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A Piece of Rough

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“You know that dad's going to kill us.”

“Not if he doesn't find out,” Maggie says, slightly slurred as she pouts her lips, leaning over the steering wheel so she can perfect her lipstick in the visor mirror.

Hershel would fall over backwards if he saw Maggie in this getup—high-waisted black shorts covering little more than a leotard would, with a sheer cotton blouse undone nearly to her navel. Beth herself didn't even bother changing out of her jeans and sweater—she sits slouched in her seat, eyeing the bar they're parked outside with skepticism.

“Why couldn't you just leave me at home?”

Maggie glances at her. “You're not supposed to be left alone. You know that.”

Beth exhales roughly. “And taking me somewhere called The Prison Yard is considered the healthier option?”

“Doctor's orders, Beth.” Maggie looks at Beth's still petulant face and sighs. “Com'mon, Bethy—Glenn never has time when Daddy's away.”

“Ya know, you could always just tell Dad you're seeing him.”

“After what happened with Tommy? No way.” Despite her annoyance, Beth flinches a little in sympathy, remembering Maggie's first boyfriend. Watching the boy who'd just taken your virginity get chased out of a hayloft by an old vet with a rifle tends to be the kind of experience that stays with you.

“Please, Beth,” Maggie pleads. “It'll just be for a little while. Then we can go home and watch as many James Mason movies as you want.”

Beth sighs. “Fine, but you owe me for this.”

Maggie lunges across the divide to hug Beth and plant a sticky lipstick kiss against her cheek. “Gas money for a month, I promise,” Maggie says as she plunks back in her seat, throwing the door open. Beth rolls her eyes, scrubs at the mark, and follows.

Beth feels like she's stepping into another world as the bar's faux-saloon doors swing open before her. Thanks to the anti-smoking laws, there isn't a cigarette in sight; but the place feels like it should be perpetually filled with smoke. Beer, at least, sits heavy on the air, and every surface has a carefully casual layer of grime—enough to look authentic, but not to turn anyone off. The place is full, but not packed, and a comforting buzz of conversation fills the room.

Beth eyes a group done up in leather and grease, congregated in a large corner booth. One of the older ones says something that must be uproarious, for they all erupt into laughter, overpowering the tinny jukebox. Only a man at the edge of the group, with hound-dog hair and an angel wing vest, seems unmoved. He turns from his fellows and sits back a little, eyes scanning the newcomers at the door. His gaze catches on Beth's for a moment, and she suppresses a shiver as she quickly looks away.

“Glenn invited you to a biker bar?” Beth asks, raising her eyebrows.

“Glenn's their mechanic, he gets a discount,” Maggie says distractedly, scanning the restaurant. Her eye catches on someone and a stunning smile spreads across her face.

Beth trails behind as Maggie throws herself into the arms of a boy in a baseball cap, pulling back to kiss him deeply. Beth hovers on their periphery, growing more and more annoyed as they suck face and ignore her presence. She shoots a glance at the bikers and finds Angel Wings watching her. He looks away quickly, but she still feels that rush of warmth surge through her body, a strange thrill to be under his gaze. She can’t fully identify the feeling—it’s something like what she feels when Jimmy’s hands are on her, but with an edge of fear that makes it even more electrifying. She turns away, troubled.

“Beth, this is Glenn,” Maggie says, still breathless from the kiss. “Glenn, my sister, Beth.”

She watches a torrent of sympathy spread across his face, and she wants to punch him.

“Nice to meet you,” he says, sticking his hand out. She takes it, noticing the way his eyes go to her wrist, feels her throat seize.

“You too,” she mutters.

“Maggie told me you weren't feeling well—“

“Well, well, well, what have we here; Chinaman's finally gotten himself a kitty sandwich.”

Glenn's face slides into a scowl as the older biker saunters up and throws an arm around his shoulders. His lascivious eyes slide over Beth's body and she can breathe again.

“Come on, Merle—“

“You're at least gonna introduce me to these,” his eyes glide up Maggie's bare legs, “fine ladies, aren't ya?”

Glenn shoots an apologetic glance to Maggie before saying, “Maggie and her sister Beth. This is Merle. I fix his bike.”

