The Buchan Strategy

The handcuffs were Carol’s idea. The one, sure-fire way to make sure that I really had a memorable night down at The Spider’s Web.

It had also been her idea that we go there in the first place, and that we should invite the most gorgeous man in the world, Greg Watson.

I’d been more than a little dubious. True, my lust for Greg Watson was probably the worst-kept secret at Mainline recording studio. I’d fallen for him the moment he’d wandered into reception and deposited his beaten-up guitar case on the floor. He was my idea of perfection: in his early thirties, a little over average height, with a lean figure, fine blond hair that hung down past his shoulders and eyes the soft grey of the sky over Lake Windermere. The silence in the reception area had been so profound, if you’d listened closely, you would have heard me drooling.

That had been four months ago. Four long months in which I’d performed all the tasks for Greg’s band that were an integral part of my job as a receptionist. Not only did I take messages and fend unwanted phone calls, I made endless cups of tea and coffee, I fetched takeaways when recording sessions stretched out late into the night and I provided plasters for bruised and bleeding fingers. My proudest moment had been stopping a fist fight between the drummer and the producer, both of whom towered a good foot over me.

Throughout all this, Greg had invariably been charming towards me, and the nicer he was, the more I pined over him. There was now a swear box on my desk, to which I was forced to contribute ten pence every time I mentioned Greg’s name. One memorable morning, at the height of a mini-heatwave, when he’d turned up in a pair of cycling shorts, I’d had to cough up the grand total of one pound forty – seventy pence for each thigh.

And still he was nice to me, and still I lusted after him, and still absolutely nothing happened between us.

It was Carol, the owner of the studio and my long-suffering boss, who eventually decided that the situation needed to be manipulated to bring Greg and I together. Her fortieth birthday was in a week’s time, the same day as the next Spider’s Web, and she suggested we go there to celebrate.

Carol was very much into the fetish scene, and she would often stagger in mid-morning after a wild night at one or another club, regaling me with tales of outrageous debauchery while I plied her hangover with black coffee and analgesic tablets. I’ve never been turned on by the thought of pain and all the little rituals that go on in a place like that, but part of me secretly hankered after the idea of dressing up in some fabulously kinky outfit. The Spider’s Web, Carol assured me, was far more a rock club with fetish overtones than an all-out whipping and spanking parlour, and I’d love it.

‘But I don’t have anything to wear,’ I said, wondering how I was going to afford a new outfit the same month that my TV licence was due for renewal and my elderly Fiat Panda was about to attempt to struggle through its MOT.

‘Don’t worry, I’ve got loads of stuff you can borrow,’ Carol replied. ‘I’ll hunt through and find something that used to fit me when I was thin.’

It all sounded very tempting; she’d almost got me to agree to go, and then she dropped the bombshell.

‘By the way, I was thinking of asking Greg and the others along,’ she said casually.

‘I’d have thought they’d be too busy,’ I replied. The deadline for delivery of the finished tapes to their record company was fast approaching, and they were spending more and more time in the studio and less and less time socialising.

She smiled. ‘Well, I’ll tell them if they don’t come along, they’ll just have to go somewhere else to finish the album.’

‘Even if they do go,’ I said doubtfully, ‘it won’t be as though I’ll even see Greg for most of the evening. You know what he’s like around women. He’s just a professional flirt. And with all those beautiful girls there in their skimpy outfits, he won’t even look at me.’

‘I’ve thought of that, too. I’m going to get a pair of handcuffs and lock you both together. And then he’ll have no choice in the matter.’

At the time, I thought Carol was joking. I continued to think so when we met up with Greg, Paul, the band’s lead singer and Andy, the bass player, in a little pub in Greenwich. The Spider’s Web was a moveable feast, and this month it had settled in an old warehouse on the Isle of Dogs. Carol and I were causing quite a stir among the pub’s rather sedate clientele in our fetish gear. She was wearing a red latex catsuit which appeared to have been varnished on to her curvy figure, and was balanced confidently on high heels which would have given me altitude sickness. She’d load me an ornate basque which had miraculously given me a cleavage, and a tiny PVC miniskirt which had had all the male eyes in the pub glued to my slender legs as we walked in.

Paul and Andy were dressed in their usual rock ‘n’ roll flash, all snakeskin trousers, fringed suede jackets and hats which made them look as though they were auditioning for a part in Young Guns. Greg, who was normally fairly conservative in his dress – apart from the cycling shorts – was wearing skintight leather trousers and a sleeveless leather jacket underneath which he was bare-chested. I could have taken him into a quiet corner and devoured him inch by inch.

Carol, already slightly the worse for drink, greeted them with a noisy kiss. ‘I didn’t think you were going to make it,’ she said. ‘We’ve just got time for a swift pint and then it’s off to dance the night away.’

In the twenty minutes it took to order a round and drain our glasses, it became fairly obvious that my worst fears about Greg’s behaviour would be proved right. While Carol and I chatted to Paul and Andy, he roamed the bar, flirting with every available woman in the place.

Carol noticed my worried expression. ‘It’s okay, Lorna, he’s not going to go off with any of them.’

‘I know,’ I replied with more conviction than I felt, ‘but this does nothing for my ego.’

‘Poor Lorna, you’ve really got it bad, haven’t you? Never mind, your Aunty Carol will see you right.’ And with that, she smiled enigmatically and rattled her handbag. Something clanked ominously in its depths and I suddenly realised what she was planning. This was not going to be a night I would forget in a hurry.

* * * *

The Spider’s Web was a revelation. What was normally a derelict warehouse had been transformed into a vibrant club, loud rock music pounding out into the deserted Docklands night. A couple of hundred partygoers were already displaying their fetish plumage; leather-clad dominatrix types mingled alongside men dressed much like Greg and the boys in their rock ‘n’ roll finery. I could see Greg’s eyes were virtually out on stalks at the sight of so many women in underwear that would make the average Marks and Spencer lingerie department mannequin look positively overdressed.

Carol ushered us to the bar, carefully steering Greg away from a statuesque blonde in a fishnet body stocking and suspenders. She attempted to ask him what he wanted to drink, but his whole body language suggested a greyhound about to leap from his trap in pursuit of the mechanical rabbit. We’d only been in the place five minutes and his behaviour was already beginning to wind me up. There were too many distractions for me to ever have a serious conversation with him, and my lust seemed destined to remain unrequited.

Then Carol took charge.

‘I’ve got to go to the powder room,’ she announced. ‘You will be here when I get back, won’t you, Greg?’ Without waiting for him to answer, she continued, ‘Of course you will. This will make sure.’

Before Greg had realised what she was doing, she’d whipped the handcuffs from her bag and fastened one of the bracelets round his right wrist. The other, she clipped round my left.

‘Look after him, Lorna,’ she said. ‘I don’t want him getting into any trouble.’

Then she was gone, sashaying elegantly through the crowd, leaving Greg and I staring at her departing latex-clad back open-mouthed. He looked down at the handcuffs in disbelief.

‘Did you know anything about this?’he asked.

‘She did threaten,’ I replied, ‘but I really thought she was joking. She thought you and I should spend more time together.’ I tugged at the manacles hopefully, but they were secure. ‘Are you going to kill her, or shall I?’

‘Not until we’ve got the key off her. Come on.’ With that, Greg set off in the general direction that Carol had taken. This was the moment that we discovered the drawback of being chained together in the middle of a crowd; no one looks down at your hands, so they have no idea that you’re joined at the wrist. Therefore, they simply attempt to walk through the gap you appear to be able to make for them. We couldn’t move more than three or four yards without either Greg or I walking slap-bang into some solid expanse of chest or another. By the time I’d got my nose wedged between a pair of fiercely realistic silicone breasts and Greg had mealy lost a contact lens on the end of a dangling earring, we decided the best thing to do was make out we were actually holding hands and progress in Indian file.

There was no sign of Carol; after two slow circuits of the dancefloor, we realised she had done a more comprehensive vanishing act than Lord Lucan. We saw Pete and Andy languishing by the bar; the moment we decided not to alert them to our presence was the the exact moment they ambled over, pints in hand.

Greg whipped his hand behind his back, dragging mine with it, but he was not quite quick enough. Andy peered round to see what we were hiding.

‘What’s this?’ he snorted. ‘Have the police caught up with you at last, eh, Greg? Got you for being in possession of offensive dress sense?’

‘Nah,’ Pete said, ‘I reckon they’re auditioning for a remake of The Thirty-nine Steps.’

‘It was Carol’s idea of a joke,’ Greg replied, tight-lipped, knowing as well as I did that this would be all round Mainline the following morning. Pete and Andy looked at each other, then burst into an a capella rendition of Chain Of Fools.

‘We’ll see you later,’ Greg muttered, and hauled me off into the crowd.

‘I hate to tell you this,’ I said as we shuffled through the throng, ‘but I really have to go to the ladies’.’

Greg said nothing, but allowed me to drag him in search of the loo.

‘They’ll never let me in here,’ he said, as I bundled him inside.

‘There are so many drag queens around tonight, this place will be heaving with them,’ I replied.

Fortunately, there was no queue; just a stack-heeled transvestite doing a quick make-up repair job. I made for the nearest cubicle, and then the logistics of the situation hit me. The handcuff chain was far too short to allow Greg to stand outside while I used the loo. Either I took him in with me, or I crossed my legs for the rest of the evening.

He looked at me; I looked at him. We both knew exactly what the other was thinking. Eventually, I said, ‘Look, just close your eyes or something,’ and hauled him into the cubicle.

He compromised by turning his back on me, but all the time I sat there, my face flushing scarlet, I contemplated interesting ways in which I was going to murder Carol when we finally got our hands on her.

‘Perhaps we should find out if anyone’s got the number of a good locksmith,’ I suggested as we left the ladies’. ‘Or access to an oxy-acetylene torch.’

‘I think we should just go and have a word with the girl in the cloakroom,’ Greg replied. ‘I get the awful feeling that she may well have buggered off and left us to it.’

This indeed proved to be the case. The gum-chewing, Gothic-haired cloakroom assistant informed us that, yes, a brunette in a red catsuit had left about thirty-five minutes earlier and no, she did not know where she had gone. She glanced down, her attention riveted by our chained wrists, chomped thoughtfully for a few seconds, then announced, ‘You must be the two. She said I was to give you this.’

‘This’ was not the hoped-for key, but a message in Carol’s distinctive copperplate handwriting. ‘Told you I’d bring you closer together. I’ll be at the studio with the key.’

‘Okay, let’s go,’ Greg said.

I reclaimed my jacket from the cloakroom girl and we headed out of the warehouse. A black cab was dropping off a fare as we emerged into the warm July night and we flagged it down. Greg gave the driver the address of the studio and we shuffled awkwardly into the back of the cab. If the driver noticed that we were handcuffed together, he made no comment.

It was a good twenty-minute journey to the studio. Twenty more minutes to spend shackled together like fugitives from a chain gang. So much for Carol’s attempts to bring us closer; Greg and I were sitting as far apart on the smooth leather seat as the handcuffs would allow. After ten minutes of stony silence punctuated only by the chattering of the taxi driver’s radio, I could take it no more.

