Continued from: Earworm: Part 32 — Pretty Cool Trick
Hope tumbled from a vague dream. She pulled her blankets close to her chin and nestled her head into her pillow, trying to recall what the dream was about. Was it about William Knight?She wasn’t sure. Maybe it was. It certainly wasn’t like the vivid dreams she’d been having lately—more like a memory, a brief image. Throughout the past days, William continued to pop into her head like random radio signals. With a sigh, Hope tried lulling herself back to sleep, her thoughts wandering to her night out with Joel. They had hung out with friends, circled around a small bonfire on Demon’s Point. When Joel asked Hope if she wanted to go for awalk, she said in a low, mocking voice,“You’re not gonna dump me, are you?”
Joel cracked a smile and said, “Don’t tempt me.” They walked through the dunes, the noises of their friends fading into the distance. The night was a pleasant, autumn cool. No breeze. The ocean dormant under the starry sky. The moon and stars reminded Hope of a necklace from a dream. As she and Joel walked over the last ridge of the dunes and past the pilings of the point’s dock, something darted across their path. Hope let out a shriek. Joel cried out, “Jesus. What was that? Was that a cat?”
“I think so,” Hope said, her voice tinged with laughter. “Maybe it was a rat,” she said—joking, because what crossed their path was far too big to be a rat.
Joel’s grip tightened on Hope’s hand. “Don’t even joke about that. I hate rats.”
“All rats?” Hope said as they continued onto the beach.
“Yeah. Don’t know why. I just hate them.”
“How about dirty rats?” Hope said.
“Especially dirty rats.”
“I was led to believe that you were a dirty rat,” Hope said. She stopped and draped her arms around his neck, sensing the flash of his smile in the dark.
“I don’t like any rats. They’re nasty and dirty.” He paused and looked into her eyes. She smiled. He kissed her, and in true movie fashion, they lowered to the beach. The only sound was the rolling waves riding the sand. She felt his hardness grinding against her, and she bit the urge to rip off her clothes and let him in… Joel suddenly scurried off of her as if she’d burnt him. He sat up on the beach, digging his heels in the sand and searching for tiny pebbles to throw into the ocean.
“You okay?” Hope said, propping up on her elbows and surveying his face.
“Yeah,” Joel said, shrugging and tossing a pebble toward a gleaming ridge of foam traveling out of the black water. He looked down at her, smiling an unconvincing grin. “You okay?” he said, as if she had been the one exhibiting strange behavior.
“Yeah,” she chuckled—was someone with her?—sitting up and rising from her elbows as—In her bed, someone rocking—Joel looked at her and said—moaning—“Man, what an awesome night out.”—the moans of two people, first a female, then a male—“Look at that moon,” Joel said, and then he said—whispering, “Tara.”
Hope gasped, sitting up in her bed. A pale light washed over her bedroom. In that dim shine, she saw Tara straddling Joel, moaning. Hope scurried to the far end of the bed. Tara swaying on Joel’s hips, biting her lip, Joel grimacing as if in pain, as if in ecstasy.
“Joel?” Hope said in a small voice.
Joel looked at her and smiled, his face gleaming in a dim light that came from Hope’s breast. Hope looked down to see… Darkness.
She sat up in her bed, alone, her heart thumping in her chest. It was a dream. But when did the dream begin? She glanced around her bedroom, searching the shadows of the room’s furniture. Was she awake now? Everything appeared to be real. But everything appeared to be real in most of her dreams lately. She looked at her clock. 3:40am. She guessed the only thing left to do was wait for morning and pray she could get back to sleep.
Continued in: Earworm: Part 34 — Restless Nights