Chapter Twenty Three

Posted: March 23, 2014 in Chapters, Love in the ZA
Tags: , ,

     Maddie was sure this was the saddest drinking party she’d ever been a part of.

     She’d eaten slowly, and dawdled in the shower, hopeful that by the time she emerged the others would have consumed enough to have lost their melancholy edge. Unfortunately, it seemed that no amount of time was going to allow for that miracle. Sitting now on Vinnie’s sofa, acutely aware of the short distance between her own thigh and that of the smoldering man beside her, she groped desperately for a way to brighten the mood. Appealing to Caleb was out – he slumped in the armchair, fifth beer in hand, and glowered any time she turned her gaze in his direction. Vinnie seemed content to sit and drink in silence, unperturbed by the air of hostility that permeated the room.

     At least Jessie is enjoying herself.

     Maddie’s sister lay sprawled on the carpet, her head propped on a pile of blankets; the angle couldn’t have been comfortable for her neck, but it allowed her to drink straight from a vodka bottle without choking herself. Every few swigs she missed the mark, sending alcohol dribbling down her chin and chest, an error she found hysterically funny no matter how many times it happened. The manic laughter scraped the inside of Maddie’s skull, causing her to flinch each time it broke the silence. The others didn’t seem to mind; Maddie saw Caleb smile once or twice, a brief twitch of his lips that stopped the moment he realized she was looking at him again.

     When she caught his eye once more, he exploded. “Find something else to fucking look at!” he shouted, his voice thick and ugly.

     “Jesus!” Jessie sat up, mopping off the liquor that had splashed across her face. “You made me spill!”

     “You’ve been bathing in it for the last hour,” the kid snapped. “You smell like a hobo.”

     “What is your problem?” Jessie whined. “Why are you yelling at me? She’s the one you’re pissed at.”

     “Thanks, Jess.”

     “Well he is!” Jessie struggled up onto her knees, swaying. “I didn’t do anything! Whatever I did, he made me.” She pointed an accusatory finger at Vinnie. “This is all your fault!”

     Vinnie remained impassive.

     “He didn’t do anything,” Maddie said quickly. “I did. It’s my fault, not his.”

     “Yeah, it is.” Caleb gripped the bottle in his hand so tightly, Maddie was surprised it didn’t shatter. “You did it. You killed her. You think if you keep staring at me, I’ll say it’s okay?”

     “She was already-”

     “I KNOW THAT.” Spittle flew from Caleb’s mouth as he screamed. “I know what she was! But you…but you…” The anger fled in a sudden rush, leaving him to sag again, crying. “You hit her so hard. She wasn’t even…I couldn’t even…” He trailed off into sobs.

     Maddie turned her face away.

     The awkward silence stretched on, broken only by Caleb’s quiet sniffling, until finally Vinnie stood.

     “You need to rest,” he told Caleb. “You haven’t slept.”

     The kid shook his head, suddenly frantic. “I can’t sleep in there. I can’t.”

     “I’ll go with you.” Jessie staggered to her feet, leaning for a moment against the chair before she found her balance and straightened. “I’m sick of this floor, anyway.” She placed a clumsy hand on his shoulder. “You won’t be alone in there. Okay?”

     Caleb hesitated, casting a fearful look at the bedroom door. Maddie realized in a flash that she’d never been in danger from him, no matter what he’d said – he was too afraid to cross that threshold.

     After a few minutes of consideration, with Jessie murmuring words of encouragement in his ear, he finally nodded. Waving away Vinnie’s offer of help, he lurched up, grabbing hold of Jessie’s arm when he rocked on his feet. “S’like being on a boat,” he slurred, the beer he’d had catching hold of him with sudden vengeance.

     “I’ve got you, sailor.” Jessie steered him toward the bedroom, smirking at his careful steps. “Maybe a little less booze next time, huh?”

     “You drank a gallon,” he mumbled.

     “I’m kind of a professional.” Maddie rolled her eyes at that. “It takes years to build up my kind of tolerance. The trick is-”

     Her words cut off as the door clicked shut. Vinnie turned, a grin on his face.

     “Alone at last.” His eyebrows wriggled.

     “Ugh. Don’t be an ass.” She gestured toward the door with her bottle. “You think he’ll be okay?”

     Vinnie shrugged. “The beer should help him sleep. I’ll check him in a few minutes.” His brow furrowed. “Your sister handled him well.”

