Soft play

At first, Hayley barely notices the change in herself. There are other, more worrying things, she’s grown aware of in the eleven months she’s been a mother – like the fact that she’s now willing to sit in a noisy, overlit room for two hours, even when she has a headache, if it buys her twenty minutes to sit uninterrupted with a mug of overpriced, badly-made coffee.

In a way, soft play is like a metaphor for the way her body – her self– has altered. Before, she was all angles and boniness, prickly like the cacti in the hipster coffee shops she wasted hours in. Now she has rounded edges like the bumpers that surround the ball pit. And no matter who tells her she’s still hot, she doesn’t recognise herself in the mirror.

Before, back when she liked hipster coffee shops, she also liked pain. She liked to be tied up and flogged, she liked nipple clamps, biting, hands around her throat. She’s pretty sure the desire for that stuff hasn’t gone forever, but it’s sure as hell gone for now – what with the pregnancy, the birth, and the breastfeeding she’s had enough pain to last her a lifetime.

She used to like pain and she used to like men. Or rather, she often hated men, on an ideological level – what feminist wouldn’t, when you saw all the shit in the world that men were responsible for – but she really, really liked cock, and she was willing to tolerate men just to have access to cock on a regular basis. And there’d been at least a couple of men that she’d grown fond of for more than just what was between their legs.

But that’s another thing that’s changed. She’s gone off hipster coffee shops, pain, and men and she’s replaced them with coffee that tastes like dishwater, juice cartons, rice cakes and supervising tiny humans in the ball pit.

And women. Or rather, a woman.

That started in the ball pit, too, but it’s moved on from there, because it might be legit to hit on your crush in the ball pit when you’re four years old, but it’s less acceptable when you’re thirty-five.

Never before has she had a crush that began so much with the urge to just touch. It reminds her of the way toddlers touch each other – the way they reach out to clumsily stroke each other’s faces, the way they hug so fiercely they throw each other off balance. That’s what she wanted with this woman before she even knew her name. She’s fascinated by the pale roll of flesh that spills over the top of her jeans every time her t-shirt rides up. At home, Hayley spends a long time studying herself in the full-length mirror in the hallway. In many ways, she’s not dissimilar from the woman she desires – her tummy has the same soft rolls, she too is clothed in jeans, Converse and a T-shirt from H&M. She’s not dissimilar, but she still wants her own flesh to melt away. How, she thinks, is it possible to find something attractive on another person and still repulsive on your own body?

Her brain is a fucker like that.

Anyway, the crush has moved on, because the woman, who she now knows is called Francesca, has suggested that she comes round for coffee one morning.

‘It’d be nice to get to know you properly,’ she says.

God, the fantasies Hayley builds off that properly. She lies in the bathtub, lets the showerhead rain warm water on her clit as she imagines the two of them standing in a small galley kitchen, biscuits on a plate, ground coffee waiting in a cafetière, and Francesca reaching past her to flick the kettle on, brushing her arm as she does so.

‘Sorry,’ she’d say, and Hayley would say, ‘Don’t be sorry,’ and somehow she’d know that what Hayley actually meant was ‘Please kiss me,’ and she would. The kettle would go unboiled, and Francesca’s hands would be on her waist, on the bits of herself that Hayley likes least and she wouldn’t care at all. In fact, as Francesca kisses her and strokes her, pulls her t-shirt over her head and drops it to the floor, Hayley would understand that her own body is beautiful too.

They would stumble through to the living room and there, on a sofa in front of a bay window, Francesca would suck Hayley’s nipples, rub her clit, slide her fingers inside her, and Hayley would come, shuddering, as easily as she does when she’s alone. Afterwards, they would lay together, giggling softly, and Hayley wouldn’t worry about whether or not she’ll hear from Francesca the next day.

These thoughts are still running through her head as she knocks on Francesca’s door, noticing that the house doesn’t have a bay window, just standard double-glazing. They’re still running through her head as Francesca flicks on the Nespresso machine, as she froths milk in a metal jug. And they’re still running through her head as they stand and drink their coffee and Francesca reaches out towards her.

