Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Satisfaction Chapter Four

The games night happened three weeks later.  Steve gave me the address and told me to be there at two o’clock on Saturday afternoon to help get things set up.  I made sure I got there in plenty time, driving my VW Golf that I’d saved up for and was costing me a fortune in tax and insurance.  I wasn’t the first to arrive; there were already a couple of small catering trucks and a good dozen people milling around outside, but that didn’t take away from the first impression I had of Steve’s house.  It was amazing.  An ivy-covered mansion with a fountain out the front and pillars either side of the biggest front door I’d ever seen.  It was like the Playboy mansion, only hidden away from sight down of the main road behind a black iron gate and a long tree lined driveway.  I had no idea people had places like it near to where I lived.  And the cars – I knew Steve had a Mercedes but I could see a Porsche 911 at the back of the house, parked next to a Land Rover.  Who knows what else was hiding back there.  There were stables out the back, so he’d probably had land and horses too.  The guy was seriously minted.
I parked up at the side of the house, and walked round to the front.  Steve was there, telling people where to take the crates they were carrying through the front door.
“Hey, Scott, what do you think?” he asked, gesturing at the house.
“You must have done a lot of fillings,” I answered.  He laughed.
“No, I just charged a lot for them,” he replied.  “Come on, let’s get you to work.”
We spent the next couple of hours setting up the various tables and kit in the dining room and by four o’clock it really did look like a casino.  About that time the girls arrived and I don’t know where Steve had found them but he obviously had an eye for talent because they were all gorgeous.  Steve then laid on a few drinks to help everyone relax, and then a couple of professional croupiers arrived to show us the ropes, which was handy because really we had no idea what we were doing.
At six o’clock we’d gone upstairs to get changed.  A couple of bedrooms had been set up as changing rooms and there were tuxedos for the guys and cocktail dresses for the girls.  There was one male croupier called Jeff and another bit of ‘eye candy’ as Steve called us; his name was Ed.  He was shorter than me and pretty quiet – I gave up trying to strike up a conversation with him and instead concentrated on listening to the tips Jeff was giving me as we got changed.
At six thirty we met up with the girls.  There were four of them; Emma and Lucy, and a couple of others whose names slip my mind.  I remember those first two though for a couple of reasons; firstly, they were both gorgeous redheads with green eyes.  They could have been sisters, they looked that alike.  They weren’t though which is a good thing when I get to the second reason why I won’t forget them, but I’ll explain that one later.
Anyway, they were all completely stunning, and we were soon flirting.  I was in my element, and the few drinks swirling round my system were not hurting my banter at all.  We headed downstairs, and I was given the job of dealing at poker.  Now this was a bit of a blessing as I’d played the game with my mates and online as well.  I never really made money and lost as much as I won, but I did know how to play the game and so it was the easiest job for me to take on.
The guests started turning up at seven and there were a real mix of people.  I don’t know how Steve knew them all, because nobody can be friends with that many people.  Before the games started we helped serve drinks and from listening in to the various conversations I figured out there were bankers, lawyers, doctors and who knows who else there.  It was like some secret society of the wealthy, and God did they have money.  There was a pile of cash being dumped on a table in the middle of the room, and all of us non-regulars were eyeing it up and looking at each other grinning.  Steve had said it was fifteen grand a head to be there and I reckon there were at least a hundred people there.  That’s one and a half million pounds.  Crazy.  But that’s the world Steve mixed in.  It was pretty clear he wasn’t just some ex-dentist from America.  This guy had some serious connections.
He also had a truly terrifying wife.  I was sipping on a vodka and coke when I first saw her and how I didn’t spill it down my tux I don’t know.
Her name was Barbara.  She was difficult to describe, but the nearest thing I can get to it is Skeletor in a dress.  She must have been about sixty years old but had had so many operations any resemblance to whatever she had actually once looked like was lost behind a myriad of facelifts and Botox.
She wore a black dress that was mercifully long but unfortunately possessed a plunging neckline that revealed a pair of fake tits that looked like balloons that had been stuck down inside the skin of a prune and then over-inflated.  Every inch of her exposed flesh looked like it had been plastered in at least three coats of varnish.  When she smiled, which seemed to be difficult with her plasticated face, she had the same dazzling, gleaming smile as Steve.  It seemed to be about the only thing they had in common.
She found her way round to me after a few minutes of mingling and extended her hand.
“Hello, darling, I’m Barbara.”  I took her hand and shook it; it was like holding an old branch.
“I’m Scott,” I replied, hoping she couldn’t tell I was shuddering at her touch, which lingered on much too long for my liking.
“I’ve heard all about you,” she went on, not letting go of her grip.  “Steve speaks about you all the time.”
“I deny everything, of course,” I said, desperately hoping the charm was papering over the revulsion I was feeling.  I just wanted her to let go of me, but she had no intention of doing that.  She wanted to flirt.
“So would I if I was in your place,” she smirked, “which sadly I’m not.  Well not yet anyway.”  This startled me slightly – not the thought of her being at my place, which frankly made me want to puke, but more what she heard about me.  Did she actually know something or was she just flirting in that vomit-inducing manner that old people have?  I tried to keep my cool and come up with a witty reply.
“Well, who knows eh?” was the best I could come up with.
“Who indeed?” she said, pulling herself close and circling around me until she was stood by my side.  She slipped one hand behind me and placed it on the small of my back.  “What do you think of the show?”
“Pretty impressive,” I said, and I’d meant it.  The fact I didn’t have to look at her took away the revulsion I was feeling, if only for a brief moment.
“Yes it is,” she agreed.  “Steve does know how to put on a party.”
“Yes, he does,” I answered, still racking my brains for an exit strategy.  As I stood there, I felt her hand slide down my back and onto my left buttock.
“What are you doing?” I spluttered.
“You’ve got a nice tight ass,” she answered in a low murmur. 
“Erm, thanks?” I answered.  I was really not enjoying myself at that moment.  I mean, how could I tell her that the reason it was so tight was because I was completely tensed up due to the utter revulsion I was feeling?  It was hard to imagine how it could get worse when suddenly it did.  She gave my left cheek a firm squeeze.  I leapt about a foot forward and yelped; it was so bad a couple of people looked round to see what I was doing.  I looked back at them sheepishly.
“Sorry,” I mumbled.  “I tripped.”  They looked at me like I was some kind of imbecile and turned back to their conversation.  I heard Barbara laugh behind me, but I didn’t look back.  I walked quickly across the room and grabbed another drink from the bar, knocking it back in one hit without even checking what it was.  It turned out to be a gin and tonic which worked just fine.
Lucy came over to where I was standing, grinning from ear to ear.  Despite everything I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful she looked.
“Having fun?”she asked, struggling not to laugh.  She’d obviously seen everything and couldn’t keep a straight face.
“It isn’t funny,” I hissed at her.
“Yes it is,” she replied.  “In fact it’s hilarious.  Me and the girls can’t get enough of it.  Neither can she apparently.”
“That’s easy for you to say.  How would you like it if it happened to you?”
“It usually does,” she shot back sharply, then offered some advice: “You just grin and bear it; it’s all part of the game.”
“I don’t think I want to play this game anymore,” I grumbled.
“Don’t worry,” she whispered softly.  “I know a better game we can play.”  I perked up at that.
“Oh really?”
“Yes, really.  If you’re a lucky boy you might get to play it later.” She left that as her parting line, and as she walked away the back of her hand brushed against my thigh.  The tingle from it was electric.  She was good; she had taken my mind of Barbara and made me want to fuck her with just a few clever words.  It was like meeting the female version of me.
Luckily the poker game kicked off which came as a very welcome distraction from Barbara.  I took up the dealer’s seat and was quickly joined by six players, all guys, which thankfully kept Barbara away from the table.  They were playing no limit hold ‘em and the blinds for the first hand were two fifty and five hundred quid.  They weren’t afraid to splash the cash, that was for sure.  They weren’t particularly good players either.  There were one or two who seemed to know what they were doing but the rest were just enjoying the occasion, calling over one of the girls now and then to order more drink and snacks as they threw their money away on hopeless bets.  It was kind of frustrating in a way; I was by no means better than average but I knew that if I’d been on the other side of the table I could have walked away with the best part of ten grand within a couple of hands just by playing sensibly against these guys.
They got no better as the evening wore on and they’d gotten drunker and brasher.  I knocked back a few drinks myself but kept the right side of half cut to keep control of the game.  Steve walked over after maybe an hour, shaking hands and chatting with the players for a few minutes, but really he was seeing how I was getting on.
“How’s our new dealer holding up?” he asked the players.  They’d responded with some cheers and comments, all of which were complimentary.  It made me flush (no pun intended) but I liked it, and Steve gave me that smile and said, “Well done, kid, you’re doing a good job.”  That meant a lot and really made me settle into the role.
Barbara showed up at the table a few times.  She was fucking terrible at poker; she really didn’t have a clue at all.  When she was making idiotic bets I was struggling not to blurt out something and I’m pretty sure the guys on the table were thinking the same.  Everybody tensed up when she was there, because it was Steve’s wife and nobody wanted to beat her.  The table were obviously trying to let her win a few hands, betting high and then folding, but she was that bad she’d just folded as well when it got to her turn.  In fairness, she’d just laughed it off, claiming to be the worst player in the room.  She wasn’t kidding.
After a few painful hands she would go off and circulate before reappearing, and it turned into a bit of an in-joke at the table.  When I saw her coming I’d clear my throat loudly, then everyone would fold and I’d hold the cash from that hand until she’d gone, then we would go back and replay the hand.  It worked pretty well and it was nice to have that kind of rapport with the guys who were playing.
I was at that table for close on five hours and it flew by.  I lost track of how much money changed hands on that table, but the last hand that was played was for a total pot of seventy two thousand pounds.  A guy name Adam won it with a full house, and he tipped me two thousand for that.  That was amazing, but I had already picked up a few more cash tips from other players which I had been sticking in my pockets.  I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to or not but nobody was saying anything so I just thought what the hell.
It was close on midnight when I closed the table and people started to leave, although quite a few were staying back and getting pretty drunk.  All of us serving staff were kept busy running round making drinks and clearing up a few spills, but I kind of enjoyed even that side of it.  It gave me a breather and also a chance to catch up with the girls, who I’d been sadly deprived of for the last few hours apart from the odd glance and smile here and there.
I took that opportunity to knock back a few quick vodkas and to count up the money in my pocket.  It consisted of wads of tens, twenties, and ten fifty pound notes.  I’d only ever seen one fifty before.  Now I had five hundred quid’s worth.  I also counted up another twenty six hundred in tens and twenties.  In total I had a shade over three grand.  It was incredible.  I’d never had that much cash in my life.  I felt guilty holding it but elated too.  It was the easiest money I’d ever made.  Hell, if Steve wanted me here every weekend doing this I would have been saying ‘yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir,’ if I was going to get paid like this.
I’d been pocketing my winnings when Lucy came sauntering over, still looking impossibly gorgeous and slightly drunk.  She saw the wad of cash that I was slipping into my jacket pocket.
“Hiding your ill-gotten gains I see,” she remarked as she came up close.  She looked amazing, one of the prettiest girls I’d ever seen.
“Nothing ill-gotten about these gains, I can assure you,” I answered.
“It didn’t look that little to me,” she countered.
“We are still talking about the money, right?” She laughed.
“I see I don’t have the same effect on you as Barbara.”  I shook my head at that.
“Nobody has that effect on me.”
“What effect do I have on you then?” she asked coyly.  She was standing real close by then.  I could feel her arm brushing against mine.
“You make me glad I came here tonight,” I answered.  She smiled at that.
“I’m glad you came here too,” she said.  “But the night isn’t over yet.”
“I was hoping you would say that.”
“I haven’t been able to keep my eyes off you tonight,” she said.  “And now I want to do more than look.”
“What do you want to do?”
“I want to play.”

