“In Learning to Walk, Todd Rodgers talks about lightening our psychic burdens,” she said. “But I don’t think he addresses all the new problems we take on in this process.”

Carl cupped a hand to her face and drew her back in, this time pressing his body into hers. She noticed how small he was, how she had to lean down to meet him.

“It’s about the future,” she said, “not just the past.”

Carl ran his lips along her collarbone. He kissed her throat, nipped playfully at her neck. She felt awkwardly separate from his actions, as if she had her head above water while he was busy below. Carl grasped her wrist and wrapped his other arm around her, squeezing until her wings crunched. She squirmed to get comfortable, but he only tightened his grip.

She pulled back and turned away. He chuckled then, and pushed himself onto her from behind, forcing her up against the railing. He nuzzled the space between her shoulder blades and pressed her firmly to the rail.

“You know what I’d like to do to you?” he asked, in a voice that wasn't his own. “I’d like tie you up,” he said, holding her tighter still, “truss these gorgeous wings and have my way.” He grabbed them at the mantle, and forced them together so he could grip them with one hand. It did not hurt so much as surprise her. Her nerve endings were not fully integrated, and so it only strained at the attachment sites, a tugging sensation. With his other hand, he reached down and undid his belt. 

Deb could hear him back there working away, and she could feel him, of course, but it all seemed distant somehow, as if it were happening somewhere else, in the next room, or downstairs somewhere. He was so much smaller than she’d realized. She gazed out at the parking lot and the space beyond, thought about tomorrow’s lectures and the progress of her exercise. Twelve stories down, a car pulled into the hotel lot. A door slammed. She wondered if Carl would want to come up to her room after, talk about the Method, maybe spend the night.