Authors: Chloe Thurlow
Published by Accent Press Ltd – 2010
Copyright © Chloë Thurlow 2010
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be copied, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the written permission of the publishers: Xcite Books, Suite 11769, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John Street, London EC1V 4PY
The stories contained within this book are works of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the authors’ imaginations and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
First published by Chimera Publishing Ltd 2006
For M. Millswan.
You were right, Micky Baby,
it just keeps getting better.
HE WAS GLANCING
at the night’s TV listings in the
when she felt the touch of a hand on her bare shoulder. She turned abruptly, shaking her head, and the man studied her with blue eyes full of mischief.
Greta was furious. It just isn’t done. Not on the tube. It’s too intimate. While your body’s rubbing against other bodies the last thing you want to do is make eye contact.
She looked back at the paper. Saturday night. There was a movie with Jack Black, Channel 5, nine o’clock. Shame about the commercials. She’d microwave something during the breaks. Drink a glass of wine. Or two. She glanced up.
He was looking still. He smiled. Good teeth. She frowned. If she had been in a pub playing pool she would have liked those playful eyes and broad shoulders. She looked down and then back up again, instinctively, as if against her will. He was writing something on his newspaper. He tore off the corner of the page and gave it to her as the train slowed at Gloucester Road.
‘My stop,’ he said, and squeezed through the sliding doors just before they closed.
His name was Richard. And his telephone number had loads of sevens in it. Was it lucky? For him? For her?
He was watching her through the carriage window, remaining on the platform like a rock in the churning sea of people. She ostentatiously screwed up the scrap of paper and he shrugged with indifference as she let it drop to the floor. The train pulled away and he was gone.
Greta sighed. She had grown to despise the tube in the time she’d worked in the shop. A shop assistant. How did it happen? Why? Two years at drama school. A year in the cattle market hustling parts. And another birthday in October. She didn’t even bother to read the trades anymore. She was 19. That’s almost 20. She’d be looking at comfy slippers next.
She picked up the piece of paper again and looked at all those lucky sevens. Richard. Black jacket. Blue shirt. Dark jeans. Nice tan.
The train pulled in at Hammersmith. She stumbled along behind two girls in grey veils and thought about the crowd at Gloucester Road. Well-heeled. Closer to the action.
As soon as she got home Greta spread the scrap of paper flat on the kitchen counter. She called the number. She let it ring twice. Then hung up.
It was ridiculous to call a total stranger. Then, it was ridiculous not to. What did she have to lose? There were zillions of blokes she could call, well, about six, anyway, but they were all so dire, gabbing on about Formula 1 and football, all after one thing, as if she were a sporting fixture, and, yes, she liked that
as much as the next girl, but she wanted something different, something more...
oo la la,
je ne sais quoi
. She was meant for other things, something better, not that she believed she was better than anyone else, indeed that anyone was better than anyone else. She just thought there was another life out there waiting to happen.
She sighed again. All I do is keep sighing, she thought. She lit a cigarette and poured a glass of wine. The first drag and the first sip are the best. Life’s like that. An unfulfilled promise. She had played at the
in Sloane Square when she was 17. She appeared naked every night on stage at the National. She was Polly in
The Raw Edge
, a pilot for a soap that had never got made. There had been hundreds of girls up for it. But she’d got the part. At 18 she could play 15. They liked that. She looked like the girl next door who gets tied up and raped.
She rather liked being tied up, she thought as she lifted the receiver, phoned again. Hung up again.
Tara had wandered in ready for work in a sparkly silver thong and nothing else. Her flatmate was studying law at the London School of Economics and lap-danced three nights a week to pay the bills. She was holding a silver stiletto with a broken heel.
‘If it’s not one thing it’s another,’ she moaned.
Greta smiled. ‘A man gave me his telephone number on the tube,’ she said.
‘I know.’ She paused to take an extravagant drag on her fag.
‘Well?’ Tara insisted.
‘Nothing. He was a stranger.’
‘What was he like?’
‘Mmm. Tall, wavy dark hair, nice accent.’
Tara stretched her arms above her head and went up on her toes. She had full breasts that were really perky with nipples as pink as a rose.