     “Yeah. She’s used to dealing with drunks. Everybody she knows is one.” Maddie heard the bitter judgment in her voice and cringed. Don’t be a bitch, she chastised herself. She calmed him down. Doesn’t matter why. “Sorry,” she said aloud. “Guess I’m a mean drunk.”

     Vinnie stepped into the kitchen, re-emerging with two more beers. Handing one to her, he sat; she noticed that he came back to the sofa, though the armchair was now vacant. He sprawled, his legs spread wide, his knee resting against hers.

     “You don’t like her much, do you?”


     “Your sister.” He took a long pull of beer. “You don’t like her.”

     Maddie frowned. “It’s not that. She’s just…exhausting.” She waved a hand at the mostly-empty vodka bottle. “She seems fun at a party. Except, you know, every night is a party for her. And every morning. And every afternoon.”

     Vinnie stared at her, his eyes dark. “And when do you party?”

     “I have fun!” Maddie protested. “Not her kind of fun, but…” She threw her bottle cap at him, annoyed. “Somebody has to be the responsible one.”

     “Uh-huh. How’s that working out for you?”

     She glared at him. “Fuck you.”

     Confusion flashed across his face. “Madelyn-”

     “No, I get it. The party girl flounces around, showing everything off, and everyone loves her. Responsible Maddie, though, she can’t even keep her fiancé satisfied.”

     “That’s not what I meant-”

     “Whatever.” She drank deeply before slamming her bottle down on the end table. “You think it. She thinks it. Everybody does.” He opened his mouth to speak, and she surged to her feet. “I’ll go check on them. Hopefully she hasn’t puked on his face.”

     She stalked across the room, angry and embarrassed. Her hands shook as she turned the knob, easing the door open as quietly as possible; she slipped in through the narrow opening and moved to stand beside the bed.

     They were both asleep. Jessie lay on her back, her arm tucked protectively around the kid; he had curled onto his side beside her, his head resting on her chest. Maddie stared down at them, her fists clenched at her sides. People like you, she thought. People like you sleep so easily. She wondered, suddenly, how Holly was sleeping these days. She was another party girl, just like Jessie. No concern for anything, so long as it didn’t interfere with her ability to have a drink, flash a guy, fuck somebody’s husband. Had she found someone new to protect her, now that Jack was gone? Was she hiding, the way they were, watching the world fall apart one news clip at a time? Had she encountered one of the…things, seen what happened to the dead now, lay awake the way Maddie did, wondering if her lover had become the same?

     Her anger faded, her body softening as she watched the sleeping pair. He’s right. Being responsible hasn’t brought me anything. And what does it matter now? The dead don’t care. Summer’s slavering face rose up in her mind, and she shuddered. The dead don’t care at all.

     A new feeling took hold of her, a reckless resolve that made her stomach flutter. She left the room, closing the door quietly behind her, and went to stand before Vinnie. Her whole body trembled now, not in rage but fear – of what she was doing, and how he would react.

     “They’re asleep,” she said.

     “Good.” He stared up at her, wary. “Madelyn, I didn’t mean-”

     “I know.” She leaned forward, placing her hands on the back of the sofa, framing his face. Her head swam. “Kiss me.”

     He laughed. “What?”

     “Kiss me!” she demanded.

     He shifted, clearly uneasy. “You’re drunk.”

     “Maybe.” She tilted her head, the change in angle setting off a wave of dizziness; her knees were shaking. “Okay, definitely. So what?”

     “I don’t think we should-”

     She brought her mouth down on his, silencing his protest. For a moment he sat frozen, and she wondered if he was going to humiliate her by not responding. She was about to move away when he groaned; his hand came up to wrap in her hair, his tongue plunging into her mouth. Oh thank god. She moved her hands down to grip his shoulders, steadying herself against him.

     They were both gasping when she pulled away. He reached out, his eyes on hers, and fumbled with the knot at her waist; it took him a moment to pull it free, and then her pants were down, a pool of cotton fabric around her feet. Holding his gaze, she stepped out of them, grateful she’d chosen a decent pair of panties when she’d changed. The room was mostly dark, and he didn’t seem like the type to care about underwear, but still – worrying over a holey pair of drawers would have killed her mood.

