When I awoke, the vivid images of the dream danced behind my eyes. I felt perturbed, certainly, but also angry. What on earth did Gavin think he was doing, popping into my dreams like that? I hadn’t exactly invited him in. Despite myself, I couldn’t help wondering if the real Gavin would be as good in bed as Robolover. But before I could give the matter too much thought, my bedside phone started to ring. I was relieved to find it was Connor.
As I lost myself in Connor’s disastrous life, the memory of the dream began to dissolve.
He told me he’d spent yesterday evening at the hospital, sitting at his Mum’s bedside, phoning around his Dad’s mates to ask if they knew where he was. There’d been some sightings of him in various boozers around town, but when he’d phoned the pubs in question, he was always told the same thing: that his Dad had been in, but had pushed off some time ago.
Then, to top it all, an emotionally drained Connor had gone back to his parents’ house at midnight to get some sleep, only to find the place bursting with teenagers and throbbing with drum 'n bass. The Evil Twins had seized the opportunity for a party, and even though it had only been going for a couple of hours, and Connor threw everyone out, the damage was already been done. There were fag burns in the carpet and smashed bottles of beer all over the place.
Imagining what the place must look like, must smell like, made my heart go out to him.
“Oh God Connor, I wish I could just come over with a bucket of soapy water and fix the place up.”
“Don’t worry. The lads have tidied up most of it up already. Anyway, how was The Attic?”
I told him all about the horrid food and inviting Tanya and meeting Sachiko, and then, when I couldn’t keep my big news inside any longer, I just burst out with it.
“Look, I really need to tell you something. Alistair and I had a talk, and it turns out he wants a trial separation.”
“Oh? What did you say?”
“Well, I told him it was a great idea. In fact, it’s already happened, would you believe? I’ve moved in with Tanya.”
“Well, I can’t say that isn’t a relief. At least I won’t have to worry about creeping around behind your husband’s back if we start dating.”
“Don’t you mean when we start dating?”
“Yes,” he said softly. And suddenly I really missed him and wished he was here.
Later at brunch at a café in
“Oh Scarlett, I am so happy. We’ve had tons of calls since the show. You are such a doll for pulling this off.”
“Is Malc over the moon too?”
“Well, you know Malc, he grumbles. He’s been so bogged down with work, what with the phone ringing off the hook, that it’s really getting to him. He’s been a bit snappy with some of the new clients.”
“You know Mia, you really should fire him. He’s just no good with people.”
“Fire Malc! No way. I’ve known him since we were at Kindergarten. If you only took the time to get to know him, you’d see that deep down he’s a lovely person.”
“That must be very deep down.”
“You’ve got to admit, he can be a bit caustic,” said Imogen.
“I’m not sacking Malc, okay?” said Mia.
They scoffed their fried breakfasts while I sipped my tea. The news that Alistair and I had decided to give each other a bit of space, apparently wasn’t any big deal to Mia who’s only reaction was, “Oh, I’m so glad you’re taking some time for yourself, time to figure out who you really are.”
“Actually, that’s exactly not what I’m going to be doing. If you must know, I had this night of red hot sex all planned out.” Mia looked a little shocked. “But it’s just my luck that as soon as I’m free, the guy I fancy has raced off to
“What’s Gavin doing in
God this was annoying. Why did everyone keep going on about Gavin? “Not Gavin, I’m talking about this Irish guy I work with, Connor. I must have mentioned him?”
“I don’t think so,” said Imogen.
“Well, maybe I didn’t. He was kind of a secret between Tanya and me for, well, for months. Then suddenly he asks me out on a date, and while I’m waiting for him in the restaurant, he calls from Heathrow and tells me he won’t be able to make it because his Mum’s had an accident and is in a coma. And it’s not that I’m not sympathetic and all that, but it could take her weeks to come out of it. At this rate, it looks like we’re never even going to have a first date, let alone get to first base.”
“You’ll get to first base,” said Imogen. “You’re just going to have to be patient for a while.”
