Nervous, Alyssa doesn’t know what to say as he undresses in front of her. She looks at him from the bed. She has seen him naked every day since her arrival. This time she knows something will happen and she is scared and excited in equal measure. He looks so serious. This isn’t just some casual thing for him and definitely not some random pick up in a bar for her. She realises she doesn’t want to see what she had felt against her that morning, and is not sure that she wants him to see her. The blond woman switches off the light before he is done.
He sits behind her, around her – long pale legs warming the denim she wears as he unbuttons her shirt and pulls it down from her shoulders. Tiny kisses across her exposed skin make her shiver. He reaches around her and undoes the front clasp of her bra, his long hands cupping her small breasts as the material falls away, running a curious finger along the ridges of metal that run through her nipples.
“Is this ok?” Even his voice is gentle, the words a breath across her ear.
“I’ve never had a man before.” Her hand feels small against his as she encourages him to squeeze the pert flesh. This is unreal.
“I’m not a man.” And he moves around her and presses her to the bed, his fingers nimble with the buttons on her jeans as his mouth plays with one nipple and then the other, licking and sucking, savouring the new sensations. She shrugs her arms out of the shirt and bra straps. “Tell me when you are ready.” She lets him wriggle her out of the heavy indigo cloth, dragging her underwear at the same time to remove her last defence. “Tell me what you want.”
“Kiss me first.” He takes the invitation as she spreads her legs for him, exploring the folds of flesh carefully, discovering the rings and bars guarding the route into her, fascinated by the smoothness of her bare pudenda. His experience has only been with one other person but he navigates Alyssa’s pleasure as well as any woman ever has. This is unexpected. This is good. She sighs as he begins to lick inside her wetness, his tongue thrusting deep inside her. This is better than good.
“I want more.” Breathless she takes one of the hands kneading her buttocks and pushes his fingers inside her. His tongue returns to the excited nub of her clitoris and her sighs soon become a drawn out command. “Fuck me, oh, fuck me, fuck me.” What else is he there for but to answer her needs? “Yes. Oh God yes …”
Later, much later, it seems to her, the sweat cools on her body.
“Do you think they heard us downstairs?” His voice from the bathroom is quiet but clear over the sound of running water.
“I think they might have heard us in the next county. Shit. I wasn’t expecting it to be so … intense.”
“Was that ok for you?” She doesn’t look at him as he slides back into bed next to her. What happened to first time sex always being a disappointment?
“Hell yes. Now go to sleep.” She doesn’t really care if he sleeps or not so long as he is still there in the morning. She thinks she might like to look at him again in the daylight and might even let him look at her. She is impressed that he had not flinched or drawn back from what he found in the dark. He had taken her as her found her – her body, her rules. In the dark she relaxes and is soon asleep, unaware of how her hand reaches out to stroke the flesh that had filled her up.
Morning and Alyssa wakes up happy and relaxed. Her muscles ache and her body protests, but only slightly, after the unaccustomed exertions of the previous night. She leaves him in the bed and withdraws to the bathroom. Discovering that her period is early she shrugs; though she had enjoyed the experience any replay of the previous night would just have to wait. The blood was one reminder of femininity that she never liked anyone seeing but she had always balked at the idea of risking the other effects of depo provera just to be rid of one annoyance. There was no reason that things should be any different with this man shaped thing.
He is still asleep when she returns from the shower, towel drying her hair as she moves around the bedroom. She can’t imagine what his dreams must be like, what thoughts filled the closed eyes hidden behind the thin sheet he has thrown over himself in her absence. Sunlight streaming through the windows catches the folds of the sheer fabric and she suddenly recalls a statue seen on a tour of Italy in her teenage years, a chapel museum in Naples and a similarly covered body. The aim of the visit had been an underground chamber and the bizarre Anatomical Machines created hundreds of years before von Hargen had toured his Körperwelten freak show. At the back of the group she’d been stopped in her tracks by the uncanny skill of a baroque sculptor, fixated by a view of a body peaceful after the torment of death. It was the last time she remembered finding a male body attractive.
