Warm, engulfing, darkness surrounded him. Flesh moved over
him. Naked legs held him, vise-like, rocking him, rocking
him, lulling him back into haze. Shoulders, neck, torso,
blocking all light. Hot breath on his neck. Soft hair in
his face, soaking up his tears.
He was crying?
One wrenching and embarrassing sob escaped in answer.
No. Take me back to the threshold of coming.
Let me loose in you.
The pleasure was too much pain. He wasn't taking, he was
being taken. Sensations were being suctioned out of him.
No control over the pulsing now.
He didn't know what time it was or how long he had been
sleeping. Or even if he still was sleeping. He only knew
that he had never been used like this and never cried like
this before. Never cried before at all. Now he was reduced
to weeping because â€”
He didn't know.
Why was he crying?
He could taste someone else on his lips. Smell someone
else in his nostrils. A sour smell. A sweat smell. Not
sweet. Everything stunk of stale sex. He wanted more.
Please, come back.
Nothing for a few more minutes. Or another hour? Ribbons
of sleep. Weaving in and out of unconsciousness. Fighting
through the interwoven dream web. Or had he awoken at all?
Must be in bed. His bed? He didn't know. Focusing, he
forced his fingers to feel for smooth sheets but only felt
skin. His own. Moist and frigid. He tried to move his
hands away from his chest, to his sides, but he couldn't.
What was happening?
Remember something, he told himself. Try to catch
something from last night. No memory.
So he had to be sleeping. All he had to do was wake
himself up. Open his eyes. From there he'd sit up,
stretch, feel the damn sheets, put his feet down on the
carpeted floor and get to a shower where he would wash
away this fog.
But he couldn't be at home.
The body had not been his wife's.
Was it any lover he'd ever known?
He fought, ignoring the tears, to open his eyes. To push
one more time through the last vestiges of the milky-blue
fog. Part of his brain, the small section that was
functional and was informing the emotion that led to the
weeping, knew that something was desperately wrong. This
was not just about fucking. Hot streams of tears were
sliding down his cheeks and dripping off the sides of his
face. His rib cage hurt from the crying.
He gulped air, hoping that would help clear his head, and
became aware that the air was icy.
Weak, helpless, spent, he lay there.
Why was he crying?
The hands stroked his hair. Cupped his skull. He felt
himself stiffen again. Tears and erections. What was wrong
with him? Fingers played with his curls. Where each hair
follicle met his scalp, his blood singed, sending shivers
of pleasure down his neck, his spine, to his solar plexus.
Please. Take me back inside of you.
He moved to reach up and brush the wetness off his face,
but his hand wouldn't lift. A metal bracelet, hard and
icy, dug into the flesh of his wrist.
Silver cuffs flashed in the darkened room.
When had he been chained?
He tried to lift his head and shoulders and felt another
pressure holding him in place. A band across his chest
prevented him from rising. Falling back, his head hit the
thin pillow. Not the overstuffed down pillows on his own
bed, but a poor substitute that offered only a few inches
of padding between his head and the inflexible cot.
Was this more of the dream? It didn't matter, as long as
the fingers kept playing so exquisitely with his hair. He
tried to move his legs so that he could thrust up, but the
same pressure that radiated across his chest also held his
ankles. The same sound of metal against metal rang in his
On his back, naked, shivering, he gave up wanting to
The fingers were torture now. The rhythm of the stroking
was making him harder. He opened his mouth, wanting to
lick the skin he could smell.
His tongue wouldn't move. He tried to speak but his mouth
was filled with a dry thickness that absorbed the sound.
How could his tongue be so swollen?
He worked at it for a few seconds, then tasted the cloth
Suddenly the fingers stopped.
He saw a glimmer of silver. Bright in the room's darkness.
Heard the murmur that razor-sharp metal makes as it cuts,
exacting and fast.
The only thing he was capable of bringing forth from his
body was more tears.
Weak. Like a woman, he cried.
Because he, Philip Maur, who was fearless, was scared.
Scared to death.
The lights on the subway flickered off and then returned.
In front of me someone gasped prematurely, as if expecting
"Boom! Boom! Boom!" A man shouted in the rear of the car.
