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I have seen your claws and sharp teeth

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Jimmy was fourteen years old when he asked Bobbi, "What's it like to make love?"

If he'd known his father wasn't yet passed out in his recliner and could hear the question, he'd never have asked.

Bobbi joined him in the kitchen late that night, barefoot and sharp-eyed. Without speaking, she took the melting bag of frozen peas off his face, threw it into the sink, and handed him a bottle of Jack. "It's okay if it's medical," she said to his slow, swollen blink.

Deliberately, he put the bottle on the table and flattened his hands on his thighs. Bobbi rolled her eyes; reaching out, she snagged the neck in a curl of her fingers, put the bottle to her mouth and took a long swallow. When she was done, she licked her lips and said, "Just tell me something, Jimmy. What the hell were you thinkin'?"

He shrugged uncomfortably, his back and shoulders stiff with purpling bruises. "I was curious."

Bobbi snorted. "You saw too many soap operas growin' up. Damn things rot your brain, you know. The way those people carry on ain't nothin' like real life."

They fell quiet. Jimmy watched as Bobbi pulled one foot up onto her chair, tucked her chin onto her knee and began picking at the flaking red polish on her toenails. She was close enough that he could catch the scent of lotion on her skin, its baby-powder sweetness just barely failing to disguise her usual, familiar notes of alcohol, cigarettes and musk.

"Is what we do anything like making love?" he asked, suspecting he already knew the answer.

The way she looked up at him, her eyes glinting beneath her lashes, told him he was right. "You listen to your mama, now, Jimmy," she said, and he wasn't ever going to tell her that he knew exactly what she hid behind that arch, mocking maternity. "People either make strange, or they make babies. One or the other; that's all. Nobody makes love."

Fourteen years later, Bobbi stands with Jim in the Gracen study and asks him to love her. The sex is mindless, raw. Starved.

If Jim knows she's still lying--even if only to herself--he doesn't let on.