Absinthe & chartreuse

He is drying glasses behind the bar when they discuss it for the first time. They’ve been seeing each other for three months now, and lately he’s been leaving bruises on her, bruises the colour of absinthe and chartreuse. Bruises that she’s begged for, in the heat of the moment, but cannot quite yet bring herself to talk about in the cold light of day.

The cold light of day is what she’s hibernating from here, in the cosy wood-panelled quiet, under the old Campari poster, with a chilled glass of white wine, at 4p.m. on a Tuesday. When your boyfriend’s a barman, she’s learnt, there’s no point hoping for alone-time after dark.

Occasionally, she presses her fingers to her collarbone, to a mark he’s left there, until he catches sight of her and says, ‘You’re pretty fond of that, aren’t you?’

‘Yes.’ There is strength in Chardonnay.

‘You like it when I hurt you?’

‘Yes.’

‘And when I fuck your arse?’

‘Hell, yes.’

He strikes a match, and the hiss of fire fills the silence. He lights the tealights on the bar, and then holds the burning match under her chin, like you would a buttercup, not close enough to burn, but close enough to remind her of his power. Only this doesn’t turn her chin yellow, this turns her cunt slick.

The tealights are well alight now, the wax beginning to soften. He blows out the match, drops it in the sink, and picks up the candle instead, swirling the molten wax so it surges up against the glass. ‘Wax play?’

‘Does it hurt?’

‘Depends. It can do, if you want it to.’

‘Maybe.’

‘OK. Rape fantasy?’

‘One day, I think. Not yet. I’m not ready.’

He chops limes into wedges. ‘I should be keeping notes.’

This reminds her of something, something unappealing. It reminds her of bloody Christian Grey. ‘No contract,’ she says. ‘That’s a definite hard limit for me. I do not want my desires neatly typed up in a bulleted list, thank you.’

He laughs. ‘Got it. No contract. What about another kind of list?’

‘What kind?’

He plucks a menu from the pile on the bar. ‘A cocktail list?’

‘Stop teasing me.’

‘I’m not. It’s perfect.’ He gestures at it, his handiwork, all flowing calligraphy and clever names. ‘See – there are soft drinks, hard drinks, and -,’ he flips it over, ‘–harder still on the back.’ He’s talking about the ones with absinthe and chartreuse rinses, the  ones she’s always terrified to order, lest she end up a teary, crumpled mess at the bar after two sips. The ones that remind her how much she loves the bruises.

‘So the things I find tempting go on the front, and the other stuff on the back?’

‘Pretty much.’

‘And what happens if I change my mind?’

He grins. ‘We change the menu.’

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My Erotica Library Top Five: Bites, Bruises and BDSM

‘I still had a pair of tights in my hand, weightless, soft and black. I pulled them taut between my hands, lifted them so she could see what I was doing – winding them around my fists and stretching until I had a strong rope.
I brought it down. Lowered it gently, covered her breasts like a bandeau. I pressed down, my hands on either side of her, binding her tightly. Under the nylon her breasts spilled over, and I began squeezing those beautiful tits. Hard. Until she gasped. I bit the nipples and moved down, dragging at her skin, roughing it a little, pulling the nylon over her curves and hollows.’

Nikki Magennis, Bearers

‘Sol took the belt in both hands. I almost forgot to breathe as he hooked the leather length over my head and positioned the strap across my back. He threaded the end through the brass buckle and pulled the belt tight below my breasts, trapping my arms by my side. The tug of the restraint forced a low grunt of need from me. Jeez, it gets me every time that subtle impression of dominance. It might be the press of bondage, the hint of bossiness in bed, the fist gripping my hair as we kiss goodnight in the street.’

Kristina Lloyd, Undone

‘When he stood up to fit the wrist cuff his breathing was as loud and ragged as my own and I noticed that his hands were trembling. He bent down to pick up the rest of the knives then got up and walked away. He turned round to face me and I instantly saw that he had an erection. ‘Your cock’s hard,’ I said.’

Mae Nixon,  Under the Big Top

‘”Ow!” I’m not used to this, and I’m shocked. I feel completely helpless, and small. He smacks me again and the side of my face stings. Before I can even analyse my reaction, I start to cry. Wet, lonely tears run from my eyes and he wipes them away-and smacks my face again, lazily.
“What?”
I’m spread open, and within a few minutes, he’s put me in a place I could never access by myself.’

Vida Bailey, One A.M. Girl’s Night Out

‘He wrote the words across her chest in black ink: FREE WHORE. She held still, swaying only slightly.
“Arms folded behind your back,” he said. He pushed her bra straps down, lifted her breasts free and grabbed her by the hair. Holding her head firm, he drove into her mouth, increasing his reach until her throat was opening to clasp the last inch of him, so warm and tight. She gazed up obediently, her lips around his root, her eyes watering. Her makeup ran, making her tears as black as the words on her chest.’

Kristina Lloyd, No Sleep