Authors: Kristina Lloyd
‘I wasn’t too keen on baring my innermost fantasies. They weren’t exactly clean and sweet and, besides, I didn’t know if I wanted them fulfilled. Ilya wanted me to confess all so he could make my bad dreams come true. If I’d realised how well suited he was to do that – to drag my dangerous dirty fantasy down into his dangerous dirty reality – I might have kept my mouth shut. But I didn’t. I told him everything.’
When Beth Bradshaw – the manager of a fashionable bar in the seaside town of Brighton – starts flirting with the handsome Ilya, she becomes a player in a game based purely on sexual brinkmanship. The boundaries between fantasy and reality start to blur as their relationship takes on an increasingly reckless element.
When Ilya’s murky past catches up with him, he’s determined to involve Beth. Unwilling to extricate herself from their addictive games, she finds herself being drawn deeper into the seedy underbelly of Brighton where things, including Ilya, are far more dangerous than she bargained for.
Darker than Love
THE ROOM IS
small, hot and crowded. Coloured lights glide over the punters; the music thumps incessantly. But no one’s dancing. They’re transfixed by the woman on stage, who’s bumping and grinding, strutting her stuff.
At first, you think she’s dressed in a catsuit, skin-tight. But she’s not: she’s naked and her catsuit is body paint – pale metallic blue, silver and cream. Clever that, because, whether you want to or not, you end up stripping her mentally, removing clothes that aren’t clothes in search of nipples and a hint of skin.
She prowls on spike heels, wears gloves to her elbows and has a chainmail G-string slung round her hips. A metal disc covering her mons bears a
From the corner of my eye, I spot Ilya looking over at me. I’m sitting on the floor in the space of Luke’s open legs, leaning against his chair. My arm is propped on Luke’s thigh.
Ilya is sitting at a dinky little table with one of the best views in the club. And he didn’t even need to get here early for the privilege: I had to reserve him a place, and I don’t do reservations. If you want a seat, you get here
before everyone else, or it’s tough shit and you have to stand.
Seeking Luke’s attention – more for Ilya’s benefit than mine – I stroke his knee and tilt my head back. His cock is pushing a bulge in his combats and he responds as I want him to, absently tracing his fingers down the curve of my throat. Questing further, Luke’s fingertips slip within the edge of my scoop-neck T-shirt. Gently, he strokes back and forth, tickling along the upper swell of one breast. Ilya returns his gaze to the stage show.
As usual, I wonder if he’s jealous – and, as usual, I tell myself of course he isn’t.
Everyone watches as a black guy, naked but for black leather shorts, falls to his knees before the body-paint bitch. His wrists are cuffed at his crotch. For so long now, he’s been kicked and spurned. He bows at her feet, his muscular torso gleaming with oil. She touches the toe of one stiletto to his shoulder. Theatrically, he twists away on to his back.
The strobes start to pulse and the silver-blue woman stands astride the guy’s shaven head. Knees open wide, she lowers herself into a half-squat and he stretches up, his tongue poking eagerly in search of that no-entry pussy. The frenzied violet lights make their bodies jerk robotically. They hover, shuddering, tongue and sex inches apart; then the guy drops away, feigning exhaustion.
Luke’s fingers steal under my bra. He teases my nipple, brushing lightly until it crinkles to a peak. Suddenly I’m so hot for him. In a room full of people, his sly caress excites me fiercely. My heart races with the panicky strobes; the hard fast music pumps my blood. Adrenaline and lust hammer in my veins.
I want more. I want hands all over me, fingers in my knickers. I want Luke to join me on the floor, open my jeans and feel just how wet and swollen I am.
But I can’t have him do that. It’s a gig, not an orgy. If
you want to see some action you watch the stage. You don’t watch me – the woman who supposedly runs the club. At least, not yet you don’t.
So I ease Luke’s hand from my bra and, me leading, we nudge our way through the crush. It’s so damn hot it feels tropical. My office is cooler. Office? That’s a laugh. It’s a small, dingy boxroom the owners don’t use much so they let me have it as a work base.
I don’t bother with the light switch. We can see well enough because a street lamp glows through the small bamboo blind, and the room’s all orangey.
Luke’s quick to kiss me, and his hands, just as quick, slide up my T-shirt. Together we stumble towards the wall where he presses me against the dented old filing cabinet. He pushes my bra over my breasts, massaging my bared flesh with broad, eager hands, while his tongue in my mouth circles and thrusts. My back is damp with sweat and the metal chills where it touches.
The bass from the club room is a muffled thud. Every now and then the roar of a passing car surges up from the road; giggles and shouts move in and out of the pub below; and somewhere in the distance is the faint shrill ring of a burglar alarm.
I raise my arms and Luke drags my top over my head, snagging out an ear-ring. I deal with the bra. Then he whips off his own shirt and casts it to the ground.
His combats sit low on his hips, baring his flat belly and the streak of dark hair that runs up to his navel. His chest is smooth and tanned, beach-boy athletic.
‘Oh, Beth,’ he enthuses, heeling off his trainers. ‘Oh, you make me so fucking horny.’
And it occurs to me for the first time that Luke is not merely beautiful – he’s
beautiful. Appropriate because he is just so much surface. His hair, peroxide blond, is dark at the roots. He wears a thin silver sleeper in one eyebrow and a leather thong round his neck.
Three beads nestle just under the hollow of his throat. His features are clean and perfect.