When I got home, I stood in the hallway, feeling sorry for myself. God, I missed Connor. Or something. Maybe I just didn’t know how to be alone.
Tanya came out of her bedroom, looking pale and bedraggled.
I said, ”Look, can we talk?” I don’t think I’d ever needed to talk to anyone so badly. Mia and Imogen were all very well, but for God’s sake, Tanya was my best friend, and I hated that we’d fallen out. And quite frankly, even though I’m not a huggy person, right then I really needed a hug. But she just walked right past me and slammed the door of the bathroom, leaving me feeling sorrier for myself than ever.
Needing to keep myself busy, I ran into the living room and started vacuuming the carpet and polishing her barbed wire sideboard, as I tried to get things into perspective. I knew Tanya was being a prat, sulking about the fact I wasn’t willing to get her tickets. But maybe I was equally to blame. I would call Helenka, that would be best, I told myself. But then I remembered her prediction: A girl is about to walk out of your life. She wasn’t a fake, as Gavin had said. Her prediction had come true. So I had walked away from the girl, but it all added up to the same thing, didn’t it? If I called her, there was no guarantee that she wouldn’t start foretelling my future again. In my fragile state, I wasn’t quite up to dealing with any more ominous predictions.
So, if not Helenka, that only left Gavin. So, I’d had a kinky dream about him. So what? Sachiko needed tickets and Gavin was the best person to supply them. Surely I could manage a simple transaction without letting him rub me up the wrong way? Of course I could.
Since it was all I had, I tried his office number, and reached his voice-mail. While I rambled on about how I needed him to ring Sachiko’s people and sort out tickets for her, I chewed over whether I should ask for a ticket for Tanya too, before swiftly vetoing the idea. But hang on, what if I talked to Sachiko after the show, got a feel for how Tanya might best make her pitch? Yes, that would definitely be a smart move. So, after requesting that he send a ticket to Tanya’s apartment, I gave out her address and phone number, saying I was staying there temporarily and that he should get in touch if there were any problems.
Then, utterly exhausted, I went to my room and took a cat nap on the bed. The phone kept ringing in my dreams, and I knew I should answer it, but right now sleep was more important.
When I eventually woke, the room was shrouded in a rosy dusk, and some asshole was ringing the doorbell. I staggered sleepily to the door, ready to strangle whoever it was.
“All right,” I said, opening the door and rubbing my eyes. “You can stop ringing the bloody bell now.”
There was a man standing there, carrying a pizza. He was wearing baggy combats and a t-shirt, and he looked kind of serious. I knew him. Of course I did, I was just half asleep and couldn’t place him. Yes I could. It was Gavin. And he was staring at me.
And out of nowhere this odd sentence came to me: You are the puzzle piece that fits exactly into the empty space inside of me.
He stared at me. And I stared at him. And that was it. We both knew what was going to happen next.
“Sorry to just barge round like this, but you weren’t answering the phone, so I thought I’d just walk over and bring you your ticket.”
He was saying the words, but the words meant nothing. They were just filling time before we could tear eachother’s clothes off. We both knew it.
The waiting would be fun. It would also be unbearable.
“Oh, thanks,” I said, taking the ticket from his outstretched hand. “You should have posted it and saved yourself the bother.”
“No bother. It’s just a short walk from Muswell Hill.”
“Thanks,” I said again, leaning against the doorframe and running my hands over my bare arms.
“So what’s the deal?”
“About how you know Sachiko and why exactly you’re staying at Tanya’s. Do you want to tell me all about it over pizza?” he said, slipping past me.
Once we’d sat down on the sofa, he ate two slices of pizza and I ate nothing. I tried to, but the crust tasted like ashes and proved impossible to swallow, so I spat the mouthful into a napkin.
He kept asking questions. I was bored of talking and I was certainly bored of questions, but he was insistent, so I told him about how I’d met Sachiko and explained that I was living at Tanya’s because I’d just separated from my husband.
I scurried off to get some beers, and while I drank greedily from my bottle, he asked if I was allowed to see other people, and something about the question shocked me and made me lose my grip on the cold slippery bottle I held in my palm. It would have crashed to the floor, if his hand hadn’t darted out and caught it.
