She knows she's not the only one. Her own dedication to another man doesn't keep the jealousy from burning within, though. She tries to convince herself that it doesn't really matter, that sex doesn't give her the ownership of any man, but it doesn't work. She wants to erase those other bitches from his skin, claw them out of the pillows, rape them from the sheets, the mattress, the world. But he always goes back to them, whoever they are, leaving her alone and lonely, while she waits for her dog of a husband to come home.
Once she was foolish enough to ask him to take her with him, just once, to where ever he disappeared. He looked at her so sharply, with such fury in his cold, blue eyes. "Where the fuck do you think I go, to fucking Disneyland?" Her lip quivered at his razor sharp tongue, and he looked away, not a hint of apology in his hard face. She never asked him about his life outside the folds of his sheets again.
Still, she always went to him and his sheets, always let him turn and flip her every which way he desired. She even pretended to see warmth in his eyes and softness in his face. At least he didn't demand that she cook and clean for him when he bothered to notice her. At least he noticed she still had sex organs. She'd have to work on getting him to notice her sexual desires, but she would take what she could get.
She sits at the kitchen table and stares through the lace curtains at the empty drive by her husband's prize roses and pretends not to miss him. Not her husband, she never missed him. Him. She warms her hands on the thin ceramic of her mug and blinks through the stinging, rising steam of her too hot tea. Yes, blame it on the tea. Blame the loneliness on the husband who is probably taking a three hour lunch with that stringy haired mush brained secretary of his. Blame the resentment on the secretary who probably had her knees locked around the bossman's neck. That's right. This has nothing to do with actually falling for the professional bachelor with paranoid delusions. "Fuck."
And just when the fuck did she get so stupid, anyway? She knew from the start that the only reason he gave her the time of day was because she was willing to put out and get out. She was the backup plan - always had been, from the moment he approached her in Harrod's.
"Try this tube, you've got the lips to pull it off." A thick, white hand grabbed a deep burgundy lipstick from the make-up counter she'd been glazing over and stuck it under her nose. She followed the hand up a dark cloaked arm to a broad chest covered by a crisp white oxford shirt buttoned all the way up the thick neck, and punctuated with a silky sky blue tie that glinted like diamonds in the bright lights of the make-up counter. An unbuttoned navy blue suit coat peeked out under his heavier black outer coat, almost in invitation to investigate what exactly was under the thick white shirt.
The face above the suit was both ugly and beautiful. Clear blue eyes that made the tie look washed out and bland. Frosty blond hair, clipped in a not quite military fashion, gelled just enough to make him look like he only wore the suit because he absolutely had to. A crooked nose - or was it the mouth? - and hollowed cheeks gave him a severe, angry look, like an American mob thug. She couldn't decide if she was repulsed or attracted.
He turned his head in the direction of the cellphone he held in his other hand. "Oh, stop being a stupid bitch, Felicity. Anyway what the fuck do you care, Mrs. Holmes- hello?" He pulled the phone from his ear and looked at it as if it had just threatened to eat his brains right through his ear. "Well fuck you too, then," He turned back to her and twirled the sealed tube of lipstick he still held to her face. "So, how about it? Want to make a Mrs. Felicity Holmesteader of Blackbird Hill insane with jealousy? She's a doughy looking thing, she'd be absolutely beside herself if she saw a lovely tanned creature like you."
Repulsed. Definitely repulsed. "It's not a tan, it's The Americas. Excuse me." She swatted the lipstick out of her face and started to move the other way.
"You don't sound it. Central?"
She gasped, drawing up short to avoid slamming into the stranger's body. How the hell did he do that? "Does that matter? Please get out of my way."
"I suppose not. All a woman needs is passion. If she has that, she can't go wrong." He smiled and backpedaled a couple steps, removing himself from her personal space.
