Today I’ve got the first chapter of Being Kalli by Rebecca Berto for you. Kalli sounds like she’s got a helluva story to tell and I’m looking forward to meeting her on December 9th!
Kalli Perkins makes it a habit of shutting her mouth, except to please a guy. She would say she goes off like a starved animal in bed, but Kalli doesn’t have sex in beds. She does it in hallways, in parks, in parties. She comes as a package deal.
Great sex. No strings attached. Never alone together; always in public.
One night at a party, Kalli makes a bet with her friend, Nate, that could change everything. But she didn’t count on him. Nate’s very capable of satisfying her, not only under her clothes, but in her heart, too.
She just doesn’t know it yet.
Recommended for mature readers due to explicit content. | This book is published in Australian English and includes relative diction.
:Chapter One of Being Kalli:
There are two things you should know about me:
One, I’m afraid of being alone with a guy.
Two, I’m certain I love my little brothers more than our mum does.
There are sweeping coloured lights patrolling the party, and a disco ball glittering over people swaying to the music, the pumping speakers, and the bar workers. It’s eleven on a Saturday and people are either drunk on alcohol or drunk from the wickedly mixed tracks, courtesy of the DJ. It’s a decent party, but it never matters. I’m with my pick for the night.
He’s hot, and I can appreciate a hot guy. Army buzz cut, almond coloured eyes, and arms that can sweep a girl clean off her feet and into his. Lucky for both of us, I don’t get swept off my feet by the likes of him—the type I hooked up with last weekend, or the one I made out with in the dorm hallway mid-week when all the normal people were sleeping. There’s something about my disinterest at impressing a guy that interests them.
But Donovan, he’s just like the rest. This one pulled my thighs onto his and I bent my knees back, settling onto his crotch, which grew a groan from him. When he starts talking too much I tell him I get called Kalli and not Kallisto. He starts layering me with kisses along my mouth and down my neck instead.
“That’s real good,” he mumbles, nibbling on me.
I don’t know if he means my name or the sweet spot at my neck because he’s been sucking my skin between his lips for these last five minutes on and off. And, yes, it’s been five minutes, because I’ve counted.
“But why ‘Kalli’?” Donovan asks when he parts with my skin for air.
“Because she was high at the time,” I answer.
Leaning in, I taste him back and suck on a spot. Unfortunately for me, Donovan has chosen to drown this part, just under the protrusion of his jaw, with a full bottle of aftershave, but I have too much pride and even more secrets to continue with the conversation. So I suck his skin in and around my tongue and fight the urge to pull away.
I’m not stupid; I hear the incredulous tone to his voice. Everyone has it. You expect trash when my usual dress code is, a) skirt or shorts at least three inches above my knee, and b) at least my cleavage, arms or the bony bits of my hips exposed. But even slummers have standards and people expect a mother to stay away from a glass of wine, let alone illicit drugs, when pregnant.
Mine thought naming me after astrology was awesome.
“Am I fine to continue sucking on your body, or do you want a history lesson?”
To explain what I mean, I lick a trail from a spot under his ear to the V of the neckline of his T-shirt. He understands, clearly. Or at least his dick does. It springs up against his jeans, which pushes at my inner thigh. I shift, so if his jeans and my G-string weren’t there, he’d be cradled between me.
Donovan doesn’t reply this time. He wraps his arms around me, dropping his hands to the small of my back. There, he reaches the tip of my long hair, and he tugs slightly. Soon, his hands dip inside the strap of my G and he groans when he realises how very small the material is.
We make out for another few minutes and this time I do lose count. I usually count when I kiss guys. Scout’s the only girl I’ve ever kissed, but it’s always for fun when we are holding hands and stumbling around parties drunk, looking out for each other the whole night. I don’t count with her. It never usually goes long enough.
My G is sliding between Donovan and I, and I have to wonder if my wetness is on his pants. Probably. I couldn’t care less. I’ve seen Donovan around campus and parties; we frequent the same circles, no doubt, but I’ve never spoken more than a handful of words with him before tonight. Probably won’t again.
It’s now, as I begin to get into this make-out session on our couch, that Donovan shatters everything and replaces my excitement with a pounding sense of dread, one I’ve always felt since I was a kid and a guy asked to be alone with me: sex or no sex involved.
He breathes into my lips between kisses, “Come back to my room.”
“I can’t.” I say it firmly, forcing us apart with my hands against his chest. I catch my breath before I bite my lip and lick it, ready to pounce on him again.
“Kalli, don’t worry.” He places a hand on my shoulder, which instead of the calming gesture he intended, sends me jerking back to my feet and fixing my mini skirt straight. “Kalli, really. I can sneak you in, no worries about anyone finding out, if you’re uptight about that.”
