I’m on my bed, my hand shoved down my tights, and I can hear my stupid baby brother crying. He’s always crying, like a lock of hair that won’t stay tucked behind your ear. My parents fawn over him, oh he’s just a tiny baby, he’ll always be hopeless, be kind Violet, and it works to my advantage. I can stay in my room for days, they never notice. I can play loud music and lie on the floor and think about Tate, or try not to think about Tate, and then think about Tate, and all of a sudden I’m wet and have to take care of it.
I’m thinking about Tate’s hands now, how the knuckles are calloused and ugly, the palms lined with life and death and fortune and destiny. I wonder if his death was written on his hand. I’m thinking about Tate’s hands the day before, when I was supposed to be watching my brother.
“I wonder if Constance would like your babysitting services,” Tate says from the doorway, like the sarcastic fuck he is.
I’m still a bit mad at him, for everything, but I’m dead and who am I kidding, Tate loves me.
“Maybe that’s what she needs; he can’t kill a nanny who’s already dead.”
I smiled, but Tate crumbles, because he knows, like father like son.
The plastic boy is asleep in his crib, so I lure Tate back into my bedroom.
“I’m sorry,” I say into his throat, feeling my words rumble down his chest. He doesn’t answer, his hands talk for him, climbing up my back and around my ribs, feather light.
They’re scratching over my hip bones, sharp, and his lips are on mine, and I think I would give up my life all over again just to feel his hands on me forever.
And then the baby’s crying.
Tate sighs against my cheek, and my forehead falls into his shoulder, nestling comfortably in the hollow above his collar bone.
“It’s like we’re married, raising a baby,” Tate whispers.
I shove at his chest, laughing.
“You’d be a terrible fucking father.”
“I am a terrible fucking father.”
“That’s not funny.”
“Don’t apologize, you apologize too much.”
He slunk out of the room, and I went back to my brother, a little wailing mess, no shame, no responsibility.
And now my entire arm aches, and I can’t seem to press hard enough, and my underwear is rough, but I don’t want to deal with the hassle of sticky fingers and the commitment that comes along with fucking myself. I just want friction. If I concentrate hard enough, I can imagine my desire building, buzzing and frothing right at my center, and in my mind I drag my hands through it and pull it down my legs, up to my shoulders, and swirl it around my stomach, and my body is a haze of some deep color, probably red, maybe purple, and Tate’s hands are at the center of it all.
And that’s all it takes.
I don’t move for what might have been hours.
The door opens. Tate’s asking if I want to play cards, pinochle with Moira and Chad. I’m wondering why Chad knows how to play pinochle, it’s an old lady game, yet Tate and I do know how to play, when Tate makes a funny noise.
I look up, he whirls back out the door.
I find him a few minutes later, setting up the card game in the dining room. Moira is pouring glasses of water, Chad is ignoring Tate, puttering around the kitchen.
“Violet.” He won’t look at me.
“Are you embarrassed?”
I sit across from him. We’ll be a team, and we’ll beat Moira and Chad, I know it.
“I was thinking about you.”
Tate’s like a cartoon; I swear I can hear him gulp.
Moira and Chad return, Moira with water, Chad with wine.
I get stuck, choose hearts. I lay down my meld, crappy, just a 9.
I look apologetically at Tate, but he’s laying down card after card, he has a run, 9, jack, queen, king, 10, ace, in hearts.
He smiles at me like a mad man, devious, and loving. I kick him under the table.
“Why didn’t you bid, dick?”
“Didn’t feel like it.”
Moira and Chad share a glance.
Tate reaches across the dining table and tucks a piece of hair behind my ear. It stays. He sweeps his cards back into his hand.