OK, blast from the past. If you've read it, ignore...if you haven't, its just the only story I forgot to repost after I'd left the first time. Feel free to love or hate it!
"Jesus H Christ, she's here again", I muttered to myself, as the Manager unlocked the double front doors. It's Wednesday. A wet, windy and thoroughly miserable Wednesday actually. And its only 11am. What is wrong with these people? Braving the bleak and grey winter weather to watch the pile of crap they have on at the moment. It was the usual assortment of the misfit, the friendless and the frankly odorous. Old couples in matching beige, single men with suspiciously long raincoats who make a bee line for the most explicit movie... and then there's her... I don't know her name, why would I? Tiny, dark haired and with a face that made me catch my breath when I first saw her 6 weeks ago. She only comes in on Wednesdays, always on her own, and buys a concessionary ticket to whichever art house or indie move is showing this week. Odd, don't you think? She looks about 12, but I know she is 18. Either that or she has a pretty good forger for a BFF, judging by the ease with which she gets into the raunchier foreign language films with a wave of her ID.
She rarely makes eye contact with anyone. Shy to the point of weirdness, why is it I can't take my eyes off her? Her dress sense makes mine look almost normal. OK, so I get to wear this stupid blue uniform every day, so my fashion disasters are well disguised until I clock off, but really, this girl's hair bows and pinafore dresses are so year 12, it makes me snort. Still, there's something about her that draws me, and it's starting to get noticed. Effy fucking Stonem for one has clocked me, with her uncanny knack of seeing through everyone like an MRI scanner. She's been giving me looks for the past three weeks. A look which I really could do without. A look which say "I know what you're thinking Miss Cock Cruncher 2013, and its not how you can make platonic friends with this girl and braid her hair" Bitch.
So, she's here today, and again its the art house stuff she's going to watch. For fuck's sake, if we didn't have a beardy geography teacher for a manager, this sort of garbage wouldn't even be shown. Thinks he's a film buff, sort of Will Gompertz without the mad hair and glasses. You name it, we show it. French, German, Spanish and Brazilian films, most of them totally incomprehensible, and that's not just because of the subtitles, I can tell you. The senior management made a big mistake allowing theatre managers to select one screen a week for indie and foreign language stuff. Mostly zombie flesh eating or incest semi porn, as far as I can tell for the few minutes I have bothered to stand in the doorway and watch. Men shagging their mothers while spouting existentialist nonsense, before turning into flesh eating monsters and munching gorily on said mother. Not your average family film, You can just imagine the sort of audience that turns up. Men with service contracts with Kleenex and raincoat pockets with no lining. Yuk!
And then there's this girl. Like a rose in a bed of weeds. Jesus Naomi, can you hear yourself? Rose, weeds? FFS, you're turning into a cliché...Gina Campbell, you have a lot to answer for.
But she is stunning, and mysterious, and... and I have no actual idea what I am going to do about it. I'm not gay, so I don't want to shag her (and you can pretty much fuck off Effy Stonem, grinning at me from the other side of the foyer) so why is it so important to me that I talk to her. It's not as if we are going to compare Croatian programme notes, is it?
Concentrating on not touching the sweaty hand of the creep that's offering his ticket to whatever mother shagging zombie film to jour is now showing, I put on my professional smile and zone out for a few seconds. Then she's there. In front of me, her small hand holding out her ticket. In her other hand is an oversized cardboard cup of full fat Coke, and she's balancing a tub of toffee popcorn on her elbow. Her eyes flick up to meet mine as I reach for the ticket, and flash. It fucking happens again. It's like someone has discharged a small bolt of energy into my brain. A bolt that for some inexplicable reason travels down my body and nestles somewhere south of my regulation blue belt. Warm and frankly very unsettling. Fluttering. Like the day your A level results arrive and you stand with the envelope, wanting, but not daring to tear it open.
For some crazy reason, I stand there for two or three seconds, mute. She keeps looking at me, which is a first for her. She speaks. Another first.
"Ummm..my ticket?" she says, and now I am definitely undone. Her voice is low and husky. How the fuck did that sound come out of this little cupid bow mouth? Impossibly sexy (SEXY? WTF Naomi!)
I swallow my spit and gulp. Not attractive... "Err, sorry" I mutter, wishing an escaped zombie flesh eater from Screen 7 would sweep me up and devour me on the spot. "Zoned out there for a second"
I try a smile, which feels like a corpses grimace to me, but it's the best I can do as my motor functions seem to have been temporarily suspended.
