Made for You Page 37

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I check the cooler in the trunk where the asphodel I bought is waiting. It’s an odd flower, harder to get at the grocery, so I drove almost all the way to Durham to buy it. Amy deserves it, and later, Eva will understand what I’m saying with it. I slip on my gloves and bring the flower into the front seat.

My smile doesn’t fade as I drive to the parking lot beside the ice cream shop. I’m a little late, but Amy is used to it. She never lets her parents see who’s picking her up. Her mother is a believer in changing their lot in life by way of marriage. It worked before, and since the divorce, she’s determined to try it again. My grandmother detests the Crowne family because of it. She calls Amy’s mother a “social climber.” I have to wonder if my father took a climb on that reputedly well-frequented ladder. He’s discrete, but he explained it to me years ago: there are girls you f**k, and girls you marry, and it’s best not to confuse the two.

I turn on the cell phone jammer I keep in the glove box right before I pull into the lot, and then I cut off my lights. I trust Amy, but it’s important to be cautious anyhow. Privacy helps avoid questions.

I picked this lot because someone broke out the street lights here. I could explain it if they saw us—Amy has plenty of boyfriends—but I won’t have to explain. There’s no one around the darkened lot to see me.

Only a few moments pass before the car door opens, and she slides into the passenger seat. I’m moving before the door is even closed.

“Jerk,” she mutters.

I reach over and put my hand on her bare knee.

She flinches at the feel of the gloves on her skin. “That’s new.”

“Shhh.” I take my other hand off the wheel for a moment and hand her the asphodel. “For you.”

“It’s . . . unusual.” She examines the flower as I slide my hand up until my fingertips are wedged between her thighs.

“Open up.”

She complies.

When I don’t move my hand after several moments, she starts to close her legs.

“No.” I tighten my grip on her leg, not enough to bruise but hard enough that she lets out a small cry of pain. “You’re generous.”

“You could ask,” she mutters, but her hand is in my lap now and she unfastens my trousers quickly. Her other hand holds tightly to the flower.

I don’t look at her. Instead, I think of Eva . . . but she wouldn’t do this, not here in the car. She’s better than this, special in a way that no one else can be. I think of Eva in the backseat watching us.

“Stop.” I put my hand over Amy’s. “Not like this. Not tonight.”

She obeys, and we’re silent as we drive to Scuppernong Park. I park, cut off the engine, and reach into the backseat. On the floor is a bottle of wine—from the Cooper Winery, of course. I like to drink it when I’m with Amy. It makes me think of Eva, helps me feel like she’s with me.

Once I open it, Amy and I pass the bottle back and forth. I put on a condom before I guide her hand back to my trousers. “So it’s not messy.”

She giggles, but doesn’t argue. “And the gloves?”

“It’s something I read about,” I say. I don’t mention where I read it.

I know her body well enough to distract her before she thinks too much about it. A few minutes later, we’re both panting. “Will you? No one else does it like you. I’ve missed it.”

In my mind, I realize what a sacrifice I’m making. I’m giving this up so Eva can be saved. I tangle my hand in Amy’s hair to urge her down. When she starts to remove the condom, I yank her away.

Her yip of pain makes me guilty and excited all at once. “No. Leave it on.”

“But—”

“Please. I just want tonight to be different,” I whisper.

She sits up and stares at me for a moment.

“Come on,” I beg. “I want to pretend. We could be strangers tonight.”

She frowns. “You’re f**ked up.”

“But you like it.” I start pulling her back toward me, and this time she doesn’t resist.

Afterward, I remove the condom and stuff it into a bag that I brought with me. Beside it on the floor is a tiny pill and the wine bottle. I slip the pill into the wine, lift it like I’m drinking so I can dissolve the pill into the wine. I would never drug a girl to get her naked. That’s wrong. I don’t want Amy to hurt though. If there were anyone else who could give the message, I wouldn’t do this.

I hand her the bottle and tell her, “Here. You can drink the rest while I take care of you.”

Her eyes widen, and I realize she thinks I mean something different. I’ve been too careful not to leave any fluids so far, so I can’t do that. I put the bottle to her lips and use my gloved hands to make her happy before the pill kicks in.

“Serious afterglow,” she mumbles after she reaches satisfaction. Her words slur, and she slumps to the side.

I realize that I’m crying silently when she loses consciousness. I’m proud that I gave her happiness before that happened. I’ll miss her.

Quietly, I get out of the car, go around to her side, and scoop her into my arms. I bring the asphodel too. I walk to the edge of the lake and lower her to the ground. “Thank you,” I whisper. She can’t hear me, but I still need to say it. I have manners.

I remove her shirt and break the wine bottle on the ground beside her. I watch to be sure Amy doesn’t move. Then, I tuck the asphodel under her, so the water won’t wash it away.

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