Venom: Chapter 1

He hardly spoke a word to anyone that night. That’s the first thing I remember. His eyes scoured the crowd with a predator like hunger laced with a flavor of intense cynicism. That’s the second thing I remember. The third? How badly I wanted to get with his blonde friend.

The whole thing began with a simple walk up the hill to the water tower that once was the main feature of the small town of Braxton. Beth, The only woman who responded to my craigslist ad looking for a local roommate, walked next to me carrying a cooler full of beer. even in the darkness I could see her hunched over with the weight of it. I offered to help, but she was determined.

“You’ve got to be tough to survive around here,” she said. “If you’re going to be a lazy ass girly girl, you may as well pick up a job stripping and fucking for money at the local watering hole.”

I smiled at her candor. I really couldn’t have planned it better myself. I had to weed through dozens of very graphic ad responses from the local men before I found hers. She was a breath of fresh air just for her tact, and even more so when I met her, her dark skin gleaming with tattoos, her nose ring, lip ring and eyebrow ring convincing me that maybe I had found my soulmate.

Her small innocent face peaked out from behind the short bob cut that framed her cheeks as she huffed up the hill. The sound of voices and music was starting to carry down the hill to our location and fear and anticipation boiled in the pit of my belly. As we reach the water tower, I could see the lights and a few people hanging on the edges of the party. I cracked my knuckles, ready to face my new life.

Beth threw the cooler to the floor and faced me. “Okay, Ches, just need to clarify one thing before we go in there,” she said.

I looked at her, eyebrows raised.

“There are two things required to survive in the oil field. One: you can’t be innocent. Please tell me you fucked at least a few guys before and had at least one one night stand. If you’re looking for a commitment, there’s a chance you might find it, but first you’re going to have to weed through all these other assholes first.”

I laughed and clapped my hands together. I had estimated Beth was about ten years younger than me, probably 25 or 26. She seemed far more experienced than most post-undergrads but there’s never a match for ten years in the real-world. This girl was about to get the full 101 on life chez-Ches. “First of all, I’ve always been more interested in deep personal conversations than sex. That said, deep conversations typically lead to sex. And guys who like both deep conversations and sex, have a tendency to show up at my door with engagement rings, pools of tears, slit wrists, and in some cases all three. I’m here because I’ve heard that I can skip the deep conversations and go straight to the sex. Capische?” Okay, I was exaggerating a little — I’d never been overly sex-crazed but this place has a reputation and I needed what it purported to offer: no deep connections or excessive emotion, just casual, detached fun. And any girl can handle some good sex along with it.

Her dancing eyes combined with her pursed lips told me she approved. “You may be the most well-informed woman who has ever entered this city,” she commented. “Can I assume there is no long distance boyfriend then? Because that’s the second no-no. I mean, it’s fine if you do, but you will cheat on him so you need to be aware of that.”

My mind wandered back to Briggs and the look of devastation on his face when I told him I was moving 1000 miles away and that I wouldn’t likely be coming back. He was such a sweetheart, so perfect for me in every way, really. But so not my type. None of them ever were.

I shook my head. “No boyfriend.”

She placed her hand on my arm. “Well then, my friend, you and I are going to have a lot of fun with a lot of different dicks.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. I wasn’t so interested in gratuitous sex; I was just getting away from the cluster fuck I created back home. I know, I sound like an insensitive slut, but the whole thing really transpired before I even knew what was going on. I should’ve known I was poisoned from the moment I had my first kiss at 14 years old. But everyone makes mistakes and this was my chance to start over.

I gestured toward the party that was gaining momentum on the other side of the water tower. “Lead the way.”

Beth hauled the cooler back in her arms and nodded towards the music. “Don’t worry, I’ll give you the low-down on everyone. Who to get with, who to avoid like the plague, and which ones will make you breakfast in the morning.”

She brushed past me with a wink.

I could tell this was going to get fucked up fast.

Chapter 2

“The Bitch has arrived!”

“She’s got more beer, ladies!”

“Beth, you have to tell me exactly what happened last weekend.”

The moment we came into view of the party, a swarm of five or six girls surrounded us, all chattering, giggling, and doting on Beth — clearly, I made friends with the right person. Within minutes, each of them had an open beer and stories of rig accidents, sexcapades, and hot new frac hands were flying back and forth like commuter trains.

I hung back, as was my MO, and surveyed the crowd.

It was entirely expected that the party would be 90% men, but it still took me aback to be surrounded by so much sausage. Men of all shapes, sizes, and ages were milling about, slapping each other on the back, knocking back shots and chugging beers, and cussing up a storm. There were a few cute ones that looked about my age — and even more cute ones that looked much younger — and even a few sporting wedding rings. Good luck there, boys. A small set of speakers sat on a folding table next to an iPhone, but other than that and about five coolers full of beer, it was pretty much just an open field at the top of a hill full of horny oilfield workers.

