With serialised fiction making a world-wide comeback, I thought I’d share a longish short story with you in serial form over the next few weeks.
It’s a slight departure from what I normally write. I suppose you could call it an erotic romantic thriller.
Be warned, graphic language and sex scenes ahead! Enjoy dear Readers!
LOVE HIM TO DEATH
Nobody is allowed to get hurt.
It was their mutual pact, their solemn promise, their unbreakable contract. They’d sealed it by dipping their fingers into the wet patch one day and drawing the sign of the cross on each other’s foreheads before they fell about, laughing.
Kate was unimpressed when she told her. “You’re barking mad Claudia! Why take such a risk? And for a greengrocer? For crying out loud, couldn’t you have found someone more exciting?”
Claudia had smiled. “But, darling,” she said, “That’s why I chose him! He doesn’t move in our circles, so I’m completely safe. Wilson will never find out!”
Wilson. Privileged, wealthy and heir to the family fortune.
Wilson. Peevish, pasty, with the flabby body of an invalid.
Wilson. The man who made love to her once a month on a Sunday morning and whimpered Mother when he climaxed.
Wilson. The man who said he would take everything and destroy her if she ever betrayed him.
Claudia’s lover was Wilson’s polar opposite. He was a big man – warm, generous, popular – with the rugged, good looks of an Italian movie star. He fed upon her body like the ripe fruit in his shop; rolling her nipples between his lips like tender, plump grapes and cupping her buttocks in his palms as delicately as he might two juicy peaches before he dipped his tongue into the sweet nectar between her legs.
“Whatever he’s doing, it agrees with you,” Kate admitted grudgingly.
It was true. Claudia’s skin had the rosy hue of a fresh apple; her eyes the glow of soft, molten chocolate. Claudia’s sexuality, once dormant and repressed, now burst from her pores like bottled-up steam, surrounding her in a kind of permanent, erotic miasma. Men stared and shifted in their seats when she walked into a room.
The autumn sun was warm despite the cool breeze that blew her freshly blow-waved hair across her face as she emerged from the hairdresser’s and strode towards the taxi rank. Claudia climbed into a waiting cab, her skirt riding to the top of her thighs. The driver turned around, his eyes fixed on her smooth, bare legs.
“Where to, Miss?”
She gave the address with a dazzling smile. The driver turned back to the wheel and pulled away from the kerb, still staring at her in the rear-vision mirror.
“I’m on my way. I’ll be there soon,” Claudia whispered into her cell-phone, returning it to her handbag with a secret smile. Donning a pair of oversized sunglasses, she stared out the window at the passing traffic.
“In a hurry?” the driver asked.
She checked her watch. “I am actually. I’m late meeting a friend.” The driver sighed and shook his head as though he wished it was him. Minutes later, the taxi pulled up in front of a square, red brick apartment building, four stories high with a glass security door.
“Thank you,” Claudia said, handing the driver a generous tip. It had become a habit, her bribe to the gods to keep protecting her. He beamed and wished her a happy day.
“It will be,” Claudia assured him, climbing out of the car.
This part was always nerve-wracking. Despite the quietness of the street, she always imagined a hundred pairs of inquisitive eyes watching her every move. She glanced down the street, first left then right, and pressed the buzzer.
“It’s me,” Claudia whispered into the intercom.
The door clicked and she pushed it open, breathing a sigh of relief when it slammed behind her. Now she had to get to the apartment without being seen. She climbed the stairs two at a time and rapped breathlessly at the door on level three. Within seconds Dominic opened it and Claudia flew into his arms.
“Hello you.” He kissed her hard on the mouth. It still felt as good, as exciting as the very first time.
Claudia hugged him, feeling him wince. “Are you OK? Did I squeeze you too hard? Maybe I’d better cool it at the gym,” she said, laughing and flexing her biceps.
He smiled. “No, just getting old. I’m a bit tired today.”
