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Authors: Alison Tyler

Tags: #Fiction, #Erotica, #General, #Romance

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BOOK: Dark Secret Love
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The submission of the soul.

From Byron’s extremely arrogant manner, from the precise way he dressed and spoke and wrote, I had believed that he would treat me in the way that my prior beaus had. But no. He was very willing to be dominant about everything but sex. While we’d dated, he had teased me with public displays of affection. Kissing me at clubs, twining his fingers in my hair when we were out at plays. All of that stopped as soon as I moved in. It was as if he only would do those sorts of things with a disposable girlfriend. Potential wives were to be treated in an entirely different manner.

Finally, in a fit of angst, I got drunk and confessed what I truly wanted. What I needed. I thought—hoped, prayed—that perhaps he was treating me with kid gloves because he was worried that he would hurt me. I couldn’t have been more off base. When I got his wood-backed hairbrush and begged him on my knees to use it on me, he gave me a look of such marked disgust that I wanted to
vanish into the floor. In the morning, I blamed the X-rated confession on drunkenness and we never spoke of it again.

Why did I stay? No fucking clue, except that I was younger, and dumber, and somehow under his control. When we went out to eat one night with friends, the lady in the couple let slip that I’d told her a secret about one of Byron’s buddies. I hadn’t known this was a secret, but when Keri turned to Byron and spoke the secret aloud, he turned to me and said, “You lost ten points.”

All right, if this happened to me now, I would have gotten up and left. No question. But then, I panicked. My heart stopped. Ten points? Out of how many? How could I earn them back?

The few times I had the nerve to fight with him, he would get a smug look on his face, listen to me rant, and then respond either with “You’re so pretty” or “Silly girl,” as if nothing I said managed to stick in his brain. The worst thing of all was that everyone always told me how lucky I was. We made a cute couple, and feeling sure that I was the damaged one, I tried my best to be the good little girlfriend he wanted. I bought the brands of soap (Dial), laundry detergent (Tide), mouthwash (Scope), and toilet paper (Charmin) his mommy had bought. I dressed in the style he requested—pencil skirts, crisp shirts. I wore my hair the way he liked, pin-straight and in a high ponytail. I acted the part of the sub in every way, except sexually.

Until I snapped.

When I asked him why we rarely had sex, he polled his brothers and father to determine whether we were on average with the rest of the men in his family. When I showed him books of erotica that indicated I wasn’t wicked for wanting more, he said he thought of me like a sister.

Unfortunately, I didn’t break up well. I flamed out. With his diamond ring sparkling on my finger, I engaged in several devious yet delicious affairs. I’m no cheat at heart. But when I was honest with him and told him I needed to try life on my own, he demanded I seek professional help. He wouldn’t hear a word I had to say. (“You’re so pretty.”) I felt that there was nowhere else for me to go. Nowhere except into the cherry-red convertible of a handsome young man named Connor.

Chapter Four:
How I Became a Meat Eater

Almost everyone in Los Angeles is a something-slash-something-else. A waiter/underwear model. A comedian/traffic school instructor. An actress/dog walker. Connor was a model/bartender who worked in a restaurant at an upscale office building in Beverly Hills. Of the four bartenders at this restaurant, one was a bartender/musician, one a bartender/actor, and one a bartender/model. Only one was a bartender/bartender.

The building was where Byron and I both worked. Byron played the role of right-hand man to a flamboyant gay screenwriter, and he got me a part-time slot as the screenwriter’s personal assistant. Yeah, there’s a difference. Byron listened to Jody read his dialogue aloud for hours at a time. I organized Jody’s closets, booked his salon appointments, and kept his day planner (to make sure his boyfriend never found out about his lovers on the side). The job was mindless and I enjoyed working in the beautiful building, but I hated my life.