She turned and walked away, turning his words over in her mind. Did she have passion? Paul didn't seem to think so. If she did, he wouldn't be giving his ugly, bald-headed secretary 15 minute bonuses in the public loo on the way home. She looked at her hand, soft and golden. The color of her skin was always a conversation piece among flirtatious men, always oggling her with dry, red eyes that bulged out of pasty blue white masks, splotched with nasty red blobs that spoke of too much cream and organ meats and not enough grass and viceless living. Such disgusting men everywhere she turned - she thought the best answer to such a problem was to marry the richest one she could find and pass his credit cards to pimple faced bitches who thought themselves better than her because they weren't golden. But the repulsive man in the navy suit had smoother skin than she'd ever seen on any English man who'd passed his A-level exams.
She looked back. He was still standing there, chatting up the bucktoothed make-up clerk who glared at her every time she paused at her counter. Passion. That ugly whelp probably had a lifetime of passion backed up in her spindly virginal body. More power to him, let him fuck that rude little shit. The girl could probably use a good lay.
She could use a good lay.
Paul would be dead asleep before his head hit the pillow, as he had done the last five years of their barren marriage. The only reason she wasn't still virginal herself was because she'd never believed the shit the nuns shoved down her throat every chance they could. Live life to the fullest, and go get what you want.
Go get it!
She turned and walked smartly back to the severe man with the vivid blue eyes, sliding her thick body between his and the make-up counter. The bucktoothed girl snorted and whined her protests, but they were largely ignored. "So how exactly does one go about making Felicity Whatshername jealous, anyway?"
How, indeed. She takes a sip of tea, winces as it scalds the tender part of her tongue where it dips into her throat. A butterfly floats past her window, drifting lazily on the breeze. She sees it without seeing it, lost in the memories of a hundred nights in his sheets, in his bed, in his eyes, but never in his arms. Passion. Poppycock.
"Fuck it then." She leaves the tea on the table and goes to the sitting room to fetch her coat and clutch, sweeping past a pile of unopened letters, ignoring the shuffling of papers as they flutter to the floor, like everything else in her house, in her fucking life. No more laziness. No more waiting for him to call. She would go to his flat and see just why in the hell he wouldn't see her. She would pin him to the wall and demand he say her name, hold him hostage until the fire in his touch lit the cold depths of his gaze.
She stops at the porch, like always. She'd made the trip once, and was sorely disappointed to arrive at an empty flat. She didn't hear from him for weeks, and when she finally did, he raved at her with such venom that she vowed never to speak to him again. The next day she received an anonymous box of chocolates with a very cryptic note: "The neighbors told me." Not the sort of apology she'd hoped for, but so far nothing else in her life had turned out the way she'd planned. Whatever.
She goes back in the house and pulls off her coat, defeated. Where had all her fire gone? Where was the determined go-getter in Harrod's? Gone, she supposes, along with the hint of pleasures untold and hope of a life well lived. Gone with the warmth in his eyes. "Damn it all to Hell." She lets the coat and handbag fall to the floor, where the jangle of keys on hardwood floor clatter like broken glass.
ring the alarm I've been through this too long but I'll be damned if I see another chick on your arm ring the alarm I've been
She gasps and drops to her knees, desperately rummaging through the spilled contents of her purse. Chewing gum, tissue packet, sticky lotion bottle, pens, old receipts, pennies and ten pence, dust bunnies and fucking safety pins - aha! She grabs the cellphone and flips it open just as the chant cycles a third time. "James?"
"I'm bored. Want to come round, then?"
No. I want to be treated like something more than a spur of the moment thing. "I must be psychic, I was just wondering if you were about. Should I call a cab?"
"Just wait for me at the edge of the drive, I'll be along."
A click, a pause, and her phone chimes happily about being disconnected. "To Hell. In a bloody hand basket!" She shoves her things back in her clutch and gathers her coat. She steps smartly out the front door, latching it carefully behind her, and click clacks her way down the stone steps to the cement driveway. She stops at the edge of the road and stares straight ahead at the massive cemetery across the street. It isn't something easily seen from the windows of the house, but standing in the middle of the drive lends an impressive view of the old, decaying headstones next to the old, decaying churchhouse. People still used the church, though she swore it was only because they were old enough to have buried the centuries old caskets themselves when they were in the prime of life. Dear, sweet old betties and coodgers, never quite up to speed on what the day was, where they were, what planet this was.
