Planning Penelope

By: Erin Lockwood

ONE




* * *




She has an oral fixation, so I have an oral fixation—hers.

Usually, it’s a pen cap, a pencil, or the plastic lid of her coffee cup, but tonight, she has nothing but her fingers lingering over her soft light-pink pout. I’ve been watching those lips and anything that comes near them for years now. It’s more than my obsession. This woman has become my masterpiece, and I’m the unknown author.

I won’t let anything chip away at my creation.

Especially this guy.

He’s standing behind her, carnal determination obvious on his face and with a fierce urge to bite into the skin on her back. I can see it in his eyes, the way they’re focused on her flesh. He leans forward, and my protective glands swell in my throat. Although I’m several feet away and one level down, I lean in, as he did, but with anticipation to lurch.

She’s resting on the railing, staring out at the band onstage, unaware of what is about to hit her. Her left elbow is touching the metal bar, but her fingers are on her delicate, smooth pout, touching so lightly across, back and forth.

The loud nightclub drowns out one of her key senses. So, mine heighten in response.

I move to set down my beer. I’m ready. Ready to fight for her and keep her from the predator lurking at her back—the one fucking with my masterpiece. He moves closer to her skin and bends his head to kiss the top of her shoulder. She doesn’t flinch.

I exhale a deep breath I didn’t realize I was holding.

She turns around, wraps her arms around him, and kisses him on his mouth. Her delicate, smooth lips are on his unworthy mouth. My jaw muscles tighten, and my teeth clench. This makes me angry, but I won’t act on it. Not yet.

“Alex, what’s wrong?” Kevin asks, nudging me with his elbow, still keeping his beer close to his face.

“Nothing,” I tell him and turn to pick up my beer from the high-top where I set it.

My eyes go back to her. They have been seeing each other for a few weeks, but I know it won’t last much longer. Not after tomorrow. Not after what I found out. This one isn’t the worst, but he’s still not good enough.

Her typical type—blond, tall, fair-to-medium skin—Hitler’s dream and my worst nightmare. I knew he would be a threat when they crossed paths last month. I keep them away as best I can, but there are too many unpredictable forces in life.

“Fuck, that chick is hot,” Kevin says, nudging me again and pointing his elbow at a group of women dancing.

Keeping her in my peripheral, I scan the small group of dancers. I know exactly which girl he’s talking about. “Tits are fake,” I unapologetically inform him.

“Ass isn’t,” he quips. “Plus, who cares if the tits are fake? I don’t care as long as they’re there, and I get to put my face in them.” I can see the wheels turning in his head. “I bet she has an awesome pussy, too.”

I mentally roll my eyes at his distaste. “Don’t forget about Michelle. She’s not bad.”

In fact, his girlfriend is really very nice—typical brown-haired, brown-eyed girl. Nothing like her but very likeable nonetheless. Kevin could do a lot worse—like the one he’s drooling over.

He smiles at my compliment. “Thanks, man. I know how critical you are about women.” His head moves back and forth to the familiar beat of the new song playing. “When was the last time you got laid?” he shouts over the music, forcing the conversation on me.

Last night.

“Is Michelle coming out tonight?” I ask, needing to change the subject.

“No.” He tilts back his beer, taking the last sip the bottle has to offer. “She left to go home for Thanksgiving already. She wanted me to go with her”—he shakes his head wildly—“but no fucking way. I’m not ready for that shit. It’s only been six months.”

“You’re right; she can do better.” I pat him on the shoulder and reach my other hand across, offering to take his empty from him.

She and her tool-for-now boyfriend have shifted positions, and the crowd has changed now that more bodies have filtered in. I need to move as well.

Kevin follows me to the side bar. It’s the one closest to her, where I can keep an eye on her while she’s surrounded by predators.

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