Read an Excerpt
Adam lives on the third storey of a historic row-home in the city. I don’t. I live farther into the danger of the city in a non-historic row home with three other people. The houses are built like railroad cars, rooms connected one to the other in a straight line. Each room long but narrow and laid out like one long hallway. Main room to dining room to kitchen to summer kitchen.
Adam’s house is nicer. Each level of his row home is broad and roomy, the ceilings high, the windows too. His bedroom has a skylight and the front window faces the street.
I pass his house every night when I leave The Twisted Scarf, a tiny bar I work in that got its name from the way the original owner died. It had been McWilliams’s Tavern before then, but the original owner was killed – rumoured to be a mobtown hit – by strangulation. Did you guess a twisted scarf? You win a prize.
Gruesome name for a hole-in-the-wall dive bar. But I make good tips and once in a while a nice-looking college boy comes in and I end up going out for a night on the town. Usually followed by a night between the sheets.
But when I think of love and lust and need and all the weird and sometimes melancholy stuff that goes with it, it’s Adam who springs to mind. Adam who I met in the bar and Adam who’s worked out an arrangement with me.
He’s not into love. As he explains it, ‘I tried that once and she damn near killed me. I didn’t know a human heart could hurt that bad and still keep working. I’m never doing it again.’
And I get it. I get the pain he suffered and I get the way he feels and I get that he likes me and in another life it could have been something more. And hey, I agreed to the arrangement he and I worked out one night over shots of Patrón at the bar.
I agreed. So I live with it.
Tonight it’s cold and a bit rainy and I realise I’m holding my breath as I walk. My fur-lined cheap-ass suede boots are kicking up plumes of dirty water and my hair is getting that funky damp curl that comes with icky weather.
Adam likes those curls. He pushes his fingers up into the spirals like he’s pushing into my pussy and he says, ‘Your hair is so pretty, Irene. It’s like coiled copper.’
And usually we end up with him fucking me, a big chunk of coiled copper wrapped in his fist while I try and remember that I’m not supposed to love him.
I turn on to Anne Street and there it is.
My heart jumps and my stomach tumbles and I hear myself make a sound – this deep, needy, rumbling sound – even above the November wind.
There is a lantern in Adam’s front window. And when that lantern glows it means: I need you. I want you.
I love you
No, not that last one. That one’s a pipe dream.
My feet that felt so heavy just minutes ago feel springy and light. I dodge puddles like a schoolgirl and even though it’s nearly 2 a.m. – my boss let me sneak out a bit early – I’m laughing. I hear the ease of my laughter and it strikes me that I don’t laugh much at all.
I hurry across the street, no traffic in sight, just misty rain that makes me think of serial killers and Halloween movies. I push the doorbell with trembling fingers and wait. That lantern’s glow means a night in his bed. A night in his arms.
‘Yes?’ comes his voice over the speaker. He’s amused and he’s smiling. I can hear it.
‘The lovely Irene?’ he drawls. Once upon a time he lived in the south and he tells me the accent stuck like molasses.
‘Well, Irene. I don’t know about lovely.’ I sigh, nervously trying to smooth my increasingly unruly hair.
‘Take it back,’ he says sternly but gently.
‘The lovely Irene,’ I amend.
The buzzer sounds and the door lock disengages and I grab the handle like a lifeline. It has not escaped my notice that my panties are damp from a constant trickle of juices from my body. My pussy already feels thick and pouty, ready for him. Flushed with blood and thumping in desperate time with my heart. My nipples against the inside of my satin cami are so hard just the brush of that tender fabric over them is maddening.
I lick my lips and make my way up the first set of steep steps. Once upon a time someone had to wall off the staircases in order to make this place three apartments with a communal set of steps. Walking them is an exercise in claustrophobia. But on the landing to the second floor I have to stop and rest my head against the chilly wall.
I cannot act a fool. I cannot let him know. I need to keep the feeling part of this equation under wraps and just enjoy the fucking.
And good fucking it is. He can be rough and gentle, giving and demanding. He can debase me and lift me up. I never know but I’m always willing and he always takes me where I need to go. And he cares.
But he won’t love you …
Up the final flight I go and he’s waiting. Jeans slung low despite the late hour, a heather grey thermal hugging his leanly cut upper body. He’s got a day’s worth of stubble and his bright grey eyes are stark against the muted light of the entire scene. It’s the middle of the night, really, so that lights are respectfully dim.
‘Come, Irene,’ he says. And I get it. Not come in. Come.
Because I will. We will.
I step into his apartment with as much calm as I can muster but the second that door clicks shut it all falls way. We crash into each other, all seeking mouths and clutching hands. He gets me caged in his arms, crushed against him, and I feel the waiting hump of his cock in those well-worn, paint-stained jeans. He’s an artist. Only an artist could explain how he’ll never love you and you will willingly buy it and also come to him when he commands.
You’re such a fool, Irene …
Maybe. But it works for me too. At least for now. And that’s the only thing that matters. The pleasure of it all.