Cover Design: Najla Qamber Designs
unrequited love. But it’s time to move on. No more stalking, no more obsessive
seeing around campus could be a great one—only he is the new poetry
professor—the married poetry professor.
broody—but his glares and taunts don’t scare Layla. She might be bad at poetry,
but she is good at reading between the lines. Beneath his prickly façade,
Thomas is lonely, and Layla wants to know why. Obsessively.
the storage room of a bar with your professor and you kiss him. Sometimes he
kisses you back like the world is ending and he will never get to kiss you
again. He kisses you until you forget the years of unrequited love; you forget
all the rules, and you dare to reach for something that is not yours.
topics like cheating and death. 18+ Only.
Matt. We find a table in the middle of the room and Emma thumps the big bag of
goodies down on it. It’s prompt night for the Labyrinth and Emma is in charge
of producing the prompts.
again?” Matt says, taking off his coat and hanging it on the chair as he takes
for something. It’s adorable how shy she is in front of him when she’s normally
so self-assured. Dylan and Emma have gone on a few dates this week. Turns out,
Dylan loved the tangerine. I knew it.
phone?” He bumps his shoulder with mine. “Back me up here, Layla. This freaking
bag is a monstrosity.”
kind of fun to look at something while writing about it.”
first reaction was panic. I didn’t think I could be a part of it. I wasn’t
prepared. I haven’t even read all the books I own.
week, I’ve only roamed on the street once. I haven’t been to Thomas’ house at
all. I stay up late reading. There’s so much to discover, and I’ve been living
inside this fog for so long. I feel like time is running out on me. I’ll
probably die before reading all the books out there.
greater than me—art—and I don’t have to be perfect. The only thing I should be
worried about is seeing Thomas.
my ugly love story, and sort of licked his hand, trying to taste him. Since
then I’ve seen him all around campus, at Crème and Beans with Nicky, in the
corridors at the Labyrinth when Emma dragged me to a play reading. I’ve even
seen him in the park, at the bench, the one time I went out at night. He was
smoking and battling with himself, as usual, and I was hiding behind the
who knows what I did.
invisible. Somehow, this hurts even more because deep down I thought he could
relate to me, but he doesn’t.
followed by Professor Masters and Thomas. The snowflakes swirl behind his back
as he enters and the door swings shut.
voice as he saunters forward. There is a chorus of chuckles and Hi Professor
around the room.
the trio and heads for the bar. Sarah throws him an annoyed look but Professor
Masters steers her toward their destination.
legs straddling the small seat. He takes off his jacket, revealing a plain grey
t-shirt that stretches across his shoulders and biceps. His jean-covered thighs
bulge as he bounces his right leg with impatience.
and I look away, embarrassed. His weakness for chocolate awakens something raw
and melty inside my stomach. I haven’t thought about what I’ll do come Monday.
Will I go back to class? Will I hide and never show my face again?
the instructions. She digs inside her bag and fishes something out. “So the
first prompt is this bottle of hot sauce. You have to write a short poem, no
more than twenty lines, with whatever comes to mind when you see a red bottle
with H.O.T. written on it. I’m going to pass this around for a bit so you guys
can look at it.”
sweet-loving person. In fact, I’m the only sweet-loving person in my family or
the families I’ve had over the years. My mom, Caleb, my dad, Caleb’s dad, even
Henry—they all shy away from sweet things.
jacket pocket. Since those missed calls at Crème and Beans, he’s called several
times, but I haven’t picked up. I was hoping he’d leave a message or something
so I’d know what it’s about, but he hasn’t.
fear is keeping me from taking his call.
trying to feel. How does hot sauce make me feel? H.O.T. Feel. Feel.
His beautiful, intense gaze. How every molecule of my body, every inch of my
flesh burns when he is near. How he has the power to change the weather, cold
fire-breather. He breathes flames and lust, makes me forget everything and say
yes. Yes to obsession. Yes to stalking. Yes to insanity. Yes to licking.
words. The pen moves and the words flow out. They keep flowing without my
knowledge. All I can feel is the heat seesawing through my body.
voice. “All right guys, it’s time to stop. Put down your pens.”