‘Look, this really isn’t my fault, you know,’ I said. ‘I know you’ve probably had a lousy evening, but I didn’t agree to any of this. It’s not like Carol suggested putting handcuffs on us both and I said, “Oh, goody, yes please!”.’

A fat tear welled up in the corner of my eye and trickled down my carefully made-up cheek. I sniffed and turned my head, but Greg had seen that I was crying.

‘Oh, Lorna, come here.’ He pulled me to him – not that I had much distance to go – and I found my head pressed against his shoulder. The faint smell of leather from his jacket, mingled with the musky aftershave he was wearing, was intoxicating, and I breathed deeply. I had wanted to end the evening in his arms, but not weeping like a silly child.

He was smoothing my hair with his free hand; I looked up and our eyes met, and that was all it took. Suddenly, his mouth was on mine in a heavy, powerful kiss that I had no desire to break away from and his hand was moving down through my tangled curls to stroke the hollow at the base of my throat before snaking down to cup my breast.

By the time the taxi pulled up outside the studio, Greg and I were both breathing heavily and the long outline of his erection was visible against the leather that clung so tautly to his crotch. He paid the driver, then we went to knock on the main door. There was no answer, and the door was firmly locked.

‘What now?’ Greg asked, his voice still smoky with desire.

‘I’ve got a spare key,’ I said, and proceeded to hunt for it while Greg attempted to insinuate his hand into the fabric of my borrowed basque.

We made it no further than the grey suede settee in the reception area before Greg’s hands were on me again, unfastening the front of my basque a little clumsily, hampered by the restriction of the handcuffs and my vague attempts to stop him.

‘What if Carol comes in and sees us?’ I protested.

‘I don’t think it’ll come as a shock to her,’ Greg replied, between kissing my bare breasts enthusiastically. ‘Isn’t this what she wanted, after all? Don’t worry, if she turns up, I won’t ask her to join in.’

Then he pushed me down fully on to the settee, and his mouth was on my breasts again, more insistently this time, his tongue playing across my rapidly-hardening nipples, the warm, wet sensation triggering off a wanting in me lower down, a need I knew would be satisfied before too long.

Greg unzipped my miniskirt and we manoeuvred carefully until I was left lying beside him in my hold-up stockings and a lacy black G-string. He bent his head, his long hair brushing sensuously across the tops of my thighs, and kissed me through the G-string. The tiny scrap of lace worked its way further between my lips as I writhed and squirmed under Greg’s touch, setting up a pleasurable friction against my clitoris.

I could feel his cock, rock-hard against me, and I wanted to return the compliment and take him in my mouth, but I knew the chain on the handcuffs was too short to allow us to get into any fancy positions.

Instead, I broke the clinch long enough to prise Greg out of his trousers. Removing his jacket was out of the question, thanks to the chain again, but I had plenty of access to his lightly furred chest and its flat pink nipples. I took one in my mouth, chewing and teasing the tender flesh, and he grimaced for a moment, then relaxed to the sensation. His clever guitarist’s fingers were suddenly inside my G-string, stroking my wet, delicate lips which were already beginning to open for him, and then he found my clit again and it was all too much. His thumb was deep inside my vagina and I bucked and ground against the pressure of his fingers on my little bud, coming in a short spasm of fierce pleasure.

I let him pull the G-string completely from me, clinging to his jacket while my head cleared, and before I quite knew what was happening, the head of his cock was nudging to enter where his thumb had been. I wrapped my legs tight around him as he inched inside me, then we were moving together, setting up an urgent, vital rhythm as our bodies meshed. He pulled out almost all the way before plunging back inside me again, and I caught a glimpse of his cock, slippery with his own lubrication and mine. I cold hear the handcuff chain clinking as we moved, and it was no longer a restraint to my pleasure at all; it simply added to the feeling that Greg and I were bound together for the duration of this glorious fuck.

This was good, this was better than good. Greg knew exactly what he was doing and I was more turned on than I had ever been, reaching my peak against surprisingly quickly. Greg was close to coming, too; I could hear the change in his breathing and feel the light film of sweat that sheened on his chest and thighs. He called my name as he spasmed inside me, and pressed his head between my breasts.

Somewhere behind us, there was a small clink. We looked up to see a vague shape moving away from the main door, and shuffled over to find out what was going on. Lying on the inner doormat was a small, silver key.

Greg tried it experimentally in the handcuffs. Carol had been as good as her word; it was a perfect fit and we finally slid apart from each other.

‘I was just getting used to those.’ I grinned, adjusting to the unaccustomed lightness of my wrist. ‘Couldn’t we have kept them on for a repeat performance?’

‘I’ve got a better idea,’ Greg replied, slipping his sweat-stained jacket off his shoulders. ‘How about we take turns in chaining each other to the mixing desk in the studio?’

‘I think that’s the best idea you’ve had all night,’ I said, clasping the handcuffs round his wrists and leading him off to further debauchery.

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Cowboys

Julia picked their advert out of the phone book because it made her laugh. Skimming her finger down the page, she came to a line that stood out in bold type: ‘RED INDIAN PAINTERS AND DECORATORS — WE’RE NOT COWBOYS’. She reached for the phone and dialled their number; whether or not their price was cheaper than the firm Miles had suggested, she would offer them the job. She was sick of always doing what Miles wanted: it was more than time she made a few decisions of her own.

The two of them arrived the following Monday morning, in a white Transit van which had seen better days. Even their names seemed suited to a comedy double act: Darren and Des. Julia eyed them as they sat in her kitchen in their overalls stained with the faded remnants of previous decorating jobs, drinking tea: brash Darren the younger of the two, somewhere in his late twenties, with messy blond hair which she suspected he dyed himself and an Estuary accent; Des a little older and from the north, short and wiry, with a permanently worried expression. They were exactly the sort of people Miles hated having around the house, and whatever the standard of their work, if they simply spent the next couple of weeks pissing her husband off, they would more than earn their money.

She had discussed with them exactly what needed doing in the dining room, lounge and hallway, and was eager to leave them alone to get on with the job. A manuscript was sitting two-thirds finished on her PC, the biography of an obscure 19th-century poet, Florence Gascoigne. The deadline was less than a month away, and Julia was struggling to meet it.

‘You’re a writer?’ Des had said, sounding genuinely interested. ‘Would I have read any of your stuff?’

‘Not unless she’s ever written anything for the back page of the Sun,’ Darren had replied scornfully, and gone to lay out his brushes in the dining room.

Though she was normally a stickler for peace and quiet when she was working, Julia felt compelled to keep the door of her study open. She told herself it was so she could hear if Darren and Des started slacking, but she knew that the sounds of their voices and the paint-splattered radio they kept tuned to Capital were a connection to the outside world. Writing was a lonely business, especially when Miles was consistently scornful of her efforts.

She turned back to her screen and re-read the last couple of paragraphs. Florence Gascoigne had died at the age of thirty-two from consumption, a spinster. Many of her poems dealt, in suitably discreet language, with sexual frustration and unrequited love. Julia could certainly understand the frustration side; since Miles had become involved in his latest project at work, he had spent increasingly long hours in the office and seemed to have lost all interest in sex. Like many women in their late thirties, Julia had taken this as a sign she was losing her allure. In an effort to re-kindle Miles’ desire, she had gone out one weekend and had her short, coppery hair cut into a fashionable shag cut, and invested in a new scarlet lipstick and a set of expensive lingerie in that same dramatic hue. She had paraded in front of Miles in the skimpy bra and panties as he sat in the lounge; he had glanced up briefly from his copy of the Telegraph, then grunted and turned back to the financial pages.

It was all too depressing to contemplate, and the weather was not helping. It was unseasonably hot for June, making Julia’s teeshirt cling stickily to her body. She went down to the kitchen to get a cool drink from the fridge.

The decorators had the French windows open as they sanded away the old paint, and Julia wandered into the dining room to check on their progress. Darren had stripped to the waist, and Julia stood for a moment, watching him work. He had a good body, what she could see of it, his chest smooth and lightly tanned. Miles had the beginnings of a paunch, from too many expensive lunches with clients, and Julia found herself wondering how it would feel to run her hands over Darren’s taut pectorals and down the length of his back to cup his small, firm buttocks…

‘Admiring the view?’ a voice behind her asked.

She turned, guiltily, to see Des smiling at her. ‘I was just..,’ she began, aware that she was wearing no bra beneath her teeshirt and that he must have realised that fact.

‘You don’t have to explain to me,’ Des replied. ‘I’m not that tight-arsed husband of yours. If I was, I wouldn’t be so keen to dash off to work. Not when I’d got a cracker like you around the place.’

For a moment, Julia just gaped at him. Perhaps he was testing her out, wanting to see if she would play the offended lady of the house and go running off to Miles to complain. There were enough stuck-up bitches in this part of Surrey who would react in exactly that fashion, but she wasn’t one of them. Deep down, she was secretly basking in Des’ unexpected compliment; it was more of a reaction than she’d got from Miles in months.

When she went back upstairs, she shut the study door firmly, and hitched her skirt up round her waist. Spreading her legs wide, she began to stroke herself, first through the cotton gusset of her panties and then on her naked sex, feeling the juice flow strongly from her as her fingers danced lightly over her clit. Julia closed her eyes, picturing in her mind Darren’s half-naked body and the look of frank admiration in Des’ eyes as his gaze had flickered towards her unfettered breasts. Her orgasm came easily, sending sharp spasms of pleasure through her, and she made more progress on her manuscript that afternoon than she had in the previous two weeks.

****

By the end of the week, Darren and Des were like two old friends. She had got into the habit of taking her lunch break at the same time as theirs, the three of them sitting on the patio and gossiping. It wasn’t the way one was supposed to treat one’s hired help, but Julia was growing tired of behaving in a manner which was socially acceptable to the neighbours. Miles had always left her in no doubt that it was his money which had enabled them to move into the stockbroker belt and let her stay at home writing, and he expected her to remain eternally grateful for that fact, as if changing the colour of the dining room walls once a year and having a multi-disc CD player in your top-of-the-range BMW was something to aspire to.

They were moving all the junk out of the hall cupboards, ready to begin painting, when Darren dropped Miles’ old briefcase, sending paperwork flying everywhere. He began to apologise, and Julia was waving his explanation away when something caught her eye. It was a bill from a jeweller’s shop in Hatton Garden for a pair of diamond earrings. Miles had never bought her diamonds as long as they had been together. She glanced at another receipt, and another; Miles had been buying suspender belts, panties and camisoles, and she doubted that it was because he had developed a secret fetish for wearing women’s underwear. She grabbed the briefcase from a surprised Darren and took it upstairs, where she could study Miles’ secret spending in private.

It was all so predictable: credit card slips for restaurants she had never been to, on evenings when Miles was supposed to be working late; a booking for the honeymoon suite at a small hotel in the Cotswolds when he had told her he was at a sales conference in Yorkshire. He had covered his tracks so well that not once had Julia suspected that he might be having an affair. No wonder their sex life had withered and died; no wonder he had remained oblivious to her body clad in that seductive scarlet lingerie.