“You’ve been working too hard since the operation. Remember what the doctor said? You have to take it easy.” She took his arm. “Come and sit down. Let me pour the wine for a change. You sit there and relax.
A bottle of wine sat on the kitchen bench, already uncorked. “Ooh la la,” Claudia sang, holding up the bottle. “A 1990 French bordeaux no less! Another present from our benefactor? He’s awfully kind, this friend of yours, lending us his apartment whenever we need it and letting us drink his prize wine. How long have you known him?” Claudia poured the ruby liquid into long-stemmed glasses and carried them into the sitting room. Dominic sat hunched forward, head bowed, his hands clasped between his knees. A knot of worry tugged at her belly.
“Darling, is it your heart again? You’ve got me worried now. Shall we just share a glass of wine today? Then you can go home and rest.” Claudia held her breath, hoping he wouldn’t agree.
But Dominic gazed at her with soft, indulgent eyes and patted the seat beside him. “Not a chance. Not now you’re here. Come to Daddy.” He opened his arms and she snuggled into them, taking care not to spill wine on the pale grey sofa. The apartment felt more like home than the mansion Claudia shared with Wilson. She’d become protective and territorial about it, like it was her own, so she always washed the dishes, wiped down the kitchen benches, straightened the cushions and changed the sheets before they left. Sometimes, she even forgot about the man who owned it. It wasn’t hard because the apartment bore no traces of the owner. There were no photographs or books or ornaments or travel souvenirs; nothing to suggest a real-life flesh and blood person lived there. The furniture, while good quality, was solid and plain. There were no patterned fabrics or designer colour schemes displaying the owner’s personality. “He travels a lot,” Dominic had said as if that explained everything. She’d nodded but it disturbed her. Claudia wanted their patron to be a living, breathing human being, not a cardboard cut-out, a man without a shadow.
She hugged Dominic again, more carefully this time. “To us! And to your generous friend!” Their glasses clinked. “Tell me about him. You’ve been very cagey so far. Is he an international spy on a top-secret assignment we’re not allowed to talk about?”
Her lover smiled. “Nothing like that. He’s just an ordinary guy… a banker I think. He came into the shop about a year ago and we got to talking about cars. Turns out he owns an original Aston Martin DB5.”
She laughed. “Am I supposed to be impressed?”
“You should be. It’s the same model car James Bond drove in Goldfinger.”
“Ah.” Claudia sipped her drink, licked her lips and changed the subject. “I had a beautiful fantasy the other evening.”
His voice was husky. “Tell me about it.”
It always began like this. Sometimes Claudia was a horny hitchhiker wearing tiny denim shorts and a see-through top; at others she was a lone, predatory visitor in an art gallery wearing a power suit and no underwear. Today she was Messalina Valeria at a Roman brothel, issuing a challenge to the prostitute, Scylla, to bed the greatest number of men in one night. Claudia watched her lover’s erection grow huge and hard beneath his jeans as she described her unquenchable lust for the line-up of men waiting to fuck her. Dominic moaned and pushed her back against the sofa.
“Hey, I haven’t gotten to the best bit yet,” she protested. He pressed his lips to hers, silencing her. Claudia unzipped his trousers and freed his cock. It felt thick and heavy in her hand. She knelt at his feet and took his entire length into her mouth, running her tongue up and down the shaft then gently sucking at the head of his cock.
“God, that is so good,” he groaned. He lifted her head with huge hands and carried her into the bedroom, stripping off her clothes, piece by piece, caressing her breasts and belly and the soft, sensitive skin between her thighs.
Claudia moaned when he took one breast in each hand and licked around it in slow circles getting smaller and smaller until he reached her nipples. He sucked on them gently. She arched her back and stroked herself, her fingers coming away sticky and wet.
He took her hand, sucking one finger at a time in his mouth. “It’s my turn now,” he whispered, burying his tongue inside her cunt.