“Glad to meet you,” Maggie says, sounding anything but.

“I'm guessin' you're the girl, gots our boy here all mooney-eyed.” He turns to Beth. “You got a man, l'il darlin'? Lemme buy you a drink and we can get to know each other.”

Maggie looks about ready to burst, but Beth herself feels strangely calm.

“Thanks for the offer, but I'm good for now,” Beth says quickly, before Maggie can speak her mind.

“Aww, don't be like that, chickadee. Gotta give a guy a chance—“

“Merle.” A hand appears around Merle's bicep. Angel Wings tugs at him, eyes down. “Sit down, man. Martinez is bitchin' about his prospect again.”

“I got more important things to attend to, little brother. 'Less you wanna take a stab—“

“I'll let you know when I want that drink, Merle,” Beth interrupts, smiling her sweetest smile. Angel Wings glances at her, then back down, tugging again at the older man's arm.

Merle raises his hands in surrender. “A'right, a'right, I get the message. You enjoy this fine establishment, girls.” With a final leer, he shakes off Angel Wings’s hand and leads the way back to their booth.

“Sorry about that,” Glenn says, sounding mortified. “Merle's a dick, but he's harmless.”

“What were you doing encouraging him, Beth?” Maggie asks, rounding on her sister.

“All he wanted was to get you riled up. Not everything's a fight, Maggie.” She looks toward the bikers' booth. Merle is back at the head of the table, holding court, but Angel Wings stands a little away, leaning on the coat rack, impressive arms crossed over his chest. “Besides, maybe I want that drink.”

She can practically hear Maggie rolling her eyes. “Alright, wild child. These your friends Glenn?”

Beth suffers through another round of introductions; thankfully, none of them give her the same pitying looks that Glenn did, and she's allowed to sit on the edge of the booth, chewing her fingernails as they get to know each other. They're all Maggie's kind of people anyway—college-bound and confident, polished and prepared to take on the world. Beth can't help but feel intimidated. She knows she's smart, has always done well in school—but there's an air around some people, a pinnacle she just can't reach. So she stays quiet. She watches as a girl named Amy looks sadly at the arm Glenn has thrown around Maggie's shoulders, as another girl named Tara looks sadly at Amy looking at Glenn. She sees the stars in Glenn's eyes when he looks at her sister, and the contentment in Maggie's when she looks at him. Of that, at least, Beth is thankful.

“Your name's Beth, right?”

Beth's head jerks up in surprise. The boy next to her—cute, but not distractingly so—has turned away from the conversation to focus on her.

“Yeah—and sorry, what's yours?”

He offers his hand in what she is sure is the second time. His grip is dry and firm. “Zach. Like Braff, not Ryder.”


“The spelling. A 'ch', not 'ck'.”


The silence stretches between them for a few long moments. Beth glances at her hand and notes that her thumbnail has started bleeding.

“Y'know, there's that Arctic Monkey's concert coming up—“

“I think I'm gonna get some air at the bar,” Beth says, loud enough that she hopes Maggie hears. She doesn't wait to find out; just shoots Zach an apologetic glance before hightailing it out of there.

Beth orders a ginger ale and sighs heavily, resting her face in her hands for a moment, fighting the sudden sting of tears. It's ridiculous to feel this upset. Her life is fine. She is fine. But in this place that tastes like leather and sweat, she feels all the more acutely the press of past dreams; of an adolescence spent watching a much older sister blossom and grow; of being stuck on a boring farm in a boring town, filled with boring boys with nothing but hayseed in their heads and plows in their hands. There's nothing wrong with Beth's little life, nothing she can see; but ever since she can remember she's felt poised at the edge of a great darkness, a sickness beyond ranch houses and cornfields. It's in her nature to be introspective, to find all within that is lacking; and the emptiness she's felt since her mother's death has spread within her to the depths of that chasm. The line beneath her jangling bracelets is evidence of that.

She's still blinking back tears when she becomes aware of another body settling at the bar, a few stools away from her. A gruff voice asks for a Budweiser, and she peeks between her fingers to see the man with the angel wing vest, pretending not to notice her too.