Hayley feels Francesca’s gentle hand at the back of her neck. ‘I -,’ she starts. She doesn’t know quite what she was planning to say, but it doesn’t matter, because, before she can say anything else, Francesca says ‘Sorry, your label was sticking out.’

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Moth

I really liked the Smut Marathon 2019 Round 5 prompt, so I had a go at using it myself…

Moth

They’ve turned off the light because of the moth. They don’t usually fuck in the dark, but it seems the only way when it keeps flying headlong into the lightbulb. Plus, it’s so big that Emma pauses halfway through unbuttoning Johnny’s jeans to reach for her phone and google ‘Huge moth UK what?’

‘Sorry, were we not busy?’ Johnny asks.

‘It’s massive!’

‘I’m massive!’ He gestures at his crotch.

He has a point – the dark denim is bulging with the thick heft of his cock.

Still, Emma won’t give him the satisfaction. ‘That’s debatable,’ she teases, straddling him as he flicks off the lamp, plunging them into blackness. ‘Impressive, but not worth googling.’

‘Bit harsh,’ he says. ‘How would you feel if I said similar about your tits?’

‘Ah, but we both know my tits are massive,’ she says. ‘You can’t deny they’re equal to that moth in terms of impressiveness.’

‘Shh,’ he mutters, shoving his jeans and pants down and pushing inside her.

‘Say it,’ she persists. ‘Tell me they’re impressive.’

‘Fine,’ he says. ‘They’re impressive. Can we fuck now?’

‘Are they the most impressive you’ve seen?’

‘Emma! Seriously!’

Even in the darkness, he can tell she’s grinning madly. It’s a big part of what makes their dynamic work, these constant attempts to wind each other up. He shoves two fingers into her mouth, feels her laughing around them.

‘Shut up and let me concentrate.’

Instead, she bites down playfully.

‘Can’t you just suck them like a good girl?’

Her teeth sink in a little deeper.

‘Right, that’s it.’ He withdraws, so only the tip of his cock is still inside her.

‘I thought you said you were massive,’ she says, her words garbled by his fingers. ‘I can barely feel you.’

He shakes his head, despairing, then pulls his fingers free and uses both hands to pin her arms above her head while he thrusts into her hard and fast.

‘Better?’

‘Better.’

‘You,’ he says, ‘are a fucking nightmare.’

More laughter. Johnny thinks he might prefer the sound of her laughter to the noises she makes when she comes, but when she does he decides he can’t choose between the two.

Afterwards, she barely lets him catch his breath.

‘Catch the moth before you go?’

‘You scared, Em?’

‘Nope, just hoping for some actual benefits with this friendship.’

Johnny sighs, and heads downstairs to fetch a glass.

Katy

I’m doing an online writing course at the moment – as ‘real me’ – and this week, for homework, we had to write up to 800 words taking a stereotype and portraying it in a complex way. I only wrote 500 words for that homework piece, but tonight I’ve been working on it some more, because sure, I only dreamt Katy up for the Smut Marathon, but you know what, since then I’ve kind of fallen in love. So here she is again, fleshed out a bit more…

***

There is nowhere in the living room for anyone to put down their cup of tea. Every surface is covered with cards – Congratulations! Good luck!, A New Baby Girl! – or flowers – big pink lilies, ripe with pollen, roses still in bud and the first tulips of the year. There’s a fancy cake from the local independent bakery and champagne for those who want it. Katy has half a glass, but no more – that way she knows it will have worn off by the time her daughter is ready for her next feed. Sarah teases her for this – Katy could always put away a bottle of fizz, two even, on a particularly good night – but really, no one is surprised. Katy adapts. At parties, she’s a party animal. At work? Professional as fuck. And in the bedroom? Filthy. Her friends know that because she tells them, and they have no reason to doubt her. She’s honest about who she is in every other area of her life, so why would she lie about how much she likes sex?