We went upstairs hand in hand.  She seemed to know her way around.  I let her lead me into a darkened bedroom; she pulled me in and then closed the door behind us.  I felt her come close to me and slip her arms around me.  Her slim, firm body was pressing into mine and then I felt her kissing me.  I kissed her back, and very quickly after that we were tonguing each other hard.  Her hands were all over me, running down my arms and onto my waist and round to my arse and then quickly round to my cock.  I felt her rubbing her hand over it and I was already getting hard.
“I’d heard you’ve got a big cock,” she said between kisses.
“So rumour has it,” I replied.  I never worked out who had told her that but right then I didn’t care, because it was getting bigger by the second, and she was already unzipping my trousers.
“I want to taste it,” she murmured, pulling at my clothes.
“You might end up with a mouthful of cum if you do that,” I told her.
“Mmm, good, I want all your cum in my mouth,” she said as she dropped to her knees.   She pulled my trousers open and let them drop, slipping her fingers over the top of my boxers and tugging them down too.  The big cock she’d heard about popped out and I felt it brushing her face and then felt her mouth kissing the shaft and sliding down onto the head.  I let out a loud groan as she took it into her mouth and sucked it, making it throb.  She started moaning then too, the sound muffled by me filling her mouth.  I could hear the sound of her slurping her mouth up and down.
“Fuck you are good at this,” I groaned in appreciation.
“I’m good as well,” came another voice from the dark.  For a split second I thought it was going to be Barbara, but thank God it wasn’t.  The voice was softer and sounded turned on.  Lucy hadn’t stop sucking my cock, she just kept sucking up and down it, enjoying having it in her mouth.
“You’d better be amazing if you’re going to do this better than Lucy,” I answered breathlessly.
“Come over here and I’ll show you what I can do,” the mystery girl had replied from the dark.
“What do you reckon, Lucy?” I said.  “Think you can take on a challenge like that?”
“Mmhmm,” she answered, not letting me out of her mouth.  I laughed, I couldn’t help myself.  I had to pull myself back to get free of her mouth; she hadn’t wanted to give it up without a fight.  She had her hands on my arse and dug her nails in as she tried to keep sucking me.  The mix of pain and pleasure was exciting and I told myself that the girl on the bed was going to have to be incredible to excite me more than Lucy.
As soon as I was out of her mouth, Lucy let go of me and got to her feet.  She slipped her hands from around my arse and slid them onto my cock, still damp from her mouth, and led me by it towards the bed, like a farmer leading a cow to market.  I shook off my trousers, doing a little jig in the dark to lose them as she held onto me.  Everyone in the room was laughing at that point.  My eyes were slowly adjusting to the dark and I was able to make out the silhouette of a girl sitting on the bed.
When we reached the bed, the other girl reached up and put her hand onto my cock, sharing it with Lucy.  I was close enough to her for her to reach forward and put her open mouth around the head.
“Oh my God,” I groaned as she started to push her mouth down the shaft.  I felt the pressure of her tongue pressing against the head, licking right around it expertly.
“You like that big cock, don’t you Emma?” Lucy had murmured as she slowly stroked her hand up and down the rock hard shaft, sharing it with the other girl.  Emma, I thought.  It was Lucy’s friend from the party.  It seemed that these two knew each other pretty well.  I doubted that was the first time they’d done something like this.
The thought did occur to me that it was a scam.  Lucy knew I had a lot of cash in my pockets.  It would have been easy for her to have kept me distracted while Emma robbed me.  In the dark and with my cock in her mouth, I probably would never have known.  But that wasn’t what these two were about.  They weren’t there to rob me.  They were there because they loved sucking cock and they had a huge one to share between them.
Emma started to caress my chest and stomach as she gave me an amazing blowjob.  It was made even more amazing because Lucy kept stroking her hand up and down the shaft as Emma pressed her tongue into the head, licking and sucking hard on it.  I felt Emma reach up and start to caress my balls as she sucked me.  I wondered if she knew how much cum she was going to get in her mouth if she kept going.  The pressure was building fast and I didn’t know how I was going to stop myself from cumming if they kept it going.
Emma was no amateur though.  She knew how excited I was getting and before I could cum she pulled back and traded places with Lucy.  The few seconds break let my impending orgasm settle down but I felt the pressure quickly start to build again as Lucy took her turn to suck me.  Emma happily swapped roles with her friend, rubbing me slower and gentler than Lucy had been doing it.  It matched the way she was caressing my balls.
I don’t know exactly how long we stayed in that room.  It felt like hours but it was probably no more than fifteen minutes.  They knew exactly what they were doing, those two.  Each time one would get me close she’d stop and hand me over to her friend who would then suck me hard while the other one carried on stroking me up and down.  At one point both of them changed tactics and started licking right up and down the full length of my cock, not using their hands at all but just their mouths.  I kept tightening my muscles and my cock would jerk upwards, and they would giggle as they followed its movements, taking turns to gulp on the head.
Despite my best efforts, there was no way I could stop myself cumming with that sort of relentless pleasuring going on.  They were each sucking as hard as they could for a few seconds and then swapping mouths as quickly as possible.  That kept the pressure up until I couldn’t take it anymore.  My cock had started to spasm just as Emma took it from her eager mouth and Lucy had leant in for another go.  I moaned loudly as I shot a big squirt of cum right over her face, and she had pulled back in surprise, the shock almost instantly being replaced by a big grin as Emma had pulled it back towards her and the next of shot of cum had spattered right across her face.  She turned her head and started to snog Lucy, sharing the cum on her tongue with her.  I came again, spraying cum over both their cheeks as they kissed each other, before I pushed my still throbbing cock in between their faces and they’d eagerly kissed and licked it as I finished pumping out cum.  Watching them there, licking their tongues round my cock, licking off my cum and then kissing each other was one of the horniest moments of my life.  God that was amazing to watch.  It’s giving me a semi thinking about it even now.  It was an amazing end to the night.

Re-writes

Re-writing is agony.  Anyone who has ever written anything, be it an essay, report or short story knows that on the first pass everything seems fine, but when you go back and re-read you find yourself changing things around, picking up on inconsistencies and errors and generally polishing things up.

This is something I struggle with.  I am very critical of what I write.  If you look between the two stories I've been posting, Ghostwalker and Satisfaction, you will see that not only do they differ in style but that they are also a long way apart in terms of being a finished product.  There's a couple of reasons for this.  Firstly, Satisfaction is being proofread and critically analysed, to ensure it's a higher quality piece.  Secondly, it's the final version of a simple story, written in an uncomplicated manner.  Ghostwalker is some way behind in both respects.  It's a story that I have rewritten substantially, any number of times, and I think it is suffering for this.

The problem is that when I first wrote it, at eighteen, it was a fast-paced, exciting and fun adventure story about an eighteen year old guy.  Through subsequent rewrites, it became a multi-stranded thriller told from multiple perspectives.  While this may work in some instances, what I found was that I didn't have the experience to tell that kind of story.  I tried to make it into a convoluted political thriller, whereas the original premise was anything but.  I also made the character ten years older, which meant the story didn't work: why was a 28 year old living at his parents and so dependent on them?  I had to create an overwrought back story involving past criminal activities that dragged the story down and presented numerous plot holes.  In order to make this work, I went through several more rewrites, each increasingly turgid and boring.  The word count leapt from 75,000 to 105,000.  That's 30,000 words, or 100 pages of trying to explain why this guy is doing some stupid things.  That's not good writing.  That's pain.

So I have gone full circle and tried to re-write it as a fun story, bringing the word count back to 80,000.  I'm telling the story from Dan's point of view, cutting back on a lot of the extraneous material to keep the story simple and effective.  The opening is supposed to capture some of the bewilderment Dan is feeling, whilst hinting at the distractions Mel presents.  After the first three chapters, the story starts to leap forward as Dan finds himself becoming a suspect for his parents death.  Rather than following a mundane police investigation, the story leaps sideways into adventure, which is how it was written originally many years ago.

Now that's not to say that all the rewrites have been for nothing.  Each iteration of the story has brought elements in that have survived to the latest rewrite.  If anything, the over-analysis of the story has lead it to the final version being far more grounded in reality than the first version ever was.

As an example: in the first ever draft, Dan (called Oliver at that point) smuggled a gun through an airport security screen by dismantling it and pretending it was a lighter and a Walkman.  He also successfully talked an air line attendant into allowing him onto a plane so he could hijack it.

You can see why I had to rewrite it.

In my defense, I was eighteen at the time, and 9/11 hadn't happened.  But still...  I deserve being flogged for such lazy work.  So now, what I'm trying to write is a fun, fast thriller that isn't completely and utterly ludicrous.  I want people to get out of scrapes and situations through good planning and relationships (like real life) not through contrivances and utterly ridiculous, impossible plot devices.  This is why I'm rewriting again.  The fundamental premise of the story - a guy trying to prove his innocence in a race against time - is sound.  The way he was doing it wasn't.  People are far more interesting than any McGuffin, no matter how intriguing.  Let the McGuffin dictate the events of your story, and you will find yourself rewriting again and again and again.

Ghostwalker Chapter Three

The four of them stepped from the warm car and out into a cold, clear night.  Their breath hang in the air as they stretched their legs, grateful to be off the road.
Mel headed for the front door with her mum in tow, leaving Dan and Trevor to collect the bags that filled the boot.  Dan watched Mel wistfully as she chatted with her mum.  He wondered if she knew how gorgeous she was.
“How are you doing?” Trevor asked from the back of the car, noticing where Dan’s gaze was directed.  Dan looked at him and gave a non-committal shrug.
“Okay, I guess,” he said.
“Do you want to give me a hand with the bags?” Trevor asked, gesturing to the boot.
“Yeah, sure,” Dan answered. Trevor passed him several carrier bags from their shopping spree, and then a suitcase.  Dan realised that Mel must have been back to her parent’s house to pick stuff up that afternoon.  She would have seen his house.  That thought chilled him more than the cold night air.
“Come on, you two, it’s freezing,” Mel called from the front door.  Trevor shut the car boot and they walked up to the house.
“We can put the stuff upstairs,” Mel said, letting them into the hallway and shutting the front door behind them.
The house was smartly decorated, belying the mundane exterior.  The hallway was painted in pale tones with cherry flooring.  There were pot plants by the front door and on the landing.  Rising up the cream carpeted stairs were four black and white prints of the Manhattan skyline, two with the World Trade Centre intact.  Dan liked the fresh, simple look, a million miles from the rustic idyll he had pictured.
Mel led the way up the stairs, followed by Dan and then Trevor.  Dan tried to keep his eyes fixed on the small of Mel’s back and not any lower, although it was hard to ignore the tight jeans she had on; it was an awkward moment, not helped by a disapproving cough from Trevor.
They reached the landing and Mel pointed out the spare room where her mum and dad would sleep.  Trevor took their bags in there, and then Mel led Dan down to the end of the landing.  She opened the door and said in an apologetic tone, “Welcome to the penthouse.”
It was a tiny little box room.  Half of it was filled with stacks of cardboard boxes and piles of old magazines.  There was a folded up camping bed propped up against the wall.  Dan reckoned that when he lay down he would have been able to touch the opposing walls with his head and his feet.
“It’s not much, I know,” said Mel, “but it’s the best I can do at short notice.”
“It’s more than I could ask for,” said Dan gratefully, as she opened a built in cupboard fitted above the stair well and pulled out some bedding.  She smiled as she handed it to him.
“Anything for an old friend,” she told him as she pulled out the camp bed.
“Hey, we’re not old yet,” he replied, putting down the bedding and helping her flatten the bed.  He picked up a couple of sheets and between them they made the bed as they talked.
“I’m older than you,” she pointed out.
“Not by much,” Dan reminded her.
“Four years, mister.  They count.”
“No, you look really good.”
“For my age, you mean?”
“No, that’s not what I meant.  What happened to the skinny girl I used to know?”  She was still slim, but she had developed curves in the time she had lived away from home.  She was seven inches shorter than him but her build made her look taller.  Her long dark hair wasn’t straight like he remembered her as a child but now fell in soft curls.
Some things hadn’t changed though.  She still had the same smile that could make his heart skip and the same dazzling green eyes that felt like they would burn into you if she looked at you for too long.
“She grew up, and out,” answered Mel.  Dan nodded in agreement.  It was strange; they hadn’t seen each other for so long, and yet they had slipped back into the old banter with such ease it was as though they had never been apart. 
A couple of minutes later they had the bed made and Mel gave it a pat of approval.
“Come on,” she said, “let’s go and get you something to eat.”
“Can I get a quick shower first?” Dan asked.
“Yeah, of course,” Mel said.  “The bathroom’s right there.”  She pointed to the door at the opposite end of the hallway.
“Thanks,” said Dan gratefully, “I’ll be right down.”

