Copyright © K.M. Liss 2017.
Friends & Lovers Series (Part 1)
Publisher – Katrina M. Liss Novels
All Rights Reserved.
This book is sold subject to conditions that it cannot by way of trade be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the author’s prior consent, in any form or cover, other than which it is published.
Disclaimer : This novel is a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it, while at times based on real figures, are purely the work of the author’s imagination.
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h1=. Chapter 1
“Stupid damn thing … Shit.”
Shaking with cold and hunger, I was desperate to get the chocolate milk inside me. But I struggled fruitlessly to open the carton. I really needed some scissors to cut the top off. And scissors were something I didn’t have. In my present situation, I couldn’t afford to make mistakes like this. Not even fifty pence ones.
Disappointment mingled with anger and my eyes stung as tears gathered. It was such a stupid reason to be getting upset, I knew that. But now and then the silliest things got to me.
“C’mon, keep it together Kate,” I muttered to myself.
Being homeless was a never-ending series of struggles. Some struggles were major issues like trying to keep warm, the constant hunger, pain and fear. And some were fairly minor like this trial of food packaging.
Sometimes I couldn’t help feeling low. And who wouldn’t? I didn’t want to live like this. The situation had been forced upon me through unbearable personal circumstances and I’d reached rock bottom. At the time, running way to London seemed to be my only choice.
But making myself homeless hadn’t been a life adventure. Not in any sense.
How wearying on the soul a life on the street was.
It was a shocking realisation that unless I continually begged or scrounged for money, I wasn’t going to eat. Food and drink didn’t magically appear just because I was thirsty or starving.
Despite being surrounded by humans, there was little humanity to be seen in practice. I could pass out through hunger and most would just walk on by with hardly a glance in my direction. People were suspicious of the homeless. People thought the worst. And they didn’t want to know. That was a cold hard fact.
I’d challenge anyone out there to spend just one week living on the streets of London in the winter and not bale out before the time was up. Somehow I’d been doing it for seven months. In truth, there had been more than a few times when I’d thought that if my life was to be like this, a groundhog day of survival with no end in sight, what was the god-damn point of it all? Maybe I should just give up and exit the world with a private pill and booze party. Floating away peacefully like that had to be a lot less painful than starving or freezing to death.
But there were certain things that kept me from taking that step – hope – my dead mother’s memory – and my street buddy Finlay. If I was really truthful, although I absolutely adored my mother, it was mainly the first and last of those things. Finlay kept my hope and dreams alive. I was propelled along in his positive slipstream. No matter how hard things got, I didn’t think Finlay would ever give up the fight to live and that attitude had rubbed off on me, to an extent.
Being with him, I could cope. But being alone was when I weakened and lost my purpose. Being alone was when I despaired. I had good cause to be fearful of isolation. Bad things had happened to me in the past when I was on my own. Dreadful, terrible things.
As I stood there, shivering, in my dead-end anti-paradise, I was painfully aware of my shortcomings. I was seventeen years old, female and easy prey. I knew I needed to toughen up – to become a lot more self reliant and streetwise. I couldn’t expect Finlay to protect me 24/7.
And I was working on it.
My mind wandering returned to my empty stomach and what I held in my hand. I sighed heavily, glaring at the bad-mannered carton which was giving me a hard time. If Finlay was around, he’d open it for me with his pen-knife. But he wasn’t – nobody was – so I had to open it myself somehow. I adopted a different mindset. I wasn’t going to be so pathetic as to let a bit of plastic coated cardboard get the better of me. I sat down cross-legged, and persistently tugged at it, using my teeth and fingers. Finally I succeeded in creating a small opening in the centre of the seal. Wiggling my finger in the hole I prised one end open, teasing it outwards forming a spout to drink from.
I smiled to myself, and my heart swelled with overinflated and frankly ridiculous pride at my small achievement as I raised the spout to my lips.
Kate, 1 … Carton, a big fat 0.
I still retained a sense of humour, deep inside me, although it didn’t surface that often. Not since my troubles began.
My eyes closed for a second as the flavour hit my taste buds in a blast of oral bliss. Slowly I devoured the milk, savouring the creamy-sweet sensation. I’d never loved chocolate quite so much as I did now. How acute hunger renewed the appreciation of things.
As I drank, I kept my eyes trained on the entrance of the alleyway. I’d seen Davi on the street earlier and I didn’t trust the Romanian pimp an inch. Finlay had told me to watch out for the scumbag at all times. He’d heard a lot of really bad things about him. So far Davi didn’t know where I hung out and I planned to keep it that way and stay well below his radar.
I consumed every last drop of the milk and popped the empty carton in the plastic bag beside me which served as a rubbish bin. Then I settled down, trying to make myself a little more comfortable on the hard ground, walking the cheeks of my backside in reverse until I was propped up against the wall behind me. I sat upon a layer of rags covering sheets of cardboard which formed a barrier between me and the harsh cold concrete underneath. The situation of my patch was quite secluded. The alley formed an L shape and we were tucked around the corner of three story building, so you couldn’t see us from the street entrance. That fact alone made it safer than a lot of places where the homeless holed up. Although it wasn’t much to speak of, and I could hardly call it my home, this little spot in the world was all I had.
As I’d done far too often, I stared blankly at the concrete wall opposite. It wasn’t exactly an inspiring view. I knew every crack in the render and every piece of green moss growing upon it. I’d gained an A level in expert knowledge of that wall.
Sad … but whatever.
It began to drizzle with rain, tiny spots dotting the concrete. Where I sat I was protected from the rain to a degree, due to the overhang of the building above me, but I was sick of sight of rain. The weather had been dire for weeks; thick clouds covering London in a damp grey cloak. But on the positive side, although it was still pretty cold and miserable, at least it was a lot warmer than it had been. Only a week before the freezing wind and sleet had been an assault on my senses that was almost too hard to bear. I wasn’t sure I’d defrosted from the Arctic onslaught yet.
I’d become obsessed by the weather now that the great outdoors had become my home. Hot or cold, wet or dry, windy or calm – every element of the weather affected my body and psyche at a deep level. When the sun touched my skin and lessened the ache in my bones, my spirits rose one hundred percent.
I blew on my hands in an attempt to warm them then wrapped them up in my black crochet scarf. My stomach churned, grumbling loudly. Despite having a stomach full of liquid I was still so ravenously hungry. I needed something solid inside me – the chocolate drink had been my only food all day. It wasn’t unusual for me to feel hungry. It was more unusual if I didn’t. It was the kind of hunger I could never have imagined before living on the streets – a gnawing, acidic emptiness. It felt like my body was eating itself inside. I’d always been fairly slim for my five foot six but I dreaded to think how much weight I’d lost. The fact I could clearly see my ribs through my skin scared me. I didn’t like my body much anymore – it didn’t look or feel like me.
In an attempt to warm and comfort myself, I covered my legs with the old blankets I’d picked up for a few pence in the charity shops nearby. Bending my legs, I looped my arms round them, under the blanket and rested my weary head on my knees. I hummed an Ed Sheeran song to myself, repeating the chorus over and over, basically because I couldn’t remember how the rest of it went.
My eyes closed and tiredness quickly overwhelmed me. My conscience screamed at me… no, don’t fall asleep. I was far too vulnerable with no one else around.
I should have stayed in the library longer, but I really thought Finlay would be back here by now. He was never usually this late returning after an all-nighter. Finlay had warned me many times to be alert whenever I was alone and I tried to take heed and shake myself awake. But my body didn’t seem to care what Finlay had said or how vulnerable I was. Physical and mental exhaustion overshadowed my ability to keep my eyes open. When you are cold, tired and hungry, there’s only one way to escape the misery. Sleep. Curling up in a ball on my side I gave in to it.
h1=. Chapter 2
It seemed only minutes later someone was shaking me awake.
“Princess… wake up.” I opened one eye and Finlay’s face swam into focus. “I got ya some chicken ‘n chips.”
Even though I was still half asleep, my sense of smell was suddenly alert. The air around me was filled with the aroma of grease, salt and vinegar. My mouth watered like crazy.
“Mmm, that smells good,” I said, yawning. Quickly I dragged myself upright, fighting the pain in my shoulders and back which were stiff with the cold. Normally I slept with Finlay in his sleeping bag. That kept us quite cosy. But when he’d left me at the homeless shelter last night, he’d taken it with him. I don’t think he trusted me to keep it safe, even at the shelter. To be fair, he was right not to, as based on my track record it seemed I wasn’t too good at keeping things in my possession. In fact I was completely useless.
Unwrapping my hands, I repositioned my scarf around my shoulders and the little blanket over my legs. I badly missed the warmth and weight of my coat. Someone had stolen my Parka coat that morning and my jeans and sweatshirt were all I had left to wear. I still couldn’t believe anyone could get so low as to rob me of my coat. Whoever it was, I hoped they felt the evil vibes from me whenever they wore it.
I circled my arms trying to loosen up the stiffness and get the blood flowing. It was noticeably colder now and starting to get dark. Night would be here soon.
“Where’s your coat gone?” Finlay asked, looking around me.
“Umm … it’s just gone.”
He shook his head. “Really? I cannot believe some little bitch actually ripped ya coat off ya back!” he said, staring at me incredulously.
I shook my head. “No one ripped it from me. I took it off and hung it over the door handle while I was having a wash. I didn’t want to get it wet.”
“You stupid fucking eejit! What have I told ya? Eyes on ya goods, all the time. You shoulda put it between ya legs. ”
“I know that, but I wasn’t all that with it at the time. I never sleep very well when you’re not around, Fin. I didn’t think what I was doing. And you might as well know, I didn’t stay at the shelter last night.”
“Shit! Why the hell not?”
“Because there was a long queue, an even longer one than usual. It really wasn’t worth hanging around, just in case. And there was a bunch of guys in front of me. I think they were Polish or something. They kept turning round, talking to me and saying things I didn’t like. You know… kind of suggestive things. Calling me pretty girlie and all that kind of stuff. They had a bottle of vodka they kept flashing at me, like they planned a private party or something. They made me feel nervous, Fin. I wasn’t that keen anyway, because you remember the last time I stayed there I got nits? Well that really put me off staying there again. It took a whole week to get rid of them…”
“You’d have been alright. You know you would. And it’s just a few nits for fuck’s sake!”
“A few nits become a lot of nits very quickly. They drive me crazy. I can’t stand the itching. Just thinking about all those little bug things crawling in my hair makes me wanna throw up.”