She’ll be good at motherhood, obviously. The cards might say good luck, but ultimately, her friends know she doesn’t need it. Everything Katy touches to gold. She graduated from Cambridge with a first-class maths degree, a place on a hugely desirable grad scheme and a boyfriend who not only equalled her in ambition, but also adored her. Plus, somehow, alongside her drive to succeed, she’s always made the time to have fun. Lots of fun. And now, after a straightforward eight-hour labour, she’s the mother of a baby girl. A baby girl who, at barely a week old, already sleeps through the night. A baby girl who is just as beautiful as Katy herself.

But on some level, her friends can’t quite believe it. She never seemed to have the kind of sex that would make babies, is what everyone is secretly thinking. Katy used to fuck so hard she’d make the walls shake in their university halls. She was a shrieker, never afraid to let people know what a good time she was having, and when she needed to pee after sex she’d walk to the loo stark naked. Girls were afraid to invite their high school boyfriends to stay for fear that, if they turned their back for one moment, they’d disappear, only to turn up in Katy’s bed, apologetic, sure, but ultimately unrepentant. And yet, other women didn’t dislike her for the way she behaved. Katy didn’t care what anybody thought and they loved her for it.

No one expected her to be settled by twenty-six, though. It’s been the topic of everyone’s group chats for months. How has she managed to have everything so sorted so soon in her life? Where were Katy’s fucked up years? How has she managed to bypass a whole shitty decade while everyone else still feels like they’re wading through treacle, barely able to feed themselves, let alone a kid? Because sure, Tom’s a nice guy, and he’s good-looking, too, but it seems like only last week that he and Katy got caught fucking in the jacuzzi at the hotel where her parents’ 50thwedding anniversary celebrations were being held. It was her cousin that stumbled in on them – her cousin who was sworn to secrecy but still ended up sharing everything on Facebook in the end. Even Katy’s mum found out. And yet, somehow, she got away with it.

Because Katy sails close to the wind, sure, but luck is always, always on her side.

Three months later

Her friends still love her because, when she’s with them, she doesn’t seem like a mother at all. Even when she brings the baby, she’s the Katy she always was. It’s just that now her tits are on show for a different reason.

Tonight, she’s childfree. Tonight, she’s late. Tonight, she has that just-fucked look in her eyes.

Tom follows her, clutching a bottle of red. He’s wearing jeans, a checked shirt, and, as of thirty minutes earlier, Katy’s juices, smeared from jaw to collarbone.

‘Filthy boy,’ she’d said, fingers on his neck as she lifted herself off his cock. ‘Filthy, filthy boy.’

At dinner, the wine flows. The laughter grows louder, the conversation sillier. They play ‘I have never,’ and Katy has done it all. Anal sex? Obviously. Threesome? That too.

During spin the bottle she winds up kissing Mike. Mike is her best friend’s husband. Nobody minds. Kissing boys is what Katy does.

The evening winds down. They drink coffee. Someone asks, ‘Bit dark, but if you could only save one thing in a fire, what would it be?’

‘Tom,’ Katy says, when it’s her turn to answer. ‘Obviously.’

Her friends are silent.

She doesn’t seem like a mother at all.

Where I stand (On disability in the Smut Marathon)

I was nervous about Round 3 of the Smut Marathon. In fact, scrap that – I’ve been nervous about every round. But this was different. In previous rounds, I’ve been nervous about the voting. This time? It was reading what everyone else had written that had me anxious.

Character flaws are fascinating to me. I’d be the first to tell you that I don’t like ‘body beautiful’ erotica, and that extends to personalities, too – I prefer characters who struggle with anger, self-confidence, conforming to social norms. Characters who battle with mental health issues. The fact that the word ‘flaw’ is so subjective, because after all, aren’t we all flawed in some way?  This should have been a round that suited me down to the ground.

Except – as I said to someone very shortly after receiving the assignment – it didn’t.

I didn’t want to read about disability.

For the benefit of Smut Marathon participants who may not usually read this blog or who don’t follow me on Twitter, I identify as disabled. I have left-sided hemiplegia, which is a type of cerebral palsy, caused, in my case, by brain damage at birth. My left leg is an inch shorter than my right, so I walk with a limp. I trip over a fair amount. I struggle with my balance. I lack dexterity in my left hand. My mental health is also compromised – maybe because of the brain damage, maybe not.