With a loud sniff Beth sits up straight, crossing her arms on the bar. “You ain't gonna buy me a drink?” she asks, feeling brazen.

“What do I look like, Daddy Warbucks?” he grumbles, mirroring her posture.

She shrugs. “Just figured that's what guys do at bars,” she says. “Harass women with free drinks and lowered expectations.”

He snorts, but tries to hide it in a cough. “Don't know much about bars, do you?”

Beth shrugs. “Not especially.” The barkeep—a dumpy older man with a face like a chicken's—drops off her drink. She thanks him and promptly sucks the straw into her mouth.

“You drink beer with a straw?” Angel Wings asks incredulously.

Beth rolls her eyes, sitting up and wiping at a spilled drop from her lip. “It's ginger ale, smart aleck.”

“How's I supposed to know?”

“Do I look legal?”

The man scowls, picking at a leather band tied around his wrist. Beth decides to take his silence as a compliment.

“Most people think I'm about twelve,” she says, part of her wondering why she's gotten so chatty all of a sudden, when a minute ago all she wanted was to crawl in a hole and never come out. She supposes it's something pleasing in his profile; maybe the fact that after tonight she'll likely never see him again; but maybe a little bit because when he looks at her she feels something dangerous lick its way up the underside of her skin. “How old d'you think I am?” she asks.

“Not old enough to be sassin' me,” he grumbles, accepting his beer with a grunt and downing half of it in one gulp.

“Why aren't you sitting with your friends?” Beth asks.

“Why ain't you sittin' with yours?”

“They're my sister's friends, not mine,” Beth says, stirring her drink with the straw. “I'd never've come here if she hadn't dragged me.”

“What, place like this too good for you, princess?”

Beth looks at him, startled. “No! Why would I go to a bar if I can't drink?”

He looks her head on for the first time in their conversation. “Even teenagers want to get laid.”

He seems to instantly regret saying it, because a scowl twists his face and he looks back down at his hands. Beth remains staring at him, blinking owlishly, trying to calm the pounding in her chest.

“And what about you?”

Her heart rings loudly in her ears.

He looks up at her slowly, with a gaze like a hunting dog. “What about me?”

“You here to get laid?”

The man colors heavily, his knuckles gone white from his grip on the beer bottle. He glares at her and speaks in a low, rumbling rasp, “Don’t go asking things you know nothing about, girl.”

The shiver his anger sends between Beth’s thighs scares her a little; it's nothing like what she'd felt in her fumblings with Jimmy, not even when she brings herself off with her own hands. There's something wild about it, untamed. She squeezes her legs together and retreats, taking a gulp of her drink. “Sorry I asked,” she mutters past her red cheeks.

They sit together in silence for several long moments, listening to the hum of the restaurant and the clank of bottles. When she looks up Angel Wings is studying her again, but much more openly; she's the first to glance away when their eyes meet.

When she looks back, he's looking at her wrist.

She realizes too late that her bracelets have ridden up, revealing the scar to his searching eyes. She quickly pulls them down her arm, but it's too late. His eyes flick to her eyes and back. She feels sick.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” she mutters, barely audible, as she drops from her stool and races for the back.

The lavatory is about par for the course, as far as this place goes; covered floor to ceiling in band stickers and graffiti, the toilet squashed into an alcove to the left of the door and an unvarnished sink on the opposite wall, forming an aborted L-shape. The space is barely large enough for the door to swing open. She locks the door and leans heavily on the sink. The mirror is so grimy she has to wipe it down with a wad of toilet paper to see herself; then she wishes she still couldn't.

“What are you doing here Beth?” she whispers to herself, searching her features in the clouded mirror. She does not mean in the bathroom, or this bar—even the shamelessly flirty conversation she just had with a complete stranger. Beth is the good girl, the baby—the porcelain doll to Maggie’s tomboy toughness, the angel with clipped wings. Beth is all of that—but none of it. She looks at herself in this anonymous mirror and doesn't recognize the girl looking back.