Her fingers clawed at the sheets. “Darling, I’ll come too soon if you keep doing that,” she breathed.
“Do you want me stop?”
She was frantic. “No! I mean yes! I can’t bear it! It’s too good!”
“Nothing is too good.”
“Yes it is when you do it like that!”
“Do you want me to fuck you then?”
“Oh God… yes… please!”
“How do you want me to fuck you?”
“Like I’m a bitch in heat,” Claudia panted.
Dominic grabbed her hips, rolled her over and forced her into a kneeling position. She gasped when she felt his hardness pushing into her.
“How much of me do you want?”
“Every last inch!”
“Here I am.” He thrust his entire length into her.
Claudia screamed. Her orgasm unfolded like a carnivorous flower deep inside her belly, its tendrils tickling and teasing every nerve in her body. Tears sprang from her eyes as the waves of pleasure swelled and rolled in time with Dominic’s thrusts. “Enough!” she begged. “I’ll die of pleasure if you don’t stop!” Her body felt weightless, her limbs weak, her muscles soft. Claudia dropped to her elbows just as she heard Dominic’s cries getting louder.
His body tensed. He roared and collapsed onto Claudia’s back, his body hot and slick with sweat. Claudia smiled, despite her face being pressed against the pillow. Soon Dominic would lift himself from her and stroke her back. Then he would turn her over and caress her face and tell her she was the best fuck he had ever had.
The minutes ticked by on the alarm clock next to the bed. Claudia chuckled to herself. He must have fallen asleep.
“Hey,” she whispered, “I’m finding it hard to breathe down here.”
Dominic was heavy, his bulk covering her entire body. She braced her palms on either side of the pillow and tried to lift herself.
“Am I so boring you’d fall asleep straight afterwards?” she joked, wriggling out from under him. Her lover rolled onto his back, his arms falling to his sides, his eyes closed. “Darling?”
She touched his skin. It was warm but clammy. She picked up his arm. It dropped like a stone.
Her belly quivered. She tapped his cheeks with her fingers.
“Come on. For God’s sake! What’s the matter? I’ll kill you if you’re playing one of your games again.”
He lay there, still and quiet.
“Oh, sweet Jesus! Please! Wake up!”
A sudden heat engulfed her like a wave. It was like being boiled alive. Perspiration dripped from her body and her breath came in short, fast bursts.
She forced herself to breathe slowly.
It’s nothing. He’ll be fine… he’s just passed out, she repeated over and over like a mantra. She’d read somewhere that an orgasm sometimes caused a drop in heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in a brief spell of unconsciousness. In a minute, he’d come to, and they’d pour themselves another glass of wine and laugh about it.
Claudia nudged Dominic with her elbow. The movement jerked his head sideways. Was that his eyelids fluttering? She straddled his chest and took his face in her hands. “Dominic? Wake up! You’re scaring me half to death.”
His eyes stayed closed.
Claudia felt lightheaded. The urge to scream was getting stronger. Stay calm, she told herself. She breathed in for four seconds and out for four seconds… in… out… in… out… in… out.
She lowered her head to his chest.
No discernible heartbeat.
But that meant nothing. Once, after a vigorous bout of lovemaking, her heart had almost beaten its way out of her chest while his gave barely a murmur.
“You’re a heartless beast, that’s why,” she had joked.
“No,” he’d sighed. “Just a layer of fat muffling the sound.”
She tried to remember her first aid training but her mind was racing, her thoughts like jumbled jigsaw pieces inside her head. She forced herself to concentrate.
“Danger, Response, Airways, Breathing, Circulation,” Claudia recited. “Danger? None here. OK. Response? She shook her lover’s shoulder, grabbed his hand and patted his cheeks again. “Can you hear me?” It was strangely comforting having a formula to follow. At least she was doing something rather than sitting on the bed, helpless.