It’s not difficult to live with, in the grand scheme of things. And yet, it can be fucking impossible to live with nonetheless.

And so I didn’t want to see, in the competition, any character whose flaw was disability. The world tells disabled people that they’re undesirable every single day. We don’t need to see it reinforced in fiction, too.

What I really didn’t expect, though, was to see a disability that could be mine. A character with ‘a heavy black lift in his shoe,’ a lift which was, nonetheless unable to ‘hide the limp’. I blanched. I freaked out a bit. I had, as is typical for me, a bit of a rant on Twitter.

I had said, on more than one occasion, that if this happened, I would withdraw from the competition. I feel that strongly about it. And yet, I haven’t. I’m uncomfortable with it, absolutely, but the more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve realised that part of the reason why I’m uncomfortable is because I don’t quite know where I stand on this issue.

My main problem with the piece is that it doesn’t reframe disability as desirable. It tells the reader two things – that a) one person is capable of seeing past the disability, but this is the exception, not the rule (‘They saw disqualifying weakness’) and b) that the woman sees past the disability (‘What their pitying stares missed, she always saw. They missed the way his hazel eyes changed like quicksilver as his lips took control of hers, kissing her with careful command when he reached her. They missed his piano playing fingers, long and warm, brushing higher and higher up her thigh…’) The disabled man is desirable in spite of his disability, not because of it. And it’s writing that shows someone as desirable because of their disability that would really push the boundaries.

And yet. I’m not sure it’s possible. I’ve certainly never managed it.

There is good writing out there about disabled people making their peace with their bodies (one of the things that saddened me in Round 3 of the Smut Marathon is that the pieces about characters with physical flaws were not generally written from the viewpoint of that character). This wonderful piece by Keah Brown is excellent on that topic. But even there, Keah acknowledges that it’s difficult: ‘Admitting that there is comfort in pain is a strange but necessary truth. Happiness and acceptance still take more work for me, and that is also a necessary truth.’

Last year, I wrote an erotic short story about a character who also shares my disability, which can be found in the anthology Goodbye Moderation: Lust. It confronts the issue of disability head on, I hope – I really wanted to write something that didn’t shy away from my true fears:

“‘Tell me again,’ he says, ‘which words you wanted me to say.’

My voice is barely even a whisper. ‘Spastic,’ I say.

‘Say please.’

Jesus, really? There’s an uncomfortable pause.

‘I’m not doing anything until you ask nicely.’

‘Fuck. Okay. Please.’”

The problem is, I felt obliged to close that story in a more optimistic and palatable way, not just for the reader, but for myself, too. I couldn’t envisage a world in which disability, or disabled slurs, could be repositioned as sexy. I could only conjure up a world in which an ablebodied character helps the disabled character to make their peace with their disability:

“On my back, the words are different. Down my spine, they read:

Beautiful

Hot

Incredible

Strong

Mine

The tears start all over again as he gathers me in his arms and rains kisses all over my face, my neck, my hair.

‘That,’ he says. ‘That is what I see. None of the bullshit you made me write. When will you start to see that? It doesn’t matter what other people see. All that matters is what you see.'”

My male character sees past the disability. He wants the disabled character to see past the disability. Neither of them can envisage a world in which someone is actually able to see disability itself as hot.

It doesn’t stop me really wanting to read a story where someone does.

Smut Marathon Round 2

As those of you who follow me on Twitter will have seen, I’m having issues with the Smut Marathon today – it’s causing me levels of anxiety that even I didn’t foresee and I’m having a long think about whether carrying on is the right thing to do (it probably isn’t, which means I almost certainly will – being kind to myself is something I am *not* good at.)

Anyway. I wrote two possible entries for Round 2, and I was really pleased with the one I submitted (and it got positive feedback, which backs that up, and is always nice). I’m not going to lie though, I was disappointed with how it did overall.