In her dreams of herself are women like this: Tall as the sky in stilettos and stacked hair, shimmying in the perfect fit of clothes they wear like skin. She never becomes one of these women; but she watches them; watches them bend backwards across trashcans and car hoods, bent at the mercy of the dark men at their backs, limp and strained but with fire in their eyes as their mercy puts the man at his. Beth's had her encounters, and they've been nice; nothing like what Maggie gets up to, in haylofts and pickup trucks—but she's been taken care of, caressed with the sweetness of spun sugar.

It eats her up, to think of being eaten up; of a coupling dripping with syrup.

She waits until she hears the hum of male voices from beyond the door receding, and then the growl of half a dozen bikes roaring into the distance, before emerging. She hopes Maggie hasn't noticed how long she's been gone—probably hasn't even noticed I left, she thinks; some doctor's orders—and wonders what she would do if Beth proclaimed she was walking home, this moment; that she can't stand the lull of this place anymore, the strings it pulls inside her, the breezes that make her sallow heart tremble and burn—

She's so lost in her thoughts she doesn't notice he's there until she smacks headlong into his chest.

“Hey there,” he says, hands going to her shoulders to steady her. She shakes him off jerkily, alarmed by the warmth of his palms through her sweater. “Y'alright?”

“Fine,” she mutters, avoiding his eyes, “I'm gonna get going—“

“Hey, hold up,” he says, looping a hand around her bicep just like he did with his brother. Beth prepares for a rush of trepidation—a good farm girl stuck in a dim hallway with a ruffian, it might as well be on Dateline already—but when he pulls his hand away all she feels is the tingle in her shoulder from where he touched her.

“What?” she says, looking up. She's shocked at what she finds—open eyes that seem to reach all the way down to his heart, full of contrition.

“Listen,” he mumbles, a sound deep in his chest, “I didn't mean to stare or nothin'. You just—“

“What, I don't seem the type?” she asks bitterly.

“No, I—I know something 'bout it, 's all.”

Beth looks up at him.

“My momma, she didn't—she didn’t cut herself up or nothin', but she was like that.”

“Like what?” Beth whispers.

He shrugs, shoves his hands in his pockets. “Hurtin'.”

Beth looks down at the flannel of his shirt, much closer than she expected it to be. “What happened to her?”

He snorts. “Burnt up the whole house, with her inside. Everything gone. But... she'd been gone a long time.”

Beth feels tears pricking her eyes again. The man shifts on his feet, looking increasingly uncomfortable.

“I'm sorry that happened,” Beth says quietly.

“You too,” he mumbles. “Whatever it was.”

They stand there observing each other for several moments—Beth's eyes up and open, his chin tucked down into his neck. Her eyes wander from his fluttering eyelashes to his thin lips, and she realizes she would very much like to kiss him.

So she does.

For several seconds they freeze in a tableau—Beth raised up on the tips of her toes, hands gripping the edges of his vest, leaning into him on knuckles and lips. His scruff is startlingly rough on her skin, after so many years of smooth cheeks and peach fuzz. His lips are sun chapped and motionless as she works her mouth over him, slowly, then more desperately, and then finally a light lingering brush as she looks up at him, hands beginning to shake.

He blinks down at her in a way that makes her question the state of his higher brain function. His hands hang limply at his sides.

Beth goes back down onto her feet, still holding his vest. She bites her bottom lip, watching his eyes flick there and back to her eyes, blown open with shock.


“What you do that for?”

Beth blushes down to her toes. “Just... I wanted to.”


Her brow furrows. “Why... you're hot.” She giggles a little at how absolutely terrified he looks. He doesn't move out of her grasp though.

The longer she looks at him, gaze flickering between his eyes, the more relaxed he seems to become; a little tension winds out of his spine as he slouches into her, rolling her knuckles against his chest.

“How old you say you were again,” he murmurs, looking down at her with hooded eyes.


“I don't gotta card you, do I?”

She giggles again, smoothing her hands up his chest, under the vest, feeling the cool slide of his flannel. “I'm an honest girl.”

“Yeah?” He glances out towards the restaurant proper, then steps forward, backing her up into the shadows until she's pressed against the wall by the bathroom door. “You a good one?”

“I try to be.” She feels the lightest pressure on her hips as he settles his fingers against her, brushing them against the top of her jeans and into the gap beneath her sweater; she shivers, heart pumping, victorious, alive.