I sigh. He’s worried about me getting caught, worsening my reputation, possibly even jeopardising my university life.
Thank God he didn’t sense my real fear.
“I can’t afford it,” I say, “school is everything.”
It’s true, partly. I need a job that’ll pay me enough to move out with my little brothers, Seth and Tristan. Their rich-ass father can’t handle them for more than a weekend every other week, and our mum isn’t mentally there for them either.
“Hey, Kalli, you were so chill before. Heck, we were practically fucking in public just then. You were the one who threw me on the couch. What’s wrong with my room?”
He makes a point, but it doesn’t change anything. I’ve always sucked at folding to peer pressure, but I’m not about to face my fears for practically a stranger. I’m not one of those girls.
“Okay, well I’m telling you now. I don’t want to go back to your room.”
Donovan’s look ices over for a moment. In that moment, he isn’t the hot, flirty guy I picked out tonight. His look is white-hot fury turning as quickly as your fingertips burn the moment they meet scalding water. But just as soon as it happened, it’s like the wind blows and I imagined his expression change. Maybe I did. I’ve had enough jelly shots to believe the bronze horse statue at our university is a unicorn.
“You’re telling me you’d rather have sex right here—” He sweeps his hands out to the drunken, messy party students also grinding their hips to people and the music, and then finally to the couch against the side of the wall. “—in front of everyone?”
People like Donovan? He’ll think I’m kidding when I say this, but I’m absolutely not. “Oh, yeah.” I lean down to his eye level, which means my ass cheeks are surely out for the world to see from behind. I whisper near his ear, “I’ve been thinking of unzipping you and sliding right on top since the moment I picked you out across the floor.”
He is shocked when I say that. For some reason, lots of people have a combination of wide eyes, slack jaw and incessant blinks when I open my mouth. Then he waggles his finger at me and chuckles.
“Good one, Kalli.” He rights himself, stands and pulls at my hand to follow.
I tug back. “I’m serious. This doesn’t go further than here.”
“What the? We can’t do it here!”
He eats that one right up. After a confused moment, he says, “Just because.”
“You too shy?” I say. “Or afraid? Embarrassed?”
My spiel works. He’s now only focused on defending himself. My life works a helluva lot better when the world doesn’t know my problems.
“You’re fucked. You know that?”
I pout my lips and smile with a satisfied look.
“Bitch, you’re fucking crazy.” He shakes his head, tossing away any possibility of sex between us. “Crazy,” he mutters as he stalks off.
“I think you’re hiding a girlfriend,” I call out, my last-shot win.
He stops a couple of metres away, grins and points to his ring finger to associate a lover. Then he gives me an I-used-you look.I gotta give him that; he did defend his own pretty well.
I should feel guilty he has a girl waiting for him somewhere, but from my fifteen-minute impression he’s just as likely to have lied as told the truth.
As soon as I have my own space the party is quiet. The vibrations pulsing from the floor and to my chest are mere murmurs. Alone and solitary, it’s like I’m in an invisible cube, like the ones just before the Hunger Games begin, but I feel them, and no one else notices. People grind against humans and objects, giggling up to the ceiling, girls fixing their hair, the DJ punching the air as everyone jumps and shrieks in pleasure.
But not me.
I’m here and desolated.
I try to imagine Donovan’s dark room, only moonlight highlighting a strip through the curtains. Half-empty cans of soft drink are all over his bedside table. A musty smell is in the air, typical of dorm rooms with boys in them.
Hard as I try, I can’t imagine that. I see a younger image of me sitting on my bed with my legs trembling so much my knees knock, a washed-out version of my vitality. Staring. On the other side of my bedroom my three-quarter-size violin is in its case.
I haven’t had that one for nine years.
The alcohol effect has drained, and I can think as clearly now as when I came here sober. I kick the couch with my stiletto and mutter to God Christ Almighty how much it kills.
Funny how little things can work a great distraction. My stubbed toe hurts so much I don’t see that old violin I would stare at from my bed after those nights.
And that makes everything better.
• • •
I find myself walking in circles. Walking to the bar, then away to the toilets because I can’t pick a drink. Touching the same side of my face and turning it into the light and seeing my makeup is still fine, then back to the couch where I mentally shudder and return to the bar. I have friends I could see here, but I prefer hanging with my closest ones. Scout will be hooking up with some guy or girl and Nate will have some girl in his lap, too.
Just my luck to fuck up the night.
It’s too late to find someone new. I tell myself that’s because of the time, and not because I’m too tired, too wound up.
During my search I find a plastic bucket, bottles and ice clinking. The only thing remotely desirable is a blue-coloured vodka mix, and I settle to scull that.