“Well, yes,” I stuttered.
We were leaning in towards each other. We were so close that I could see each separate eye lash around his eyes, could feel his breath on my cheek, coming hard and fast. I was sure he was going to kiss me, but instead he just handed me the beer, leaned back and started telling me the story of his life.
It was your standard riches to rags tale. As a child the family had lived in a great big mansion in
“So, you’ve always been good at acting,” I said, thinking that we weren’t all that dissimilar. No one hearing my upper crust voice today, would guess that I’d been born in Peckham or that I’d gone to a run down comprehensive. Back then my accent had been perfectly ordinary. But as soon as I’d got to
“But isn’t it a bit of a drag,” I said, “putting on the gay bit at work all the time?”
“Yeah, it certainly can be a pain. Especially when I’m down the pub with my work mates, and I’m dying to go over to some fit looking bird and start chatting her up, but have to stop myself, because they all think I’m gay.”
“Yeah, it must be.” I started to laugh, and my laugh was high and tinkly. I sounded like a crazy person.
Gavin didn’t seem to have noticed my crazy laugh, because he was looking at me rather intently. “Still, it looks like I can chat up any girl I like tonight, because they aren’t here, now are they?”
“How do you know?” I said in a misguided stab at humour. “Maybe they’re hiding behind the sofa.”
He reached out and rested his hand on my jean-clad thigh. While maintaining eye contact, he slowly started to stroke it. It was lucky I wasn’t standing up, because my legs would have given way beneath me.
Once he started to kiss me, I felt myself lose control. My insides were like a chemistry experiment gone wrong. I was full of flames and smoke and tiny explosions.
Now his hands were roaming under my t-shirt and playing with my breasts. I was bra-less, and soon I was melting, slowly melting into a great pool of liquid jelly. I had no bones. I was just limp, helpless, crazed with desire. Meanwhile, he was pulling off my t-shirt.
Before I knew it, my clothes and underwear were off and Gavin was licking my inner thighs in tiny circles. It was heaven, but it was also disconcerting. I began to feel distanced, less and less connected to the sensations. I wanted to relax, really I did, but suddenly I was gripped by a desperate impatience and told him I wanted him inside me. Now.
He put on a condom and we started doing it, and suddenly I couldn’t feel anything. It was terribly disappointing. I was thinking of Alistair and what he’d think if he could see me, and oh God, this was a disaster. In the end I did what I always did when I got like this. I faked it.
Gavin rolled off me and lay back on the hard sofa. “Okay, what was that?”
He shook his head. “That was a really badly faked orgasm.”
“But I did come, really,” I said, annoyed.
I sat up and crossed my hands in front of my breasts. I was a total amateur at this sleeping around lark. I was crazy to think I could even manage it. Getting up, I started to pick up my clothes.
He drew me gently back towards the sofa and pulled me across his chest. “Hey, listen, I’ve got an idea. I reckon that if you imagined you were this helium balloon, floating up to the sky, you might be able to unwind a tad.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Oh, go on.”
Since he was being so sweet, I decided to try. I closed my eyes and began to visualize myself as air inside a pink balloon, drifting upwards into a piercing blue sky.
“I’m going to make you come,” he whispered into my ear as he kissed me all the way down my neck, dragging his stubbly chin across my sensitive skin. It was almost painful, but not quite.
“But I did come. Really, I’m fine,” I murmured.
I was a balloon, being blown about on a breeze. I was rising and rising. I opened my eyes and stared into his, a flash of green that snapped me out of my dream-like state.
“Hey, don’t look so scared. I’m not going to stick it in and start jack-hammering away until you fake it again. I do know a thing or too about how to tackle this, and if you don’t come, I’m going to take it personally.”
He got down on his knees in front of me and gently parted my thighs.
“You’re very arrogant, if you don’t mind me saying so. All right. Fine. So I have trouble orgasming, a lot of women do, and I …” I stopped in mid-sentence, because I could no longer talk. He was kissing his way up my inner thigh, and the balloon was drifting up, up, getting lost in the clouds.
