New Excerpt from THE WAY OF A MAN WITH A NEIGHBOR: Darkness
Camilla used a phone app to guide them to a café a couple of blocks off Broad Street in Richmond and about a half mile from Lilith & Pandora. The café offered outdoor seating in a patio on one side of the building with a view of the street. The weather was just fair enough for them to opt to have lunch in the open air.
The downtown sidewalk was thick with pedestrian workers, shoppers, and college students. Sam noted that more than a few heads turned their way as they ate. Men in particular looked at them and particularly at Camilla as she enjoyed a turkey club sandwich. Sam figured that was probably because when she got out of his Jeep she hadn’t bothered to refasten the buttons on her dress he’d opened before their trip, and because whenever a cool breeze wafted through the patio her nipples strained at the cotton and created a new kind of buttons. He had a thought that somehow the men sensed that Camilla wasn’t wearing anything under her dress. Or maybe they just sensed Camilla’s heat, and primal instinct made them look at her and know there was something different about her; something special.
Sam imagined again Camilla wearing nothing but those black stilettos she’d shown him before they left. His vision was half-formed, but in it he sensed again that they weren’t in either of their houses. Or maybe they were, but they weren’t the only ones there. That was it: his imagination had Camilla wearing only those shoes before more eyes than his.
As he took a bite of his sandwich he wondered if he were changing, becoming more open-minded or more perverse, depending on the point of view. Had Camilla’s unchained sexuality rubbed off on him, or was this who he’d always been? And if this was who he was, how far was he willing to go?
Somewhere in his life he’d heard that a man will only do what a woman allows him to do, will only go as far as she allows him to go. Women set the limits. But Camilla had left it to him to set the boundaries of their sexual relationship. She wanted him to live out his fantasies through her, which would in turn fulfill her desire to be the kind of woman she wanted to be. That meant he had to be willing to look inside himself honestly, to venture down into the previously unvisited dark dungeon of his desires. He had to creep through the darkness down there to discover what lurked in the cages. And if there were monsters in some of the cages, he had to decide if he was brave enough, or freaky enough, or maybe sick enough, to open them. One thing he knew for sure: If he opened any cage and a monster got loose, there would be no locking it up again.
“What are you thinking about?” Camilla asked.
“I don’t know; a lot of things.”
“Tell me what you’ve thought most about in the last minute.”
“That wasn’t it.”
“How do you know it wasn’t?”
“Because you weren’t looking at me. You were watching people passing by, but then you weren’t really seeing them. You were somewhere in your head.”
“Oh, you think you know me like that, huh?”
“You’re my man. I’m supposed to know you. So what were you thinking about?”
“Those black shoes you showed me this morning. I keep seeing you wearing nothing but them.”
“That can happen whenever you want.”
“Not just that. When I pictured it, it was like I was seeing you, but it wasn’t just me. I don’t know where we were but other people saw you too.”
Camilla wrapped her plump lips around her straw and finished her soda. “Hmm.”
“You want me naked in public, don’t you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Oh, you do know.”
“I mean, it’s sexy in concept but it’s dangerous. Remember what Cutter said.”
“But you want it. That’s what matters. That’s why we did it this morning.”
“That was just from my place to yours, on our private property.”
“See? You said ‘just,’ like it could be more, or better. Tell me what you really want.”
He was down in the dungeon, standing before a cage. Something crouched in the back of the cage, hiding in the blacker than black shadows. He couldn’t see it but he knew it was there, watching him. Watching and waiting.
Though he’d never seen it before he knew what it was. He knew what it would look like. He knew what it wanted. All he had to do was open the cage and let it run free.
“Sam? You left me again.”
“You don’t want to tell me?”
“I will. I think I’m going to let it be a surprise.”