“Ain't doing a very good job.” He slides his fingers back and forth just beneath her sweater, going farther towards her back with each pass; she bends her fingers, scratching a little at his shirt. His neck arches as he leans into her, pressing her knuckles back into her own chest and she breathes in deeply as his chest expands, meeting him in the middle. Her head falls back against the wall, and she looks at him, lips parted. He doesn't even try to look away this time.

“You got a problem with that?”

“Nah,” he murmurs, and kisses her.

She moans the moment his lips touch hers, because they're burning—spread wide and dangerous as he engulfs her mouth, breathing her in, scratching her chin with the needles of his whiskers and jesus, it's only just begun and she's never been kissed like this before—like she's a woman and he's a man and he takes no qualms in sinking his hands into her jeans pockets and gripping her ass, dragging her forward even as he flattens her against the wall. She whines high in her throat and digs her fingers into his chest, then slides them onto his shoulders under his vest so she can lever herself up and press harder against his mouth. She opens hers easily, letting him in.

He isn't tentative, isn't shy in the way he slides his tongue against hers, tasting of smoke and burrito and something that must be beer, because nothing but alcohol could explain the way every nerve ending in her body has gone alight, pulsing in time with the heart beneath his broad chest. A groan rises from deep in his gut as she curls her tongue past his, tasting his enamel, making him sing, shifting her hips to slot against—

A dish crashes in the kitchen and he rips his lips away to pant harshly against her mouth. Beth clenches instinctively at his shoulders, but he doesn't seem to want to go anywhere; just stands there against her, pressing her into the wall, separated only by shadows and jukebox from a crowded bar—from her sister, the same sister who nearly made Jimmy wet his pants when she caught them behind the school dumpsters, who's probably right now wondering where her suicidal little sister is—

But with this stranger's weight pressing her into the wall and his hot breath winding rivers of fire beneath her cheek bones, Beth just can't bring herself to care.

“We're stoppin'?” she asks, breathing hard, pressing back so his knuckles grind against the wall.

He growls and drags her forward again. She has to bite her lip to suppress her whimper.

“What are we doing here, girl?”

She looks at him with flint in her eyes. “You tell me.”

“I'm thinking you ain’t fully in your right mind right now.”

Beth’s face flushes with anger. She yanks hard on his vest. “That’s bullshit,” she hisses in a voice she didn’t know she could produce. He seems just as taken aback as she is. “You don’t wanna continue, that’s fine, but don’t project your issues onto me.” She rises on her tiptoes, gets right in his face. “I’m not damaged, I’m not weak, and I’m sure as hell not some dead girl can’t make up her mind.” She pulls one hand from beneath his vest and curls it around the back of his neck. She feels the muscles there tighten, his shoulders roll as she scratches lightly at the damp hairs above his spine. “I wanna do this.”

His eyes flicker between hers, so close. “Wanna what?”

“I want to fuck,” she breathes, soft as sugar and sweet as sin, and her sudden bravery would scare her if he didn’t respond so: Cheeks flaring red and hands flexing on her ass, dragging her forward so he can rub the bulge in his pants once up and down her hip. Her eyes flutter at this display of his utter maleness, the raw need in his eyes. When she can focus her eyes again he looks troubled.

“What?” she asks.

“You have done this before, right?”

“Of course I have!” Beth straightens up, tries to look older. “Have you?”

“Don’t sass me,” he growls.

“It was a legitimate question,” she grumbles.

“You listen,” he says, low in his throat. He presses closer against her, using every inch of his extra height to loom over her. “You may’ve had sex, but you ain’t never been fucked. Not like this.”

“How do you know?”

“I know girls like you.”

“And what kinda girl am I?”

“The kinda girl people take care of.” He swallows. “You want me to be your piece of rough, I can be it.” He moves a hand from her ass to hold the outside of her thigh, gripping her harder than she thought hands could grip; she can feel the bruises rising and it thrills her. “But you gotta know, I ain’t no damn farmer boy. You understand that?”

“I do,” Beth breathes.

He searches her face; seems to like what he finds. “Com'mon then.” Glancing back towards the restaurant, he reaches for the bathroom door, yanking it open. He jerks his head, and Beth slides inside, heart pounding, waiting for him.

