Still Life with Strings (2 page)

BOOK: Still Life with Strings
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“Hey,” the man replies,
watching as I fold the dress neatly and place it in the box before ducking into
my cardigan. “You’re blonde,” he says then, eyes on my hair.

I’d expected him to be
foreign, given his semi-exotic appearance, but his accent is middle-class
Dublin through and through.

“That I am,” I answer,
giving him a look as if to say,
are we done here?

It’s almost two in the
morning, but the street still has quite a few people on it, so I don’t really
feel on edge about this stranger standing near enough that we’re practically

His gaze travels down
to my feet, a wry smile shaping his lips when he takes in my black biker-style
boots. As he scans my bare legs, I feel a shiver run down my back, lingering erotically
at the base of my spine.

Hmm, it has been a
while, and this man is utterly gorgeous. He’s wearing a dark suit with a white
shirt, no tie. He hovers over me, standing only a couple of inches taller. His
breath whispers across my skin, smelling faintly of gin.

“Would you like to have
a drink with me?” he asks, reaching out to run a hand through the waves at the
end of my long hair.

Despite his
forwardness, it feels good to be touched. Sometimes it seems like no one ever
touches me like this — just for the sake of it. I had a really stressful day
with my younger brother Pete acting the brat; a little relief would be nice. A
bit of physical interaction. Some skin on skin.

Something thickens in
the air between us as we make eye contact. The man sucks in a quick breath, his
gaze flickering back and forth over my features.

Once I have everything
put away, I close my box, pulling it along on its wheels.

“How about a quick shag
instead?” I ask back, uncharacteristically brazen. It’s the middle of the
night, and I’m never going to see this man again. He’s just what I need. A
pretty stranger to lose myself in, to make me feel new again for a short while.

He laughs out loud,
thinking I’m joking. Then his eyes widen and his nostrils flare when he
realises I’m being serious. A touch of red colours his cheeks, possibly
displaying his embarrassment. His hand moves from my hair to my neck and
strokes downward to my collarbone. He might be embarrassed by my proposition,
but he wants exactly what I want. I can tell.

“Okay, Bluebird, that
sounds much better,” he says, breathing harshly now.

Taking his hand, I lead
him away from the main street and down a dark, secluded alleyway. I rest my box
against the wall, and seconds later he’s on me. Hands in my hair, lips on my
lips, tongue in my mouth caressing my tongue. He tastes nice, like toothpaste
and an expensive dinner. I undo three buttons on his shirt, slipping my hand
inside and feeling his taut nipples and hard, muscular pecs beneath.

His hands move along my
bare thighs to the backs of my knees, where he applies pressure and pulls my
legs up around his waist. He holds me there, my back pressed hard against the
concrete wall. His erection hits me right between the thighs now, nudging
exquisitely in and out. All of his embarrassment has disappeared, his lust
overriding it.

“You smell great,” he
rasps, sucking on my neck. “You want me up inside you, Bluebird?”

“Yes, hurry,” I moan,
allowing my face to fall to the hollow between his shoulder and neck. His hand
slips inside my knickers, and he groans when he encounters my wetness. He
shoves a finger in experimentally, and when I cry out he allows another to join

I reach down and fumble
with his belt, undoing his trousers and pulling them down just enough to free
his cock. The next thing I know, he’s tugging my knickers all the way down my
legs and shoving them into his pocket. He rummages in his other pocket and
whips out a condom, which I suppose isn’t too unusual a thing for a man out
late on a Saturday night to carry around with him.

Rolling it on, he lifts
his head to meet my gaze. He tilts his neck to the side, those gorgeous golden
eyes hooded with desire. I don’t make a habit of propositioning random men on
the street, and yet I have to admit that none of my previous one-night stands
have ever progressed this quickly — or this smoothly. Usually there’s a bit of
awkward fumbling before a rhythm is found, if at all, but with this guy it
feels so natural. I guess the late hour has brought out my uninhibited,
adventurous side.