The lingerie… It was neatly folded between sheets of tissue in her underwear drawer, Julia having thought she could never bring herself to wear it again after its startling lack of impact.

She went into the bedroom and undressed rapidly. Glancing at herself in the mirror once she had changed, she registered the way the underwired bra pushed her breasts together, forming a deep cleavage. The high cut lace panties and black hold-up stockings she wore emphasised her long, slender legs. She brushed her hair till it shone, and applied the scarlet lipstick to her bee-stung lips. Then she went to find Des and Darren.

She could not have surprised them more if she had come downstairs naked. Darren was staring at her open-mouthed; Des was smiling the knowing smile she remembered from their first morning on the job.

‘I’ve just found out that my bastard of a husband has been having an affair for at least the past six months,’ she informed them matter-of-factly. ‘The only way I can get over the shock is if the pair of you fuck my brains out.’

For the space of a heartbeat, they seemed to think she was joking. Then Darren, the bolder of the two, caught her in an embrace, pulling her close so that she could feel the solid length of his erection beneath his baggy overalls. They kissed, his tongue pushing into her mouth to take possession of it, as Julia twined her fingers in his long, blond hair.

His hands cupped her breasts, fondling them through the scarlet lace of her bra. She felt her nipples peaking beneath his touch, and found herself wondering dizzily how it would feel if he took them between his lips.

Des was behind her now: she felt his fingers reach for the clasp of her bra and unfasten it. He eased the straps down off her shoulders and Darren helped him remove it. She shivered as Darren’s work-calloused hands caressed her soft, white breasts; groaned in pure erotic pleasure as Des began to ease down her panties. They would be damp with her musky juices when he took them off, and she imagined him putting them to his face and breathing in her intimate odour.

Obediently, she stepped out of the panties. Now all she wore was the lace-topped stockings and her black high heels, and she felt wanton and vulnerable at the same time. Des’ hands spanned her still-trim waist, moved down over her gently flaring hips till he was holding her bottom cheeks. His thumbs traced the cleft between them, brushing briefly over her anal opening. Darren’s mouth was on her breast, suckling her crinkled, apricot-hued nipple. She parted her legs wider, wanting to feel Des’ fingers in her sex. When he obliged, parting her ragged inner lips and slipping one finger into her moist, cavernously empty channel, she felt herself go limp. It had been far too long since fingers other than her own had touched her there.

Between them, the two men half-carried her into the dining room, the furniture still shrouded in dustsheets, and deposited her on all fours. She waited, legs lewdly parted, languorously fingering herself, as Des and Darren stripped off their overalls and underwear. Both men were already erect, Darren’s cock long and slender as it rose from its nest of sandy hair, Des’ shorter and fatter. She did not care which of those two beautiful members filled her, as long as they did it soon.

This time, Des stood before her, presenting his swollen prick to her mouth. She made an O of her scarlet-painted lips, and engulfed the head of his cock between them. He tasted clean and male, and she began to lap eagerly at the droplet of juice which oozed from the little weeping eye. As she sucked, she felt Darren’s hands parting the cheeks of her backside. His blunt glans nudged at the entrance to her sex, seeking entry. She felt him slip inside her, lodging himself in her warm, juicy sheath, and then he was thrusting into her, deeper than she had ever experienced with Miles. Every movement pushed her further on to Des’ cock, so that she was fully impaled at both ends. The radio was playing forgotten in the kitchen; a distant counterpoint to the soft sighing and slapping noises that filled the dining room.

Behind her, Darren was speeding up, his taut balls banging against her bottom with every stroke. Des, unable to resist the wet sucking pressure of Julia’s lips, groaned and filled her mouth with viscous, salty spunk. As Darren gave one last convulsive thrust, Julia felt his cock grow briefly larger within her. She pressed her own fingers hard to her clit, timing it so that they reached orgasm almost at the same time. The sensation was so strong, she almost lost consciousness.

****

When Miles returned home that evening, he would discover that a few things were missing: Julia’s clothes from the wardrobe, the PC from her study and every last trace of the two-man team from Red Indian Painters And Decorators. In their place, he would be greeted by the immaculately-worded statement, ‘FUCK YOU’, in eggshell emulsion on every wall of every room in the house. As with everything Darren and Des had done for Julia, it was a beautiful job and worth every penny she had paid them. She wished she could be there to see his face, she thought regretfully as she loaded the last of her possessions into the back of the Transit van, but she had other plans for the rest of her life. The two decorators had restored her faith in her own sexuality, and it was time to go out and paint the town red…

On Santa’s Lap

I put my head round the living room door on the way up to bed, wanting to take one last look at the Christmas tree. A pile of prettily wrapped presents stood beneath it. In a few hours, those wrappings would have been reduced to shreds of patterned paper and scrunched-up ribbon, as Chloe and Josh ripped into them, eager to get at the toys inside. Probably at six o’clock tomorrow morning, if last Christmas was anything to go by. On the table stood the plate of mince pies and glass of sherry for Santa and the carrots for his reindeer Chloe had insisted on leaving out before she and her brother had gone to bed.

And by the table, biting into one of those mince pies, was a bearded man in a bright red suit and polished black boots…

‘Santa…’ The word slipped from my lips before I could stop it. I tried to back out of the room quietly, hoping he hadn’t noticed me, but he put the half-eaten pie down and strode in my direction.

‘Who’s there? Who’s spying on me?’

He flung the door open, staring straight at me. I’d expected him to be angry at the fact I’d done what children all over the world dreamed of doing on Christmas Eve and caught him in the act of visiting my home. Instead, as he looked me up and down, dressed in my cream silk nightdress and matching robe, a very different emotion crossed his face.

‘So…’ His tone was jolly, his eyes twinkling above his thick white moustache. ‘Who do we have here?’

‘Molly, Santa.’ My tone was meek, overawed, just as it had been all those years ago when I’d visited the grotto at the biggest department store in town, to sit on his knee and tell him what I wanted for Christmas.

‘Well, Molly, I should have something for you, but first of all I need to know whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year.’

Quickly, I thought back over the last twelve months. It had been the best year I’d experienced since John had died . Bringing up the children on my own had been hard – until Dan came along.

Should I tell Santa about all the nice things that had happened since Dan had stopped being the cute blue-eyed stranger I sometimes sat opposite on the train into town and became the man I went for drinks and dinner with, and eventually the man who shared my bed and acted as a surrogate father to Chloe and Josh. Should I mention the trip to the seaside, where we’d gone hunting for crabs in rock pools and walked along the promenade eating enormous ice creams? Or the time Dan had pulled an all-nighter in the office, trying to meet a pressing deadline, and I’d gone over there with sandwiches and a flask of soup for him?

I wanted to list all the nice things I’d done – and had done for me in return – but the more I thought of Dan, and the more Santa watched me with a look of rising desire, the more my naughty side came to the fore. Persuading my mother to take the children for the weekend, so Dan and I could spend our time alone having sex in every room in the house. Using one of Dan’s sober work ties to fasten his wrists to the bed rail and teasing his bound body with a long, tickly feather. Turning up at his office on another occasion wearing nothing but lingerie under my coat and fucking Dan on his desk.

Weighing up the evidence, there was only one answer I could honestly give. ‘Santa, I’ve been naughty.’

Santa shook his head wearily, but his smile was still broad. ‘At your age, you really should know better, Molly. I said I had something for you – well, I regret to say it’s a spanking.’

He didn’t sound like he was regretting it at all, I thought as he took my hand and led me into the living room. If anything, he seemed to be looking forward to it.

‘Don’t you have other places to be?’ I asked. ‘Other presents to hand out?’

‘Only here, only handing out what you obviously richly deserve. Now come on, take off that robe and climb on my knee.’

He sat on the sofa, spreading his broad thighs slightly. Looking at him, I realised that for the first time in twenty years, I was going to find myself on Santa’s lap. I was surprised to realise the prospect of this big, strong man spanking my arse thrilled me as much as it alarmed me.

Even so, as I positioned my8self obediently over his knee, feeling the slightly scratchy wool of his red suit against my bare legs, I couldn’t help wondering whether this was going to hurt.

His hand stroked the curves of my bum as he murmured, ‘Oh, naughty Molly, what are we going to do with you?’ Then he smacked my left cheek, just hard enough to sting.

I gave a little yelp, wriggling on his lap. He ignored my reaction, swatting my other cheek. He’d obviously done this before, because he knew just how to vary the pace of my spanking. The sense of not knowing when the next smack was going to land, and how hard it would be, had my stomach knotted with tension. More importantly, it was causing my pussy to get wet. Of all the reactions I’d expected to have to being spanked, this was the last thing I’d imagined happening. How could it turn me on to have my bottom peppered with fierce, burning slaps? But it was. The sense of being so vulnerable, so deliciously submissive, was turning me on like never before.

When he lifted the hem of my nightdress, exposing my bare bottom, I didn’t object. I wanted him to do it, to take a good long look at the red marks his palm had left on my creamy skin before resuming my spanking. I tried to turn my head, to see his reaction, but he pressed me firmly into place.

‘Oh, no, Molly, this isn’t over yet. A naughty girl like you really needs to be reminded how to behave…’

With that, he swatted my bum again. Without the admittedly scant protection of my nightdress, I felt the blow all the more keenly. Another half-dozen hard slaps followed, but after each one, he rubbed the flesh of my arse, his hand slowly moving lower till he was playing with the juicy folds of my pussy. By now, I knew he was just as excited as I was; the hard bulge in his trousers was all the proof I needed of that.

‘You took that so well,’ he said, as he helped me off his knee.’Perhaps you do deserve a present, after all.’

As he unzipped his fly, I knew exactly what that present would be. He brought his cock out, letting me admire the mouthwateringly hard length for a moment.

Then he hauled me back on to his lap again. I guided the head of his cock into place and let the weight of my body pull me down on to him. He filled me like a well-stuffed Christmas stocking, almost taking my breath away. I held steady for a moment, adjusting to the feel of him inside me.

This really is the naughtiest thing I’ve ever done, I thought as I rode him. And I’m loving it. I had no concerns that Chloe and Josh might wake up and interrupt us. They would be sound asleep, dreaming of snowmen and reindeer and all the fun they were going to have with their own presents tomorrow.

Beneath me, Santa groaned and stiffened slightly. I knew he couldn’t be far from coming, and I speeded up my movements, grinding down hard on to the root of his cock. His finger sought out my clit, rubbing it swiftly in the moments before his orgasm hit him and he filled me with his seed. The sight of him, blue eyes half-closed, bearded face contorted in bliss, spurred me on. My fingers replaced his between my legs, and in moments I was coming, tiny snowflakes whirling behind my closed eyelids.

It took a while before I recovered enough to ease myself off his slowly wilting erection.

‘That was amazing,’ he said, as he unhooked the beard from behind his ears.

‘I told you it would be,’ I replied, kissing his soft, familiar mouth. That was one of the things I loved about Dan; his willingness to try new ways of spicing up our sex life. He’d initially been reluctant to try this game of Christmas discipline, certain he would feel silly in the role I wanted him to play, but the results had been well worth it. ‘We’ll just have to make sure to get the costume dry-cleaned before we take it back to the fancy dress shop.’