Half an hour later, Dan was sat at the breakfast bar in the kitchen, holding a mug of tea that Maggie had just handed to him. He wore a clean sweater and sweatpants, courtesy of their detour into Tesco, and had cleaned up the cut on his head the best he could.  His black eyes were starting to fade; he healed quickly and he knew in a couple more days they would be barely noticeable.   Mel was sat opposite him.
“You don’t actually look that bad,” she said, looking at his forehead.
“I’m pretty sure I’m going to have a scar,” he answered.
“That’s kind of cool, though,” Mel said.
“Melanie!” snapped her mum, from behind Dan, but it didn’t bother him.  Mel had a point.
The kitchen was small, but nicely decorated, in line with the rest of the house.  It had been fitted with a cherry worktop and white units; the walls and floor were covered in matching slate tiles.  Dan liked it, partly because it looked fresh and smart, but mainly because it was nothing like the kitchen at his parent’s.  That was only other kitchen he had ever sat down in and drank tea.  Maggie sat down next to Mel.
“Where’s Trevor?” Dan asked her.
“On the phone,” she replied.  “Work.”
“Work?” Mel asked. “It’s Friday night and it’s nearly midnight.  Who’s at work at this time?”
“Ah, that’s the price for marrying an accountant,” Maggie answered.  “They never stop.  There’s always something going on somewhere in the world.  I think it’s helping him get along, you know, under the circumstances.”  Dan knew Trevor was a little more than an accountant; he was a financial director for an engineering company.  He had never struck Dan as the type to want to put his feet up.
“I do like what you’ve with the place,” Maggie went on.
“Thanks, mum,” Mel answered.  “It was a bit of a dump when we got it, but I’ve done a lot to it, so I like it.”
“Who’s we?” asked Dan.
“Steve, my ex,” she said, with a hint of bitterness in her voice.
“Oh, right,” said Dan.  “I didn’t realise.”
“It’s alright.  Like I said – he’s the ex.”
“So you have this place to yourself?  That can’t be cheap.”
“It’s not easy,” admitted Mel, “but Mum and Dad help, and I’m not going to be taken for a ride by anyone.”  She smiled at her mum, who nodded appreciatively.
Maggie had said nothing throughout the little exchange; instead, she watched the two of them together.  She didn’t share her husband’s apprehension about Dan.  He seems too nice to be left to the wolves, she thought, and if he and Mel get on well, then so much the better.  After all, nobody’s perfect.  Dan continued the talking to Mel, oblivious to Maggie’s observations.
“I can see that,” he said to her appreciatively.  Mel reached over and gave his arm a little squeeze.  It was not much; hardly anything in fact, but it said more than any words could at that moment, especially as she left her hand in place.  Dan turned to speak to Maggie, trying to ignore Mel’s warm touch on his arm.
“Is Trevor okay with me being here?” he asked her.  She raised her eyebrows.
“Of course he is,” she said, slightly defensively.
“He just didn’t seem to be too happy about it at the hospital, that’s all.  I don’t want to impose.”  Mel snorted at the idea.
“It’s not him you’re imposing on, it’s me, and I don’t mind you being here one bit,” she said tartly.  “Dad’s always worrying about something or other anyway.”
“Mel,” said Maggie, rebuking her.
“Well, it’s true,” Mel replied.  “He won’t want me getting mixed up with trouble over here,” nodding at Dan.  Dan felt his face flush.
“For God’s sake,” Maggie said, chiding her daughter, just as Trevor walked into the kitchen.  They all looked at him, wearing the expressions of guilty children caught stealing biscuits.
“Have you been talking about me?” Trevor asked dryly.  It wasn’t meant as a joke, no matter how lightly he tried to make it sound.
“Don’t be silly,” said Maggie, a little too quickly.
“Is there any news?” asked Mel, deftly moving things on.  Dan gave her another appreciative glance.  Trevor leant back against the kitchen side.
“There’s a couple of meetings I’ve managed to put back to later next week,” Trevor began, but Mel cut him off.
“Not about work,” she said, speaking to him like he was an idiot.  “About… you know...” she stopped speaking, and instead tipped her head towards Dan a couple of times in a none too subtle gesture.  Despite the sudden dread of what the reply might be, Dan couldn’t help but smile.  Trevor caught on.
“Oh, right,” he said, clearing his throat a touch too melodramatically.  “I called a couple of people down the street.  There’s not much going on now as far as they can tell.  They seem to be making what’s left of the house structurally safe, but no-one seems to know if they’ll wait until Monday before carrying on.”
“That makes sense,” Dan said.  “I wouldn’t want anyone else getting hurt.”
“No, quite right,” agreed Trevor.  “Apparently there’s still a lot of forensics people there.”
“Forensics?” Mel asked, frowning.  “What are they doing there?”  Trevor shrugged.
Trying to figure out what happened,” Dan answered.
“Looking for evidence, if you ask me,” said Trevor brusquely.  There was something in his tone that sent a chill down Dan’s spine.
What are you thinking, Trevor?
“Hopefully they’ll get it sorted out quickly,” Mel said.
“Yes, then we can all get back home,” Trevor agreed.
“Most of us,” Dan said quietly.
“I’m sure you’ll find somewhere soon enough,” Trevor replied.  There was no warmth in his voice.
“He can stay here as long as he needs to,” Mel answered.
“Is that such a good idea?” Trevor said.  His question was answered by a pregnant pause.
What did you just say? Dan thought. Trevor’s tone of voice was making him angry.  He stood up.
“Look Trevor, I know you don’t like me being here, so if it’s that much of an issue to you, I’ll just go, alright?”
“No, you will not,” Mel said to him, standing up as well.
“I know what this is about,” Dan continued, ignoring Mel.  “I know you don’t want me near your daughter, and hey, who can blame you?  But right now, I really do not need this.”  His trembling voice rose as he spoke.
“That’s enough, Trevor,” Maggie warned.  She looked furious.  It was a fury Dan shared.  All of a sudden he wanted to hit Trevor, hard.  He wanted to hurt him.  He took a step towards him.  Trevor sensed the turmoil that was engulfing Dan.
“That’s quite a temper you’ve got on you, Dan,” Trevor remarked.
“Dad!” exclaimed Mel angrily.  She knew exactly what he was doing; she just couldn’t see why.
“Trevor!” Maggie snapped.  “What on earth are you thinking?”
Yeah, what are you thinking, Trev?  Do you know what I’m thinking right now?  Do you know I want to smash your stupid face right in?
“I’m sorry,”  Trevor said to everyone, sounding anything but.  Dan opened his mouth to speak, but Mel took his hand and spoke for him.  “I don’t believe this,” she said furiously.  “You’re totally out of order.  Dad, I want you out of here right now.  Dan, you come with me.”  She stood up and rounded the breakfast bar, dragging him out of the room.  Maggie turned angrily on Trevor as they left.
“What the hell are you thinking?” she lashed at him.  “That boy’s just lost his parents.”
“I know,” he replied.  “And the fact is he’s the obvious person who stands to gain from their deaths.”

In the living room, Dan was sat with Mel on the sofa.  He was sat with his hands clutched together, head bowed, and she had her hand on his shoulder comforting him.
“Don’t take any notice of Dad,” she said softly.  “He can be a bit of an idiot sometimes.”
“No wonder he didn’t want me to come here,” said Dan, staring at the floor.  “Not if that’s how he feels about me.”
“Me and Mum don’t think like that,” said Mel, trying to encourage him.
“I should never have come here at all,” Dan replied.  “I need to go back and see my doctor.”
“Not tonight,” said Mel gently.  “It’d be too late by the time we got back to be of any use to anyone.  You stay here tonight and I’ll take you to the station first thing tomorrow morning.”  He looked at her.
“I’m about as welcome here as the plague,” he said.
“You are welcome in my house anytime, Dan Ryan,” she assured him.  “You let me worry about everything else.”  He considered her offer for a moment, and then nodded.
“Thanks, Mel,” he said.  “You’re being really good to me, you know.”  He was looking into her eyes as he spoke, and her gaze was fixed on him, full of compassion and tenderness, something he now knew he missed more than he realised.  Maybe it was the circumstances, but he felt so open and vulnerable to her it was as though she could have swallowed him up with her gaze.  Just at that moment, when Dan realised he was sitting there staring at her and saying nothing, there was a knock on the living room door and Maggie came in, followed by Trevor.
“Sorry to interrupt,” she said.  “Trevor’s got something to say.”  He shuffled awkwardly, glanced around and then he spoke to Dan.
“I just wanted to apologise for speaking to you like that just now,” he said to Dan.
“Okay.  Forget it,” replied Dan quickly.  He had no intention of getting into a conversation with the man.
“Yes, well… I’m sorry for thinking what I think.” 
That’s a pretty weird apology.
“Dad…” Mel said.  Dan knew she was thinking the same thing as him.
“No, come on, let’s be fair,” he said, cutting her off.  “Why would you be want me anywhere near your daughter, given my track record?  But I think you’re forgetting I’ve just lost my parents.  No offense, but the last thing on my mind is Mel.”  He looked at her.  “Don’t take that the wrong way.”
“It’s fine,” she smiled, happy to see him barking at her dad.
“We know,” Maggie said, but Dan cut her off.
“Yeah, you do, and Mel does, but I don’t think Trevor here does.  What do you reckon Trevor?”
“I reckon you’re right,” came the measured response.
Damn right I’m right.  I know you think I’m not good enough for your daughter on any level.  I know you’ve always thought that and I know you’ve made sure you kept her as far away from me as possible.
Mel reached over and put her hand across Dan’s shoulder, but her touch caused him to stand up, push her away and stride out of the room.  Mel stood to follow him, but Maggie stopped him.
“Let him go, love,” said her mum.  “Give him some space.”
“But he’s distraught,” said Mel, tears in her eyes.
“Yes, and no wonder,” said her mum, glaring at Trevor.  “As if today wasn’t bad enough as it is.”   
“Yeah, well done Dad,” snapped Mel.  “Wading in with your size nines.  Why can’t you just keep it zipped for once?”
“I’m only saying what everyone will be thinking,” answered Trevor defensively.
“God, no wonder I got out when I could,” Mel snapped, and stormed out of the room as well.

