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By the third week of night school, the words flow so fast from Karen’s fingers that her mind wanders to Joe as she works. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, she types, and for a moment he is the fox – it fits: his hair is fiery red – and she the dog. It is like that in the mornings, when has to be up at six, and more often than not chooses her over the snooze button, her limbs still half-asleep as his hot cock presses against her thigh and he kisses the sleepy dust from her eyes. On one occasion he woke her by imitating the noises of the actual foxes that had kept them up half the night, but she soon put a stop to that – she was afraid the neighbours might think he’d completely lost it, and although he makes her laugh, even she has her limits before coffee.

Other times, she is the fox – the one who could gladly stay up all night while he is already dozing in front of the television. If foxes had opposable thumbs and could gently lift the fast-cooling mug of tea from his grasp, place it safely on the sideboard, then remove their knickers and straddle him, kissing him until he is back in the world of the living and his cock is thickening and pulsing under her steady grinding, then yeah, she can be the fox, too.

These thoughts make her restless. She shifts uncomfortably in the too-small wooden chair, and loses her place in the exercise.

She’s lucky, and she knows it – the women around her see typing skills as their route to emancipation – a job, a salary, a life of their own – and she has all those things without the keyboard skills. These classes are purely for her. She wants to write a book, and Joe is right behind her. That’s why he bought her the typewriter. That’s why he stays home with the kids while she goes to these classes. But it’s more than that. By letting her write, he’s telling her that her words matter. And it’s just not like that for so many of her friends.

So yeah, she’s lucky. She’s lucky, and she’s wet, and even though, when she crawls into bed beside him he’s already fast asleep, she can’t help herself. She rolls on her side, her hands under the duvet, reaches for his cock, and lets her fingers return to home.

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Mirror

  
Demandez. It was the buzzword of their relationship at the start.

Ask me. Tell me. No, *beg* me. Say please.

It would help, perhaps, if it wasn’t written on the mirror. That’s how he thinks of the food now as a reflection of him – every roast chicken, every perfect patisserie, every carefully reduced sauce – it’s a slice of him on a plate. 

A slice taken out of their relationship.

Once upon a time, he’d had time for her. Had left the kitchen in fact, that night they met, to ask what she thought of the food. At least, that was what he started by asking. He finished by writing his number on a napkin. 

Napkins are disposable. 

Now, he doesn’t ask her anything, and she doesn’t ask him, either. Not the coupley stuff, like ‘What do you want for dinner?’ (He brings leftovers from the restaurant), nor the ‘Where do you want my cock?’ or the ‘Shall I come in your cunt, or your mouth?’ Where she wants his cock is in the long, stolen afternoons they used to share, not the post-midnight hours they’re confined to now, once he’s showered off the scents of his true love – the garlic, the chilli, the oil from the deep fat fryer.

She might tell herself, one day, that she made a last ditch attempt to save it. She sat in the restaurant, at the table opposite the mirror, and she even dressed like a mistress – all black, red nails, lots of cleavage. 

He stays in the kitchen. 

At six, the first guests start to arrive. She gives up her table to a party of four, and heads home. She should leave a note, she thinks, somewhere where he’ll see it.

When he comes home, in the early hours, there’s a word on the mirror, in lipstick.

Adieu x

Knees

Everybody blames their knees, says the physio, but the knees are rarely to blame. The hips and the ankle are to blame for everything that goes wrong at the knee, they rotate more, so what you’re feeling is referred pain.

I can’t blame my knees. Or my hips. Or my ankle. 

I can only blame myself.

Or, to be more specific: I could blame the flushed head of your cock as it butts against my lips. I could blame your hand on my jaw, or in my hair, or between my legs. I could blame the way you smell, the way your pubes tickle my nose as I suck you. 

Or, before that, even, I could blame myself for unseeing the ring on your left hand, for not minding when you pretended to your wife that I was a conference, not a woman. I could blame the fact you said my mouth was made for sucking cock.

I could blame you. 

But, of all the things, my knees are not to blame.

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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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Wierd

She finds it screwed up at the back of the wardrobe, twenty years later. Sugar paper. Christ, how long it seems since sugar paper and handwritten projects, photos printed out, guillotined neatly, and stuck down with Pritt Stick. It didn’t suit the perfectionist in her – too hard to make it look good.

Not that she expected to still be doing projects like that at seventeen.

It was meant to ease them in gradually, she supposes. Start of sixth form, something easy to make the classroom look pretty. A poster, for fuck’s sake. She wanted to get her teeth into the real work, to learn new stuff.

