Spoiler warning: This short is set after The Whored's Prayer and Beautiful Mess, and will contain spoilers for both books. It features Rhys, Aidan, Leila and Joseph.
Now: meet Rhys, the brother of Bailey from Beautiful Mess. He's just a boy, looking for a girl...
"I'm going to a sexy party...with only a tactless ginger Zoolander and my own sparkling wit for protection." -- Rhys
Cooking spagheeeeetti. Singing like a diiiiiick. It’s the weekend-y…I can’t rhyme for shiiiiit…
I am the master of the kitchen. Captain cheese grater. I told Harper when we first got our apartment that my only goal for the next six months was to make her horrendously fat (just ‘cause it‘d be funny); so far she hasn’t succumbed, but there’s a whole pound of bacon in this carbonara and a litre of ice cream in the deep freeze, so maybe she’ll magically inflate in twelve hours?
My mum taught me to cook. She said it was a good way to impress a woman; I think she was secretly terrified that I’d be single for the rest of my life and would survive on Doritos dipped in boiled eggs (which is the food of Gods, by the way). She’s still confused because Harper and I aren’t a couple -- “but you live together all on your own!” she says -- and she doesn’t understand why we don’t just confess our secret affair and run off into the sunset (wouldn’t that burn?).
It’d be like marrying my sister. Well. Harper and I did kiss one rainy, grim Sunday evening. We were hung-over and dejected from our respective break-ups, and it seemed like it was worth a try. Half way through, I opened my eyes to find that she was watching True Blood over my shoulder; her tongue went limp in my mouth and then we were laughing, the kind that gives you belly cramp and makes your face crease and ache. When all that subsided, we swore to keep it secret -- I’ve had more fun being single with Harper than I did in my entire last relationship, and that’s really not worth trading in. We're cool advertising execs together, we have our batchelor(ette) pad...it's a good arrangement.
The front door groaned on its hinges and I heard Harper curse as she bent to take her heels off. Normally, I’d have hopped through and grabbed her ankles so she fell backwards, but my softly bubbling white sauce was more important. (That‘s less gay than it sounds).
“I’m in the kitchen!”
She padded through and folded her arms. “I forgot the wine.”
“Well, now you’ve done it. We’ll have to crack open the tequila instead,” I sighed. “Let me guess-- Nathan blinked three times in four seconds and you were too busy orgasming to remember?”
“That sounds a bit painful. But no.” She went to stir the carbonara and I smacked her hand out of the way.
“Bad Harper! Do you know what happens if a woman touches this pan?”
Her tongue clicked against her teeth. “It’ll taste good for once?”
“Screw you then. You’re not having any of it!” Sticky spoon aloft, I chased her through to the bathroom, where she hid behind the door and shrieked with laughter.
Twenty minutes later, we were slobbing out in the lounge with bowls of pasta; me in my sauce-flecked work shirt and Harper in her fuzzy pyjamas (this is how I’m certain the girl doesn’t fancy me: nightwear in hedgehog print).
“Tequila does not go with smoky bacon and cheese.” She winced.
“We can’t drink lemonade on a Friday night, Harpcore. We’re already staying in--that’s bad enough.”
“But it’s part of our code, remember?” She leaned over to prod me with her fork. “We don’t feel sad for not going out on the prowl. We’re secure in our…”
“…Patheticness?” I said.
“That’s not even a word!”
“Yeah, well. You’ve been on the prowl all day anyway, you whore. I’ve seen you.”
Harper swallowed without chewing properly; she was too busy blushing like a fourteen year-old in a sex ed class.
“Don’t feign ignorance. It won’t wash with me, missy. I saw you.” My turn to prod her. “How long have you been flirting with Sir Cockhead of Brooding?”
“It’s not flirting.” She shrugged.
“Oh? Is there a different word for it in Brooding? Is it being a pair of sickening asshats?”
She grinned at me over her bowl. “Seriously, it's not flirting. It’s…a game.”
“Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred spanks?” I teased.
The colour drained from her face. “Oh god. Did you actually see him spank me?”
“No.” I laughed. “But he really did that in the office? Fucking hell, I’ve got to shake his hand.” Pasta coiled on my fork. “After he’s washed it, anyway.”
“It’s all part of it though, Rhys. Like unwritten rules. He chases me like that and I keep saying no, but we both know that I like it.”
I tapped my plate. “Let me get this straight. He’s sexually harassing you, and you like it?”
“When you put it like that, it sounds kind of creepy.” She pouted at me. “Trust you to suck all the fun out of everything.”
“But what’s in it for him?”
She sat back and gazed up at me, twirling blond hair around her finger. “I don’t know, actually. I guess…he likes pretending to coerce me. Likes the thrill of it.”
“He thinks you’re going to crack. That’s why he’s pursuing you. In the meantime, he’s just getting off on harassing you, which is…” I cleared my throat. “Admirably honest.”
“I want to crack. Of course I do. But this is nice, Rhys. You know the little thrills you get from having a crush on somebody? I get them all the time, and they’re kind of half consummated with the way he plays with me.” She smiled, bit her lip; tempted, wistful. “It’s a perfect balance.”
“Only a woman would refer to a sexless relationship as perfect,” I mumbled.
“You don’t get it. It’s not sexless. It’s the sexiest thing I’ve ever done.” Another smile -- triumphant now. “And maybe I will crack, eventually. When the time’s right. I mean…otherwise one of us will get bored and it’ll all just go to waste, right? But until then, while it’s still…swelling…I’m holding on.”
“Until he gets blue balls.” I grinned. “Evil Harpie.”
“Anyway, enough about me. Who have you been lusting over this week?”
“Caroline’s tits were exceptionally perky today,” I said slowly.
“They’re always perky.” She rolled her eyes. “Stop avoiding my question.”
“Okay, okay. Well. There is one girl.”
Actually, there had been “a girl” for several weeks, but you can’t mention these things until you’ve put the feelers out. My feelers went out last Thursday and they haven’t come back yet…I’m guessing they found an abandoned KFC bucket and are probably lying face down in their own vomit.
“Who?” Harper squeaked, suddenly alight with intrigue. “Does she work with us?”
“Does she go to our gym?”
“Still no.” I grinned. “In truth…there’s not a lot to tell yet, okay? Give me a few days and I’ll talk.”
“You’ll get blue balls,” she grumbled.
“Will you suck them, if I do?”
Harper launched a cushion at me. “Bleugh. No!”
There’s only one reason why I know what seven AM on a Saturday looks like, and that’s this one girl. Well. That and Aidan; if I don’t join him for a run three times a week then he threatens to turn up at my office and do one of his gay dance routines, and I wouldn’t put it past the sly ginger bastard.
“You’re late.” He snorted at me in disgust.
“I’m not late. I’m…arriving later than normal.” I bent to tighten my laces and the whole world whooshed forwards. Ugh. “I’m on hangover time.”
“Oh, I see. A few vodkas and you’re Doctor fucking Who.” He flexed his hands at me. “I can see it now: gracefully bounding towards your foxeh laydeh with your stripy scarf billowing behind you in the breeze--”
“Sod off, will you? It’s half seven! What are we doing here?” I glanced around at the deserted park.
“I like it,” he huffed. “It’s all dewy and scenic.”
“Are you sure you’re not gay?”
“Whether I like cock or not is none of your business. Now run ahead of me so I can--” He gave my arse a sharp once over, “--make sure you keep up.”
