That’s the word we use for it. And feeding--we use that word too. We use these words not because they are accurate, but because they best describe the process: the craving before, the savoring during, and the refreshed, satisfied drowsiness that follows.
I am so hungry.
I can feel it in my skin, this desperate need for touch, the warmth of human contact. Warmth that reaches out to me, seeps into me, teases and taunts until I draw it in. Then there’s no going back. A guttural snarl rises from my throat as something dark and predatory stirs inside me--dark but not evil, at worst simply parasitic.
My limbs feel like they’ve merged with the bed. The sheets smell thickly human. A scent I cannot get out no matter how hard I try, and now I’ve just resigned myself to it.
The sun is coming in through the window, bathing my whole body in the purest, whitest light. Light that is bright and redeeming but also makes me tired, which is not improving things as far as the hunger is concerned.
After minutes of lying there, I finally will myself off the bed and wander out through my apartment, pulled inescapably toward the most convenient fix. Barefoot, I leave my home, cross out into the hallway and past the elevators. My high-rise neighborhood--a mere collection of doors with unknown and unseen people hiding behind them--passes by me as I plant one foot in front of the other. The bare skin of my feet touches cheap, generic carpeted smudges of orange, gold, and purple, until I finally arrive at 11B.
Lily opens the door before I finish knocking on it. He seems startled, but not surprised. Unstable at his core, uninterpretable events making his energy whirl nervously around him. He’s holding his breath, I realize. He’s holding his breath in wild anticipation because he knew I was coming before I did.
I can taste him from here, in the hallway, two feet between us. There’s something about his scent that is already driving me nuts.
Seconds pass before he lets me in. When he closes the door behind me, he pauses at the dead bolt. I think it’s difficult for him when I’m this hungry. Difficult and maybe even a little scary. He wants it, but he thinks he shouldn’t, and he worries that secretly he’s a weak or a foolish person for not resisting more. But in a few moments, when his fingers leave the various locks on the door and he turns around, those thoughts will be the furthest from his mind.
He wears an expression that looks copied out of a thug magazine--not violent, not intimidating, just a tough and smug don’t-mess-with-me look.
I smile slyly, coax my way into his arms, open him up with my touch, and feed.
* * *
I first met Illya “Lily” Ivanchuk in the fall of 2007. I was moving boxes from the elevator to my new apartment. Or trying to, anyway--the boxes were overloaded, difficult to move before the machine ran off with a stack of my possessions. Stabbing the call button did nothing, and running down eleven flights of stairs to catch the elevator as it picked up passengers in the lobby did not seem practical.
I tried to remember exactly what was in those boxes--dishes? Cooking tools? Souvenirs from a lifetime lived too fast? Clothes? Every push of the elevator button was another step in a Marx Brothers-esque routine: First the left door would open, then the right. I’d wait two or three minutes for the right elevator to lose interest and go pick someone else up or deal with another enthusiastic ding
from the wrong door while my stuff glided away.
But finally the correct brass-colored doors opened, and I came nose-to-nose with the owner of a startled gray pair of eyes.
“Excuse me,” I grunted, pushing past him to get at the first box in the pile. I could feel the warm space of his shadow as he stumbled out of my way and into the hallway. The monster inside purred with interest at this exotic blend of shy, masculine, and alarmed, but I kicked her in the face and dropped the first heavy box against the door to hold it open. See? In the twenty minutes I’d spent wrestling to get the elevator back, I had gotten smart.
I could feel him watching, although I did not understand it. Hadn’t this transaction ended already? What more was there? Still, he watched. Then he picked up one of my boxes and started following me down the hallway toward my apartment.
In some cultures this is considered helping. We’re not used to it here, so I had to swallow my first reaction, which involved pepper spray and whatever I’d learned from two weeks of Tae Bo classes. I gritted my teeth and forced myself to mutter, “Thank you.”
But that didn’t stop the sharp look I gave him when I reached for my doorknob. Gray Eyes stopped short and hovered awkwardly about six feet away.
I kicked the box I had in with its friends and waved for him to hand off what he had as well. I thought that would be the end of that until I found him with another armful of my stuff.
He looked confused and conflicted as I rushed past him. He couldn’t follow me around like a puppy, couldn’t stay with my stuff, couldn’t cross the threshold into my apartment... What was left? The monstrous part of me was quick to point out that where others would retreat into annoyance, my unexpected dark-haired, gray-eyed assistant was timidly looking to please. Weren’t those the best sort? The ones earnest enough to get drawn in and raw enough to give in: their lust and longing like a sweet nectar.
Angry at myself for thinking about this, I kicked the monster back down again.
When I passed him, though, I couldn’t help scanning with another scathing glance. He was cute, I thought. Young...maybe twenty-three? Twenty-five would have been extremely generous. He was dressed in a whiter, more middle-class version of the current hip-hop styles: low-slung jeans, graphic T-shirt, unironic baseball cap, a scruffiness that was bleached of all traces of poverty and struggle. I thought, as I twisted the key in the lock one final time, that maybe I was going about this the wrong way.
“Hey,” I said as he handed me the last box over the invisible line I had forbidden him to cross. “Would you like to come in for coffee or something?”
It sounded stupid even then, but after a moment of thought or two he nodded and carefully approached the door.
I introduced myself, kicking the door closed behind him and rattling off the typical small talk things--“I just moved in”; “Sorry the place isn’t put together yet”; “Thanks for the help. I should have made my friends come down and help me, but I didn’t think I needed it”--none of which he responded to. Not that you’re really supposed to respond to stuff like that in a meaningful way, but still the way he sat on the bar stool by the pass-through kitchen and listened was curious.
