A Scarlet Kiss(4)

By: Heidi Lowe

The light tap at the door was apologetic. I knew it was Marcus even before he peeked his head in, the pitiful look still on his face.

"Are you still mad at me?"

"Yes," I said, though I'd simmered down a lot since we'd arrived a couple of hours ago.

"Don't be," he said. He came in and sat on the bed. Outside, the sun had begun to set, giving the horizon a beautiful crimson look. The same sunset I'd seen for thirty years. It was easy to forget that I wasn't in America anymore.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

He shrugged. "What was I supposed to say?"

What would have been appropriate? Was I just making a big deal out of nothing?

I sat beside him on the bed. "It's just a surprise, you know."

"I get it. That's why I hate talking about it. No one in the States knew. People judge you when they hear your father's the sole heir to a famous British baking empire."

I squeezed his hand, tried not to laugh at something that obviously caused him great distress. Didn't bother to point out that these were first world problems, problems of the rich.

"Yeah, that must be so terrible," I teased.

He smiled. "Hey, terrible is subjective. And believe me, I would have given anything to have a normal upbringing, in a normal house, with normal, working-class parents."

"Normal's overrated."

Although he'd said it a number of times, I only half believed him. Like those really slim individuals who insist they want to be fatter. Sometimes people said things just to say them.

"In any case, I'm sorry I didn't tell you. I'm an ass, I know. As an apology, I'm entirely at your service for the rest of your stay here."

I raised an eyebrow, a wicked grin creeping to my lips. "Hasn't that always been our arrangement? In exchange for me giving you access to the queendom, you do everything I ask." My hand rubbed his thigh while I kissed his neck. I felt him tremble a little as my breath tickled his flesh. One of the perks of dating a younger man: he still had that barely been touched innocence about him. There had only been a couple of girls before me. I would be lying if I said it wasn't a turn on to be the one with all the experience for once.

"What time did you say your parents would be home?" I whispered this, while my hand inched ever closer to his crotch. His breathing grew heavy, erratic.

"Uh...I, I..." He couldn't get the words out.

Eventually, he found his way, helped me out of my clothes, and we ravaged each other right there and then.

"What's so funny?" I said, picking out the cucumbers from my sandwich and lining them around the edge of the plate. Marcus and I sat in the kitchen eating the sandwiches he'd prepared, following our love-making session. Sex always gave me an appetite.

He sat across from me, hair all over the place, shirt only half-buttoned, showing off his hairless chest. "Nothing, just that I didn't realize how carried away I got with those." He pointed at my neck, grin all-consuming.

It took a second to grasp what he was referring to.

So, as with everything, pros accompanied cons, and this was up there high on the list of the cons of dating younger men: love bites. This wasn't the first time he'd defaced my skin with his mouth. It was his insistence on placing them so visibly that bothered me, like he wanted to mark his territory.

"How many are there this time?"

"Two... At least of the ones on display." Was that pride I saw on his devilishly handsome face?

"Not cool, dude," I said. "What will your parents think when they see this?"

"Who cares what they think? Besides, they won't notice. They don't notice anything but themselves."

I checked my reflection on the gargantuan refrigerator. Two conspicuous red blotches decorated my neck. I groaned to myself. The worst part of all: his bites had a habit of sticking around forever. Mutant bites. I could have told him I hated them and wanted him to stop doing it, but I guess a small part of me liked receiving them. They reminded me of my youth; made me feel closer to twenty than thirty, that kind of thing.

I returned to my sandwich. "Hey, I noticed there aren't any photos in the house. Like, not one family photo. What's that about?"

He shook his head, brow furrowed slightly out of agitation. "Oh, that's my mother's doing. She's insane, has this weird superstition that you lose a little piece of your soul every time someone takes a picture of you. It's been that way for as long as I can remember. You won't find a single photograph around here."