So, here is both it, and the other piece I wrote. Which do you prefer? Should I have submitted the other piece?

Little Pyromaniac

‘Stop it.’

The restaurant is fancy and my behaviour is inappropriate, but I can’t help myself. I poke at the candle, watch as molten lava flows down its sides.

‘Little pyromaniac,’ he growls. ‘What did I tell you?’

I like to play with fire.

I break off bits that are newly solid, let the orange heat lick at them until they are liquid once again.

Suddenly, my game backfires. The candle splutters, dies.

‘Right,’ he says, ‘come with me.’

Outside, around a corner, we find ourselves hidden in the shadows. His lips meet mine. His hand closes around my throat.

My body melts under his touch. He is the flame, I am the wax, I am fluid beneath him, I drip, drip, drip as he burns me with his desire.

At Peace

She’d taken two week’s leave from work, though the doctor had offered a note. It was easier like this: no questions, no sympathetic smiles, no loss of the person she’d once been.

With him, it had been harder. ‘Talk to me,’ he’d murmured, more than once, and she’d tried to smile through her tears.

‘It’s best if I work through this on my own.’

She booked a cabin, not far from Inverness. For five long days, she read, ate and slept alone.

By Friday, she knew it was no good. She needed help. She changed her flight.

That night, his flogger painted her cunt into a sunset, glowing between the mountain-purple shadows of her thighs.

On Corrupted

In my head, there are a handful of ideas for anthologies I’d like to edit one day. Most of them are far simpler than the premise behind Corrupted.

Erotica is already good at being a feminist genre, in my experience, so putting a call out for feminist stories didn’t feel different enough. I wanted to do something that celebrated how far women have come – how much we’ve overcome – to get where we are today.

And that’s what Corrupted is all about. It’s a super contemporary celebration of women’s liberation –  of same sex and non-binary relationships, of disability, of technology, of women’s suffrage, of women breaking the same rules that men have broken for so long now – sometimes getting away with it, and sometimes not.

When the call went out, I had an idea of how the finished collection of stories would look. In reality, it’s a very different anthology, but in a great way. In choosing the final line up, I’ve tried as far as possible to make sure it’s truly representative of womanhood and not just a white, straight, middle class, cis representation of being a woman.

There’s an extract from my story in the anthology below (which I’ll admit is cis, white and middle class, but hopefully in a tongue in cheek way). All that remains is for me to say two things

1) Thanks so much to all the authors and to Anna Sky at Sexy Little Pages for all their hard work – it wouldn’t be what it is without you.

2) I really hope you like it (please review it if you do!).

 

Your Vote Matters – Charlie Powell

“Susie?” he asks, thrusting the hand that’s not clutching a sheaf of leaflets in my direction. “May I call you Susie?”

Risky strategy, I think. The Labour representative who canvassed me two days earlier called me “Ms Smith” and didn’t try to be all chummy. This guy though, the Tory candidate himself, has clearly decided that keeping it casual is the way forward. Charm is oozing from him like butter from hot toast.

I like charming men. I even like charming men who happen to be Tories. No, wait, I especially like charming men who happen to be Tories. I know, I know. I hate myself sometimes, too.

“I guess,” I say, my gaze dropping from the blue rosette pinned to his jacket to the white shirt and red chinos he’s wearing underneath.

“Good, good,” he says. His voice is pure Oxbridge. “Oliver Tamworth, Conservative candidate for Green Park North.”

“I gathered,” I say, gesturing at the rosette.

“May I ask who you’re planning on voting for?” he continues, flashing me what I imagine is his most ingratiating smile. “Can we count on your support?”

I smile back. “Of course.”

I’m a really good liar.

He beams. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he hadn’t had much luck so far tonight, but this cannot possibly be the case. After all, Mr Green at number ten is convinced single mothers “take far too much from the system and don’t pay a penny back in”—even though I know for a fact that the three mums on this street raising kids on their own work every hour god sends. I once overheard Mr Johnson at number fifteen telling someone he’d voted for UKIP, only to follow that up with “Oh no, sorry, I meant the BNP”—it’s been five years since that election and I still scowl at him every day on the bus—and Mrs King who lives on the corner “thinks people have too many human rights.” I don’t even know where to start with that one.