He doesn't waste time slipping in after her, closing and locking the door with a deafening click, turning to face her. He looks much larger in this confined space; his shoulders nearly span the width of the walls, and even at his average height he's only a head from the ceiling. The single lightbulb flickers as he looks down at her, eyes dark and perusing, sliding up and down her body like a pair of hands.

He sees her hesitate. He nods at her feet. “Take your shoes off.” She looks at the filthy floor, ready to object. “Socks on.”

Beth goes to one knee to undo her converse, struggling to hide the excited trembling in her hands. She glances up at him and sees him watching her, eyes heavy, hand rubbing at the bulge in his jeans. Beth is mesmerized by the ruggedness of his hand against the washed out fabric—his scabbed knuckles and nerve-bitten nails, square-palmed and work hardened and dragging up and down his dick like her eyes could do it for him. She finds herself panting as she stumbles to her feet, shuffling her shoes to the side.

“Show me what you wanna do with me,” she murmurs.

He's enormous as he looms over her, all black leather and brimstone. He takes one step, then another, then seizes her by the back of the neck and drags her in for a bruising kiss.

She realizes he must have been holding back in the hallway, because this kiss is violent—slashing and hungry and crawling down her throat like a wish down a well, swelling and expanding in the swerve of their heads and heat of their reaching hands. She tangles her fingers in his hair, scratching the back of his ears and gasping as he sucks on her tongue and spans her ribcage with his hands, shoving her backwards until her ass hits the sink. He bends her over with the weight of his kiss, and she has to throw a hand up and behind her head to support herself against the mirror as he grinds her between the sink and his hips.

“Fuck,” she gasps as he rips away from her mouth to kiss down her neck, wet sticky kisses that match the wet heat of his hands as they slide up under her sweater, shove the material above her bra, press her down by the collarbones as he lowers his mouth to suck on her breast. She gasps open-mouthed at the sensation, hooking a leg around his waist and winding a hand in his hair, yanking in time to the swipes and licks of his tongue and teeth. She cries out again when he reaches into the cotton and pulls her out, pink and puckered; takes her in his mouth again, sucking and biting like he wants to mark her. Her bracelets make loud clanking noises against the mirror in time to his thrusts and she's close to coming from that alone.

“Christ, you taste good,” he mutters as he kisses across her chest to suck on the other breast through the cotton, slurping obscenely. Beth can only squeeze her eyes shut and scratch at his scalp, feel the slip slide of the oil between her fingers. His hands are still spread across the skin of her stomach, helping his hips to keep her pinned, and she arches her chest forward, gasping, the crown of her head pressed beside her hand to the mirror and her foot digging into the dimple of his ass.

“Please, please,” she breathes, not knowing what she's pleading for, not even caring as the feel of his body burns her up, runs through her veins like fire and lightning and sparks at each crease and crevice. Her tit is in his mouth, her pussy wet and weeping in her underwear, and she can't stop herself from arching all the way off the ground, suspended by her leg around his waist and her hand and head on the mirror and the sink creaking and digging into her lower back.

“Wait, wait,” she gasps, biting her lip violently as he tugs at her nipple with his teeth. “The sink—it's gonna—“

He laughs high in his throat, no more than a huff of air, the vibrations shooting through her nipple and making her sing. He snakes a hand around to support her lower back, short nails scraping her spine as she digs her heel into the crack of his ass, feeling the light fur of his back against her bare ankle. With warmth in front and warmth behind, his hand on her stomach slowly slides down across the zipper of her jeans to dig between their bodies with his thumb, pressing hard.

“Jesus H!” Beth shrieks, and suddenly the hand from her cunt is pressed to her mouth and his whole weight is bending her back again, making the pipes moan and rattle.

“Keep it down,” he growls. “You want the whole bar running in here?”

“No,” she gasps, the word flicking her tongue forward to taste the salt and sweat of his palm, and she remembers a picture she saw in Shawn’s Playboy once, of a girl spreadeagled and gagged—and doesn’t her mind reel at that thought, racing and wild and next time, next time when my head isn't so jumbled and please tell me there can be a next time and she shakes her head, overwhelmed by his presence and his dick hard against her thigh.

