About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
I get an erection the moment I first lay eyes on her. She looks like no one I’ve ever seen before. Tall, curvy, with thick superhero thighs and a round ass, showcased in black Lycra that hugs every slope. Her big, high breasts and small waist are accentuated by her white tank top. Her body has just enough meat for me to grab a good hold of, and I imagine running my hands over her hills and valleys. I want to imagine more than that, but I’m horny as hell as it is and my erection is already inappropriate, considering I’m in public and all.
She finally looks my way, aware that I’ve been staring like an idiot. She catches my gaze, her eyes twinkling a vibrant yellow, her pupils large and wet. She smirks at me, causing a shower of glitter to rain from her cheeks, and brushes her purple hair over her shoulder before she bends over to slide a gun out from the harness strapped to her boot.
I try not to stare into the blinding sun of her tanned cleavage. I try to think of something clever to say to her. Something along the lines of, I think I know who you are, but shouldn’t you have one eyeball instead of two?
But it’s she who comes over to me, gun comfortably in her hand, and stops only a foot away. When she smiles at me, I see fangs.
Now I’m really confused. At least I know what to say now.
“Who are you?” I ask her, happy that my voice is hard and deep. I hope it makes her think of sex.
She raises a perfect brow, and up close I’m struck by how bronzed her skin tone is. I don’t think it’s makeup. Not many people in Vancouver manage to keep their tan into the fall.
“You don’t know?” she asks. She has an accent. I immediately want to say she’s from England but that’s not it. It’s not Australia either.
“I thought I did,” I say. “But your eyes and fangs are throwing me all off.”
“I’m vampire Leela, from Futurama.”
I grin at her, happy that I was half-right. “Shouldn’t you just have one eyeball then?”
She reaches into her other boot and effortlessly pulls out an eye mask. It’s painted white, with a black pupil in the middle. She waves it at me. “I put it on for photos but I can barely see out of it. I walked into a wall, twice.” She raises two fingers for emphasis. “I figured I’ll just be a vampire the rest of the time.”
I can seriously listen to her talk all day. “I don’t remember any episode where Leela turned into a vampire.” Maybe it hinted at my secret nerd-boy status, but I watched the cartoon Futurama religiously.
She wets her lips for a moment and I try my hardest not to adjust my boxer briefs underneath my costume. “I like to think she’ll become a vampire in future episodes. Or maybe she was one once and Matt Groening scrapped the idea. I believe characters have more to their lives than the lives we are shown.”
“Kind of like people,” I say, hoping I come across as somewhat profound.
She gives me a slight nod—indicating I’m not as profound as I thought—and looks me up and down. “I just had to come over here to tell you you’re the best-dressed guy here. I mean, that must have taken some effort.”
I grin at her. “Game of Thrones fan?” I ask.
Another sly nod. “Of course. But who doesn’t love Khal Drogo?”
“Last year I dressed up as George R.R. Martin,” I tell her. “People kept mistaking me for Ernest Hemingway, even though I was carrying a bucket of fried chicken around with me and had a pillow stuffed down my shirt.”
“So you went for something sexier . . .” she says as she lets her eyes trail over my body, which automatically makes me stand up straighter. I haven’t left much to the imagination. Jesus sandals, weird billowy pants that I think some granola dude dropped off at the thrift store, plus a leather corset over my abs and leather cuffs on my forearms. My upper body is bare and covered with bronzer and streaks of blue paint, and I found a black wig with a long braid down the back. It kind of works. I guess if you don’t know the show, I look like some sparkling warrior who wears too much eye makeup.
“Hey, girls can’t be the only ones to slut it up at Halloween.”
She raises her brow.
And once again, my foot goes in my mouth. “I mean, not that you’re dressed slutty or anything, I just mean—”
She laughs. “Don’t worry about it,” she says with a wave of her hand. “Everyone here is dressed slutty. That’s what the holiday is about, isn’t it? Pretending to be someone else? This is actually my first Halloween, so I’m feeling a little overdressed. Or super nerdy.” She looks around her at the drunk girls—referees and fairies and nurses in wonderfully indecent outfits—and shrugs.
“I wholeheartedly disagree,” I say, trying not to ogle her all over again. I pause. “Wait, your first Halloween?”
“First proper Halloween. The North American kind. We don’t really celebrate it the way you guys do.”
