Mary Webb knew what hell was and that her own personal Devil was flesh and blood. Everyone knew she was crazy and she wouldn’t deny it. She understood pain—humiliation—and no way in fuck she was going to allow another man close enough to make her suffer again.


Bear King wanted a person of his own to love and care for, but the woman he’d fallen for wanted nothing to do with him.  She looked at him and saw the beast her ex-husband proved men to be. He just wanted a chance to show her that he’d never do anything to hurt her—he just wanted to love her. He’d offer her anything, even allow her to use him as a temporary experiment to show her what love was. But could he walk away when his time with her came to an end: that he couldn’t answer.


Mary Webb grumbled to herself as her tiny fists slammed into the heavy bag. A year had passed since she was sprung from the Waterford Institute, such a pretty name for an insane asylum. It was all too new being free after nearly thirty years. She missed the routine. The safety of everyone thinking she was insane; she was insane, but not like everyone thought.


She looked down at herself clothed in shorts and a tank top to work out in. The shorts had hung on her months before, but now they stretched across the wide width of her hips and thighs. She was still tiny up top, and her breasts were non-existent. Why couldn’t her tits expand and not her ass? She shook her head as she punched and kicked the bag harder. She didn’t want men to look at her. Men’s attention meant pain and ended in humiliation—blood.


In her nightmares, she remembered her ex, Garnet. Ex, she snorted, the man hadn’t been anything but the rapist she’d been forced to marry when his attack ended in her pregnancy. She loved her son more than her own life, she’d never regret him, but she could’ve done without the other half of Jackson’s genetic makeup.


She’s lost her virginity at thirteen, bent over the seat of Garnet’s pickup truck after he’d grabbed her on her way home from school. After two days, he’d dropped her off at home like he was bringing her back from a date. She remembered all the times he’d taken her—forced her—and how she’d let herself go somewhere else. Somewhere where cruelty didn’t exist. Eight years she’d suffered without help. Her son the only reason she hadn’t taken her own life. That was until the night Garnet thought he’d killed her and dumped her like trash on the side of the road. She’d gone for help, begged for it, and was just going to be taken back to him.

Living with the guilt that she’d run, she committed herself to a hospital. They’d told her she was close to dying. Malnourished and suffering from internal injuries. She’d left Jackson behind. She’d never forgive herself for that no matter what Jackson or his husband, Dem, said. Eight short years later, Jackson killed Garnet and spent several years in prison before a lawyer had his case reexamined.


She was a bitch for the relief she’d felt knowing Garnet died painfully, beaten to death by a sixteen-year-old boy.


She wasn’t right. Something in her was broken. She couldn’t walk into a crowded space for fear of someone touching her—grabbing her. It had been a year since she’d gone anywhere without the switchblade her son gave her for protection. They said she was a little too quick to draw it when someone came too close.


She didn’t want them putting their hands on her or wanting things from her she couldn’t give. Her body was hers. She had a choice now, and she wouldn’t give that up. Not to some man who would turn out just like Garnet. Rationally she could understand not all men were like Garnet. Her friends, Peaches and Lily, their husbands were kind and loving. She watched them interact sometimes. The women actually touched first. Didn’t cower when they fought.


Jealousy had become second nature. She’d watched porn. Porn was weird, and it definitely didn’t give her the answers she wanted. The women’s expressions and reactions always seemed so fake to her.


Who the fuck liked a dick up their ass? Who the fuck got all blissed out from that? She didn’t even like one in her pussy, and the size of the ones in the porn were nowhere near Garnet’s size. She’d run if a man with a large cock came anywhere near her.

She growled and pummeled the bag before stepping away and catching her breath.


“We don’t have bail money in our budget this month.”


She smiled as her son-in-law announced his presence. Most of the people she knew understood that she needed a warning.


“Why do I always need bail money?”


“Because you nearly knocked a hole in your heavy bag. Want to talk about it?”


“I was watching porn.”


“Ooookay, that isn’t what I was expecting.”


She turned to catch Dem using his arm crutches to move himself to the chair outside her tiny trailer. He sat down, and she waited.


“So, what kind of porn were you watching?”


“Straight, the male-male stuff isn’t really interesting. I tried some of the lesbian stuff that wasn’t bad. The double and triple penetration was just so fucking wrong that I turned it off.”


“Why are you watching porn?”

“I thought, I don’t know, maybe I could see what…” She paused and strode toward Dem to take a seat beside him.


“You know that not all men are like Garnet. That man was a monster. A majority of men don’t do that to partners they care about.”


She unwrapped the tape from her hands and stretched them to loosen the muscles.


“I know, people keep saying so, but I have proof to the contrary.”


“Does the recent interest in porn have anything to do with Bear King?”


“Absolutely fucking not.”


“Mary, you can tell me, and I won’t tell Jackson.”


“Shouldn’t partners tell each other everything?”


