Cora Carmack

Keeping Her

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place to be alone. My bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen, I don’t care where. The only thing I care about is fucking you so hard you can’t see straight.”
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tongue. I eased back and his tongue assault ended, only for his teeth to clamp down on my bottom lip.
I was all for a little biting, but he pulled my lip out until I had one half of a fish mouth. And he stood there, sucking on my bottom lip for so long that I actually started counting to see how long it would last.
When I got to fifteen (fifteen!) seconds, my eyes settled on a guy across the bar, watching my dilemma with a huge grin. Was shit-­eating grin in the dictionary? If not, I should snap a picture for Merriam-­Webster.
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love we have is because of theatre. I associate all of our greatest moments with a play. If we’d thought about what was safe or smart when we met, we wouldn’t be together today. And you’ll always be the man that encouraged me to follow through on my dreams, the man that taught me how to make the bold choices and go after what I wanted. You said you weren’t like your father. He’s supposed to be the one whose primary concern is money.”
“The money is just a means to an end. You and the baby are my priority.”
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My heart flip-­flopped, li
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now openly laughing at me.
And he was fucking gorgeous, which made it so much worse.
Sometimes . . . the now sucked.
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I braced myself and pulled my poor, abused lip from Tamás’s teeth. My mouth felt like it had been stuck in a vacuum cleaner. While I pressed my fingers to my numb lip, Tamás started placing sloppy kisses from the corner of my lips across my cheek to my jaw.
His tongue slithered over my skin like a snail, and all the blissful, alcohol-­induced haze that I’d worked so hard for disappeared.
I was painfully aware that I was standing in an abandoned-­building-­turned-­bar with a trail of drool across my cheek, and the guy across the room was
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New life motto, right there.
I gave István a ­couple notes and sent him to get more drinks. In the meantime, I turned to face Tamás. He’d been pressed against my back for God knows how long, and I’d forgotten how tall he was. I leaned back to meet his gaze, and his hands smoothed down my back to my ass.
I smirked and said, “Someone is happy to have me all to himself.”
He pulled my hips into his and said, “Beautiful American.”
Right. No point expending
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energy on cheeky banter that he couldn’t even understand. I had a pretty good idea how to better use my energy. I slipped my arms around his neck and tilted my head in the universal sign of kiss me.
Tamás didn’t waste any time. Like really . . . no time. The dude went zero to sixty in seconds. His tongue was so far down my throat it was like being kissed by the lovechild of a lizard and Gene Simmons.
We were both pretty drunk. Maybe he didn’t realize that he was in danger of engaging my gag reflex with his Guinness-­record-­worthy
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of the world bearable. I downed it like it was lemonade on a blistering Texas day. His eyes went wide, and I licked my lips. István bought me another, and the acidity and sweetness rolled across my tongue.
Tamás gestured for me to down it again, so I did, to a round of applause.
God, I love when ­people love me.
I took hold of Tamás’s and István’s arms and pulled them away from the bar. There was a room that had one wall knocked out in lieu of a door, and it overflowed with dancing
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swept an arm underneath my legs, and pulled me up to his chest. It was a good thing I wore skinny jeans instead of a skirt.
“Köszönöm,” I said, even though he probably should have been thanking me, based on the way he was openly ogling my chest.
Ah, well. I didn’t mind ogling. I was still pleasantly warm from the alcohol, and the music drowned out the world. And my shitty parents and uncertain future were thousands of miles away across an ocean. My problems might as well have been drowning at the bot
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That was where I wanted to be.
I tugged my boys in that direction, and Katalin and András followed close behind. We had to step over a pile of concrete if we wanted to get into the room. I took one look at my turquoise heels, and knew there was no way in hell I was managing that with my sex appeal intact. I turned to István and Tamás—­sizing them up. István was the beefier of the two, so I put an arm around his neck. We didn’t need to speak the same language for him to understand what I wanted. He
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bottom of said ocean for how much they mattered to me in that moment.
