Excerpt: Riot Boy
A glittering array of beautiful people, and there I was staring, with my hands stuffed into my pockets. Some preppy, short-haired boy in a tight button-down danced by and winked at me. He smelled overpoweringly of body spray and clutched an orange cocktail.
I grinned, but all I could think was: Get off my lawn, you little bastard.
Susanne grabbed my arm. “Etienne, drink. Let’s get your blood flowing.”
I let her drag me around, since that’s what big sisters are for. That and forcing you to be sociable, even after you’ve told them repeatedly that you don’t need to “get back out there.”
My blood was already flowing, though. The speakers spewed questionable remixes, but of songs I liked, at least. (Currently “Atomic” by Blondie. Everyone loves a stereotype.) The people-watching was good too, all that jumping and grinding and great hormonal stupidity. It was mostly men, though there was a handful of straight girls looking to dance without getting hit on, lesbians on the prowl, and couples like Susanne and Lucy.
Suse was in jeans and a girly Steelers T-shirt, but Lucy was, as she called it, tarted up. While she ordered drinks, I glanced around for some new people to watch. A few couples caught my eye at one end of the bar—new, flirting, horny, awkward.
I didn’t miss the game, but I was surprised that it called up as many good memories as bad. The red-hot look. The first kiss. The promise of something new, maybe something better—or maybe just an experience.
My last first kiss had been with Paul. Almost three years ago.
“I feel old,” I said.
Susanne glared. “Um, I just turned thirty.”
She punched my arm.
I looked to the other end of the bar. Now those guys didn’t belong. Black and white clothes, hair gel, skinny pants, and tattoos for all, metal in their faces for some. One of the metal-free guys looked up, eyes flashing with the electric blue glow above the bar, and caught my glance. He smiled, wolfish and cunning, his long bangs falling artfully over his face, tight gray T-shirt stenciled in black spray paint to read RIOT GEAR.
An old trick from the Clash—good taste. I was out of practice with the eye-fucking, but it’s funny how fast it comes back when someone’s worth a good, hard look. Handsome somewhere under that hair, all hard lines and broad shoulders but lean like a panther. Took me a good five seconds to realize his eyes were so striking because they were painted up with black liner.
“Don’t flirt with the gutter trash, Et.” Susanne elbowed me in the ribs.
“You introduced me to punk at twelve,” I protested. “If I’m looking at—”
“It was a phase.”
Lucy shoved a martini into my hand.
“Thanks,” I said, eyeing the drink. “Guess it’s better than that orange crap I saw some kid drinking.”
“James Bond drinks this crap, so stuff it.” Lucy pursed her lips.
Susanne said, “Now find someone less dirty to get up on, little brother, and I will be on the floor with my hot girlfriend.”
Our older brother, Marcel? Possibly the straightest man in the world. Susanne suspects Mom dropped him on his head.
“For the record, Bond does vodka martinis,” I said. But I took her advice—or halfway took it, at least—and stopped eying riot boy. Not that he’d be interested; I usually attracted the baby-faced businessmen with hard-ons for douchey singer-songwriters, not the blazingly hot punk rock idolaters.
I floated around the edges of the floor, slowly warming to room temperature, literally and figuratively, until the buzz and hormones began to feel like a homecoming. Eventually some old friends waved me over for a drink in a corner—which was great until they asked what happened with Paul.
I lied and said the split had been amicable, but I made my excuses soon after that. I was on my way back to the bar when someone grabbed my hand. When I looked over my shoulder, I met pale, charcoal-lined eyes and an insouciant smirk.
Riot boy. He nodded in the direction of the dance floor.
My mind faltered. My response was automatic. I nodded.
He pulled me into the throng, his long, cool fingers twisting between mine with strange familiarity. Black tattoos snaked around his lean, muscled arms—a half-sleeve on the upper right and words, half-hidden by his T-shirt, down the triceps of the left. Everyone was beautiful under those lights, but no one wore a T-shirt and ratty jeans quite like him. They clung like he was wet, highlighting his perfect V shape. This close, I could see that my initial panther analogy had been dead-on; long cords of muscle played down his back, and his ass was too perfect to be real—plenty of definition, rounded just right. I idly imagined sidling up to him and fitting it into the curve of my hips.
Yes, I suddenly saw the world through that blue-green haze particular to the situation. Alcohol: check. Strange hot guy: check. Loud music: check. The smell of sweat, desperation, and bad decisions: check.
When he found a good spot, he turned and came close, one arm snaking around my neck. He started to move, laying the other hand against my chest, then trailing his fingers up to my shoulder. It stayed there, palm flattened, appreciative.
My ego, which had been half convinced this was all a cruel joke, inflated just enough to stand on its own. I thought about trying to talk, to ask his name and what the hell he was doing, but the music didn’t allow for it. The track transitioned—Depeche Mode, God help us all—and he smirked again. Whether that meant he approved or thought it was crap didn’t really matter.
He pressed closer, his whole hard front against me and his arm tightening around my neck. The cold metal of his belt buckle pushed up my shirt, clinking against the button of my fly. He smelled like cigarettes, shampoo, and bourbon. I put my arm around his waist without even realizing it, and he felt like—
Like an armful of beautiful guy. An unexpected thought surprised me: Who cares what his name is?
When the bass started its heavy, regular pulse, one of his legs slipped between mine. His thigh pushed against my crotch, and my blood roared. My cock swelled, warm against someone else for the first time in too long. I couldn’t hide it, not with him plastered all over me.
He felt it. He angled his hips so I could feel him filling out his super tight pants too. His breath on my face when he put his forehead to mine was cold, somehow, and had that same smell of smoke and liquor.
I heard his voice then, low and soft. “You are fucking hot, boy.”