He brings his hand off her mouth and strokes it across her stomach soothingly, eyes lust-blown but kind.

“You good?”

“I'll be good,” she whispers.

A full body tremor shoots through him, and it’s like a switch has been flipped. With a snap of his eyes, the hand on her mouth comes down to grip her chin, bruisingly hard, suspending both feet off the ground and making the sink tilt alarmingly.

“And what if I want you bad?” he growls, whiskers scratching her lips with every word.

Even through her delirium, Beth has the presence of mind to raise her eyebrows, pull her mouth into a gasping smirk. “You’ll get that when you earn it,” she manages.

To both of their surprise, he huffs out a quick laugh. “You're a damn firecracker.”

“Don't know about that,” Beth says, barely controlling the spasming in her limbs. “I know what I want though.”

“Thank fuck you do.”

In a single move he growls and heaves her up, spinning around and slamming her into the door, holding her skull so his knuckles take the impact instead of her head. He growls into her neck, deep and feral, licking heavily at the crease of her jaw.

“Yes, yes,” she breathes, digging her heels into his spine so he grinds into her, making them both groan. He swallows her mouth with his again, kissing deep and wet as his hands go down to the fly of her jeans.

“Fuck, you're driving me crazy,” he whispers. “Sexy as hell...”

“You too,” she murmurs.

It comes out far shyer than she means it to, and it makes him pause, zipper down and revealing the blue cotton of her underwear. Looking into her eyes, he again rubs his thumb across her mound, pressing in on her pubic bone until the flesh between aches. He presses his forehead to hers and they watch his hand in tandem, circling and circling across the blue cotton, gliding on the hair and skin beneath.

“This feel good?” he murmurs, bringing the rest of his fingers down to slot inside her jeans and drag across her clit, making her convulse as she nods frantically. Her vocal cords have stopped working. Displeased with her silence, he jerks his finger painfully against her clit, swallows her cry with a biting kiss.

With a small step back he lets her slide from his waist to the ground, jelly-legged. He nods at her pants. “Take 'em off. All of it.”

She doesn't question him; just sheds her jeans and panties and throws them behind him to dangle off the sink. He digs his wallet out of his back pocket to yank out a condom; she's shocked (and a little proud) to see that his hands are trembling as heavily as hers. She can see herself in the mirror over his shoulder, and glances between him and it as he drops his wallet to the floor and looks her over; sweater suspended on her exposed tit, the stretch of flat belly and thatch of hair, the cute white cotton of her socks on the dingy floor. As far as Jimmy had expressed, the one time he got her naked, there wasn't much special to see—but where the boy she'd known since infanthood had been unimpressed, this stranger is looking at her like she's a goddess in pink and yellow, hair wild and lips sucked-red in the dim light of a bar's washroom. Meeting her eyes, he steps forward and spins her around, pinning her cheek against the door. She hears the crinkle of foil, and she whimpers out a gasp as he steps against her, the heavy curve of his dick settling between her ass cheeks.

He leans over her curved back so she can feel the brush of his lips on her ear as he talks, rubbing her ass up and down as he does. “You tell me if it's too much, a'right?”

“Yeah,” she breathes; he squeezes her ass brutally and she squeaks, “Yes, yes!”

She feels his grin on the shell of her ear, and then his nose against her skull as he looks down between them, spreading her asscheeks and encouraging her to arch further backward. His finger slides into her wetness, and they both groan.

“That's all for me?” he breathes in a voice startlingly close to wonder.

“All for you,” she whispers as he circles her opening with the rough pad of his finger, sinking inside to test her elasticity and making her moan. “More, please more,” she mouths, and by his chuckle she's sure he hears.

He spends a few leisurely minutes like this: Fucking her with his fingers, adding one and then another, the other hand trailing up and down her front, tweaking her nipple or clit when the fancy strikes him, rubbing off his cock on one cheek and then the other. By the time he withdraws she's a shaking desperate mess, shoving her ass back and ready to beg.

“Y'ready?” he whispers, teasing her opening with the head of his dick and she nearly cries.

“Yes,” she breathes.

He sinks deep inside.