I shook a feeble fist in the air. “If I wasn’t so afraid of you, I’d still be in bed,” I said weakly.
“We both know you’re not here for me, you perv. Quick! On your left, near the willow tree.”
And there she was. There she was.
We’d named her Nicole. I don’t know whether you remember those sad nineties Renault adverts-- Nicole? Papa!-- but like her, she’s youthful and groomed and shiny, with her hair all streaked with honey and slender little shoulders that lead down to…nnnghh. I can see the sun refracting off her lipgloss from here. I bet she’s French, like in the advert. I think about her saying it all the time…Rhys…
“Legs like a school girl,” Aidan sighed. “The slutty schoolgirl. The one who hikes her skirt right up to flash her history teacher, and gives blow jobs in the alley behind the corner shop.”
“What, like your mother?” I elbowed him.
“Technically, we don’t know that she’s not a schoolgirl,” he said dryly.
“Well…I’ll find out.”
I wished he’d shut up and just let me gawp at her. We’d got a nice spot under some trees where she probably couldn’t see us and her tits were doing that lovely judder with every skippy step. Bounce and quiver. Bounce and quiver. I wondered if her nipples were chafing against that tight vest…wonder what shape they are…
“Nicole! Why you dress like a whore for running? Why you not go ze gym like respectable femme?” Aidan’s dirty old Frenchman accent wobbled into the squeak of a young girl. “But Papa, the boys, they stare at me in ze gym! Ze park, it is full of the beauty of nature, and I exercise in peace. One time, Rosemary say a weird advertising exec, he stalk me. But she had mouthful of brie, so maybe I mishear her.”
“Dude. Shut up.”
“I’ve had enough. Come on.”
Aidan tugged me by the arm and I couldn’t not run with him -- if I didn’t, I’d fall flat on my face.
“What are you doing?” I hissed.
“Exercising…in the beauty of nature…”
He dragged me towards Nicole. We were gaining on her. Fucking hell!
“No, no, no!” I twisted my elbow but he wouldn’t loosen his grip. “You are not going to make her associate me with you --”
That was when she stopped. She must’ve got cramp in one of her quadriceps because she cocked one ankle a few paces forward and then slowly bent at the knee. Two firm, peachy globes spread before us as she sank to touch her foot. Every fantasy I’d entertained about lapping at her there flashed through my head, and blood licked the base of my cock with a sticky tongue. Please don’t let her--
“Sorry.” Aidan smiled.
--turn around. Fuck.
“I didn’t mean to get in your way,” she said shyly.
She wasn’t French. She was disgustingly posh, actually…still. It suited her. Suited that mouth.
“Of course you weren’t.” He nodded towards the woods in front. “Are you running the chestnut trail?”
“I was going to.” She panted lightly and a little sheen of sweat dusted her temples. “Are you?”
“Yep.” The word lunged from my mouth before I even knew it was there and just like that, I’d spoken to her. Made my first impression. With Aidan…ugh.
“Would you mind if we joined you?” Aidan held a bold hand out to her. “I’m Aid, by the way. This is my good friend, Rhys.”
Nicole studied the hand for a second before she took it. “I think I’ve seen you before.”
“Yeah. We come here…often.” You moron. Moron! Just shut your mouth.
“We’re pretty serious about training,” Aidan added, pumping her hand lightly. “And you are…?”
We exchanged joyous glances before we could help it, and it was too late--Nicole was eyed us with awkward suspicion. She stood fully now, her hands splayed either side of the waistband on those short, short shorts.
“Actually,” she started, “I think I might try the foxglove trail.”
Aidan wasn’t fazed. “It was nice to meet you, Nicole. You’ll have to tell us whether that one’s any good.”
“Maybe.” She rubbed dust from her shorts with three short strokes, turned on her heel, and jogged off. “Bye…”
I wanted to watch her arse again but I was too mortified. She gained speed deliberately, making short work of the path to the lake as her ponytail swung behind her.
“You fucktard,” I hissed. “You…fucking fucktard!”
Aidan folded his arms.
“She’s a young girl on her own and we’re two big guys, and you ask if we can run with her into an isolated wood? You might as well have just said -- oh, hi! Did you dial 0800-Pleasant-Morning-Rapes? We‘re your helpful consultants, Chester and Hannibal. Where would you like to be violently restrained?”
He was trying not to laugh, but it wouldn’t stick in his throat and he spluttered, turning almost as red as his hair. “You might have a point there, actually.” He sighed as he regained composure. “Oops.”
“And she’s called Nicole, for crying out loud.” Here it comes…the slow jut…ahh. My spoiled boy-pout. “Think of the sex I just missed out on because of you. Fucktard.”
“We still don’t know if she’s legal. You might not have been having any sex at all. Or at least…not any you should admit to in public.” He paused, his eyes darting about. “If you do want a young-looker, I could hook you up. I, er…know people.”
“I’ve blown it. You’ve blown it. You work in theatre, for fuck’s sake--you’re supposed to be charming, not a shameless twat!”
His brows dipped in a nonchalant little frown, as if he knew something that I didn’t. This is what I get for making friends at kick-boxing club: twisted characters. Chuck Palahniuk did try to warn me, but did I listen? Noooo. Aidan was known to be tough-but-fun to train with and I just wanted to be buff for Nicole.
Now I was never going to hear her whimper my name while she staggered forward on all fours, and it wasn’t because she was English.
The phone rang—no, screamed--in my ear. I’m not sure why it was next to my head, but at noon on a Sunday, I’m generally not sure of much. Not recently.
“What?” I mumbled into the receiver. Half of Man United had evidently been Russian dancing on my forehead before lining up to shit in my mouth. “Mpppfh.”
“Tell me you’re not still in bed,” groaned Bailey. “It’s lunchtime, Rhys.”
“It’s the day of rest. Why are you disturbing my sacred slumber?”
“I’m reminding you about Dad’s birthday on Wednesday.”
There was an awkward beat of silence before Bailey cleared her throat; we didn’t actually share a dad. Mine was dead, and hers had been an awesome stand-in-- but his birthday was always a dull reminder that my Dad didn’t have one anymore.
“I remember,” I lied.
“Nope, you don’t. I bet you don’t remember about his party on Sunday, either.” She sighed. “Can you Paypal me the money for the cake?”
“Awesome. So…” There was that cloying tone again; the one that meant she was about to pry. “Bringing anyone special to the party?”
I rolled over and rubbed my cheek against the pillow, the way cats nuzzle random people’s legs.
“You could bring Harper,” she chirped. “I want to introduce you to someone, anyway.”
Oh shit. Oh no. My little sister has not escaped the purgatory of rejection before I have. I’m way more suave (which isn’t hard, actually. But don’t tell her I said that).
“Have you become a lesbian?” I said, hopefully.
“I won’t lie. It was appealing for a while. But…no. Erm. D’you remember my friend Linc?”
“Gay vampires Linc?”
She giggled. “Yep.”
Nearly a year ago now, Bailey’s YouTube star friends did some storyboards for the advertising agency. In the end, we didn’t pick the pitch up, but they’d come in to present them -- a stocky, obnoxious beast called Olly and his evidently embarrassed mate. I was relieved that Bailey had picked the quieter half of the duo, but…she’d barely been single a few weeks and frankly, this was not fair.
I tried to work out how to sound happy for her. No, wait -- I was happy for her -- just…jealous.
“So it’s definitely over with Craig?”
Another awkward gulp on her end.