“Great!” Oliver says, seemingly staring straight at my tits. I should slam the door in his face. “Let me give you a leaflet anyway. It’s got my email address at the bottom and the number for my team, so if there is anything you’d like to discuss before election day, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Your vote matters to us, Susie!”

Smut Marathon Round 1: On comfort zones and other stories

When I signed up for the Smut Marathon, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be sharing what I wrote on the blog after each round. As far as I’m concerned, my SBOS days are pretty much over, but hey, I’m still paying for the domain name, so I guess I’ll share stuff from the marathon as and when I’m either particularly proud of it or it makes me reflect on my writing in a way I want to explore further.

The first round challenge was to write an erotic metaphor of no more than thirty words. Quick shout out here to Violet, whose post on Round 1 I really liked and which hopefully she won’t mind me borrowing the format of here.

Anyway. The first round challenge is a great challenge, there’s no doubt. I didn’t see it coming and when it landed in my inbox, I thought …

… fuuuuuck.

Because I know what a metaphor is. I can identify them in other people’s writing. They’re just. not. the. way. I. write.

Trying to come up with something, I trawled the entire first draft of the novel I’m working on, and sure enough, not a single metaphor … or not a sex-related one, anyway. In the end, I chose a simile and committed to reworking that.

The end result?

‘Afterwards, she’s still aroused, cunt flexing at the sight of him cupping the soft mollusc of his cock with one hand as he reaches for the wine with the other.’

More than two weeks on, I’m not thrilled with all aspects of this sentence. If I was editing it now, I’d lose ‘soft’ and I’d work on the rhythm. But one of the judges wasn’t sure about something else:

‘Is the author sure about conjuring an association of fish and sex – unless it’s the aphrodisiac of oysters this is risky. Molluscs are mostly ugly… quick google image search (to see if I had the wrong thing in my head) destroys this metaphor for me. Maybe there’s another way of getting to the idea of a vulnerable soft ball sack that would work for this scene?’

When I read this, I genuinely laughed out loud. Anyone who knows me will tell you that the answer to ‘Is the author sure…?’ would be ‘Hell, no. Absolutely not. Never,’ but that doesn’t mean I’d take the mollusc back. One of my main worries, on signing up for the Smut Marathon, is that I’m not – or no longer – really an erotica writer. I write about sex, sure, but I’m not driven by the idea of getting people off, which is key to the definition of ‘erotic.’ If something I write resonates with you and makes you horny, great, if not, I don’t really mind. I just hope you think the actual writing is good.

And so, the promise I made to myself when I decided to bite the bullet on the challenge of the Smut Marathon (there’s still an email to Marie in my drafts folder explaining why I need to withdraw) was that I’d do it, but I wouldn’t read the entries or the feedback and I wouldn’t vote for anything, including my own piece. I’ve held true – and will probably continue to – to the last of those things, but after voting closed, I did read all the entries and the feedback and I’m glad I did.

It sounds arrogant, retrospectively, to say I had no intention of taking feedback on board, but I had my reasons. My mental health is hellishly shaky at the moment, and for the first time in a long time, my writing is impacted by that. I’m confident in my voice – less so in other aspects of my writing – I don’t want to lose that, and I stand by my argument that metaphor just isn’t my style. But another piece of feedback has made me think:

‘Just not the strongest of metaphors (just one word).’

I live my life, as far as I can, within my comfort zone. I hadn’t realised I do that with my writing, too, but I do. On receiving the metaphor task, I knew I was happy to do it, but I wasn’t going to take any actual risks. I wasn’t going to chance anything that could be seen as purple prose or ridiculous in any other way. I’d sooner lose points for being unerotic (which I did). The least Charlie thing about the sentence I submitted is the length of it – I’m not a thirty word sentence girl usually – everything else, although the fishiness may look like a risk – is safe, safe, safe.