I cross my arms, insanely curious now. “And who is we?”
“New Zealand,” she says. “I’m from Auckland.”
“Nice,” I say. “I was going to ask if you were from New Zealand.”
Her lips twitch and she gives me a shake of her head. “No you weren’t.”
“Well, I definitely wasn’t going to ask if you were from Australia. I know how you’d feel about that.”
For a moment her features look strained, then it passes. “Kind of like if I asked if you were American.”
“So,” she muses and steps closer. She lays her hand on my bicep and I suck in my breath. “Are the tattoos real?” She removes her hand and peers at her palm, which is streaked with bronze shimmer shit. “Because your tan sure isn’t.”
Damn, I hope I’m not blushing. I clear my throat. “The tattoos are real, I assure you. I needed a bit of, um, help to get that Dothraki tan going on.”
“And this?” She reaches for my face and I am frozen in place while she gently fingers my goatee and beard. She grabs the end of it, which I had attempted to braid, and gives it a little tug.
“Ouch,” I say, though it doesn’t really hurt. It turns me on instead. Big surprise.
“So it is real,” she says. She sounds impressed.
I shrug. “I had a month to grow it in. I say, it’s all or nothing. But tomorrow everything is getting shaved off.”
She frowns and lets go. “Pity. I love a scruffy guy.”
I can’t help but smile. “Lucky for you, I’m scruffy for at least twelve more hours.”
Her mouth twists into a wry smile. I realize I’m being kind of forward with her, but at the same time she just felt my biceps and fondled my man hair. Then again, I’ve never been very good at reading women. Half of them seem to love my tats and black hair and piercings; the other half seem to think I’m a delinquent from skid row.
I’m wondering what she thinks about me when I realize I don’t know her name.
“I’m Josh, by the way,” I say to her, holding out my hand.
She gives me a surprisingly firm shake in return. “Gemma.”
“That’s a beautiful name,” I tell her. Even though I’m sincere, I’m aware that it’s very much a pickup line.
Gemma snorts and it’s absolutely adorable. “Right. Well, in New Zealand, Gemmas are everywhere.”
“But I bet they don’t look like you.” Okay, so now I’m totally swerving into pickup line territory. I push it further. “Can I buy you a drink?”
And there the question sits, floating between us along with the haze of pot smoke that hangs in the air. The rejection might come fast, or if I’m lucky, not at all. But it’s Halloween, I have a three-beer buzz going on, and I’m feeling pretty good.
Still, when she nods and says “Sure,” I feel my whole body lift with relief.
We make our way through the crowd to the makeshift bar set up in the corner. It’s a house party we’re at, one I try and go to every year. My friend Tobias rents the whole house with three other dudes who go to the University of British Columbia nearby, and every Halloween they go all out with mind-fuck decorations, elaborate costumes, and a haunted house in the basement. This year they even applied for a liquor license since last year ended with a police raid and all of us running for our lives down the street.
While we get in line behind a guy dressed as a one-night stand (complete with a lampshade head) and a girl dressed as some Disney princess, I ask her, “So, Gemma from New Zealand, how did you hear about the party?”
She fixes her yellow eyes on me and I wish she could take out her contacts so I could see their real color. I’m assuming they’re brown, based on her skin tone, and I feel like I could get lost in them if she’d let me.
“At the backpacker’s hostel I’m staying at. I made friends with the guy who works the front desk,” she says, and I can’t help but feel my entire back bristle. A guy? Of course she’d be here with a guy. “He invited me and another backpacker but I haven’t seen them all night.” Her eyes sweep the room then come back to me, sparkling knowingly. “Not that I’m surprised; she’s from Holland and has legs up to here.” She makes a slicing motion with her hand across her neck. “He obviously wanted to shag her.”
“Maybe he wanted to shag the both of you,” I say and then try not to wince.
She gives me an exasperated look but still smiles. She has the cutest dimples. “Maybe. But I don’t like to share. My parents never taught me to play very well with my toys.”
“Sup, Drogo,” the bartender says. I swivel my head and eye him, slightly annoyed at being interrupted. He’s dressed as a hot dog.
“Sup, dog,” I say. “Is that costume supposed to be a hint or something?”
He nods, completely deadpan, which only makes it funnier considering there’s just a small cutout for his face in the wall of wiener. “It’s a complete metaphorical representation of my penis, if that’s what you mean.”
