His apartment isn’t really an apartment at all. It’s more like a converted floor of a warehouse that didn’t actually get converted. The floors are that grey, untreated wood that you often see in seventeenth-century sweatshops, and he hasn’t bothered to make things like ‘rooms’. There’s a badly hung curtain between his bedroom and his rudimentary living area – and when I say rudimentary, I absolutely mean rudimentary.
Cavemen had more mod cons than this. He invites me to sit on a garden chair, and I’m actually grateful for that. Because the only other seat in this ‘living room’ is a crate that used to hold melons. His television is sat atop another television, which I’m assuming doesn’t work. Unless his attention span is so bad that channel changing just wasn’t cutting it any more. Maybe his remote control doesn’t move fast enough – who knows?
I’m too busy studying every bizarre detail of his mad home, so that I don’t have to look directly at him. Because when he answers the door, he doesn’t do it like a normal person. I can’t give him the bottle of wine I brought, and inquire after his mother.
It’s impossible to do those things, when your host is completely naked.
And all right, he’s not completely naked. He is, in fact, wearing a towel. But when I say wearing a towel, I mean it in the loosest sense of the term. He hasn’t even folded it around his body then made one of those nice little tucks at one corner.
He’s just kind of . . . holding it over his bits. And the hold itself is very tenuous. He’s practically doing it with his pinky finger, and the drape that’s causing is very narrow. Before I’ve had chance to stop myself, I’ve glanced down and seen just about everything he’s got. I can practically make out the insides of his thighs, which has to be some sort of optical illusion.
If I can see the insides of his thighs, I should be getting an eyeful of his cock – but thankfully I’m not. I’m just seeing everything else instead. The arrows of muscle either side of his groin, the hair that leads all the way down to there . . . and his tattoos, oh, God, his tattoos. They don’t end with the coils on his arms. He’s got a dragon crawling over his left side, like something leading the way to places I definitely want to go. Its open mouth is about a millimetre from his left pec, and that pec looks eight hundred times better than it did when he was clothed. His T-shirt lied: he isn’t just hunky.
He’s good enough to turn me into a drooling, gibbering mess. I’m thankful that he offers me a seat, because if he hadn’t I would have definitely ended up on the floor.
And I think he knows it. Of course he knows it. You can’t have a body like that and not know it. He just swaggers around with it all hanging out, and expects me to look.
But he’s not going to get me that easily. I sit on his garden chair with my knees together, staring straight ahead at the curtain with ducks on it. And no matter how many times he passes me by, waffling on about how he’s just going to get dressed and do I want a cup of coffee and so and so forth, I don’t turn my head.
I can see him in the periphery of my vision, all gleaming and slippery from the shower, skin like honey in the low light that’s slanting through his makeshift room partition, and I resist I resist I resist.
Until he turns and heads back to his bathroom, flashing his completely bare ass as he goes. I totally don’t know how to resist then. The glimpse of him is so shocking that I have to turn, to get the full impact – and it is an impact. His ass is like a meteor, smashing down on my defenceless body.
I’ve never seen another quite like it. It’s so round and firm and full. And it has these hollows on either side of the cheeks that flex and fill out every time he takes a step. For a second I’m actually hypnotised by them. I’m hanging off my chair trying to follow them, and then he disappears into the bathroom and I actually curse in frustration.
He definitely does it on purpose. I see his expression before he lets the door swing shut and it’s pure victory – though I don’t hate him as much as I should for that.
He’s victorious because I looked. He actually cares that I did.
Is it OK if I kind of like that?
‘So, uh . . . this book you’re writing . . .’ he calls through the door.
‘What exactly do you think it’s missing?’
‘Realism,’ I say, but that’s not what I’m thinking. Passion, my mind whispers, and I know that’s true, too. There’s nothing I’ve ever put in a book, that’s half as good as you.
‘You think realism’s so important for a sexy book?’
‘I think that it’s hard to be excited, when you don’t really believe in something. When it seems unlikely that it would ever actually happen, in real life.’
‘And what kind of things do you think wouldn’t happen in real life?’ he asks, and I’m alarmed to find myself stumped. Was it the blindfolds and the talk of Masters that Lori didn’t buy? Or was it something else? When I look back on it now, the story seems so artificial. So full of things that I’ve never experienced.
But I don’t think that’s about realism, exactly.
It’s more about me, and all the things I’ll never be.
‘I don’t know. Some of the kinkier stuff, maybe?’
As soon as I’ve said it, I know it’s the wrong thing. And I was so proud of myself for hitting on an answer that didn’t sound quite so depressing! But of course, he homes in on it like a laser. I can almost hear him laughing, through the door.
‘Kinky stuff, huh?’
‘Well . . .’
‘That what you like to write about?’
‘Not exactly, I –’
‘Do you dream about being taken by a guy wearing a leather mask?’
‘That’s, uh . . .’
‘Or maybe you’re the one doing the taking, am I right? You got a secret dominant side, little mouse? You gonna tie me up and torture me with a hot poker?’
‘I hadn’t really thought about doing anything to you. At all. You know, in case you were worried about that. Which you don’t have to be, because I’m purely interested in . . . uh . . . in growing. As a writer. See – I even brought my little Dictaphone and my notepad and . . . and . . .’
And dear God I wish I could stop talking. He emerges from the bathroom – thankfully in a T-shirt and shorts – with an almost bursting look of amusement on his face. As though I’m just adorable, in the worst possible way. He even gives my hair a cute little pat as he passes me on his way to the kitchen.
And then he says this:
‘Hey, calm down, OK? My penis isn’t going to suddenly lunge at your face.’
Which makes no sense at all. I wasn’t thinking that. I was thinking he was scared of my vagina suddenly lunging at his face. Lord, how can someone be so open and so mysterious at the same time?
Even if I sort of suspect that he’s not being mysterious at all.
‘Did you say you wanted a coffee?’
I should say yes here, I know – normal people have a coffee. But then, normal people also know what to do when a guy hugs them, so in for a penny, in for a pound. He might as well see me for what I am, right now.
‘I don’t drink it.’
‘Really? Great. Now I don’t have to pretend I’m not a child who only drinks soda.’
It’s the first time I’ve really laughed in his presence, but I just can’t help it. I’m startled by his response – so close to how I feel, about that very thing. I’ve just never really said the idea out loud. I’ve always been embarrassed by my lack of sophistication.
But of course, he doesn’t care about stuff like that.
He just swaggers back in, and hands me my fizzy pop.
‘I got beer too if you want it.’ He knocks the cap off his bottle on the edge of a table, then takes a casual swig before finishing the thought. ‘Maybe later though, huh?’
‘Why? What’s going to happen later?’
Christ. Yet again my brain speaks before my mind has chance to get into gear. He sits himself down on the box, and kind of leans back on another two boxes that sit nearly behind it – like an armchair, I think, only rubbish. And then he grins at me, lazily.
‘Ohh, you have no idea what I’ve got planned. Bad things. Outrageous things. You’ll be talking to your therapist about them in ten years’ time.’
‘You’re fucking with me.’
‘Yeah, I totally am. Take it easy, Kitty-cat – I’m not some sex demon.’
What a fucking liar.