If he didn’t have such great externals, Luke really wouldn’t have much going for him.
But I’m not complaining. Right now, a dumb blond is just what I need – a kind of antidote to the head-fuck I’ve got caught up in with Ilya.
And I’m probably being cruel. I liked Luke well enough the other day. But tonight, the mood I’m in, there aren’t many people who I like.
I reach for Luke’s crotch and mould his trousers to the solid jut of his prick. My groin flushes with heat, and my vulva is fat with sensation. Luke moans throatily; he’s squeezing my breasts together, mashing them urgently. With one hand I unzip him, while unbuttoning my soft, worn Levi’s with the other. The jeans drop to my ankles and suddenly we’re both frantic, tugging down underwear, kicking off trousers. Luke rubbers up.
He clutches me below my arse and lifts me. I’m suspended, my thighs either side of his waist, my back hard against the filing cabinet. Luke’s stout glans nudges at my labia and I’m so wet and ready for him.
‘Yesss,’ I hiss. ‘Fuck me hard, Luke. Make me sore tomorrow.’
Sharply he penetrates, his cock slamming high into my cunt. I groan deep pleasure and, for a moment, he stays there, lodged. Then he starts fucking into me, faster and faster.
The cabinet bangs against the wall and I flail, grappling to hold onto something. There’s nothing so I cling on to Luke, wrapping my legs round him, digging my nails into his shoulders.
‘Oh yeah,’ he says through clenched teeth. His face contorts with near-ecstasy, and with the strain of driving upward while bearing my weight. But he’s strong and he does it well. A thin film of sweat makes his chest glisten. I try to picture his arse, pumping away in the gap of my
spread thighs, but, in truth, I can imagine only Ilya’s. I push the image away.
Luke’s breath comes in ragged grunts. I grip his hammering shaft with my inner muscles and he says ‘Oh yeah’ again. ‘Oh fuck. Come, Beth. I can’t hold on. Fucking come.’
His mouth stretches in a grimace and he screws his eyes shut, thrusting violently. The first hint of my orgasm, infuriatingly weak, shivers within my thighs then disappears. I try to recall it but it evades me. A metal handle on one of the cabinet drawers grates against my spine. Then Luke releases a sudden gasp, like he’s been holding his breath, and climaxes with a gravelly, ‘Ahh, wow.’
‘Shit, Beth, sorry,’ he pants, slipping out of me and setting me down.
He presses his body against mine, sticks his hand between my legs and finds my clit.
‘Come for me, girl,’ he whispers, frigging me briskly.
I’m struck with a sudden, intense dislike for him.
Outside, a car – stereo on full volume – thumps up the road. Its booming bass hits a crescendo as it passes beneath the window.
I’m not going to come. The moment’s gone.
Gently, I push Luke away.
‘You owe me an orgasm,’ I say, wrinkling off his condom and knotting it.
He gives a sheepish grin and ruffles his fingers through his softly spiked hair. ‘Sorry,’ he says. Then he adds, ‘It’s your fault. This place is so horny. I never knew it was like this.’
‘It’s not usually,’ I reply coldly.
Luke flings himself sideways into the shabby armchair, legs crooked over the edge, and stretches to rummage in his heap of discarded clothes.
‘There’s a crowd of us going on to The Escape later,’
he says, leaning back and flicking open his Zippo. ‘Fancy it? Or do you have to hang out here?’
‘Something like that,’ I say.
Luke sucks on a Marlboro Light. I place an ashtray on the floor by the chair and when casually he flicks ash, he misses. It’s a crappy old carpet. Dozens of people have flicked ash on it and spilt stuff. But I get a clutch of fierce irritation. I want to scream at him to get out of my office but I don’t. I tell myself Luke doesn’t deserve my venom. It’s not his fault I’m using him.
I dress hurriedly, knowing that one of us has to leave before I get nasty. And it doesn’t look as if it’s going to be Luke, lying there, smiling inanely, smoke drifting up from his nostrils.
‘I need to see what’s happening,’ I say, tossing the keys in his direction. ‘Lock up when you’re done.’
I head back to the club room, get myself a Becks and stand at the bar, scanning the crowd for Ilya. I can’t see him. He’s not where he was.
I swig from the bottle, going through the various options. Maybe he’s gone for a piss; or maybe it’s all been sorted and I don’t have to go through with it any more.
Tears sting my eyes. I’m suddenly scared: scared for Ilya; scared for me.
I turn to the stage, my vision blurring. A woman with chemical-red hair sits spread-legged on a chair, dressed in purple latex. She’s plunging the haft of a multi-tailed whip into her vagina. Leather thongs spew from her open thighs like entrails.
I blink back my tears and look away.
I cannot believe this is Body Language.
I cannot believe I’m doing all this for Ilya.
Oh Christ, how the hell did I ever get caught up in this mess? It was only meant to be a game.
Months ago, I took up a tenancy on a new flat – half the first floor of late-Victorian grandeur. I’d got tired of sharing with other people; Body Language was doing pretty well; and I thought, since I’d just turned thirty, it was time I grew up and got a place of my own.
I’d been there over a fortnight and had finally got round to sewing up some muslin – my attempt at making halfway-decent curtains. People round here don’t go a bundle on curtains.
Brighton’s population is a transient, raggle-taggle affair, drifting in and out like the tide. It lives in flats and bedsits: tall, stucco-fronted town houses, all chopped up for squashed, modern living. And that means massive bay windows that would cost a fortune to drape properly.