Gemma laughs. “You Canadians talk about your dicks a lot.”
I casually lean one arm against the bar top. “Well, have you seen our dicks? It’s a point of pride for our country.”
“No, actually, I haven’t,” she says and a million clever follow-ups flow through my head. Unfortunately, half of them are serious propositions so I don’t dare say them.
“Oh really,” the hot dog says, beating me to it. “You know, that can be arranged.”
“I’m sure it can,” she says sweetly but her eyes are telling him not to bother. “Could I get a beer please? None of that Molson Canadian stuff, though. Do you have any craft brew?”
The hot dog plucks a bottle of Granville Island Winter Ale from the ice chest and plunks it on the counter. “Seven dollars.”
I sigh and order one for myself, fishing out my money from a small leather satchel around my waist that I thought maybe Khal Drogo would use when he wasn’t slicing people’s arms off. “I thought the point of a house party was to have cheap booze.”
He shrugs, apparently hearing that complaint all night. “Blame government regulation. Still better than being stuck at some bullshit club downtown.”
He has that right.
“Mojo” by Peeping Tom suddenly comes on over the speakers and the rolling beat of one of my favorite songs gives me another boost of confidence. I’m about to suggest to Gemma that we find somewhere to sit, maybe in another room, when she asks if I want to go to the roof deck.
I can’t help but oblige.
“It might be still raining,” I tell her as we squeeze through the crowd of people and up the carpeted stairs to the second floor. “It’s almost winter here, remember.”
“Nah, I love the rain,” she answers.
“Then you should seriously consider moving here.” Suddenly there’s a bit of traffic near the door to the roof and she stops in front of me. I’m pressed up against her ass and it’s like I’ve gone to heaven. It’s so firm and round that I’m starting to think that she’s magic. Of course, I’m also growing harder by the second and I know, I know, she can feel the magician’s wand.
I cringe inwardly. I really don’t want to be one of those guys. In fact, I start thinking that perhaps I need to apologize for my public displays of erection but she actually presses her ass back into me. It was subtle but it was there.
Before I drown in over-analysis of the moment, the foot traffic moves forward again and suddenly there is space and we find ourselves up on the flat roof of the building.The air is sharp, cold, and damp, but I have enough alcohol in me that I don’t mind the chill. It’s stopped raining. There are a few dripping lawn chairs scattered about and scantily clad girls shivering in their costumes, trying to puff down their cigarettes or joints.
In the distance, you can see the dark mass of English Bay peppered with tankers and the night-skiing lights of Grouse Mountain. The glass high-rises of downtown Vancouver twinkle and set the low clouds an electric shade of orange.
Gemma grabs my hand and leads me to the edge of the roof, away from everyone else. Her grip is strong but her hand warm and soft, and before I can give it a squeeze, she lets go. She leans against the railing, not caring if her arms get cold and wet, and stares out at the view.
“I do have to say, I always thought Auckland one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but Vancouver has totally blown it away,” she muses wistfully, her eyes roaming the cityscape.
“How long are you here for?”
She sighs. “Not long enough. Ten days.”
“Did you go to Whistler?”
She smiles. “So I could be surrounded by Aussies and other Kiwis? I was there for a day. Nice place. But we have mountains like that back home.”
I ask her if she was in other parts of Canada and she tells me she originally got a work permit because she wanted to live and work on Prince Edward Island out east.
I laugh. “Really? Why? You a fan of Anne of Green Gables?”
In the dark, it’s hard to tell if she’s blushing. “Actually, yes.”
“Shut up.” But she’s smiling and brushing her hair off her shoulder. “Anyway, work was hard to find there. I guess all the summer jobs were filled, so after a while I had to move on. Went to Nova Scotia, Quebec, Toronto.” I scrunch my nose at the last city and she rolls her eyes. “Yeah, yeah, you guys with your rivalry. Then I went down into the States for a few months. Boston, New York. Flew to New Orleans, drove through the Southwest, then onto California. Disneyland.” Her eyes light up at that one. “San Francisco. Took a backpacker bus up the Oregon coast, spent some time in Seattle, and now I’m here, flying out tomorrow.”
“And you did all of this by yourself?” I ask incredulously.
She purses her lips and nods. “Yeah. Why not?”
“You sound a lot like my sister,” I say.
