Carnal Thirst

Carnal Desires 3


 Celeste Anwar

To my best friend, who lost her own dream but gained so much more.

Chapter One

The computer disconnected itself, and Maggie O'Roarke knew it was the last time she'd get online. She couldn't pay the bill, and anyway, what was the point? The whole reason she'd had it to start with was for her company. Now it was gone.

At long last, after years of sinking every dime back into it, working two and three jobs to keep it afloat, all the while ignoring everyone who told her she was just being hard-headed and it would never succeed—her company was finally dead. She supposed she should've conceded defeat a long time ago, but she'd begun operating out of the red. Unfortunately, the declining economy had decimated her last shred of hope.

What was she going to do now? She'd spent her most of her youth trying to get out of the poorhouse, and still had nothing to show for all the sacrifice but a huge ass and a worn down computer. She didn't even have anyone she could call and talk to about it.

Maggie stared at the dark screen with the star field screensaver spinning by, wondering how she should feel, besides sorry for herself. Of course, she knew how she should feel—she should be bawling her eyes out, raging against her competitors and the government, anything but being consumed by this utter emptiness.

She was feeling sorry for herself, and as good as it would feel to wallow in self- pity, it wasn't going to do her a damn bit of good right now.

Maggie popped her neck and rolled her shoulders, feeling another tension headache trying to set in.

Pushing away from her desk, she rose and walked to the kitchen, grabbing her Excedrin from the table.

Pouring out two pills, she looked in the refrigerator for her water, found it, and took the medicine.

Hell, why was she even drinking water? She needed to get drunk. Or better yet, get off this damn diet that wasn't doing her any good anyway. She couldn't remember the last time she'd lost even a pound.

She needed some comfort food, like her mama's ribs and pork rice. Her eyes stung at the reminder that her mom was gone, forever.

'Just in a wonderful mood tonight, aren't we?” Maggie muttered to herself, wiping at her eyes with a knuckle. “I might as well go for the death by calorie intake. At least it'll make me happy.'

The fridge was empty though. Her ‘86 Bonneville had finally died two weeks ago, and she hadn't had the money to fix it. The repairs would've cost at least ten times as much as the car was worth.

It was an eyesore anyway.

Besides, she still had the problem of no food. Of course, there was some, but none of it appealed to her mood. There was flour and sugar; mayonnaise; something in a bowl that might've been tuna salad; a jug of water; one cracked, frozen egg; and a bag of green slime that used to be salad fixings. Maggie closed the door with a distasteful shudder. In a depression, you had to have something decadent to make it all better, like chips or chocolate or....

'Ice cream. Chocolate chip,” she said on a reverent whisper. She practically orgasmed at the thought.

Cold weather and depression always put her in the mood for it.

Grabbing her purse, Maggie counted out her cash—twice to be sure she had it right. Not that it was hard to count six dollars in bills and change. She could've sworn she'd had more than that. There was her other change, a huge stash, but that was in her car ... at the tow truck place.

Six dollars wasn't enough to pay for a cab to the store, even one way—not and still get something to satisfy her craving. There was a market close enough she could walk it, just a few miles. She might even burn up enough calories not to have a heart attack when she dug in to the treat.

It was late though, and the neighborhood wasn't exactly one of the best. She shrugged dismissively. She wouldn't have to worry about being a target for a serial killer, Typically, they targeted tiny women who were easy to subdue quickly—in the five foot, one hundred pound range. Seeing as how she was damn near twice that weight and almost a foot taller she couldn't imagine running into anyone who thought they could just toss her over their shoulder and haul her off. If she got mugged, they'd probably only take her purse and the credit cards that had been canceled long ago.

'Screw it,” she said, tucking her money in her Jean's pocket rather than carrying a purse, which might tempt muggers—and might tempt her to commit murder if they tried to make off with her ice cream money. Determined now, she marched out the door into the brisk night, not bothering with a jacket or sweater since she figured the walk would keep her warm enough.

The hour was later than she'd thought it was. There wasn't a soul to be seen on the sidewalks, and precious few cars, or traffic to be heard even in the distance.

Uneasiness touched her briefly, but she dismissed it. She felt invigorated by the outdoors, excited to be going somewhere after two weeks of being locked up in the house—even if it was only to the store.

She really needed to get out more. She couldn't remember the last time she'd gone for a walk or stuck her head out while the sun was still shining. The moon was perfect though—her sun—since she was a night owl.

Feeling a giddiness brought on by too little sleep and possibly mild hysteria, she put a skip in her step and enjoyed herself. An hour later, with the market in sight, her feet were killing her and her nose and toes felt like they were going to freeze off. She knew she should've put on shoes instead of using her sandals.

Maggie dreaded the trip back, but the ice cream called to her. Sugar made anything better.

A lone car sat in front of the store—probably the clerk's. A wash of neon from beer signs and fluorescent lighting blazed from the storefront onto the darkened street, running over the pavement like shining blood.

Wind ruffled in her hair, sending a chill up her spine. She shrugged her shoulders, shivering slightly at the eerie feeling that descended upon her, increasing her pace.

When the blow came, she was too stunned from the force of it to do anything but throw her hands out to brace for a fall.

A hard object slammed into her right flank, pummeling into her shoulder blade and sending her sprawling to the pavement. The skin peeled away from her palms as she skidded onto the ground, gasping for breath. Fire seared her palms and knees, but it was nothing compared to the pain in her back.

She whipped her head around, dazed, unable to comprehend what had happened. She felt someone near but couldn't see them, couldn't hear them. Her heart pounded unaccustomedly hard, the beat so rapid she thought it would explode. Her lungs felt frozen, achy from too much breathing, but she couldn't get enough air.

Planting a palm on one alley wall, she struggled to her feet, screaming for help in the direction of the store. The alley she'd been thrown into funneled her voice, but the wind seemed to snatch it away. The air around her vibrated with the sound of a gasp just before another blow struck her back and knocked her fully to the ground.

Legs locked around her waist, pinning her in place. She bucked against the weight, trying to free herself.

Her attacker wasn't heavy. He had to be at least twenty five pounds lighter than her, but she couldn't budge him, couldn't turn to scratch his eyes out.

She was trapped.

She dug her hands against the pavement, seeking purchase, her legs flailing as she tried to get a knee under her for leverage. A male laugh reverberated against the walls, echoing against her ear drums, mocking as fingernails scraped over the back of her neck to wrench her hair aside.

Maggie screamed again, unable to believe no one could hear her, that no one had seen her being attacked.

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