As I wobble-dance by myself to this David Guetta remix, someone slaps my ass. I wind my fist back to launch one in this slimebag’s face until I see his brown hair. It still looks perfect and windswept, as if blown that way and hairsprayed in place. In reality, he only spends as long on his hair as he takes to down a shot.
His pale eyes are electrifying in the darkness, and I notice, even though its dark save for the glittering lights bouncing from the disco ball, he fills out a shirt well.
He gives me a smirk and kisses my cheek. “Kall Bell.”
“Nate, I swear …”
I look at his hand. He’s holding two shot glasses filled with clear liquid.
“This place just has stupid vodka and beer.” I hold up my candy-looking water in its bottle.
“Not for me, Kall Bell.”
He thrusts a shot my way. I hate rum even more than vodka, so he wouldn’t be stupid enough to give me that. I say as much.
He’s off his head too. He looks dreamy tonight and seems to sway. I look down to my off-the-shoulder top where it’s slipped far enough to hint at cleavage. Nate has seen this too, clearly. Nate, unlike me, is shy. He won’t tell me when he’s in the mood to hook up or just hang out, so I have to read him. Him unashamedly staring at my body is my hint.
I dip my tongue seductively in the shot. Tequila.
“Nate!” I squeal. He did good.
He gives me a click of his tongue and nudges his head over near the bar. There is a bowl of ready-sliced lemons and someone has left the salt out too. I lick between my thumb and finger knuckles in anticipation. He passes me a slice and grinds the salt onto the bit of skin between my thumb and finger, then does the same for him.
We down that shot and as soon as I’m done squinting and shaking away the kick of the burn in my throat, I make us another round.
“She’s hooking up with some four-foot-nothing girl.”
“Yeah. Even in heels.”
We shit-talk for probably half an hour. It’s only when we stop that I’ve realised this fact. With Nate studying photography at uni and Vain Kalli out to play, I ask him if I’m pretty enough to model for him. He tells me it’s about having the right body shape, to which I reach to his thigh and pinch him through his khaki shorts. He tenses and grunts at the same time, and I even hear a long, breathy exhale from his flared nostrils. I think. I’m definitely some version of drunk, and this leads from me pouting about his backhanded compliment that I may or may not have the right body, to his sidestepping of my “pretty” hint, to a conversation about degrees of drunkenness. We begin at knee level and decide that’s when you can feel your teeth and act bold but not weird. We work our way up. This varies in degrees until hammered—a step before passed out—where we agree on slurring, talking to oneself, thinking oneself is damn awesome, falling all over other people, announcing abrupt conversation changes and more, until I ask him if he knows how mesmerising his hair is, and simultaneously fall forward and run my hands through it. He says he knows I’ve been thinking this because I apparently have been talking to his hair most of the time I’ve been sitting here, but being drunk as well, he doesn’t pull me away but cups my waist and rubs from the front to back, even up at the bottom of my ribs.
The moment I personified almost being “hammered” I knew how drunk I was, so I gesture outside and suggest for us to get some fresh air. Nate walks outdoors where freestanding gas heaters have been brought along and set up at random. We find one in a far corner of the pavement without anyone else seated at it. “She’s in a girly mood tonight.”
That’s Nate’s and my code for Scout’s hook-up tendencies, whether she’s into girls or guys at a party. Like me, Scout is straight, but unlike me she hooks up with anyone hot. I can’t usually bring myself to kiss another girl, so I don’t know why I can do it with her. She’s the only constant in my life, and we’ve done everything from change in the same room to cry ugly tears about the usual assignments together. So, when we’re drunk we kiss and it makes me feel—just for that moment—that someone loves me enough to be with me and stick around for the rest of my life.
“Oh,” Nate says, remembering something, “back on the dance floor you were pissed off about my ass slapping? You love when I slap your ass.”
“Just—” I sigh. “You know that Donovan Xander guy at uni?” Nate nods. “Spoke more than a handful of words to him, finally, and he wanted to take me to his room.” I explain our couch adventures, too.
Nate nods and looks down.
I get it, I do. It’s awkward talking about my issues. Say the wrong thing and I blow up, and I don’t even mean to. Nate can grill me about almost anything but that.
He tips his head back and sculls the rest of his drink. He sets his hands on his thighs—those glorious muscles that look like they want to rip out of those khaki shorts.
He says, “If I had to fuck you, Kall Bell, I’d be proud to do you on the couch.”
“Aw,” I sigh dramatically. “What a compliment.”
He reaches for either side of my chair and drags it so close I have to open my knees so our legs scissor together. This close I can smell his scent. I lean in to his chest and pull down the collar. His theory on spraying cologne is great. When I kiss Nate’s neck I don’t lick a tongueful of putrid cologne, like I did with Donovan. I taste his scent. Nate sprays a little lower, just at the top of his chest.
