Here’s another snippet from my latest The Best Bite. In this scene Peada has to battle the urge to bite Bastien as they watch a movie for their shared films class…
A companionable silence fell, then Bastien sighed. “I suppose I should start the movie. You did say you had to be home by 10.”
She nodded reluctantly. “’Fraid so, but this should be fun, if Mrs. Chart’s any judge.”
Bastien chuckled again. “Chart.”
Peada laughed too. “Hey, don’t make fun of her. She’s just really passionate about film.”
He snorted. “I sometimes wonder which is she, frustrated actor or director?”
“Costume designer, I think. She’s devoted quite a bit of time to Edith Head, Orry-Kelly and let’s not forget the elements of style by Givenchy a la Breakfast at Tiffanys.”
“Hey, I liked that one.”
They’d seen it in class a week back.
“Me too,” she assured him, grinning. “I got My Fair Lady and Roman Holiday from the library.”
“I watched them too. They’re in mum’s collection,” he confessed. “But for goodness sake don’t tell anyone. My masculinity seems to be constantly in question given my status as a Brit.”
They smiled at each other for moment, happy with their similar-ness. Peada was the first to look away when his gaze seemed to drop and study her lips. She had to be mistaken about where he was looking, but her heart began to thump as though she wasn’t, and for a moment, her hunger returned. She felt an urgency rise up in her to do something, what she didn’t know, and for a moment she was ravenous not with physical hunger but with the need to touch him. She wanted to stroke him, to see if that black hair was as soft and thick as it looked, if that clear, pale skin was as smooth as it appeared. She fidgeted a bit, breathing shallowly because deep breaths brought his scent into her nose, and that seemed to make the intense feeling worse.
What on earth was wrong with her? First she’d had to restrain herself from attacking his food earlier. Now, watching him, it took everything in her not to tackle him to the coach and bite him like he was a steak! The vein in his neck seemed abnormally prominent, pulsing rhythmically with the blood pumping from his heart. It was almost like she could see the liquid moving through his veins.
She forced her attention back to the screen. Slowly, thankfully, the strange, urgent need faded as the movie’s opening scenes began to roll. The gaiety of the music and colors and the disquiet at her reaction caused the hunger to recede, and after a few minutes of not looking at Bastien she was able to concentrate and enjoy the movie. Her stomach rumbled periodically, and she sighed as the hunger built again, making her wish she’d accepted his offer of another steak.
Her recent bouts with hunger had made Peada terribly sympathetic to those who were actually hungry in other parts of the world. She had no idea how they stood it, the constant nagging feeling of dissatisfaction. A nameless yet consuming need to fill a space that seemed cavernously empty. It was enough to drive a person crazy. Eating made the feeling worse. More acute because she could remember what it felt like to be full and satisfied, and because she was always a stone’s throw away from actual food.
Still, she laughed almost continuously as they watched Rosalind Russell strut and fast talk her way from one scene to the next. The timing and the dialogue were perfect, and Bastien said he was looking forward to writing his critique.
“That squinty eyed little kid that plays the young Patrick Dennis is first on my list to get skewered,” he promised, sounding happy that he planned to assassinate the boy’s character.
“I could trip you,” she mimicked. “You’d only break a leg.”
Bastien chuckled softly at her near perfect imitation of the child actor playing Patrick Dennis and rose to stretch.
And just like that, wham! The hunger returned full force as she watched his tall lean body uncurl gracefully toward the ceiling. The need to touch was so strong she had to turn away from him. Suddenly the weakness, the unrelenting hunger in her seemed to evaporate like mist. She knew without a shadow of doubt if she didn’t leave immediately, she would attack him. She was too frightened to envision what might happen then. She rose abruptly. Her movements were jerky, near frantic; she’d never wanted to be away from someone so badly in all her life.
“Is something wrong?”
“I should get going,” she muttered, snatching up her bag. “I have other homework to do,” she said, rolling high speed from the room without even stopping until she was at the front door, one hand on the knob.
“Wait,” he said, frowning as she shoved her feet into her shoes. “I’ll drive you home.”
“No, no. I feel like walking. No, I think I’ll run. I need some fresh air,” she said, desperate now to get away as he drew close in concern, his brow wrinkling in confusion, and his scent inflaming her already agitated senses. “I’ll call you when I get home,” she said over her shoulder, and then she was gone, racing along the drive, out of sight around the bend near the road before he could draw breath to call after her again…