Maybe, in future rounds (assuming I last a few), I’ll learn to take more chances, to push myself a bit more. I hope so.

SmutMarathon

Waitress

IMG_8964Northern France. August. Thirty one degrees and sunny. The town square laid out like the scene for a GCSE role play – charcutier, boulangerie, tabac, pharmacie – and barely any of it open for business.

‘Role play.’ The very words make her squirm, and he knows it. He is eyeing up the sign outside the shuttered bar, a busty blonde with cartoon blusher holding a board with holiday dates crudely chalked up on it.

‘Shame,’ he says. ‘I could just fancy a beer.’

They are staying in the hotel on the town square, just for a few days, and she can tell he’s itching to cause trouble. Trouble for her, that is.

She has a friend who likes the role play thing. Who frequently plays at being strangers with her boyfriend in the bars of top London hotels, only to fuck in a huge room, with a big bed, and an equally huge bill at the end of the evening. It sounds fine, she thinks, but it lacks the possibility of humiliation. Sadists trump strangers, in her opinion.

They head back to the room, and he rifles through her luggage. He finds a pink shirt, a short skirt. He lays them out on the bed. And then, without explanation, he disappears again, the heavy door slamming loudly shut behind him.

When he returns, he’s carrying a bag from the toyshop, which, inexplicably, *is* open, and a scuffed metal tray with a white cloth, two beers and two glasses. He makes her change into the shirt and skirt, without wearing a vest underneath, as she usually would. Her tits strain against buttons unused to containing them. The bag contains a plastic, jewelled tiara, meant for a little girl. She fights the urge to giggle.

He puts her hair up himself, pulling it tight before he secures it with an elastic, a promise of good things to come. Her NARS orgasm blusher, though, serves his intentions poorly – he cannot rouge her up in quite the cartoon style he’d like, but he does his best, and when she sees herself in the mirror she is duly amused and horrified in equal measure, because she suspects this spectacle won’t be confined to their room.

He fashions a makeshift apron from the cloth on the tray, asks her to step into the highest heels she’s brought with her and says, ‘J’aimerais deux bières au square, s’il vous plaît, mademoiselle.’

His French is good, but she has to force herself not to laugh at his accent. He’s not, she reminds herself, the one who’s supposed to be being humiliated here.

She gives him enough time to get downstairs and settle himself in. To be totally honest, she needs the time to psych herself up. She goes to the window, and looks out, trying to calculate the worst case scenario. There are very few people around, and from this angle she cannot she the tables where he’ll be sitting, but she can see an old man with a little dog, who she fears will wave his stick and shout at her only to then fantasise about her for weeks.

The stairs, narrow and winding, are tricky. The combination of the tray, which means she can’t see her feet, and the heels, make her anxious. But she makes it safely down, and is rewarded with a mercifully empty bar.

In the square, it takes her a while. She is looking for a single guy, but what she finds is a man – her man – sitting with a pretty blonde. She freezes. He beckons her over. He takes the beers, puts a 10 euro note on the tray. The girl he’s with looks bemused. She glances up. The old man looks away, pained.

And she scurries back up to the room, where she will wait, alone, for almost two hours, wondering if they are still just playing.

 

 

Temper temper

I am not a bratty sub, and he is not a chocolatier. I am bored and anxious, cooped up in those empty days between Christmas and New Year, and he is on a mission to learn something new. He is always on a mission to learn something new.

My anxiety looks like anger. It often does. I have not yet learnt to differentiate one from the other. Nor can I say why I am anxious. It could be the prospect of returning to work, to a job I am tired of; it could be that there has been too much socialising lately; it could be the prospect of New Year. I thought when I met him that my dislike of New Year might ease, that I might cease to fear the future. Now I understand that love cannot solve these problems, it can only distract from them.

He is good at distraction.

There is something about the chocolate that irritates me, though. It’s the contrast, I think, between the rich, glossy hedonism of it, thick and liquid, and the slow precision with which he has to work it – heat it to 46ºC, pour it on to the cool granite work top, spread it thin. Take its temperature again, in several places, make sure it’s at 27ºC all over. When it is, scrape it up, put it back in the bowl. Melt it again. Bring it up to 31ºC, keep it there. Use it as you wish.