Dan shut himself in the bathroom and slumped to the floor, sobbing with his back against the bath.  It was all too much for him.  He wanted to get away from these people.  Ignoring Decker’s advice had been a huge mistake.  He had let a moment of ridiculous lust get in the way of grief and common sense and now he was trapped in an unbelievably awkward situation, a situation compounded by his lack of memory.  He wanted to remember his mum and dad but all he could see in his head were fragments, nonsensical moments of white noise.  He knew Decker had said that was normal, but it felt like it was slowly driving him insane.
He reached for a length of toilet roll and blew his nose noisily.  The pain in his chest that had been sitting there all day was not subsiding.  He gritted his teeth, banging his fist on the side of his head, as if it would somehow help unlock his forgotten memories.  It did nothing but make his head hurt, and he slowly slid to his left, falling down onto his side, where he stayed laying curled on the floor, in a foetal position, clutching at the toilet paper.
There was a knock on the door.  Dan ignored it, but a moment later it opened anyway.
“Hey,” Mel said softly.  He didn’t answer her, so she stepped over him, shutting the door behind her, and sat down on the edge of the bath.
“Sorry about Dad, I really am,” she said, looking down at him.  “He’s just… just… a dickhead, I suppose.”  Dan snorted at that, and looked up at her.  His eyes were swollen and red. 
“What is happening to my life?” he asked, croakily.  “It might have been shit before, but at least it made some sort of sense.  I mean, I know what I had wasn’t exactly anything special, but compared to this…”  He tailed off again.  Mel tried to find something to say that would help.
 “Why don’t you try and get some sleep?”
 “You sure you’re just not trying to keep me out of the way of your Dad?”
“A bit, maybe,” she admitted.  “But can you blame me?  He’s not exactly behaving himself and you’re in no state to put up with his antics.  I think he’s just feeling a bit protective.”  Dan gave a little nod.  She was probably right.
“Come on,” she said. “I’ll put you to bed.”  She held out her hand and he sat up and took it a few seconds later, letting her help him to his feet.  She led him out of the bathroom and down the landing to the box room.  She had set a little lamp down beside the camp bed, giving the room a snug, cosy feel.
“Get yourself to bed,” she ordered. 
“Thanks, Mel,” he said, genuinely grateful.  “You’re being really good and you don’t have to be.”
“It’s nothing.  It’s just nice to see you again, even if it is like this.”  For a fleeting moment he thought about asking her to stay, but shot the idea down immediately.  Instead, he said goodnight to her and then shut the bedroom door.
He lay down on the bed and turned off the lamp.  The murmur of conversation rose up from beneath him.  He couldn’t make out what was being said but it sounded like an argument, one he wanted no part of.  He closed his eyes, wondering what the morning might hold in store for him.  Quicker than he realised, the mental fatigue of the day swept over him, and within minutes he was asleep.

He was standing in his parent’s living room.  It was exactly how he remembered it from his childhood, and his mum and dad were sat on the old sofa they had sold years before, the one he had ripped when he was eight.  Both of them looked pale and gaunt, staring into the distance, not seeing him standing there.
“Mum?  Dad?”  he tried to say, but no sound came out of his mouth.  It was like his voice was stuck in his throat, choking him.  He tried to move towards them but found he couldn’t.  Then, as he watched in increasing horror, flickering flames appeared in their laps, and rapidly spread across them, engulfing them both.  Suddenly they were screaming, but they didn’t move, they just opened their mouths and screamed.  He leapt forward, trying to help them, but the heat forced him back.  He tried again, and this time the fire leapt to his sleeve, and spread at an uncontrollable rate up his arm.  Almost instantly he was engulfed in flames, and the searing pain made him scream in agony.  He could smell his skin and hair burning away as he desperately flapped at himself, falling to his knees.  Through the orange flame, he looked up to his parents, still unmoving.  His mum’s gaze flicked down, and for a brief moment she stared straight into his eyes.
He woke with a start.  His heart was thudding against his ribcage.  He was still lying on top of the camp bed, fully dressed.
It’s just a dream, it’s just a dream, it’s just a dream.
He took deep breaths, trying and failing to clear the remnants of the dream from his mind.  He looked round the room.  Mel had left an alarm clock next to the bed.  The green numbers on it gave the room an eerie glow.  He squinted down at the display.  It was only one o’clock.  He had been asleep for less than half an hour.
He sat up, thinking of what he had just seen in his dream.  It had been horrible.  His mum and dad had been burning in agony, and he had been powerless to help them.  It made him worried. 
Is this what sleep’s going to have in store for me from now on?  Will I see them like that every time I close my eyes? 
He shook his head.  That wasn’t how he wanted to remember them.
For the next three hours he sat on the bed and tried to drill down into his forgotten memories.  Time and again he tried to retrace his steps from the previous night, but he could remember no more than at the hospital.  The gaping holes in his mind were frustrating him, but the more he tried to remember, the fuzzier everything became.
It’s a natural defense, that’s what Decker said.
Some defense.  It protects me by sending me crazy.He tried to turn his thoughts to something else.  The only good thing he could think of was Mel.  As soon as he started to think about her though, he was racked with guilt, and pushed those thoughts out of his mind as well.
Eventually, fatigue moved in to attack him again and a little after four o’clock in the morning he drifted back to into a dreamless sleep.  The last thought that crossed his mind before he passed out was that his parents had been dead for a little over twenty four hours and that he would never see them again.

Satisfaction Chapter Three

If you think Kristen was a one off then you’d be wrong.  What happened that day merely served to open my eyes to the possibility of how many girls would want to do the same thing.  The answer was, a lot.  Over the next few months I fucked a lot of girls.  It got so bad in fact that I actually lost count.  I know it was somewhere between thirty and forty, but that’s about as close as I can get.  I did all kinds of girls – tall, short, blonde, dark, slim, curvy – it seemed that the more girls I slept with, the hungrier and hungrier I got for sex.  I think it was the danger; the risk of being caught fucking during work was intoxicating.  How I didn’t get caught, God only knows.  Maybe people knew what was going on but nobody said anything.  If Sam knew, she’d didn’t let on when she made me a surprising offer.

I’d gotten into work as normal one morning to find her in her usual spot behind the front desk.  Instead of the usual happy, smiling face though, I found myself looking at a teary-eyed girl dabbing a tissue to her cheeks.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” I asked, genuinely concerned.  She shook her head, seemingly to upset to talk.
“Come on, you can tell me,” I said, leaning across the counter, bringing myself close to her.
“Me and Ben have finished,” she whispered, and then sobbed.  Ben was her boyfriend.  I knew things hadn’t been right, because I’d caught her couple of times on her mobile quietly arguing with him.  I hadn’t realised things had gotten that bad though.  I actually felt really sorry for her, because I liked Sam, and I didn’t like seeing her upset.  I had to get to my shift, but I agreed to meet her after work for a coffee so we could talk things over.
I got offered a session that day, from a really hot Dutch girl, but for the first time in my sexual campaign I spurned the opportunity.  I remember she’d seemed really affronted by that, which in retrospect wasn’t surprising given my burgeoning reputation.  But I had promised Sam my time, and I made sure I gave it to her.
We met up at Starbucks that afternoon, and she poured her heart out to me over a couple of lattes.  It turned out that Ben, far from being an ideal boyfriend, had been seeing a lot of girls behind Sam’s back.  Now, I know I’m not one to talk, but I’ve never cheated on a girl.  Yes, I’ve fucked a lot of girls, but not when I’ve been seeing anyone.
Anyway, Sam had a place she shared with Ben.  She’d thrown him out, understandably, and needed someone to move in there quickly to cover the rent.  I was still at home and was looking to move out.  It was seemed like too good an opportunity to pass over, and she’d fairly leapt at the idea when I suggested I move in.

You can see where this was heading, right?

By the end of that week, me and Sam were housemates.  We invited everyone down from the gym on the Saturday and we had a big housewarming party.  It was a great night, and Sam looked great, in spite of the fact that Ben had been round trying to patch things up that afternoon.  She’d none of it and there had been a massive row that I’d stayed well out of.  She’d been in tears when she’d sent him off, but by the time the first people arrived she’d recovered, and showed none of her fragility throughout the evening, in spite of knocking back plenty of drinks.  At the end of the night, she gave me an appreciative peck on the cheek, and a big hug.  I asked what it was for, and she said for being a mate, but it was obvious it meant more than that.  Ben could see it too, and I’d heard him accusing her of having something going on with me when they’d been arguing.  I knew it was bollocks, and yet part of me knew he was right; it just hadn’t happened yet.
It played out slowly and for a couple of weeks nothing happened.  Sam was still tender from the break up, and I was getting plenty of action with different girls at work.  I think Sam knew about that, but she didn’t ask.  Actually, I think everyone must have known.  It was getting ridiculous.  I was fucking three or four different girls a week and not just at the gym.  I was getting invites to their places and only spent a couple of nights a week in my own bed.  I made a rule never to bring them back to my place though.  I needed a refuge.  Most of these girls were one-nighters; a couple got it more than once, but they were the exception rather than the rule.
Whatever Sam thought about my exploits, it didn’t seem to put her off.  I’m not saying she went out of her way to do anything, but we seemed to have encounters at the most awkward moments.  You know what, I take that back.  I will say Sam went out of her way to have encounters.  In fact, she started getting ridiculously unsubtle about it.
For example, one morning, on one of my days off, Sam decided to bring me breakfast in bed.  She didn’t tell me she was going to do it and she didn’t knock on my bedroom door either.  She just came into the room with a bacon sandwich and a glass of orange juice.  I didn’t know she was going to do that otherwise I wouldn’t have been lying on my bed jerking off at the time, but I was and she saw the lot.  I reckon she heard me and came in deliberately.  I wouldn’t have minded that much, I mean I’m not exactly shy.  I probably would have let her watch if she’d asked but instead my bacon sandwich ended up on the floor and she’d run out screaming with laughter, so it ended badly for me in every respect.
I suspected her appearance wasn’t an accident and I got my proof the very next morning, when I was in the bathroom.  I’d just gotten out of the shower and was towelling myself down when the door opened and there was Sam in her dressing gown.  I stood there unfazed, drying my hair.  I was stark naked, giving her the full frontal, and she saw everything – again.
“Oh God, sorry,” she gasped, but she made no effort to look away or shut the door.
“You’re about as subtle as the Nazi party, you know that?” I told her dryly as I towelled my hair.  I took a few seconds doing it, and when I stopped she was still there, blatantly staring at my cock.  I took the towel and rubbed it round my groin, making sure she got a full view.  Sam bit her lip as she continued to stare.  I decided we had been waiting long enough.
“Come here,” I told her.  She didn’t need asking twice.  I told her to kiss me, and she did.  I told her to rub my cock, and she did that too.
Between kisses I told her, “I’m going to fuck you, Sam.”
“Yes, please,” she whispered feeling my rapidly hardening cock under her caress. 
“I’m gonna sink my cock right into your slippery pussy,” I whispered.  I could feel her trembling as I said it to her.  Sam liked dirty talk it seemed.
“I’ve wanted this for ages,” she told me unnecessarily as she caressed my chest as I untied her dressing gown and pushed my hands inside it, caressing her belly.  I watched as she ran her tongue over my chest.
“Let’s go to your bed,” I told her.  She didn’t need me to say it twice.  Her dressing gown was discarded on the landing and we were both naked when we fell on her bed.
We were all over each other, kissing, sucking, rubbing, you name it.  We ended up sixty-nining.  I had to really control myself and not fuck her mouth but she wasn’t put off by my size at all.  You might be surprised but there’d been a few girls at the gym who had upped and run when my cock had entered the arena.  Every guy wants a big cock but mine was too big.  Trust me, there’s such a thing but Sam did a good job sucking it, I can tell you.
Before I lost control and came in her mouth, I pushed her over and I fucked her on her bed.  She was the noisiest girl I’ve ever been with, even louder than Jenny.   She panted loudly with each of my deep strokes into her and that made me groan with pleasure too as I thrust in and out of her.
The sex with Sam was that hard and naturally passionate that it reminded me of being back with Jenny.  It was the first time any girl had done that since I’d left her.  She was also the first girl I came inside after Jenny, which was stupid because we weren’t using protection.  In all my conquests, I tried to be careful.  I hadn’t used a condom with Kristen but after that I had always made sure I was equipped.  I hated the things but I didn’t want AIDS.  Or a baby.  I’m not sure which would be worse.  But that moment with Sam was completely reckless when I came uncontrollably inside her.
Of course, in the cold light of day, it had just been a fantastic fuck.  I think it’s fair to say it was the best I’d had since Jenny.  We just gelled.  We shared her bed that night and I fucked her twice more before the morning.
Being friends and flat mates, this made things a bit awkward between us.  I was really fond of her, but not in love with her by any means.  For her I think it was just a kind of infatuation.  After a bit of drama, we agreed to be fuck buddies and we ended up having a lot of sex and I mean a lot, but there was never any emotion to it.  It was just sex.  But fucking good sex.