“I love when you wear Calvin Klein.”
He works his jaw and it’s so damn distracting I can’t tell what part of my body he’s staring at, until he takes my gaze. Then I know. Me, and just me.
“Well if you want to have sex with me just say the word.”
“Word,” I say, as quick as I can.
“Not tonight,” he mumbles so low I can barely hear above the thumping music and ridiculous squealing girls.
I admit, I haven’t done more than make out with Nate for one specific reason. I like guys, and Nate is one of the damn finest specimens of male there ever was. He’s the guy you dream of when you picture your perfect boyfriend, body and mind. All his exes say that, usually after they’ve dumped him for someone newer or richer. He just cares so much. He’s a lover, not a fucker, and I can’t risk ruining our little threesome friendship group, him, Scout and I. They’re my world.
“This is my fifth can.”
“And,” he adds, “that was my third tequila shot.”
I burst out laughing. Alcohol really makes me too bold. “You can’t get it up.”
“I can make you.”
Even with my shit for brains when it comes to being sensible I can’t stop this time, unlike how Nate and I both usually know where to back off when we’re making out. I haven’t even begun that and I’m quivering with the need to jump his bones. I’m not the type to allow myself to look weak, but I hate what Donovan did to me before, to let those stupid thoughts from years ago control me. They won’t. I won’t allow it to take over me again.
Nate rolls the empty can to the side and presses his lips into a line, looking serious. He’s trying really hard not to laugh.
“I’m a guy. I know how my body works. You girls think it’s some robot worked by a remote. Seriously, I’m so horny with you in that skirt and still can’t get it to do that.” He gestures to me from head to toe. “And even you, the hottest girl at this party, cannot change that fact.”
“I bet I can.”
Nate opens his mouth to banter back, but I get on my knees and shush him with a finger to his lips. He’s either shocked or turned on because I feel his breath shudder under the finger pressed to him.
I trail that finger down his chest and then reach under his shirt to rake my nails down his chest. He shudders twice in the span from his pecs to his pants line.
I bite my lip and wink, a silent promise I’ll win. Looking around, we’re cut off by enough darkness and space from other clumps of people chatting or lazing around, but still, it’s risky. I nudge him back into a shadow and he drags the chair back a few feet. We’re still not completely out of sight. And I love that thrill of power.
Nate settles into the chair, eyeing me, waiting for my next move. I settle back on my heels, thrusting his knees apart to sit inside the gap. I know he likes naughty, so while I get his shorts undone I mouth fuck you, grinning at his lips. All he does is look through me, in some trance or dream, fluttering his eyelids and unconsciously thrusting his hips at my fingers undoing his pants. When I open his fly, his almost-fully-erect cock is painfully obvious. I want it so bad it hurts waiting to pull it over the elastic.
Holding his gaze, I stick my finger in my mouth and suck it. I trail my finger, wet with my saliva, down the length of him, and what do you know? He springs to full length, although he was damn close before. I cover his cock with my mouth and tug a couple of times with my lips, and then circle him with my tongue.
I feel his hands on either side of my head, and before I start I look up at him through my hair, with him still occupying my mouth. I do it because I know it looks slutty and that it’s exactly what Nate is turned on by.
I’ve known Nate for too many years, and I know many things about how he thinks, but he sums this up pretty well. “Fuck, Kalli.”
He sits there with his trembling thighs touching the sides of my arms and his hands trying to push through his drunken state to find my head and pat me lovingly or push me down, or something that will show how excited he is.
And then I plunge down. I deep throat his length. There’s enough quiet to hear a soft sound, so I take him as far as I can go and make a gagging noise. I know my gag reflex won’t actually work, so I gag myself again, both times receiving the prize of Nate shuddering in a breath and moaning.
“Don’t,” he warns.
“It’s okay,” I say, “I can’t stop fucking you with my mouth, not even to breathe properly.”
To that he shuts up. I get off even more when I hear the track change and people cheer, knowing we’re doing this so close to getting caught.
When I first feel him pulsing beneath my tongue, I pull away. His frantic hands grab to find my head and push down to save the climax.
But I say, “Say it.”
He looks confused for a moment since this isn’t at all what’s on his mind, but then he remembers and replies, “You can. You can get me up drunk.”
At that I start again, and even in this state I make him pulsate, then blow in my mouth with a few sucks and tugs taking his length.
Rebecca Berto writes stories about love and relationships. She gets a thrill when her readers are emotional reading her books, and gets even more of a kick when they tell her so. She’s strangely imaginative, spends too much time on her computer, and is certifiably crazy when she works on her fiction.
Rebecca Berto lives in Melbourne, Australia with her boyfriend and their doggy.