‘How much do you want me to taste you?’ he whispers.
As an answer I moan and try to push my sticky legs further apart.
‘No, ask me nicely.’
‘Yes, please,’ I beg.
‘Please what?’ he asks enjoying his dominance and control. His finger lightly circles my wet opening.
‘Oh God…please, please… Taste me,’ I beg shamelessly.
‘Will you write your journal?’
‘Yes, yes, I will.’
He straightens his arms and holding my trembling legs open wide he looks at my sex, swollen and drenched with both our juices, a glistening treasure.
‘Cunt,’ he dismisses, and letting go of my legs leaves the bedroom.
I had heard him tell Tom to wait downstairs, so I knew he was not going to stay the night, but I still flinch when I hear the front door shut. I cup myself between my legs. Slick and sore and unsatisfied. I want more.
That night I dream of my mother. In my dream we are in a shop. It is very similar to Madame Rêgine’s boutique, but it is full of wedding dresses. My mother points to a long dress that is ripped in half. ‘That’s perfect for you,’ she says.
‘But it’s torn,’ I say.
‘That’s how Victoria likes it,’ she says sadly.
I wake up disturbed and unhappy. I have never spent a night away from Sorab and I miss him terribly. It is four in the morning and it is dark outside. I get dressed in the jeans and T-shirt that I arrived in and leave the apartment. I exit the lift and the night porter nods at me. I return the gesture and open the doors.
The air outside is crisp and fresh. I walk along the side of the block, cross the road and enter the park. Then I begin to run. There is no one else around and I run until I am breathless and so weary I can barely walk. Then I stumble onto a park bench and watch the sun come up. My thoughts are jumbled. I refuse to put them in order. I am actually afraid of them. Afraid of the future.
A man and his German shepherd come into the park. It is off the lead and it runs at great speed up to me.
‘Don’t be afraid,’ he shouts. ‘She won’t harm you. She’s just a puppy. She wants to be friends.’
She jumps up on my knees and starts licking my face. Her exuberance is such that I break out in laughter. Oh, if only life were so simple. I look into her gold-brown eyes and run my fingers through her silky coat feeling the wild life that is coursing through her body. In contrast, I feel drained and jaded. As if I am a husk left on the mill floor. After a while the man whistles and she bounds away, but the exchange has left me lifted as I walk back to the apartment. The night porter is getting ready to go home. Soon Mr. Nair’s shift will begin.
I stand in the shower for ages. When I come out my mobile is double blinking. Fleur has left a message that two racks of clothes, shoes, and accessories will be arriving at 10:00 am. I am to choose whatever I want and somebody will come and pick up anything I don’t want at 5:00 pm. I am to call her if I need any help. I text back to thank her. Then I text Billie.
Are you awake?
Billie calls back. ‘Hey.’
‘Oh good, you’re awake,’ I say, happy to hear her voice.
‘Yeah, the little monster got me up early.’
‘Is he all right?’
‘Shouldn’t you be asking me if I’m all right?’
I laugh guiltily. ‘Hey, you want to come around about tenish. Fleur is sending some clothes for me to try on. You can help me decide which to keep.’
‘That’ll be fun.’
‘I’ll call a minicab for you for ten.’
‘Got to go. The creature has just started wailing again,’ she says. ‘But see ya tenish.’ I hear Sorab’s cries in the background just before she terminates the call and feel a sharp pang of loss. That should have been me. That’s my life. Not stuck all alone in an empty apartment. I know that Billie is enjoying her time with Sorab. With her, true affection is masked by insults. Hello, Repulsive, she will say to her lover. I realize that I already miss him too much. Maybe tomorrow I will tell Blake it is my turn to babysit Sorab. And have him with me for two days.
At nine thirty I invite Mr. Nair up for a coffee. He comes through the door holding his I’m the Boss mug, his eyes bulging with curiosity.
We sit at the kitchen counter. ‘What happened to you, Miss Bloom?’ he asks.
‘I had to go to Iran suddenly.’
‘Oh! No wonder. Poor Mr. Barrington. You broke his heart,’ he states, enlarging his eyes dramatically. I watch him bite into a biscuit. Crumbs land on his jacket. I look at them, but my mind is spinning.
‘Why do you say that?’ I ask as casually as I can manage.
‘Because,’ he says, ‘I was the one who gave him your letter.’
‘Yes. Have you forgotten, you sent your friend with a note instructing the porter on duty to give the envelope to Mr. Barrington? It was a strange note, very formal, not at all like you, but I knew it was you because I always recognize your handwriting.’
I take a sip of coffee, swallow and lick my lips. ‘What did Mr. Barrington say when you gave it to him?’
‘I tell you, Miss Bloom, it was the oddest thing. He practically snatched it out of my hand, tore it open and read it right in front of me. The contents shocked him so very much I saw his eyes go back to the top of the letter to read it again. Then he crushed the letter in his hand and walked out of this building…and I have never seen him since.’
I bite my lip. The past. I can never change it, but then would I? How can I regret it? Sorab came out of my sorry past.
Mr. Nair pops the last bit of biscuit into his mouth and hops nimbly off the stool. ‘My ten minutes are up. I’d better go.’
‘My friend Billie will be coming this morning. Will you call me to let me know when she does?’
‘I can do better than that, Miss Bloom. I will show her up myself.’
I thank him and close the door.
An hour after the stuff that Fleur sent arrives Billie breezes in with Mr. Nair in tow.
‘Thanks, Mr. Nair,’ I say relieving him of a large bag of baby things.
‘I’m very happy to help you, Miss Bloom.’ He nods happily towards Sorab. ‘He looks exactly like his father. A very handsome boy, indeed.’
But Billie is quick off the mark. She grins broadly. ‘Sorry, mate, but this one here is my baby. Don’t you think he looks like me? Everyone says so.’
Mr. Nair’s dark, confused eyes look to me.