She frowns. “That’s not exactly what you want to hear from someone you find attractive.”
I stare at her for a few beats, making sure I heard that right. I try not to grin, but I can’t help it.
“Attractive?” I repeat.
“Oh, I’ve gone and given you a big ego, haven’t I?”
“Sweetheart, I already had a big ego,” I admit, still smiling. “And I don’t mean I think you’re just like my sister, Vera. It’s just that she went overseas to Europe last year—Spain, actually—by herself and now she’s living there. It’s just . . .” I try and think of the word, “brave, that’s all. Everyone else I know goes and travels in groups and pairs.”
She shrugs. “People can be a pain in the ass.”
I nod. “True. But I think it takes some sort of courage to go overseas alone. Don’t you get lonely?”
For a moment, I swear she looks lonely. Then it’s gone and her expression is blasé. “Not really. I like my own company and I meet heaps of people this way, people I probably wouldn’t have met if I were traveling with someone. Sometimes you . . . wish certain people were around, and sometimes you wish you could share a moment or two with someone else, but fuck, that’s what Instagram is for.”
I raise my beer at her. “Well, let me just tell you that I think you’re a pretty awesome woman, Gemma.”
She raises her brow and her bottle at the same time. “Woman? Not chick, not girl?”
“You’re all woman to me, as far as I can see,” I say.
She clinks her bottle against mine. “It’s the tits, isn’t it?”
My eyes drift over her. “It’s a lot of things.” The truth is, I’m torn between wanting to tear her clothes off and fuck her senseless or wanting to sit somewhere quiet and talk to her the whole night. It’s a curious war I’m fighting, but I’d be happy with either victory.
“So, you,” she says, turning around so she’s leaning back on her elbows, one boot kicked up onto the other, “tell me about Josh. All I know is you have a sister called Vera who lives in Spain, you watch Futurama and Game of Thrones, and you have a big ego and a nice dick.”
I choke on my beer and quickly wipe my mouth. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Who told you about the dick?”
She takes a polite sip of her drink, her eyes playful. “You did earlier. You said it was a Canadian thing.”
“Right,” I say, quickly recovering. “Well, that’s where the ego comes from.”
“Uh-huh,” she says. “And what do you do? You know, work-wise?”
My smile falters. This part is where I kind of suck at life. A big dick can only get you so far. “Oh, I just kinda work. Jobs.”
“Oh, jobs,” she says. “I’ve heard of those.”
I sigh inwardly. “I’m a line cook at a restaurant.”
She cocks her head. “Oh, so you want to be a chef?”
“Not really,” I say, but what I mean to say is not at all. “It’s just something that pays the bills.” The minute I say that, it’s like I’m lying, because while I do pay rent, I pay it to my mother and it’s nowhere near as much as what most people pay. The dirty truth is, I live at home and there’s no woman alive who finds that sexy.
“So then what do you like to do, if that’s not it?”
Here’s the thing. On the surface, Joshua Miles is a charmer. I’m tall, have a good body, nice tats, and a dick that I know how to use. I can be shameless but funny enough, which usually works to my advantage with the ladies. But aside from the fact that I work as a line cook and I live at home, I’m also an aspiring artist. A graphic artist. I mean, my dream job is to either work for a place like Marvel or DC illustrating their comic books and graphic novels, or to just create my own one day. But the moment you tell a girl that you like to draw comic books, they look at you like you just took a shit in front of them.
But I don’t know Gemma, and since she’s leaving tomorrow I don’t have a lot to lose. Besides, something tells me she’s different from the others, and it’s not just her accent.
“I’m an artist,” I tell her, deciding to cut out the aspiring crap. “Graphic design, graphic art. I sketch, I paint, lots of digital work. I’m in the middle of illustrating my own comic book, though I just have half the rough drawings complete and none of the dialogue. I’ve even applied for art school but I’m still waiting to hear back.”
She’s silent for a moment and I peer at her cautiously, expecting to see her eyes glazed over. Instead, she looks extraordinarily happy. Her smile is breathtakingly wide and it’s such a sharp contrast to her ever-present smirk.
“Really?” she exclaims. “That’s so awesome!”
“It is?” I thought she’d tolerate it, not actually think it was cool. Goddamn it, who just dropped this dream woman into my lap?