He puffed out a long stream of frustrated breath and dragged his fingers through his hair. I was always fascinated how good his hair looked, no matter how dirty it was. Not that it looked dirty now. It looked clean and shiny. My glance shifted down to his face. I could tell he was a little pissed with me for sleeping here on my own. His mouth was drawn in a hard line and his eyes were narrowed.
Yep … definitely very pissed.
“I’m sorry Fin, I know you want me to be safe when you’re on an all-nighter,” I said apologetically.
His face softened and he sniffed. “No harm done, thankfully. But you’ve gotta promise me you’ll stay at the shelter whenever you’re on your own. It don’t matter if it’s chock full of European geezers or infested with nits. No argument. Right?”
I rolled my eyes.
“Right?” he persisted.
I threw my hands up in defeat. “Okay … okay. I promise.”
A smile tugged at his lips. “Cool. We’ll get ya a new coat tomorrow – take a gander down Long Street, in them charity shops.”
“Thanks, Fin. And I’ll make sure I pay you back when I get a job,” I replied quickly. I hated sponging off him. I really did. But in this case I couldn’t help it. It was winter after all and I needed a god-damn coat. Finlay smiled at my reply. He knew the state of play far better than I did. My hopes of finding of a job were wearing thin. I looked for work every single day, asking around everywhere I went. But unsurprisingly, no one wanted to hire a scruffy street girl with no experience and no permanent address.
Although I knew I was an exception, the homeless weren’t renown for being the most reliable and honest of employees. Davi, had been my only possibility of work so far. If you could call it work. Thanks to Ribelle, one of Davi’s working girls, I knew I could earn a decent amount of cash working for him. But I wasn’t going down that route. I’d actually prefer to be homeless than live in his walk-up brothel, being watched like a hawk night and day and abused sexually by both him and completely strangers.
I’d had enough abuse already. I really didn’t know how Ribelle and the other girls coped with it. I’d have to be absolutely desperate and at my wits end to ever consider becoming a tom. And I wasn’t there yet.
The street-light slowly flickered to life above us and bathed Finlay’s mop of tousled fair hair in streaks of fluorescent yellow. I’d thought it many times before, but he was way too beautiful for a guy – tall and athletic in build – blessed with the most perfect skin – a smile to die for – and bright baby blues, a mixture of innocence and knowing rolled into one. Finlay was a little bit Bieber – without the attitude and ego. If I had to sum him up in one word, it would be … edible. Just looking at him stirred my feelings in so many ways. He definitely held a magnetic attraction for me. A little too magnetic maybe.
Tonight he looked different and it took a while to realise why. It was what he was wearing under his jacket. “Is that a new hoodie?” I asked curiously. It was a mottled light blue, not the washed out old black one.
“Yeah,” he replied, not elaborating any further. “I got the chips from Tuckers. I know you like their chips the best.” Finlay handed me the white paper wrapped package and sat down at my side. I teased the top layer of paper aside to find he’d stabbed a wooden fork in the top of the chips and had squeezed a generous helping of tomato sauce at the side of the polystyrene plate. At times like this I was touched by his thoughtfulness and kindness. I leaned towards him and kissed the soft fuzz of his cheek. I really didn’t know what I’d do without him in my life, but on the other hand, I didn’t want to be a burden to him either. I knew I had become far too attached and reliant on his generosity. I was sure he didn’t need it. Finlay was only a year or two older than me. Although he was my mentor and my protector when he was around, he often disappeared for a while, and never told me where he’d been. Not that I would dream of asking. I didn’t own him and his secrets were his to keep. When he returned he quite often had a few pounds spare in his pocket. In the beginning I thought he was dealing drugs of some kind. But he’d since told me he was very anti-drugs. He had never, and would never, touch the hard stuff, in any sense. And I believed him, as he had no reason to lie to me. He knew I wouldn’t have judged him whatever he did. Homeless people had to get money somehow. Drink and drug addictions were common on the street. It was often the reason people were on the streets in the first place.
“Anything I can do for my Princess is an honour,” he drawled, and then he winked flirtatiously. The name Princess had stuck from our first conversation seven months ago. Tongue in cheek he’d asked me if I was related to the royal family. I’d been well educated at a private school and surrounded by similar crystal accents all my life. I’d honestly never noticed my posh voice until Finlay drew my attention to it. But from then on, I was very aware that compared to the rest of my street kin, I stuck out like a sore thumb when I spoke.
He took a long chip off the pile and nibbled it slowly while I chain stuffed mine in my starving mouth without even stopping to chew them. I’d probably give myself a stomach-ache by eating so fast but I just couldn’t stop.
I gorged myself on the chips and greasy chicken, murmuring satisfied mmm sounds every few seconds. Little moments of pleasure such as this, the chocolate milk and time spent in Finlay’s company were the things that kept me going. Although he was still young, he had an air of worldliness about him and I felt so safe when he was around. All the pressure of being me disappeared. He effortlessly fixed things and had the answers to everything that caused me trouble and frustration. For a well educated person, I often failed miserably with the basics in life. But at least I was trying, and slowly learning the lie of the land.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed movement in the gloom. A hunched up silhouette approached. Gouty came into view, hobbling painfully slowly down the alley towards us with a bin bag in each hand. Gouty was the old drunk with chronic gout who occupied the patch next to ours. Unfortunately he stunk to high heaven, although it seemed I had grown accustomed to it. He sat down on his patch, eyeing my chips. He was drooling, smacking his lips and swigging from a litre bottle of cider. Although he was dirty and I didn’t like the thought of him touching my meal I couldn’t be so mean as to ignore him. I leaned over and held out the plate.
“Would you like a couple?” I asked, with a sweet smile. With lightning speed, his grubby hand shot out and he snatched a large fistful. Open mouthed with surprise I leaned back, moving the plate out of his reach, before he took any more.
“Do you mind?” I muttered, indignantly.
“Oi, Gouty you greedy fucker. They’re for Princess. You’re lardy enough, you old git,” Finlay snapped at him.
“Tough shit,” Gouty grunted, giving us the one finger salute, stuffing his mouth chock full of hot potato.
Finlay and Gouty glared at each other angrily. I could feel the bad vibes in the air – tempers were about to fray.
“What? I’ll give you some tough shit you won’t fucking forget.” Finlay started to get up.
But I didn’t want to be the cause of a fight. I hated bad feeling, conflict and aggression. I’d been on the receiving end of it enough times.
I quickly put my hand on his arm, “Fin, no… please? It’s just a few chips, that’s all. Look there’s plenty left. Sit down, eh?”
Finlay looked at me, reconsidering. “Actually, she’s right. You’re not worth bruising my knuckles over.” And he settled back at my side, his warm jean covered leg resting against mine.
“Clear-off-n-leave-me-the-hell-alone-you-kids… go… scram…” Gouty grumbled and hunkered down in his jumble of stinking rags and ripped bin bags. I actually felt sorry for the old bastard. He suffered so much pain, the way he hobbled along wincing with each step made me wince along with him.
“Some people, eh?” Finlay flashed a hot grin at me, seeing the humour in the situation and I grinned back with pleasure, our neighbourly conflict instantly forgotten.
I munched a few chips and popped another few in Finlay’s mouth.
“You ‘av the rest. I’ve already eaten mine on the way back.”
“Okay, but take one if you want one. So where were you? Did you have a good time last night?” It was such a stupid question. I instantly wished I hadn’t asked it.
“Yeah, ‘course I did. Real cool,” he replied, looking up in the air and at the ground and everywhere but at me.
He was lying through his teeth. There was no way he had had a[_ real_] cool time. I knew what he did to survive. He sold himself. In looks alone, he was the archetypal rent boy. I worried like hell over his safety. There were a lot of sick bastards in the world. I’d experienced some of that first hand. But the kind of perverts and weird punters that he probably had to deal with – the ones who got their rocks off in depraved and scary ways – really worried me. But on the whole, it wasn’t my business what Finlay was, or did. His life was his life to do as he pleased. Nothing he did would change the fact he was my best friend in the world and the only one I could trust. But I couldn’t help fearing for him. I prayed that none of those monsters harmed this lovely human being at my side. I think I’d kill them if they did.
“Get that lot down ya and we’ll get us a room at The Hatfield for the night.”
“For real?” My eyes opened wide with surprise. Finlay had never done that kind of thing before. Excitement surged through me, along with raging curiosity. How could he afford it? The Hatfield was a decent, but basic little hotel nearby. It was well known you could get an ensuite room with breakfast, for thirty five a night, per couple. But Finlay never had that kind of cash to spare.
“Yeah, for real. I’m gonna scrub your back for ya. And then you can scrub mine. How’s that for an offer you can’t refuse?”
“You’re on. Oh my God! An actual hot bath! Can we have some bubbles and soap too?” I was excited and getting carried away, and spending even more of his money.
“I guess I can afford some extras on top. I earned a whole ton today.”
I furrowed my brow. “What’s a ton?”
“A ton is one hundred fucking quid, my girl!” He looked mightily pleased with himself.
My eyes opened wide with surprise. “But Fin… what the hell did you do to earn that amount of money?” I asked in a concerned tone of voice.
“Best you don’t know the deets.” He gently tapped my nose on the end with his fingertip. “Not for delicate royal ears.”
I stopped consuming chips and stared at him for a moment, pursing my lips and raising my eyebrows disapprovingly. “Oh really? And I’m not that delicate actually.”
“Mmm, could have fooled me, Princess Inn…o…cent.”
“Excuse me? Look, I really don’t like you putting yourself in dan―” He silenced me with a finger.
“Save it. _Anyways _… see what else I got ya.” With a sly smile he slowly pulled a bottle of diet coke from his inner jacket pocket and popped it between my knees. “A drink for my ladyship.”
“Oh! Now you’re really spoiling me.” He knew I was completely addicted to coca-cola. Not that bad an addiction to have, teeth aside. But then, my heart surged with love, as he placed a tiny satsuma orange on my leg and top of that balanced a pink coated chocolate mini-egg.
“There… chocolate a l’orange .. sweetness. Gotta get your calorie count up, or you’ll fucking disappear, wontcha?”
It was delivered in his usual flippant, don’t-give-a-damn style, but I knew him far better than that. This was a prime example of the little things he did to please me. He knew exactly how much this meant. He touched me, in a special place in my heart, that no one else could reach. My feelings ran deep where Finlay was concerned. From the moment we’d met he’d made a big impression and every day that passed by our bond grew stronger. But although we were close, our relationship was a river of raging confusion that I couldn’t hope to resolve.
