“You have to eat something,” I pleaded. Good grief, Jee looked awful. She was beyond pudge. “C’mon. Just have a little? You’ll lose twenty pounds, boom.”
“I feel fine,” Jee said. My once lethally svelte roomie looked around two hundred pounds. We used to trade clothes. I went with the slutty blonde newscaster look, she went with the hot Indonesian supermodel look. Since she was now keeping her red-brown succubus body about eighteen inches shorter than usual, this was unattractive.
I said so. “Girl, nobody wants to fuck a fat girl.” This was not technically true. I’d been a fat girl selling it for eight years and I’d found plenty of people to fuck me. Although they were not, as a rule, nice about it. In her current emotional state, Jee would have a hard time with the not-nice part. And then she’d never stop screaming in her sleep.
My name is Pog and I’m a succubus for hell. At this point, I’d been doing it about two years. Jee and I started at the same time—being succubi that is. I started in the trade at age nineteen. She started at age five. Hence the screaming.
I knew she couldn’t work right now. I didn’t grudge Reg the job of fielding her hissy fits and night terrors, and I didn’t envy their mushy squishy touchy feely thing. But dammit, I missed my best friend.
“I’m in a good place,” she said as I stood over her with the frittata skillet. “I still get a lot of flashback, but Reg is there to see me through it. And when he gets flashback, I’m there for him. I don’t want to work. We don’t need money.” We. We used to be Jee and me. Now Jee had a new we.
“It’s my cooking, isn’t it?” The thought was a dagger in my heart. I don’t have much to call my own, but part of me is a hell of a cook. “If I fed you something you really liked—”
“Oh, Pog, you know that’s not it. I love your cooking.”
Then why aren’t you eating any of it?Aloud, I wailed, “You’ll outgrow all your clothes! You look disgusting!”
“That’s a horrible thing to say.” Beth sailed into the kitchen wearing sweats, looking like a cheerleader captain. This was a sign that she intended to help me clean up. “Jee, honey, I’m sure she doesn’t mean that.” She sent me a mom look. “Pog, you know Jee is in a fragile condition. Do you want me to take that plate?” she cooed to Jee.
Jee hunched a shoulder. “Reg will be back in a minute,” she said as if Reg had gone to Antarctica for anchovies. In fact, Reg was running the vacuum cleaner in the hall. “I’m still nibbling.”
“You’ll never get your forty-five hundred calories down the hatch this way,” I pointed out. We succubi can shape our bodies into any form we like, but we have to keep them fed. A lot. Or else they get fat. Hence the shape Jee was in now.
“I’m not really hungry,” Jee said. She pushed her frittata away, and Beth swooped in and carried the plate to the sink.
“Hey,” I said sharply. “I am not cooking to have it thrown down the disposal.”
But Beth was already shoveling the last of Jee’s frittata into her own face. Then she chucked the empty paper plate in the garbage and put the fork in the dishwasher.
The door opened. “I’m done, Mistress,” Reg said breathlessly.
Jee sent him a sappy smile.
“Are you getting to the bathroom today?” I asked waspishly.
Reg looked up from murmuring over Jee. “Right away. As soon as she starts her nap.” Tenderly, he led Jee out of the room and across the hall to her bedroom, in the princess spot right next door to the bathroom. Jee murmured back, nuzzling revoltingly.
A waste of a good succubus.
I guess I said it out loud.
Beth said from the dishwasher, where she was loading dirty flatware and aluminum skillets, “She doesn’t need the money, you know.”
I took a skillet out of her hands and started scrubbing. “It’s not the money. It’s the principle of the thing.”
Beth just cocked an eyebrow at me. Beth being tactful is ten times more annoying than Beth being a pushy, nosy ex-North Shore socialite and ubermom.
I corrected myself. “Okay, it’s our ethos. We were a team. We knew what men were for and we used them.”
“She uses Reg now.”
“She’s not using Reg,” I said bitterly. “They’re in looove. It’s disgusting. She’s won’t eat anything I cook for her—” That hurt so much I couldn’t speak.
“Maybe—maybe feeling safe has made her lose her appetite,” Beth said.
“I can see that!” With horror, I realized that tears were running down my face.
Beth put the scrubby sponge down and put her arms around me from behind. “She’s healing, Pog honey. I’m so happy she’s got Reg to see her through. He’s healing too.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I snorted through my tears, grateful for her cuddle, though I would die rather than admit it. “I don’t get it,” I added before she could scold me again. “They were both underfed for years as kids. Why won’t they eat now?”
I returned to scrubbing angrily at the pan until it slipped out of my hand and fell clanking into the sink.
Beth hugged me tighter. “They’re not eating to bury their emotions any more. They’re feeling them. That takes immense courage.”
“Like you know!” I struggled out of her embrace. “You don’t know anything about food and fat people. You sound like the psychology articles in the mindfuck magazines in the check-out line!”
“I only meant—”
“Let me tell you something about fat and food.” I clenched my wet fists in my apron. “When I was thirteen, I started gaining weight. My parents put me through every diet, every pill, every fancy fat camp and clinic-slash-spa. I got psychotherapy. I got shock therapy. I got a personal trainer, and when I gained weight while I was working with her, my parents fired her and hired another personal trainer. They caught the cook sneaking me food and they fired her. Broke my fucking heart. She’d been teaching me how to cook.”
I had to swallow. “We would go to a restaurant and they would get forty-five-day aged steaks and duchesse potatoes at a hundred dollars a plate, and I’d get five spinach leaves. Eventually they noticed that even the waiters were looking at us. Their solution? They left me home.”
Beth made a noise in her throat.
I settled my skinny succubus butt against the edge of the sink. “So when they ate out, I stayed home and cooked—oh how I cooked! As soon as the car disappeared down the driveway, I would sneak off to the store and buy food and take it home. I made fabulous things—souffles, Chateaubriand, Beef Wellington, anything. As long as I could cook it and eat it and clean up the kitchen before they got home.”
“When they started taking vacations without me, I really went to town. I had time to make dishes that took days to prepare. I took control of being fat.”
Beth blinked. “But you’re not fat now.”
“Being fat was just the beginning, Beth. After I left home, I turned tricks for eight years. I was homeless almost the whole time. Sometimes I’d share a room with another girl, but that never lasted. Roommates stole my food and my money. They hit me. Their pimps hit me. Their boyfriends hit me. Mostly I lived on the street, where everybody hit me. If I got mad enough I could fight them off. If it was only one at a time,” I added bleakly. I jerked my shoulder at memory. “But I couldn’t stay mad. You get hungry, and scared, and so, so dirty, and there’s no end to it. And nobody cares, because you’re fat. I turned invisible.”
I pulled myself together. “I don’t want that to happen to Jee.”