Having Sam as a fuck buddy really curbed my conquests at work.  Instead of trying to fuck every girl that walked through the door, I was now only having the occasional tryst, and usually nowhere near the gym.
I could see in retrospect that I’d been incredibly lucky not to get caught out.  The buzz of trying to sleep with different girls without letting them know about each other, and doing it in places where sooner or later we were going to get caught was all getting a bit much.  In that sense, Sam was a bit of a godsend.  She gave me the release I needed without it becoming suicidal.  It was a good job too, because right around that time was when things started to develop for me at work.

One Monday morning, I arrived at the gym ready for my shift.  I thought I was doing okay, despite all the indiscretions I’d had, and now I had put that behaviour to one side, I was feeling pretty settled.  You can imagine then how I felt when I saw the gym manager Martin waiting at the front desk when I walked in that morning.
Honestly, I thought I’d been caught out.  My heart stopped when I saw him stood there.  Of course, the irony of being fired after I’d stopped fucking every hot girl in sight wasn’t lost on me, but it didn’t make me feel a whole lot better when he spoke to me.
“Scott, have you got a moment?” he said, walking over to me.
“Um, yeah, sure,” I said, trying not to sound like I had been caught.  How has he found out? I remember thinking.  Shit, I needed the job.  It was too good to give up.  My head was full of those sort of thoughts at that moment.
“We’ll just pop into my office,” he said, and led me there.  I hated that walk.  It felt like I was walking the green mile.  I was certain I was going to be sacked, and when Mike sat down opposite me, grim faced, I knew it wasn’t going to be good.  But all of a sudden, his demeanour had changed.  He smiled, and spoke in a way that put me at ease.
“You’ve done well here, Scott,” he said.  “A lot of people don’t hack working in a gym.  They think it’s going to be a toss off, but you’ve found it’s not.”  I nodded in agreement, but I had no idea what he was talking about.  I was just coming to work and sitting around, then making use of the free equipment and fucking a lot of girls.  I didn’t say anything though, and let him continue.
“We’ve had a lot of good feedback on your attitude and your manner,” Mike said, “and I was wondering if you would be interested in coming over to work in the gym.”  I frowned.
“What do you mean?” I asked.  Sometimes I needed things spelling out to me in words of one syllable.
“I’m short of an instructor,” Mike said, “and I don’t want to advertise for a trainee when I’ve got a perfectly good applicant sat in front of me – if you’re interested, of course.”
“Well, yeah, of course I am,” I replied, trying to sound casual, but inside I was churning.  Not only was I drowning in relief from not being sacked, but now I was being offered an even better job than the one I was in.  I wouldn’t have to just sit around; I would be out working with the other guys in the gym and having a laugh and meeting girls… I mean, where was the catch?
Mike could obviously see my interest, as he grinned at me.
“You look like you’re keen on the idea,” he said.
“Damn right,” I said.
“Good,” he replied.  “You can start tomorrow.”

It was easy to slip into.  I found the atmosphere, the language, and the whole ethos so attractive that I felt like I’d been doing it forever.  I enjoyed the banter and actually found I was okay at instructing and advising people – after all, I’d been working out myself for a good few years, and a lot of the people I saw were already friends and acquaintances.  But even with the new people, I found myself able to help them, and I really started to enjoy myself.  It was the only time after breaking up with Jen that I felt really happy.
Of course, it wasn’t all work.  I was still living with Sam, and getting plenty of sex there, but I was still having other encounters.  Only a few stick in my mind now.
There was Claire, a Scottish model from Edinburgh.  She was stunning, but really vain, although to be fair she had every right to be.  I think the sex we had at her flat was a trophy conquest for both of us, nothing more.
Then there was Rebecca.  She was another Aussie, and it turned out she was a friend of Kristen’s, the first girl I’d fucked at the gym.  She came looking for more of the same, and she’d got it, but in the Jacuzzi at midnight, not in the shower.  She was a promo girl too, with an equally amazing body, but instead of a quickie we had a long, long fuck in the hot tub, one of the best I had at the gym.
Sam knew about them, of course.  I told her.  She actually got off on hearing about it.  I’d tell her what I’d been doing, just like I am now and she would get so turned on by it that we would end up fucking while I was telling her.  She always wanted to prove that whatever I was getting, she could give me better.  I really couldn’t say no to an offer like that.
I could have gone on and on like that, it was so easy.  And the scary thing was it got easier every time.  Whatever vestiges of guilt I’d had at the outset had evaporated so readily each time I laid my eyes on the next gorgeous girl who gave me a wicked smile.  After a while I realised that word was getting around, and some of these girls were coming to the gym purely to see me.  You can imagine how bigheaded that made me feel when I cottoned on to that.  I was king of the world, a fuck god.
Mike and Ian must have known, there was no way they couldn’t, but they never said anything.  I suppose they were just letting the extra business come in and then as soon as anything stuck to me I could be dropped like a hot potato.  I wasn’t completely na├»ve.  But I knew it wasn’t going to last forever either.  But the thing was it didn’t seem to be going downhill.  It just seemed to be getting better and better.
For instance, because I was getting along well at my job, Mike decided to start to introduce me to a wider selection of the clients, not just the people I was already working with and the odd newcomer.  This was a little bit daunting, because now I was dealing with a different class of people.  Suddenly I was working with some people with real money, not just lads who put all their earnings into keeping in shape.
These guys were the businessmen; the bankers with a lot of cash.  They would roll up in their brand new Mercs and Beamers and you knew that that was just the tip of the iceberg.  All their gear was designer label, and some of them had been known to give their trainers four figure sums as bonuses.  This was a different league to what I was used to, and it took a bit of adjusting to.
The first few guys were really aloof with me, really distant.  They’d look down on you like you were a piece of shit on their shoe, and I didn’t like that.  I wasn’t used to it.  More than once, I had to bite my tongue, and stop them from hurting themselves by benching more than they could.  God, that was tempting with a few of them.
Steve Johnson was the exception.  Maybe it was because he was a Yank, or maybe he was just a decent bloke, but his attitude was totally different to all those other wankers.  He was obviously loaded, but he never rubbed it in your face like the others did.  He didn’t make you feel about an inch high.  He reminded me of those old fashioned American smoothies, sort of like George Hamilton without the wrinkles.  It turned out he was an ex-dentist, which made sense really because he had one of those perfect Hollywood smiles; I’m surprised moths didn’t fly into his face when he grinned at night.
Anyway, me and Steve hit it off right away.  We would have a bit of a laugh and banter when he came into the gym and for an older guy he was in pretty good shape.  He told me once he’d been in the marines when he was younger and was doing his dentistry degree, and I believed him.  For all his warmth and charisma, there was something else behind those grey eyes.  You had the feeling he was like a caged tiger eyeing you up, saving his energy until you let your guard down and then he’d pounce.  In retrospect, that’s a pretty good analogy, but at the time he seemed great to me.  He helped build my experience and confidence as a trainer to new levels, and my new found friendship with him began to change my life.

It began a few weeks after he started to train with me.  After a session one morning, he told me that he ran games nights up at his house.  I didn’t really know what that meant so I asked him.  What it turned out to be was that on every first Saturday of the month he basically turned his house into a mini casino, with roulette, blackjack, poker and the rest – sort of like what you would see at a good wedding, except this wasn’t played for toy money.  The minimum entry fee was fifteen thousand pounds.  I remember he laughed for about five minutes when he told me that.
“You should see your face,” he kept saying.  Then he asked me if I’d like to go up there one evening.  Like a moron I said I would love to but that I couldn’t afford it.  That time I thought he was going to wet himself.
“No, no,” he said when he’d stopped laughing enough to be able to breathe properly and talk.  “What I need is a bit of eye candy to work as croupiers and waiters, to help bring a bit of sparkle to the night.  I’ve got a few girls lined up but in the interest of keeping things sweet for the ladies there, I want a couple of young guys and I think it would be right up your street.”
Now looking back with the benefit of hindsight, I would think this is a trap.  But remember at that time, everything was going great for me, and as far as I was concerned this was just another case of lady luck dealing me a fantastic hand (keeping with the gambling motif there, you see?).
So I said yes.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A bit about me...

Me: my least favourite subject.  Always has been, always will.  If I ever need to be interrogated, forget water boarding or gonadal electrocution; just say 'So, Paul, tell us about yourself.'

If you didn't just gather, my name is Paul.  I'm an Englishman that has recently moved to America.  The reason for this move from a slightly depressed but relatively stable economy, where I held a good, well paid job, to the bubbling cauldron that is a country seemingly on the brink of self-destruction, is simple: a big pair of tits.  Well, that's a bit of a simplification.  Actually, it was to get married to my now wife, who just so happens to be American.  And has a big pair of tits.

We 'dated' for three years (not sure if dated is the correct term to use when you live four thousand miles apart) but it was only at the beginning of May this year that I finally upped sticks and moved across to America.  We have now been married for nearly two months, during which time we haven't argued very much.

When you start living together you start to find out all the wonderful little things about each other.  Some of them we already knew; for instance, I knew wifey (as I like to call her when writing about her) possessed the ability to worry about ANYTHING.  When there is nothing to worry about, she worries that there is nothing to worry about.  I'm the complete opposite, which I suppose is a good thing - we balance each other out.  However, I also now know that she likes to talk in her sleep (mostly gibberish), she occasionally snores in a soft, endearing manner that can be stopped by holding her nose and she likes to tidy my things away so I can never find anything.  In return, my faults include burping extremely loudly and without warning, making a mess and not worrying about things, such as the impending collapse of Western Civilisation.

So far, I'd say it has the potential for a good marriage.  She's the stable, rational minded one and I'm what I like to term 'The Idiot'.  For instance, I'm currently waiting for a work permit so I can get work here.  At the same time, I'm heckling the President of the United States on Twitter.  Probably not a good idea.

