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Never been loved, p.2
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       Never Been Loved, p.2

           C.M. Kars
 

  Apple juice and condoms. Nice, MacLaine, real fucking nice.

  I let my body cool down, waiting for my recovery until the palms that hit my back and come forward to claw along my belly have my dick inflating again like a good little trained animal. It knows when pussy is near, doesn’t care if she’s a bitch or not.

  So I won’t care either.

  In the darkness of my bedroom, in my too quiet apartment with Aly sleeping on the other side stealing all the damn sheets, I stare at the ceiling and ignore the hot shame that builds in my chest like someone’s taken a blowtorch to it. The silence is because Matty isn’t here, the lack of his soft puffs of breath when he’s asleep.

  I’m a bad dad. I should get an award.

  I finally close my eyes, and get my pillow into the perfect shape, ignoring Aly’s soft snores or the temptation of her naked body. She doesn’t like to be woken up from a dead sleep and I’m spent anyway.

  In the safety of the darkness of my eyelids, and the silence in my apartment, my dumb brain decides to bring up the question it’s unconsciously been thinking about all fucking day.

  Who is Ponyboy Curtis? And can I take him in a fight?

  Chapter 2

  I ignore the hollow feeling in my gut, and head out to do the one thing I don’t want to do.

  I lock up, not bothering to even make coffee for Aly. She can do it herself, not like she hasn’t been over a million times to know where I keep everything. I rub my head, hating that I have to go pick up the kid, and all the shit he’s going to give me for making him sleep over at his grandma’s. Fuck.

  Oh, Christ.

  The babe from next door locks up next to me and I freeze, caught in some sort of paralysis when I want to go ahead and say hi, welcome her to the building or some shit. Although I shouldn’t do that. I shouldn’t even tempt myself with someone like her.

  Surprise, surprise, her nose is in a book. The same one from yesterday ’cause the cover looks familiar, with the smallest amount of pages to go to the end.

  She pays no attention to me, almost as if I was a wad of blackened gum on a sidewalk – just background noise to the eyes, and hardly worth walking around. I’m just there, like I should be. I have no business talking to her. But fuck, she should at least be paying attention to any kind of non-normal activity.

  Oh, how like you’re just staring at her?

  She’s completely oblivious, instead aiming and missing several times before she gets the elevator down button to light up. I watch like it’s the most fascinating thing I’ve ever seen. Damn it, that fucking book is starting to piss me off. What the hell is she reading? It’s like the words on the pages are magnets and she can’t take her eyes off of them.

  There’s nothing special about her. She doesn’t rock out her body like she knows what she has going on. She stands with most of her weight settled on one leg, the other cocked at the knee. As I get closer to her, I notice her sneakers. Converse, like yesterday, but the shade of blue is almost eye-searing, and I think I see a rectangular blue box where the stars are supposed to be.

  Maybe my sugar isn’t so good right now, and I’m seeing things. Doesn’t matter, s’not like I can comment on anything she’s wearing.

  I do sort of wish she’d turn around so I can see what shirt she has on. See who she’s given her heart to today. She doesn’t, but I follow her in the elevator and watch again as she goes into a corner, turns around to face the door, and jabs the RC button to get us down to the lobby, barely glancing up to make sure the thing is lit.

  The doors take their time closing, leaving a pause between the button pushing and the doors moving, as if testing all the busy people in the world, forcing them to take a few minutes to calm down.

  I don’t move forward to press the basement button, instead, I’m gonna be a sick pervert and just watch her...out of the corner of my eye. I’m not a sick bastard, but I just want to make sure she gets to where she’s going, that she’ll be safe. Fuck, I don’t even have the balls to ask her what she’s reading, or where she’s going.

  I just really don’t want to go pick up the kid. I can hear him now, whining and crying because I didn’t pick him up last night. I’ll have to bribe him with a movie he wants to see and some junk food that’s going to spike his sugars, but I don’t know what else to do.

  My jaw cracks, and I hadn’t even realized I’d been clenching my teeth together. Nice. I don’t have the money to go to the dentist if I’ve gone and split a tooth. Who knew having a kid was going to make me want to kill myself?