I wouldn’t have the patience.

He needs 450g of chopped chocolate. I am eating it as fast as he can chop it. I am trying to rile him. I am turned on by the swift movements of the knife, by the sound of steel on granite.

The first temperature, he gets bang on, but when he pours the molten liquid and moves to spread it, I am fascinated by how fast the consistency of it changes, and I push at the edge of it with my fingernail, watching it flake away from the granite at my touch.

He grabs my wrist. ‘Stop it,’ he says. ‘Keep your fingers off, dirty bitch.’

‘No,’ I say, and push harder at the wrinkling chocolate. I am ruining his handiwork.

The knife he is using to scrape it up with clatters against the worktop as he drops it. He points at the opposite counter. ‘Take your clothes off.’

‘You’re not done.’

‘No, but you are. Done with pushing your fucking luck.’

We’ve been here before.

He will slide his fingers inside me and warm me until I’m halfway to boiling. He  will make me lie star-shaped on the cold stone floor and take my temperature, with his cock, in several places – my mouth, my cunt, my arse. And when all the heat has been drained out of me, he will warm me again until I am calm and, well, just that – warm. In every sense of the word.

At the end of the evening, there will be no perfectly dipped truffles, no glossy caramels. There will just be me, heated, cooled, and heated again – a sub with just the right amount of snap – ready to be used as he wishes.

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Burn

She has been coming here – quite literally: she’s been fucking the landlord for as many summers as she’s been renting the apartment – for thirteen years now. This summer, it’s changed – the kitchen is brand new and the old, unreliable TV has been replaced with a 40″ widescreen model.

He teases her, as usual, about the colour of her skin – her legs poke out like two milk bottles from the bottom of her dress and they’ll stay that way for the rest of August – she never tans, no matter how hard she tries. He always said that was what made him notice her, that first summer – the way she looked like a stick of chalk in the middle of all those tanned bodies.

She asks when he’s free, anticipating with every word the first thrust of his cock – could they go for dinner one night this week, perhaps? Or drinks? They never fuck on the day she arrives and it makes the anticipation ever sweeter.

Sure, he says – Thursday? – and she has to force a smile. The wait makes the anticipation sweeter, but it’s only Saturday and four days of waiting is, well, bittersweet, at best.

On Tuesday, passing one of the cafés on the seafront, she sees him with someone else. Someone who is, at a guess, five years younger than her. He’s nuzzling the girl’s neck, his hands grazing her tight, pert breasts and while she watches, trying to reconcile the sudden ache in her stomach with the fact that until now she hasn’t thought about this man from one summer to another, her pistachio ice-cream starts to melt, flowing stickily down the cone and landing in a messy pale green dollop at her feet.

She should cancel Thursday but she doesn’t, the pull of the anticipation too strong now to back out. But whereas once she would have basked in the promise of seeing him – repainting her toenails, curling her hair – today she couldn’t give a fuck about either of those things. What good will it do now if she looks hot? It’s not like it’ll make a difference. And so her body goes un-preened, hair unwashed, sunscreen shoddily applied, and by the end of the day  the skin on her shoulders and cleavage is pink and raw.

In the shower, after she’s recoiled at the sight of it, she allows herself to fantasise that he’ll be equally horrified – that when he sees the state of her he’ll kiss her hot flesh tenderly and ask what the hell she was thinking. That he’ll peel her bra straps carefully from her tight and glowing shoulders and fuck her slowly while heat radiates from her, as unwelcome and painful as her feelings.

But he is late and he is horny, and he doesn’t undress her at all. Instead, after they’ve shared a bottle of rosé he bends her over the arm of the sofa (also new), pulls her knickers to one side and shunts into her from behind, until she has come from the way her clit grinds against the furniture and he has pumped her full of semen. Then he folds her skirt back down, pats her arse affectionately, and says he has to go.

The burn goes unnoticed.

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