Oh, and one more thing - my main fault is that I have an over-active imagination and strange, strange thoughts.  I used to put them on Facebook until people stopped talking to me; now I put them on Twitter.  If you want to get an idea of how aimlessly my brain steers a path through the ocean of life, Twitter gives you a pretty good idea.  I'm straightblueuk on there.

I better go and do a bit more writing - wifey is at work, so it's an ideal time to knock out another 1,000 words or so.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Satisfaction - Chapter Two

The next few weeks were pretty awful.  I’d never been one for staying in, and now I was kicking around the house all the time looking miserable as sin.  It didn’t take long for my parents to twig that something was wrong.  They soon found out that Jenny and me had split up, but I was a bit reluctant to tell them exactly why.  In the end I had to break the news to them when they started to buy me things for Uni.  They took it about as well as Jenny.  Well, they would have if I’d told them the truth.  After the barrage from Jenny and the whole break up situation, I wasn’t really up for an assault from them.  So I told them a white lie.  I told them I wanted to defer for a year and take some time out.  It didn’t take much to twist the facts around and blame the break up with Jenny on not wanting to go.  In the end, they were really sympathetic, which pinched a bit.  But I could live with the odd pang of guilt, especially compared to the endless grief I would get if I’d told them the whole story.  A little while later I got in touch with the Uni, but not to defer.  I told them I wasn’t going.
So that was that.  I’d split up with Jenny, I jacked in my education and I was footloose and fancy-free.  And skint.  I had no job or money, and no idea of what I was going to do.
It felt like I was rebelling against something, but don’t ask me what.  My family?  My friends?  Their expectations?  Or was I just lashing out at myself?  I really couldn’t tell you.  I probably needed psychoanalysing - I probably still do - but I’ve never been one for sitting around worrying.  Despite the situation, I had a feeling something was going to come my way; something that would improve my lot.  And I was right.  It did, and it didn’t take long to arrive.

Like I said earlier, I’m an athletic guy.  I was going running regularly, playing a lot of football and doing swimming too.  I used the pool at the local gym for that.  Strictly speaking, I wasn’t supposed to.  I wasn’t a member, but I knew the assistant manager Ian through football, and he made sure I could always get in, so long as he was on duty.
About a month after I’d split up with Jen, I turned up for a Monday morning sneaky swim.  I was still pretty down at that time, but I could always manage a smile for Sam, who worked on reception.  She was blonde and pretty, not beautiful but just really fresh faced, natural and totally unassuming.  She was the easiest girl in the world to talk to.  We had become friendly in the time I’d been going there, but nothing else.  She was a mate and I really didn’t think about her in any other way.
“Oh, hello, here comes trouble,” she said, looking up as I came through the sliding glass doors at the front of reception.  I shushed her, putting my finger to my lips and playing along.
“Don’t tell everyone.”
“Oh, I won’t then, I’ll keep it a secret… again.”
“What would I do without you?” I asked melodramatically.  This was pretty typical banter between the two of us.  “Is Ian about, gorgeous?”
“He’s running late this morning, he just rang in,” she replied, “but I won’t tell anyone if you want to have your secret swim.”  I grinned at her.
“You’re a star, Samantha,” I said, and headed off to the lockers.  As I got to the end of the corridor, I looked back, and she was still looking at me, smiling.  She’d given a little wave, and I sent one back in reply.  That was pretty typical of how I was with girls; I liked to flirt.
A few minutes later, I was knifing my way through the cool, chlorinated water of the pool.  I did the front crawl mainly; I liked the feeling of speed and power and it gave me a good workout.  I liked coming in early too.  It was quiet; the only other people around were business types getting in their half hour before work.  I was able to get fifty lengths in without interruption or having to worry about kids getting in my way – there’s nothing more frustrating than that.
The lifeguard on duty that morning was lad called Kev, a guy I only knew in passing.  You know, we would say hello but that was about it.  I don’t think he liked me getting in on a freebie but Ian had okayed it so there was nothing he could do.  Still, he never gave me any grief or anything.
Anyway, that morning was the morning I had the longest conversation I ever did with Kev.  It was also the morning my life changed.
He was standing by the side of the pool ladder as I climbed out after my swim and went to grab my towel.  We made eye contact in that uncomfortable way you do.
“Morning, Scott,” he said.  That caught me off guard for a start.  He never started conversations.  I didn’t even know he knew my name.
“Alright, mate,” I replied.
“You still coming down here for a swim on a morning?” he asked.  I just looked at him blankly.
“Er, yeah,” I said.  What did he think I was doing?
“Oh, well, I’m leaving on Monday, and there’s no-one to replace me and I was wondering if you’d like the job.”  It took a couple of seconds for this to register.  A guy I barely knew and, as far as I was aware of didn’t like me, was offering me his job?  I asked him just that.
“If you want it,” he said.  “I don’t see how Ian could complain” – a subtle dig, I knew, but I let it pass – “I mean, I can’t give you the job but I can put in a word for you.”
“Where are you going then?” I asked.
“I’m off to Uni, so I can’t carry on, and they need a replacement,” he said.  “Do you want me to put in a word for you?”
I couldn’t believe it.  This was a great chance.  Working at the gym would mean I would get free access to everything, not just the pool.  I knew Kev only worked six hours a day, so once I was finished my shifts I could go and train and get really toned.  I might even be able to become an instructor.  These thoughts were racing through my head, and I was getting myself quite worked up inside at the prospect of working there.  On the outside though, I tried to stay casual.
“Yeah, have a word if you want,” I said, coolly.  “I’m interested if they are.”

And that was it.  The next Monday I was a trainee lifeguard, complete with my own chair, my own trunks and most important of all, my own whistle.  Oh, the visions of power that went through my head that day.  No longer would unruly children make serious swimmers lives hell.  No longer would there be floats and armbands left discarded and drifting across my pool.  No longer would there be running, shouting or dive-bombing.  All these thoughts and more filled my head as I climbed the ladder up to my seat on my first day, a shift that would take me from seven in the morning until one in the afternoon, with a fifteen minute break at ten.
What happened during that shift was something quite different to what I’d been expecting.  I learned that Henry Kissinger had been right.  Power is an aphrodisiac.  That power helped me throw off the shadow of Jenny that day and awakened something in me.  That power brought me Kristen.
Kristen was one of those effortlessly pretty girls.  She looked like she’d stepped out of a commercial.  She had long dark wavy hair, gorgeous olive skin, green eyes and a dazzling white smile.  She was slimly built and really she looked like a model, which is what I thought she was on first impressions.  Actually, it turned out she was an Australian politics student on a gap year, but she was working as a promotions girl at trade fairs, so I was half right.  I could see why she got that job.  She could have sold sand to the Arabs.
The first I time saw her was about half an hour into my shift.  I was settling into a quiet, comfortable day, with not too many people in the pool and no-one I hadn’t seen before, so I knew they were all competent and that I’d probably have an easy day.  Then she walked in, in a white string bikini, and she looked up at me and smiled.  I grinned back, and couldn’t believe it when instead of getting into the pool, she kept on walking past the pool ladder and up to my chair.  She stopped beneath me and looked up, still smiling.
“Hi, you’re new, aren’t you?” she asked.  The twang in her accent was immediately apparent.
“Yeah, I’m Scott,” I said.  “I just started today.”
“I’m Kristen.  Haven’t I seen you round here before?” she asked.
“You might have – I’ve been coming here for a while.”  She nodded.
“Yeah, I thought so,” she said.  “I’d recognise those pecs anywhere.”  I laughed at that.  I wasn’t used to that sort of direct come on, which it clearly was.  After being with Jenny for so long, I’d effectively been off the market.  But here was a gorgeous girl virtually putting herself on a plate for me.  It might not sound it from how I’m telling it but trust me, it was there in the way she looked at me.  Maybe I could have turned a blind eye to it, and if I’d still been with Jenny, I would have.  I’d already done it plenty of times in the past.  But it was different now.  I was single and I couldn’t see the harm in trying my luck with a random hot girl.  In that moment, the gloom of losing Jenny lifted, and something animal awakened in me.
“Well, I won’t be forgetting you in a hurry,” I said casually, but the look in my eyes told her there was anything but casual thoughts going through my mind.
“Is that right, Scotty?” she asked seductively.  Scotty?  No-one called me that.  I was well in.
“That’s right,” I said.  “Unless you think you can make yourself even more memorable than you already look in that bikini.”
“How about how I’d look out of it?” she asked.  Woah.  This was Bugatti Veyron speed flirting.  I wasn’t used to this pace, but I wasn’t intending to slow it down either.  The fact that this random, gorgeous girl was hitting on me was fuelling my ego and my confidence better than a propane tank on a bonfire.
“Now that’s an offer that would be hard to refuse,” I said wistfully.
“You never know your luck, do you?” she said, grinning wickedly and turning away.  “Catch you later, Scotty.”  She walked over to the edge of the pool, giving me a good view of her toned arse as she lifted her hands above her head and dived gracefully into the pool.  I watched as she surfaced on the far side, running her hands over her long dark hair to push it away from her face, before turning to flash me a smile.  I smiled back, and she’d set off again across the pool at a steady pace, her slim agile body cutting through the cool water with ease.  You could see she’d been swimming for years.
I sat and watched her for the next half an hour as she swam back and forth across the pool, zigzagging up and down the length, giving herself a really good workout.  No wonder she was so toned.  I’d barely been able to take my eyes off her, and luckily the pool emptied out until it was just her in there.  Every now and then when she reached the far side, she’d lift herself half out of the water, resting herself on her elbows to catch her breath for a moment.  I didn’t know if she was doing it just for my benefit, to show of her wet, hot body but the fact that I kept catching her glancing up at me suggested to me that that was exactly what she was doing.
When she finished, she swam to the ladder on the far side and climbed out, towelling herself down.  She hadn’t come over to see me that time, even though I’d been expecting her to.  Instead, she slowly made her way to the entrance to the changing rooms.  Just as she got there she stopped and looked back over her shoulder towards me.  Even from that distance, I knew it was more than just a look.  It was an invitation.
For the next couple of minutes I sat there in the chair, not knowing what to do.  The pool was empty, and I knew the gym was likely to stay quiet.  Kristen was in the changing room, waiting for me.  Or was she?  Was I totally misreading the situation?  I just didn’t have the experience to know.  I sat there pondering until I came to an inescapable conclusion.
Fuck it.  If I went in there what was the worst that could happen?  Okay, maybe assault, rape, murder and life imprisonment.  But I knew those weren’t going to happen.  With this thought in mind, I climbed down from my chair and made my way to the changing room.
She was in one of the shower cubicles.  I could see the outline of her naked body through the shower screen, even though it was covered in condensation.  She lifted her long dark hair high and soaked it, drenching herself under the spray of the shower.  She had no idea I was there.  My heart was thudding, I remember that.  I’d never done anything like it before, never mind on the first day of a new job.  I would have been sacked on the spot if I’d been caught; there was no doubt about that.  I would have probably been arrested too come to think of it but right then that was the last thing on my mind.
I pulled open the shower door; she had her back to me, but felt the rush of cool air as the door opened and she turned her head to look at me.
“You took your time,” she said, as she turned to face me.  She made no attempt to cover herself.  In a flash I’d took in the sight of her toned, naked body and I knew she was doing the same to me.
“I’ve come to see what you look like out of the bikini,” I said.  She grinned a devious, flirty grin.
“I hope you approve.”
“Definitely,” I told her.  She looked amazing.
“Well, you’d better get in here with me, mister,” she ordered, “so you can have a good look.”
She didn’t have to ask twice.  I stepped into the cubicle and shut the door behind me.  It was cramped, and I had to press myself up against her.  She didn’t pulled away, but she started to giggle instead.
“You do this sort of thing often then?” she asked.
“I told you, it’s my first day.  I’ve never done anything like this.”  My hands slipped round her waist and hers were caressing my chest.  It just seemed so natural and easy and incredibly exciting.
“What if I’d screamed?” she asked, sliding her hands lower.
“So long as the were screams of pleasure, that would be fine by me” I said, shrugging.  She laughed.
“Well, then in that case, mister,” she answered, sliding her thumbs under the waist of my swimming trunks. “I’d better take these off you.”
“Be my guest,” I said, as she started to tug them down.  I had to move back against the tiled wall to give her room to crouch down so she could tug the trunks down over my knees.  Of course, this gave her a perfect vantage point to have a good look at my cock as my trunks slid down.
“Oh my God,” I remember her saying, and I’d looked down to catch her wide-eyed expression.
“What’s up, Kristen?” I asked, my gaze following the rivulets of water that were cascading down onto her.  She’d had to squint when she’d looked up at me.
“You, I hope,” she’d said.  “You’re huge.”  As she spoke she wrapped her left hand around my cock.  “How big is it?” she asked.
This reminded me of the first time I’d been with Jenny.  She’d had actually gone to find a ruler when she was in the middle of sucking me off, so I knew the answer to the question.
“Ten inches when it’s hard, Kristen,” I said to her.
“Oh, wow,” she said.  “I’ve never had one that big.”  She was stroking her hand up and down it and kissing it almost reverentially.  I had to laugh, but her touch was having the desired effect.
“You approve, then?” I asked as she began rubbing my now semi-erect cock.  She’d nodded.  She leant forward and took it into her mouth and started to suck me off.  I remember trying not to groan as she pushed her mouth over the head and started to lick me.
“Do you want that in you, Kristen?” I asked her as she gulped at it greedily.  She nodded, but didn’t stop sucking under the spray of the shower.  In moments my cock was fully erect, and she was really sucking hard, her hands stroking up and down the shaft and playing with my balls.  She pulled back and looked at my cock, letting the water stream down onto the swollen purple head.
“You like that?” she asked, as she squeezed it and licked her tongue around the head.  It made me shudder with the pleasure.
“God, I want to fuck you Kristen.”
“Go on, then,” she said, swiftly rising to her feet and turning away from me.  She leant forward under the hot spray, the water matting her long dark hair to her back, and pushed her tight little arse out toward me.  I slipped my hand up between her legs.  Her skin was smooth and wet, but not as wet as her pussy.  My fingers rubbed over her lips; she was as turned on as me.  I fingered her gently, pushing two fingers into her, and teased her soft lips with my fingers and thumb.  She started to moan a lot, pushing herself up and down on my fingers.  My cock was rubbing against her arse cheek, and it was easy to move it across and press it up against my fingers.  I slipped them out of her and pushed the head of my cock into her.  We both gasped, and through a combination of our moves I quickly pushed it deep into her.
She really started to moan when I began thumping it into her.  We didn’t try to be quiet at all.  If anyone had walked in at that moment my career would have been over before it had started.  My hands were all over her body, caressing her hips, her waist, and her small breasts.  I found myself slipping them back down to her pussy, touching and teasing her clit as she took my big cock easily into her over and over.
She came loudly and suddenly.  I let her savour the orgasm, dragging her spasming pussy up and down my thick shaft.  I looked down and watched her pushing up and down it, before I pulled my cock out.  She rubbed it hard and I was so turned on by her orgasm that it only took a few strokes before I came as well.
And that was my first conquest at the gym.  I couldn’t believe what I’d done.  It had been totally out of character for me, but it was without a doubt the biggest adrenalin rush of my life.
How we didn’t get caught out there and then I don’t know.  I’d only been away from the pool for ten minutes but if anyone had come looking for me I’d have been out the door in a flash.  As it was, nobody came looking, and a few minutes later I was back in my chair, looking over an empty pool.  It was just in time as well, as moments later a group of OAPs turned up for their weekly dip.  They weren’t backwards about coming forward and introducing themselves, and I made myself an instant hit with them, I’m proud to say.  But I can assure you that they’d didn’t get the Kristen treatment.

