She picks up her iPad from atop the bedside cabinet and turns it on. The red circle in the top-right corner of the mail icon contains the number ‘one’. She touches the glass over the graphical envelope and the application opens for her.
A single new email, from the address that she has come to associate with him. There is nothing in the subject line, but she sees that the message has brought her an attachment.
It’s early, but she has the bedroom to herself. She listens. Silence. The rest of the family have already departed for the day. Not just the bedroom to herself, then, but the whole house. She considers indulging herself, taking the iPad through to the bathroom, a long soak amidst creamy bubbles while she reads whatever morsel he’s sent her, stoking the fires within until she can no longer resist the siren call of her own flesh.
But she’s too impatient. She touches his message, forcing it to open.
There is a single word in the body of the email. “Listen.”
The attachment is an MP3 file.
She listens to the house again. Nothing. She calls out, but there is no one there to answer her.
She swallows, then reaches out a hand to the cabinet drawer and takes out her headphones. Her fingers tremble fractionally as she fits the plug into its receptacle and clicks it home. She presses the ear buds into place, and then touches the attachment to open it.
It begins to play.
She hears a hollowness, an almost-echo. There is a medium-pitched hum, like the droning of machinery. Obvious, but not too distracting. She imagines him placing his iPhone down on his desk, pressing the record button, settling himself in his chair as he prepared to speak. Had he made notes first, or written a script? Did his eyes follow text across paper or screen, or was he assured enough to speak to her off the cuff?
She blinks. Not a man’s voice, not his voice. A woman’s. But whose? The answer is obvious, though, not really worthy of the question.
The woman’s voice sighs. “I know this is a little … unusual … to be introducing myself to you in this way. I’d imagined we’d speak on the telephone first, but he … well, let’s just say that he can be very persuasive.” She sighs again. “So here I am. Here we are. And ‘we’ is the right word to use, because he’s here with us too.”
She stops speaking. Claire listens to the hollowness, the hum, waiting for what comes next. She doesn’t notice that she’s scarcely breathing.
The woman speaks to her again.
“Can you guess what he’s doing right now, Claire?” She sighs again, for longer this time, the end of the sigh becoming a soft groan.
Claire feels a rush of adrenalin, and at the same time, the beginnings of a familiar ache in her loins. She’s imagined this woman for what seems an age: imagined what it would be like to touch her and taste her, to hold her soft nakedness tight against her own as their desires merge, two droplets becoming a tumultuous ocean. Those thoughts have come to dominate her sexual mindscape, left her libido teetering on the rim of obsession. Every carnal musing leaves her throbbing, and she’s come to suspect that the people around her on a daily basis can tell, can smell the pheromones of her lust. Why else would she suddenly be hit on by men who had shown no real interest in her in the past?
“Oh,” the woman cries softly. “Oh, yes, yes that’s lovely.” She groans again. When she speaks, the tension in her voice is evident, as is the tremor. “He’s running the tip of his tongue around the edges of my … my pussy.”
“No.” A man’s voice. His voice. “Not that word. The real one.” His voice is deep, cultured. Controlled.
The hollow machine noise returns for a few seconds.
“Say it. Tell her what I’m doing to you. Tell her properly.”
“He’s … he’s running the tip of his tongue around the edges of my … my cunt.”
“Good,” he says.
And then the woman cries out, as if taken by surprise. Claire’s sex quivers at the sound, and her imagination fumbles to conjure the scene. She’s gripped by the thrilling prospect of this being live in the future, of her being there with them both, able to smell the musk of their arousal, able to reach out and feel it – them – any time she wants.
The woman – your lover-in-waiting, she teases herself – does not speak for minutes. Her vocabulary has been torn away from her. Claire listens raptly as the woman’s composure surrenders by degrees, the ebb and flow of her pleasure quickening as her senses are propelled upwards, upwards, upwards, until the pauses between the cries are all but gone, until she screams her completion, a nearly disconcerting crescendo of delight and distress.
Fuck, Claire thinks again.
She has managed to resist touching herself until now, but her nipples are taut and her sex is warm and wet and full. She wants to be licked too. It’s my turn now. She imagines lying next to his wife, their legs spread wide so that their thighs cross, him between Claire’s, his knowing tongue fluttering against her swollen clitoris while his wife kisses and licks her neck and her breasts and her belly. She imagines their tongues colliding over her cunt, and she shudders deliciously.
Almost in a trance, she reaches down her body and touches her naked sex. She is sodden. The gossamer caress of her fingers is a joy.
“Oh, Claire,” the woman gasps, “We don’t want to turn your world upside down. We just want to bring a little adventure into your life.”
She gasps again.
“Oh, I want to suck him, but I’m too impatient to have his cock inside me. It’s so hard, so thick. It’s pressing against me, the tip just inside me. He’s such a fucking tease. Do you want him to tease you like this too? To rub the tip around the edge of your pussy … your cunt … around and around and around, until your body is screaming at you to put it inside you? Until you have to sink your nails into his hips and pull him into you?”
“I want to taste him, Claire, but I want him to fuck me too badly. Oh, he’s inside me … all the way inside me. I can feel his balls against my ass. They’re so heavy. Oh, it feels so fucking good, Claire. Will you taste him when we meet? Will you taste him with me, and then French kiss me? Will you put your tongue out so he can rest his cock against it while I lick the top of the head? Will you stroke his shaft for me while I suck him, and then allow me to do the same for you? Will you ask him to fuck your mouth? Will you lie back and suck him while my mouth is on you, while my tongue is tasting you, while I’m making you come? Will you kiss me and press your breasts against mine, brush your nipples against mine, rub your cunt against mine while he strokes his hard cock and watches us? Will you let him slip his cock from my cunt to yours and then back again, over and over again? Will you, Claire?”
And then they speak as one, man and wife, their words a chant, a mantra, an invitation, a dare.
The recording stops.
Yes, she thinks. Oh fuck, yes.
She says it aloud, as if to seal the sinful contract.
She tries to still the whirlwind, but she cannot stop shaking. Instead, she fumbles for the iPad and stabs a finger at the ‘play’ button. And as she loses herself in the words and the sounds again, her mind surrendering to the kaleidoscope of carnal images they bring forth, her hand becomes a blur, propelling her into the future.