In one sense Finlay was like the brother I’d never had. He cared and looked out for me faultlessly. And he teased me mercilessly over just about everything, as a brother would. He was a real prankster when he got going – but in a nice way. I would always cherish his kindness and loved him dearly simply for being in my life. He was in his own way, a true gentleman. And I loved that. I loved his fierce protectiveness – the way he leapt so readily to my defence. I loved his wicked sense of humour. I loved the way his eyes crinkled when he smiled. I loved the little tick in his cheek when he was angry. I even loved his disgusting foul mouth for some strange reason. There wasn’t an offensive word in the known vocabulary he didn’t air regularly. But getting to the crunch, if he’d been straight, I’d have loved him in every way I possibly could. I’d have drowned in his love, immersed myself in him and never wanted to resurface. Actually I was drowning in him, but not the whole nine yards I’d have liked.
My heart actually fluttered when he was near. I knew what I wanted. I wanted more. Much more than just his friendship and his company.
But he was gay. I was a girl. And therein lie the rub.
Up till now I’d managed to keep my feelings for him hidden deep inside. I was an expert at that – at hiding things. I’d kept big secrets from everyone for years.
“So there you go… a three course dinner under the stars. And a night in a soft bed, all clean and toasty.” A broad smile lit up his face and with it a flame of joy ignited in my heart. I had no right to brood or feel miserable after all he was doing for us. But it was hard not to think about what he might have gone through for this very expensive treat. I didn’t want him to sell himself to keep us going. It made me feel so angry, useless and desperate at times – that neither of us could get a regular job anywhere. We had a fair degree of intelligence and ability between us and a lot to offer. But it seemed prospective employers only saw what they wanted to see, that being homeless meant we were incapable of an honest days work and would be trouble somehow.
I pushed my bad thoughts to one side. There was no point going over and over something I had no control over.
We were going to enjoy tonight. This was a night in a million. No more dwelling on life’s negatives.
I opened the coke bottle absorbing the delightful fizzing sound as the air escaped. I took a sip and the bubbles flew up my nose in a rush.
“Mm mm. What can I say? You’re an absolute prince, Fin.”
He leaned forward and kissed me on the mouth. He’d kissed me plenty of times before, but never on the lips. My heart flipped all over the place, almost singing with happiness and the pleasure of his soft, warm touch. Hope surged inside me like a phoenix rising.
“A prince? Nah. I’ll always be a frog,” he snorted a cynical laugh. “But you’ll find your prince one day, Princess. An’ he better be someone who deserves ya and treats ya right – or else the fucker’ll have me to deal with.” He ruffled my hair so it fell all over my face. “And I mean that.”
I tried to smile as my joy shattered into a million little pieces of hurt.
I didn’t want any old prince. I wanted this frog.
h1=. Chapter 3
We stood on Westway at Paddington, arguing over bubble bath. I leaned against the window of the Bath & Body Superstore, a store that sold everything you could think of, super cheap.
“But Fin … please? I never go shopping. Let me choose it myself.”
“Trust me. I know what girls like.”
“How on earth can you know that?”
“I have two sisters. Believe me, I know[_ all_] about girls bath stuff.” He’d never told me that he had two sisters before.
“You have sisters? What are their names?”
“Does it matter?”
“Not really, but I’m interested, Fin. You never speak about your family or where you’re from.” The second the words were out of my mouth I wished them back. Finlay picked up the thread instantly.
“Well neither do you,” he challenged, fixing me with a hard stare.
“I know… ” I admitted. I dropped my gaze to the pavement and chewed my lip. Although sharing my past might possibly help me feel better, it was an emotional minefield to me. Talking about where I was from would only bring all those bad things back to life again. My past was much too raw and painful to drag back into the present.
He tipped my chin up, his eyes searching mine. “Look, it’s okay Kate. I get it. You ran away from home, like me. And there must have been a good reason. If you wanna tell me something – then tell me, but if you don’t – then don’t. No pressure, right?”
“Maybe I will sometime…”
“Whenever you’re ready, okay? And for your information, my sisters are called Maggie and Melanie. They’re twins. Evil bitches the pair of them. They tortured me every fucking day of my life,” he said with a long sniff of distaste.
“Well that’s a shame.” I touched his arm in sympathy. “How did they torture you, Fin?”
“Every way they could think of. They hated boys.”
“Oh dear, that’s so sad. But at least you [_have _]sisters, even if they’re the instruments of the devil. I don’t have anyone. It can be very lonely being an only child, you know? So are the evil bitches older or younger than you?”
“Older – they’ll be twenty one next month.”
“Do you ever see them?”
He rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Don’t be daft. No I fucking don’t.”
“What about any other relatives? Your Mum and Dad?”
“Don’t know me dad and don’t give a damn about me mum – and it’s mutual – end of discussion. Now I’m going to be five minutes in there.” He cocked a thumb over his shoulder. “It’s a surprise so don’t you dare sneak up behind me and fucking spoil it, okay?” His jaw had that determined set to it. He meant business.
“Okay,” I huffed, resigned. One thing I’d noticed about Finlay was that as well as being very secretive, he was very, very stubborn. He turned to go inside the store, and then turned back.
“Oh, there’s summat I need to know, before I go.”
“Gotta favourite colour?”
I gazed into his eyes. Eyes I loved more than he could ever know.
“Blue,” I murmured, transfixed by their sapphire beauty.
“Right-i-o. Stay there and don’t move an inch, okay? Stick your arse on the ground and look needy while you wait. It’s busy round ‘ere. You never know, you might even earn a few quid.” He turned and strode off purposefully.
I really didn’t feel like begging. I’d begged quite a lot today. I’d been moved on several times, been ticked off by the police, got shouted at by an irate shop owner and received the sum total of fifty pence for my efforts, which I’d already spent on the milk.
I huffed and tutted with resentment, then slid down the window obediently, sitting cross-legged on the floor. Finlay did a lot worse than this to earn money, and a lot of it got spent on me. I really had no right to complain about five minutes sitting on the pavement. Reaching inside my bra I pulled out the piece of paper I kept there. I unfolded it and placed it on my crossed legs. In black marker pen it read, “I am homeless and hungry – and NOT substance addicted.”
I held out my hand and gazed blindly through the sea of legs that passed my field of vision, not expecting any response to my genuine plea. I used to feel embarrassed doing this, but now I didn’t care. I was invisible to most people anyway. Ignored and unnoticed. Now and then I had the odd hater who verbally abused the hell out of me but even that went over my head. Those who donated a few pence and spoke kindly to me were my guardian angels. I was so very grateful to them simply for noticing I was there.
My eyes adopted a lazy stare, blurring as I daydreamed. Suddenly a small hand flashed past my face and a coin was placed in my palm. I stared at the twenty pence and up to the young boy who had donated it, now running back to his mother. She was pushing a bright pink stroller in which sat a sweet baby girl dressed in matching bright pink. The little boy waved as he left.
So damn cute. So damn lucky.
I hoped I had a life like theirs one day. My dream was to have a little family of my own. In my late twenties, perhaps – which allowed plenty of time for the tide of luck to change. I mouthed ‘thank you’ at them and smiled broadly, my heart warming inside my chest. It was only twenty pence but it was surprising how that small gesture made me feel so good.
After that it was back to being invisible again. No more angels came to my assistance.
Finally, a lot longer than five minutes later, Finlay appeared with a carrier bag which definitely contained more than just bubble bath.
I folded and put my paper notice away and quickly stood up. “Fin, what on earth have you bought?” I asked curiously trying to peep into the bag.
“Oh, nuffin’ really… just a few bits ‘n bobs for later.”
“What bits and bobs exactly?” I probed.
“C’mon Princess, let’s get going.”
He hoisted his heavy back-pack to his other shoulder, hooked his free arm into mine and dragged me off at a brisk pace towards the Hatfield, a couple of minutes walk away.
h1=. Chapter 4
It was a little dark and dingy inside The Hatfield. Mainly the result of the ancient décor. We approached the reception desk, where a large middle aged man was leaning on his forearms, reading a magazine. I took in the light blue food-stained shirt, and the badge which read Manager pinned on his chest. He was munching a biscuit, spreading crumbs on the counter. I took a look around and the premises seemed clean enough on the surface, even if the manager fell short of the pristine.
“What d’ya want?” he said, popping half a biscuit in his mouth and crunching it noisly.
“A room would be nice,” Finlay said.
He looked us up and down unpleasantly, his eyes narrowing suspiciously. He obviously came to the usual conclusion, that we were homeless kids, on the scrounge for free accomodation.
“This ain’t no free hostel… the nearest one’s―” But Finlay interrupted him angrily.
“Excuse me, mister…we’re backpacking around London, and payin’ for a room.”
“Oh – well I do beg your pardon, but I get a lot of no-gooders in here – so – you both over eighteen?”
“What? No one’s ever asked us for a passport before. We live ‘ere mate! Brits through and through.”
“A student card… some ID then?”
“I’ve gotta young person’s ID card.” Finlay got out his wallet and placed it open on the counter, his ID card on display.
The manager cast his eyes over it briefly.
“And you, young lady?”
“No I don’t, sorry. I had all my stuff stolen a couple of days ago,” I said. It was actually four months ago, but whatever.
“Oh … shame ‘bout that; ‘appens a lot so I hear,” he said with a half smile of sympathy. “So… that’ll be thirty five quid then. Plus a tenner deposit, returnable when you check out, subject to breakages.”
I signed the guest book while Finlay paid for the room, along with the deposit. The manager placed the door key and a set of two small towels on the counter between us.
“Make that four towels, mister. Big bath size ones if you please,” Finlay said pleasantly.
The manager raised his bushy grey eyebrows, like he’d never heard such an audacious request.
“That’ll be another four pounds for the laundry, sonny.”
“What the fuck d’ya wash em in… gold dust?” Finlay muttered.
“I’ll have you know, one pound per large towel is a very reasonable charge, [_actually, _]the driers are expensive,” the manager replied, holding his hand out. Finlay handed over another four pound coins, slapping them in his hand grumpily. The manager grabbed the two small towels and bent down, puffing and blowing, disappearing under the counter for a moment, and exchanging them for four larger ones.
I picked up the towel pile and cuddled it to my chest. It smelt fresh and clean and felt so soft and fluffy. I was so looking forward to wrapping myself in one of those towels and imagined my skin tingling and clean from my hot bath, nestling against the virginal snow white.