Ghostwalker - chapter two

It was just after one o’clock in the afternoon, and Dan was sat in bed looking down at the plate of food that had been presented to him for lunch.  Once upon a time, it had resembled bangers and mash with peas and gravy.  Now it looked liked something that had passed through the digestive system of a cow.  Dan picked up his fork and pushed half a blackened sausage through the watery mash like an icebreaker surging through the Arctic chill.
“Are you going to eat that or just play with it?” Mel asked, with a half smile on her face, watching him from her seat at the corner of the bed.
“Even if this was a medium rare sirloin steak covered in  peppercorn sauce, I don’t think I could eat it,” Dan replied miserably.
“You need to eat something, Dan,” Mel told him sternly.  “The nurse said so.”
“It’s her job to say that,” Dan pointed out.  “Besides, I bet what she eats doesn’t look like this slop.”
“No, probably not,” Mel agreed.  She was glad to see a bit of the old spark she liked in Dan creeping through.  She had spent the morning with her parents, but after a few hours in their company she had been reminded why she lived so far away from them.  She had wandered back down to Dan’s ward just as the nurse on duty had been handing out the food and she had offered to help Dan with it.
Dan pushed the fork away and let it drop on the plate.  It clattered down and made Mel jump.
“Hey, now,” she said.  “That’s not the attitude.”  She brought her chair to his side, sat forward and picked up the cutlery and began sawing into the sausage.
“I’m not a complete invalid, you know,” Dan said, watching her.
“Really?” she replied.  “You do a good impression of one.”  She lifted the chunk of incinerated sausage to Dan’s mouth.  He stared at her with his mouth firmly closed.
“I’m not going anywhere in a hurry, remember,” she said.  “I can do this all day.”
“I’d like to see you try,” Dan replied through gritted teeth.  A few moments later he begrudgingly leant forward and tugged the sausage off the fork, chewing it slowly.
“That’s better,” Mel beamed.  “For a minute there I thought I was going to have to go and find that doctor again.”
“You really don’t have to do this, you know,” Dan said.
“Maybe I just want to,” Mel answered, attacking the sausage again.  “How does that doctor know you, anyway?”
“Decker?” Dan said, receiving another piece of sausage.  He was starting to enjoy having this personal service from Mel.  Mel nodded.
“Yeah, you seemed like you knew him pretty well.”
“You could say that,” Dan said.  “Remember a few years back when I was getting into a lot of trouble at school?”
“How could I forget?” Mel replied.  “You were Dangerous Dan back then, you know?”  Dan laughed scornfully at that.  It was a nickname he had hated.
“Yeah, well, mum and dad....” he tailed off for a moment, his gaze going distant.  Mel stopped cutting food and looked at him with sympathy.
“Tell me, Dan,” she said softly, wanting to keep him occupied.
“They were obviously worried about me,” Dan continued, his voice cracking as he avoided her gaze.  “They tried all sorts of stuff.  I always hated all that counselling crap.  But Decker was different.  He didn’t treat you like a patient; more like a mate or something.  He was actually friends with my parents from way back before I’d ever met him.  My dad made me go and see him.  I really didn’t want to but it was totally different with him.  The first few sessions” - as he said the word he formed quotation marks with his fingers - “we just spent fixing up old motorbikes.”
“That’s cool,” Mel said.  “My parents drive me nuts even now.”
“Yeah, mine too,” Dan said.  “Well, did.”
“I’m sorry, Dan,” Mel said, putting down the fork and touching his hand.  Her skin was warm and smooth and soft.
“No, it’s okay,” he said, taking a deep breath.  “I guess I’m going to have to get used to it.”
“It’s horrible,” Mel said sympathetically.
“Yeah,” Dan murmured.
“I’m glad you turned out okay,” Mel said appreciatively.  “You were trouble for a while.”
“Thanks,” Dan grinned at her.  She put the knife back down on the plate next to the fork.
“I think you’re going to have to fend for yourself for a little while,” she said.  Dan visibly sagged.
“You’re going already?” he asked.
“Yeah, I really need to go back to mum and dad,” she answered.
“Oh, okay,” Dan said, not even trying to hide his disappointment.
“I’ll come back later,” she told him.  “They would kill me if they knew I was here.”
“Why?” Dan frowned.
“Dangerous Dan, remember?” Mel said, standing and leaning over him to give him a kiss on the forehead.  It felt like the kiss of an angel to Dan.  He realised that they didn’t know she’d come to see him; in fact, she’d probably promised them  that she wouldn’t.
“I’m not dangerous,” he said softly.  She looked down at him, her face close to his.
“You always will be to them,” she told him.  “See you later, trouble.”