He positions his cock
at my entrance, still holding my gaze, and pushes slowly into me, letting out a
guttural, “Fuck.”

I lock my legs tight
around his waist, and he grips me firmly before he starts pumping into me fast.
In this moment we’re base and animalistic. No reservations, no pretences, just
two people seeking relief and some small piece of a human connection.

“You feel…really good,”
he groans, flicking his tongue along my earlobe.

“Yeah, go harder,” I
whisper, needing to be fucked so hard that I fall into the pleasure and forget.

“You’re a dirty,
beautiful little thing, aren’t you?” he says, a glorious smile on his face. He
lets go of one of my legs and pulls down the strap of my slip, my cardigan
hanging loosely at my elbows. Then he pulls free one of my breasts and moulds
it with his palm, pinching the nipple. I sigh and undulate, biting my lower

“I’ll be whatever you
want me to be — just fuck me harder,” I tell him, throwing my head back when he
thrusts up into me deep.

His eyes grow dark as
he zeroes in on my mouth, then captures it with his lips. He slides his tongue
in and out, as though mimicking the motion of his cock inside me. When he
withdraws for air, I notice he’s got some of my shimmery white face paint on
his cheeks and stains of it on the shoulders of his suit. For some reason, it
makes me smile.

“You like that?” he
growls and I nod, unable to find my voice.

His thrusts become even
faster, harder, as he reaches down between my legs and rubs at my clit, coaxing
me to orgasm. I can tell he’s going to come soon, so I let go, allowing myself
to climax along with him.

He’s got a delirious
look on his face as he spurts into me, letting out a long, deep,
stomach-clenching groan. The noise is the essence of male sexuality. My orgasm
hits me quick and intense, shattering through my system.

He holds me there long
after he’s come, stroking my hair away from my face and cupping my cheeks. “I
think I might have dreamt you,” he breathes, kissing one side of my mouth and
then the other.

That makes me grin
wide. What a romantic thing to say to a woman who let you shag her minutes
after you just met.

“You’re a sweetheart,”
I reply, giving him a soft kiss goodbye and then dropping my legs to the
ground. I take a moment to right myself, fixing my cardigan back in place. Then
I walk over to my box and grab the handle.

“So, I’ll see you,” I
say, dipping my head to him in farewell.

He’s still leaning
against the wall, trying to catch his breath. For a split second he seems taken
aback by my abrupt departure, and then his cheeks redden like before.

“Yeah, see you,
Bluebird,” he replies with a sombre smile.

Feeling him follow me
out onto the street, I turn right at St. Steven’s Green in the direction of
home. For a while it feels like he’s still behind me, but a minute or two later
when I summon up the courage to look, he’s gone.

Perhaps it wasn’t that
he dreamt me. Perhaps I was the one who dreamt him.



I live in an area of inner-city Dublin
known as “the Liberties.” There’s a historical reason for the name, but
essentially it’s similar to what they call “the Projects” in America. The name
is ironic, because there’s little that’s liberating about living here. In fact,
it often feels like the opposite way around.

My house is on a street
close to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a short walk from where I had the encounter
with my nameless stranger. I smell his cologne on me, something citrus and
fresh. His spit and his sweat linger, too. It dawns on me that I never even
asked him his name. When a soft breeze floats up my dress, I remember that he
still has my knickers stuck in his suit pocket.

The street is empty,
apart from a group of teenage boys hanging out at the end of the row of houses.
I eye them as I pull the front door key from my pocket and notice a familiar
red baseball cap. Oh, it better fucking not be. Taking a closer look, I see
that it
him, my fifteen-year-old brother Pete. For the last year or
so he’s been hanging out with a bad crowd. It’s been an absolute nightmare
trying to keep him on the straight and narrow.

Opening the house door,
I drop my box down in the hallway and then march my way toward the group. They
all begin nudging each other as they see me approach, and then Pete turns
around, a gigantic scowl on his face.