  The elevator crawls its way down to the lobby, and I watch the babe from next door, wondering what her name is. With my fucking luck her name’ll be Aly or some version of it, and I’m going to have her stuck in my brain whenever my Aly wants to fuck. Not that that’s a bad thing.

  I’m sure Red enjoys her own fantasies when we’re in bed together. Not that I can bring myself to care.

  Shit. She’s gone and bitten the knuckle of her index finger again, and she’s rocking her weight from heels to toes, back and forth, back and forth, making parts of her jiggle. Making me think of what she’d look like riding me, breasts swaying, the sexiest part of her taking that part of me in her body

  Christ, I just got laid. Now my dick’s twitching again, starting to pound with that itch only a female can scratch for me. What if I were to push her into the corner, make her drop that fucking book to the ground and look at me? What colour would her eyes be? What would her lips taste like? Cherry, bubblegum?

  I need to stop.

  But I can see it – her long brown hair in my bed, spread on my pillow, her smiling up at me, wet and ready for me. I’d plant my hands on either side of her head, and watch myself slowly sink into her, trying to ignore that tickling feeling of unease in my gut, and the fuzzy feeling in my brain that means my sugar’s dropping.

  A girl like this one does not deserve a piece of shit like me. Un-whole. That twitching in my dick is long-gone as I imagine her watching me inject myself with insulin. Oh yeah, real fucking sexy.

  Fascinated, I keep my eyes trained on her face, ignoring my brain as much as I can. The bastard just keeps supplying me with ideas of why this girl isn’t for me, why she deserves and needs better than what I can ever give her. I’m stuck with the bottom-feeders like Aly, and that’s fine with me. I can deal with that.

  Maybe.

  That’s my lot in life and I shouldn’t go asking for more.

  She’s smiling, at what I don’t know. But Christ, to be on the other end of that smile, so sweet and genuine? That hollow feeling in my gut bottoms out, making me realize what I could have with her, if I were brave enough.

  With a sigh, she closes the book, and I shit you not, puts it back in her purse and pulls out another mammoth novel the size of a brick. At least the thing will do some damage if anyone tries to sneak up on her, she just needs to aim it for the temple or the nose, causing enough pain for her to get away.

  She promptly opens it up and starts to read, not even looking up when the elevator dings; the doors open and she just walks right out, not even bothering to look up. She’d walk right into a suicide fucking bomber if he were standing in front of her. I break out into a sweat watching her open the inner doors of the lobby and walk outside, spilling bits of sunshine on the tile in the space between the outer and inner doors.

  I need to let her go, and just as I’m about to step over and out of the elevator, my phone buzzes, like

  I’ve become the divining rod for the perfect place for cell phone reception. I don’t even have to look at it. I’m already late in picking up Matty, Mom’s bound to call to make me hurry my ass up.

  Slamming my hand against the side of the door, feeling the numb-tingle travel up my hand into my wrist only to get that throbbing pain, I press the button to get to the basement.

  I get to my car, my shitty blue Honda that’s seen better days, and known better drivers. I glare at the car seat in the back through the window, hating that it’s ther
e, that the kid is always on my mind even when I can’t see him.

  Strangling the leather of my steering wheel, I screech out of the underground parking lot, brain on automatic as I fiddle with the radio to catch the rock station. The kid likes rock music for some reason, and

  I figure I’ll try and keep him calm with guitar riffs and screeching vocals.

  I find myself easing on the gas as I get closer and closer to the palace, my childhood home. I roll down the window to get some of April’s air in, let it swirl in the confines of my car, washing out the stink of fast food and the remnants of Aly’s perfume. I stare into the rear-view mirror, hating that car seat with all I’m worth and what it means that I’m now a father – have been for the last three years instead of the uncle I’m supposed to be.

  Life has a way of kicking you in the balls and watching you struggle to catch your breath, only to wind her foot right back and do it all over again.