“Room’s on the second floor, first on the right. I’ve given ya a quiet room at the back. Breakfast from seven till ten … over there.” The manager flicked a chubby finger at a blue painted door labelled ‘restaurant’. “Checkout at ten a.m.[_ promptly _]or you will forfeit your deposit in full … so be warned, the pair o’ ya,” he said, turning his back and dismissing us.
I followed Finlay to the staircase.
“Wait over there a tick,” Finlay said, pointing at a chair to my side.
“No … Why?”All I wanted to do was get up there and dive in the bath and laze on the bed. I didn’t need him to set the scene, run the bath and turn down the duvet for me.
“Because I said so.”
“Oh, for Gods sake! You are such a control freak.”
“Fucking cheek! Who’s payin’ for this, grumpy-face? Gimme five little minutes, okay?”
“I know your five little minutes – more like [_half a fricking hour!” _]I huffed, folding my arms, pouting, and staring over his shoulder to avoid his smug, smiling face. But I could still see that blazing white smile rising. He cupped my chin in his hand and squeezed my cheeks.
“Ahh, poor little Princess,” he said in an annoying tone of voice, puckering his lips comically. “Not getting your own way again? So impatient, aren’t ya? Promise to be back in five this time, Scouts honour.” He released me and stuck his hand up in the scouts salute.
I couldn’t stop the smile. “I can’t imagine you being a boy scout for a second, but off you go then. I guess I can remain dirty for another five minutes,” I said.
“Yeah… won’t be long, your grubbiness.” Sniggering, he took the towels from me and raced up the stairs taking them two at a time. I sat down and twiddled with my hair, gazing around the dimly lit lobby trying not to catch the manager’s eye. He was staring at me and it was making me feel very uncomfortable. Creep. I drifted off in my thoughts and daydreamed some more of my bath and the beautiful scent steaming around me. I’d had a few hot showers at the local swimming pool, but that cost a fiver each time. It was nearly two weeks ago Ribelle sneaked me in her room for a shower when Davi had gone into hospital for an operation. But rushing in and out of her shower didn’t in any way compare to this. Lazing in a hot bath and sleeping in between clean sheets was a very special treat for me.
True to his word, in just a few minutes Finlay bounded back down the stairs and arrived in front of me full of grin.
“Oh my goodness, back so soon?” I said sarcastically.
“Yep,” he replied, ignoring my caustic wit.
He’d removed his coat, so I could now see his new hoodie.
“That’s a really nice sweatshirt. Where did you get it” I zoned in on the logo. It was a Hollister. That stuff didn’t come cheap. I’d been to that shop a lot in the past – when I had the money.
“It was a freebie from a friend.”
“Oh really? Must be a good friend giving away stuff like that?”
“It was kind of a bonus, and he’s the generous type.”
“Very generous, I’d say…” I replied feeling intrigued, and wanting to know more about this generous friend of his.
“Well c’mon then,” he said with a warm smile, holding his hand out. I rose, slipped my hand in his and we ran up the stairs together.
He twisted the key in the lock and turned to me.
“Close your eyes… and no peeping till I say so, right?”
I closed my eyes as requested, smiling like an idiot and by this point getting far too excited for my own good.
He led me inside a few steps and then stood behind me holding my shoulders.
The warmth of his breath whispered in my ear. “Right … you can look.”
I opened my eyes and instantly I wanted to cry.
I didn’t notice the room, or anything of my surrounds, because there on the bed was an angel. Not a real angel of course, but an angel shaped blue bottle of bubble bath, a matching angel soap and a baby blue bath lily. Next to that sat a blue and white polka dot gift bag. And to cap it off, a collection of blue tea light candles were glimmering on the beside tables.
He’d certainly excelled himself.
I was surprised, ecstatic ― and also very confused.
Finlay seemed to making a big fuss of me. I didn’t know the reason why – and my heart didn’t dare hope what this could mean.
“Fin … what’s all this for?” I searched his face for some sign.
“You’ve no clue at all, ‘av ya?”
“Nope.” I shook my head, my heart pounding and my mouth going dry with expectations I shouldn’t have.
“I didn’t think so. Does twenty four oh two ring a bell?”
Twenty four oh two?
I shook my head, frowning in bewilderment.
“Jeez! … Happy eighteenth birthday, Kate!”
My hand shot to my mouth. “Oh. My. God!” The twenty fourth of February! How the hell could I have not known the date? Actually, it was easy not to know. Every day was the same on the street – the Nth of Never. “I cannot believe you remembered my birthday and I didn’t…”
“I’m very good with dates. Never forget a special one once it’s in the grey stuff.” He tapped his head. He picked up the gift bag and handed it to me. “Hope it fits. I know you need it.” By the way he shuffled on the spot. I could tell he was a little awkward about it, whatever it was.
I peeked inside the bag and drew out my gift with a held breath. A black drawstring Nike bag lay rolled up inside, and also a black waist purse.
“Oh Fin … thanks…” These were definitely very useful and much appreciated gifts, similar to those which I’d had stolen months before. But I spotted the Nike bag was stuffed with something else. I dropped the gift bag, drew open the drawstring and tipped the contents out on the bed. My eyes settled on the pack of three pairs of Brazilian brief knickers with hot pink lace edging and two matching trimmed black bras.” As I read the label, I saw he’d guessed the size about right too.
“I got black because … well … it’s very practical, innit?… And I like black. A lot.” He smiled sheepishly, not meeting my eye.
“I love black too. They’re beautiful. My God. I can’t believe you’ve done this for me.” I picked up the underwear and fingered the soft silky fabric. He couldn’t have chosen a better present. My current bra and knickers were only fit for burning. I placed them reverently on the bed and turned to face him. “But how could you afford all this?”
“I bought those last week and Ribelle looked after ‘em for me. Some girl shop was ‘avin a sale up Bond Street. It’s good stuff though, not sale trash.”
“Oh. Well thank you very much. For everything. And for remembering. It means a lot.”
“You’re most welcome, beautiful.”
“I love all my presents. I promise I’ll look after them.”
“Make sure you fucking do… no one’s stealing them knickers or I’ll spank ya bare backside.”
“Actually, I might like that.”
“You’re just joking, right?” He said, but there was definitely a hot twinkle in his eye.
“Yeah. But I can tease you too, can’t I?” Giggling, I threw myself at him and hugged him, banding him tightly within the circle of my arms. And at that moment, I truly felt happier than I’d felt for years. His arms slipped around my shoulders and he sank against me, relaxing, his head resting against mine. I drank him in, my senses alive and buzzing. I was intoxicated by his smell, his warmth, his strength and the hardness of his male body.
It was almost too much. And yet not nearly enough.
Finlay was like a drug to me. A lifesaving drug I couldn’t do without. I was already so addicted to him, I could never let him go.
Because that would kill me.
h1=. Chapter 5
My bath over, I wrapped myself in a dry bath towel, which wasn’t as big as promised and just about covered the essentials. I dried my hair with the tiny, underpowered hair-drier provided on the equally tiny vanity unit. It took a while, but I enjoyed the sensual stream of warm air running down my neck. I missed little things like this so much. Before I finished up, I let some water out of the bath, turned the hot tap on and added an extra generous slug of bubble bath under the stream of running water. Then I left the steamy comfort of the bathroom for the bedroom.
“All yours, don’t be long Fin, I’ve left the tap running,” I said, sweeping through the cool air to the bedside.
Finlay was lazing on the bed reading a book, with both pillows scrunched up beneath his head. I’d got him into books. We were in the charity shop one day and I bought him one for twenty pence as a gift. He laughed at me at first and told me to fuck off, he wasn’t wasting time reading stupid stories. Although I’d had to persuade him to start reading it, to his great surprise he enjoyed it so much he wouldn’t put it down for hours. Reading was one of my greatest loves. Literature was what I’d been studying at sixth form college before I did my flit. I don’t know how I’d have survived the streets without the escapism and fantasy that books provided. The library was where we both spent a lot of time. It was warm, quiet, safe had free water to drink and was full to the brim with literary genius. Unsurprisingly, it appeared Finlay enjoyed crime and thriller novels over my Jane Austin’s, Shakespeare and my latest passion for Nora Roberts. His current book was a dog-eared Lee Child, and being devoured very swiftly, by the looks of it.
“That’s a good book then?”
He closed it and tossed it on the side table.
“Yeah, wicked. So… enjoy your soak?” he asked, running his eyes up and down me in my short towel.
“It was an amazing bath and I smell like an angel – but to be honest I’m a bit miffed about the back scrub I didn’t get.”
“Sorry ‘bout that. Reacher got shot, so couldn’t leave it, see…” he offered as an excuse.
“Fin, I called you three times. You said [_in a minute _]each time. In the end I had to get out ‘cos the water was going cold. I was [_really _]looking forward to you scrubbing me up for my birthday.” I tried to sound a little seductive, rather than disappointed.
“Sorry. No concept of time, ‘av I?” And he grinned and winked at me. Even when he was in my bad books, Finlay was completely adorable and I forgave him the back scrub instantly. I’d probably forgive him absolutely anything. I found myself grinning back. “Better get on with it, I s’pose,” he said, rolling up and stretching, making his manly animal noises I always found so appealing. Then he sauntered off to the bathroom, undoing his fly en route. I watched as he arrived in the bathroom, and leaving the door wide open, he dropped his jeans and stepped out of them, kicking them away. The black socks flew off soon after. He bent over the bath, giving me a very nice rear view as he turned the tap off and swirled the mountain of foam around. I couldn’t tear my eyes away as he stripped off his new hooded sweat shirt and the black t-shirt underneath. As he dropped his boxers and hopped gracefully into the bath, he flashed me everything in the process. His cheeky smile and wink said it all. He knew I was watching.
“Nice ass,” I said, blushing at being caught out.
“Prime asset you mean?”
“Ewww. Thanks for reminding me of that.”
I walked over to the bathroom doorway and leaned against it.
“So you find gay sex disgusting, do ya?” he asked me.
“That’s ‘cos you’re not gay.”
“Do you find female bodies repulsive?”
“No, I probably feel the same way you do looking at naked girls and guys.”
“Hardly… I’m not turned on looking at naked women, am I?”
“Aren’t ya?” he raised his eyebrows and smirked. “I was wondering if you could be a little bit bi – lots of girls are ya know?”
I held my hands up in protest.
“Well I’m not. So you can wipe that fantasy from your dirty little mind, okay?”