We all turned but there was nothing to see. An irrational
outburst from someone who had already disappeared into the
Since the terrorist attacks on the city in 2001, we looked
out for the stranger among us who might spell danger. And
since the killings I'd stumbled on to last summer, and the
murderer who hid from me in plain sight, I no longer
trusted my ability to identify a threat.
I used to suffer the hubris of thinking I could identify
who was dangerous and who wasn't, blindly enjoying the
fallacy that, as a trained psychotherapist, symptoms would
present themselves to me as long as I remained aware. But
now I know that's not true.
The genuine lunatic, the real psychotic, can fool me as
well as you, so I have become ever more vigilant and ever
less sure that I can protect those I love. Questions keep
me awake at night: Will I be prepared when someone comes
for me the next time? Or worse, if someone comes for my
Beside me, Dulcie sat oblivious to what I knew could catch
us unawares. A pair of expensive headphones â€” a gift from
her father â€” covered her ears, and her head bobbed to the
soundtrack that was audible only to her. Silently, my
lovely young daughter mouthed the lyrics to the score
of "The Secret Garden," because in four months, on January
5, she would stand on a Broadway stage and take on the
role of Mary Lennox in a new production of the classic.
Every day now on our way to and from the rehearsal studio
on Lafayette Street in lower Manhattan, she burned the
nuances of the music into memory, working tirelessly on
A thirteen-year-old girl should not have a job, not even
if her talent has bloomed early and she has acting in her
blood. But the price of stepping on my daughter's dream
wasn't something I was willing to pay. And so, more
intently than I surveyed the strangers on the train, more
doggedly than I observed my patients, I watched my
daughter. Carefully. Always monitoring. Maybe too closely
sometimes. But if the anxiety or pressure of performing
weighed on her too heavily, I wanted to be prepared to
Since she had been chosen for the part back in June,
Dulcie was thriving, doing better than she had at her
private school where too many label-obsessed kids had
goals no more complicated than getting the next Prada bag.
The Bartlett School, even with its emphasis on the arts
and its high number of scholarships, still had its share
of kids with limitless gold credit cards and limos at the
The train doors opened. A middle-aged businessman entered
and sat in the seat on the other side of me, despite the
empty seats across the aisle. I reached into my bag,
pulled out a peppermint, unwrapped it and popped it in my
As I'm overly sensitive to smells, public places are
sensory nightmares for me. I bit down. The intense flavor
burned as the cool blue-green scent rose up and insulated
me against any possible assault.
I felt his glance.
A dark-haired woman in narrow black slacks, a long-sleeved
white shirt and a black leather blazer, sitting next to
her lithe thirteen-year-old daughter, who was wearing
jeans, a pink T-shirt, a jeans jacket and a wristful of
purple and light green beads, listening to a CD, was not a
When I turned a minute later and he looked at me, I didn't
turn away. I don't do that.
No, that's not true. I look away from myself all too
often, especially in the four months since my divorce. I
ignore what is not in my life anymore and shy away from
facing the one issue I spend my days helping other people
deal with: sexuality. Dr. Morgan Snow, in denial. It isn't
something I'm proud of. But it is how I cope.
Once more the lights went out and the train came to a dead
stop. It didn't bother me, but I wasn't certain about
Dulcie. I didn't have to search for my daughter's hand. I
just reached out, instinctively knowing where it would be,
even in the dark.
"You okay?" I asked her.
"Yeah. It's kind of creepy, though. How long do you think
we're going to be stopped here?"
"Hopefully not long." I squeezed her hand.
She squeezed back and then pulled away to switch on her CD
The lights flickered on but the train still didn't move.
Down the aisle, a man in a ripped jacket streaked with
grime turned and ogled my daughter's legs. Dulcie didn't
notice him, but I did and stared him down.
Why was his jacket dirty? What had broken his spirit? What
had cracked his self-esteem?
Occupational hazard #1: Reading the body language of
strangers. Like judging a book by its cover, it is
tempting to make a diagnosis based on insufficient
A woman with downcast eyes opposite us kept flexing her
fingers in a habitual way that suggested she was slightly
compulsive. About what? It would take hours on my couch to
find out, but I could guess at the darkness that bound her
mind like barbed wire.
The lights went off again, suddenly, and we returned to