Dan made to remove the red jacket, obviously thinking the game was over for the night, but I stopped him.

‘Leave it on,’ I said, slithering slowly down till my mouth was on a level with his gorgeous cock. ‘They say Santa only comes once a year, but I intend to prove them wrong…’

57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)

I hated my job; I had done since my first day there. As the make-up girl for Midnight Dynamite, the adult satellite channel, I had to spend my time powdering and pandering to the egos of the succession of minor glamour models who fronted the station’s output. Each seemed to be bitchier and more vacuous than the last, with so much silicon implanted in her chest that it must have been like making love to a bag full of bowling balls. I hated my boss, too: Bruce Figgins was a jumped-up nobody with a diamond embedded in his front tooth and an over-developed sense of his own importance. Primeval slime would have had qualms about spending time in his company. Only two things kept me at the station: the fact that the studio was a mere five minutes’ walk from my rented Docklands flat, and the knowledge that, following the incident in the broom cupboard at the Christmas party with a well-endowed sound engineer from Wolverhampton and a bottle of Cointreau, I would never work for the BBC again.

It was Friday afternoon, the last of the month, and that meant only one thing: a new bimbo in the hot seat, needing help with her overdone lip gloss, and words of no more than one syllable on the autocue. I rolled up for work fifteen minutes early and bumped into Mark, the youngest and best-looking of the station’s three cameramen. He was dressed in his usual uniform of blue chambray shirt tucked into tight, faded jeans, his short blond hair flopped into his face, and his blue eyes glittered behind their round, wire-framed glasses. He flashed me an “I know something you don’t” grin as I retrieved my shoulder bag from where it had tangled in his sleeve.

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” I asked him.

“What?” he replied.

“That expression on your face, the one that makes me think I’m in for a rough time.”

“Oh, nothing. Just take a look in the green room,” he said enigmatically. As I turned to pass him, he added, “You know I’ve got a bottle of brandy hidden in my locker.”

I shook my head, not having marked him down as a secret drinker.

“You do now. Just in case you need it.”

“Cheers, Mark,” I muttered, and went to deposit my bag in the dressing room before heading to see what was waiting for me in the glorified veal crate we laughingly called the green room.

It was a vision in stonewashed denim and pink patent leather stilettoes, the merest hint of mousy root ruining the illusion of natural blonde locks. It chewed gum with all the placidity of a prize Friesian as it studied its horoscope in the latest edition of OK! magazine. I glued an artificial smile to my face as I approached it.

“Hi, you must be Shelley,” I said, holding out my hand, which it declined to shake. “I’m Lizzie.”

It stopped chewing for the briefest second. “All right, babes,” it replied in squeaky Cockney tones, and returned to the forecast for Gemini.

“Would you like to come through with me?” I asked.

It picked up a bulky sports bag and tottered behind me into the dressing room. Shelley Valenti, known to her parents and the tax man as Mandy Bickerdike, a veteran of Page Three, Penthouse and a selection of soft-focus lesbian porn films at the disgustingly tender age of nineteen. Those pneumatic breasts and perky, cellulite-free bottom had graced posters, calendars and the cover of a chart-topping heavy metal album, fetchingly draped in little more than a black lace suspender belt, and not they were set to be the main attraction of the next month’s viewing on Midnight Dynamite – once they had been given the once-over by yours truly, of course.

“Would you like a coffee, or a tea?” I asked, as Shelley slipped off her jacket and settled herself in the chair.

“You got any vodka?” she replied, hopefully.

“Er… Sorry, no.” If I had, I’d be necking it myself. Then I remembered Mark’s emergency brandy. That was one secret I was definitely keeping away from Shelley. The last thing we needed was our star turn rolling out for duty half-cut.

“Okay, I’ll have a coffee, then. Black, three sugars, please.”

I waited while the vending machine disgorged a cupful of the brown glop that masqueraded as coffee, cursing quietly to myself as I did. If only I’d remembered to lock that broom cupboard door on the night of the Christmas party, I could still be powdering the faces of the Newsnight presenters, instead of nannying a girl whose idea of intellectually-stimulating television was Postman Pat.

Back in the dressing room, Shelley was scrutinising her features in the brightly-lit make-up mirror. “God, I’ve got a bastard of a zit on my chin,” she sighed. “I always get covered in them just before I come on.”

“Would you like to get your outfit out?” I asked her, trying to distract her from regaling me with the ins and outs of her menstrual cycle in graphic detail. “That was I can see what colours will go best with it.”

“Sure.” She rummaged in her bag and brought out a beautiful baby-pink corset and tiny matching panties. I breathed an envious sigh as she held it out before her. I’d seen the identical outfit in the window of one of the trendiest fetishwear shops in Soho, and knew it would set me back the best part of a month’s salary. “D’ya like it?” she asked.

“It’s lovely,” I replied sincerely.

“I mean, it’s nothing special,” she continued. “I’ve got a blue one and a black one just like it, but this is my favourite.” She unzipped her skirt and let it fall to the floor, before cheerfully wriggling out of her black lycra bra top and lacy G-string to stand before me naked, her breasts apparently defying gravity. The way she was looking at me as she smoothed her small hands over her breasts made me start to wonder if she’d stuck to appearing in purely girl-on-girl films for a reason.

My suspicions were confirmed once she clambered into the chair and I began to apply the orangey foundation that seemed garish in the dressing room and totally natural under the studio lights. As I worked, blending it into her temples and jawline, I felt the lightest of touches on the back of my knee. I ignored it at first, but when long-taloned fingers started to skitter up the hem of my skirt, heading with unerring accuracy for my crotch, I snapped, “For God’s sake, Shelley, cut it out!”

“Cut what out?” she asked innocently, her fingers kneading my pussy through the thin cotton gusset of my knickers.

“I don’t like being felt up when I’m working, that’s all,” I told her, remembering the featherlight touch of a certain sound engineer and trying to sidestep Shelley’s unrelenting fingers.

“What’s up, don’t you fancy me?” she persisted, slipping one finger beneath my knickers and insinuating it into my moistening pussy.

“It’s not that,” I said, clinging on to my bottle of foundation with trembling hands. “You’re a very pretty girl, but I’m just not into women.”

“Don’t feel that way to me,” she retorted, raking a sharp talon over my clit and making me wince.

“Well, it’s the truth, so if you’d just remove your hand…”

“I’ll do better than that,” she muttered. “I’ll remove myself.” And with that, she pulled off her protective overall, grabbed her handbag, and dashed in the direction of the ladies’. By the time I caught up with her, the door to the single cubicle was firmly locked.

“Come on, Shelley, please!” I begged. The cameras were due to start rolling in twenty minutes; the last thing I needed was for her to throw a tantrum.

I was banging on the door when there was a discreet cough behind me. I turned to see Bruce, doing one of his occasional mix-with-the-plebs tours of duty round the station. He didn’t usually make an appearance on Friday afternoons, preferring to take what he euphemistically called a business lunch with his secretary, and I wondered if his wife had finally found out about this arrangement.

“Afternoon, Lizzie,” he drawled genially, flashing his diamond smile at me. “Everything okay?”

“Erm… Shelley’s just a bit nervous, that’s all,” I burbled. “Nothing to worry about.”

“Good, good,” he replied, and wandered off in search of someone else to frighten.

As I jiggled the door handle, I realised it was starting to give. The catch had always been dodgy, and I reckoned that one solid blow might be enough to break it. Summoning up all my strength, I hurled myself against the door. With a cracking of wood, I was through.

My heart sank at what I saw. How Shelley had managed to get her hands on Mark’s brandy, I’ll never know. I assume it was the same instinct that enables salmon to find their way upstream to their place of birth to spawn and die. Whatever, she’d done serious damage to what, on inspection, appeared to be extremely good quality cognac. Coupled with the effects of three or four proprietary cold-cure capsules, whose blister pack lay discarded on the toilet floor, she was spark out and snoring quietly When I shook her shoulder, gently at first and then with a viciousness born of desperation, she merely slumped forward on the toilet seat and grunted. I am not going to panic, I told myself, before taking a generous swig of the brandy myself and haring out of the dressing room in search of Mark.

Luckily, I found him wandering towards the studio, munching on an apple. He took one look at my face and realised something was wrong.

“You’ve got to help me!” I exclaimed. “There’s an unconscious bimbo in the ladies’!”

He didn’t ask for further explanation, but simply dashed after me, and together we manhandled Shelley out of the cubicle and into the corridor. We’d almost made it to the safety of the dressing room when Bruce rounded the corner.

“I take it there’s a logical explanation for this..,” he began.

“Erm,” I replied, visions of exile to the dead zone that is the Shopping Channel dancing in my mind. “Well… She just overdid the hospitality a bit.”

“A bit!” Bruce was apoplectic. “Take her into the green room and sober her up.”

“I think we’re past the sobering up stage,” Mark replied. “We’re more into the standing her under a cold shower for a day and a half stage.”

“Well, find a replacement for her, then. I don’t care what you do, just do something. We start recording in ten minutes and I need a girl in front of that camera.”

As Bruce strode back to his office, I looked at Mark mournfully. “We might as well go and collect our cards now. We’re never going to find anyone else.” Then I noticed the way he was looking at me. “Oh, no… Not me… I couldn’t…”

Ten minutes later, I was staring back at my new reflection in the dressing room mirror. Shelley’s corset wasn’t too bad a fit around the waist and hips, but I’d had to take in the cups with pins, to compensate for my relative lack of bust. A long, curly blonde wig covered my own hair, and I’d done my make-up in pastel shades that I would normally never have worn. I looked like a new woman.

“Perfect,” Mark breathed, his eyes taking in the swell of my breasts and my stocking-clad legs.

“I can’t do this,” I muttered.

“’Course you can. All you have to do is read out those stupid links and giggle a lot. What you need is some Dutch courage.” He poured the remains of his precious brandy into two paper cups. We toasted each other, and drank. Then he put his arms round me. “For luck,” he said, giving me a kiss on the lips that deepened more than either of us expected. We pulled apart; his expression was enigmatic behind the lenses of his glasses.

“Come on,” he said. “Can’t keep Uncle Brucie waiting.”

He ushered me into the studio, and took his place behind the camera while I settled myself on to the faux leopardskin chaise longue that was the focal point of the set.

Alistair, the second cameraman, looked at us quizzically.

“Shelley Valenti is history,” Mark informed him. “Meet… Lisette L’Amour.”

The next few minutes were a blur. I tried to copy the moves I’d seen the other girls make, rolling around on the chaise longue, pouting coquettishly, occasionally running my hands across my pert, corset-covered tits and down over the front of my flimsy pink panties. My script appeared to have been dashed off by a couple of monkeys who’d got bored in their attempts to recreate Hamlet, but I was doing my best to breathe some sincerity into the clichéd lines and, despite myself, I was starting to get turned on.