Fin chuckled loudly. I loved his throaty laugh. I actually wanted to suck it from his mouth at times. “So when did you realise you were homosexual, Fin?”
“Fuck… I dunno? Always, I guess. I was aware I was interested in boys quite young.”
He lay back arranging the foam around his lower regions and began to soap his arms with the angel bar.
Lifting the bar of soap to his nose, he sniffed the scent, closing his eyes.
“I love this bluebell stuff,” he said with a long sigh of satisfaction.
“It’s actually hyacinth, look,” I corrected him, pointing at the bottle of bath foam, which was decorated with hyacinth flowers.
“Don’t know one flower from the next. Apart from roses. And daffodils. That’s about it.”
He was so sweet at times. I walked in, picked up the blue bath lily he’d bought and took the soap from his hand. I sat on the end of the bath behind him and lathered it up.
I gently rubbed his smooth back with the soapy lily. I moved it slowly all over his broad shoulders and up into his neck and hairline. And then down into the water, skimming his ass. His skin was pink and smooth and his lean muscles were well defined underneath. It was heaven touching him, but at the same time I was torturing myself.
My hand stilled as my imagination stirred in ways it shouldn’t.
His head swivelled round to face me. “Please don’t stop.”
I was in two minds, wanting to continue, but feeling I shouldn’t. But in the end I couldn’t resist having my hands on him.
“Okay then. Wet your hair, I’ll do your head as well.”
He leaned over and soaked his head with handfuls of water.
I poured a little bubble bath in my hand and rubbed it into his hair, foaming up a thick lather. I massaged his scalp sensuously, my fingers and thumbs rubbing in circular movements. My hands slipped down his neck, soaping all around the angles of his shoulders and ears and then up to his temples.
“Oh my God,” he groaned.
I leaned down and kissed his foamy cheek.
“I guess you like that?” I liked it way too much myself.
“It’s actually giving me a hard on.”
I kept my eyes averted from the foam. I didn’t want to see the evidence breaching the bubbles. Or maybe I did. My imagination was running riot. A delicious ache tugged at my stomach, and deep inside my vagina tightened, hard. Suddenly, I couldn’t take any more. What was I doing? Indulging in this kind of fantasy wasn’t leading to anything positive, only adding fuel to my growing frustration.
”Ooops… I’d better stop there then,” I said, making light of it and getting up. “There…” I dropped the bath lily in his lap pointedly. “You can do your hard places yourself.”
I left the bathroom, half closing the door, partly for his privacy but more for my own good. “You have a nice time.” I stood outside taking some deep breaths of cool air into my tortured body.
“I’ll be out in a sec. Don’t like lying in the bath too long, it makes everything all wrinkly, don’t it?”
I crossed the room and flopped on the bed with a groan, lying flat on my back, staring at the ceiling. I could hear him splashing about, humming something enthusiastically. I badly wanted to be in there, splashing in the bath with him, lying back with his arms and legs wrapped round me.
But thinking things like that was pointless. I was becoming obsessed with something I just couldn’t have.
We lay in bed and it felt strange and awkward. We weren’t even touching, but there was something different in the air tonight. At least I felt there was. It was probably just hormones and an overactive imagination, or maybe the excitement of my birthday surprise and the occasion. All the weeks we’d been spooned up together in his sleeping bag, unable to move, like a pair of sardines in a can, I’d never felt this strength of awareness. But now, in our underwear, with space between us it felt so much more intimate.
He turned towards me and leaned up on his elbow, his fingers reaching out to twirl strands of my hair. His eyes were on mine, unwavering.
I sighed softly, thinking[_ if only_].
“Kate, can I ask ya something personal?”
“Go on then.”
“You’ve gotta answer me honestly, right?”
“I’ll do my best.”
If he was going to ask me something about my past, I’d be very upset. I didn’t want anything to spoil my birthday treat.
“D’ya wanna fuck me?” he asked me softly, placing his fingers on my arm gently. But the heat of shock that flooded through me was anything but soft and gentle. Oh my God – he was certainly direct – I hadn’t seen that coming at all. My mouth opened to reply, but I didn’t know whether to hotly deny it or admit that I did. He gripped my chin between his fingers, tipping my flushed up face to his. “Come on, Princess… you’ve thought about it, ain’t ya? I’ve seen the way you look at me.”
“Well, err…” I murmured, flustered.
“Well[_ what.._].” he persisted, softly brushing my cheek with his fingers. He licked his lips in a certain way. A very slow and seductive way.
He couldn’t actually be coming on to me, could he? It seemed like he was.
“Okay, I admit I’ve thought about it. But thinking and doing are two entirely different things. And Fin – you’re gay.”
“Well it won’t work out, will it? Not with a girl.”
“I think it will work just fine. I’ve often wondered about us, you know? And I guess now’s a good time to find out. You’re special to me and I guess I’m special to you… so…”
“You’re the most special person I’ve had in my life for a long time, but―”
“Look, I’m up for this, Kate. But if you don’t, for whatever reason, it’s cool. No pressure.”
No pressure? Was he kidding me? I was torn inside. I wanted him so badly; every little piece of him, all to myself. But this could very well be a one off. I didn’t know if I could handle that. Or how I would deal with it afterwards, considering what he did with other men. But then again, could I handle not knowing what it would feel like to be loved completely by him? Even if it was just once.
A wonderful once is better than never, isn’t it?
“Jesus…” I took a deep breath and blew out slowly. My eyes rose to meet his. Just one look in those amazing eyes and raging butterflies erupted inside my stomach. I was kidding myself if I thought I could resist him. I didn’t even want to. I manoeuvred myself a little closer, with just a few inches left between us, preparing to leap off the precipice into the unknown.
I stared into his eyes, nervously. Was I about to make a massive mistake, or on the threshold of having the best night of my life?
“Don’t take too long making ya mind up, will ya?” he said, with a pleading catch in his voice. I tentatively placed my palm on the warm bare skin of his shoulder. My breathing quickened pace and desire flooded through me like a raging river. All my reason and control began to disappear.
“Kiss me, Fin. Let’s see what happens,” I whispered, snuggling up and hooking my leg over his.
His fingers wove through the back of my hair, cupping my head, and he brought my lips to his. As they brushed against his warmth and softness, tears pricked at my eyes. This was where I wanted to be – in Finlay’s arms, kissing him. It felt so right – like I was home. I was amazed at the strength of emotion the touch of his lips evoked. I wanted that kiss to last forever.
He didn’t know, and I’d never tell him, but it was actually my first ever kiss.
Before Finlay, the only experience I’d had of sex was by force. I’d felt invaded, full of hurt and disgust – outraged that someone would force me do things like that against my will and being powerless to stop them doing it. I had never realised just how good it would feel being close to someone this way, until tonight. For a long time I never thought I’d want to do it through choice, with anyone. Until I’d met Finlay.
The last few months I’d imagined this moment so many times. But it had been a hot pipe-dream, I never really expected my dream would come true. but now it had, and the reality of being intimate with him had opened up a whole new world of sensation.
We were soon naked, in a heated tangle. His tongue played with mine as his hands roamed all over my body, exploring – softly, slowly and thoroughly. Then his hand suddenly stalled on my hipbone.
“Princess,[_ y_]ou’re so thin[… Christ… _]I’m worried[ ]I’ll break ya.[”_]
“Yeah, the diet’s working so well,” I said, suddenly feeling hurt and self conscious. “And you’re thin too…” He was quite lean, but clearly nowhere near as thin as me. I shifted away from him, covering myself up to the neck with the duvet. He must have realised he’d upset me by saying that as he quickly pulled me back into his arms, brushing his fingers up and down my back.
“Sorry… look you’re still beautiful and all that. Honest. It’s a bit of a shock though. I never realised how skinny you are.”
“Fin, you’re always joking about me disappearing!”
“Yeah. But I was just joking. Your clothes hid all your bony bits. We need to fatten you up somehow, don’t we?”
“And how’s that gonna miraculously happen, hmm?”
“Dunno yet, but I’m definitely thinking ‘bout it, okay?” He held me closer to him and cradled me to his chest, stroking my hair.
I felt the spell had been broken, and I let out a sigh of regret. Perhaps it wasn’t meant to be. But I was wrong, as moments later he started kissing me again and the heat built rapidly between us. Seconds later he slipped down the bed, his hands softly caressing me again. I arched my back and gasped out loud as his mouth captured my nipple, sucking it rhythmically. Fire ignited in my stomach and I moaned as his delicious little tugs sent pulses of pleasure to my needy centre. All my deeply repressed sexual feelings resurfaced in a blast and tears of relief and joy sprang to my eyes. It felt so good. So amazingly good. This was how sex should be. Consensual. Soft and gentle. Full of desire and pleasure.
Not like that. Never like that.
His fingers finally trailed down my stomach and into the valley below. He stroked through the wetness, murmuring.
“Oh Fin,” I whimpered. It felt like I was going to explode with need as he touched [_that _]spot with gentle fingertips. Without thought or design, strange sounds left my mouth. Sounds I didn’t know I could make. Little squeaks, throaty groans and animal growls. They resonated in the air, mingling with our breathing and the rustling of the bed clothes our legs were tangled within. I shut my eyes and bright lights of pleasure flashed in my brain. My hips started to rise against his hand, seeking out more contact and more pressure. He had no idea just how much I needed and wanted this. How much all this meant to me. I’d tell him one day – maybe even today – how he was releasing me from my past. He was freeing me from the prison in my mind. I slipped my hand down his stomach and held his erection in my hand. I’d never wanted to touch that part of a man’s body so much as I did then. It felt hot and smooth and so hard. I wanted it inside me badly. Based on how hard he was, I guessed he must have felt the same.
Suddenly, he drew away, extricating my hand from him, and lay back on his pillow, his arm resting across his eyes.
I leant over him, full of concern. Had I done something wrong? Maybe I shouldn’t have touched him that way. “What’s the matter?” I asked tentatively.
“Sorry, but I really don’t think I can do this.”
”Oh.” Frustration and disappointment flooded through me like a wave. But I tried not to show it. My stomach clenched tightly. “We’ll just have a cuddle then.”
He chewed at his lip, like he was battling with himself.
“It’s okay Fin, really. I understand.”
He dropped his arm from his face and took hold of my hand, turning his head towards me. His expression was tense.
“No it’s not okay. I’ve got you all worked up and horny and I’ve let you down, ain’t I?”
“You really haven’t let me down. I never expected any of this.”
