“What’s this?” My friend Joe walked by and grabbed my phone right out of my hand. “You into chicks now?” he asked with a laugh as he flopped down on the couch and started scrolling through my photos.
“What the fuck?” I said, jumping up and grabbing the phone back.
“Ooooh! I didn’t know your pics were off-limits. Go ahead and look at your naked ladies. I don’t give a damn.”
“They’re not naked ladies, Joe. Don’t be an asshole.” I sat back down in my chair and put my phone in my pocket. I didn’t even know what I was doing hanging out with this guy anymore. We were best friends in high school, but that was five years ago. Slowly, over time, things had changed and his stupid jokes and backwards way of thinking had really started to grate on my nerves.
“So what’s going on tonight?” he asked.
“I thought you talked to Mark and Steve. What did they have to say?” They were also guys we hung out with in high school, and we usually all did something every Friday night.
“They both said they’d be up for going out around ten. It’s gonna be dark soon. We could drive around town for a while—make the 82nd street loop—then grab a half rack and meet them down at the river.”
I rolled my eyes to myself because Joe was busy looking through some car magazine. “This isn’t high school anymore, Joe, and we’ve gone down to the river almost every weekend since we graduated. Why don’t we do something different this time?”
“Like what? Neither one of us has the money to go out. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper to get hammered on canned beer at home or at the river then to go to a bar.”
“How about if we don’t get hammered this weekend? We could go see a movie. There’s that drive-in theater out in Newtown. They’re playing a bunch of old movies this weekend. Tonight they’re playing some old horror movies and tomorrow night it’s a James Bond triple feature. That could be fun.”
“I’m not driving forty-five minutes to go sit in my truck and watch a movie. That’s stupid. Also, if I’m gonna sit in one place for that long I at least wanna get high first, and we don’t got the money for that either.”
I sat there and stared at the depressing, bare walls of Joe’s living room. I’d been coming over to his house almost every day and spending a few nights a week here for years now. But with each day that passed, I felt more and more like I couldn’t be myself around my best friend anymore.
I couldn’t even look at the pictures on my phone—the ones he said were naked ladies and were most definitely not—without him making some sort of derogatory comment. It seemed like his sense of humor revolved around fart jokes and grinding other people into the ground, and that was about it.
I took my phone out of my pocket and scrolled through the images again. They were pictures of some of the latest hairstyles I’d seen while I was cruising around Reddit. I always saved things I liked so I could study them later and figure out how they were done. Not that I’d ever have the chance to try them out on anyone. Especially not this dill hole, who was now starting up his X-Box. The words Fallout 4 filled the screen and I sighed. “I think I’m just gonna head home.”
“Home? What the hell for?” Joe said, turning around to look at me. “It’s Friday night, asshole. We need to go out and blow off some steam. You’re not gonna bail on me, are you?”
“You can just meet up with Mark and Steve? They’ll be at the river.”
“Is that what this is about? You just don’t want to go to the river?”
“I don’t want to do the same thing I’ve been doing for the last five years, man. Ever since we graduated from high school we’ve been going to the same places and seeing the same people. I’m sick of it.”
“Well, who the hell do you want to meet? One of those fancy chicks on your phone?”
I grabbed my jacket and headed for the door. “I told you, they aren’t naked chicks and it’s none of your goddamned business, anyway. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Dude, where are you going?” I heard Joe yell as I let the screen door slam. I knew I was being kind of a dick, but I’d had it with him. Plus, that last thing he said kind of got to me. I knew I was just a white-trash redneck like Joe, and that the people that we hung out with at the river and at parties were pretty much what I had to choose from. They were the only ones in this town that were in my league. And my league seemed to be just a notch above the meth heads in the Gresholm neighborhood and the bums that hung out in Old Town.
I figured we’d always be outcasts, though, because we all came from the sticks. Most of my high school friends moved from Newtown to Portville after graduating because we thought we’d find better jobs and make more money. Turns out the only thing we found was another group of rednecks that were headed in the same direction as we were. Nowhere.
I wanted my life to be different, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted or how to get there. Like those hairstyle pics for example. I felt like I could really do something like that—cut people’s hair in a way that made them look and feel better. That sounded like a lot of fun to me. But I knew Joe, and all of my other friends, would laugh their asses off if they found out. They’d think it was hilarious for a redneck beta with a lifted truck to even consider being a hairdresser. So I just went about my life, working at the steelyard and hoping against hope that something would eventually change.
I stopped off at my favorite hamburger joint, Lew’s. They made those old-fashioned style hamburgers and thick shakes and crinkle cut fries that always took me back to my childhood. My parents used to take me there all the time when I was a kid. Both of my dads were older when I was born, so they experienced a completely different Portville then anyone I knew. They were the ones who took me to the drive-in theater when I was a kid. And a really awesome pizza parlor that had a giant pipe organ and a dude with a little monkey who would dance to the songs he played.
When I was about ten years old we moved to a farm out in Newtown. My dads wanted to live off the land and keep chickens and all that, so that’s where I grew up. What they didn’t know is that I’d wind up going to school with a bunch of hicks and become one of them—a redneck—just like our extended family. But my dads never really seemed to notice. They just kept to themselves in their hippie-farm paradise, and let me do my thing.