  Inevitable that I get to my old house, and stare at it like a stranger would. The stone steps that I have no trouble walking up, but Matty needs his whole body weight on one leg to heave himself up with. Those awful stone lions on either side of the door that are more pretentious than the gold-leaf plated door knocker resting on the dark green polished wood of the door. Large windows covered by gauzy curtains that always reminded me of hospitals when I was younger until I turned eighteen and learned the truth of what hospitals really taste and smell like.

  I walk my way up the steps and refuse to make eye contact with the far window in the upper east corner. Her room, as it’s been for the past three years, preserved and embalmed like the room is a living thing and the rest of Jules hasn’t just floated away.

  I knock, wait for ten seconds and ignore the cold flush in my body that might mean something’s wrong. Blood sugar levels can either go up or down, my body lacking the hormone insulin to get it into my cells, where it needs to be. Both a high or low feels like getting donkey-kicked, makes your brain fuzzy, and makes me so fucking tired that I need to nap to recover.

  I hate that my survival is dictated by a vial of hormone in my fridge at home, and another one I carry in my pouch that I need to use right after I eat. I hate that I could die if my sugar drops too low, and I’m too nauseous to eat to save my own ass.

  What I hate most of all? That my sister’s kid is diabetic, too. And there’s nothing I can do about it.

  The door opens and it feels like the temperature hikes up ten degrees. Mom hates the cold, and I don’t know why she sticks around Montreal when she has enough money to move anywhere she wants to. I think it’s just to screw with me.

  Yeah, most likely just to screw with me.

  “Hunter? Is that you?” she asks. Like she gets any other visitors to the house. The woman hardly lives here anymore, but keeps the brick monstrosity for bragging rights only.

  “Yeah, it’s me,” I say, looking around the foyer for Matty to come around the corner any minute. I stare straight ahead and will myself not to let my eyes travel up, up, up the grand staircase. I will myself deaf to the imagined sounds of Jules running down the stairs to ask me for a ride somewhere, all that time ago, when we were still in high school, and I got my license before she did.

  I wonder what the Elevator Babe would say when she saw this place. Aly’s already seen it and I hate the way she looks at the furniture, the paintings, even the floor. Like it’s all going to be hers one day. Which is true, but still, keep that smug look off your face, I don’t care how nice you can suck my cock.

  “Where have you been?!” Mom asks, and the edge of shrill she adds to her voice has my eardrums popping.

  “I had a date.” If a date constitutes Aly fucking my brains out, then yeah, that’s exactly what I had. In the morning light, I know what I am – I’m a transaction; instead of money, I pay in orgasms.

  “You can’t just leave him here! What would the neighbours think?”

  I snicker. “That you’re his grandmother, yeah? Which you are, just to remind you.”

  She’s wearing those big sunglasses that Hollywood seems to be wearing, and she’s nursing a glass of something that tinkles with ice every time her hand shakes. It’s not even ten-thirty in the morning.

  “No need to get smart. You could have called, Hunter. I raised you better than that.”

  I want to tell her that she didn’t raise me at all, but I’m not in the mood for her crocodile tears, not when I have to gear up for Matty’s antics in the next five minutes.

  “How was the kid?”

  Mom’s mouth twists, and she takes a noisy slurp of her drink. “As if I would know. Edouard? Edouard?! The man is like a ghost, I have no idea how he moves around so silent- oh! There you are! My son has come to collect my grandson, Edouard, would you kindly collect him from his room?”

  Eddie materializes to my left, nods, and I hear his soft footfalls climb up the stairs. I thought Matty would be ready by now, shoes on, dressed and all that shit. Now I’m going to have to do it, and the little guy is going to fight me every single step of the way.

  “Who was your date with last night? Someone I know?”

  I bare my teeth. “You don’t know her.” A picture of the Elevator Babe comes to mind, her walking in these pristine halls, maybe awed at what she finds in this house. I’d tell her that looks can be deceiving, that we’re really in Hell.

  “What about Alysha? How has she been doing? Why, I saw her mother just last night, and she was asking about you. When you two are going to set a date for the wedding?”