The few times she's had sex have been short, awkward, and mildly painful. Jimmy, bless his heart, never seemed to know what to do with his hands; would get her on her back and pump away until his teenage urges were satisfied.

That was nothing compared to this. She feels no pain as he slips in and out, shallow strokes to test them both (although strangely, suddenly, desperately, she wishes it would hurt—wishes he'd take her hard and fast instead of this maddening slide of slick on slick)—feels no shame in arching her back further, tangling her hand with his so he can get at her clit from the front. Her cheek is hot and moist from her own sweat sticking her to the door, the steam of her breath bounding back against her nose and mouth as his other hand winds around hers so he has one between her legs and the other against the wall. He's still barely moving, his face buried in her hair and breath coming deep and fast, hips snapping in the minutest movements that drive her crazy.

“Come on,” she whines, bucking back against him, and suddenly his hands clench and he shoves her forward, squeezing her breasts painfully against the door.

“You'd best be patient if you want this to last, girl,” he growls, groaning as she clenches her inner muscles around him.

“Please do something,” she whispers, yanking at the hand on the wall to try and get free. He just squeezes her tighter.

“Tell me what ta do.”

“Fuck me.”

“I can't hear ya.”

“Fuck me!”

“Fuck you what?”

“Please, please fuck me!—“

And he does, slamming into her with an upstroke that leaves her breathless, then leveling out, starting a steady pounding against the door. His breath is heavy in her ear and his stomach muscles hard on her ass and lower back as he thrusts and circles inside of her. He grabs one of her legs and heaves it up next to them until she finds purchase on the rim of the toilet, sock sliding precariously on the cheap porcelain. The change in angle makes her sob and she's burning, she's fire, she's a candle in a storm and he's fucking her brains, fucking her heart, fucking the slim line on her slim wrist where it lies like a fault line beneath his, grasped in his bruising fist.

She grips the hand between her legs with white knuckles as he rubs against and beneath her hood, rubbing and rubbing until the double pressure makes her foot slam off the rim and into the toilet and she sees stars. The tears in her eyes mingle with the sweat on her cheeks, the sticky squeak against the door a counterpoint to the squelch of their bodies and the hum of the jukebox from outside, the din of speech and clank of dishes as she gets fucked inside out in this shitty bathroom.

She's still coming as he finishes fucking her, slamming into her once, twice, until he spills with a deep groan, biting her shoulder through a mouthful of hair.

They come down slowly, breaths mingling in eddies against the door, doubling back on their faces. He pulls out of her with a quiet groan and she lifts her foot out of the toilet, lowering it to the ground shakily, wincing at the squelch it makes. She stays plastered to the door as his presence slides away from her, chill air hitting her overheated flesh and making her shiver. She turns around slowly and watches him pull the condom off, dick hanging unconcernedly out of his pants (so that's what one looks like, Beth thinks with a flush, remembering how she looks down there in a mirror, wishing she could have seen that thing disappearing inside her). She waits, but he doesn't look at her, so she slips around him, feeling the brush of his angel wing vest against her nose as she retrieves her jeans and panties from the now tilted sink, sliding them on her rubbery legs.

“I think we broke it,” she says with a little laugh—as the sound of the closing door echoes through the space.

She turns.

All that's left of him is a ripped foil and battered wallet, abandoned and lonely on the floor.

Maggie rushes up to her as soon as she exits the bathroom, wild eyed and concerned.

“Beth, where the heck were you? Zach said you went to the bar—Beth, honey, you look awful, what happened?”

“A panic attack,” Beth says, hair hanging bedraggled around her face. “I had a panic attack.”

“Oh honey.” Maggie draws Beth into her arms, holds her tight. “Listen, I'm really sorry about today; you're right, I shouldn't have brought you, I was being stupid—“

“It's fine, Maggie. Let's just go home.”

Maggie leads her out to the parking lot with her arm tight around her, cramping Beth's spine between the shoulder-blades. She only lets go when they reach the car; Maggie circles to the driver's side, but Beth pauses, looking back at the bar, at the empty space where a lone bike had peeled out only minutes before.

His wallet is heavy in her pocket. Beth gets in the car. She goes home.