The only expectations here were ones that I had encouraged and was all too willing to follow through on. So maybe my new “friends” only wanted me for money and sex. It was better than not being wanted at all.
István’s arms flexed around me, and I melted into him. My father liked to talk, or yell, rather, about how I didn’t appreciate anything. But the male body was one thing I had no issue appreciating. István was all hard muscles and an
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angles beneath my hands, and those girls were definitely a-­wandering.
By the time he’d set my feet on the dance floor, my hands had found those delicious muscles that angled down from his hips. I bit my lip and met his gaze from beneath lowered lashes. If his expression was any indication, I had found Boardwalk and had the all-­clear to proceed to Go and collect my two hundred dollars.
Or forint. Whatever.
Tamás pressed his chest against my back, and I gave myself up to the alcohol and
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the music and the sensation of being stuck between two delicious specimens of man.
Time started to disappear between frenzied hands and drips of sweat. There were more drinks and more dances. Each song faded into the next. Colors danced behind my closed eyes. And it was almost enough.
For a while, I got to be blank. A brand-­new canvas. Untouched snow.
I checked my baggage at the door, and just was.
There was no room for unhappiness when squeezed between two sets of washboard
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I laughed, and almost recounted my thoughts to my companions, but I was pretty sure it would get lost in translation. Especially because I was starting to question even Katalin’s grip on the English language, if this was what bar meant to her.
I pointed to a crumbling stone building and said, “Drink?” Then mimed the action just to be safe.
One of the guys said, “Igen. Drink.” The word sounded like ee-­gan, and I’d picked up just enough to know it meant yes.
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I was practically fluent already.
I cautiously followed Katalin toward one of the derelict buildings. She stepped into a darkened doorway that gave me the heebiest of jeebies. The taller of my Hungarian hotties slipped an arm around my shoulder. I took a guess and said, “Tamás?” His teeth were pearly white when he smiled. I would take that as a yes. Tamás equaled tall. And drop-­dead sexy. Noted.
One of his hands came up and brushed back the blond hair from my face. I tilted my head back to look at him, and
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lanterns lighted the building. Mismatched furniture was scattered around the space. There was even an old car that had been repurposed into a dining booth. It was easily the weirdest, most confusing place I’d ever been in.
“You like?” Katalin asked.
I pressed myself closer to Tamás and said, “I love.”
Tamás led me to the bar, where drinks were amazingly cheap. Maybe I should stay in Eastern Europe forever. I pulled out a two-­thousand-­forint note. For less than the equivalent of ten U.S. dollars I bought all five of us shots.
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The downside to Europe? For some reason that made no sense to me they gave lemon slices with tequila instead of lime. The bartenders always looked at me like I’d just ordered elephant sweat in a glass.
They just didn’t understand the magical properties of my favorite drink. If my accent didn’t give me away as American, my drink of choice always did.
Next, Tamás bought me a gin bitter lemon, a drink I’d been introduced to a few weeks ago. It almost made the absence of margaritas in this part
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excitement sparked in my belly. What did language matter when dark eyes locked on mine, strong hands pressed into my skin, and heat filled the space between us?
Not a whole hell of a lot.
We followed the rest of the group into the building, and I felt the low thrum of techno music vibrating the floor beneath my feet.
We traveled deeper into the building and came out into a large room. Walls had been knocked down, and no one had bothered to move the pieces of concrete. Christmas lights and
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I told my parents I was going to Europe to see the world and grow as a person. (Not that Dad listened beyond the second or third word, which is when I slipped in that I was also going to spend his money and piss him off as much as possible. He didn’t notice.) I told my professors that I was going to collect experiences to make me a better actor. I told my friends I was going to party.
In reality, it was a little of all of those things. Mostly, I was here because I refused to believe that my best years were behind me now that I’d graduated from college. I wanted to
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