I must have gyrated a bit too energetically, because when I looked up from the autocue, Mark was waving his arms, trying to attract my attention. I stared at him, totally baffled, and then he dropped his gaze. I glanced down to see that my right breast had come loose from the corset, and my nipple was standing perkily to attention. I couldn’t work out whether he thought I should cover myself up or expose a little more so, made bold by the brandy and the unexpected horniness of the situation, I pulled at the other cup, baring my left breast, too. Mark was dumbfounded, but Alistair was busily concentrating on capturing my newly topless state for the camera.

I thrust my body towards Mark, almost hoping he would dare me to go further. His jeans suddenly appeared much tighter than usual, the outline of his erection pressing awkwardly against the faded denim.

I tugged at the laces on the corset, and dropped the garment to the ground. Lying back on the chaise longue in nothing but my panties, stockings and Shelley’s borrowed pink stilettoes, I spread my legs, aware that I was becoming very wet between them. Again, my fingers stroked across the thin material. Should I remove these, too? If I hadn’t been disguised by the outrageous wig and make-up, I wouldn’t even have considered the question. But I was no longer Lizzie Wallis, lowly make-up girl on the verge of losing her job; I was Lisette L’Amour, Midnight Dynamite’s sex queen. And if this was to be my last day at the station, I wanted to make sure I went out with a bang.

As I inched the waistband of my panties down just the merest fraction with my thumbs, all pretence at following any kind of script forgotten, Mark let out a muted groan. I could almost feel Alistair’s lens zooming in for a closer look so, with mock coyness, I shook my head.

“Sorry, boys,” I grinned. “I don’t go any further unless you do.” As they gaped at me I said, “Come on, Alistair, get your kit off!”

I never thought he’d comply, but he eagerly began to peel off his teeshirt and jeans. Mark shrugged and followed suit. When both men were stripped down to their boxer shorts, I gave them a saucy wink and wriggled slowly out of my panties.

“What next?” Alistair was asking. A face had appeared in the glass panel of the studio door; Bruce, obviously wondering what his cameramen were doing standing practically naked behind their equipment. His presence was all the encouragement I needed.

“This…” I caught hold of a slightly startled Mark and kissed him full on the lips. He began to return the kiss with enthusiasm, his tongue probing deep into my mouth while his hands roamed freely over my naked body.

Pushing me back on the chaise longue, he dropped his head and began to nuzzle at my breasts, slicking one nipple with his saliva while he pinched the other between finger and thumb. I pulled his head hard into my cleavage as he nipped the soft flesh with his teeth.

His cock was poking through the fly opening of his boxer shorts, the foreskin already retracting to reveal a fat, glistening head. I reached down to tug the velvet sleeve of skin gently over the solid column of muscle beneath, already curious to know how it would feel inside me. I was oblivious to my surroundings, forgetting about the camera and the noise. All I wanted was to have Mark’s cock sliding deep into my hot, aching channel.

I parted my legs a little wider, and Mark responded by sliding down my body so that his face was pressed against my pussy. I sighed as his questing tongue parted my outer lips and skated over the folds that guarded the entrance to my cunt. He hadn’t bothered to remove his glasses and I could feel their wire frame, cold against my overheated skin. His tongue was burrowing further, seeking out my clit, and as he began to stimulate the little bud with rapid flicking movements, I felt the ripples of orgasm flutter through my lower body.

Mark was slurping with obvious enjoyment at my pussy, and I could quite happily have kept him there all day, but I wanted something more.

As he kicked his boxer shorts across the studio floor, his swollen penis bobbed close to my mouth, and I reached out a playful tongue to tease its tip. His face lit up in a smile. I took hold of his shaft and began to suck in earnest, my mouth working enthusiastically up and down his length.

It wasn’t long before he suddenly pulled away from me. Disappointed, I pouted at him, but he whispered, “Sweetheart, if you keep sucking me like that, I’m going to come, and I don’t think either of us wants that just yet.”

“So what do you want?” I husked.

“Let me show you,” he replied. I allowed him to position me on my hands and knees, then he was behind me, sliding the head of his cock into my waiting quim. He pushed in till he was buried to the hit; a perfect fit, I thought, as I felt his girth distending my inner walls.

Slowly at first, he thrust into me, and as he steadily built up a hard, satisfying rhythm, I moved my fingers down to rub at my clit, taking me towards a shattering orgasm…

****

I don’t know whether it was Bruce who pushed the switch. All I know is that suddenly, the station’s scheduled output, recorded highlights of the Fifth California All-Comers’ Jelly-Wrestling Championships, was replaced by extremely live footage of Mark and myself, moaning and screaming as he thrust hard into me from behind. This was not the censored, sanitised lovemaking the channel’s viewers were used to; this was raw, urgent passion, and even if either of us had realised that a small proportion of Western Europe was watching us having sex, we were both too close to orgasm to care.

The combination of Mark’s cock in my cunt and my own fingers on my clit brought me to the edge once again and I cried out, my muscles clamping hard around him. The pressure was too much and he climaxed seconds behind me, his come spurting into me.

We slumped against each other, our heartbeats slowing, Mark bestowing a kiss on my sweat-soaked breasts.

“What a way to hand in your notice!” he sighed.

****

Miraculously, we weren’t sacked on the spot. Perhaps Bruce was uncharacteristically giving in to a generous impulse. Or perhaps it had more to do with the fact the ratings for that particular slot were the highest the channel had ever received.

My days as a make-up girl are behind me now, but only because I’ve officially become Lisette L’Amour, Midnight Dynamite’s resident sex queen. Every week, I share my leopardskin chaise longue with some minor celebrity or another, flirting and teasing, while my semi-naked cameraman records the horny action. I never go quite as far as I did on that first occasion, but if there were footage available of what Mark and I get up to once the camera stops rolling, I swear your satellite dish would melt…

In The Dark

If I’m honest, I accepted the challenge as a way of shutting Greg up. Okay, so maybe there was an element of broadening my horizons, of seeing things or not seeing them, as the case may be from a completely new perspective, but really, I just wanted to wipe that smug smile off his face.

Greg Harford and I had been rubbing each other up the wrong way from the morning he’d breezed into the tutorial class and become its most vocal member. Until then, I had been one of the more outspoken students in the group, always ready to argue my corner and defend my point of view to the hilt, especially when I knew I’d come up with a suggestion no one else had considered. Now, I’m not one of those people who particularly likes the sound of my own voice, and I’m no show-off, despite what you might be thinking; I’ve just never been a girl who’s happy to sit in a corner quietly while the men are speaking. It might not be an attitude that will guarantee you a date on a Saturday night, but I was happy the way I was until Greg turned up.

Greg was a couple of years older than anyone else in the group, having taken time out after leaving school to travel the world and learn more about it and himself in the process. Well, that was what he claimed, anyway. Whenever he started telling us about his time helping out in an orphanage in Goa, and the awful things he’d seen which the rest of us would struggle to comprehend, I just had a vision of him lying on the beach, head on his backpack, topping up the nicely golden tan that lingered on his skin months later. For all his pose of wanting to help the underprivileged, there was something phoney about him, as though he’d taken a few choice phrases from an Alex Garland paperback and weaved them into the anecdotes that had the rest of the class wide-eyed with admiration.

It didn’t help that all my female friends were totally in lust with him. With his body toned from what he reckoned was hard work on his travels and I suspected were a few sneaky sessions in the sports science department gym, and the bleached-blond hair that flopped into his startlingly blue eyes, he practically had them queuing up to fall into his bed. My roommate, Lindsay, couldn’t understand why I disliked the guy so much. She would have been yet another of his conquests if she hadn’t been so determined to remain faithful to her boyfriend, Steve, back home in Blackpool.

I just think he’s a poser,’ I told her, as we sat in the student union café, nursing mugs of milky coffee.

But don’t you think he’s good-looking?’ she asked.

It doesn’t matter what I think, because he thinks he’s good-looking, and that’s what puts me off,’ I said, taking another sip of my coffee.

Speak of the devil..,’ Lindsay said, gesturing to one side with a subtle nod of her head. I looked in the direction she’d indicated, and saw Greg wandering towards us, carrying a tray which contained a clingfilm-wrapped salad and a sports drink.

Mind if I join you?’ he asked, pulling up a chair and settling himself at the table before I’d had the chance to tell him where to go. ‘You know, you made a couple of great points in class, just now, Helen, but I couldn’t help thinking what I often do when you’re speaking

He pulled open the cap of his drink and took a long drag. Beside me, I could sense Lindsay’s eyes were fixed on the sucking motion of his mouth, no doubt imagining his full lips fastened somewhere else and suckling. I was just waiting for him to resume the conversation, wondering how he was going to casually insult me in front of my friend in the guise of offering me some friendly advice.

At last, he spoke again. ‘You’re very confident about your opinions, but sometimes you just need that little bit of life experience to back them up.’

Meaning that if I’d had the money to take a year off just dossing like some people…’

You can be really touchy sometimes, you know?’ He smiled, and peeled the wrapping off his salad. ‘I just wish you could have seen those little blind kids I met in the orphanage, saw how they coped without any of the advantages you and I take for granted. You should try putting yourself in their shoes.’ He paused for a second, forked lettuce into his mouth and chewed thoughtfully, before delivering the killer blow. ‘Try coping for a day no, even an hour without your eyesight, and you might realise just how easy you have it.’

I shouldn’t have got involved in his stupid mind game, but he’d quickly realised I could never resist rising to a challenge. ‘Try me.’

Are you serious?’ Greg asked. I met that stunning blue gaze, refused to be stared down. ‘Okay, then we’ll do it. You spend an hour blindfolded

That sounds a bit kinky to me,’ Lindsay chipped in, but both of us had almost forgotten she was there by now, we were so intent on goading the other.

Name the time and the place. I’ll be there,’ I said.

Greg considered the proposal for a long moment, and I realised that he’d been expecting me to back out. ‘Okay, I’ll let you have home advantage. It’ll be easier for you in familiar surroundings.’

Patronising bastard, I thought.

You can do it this weekend,’ Lindsay said. ‘I’m off up to see Steve, so you’ll have the place to yourself.’

Greg and I shook hands on it, and then we left him to his lunch. As Lindsay and I walked off to collect our bikes from where we’d left them chained behind the engineering building, I tried not to wonder exactly what I had agreed to.

We had arranged that Greg would be round at eight on Saturday evening. At five to, I was taking a calming swig of brandy from the bottle Lindsay kept in the top of her wardrobe for emergencies. The two of us shared a room in Fitzwilliam, a rambling Victorian house which had become part of the hall of residence complex when the surrounding land had been bequeathed to the university in the late Sixties. It was the Saturday before Hallowe’en, and most of the other girls in the house were off to a ‘vampires and virgins’ theme party which was being held in the union building. I could hear them shrieking and laughing in the communal bathroom as they put the finishing touches to their make-up and slipped their fake fangs in place. I half wished I was going with them, rather than being left here alone with Greg Harford and his ludicrous challenge.

There was a knock on the door. I shoved the bottle back in its hiding place, went to answer it, and saw Greg, dressed in a pair of faded jeans and a tightish, plum-coloured teeshirt that seemed to draw attention to his firm pecs. If it had been Lindsay standing where I was, she would have grabbed him by that teeshirt, dragged him to the bed and thrown herself underneath him. I was made of different stuff.

