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Exchange Student VI

Previous installments of Exchange Student can be found here. or choose the one you may have missed: I, II, III, IV V.

 

This morning Eddie and I sit on stage, making believe there are candles providing a glow around us as we begin the only scene in which Jim, the Gentleman Caller, and Laura Wingfield are alone.

Last night Eddie found me at my corner table and told me to stop following him. I looked beyond him to his entourage who were smirking and shaking their heads at me, except for Arthur whose eyes displayed piteous understanding.

This is why I am an unsheathed nerve, calling on every technique I’ve been taught to focus on being Laura and not the crazy stalker girl. As I begin talking, I let the nerves become part of Laura as she shyly averts her gaze and tries to make Jim understand her.

I’m mesmerized by Eddie, his accomplished American accent, the movement of his body as he portrays Jim, though slight, he seems to physically overwhelm. His smile is vivid, open, so unlike the dark boy in the leather jacket. When he takes Laura in his arms to waltz, he is charm. As he says, “Somebody ought to kiss you, Laura,” my heart hammers. When our lips meet, my fingers clench the collar of his shirt.

“Very nice. I like what you did clutching Eddie’s shirt. Nice touch,” Henry Aldridge says. “Have you two been rehearsing together? That was very polished.”

I feel like I am still Laura as I look everywhere but at Eddie.

“No, sir. We haven’t had the opportunity,” Eddie says. He sounds different when he speaks with the director, not at all the rough boy who hangs out in the pub. I don’t know him. Not even by stalking him online.

When we are alone together, walking toward the exit, Eddie clears his throat. “You’re good.”

“You’re surprised?” My voice sounds breathy.

“Yeah,” he says. “I decided you were superficial.”

Between us it feels as if someone has erected a brittle glass wall. I try to think of words, something to say to explain my behavior, but I don’t understand this girl with her obsession, this stalker girl who covets this boy.

When we step outside, dull sunshine receives us. Eddie shrugs into his leather jacket.

“Look, when you come to the pub tonight, sit with us. Don’t hide in the corner spying,” he says.

I stare up at him. “I don’t know.”

“I do. Right, well, I’m off to work.”

“You work?”

He smirks. “We can’t all have rich mommies and daddies.”

“I don’t,” I whisper.

“You must, Posh.”

“I’m not posh.”

His steel-blue eyes hypnotize me. The smile on his full lips lifts slightly at the corner. He startles me by leaning down and lightly biting my bottom lip. Then he is walking away without glancing back. My fingertips press where his teeth had been, craving more.

 

end 3/5/2017

S. Darlington


 

Obsession, A Tansy Tale

(If you’re new here, Tansy is a character from the Prince Charming and Clare serial.)

You probably don’t like me. A lot of people, especially women, don’t. Hell, I’ve even started to dislike me. In the past six months I have done some crazy crap and lied and manipulated. Why? Because the man I’ve been in love with for seven years met someone else.

He’s sitting in Flanagan’s nursing an IPA. My heart pounds as I approach him. We aren’t friends anymore, not even of the “with benefits” variety. We aren’t even partners. He asked to be transferred and it seemed like his request was immediately granted. I miss him. Everything about him.

He glances at me and winces. “Tansy, we have nothing left to talk about ever.”

I put on an artificial smile, thinking that maybe it will make me feel just a little less ugly, a little less disgusted with myself.

“Come on, Dom, you and me have so much history. Can we try to be friends again?”

You know the phrase: if looks could kill? Well, the one he sends me is one of those, dripping with revulsion. His brown eyes narrow. I swear my heart physically aches.

“I really don’t know you, Tansy. I can’t believe that after everything you’ve done, you could have the gall to think we could be friends. You’re the definition of conniving.”

I shrug and smile,  thinking “ouch.” “Oh, come on, Dom, it’s not that bad. I only did stupid shit because I really love you.”

Those words sounded better in my head. What can you rely on if even your brain has gone fuzzy?

He stands up and tosses some bills on the bar. He waves to Ray, the bartender. I think he’s just going to ignore me. This is the closest we’ve been in weeks. I breathe in his smell, manly, citrusy. It fills me with so much need, so much desire, and so much remorse that I think tears actually crowd my eyes. I won’t cry. I don’t cry. Ever.

“I think you should consider seeing someone, Tansy. All those stunts you pulled. I’m sure they’re some kind of cry for help. Love doesn’t make people act like that.”

As he’s about to walk past, I grab the sleeve of his leather jacket. He glances at my hand like it’s a snake and I remove it.

“Please, give me another chance,” I say, hating the fact that it sounds like I’m begging.

“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?”

“Of course. I know it looks bad.”

“Looks bad?”

I shrug. “Okay. So it was a little bad.”

“Despicable comes to mind. Let’s just drop it. Have a nice life, Tansy.”

He walks away then. Out of my life. Suddenly it’s like everything is darker, colder. I’ll see someone. I’ll do it for him. I’ll change. I’ll be like Clare. Who am I kidding? Women like Clare give me a rash.

But I am willing to do almost anything for Dom. Anything to make him want me again. Maybe he’ll take me back. One day.

 

end 10/23/2016

S. Darlington