They hardly ever left the farm anymore, and they never came into Portville. They let me live on a trailer there on the property—way off on my own so I had lots of privacy. They were really cool that way. They always wanted me to do what made me happy, but I never had the heart to tell them about my real dreams. I never had the guts to tell anyone.
I had a lot of great memories of the places they used to take me when I was a kid, but most of those old restaurants were gone now. The only places left this hamburger stand and the Old 99 drive-in theater, and I pretty much had to go to both of them by myself since no one else seemed to enjoy them as much as I did.
I decided I was just going to do it—go to the movies by myself. I would grab a huge soda and a giant tub of popcorn and sit through a couple movies before I headed home to my empty trailer. It sounded like a hell of a lot more fun than getting trashed on cheap beer with a bunch of guys that just wanted to shoot empty cans.
There were still about ten minutes until the first movie started when I parked my truck, so I headed to the concession stand to grab my goods. While I was standing in line, I took in all the cute cartoon illustrations of the food with smiley faces that covered the walls. They’d been there since I was a kid and I was always obsessed with them.
I almost got a hotdog even though I had just eaten. I was such a sucker for hotdogs that were cooked on a grill. But I came to my senses when I got up to the register and just got a small popcorn and soda.
The lot was pretty dark as I headed back to my truck. So dark that I didn’t even see a guy that was walking right in front of me. But, honestly, it wasn’t entirely my fault. He had a black T-shirt and jeans on and dark skin, so he pretty much blended into the shadows. I somehow managed to keep from dropping my soda, and just a little bit of the popcorn spilled off the top. But then, a crazy scent came out of nowhere, and when I looked back up at the dude’s eyes, I froze.
That’s when I dropped everything.
As I stared into the dark eyes that were lined with thick, black lashes, and inhaled the most incredibly intoxicating musk, I felt intense waves of tingles flood through me. I wasn’t a small guy by any means, but the alpha that was staring back at me had at least a half foot on me.
Normally, being a beta, I would avoid guys like this. I wasn’t into being the bottom or the sub or whatever big burly alphas like this guy were into. And I definitely wasn’t looking for a fight. But I couldn’t fucking move my feet. I was glued to that spot in the dark parking lot, and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from his.
I kept getting a sinking feeling that something was wrong or off, but I didn’t know if the feeling felt bad, or if it was just different. Some strange craving I had never felt before in my life.
But the craving soon turned into desperation. I was suddenly consumed by a need that was so strong that my body started shaking. As I stood there I thought to myself that there was no way in hell I was going to be getting what I needed from this guy. I mean, I’m not racist or anything, I’d just never been into guys with dark skin. And I sure as hell wasn’t into controlling alphas.
But my body was telling me something completely different. My body was telling me that what I wanted was right in front of me, and it was telling me I had to have it right now.
I actually had to hold myself back from reaching up and touching his muscular chest. I stared at his hulking body under the tight T-shirt. The bulges of his pecks and ripples of his abs came right through the thin fabric. And not to mention those arms. Holy shit. He looked like he could pick up the back end of a Ford F350, no problem.
Suddenly I was moving without being aware of it. My body was being walked backward, and didn’t stop until I was against a wall. The alpha had me by the shirt and was pressing his hard cock into me and I turned to Jell-o. I felt the heat of his breath on my neck as his tongue touched my skin, then the tingles that followed as he licked his way down my shoulder.
“Oh, fuck,” I moaned as I felt his hand wrap around the back of my head. I wanted to give myself to him right then and there even though nothing that was happening made any sense to me at all.
I had absolutely no idea how long we were against that wall, but apparently during all the licking and grabbing a crowd had gathered. I didn’t even notice until the alpha yanked on my arm and pulled me toward the lines of cars. “Where are you parked? Come on, snap out of it. I need to get you out of here.”
“Huh?” I asked. I was walking with the guy—being dragged along by him, actually—but I couldn’t take my eyes off of his.
“Your truck! Where the hell is it?”
“Right over there. That’s it,” I said, stumbling a few feet, then grabbing onto the tailgate to steady myself. I was lightheaded and shaky and I needed to hold onto something, and I was having a really hard time keeping myself from wrapping my arms around the alpha next to me.
“Give me your keys.”
I did what he said and felt my limp body stumble along side my truck as he moved me toward the passenger door. He unlocked it, then pushed me inside. “I’m gonna clean up that mess and go talk to someone real quick, but I’ll be right back.” He stared at me for a moment, then reached up and touched my face, running a thumb across my lips. Then he shook his head like he was trying to snap himself back to reality. “Keep the doors locked. Don’t open them for anyone. Do you understand?”
The only thing I could do was nod my head. I was slumped down in the car seat and was almost completely blacked out when I heard the truck door slam shut. I closed my eyes for what felt like a moment, and when I opened them up again I saw a bunch of dudes standing right outside the passenger side door, one of them pulling on the door handle, trying to get it open. I just stared at them through the window. I had no idea what they were even doing, but I had no energy to tell them all to go to hell.
Suddenly I heard yelling outside the truck and I turned to see that dark-skinned alpha plow right through the crowd. He picked a couple of them up by their collars and threw them out of the way, the whole time yelling at the rest to get the hell outta there. I had no idea what was going on. All I knew was I wanted that alpha to fuck me in the ass so bad I thought I was gonna die.