Emma asks someone to volunteer their poem first. With flushed cheeks, I pocket
my small notebook. While the entire room is busy, I get up and shuffle into the
hallway in the back. I need to get to the ladies’ room and calm myself down.
and take a deep breath. My legs can barely support themselves. Is this how
poets feel when they put feelings into words? Is this how Thomas feels? It’s
like bleeding. It’s like running for miles and running out of breath.
dark, tiny room. I don’t even have time to squeal before the flimsy wooden door
is shut, and I’m surrounded by a very familiar heat.
his hand banded around my elbow, pushing me back against the dank wall.
slices of light under the flickering yellow bulb. The only bright spots on his
features are those fire-starting eyes of his. I can smell the delicious smoke
rising from my body, can feel the sting.
to be the center of his attention after days. He sees us. There are things to
worry about, I know that, but I can’t muster the energy to.
“Wh-What are you doing?”
exhaled as he stares at every inch of my face. “Do you still love him?”
man in front of me. There’s a hint of vulnerability to him. His usually cool
persona is frayed. Is it because I told him my story? Maybe he relates to me
that you hate yourself? That you can’t stand your own sight? Do you constantly
think about how to fix it? How to make it better? How to be better?”
on his features. It’s too bright and glaring. It’s too similar to mine, but I’m
not worried about that right now. I’m worried about him.
stubbled face. His cheekbone is arched and high, seemingly made of granite as
it pulses beneath my palm. “But I’m so tired of it,” I admit, and his eyes
flare. Fire-breathing eyes. I wonder why I didn’t notice it before. It’s so
obvious now. They never fail to start a fire in my soul.
into mine, but there isn’t any touch involved. His frame sort of hovers over
me, heating me up, jumpstarting my nerves. I’m a mesh of live wires, firing
lust and adrenaline. I’m sticky as sugar and drunk as whiskey.
wall, caging me in. The vein on his bicep becomes taut, a purple string tugging
on my senses.
only piece of my body I can feel. My mouth, throbbing, puffy, swollen with the
storm of desire to kiss him better. It’s a tornado, an avalanche in my body,
and in one breathless moment, I decide to go for it. It’s okay. I can take the
blame for it later.
on his plump lips, it’s a kiss of solidarity, a kiss that intends to tell him I
understand—but one isn’t enough. It only manages to ratchet up my lust. So I
give him another, this time on the corner of his mouth, and then another one on
more, but I won’t take it. I’ll be good; I’ll only give.
fearfully, ready to apologize—not for the kiss, but for being the kisser. His
gaze reflects passion, stark, raving need, and I shiver, despite wearing layers
and sweating with his heat.
fingers on my makeshift ponytail.
glowing like a neon sign. Swallowing, I nod. “Yes.”
that is—but infinitely closer. “You want to kiss me, Miss Robinson, you do it
arches on its own and my heavy tits graze the contours of his shuddering chest.
body. His stern, professor-y voice is doing things to me, making me wild,
back out from whatever this is, whatever insanity we’re about to commit—but
then I sense the shift in the liquor-laced air as he opens his mouth and
growls, “Like this.”
mouth. He sucks on the shape of my sensitive flesh and all I can do is let him.
I put my palms on his shoulders, feeling the heated muscles under the soft
material of his t-shirt. His chest shifts and slides over my breasts, like a
wave of water. I want to be drenched with it. I want every drop of his sweat,
his lust on every inch of my skin. I pull him toward me so he can crush me with
his massive weight.
devouring my lips, immobile. His tongue thrusts in and licks me from the
inside—the roof of my mouth, my tongue, my teeth. He is after my essence, the
special taste that lives deep. He growls when he gets it, my flavor, and the
pressure of his grip on my hair increases tenfold.
up my attempts to bring him to me. Rather, I go to him. I lift my leg and wrap
it around his waist. My hands creep up and lock around his neck. I climb him
like an ivy, toxic and poisonous and shameless.
am. I pour my soul into it. For these few moments, I become a balm to his pain.
take over. My core starts leaking and it becomes hard to remember I’m only
meant to give, not to take.
against the ridged planes of his body. Then I feel it—his erection against my
upper tummy. It’s huge. Hard. A heated rod. It’s alive, and when I move against
it, I feel it throb. A tortured moan rips out of his chest.
the loss. We stare at each other, gasping for breath. I’m still clung around
him and his cock is still nestled between our aroused bodies. I adjust my thigh
around his hip, and it throbs with the small movement.
on my hair.