“Your son and I aren’t the normal kind of partners. We understand each other’s space. Well, I understand your son’s. We’re not the romantic type. Yes, he tries, but it’s just not him. I love his snark and his bluntness. We love each other and that’s all we care about, and I’m proficient at contacting bail bondsmen.”


“He’s gotten better.”


“Yes, he has, but I don’t expect him to change to suit me. I find him perfect. But we’re not talking about Jackson. Now that you’re free, have you started thinking about sex?”


“I don’t know.”


“What don’t you know?”


“Garnet was small in the penis department, but it still hurt like a motherfucker. Some of those men in the porn videos were scary.”


“It’s porn. Not everyone has monstrous dicks they can barely carry around.”


She sighed and leaned forward to rest her elbows on her knees. “What happens when two people have sex?”

“First and foremost, it should be completely mutual. No always means no, and someone should never try to get you to do something you’re uncomfortable with. Sex isn’t all about penetration, Mary.”




“Yes, really. Sometimes there’s mutual masturbation, oral sex, and sometimes sex doesn’t even have to constitute touching at all. You can watch each other get off and never even get closer than a room apart. Sex is what two or more people decide it is.”


“Oral, I actually liked the look of that, the man doing it, I don’t…Garnet used to make me do it and wouldn’t let me breathe.”


“Mary, that was him, I swear not all men are going to force you. You’ve been out of Waterford for almost a year now. You’ve got a job here at the shop. You take care of yourself. You have a life. Why not think about finding someone to share it with?”


“What if they want all the things right off before…”


“Some don’t want all the things right off, and if they do, then they aren’t right for you. You want to meet someone and date them, right?”


“I’ve never done that before. What’s it like?”


“What I remember of dating, it’s two people having dinner, talking, maybe a kiss at the door at the end of the night, then another date, maybe another after that.”


“Kissing, is that nice?”




“He normally just bent me over and took, then told me I needed to clean up the mess before I made a meal, or cleaned the house.”


“Kissing is sometimes the best part. It’s intimate. Sometimes it’s soft and sweet, lingering, others it’s out of control, a clashing of need. It’s all tongue and teeth, heat and need.”


“What about all the dick up the ass?”


Dem coughed and laughed at the same time. She loved Dem because he didn’t judge. It was like when he taught her to use her bank card for the first time or budget out her bills. The cellphone incident was a nightmare, but he was patient. He didn’t make her feel stupid. She still had some issues with grocery shopping. She always wanted to try stuff, but she couldn’t bring herself to buy it.


“Not everyone likes anal, and that’s perfectly fine.”


“He used to—”


“Mary, he’s not around anymore. It’s just you, and you have control over your body, what’s done to it.”


She nodded and leaned back against the door.


“Have you tried going to Pleasure. Sin and Saint work there. Maybe they could help you find some toys.”


“They could?”


“Yes, maybe what you need is to find your sexuality. You didn’t have the chance before. Masturbation is a great tool to help you discover what you like.”


“I don’t know.”


“Just think about it. You don’t have to do anything. It’s just a thought, and maybe it’ll help you get pasta few things. I’ll say it again, it’s your body, and you need to learn to love it again. That was taken away from you far too early.”


“Thanks, Dem. I’m going to go take a shower and make some dinner, want to join me?”


“I’d love to, but Jackson and the guys are playing at Brawlers, he likes to see me there when he comes off stage. Why don’t you come?”


“No, Scary and Tank weren’t too happy with me when I attacked Bear.”


“You’re not the first to have a fight, and you definitely won’t be the last. Brawlers is famous for their fights. And they know some of your past, so they weren’t mad. Actually, I heard you attacking a man four times your size was kind of funny.”

She cringed at the memory. Bear hadn’t even tried to defend himself before Jackson had pulled her off the man. Bear had just held his arms out to the side and taken it. She still had some guilt about that one. He didn’t seem like a bad guy. King, his nephew, was always nice to her, as were all of Jackson’s friends. They made her feel included even when she felt awkward.


“Keep it in mind, just bring your bike out if you want.”


“I think I’ll just hang out here tonight. I have some thinking to do.”


“You need me…you know how to get me.”


She smiled as he pushed himself up and headed for his car parked beside the garage. Jackson and Dem could probably get a house of their own instead of living in the small trailer beside hers, but she feared they stayed for her.

That wasn’t what she wanted. She’d waited almost four decades to be free. She was fifty-two, she didn’t look it, but she was, and she wanted to be treated like an adult. She just didn’t know how to go about it. Soon though, she’d figure it out, and Jackson and Dem could live their life without worrying about her.


A squeaky yip drew her attention, and Jackson’s teacup terrier trotted over.


“Hey, Killer, you want to have dinner?”


She scooped all three pounds of the dog up and carried her in the house to spend the night watching movies. It was nice to have company even if it was furry.

Copyright 2016-2020 J.M. Dabney & Hostile Whispers Press, LLC