Chapter One: Pulse

The thumping of Darryl’s head was more for him to bear.  Nor was the pounding on the front door of his loft.  Groggy, he reached for his watch on the nightstand and attempted to look at the time with the help of a slither of light coming through the drapes.  “How long have I been sleep?  7:48?  Is that a.m., or p.m.?”  Darryl tried to make sense of what happened to him, but was distracted.  The pounding became louder and louder.

“Darryl, bruh.  Come on and open the door!”  He heard the sound of his frat brother and his best man, Jay, on the other end of the door.  “D open up!”

Darryl heard the buzzing of his cellphone coming from the bathroom floor.  How did that get in there?  He went in and picked up the phone. “Yeah?”

“Bruh, I’m outside your door.  Where are you!?”

“I’m just waking up.  What…..what happened last night?”  Darryl flicked on the lights and tried to adjust his eyes.

“What do you mean ‘What happened last night?’ You need to be worried about what’s happening tonight! Did you forget your bridal dinner party is tonight?  Dawg, I can’t keep lying to Joi….”

Darryl swallowed hard.  His entire mouth had a wax-like taste to it.  “…and you won’t have to.  Look, obviously we had one hell of a night last night, and I just need to get myself together.  Just go down there and cover for me.  Tell her….I don’t know…that I had a late meeting or something.”

Jay huffed on the phone.  “Alright.  If you think that’ll work again.”  and then hung up the phone.  Darryl turned on the shower and quickly undressed.  As the water hit his chest, he felt a burning all over his body.  He quickly turned the temperature down and allowed the water to cascade from the top of his head down his muscular frame.  It had been a long time since Darryl blacked out and he felt a rush of excitement.  This was what he felt was missing from his life for the past six months; the feeling of letting go.  What attracted Darryl to Joi in the first place was her free spirit and spontaneity; she would be down for anything and anywhere.  Literally anywhere, as he learned when they first met at an art gallery opening.  He remembered the faint smell of honeysuckle and a pair of the largest, softest breast he’d ever felt on his back.

“I like your energy.” she whispered into his ear, grabbed his hand, and led him into the coat room…..

But something happened to Joi once the engagement ring got onto her finger: she became all business.  Now their random sex acts were replaced by bridal conventions and looking at Pinterest boards.  Darryl picked up the peppermint soap and began to lather his body.  He immediately regretted doing so as the burning came back.   As he let the water rinse off the suds, he heard his phone vibrate again.  “It’s probably Joi.” he thought “Ready to chew my ass out over not being there.”  He got out of the shower and noticed that the missed call wasn’t from his fiancee at all.  It was from Jay.  He immediately called him back.

“So…what did she say?”

“Nothing.”  Jay said.  “Her phone is off.  I’ll see if I can beat her to this restaurant but you got to come down here NOW!”

Darryl turned on the main light in his bedroom and saw a woman in a wedding dress.  The same dress Joi had on her Pinterest wall.  He only knew this information because she made him see the dress 50,000 times.  So that’s why my chest and back burns.  I got scratched.  Me and Joi had kinky sex again last night!  And in her wedding dress, too?!  “No need to worry about Joi.” Darryl said, calmly.  “She’s here with me.  Sleeping.”

“What are you talking about?”  Jay sounded confused.

“I’m looking at her right now, in bed.  Obviously, we did some kind of role playing last night and…..”

“D.  I’m looking at Joi right now.  She’s talking to her mom.  Who the hell are you looking at?”

“What?”  Darryl walked over to the mystery woman.  In his bed.  Wearing Joi’s wedding dress.  He placed his hands on the woman’s shoulder and the body rolled over.

It was Candace.  Darryl’s ex-girlfriend.

She was dead.


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