and shakes his head in disbelief. “You’re not supposed to say it out loud.”

“Oops,” I chuckle. “It was a ridiculous wish anyway. Time doesn’t stop for anyone.”

“It does when I’m with you.”

I instantly melt again, this time into a huge fucking pile of goo—with a little assistance from the drugs, of course. “How do you always know the exact right thing to say?”

“I had a birthday once, and when I blew out my candles, I wished that I’d meet a girl like you and that I’d always know the exact right thing to say.” He shrugs and moves a hand to cusp me at the chin.

“You’re a liar,” I tease. “You probably learned everything you know about romance from
The Notebook.”

“Sorry, I don’t do chick flicks.”

“That’s two lies in a row.”

“Then how about I just say
I love you
again?”

“Then I might have to kiss you. Hard.”

“I love you. I really fucking love you.”

“You might be going overboard now...”

He shuts me up with a warm kiss, holding me by the back of my head, pulling me closer to him. Into him. His taste, his scent. The way his lips fit perfect with mine would make an excellent 3D jigsaw puzzle. No other wish matters, because they verge on the edge of impossible. But this right here is real and tangible, and even with a fractured heart and for seconds at a time, I can feel more than alive.

I can feel free from the weight of the world. From the weight that rests on my shoulders.

CHAPTER SIX

BLUE

S
he leads me through the crowd, her head swaying to the music that seems to scream from her pores. When we reach a pause in the crowd, a place where we have just enough room to dance, she spins on her foot to face me. I grab her by the waist as her arms fall to my shoulders. She speaks, but I can’t hear her over the chorus of techno beats. And I’ve never been good at reading lips.

But she doesn’t have to say anything. We are so explicitly connected that I’m in full understanding of what she’s feeling just by looking into her eyes. Right now, she feels ecstasy. She feels like this is the one place in her world where she isn’t running anymore.

Almost like she’s standing perfectly still. When you factor in the way the world turns, spinning at an impossible to comprehend speed, it’s not such a stretch of the imagination to believe that the reason she stands still is that she moves the way everyone else does. It’s simple. Here, amongst the masses of people, she’s not alone because she’s surrounded by people just like her. Misfits.

Sweat begins to trickle down the length of her face, and for the first time, I take notice of the cruel heat ripping me apart from the inside. She runs her palms through her hair, pushing it out of the way. And I think to myself,
if I don’t get out of these clothes, I’m going to faint.

I grab the hem of my shirt. It’s cheap and old, and I don’t mind losing it. I pull it over my head and toss it to the floor. One of Charlie’s hands immediately finds its way to caress my skin, running over the ridges of my stomach. Then she looks up to me with a lust-filled smile. She’s never looked at me with anything other than love, even when I deserved the exact opposite, but this is different. Her eyes gleam with a feral quality—like she could rip my jeans off and fuck me right here in the middle of everyone and everything.

Half of me craves that—the same half that makes my cock twitch. But the other half has a little more decency than that, so I grab her by the hand. We push through the crowd, bumping past strangers, who couldn’t be any more unaware. I feel her jerk against my hand and turn to face her.

She seems lost, her sight set on the cages that are suspended from the ceiling. They sway as the dancers inside them gyrate against each other. She wants to be them; she wants to dance in the cages. So do I, but from my sight line, I don’t see a way to ascend to the cages. My mind kicks into overdrive, trying to figure out how the fuck those people got in those damn cages.

I’m not an architect, so I may never know. “C’mon,” I whisper to her. She’s much better at reading lips than I am since she does as told. We push to the edge of the crowd, toward the back where I said if any of us get lost, we’d meet. I think we’re all too far gone for that plan to work. I’m pretty sure we’re all okay with getting lost, anyway.

I push her against the stacks, causing them to shake and rattle.
I hope they don’t fall over onto a hundred unsuspecting druggies.
The rhythmic music pours over the top of the dusty shelving units. The way the beat rains down onto us is like that river scene from Moses’ part of the bible.

With both hands, I pin her wrists above her head and plant a kiss against her sweaty neck. “I love the way you smell,” I breathe against her. “Love the way you taste.”

The only thing she can muster is a quiet “Yeah?”

“Love the way my body feels pressed against you.” I shift myself into her, rubbing myself against her jeans. From zero to sixty, my stiff cock searches for room against the tight fabric. With every push against her, I feel the pressure building, my hardness screaming for release. “Tell me what you want.”

She shifts her eyes to the ceiling in thought. “A million dollars?”

“Anything you want,” I continue.

She places a palm against my cheek and positions me so that I face her. Eye to eye, she speaks to me without saying a word.
I want you to fuck me and give me the best birthday present I’ve ever had...

Okay, so I’m probably exaggerating there, but that’s how I feel. That’s a part of her power, part of her appeal. She has this extraordinary ability to make me feel like the only man in the world. She makes me feel like nothing else matters when she’s with me.

So when she reaches down and pops the top button of my jeans, I’m relieved. Not just because I can finally breathe, but also because of the incoming release. Everyone had always told me that fucking the person you love is incomparable to fucking some random girl. I thought they were full of shit. Then I met her.

She pulls my jeans apart in one quick motion, then reaches for my cock and begins to stroke it. The entire time she’s pumping me, she doesn’t take her eyes off mine. She enjoys sex as much as I do—maybe more—and she gets off by looking into my eyes.

“I. Love. You,” I proclaim between deep breaths as her pace quickens.

She pulls her hand off my dick and pushes my jeans to my ankles, fully exposing my naked body. She’s deliberate as she pulls her own jeans down past her hips, then down her legs. She knows that she’s got my full attention. Though, she could probably glean that info from my fully erect penis.

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