Come in,’ I said, keeping my tone friendly. ‘Can I get you a coffee? Something stronger?’

He shook his head. ‘Afterwards, maybe. We both know why I’m here, so let’s get on with it.’

So much for my efforts to be nice. ‘You’ve brought the blindfold?’ Greg had insisted on that, bearing in mind that he’d so graciously allowed me to conduct this daft experiment in my own room.

Here we go,’ he said, pulling it out of his pocket. I’d half-expected a scarf, or maybe one of those sleep masks they give you on long-haul flights and Greg should have picked up enough of those on his travels but this was something altogether different and a lot more heavy duty. I didn’t ask where he’d got it from, though I suspected he’d paid a visit to a certain shop in the centre of town, which had blacked-out windows and a clientele that was strictly over the age of eighteen. As he fastened it over my eyes, it blocked out the light so completely it really did seem as though I had suddenly lost my eyesight. It was a scary feeling, and I realised he had deliberately put me at a huge disadvantage, but there was no way I was going to back out now.

Okay, so what next?’ I asked, trying to sound more confident than I felt.

You mentioned something about a coffee,’ Greg said. ‘Now, I’m not going to ask you to make it for me ­ I wouldn’t like to see you scald yourself or anything but why don’t you go to where you keep the mugs and the coffee and get them out for me.’

They’re in the kitchen, down the hall,’ I replied. ‘I mean, I could go out and get them, but there are still people about, and might ask questions if they saw me running around like this.’

Yeah, you’ve got a point. What about that something stronger? Is that in the kitchen, too?’

No, Lindsay’s got some brandy in her wardrobe. Stay there’ as if I knew where ‘there’ was exactly, now I only had the sound of Greg’s voice to indicate his location ‘and I’ll fetch it for you.’

I could do this, I told myself. I had spent the last hour or so fixing the room’s dimensions in my mind, pacing the space from bed to desk to door and back again. Five paces to the corner of the desk and On the fourth, my bare shin barked against a wooden-backed chair. That hadn’t been there a few moments ago, I was sure. Had Greg moved it on purpose? Was he watching my efforts and laughing? Was he even still in the room, or was the sound of the door clicking shut as he quietly slipped away, leaving me to make a total fool of myself, only in my paranoid imagination? I shuffled along the side of the desk, a lot less confidently than before, then sidled my way to Lindsay’s wardrobe, managing not to fall over the leg of her bed as I did so. I found the door handle after some groping with my fingertips, reached up to wrap my fingers around the brandy bottle and take it down from the top of the wardrobe. Everything was taking longer than I had expected. Greg was right; it was much harder to perform even the simplest of tasks without being able to see. But had the orphans he’d talked about ever had their eyesight, or had they lived their whole lives in the dark, coping because they had to and never mourning what they had never known they missed?

I had read somewhere that if one of your senses was lacking, the others became sharper to compensate, which was possibly why I was aware of the tangy whiff of Greg’s sweat beneath his citrus-scented aftershave as he came up behind me and took the bottle from my grasp.

Don’t want you falling and hurting yourself on broken glass, do we?’ he said. So at least he’d stayed to enjoy my humiliation. His free hand snaked round my waist, pulling me to him.

What are you doing?’ I asked, startled.

It’s a good little experiment, this, isn’t it?’ he said, his voice soft, almost seductive in my ear. ‘I think I’ve achieved what I set out to do. I wanted you to explore, to break down those barriers you put up to stop people really getting to know you.’

Don’t be ridiculous,’ I snapped, aware that Greg’s hand was now softly massaging my stomach through my silky top.

What I want to know is whether you’re willing to break down those barriers in bed, too? After all, you’ve found out how different other things can be when you don’t have your sight to rely on. Imagine what sex is like when you have to use your other senses…’

Is this what all this was about?’ I asked. ‘Trying to get me into bed? Because it won’t work, Greg, I don’t

And then I felt his lips on the back of my neck, sucking softly. The warm, wet pressure, combined with the feel of his hand, which had worked its way under the hem of my top and was moving in small, relentless circles up towards my breasts, almost had me moaning. Whatever Greg thought about me, I could still just about count the number of times I’d had sex on the fingers of one hand, and I had never been with anyone who was able to find my sweet spots as unerringly as this man could. That’s because he’s been with too many women, a little voice in the back of my head murmured, but I didn’t want to listen to it.

I heard the clunk as he set down the bottle, so he could use both hands on my breasts. He kneaded my nipples though the sheer cups of my bra, bringing them to little peaks, while I sagged against him, not having any idea where he might touch me next. My senses heightened by my lack of sight, I was feeling every stroke, every pinch more keenly than I otherwise might have. The little ‘snick’ as the catch of my bra was undone seemed unnaturally loud in the silent room, but I didn’t make any move to stop Greg from pulling up my top so he could play with my bared breasts. He was going to strip me and fuck me, and I was going to let him.

Not that this was going to be entirely a one-way process. I could feel the hard bulge of Greg’s cock digging into the small of my back, and I reached behind myself to unbutton the fly of his jeans and grab for it. I felt daring and, as Greg’s hand slipped into my little lacy shorts and began to touch my pussy, dirty. I was wetter than I would have liked him to find me after all, I wasn’t supposed to be able to stand having him anywhere near me but he just gave a little chuckle as he probed between my sex-slippery lips.

I’m going to take you to the bed,’ he said, and I let him guide me the few steps to my bed? Lindsay’s? I couldn’t tell where I was any more. I lay there, wearing only my shorts, and listened to the rustling and fumbling noises of Greg undressing. His trainers hit the floor, then his jeans, and I couldn’t stop myself giggling at the thought that he might commit the ultimate sin of leaving his socks on, and because I couldn’t see them, I wouldn’t know till afterwards.

I just had long enough to ask myself if I really knew what I was doing, and then I felt warm, bare skin next to mine, smelled that horny combination of citrus and aroused male. I tensed my body, listening for any clue that would tell me what Greg was about to do next. Instead, I heard him say softly, ‘Touch yourself.’

What?’ I murmured.

Go on,’ he urged. ‘Play with your pussy. I want to see you do it.’

If Greg had really wanted to see my barriers come down, he couldn’t have made a shrewder request. I had never touched myself when anyone was watching; it seemed somehow seedy, as though they would see how skilful I was at it, and realise how that meant I must do it whenever I had the chance. But there was a pulse beating madly between my legs, almost drawing my fingers to the heat and wetness down there, and so I wriggled down my shorts and did as he asked. The first touch was almost too much; the evening’s bizarre events, combined with Greg’s teasing caresses, had turned me on like nothing I had known, and I was in danger of coming before I’d really got going.

Greg must have seen the strength of my reaction, because he whispered, ‘Take it easy, sweetheart. We’ve got all night.’

I eased off a little, barely skimming my clit. I could only imagine how I might look to the watching Greg, my lacy underwear down round my ankles, my finger circling and rubbing in the pattern I knew was guaranteed to bring me to orgasm. And then I heard a vaguely wet, slapping sound, just as rhythmic in its way as my own movements, and knew exactly what effect I was having on my appreciative audience. I wanted to tear the blindfold off, to watch Greg as he wanked as his cock, getting the same pleasure as he was clearly getting from watching me, but that wasn’t part of the game.

I was on the verge of coming, my bottom squirming on the blankets beneath me and my breathing fast and shallow, when I felt Greg’s fingers close around my own and pull them away from my pussy. I almost squealed with disappointment, but then he guided my hand to his cock and encouraged me to take hold of it, and my squeals became ones of anticipation.

He was big, and even through the condom which already sheathed him, I could feel the hot hardness of his shaft. ‘I suppose you think you deserve to be on top, don’t you?’ There was a teasing edge to his voice.

And why not?’ I pouted. ‘I’ve done everything you’ve asked of me.’

And done it beautifully, too, sweetheart, but now it’s my turn.’ He encouraged me to lie back on the bed, then I heard him shuffling into position between my legs. Spread wide and deliciously vulnerable, I felt him guide himself into place, just the tip of his cock entering me at first. He sighed. ‘I wish I’d got some handcuffs to go with that blindfold, now.’ I shivered at the vision of myself cuffed and completely helpless, then I groaned as he began to fuck me with slow, shallow thrusts. Instinctively, my legs came up to lock around his lean back, and I gave in to the rhythm he was setting, still depending on my other senses to guide me. Every noise, every scent, every movement seemed magnified. Greg was right: I had crossed a barrier, and I had found myself in a place I’d never been before. With all the stimulation my body had received since Greg had first secured the blindfold around my head, I was suddenly spinning into an orgasm more powerful than any I’d experienced, colours seeming to burst and spread behind my sightless eyes. And then Greg was calling out my name as he came, muttering, ‘Thank you,’ over and over as he slumped, panting softly, against my supine body.

We lay together for a while before he murmured, ‘Close your eyes, you’re going to have to adjust to the light,’ and I felt him fiddling with the fastening of the blindfold. I blinked a couple of times and then opened my eyes to see Greg smiling down at me. I took a moment to admire the glorious sight of him naked, sweat glistening on his naked skin, fringe flopping into eyes that smiled at me with what seemed like genuine desire.

You’re amazing, you know that?’ he said, stroking my tangled dark curls back from my face. ‘I never thought you’d agree to any of this, let alone go as far as you did.’

Well, you wanted me to prove a point, so I proved it. Or was this all just a trick to get into my knickers?’

You’re smart, you work it out,’ he said.

But I am right,’ I persisted. ‘All that stuff about the orphanage was made up, wasn’t it?’

He held his hands up in mock surrender. ‘Okay, it’s a fair cop. Yeah, I did go to Goa, and I did do some bits and scraps of work there. But you’re right, I did spend a lot of the time bumming around, and I didn’t work in an orphanage. And do you want to know why I say I do? It’s because girls like to hear it, because it makes them think I’m caring and sensitive.’

And what about the ones who don’t like to hear it, or the ones who know it’s all a load of crap?’ I asked, suddenly remembering why I had spent most of the time up to this evening itching to slap him.

They’re the ones who are the biggest challenge.’ He smiled. ‘But it’s worth it, because they’re the ones who, when the barriers come down, are the best fuck of all…’

Friday Night

We were about to give it up as a bad job and go home when he walked in. Until then, it had probably been the most boring Friday night Leigh and I had ever spent in each other’s company. We’d made it a kind of ritual for as long as we’d known each other to go down every week to the Duke of Burgundy, the most notorious rockers’ pub in the West End, and eye up the talent. Even if no one took our fancy, we were always guaranteed to meet up with someone we knew, have a few drinks bought for us and end up with an armful of fliers giving us cheap admission to the rash of clubs that started up after closing time.

Except tonight. We hadn’t arrived till gone eight, which was definitely a mistake. The pub was so tiny that the clientele of the Duke had a tendency to spill out on to the pavement, and tonight the place was so packed that we had a choice of sitting in the only available stretch of gutter, directly underneath the window of the ladies’ loos, or lounging against an uncomfortable stretch of wall by the kitchens of the Italian restaurant opposite, breathing in an unappetising aroma of garlic and wastebins. Leigh was all for finding a convenient knee to sit on, but two circuits of the pub had convinced us that, although half the rock fans in London were in the place tonight, it wasn’t the half we knew.