“Definitely. Rhys…it was like what happened with you and Kate. He admitted it. He‘d been seeing her for months.”
“Oh. Bastard. You’re well shot of him. Do you need me to kick-box his ass?”
“If you catch him in the street, I wouldn’t have any strong objections. Listen--got to go. We’re going to see some weird manga film at the cinema with Olly and Chan.”
“You have fun now.”
“I will.” She made a faux-kissing noise. “I’ll see you next Sunday, yeah?”
“Yep. I promise to be more awake, too.”
There was a deep, male voice in the background as Bailey hung up, and a kissing noise that was disturbingly non-faux.
This was not the way I wanted to wake up.
When I staggered into the living area, Harper was curled up on the sofa with her laptop while a music channel hummed in the background. She was wearing the little work-out clothes that I always secretly perv over (shorts that cling to a girl’s arse as if they’ve been sprayed on by a legion of adoring pygmies) but my vision was still too blurry to make out any chance flashes of nipple.
“You’re conscious,” she said, not looking up. “I’ve got a bone to pick with you, Rhys Frost.”
“Can it wait until I’ve ingested half a box of paracetamol?”
“No.” The laptop closed with a foreboding click. “Since when do you and Nathan go out drinking together?”
“Since…?” I straightened, remembering. “Oh. That.”
It was true; we weren’t exactly bar buddies. Last night, he’d been out with someone else from work…one thing lead to another…and we were wandering the streets of London together while I told him…
…embarrassing stories about Harper. Fuck. Come to think of it, he’d wanted to know quite a lot about her. He was quite possibly plugging me for info (but he did it with beer, so hey…can’t hold it against the guy).
“So there was a good reason for him being in our kitchen at one in the morning?”
“He wanted to see the flat,” I said feebly.
“And you couldn’t have warned me?” she squealed. “I was almost naked! He could’ve caught me doing anything--”
“But you were saying how much you liked him. It didn’t…it didn’t cross my mind that you wouldn’t want to see him. Sorry, dude.” My hand hovered over the sink. “Wait. You didn’t…fucking hell. Did you sleep with Nathan?”
Harper blew her fringe up, her arms folded beneath her breasts.
“No. Funnily enough, he asked the same thing about you.”
“He wanted to know if I’d slept with him…?”
“If you and me were sleeping together, dickhead.” She sighed. “But he did kiss me.”
Great. Everyone’s getting some but meeeee. “If you got off with him, why do you look so miserable?”
“Because…” She leaned forward on her elbows, and there it was…ahh. A teeny crescent of pink aureola just peeking out of her top. Harper is such an ace room-mate (hey, a bloke can look). “Because now it might all be ruined.”
“Pretty sure kissing doesn’t fuck up a relationship.” I swallowed two fat paracetamol with half a pint of water. Hangover cure stage one: in progress. “Fucking somebody else--that fucks up a relationship.” The fridge offered ingredients with a knowing hum: sausages, bacon, eggs. “That’s if you have a relationship, mind. Processed meat products?”
“Eugh, no. Can’t stomach it. I’m too on-edge.”
“More for me, then.” All I needed now was a cold glass of Coke, and my magic formula was complete. “So where do you two go from here with your little game? Did his balls explode when you sent him packing?”
She gave a nervous laugh. “That’s just it though. I wasn’t the one who said we should just kiss--he was.”
“You discussed how far you were going to go before you even started? Did he print out a contract and make you sign in vag juice?”
“Sorry.” The bacon hit the pan with a rough, lardy sizzle and I stood on tip-toe to wedge the window open. “Just seems a bit…well. Like the pair of you are seriously over thinking all this. Now I can understand you, after what happened with bitch-face and cock-wad--but him?”
“I suppose he might be rebounding too,” she said slowly.
“Hey. We are not rebounding. It’s been six months. We’re…works in progress.”
“In fact, what do you know about him? You’re apparently best mates, all of a sudden. Tell me everything about Nathan. Everything!”
The sausages hissed at me as they were turned in the pan.
“Well. Let’s see. Um.” What did I know about him? “He doesn’t talk about himself very much.”
She put her laptop aside -- goodbye, semi-nipple --and strode over to the fridge.
“But he didn’t mention a girlfriend? Or kids? A woman of any description?”
“He mentioned you a fair bit,” I said. “That’s all I remember. Will you do me some Coke as well, please?”
It frothed into glasses with a comforting, carbonated gasp.
“So.” She leant back against the fridge, drink in hand. “Let’s hope kissing hasn’t screwed up the balance, and he still wants to…whatever it is we’re going to do. Sex, maybe. I hope it’s sex.”
“If it is, will you give me a heads-up first so I can go out?”
“Shush. What were you talking about last night, anyway? Apparently, you’re a rapist called Hannibal…?”
There was nothing for it, really, and nobody who could give me better advice than Harper…so over a heap of greasy brunch, I told her about Nicole; how I’d been watching her in the park for weeks, how I had absolutely no idea to talk to a stranger (let alone seduce her), and how Aidan left my teeny chance at a less-than-jaunty angle.
Harper grinned like an evil pixie. “Nicole? Papa!” she sniggered. A French snigger.
“Look. Stop laughing at me. The first girl I’ve really like for ages, and it’s over before --”
“-- It even started. You said last night. But that’s not strictly true.” She patted my arm in sympathy. “You should try again. What do you have to lose? If she still thinks you’re a weirdo, there are other places to go running. Think of it as practice. I’d never have gone near Nathan if he didn’t start the proceedings, so to speak. You’ve got to start being that guy.”
“But why? Why do I have to do all the running, literally?” I whined.
“Because you want to get laid. Being confident gets a man laid, Rhys. It’s that, or you might as well start browsing for fat forty-somethings on the internet.”
She had to go there, didn’t she? To my secret pit of despair…the place my mother still thinks I’ll end up. Brilliant.
“Or there’s Mimi from the office,” she went on.
“I already told you, she’s got a really weird-shaped head! Look.” I drew a sad face with my fork in the swathes of bacon fat. “Let’s make a deal, yeah? We’re supposed to be in this together.”
She arched an eyebrow. “What kind of deal?”
“You stop being a damsel in dick-stress with Nathan--just fucking go for it already--and I’ll try to approach Nicole again.”
I can’t believe I just volunteered to humiliate myself. I need more Coke. Or more beer. Who’s for seconds…?
Harper cocked her head and a blond fringe obscured slate eyes. She was thinking. This could not end well.
“All right,” she said finally. “You’re on.”
The internet has nothing new to say on seducing women. I know this because I Google for it at least three times a week.
I don’t remember being such a neurotic man-bitch before all of this happened. I had moderate success with girls (eleven notches on the bedpost in twenty nine years isn’t bad, is it…?) so I can’t look that unfortunate. I’m not fat, not too short, no lisp. No halitosis. My ears are nicely close to my skull. The only debt I have is my car and my job is just forty percent gay (which is pretty good for London). I can talk about normal things; I don’t pick my nose in public; I can cook, for fuck’s sake. Why does the idea of asking Nicole out terrify me? Harper’s right--what do I have to lose?
Dignity, I suppose. The scraps of it I’d clawed back in the months since Kate left. There was the fear that I was just getting used to being single--being really okay with it--and if I gave that up, even just for a few dates, it might take even longer to get it back again.
I sat back on my bed and replayed the moment Nicole bent over in front of me in the park; the way her arse made a perfect heart shape above the taper of her thighs. Thought about how she might buck against me. My palms began to sweat with it and my cock was slippery in my hands. The idea of controlling her like that…I have no words. Just inappropriate noises.