She blinks, and a low black car appears before her. Apparently, those old betties and coodgers weren't so much older than herself after all. She reaches for the passenger's door and lowers herself into the thrumming sports car. She can feel the power through the seat, like she's inside a massive heart chamber, cleaned of blood but not of life. Rather like the driver. Or is it the other way round?
She turns and studies his face as he puts the car in gear and rockets down the street, not bothering to wait for her to buckle in. Indeed, he never does, just takes off at breakneck speed, as if he has some urgent business he suddenly remembers as soon as she opens the car door.
She ignores him. He might be a sight older than she, but he isn't her father, or her father figure. Any daddy issues she had have been checked firmly at her front door, locked in the bright airy kitchen overlooking her husband's stupid roses. This man is a consenting adult, and that's it.
She gasps and automatically puts her hands out to keep from ramming her head into the dashboard, or something worse. "Did you fucking hear me, Olivia?!" A strong arm thrusts out and pins her to the back of the seat, keeping her from sailing through the windscreen. "Buckle the goddamn seatbelt!" She blinks through her surprise and looks about - nothing. There's no one on the road, no near accident, nothing at all. She cuts her eyes to the right and glares at James, holding her own against his ugly, venomous scowl. Shes grabs the cold metal buckle over her shoulder and yanks it across her, pulling the fabric of the restraining device between her full breasts, separating them like that old commercial for an American brand of brassiere.
He breaks their gaze first, returning his attention to the road ahead. She continues to glare hotly, disgusted by his... self. This is what she pines for when he's not around. This is what she sits by the window missing. This is what she wants to run off with. This overbearing ogre that couldn't call unless he was thirty seconds away, couldn't speak unless he was barking some insult or demand at her, couldn't smile for anything, this is the man she wants to keep to herself. What the hell for? So that I might be the sole possessor of the nastiest brute in the whole of the Kingdom? She's a glutton for punishment, she decides.
The rest of the trip is uneventful, despite the high speed and hairpin turns in the little black speeder. She's quite accustomed to James' special brand of driving, and still rather annoyed at his burst of temper. When they arrive at the forest green block of flats in the heart of London, she unsnaps her restraining belt and fairly bursts from the car, taking the steps of the middle dwelling two by two.
"In a hurry, are we?" His voice is deep and throaty and icy like always. If anyone else had come up behind her and made such a statement, especially in the current circumstances, she'd have thought it sexy and quite deliberate. But from James it sounds almost, not quite but almost, derisive.
"Your motoring skills leave a bit to be desired. And now I have to relieve myself, so if you don't mind...?" She gestures at the deadbolt and folds her arms tightly under her breasts. He waits a bit, but she starts to dance in place, so he unlocks the door. Before he can open it for her, she shoves the door wide and runs to the toilet.
When she comes out, he's already removed his sports coat and shoes, and looks positively domestic putting on tea in stocking feet. The domesticity takes a mildly pornographic turn as she realizes the buttons of his shirt are nearly undone. He fishes some boxes out of a shelf over the icebox and rips into them, pulling out handfuls of biscuits to arrange on a platter. Usually she gets very stupid and mushy about seeing him prepare a quick tea this way, but this time she notes the furrowed brow, the heavy hand, the cold calculation. This is like pumping petrol on the way to the office. Like writing cheques for rent and heat. A semi-necessity, not one to be enjoyed, though life would be far, far less enjoyable without it. He is chopping the wood to put in the fireplace, and what heat he'd get from the fireplace would be brief and forgettable. He'd have to go chopping up another tree to get another dose of heat, while he let her branches grow back in.
He carries the platter and a pair of cups to the sitting room, where they always start their routine, brushing past her as if she weren't there. And normally, she wasn't. She should be arranging the pillows to their liking, removing her shoes and coat, unclasping her bra. He is so involved in the routine that he actually starts a bit when he glances at the settee. He gruffly reaches out and begins placing the pillows in a rough approximation of her usual arrangement, lips pursed in concentration. When the kettle screams for attention, he turns to her, still standing in the archway of his kitchen. "Want to finish this, then?" He stalks past her, tossing her a cushion as he grazes by.