She’d learned new stuff with him.

With him, there’d been no easing in gradually. No steady working their way up through the bases. They covered them all in one night – first kiss mid-afternoon and her virginity gone by midnight. Though she liked him more than the hurry suggested. A lot more.

If he was nervous, he didn’t let on – she liked that – but he wasn’t cocky, either. He touched her the same way she imagined he’d handle a new phone – as if he still had a lot to learn but the basics weren’t beyond him – as if he trusted his ability to get to grips with her body.

School started again before she had the chance to find out, and the project, shitty though it was, gave them an excuse to pair up, a reason why he’d be in her bedroom of an evening, a reason for him to slide his hands up her top as she rendered the title in perfect bubble letters.

‘Stop,’ she laughed, batting his hands away, ‘we need to finish this first!’

He was rock hard in his jeans, distracted no doubt, as he captioned a photo of a ‘weird and wonderful museum’ in deepest Wales.

Her back was turned, and then, ‘Wierd?! You idiot! You’ve ruined it now!’

He stormed out, the front door slamming behind him. In class the next day, he’d moved seats, tippexed out their intertwined names from his pencil case. Her cunt couldn’t forget him so fast, and the B they got for their efforts was poor compensation for the empty ache inside her.

Eventually she thinks she’s forgotten him. She no longer wanks over his memory, his too-big boxer shorts, his thick cock. There are other men, of course.

But she’s kinder to the ones who can’t spell.

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Surge

Lying in a pile of blankets, she teases him. She’s wearing leggings, knee-high woollen socks, and a scoop neck tee that he reaches inside and gropes her tits.

Her nipples are hard. So is his cock. Her head is in his lap and she strokes the growing bulge of him distractedly, her attention focused on the screen. He sweeps her hair back behind her ear, plays with her earring, draws absent-minded finger-patterns on her shoulder.

He’s aware of the minutes ticking by. He reaches between her legs and strokes her cunt, pushing the fabric between her folds until her wetness seeps through and she moans, softly.

The screen cuts to the ads, and she bounces to her feet. ‘Tea?’

‘Sure.’

He gives her a moment to fill the kettle, to put teabags in the cups, to get the milk out. These seconds are part of her fantasy – she’s told him that before. She imagines the flick of a million switches around the country, the hiss of the water as it starts to heat, the condensation caused by a million plumes of steam.

It turns her on. As he comes up behind her and yanks her leggings down, she spreads wide for him and whimpers as he penetrates her. They’re alone, but it doesn’t feel like it: right now, she knows, millions of people are making tea. She imagines that, instead of picking at hangnails, rinsing plates, or hunting for biscuits at the back of a cupboard; they’re watching her: all of them.

Three minutes is all they have. Three minutes is all, incredibly, it takes. Around the country, demand for electricity surges. A million kettles boil. And in her kitchen, her cheek pressed to the worktop, her cunt filled with cock, and her fingers pressed to her clit, Sarah peaks too.

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Free porn

  
 
‘It has a great bar, and -‘ Emma pauses for effect and she and Jason chime at the same time ‘Free porn!’

Bless them. They had their first baby three months ago, and this was the first time they’ve spent alone together since. We should be kind.

I picture the two of them in a hotel room, watching said porn. Emma drifting off and Jason …

Urgh.

‘Sounds great!’ you say. ‘We should book it; have a weekend away. What do you think, Soph?’

‘Fine by me!’ I say.

‘You must try the strawberry margarita,’ Emma says. ‘Best cocktail I’ve ever had.’

I knew she hadn’t watched the porn.



The hotel has everything they promised, though the gin fizz is better than the strawberry margarita. When we’ve put our bags down in the room, you flick the TV on, and sure enough – free porn!

But the carpet is covered with random words, and you make me pick one – I choose ‘sign’ – and then you scrawl ‘Free porn’ on the back of the room service menu, tell me to strip, and make me stand, naked, in the window, holding the sign you’ve made for thirty minutes, while you lie on the bed and drink a glass of red.

And then you fuck me against the glass, because you’re not a man to break your promises. 

Over the course of the weekend, the action in the window varies. You make me wank, you order me to suck your cock, you press my face to the cold pane while you stick your dick in my arse.

We take breaks to head down to the bar. I rank the cocktails. The gin fizz is better than the strawberry margarita, the strawberry margarita is better than the negroni.