“Get home now,” I tell him
firmly, allowing my gaze to touch on each individual present.

You can’t be eye-shy
with these little shits. You have to show them that you mean business. It’s
scary, because they’re all taller than I am and most likely carrying weapons,
but when you strip that away, all you have left are scared little boys living
in a world with no privileges. Some of them are a good deal older than Pete,
too, maybe even eighteen or nineteen. And when eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds
are befriending boys Pete’s age, you know there’s some variety of grooming
going on.

“Piss off, Jade. I’ll
go home when I’m ready,” Pete hisses.

Not bothering to
retort, because I’m tired and want to go to bed, I simply step forward, twist
his arm behind his back in a simple lock, and drag him away.

“Hey, let go, you
fucking strong bitch,” he yells, clawing at my hand.

It’s true — I may not
look it, but I am pretty strong, mainly because I practice Tai Chi twice a week
at my local community centre. A lot of people don’t know that it isn’t all
about waving your arms through the air and meditating. It’s actually a martial
art as well. My teacher is a really cool hippy lady from France who only
charges a small fee for the classes.

A lanky, well-built boy
steps up and spits just short of my feet, a snakelike grin shaping one end of
his mouth. He gives me a squint-eyed look that only the truly inbred can do
justice, and calls, “Your sister’s a fucking freak, Pete. Why don’t you give
her a slap and teach her a lesson?”

“I’ll give you a bloody
slap,” I shout back. “And don’t be getting mouthy — I know your mother!”

I have no clue who his
mother is, but it’s a tried and tested threat that always works to put wayward
teenagers in their places.

He spits on the ground
one more time for good measure just as I shove Pete into the house and slam
shut the door.

When we’re inside he
pulls away from me, cheeks red, clearly fuming. “Why’d you have to do that? You
made a complete show of me, Jade!”

“Good! If it keeps you
away from scum like that, I’ll be happy to make a show of you every day for the
rest of your life.” I pause, hand on my hip, taking in his appearance. He’s got
grey bags under his eyes and looks paler than usual. I’ve been suspicious that
he’s started smoking and selling marijuana, but I don’t yet have any proof. “Is
this what you want for yourself? Do you know how long most teenagers who deal
drugs last before they get caught and sent to prison, Pete? Not very long, let
me tell you, especially considering how idiotically dumb most of them are.”

“You’re the dumb one.
You haven’t got a clue about anything. I hate you.”

“If I’m the dumb one,
then what does that make your aesthetically challenged friend out there?”

Pete mouths the words
“aesthetically” and “challenged” to himself like a question, shaking his head.

“Whatever, Jade. Damo
knows his stuff. He’s headed for big things. He’s also going to set me up with
some work. I’ll make a tonne of money.”

“The only big thing
Damo’s headed for is slopping out in Mountjoy Prison. And if I see you anywhere
near that tool again, you’ll regret it. Now get to bed.”

“Fuck you.”

I roll my eyes. “Ah, so
sweet. Get to bed.

With that, he turns on
his heel and stomps loudly up the stairs. I drop down onto the last step and
breathe an exhausted sigh.

My mother died four
years ago from lung cancer. She lived a hard life and smoked like a chimney, so
it was only to be expected that the big “C” would take her. I miss her every
day. Her death meant that at the ripe young age of twenty-two I had to step up
and become the guardian of my three younger siblings. Alec is twenty-one now,
so I don’t need to worry about him anymore, but I still have fifteen-year-old
Pete and April, who’s seventeen, to look out for.

I know, lucky me.

I love them like crazy,
but they aren’t little babies any longer, and sometimes it’s a lot to deal
with. The two of them are going to send me into an early grave one of these

The situation with Pete
is pretty much self-explanatory, given the fight we just had; he’s a confused,
angry young man who lost his mother too soon. But April I worry about for
another reason entirely. There’s been a couple of men way too old for her
sniffing around. I feel like a guard dog half the time, barking at them to keep

BOOK: Still Life with Strings
10.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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