‘Clench your muscles,’ he said and I obeyed.
The unfamiliar sensations of pressure and pleasure coursed through my body. I climaxed, shaking and trembling, as quickly as he had. For some time he remained inside. When he pulled out of me I was sorry. I wanted him back inside me. He belongs inside me.
Every part of me cries for him when he leaves.
I put the pen down and close my journal. Nowadays, I write without resentment, eagerly, because it is the only real and honest communication I have with him. I feel him distant. Moving away from me. Something is bothering him. The days pass away in a haze of sex—it seems to me more like a desperate desire to physically meld with me, to forget for a while whatever is troubling him.
Once he woke up, drenched in sweat, shouting hoarsely, almost sobbing, ‘Not her, please.’
When I touched him, he turned to me with wild eyes, and recognizing me, fell into the crook of my neck gratefully, and hugged me so tightly, I whimpered. But when I asked him about his nightmare, he whispered in my ear, ‘Just don’t ever leave me.’
As if I would ever leave him. As if it was me that set a limit of 42 days on our time together.
Billie calls. She wants me to drop Sorab off for the afternoon. She is lonely. She misses him. I leave Sorab with her and go to Sloane Square. I want to buy a pink shirt for Blake. It’s a sort of joke. He thinks pink shirts are sissy, and I think they are a turn-on—only really macho men can carry them off. I find the shirt I want and I am about to return home when I suddenly stop in my tracks.
There are two men with him, business types in dark suits. He must have just had lunch with them. For a moment we are both so surprised neither of us speaks, but he is first to recover.
‘What a lovely surprise,’ he says smoothly, and lays a heavy, proprietary hand on my arm. And grasps it. I try to shake him off unobtrusively, but he tightens his hold. He turns to the two men and tells them he will call them later. They call out their goodbyes and leave together, and Rupert turns his attention to me.
‘I was wondering, just the other day, what the devil happened to you. How’ve you been, gorgeous?’
‘I’m fine, but I’m late and I really must be going. It was nice to see you again, though.’
‘What’s the rush? Come and have coffee with me,’ he invites. His voice is genial and wheedling, but I still have the memory of his oyster-flavored saliva pouring down my throat, his finger digging into my crotch, seeking rough entry. If only I am big enough and strong enough to be able to say, ‘Don’t stop, don’t look at me, don’t touch me. Walk on by.’ But I am not big enough and I remember the sheer male strength of his rugby player’s hands as he pinned me against the wall and abused me.
‘Perhaps some other time.’ I take a step back, but he refuses to relinquish his hold on my hand. ‘Are you still with him?’
‘That’s really none of your business.’
‘As a matter of fact, I am looking for some business. Are you available? Same terms as before.’
I twist my arm and try to wrench it free, but his grip is like an iron clamp. The fury that I never expressed before rises like bile inside me. Without thinking I bring my other arm up and hit him, and instantly he lets go of my arm, and throws a punch in my direction. It should have hit me square in the face, but it only glances my chin. I stare in surprise as he lands on the ground. Flat on his back. Out cold. I look up dazed. A man is standing in front of me. I stare at him. The blood thrums in my ears.
‘Are you all right?’ he asks solicitously. He is looking at my chin.
‘Yes, I think so.’
‘Good. You best be on your way, then.’
‘What about him?’ I glance at Rupert, sprawled, unmoving. He could even be dead for all I know.
‘Don’t worry about him. I’ll make sure he is all right.’
I nod, but the whole thing is surreal. The speed with which this man arrived on the scene and the swift, totally professional move that floored a huge man like Rupert. I look again at the man. He has sandy hair, a fit, wiry body and flinty eyes. Dressed in a black shirt, leather jacket and blue jeans, he could be anybody off the street, but I know he is not. He did not appear here by accident.
His kindness is a mirage. Pay him the right money and he will just as easily break my neck. I take a step away from him.
‘Don’t forget your shopping,’ he reminds me politely.
I turn and look at the shopping bag lying on the sidewalk. The pink shirt is poking out. I pick it up and without a word, without thanking him, I walk away quickly. As if I am running away from the scene of a crime. Perhaps I am.
I walk for God knows how long, my mind in turmoil. I come upon crowded walkways where people brush past me, but I feel nothing. When it finally dawns on me, I come to a dead stop suddenly. A woman runs into me and swears inelegantly. She loses her anger when I turn around to apologize. She looks at my chin, mumbles something and walks on.
I walk towards the wall of a building and lean against it.
Finally, one more piece in the mad puzzle. That is why Blake suddenly turned up at the apartment when Jack came to visit. And why he appeared so unexpectedly, his behavior so odd and secretive that day when Victoria’s mother made contact and he suddenly whisked me away to Venice to hide, to think, and to regroup. And that too is how he knew to smell my face the day I kissed Jack.
He has always had me followed. The whole f**king time.
I feel angry and confused. Why? Why would he spy on me? He is so full of secrets. So mysterious.
By the time I reach the apartment I feel lost and unbearably sad. My entire life is a messy lie. Being secretly followed and watched seems an extension of all the other lies that my relationship with Blake entails. I open the front door and Blake comes striding towards me. Of course. He already knows about Rupert. I stand at the door and stare at him. His hair is disheveled, his tie has been pulled loose and is hanging a few inches away from his throat. But it is his eyes that I cannot look away from. I have never seen his eyes so wild with fear.
He lays a gentle hand on my throbbing chin. I flinch slightly. Immediately, he retracts his hand, and I swear I see tears swimming in his eyes. Then he pulls me into his arms and holds me tight. I hear him take a deep breath.
‘I’ve been sick with fear. Where have you been all this time?’ he asks in a hushed voice.
‘I was walking.’
‘Why did you switch your phone off?’
‘I didn’t. My battery was low. It must have died.’