He was wonderful at kissing, phenomenal at stroking my skin, and I just knew, instinctively, that he’d be a master at oral sex. And frankly, now that he was on his knees before me, I just wanted him to get on with it. But he seemed to be in no hurry at all.
The little circles he was making on my inner thighs with his tongue were driving me to the edge of madness. Every time he went a little higher, I would I hold my breath, would say to myself, yes, yes, he’s finally going for gold. And every time he’d dash my hopes, changing direction, and working his way back down, like his tongue was taking a leisurely stroll.
“You’re going the wrong way!” I wanted to shout, like some on edge driving instructor, but I didn’t of course, just lay back, digging my fingernails into the sofa while he kept this up for what felt like hours. And even when he finally did give me a little of what I fancied, the way he was licking my clit was like he was testing out a flavour of ice cream he wasn’t particularly fond of.
And finally, finally, when I was squirming around like a crazed thing, he took pity on me and started really paying my clit some good, focused attention, like it had suddenly transformed into a whopping great sundae, hot fudge and all. Just when I was teetering on the edge, he pulled away, all relaxed. Now what? It appeared that his tongue was stopping for a tea break and would get back to the job in its own sweet time.
“Jesus, Gavin,” I mumbled. “I can’t take much more than this.”
Through half closed eyes, I watched him stand up and pull on a condom.
This time I was ready for him.
But even once he was inside me, he wasn’t done with teasing me yet. Every time I was almost there, he would pull out and rub my clit with his finger, until the pressure was unbearable and splinters of pleasure started to shoot through me. The game was pretty much torture by now.
Finally the torturer relented, thrusting into me deeply until I was thrashing about and screaming, my orgasm as intense as the one I’d had in my dream.
“Now that,” Gavin said, while I was lying there, my mouth slack against his shoulder. “That was a real orgasm.”
“All right, you got me,” I said, smiling.
That evening, sitting on Ivy’s bedroom floor, watching her dress and undress her Barbies, I remembered that morning. How he’d run his fingers down the length of my arm, while we’d joked about with the self-consciousness of two people who have slept together for the first time and are wondering if the other person will ever be persuaded to repeat the performance.
As his glance lingered on a photo of Ivy on my bedside table, his fingers stopped in their tracks.
“I can’t really see you as a mother,” he said, before swiftly adding, “although I’m sure you’re terrific.”
“Not really. I lack the self-sacrificing gene most mothers seem to be born with. I mean, for God’s sake, I only breastfed Ivy for two weeks! Sure it was painful, but the pain would have gone away once my nipples toughened up a bit, but I couldn’t be bothered. Sad, isn’t it?”
“I’m sure you did your best,” he said, smoothing my hair away from my face.
“If only that were true. I mean, how can dashing off to live at Tanya’s possibly be the best thing for Ivy?”
Now, as I picked up a Barbie and began to comb the knots out of her matted hair, I tried to ponder the question, but didn’t get very far. After my night with Gavin, my guilt reflex, in fact, my whole brain, had ceased to function.
Later, after I’d put Ivy to bed and was about to leave, I almost collided with Alistair, as he was coming in through the front door. We stood there looking at each other awkwardly, until I sliced into the silence with, “How are you?”
“Look,” he said rapidly, his eyes seeking out mine. “I think I might have made a dreadful mistake.”
He raked his hand through his hair and took a step closer, bumping his briefcase against my leg. “About that row we had the other night. Look, I hadn’t slept properly in days and I wasn’t thinking straight. I didn’t mean what I said.”
“About separating? It’s a bit late for that, isn’t it?”
“What can I say? It was a stupid decision.”
“I’m afraid I don’t agree. This break is just what I need.”
“Don’t you see? We’re not going to solve our problems while we’re living under separate roofs. Once you’ve moved back in, I’ll come home early one evening this week, and we’ll sit down and talk, really talk.”
Seems like I’ve been faking it for too long. Have you ever faked it and do you think it’s worth it to pander to the guy’s ego?