Nearly twelve months sober, Adrian Birch feels like a nobody. But when her wrist is broken in a hit-and-run accident, she’s avenged by the Badger, a secretive street vigilante. Instantly obsessed, Adrian takes to staging suicide and constructing chance meetings to get his attention. Their resulting affair is harsh and needy, wrought with McKenna’s signature dark eroticism—until the connection gets out of hand and ignites the violent passions of the city.
In 2015, “the Badger” buzz hit romancelandia in a brilliant frenzy. It wasn’t romance- per-say, but it was dark (very) and its romantic elements were undeniable, despite the jarring HEA absence.
WTF was this!?!?
It was nothing short of captivating. I’ve yet to chat with anyone about it and the first comments not be some variation of “wow/whoa/omg.”
I haven’t read it in a few years, but Badger has been singing its dark siren song of late, and I simply had to indulge and embrace it’s dark allure, once more.
“I kissed another guy.”
“He’s not good enough for you.”
I leaned back a few inches. “Like you’d know him enough to say. And like you were ever good enough for me.”
Though he had been, from moment to fleeting moment.
“Does he make you feel what I do?”
“What, like in my gut?”
“Alive, or however you put it. Awake.”
“He makes me feel like he actually cares about me, which is more important.”
“So he doesn’t, then,” Badger said, and his mean grin narrowed my eyes. “He can’t make you feel what I can.”
“There are things more important than our stupid, arbitrary pull. Like the way a person treats you. Consistently treats you. Maybe he doesn’t make me feel all . . . whatever you do. But he also wouldn’t kick me out of his house before the subway’s even running, just because I had the gall to care about him.”
“Do you? Care about him?”
“I don’t love him, but yeah, I care about him. He’s a good guy. If I could, I’d love him.”
“But you can’t.”
I took a sharp breath and shook my head. “Probably not. Not yet,”
I qualified, not wanting him to believe he’d wrecked me. Not wanting to believe it myself. I stared at Badger’s mouth, that well of callousness and occasional kindness, of hateful words and pleasurable caresses. I pictured his body, bare and lean, man stripped down to his most essential bone and muscle and scar tissue, devoid of excess. Would I ever be able to have sex with another man and not think of this one? Maybe. Maybe in a year or five or ten, in that future life where I’d be capable of loving someone like Ray. Maybe I’d look back at all this and remember it like a hallucination, blurry and wild, never real. Good riddance. My lips parted to answer the question he’d asked minutes ago.
“I never fucked him.”
I moved, or maybe Badger moved. I’m not sure. But somehow he was on the bed, me kneeling, straddling his lap. It was movie-lust, the kind I never believed happened in real life. An attraction and need so potent, your face collides with a man’s and your mouths commence to hate-fuck. Something I’d never find with Ray or anyone else, not from any amount of good intention or wanting. I scraped his scalp as hard as I could, and he groaned into my mouth. Something in him opened, flowing into me, our pull gone bright white to weld us together at an unknown, unseeable joint. The pain slackened him, and I knew he’d tell me whatever I wanted to know…
I felt the sweet, dirty weight of his hand on my head, his fingers trembling in my hair.
It lit me up to know he felt good from what I was doing. And liberating to know he could experience sexual excitement without acting out some victimization scenario.
The trembling turned to coaxing, gentle requests I gladly granted, taking him deeper, sucking harder and giving him the occasional graze of my teeth. I’d never enjoyed this act, not for more than a fleeting moment, and those typically only when I’d felt I was doing a good old sexy Cosmo-worthy job of it, more relief than pleasure. But this was all different. I’d asked for it. And it was infinitely easier than hitting him. This thing I’d always dreaded was suddenly so simple. Piece of cake. Piece of freaky, slightly fucked-up cake. Delicious.
“Suck me. Please.”
I did as he asked, caught off guard each time he angled his back, savaged his injuries, and thrashed. He might’ve been thinking . . . Well, I didn’t need to know what. Something that kept him hard, if the pain wasn’t enough. I didn’t care if it was me in his head anymore. It was me here in reality. My mouth, my patience, my willingness. His hand left my head to hold his cock, his thumb and first finger wrapping tight around his base. Tighter than I’d ever have done for him. Soon I felt his blood pounding against my lips, his skin hot and swollen. His hand shook faintly, and his breath was stilted and shallow. Wrong and scary and goddamn hot.
“Fuck. Please . . . Please.”
I strained to stare up at him as his entire body shook, back arching against the headboard, hand clamped tight to his cock, the other rubbing frantically at his throat, back and forth, back and forth. A moan rose from him, so deep I felt it humming in his belly. He bucked beneath me, hips seeking my mouth or his back seeking pain. Then
Some swearing, some grunting, but I was stuck on my name, caught like a sweater on a nail, two and a half syllables pinging around in my ears and head. When he came, I swore I was coming myself, lost in some nonphysical orgasm deep in my brain or wherever emotions live. Triumphant, I tasted him, a flavor I’d almost forgotten, vulgar and sweet. I held him in my mouth until he went completely still, then swallowed and relocated beside him, my back against the headboard, only our hips touching. It seemed cold suddenly, but I didn’t care. I felt awake. Vibrant. Violently conscious. He cleared his throat.
“That was . . .”
Something overcame him, and I waited patiently while he found his words or his breath.
“That was the most normal sex I’ve ever had. The most normal sex I’ve had and actually managed to come, I mean.”
He stared straight ahead as he said it, and his tone told me it wasn’t a tease or a good-natured slight against himself. He was shocked, barely believing what he was saying. He was in awe, something I’d never imagined him capable of experiencing. Such a quiet, reverent emotion.
“I’m glad,” I murmured.
“I’m . . . I’m confused. And surprised. And happy, I think. I’m not sure. I don’t remember what happy feels like.”
I had to smile at that.
“Well. Good.” I stroked his hair and tried to downplay what I was feeling myself —rising, soaring euphoria. Love, God help me. Or the closest I’d ever felt to it.
No HEA folks, but Badger is one HELL of a ride!