Cara poured out the last of the coffee, inhaled the metallic fumes and took a deep gulp as she looked out of the kitchen window. Her eyes itched with a profound exhaustion as she watched dawn creep towards her. It hadn’t occurred to her that sleep would help to any degree, so she had sat alone, refreshing her social media feeds and feeling each comment pinch the lining of her stomach.
A chorus of strangers singing their hatred and disgust for her.
Battalions of enraged teenagers posting her name and address.
Calling her names.
Johnny Ten was a victim. The biggest pop star on the planet had claimed he’d been raped by her.
Cara had been working for his record company in public relations and had been sent out to meet him on tour in Florida. She flew into sheets of brutal summer heat. When she was introduced to him, it was a physical reaction to him, a blind want which made her thighs clench as she shook his hand. Fourteen years old and about to release a debut single people had been screaming over. A reedy, anodyne voice but she was lost to the sight of him.
Three nights later, he came to her room.
She thought of his face, the way his cheekbones pressed against the fine, golden skin and the tight curls of hair on his navel beneath her fingers. Imagining the arrogant length of his cock spasming inside her made it better and worse.
He fucked with a self conscious mechanical technique which he’d learned from porn. Pushing her legs apart so her hips screamed for days afterwards, sore from his insistent enthusiasms. She came with a reflexive force which sent her body into paroxysmal blasts of motion on the sheets.
He had avoided her afterwards. She tried to speak to him but he kept Ron, the thick, amiable security guard between them.
Cara had wept in the bathroom of the restaurant when he walked in with his new girlfriend. The puffy moist eyed singer who spoke like she was being choked. She kept his hand in hers, running her fingers over his in a feathered caress which enraged Cara. He had smiled at Cara, but after seeing him contort with pleasure, these public gestures were as anonymous as a Halloween mask. She quit the next day, joined Apropos Entertainment as their VP of sales and met Ethan six months later. Aidan asked her out and she had enjoyed the slight remove of affection for its power. She avoided Johnny’s videos and the news reports when things went downhill.
She’d revolted at the idea of having children and although Ethan still pressed her, the animals at the house became their proxies. It was a comfortable life, but when she was told about the book deal, she felt the earth shift underneath her as she was passed an uncorrected proof. The autobiography to give his comeback a boost.
Along with a polite warning to clear her desk and to stay off social media. She read through his version of events.
Cara called her lawyer then Ethan.
Ethan had slipped into the spare room without speaking to her. She wanted his anger, the burn of his hand against her cheek would have been a sign of something deeper than the dry comforts of their marriage. He denied her his anger but his sobs clawed through the bedroom door. The cats looked at her with a recognition she couldn’t bear.
She looked at the manuscript, read the pages of mawkish confession, the self serving omissions and his description of her. The transparent need in her eyes and the soft crepe paper skin on her thighs became signs of some awful flaw. Cara had stopped throwing up after the sixth rereading and after the deluge of insults, she wanted to feel pain issued from someone who she cared about.
She looked at the single word in the upper left corner, next to the paragraph about how he asked her to stop sucking his cock and she kept gulping him down with an avaricious hunger.
The changes made to the manuscript were minimal and it had been decided to keep them. She ran her tongue over her lips and wept as her hand strayed between her thighs.
It had felt like love and even in its recollection, she was too deafened by it to hear the doorbell.