I should go after what I want, shouldn’t I? I could emerge from this hangover as a proper alpha bastard. Even if it wasn’t in me, I could emulate somebody like Nathan if it meant that I got from A to B. Or inside Nicole. Hell, outside her, on top of her, underneath…any of those would do. Delete as appropriate.
We hatched our dastardly plan on the train the next morning.
I’m pretty sure that most super villains have lairs for this sort of thing. We had a cramped, sour-smelling corner of a tube carriage, and while there were no cats to stroke, there was a Spanish guy with an alarming amount of hair falling out of his shirt collar wedged into my left side.
I knew three things about Nicole; two of them through pure chance (a sign?) and one because of Aidan. She went running on Saturday mornings in our park, she got coffee in the local Starbucks a few hours later, and she was almost definitely posh. I could use these, said Harper. In fact I should, because they were all I had. The problem I faced would be doing so without looking like a first class lemon.
We’d just dodged a gaggle of Japanese tourists and were headed towards the giant glass foyer of our building when we spotted them.
Kate and Rory. Harper's ex.
“She’s dyed her hair again,” said Harper, subdued.
“She used to tell me she was a natural blonde, remember?” We huddled in next to a phone box; we never walked past Kate and Rory if we could help it. It was bad enough that we had to work with them several times a week.
“I still can’t believe she thought she’d get away with that. One night, you turned up early and she hadn’t shaved her lady garden…she was terrified you’d realise she was a brunette.”
I squinted at Kate in the sharp sunshine; she was nodding at Rory as they puffed on cigarettes. Picking bits of lint off his collar. They looked like a normal couple just chatting before work; you’d never guess that he was a girlfriend-stealing wank bucket, and she was a best-friend’s-boyfriend-swiping slag. Not that I’m bitter or anything.
Harper exhaled loudly and banged her head against my shoulder three times.
“God. How long does it take to smoke one fag?”
“Maybe we should suck it up and just walk past them?” I felt defeated saying it. “We’ve got to pitch against them later this week as it is.”
“I prefer to minimise my exposure to carcinogenic…personalities.” She gave a mournful little moan. “Why can’t they get fired already? Weren’t we going to plant something incriminating in her desk drawer?”
“You were too afraid to ask around for a coke supplier. And then our pizza arrived.”
“We need to be more evil.”
“No, no. This is why we’re mates and they’re…them, Harpcore. Let them be evil. We’re on the moral high ground and it’s--”
“Pathetic, you keep saying.” She sighed. “Come on, they’re going in. Hustle.”
Eight thirty AM and the revoltingly modern offices of Knoll and Co were, like a monster, aliiiiiive. Hot secretaries One and Three had phone receivers in one hand and low-calorie cereal bars in the other (they did have names; we just liked winding them up with chauvinism); fridges in boardrooms were being restocked with shiny bottles…and Mimi and her awkward-shaped head were loitering by my desk. She reminded me of a potato poised on a lump of jelly that had all been sucked backwards through a wind tunnel. A clipboard was, fittingly, leaning against her chest -- at the same angle as her chin.
“You’ve got a meeting with the FHM people at ten and Felicity says you’ve got to flog them at least two of your spirit brands. Then the art is back for Absolut and Joanne thinks it’s too sexy --”
“Too sexy? What?” I grabbed the clipboard. “Those models were not naked. They’re wearing spray-on latex. Can you tell her that, please?”
Mimi blushed riotously and averted her eyes. Christ…all I said was latex. And naked.
“Lunch is at the Greek place near the tube station, with…smug Ian from ITV…”
“Fucking marvellous.” I tossed my coat over the back of my chair and flicked on my desktop. “Any good news? No? Anything free and exciting in the post?”
“There were some tickets actually.” She tapped her nails across the clipboard. “Theatre, I think. You’ll have to ask Joanna because she gets dibs.”
“Thanks. I’ll catch you later.”
Fortunately, Mimi took the hint (or was still embarrassed by bondage chat before nine AM) and scuttled off. I was about to shout after her for coffee when my Blackberry messenger went off.
AIDAN: How vanilla r u?
Rhys: wtf? Like ice cream?
My work email was practically groaning at the seams. Figures requests, random CVs (why did people send me them?), fragmented copy corrections.
AIDAN: Cock. Hosting party tomorrow. Want to help u with ladies. U should come.
Rhys: how can u help me with ladies exactly? Ur the cock!
AIDAN: trust me?
Oh, and look at that -- emails with attachments that don’t actually have attachments. That’s fucking helpful.
AIDAN: I WILL GET U LAID AND U WILL BLOODY LIKE IT. SO CUM 2 MY FUCKING PARTY OK?!
Rhys: I’m not sleeping with u.
AIDAN: u’ll feel better about going 4 Nicole.
Oh, Nicole. Nicole, Papa! Nicole. I’ve only thought about her arse and her slinky shoulders about seven times this morning.
Rhys: I’ll see. Vanilla ice cream party?
AIDAN: Vanilla like sexually. Google.
So I did.
Erm. Well, that wasn’t safe for work.
“Mimi!” I croaked as she appeared in the doorway. “Can I have a coffee please?”
“Milky, three sugars.” A potato-head salute. Bless her.
Rhys: er. Er.
AIDAN: c u tomorrow then.
I’m going to a sexy party with only a tactless ginger Zoolander and my own sparkling wit for protection.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck.
I can’t believe I spent forty five minutes picking out the shirt on my back--especially since it was the first one I tried on. It was doubly mortifying that I had help from another bloke; Aidan span me about, prodded necklines, stroked his chin. I got the impression he did this quite regularly and I wasn’t about to ask why.
Now we watched inky evening London scroll by from the back of the cab, headed towards a town house in Belgravia. I definitely preferred this to the reeky tube I took to my advertising job each day.
“How come you’re hosting something that isn’t actually at your house?” I asked Aidan.
He glanced at his phone, tapping absentmindedly.
“My flat’s like a box, Rhys. But yeah…I’m doing it for a mate. Playing ringmaster.”
“I’m deeply honoured to be arriving with you, then.”
“Hey--think yourself lucky!” He poked me in the ribs. “We hardly invite any single men to these shindigs...and the ones we do, they have to pay for their tickets.”
“What?” I spluttered. God, I hope the cab driver didn’t just hear that. “Please tell me this isn’t a swinging party, Aid.”
He squared his shoulders. “It’s a get-together for likeminded people. Who…like sex.”
“You can’t take me to a swingers’ party, you plonker! I’m--” I gestured to myself, groaning. “Me.”
“Relax, buddy. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. It’s all in the name of fun. Besides.” A grin lit his pale skin. “You won’t be single. I’ve hooked you up.”
“How have you hooked me up, exactly?”
Please let her be hot. Please let her be hot. Although not too hot--not out-of-my-league sizzling--
“It’s her first time at one of these things and I’ve said that you’ll look after her. So that’s what you do.”
“What do you mean, look after her?” I said.
“I mean…look after her.” He patted my leg. “For God’s sake, Rhys. Just be confident with her. With some women…it pays to be bossy.”
I eyed him with grating suspicion. “She’s at least moderately attractive, right?”
“Dude. What do you take me for?”
Best not answer that.
