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Beneath The Skin(5)

By´╝ÜDaryl Banner

“You make it sound so … bad.”

“Dude, I know you. It’s your routine. Half the female population of Klangburg University’s been victim to it by now.” He chokes back a laugh. “Maybe the big ol’ man-whore’s losing his charm.”

“Not according to the she-demon who just rode me for an hour behind a privacy screen in the art room. I’d say my charm was pretty spot-on,” I boast with a sneer.

Dmitri snorts at that. “You’re good-looking, Brant, but you’re not that good-looking.”

But even as he says it, I see the lie in his black, beady eyes. He’s always been into me, I can tell. And really, who can blame him? I make a pretty hot roommate. Sometimes when we’re watching TV, I’ll pull off my shirt just for my own amusement while Dmitri sneaks glances throughout the whole movie or Netflix show we have on. I act like I don’t notice, but I do. I may not be into dudes like Dmitri is, but I like the attention no matter where I get it from. I’m used to it.

“There’s nothin’ wrong with playing the field,” I tell him, tossing the last bite of my sandwich in and leaning back in the grass, propped up by an elbow. “Imagine what kind of messed up world we’d live in if we all, like, married the first person we banged.”

Dmitri guffaws. “You’re looking for a wife now?”

“No, no, no. You kidding me?” My words shower the grass in front of me with breadcrumbs and bits of bacon. “Nah. I mean, say you go into a candy store and your eyes grow double at all the gumdrops, right? Sure, go for the gumdrops if you want, get your fill. But if you fill up on those colored little gooey sweets, you’ll never know the ecstasy waiting for you in that chocolate aisle nearby. Or how many flavors they carry of … candied apples. Or the Swedish Fish.”

He squints at me. “We still talking about candy?”

“Point is, you need to try before you buy.”

Dmitri frowns. “And what about all the diabetics?”

I sigh, staring at my roommate. “You’re not diabetic.”

“I’m playing with your metaphor,” he explains.

“Dude, you’re not a sexual diabetic, either. We’re young. We’re alive. You cannot tell me with a straight face that you have zero interest in sex, Dmitri.”

He lifts the sandwich back to his mouth, ignoring my question as the black sleeves of his shirt fall to reveal the blue-and-red tattoo that runs up his right forearm. Though you wouldn’t know it from his long hands, Dmitri is a short fellow with choppy black hair he’s let grow out a bit over the summer so that it comes down his forehead in haphazard spikes, some of which jut out unevenly over his eyes like thorns from a rosebush. If it weren’t for his black, thick-rimmed glasses, he’d be in danger of poking his eyes out with his own hair. The guy is not bad-looking by any means. He could get tail if he’d just step out of his damn room and apply himself. Everyone, males and females alike, dig the brooding-tortured-artist thing. Doesn’t he get that? I’d kill for an ounce of his creative depth. I have the creative depth of a thimble.

I squint at him. “I mean, you do have a dick, don’t you?”

Dmitri is almost successful at not choking on his sandwich. After a second of sputtering, he says, “You’re gonna run out of women, Brant. Then at night, the only thing you’ll have to cuddle with in bed are shadows and cold sheets.”

“Is that a poem?” I ask, still squinting.

“No. It’s your love life. And it’s ending, one woman at a time. And yes, I do have a dick.”

“Ah, c’mon,” I say, laughing at him. He’s so easy to rile up. “Just messing with you. Hey, want to grab some dinner later?”

“You’re about to learn a sobering lesson, Brant,” he bites back as he pulls his black button-and-patch-covered bag over a shoulder, the material of his grey-and-black-checkered shorts swishing as he stalks away. “A sobering lesson!” he calls out over his shoulder halfway across the field. I just lean back and wonder if he owns anything at all that isn’t 90% black.

“Cuddling with shadows and cold sheets,” I murmur thoughtfully, staring after him. Suddenly, my mind’s arrested all over again by the sexy cat of a woman from the art class whose name I still don’t know.

A sobering lesson? Fuck that.

I want to be the lesson.


I can sweet-talk my way between any pair of legs.

“Yeah, the model can’t make it,” I explain, working my best charm on the desk lady. “At least, that’s what Grace said.”