  I fist my hands, satisfied when my knuckles crack. “You’re still not pushing that card, are you?”

  Mom whirls on her stilettos (not Converse) and pushes the swinging door to the kitchen. I count to ten and then follow when I don’t hear anything from upstairs.

  “There is no reason why I shouldn’t want to look after my boy, and wishing him to find a suitable...companion for the rest of his life is one of those ways I can do that. What is wrong with Alysha?”

  I want to bust my skull open on the granite countertop. It’ll take maybe three good hits with my forehead and that’ll be it – all over, all done. No more guilt, no more responsibilities, no more diabetes. No more Matty. No more reminders of Jules being dead while I’m still here, struggling through.

  “She hates Matty,” I say, staring down at the countertop, picking up the traces of gold, black and brown, running a finger along the colours.

  Mom swirls her glass, ice making music in time to her movements, and purses her lips. “Well, I’m sure that’s none of her doing. Matty is a handful and a half. Much more so than other boys his age.”

  I want to punch something. We both know that extra half handful is because Matty’s diabetic. Just like me. Heat boils in my gut, and I stuff my hands in my pockets so I don’t let fly and do something I’m going to regret.

  “Because he was born that way? The least she could do is talk to him, it’s not like she’s going to catch diabetes by touching him for fuck’s sake.”

  Mom slams her glass down on the granite, amber liquid sloshing over in tsunami-like waves over the glass and onto the counter. I’ve gone and rattled her and feel like beating my chest in triumph. The woman’s an ice queen, and I like thawing her a little when shit doesn’t go her way.

  “Alysha is the only one who will have you, Hunter. Or do I have to remind you of the string of other women you’ve gone through these past years?”

  My gag reflex acts up. My mother is talking to me about my sex life. Where’s the bleach so I can swallow it? “I’m not talking about this with you.”

  Jesus Christ, there have only been two women other than Aly in the past ten years. Shit.

  She laughs, the kind of laugh that clearly puts you in your place. “When are you going to learn? Aly is the only one who will have you and my grandson. The main reason being she knows all about your past and what happened with Julia. You could do worse, Hunter. Much worse. She’s presentable, and I’m sure she could be a good w
ife.”

  “I’m not going to marry her, Mom. Whatever scheme you and Dad cooked up before he left nothing to do with me.”

  Her eyebrows make an appearance over the rims of her sunglasses as she adjusts them. She smiles without any warmth behind it, the kind of smile that puts me on edge ’cause I can’t see her endgame. It’s the kind of smile that she puts on her face when she knows she’s three steps ahead of me. How in hell did this woman give birth to me?

  “Alysha will make a fine wife. Especially with all the resources she will bring you.”

  She says nothing about being a mom. My chest cavity heats up, the burn crawling up my throat until I know I’m about to hurl words that’ll change my life forever. I swallow them down, ignoring the taste of failed rebellion, and wait quietly for Eddie to bring my nephew along.

  Mom doesn’t say anything – she knows she’s won, and she’s never been one to gloat.

  Fuck, I hate this place.

  The kid is sleepy when Eddie finally brings him into the kitchen, rubbing his eyes at me and I’m sucker-punched all over again when I see him, like I forget who he really looks like. My sister had dark hair and light eyes, beautiful, and her little boy is beautiful, too. Jules’d be rolling over in her grave if she found out Aly was going to be Matty’s mom.

  I’m worried his sugar’s spiked and I didn’t have the forethought to bring his pouch with me, but I guess I can use my own stuff that’s in the car. I want to vomit as the thud in my chest gets harder, and adrenaline starts coursing through my body.

  Is this it? Is this the day when I have to take him to the hospital and social services will take him away from me to place him in foster care? Is this the day I lose the last piece of Jules forever because I’m such a spineless piece of shit who should know better?

  Self-loathing is just another name I call myself.

  I knew this was coming, this big change needs to be done. Not for me, for Matty. Because I can’t lose the last piece of Jules I have, I can’t. Not yet. Not when I can see her smile on his little boy face, or hear the exact cadence of her laugh when he giggles.

 
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