Every time I drove my car under an underpass, I’d have fantasies about turning the wheel sharply into the concrete wall. During my forty-minute commute from the beach to Beverly Hills, I played Bowie incessantly—Ashes to Ashes, We Could Be Heroes, John, I’m Only Dancing—and cried for no reason at all. Although I told the people I most trusted that I was unhappy—my family, my friends—nobody believed me. Every single person told me that I was simply young (true) and had cold feet (false) about my impending wedding. I wanted to escape, but I didn’t know how.

This was such a dark time that I don’t really remember a lot about it. I don’t even remember all that much about Byron, except for my constant “point” losses and his continual critiques. From the mundane to the extreme, he didn’t like it when I:

wore my hair curly

wore my glasses

wore miniskirts

wore pants without pockets

drank beer

read trashy magazines.

I’d been a vegetarian the whole time we were together, and although he was a carnivore, he would not hear of me deciding to eat meat again. He didn’t like my tattoos, didn’t like it when I dyed my brown hair black, didn’t like the short stories I wrote. He was anal about everything but sex. That’s not true—he was anal about sex, too, but not into anything back-door or kinky. Sex had to happen in a specific lights-out, minty-fresh sort of way. The longer we were together, the less frequently and more lifelessly we made love.

We never, ever fucked.

Yet, although I seemed unable to please him, he didn’t want me to change in any way.

When he was upset with me, which was often, he would refuse to speak, to acknowledge my presence at all. On the day of our engagement party, he was angry with me for some inconsequential error. Byron didn’t say a word to me all evening, didn’t look at me once until he gave a toast to his future bride, a toast that actually brought tears to people’s eyes as he professed this great well of love he had for me.

Crazy. I thought I was going crazy.

“See?” my friends said. “He’s lovely. Listen to how he gushes about you. I wish I had a boyfriend like that.” They didn’t know that he didn’t speak to me for three days after the party. Didn’t know that he would simply grunt if I was in his path. He had other cruel ways of punishing me: ridiculing me in front of his friends and so on. But the silent treatment was the worst. I’d grovel, trying to figure out how to make him happy, ultimately feeling like a failure twenty-four hours a day.

I’m not trying to justify why I cheated. I’m only telling my side of the story. Unlike Byron, Connor appeared to adore everything about me (including my cigarette pants with no pockets—which he said made my ass look amazing—and my newly dyed black hair, which he thought was gothic, like Bettie Page). He started by sticking little Post-It notes on my windshield. “You look beautiful,” he’d write. Or “God, you’re so damn sexy.” I didn’t believe him right away. Byron never told me I was beautiful. (His evil “You’re so pretty” doesn’t count.) If I asked him how I looked before an evening out, he said I was fishing for compliments, which in his view was a
major sin. I stared in the mirror and saw the wrong hair, the wrong glasses, the wrong makeup, the wrong everything.

Connor saw something else.

He asked me out on a date, knowing my situation but not worrying about it. We met up for a movie in Century City and sat next to each other. We were both careful not to touch one another, yet accidentally, his arm brushed mine, my leg brushed his. Flickers of electricity flared through me. The tiniest touch was enough to make me shift in my seat, immediately aroused. I saw not one frame of that film.

Over beers afterwards, we played that same game, his foot touching mine under the table, mine brushing his, until finally, on the cusp of exploding, we retreated to the parking garage and made out like long-lost lovers. Connor couldn’t keep his hands off me. He cradled my face in his strong hands, kissed me so firmly. He didn’t touch me too forcefully, didn’t want to leave marks that I wouldn’t have been able to explain, but I felt from that first moment that I was his.

After that, it was all over. Every day we met up somewhere at the office building, on the loading deck in back, in the kitchen of the restaurant, in his car, in the parking garage. Every free second, we found a way to meet. I remember standing in front of him on the loading dock. He had on black jeans and a white T-shirt and leaned against the concrete wall of the building, looking at me. I ran my hand down his flat stomach to the crotch of his jeans, could feel how much he wanted me. He tilted his head up and closed his eyes and let me stroke him. “You’re gonna make me come if you keep that up,” he said, his voice harsh.