By the mid-afternoon, Dan had been examined by a couple of different doctors, both of whom had remarked how lucky he was to have so few injuries.  Their words had bitten into him as he had thought about his parents but he had not let them know how he felt.  Instead he chose to escape his ward and start wandering around the hospital.  His nurse scowled at him for trying, but Decker arrived before an argument could start and offered to walk with Dan.  Shortly thereafter they found themselves outside in an small ornamental garden, sheltered from the bitter wind.  They sat on a bench facing a large fountain.  In summer it would have been a lush sun trap, colourful and filled with life.  In October, it was cold and grey; their breath hung in the air as they talked.
“I can’t believe they’re gone,” Dan said.
“I know,” Decker answered.  “It’s always a shock when someone is taken away so quickly.”
“Two days ago they were alive, just living their same old life, and now...”
“It’s never an easy thing to come to terms with.”
“Do you know what’s upsetting me most?”  Dan asked.  Decker looked at him, waiting for him to continue.  Dan stared down at the ground as he continued to speak.  “It’s not that their dead.  I mean, everybody dies, don’t they?  It’s not even that I didn’t get to say goodbye to them because really how many people get to do that?
“It’s that I’ve achieved nothing in my life, and all I’ll ever remember is that they were disappointed in me.”
“That’s not true, Dan,” Decker started to say but Dan kept talking.
“Look at me.  I’m eighteen.  I’ve got no job.  I’ve barely got an education.  I’ve done nothing with my life.  I’ve got no home, no family, no money, nothing.  All I’ve got a is stupid cut on my head.  What sort of legacy is that?  They must have hated me.”
“That is most certainly not true,” Decker said.  “They loved you.  It was them that put you in touch with me, remember?   They wouldn’t have done that if they didn’t care about you.”
“I just feel like I’ve wasted my life so far and they’re never going to get to see whatever it is I do.”
“Then make that their legacy,” Decker said.  “Make something positive come out of this.”
“Do you know I’ve got less than a thousand pounds in the bank, and that’s only because I got eighteen hundred quid on my eighteenth birthday.”
“That’s not a measure of your worth, Dan.”
“No, but it’s a pretty damning indictment of me, isn’t it?  All I have is what they gave me.  That’s it.  I’ve been so horrible up to now and it’s taken this for me to really see it.”  Decker didn’t answer that immediately.  He knew there was more than a grain of truth in what Dan was saying.  Dan knew it too.  “Thanks, doc, your silence speaks volumes.”
“This could be an opportunity for you to really prove yourself, then,” Decker said encouragingly.
“How?” Dan answered in an exasperated tone.  “You know what, I was thinking before we came out here I’m going to have to organise their funeral and sort out what happens with that house and everything else.  I haven’t got a bloody clue how to do any of that but I bet you anything it’ll cost more than a thousand pounds.  I can’t even afford to bury my own parents.”
“I’ll make sure you get help with that,” Decker said.
“I don’t want your money,” Dan answered miserably.
“I’m doing it for them as much as you,” Decker answered.  “They were my friends, remember.”
“Okay,” Dan conceded, grateful for the offer of support.  “That would really help because I have no idea what to do.”  Decker patted him on the back.
“That’s better,” he said.  “Come on, let’s go inside.  It’s freezing out here.”
Dan nodded, and they got up and went back into the hospital.  They turned left and began to walk down the corridor towards Dan’s ward.  Their footsteps echoed on the polished floor as they walked and Dan was hit by the smell of the place – the smell of santised suffering.  It made him feel physically sick.  Decker saw the look on his face and spoke quickly.
“I don’t want you to be alone at the moment.  I can get you discharged from here; you’re well enough for that but I don’t want to leave you hung out to dry.  Is there anywhere you can go tonight?” he asked.  “Friends you can stay with?”
“Not really,” said Dan.  “I was going to call my Uncle Chris and see if I can stay there for a few days but we aren’t exactly close, you know.”
“I know,” Decker said.  Dan had talked to him about his uncle before, and he knew that Dan hadn’t seen him in over ten years.  Thrusting Dan into an alien environment like that didn’t seem like the best idea to him.  “I’ll tell you what,” he began, but he was cut short by a woman’s voice from further down the corridor calling out, “Danny?  Is that you?”  They both looked up and saw a plump, grey haired woman.  Dan recognised her immediately.
“Maggie?” he called back , slightly startled.  It was Mel’s mum, his parent’s next door neighbour, and his mother’s best friend.  His surprise was not from seeing her; Mel had told him she was at the hospital.  It was because of her appearance.  Everyone who knew her laughingly called her Hyacinth Bucket, which was an image she was more than sporting enough to play up to.  But standing there in the hospital, wearing a dark dressing gown and with her hair barely combed, she looked anything but the image of suburban perfection.  Her face was streaked with tears and she was clutching a tissue, which she dabbed at her tear-stained cheeks.  Stood with her was her husband Trevor, a rotund man with a bald head and a pepper-pot moustache.  He looked as equally dishevelled as his wife.
Maggie came tottering down the corridor towards Dan and when she reached him she threw her arms round him, hugging him tightly; it was a show of affection that caught Dan slightly off guard.  He didn’t find it a pleasant experience suddenly being clutched tightly against this woman he only knew civilly, and he was unsure how to respond.
“I’m so happy to see you in one piece,” Maggie said warmly.
“Yeah, and you,” he agreed, his body tense in her embrace.
“Oh, we’re fine really,” Maggie answered, looking up at him.  “You know doctors; they wanted to check us inside out before giving us the all-clear.  You’re the one who’s got the worst of it.”
“Not as bad as Mum and Dad.”
“I’m so sorry, Dan,” Maggie stuttered, starting to cry again, dropping her head again.  Dan brought his hands up gingerly and placed them on her back, holding her awkwardly, his expression registering his discomfort.  He had never seen Maggie like this.  The only occasions he had ever spoken to her had been in his mother’s kitchen, and that had always been the same polite but stilted conversation over a cup of tea.  Now she was an entirely different proposition, and he wasn’t sure how to deal with it.
“It’s alright,” Dan told her.  “It’s not your fault.”  He hugged her a little more tightly, and as his awkwardness began to dissipate he found himself trying and failing to fight off his own tears.  He bent his head and they stood there crying into each other’s shoulders, not caring about anyone else around.  Trevor and Decker stood back awkwardly, glancing at each other but giving Dan and Maggie their moment of grief together. 
It was Decker who finally broke the moment up.  “I was going to offer you somewhere to say tonight, Dan,” he said.  “You can stay with me for a few days if you like.”
“Nonsense,” said Maggie, wiping away her tears and effortlessly slipping back to her usual brusque manner.  “He can come and stay with us.  He wants to be around people he knows at a time like this.”  She knew just as well as Decker that Dan had no-one else to go to.    “He knows me,” said Decker, firmly, “and he couldn’t possibly impose on you under the circumstances,” he continued, driving home the point.  Dan found himself agreeing with Decker.   
“Yeah, I mean I’m not sure I want to go there right now, you know?” he said bluntly, wincing at his own sharp tone as soon as he said it.
“I know exactly what you mean,” Maggie replied. “I don’t want to go back there, either.”  Dan looked slightly abashed, but she continued quickly.  “We’re going to stay with Mel for a couple of days.”
At that thought, Dan’s face lit up.  There was a surge of emotion in Dan’s chest totally at odds with the anguish he was feeling.  It was inappropriate and it suddenly sent Decker’s offer of hospitality reeling back against the ropes with a killer blow.
“Sure, okay, I can come with you guys,” said Dan, a little too obviously.  He looked to his doctor.  “I mean, is it okay for me to leave?”  Decker nodded.
“I’ll see to the admin side of things, don’t worry.  But I think you should come with me.”
Dan found that the thought of spending a few days staying with Mel was rapidly overwhelming his grief, and that realisation brought with it a sudden surge of anger - anger at himself for even thinking about her, or his own selfish needs, at a time like this.  He clenched his fists, not knowing how to deal with the bizarre mix of emotions churning inside him.  Wherever they were headed, Trevor, who was all too aware of Dan’s interest in his daughter and none too keen about the prospect of them getting reacquainted, intervened.
“Maybe you should go with the doctor, Dan,” he suggested.  His cool tone immediately doused the flames of Dan’s inner turmoil.  Dan knew full well that Trevor didn’t want him anywhere near Mel.
You’re still Dangerous Dan to them.
Decker, sensing a chance to regain his footing in the emotional tug of war that was unfolding, leapt into the fray to side with Trevor.
“I really must insist…” he began, but Maggie cut right across him.
“He’s coming with us, and that’s the end of it,” she said, directing the statement at everyone in the vicinity in a tone that was not to be argued with.  There was a moment’s awkward silence.  Dan broke it.
“Can we just get out of here?” he asked her.  The maelstrom of confusion and emotion whirling round in his head was beginning to overwhelm him.  If he stayed any longer, he felt sure he would end up going with Decker.  He didn’t even know why; but if they weren’t going to let him see his mum and dad, then he wanted to be as far as way as possible from the hospital, and as close to someone who would be able to distract him from his grief.  Somehow he didn’t think Decker would do that as well as Mel.  He wondered if he shouldn’t feel like that, but he did and that realisation brought back the sickening wave of guilt again.
“I really do think you should come with me, Dan,” Decker said, quite forcefully.  “I’m not sure you’re ready to go anywhere else.”
“I’ll be fine, doc, really,” said Dan, sounding almost happy.  Decker winced at the colloquialism but Dan barely noticed and continued to jabber away.  “Actually, I think it might help.  You know, get me away from here; take my mind off it.”  He was talking much too quickly.
Mel was the reason he wanted to go with them, and everyone standing there knew it.  There was no other good reason to go against his senses and do what he was doing, but he didn’t want to even admit it to himself, never mind to Decker.  He knew how well Decker knew him, and how easily he could pick apart his thoughts.  Decker wasn’t going to give in so easily though.  He spoke earnestly, trying to reason with Dan.
“You don’t need to run away, Dan.  I can give you the support you need at this time, personally and professionally.  I really don’t think they can.  I’ve dealt with this situation before.  They haven’t.  Please, come with me.”
Dan looked at him, taking in his words.  True as they may have been, the thought of that girl was enough to blunt the sharpest of hooks, and he shook his head.
“Sorry, doc,” he said, sounding genuinely apologetic for a brief moment.  “I’ll be in touch, okay?” he said, holding out his hand.  Decker reached out and shook it and smiled, but it was not a happy smile.
“Okay.  Just call me if you need to talk.”
“Sure thing,” said Dan, and looked to Maggie.
“I’m ready when you are.”

They met Mel by the front entrance of the hospital; she had pulled her Golf up outside and ran in to find them.  Trevor chastised her for parking on double yellow lines outside a hospital but she ignored him, until he insisted on driving ‘to show her how it’s done’.  That led to a brief argument which Trevor won.
“He’s always doing this,” Mel muttered to Dan as they clambered into the back seat.  “He thinks it’s his car.”
“It is my car,” Trevor said, looking at her in the rear view mirror.  “You aren’t the registered owner; you’re only a named driver on my policy.”
“Dad, the car lives with me.  It’s my car.”
“Not in the eyes of the law, it’s not.”
“For God’s sake,” Mel muttered as they pulled away from the hospital.  Dan glanced out the window as they drove up to the main road.  The sign next to the junction read Chase Farm Hospital. 
I’m in Enfield, he thought.  It made sense; it was the nearest A&E hospital to his home.
“Are we going straight to my house?” Mel asked her dad.  “Only Dan hasn’t got any clothes or anything with him.  Can we stop somewhere on the way?”
“There’s a Tesco Extra on High Street,” Trevor answered.  “We can stop there.  We need to fill up anyway.”
“Is that okay?” Mel asked Dan.  “I just figured you’d need a few bits, that’s all.”
“I haven’t got any money,” Dan said quietly.
“Don’t worry about that,” she said firmly.  “I’ll cover you.”
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Yeah, it’s the least I can do,” she answered.
“Thanks, Mel,” he said gratefully.

Darkness had fallen before they left the supermarket.  The Friday rush hour traffic was heavy, and their slow progress led to long periods of silence in the car.  Maggie had tried to keep conversation going but eventually gave up.  Mel offered to drive for a while to give her dad a break but he refused.  Dan got the impression that even if both of Trevor’s legs had been cut off, he still would have insisted on staying behind the wheel.
As they drove northwards, Dan leant his head on the window and watched the dark, sodium-lit world rush by.  The bass rumble of the road brought back the memory of car journeys with his Mum and Dad when he was a small boy.  They seemed to take forever, and he would entertain himself by waving at passing cars, or pretending to shoot at them, imagining himself to be a gunner on an old bomber and the other cars were attacking fighter planes.
A sudden, horrible image filled his mind.  His Mum and Dad, lying wide-eyed, open-mouthed, pale, cold and dead, awaiting their post mortem, ready to be cut open like carcasses in a butcher’s shop.  The thought snapped him upright and left him trembling.  He was starting to regret leaving the hospital without seeing them.  He had walked away without fighting to see them.  He wanted to go back, but he knew he couldn’t.
Forget it - Trevor would never say yes.
He felt Mel give his hand a squeeze and he looked at her.  She was looking back at him sympathetically.
“You okay?” she mouthed to him.  He nodded back.  She knew he was anything but okay, but she left it at that.  It was not the right time or place to push him.
The journey to Mel’s was slow, the Friday night traffic compounded by bad weather.  It was nearly eleven o’clock by the time they pulled off the A1 at Norman Cross and headed into Yaxley, just south of Peterborough.
“I can’t wait to see what you’ve done to the place,” Maggie said to Mel as the turned onto her road.
“Don’t expect too much,” Mel warned her mum, and then said to her dad, “It’s the next one on the left.”
“I know,” said Trevor, sharply.  “I have been here before, remember?”
Dan took in the surroundings.  They were on a non-descript street, the name of which he had missed as they turned into it.  It was lined with semi-detached houses that were decorated with wheelie bins outside the front doors and satellite dishes peppered over the dirty brickwork.  Dan felt disappointed; he had imagined Mel in an old farmhouse with sheepdogs running in and out and chickens pecking around in the yard.  He had pictured her living with a high flying lawyer who drove a Range Rover and had a guffawing laugh.  That image quickly dissolved away as Trevor slowed and pulled onto the driveway of one of the better maintained houses.  There was a general sigh of relief from everyone in the car.
 “Well, here we are,” said Trevor.