The evening was warm and a bit sticky, and I leaked sweat into my collar in a little noose of heat. The townhouse was already filling with guests as we arrived, and Aidan took me through to a huge galley kitchen with glass-fronted wine fridges. A conservatory glistened at the far end, its transparent ceiling licked by vines and towering trees. Out on the terrace, candles lit the paving stones and flickered in the light air, and a group of willowy girls in short dresses congregated with their Champagne flutes and cigarettes.
I don’t know what I was expecting, reall--leather sheeting? Wrinkly MILFs? An 80s glass bowl full of car keys and condom packets? Whatever had crossed my mind, it wasn’t…this. Over and over, I reminded myself why I was here: to build up my confidence for Nicole. Nicole, papa, Nicole!
“Rhys. This is Elijah. He’s been coming here so long, he’s practically vintage.” Aidan nodded at a stocky twenty-something with a light shadow of blond stubble. “Elijah, I told you about Rhys, yeah?”
“Right.” Aidan clapped me soundly on the back. “I’m off upstairs to sort the music out. The bathrooms are over by the potted ferns, Magdalena’s in charge of the drinks on the breakfast bar…I’ll be back when your lady arrives, ok?”
“Okay,” I managed.
Then he bounded off towards the staircase, apparently shouting at somebody on his phone.
“So,” said Elijah, “first time, eh?”
He started laughing.“I heard Aidan hooked you up, man.”
“Yeah, but who knows if she’ll like me?”
He looked me up and down, shrugging. Crap…just put me back in the pub where the men don’t check me out like rib-eye steak. That’s not normal, is it? I don’t care if I get laid (like that’s going to happen anyway), I just want to--
“Don’t look so terrified,” said Elijah. “Seriously, you’ll be fine. Relax, have a drink. Chat to a few of the girls.” He winked at the cute little group on the terrace. “They’re all on the prowl, y’know.”
“So…say you pick up a girl,” I began. “You don’t start going at it in the room, right? I mean…there are places for that sort of thing.” Because I’m not a fucking circus monkey, that’s for sure.
He laughed again, his eyebrows mashing together in amusement. “You do what you want. Find a corner, go back to her place, throw some shapes on the couch . Nobody will mind, okay? You might surprise yourself. Magdalena!”
A very petite brunette stalked over with a tray; she wore a black shift dress that hugged her breasts and hips, and high, nude heels. Just the kind of outfit I’d love to see Nicole in. Ahem.
“Champagne?” she said.
And she had a French accent. Ooh la la; bonne soir, Magdalena. Je suis mange tout le grande tete du vache? (That’s the grand sum of the French I remember from high school, and I think it stand for I am peas a big cow head).
“Don’t mind if I do,” I croaked, folding my fingers around the skinny stem of a flute. She shot me a filthy smile--the kind that makes a woman’s eyes sparkle and her shoulders heave--before stalking off up the stairs.
Then the music began and the lights dimmed. My first swingers' party.
Elijah’s awkward company was comforting as the room began to fill. It wasn’t a heaving crowd but then it wasn’t a massive space either, and Aidan seemed to bring mostly couples through for drinks. They were professionals, some younger than others, and they were dressed for a dinner party. Oh, there was a hint more cleavage than might have been appropriate, the odd tighter shirt on a guy-- but really, from the smart chit-chat to the polite hair-tosses and smiles, they were shockingly normal.
I didn’t know whether to be relieved….or disappointed.
“Are you waiting for a girl?” I asked Elijah. We’d claimed a spot on the terrace opposite the group of leggy, willowy things, and he’d swiped beers from one of the glass fridges.
“Nope. I prefer couples, actually. Could find a girl in a club.”
I nodded as if I knew exactly what he was talking about. Oh yes, I book parties for all my threesome needs, ra ra.
“Is that your…thing?”
“Well.” He chuckled, swinging his bottle between his thumbs. “I’ve got a lot of things.”
Aidan was dragging a girl-shaped creature along by the hand, but I couldn’t see much of her between the oscillating party-goers and the shade of the darkening sky.
“I’ve got somebody I’d like you to meet,” he chirped gleefully, pressing her hand into mine. “This is Lei-Lei.”
She cleared her throat. “You can call me Leila.” She smiled and raked her nails across my palm, just lightly.
Oh fuck. Fuck.
I didn’t know where to look--her face alone made me feel indecent. She’d drawn her auburn waves up so they fell about her face in layers, and I got the impression she’d sorted it into handfuls for easy grabbing later on. Her lips and cheekbones were streaked with raspberry and her fitted little jersey dress hugged a pair of sloped, peeking breasts. And her legs…seriously. When does a woman wear stockings unless she’s trying to seduce some poor sod?
Oh, let it be meeee. I’ll change my name by deed-poll if I have to. Poor Sod Frost has a ring to it, right?
“Aid says you volunteered to look after me,” she said. “That’s really nice of you.”
“Yeah. Well.” I dropped her hand; if I kept hold of it much longer then I’d start sucking her fingers. “Can’t have you alone in a place like this, eh?”
“So what do you think, Lei-Lei?” Aidan patted me roughly on the shoulder. “Good choice? Do I bring home the goods, or what?”
“Ignore him.” She rolled her eyes as she took my arm. “He’s always this obnoxious.”
Elijah brushed her shoulder. “Would the lady like a drink?” he asked.
“Oh, please. But just a small one.”
He gave me a thumbs up and a wide grin as he disappeared in the kitchen, eying up a blond in a suit on his way.
“Lei-Lei, do I read him the riot act, or will you?” Aidan narrowed his eyes at me. “She’s got a three-point code.”
I blinked. Panicked. “A what?”
“Seriously, Aid--do one!” She broke away from me to tickle him and he wriggled away from her, grunting.
“Okay, okay,” he groaned. “I’m leaving. You two have fun now. Don’t do anything Marc Anthony wouldn’t do!”
I looked at Leila as she returned to my arm, and we both burst into giggles. Mine were manly giggles, of course--mainly because I was watching her breasts quiver. They were rubbing just slightly against my elbow, and nnnggh…I felt the firm grate of her nipple. Jesus.
“So.” I guided her back to the terrace wall I’d been sitting on and watched as she sank down, tucked her knees together. Stockinged legs. Dainty heels. Where was I, again? “What brings you here?”
She cocked her head. “I could say the same to you.”
“Touché.” I swallowed. “I guess…I’m looking for something different. Some fun.”
“That makes two of us, then.” She edged closer towards me on the wall, our shoulders bumping. “How long have you known Aidan…?”
“Not long. Why?”
“Because you’ve got that look on your face that says, what the fuck am I doing here? And that could only happen if you didn’t know him very well.” She was giggling again and it was aural porn. “He’s a bit of a naughty boy, hmm?”
“Ah, don’t worry. I promise not to abuse you. Well.” The giggle climbed an octave as her fingers played over my thigh. It was then that I noticed the chunk of an emerald on her third finger. Ah, fuck. It sniggered at me in the candle-light; like you had a chance, anyway.
“So…um. How long have you been engaged?”
“A month or so.” She drew her hand back and fiddled with the ring. “What about you, are you with someone?”
“Me? No. No. Single.” Another gulp. “So how come you’re, erm…” I gestured to the house weakly. “…Here?” And where was the idiot who’d let her come to this thing alone?
She knew what I was thinking. I saw it in her bemused smile.
“I’m allowed, Rhys,” she murmured.
“Allowed to what?”
She pressed her hand back on my thigh, just tickling the inside--she might as well have scraped it with a razor because the whole hulking surface of me was alkaline desire.
