Brody explored sex with less than a dozen people in the forty-three years he resided on this planet; fewer that even. He wasn’t much for socializing sexually. He preferred a more solitary and cerebral existence and imaginative means of carnal pleasures considering the other as a form of escapism—like the rare vacation or holiday. That didn’t mean he was inexperienced in the realm of pleasure. He studied tantric sex with an accomplished mistress and master and met expectations, if not exceeded; all his partners sufficiently sated—an objective never taken casually nor ungenerously as the purpose of tantric sex consisted of personal transformation and self-actualization through intimate synchronicity whereby orgasm was not the objective but was assured regardless.
These connections remained brief; intimate to an objectively comfortable degree—one which was convenient and adequate. To exert or escalate into anything more tangible would have required something he was unwilling or unable to give at the time. Like most people—men specifically—Brody imagined sex with nearly everyone he interacted, but so had he imagined what books they read or what fantasies they lived. His fantasies driven in order to dodge that of his more mercurial mind; not because of attraction—sexual or romantic; more an exploration of ideas and an experiment in flight; examining the intricacies of the person absolute to those of his illusions.
Of those expeditions explored—a fitting metaphor—few lived up to his fantasies. There were occurrences of certain experiences that were long-lasting even now so many years later. He assumed it was more his sense of self and the timing—his age and the ripeness of his body and hormones—than the partner or partners in question. He expected sex was like that for a lot of people. Likely, very few acknowledged that dose of wisdom due to puritanical or self-conscious reasons. He lacked none of the former and a psychologically healthy amount of the latter—he hoped.
Brody’s sexuality existed on the lower end of a spectrum. He practiced masturbation and used it as much as needed—insomnia, restlessness, stress, anxiety, tension. Sex, though, was something other; romantic attraction not even. With little to no experience in that area, he often wondered if that inclination inherently absent. He recognized the romance in all things and usually found it entertaining to a slight degree, if not amusing—sometimes nonsensical. He bordered on the more pragmatic and cynical side of it all. Romance and romantic attraction embodied a sense of hope; Brody claimed a limited amount of that.
Until he met Layne.
He examined this newly discovered romantic attraction in comparison to hope. Was romantic hope innate? Could one equate romance with hope? Could there be one without the other? To presume not would be unreasonable and apathetic to those without either or both. He never considered himself lonely and bitter and without total aspirations while solitary. Alone meant to be a neutral term without bias towards single-minded opinions or false assumptions, though, culturally implied isolation and unhappiness. He relegated that lazy thinking to the pernicious need for binaries—one was either alone or together, happy or sad, black or white, gay or straight, American or not; usually, people and circumstances varied; one never like the other.
Hence, no one was absolute.
The negative connotations to being alone not withstanding in a reasonable discourse, he considered it a path like any other, different and individualized—contextualized, like personalities with many divergences or idiosyncrasies. The implications that his romantic attraction towards Layne equaled hope suggested he had none prior while being alone without romantic attraction; a false assumption, conclusion, and premise all around.
Quite frankly, a tedious one. While Brody possessed a limited amount of hope, he did have some.
His father never remarried. Nor had he fallen in love again after his mother. Not that Brody was aware.
He looked at his father. A sense of warmth prickly and otherwise underscored all. The empathy and love of a parent or family member presumed loyalty and favoritism—not from Brody and never that. His father deserved the respect of critical analysis given to everyone else in this ruptured world. Any less would be undignified to the elder Broderick, Brody and all they both stood. That principle molded them in the muck together, both humbly aware, reminding the other if and when forgotten in ways pithy and deft—praise valued highly since rare from either.
As Lucretia Summers approached, he imagined she enjoyed both dominant and submissive roles—she would give as much as take.
Much like Layne.
Brody looked for Layne beyond Lucretia. She stood in the shadows watching, waiting. Eyes connected and again, that connection sent another wave of need throughout his body that both flustered and excited him. It was physically jarring. He remained calm. His nerves and muscles felt as if they wanted to jump from his skin, run and wrestle her to the ground, wrapping around her until they merged into one. This evolved into another heated erotic fantasy in which he and Layne, naked and wet, rolled around the floor—always wet for some reason; he failed to understand why. He was ten-shakes into that fantasy and Layne had just rolled him underneath her when Lucretia snapped her fingers in front of his face attempting to gain his attention. It took him a moment to disconnect from Layne’s gaze. Severing that connection and link to focus on Lucretia and his father, he looked at both vacantly. Apparently, having been deep in conversation for several minutes, they realized Brody was…elsewhere.
Broderick, frowning, stared at Brody visibly concerned while Lucretia laughed, a wide, knowing grin and glean on her face and in her eyes. She glanced briefly over her shoulder towards Layne then back at Brody.
“I beg your pardon,” he said to them both. “I was…otherwise occupied.”
The three of them exchanged pleasantries for a time—that and various business related discussions that Brody aimlessly nodded through while monitoring Layne from a distance. This done surreptitiously as his father studied him and his interactions with Lucretia carefully. Lucretia seemed overtly attentive and charming even openly flirting with both, which caused him some concern.