She sits and wonders if it was significant that her ideal male had always been a dead man. Now here she is with someone lying so still that he could almost be dead, a man whose life is a mystery. The sheet glides easily across his body and her eyes follow the edge of the material as his skin is exposed beneath it. He is perfect, she decides, as her hands draw the sheet towards her. And then she realises there is no way he can still be asleep. His eyes, his beautiful brown eyes are open, drinking in the view of her. He stretches – an unnecessarily attractive undulation of muscle from top to toe – and rolls on to his side. His smile is an invitation she will not take.
“Sorry, not this morning.” He looks confused and she sees a nervous, recently made thing again not the accomplished lover of the previous night. “No, it’s not you, it’s me.” Raised eyebrows signal disbelief in the cliché. “Really. It’s me. I got my period.” Understanding shows on his face and he smiles again.
“I know.” And now it is her turn to look confused. “I tasted you last night. I thought you … oh, you hadn’t realised. Sorry, I thought that was why you wanted me to go back down on you after I came.”
“You mean we did … you did that …?”
“What’s wrong? I thought you enjoyed what we did.”
“But the blood, the blood is …” She struggles with a mixture of disbelief and disgust. She had enjoyed what he had done, everything that he’d done, his tongue lapping at her, licking her clean she realises. He was truly a lover with no preconceptions, no idea but to do what she wanted, and whatever she wanted, apparently, was fine by him. The responsibility was unsettling.
“The blood is natural, it is life. What’s wrong with that?” And he is next to her and his arms are around her, comfort and restraint in one move. “I think you have forgotten what it was like to be natural, to just be and be happy with what you are.” She tries to pull away, who is this creature to talk about being natural? He holds her close, closer still, and looks into eyes unwilling to return his gaze. This then, is a part of his strength, the partner to the easy feeling he creates around him. “What happened to you? Who hurt you to make you dislike your body so much that you’ve done all that to yourself? I can’t say it is ugly but you seem uncomfortable with what you have done … it doesn’t sit easily with you. If anything is wrong it is that, not the pleasure that two people can have.”
“Oh, what is this, your massive experience of women and the world?” One hand is large enough to hold both her wrists close. He bends to kiss the tips of her fingers and she finds it difficult to maintain her irritation at him. Deep down she knows he has hit a mark but again there is a feeling of calm just from his touch. She remembers his eyes in the night, the way he seemed to look into her soul.
“My experience of you is all I need. You can have joy with your body without caging and controlling it with those bars and studs. Are you punishing yourself for something? As for shaving, waxing, whatever you have done … it makes for an interesting sensation but you are a woman, fully grown with a woman’s needs. You are not a doll or a child.” That serious look again, what had he seen through his too old eyes? His kiss is a light touch on her lips, an acknowledgement not a demand and he releases her. “Thank you for last night. For all of last night. When you are ready, if you want to I mean, then just say and I’ll be anything you want. Your body, your rules.”
They make it to breakfast quietly, but hand in hand, a short while later. They are not the first, certainly not the last – people rise in the house as hang-overs and fatigue allow. Lytton’s breakfasts have been known to last as long as the parties that precede them and were often a time for mellow reflection, apologetic reconciliations and, quite often, strong pain-killers and hair of the dog.
Dave sips his coffee, his look thoughtful and distant as Alyssa goes to greet her father and sits with him, their heads close together. There is no sign of Helena. Lytton slides into the space opposite the slim man. He’s backed off as promised, but with the weekend coming to an end he can’t resist a little fishing. “I waited for you last night. I was hoping you might want another swim.”
“Ah. I am still flattered but other demands took up much of the night.” Dave does not look the older man in the eye, not wanting to say too much but not wishing to be impolite.
“You know she doesn’t like men.” The words are a flat statement.
“She tells me every day.” Topping up his coffee, they might have been commenting on the weather.
“So why is she with you?”
“I’m not men.” And now he smiles and to Lytton the room seems just a few degrees brighter than before. Not men, of course, that makes sense.