Finally when I looked at him for a reaction, he extended his hand awkwardly and said, “I’m Illya Ivanchuk.”
Bits of his cheerful if shy personality, along with a few half-formed stray thoughts, floated through me as his palm pressed against mine. Illya...Elijah. He tasted good, but what rumbled around inside him was teeming with foreign troubles.
“You’re Russian,” I said.
“Do you speak English?”
He shook his head with a smile.
“A little.” Then with some difficulty added, “I understand, but I only speak a little.”
I decided that it was probably impolite to eat the first new neighbor on my first day in my new apartment, but then if he didn’t speak English, what else could I do with him but think about how delicious he smelled over and over again until I went insane?
“I live”--he pointed toward the door--“11B.”
Uh-huh. “With your family?”
He shook his head.
“You live alone?”
“Yeah.” Communication successfully achieved, he gave me a soft, relieved smile.
“Are you a student?”
He didn’t respond right away; that was how I knew that it was a lie. He considered telling the truth, but maybe the truth couldn’t be captured in a few key words and phrases stolen out of a phrase book.
* * *
Some women stand in front of sweet-shop windows just to smell the baking cakes--chocolate smelting like iron ore in big copper pots to be poured and molded into weapons against PMS and toxic friendships, the jackhammer loud rumbling of an electric mixer whipping up a batch of cream-cheese icing. If they go in, they’ll obsessively fuss over the cellulite on their thighs for hours after, but if they just admire... Well, fantasies are guilt free.
But people like me have cravings of a completely different sort; fantasies can be dangerous.
Thoughts about my new neighbor’s hands: thick, angular, calloused fingers tapered with rough nails. I love a man’s hands. The sight of them makes me tingle, imagining all the places they might go. Cupping my breasts to sliding protectively against my own palm, fingers teasing soft in-between places.
Jake’s hands are narrow with short stubby fingers. The edges of them dug into helpful feminine deposits of fat rounding out my hips and perky ass.
Jake was supposed to be helping me unpack, but he was hard and I was hungry. I rolled my head with a moan and shot him a grin over my shoulder. The mat to protect my desk from ink stains didn’t double very well as a pillow and irritated my arm with the sheer force of each thrust. I liked the feeling of his thumb against my hip bone probably more than I liked the feeling of him inside me, and I liked the taste of his energy moving through my soul-sucking psychic channels best of all. The inherent violence in each thrust--hard and deep, feeling myself clench around him, his grip moving me up into the position he wanted--were lost in wet and tingling jolts of pleasure.
We brought out the worst in each other. His touches were sweetly asexual until my indiscreet pawing and bites provoked him. Polite and gentlemanly, reserved and proper, he was still a man. His cock still hardened when I rubbed, when fingers slid coyly up soft inner thighs and danced across veins and sensitive ridges. I wanted him to pin me down, lift my skirt up until it was pooled around my waist, and make me feel it, probably because he didn’t want to want things this way. But when he was aggressive what I did in return--letting the monstrous part of me penetrate and feed on him--seemed less objectionable.
One of his hands moved from my hip to the small of my back, pushing down as if to trap me against the hard surface. The friction between those lower lips--wet and stretched around him--made my whole body tingle. I pressed down into the desk, letting my bottom pop up just enough for him to slip out. His wriggling movements smeared a sinful mix of light natural lubrication and sticky artificial product across my skin before he found his way back in. I answered his growl with soft feminine moans and tried to contort our position to force him balls-deep into me before it was over.
His energy was like electricity, making me feel invincible and complete. My body was responding to my own pleasure as he fumbled in rough circle rubs across my clit, but the monster was drunk on the nectar of lust.
“God.” He hissed when he came and seemed to deflate, the weight of him uncomfortably thrown over me.
“Oh, I’ve been promoted?”
A soft “huh?” hung from his lips as he blinked out that hyper-concentrated sex glaze that always took hold of him. As if sex was a particularly tricky math proof. When he finally did get the joke, he smacked my ass with an open palm--the sting sending pleasing tingles up and down me. I bumped him back with a low growl and licked the aftertaste of his energy off my aura--hints of worry, anxiety, and his secretive guilt. Nothing unusual for him.
Jake is not exactly my boyfriend. I refuse to call him that until he takes me out on a real date.
Still there is an unspoken understanding and some sort of fidelity obligation. He would probably not like it if he knew I found my new next-door neighbor--his olive skin and dark hair, his wide gray eyes and fumbling English, the perpetual sense of being totally lost--kind of cute.
“Have we officially christened the new place, then?” I asked with a wicked smile, pointing to small white droplets on the dark hardwood floor.
“Christ.” Jake blushed. Those narrow hands flapped about anxiously for a few minutes before he reached for a tissue to clean up.
“What?” I laughed. “It’s fine! I don’t think it comes out of my deposit!”
Tossed over that thin debauched and kinky blond-haired boy was a security blanket of prim and proper. He frowned at me. “One of your friends will notice.”
I wondered briefly whether I cared if they noticed or not. I’m not really like my friends--I’ve never been a sharer. I enjoy my privacy. I’ve never understood cashing in on life mistakes and tragedies for an audience always willing to pull over and stare at a good train wreck. My boss says everyone who works for him feels this way. It’s always the exposers who value their privacy the most.