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Pyre of Envy IX: Erica

​ On Monday morning,  Rolemn’s phone beeped, a message alert. He had been in bed since yesterday morning when Sandy brought him breakfast. Still he felt a tired, he told himself he was going to ignore his morning alarm, the warm embrace of his blankets so soft and consoling as a mother’s arms. To add to the cake, his sleep had been superb, far better than the world of responsibilities which awaited him. He would keep on plugging into it until all sweet dreams dried up. He swam in transcendent experiences, a wide smile on his soul. To hell with the world, some things are just way better. If it was possible to sleep forever he would as long as it was guaranteed it would be as magnificent. In a few moments a full intoxicating embrace of sleep would embrace him and mollify his soul. Nothing could reach him as swirled with the stars. 

Then a loud bang on his door and all the sleep in him was snuffed out. Suddenly his eyes were wide open.

 “Fuck!” He cursed under his breath. Three more bangs making the door rattle in it’s doorframe, an exasperating noise. He jumped out of the bed and opened the door. 

“Hey,” it was Corklin, clean shaved and in a change of clothes. He had a backpack slung on his back. He had been awake for a long time, it showed in his face. 

“Hey.” Rolemn squinted. It was bright in the hallway, natural light from the widows.“What time is it?”

“Nine thirty.” Corklin pushed passed him and into his room. “ Don’t you have lectures today? Why you sleeping?”

Rolemn shut the door behind him and turned on the lights. “I was very tired. I can always catch up tomorrow.” He sat on his bed. “What’s up?”

Corklin dropped in his swivelling chair and turned to Rolemn. “You can go back to bed if  you want I just came to get my stuff.”

“Alright.” Rolemn lifted his blankets and swung himself into bed. He faced away towards the wall. He could hear Corklin moving around in his room and placing stuff on his tray.

“Rolemn?”

“Huh?”

“Your phone is glowing. I think you got a message or something.”

Rolemn turned to lie on his back. “Give it to me.”

With a stride Corklin handed it to him.

Rolemn pressed a button and saw the message was from Erica, it was still unopened but he wondered if Corklin saw that. He glanced at him, he appeared unsuspecting and not interested. Or  it was Corklin’s test of his loyalty.  He couldn’t tell. “Did you see who it was from?”

“Who?” Corklin continued packing items unto his tray.

“Erica.”

He paused, turning around. “Really?”

“Yeah.”Rolemn opened the message. It read : Come by rehearsal room 9 at 10am-12am at the Music dept. Don’t let anyone see you or tell Corklin. COME ALONE! 

Corklin hemmed, nodding reflectively. He swallowed. “What does it say?”

Rolemn glanced at the screen, pretending to be reading while weaving a lie. “She is reminding us of her concert on Friday. We should decide because the tickets will not be able by Thrusday.” 

Corklin looked up. “Ah, okay.” Without comment he swivelled back to the desk packing more of his stuff.

Rolemn drilled at the nape of his neck with his eyes, not approving of how he had been treating her lately. He could sense that his mind was set on not going to her concert. Rolemn wasn’t going to ask or try change his mind. There more Corklin withdrew the closer he got with Erica and then eventually…

“When are we gonna go buying you textbooks?” Corklin asked.

“I don’t know. When can you go?”

“I was thinking maybe after lunch?”

“Okay. After lunch is fine.”

“Okay cool. Start making a list.
When Corklin finished collecting all his belongings from his room Rolemn jumped out of bed and showered. He couldn’t think of a reason why Erica was summoning him. It crossed his mind that maybe she might have found out he lied to her about not knowing where Corklin was in the afternoon and virtually keeping him from seeing her, but he it didn’t seem plausible at all. If that was the case Corklin would have him strangled while he lay in bed. That didn’t and nothing  about Corklin  came across as usually weird. On the way to the Music department he couldn’t resist stop thinking of how Corklin was a bad judge of character because he should have known he was the type to meet his girlfriend in secret. Instead Corklin thought he was honest, harmless and loyal which made Rolemn worry about his impression of Killiane. Perhaps Killian was just as deceitful as he was and had more treacherous aspirations in mind. He had money and a big drug dealer which made him even worse.. Either that was the case or Corklin was trying to get him hooked on drugs so  he would be seller to support his habit. That way he wouldn’t  see how immoral the whole thing was,  how risky it was and end up risking his life. That would make Corklin the most cunning serpent he had ever met. 

Then he drifted to what had happened to him yesterday, the puking and the anxiety attacks. The wrongness of it all dawning on him, how the drug abuse had caused what had happened to him and how  selling drugs might destroy other people lives. The guilt and responsibility would be too enormous for him to live with. He decided against dealing drugs, he didn’t want be the source of derailed dreams and become a distributor of enslaving appetites. 

Navigating himself inside the Music Department was easy. Being a Sound technology student he had most of his in the lectures therein the upper stories and did most of his recording practicals  in the recording studios on the top floor. He spent a considerable amount of time at the department recording artists, mixing recordings, mastering and producing on both analogue and digital platforms. For reasons he didn’t care to think about (although the department housed precious libraries of music and equipment) movement in and out department was restricted and recorded, one required a chip or  finger print to enter which required you to register with the department for either to work. He knew about the rehearsal rooms ,and the most popular ones, were situated along a courtyard in the back as to not disturb other academic activities that thrived in the quiet. On his arrival he found the department to be relatively empty, which was explained by the fact that lectures were taking place. As he approached the courtyard he could hear the wailing of a violin and jazzy tittering play of drums. He passed  down a few doors listening to hear a piano, he was somewhere around Room  15 which meant  Room 9 had to be further along the wall. He glanced at the courtyard benches and the fountain for any sign of other performance students. Nothing there, not even the typical introvert bookworm with a book or an ebook reader. However, there was an unattended bicycle  leaning against the one of the two hemlocks. He looked back behind him further into the hallway, not even a sign of a shadow there. After a few more strides he reached rehearsal room 9. He leaned forward for any sound of the piano, it was silent. He checked the clock on his mobile, in case he got here at the wrong time, 11:45am.  He knocked once and the door opened almost instantly.

She froze above the threshold. “You are alone? No one in the hallway?” she whispered.

Rolemn nodded. “Yeah.”

She beckoned him with urgency, sliding out the way. “Come in, quickly.”

Rolemn  scuttled into the room. She quickly shut the door behind him and latched it.The room was only double the size of his dorm room which was the size of a walking closed really. The piano set up against the wall and its seat taking most of the space in the room. Then on wall on his left there were some chairs piled on top of each other, two were taken from the pile and set before the piano’s. 

“You sure no one saw you?” Erica asked.

“Yeah.” He nodded.

“Take a seat.” She gestured to one of the chairs before the piano.

Rolemn took the one closest. He slid his eyes around her breasts and he noticed she was wearing a push up bra under her white bottled-neck woollen jersey which wrapped itself around her upper body. She wore blue tight jeans and black leather boots at her feet. Rolemn found her whole outfit subtly showing off. The jersey barely reached her crotch and fluttered around her belt as she moved her upper body. It also looked as if she wasn’t wearing anything underneath which made him wonder how much of her lower back would be exposed when she sits down in front of him, bends or hunkers. While the thoughts rolled he felt a hint of salivation in his mouth and a tingling in his loins. He wished her neck was exposed and wondered what it would be like to take off the jersey and ogle at what was underneath, smooth olive skin and a cleavage to render him into a whirlwind of arousal. He muttered a curse to himself.

She put her hands on her hips, taking a deep breath. “So, how have you been?”

“Good, good,” he said, then later added, “And you? How have you been?”

She smiled, slashing him with her angelic white teeth. “I’m well.” She nodded, looking down. “Obviously not as good as I would like to be.” She moved to the piano, sat down and got into her playing posture. “I want you to hear this and tell me what you  think.”

“Okay.” Rolemn turned, his eyes stuck at the skin showing on her lower back between the hem of her jersey and her jean. To avoid being distracted any further he moved his seat forward and to the side, where he could lean forward and see her hands on the keys.

After taking a deep breath, her fingers gracefully started waltzing on the piano, ethreal sounds eminating at their wake. With each note his emotions were tickled and titillated. Before he knew it he was closing his eyes, plucked from his surroundings and into the folds between dimensions of space and time. What he was hearing incited a rage of goose bumps  across his body and tears crept from under his eye lids. Then suddenly the soaring succession of notes stopped without resolving, something that made his eyes snap open with bewilderment.

“Wha-Wha-What just happened?” He stuttered, eyes wide open.

She slightly turned with a smile tagging at the corner of her mouth, her green eyes eyeing him from their corners.“Come sit with me,” she patted the space next to her.

Without hesitation Rolemn sat next to her, her hips brushing against him, she didn’t give him much space. “Here I am.” He gazed at her. 

She stared right into his face.  “What did you think?”

Rolemn frowned. “What do you mean? Is it finished?”

She giggled. “You’d like to hear the rest of it?” 

“Are you kidding? Of course, I do. Erica that was amazing. I love it.”

She shifted her gaze to her instrument, shaking her head. “Are you serious? That didn’t sound like crap to you?”

