Dirty Desires - Crystal Kaswell Page 0,1

Everyone was obsessed with the pop star maintaining her innocence.

This male obsession with virginity… I don't get it. Yes, I'm a virgin. Yes, I like men. Yes, I've had boyfriends. Two. In high school.

Yes, we did all the normal things.

We kissed, held hands, watched movies. Boyfriend number two even got to second base. His hands were too cold. His touch was too blunt. But I still enjoyed it. I still wanted more.

There was something stopping me. Fear. Nerves. An inability to trust him with my body. I'm not sure. I lost my chance.

Dad left and life got way too complicated for boyfriends.

"You don't look like a virgin." He studies my teal hair. My thick eyeliner. My black mini-dress. "You look like… a sex kitten."


"Like you know how to please a strong man."

Even more gross. I reach for the drink, but it's empty. For the best. I need to stay focused. So I make rent. "It's the makeup."

Addie says I look like a punk rock princess.

I prefer to think of my attire as a shield. The eyeliner says I don't give a fuck what you think. The dark lipstick says leave me alone. The combat boots say I will kick you in the head if you fuck with me.

That's probably why this guy is asking. He can't see my combat boots. He doesn't know I'm at the end of my rope. He doesn't know I'm completely out of patience.

He leans back to finish his Appletini. Then he sets the glass on the bar. Motions for another.

It's hard to keep a poker face with him watching me, but I manage.

There. I tap the order into the machine. Pour. Slide the glass to him.

"Guys must ask all the time." He holds up the drink as if to toast. "If you're a virgin."

"Word gets around."

His eyes fix on my breasts. He watches my chest rise and fall with my exhale. He watches like he's picturing me in his bed. Like he's sure he has me where he wants me. "Do you want them to stop asking?"

Why? Does he have a button that will change the culture. Swap gender roles, so we obsess over male virginity and shrug at the thought of women who sleep around. Girls will be girls.

"I have a solution." He holds up his drink. "A proposition, actually."


"You don't work here for your health."

What gave that away?

"You must need money. I have money. A lot of it. But I don't have you. What do you say, Eve? What do you say we make a trade? Something I want for something you want."

Chapter Two


Britney saves me. She whisks Drunk McHandsy to the back room for a trio of lap dances. The bar picks up. Another bachelor party. A couple looking for a third. Men in suits doing business.

A normal Tuesday night.

I lose myself in the rhythm of fixing drinks, taking cards, making chitchat. Then it's cleaning, receipts, tips.

The sweet freedom of the June air.

It's still warm. That's one of the things I love about New York. The city holds onto the temperature.

Eighty and humid. Rare for June. With the sun down and the breeze light, it's comfortable.

Ten blocks in the warm air. A big silver moon. All the lights of Times Square.

Like any born and bred New Yorker, I prefer to avoid the tourist trap.

Most nights, I walk a few extra blocks, so I can take the Fifty-Seventh Street station.

Tonight, I'm exhausted. I descend the steps to the massive subway station. Left, right, straight, left. All the way to my line.

At two thirty on a Tuesday night, the subway is quiet. A server lost in a book, a bartender listening to headphones, a drunk couple making out against a dirty post.

They grind and groan like they'll never get enough.

Even when the train arrives, they climb in. Take to one of the benches.

They stay hot and heavy. So in need of each other they don't care who sees.

Or maybe they want someone to see.

Or maybe it's the alcohol talking.

What is that like? Feeling that free? Wanting someone that much?

I close my eyes. Try to recall a make-out session with my high school boyfriend. The cute bassist with long bangs. For all his talk of skilled hands, he lacked a certain finesse.

Was that it? His lack of tenderness?

The question rattles through my brain as I get off at my stop. Walk the half a mile to our apartment.

Not the nicest part of Brooklyn. But with rent control, it's the best we can do. A third-floor