‘What did you want?’
‘Revenge. I wanted to punish you. I had all kinds of humiliations planned for you, but I can’t hurt you without hurting myself. Maybe you are what my father said you are. My greatest enemy.’
Automatically, my hands come up to wrap protectively around him. I know he is hurting too. I just don’t know how to make it better. I want to tell him about Victoria, but what good would that do? She would make a new and supremely dangerous enemy. ‘I’m not your enemy, Blake. I never meant to hurt you.’
He laughs. Again it is bitter. ‘So what are you? A friend?’
I sigh. Such sadness is in that sound. Does he hear it? Possibly not. In his mind I am a gold digger. Took the money and ran. Now I represent dirty sex. There is a chasm between us. It seems impossible to bridge. From her ivory tower Victoria smiles triumphantly and tells me I am not embedded in his life plan. I will never be.
‘Where do we go from here?’
He doesn’t respond. Instead he gathers me in his arms and hides his face in the crook of my neck. Slowly he starts to suck. Automatically, my head twists away. Not in rejection, but in invitation. The dedication of his soft lips on my skin is delicious. His tongue burns a trail to my nipple. He takes it into his mouth and my humiliation, my hurt dissipates to nothing. Everything that happens between a man and a woman is a sacred journey, my mother once said.
She said that when my father left her.
A sound escapes my mouth. Silently, solemnly, he goes to the other breast. His teeth catch the nub and pull slightly. I writhe under the expert manipulation. He raises his head and looks at me as his palm skims the hardened tip. I am aching for him. Suddenly he is on his elbows and with consummate ease he pushes the entire length of his tongue into my aching folds. I grip the silky hair as his heated tongue thrusts in and out of me in sure practiced stokes. And then he begins to suck…
Ah, the pleasure, the pleasure!
He pinches my swollen clit in his fingers suddenly, and an intense pleasure like an electric current stabs me. I scream and come in a mindless explosion. Waves crash on the rocks below, but I fly high. When I come back to the bed and the room, Blake is still licking the wet walls of my sex. There will never be another after him, I think lazily, drowsily, sadly. He has done what he set out to do. Ruined me for all other men.
I am so drained and exhausted I close my eyes and fall asleep with the sensation of his silky head on my thighs.
I wake up with the duvet pulled over my naked body, but alone. I turn my head and gaze at the vast expanse of bed that is spread out on one side of me and the unused pillows and sigh. Pushing my legs free of the duvet I dangle them out of the bed and savor the cool air. Then I slip out of bed. I can hear the fain sounds of Francesca, Blake’s personal shopper, rummaging around in the kitchen. She is always as silent as a mouse. I pull on some clothes, brush my teeth, and go to the kitchen. She is updating her list on her iPad.
‘Ciao,’ she greets brightly. She is from Naples. ‘I remember, you like jam and I bring you two extra bottles.’ She holds them up in her expressive hands. ‘You like?’
I go forward and take them in my hands. ‘I like. Very much. Grazia, Francesca.’
She dimples prettily.
Tom drives Billie, Sorab, and me to The Royal China in Bayswater. We find a table and order our dim sums.
I take the bottles of jam out of my rucksack and stuff them into the back of Sorab’s pram and Billie grins. ‘The perks of pimping you out,’ she says. ‘By the way, Jack called me looking for you. Your mobile must have been switched off.’
‘Oh! What did you tell him?’
‘The truth, of course. You were with Blake.’
‘What did he say?’
‘He went dead silent for a while, and then he asked me if I thought you were safe. I said I didn’t know, but that you thought you would be. Then he hung up.’
I bite my bottom lip.
‘You should call him. He worries about you.’
‘I will. This afternoon.’
‘So how’s it going at casa Blake?’
I expel my breath in a rush. ‘I don’t know, Billie. I might as well be a blow-up doll for all the use I am to him. It’s really just sex. He’s so remote, so angry, and so hurt. I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to reach him. He wants revenge, but he doesn’t have the stomach for it.’
‘What kind of revenge?’ An edge has crept into Billie’s voice.
‘Sexual humiliation. Last night he used a…vibrator on me.’ I flush bright red. The words were almost impossible for me to get out.
Billie laughs. ‘You are so weird. That’s not sexual humiliation. Everybody uses them. If anyone offers to use one on me I’m going to lie back, open my legs as wide as they will go and ask them to knock themselves out.’
‘You don’t understand, Billie. He did it because he understands that I’m sexually repressed.’
‘Oh for heaven’s sake. You cried, didn’t you?’
I nod and play with a chopstick. ‘What would you do if you were me, Billie?’
‘First off, I’m not you. I don’t think I could ever be in such a f**ked up situation.’
‘But if you were,’ I insist.
‘Then I would drink at least half a bottle of vodka and challenge him to do his worst. Press all his buttons and push him mercilessly until he loses his tightly reined sense of control. And then it would all be over and done with. Mind you, I wouldn’t if I thought he was capable of truly hurting me. But you’re a thousand percent sure Blake is not, right?’
‘A thousand percent. He is cold, not cruel.’
I pay the bill with the new Platinum credit card that I have not applied for, but arrived for me this morning. Billie raises an impressed eyebrow but says nothing.
Afterwards we spend a pleasant afternoon in Whiteley’s Shopping Centre. There is nothing I want, but I treat Billie to a really cool pair of cowboy boots, which she adored, and we buy some divinely soft bedding for Sorab. Stuff I could never afford before.
Everything goes on the new card. It has a ninety thousand pounds credit limit on it.
After Tom drops Billie and Sorab off I phone Jack.
‘Are you all right?’ is the first thing that Jack utters.
‘He’s not capable of hurting me, Jack,’ I reply.
‘It’s not him I’m worried about.’
‘Victoria won’t do anything to me.’
‘Lana, she paid you two hundred thousand pounds to get lost. You took her money and now you’re back with her guy and you don’t think she’s going to retaliate?’