She catches the pillow as it bounces off her chin and squeezes it between both hands, as if to pop the stuffing right out. She turns back to the settee with half a mind to throw all the cushions to the floor, along with the platter of shortbread and wafers. But she only finishes arranging the stupid cushions on the stupid seat and waits for him to pour the stupid fucking tea. And then he'll place the pot on the table, slide into the seat next to her, yes, there he goes now, drape an arm over the back of the settee, cross the legs, right over left, and wait for her to tell him the latest problems with the man in her life. Alright, then. She'll follow the script, down to the fucking letter. No one said which man she had to discuss.
"I'm done here." She reaches for the cream and stirrer, to let that bit of news sink in. Five, four, three, two...
"Done with what, exactly?" His voice is deep and dangerous, like an abandoned well covered with growth, stumbled on long after dark. His words are wet and slurry, and she'd have thought him mad with drink if she hadn't just spent a very dry hour with him, longing for a drink of her own. How much worse would he be if he were to become enraged with spirits and wines?
Her resolve crumbles under his hard glare, and for the briefest moment she feels like a field mouse trapped by a large, starving hound, backed into the tightest corner of a long empty pantry. He's going to kill her and take what he wants from her still warm carcass, oh God! She blinks, and the sensation is abruptly replaced by the more reasonable, though equally frightening impression that he's going to yell if he doesn't like the turn the conversation takes. "With... I mean, I'm going..." The words dissolve in her mouth and slip from her tongue, dead silent.
"Where? Going where?" James lurches from his seat, teeth bared and eyes blazing. "If you didn't want to see me, you should have told me that shit when I called you!" He grabs her with both hands and yanks her off the settee, dangling her just above a seated position in the space between the sofa and coffee table. "You should have told me!"
Olivia claws at his chest, unsure if she should beg to be released or captured tightly. "James-"
"Shut up! Venomous bitch!" He shoves her harshly and she bounces off the settee and slides to the floor in a heap. She scrambles to gather her feet underneath her, all the while grabbing for a handhold on the seat behind her. James towers over her like a giant asthmatic ape, wild eyed and red faced. "All you fucking bitches and your fucking lying words, you're all the same! All the fucking same!" He turns and kicks over the coffee table with his last epitaph, sending biscuits flying through the air, while heavy platters slide to the carpeted floor and a metal teapot rolls over into a steaming puddle of its own innards. "FUCK!"
Olivia shimmies away from the mess, pulls herself to her feet on the armchair angled nearest the settee, and makes a dash for the front door, snatching her purse from the foyer table on her way. She skips down the steps two by two and hits the pavement at a full run, round the corner, and into the thick of traffic before stopping to retch between a parked car and an idling lorry. She wipes her mouth on her jacket sleeve and hunts for a place to sit and recoup.
She wanders shakily into a nearby druggist to grab a bottle of spring water and a bag of crisps to settle her stomach and her nerves. When she gets to the counter, she can't find her bank cards, and wonders if they'd slipped under the dressing table when she dropped her purse before he'd... She quickly squelchs that train of thought and mumbles a vague apology at the annoyed clerk before abandoning her goods. After wringing her hands a bit while wandering down the road in the general direction of anywhere-but-James'-flat, she decides the best thing to do is to ring her husband at work and tell him... what? That her extra-marital distraction erupted in a violent rage? The ladies she associated with when her husband bothered to bring her to functions couldn't be assed to help her find the front door out of their houses, much less come pick her up in the deep city and take her all the way home, and keep their mouths shut about her circumstance. Perhaps she could ask her sister to rescue her - though she was just as nosy as the snooty bitches married to her husband's friends, Olivia knows her sister would at least give her a lift.
She digs in her purse for her phone, but dismally realizes that her bank cards are not her only possessions laying in the mess on James' floor. Resigned to her fate, Olivia tearfully puts one foot in front of the other and for once is grateful that her husband would rather keep company with his stringy haired secretary than come home on time.