“I know,” I promised him. “I know.”

I felt as if I were on fire all the time, and suddenly Byron’s critiques began to roll off me. I found that I didn’t care much if he wasn’t talking to me. Silence was better than constant nagging, than losing another ten fucking points. I didn’t care if he hated my outfits. I was no longer looking for his approval. I was no longer dressing for him.

My newfound glow brought comments from elsewhere. Alain, at the upscale market. Johnny, an actor I ran into now and then in Santa Monica. Hunter, my former editor. People noticed a marked difference in me—at least, everyone did but Byron. I took great pleasure in the fact that Byron hated Connor, that he called him dumb, clearly intimidated because Connor was so handsome—and this is the funny thing. I’ve never been into handsome. I’m much more of a Billy Bob Thornton than a Brad Pitt sort of girl. But Connor was a modern James Dean, blonde and blue-eyed and almost angelic, the kind of stunning that turns heads. I didn’t want him for those reasons. I craved him because he saw something in me, even at my most beaten down, and he went after me. I have a photo of him following a night of no sleep. He’s wearing black jeans and no shirt under an open blazer, and he’s smoking a cigarette, but barely, the butt dangling from his lower lip. He has that insolent fuck you look that has always made me wet in a heartbeat.

The longer we were together, the bolder I became. I found ways to avoid sleeping in Byron’s bed. I’d stay up late, watching reruns on TV and drinking tequila, which I hid in the cupboard behind the unused vinegar, because although Byron drank and smoked pot daily, he didn’t like it when I was tipsy. I made sure that Byron was fast asleep before I curled up on the sofa and made myself come,
thinking about Connor, picturing his body on mine, his mouth on the curve of my neck, his hands holding me in place, never letting me go. I envisioned him doing the things to me that Robert had, that Brock had. I envisioned him fucking me, cuffing me, binding me in place. And when I told him my darkest secrets, he didn’t run away. He didn’t look at me with pity as if I were demented or broken. He simply said, “I know, Samantha. I know what you want.” A dark laugh. “I knew from the first time I saw you.”

Connor wrote me sexy letters. He called and talked dirty to me when I was in the office, feet away from Byron. He brought me trinkets, a leather cuff-style bracelet that I wore every day. One afternoon he confessed his own fantasy, in which we went to the Sunset Strip tattoo parlor and he watched as the man tattooed a design on me that Connor had drawn himself. He wanted to own me, to mark me, and I felt as if I were melting as he confessed each frame.

We went to Melrose early one evening, when I was supposed to be running an errand for Jody, and I got my ear double-pierced, sitting on Connor’s lap while the clerk did his job. I felt Connor’s cock stiffen in his black jeans. Christ, we were well suited for one another, our fantasies melding. The only thing working against us was time. There never was enough.

I look back and wonder why in the hell Byron insisted that we move forward with the wedding. He must have known how unhappy I was with him. And he seemed to hate me. Really hate me. Someone who loves you doesn’t put you down all the time. He claimed he was trying to help me, to better me, to teach me. Yet that was one of the first things he had told me when we’d met: I’m not
a teacher. Prior to me, he had dated only older women, sophisticated type As. And here I was, an out-of-control filly, needing a strong hand, a firm set of reins.

Whenever we fought and I’d pack to leave, he’d insist I would regret it for the rest of my life. “And where will you go, silly girl?” he asked, taunting me, because I lived in a house he owned, worked at a job he’d gotten me. He assured me I’d be homeless, jobless, penniless. So I stayed, physically, but mentally I was already far away. I wore my pants without pockets. I wore my glasses when I wanted to. And I became a meat eater.

Oh, yes, I did.

Connor and I met for lunch at a steakhouse, and I remember the pleasure of cutting into the rare flesh, of eating bite after bite. Of him feeding me from his plate. Nothing has ever tasted that good.

BOOK: Dark Secret Love
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