So, pretty much heaven.

“Oh my fucking God, Beth, he’s here.”

Now that sounded juicy. I turned back to the gaggle of ladies. A large girl with blonde hair pointed animatedly through the crowd, her cheek almost pasted to Beth’s as she shared what appeared to be (evidenced by the sudden quieting of every other girl in the group) incredibly valuable gossip.

“No way,” said Beth, her eyes fixed on a spot near the folding table. “I don’t see him, Pat. Where?”

“Right there! He’s sitting in a chair behind Kirk.”

I could only assume Kirk was the massively delicious blonde God standing across the field from us in apparent deep conversation with another guy I couldn’t really see sitting in a folding chair. It was hard to care about the guy in the chair with Kirk’s backside to relax my eyes on. He was ripped from head to toe, with a beautiful head of bushy blonde hair and a very firm looking ass.

I couldn’t imagine why Pat gave a damn about anyone else with that view but she continued to fret. “Do you see him? What is he doing here?”

A brunette gal stepped a little closer. “What’s going on? Who are you guys talking about?”

Pat pulled her in by the arm. “The Kiss of Death! He’s right over there.”

The brunette’s eyes widened. “Well, fuck my world. It is him.”

Just then, Kirk stepped aside to reveal a good-looking but by no means drool-worthy man with wavy, messy brown hair lazing in a folding chair.

I smirked. “Okay, what’s the big deal? He’s not that hot.”

All the girls fell silent. Every eye was on me. Pat nudged Beth. “You haven’t told her yet?”

Beth bit her lip and glanced over at me. I’d only known the girl a week but never once during that week had she seemed even remotely worried about…well, anything.

This Kiss of Death must be important.

Beth slapped her arms to her side. “Well, I didn’t think I would have to; he’s not usually here!”

I noticed the brunette had fallen silent and shrunk back from our group. She seemed to lost in thought, almost paralyzed. “I don’t think I can do this,” she murmured.

That caught the attention of the rest of the group. They gathered around her.

“You’ve got this, Halley,” Pat assured. “You’re fine. You were totally fine when you thought he wasn’t here.”

“But he IS here! And I can’t — I just-

The girls’ murmurs softly as they consoled their fallen one. No doubt she has slept with this guy- The Kiss of Death, they called him? — and it hadn’t ended well. I was more than familiar with the female addiction to drama but this seemed a little over the top.

My eyes wandered over to the mysterious convict and beneath that boyish brown hair, a pair of deep brown eyes met mine. They narrowed, sending a shiver down my backbone. My eyes flitted to other areas of the party, each time returning to his, and each time finding them still piercing holes in my retina.

I shook him off and pulled Beth aside. “This little drama circle here is super fascinating but I’m gonna go grab a beer and poke around a little bit. I’ll catch up with you later.”

She grabbed my arm before I could turn away. “Just stay away from him, okay?” Her eyes blinked in the direction of the brown-haired man in the chair.

I rolled my eyes. “I get it, he’s Halley’s. I won’t go twisting the knife on her.”

Her eyes were wild as she shook her head. “It’s not that. He’s not hers; he’s nobody’s.”

“Oh yeah? The Kiss of Death? With a name like that, he’s nobody’s?”

She grimaced and her tongue rolled into her cheek. “Just trust me. Keep your distance. You don’t want to fuck around with him.”

Well, I didn’t before, but now…I shrugged. “Okay, but I expect a thorough explanation of the intricacies of this kiss of death he is known for later.”

Beth’s face hardened. “Fine. I’ll spill if you promise to find someone else to hook up with. I’m not fucking around, Ches, you’re playing with a brand of fire that none of us of have ever seen before with that one.”

My instinct was to chuckle but the ice in her eyes reminded me of the look my adoptive mother used to give me when I asked what by real mother was like. I glanced over at Kirk, the blonde God, still hanging out loosely near the kiss of death. Meh. He was better looking anyways.

“Calm down, Beth. Is the one they call Kirk free for the taking?”

She twisted her lips to the side. “You’ll piss off Maribel, but that ship has sailed for her anyways. And if she isn’t pissed at you, she’ll be pissed at someone else anyways.”

I stretch my neck at the girls, still hovering over Halley and gabbing animatedly. “Just so I know what I’m getting into, which one is Maribel?”

“Long blonde hair, plaid flannel shirt, cowgirl boots. Looks like she just walked out of a fashion-blind Version of the Dukes of Hazzard.

I took a good look — she looked to be maybe a few years younger than me — One of the older of the group of girls — no one I couldn’t take down if need be.

I nodded triumphantly. “Kirk it is.”

Beth seemed uncharacteristically relieved by my announcement. She turned to the other girls. “Come on, bitches, let’s get some dancing started!”

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