So we got ourselves a bottle of lager apiece, huddled as far away from the loos as we could, and watched all the other little huddles of drinkers watching us.

‘The crumpet quotient’s definitely down tonight,’ Leigh said, taking a swig from her lager. ‘Perhaps they’re all staying at home and washing their hair.’

‘Perhaps they know you’re in rampant pull mode,’ I grinned. I liked Leigh. She never made any pretence that she was out for anything other than a good time. Her handbag always bulged with condoms, because, as she was fond of saying, ‘You never know,’ and she usually had a sexy paperback or three for reading on the tube or giving her a few ideas while she was taking her latest conquest back to her flat. And if she went home on her own a lot less frequently than I did after our Friday night sessions, I didn’t really mind.

Leigh didn’t notice him at first; she was touching up her blood-red lipstick with the help of an elderly make-up mirror. I’d spotted him, though: the second I’d looked up from my drink and noticed him ambling towards us, I knew I wouldn’t be able to tear my eyes from his slender frame. He couldn’t have been more my type if I’d ordered him specially; his brown hair curled way past his shoulders and his eyes were a surprisingly vivid green. He was dressed in the usual Duke uniform of battered biker jacket and denim jeans that were faded almost to extinction, but there was a strange, isolated quality about him, as though he didn’t quite belong. I’d sometimes felt like that myself; though I usually had a good laugh with Leigh and I got on well with some of the crowd who drank here more regularly than we did, there was an unpleasant superficiality lurking behind it all. Everyone was here to see and be seen, the girls competing as to who could wear the shortest skirt, the most low-cut top, the tightest leggings, while the men were the sort who’d claim to be the singer in a band that were just about to sign a mega-million deal with Geffen in the States and turn out, in the cold light of post-coital day, to be an assistant in a record shop who still lived at home with his mum.

This man, whoever he might be, was different; I was sure of that. The only problem was finding some way to talk to him. I needn’t have worried; my bottle of lager was perched rather precariously on the pavement and, as he wandered past in search of someone he knew, he caught it with the tip of his boot and sent it spinning into the gutter.

‘Oh, God, I’m sorry!’ he exclaimed, watching the pale liquid foam away down the drain.

‘It’s okay,’ I replied, gazing up into those stunningly green eyes. ‘It’s probably Nature’s way of telling me I’ve had enough to drink.’

‘Let me get you another.’ Before I could reply, he had disappeared in the direction of the bar. I watched him push through the crowd, admiring his slender frame and tight, firm backside.

‘Who’s that?’ Leigh asked, following my gaze.

‘I think I’m just about to find out,’ I replied dreamily.

‘Well, I’ve got to go to the ladies’. Look after my bag, will you?’

I was lost in thought when a familiar voice said, ‘Here you go. Sorry it took so long.’

I took the bottle that was being offered to me. ‘Thanks… I’m Cherry, by the way.’

‘Rick.’ He caught hold of my hand and squeezed it, then sat down in the gutter beside me. By the time Leigh came back, we were chatting away like old friends.

Unlike most of the other men who hung around the Duke, Rick didn’t try to impress me with his exploits. No anecdotes about rock stars he’d probably never been closer to than the back row of the stalls at Wembley Arena, no bragging about a flash bike that in reality was propped up on bricks in a garage somewhere, having failed its MOT yet again. Mind you, Rick could have recited a page from the phone book and I would have listened to it with rapt attention. He was funny, charming and he’d completely made me forget that I was sitting on cold, damp Tarmac. And he was horny. God, was he horny!

By closing time, I knew I didn’t want to settle for just a polite peck on the cheek and a, ‘See you around.’ Leigh was getting rather friendly with a tall, dark-haired bloke wearing a back-to-front baseball cap, so I suggested to Rick that, as my friend was so obviously otherwise engaged, he might like to walk me down to catch the night bus.

He agreed with a smile and we headed off towards Trafalgar Square together. As we crossed by a set of traffic lights, I was quite surprised to feel the gentle pressure of his hand in the small of my back, but I relaxed into his touch as he guided me across the road.

On any other night, it’s a fair bet I would have had to wait almost twenty-five minutes for a bus, but tonight one appeared practically as soon as we’d reached the stop. I boarded, lingering on the platform, not knowing how or whether to say goodbye. Finally, I leaned down and kissed Rick firmly on the mouth; he responded eagerly, twining a hand in my long, silky blonde hair.

‘Come with me,’ I whispered, and dragged him on to the bus past a startled conductor.

We snuggled together for the whole of the fifteen-minute journey; Rick’s fingers moving very slowly in small, circular movements up the length of my stocking-clad thigh, closer and closer to where I was beginning to become very wet and excited. When we eventually reached my stop, my legs were so shaky that I could hardly make it off the bus. I couldn’t remember the last time I had wanted anyone so badly.

Once inside the flat, there was no ritual offering of coffee, no pretence that we wanted anything than each other’s body. Instead, we fell on each other, mouths locked together as we fought to get beneath the other’s clothing to the soft, warm flesh beneath. I could feel Rick‘s hand cupping my breast, running over my nipple till it stiffened to a peak beneath his touch. His tongue licked my neck and I shuddered with desire, then he was tugging at the zip of my dress, kissing the bare skin as he exposed it.

I was stroking the hard outline of his cock through the fabric of his jeans, feeling the long, solid outline of it. Unable to resist him any longer, I fell to my knees, pulling his zip down; he wore nothing underneath the denim and his cock sprang free, its smooth head purple and glistening, inviting me to taste it. I ran my tongue over the salty tip of his cock and he groaned; encouraged, I worked harder on the weeping eye, then flicked down the shaft, my hands moving lightly over his balls, feeling their weight, tracing the path down between them to the darker pucker of his anus.

His hips jerked, pushing the length of his cock further down my throat, and I knew that he was close to his climax. Perhaps I should stop; perhaps he wanted to come inside me, but I didn’t care.

Suddenly he pushed my hungry mouth away. ‘That’s so good,’ he breathed, ‘but I want to taste you before I come.’

He led me over to the settee, and laid me down gently on it, pulling off his jeans and teeshirt so he stood naked before me, his cock standing proud against his stomach. I lay back as he stripped, unable to resist touching my pussy through my lacy knickers, moving my index finger in tight circles over my hard, throbbing clit, then pushing aside the material to feel myself, wet and ready beneath my own fingers. If he’d wanted me to, I would have played with myself till I came, I felt so wanton and unashamed. I slipped one finger deep inside myself, still circling my clit, pinching my nipples with my other hand while Rick stood before me, massaging his erection, his pupils dilated with desire.

And then his hands had ripped my knickers away and his mouth was on me, licking and sucking where my fingers had been playing, his breath hot against my entrance, opening me further. I gripped his dark curls and ground my clit against his face, feeling his tongue moving skilfully over the contours of my cunt. Far too soon, I sensed my orgasm building deep within me, then I lost all control as the warm waves broke and I came, calling out my pleasure as Rick’s clever tongue worked its magic.

I lay, recovering for a moment, as Rick hunted though the tangle of clothing on the floor for his jacket. He retrieved a small foil packet from his jacket pocket, ripped it open, and gently eased the condom down over his swollen cock. He came to me, planting a hard kiss on my willing mouth as I took hold of his latex-clad member and guided it into my waiting pussy. The hot, damp flesh of my cunt clasped his rigid dick, holding him tight and safe within me. He began to thrust, long, hard strokes that pushed me back into the soft cushions of the settee.

I linked my legs around his slender back, opening wider to take him in, deeper and deeper. His thrusts were becoming more frantic, the wild, uncontrollable strokes that told me he was on the verge of coming. I ran my hands over the smooth contours of his back, raking my nails against the lightly-tanned skin.

And then he cried out my name, once, then again, and his spunk was shooting deep into the safety of the condom. I held him close to me, kissing his hot, sweat-salty skin as he trembled and finally relaxed, safe in my arms like a child.

****

He told me he was spending a few days away, but that he would be in touch, and so I waited, and waited, cursing myself for having fallen for a line and giving myself so freely in what had been nothing more than a one-night stand.

Then, one lunchtime, Leigh and I were browsing through the metal magazines in a newsagent’s near work, too broke to buy any of them, as usual, and I suddenly heard her shriek and call me over to see what she was reading.

‘I’ve just seen a familiar face,’ she said. ‘I thought you told me he worked in a record shop or something.’

And there, caught on stage somewhere in Germany, dark curls blowing in his eyes as he emoted into the microphone, was Rick…

Saltwater And Chocolate

My first thought, when I saw him striding along the water’s edge as though he owned the entire beach was, ‘Hey, get lost, this is mine!’ Stupid, I know, but in the time I had been living here, I had come to regard the long, curving stretch of sand as my own. Every morning, I walked Joss along the beach, half-past seven, regular as clockwork, and every morning I had the whole place to myself. Most seaside resorts are pretty much deserted out of season but here, even on a July morning, albeit a grey and overcast one like this, you could feel as though you were the only person in the world.

And today I needed that feeling more than usual, needed the sense of solitude that came from hearing nothing but the waves breaking over shingle and the gulls wheeling overhead. Last night, I had dreamed about Dominic, and woken to find the pillow wet with my tears. It was getting easier, as it should be doing after almost a year, but I still found myself missing him, still couldn’t stop myself thinking how bloody stupid and unfair it all was. It had been my fantasy as long as I could remember, to live my life with a deserted beach to walk along every morning, hand in hand with the man I loved and a dog of indeterminate breed loping ahead of us. And when that fantasy had finally come true, it had been less than three months before my husband had been taken from me, killed on a wet night on Snaefell, trying to take a corner too fast on his bike. And so I walked on my own, trying to forget and still, however hard I tried, not quite managing it.

I buried my hands in my jacket pocket, telling myself not to be churlish. Whoever this bloke was, he had as much right to walk along the beach as I did. And he might have wandered back on to the promenade and the rest of it would never have happened, if Joss hadn’t decided to go chasing birds. There were a couple of herring gulls sitting on the water, preening their feathers, and Joss went bounding in after them, barking and splashing around till they took off, wheeling lazily into the sky. Joss lolloped out of the water, no more than a foot or so from where the stranger was standing, and coiled his wiry body, ready to shake himself dry.

‘Look out there!’ I called, and he turned, just in time to side-step the droplets spraying from Joss’ wet fur.

He smiled at me as I approached. ‘Thanks for that. I’ve already had a shower this morning.’

Close up, he was younger than I had first thought, probably only in his mid-twenties, and well over six feet tall, with curly, mousy hair and startlingly blue eyes. He was dressed in a grey fisherman’s rib jumper and faded jeans with a rip in one knee; it struck me as the sort of outfit regarded as casual clothes by a man who spent all week buttoned up in a suit. He smiled again, dimples appearing in his cheeks. For that smile, I found myself thinking, I could forgive him disturbing the peace of my beach.

Joss bounded up, tail wagging. I had a plastic bottle with me, half-filled with water for ballast, and I threw it into the waves, shouting, ‘Go fetch, Joss.’ This was one of his favourite games, and he would happily let me throw the bottle for him till my arm was limp with tiredness.

