Gothic Fiction, Pagham-verse, Podcast, The Crows

Podcast S01E17 ~ Chapter 15 Available Now!

Chapter 15 of The Crows is online today!

CW for boundary crossing/personal space violation, male erection, nudity


CHAPTER 15: DEAL WITH THE DEVIL

Links on my podcast page.

Chapter 15: Deal with the Devil

…in which Carrie gets off the hook and Ricky is useful…

She woke pressed into Ricky’s chest, wrapped up in a possessive embrace and cuddled against him like a favourite toy. Carrie stayed put for a moment, her alarm running out of steam and snoozing itself for five minutes. Ricky wasn’t Fairwood – wasn’t close. His chest rose and fell in a gentle snore, rocking her back into drowsiness.

She tapped his stomach to wake him up, but that seemed to have settled in the night. He smiled in his sleep, brow un-furrowed, deep in the undeserved rest of the clean-living innocent. She knew exactly what would wake him up: it felt mean, but a quick lesson in why boundaries were important wouldn’t hurt him. She leaned in and planted a deliberate kiss on his cheek.

His eyes shot open.

Carrie recoiled as far as she could, trapped by his embrace.

Ricky realised he was holding onto her and let her go. He stared around the room, raising himself up on his elbows, remembered where he was, and dropped back down. “Bloody hell, don’t do that. What’s the time?”

“Seven.”

“Fuck that.”

Carrie snorted. “Aren’t you an ascetic? Early mornings should be right up your street.”

“Yeah. Well.” He stretched, reached for her, and pulled her back down onto him. “I fancy a little lie-in.”

Carrie settled back, warm and painfully aware how much she’d missed having someone there. Something. She found herself holding him tighter as she yawned.

“You should get yourself back out there,” Ricky said, placid from a good night’s sleep. “If you’re a bit, you know. Frustrated. I could introduce you to Cousin Wes. He bats for whichever team’ll have him.”

“I’m not…”

He shushed her, getting comfortable against the pillows. “Five minutes.” He twitched his knee. “And don’t think that’s for you, it just does that some mornings.”

(He’s not.)

Carrie turned her head to stare down beyond his belly, burning with awkward, illicit curiosity.

(Oh God, yes, he is.)

She masked her discomfort with humour. “Sure it’s not just acclimatising?”

“Don’t tease.” He frowned with his eyes shut. “Are you teasing? I’m not good at… I’m not used to it. Gerald doesn’t tease.”

“Who’s Gerald?” Carrie asked, imagining another cousin.

Ricky tensed. “Nobody.” He answered too fast, the tell of a terrible liar or a guilty man.

~ C.M. Rosens, The Crows, pp. 319-20

Ricky has absolutely no interest in Carrie in a sexual way (which I hope is fairly obvious) but this chapter is still pretty uncomfortable because he has no concept of boundaries or personal space. Carrie is due to die on the 13 May, and this is the morning of the 10th, so time is running out and he’s realising he actually quite likes her.

Ricky is really not the asexual/aromantic representation we needed, wanted or asked for, but unfortunately that’s his orientation, because otherwise any kind of romantic/sexual attraction between these two that isn’t on her side only would be really unhealthy. To be fair, their growing platonic-to-queerplatonic relationship is also not very healthy, but at least he’s not being possessive at this point. Admittedly that’s because he thinks she’s going to die in 3 days’ time.

Again, this was touched on in the Romancing the Gothic Be Gay Do Crimes lecture, which I linked in a previous post.

If you’re interested in actual asexuality or aromanticism, check out AVEN (the Asexual Visibility and Education Network) and Stonewall (UK).

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