“I know you didn’t expect it, but I started it and it’s not fair, is it?”
“I can’t deny I’m disappointed…” I said honestly.
He sat up, leant across to the chair beside the bed table and grabbed a condom from his jacket pocket. Ripping the foil, and in seconds he rolled it on. I lay with bated breath watching him smooth it on himself so expertly. I tried not to think how many times he’d done this before and with whom. He turned and rolled over against me, hooking his leg over mine. Heat surged through me once more at his touch. The warmth of his body and the hardness of his erection on my stomach sent my heart pounding like a drum.
“You deserve something good tonight, and I’m gonna give you that.”
“You really don’t have to. Not unless you really want to, that is.”
“It just felt strange for a second – that’s all. I’m over it.” He rolled right over and positioned himself above me. I gasped with expectation as he held his cock in his hand and prodded at my entrance a few times.
“Alright beautiful? So you want this little bit of me, do ya?” he smiled at me, widely and suggestively, his eyes crinkling up.
“Oh my God, yes….” I wanted him with every cell I consisted of.
He pushed a little harder. And that one push was all it took.
I couldn’t believe the ease with which he slipped inside. So carefully and smoothly. Although it stung a little at first, the was no real pain, andhaving him inside me was the most wonderful, beautiful sensation.
It was a stark contrast to my previous experience.
But I’d wanted Finlay to do this. I’d been absolutely dying for it.
I hadn’t wanted the sick, evil bastard who did it to me before.
“Oh my… oh my,” I whispered, entranced by the feelings I was experiencing, consumed by excitement and need, just about everywhere. Finlay loomed above me, like a love god, his eyes boring into mine.
“Kate…” My name sounded like the softest sigh on his breath.
“Fin…” I murmured, and writhed against him, loving the way our hipbones met, and the way heat and wetness pooled where we joined. He filled me completely, and it felt so right being full to the brim with him.
He began to move, slipping in and out, so achingly slowly. “God, I never imagined fucking you would feel this good… holy shit…”
“Yes…” I moaned. I agreed with every fucking word he said and so much more. It was so easy, so natural and so beautiful. But Finlay wasn’t just fucking me. We both knew that. This was a connection on another level. This was pure heaven. And my heart fell deeper and deeper in love with him with each stroke inside me.
The world was crumbling apart. Everything was disintegrating around us. I was aware of nothing but our bodies and what we were doing. A fire could be charring us to a crisp or a tidal wave sweeping us away to drown and I wouldn’t have noticed or given a damn.
I was lost in his arms.
I had never felt such bliss. Consumed by a raging hunger, and a craving for more, I surged against him. We seemed to merge, to fuse, mouths and sex, devouring each other like we were starving beasts. We swapped breath and groans and matched thrusts, building towards something we couldn’t see, but could only feel. I curled my limbs around his backside and legs like vines, my hands gripping, my nails digging into his lean flesh. I didn’t think, only reacted to what my body was telling me. And it was telling me I needed more. I didn’t think I could ever get enough of him. Sweat slicked between us and down my sides as I lost all control, grabbing at his body with frenzied hands, nipping wildly at his lips, ears and neck with my teeth and lips. My tongue licked the salty sweat from him, savouring the taste and scent like he was a banquet to feast upon. His hot tongue probed inside my ear and shivers of pure delight cascaded down my spine.
I felt a tightening coil of pleasure building at my core. The pleasure grew from a gently rippling stream to a surging, cresting wave that was about to break into a million foaming bubbles. I was a moaning mess, unable to stop, and fast reaching the precipice. As I hovered on that point of orgasm, I didn’t want it to happen. I wanted the pleasure to go on and on, for Finlay to fuck me all night, and to hang there on the edge of this sexual paradise he’d brought me to.
But it was too strong, and I couldn’t contain it.
“Jesus… Fin,” I groaned.
“You coming?” he asked.
With a softly whispered, “God, oh God … yes,” I tipped over the edge.
I let the deep muscular pulsations overtake me, squeezing him inside.
Floating in my euphoria, I felt him thrust faster and harder and then he shuddered and groaned as he reached his peak, collapsing heavily on me. I took his weight gladly – joyfully even. All the air left my lungs in a gasp – but it was a beautiful smothering I wanted to last.
Neither of us spoke for a while. We just lay there, coming down from our highs, stroking each other, and gulping. I think we were both a little shell-shocked by the experience. At least I was.
“Well… we did it,” Finlay finally said.
“Yeah, we certainly did…” I whispered in his ear. “Fin, are you sure you’re gay?”
“No doubts about being gay, but I liked doing that with you.”
Liked? Only liked?
I’d adored every second of it. A shiver ran down my spine. I felt so disappointed, because what we had shared had blown me away and I desperately wanted it to be just as good for him. I wanted him to tell me he didn’t need men anymore. I wanted to be everything to him, to be enough to satisfy him. But who was I kidding? Did I really think one sex session with me would turn him straight somehow? Of course it wouldn’t. And I had no right to expect anything more.
But whatever this meant to him, and I guessed it meant something a bit special, and I felt so much closer to him now. Close enough to share a lot more secrets than our bodies had just revealed.
It had taken a long time getting to this point, but this was something I needed to do. And I wanted to do. It didn’t matter if today was my birthday.
Now was the time to share. And I felt strong enough to do it.
“Fin, I want to ask you something.”
“If you tell me the answer, honestly, I’ll do the same.”
“I’ll have to hear the question first.”
“I want to know what happened at home, why did you leave?”
“And you’ll tell me why you left home as well?”
“Yes, I will. I promise.” It wouldn’t be easy, but I would. I wanted someone else to know. To offload. My mind craved to have some kind of peace.
He puffed out a long breath. “It ain’t all that pretty, mind.”
“The truth often isn’t.”
“Right… well here goes… I’m the product of a gang rape.”
“Yeah. Bad start, weren’t it? My mum hated all men and became an alcoholic because of it. She told me loads of times she wished I’d never been born but for some reason she didn’t give me up for adoption. I think she liked having me there as her whipping boy. I was someone to take all her frustrations out on. And she encouraged my sisters to think the same way.”
“What happened to their dad? Melanie and Maggie’s…”
“Oh he fucked off before they were born. He had the right idea mind. I don’t blame him for a second.”
“So you never met him?”
“Nah… like I said, it was torture living there with them lot. I ended up in care at fourteen – hated it in Barnardos too – got bullied and beaten up by the hard gang – I even ran away a few times. It’s always been a downhill slide for me. But there’s really only one thing I regret, and that was never trying at school… I bunked off all me lessons. I really fucked up there. Anyways… after that great start in life it wasn’t gonna get much better too soon, was it?” he chewed his lip rhythmically. For a moment he looked so sad and lost. I hugged him and kissed his neck, and he squeezed me tightly in return.
My heart bled for the little boy he had been. Neglected, abused and unloved. His resilience astounded me. “I’m so sorry,” I whispered, kissing his ear.
“Don’t be. Not your fault, was it?”
“But I feel for you, Fin. How did you cope with all that?”
“Fuck, I dunno. You just do, don’t ya? I’m over it, Kate. Honest to God, I am. It gets old being bitter about things. I was determined not to get twisted and fucked up like mum. She ruined her life hating me and I weren’t gonna ruin mine hating her or anyone.” They were brave words, but I wasn’t sure he was over it really. Could he ever be? I wondered how that kind of upbringing had shaped him as a man. How he really felt about himself – deep down inside? A little bit worthless, perhaps? Is that why he seemed to have no problem selling his body? There were so many more questions I wanted to ask, but I bit my tongue. Now wasn’t the time to probe that deeply. He’d started to open up and that was good therapy. But there was always another day.
He pushed me back a little, onto the pillow and looked down at me.
“So c’mon. Why did Princess Kate leave the palace? And you’ve gotta tell me everythin’, right?”
“It wasn’t exactly a palace, Fin. The Gables was just a big house.” At the mention of that name, goosebumps rose on my arms. I shivered but tried hard to relax and let it all come out naturally – as if it were a story happening to someone else. At times it really had felt like that. It was so awful an experience that I’d pretended it was just a nasty dream. Someone else’s nightmare. Not really happening at all.
“My mum was single, like yours. My dad was a guy she met at University but it didn’t work out. I never knew him. Mum and I had a good relationship. Very good. Very close. It was just the two of us until I was seven. She struggled to get by financially, but those were such happy times together.” I took a deep breath. “…And then… one day … she met Edward at a dinner party. She married him after six months. He’s a partner in a legal practice in Oxford and very well off. I think Mum thought she’d won the jackpot. We both did. I had everything I could ever want. The best education. And he had connections. I wanted to get into publishing after my degree and he said he would help me. It all looked very rosy at the beginning. Mum gave her job up and kept house full time. I think he pressured her into it though. He really liked controlling people, especially her.”
“So did you get on with your stepdad?”
“We never really bonded, but I kept that to myself, because Mum seemed so happy. But then everything started to fall apart. Mum got pancreatic cancer when I was ten and after going through five years of hell, she died.” I gulped back the tears. “My stepdad started abusing me long before that. But I couldn’t tell her. How could I tell my sick mum that terrible thing? I thought the shock might kill her. He threatened me, made me swear to keep it a secret or bad things would happen – to both of us. I was thirteen the first time he raped me. Mum was in hospital. He got drunk and forced himself on me on my bed.” Opening the wounds made me feel so intensely raw, like it was happening all over again. I could almost feel his hands on me; smell the stench of alcohol and cigarettes on his breath and see the glittering excitement of his grey eyes boring down from above. “After that he raped me often, whenever Mum was in hospital having her treatments. But after a while he did it when she was asleep in bed in the next room. He had his hand over my mouth so I didn’t make any noise. Then afterwards, he just got up and went back to bed, with Mum. Can you imagine how that felt?”
I’d been on the edge of suicide. That’s how bad I felt. I suffered in silence for over four years and became a shadow of my former bubbly self. My mother dying so painfully and having to deal with my stepfather’s sexual abuse was more than I could take.
