You don't let people touch you. Not doctors, not classmates, not your mother. You don't let anyone wrap their arms around you, don't let them brush their shoulders against yours, don't bump into them in the street. You don't look up when people call your name. In class, you never answer questions, though you know all the answers. You don't make eye contact. The bullies who seem to torment other students don't even notice you're there, or if they do, they don't pay you much attention. You don't produce a reaction to anything done to you.
You are seventeen years old when your mother re-marries, and you break every rule that you've ever set for yourself.
He is tall, and strong, and worldly in a way that you will never be. You are closer to your father, a quiet, hard-working Louisiana man long dead in the car accident that sent you to the hospital for two weeks before the sudden change in custody forced you into the house of a mother you never knew. You, rough and strange, who fixes trash-salvaged engines in your room and whispers to yourself when you think that no one can hear, you who stumble on internet articles about murder and death and cannot bear to click away because they set your mind whirring like nothing else, you are nothing like the man your mother married.
You know he watches you. You want him to watch you. For the first time in years you are not an invisible creature, you are noticed, and when you wake up some mornings, long before your mother, he is there in the kitchen waiting. He feeds you things you cannot name, morsels of meat that melt on your tongue, and he watches your lips as you chew and swallow.
Somehow you know that he did not marry your mother for her. He didn't do it for her money. He didn't do it for political influence, for social clout, for any of that.
He proposed to her a week after he first met you.
There might be something in that.
You look into his eyes and they are red, the dark deep color of clotted blood. They shine in the early morning light and you swallow, though your plate is empty, and he smiles.
He fucks you on the kitchen table and your mother never hears. His hand, pressing your face against the hard oak, feels like a vice, a promise, a kiss. His fingers in your hair are sweet, his lips against the back of your neck claiming. He fills you, and you know as his teeth sink into the soft flesh of your shoulder that you will never let another person touch you.
You are his to mark, his to touch. You were made for only him.