‘He gets me up this early,’ I said, gesturing towards Joss. ‘What’s your excuse?’

‘Couldn’t sleep,’ he replied. ‘I never can in a strange bed.’ He offered his hand to me to shake. ‘My name’s Andy, by the way.’

‘I’m Ruth. And he’s Joss.’ Hearing his name, Joss trotted over and dropped the bottle at Andy’s feet, looking at him expectantly and wagging his tail. ‘He likes you,’ I said. ‘He doesn’t normally want complete strangers to do that.’

‘I love dogs.’ Andy threw the bottle, his long arm arcing it out further into the water than I could ever manage. ‘I’d love to have a couple, but when you live in the city it’s not fair on them.’

‘So what’s a city boy doing on the Isle of Man?’ The old me, the London me who had first moved here with Dominic, would never have dreamed of being so nosy. But now I was used to the relaxed pace of the island, where people had time to talk and were happy to listen. And the longer I stood talking to Andy, the more I noticed the warmth in his blue eyes and the sensual curve of his lips. It was a long time since I had looked at any man in this way, and he was really far too young for me to be taking an interest in, but it was suddenly nice to be made aware that not all my feelings had died with Dominic.

‘I was given a weekend here as a thank you for meeting a load of sales targets. I sell advertising for a travel trade magazine, which isn’t as glamorous as sounds. Anyway, I’ve brought my girlfriend, Abby, with me. We’re staying in the McIntosh.’

I knew it well; the one five-star hotel on this side of the island. When Dominic and I had come here, looking for our dream home, we had stayed in the McIntosh. I remembered a light, airy room with a comfortable king-sized bed, and Dominic’s body pressed against mine as his we lay side by side, his cock slowly thrusting in and out of me from behind. If it hadn’t been for the fact we had half-a-dozen properties lined up to view, we might not have left that room for a week…

I pulled my thoughts back to the present. ‘So she’s having a lie-in, then?’

‘Well, she was asleep when I left her. To tell you the truth, I don’t think she’s too happy about being here. When I told her I was taking her away for the weekend, I think she was hoping for Milan, or New York. Somewhere she could do some shopping. I don’t think the Isle of Man is exactly glamorous enough for Abby.’

As he spoke, I was building a picture of her in my head. Fashionably messy, highlighted hair; a taut body, toned by a couple of sessions a week at an exclusive health club; a jewelled stud glittering in her pierced navel. She probably had a job in PR, or working for some small TV production company. No, this sleepy island wouldn’t be nearly glamorous enough for a girl like that.

Andy sighed. ‘We had a fight about it, last night. That’s part of the reason why I couldn’t sleep. She was talking about catching the first plane back to London. And when she wakes up and sees the weather, she’s going to be straight on the phone to the airport.’

‘Then she’s an idiot,’ I told him. ‘The two of you could have such a good time here.’ I shrugged. ‘But maybe I’m biased. I love this island so much, even after–’ I bit my lip to stop the words spilling out.

‘After what?’ Andy asked.

‘I moved here with my husband…. He died a few months ago.’

‘I’m sorry,’ Andy said. He patted Joss’ shaggy head, and I was suddenly aware of how long we had been standing at the water’s edge.

‘If you’re interested, I have some decent guidebooks to the area. You could use them to plan what you and your girlfriend are going to do today. My house is a few minutes’ walk away – and I bet you haven’t had any breakfast yet. I make a decent bacon sandwich, if you fancy one.’

I half expected him to refuse the offer – after all, I knew just how good the food was at the McIntosh – but he smiled and said, ‘Thanks, that’d be great.’

I clipped Joss’ lead on to his collar, and we began to make our way along the promenade and up the hill towards the house. It was the last one Dominic and I had viewed, just as we were starting to think everything was either out of our price range or needed too much renovation to make it habitable, but as soon as we had stepped through the front door, it had felt like home.

I led Andy through to the kitchen, and put the kettle on. ‘Make yourself at home,’ I told him, gesturing to a chair. I went to fetch the milk from the doorstep. When I returned, Andy was looking at the sheaf of papers I had left on the table; proof pages I had been checking for corrections the evening before. He glanced at them, then at the row of cookery books at the side of the big Aga stove, and I realised something had fallen into place for him.

‘You’re Ruth Miller,’ he said. ‘It’s funny – I thought your face looked familiar, but–’

‘The photo they use on my books is about ten years out of date. I know. I keep asking them to update it…’

‘No, it’s not that. You look great now.’ I was sure he was flattering me – I was wearing no make-up, and my hair was windblown from the walk on the beach – but I found myself smiling inside at the compliment. ‘I was given a copy of Cooking For The Clueless when I was a student. Before I read that, I couldn’t even boil an egg.’

I blushed. Though I had written that book, my first, a dozen years ago, and I had lost track of how many copies it had sold, I could still never get used to praise from people who told me they had learned how to cook from its pages. I blushed even more at his next words.

‘You know, I’ve always had a fantasy about women who are great cooks. Abby never bothers; she just sticks packets in the microwave, or orders in a pizza. I’ve always thought a woman who can teach you how to cook could teach you how to do just about everything. Particularly in bed.’

I couldn’t meet his gaze. This gorgeous stranger, a man almost young enough to be my son, was standing in my kitchen, giving me what sounded like a blatant come-on, and I didn’t know how to react. I glanced round, trying to find some way of distracting myself from the sudden, lustful pulsing in my pussy.

‘Would you like to help me with a recipe?’ I asked him. ‘I’ve been commissioned to write a dinner party menu for one of the Sunday supplements, and the dessert I’ve been working on is a chocolate amaretto mousse. I’m just not sure whether I’ve got the amount of liqueur right.’ I pulled open the door of the fridge, and brought out a smoked glass bowl with the mousse I had left to set overnight. ‘I know it’s a bit early in the morning, but would you like to try some?’

‘I’d love to,’ he replied.

I went to take a spoon from the drawer so he could help himself to a mouthful, but he simply skimmed a finger across the top of the mousse, scooping it up and licking it with relish. ‘That is beautiful,’ he told me. ‘Seriously. Go on, taste it yourself.’

And he stuck his finger into the mousse again, before presenting it to my lips. I hesitated, wondering where this was about to lead. It could just be an innocent gesture, but then again… Slowly, cautiously, I took his finger into my mouth and sucked the mousse from it. A jolt of energy shot through my lower body as I did, raw and sexual and so powerful I was sure Andy could feel it, too. Forget the flavours of chocolate and almond on my tongue, even though on one level my brain was registering that I’d got the combination just right; it was the taste of Andy’s skin I was savouring. I’d almost forgotten he had a girlfriend waiting for him back at the McIntosh – and from the way he was behaving so, I was pretty certain, had he.

Praying that I hadn’t misread the signals, and wasn’t about to make a complete fool of myself, I bent my head and took another of his fingers between my lips. As I teased it with the tip of my tongue, mimicking what I suddenly, desperately wanted to do to his cock, he groaned. ‘God, Ruth, you’ve got a clever mouth,’ he murmured.

‘We could go to the bedroom and I could show you what else it can do,’ I suggested. ‘Or alternatively, we could just fuck each other right here.’

‘That sounds good,’ he said, and took me in his arms. The difference in our heights made it awkward to kiss; even with me standing on my tiptoes, he still had to bend right down before our lips met. My hands snaked up under the hem of his baggy jumper; he was wearing a teeshirt beneath it, and I pulled it out of the waistband of his jeans so I could caress the smooth length of his back. He took hold of my top and stripped it from me with brisk efficiency; I wasn’t wearing a bra beneath it, and his eyes widened at the sight of my small, round breasts, with their brownish-pink nipples.

‘Come here,’ he said, and hoisted me up on to the kitchen table. The book proofs I had been working on so diligently the previous evening fluttered to the floor, but I didn’t care. All that mattered was the sensation of being skilfully undressed by my handsome young lover. When he had me down to my white lacy knickers, he reached for the bowl of chocolate mousse.

I let out a gasp as he dolloped it on to my breasts and stomach; it was still cold from the fridge. He bent over me and his lips fastened on to one of my nipples, licking me clean. Sex with Dominic had been good, but we had never played this type of game, and for all Andy’s talk about wanting a woman to teach him the way in bed, I was beginning to feel I was the pupil here. His hot mouth worked slowly down my body; when it brushed over my pussy, the wetness of his tongue tickling me through the thin fabric of my knickers, I clutched at the edges of the table.

Andy hooked his fingers into the sides of my knickers and pulled. I raised my bum off the table so he could ease them down to my ankles, leaving them hanging from one foot like an erotic pennant. His fingers dabbled in the mousse once more, then he lightly painted it down the length of my crack, from my clit to my anal opening; the feel of the cool chocolate against my overheating pussy was almost enough to make me come.

He stood back, admiring his handiwork. ‘Why don’t you talk to the editor of that supplement you’re working for?’ he asked. ‘Tell him the serving suggestion for dessert is off the body of a luscious woman.’

‘But what about the female guests?’ I replied, stretching out a hand to stroke the swelling bulge in the front of his jeans. ‘What do they get to eat it off?’

In answer, Andy began to strip, peeling off jumper, jeans, teeshirt and a pair of tight-fitting grey briefs, which already bore a damp patch in the front as evidence of his arousal. His cock rose up from a nest of sandy hair, its fat head wet and glistening. It simply cried out to be daubed in mousse and licked clean, and as I reached for the bowl, making my intentions obvious, he was unable to wipe the grin from his face.

The kitchen table was one of the few items Dominic and I had brought over from our old London home, difficult though the logistics of moving had been, chiefly because of its size. Now I blessed the decision, as Andy clambered on to the table and hauled me on top of him, my nose to his tailbone. It wasn’t a dignified or particularly comfortable position, but it meant he could nibble on my sex, licking off the mixture of mousse and my own creamy juices, while I wrapped my lips round his stiff, sticky manhood. The taste was exquisite, savoury and sweet, saltwater and chocolate, and I was lost in the rapture of giving pleasure and receiving it, licking and being licked, as his tongue moved among the slick folds of my cunt and I swallowed as much as I could of his fat shaft.

With all the attention he’d been giving my body, I was ahead of him in the race to orgasm, and as his tongue worked in delicate little circles over my clit, I felt fierce spasms of pleasure sweep through me. Andy’s cock fell from my lips as I came, loath though I was to let it go, and when I caught hold of it again, the combination of my sucking mouth and stroking fingers took him over the edge. His spunk mingled with the last of the chocolate mousse, the salt-sweet combination lingering on my taste buds long after he had stopped coming.

When Andy could move again, he hopped down from the table and fished in the pocket of his jeans for his mobile phone.

‘What are you doing?’ I asked him. I wasn’t ready for him to leave me just yet, not when I hadn’t even felt that gorgeous cock of his sliding up into my suddenly needy pussy.

‘I’m going to ring Abby and tell her if she wants to get a flight back to London, that’s fine by me,’ he replied. ‘If it’s okay with you, I was thinking of staying here and making a weekend of it…’