‘You should call,’ she said breathlessly.
‘What have you got to lose?’ Tara asked and it was like an echo inside Greta’s head.
Greta’s bottom lip had dropped and she pulled at it reflectively. Tara had leaned forward to make her point and Greta had to tear her gaze away from the inviting spectacle of her flatmate’s boobs.
‘Can I borrow your red heels?’ she asked, breaking the spell.
‘Thanks, you’re a sweetie,’ Tara said, and took a puff on Greta’s cigarette.
Greta finished her wine. She started to pour a second glass and stopped herself, adding just a touch. She watched Tara slip off back to her room, walking on her toes like a ballerina, and braced herself to make the call again. What would she say? What if she got an answer phone? No problem. She’d hang up.
There was no answer phone. He answered.
‘I knew you’d call.’
‘Nothing ventured...’ He trailed off. ‘Come over.’
‘I could say a plate of spaghetti.’
‘Mmm. Sounds delicious.’
‘You’re not a vegetarian?’ he asked sternly.
‘No,’ she said.
‘Good, I don’t like girls who think they’re so precious,’ he remarked. ‘Anyway, you should never reject what you haven’t tried. Don’t you agree?’
She had to think about that. ‘Yes, I suppose so,’ she said.
‘It’s an awful old cliché, but variety is the spice of life,’ he added; he was easy to talk to and she liked his voice.
He now gave her his address. ‘I suppose you need to go and find a pen?’
‘As it happens,’ she said, ‘I have a trained memory.’
‘I thought you’d be a quick learner,’ he replied brightly.
Greta repeated his address.
‘I’ll be waiting.’
She replaced the receiver. Her armpits were damp. This was insanity. He was an axe murderer. A madman. She shivered and gave herself a little hug. She was just dying to do something different.
Tara wandered in wearing Greta’s stilettos; they had been in her room all the time anyway. She gave a little shimmy to show how good the shoes were for lap dancing.
‘Just the ticket,’ Greta said.
‘Why are you looking like the cat that got the cream?’
‘I’ve got a date.’
,’ she answered, sucking air through her teeth.
‘Don’t do anything I wouldn’t,’ said Tara and skipped off in the red heels.
Greta stepped out of her clothes. As she crossed the hall to the bathroom it felt as if it were someone quite different who stood with her face upturned to the shower. She scrubbed away the tube smells, the girlie smells, the reek of other people’s cheesy feet. A shoe shop. She shuddered. She shaved her legs. Perfumed her parts, and when she returned to her bedroom it really wasn’t Greta May who stood gazing at her reflection in the full-length mirror but someone like her, a perfect reproduction who stretched just as Tara had stretched, pushing out her breasts until they placed on the mirror two tiny kisses of condensation. Her nipples prickled with cold and she rubbed them between her fingers until they swelled and hardened. ‘You are naughty,’ she whispered.
She slid into black knickers, went back to the bathroom and cleaned her teeth. She lit a cigarette. Smiled at the absurdity of it. Of everything. She put on the black dress that crossed below her cleavage and leaned forward to study her shape; she had lap-dancer breasts according to Tara and she should know. Perhaps she should give it a try; at least she’d be on stage, on show.
Greta shook herself and decided the dress was too revealing. She took it off, tossed it on the bed and tried blue jeans and a shirt. Pretty good hips, she thought, took off the jeans and put on a skirt instead. Clothes help you find the character. Then, when you’re up there, out there, you’re no longer you, but then you are, even more so.
Yes, they really were someone else’s eyes peering back as she did her mascara. Someone who didn’t work in a shoe shop. She removed the skirt, slid back into the slinky black dress, then swivelled round just quickly enough to catch a glimpse of Polly in
The Raw Edge
Greta puckered her lips for the camera and skipped on tapping heels down the stairs to the street. As she was about to enter the tube, a taxi stopped and without a second thought she stepped into the back. She loved London taxis. She didn’t like London cabbies. But she did like their cabs. It was like returning to the womb. You were coddled; luxuriated. You learned how to love yourself, your reflection opaque and vaguely surreal in the dark glass, red and amber veins of light crossing the sky. London streaked by, the most beautiful city in the world.