“It changed me inside, Fin. I was morbid… if you know what I mean? Like really bad. I started to self harm. After mum died, he started to abuse me more and more. Verbally. Physically. Sexually. He blamed me for everything that went wrong. Didn’t have a nice word for me. And then one day, I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t remain in the house with him or I’d do something stupid, like kill him or myself. And I couldn’t allow that to happen. I wanted him to suffer somehow. He deserved to suffer, like he’d made me suffer. I wanted him to worry about the past coming back to get him for the rest of his life. So I packed my school bag and disappeared with five hundred quid from my savings account. You know I actually thought it would be easy to get a job and my life would be so much better without him around…I was so naïve. I never dreamed that I’d find myself living on the streets… all because of him…” I stopped and drew a deep breath. All the hatred and misery of my past swirled around inside me in a maelstrom. “How could he do that to me… and to my mum, Fin?” Tears trickled down my cheeks. Finlay wiped them away with a finger. He’d listened to my account silently, with a grim expression on his face.
“I dunno. But I tell ya, my blood’s boiling – I wanna kill him – go rip his balls off, the evil fucking bastard!” He suddenly pressed me hard to his chest and cupped my head into his neck protectively.
“I used to feel like that, until I blotted it out. That’s the way I dealt with it, I pretended it didn’t happen.” My throat constricted tightly with emotion, but I pushed through it. “I’d never liked Edward much from the start. I sensed something ‘off’-kilter’ about him long before the abuse started. When we were alone, he was too friendly, too touchy feely, and when mum around he was very hands off, sometimes distant and cold. But he used to stare at me all the time, Fin – I mean, really stare. Inappropriately. Anyway, I’ve blocked him from my mind now. Can’t even remember what he looks like and that’s the truth.” I pulled away to look at Finlay. “You know just before Mum died… she told me to look after Edward for her. Be a good girl for him, she said. I was so sick about that.[_ Good girl? _]I mean, fuck looking after Edward, he can roast in hell for all I care! She didn’t know, I’m sure of it. Not a clue about what was happening under her nose. And now I can’t bear to think of her up there… looking down at me right now and possibly knowing all that happened. And seeing what’s happened to me. She must be turning in her grave.”
Finlay stroked my wet face with his fingers.
“I’m sure your mum’s proud of how brave you were. You walked away from the monster she never knew. He fooled her well and good, didn’t he? And being on the street’s not gonna last forever.”
“Maybe I should have gone to the police? But I was so scared. He was a solicitor, he knew the law, he had the upper hand. And I was … well … I couldn’t prove anything, could I? It was my word against his.” I started to sob, remembering how helpless I’d felt, and how outraged and desperate a time it was. I couldn’t stop the flood, and with it all my years of pent up misery came tumbling out like a waterfall. It wasn’t like I hadn’t cried over it all before, I had done that many times. But this time it was therapeutic, they were tears of relief that I’d finally told someone.
“Aww, sweetheart, shush… shush…” he wiped the sea of tears away from my face with the sheet and kissed my forehead. “Look – you did the right thing for you. Like I did for me. I’ve never told anyone any of this stuff. You’re the first real friend I’ve had who I can talk to. You know that?”
Then he kissed my face, soaked with my tears.
“Same here… I’ve had girl friends… but never told them this. I couldn’t bear … anyone knowing… you know?” I sobbed between my heaving breaths.
“Yeah, I get you only too well.”
He tipped my chin up.
Just one look at his concerned, handsome face and my sobs started to subside. I didn’t want to waste time with him dwelling on the past and crying a second more over it. I’d said my piece, shared my troubles and now I was going to move on.
I snuggled down against him.
“I’m so glad we’ve found each other. I love you, you know?” I said bravely.
He stroked my hair. “Yeah. I know. I love ya too. You’re my best girl. You always will be.”
I wasn’t sure what that meant – or how he really loved me. As a friend or a girlfriend? But I was quite sure how I loved him. An all consuming passionate kind of love. I was sure I’d find out everything he felt too. Eventually. Now that we’d started to open up.
I yawned and snuggled up to him contentedly. My mind felt so much lighter. My heart was open and warmed with our understanding.
“We should think about getting some sleep, shouldn’t we?” I suggested.
“Yeah, we should. I’m dog tired, no kidding.” He chuckled and kissed my head again. “Close those eyes. Sleep tight, Princess.”
For a while I listened to his familiar little snuffles and grunts. I started to relax and drift off to sleep, in the safe circle of his arms. My head was on his chest absorbing the steady thrum of his heart. I loved him so completely. I ached inside, I loved him so much. Finlay moaned in his sleep, muttering something intelligible and a bittersweet smile rose on my lips. Just for tonight I could pretend he was dreaming of me, and me alone.
I’d never forget this amazing night. Never.
h1=. Chapter 6
So far we’d not mentioned what had happened between us the night before. It was his decision if it happened again. I wouldn’t ever push things or pressure him into doing something he didn’t want. Were we to be friends or lovers? I already knew what I wanted. And I hoped he wanted me just as much. But it would have to be exclusive. How that could work, in his line of business, I wasn’t sure. It meant getting another job and that was a bit of a problem.
There we stood, in the RSPCA charity shop, and I had a little bit of tummy ache. My own fault, granted, as I’d been a pig. Basically, we’d both had a stomach and a half of full English for breakfast just over an hour ago. I don’t think I’d ever eaten four sausages, three toast, five bacon and three fried eggs in one sitting before. I was encouraged by Finlay to get it down me, to fatten me up, and I amazed myself how much I could actually sink. Now my shrunken stomach was protesting loudly at being stretched like a balloon.
I tried to ignore the grumbles as we browsed the racks of coats. This was the third shop so far and there hadn’t been much of interest on the coat front.
“What about this one? Looks kinda new,” Finlay said, holding up a black duffel coat which was lined in a Burberry style check.
“Mmm, now that’s much more my thing.” I took it from him and looked it over. My eyes widened when I saw the name tag. “Fin, look, this is a [_real _]Burberry.”
“Ssshhh… I know. Try it on.”
I slipped it over my jumper and it fit like a dream. It was padded and felt so warm, I admired myself in the mirror, trying out the hood with its cream fur trim. I subtly glanced at the price tag pinned on the sleeve. Five pounds fifty wasn’t too expensive for a Burberry.
“Oh yeah, that one’s definitely got your name on it.” Finlay stood cross armed, smiling, cocking his head to one side.
He picked up the price tag, and his face was expressionless.
I really, really wanted this coat. I loved it. It was a world apart from the others we’d seen. I prayed he had enough cash left to buy it for me.
“Please may I have it?” I asked him, trying not too sound too desperate.
“Course… it’s yours already. And these too.” He loaded my arm with two pairs of jeans and a soft grey sweater.
“No. I can’t take all these. Just the coat.”
“Your gear’s had it. You need new things. All Size 8, right?”
I sighed, torn. He was right. My jeans and sweatshirt were the pits.
“Okay…” I agreed, “but I’m paying you back.”
He playfully pushed me to the counter and paid the blue rinsed old dear manning the till the twelve pounds fifty bill. As I walked out of the shop I felt euphoric. My feet were floating above the ground. I took such pleasure in the nice little things that happened. Things that may not have mattered before, meant so much to me now. Bubble bath, soap, jeans, sweet little check-lined coats. All wrapped up in the warmth of Finlay’s love. The world had suddenly become a much better place. I kissed Finlay’s cheek in appreciation, and linked my arm through his as we walked off down the road.
And he didn’t stop there. After the coat he bought my eyes a gift too. A brand new mascara and eyeliner. I was overjoyed to get that as mine had been stolen with the rest of my gear. My eyes felt naked without mascara on. I’d rather go bra-less than mascara-less. After putting a good few layers on, and rimming my eyes with liner, I could actually say hello to my eyes again. What an improvement it made. Tucking the both in my pocket I vowed to treasure these two items for ever.
At that moment, I felt like a queen on the arm of my king.
It started to drizzle with rain. We crossed the road and entered a small, upmarket arcade. It was covered by a glass roof and sheltered us from the weather. A delicious scent emanated from The Real McCoy, a proper coffee shop, where they roasted and ground their own beans.
“Mmm, I miss coffee and tea so much, don’t you?” I murmured. I’d had a cup of each in the restaurant that morning and they’d reawakened my taste for it. I remembered getting cups of coffee from Costa and Starbucks with Mum. She was a die-hard coffee lover. A double shot of Espresso was her tipple. Nothing less than the strongest brew.
But Finlay didn’t answer my question. He suddenly stopped dead in his tracks in the middle of the arcade. As my arm was linked through his, I jerked to a stop alongside him.
“Oh no…” he whispered.
“Fin, what is it?” I asked. But still he didn’t answer. His face was as white as a sheet and a muscle twitched in his cheek. It was like he was in shock, or seen a ghost or something. I followed the line of his gaze to an approaching man. He wore a full length trench coat, which was left open and loose, sweeping around him like a black cloud. He was good looking, possibly late twenties or early thirties, although I wasn’t too good with ages.
“Whatever I say, just go along wiv it, okay?” Finlay said.
“Why, what’s going on?”
“Just do it for me… please?” Finlay snapped, removing my arm from his.
“Fine,” I replied, very huffily.
The guy stopped in front of us. I stared at his handsome face with fascination. He had such perfectly trimmed facial hair, which accentuated the angles of his face, and his hazel eyes were large and expressive. But he wore a frown. A deepening frown.
“Good morning, Finlay,” he said in a cultured tone of voice.
“Yeah, mornin’ Robert,” Finlay replied.
I hoped Finlay would introduce me, but he didn’t.
“Out for a walk, I see?”
“Yep, what about you?”
“I’m visiting my mother for coffee. I’ll take you to meet her soon.”
My mind was processing the relationship and the familiarity. Was this just an acquaintance or one of his clients? And why did Fin need to meet Robert’s mother?
“Don’t she have Chinese cats or something?”
Robert sighed and rolled his eyes. “Not Chinese, Fin… They’re Burmese. And they’re quite beautiful creatures. They have the most amazing snow white coats. Do you like cats?”
“No, I’m kinda allergic. I’m more a dog sort. Well don’t let us keep you from the fur balls. I’ll speak to ya later.” Finlay obviously felt uncomfortable with the situation, or with me being there and made to leave, but Robert held him back with a hand on his arm.
“There’s no rush. I’ll arrange for you to meet my mother somewhere else, in a cat-free environment. But Fin – about you ignoring my calls [_and _]my texts. I was becoming worried about you. Didn’t you consider that? The whole point of buying you a phone was so that I could get in touch, at any time, was it not?”
He BOUGHT him a phone?
“Sorry, but I was busy. We were having a little get together, for Kate’s birthday. The music was loud and the phone was on silent. We had a few drinks and well … you know…”
Robert looked me over coldly, briefly and dismissively.