“You know. Allowed to play.”
“Really?” I said it a lot louder than I meant to, and it was weighed down with a suspicion I didn’t know I had.
“Really.” She laughed. “You’ll find it’s quite normal at a party like this.”
“This isn’t your first one, is it?” I said dryly.
“Kind of. Aidan told me he had somebody I’d like, so…”
She was telling the truth. It softened the flush along her collarbone, caused the pout of her lips to swell. In that second, putting a hand on her knee felt the most natural thing in the world.
“That makes two of us,” I whispered. I loved the way her smile flashed me a hint of pale pink tongue.
“Yeah…where have our drinks got to, do you think?”
I glanced about the terrace, squinting in the candle light. “Elijah’s--um.” Oh dear God. Elijah was sitting back in a deck chair, still fully clothed, but the woman in the suit was bobbing slowly in his lap. He had a fistful of hair as he grinned up at me.
“He’s being noshed on the patio,” she said. “Now there’s a man who doesn’t waste any time.”
“What the fuck? He’s barely been gone five minutes. Do they sprinkle everyone with magic shag dust at the door?”
“Something like that.” She patted my leg as she started up. “I’ll go and--”
I eased her back down gently. “No, no. I’ll get the drinks; you stay put.”
A cinnamon eyebrow arched at me; playful, eager. Inviting. “Is that an order?”
“Would you like it to be?” Oh fuck. I’m better at this than I thought.
The kitchen was full and raucous now, wine-tainted laughter rising above the music and the click click of heels dancing over the stone floor. Magdalena refilled her tray of glasses as she fought off the swatting hands of two older men. I spotted Aidan near the doorway and hurried over, tugging him away from his clipboard.
“Aid,” I said through my teeth. “I want to know what you’ve drugged her with.”
The wide smirk almost split his face. “Who, Lei-Lei? She doesn’t need drugging. She’s like that all the time.” He seemed to find my gape of horror vastly amusing. “A proper ten there, huh?”
“A proper ten? She’s like--like--”
“She’s like, left on her own at a party full of carnivores, you twit,” he cut in, leaning to whisper. “Now listen up: be courteous. Take her home, enjoy yourself.” A pause, just for effect. He wanted to hear me swallow. “She likes it when you tell her what to do.”
I should have asked how he knew that; frankly, I was past caring. I nodded dutifully, mouthed my thanks and hurtled back towards the bar, where I swiped two glasses from Magdalena’s fresh tray. The first one disappeared down my throat in a single mouthful; the second, I took back to Leila and proffered it like a badge of war.
“Ooh, Champagne.” She stood up to accept it. “Thank you, Rhys.”
“A pleasure. So…um. What do you do?”
“I’m a lawyer. Tax, acquisitions, that kind of thing. How about you?”
“Advertising. I design--hey, what are you doing?”
She teetered on tip-toes to examine my earlobe. “Sorry. Just checking for an earring.” She bit her lip. “Long story. You don’t mind, do you…?”
“No, no.” I lifted the glass from her hand, stretched forward to balance it on the wall, and that was when I felt it: her warm mouth and flat teeth grazing along my ear. “Oh…”
“You don’t mind?”
Her voice was muffled with breathy languor, and I found myself wrapping am arm around her waist. The scent of her hair rushed up into my nostrils--sugar and nutmeg and mellow heat and hairspray--I just wanted…
…to kiss her.
But she got there first.
We played tongue games. She was the kitten; I was the ball of string. Then when I got over the initial rush of it--she’s kissing me, fuckin’ A!--I relaxed into it, crossed the border, took charge. The way she arched back as I leaned in, pressed up to me…electric. Sparks spewed indecently and I felt like we ought to stop and clean up our mess.
“Rhys,” she said softly, “we don’t have to stay here.”
Oh, she knew what she wanted, all right. I prayed I didn’t have “this is my first pull for six months,” written on my forehead in black biro, because everything about this was too good to be true.
Well...aside from the emerald on her finger which made me nervous if I looked at it for too long.
In the slope of her neck, I mouthed the words before I said them. Needed to practice my very rusty charms. “I could take you home with me, if you want.”
“We’ll go to my place--ahh…” She mewed as I sucked at the hollows of her throat. “It’s only ten minutes away.”
“Okay then. Good. Good.”
I lead her back through the simmering party with a firm grip on her hand. Defenses were broken and restraint had waned; there were bodies dressed with each other on the stairs and in the corners; they were dull. Boring. This girl at the end of my arm with her pulse shivering against mine--she was the big news.
“Sneaking off already? You whore.” Aidan grabbed Leila by the waist and she pretended to slap him.
“Hey. Less of that, please.” I sounded like someone’s dad.
“Rhys, we’re all whores here. It’s okay.” He released Leila, draped her jacket over my shoulder and then pushed the two of us together so that we bumped awkwardly. “Ah, look at you. All bashful and horny. My work here is done.” He gave a great, mocking sigh, a wink, and then bombed back off towards harassed Magdalena.
On the terrace, the air had been warm. Maybe it was Leila’s proximity or the great cloud of body heat emanating from the party. As we stepped out on to the pavement, the breeze caught me right in the face and my skin burned in the cool grip of it.
We were free.
“Do you always let him talk to you like that?” I found myself saying.
“Oh, don’t worry about Aidan, seriously. I’ve known him for ages. He’s like my brother.” She squeezed my arm. “It was very sweet of you to stand up for me though.”
“Just being a gentleman.”
“Ooh, I’m spoiled.” She giggled, and the high little octaves lunged to a crude chuckle. “I hope you’re not always this courteous. Not everywhere.”
Thank fuck for the belt that obscured my hard-on. I was dizzy with the loss of blood from my brain.
The flirting got worse from that point. I kept trying to steer away from innuendo--hell, I needed a break before we started proper--but she was leading in more ways than one and just a tiny inflection on a word made my heart thunder. She dragged on syllables, slid her gaze to me with deliberate slowness. When she bit her lip, when it grew plump under those teeth…I shoved her up against somebody’s fence and took her mouth until she tugged on my collar in complaint. Poor girl needed to breath.
We made it through the lobby of her building, into the dimly lit lift…and then the walls beckoned again. Close the space. I took her hair in fistfuls this time and rubbed my cock against her belly. Don’t get me wrong--I was still nervous. I ached with it in the pit of my stomach, but she tasted syrupy, like an antidote. If I could eat her all up, I’d be better. Mmmph.
The hall of her apartment smelled like candles and coffee. We kissed with grinning mouths as our jackets were peeled away, and then she lead me to a door in the dark. The lamp swallowed the room in a buttery glow; there was a massive bed, book cases, a carpet that winced with the weight of me. No picture frames, no dressing gown...this was for guests.
She shared this place with her lover. I stuck to the floor when I realised, and my nerves warred to nausea.
“Rhys?” Leila slid off the edge of the bed and came to embrace me. “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah…um. Where is he?”
“He?” She gave an awkward little smile. “I’m allowed, remember? You won’t be suddenly punched in the face, I promise.”
My hands slipped to the tops of her buttocks; they curved right into my palms. A lovely fit. Argh.
“I’m not really used to all this,” I confessed. “Not that it isn’t good. You’re great. Gorgeous, in fact.” I squeezed her arse and she moaned softly. “Absolutely gorgeous…”
Another kiss, intrepid on my part. I was mashed so hard against her that I half thought I’d need my passport. All the while, she melted and swayed, following each lead I dared to make.