Kindness was an attribute virtuous and sublime; charming, however, did not equal kind—not in these waters. Charming people were not to be trusted. Brody much preferred honesty and authenticity over charm. Charm deconstructed bred deception based on a problematic premise—a premise usually self-involved and not in the best interest of the person being charmed.
Briefly making eye contact, Brody and his father observed this and began to mentally retreat and reassess their opinion of Lucretia Summers. Shortly thereafter and unbeknownst to Brody, the actual Lucretia materialized in an apparent witty set-down that Brody missed completely as his mind and attention were…elsewhere. This side of Lucretia caused his father to burst into laughter.
The entire room—himself included—gaped in astonishment.
The Blake men rarely laughed and hardly ever in such a public display.
Lucretia looked at Brody and winked grabbing a glass of water from a passing waiter and tray. “Had to make sure y’all weren’t all that. Woo, was that hard. I don’t like being charming. It’s disingenuous and reeks of artifice.” This said with such sincerity and vulnerability, Brody believed her.
What made his father laugh, he would never know. What all that was, Lucretia never said. From that point forward, the elder Blake befriended Lucretia and became more than a fan. Thereafter, Brody looked at her with newfound respect. When she won over his father—a man who had few friends and a knack for dissecting a person, explicating what was underneath the facade—she was someone to be admired. Or feared.
He surmised both.
As this happened, Layne vanished yet again. While Lucretia looked on knowingly, Brody excused himself and went in search for her. The security remarkably lax despite the aristocratic—however insignificant—presence, he found her alone in an office he assumed specifically reserved for the parasitic aphids that followed their liege. He pulled the door closed behind him increasingly aware of how dangerous it was to be around her alone not sure If he cared anymore.
Layne’s eyes drifted over him as she leaned back against the desk sending his heart into unhealthy rhythms. “Shouldn’t you be attracting and romancing my boss?”
Brody frowned speculating on that turn of phrase. “I…what?”
Her laughter impromptu—unconscious and deliberate—as though she anticipated his arrival despite her words and meaning otherwise; a tangled contradiction he was unlikely to untangle. To what she thought or meant by that, she didn’t let him or the universe know.
Layne casually strolled up to him venturing into his personal space. Brody collected his wits and installed some much needed bravado into his spine standing a little taller and straighter. She had an uncanny way of inserting herself near him without being around him—not this time. She drew even closer—so close he could reach out and pull her forward. He stopped himself.
She smelled good—hints of something citrussy with floral overtones, tropical and clean. The fragrance drugged him sending him into another one of those fantasies he attempted to contain before it escalated.
Only a few inches taller than Layne, Brody stared at her lips as they moved, licking his in response. Extraction from that edge proved difficult—downright painful. He located his voice—scratchy and wane—amongst the effort: “What are you doing in here?”
“I asked you first.”
Brody recalled none of that so lost was he in her presence. He shook himself out of that stupor in order to concentrate on why she was in this room. “I followed you. Are you up to no good?” This came out more playful and flirtatious than intended which resulted in her easing closer to him.
Outwardly calm, Brody’s self-assurance appeared unwavering. Transparent to Layne though, she flashed right through that guise. “You plan on making this a lot more complicated, don’t you?”
This said, rough and low, unearthed something virile within him. It took enormous amounts of restraint to hold back. Then she placed her lips on his, eyes opened while watching him carefully. He stood still until she pulled back in a look sincere and questioning that exposed her usual amount of aplomb. Soft and subtle gave way to husky and raw as she pushed him against the nearest wall. He let loose and lost himself in her mouth, her tongue, the warmth of her body—the heat and energy building.
Rising for air: “Wait, aren’t you supposed to get consent?” He asked smiling playfully through the kiss as if he discovered something pure and divine.
She muttered a “shut up” and turned rough and raw into soft, wet, and tender with a look long and bare, almost stripped entirely. This made his knees practically buckle.
His hands in her hair, Brody took control pulling her forward consuming her, memorizing every deep, dark and wet detail of her mouth and this moment; so lovely was it, he wanted to live there forever.
They remained like this till the sun transformed into an exploding inferno engulfing them both, the Earth, and everything around them in fire—though not really, reader. The fire within felt as if.
Both ran hot—together they burned.
Abruptly terminating that hot-handed, tongue-battling clash between them, Layne pulled him forward into a small, dark closet at the side of the room, quietly shutting the door behind them.
Ambient light from the crack in the door highlighted their faces. Pulling slightly away, she placed a finger to his lips. He wrapped his arms around her as her body settled against his. The muffled sounds outside the door indicated people talking. Positioning ears to the door, neither he nor Layne heard what was being said and done besides tone—the volume denoted anger. The slamming of the door announced their exit shortly thereafter.
Layne and Brody stood still—arms and legs entwined—for some time staring into each other’s eyes. Catch lights from the opposite room displayed the vagaries of doubt, want, need, and reluctance. She pulled away then left him standing there without a word.
© 2020 Alex Shea/Pamela Gay Mullins