It’s a good hotel. And there’s free porn.

But we’re making it; not watching it.

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We three kings …

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France is … well, France is fucking lonely, actually.

Coming back after Christmas is hard, even though she loves him, even though she wanted to live here. She just didn’t know it would be *so* damn hard. She makes plans with her friends for them to come and visit and she trawls the papers for a job.

Working will help.

Adam agrees – it will. He likes his colleagues, has even joined the five a side office football team – he plays on Thursday nights and then a few of them grab a beer in the cafe down the road.

‘Bring them here this week,’ she suggests. ‘We have beer. And pizza.’

‘Sure,’ he agrees. ‘But it’s the sixth on Thursday. I guess some of the guys will be heading home for la galette.’

Shit, I forgot! We could do that here though? With beer. It’ll be cool … right?’

‘It’ll be cool.’ He kisses her forehead. ‘Every party you’ve thrown has been damn cool. Right?’

He holds up a hand, and she high fives him, grinning. ‘Right.’

The three guys he ends up bringing back adore her. He’s not surprised. Everyone adores her when they get to know her – she thinks her snark is a barrier, but it just endears her to people even more.

Drinks poured, he pulls her aside. All of these men are single –  they’re the ones who don’t have girlfriends, wives or families to head home to – Epiphany is a big deal for the French. They’re hot, and charming and they have a plan.

‘You know your New Year’s Resolution?’ he asks. ‘Were you serious about it?’

‘Is this a dare?’ she asks. ‘Because I’m competitive, remember?’

‘Oh, I know,’ he says. ‘Which is why I’ve upped the stakes. You wanted to go down on a stranger. How does tonight sound?’

She’s learnt so much with him. He makes her want to try stuff she’s never tried before, makes her believe in herself. She clinks her beer glass against his. ’You’re on.’

She’s a stickler for tradition, and it works well with this plan. Tradition dictates that the youngest person gets under the table and decides who gets each slice of the cake. As luck would have it, she’s the baby of the room.

Beneath the tablecloth, she flirts. More than flirts, in fact. She takes her time calling out their names, stroking their stiffening cocks through the denim of their jeans, running her hands up their thighs, stoking the anticipation.

By the time she crawls out from under the table to claim her own dessert and see who the victor of the spoils is, every dick in the room is rock hard.

Nobody speaks, and when Xav digs his spoon into the cake, the clink of metal on porcelain is audible to them all.

She smiles; lets him finish his dessert. Then she fetches the paper crown, ceremoniously places it on his head, and tugs him in the direction of the sofa.

The other guys gather round – there’s no way they’re missing this. Xavier opens his fly and frees his cock, and she kneels, takes his hands and puts them on the back of her head. He gets the message.

‘You want it rough, huh?’ he says, and she nods, eagerly. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sure enough, she takes him deep and she’s vocal in her pleasure – she slurps and whimpers while Xavier pulls her hair and arcs upwards, forcing even more of himself into her mouth. When he comes she swallows, licks her lips and turns to face Adam and the other two guys, all of whom are wanking unabashedly.

She lifts her skirt, slides her knickers down. ‘As far as I remember,’ she says, grinning wickedly. ‘The three kings all brought different gifts. Fancy showing me the other two?’

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Réveillon

The Eurostar is half empty. It’s not due to arrive in Paris till 20:30 – most people’s festivities will be underway by then, she thinks.

She has no particular plans. She’s alone – she has been for three months now, but unlike at Christmas, tonight she’s grateful for the solitude. It doesn’t even bother her than the train has no power sockets; her phone is dead, and she’s uncontactable, at least until she gets to the hotel.

She goes straight to a bar.

At a corner table, she sips a Kir Royale, slowly. A man gestures to the seat opposite her. ‘T’es d’accord si je laisse ma veste ici?’

She smiles. ‘Bien sûr.’

Even once he’s draped his jacket over the chair, he lingers. He was breaking the ice, she realises – there’s a coat stand in the corner. She’s not in the mood to make conversation just yet, and turns back to her book.  He gets the message, and leaves her in peace. It doesn’t stop her checking out his arse as he turns away.

Her second cocktail is on the house. The barman laughs off her attempts to pay – ‘J’insiste, mademoiselle!’ – and holds her gaze as he pours. She hangs out at the bar for a while, flirting with him between orders and in return he shows off – there are flaming drinks, bottles being juggled, and champagne fountains.