He shook his head. “No. It’s amazing.”

She looked into his face, moving her eyes from eye to eye then she looked directly at him. “ Well.” She reached for her bag under the seat, unzipped it and took something from it. Rolemn expected it would be some girly item like lip gloss. It turned out to be a ticket. “Here, come to the concert on Friday night.” She placed it over the keys right in front of him.

Conflicted, he glanced back at her as if looking for answers.

“I know that the chances of Corklin coming are slim, “ she said. “He has been ignoring me lately. I’m sure this isn’t even news to you. He lies to me, and I’m sure right now he is weaving an excuse not come. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time he came to one of these things. He won’t come unless you make him come.”

Rolemn rubbed his chin, looking down. “I don’t  know if I can convince him of anything really.”

“That’s okay. I’m not asking you to. I’m sure he will always find a way to get out of it, but you can always come.” She smiled.

Rolemn glanced back at her, before he could flinch a muscle her succulent lips were pressed on his. First his eyes widened with dismay. She sucked on his lower lip, with a waltz of the lips that is so incinerating. A thirst so deep stirred in him. He returned the kiss with beastly passion, pressing her body to onto his. His right hand moved up her back , into the back of her head while his left arm pulled held her close. His world turned into a whirlwind , an intense throbbing ruled in his loins. It demanded to be resolved, nothing that went  on in the world was as urgent and crucial. He shifted his left hand from her back and started stroking her left thigh, then snuck under it from the side and hauled her onto his lap, clumsily but she cooperated. She momentarily looked into his eyes, panting, then gnawed at his lips with muffled moans. 

“Take the jersey off.” He ordered.

She pulled from him and leaned back onto the keys, causing discord. Lifted herself onto the piano to sit on it. She looked at Rolemn, who sat down between her legs, as if she couldn’t recognize him.

Rolemn took that as his cue to stand up onto his feet and continue kissing. When he started, she pushed him gently with her hand. “No!” She said. “No.”

Rolemn scowled. “What?”

She jumped off onto her feet and walked to the other side of the piano. “I thought you couldn’t”

“Couldn’t what?”

She shook her head, panting.  “Forget it.”

Rolemn stared at her, flustered. The understanding of what he had just done unravelled itself, he just tried to fuck Corklin’s girlfriend. His friend’s girlfriend. “Why did you do that?” he demanded. “Why did you kiss me?”

She laughed. “If you tell Corklin about what just happened he won’t believe you, if you don’t come to the concert I might just have to tell him what you did.”

“What?”

“Yes.” She wiped her lips. “ Look I’m a girl and you are his friend. There are certain things I need to do to ensure that you will be loyal to me and not feed me to the wolves.”

Rolemn shook his head, slowly.

“He won’t believe you over me. Even if he did I could always scream something more sinister. You don’t want him knowing about what just happened, if he does you will lose him. I know you need him,” she said, then she smiled. “This was just to make sure that you won’t talk. I’m sure you will want to keep this secret, and therefore everything that happens between us from here will be in secret.” She paused, nose flaring. “To be honest I like you. I did not do this because I want to use you. You appreciate art and music and you are honest. You make a good friend. I want to be your friend without fear of ever being played by him through you. This way I can trust you.”

Rolemn nodded, lingering in shock. “You played me.”

Erica sat back next to him and looked straight into his creasing eyes. “At least I’m honest with you. I respect you. I’m up front and straightforward with it. With Corklin you never know until you look down and find yourself sinking in quicksand. The worst part is you can’t confront him about it, he will pretend that nothing is going on. Now imagine how tiny and helpless that makes you feel.”

“You doubt he loves you?”

“I don’t know anymore.” She sourly grinned. “Do you think the other night when you came it was for dinner?”

Rolemn didn’t want to answer, he knew it wasn’t. His face contorted to communicate the fact.

She nodded. “You see, I’m not blind. I’m sure he made you feel like you were in it together.”

Rolemn shook his head. “Can I get my ticket now? I gotta go.” 

“It’s right there on the floor.”

Rolemn followed her glance and picked it up. He got to his feet and paced to the door where he turned to study her again. She sat there in her playing posture, pretending he had already went. “Thank you.”

“It’s a pleasure, Ro.”

The nickname tugged his hand from unlatching the door. Startled by what she had called him. “Ro?”

She shifted her head to the side and eyed him from the corner of her eyes. “I don’t know. I just made it up. Rolemn is kinda long. You don’t like it?”

“There is only one other person who calls me that. He is open with me and very kind. “ He paused. “Much like you I guess.” 

“Oh…thank you.”

###

If you are new to the serial, start here.

Thanks for reading.

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