     All thoughts of her wardrobe choices fled when he leaned forward, his hands on her hips, and kissed her stomach. She inhaled sharply, the feel of his lips setting off a tingle that surged downward; as his tongue dragged over toward her hip, she felt herself throb.

     Glancing up at her briefly, as if seeking reassurance, he hooked his thumbs into the waistband of her panties and yanked, baring her to his mouth. He kissed and licked, gently at first, then with increasing urgency; one hand grabbed her calf and lifted, urging her to place a foot on the sofa, giving him better access. She gripped his hair in her fists, her head falling back as she gave herself over to what he was doing. He slipped a finger inside her, and she stiffened, embarrassed at how quickly and easily she’d become ready for him. She didn’t have long to feel self-conscious, however; as he moved his hand he growled, a low rumble of pleasure she’d never heard before, and she let herself simply enjoy.

     “Vinnie,” she whimpered. She could feel an orgasm building as he plunged deeper inside her, first the one finger, then adding another, his tongue tracing frantic circles over her clit. She yanked on his hair, not wanting to finish. “Please. I need…I need…” Her breath hitched in her throat.

     He pulled himself away at the last moment, falling back against the sofa. She tore at his jeans, clumsy in her eagerness, until he pushed her hands away and undid them himself. Gripping her hips tightly, he pulled her down, spreading her wide over his lap. She was about to lower when reason penetrated the fog.

     “Wait!” She levered herself back up. “Do you…having anything?”

     “What?” He looked up at her with dazed eyes. “Like, herpes?”

     “No! A condom.”

     “Oh. Oh. Shit.” He groaned with frustration. “I think so. In the bathroom, maybe. I’ll go look.” Before she could move he lifted her, shifting her to the side so he could climb out from beneath her. “Stay here,” he ordered.

     “Where else would I go?” she mumbled. The sudden move from his lap had set off another wave of dizziness; she held her head, willing the feeling to go away, or at least hold off for a few more minutes.

     She watched him stumble toward the bathroom, hitching his pants up as he went; his steps weren’t much steadier than Caleb’s had been, and she realized he’d had more to drink than she’d thought. So have I. She tried to count the empties they’d left on the table, a task made more difficult by the darkness of the room and the fact that her vision kept doubling. That’s not good. She closed her eyes, which only made the dizziness worse – the sensation that she was spinning made her stomach roll.

     You’ll regret this tomorrow, a little voice said.

     So? It’s time I had fun.

     You won’t like yourself. Or him.

     I don’t like him much now.

     Then why are you going to sleep with him?

     The thought brought her up short. She’d lied to herself, and she knew it: she did like Vinnie, as much as she didn’t want to. But sleeping with him, especially this way, wasn’t going to make things between them any easier. She wouldn’t be able to look him in the eye after, which might be a problem given how much time they now spent together.

     He’s getting a condom, you dumbass!

     Her booze-soaked brain searched for a way to get out of this easily, without setting him off or making him hate her. She was still thinking when he emerged from the bathroom, a packet of foil raised triumphantly.

     “Found one!” He tripped his way toward the couch, collapsing beside her in a heap. “Now, where were we?” He reached for her, leering – until he saw her face. Drawing back, he searched her eyes for a moment, then sighed. “Killed the mood, huh?”

     She blinked at him. “What?”

     “I knew it was taking too long. Stupid box was buried under the toilet paper. Stupid!” He glared at the rubber, still gripped in his hand, then tucked it into his pocket. “Chicks always turn off if it takes too long,” he told her, the conspiratorial tone of his voice making her giggle.

     “They do,” she allowed. “Besides…” She chewed her lip. “I think we’re both too drunk to be doing this.”

     “Probably!” He threw an arm around her shoulder, pulling her close; she snuggled against him, resting comfortably against his side. “We’ll try again tomorrow,” he said confidently.

     “We’ll see.”

     He tilted her chin up, kissing her gently before staring deep into her eyes. “Madelyn?”


     “We will try again.”

     She heard the dark promise in his voice, and shivered.

  1. mxcoot says:

    OMG, that chapter was perfect.

  2. deltajuliet74 says:

    Damn it Maddie what’s wrong with you?

    I am so glad you are back to writing this story regularly! I am loving every chapter!

  3. Thea Landen says:

    YES!!…noooo….but soon, right? (Please?)

  4. […] there was some sex stuff the other week. I think most people knew it was coming, but if not, uh, sorry to surprise you? […]

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