Richard lived in a red brick building divided into five flats. She climbed the three wide marble steps to a blue door. His was the bottom bell. She stood on the coconut mat holding her breath, her finger hovering over the shiny brass button. A tongue of wind had slipped along the street, blowing hair over her eyes. Greta shivered.
The drum of the taxi faded to silence. The street was deserted.
, she whispered. Greta backed away, marched down the steps and only slowed her pace when she turned the corner and reached the newsagents.
She glanced at the titles of the magazines outside on the rack. She pulled out
but couldn’t face going inside the shop to buy it. She shoved the magazine back into place. If she hurried she’d get home in time to see the movie. She lit a cigarette and blew a long stream of smoke into the sky. The night was clear. Full of stars. The wind had dropped.
Greta was suffering the same old butterfly feeling that came over her every time she went for a casting and, as she had done many times before, she bit her lip, crushed out the cigarette below her heel, cleaned her teeth with her tongue, and set out again for the red brick building.
Come on girl, you can do it
. She took a deep breath and hit the bell.
The blue door buzzed open.
His voice on the entry phone was deep and seemed to come from far away. Her heels clacked over the black and white tiles in the long hallway, echoing in the confined space. Or was that her heart?
Richard stood in the entrance to his flat wearing jogging pants, a polo shirt. Bare feet. As she stepped inside he pushed the door just hard enough for it to catch, the click loud
like a cell door closing!
They were motionless in the half-light. He leaned forward, placing his palms flat on the wall, her head trapped in the space between them. He wasn’t smiling. He just stared. She stared back. His blue eyes were dark like the sea at night. Greta wondered if he would ever be cast as a leading man, but the thought was knocked from her mind as suddenly, shockingly, his hand came down in a swift slap across her cheek.
It stung, really stung. The slap was hard, not so hard as to bruise, but hard enough for her teeth to cut the inside of her mouth, the sound brittle as breaking glass. She tasted blood, and felt the blood race through her veins. Her breath caught in her throat. She would have screamed, but his lips were on her mouth, sucking at her and she responded to his kiss.
They parted, panting for breath, his hands caressing her sides, the curve of her waist, her hips. He lifted her dress and before she realised what he was doing, he ripped the sides of her knickers. Just tore them apart. She heard them tear and couldn’t conceive of anyone doing such a thing. It was like being in a play. She played her role, pulling away, but he was strong, calm, in control, and held her still, pinned to the wall. He pulled softly at the elastic at the front of her knickers where they were tight against her belly and she couldn’t understand why she eased her bottom forward just far enough to let them slide down her legs to the floor. He brushed the hair from her eyes. Her heart was pounding.
Greta recalled reading in
that women got wet when they were excited. It had never happened to her. Never. But it did now. She could feel a dampness inside her stomach. She felt that dampness grow liquid and leak from her, wetting her thighs. He pulled at the tie holding her dress, peeled the straps from her shoulders and the material slithered like a black waterfall to her feet. He was staring into her eyes and it seemed as if he was looking at someone far away, someone approaching across a clear, uncluttered landscape. Greta was naked but for her suede heels and satin bra. His palms ran down her flanks, up and down, then he turned her around in one quick movement, his weight forcing her down onto the floor.
He entered her in one swift lunge; it was terrifying and marvellous and took her breath away. The cheek where he’d hit her was pressed against the coarse floor covering. She opened her mouth, sucking air in short frenzied gasps. She could feel his breath, hot against her ear. He rammed deep inside her, harder and harder, and she raised her hips from the floor and pushed back, wanting more, wanting to play the part as well as she knew she could.
Greta let the fluids ripple and flow through her arms and legs, from her toes to the tips of her fingers. She spread her thighs wider to take more of him, all of him. She could feel his strong hands gripping the carved handles of her hips, pulling her gently, forcefully, riding her, and she heard little bleating satisfied noises and realised they were coming from her. She used all her strength to push back on to her knees and started waggling her bottom. Air was trapped in her throat. She was panting for breath, a pony after a long ride, and galloped on, hair tossing from side to side, her muscles straining.
Keep going. Keep going. Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop