I was chilled through, pissed off, and crying. Sometimes I couldn’t see the road through the downpour. The rain would get so heavy that all the other cars were pulled over on the shoulder, lights on, waiting. Not me. I sped up even more, hydroplaning and then laughing crazy through my tears.

I hydroplaned again and fish-tailed pretty bad, and then I got the idea to accelerate toward the next overpass. When I got close, I was going to stomp on the breaks and see if I couldn’t slam into a pylon. I put the gas pedal to the floor. My heart pounded, like maybe I was scared, or maybe just excited.

Almost there. I touched my foot to the brake. Just as I was about to stomp down, I saw someone standing in front of the closest concrete piling. A dark, misshapen silhouette. My heart stopped. I took my foot off the pedal and let the car decelerate, drifted onto the shoulder and sat there, shaking. Had there really been someone there? Visibility really was awful. That’s when I saw him walking toward me in the gray downpour, lit up reddish by the breaklights.

If I really want to die, I thought, I shouldn’t drive away. Jonathon will be sorry, really sorry, if a hitchhiker murders me on my way home. I leaned over and opened the passenger side door.

A man stuck his head inside. “Thanks for pulling over, ma’am. You don’t know how much this means.” Rivulets dripped from his black hair onto the car seat. “Can I throw my stuff in the back?”

I nodded, and he opened the back door. He laid a guitar case, tied in a tarp, on the seat, and threw a backpack on the floorboard. When he’d settled himself in the front seat, I pulled back onto the interstate, driving slower.

“I’m Evan,” he said.

“Vanessa. Where’re you headed?”

“Back to where I grew up. Paducah, Kentucky. Actually, a small town near Paducah that you wouldn’t have heard of.”

I wasn’t sure I’d heard of Paducah, either. “I’m only going to Madison.”

“Every little bit helps.” He flashed me an innocent-looking smile with gorgeous straight teeth. He didn’t look much more than 20. His black t-shirt clung to his abs and his wide, bony shoulders. His arms were very thin, but ripped and sinewy. The windshield on his side was all fogged up from the steam coming off his soaked clothes. I shivered when I saw the hunting knife clipped onto his belt. He saw where I was looking. “Vanessa,” he said, “there’s a serial killer on the loose. He slits women’s throats. You should be careful who you pick up. ”

“I don’t make a habit of it,” I said. “You’re my first.”

He said he was on his way home from Portland to visit his mother and sisters. His band had just finished an album, and it was going to be their big break. They had a tour booked to start in January, nationwide, lasting all spring. But his mom wasn’t doing so well and he was going home to stay the next few months, get a job, help out with money and taking care of the younger kids. He sure made himself seem like a good guy. Isn’t that what they always say about serial killers? Friendly, charismatic, and charming.

Anyway, I wasn’t really listening. All I could think about was Jonathan dumping me, just hours before. He dumped me. There’s nothing left. I don’t want to go on. The pain of it was centered in my chest, like a blade twisting deeper and deeper, and every other part of my body was aching misery.

When we reached Madison, I was a little surprised to still be in one piece. I asked Evan where he’d like me to drop him off.

He said, “It’ll be morning soon. Couldn’t we just hang out until then?”

Why not? I thought. I drove to my townhouse on the east side. I showed him in and went upstairs to find him a pair of old gray sweatpants. I startled when I came back and saw the knife in his hand, but he didn’t seem to notice. He cut the twine holding the tarp around his guitar case, unwrapped and opened it. He smiled. “It stayed dry.”

He gave me his wet clothes, and I went to the basement to throw them in the dryer. When I came back, he was sitting on the floor, shirtless, tuning his guitar. He played a few bars of broken chords, and then started to sing.

You d angled your feet in the black water
And watched debris rush past your legs
A ll your friends were going under
But that didn’t scare you or turn you away

Like a spoonful of sugar in a glass of water,
Like a little white cloud on a sunny day,
You’ve disappeared and now you’re all over,
Gone everywhere and gone away.

“That’s my band’s new single,” Evan said. “It’s called ‘Dissolve.’ It’s gonna be huge.”

I could barely hear him through the waves of grief and rage crashing through me. I was thinking about car wrecks and razor blades and drowning under the winter ice on Lake Monona. “I want to get drunk,” I said. “But the liquor stores won’t be open for hours.”

“I’ve got whiskey,” he said. He laid the guitar tenderly back in its case and pulled a bottle out of his backpack. The label showed a silhouette of a red devil, breathing fire. “Fireball. It’s cinnamon-flavored bourbon.” We went to the kitchen and got glasses out of the cabinet. He poured us each a shot. We downed them together, standing by the kitchen counter.

“Want to know why I was driving home from St. Paul at two in the morning?” I asked, blinking back tears from the burning whiskey.

“Sure do.”

“My fianc√© dumped me. Jonathan. He lives in St. Paul and I drive up to see him every weekend. He called me last Wednesday, said he couldn’t wait to see me. As soon as I get to his place, he’s all over me. Pinning me up against the door, kissing me. Tearing my clothes off. He pushed me down on the floor right there, like he couldn’t wait long enough to go to the bedroom. We fucked, doggy style.” I knew it was too much information, but I couldn’t stop talking. “It was amazing. I was down on the fucking floor, rugburn on my knees and elbows, just thinking ‘It doesn’t get better than this.’ His balls were slapping against my cunt. He was talking dirty, just like I like.” I stopped and looked at Evan. He was leaning against the counter, smiling, waiting for me to go on. “I need another drink,” I said.

Evan poured and we tossed the shots back. I shivered and gasped as it burned down my throat. “Honestly, it was the hottest sex we ever had,” I said. “Then, just minutes after, I’m laying there in the afterglow, and Jonathan says, ‘We need to talk.’ All serious. This is how stupid I am. I actually thought he was going to ask me to marry him right then. I thought he was gonna go, ‘I can’t wait any longer. Quit your job in Madison, and move in with me.’ But no. He said he doesn’t want to see me anymore.”

I poured another shot and swirled the red whiskey in the glass. “I jumped up. I was naked. I mean, we had just fucked for God’s sake. I said, ‘I drove all the way up here, just so you could dump me? We just made love.’ And he actually said, ‘I wanted to give you a good memory.'” I bent over sobbing, with my head on my arms on the kitchen counter. “I know what you’re thinking. Jonathan and I didn’t even live together. But he’s my whole life. I go to work, I come home thinking about him, waiting, just waiting all week until I can go see him again. I don’t have anything else.”

Evan started rubbing my shoulders and the back of my neck. “Turn around.”

I lifted my head from the counter and turned to face him. He knelt between my legs. He laid his cheek against my right knee and looked up at me with huge, black eyes.

I said, “My mother always told me not to pick up hitchhikers. Are you going to kill me?”

He kissed the inseam of my jeans with tiny kisses, working closer and closer to my pussy. “I’m going to smother you … with kisses.”

“In that case,” I said, “Let’s go to my room.” I headed toward the stairs. As we went through the living room, he picked up his knife and the twine that had held the tarp around his guitar case.

I got onto my bed, and struggled out of my jeans. Evan stood beside me and I drunkenly threw my arms around him. The skin of his chest was so hot it burned my cheek. I touched his face. It was burning too. “Are you sick?” I asked.

“No, it’s just the whiskey. It makes me flush,” he said. He bent and started to kiss me, sucking in my lower lip, tasting it. He kissed my chin, my neck. I tipped my head back and he gently kissed my throat.

He pulled off my shirt and undid my bra. Then he knelt and licked one nipple and the other. “You taste delicious. Cinnamon.” He nibbled my breasts with little pinching bites, and as he did, he slipped his fingers inside the front of my panties, stroking the little strip of hair I leave in the middle. I writhed in his grasp, willing him to plunge his fingers inside me or rub my clit hard. Instead he pulled away, and picked up the twine. “I want to tie your hands,” he said.

“Why?” I whispered. This was it. If I let him do this, I’d be helpless, defenseless. Who’ll call Jonathan? I wondered. I lay back and raised my arms over my head.

Evan crawled over me and wrapped twine around my wrist. “You’ll see.” He tied my arm to the headboard with an elaborate knot, and cut the string. Then he wrapped the other wrist, and tied it next to the first.

He stepped off the back end of the bed and stood looking down at me. My legs were free, and I reflexively squeezed them together and twisted to the side. “Beautiful,” he said. He got on hands and knees above me and kissed my cheeks, my jaw and collarbones, the hollow of my throat. His mouth moved lower, down to my belly, then down to the ticklish places at the tops of my thighs. He was going to go down on me. I wanted to stop him, at the same time I wanted him to do it more than anything. I surrendered.

He rolled my panties down my thighs. He slipped them off my feet, and he plunged his face between my legs. His tongue was on my clit, one hand reaching up to pinch a nipple and the other massaging my ass.

His mouth was burning, burning hot. Could you get aroused if a stranger had you tied to the bed? If he was a hitchhiker with a knife? I wouldn’t have thought I could either. But every nerve in my body was on fire. I cried out and thrust my hips toward his face. He was sucking my clit and stroking it with his tongue at the same time. He shoved fingers inside me and thrust, hard, rhythmically. And just like that, I was coming. My head thrashed from side to side and I pulled on the bindings until my wrists were raw.

Before I could catch my breath, he knelt between my legs, his long, thin erection jutting out at me. He licked his fingers and rubbed my clit. Licked them again, rubbed my pussy lips, while he stroked himself with his other hand. Then he plunged into me, and his cock was hot, burning hot inside me. So hot it almost hurt, at first. And then it felt so goddamn good. “Fucking Christ, I’m about to come again,” I shrieked.

His thighs were hot where they touched my ass, as hot as his cock inside my cunt. I came again, shuddering and crying. Evan pulled out and dropped down onto the bed beside me. His cock poked straight up into the air.

“You didn’t get off,” I said.

He rolled onto his side and looked at me. “I don’t care about that,” he said. “I just like listening to pretty girls scream.” He picked up the knife and I squeezed my eyes closed. Time slowed down so my heartbeats roared in my ears like far-off bomb detonations. Let it be quick, I thought. Please, just do what you have to do and don’t hurt me too much.

I pulled my elbows close to my face and whimpered. I curled my knees up to my chest. It doesn’t matter how much you hate being alive, when it comes to it, your body doesn’t want to go. The whiskey wasn’t helping that much. My wrists were held fast, though, so it didn’t matter. “Fuck you, Jonathan,” I whispered. “Fuck you. You’re not worth it.”

With two quick strokes, Evan sliced through the twine holding my wrists and I was free. He set the knife on the nightstand and pulled me to him. “You’re shaking,” he said. “Let me hold you.” His erection had started to subside.

“You scared me so bad,” I said. “Why?”

“He’s not worth it. I just wanted you to say it.” He curled around me and buried his face in my hair. “Say it again, Vanessa.”

“He’s not worth it.” The heat from his body, pressed against my back, my ass, the backs of my thighs, stopped me from shivering. Within a few moments I was asleep, worn out from liquor, orgasm and relief.

Late the next morning, I woke with a terrible hangover, the kind where you can’t eat a piece of dry toast or lift your head off the pillow. The bed was empty. I lay there in a daze, beyond sick, until dusk. Then I suddenly woke up, feeling much better. I searched the house, but found no sign of Evan. He’d taken his clothes from the dryer. The half-empty bottle of whiskey was gone, and the shot glasses we’d drunk from had been washed and put away. The only signs that he’d been there were the raw marks circling my wrists. Jonathan had dumped me. But the sensation of Evan touching me, licking me, inside of me, rushed back. No need to give up on a world where there was that much unexpected pleasure.

As I stood there in the darkening kitchen, the lights went out for a minute. When they flickered back on, the radio on the counter came on too. I reached to switch it off, but stopped. The song that was playing …

Stars, blow yourselves out like candles
Moon, climb your ladder down the sky
Black night, shake out like a blanket
So it’s dark until it’s light.

Evan! His song really was on the radio. I wished I’d gotten his number so I could call him, tell him I’d heard it.

You’ve disappeared and now you’re all over,
Gone everywhere and gone away.

The DJ’s voice interrupted the last chords of the outro. “That was ‘Dissolve.’ A fantastic new song that’s going to be a huge hit, and the band responsible for it is here in the studio this evening. Thanks for coming, guys.”

A man’s voice said, “Thanks for having us.” Several others murmured agreement.

“We just heard your new single. It’s really burning up the alternative charts. But you actually recorded this album over a year ago, isn’t that right? What can you tell me about the tragic story behind this song?”

“That one, actually about half of the songs on the album, were written by Evan, our lead singer who passed away.”

“Evan, no,” I whispered, “what’s happened?” Static crackled from the radio. The DJ interrupted. “Tell us your name.”

“I’m Andrew,” the man’s voice replied. “I play lead guitar and keyboards.”

“Okay, Andrew, tell us what happened, and how it devastated your band.”

“We finished recording early last October, and we were all set for a major tour starting in January. Evan was hitchhiking home, to see his family. He was struck by a car. It was a hit-and-run, during a big storm, and by the time he was found, it was too late. It happened a year ago yesterday, actually.”

“You must have been devastated,” The DJ said.

“He was my best friend. We had stacks of CDs of the new album ready to go, tour booked, but we’d lost Evan. The band didn’t exactly break up, but we cancelled the tour. It basically took us this long to get over it enough to play together again.”

When the interview was over, I shut off the radio. I froze. From somewhere in the house, I heard the muffled sound of an acoustic guitar. I broke out in a cold sweat, but followed the sound to the living room. When I switched on the light, the music stopped.

No one was there.

© 2013 Sybil Rush. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

Bio: Sybil Rush is currently a research scientist and part time erotica writer. However, she learned most of what she knows about sex during her former careers. She has been, at various times, a striptease artist, a topless dancer, an enlisted soldier, and a midwife. Her work has appeared in Valentine’s Day, the 2013 Stringybark Erotic Fiction Anthology. She occasionally blogs at nouveaugrotto.blogspot.com.au.

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