“Just. One. Thing.” Peck, lick, kiss. “This three point code. Was Aid being serious?”
“Oh. Well…let’s see.” She began unbuttoning my shirt. “No marking me--no bruises, lashes, bites. Carpet burns.”
I had never been harder than I was at that moment, and my cock twitched as she arched one eyebrow.
“No swallowing--in the interests of health and safety, of course.”
I feigned a pout at that one. The last button popped; she worked the shirt off my shoulders and stroked my muscles with wide eyes. (Kick-boxing, my friends. It‘s good for more than a drunken game of Mortal Kombat).
“And the last one?” I croaked.
She took my upper lip and sucked it, teasing my tongue with hers. “No anal…unless he’s there to supervise.”
That was it. Fuck this. The gentleman has left the building.
I pawed her dress off and cursed at her bra strap while she laughed. Her knickers were soft and satiny, black, and I dropped on my knees to press my face into them. Fuck…she smelled good. Hot, wet. I suckled at her lips through the fabric.
Somehow, we backed on to the bed and she was splayed beneath me, all pooled red ringlets and pearl-nippled peaks. I pinned her hands above her head--which went down well, judging by her whimpers--and did my best not to mark her lush breasts, but fuck me, it was hard.
I remember that after a while with my ex, that sex had become mechanical. Even in the early days, she was too self-conscious to submit like this and accept my attention freely. I had tried to warm her. Break the walls down. I never got to that place where you’re grinding each other into the debris, but now…Leila broke when I kissed her, I’m sure of it. Maybe even a little before. I was the one doing the seducing here…and I wasn’t sure when I’d gotten so confident, but woah. She likes it when you tell her what to do. I hadn’t even needed to say it out loud.
With her fingers in my hair, I eased her knickers down and dropped her heels on the carpet. She was naked except for the lace-topped hold-ups, and her thighs tapered towards a shaved, creamy mound.
“Rhys…” She moaned, writhed on the bed. “Look what you’ve done to me.” Her thighs spread slowly.
Breathe, breathe. Don’t choke on the air. Breathe!
“I’m all swollen for you…”
Oh, she was. Her clit peeked plumply between her fingers and the mouth of her pussy was poppies and gloss.
“Gorgeous,” I mumbled. Her stocking caught on my nails but my hand joined hers eventually, thumbing her wet pink bud. “I think…I need to eat you all up now…”
I learned the rhythm of her hips quickly. Driving lessons. She bucked and squealed when I licked beneath her clit hood, her breathy yelps reserved for my thumb. When she begged me, I curved two fingers into the clutch of her pussy and slowly, slowly dragged. There was the pornographic giggle again; it was euphoric as it spilled from her, like a mockery of a prayer. The gospel of Leila.
Amen to that, fuckers.
Her thrusts slowed as she got close. I only noticed because she was suddenly sopping wet and it pooled inside at the bend of my knuckles. I flexed once, twice, three times…that set her off. Her clit mashed against my tongue and I barely avoided knocking my teeth out.
This was something else I’d been denied--not just in enforced celibacy, but with the ex. The moment where a woman stiffens, heaves as if the air is weighted down, wraps her thighs round your head and--
“Rhys, ow…d-don’t stop, please…ow…”
She fed my confidence. I feasted on hers. Yummy little madam. She tasted like the dirty cocktails that gave me the same kind of arrogance on a Friday night at uni, and as I moved up to kiss her, we savored it together. She panted into my mouth.
“I want you on my lap.” I grinned.
“Oh…you do…?” She smiled as well. Flushed and breathy.
“Uhuh.” I jumped back to undress and then tasted panic beneath her scrutiny. I’d forgotten about this bit, too: the part where you show a girl your cock for the first time and watch for scowls and winces. Then I had shoes to kick off, a condom to locate--
“In the drawer,” she said, gesturing. “Take your pick.”
“Oh. Cheers.” I snatched a packet without looking and rolled it on with a snap which should have hurt.
If it did, I didn’t notice.
Leila heaped pillows behind me and lowered herself between my crossed legs. She ringed her fingers round my cock, testing the girth of it. A tiny, focused furrow of the brow sounded her silent approval.
“Don’t tease me,” I mumbled. “Just…”
“Fuck you?” Her hands moved to my shoulders and she bumped her clit against my cock, whimpering as it bobbed heavily. “Is that what you want?”
“Yes.” Any time tonight is good, really.
She pressed herself down on me, swallowing just the head. God, it was hot in there. Sticky.
“How about you fuck me?” Now she took the rest, inch…by…in…ch…until I filled her. I know I did--the stretch was blissfully constricting.
And she was going to make me do all the work.
I shoved her hips down, grinned at the way her eyes shot open, and began a measured, punishing fuck. She couldn’t stay still for long. I kept hitting her cervix and the discomfort made her suck the air in. Normally, I’d have slowed for that. Checked on her. But that was the thing; she liked it. Her longest whimpers and loudest moans came from the strokes that were harder than I meant them-- every time I lost control, she was delighted. Before long, we were kissing again and she was rolling right into my thrusts.
If the driving lessons taught me anything, it was how to tease her pussy. How to listen for the tick-tock time elapse in her breath and know just when to ram it home. (I sound observant here. I wasn’t watching her like David cunting Attenborough; you pick this stuff up on a chemical level and translate to English afterwards). Truth be told, I’d put her in this position because it was the only way I’d last long enough to get her on to her back.
She moaned in surprise when I tossed her over. Her hair splattered the pillows like scarlet graffiti and then she was mine again, stockinged legs on my shoulders and her ambushed little pussy struggling to grip my cock.
“Rhys, Rhys--” The word pierced the air.
She liked saying my name. Hell, I liked the sound of it coming from her, but we were on different wavelengths. Leila wanted to moan a name that was new and unfamiliar; I saw it start in her eyes, stutter from her lips and echo above her breasts in crimson mirages. I just loved her loving it--even if the reason was that.
When I was sure she was coming (again. I'm awesome), I let go. Scissored into her like I owned her flesh, even just for a second. The orgasm started in my thighs and shot through the rest of me, spurting into her, and the relief of it made me cuss loudly. When I stuttered to the end and wobbled on my arms above her, she wore a lazy, smudgy smile.
Oh God, I’m singing the song in my head. Multiple voices are singing it. I just had sex, and I’ll never go baaa-ack! To the not having sex ways of the past…!
“Are you all right?” She stared.
“Yes. Yeah. God, yeah.” I bent to catch her mouth. Mmmph. Post-orgasm kissing…I might have missed this most of all.
Reluctantly, I eased out of her and laid her legs back on the bed. She curled against my chest, her fingers swirling over my nipples.
Dear room: any time you’d like to stop spinning, it‘d be useful. Okay?
“That was nice,” she murmured.
“It was awesome!” My words were so cracked that we both burst out laughing, and it didn’t slow until I filled my hands with her ass cheeks, scooping her drenched pussy on to my thigh.
“And you’re gorgeous.” I inhaled her; still cinnamon-sweet, faint undercurrent of sweat and cum. “Did I mention that?”
“Once or twice, but I‘ll let you off.” The heel of her hand worked steadily against the muscles of my belly, easing the knots. “You’re not bad yourself, you know.”
“Why do I think I brought you back here?” She grinned.
“I did wonder if you’d been slipped a roofie or two.”
“You’re gorgeous, Rhys. There was something about you, I…” She pinched my hip in a soft little dance. “Something bubbling under the surface.”