Because she has no intention of fucking any of them, no man is off limits. She smiles broadly at a guy with a wedding ring, makes eyes at another while his wife is in the Ladies’. She glances at bulges in trousers, at well fitting black tie, at stubbled jawlines. When midnight comes, she’s not short of kisses – they’re practically queuing up to wish her a Bonne année. 

And it will be. She knows it.

She takes a taxi to her hotel a little after one. She’s tired, but exhilarated, alive with the possibilities that await her in the year ahead. In the elevator mirror, she smiles at her reflection. It’s one of those rare evenings where she can see her own beauty; has utter faith in it.

In her room, she takes off her make up, hangs up her clothes, and lays down between cool sheets. Her fingers find her clit and she rubs firmly, thinking about those men, imagining them without the black tie, without the wives, with hard cocks and eager hands. She imagines going back to the bar, naked this time, and them pushing tables back, making room for her to get down on all fours.

The men in her head are queuing and jostling not to kiss her, but to fuck her. She conjures up one – the barman, with his cheeky grin and deep blue eyes – fucking her mouth, and another – the one with the salt and pepper hair and the gold band on his ring finger – in her cunt.

She doesn’t have to imagine her orgasm.

Satisfied, she curls her knees up to her chest, and drifts off. There are so many potential men out there, she realises now. And they can all wait until tomorrow.

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Flash fiction: Piper

She’s tired of her own voice, the irregular click of her heels on the ground, her laugh, which sounds braying to her now, and her breathless, anxious sobbing.

More than anything she’s tired of fucking sobbing.

She’d like to be gracious – elegant, even – in her sadness: all weak smiles and silent weeping, but her anger demands otherwise. Her anger demands she gets drunk every Saturday and rants about him in the street. Not only did he dump her; the fallout has seen her refused entry to three different nightclubs.

Even her friends are sick of it.

‘I’ve booked a spa weekend,’ Emma tells her. ‘In the highlands. You deserve a break.’

She knows an intervention when she sees one.

The hotel is quiet, just as Em promised. The average age is perhaps forty years their senior. And it’s nice, really it is, but neither massage, nor hours in the jacuzzi, nor the wine at dinner can stop his goodbye from playing on loop in her head.

It stops when the entertainment starts.

The ‘entertainment’ is a solo piper. A solo piper who distracts her not only with the godawful noise he’s making, but with his epic legs and twinkly blue eyes. For the first time in maybe a month she stops wondering if she’ll be alone forever and wonders instead what’s under that pleated tartan.

He plays on, and on, and on. The grannies love it. Or maybe they love a man in a kilt. Hard to say.

She marvels at how, in spite of the racket he’s making, this man is causing her to grow wet and twitchy. At one point, he starts a new song (she thinks – it’s hard to tell), and catches her eye across the room.

Once upon a time, she’d have said the most awkward thing that could happen with a guy you liked was catching his eye when he looked up from giving you head. Now she sees that this is untrue: it’s far more awkward to make eye contact with a sexy bagpiper mid-blow.

Emma knows, she can tell – her desires and emotions have always been transparent – and when the ‘music’ finally ends and everybody – piper included – makes their way to the bar, she makes herself scarce.

He packs the damn windbag away, and makes a beeline for her. ‘Can I buy you a drink?’ he asks. ‘I mean, I’m sorry, I know that’s unprofessional, but I promise it’s not something I do every time I play here. As – ‘ he gestures at a group of old ladies playing cards, ‘ – you can probably tell.’

‘I believe you,’ she says. ‘Gin and slim, please.’

They drink in companionable silence, companionable at least until her mind fails to catch up with her mouth and she says ‘Well, this is a little more peaceful, isn’t it?’

For a moment, he’s speechless. As if he can’t believe she had the nerve to say that. To be honest, neither can she.

‘You’re not a fan, then?’

She shakes her head. ‘Er … no.’

‘You didn’t even like that last tune?’

She makes air quotes with her fingers, hoping it comes across flirty, not bitchy: “Tune…”

‘Hey!’ he protests, ‘It’s a tune! And you didn’t answer my question. I thought you might have enjoyed that one.’

‘Why?’ she asks, curious now. She has no idea where this is going.

He grins a wicked grin; adjusts his sporran. He leans in, so the grannies can’t hear him. ‘”Cock o’ the north,” it’s called,’ he says, the grin widening. ‘I’ve heard it said it’s the one I do best.’

Her grin mirrors his. She looks around urgently for Emma. She needs to persuade her to sleep in the bath.