“I used to paint,” she says and her smile winds down. A wash of sadness comes across her brow and I have this sudden urge to kiss her and hope it brings that smile back.
I wait for her to elaborate, but she doesn’t. “Hey,” she says, brightening up. “Come on, I’ll buy you another drink.” She quickly downs her beer and I can tell she’s forcing some cheer into her face. I can’t say no to another bottle, though.
She grabs my hand again, but this time she’s in no hurry to let go. Neither am I. Just like that, a beer is the last thing on my mind. This woman seems to be everything I’m looking for and I only have her for one night, if I even have her at all. I want to bring her into a dark corner and let my tongue caress hers before sliding it down her neck. I want to feel her smooth, tight body beneath my hands and make her smart mouth open with a moan. Then I want to glide my fingers down her pants and make her moan louder. I want her eyes to stare at me with lazy lust and beg me to do my worst.
But there are no dark corners on this roof deck, so we make our way through the sweaty mess of people again. I immediately miss the relative privacy and the invigorating chill of the outdoors and make up for it by having a cold beer, and then another.
We find a small living room at the end of the hall where we sit down on a couch and watch a few people play Rock Band in the near dark. I’m buzzed and the room is hypnotizing with the sounds and lights and her warmth beside me. I put my hand on her thigh and try to talk to her, but it’s too loud and the dark is too inviting, too freeing. I go to whisper in her ear, to ask her if she’s having a good time, to ask her what time her flight leaves, to ask her anything at all, and I find my lips grazing her earlobe. I’m losing the war and losing it fast.
She tastes far too good for me to stop. I tease the rim of her ear with my tongue to taste her even better.
She doesn’t shove me away. She doesn’t flinch. She just turns her head so my lips are next to hers, and for one moment I hesitate, my lips brushing lightly against hers, feeling the heady desire build to a breaking point. Her breath hitches in anticipation.
Then I kiss her. It’s sweet and soft and so gentle that all the blood in my body doesn’t know where to go.
Then it hurts.
“Ow,” I say, pulling back slightly and rubbing my fingers over my mouth. What the hell?
“Sorry!” she whispers harshly, flushed from either embarrassment or arousal, and she quickly removes her fangs from her mouth, tossing them over her shoulder. “I forgot they were in there.”
“Good thing we didn’t start off with a blow job,” I joke.
“No,” she says deviously, and her hand goes on top of my erection. My eyes go wide. “That was going to come second.”
“Was?” I repeat, feeling myself get harder under her touch. I can’t even stand it.
She bites her lip coquettishly and once again I am wondering how the fuck I got so lucky. Must have been the eyeliner and dick comments.
I grab her face in my hands and kiss her, not gentle this time, not slow. It is fast and feverish and her mouth is even sweeter than the rest of her. She’s a good kisser, but then again so am I, and I sink into this dizzy well of lust that I’m not sure how to get out of. So I don’t even try.
We make out like that forever, my tongue exploring her mouth, fucking it hard and soft all at once, followed by my lips on her neck and her hand stroking my shaft. I think the last time I had a hand job over my clothes was in high school, but now there’s something so fucking erotic about it that I have a hard time not coming. Maybe it’s the fact that there are five other people in the room, although they’re all concentrating on playing “Helter Skelter.” Still, voyeurism is a total turn-on.
I quickly remember that I had put a condom in my satchel because I figured that pretending to be a ripped, violent warrior might just be walking lady porn. I pull back, both of us breathing hard. “Want to find a room?” I say to her, my eyes glued to her wet, open mouth. Oh god, did I need those lips to finish me off.
She nods and gets up. I do the same, tucking myself up into the waistband of my briefs and making sure I’m not about to poke anyone’s eye out. I take her hand and we leave the room and start exploring the hallway, though I have to press her up against the wall at least once and drive my tongue into her mouth and myself into her hip. I put my hand up her shirt and feel her soft skin through her thin, lacy bra, her nipples intoxicatingly hard. I want nothing more than to pinch them between my teeth and roll my tongue ring over them.
When I’m able to pry myself off of her again, we find a door that’s locked. I’m not one to try and bust doors open, not even for the sake of hot monkey sex, so I take out my credit card and slide it up between the door and the frame. I breathe out a sigh of relief as it clicks open and we stumble into a small billiards room that has been stuffed to the walls with furniture and breakables, all put away for the party.
I close the door behind us and lock it.