“I suppose that’s one way of putting it.” I caught her hand, held it up to the light. Swiveled the heavy emerald back to its correct position.
“You don’t like that, do you?” she whispered.
“It’s nice enough. I’m not much for jewellery.”
“You know what I mean. It bothers you.”
I swallowed; this wasn’t really a subject I wanted to indulge her in, not in the afterglow of such an amazing session.
But she did ask.
“My girlfriend -- ex girlfriend -- cheated on me.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.” She came up on one elbow and brushed the hair from my eyes. “That must have been tough.”
“Well. I suppose...I suppose I don’t understand how anyone can be okay with…” I felt like a such hypocrite after the way I got off on her saying my name.
“Yeah.” I wound a ringlet of her hair around my finger; it was smooth and bouncy.
“See, there’s the thing…what I do, that’s sharing. What your girlfriend did…that was betrayal. You can’t share what you’ve promised elsewhere; it’s not in your hands to give.”
“You make it sound awfully simple.”
She pressed her lips together. “Oh, learning was messy. Trust me there.”
“I like your mess.” I said the last word against her tongue as she kissed me. Giggled on me.
“I bet yours is just as yummy.”
“Plenty more where that came from, darling.” I really just said that, didn’t I? Buggery.
She started up and I pounced, tugging her back beneath the sheet.
“I’m just going to get drinks,” she protested. “I don’t know about you, but I need one.”
“I’ll get them,” I said, reaching for my trousers. “You stay here and keep the bed warm -- you look too good in it to get up.”
“Well, I won’t argue with that.” She fell on the pillows in a mock starfish. “Second door on the left, okay? Just help yourself to the fridge.”
I zipped my fly up. “What d’you want?”
“Okay.” I knelt for a kiss to punctuate my exit. “Back in two.”
A few seconds before I got the door open, I noticed that the light was on. The living space was huge -- all lofty ceilings, polished units, modern sofas. The big fridge in the corner was one Harper and I had coveted before we settled on our uber-trendy Smeg. And--
He cleared his throat. He cleared his throat. There was a blond, older man on the far sofa and he eyed me watchfully, his head cocked as he surveyed the stranger in his lair.
Because it did suddenly feel like a lair, and I was the one who’d stolen his lap full of pussy.
“Good night?” he said.
This can’t be happening. It’s nowhere near dawn yet and I didn’t bring a man-bag.
“Great,” I croaked.
“I should think so.”
The bastard was trying not to smile at me. I couldn’t fathom it. He should've been taking me down with a swift right hook. Hell, I wanted to punch him. What do you say to a bloke when you’ve just fucked his fiancé with his blessing? Where was this bit on my sexeh party etiquette Google search...?
“You’re a lucky man,” I managed.
He gave a swift nod.
“So are you, by the sounds of it.”
“Ah.” Leila appeared behind me in a cloud of tousled hair. My shirt was buttoned haphazardly over her bare breasts and silky knickers. “I thought I heard two of you.” She padded over to greet the man with a kiss. “Rhys, this is Joseph, my boyfriend. Joseph, Rhys--he was my present from Aidan.”
They looked disgustingly good together. He had at least ten years on her, though it was only visible in the shadows; he was broader and taller, sharper. Their combined confidence was startling and I was nauseous again as he patted her ass. Mine, said little whomp of flesh.
“You can sit down, you know.” Leila smiled on her way to the fridge. “It’s okay.”
“Uh, I’m good.” I perched on the arm of a chair, still not knowing where it was safe to look. Definitely not at the Goblin King over there, that was for sure. I’d never been so grateful for a cold beer and I swallowed most of it in three long gulps.
“It was Rhys’s first party tonight.” She stood beside me, her knees nudging mine.
Joseph gave a dry little laugh. “You’re braver than me.”
“It was all right, actually,“ I said. Leila was practically rubbing against me and I wrapped an arm round her waist with my pulse hammering in my ears. “I had some lovely company.”
She eased the bottle from my hand, dropped it to the floor and then straddled my thigh. Her knickers were still damp--even through my trousers, it was obvious--but I couldn’t quite get into the kiss, not with him watching. I’d gone from predator to prey in about ten minutes.
“Rhys…do you want to…?”
She was shoving me gently, wanted us to fall back on the sofa together.
“I--” Oh fuck. Now she stroked my semi-erect cock.
“We could…I mean, he’s here to supervise, so…” She brought my hand round to rest on her ass cheek and I nearly bit her tongue off.
Now you’re probably thinking: dude. This is your first (and possibly only) opportunity for anal. What are you doing? Swing her over the couch and get on in there. Even I was thinking this.
But I couldn’t do it.
She softened in my arms, cupped my chin. “It’s okay.” She trailed down my neck and my eyes closed instinctively; if we couldn’t be alone, I was built to emulate it.
“I should go.” I stood against her, willing my cock to deflate. “I’ve got work in the morning.”
Leila nodded, handing the bottle back. “If you’re sure.”
“Oh, I’m…just need to get dressed.” I cocked my head towards the bedroom and she tugged on the shirt she was wearing.
“You’ll be needing this, then. Sorry.”
Joseph was suddenly behind her, his fingers working the few buttons she’d bothered to secure. Then he slid out of his fine-knit sweater as he passed me my shirt. My gaze darted to her full, naked breasts and then rolled to the toned chest behind her…and that was when I noticed the marks on their skin. It had been too dark to see in the bedroom but Leila had a J carved in pale pink, just above the line of her knickers. Joseph had an L in the same style that curved about his hip-bone. They weren’t tattoos -- I was sure of that.
They were quite possibly scars.
Then Leila huddled against Joseph in his sweater, and they both studied me with curious expressions.
“So I’ll get dressed. Yeah.” If I’d have walked any faster, I’d have skidded into a pot plant and landed flat on my face.
I took my time getting dressed. Paused to call a cab to the lobby. The afterglow of the sex had faded but I was still jittering on the platform while I awaited the train home from la-la land. I’d been preparing myself mentally for tonight--mostly to get rejected--and while I’d gone through a hundred wank-worthy fantasies, none of them had been anything like this.
None so close to the bone (or the boner, for that matter).
Now to make my exit. To make it out alive.
Suited and booted, I strode out and offered a sitting Joseph my hand. He pumped it firmly. If he was surprised at my surge of confidence then he didn’t show it.
“It was good to meet you,” I said. “Thanks for…well.”
His eyes flashed in amusement. “Thanks for keeping her occupied.”
Leila knotted her fingers in mine as she lead me out to the door. When I’d shuffled into my jacket, I gave her the parting kiss she deserved: slow, deep and affectionate. Her little gasps and sighs were jarring; they made me realise that she’d never felt borrowed.
“You,” Leila murmured, “made my Tuesday, Mr Rhys.”
You made my last six months, you gorgeous creature. Not that I could say that out loud.
“I had a great time. Thank you.” One last kiss, then I released her. There should have been a beat of discomfort before one of us broke and asked for a phone number, an email address; it wasn’t what tonight had been about, and that was kind of refreshing. Not as cheap as I’d expected it to feel.
The lobby was all cold leather seats and flashing lights against glass windows. The silver-haired doorman cast suggestive glances in my direction; I avoided his eyes. (I’d have whistled, but it seemed cliché). As I climbed into the cab, my phone buzzed and I cracked open the text from Aidan:
R u ready 4 Nicole yet?
Fucking hell--am I ever.
I think my balls have grown…