Asking for More

By: Lilah Pace

Chapter One





6) The Sistine Chapel was painted by: Leonardo Da Vinci.



It’s all I can do not to roll my eyes. For four and a half months, I tried to drum some rudimentary knowledge of art history into freshman brains. Some of them got it; most of them, even. The ones who truly fell in love with some of the paintings and sculptures they’d seen—they’re the students who make TAing feel like it’s all been worthwhile.

But then there are kids like this one, who didn’t even manage to absorb anything about Michelangelo, and who also appears to think that the Renaissance started in Germany. No wonder, since he skipped a ton of classes and probably spent the others checking Facebook on his laptop. I only provided the short fill-in-the-blank section to provide a few easy, slam-dunk answers to boost the students’ confidence before they dove into the exam proper. Maybe it worked that way for most of the kids, but wow, not so much here.

As I reach for my red pen, the phone rings. Glancing over, I see a name glowing on the screen: JONAH MARKS. At once I start to smile.

“Hey, you,” I murmur as I tuck the phone between my shoulder and ear.

“Vivienne. Hi. I wanted to check in, see what you were doing.”

Jonah’s voice has always had an effect on me. He speaks with such cool, assured command, even in simple moments like this. I found him forbidding, once. Even frightening. Now I know and love the good man inside him, the one he’s had to fight so hard to be.

Jonah’s a seismologist and volcanologist. The profession suits him. He’s like the mountains he studies—strong and silent, but incredible heat, power, and danger simmer just beneath the surface.

I know his most forbidden fantasies because I share them.

“Just grading finals here on campus,” I tell him. “This stack should be my last of the semester, though.”

“Do you think you might be free by later this afternoon?” He pauses, savoring the anticipation that is building between us both. “If so, I’m in the mood for a game.”

We haven’t been back at our games for all that long. The weeks without sharpened my hunger, honed the edges of my desire. Now I hear that same need within Jonah, and I can’t imagine how we ever held off, even for a day.

“Yeah,” I whisper. “I’m free.”

“I’m the only one in this wing of the building today. That’s unlikely to change. So the stairwells are empty. Mostly dark. Potentially dangerous.”

He means that these are places where a woman could get caught alone. Where someone could take advantage.

And that’s exactly what I want from him.

We both get off hardest when we pretend this is a rape.

He’s the attacker. I’m the victim. When our games begin, I hand control over to Jonah. The only power I have is contained in our safe word, silver. Although I’ve designed a few of our scenarios, often I leave it up to him, which is what I do now. This is the first, subtlest moment of my surrender. I ask only one question. “When?”

“Four P.M. Here’s the key code.” Jonah lists off the numbers, which I jot down with a shaky hand.

After he finishes, he just hangs up. Jonah’s not big on good-byes.

Besides, he’s already begun the transformation into the figure from my darkest longings. He will become forbidding. Commanding. Even dangerous. And I will turn into the victim in his own forbidden daydreams—weak and pliant, vulnerable to his schemes and to brute force.

We do not love the desire we share. But we love each other, and together we’re learning how to own this—our rape fantasies—so that they will never again own us.

***

I lost my virginity to my rapist when I was only fourteen years old. Anthony Whedon, my older sister’s boyfriend, forced himself on me while we were watching TV on the sofa in my own living room late at night. Upstairs, the rest of my family slept through the whole thing. In my fear and confusion, I didn’t even think to scream—which is part of why my mother and sister have never believed I was “really” raped.

Some rape victims find it difficult to ever have sex again. Most work very hard to avoid reminders of what happened, possibly the most painful incident in their lives.

However, the human psyche is a strange, tangled thing that twists and bends in unexpected ways. Within my brain, Anthony’s attack became jumbled up with what little I knew of sex. My physiognomy provides what most women would kill for: orgasms that come quick and easy, through penetration alone. But what Anthony did to me cast the wicked fairy’s curse over that gift; it made sure that I could only get off when I was thinking about being raped. Instead of forgetting what was done to me, I felt as if I were forced to relive it, or scenarios like it, in order to have any pleasure at all.

Until last year, I simply fantasized inside my head while having sex. I only ever asked one guy to act out a scenario with me—my ex, now friend, Geordie Hilton. When I remember that now, I can’t imagine what made me ever think it would work. Geordie’s funny, sweet, gentle, and pretty thoroughly in the vanilla column, which makes him the last guy in the world who would ever go for a rape fantasy.

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