“A is for Airways and they’re clear,” she announced to the empty room. “B is for breathing. He’s not breathing so I need to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Wait a minute. Shouldn’t I ring the ambulance? But I’m supposed to be giving him the kiss of life! And what if he dies while I’m on the ‘phone?”
Claudia lowered her face to Dominic’s. His breath smelt sour and she nearly gagged. She placed her mouth over his lips, pinched his nose and puffed two sharp breaths. His chest rose and fell.
“Dominic? Oh, sweet Jesus! Breathe, damn you!” Claudia blew into Dominic’s mouth again, her stomach churning. Her limbs felt heavy and weak. She put her ear on his chest again, praying for a heartbeat, however faint.
Nothing. His skin was much cooler now. And was it her imagination or had his complexion taken on a grey pallor?
She clambered off the bed, ran into the sitting room and rummaged around in her bag for her cell phone. Claudia dialled, then stopped.
They’d promised never to tell anyone about the apartment. Even his friend, the owner, didn’t know her identity. They’d agreed it was too dangerous to tell even him. But if she called the ambulance, their affair would come out.
“Shit! Shit! Shit!” Claudia threw the cell phone onto the sofa as hopeless, frustrated tears coursed down her face. “This can’t be happening!” she raged. “It’s a bad dream… a scene from a stupid soapie—it doesn’t happen in real life!”
She raced to the bedroom and climbed back onto the bed. ‘C’ was for circulation. One more thing she had to try. She put the heel of her right hand in the middle of his chest below his ribs, covered it with her left and pushed down. How many compressions should she perform in a minute?
Claudia’s mind went blank. Fifty? No, too few. The blurred face of her First Aid instructor swam before her eyes. She saw his lips move. One hundred compressions per minute are required to ensure the blood keeps circulating so the brain doesn’t die, he’d said. She glanced at the clock and tried to keep count.
The mattress dipped and his body bounced. Her compressions weren’t strong enough to do any good. Claudia dragged his body onto the floor and continued.
Ten minutes passed. Her arms and shoulders ached; her hands were numb.
Claudia stopped, exhausted, and stared at his face.
Her efforts had been a waste of time. Dominic was dead. Nothing would bring him back to life.
“No!” Claudia wailed, flinging her body over his, her tears soaking and matting the thick, dark hairs on Dominic’s chest. “Oh my darling—I’m sorry! I wanted to save you! I tried, I really did! But even if I’d called the ambulance, it wouldn’t have made any difference. You were already dead! I just didn’t want to admit it!”
Claudia’s sobs grew more violent, more intense. She clutched Dominic to her breasts. “What am I going to do? There’s nobody I can tell. I don’t know the person who lives here or where I can find him and I can’t leave you here and not tell anyone. But what if Wilson or your wife finds out? I can’t let that happen… we promised each other! I owe that much to you at least. Oh, Jesus, God almighty, what am I going to do?”
Claudia howled like a rabid dog, sobs racking her body in painful spasms. After a time, her weeping subsided. Exhausted, her tears spent, she checked the clock next to the bed. Fifteen minutes had passed. Claudia pulled away from her dead lover and hugged her knees to her chest. Her head pounded and her eyes stung. She wiped them with the back of her hand then turned to the man lying beside her.
He looked so vulnerable, all his macho bravado gone. In death he’d become a little boy again—the one who cried when he skinned his knee or fell from a tree, who crawled into bed beside his mother when he heard a scary noise. Her heart swelled, flared, then burst into tiny painful pieces inside her chest. Dominic – her sexy, caring lover – would never hold her in his arms or make love to her again.
Claudia rose, clasped him around the chest and hauled Dominic’s body towards the bed. He was heavy, and she had to stop twice for a rest. When she reached the bed, she positioned his head and chest onto the pillow then lifted his legs. She straightened his body and pulled the quilt to his neck. Dominic might have been fast asleep. She kissed his cheek and smoothed the hair back from his forehead.
There was nothing more Claudia could do for him.
END OF PART ONE