“Oh I see. And I guess this is your flatmate Kate? The one you were having such noisy fun with?”
I didn’t like his tone, or the way he was looking down his nose at me. What kind of lies had Finlay fed Robert about our situation. And why?
I glared at Finlay and he glared back at me.
“Yeah, that’s right, and it was really noisy. But strangely parties often are,” I replied, playing the game for Finlay’s sake, but feeling very confused and concerned over the role I was playing.
“I expect you were making the most of spending time with him, weren’t you? I guess you’ll miss him terribly when he leaves?” Robert said, his eyes narrowing whilst they studied mine.
When he leaves …?
Had I heard that right? All the blood rushed from my head, as I reeled in shock. I didn’t know what to think.
He was lying. Finlay wouldn’t leave me. No, he wouldn’t do that. He[_ couldn’t_] do that.
“Kate’s been a bit down since I told ‘er,” Finlay said, shuffling his feet on the spot. He couldn’t look at me, and the knife of truth sliced through my heart. “‘Cos as you know were close mates. Shame you had to bring it up again, Robert. Thanks a bunch for that.” His continuing affirmation stung me.
“Well I’m sorry to hear that, Kate. But that’s life for you. Full of surprises. Some good, some bad.” Robert smiled at me almost triumphantly.
Finlay had the nerve to put his arm round my waist and he hugged me close, but I stiffened with hurt and pulled away from his side. I wanted to slap his face. To make him admit he was making this up – but I already knew he wasn’t.
Now Finlay’s behaviour was starting to make sense. All those treats. The night in the hotel. The sex feast. The pretty birthday gifts. The clothes. The coat. The mascara. All those things were the result of a guilty conscience. Because he already knew he was leaving me.
“Look, I’ll see ya later Robert, okay. Call ya in a bit. I’m spending some time with Kate today if ya don’t mind?”
Robert looked at his watch. “Okay. And I’d better go too. You’re meeting me at my place at four remember? There’s lots more to do before we go.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be there.”
Their words ricocheted around my head, pounding painfully at my temples. This was a bad dream. A terrible, terrible nightmare.
My heart started to thump and I shook with shock and disbelief as they hugged each other and Finlay placed a soft kiss on Robert’s offered cheek. Their easy affection was plain to see. That hurt me more than I could ever say.
“Fin, don’t be late. We have some special dinner guests tonight, and they’re dying to meet you.”
“Really?” Fin looked very uncomfortable at the prospect.
“Aha.” Robert placed a hand on my arm briefly. “It’s been lovely to finally meet you, Kate… To put a face to the name.” Then he turned back to Finlay. “Okay… ciao for now, darling.”
“Yeah, ciao. Sweet.”
Robert swept off, the expensive scent of his cologne trailing in his wake, his long coat tails swishing around his buckled boots.
I turned to Finlay with tears now brimming in my eyes.
“You’re leaving me … for him?”
“Honestly, I was gonna tell ya about it later. He asked me a week ago and I didn’t wanna spoil things – not with your birthday coming up and all that.”
“Oh how thoughtful,” I said, my voice dripping in hurt and sarcasm. “So tell me – where are you going?”
“The States, New York. He’s an artist and I dunno how the hell it happened… but apparently I’m his inspiration, a muse or somethin’ like that.”
“New York?” I squeaked, my throat constricting so tightly I couldn’t breathe. “For how long?”
“Months maybe. I dunno yet.”
My heart died a little more. “It’s serious then?”
“It’s not serious in the way you mean. I don’t love ‘im. But I’ve known him quite a while; we’re good mates. Look Kate, how the hell could I say no to that kind of offer? Could you?”
“I don’t … fucking … know...” I held my head in my hands.
“You’re upset. And I get that. Let’s go sit in the coffee shop and I’ll get you a drink and and we can discuss everything. There’s important things I need to tell ya. Ways I can help ya.” He grabbed at my arm.
But I was so hurt at being abandoned by my one and only true friend, I shrugged him off. The one I felt closest to in the whole world, the one whom I’d only just revealed my deepest darkest secrets to, was about to disappear. It was more than cruel, it was the devil’s torture. I was almost panic stricken inside thinking of my future on the streets, living without him by my side. I couldn’t think even straight. And there was no way I could possibly chat about it over a vanilla latte. “No, I don’t want to sit and discuss everything. What’s to discuss? You’re going, aren’t you?”
“Yes but what..? What about last night, more to the point? What was that, Fin? A goodbye fuck?” Tears streamed down my face – my new mascara was probably forming ugly black streaks, but I let the tears flow unchecked. What did it matter what I looked like? People were staring at us as they passed by, seeing my distress and hearing our raised voices, but I was beyond caring what people thought of me. I’d lost all my dignity when I became a hopeless homeless beggar girl.
“I wanted last night to be something good for you to remember, Kate. You can call it a goodbye fuck if you like, but it was supposed to be a special goodbye. “
“Special? You really think I feel special, do you? I now know you never had any intention of taking things further with me. Last night I actually thought we could have some kind of future together. I’d started to hope, Fin – to dream of us. And now, just when I had you within my grasp, or so I thought, I’ve lost you to him … this Robert. Someone I didn’t even know existed! I tell you, I’ve never felt so [_un-special _]as I do right now.”
He held his hands up. “Well that’s a shame because it felt special to me. I’ll always remember it, like I’ll always remember you. But when did I ever suggest we could be a couple? I’m gay. You know that.”
“You led me to believe there could be a chance for us. By what you did. What [_we _]did.” My stomach was churning with such a mixture of feelings, I couldn’t even explain how I felt. Confused, misled, betrayed, hurt, enraged, disappointed… throw completely ruined in there for good measure.
“I never meant to lead you on, or hurt you. But what we are is friends, Kate – real close mates. There’ll never be another friend like you for me. You’re the best. But sometimes friends have to part their ways. And it’s not always at a good time. I’m so sorry it’s happened right now. But in my position I can’t pick and choose, can I? I have to take this chance with Robert. I’ve just fucking gotta, don’t I? He thinks I’ve got real talent, you know?”
“What talent?” I ground out nastily.
“I can draw pretty damn good. He’s gonna help me to improve that. And being an artist he’s got a lot of connections. Don’t you see…. this could be my only chance to make something of myself. What else is there? Being a bum-bitch, bending over for every dick who wants a bit of young ass for ten quid a pop, ain’t a great alternative, is it? D’you really want that for me?” But I couldn’t look at him, because I was drowning in misery. He shook me to get my attention. “Well do ya?” His eyes blazed into mine with fury and pain. I could see he was hurting so badly, so ripped up inside. Devastated as I was, I had to agree, he really had no choice.
“No,” I forced the word from my mouth reluctantly.
“Robert’s got quite a lot of money. Opportunities like this don’t come along every day. I’ve gotta take a chance wiv him…”
Hearing the word money almost killed me. Because now I knew with absolute certainty that he’d spent Robert’s money on me.
“Were you with him the night before last? Is that how you earned that hundred pounds?”
“Yeah… I was with him. And I didn’t earn it as such. He gave me the money to sort things out before I left.”
“And you spent his money on me?”
“Does it matter?”
I turned and fled, full of despair.
I couldn’t put my feelings into words. But the strength of negative emotion surging through me, made me feel sick. Finlay’s voice echoed in my ears, calling me back as I bolted through the streets, rushing panic stricken through the crowds of people and umbrellas, my eyes a blur of hot tears. I didn’t know or care where I ran. What I needed to do was put some space between me and him. To find a bolthole where I could give up quietly, to find some way to end the pain stabbing in my heart.
God… why are you doing this to me?
My throat burned and my sobs grew louder and louder, the tears flowing like a river of misery – I was becoming hysterical.
A life on my own, without Finlay, was a fate worse than death.
I just couldn’t take it. All my hope died.
There was nothing worthwhile keeping me here. Or anywhere.
I didn’t belong in this world.
With the strength of rage and hysteria bubbling inside me, I dodged through the oncoming tide of people, running until my heart felt like it would burst. I flew along the busy pavements, weaving through spaces as they appeared, bumping into the mass of shoulders, arms and shopping bags clumsily.
I turned my head, to look over my shoulder, but I couldn’t see him following. And that was good, because I really didn’t want to see him. Ever again.
Through my tears and the soft drizzle of the rain I saw an opportunity to end my torment. There was a gap in the crowds and I didn’t stop to think for second. I didn’t want to change my mind and to face the bleak future I could see. In a split second of my decision, I ran off the pavement into the path of an oncoming black cab, intent on leaving everything behind.
There was no hesitation and no fear – only a sense of relief that my pain and struggles would all be over soon.
All I wanted now was to be with my mother again – to find comfort and love in her arms. To feel safe, like I had before all the bad things happened.
There was a high pitched squeal of brakes and someone screamed, loudly. I think it might have been me.
The pain as the car hit me was almost unbearable. The taxi threw me up in the air with a force I could hardly believe.
I hit the ground, rolling across the rough surface of the road, scraping my face brutally, my head cracking against the kerb-side with a sickening thud. The metallic taste of blood pooled in my mouth.
I felt shattered all over – agonisingly broken – inside and out.
The sound of voices echoed in my ears, but it was muffled and strange. I couldn’t discern any shape or form about me, only blurry shadows hovering above.
I forgave Finlay and wished him the very best of everything.
How could I not, for I loved him more than life itself.
The pain evaporated like a mist rising. I felt calm and peaceful as the silence and blackness carried me away – like I was a pinprick of light disappearing.
My life-force faded fast and I floated away to another place.
A place where I would be safe, where there were no struggles and no more problems.
A place called death.
h1=. Dr Sex Series – by K.M. Liss
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h1=. About the Author
I’m a love-a-holic, and also a lover of intrigue and drama. My reading interests are spread across several genres. Romance, Paranormal, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror and Erotica which makes for interesting fiction. I love to create real people. People you may find in everyday life. But these people have secrets, hidden depths, torture, and a wealth of other hidden characteristics to their personality. And I love to create steamy passion, a heated encounter that will make you wish it were you.
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h1=. Katrina Liss Web Links
I had nothing in the world but Finlay. He was my friend. The best friend a girl could ever have. I wanted more than just friendship but I never told him how I felt. There were reasons why I couldn't. And one huge reason. Our lives were hard. We were on the streets and homeless. We had secrets. But still we ticked along. I struggled with the life I never imagined I would be living. If it wasn't for Finlay I would have given up. It wasn't until my eighteenth birthday that everything started to unravel.