words. It drums on his jaw like a secondary heart, or maybe a time bomb. “You
did, didn’t you?”
on my core. It’s an electric shock multiplied by a strike of lightning, and I
almost burst into flames.
eliciting a moan from me.
make me do it, Layla?”
needy moans. What is he doing?
moan, doused in shame and arousal. “I take what I want because I can’t control
myself. I don’t want to.”
on my hair sharply. “You want me, Layla.”
him. I’ve wanted him since the first time I saw him. I want him more and more
with each passing day. I want him because he’s like me. He’s in unrequited love
and I want to save him, somehow.
answer. He loves my desperation and it makes me hornier.
that right, Layla?” He licks his lips as if savoring his own words. “I can tell
you to jump and you’ll ask how high. I can tell you to strip and you’ll strip
as if your clothes are on fire.”
pulses. My lust-addled brain commands me to move, to chase the friction, and I
do it. I slide up and down his maddening leg, digging my nails into his scalp
as the pleasure mounts.
and I love it. I love the fact that I’ve shed all my inhibitions and am reduced
to this, a lust-drunk puppet. I love that it gives Thomas pleasure. He isn’t
sad anymore, or vulnerable.
on his leg. I watch Thomas with hazy eyes. I watch the arrogant slope of his
flushed cheeks. I watch his dilated pupils, his wet, parted lips. All the
while, I’m moving, humping his leg. Up and down. Up and down.
this is, how shameful, but I can’t stop myself. As Thomas said, I’ll do
anything for him in this moment.
so bad. I want my cum to gush so hard it seeps through my panties and leaves a
wet patch on his jeans.
and moaning, I come, just the way I wanted—no, just the way he wanted. I was
simply following his orders. My mind is filled with cotton and shooting stars
and static. I want to bask in it forever.
between my legs, and the harsh grip on my hair has vanished. In the wake of my
orgasm, Thomas has let me go, and in turn, forced me to unwind my body from
wall for balance, but I try to focus. Thomas is watching me, intensely, his
flaming eyes working double-time to take me in, his hands on either side of my
your heart beating? Is it trying to pound through your chest? Do you think you
can control it? Tell it to calm down? Your hips are still shaking. I bet you’re
still leaking cum, aren’t you? Do you think you can control any of that?”
things aren’t your fault at all.” His eyes bore into mine, as if telling me the
importance of his declaration.
telling me and what happened here, but then I get it. He’s absolving me. He’s
rendering me blameless for kissing him, for making him kiss me. I wonder if
this absolution includes what happened with Caleb. Am I free of those sins too?
that this will destroy whatever kindness he’s harboring toward me.
Muddy footprints on the tile floors. The missing bottles of liquor from the
cabinet. Caleb’s missing underwear. The fact that he ran off to college a month
early and won’t even visit home. The fact that I shoplifted, drank and drove
numerous times, crashed parties, broke my mom’s ice sculpture.
want Thomas’ accusation too.
the way you…the way you paced around the room, like you were trapped.” The
scene plays in my head: his frantic steps, his hands tugging at his hair.
“And-And then you were with her—Hadley. I… You were talking and you looked so
sad and angry, and then she left. I kept watching your back and your shoulders.
They were so tight and I could see the effort it took you to keep yourself
together. Then you picked up a vase and I thought you’d throw it against the
wall, break it, because I know your heart was breaking, but you held on to it.
You set it down gently. You were better than me. I-I could never have done
if he’s even seeing me.
his face into two halves of shadow and light. He appears beastly, like an
animal with bright eyes and hard face. For the first time since I began my
confession, I feel a tinge of true fear.
physically. His body is taut with violence. He looks bigger, enlarged with the
barely leashed control. For a second, I think he does lose control. His hands
jerk and ball into fists, but then he takes a shallow, choppy breath.
out of the storage room.
Drinker. Imaginary Ballet Dancer and poetess. Aspiring Lana Del Ray of the book
I’m a big believer in love (obviously). I believe in happily ever after, the
butterflies and the tingling. But I also believe in edgy, rough and gutsy kind
of love. I believe in pushing the boundaries, darker (sometimes morally
ambiguous) emotions and imperfections.
The kind of love I write about is flawed just like my characters. And I hope by
the end of it, you’ll come to root for them just as much as me. Because love,
no matter where it comes from, is always pure and beautiful.