And then she smiles, shyly and briefly and those big brown eyes are covered by her ridiculously long lashes as she dips her head. Zap. Again, I lose control of my basic nerve responses. Why do I feel like this? It's a girl for fucks sake, not Johnny Depp in full pirate costume. I like cock, remember? Trouble is my head is saying those things while my heart is thumping and my knees feel like they belong to someone else. Contradiction central here.
I'm rescued, inevitably, by all seeing, all knowing Stonem. I feel her before I hear her, at my shoulder.
"Let me help there Naomi" she says smoothly, and takes the girls ticket, tears in neatly across the join and hands it back to her.
"Enjoy the film...err...?" she says clearly and deliberately. The gap is obviously designed for the purpose it produces
"Emily" the girl says, blinking those frankly dangerous eyes before ducking past us and into then corridor behind, en route for Screen 7.
I know it's coming, but even though I steel myself for the barb, it still stings.
"Have you heard of coup de foudre, Naomi?" Effy whispers in my ear, adding to the shivery sensation I already have. Actually, yes Effy, I do know what a thunderbolt is, even in French.
"Go fuck yourself with an overweight hedgehog" I venture, summoning up the last vestiges of Campbell sarcasm.
Waste of breath, of course. I hear her breathy giggle right next to my ear
"Funny, your first thought after that little 'swoon' is inserting objects into vagina's, don't you think?" she laughs
"I think our Naomi isn't as straight as she wants us to think" she adds, smiling that enigmatic smile as I turn to bark at her.
"Fuck off Eff" is a weak and feeble response, and she grins again as I struggle for any more cutting prose.
Her hand rests on my forearm, and she leans in closer, making sure Dennis, the resident creep on the food bar doesn't catch what she's about to say.
"We both know what's happening here, and I think you need to find out where it goes, no?" her face is suddenly serious for once.
Thank God there are no more punters about, so I get the chance to actually reply, now my senses have returned to me in full.
"I'm straight" I manage, pitifully
"Sure about that?" she answers, minus the trademark smirk
"If I said no, would I regret it?" I say, wishing this conversation would just unhappen.
"Probably" she says "But not because of me" her smile this time is genuine.
"Jesus, this is so fucked up" I groan, looking up at the vaulted roof above us.
Effy starts to walk away, but turns for one last comment
"I seem to remember a night in July, two bottles of Chablis and comfortable sofa"
I tense at that. Fuck, she said we would never mention that night again. The night after our last day at school. Too much wine, a DVD called 'My Summer of Love' and experiments. Lots of experiments. Never repeated.
I opened my mouth to shout something obscene, but she was gone, just the faint smell of her expensive perfume between us. Bitch.
The film was a real eye opener. To be honest, I would never have watched it, but Effy insisted it was excellent. We were well into our second bottle of stolen Chablis. Typical Effy, even her shoplifting was different class. No cheap cider, she went straight for the £30 a bottle Chablis Premier Cru while I was buying fags. Never said anything till we were out of the wine shop, then produced the two bottles like a magician from under her skirt. I'm sure Effy Stonem has mystical powers. I've seen her pull out tobacco, papers, lighter and more from inside her bra before. Its not like she's got big tits even!
Anyway, well into the second bottle, and mellow from the alcohol and the weed we had been smoking, we were sprawled across her mothers couch. Anthea was in Scotland, visiting relatives she said, although I think it had more to do with her love affair with single malt whisky. So we had the place to ourselves. Exams were over, college next term and I was about as relaxed as Naomi Campbell ever gets. The on/off boyfriends were at a football match in London, so it was a girls night all round.
Then I saw Emily Blunt, and my mouth suddenly dried up. God, she was gorgeous. Even better, by the time the film got into it's stride, it was obvious she was going to get it on with the blonde girl. Now, I've seen Sugar Rush, and a couple of other lesbian dramas on TV, but only in the safety and security of my own bedroom. I was suddenly conscious of the warm naked leg of Effy Stonem pressed against mine. It was a hot evening, and we were both only wearing shorts and tee's. Far to little clothing for my liking now that the action on screen had heated up. By the time the two girls kissed properly, I was gulping big mouthfuls of the warm Chablis to distract myself from the pressure of Effys smooth leg.
"Sexy, isn't it?" Effy said in a low voice, and I actually felt myself tremble at her words. Yes, it was fucking sexy, and being next to your best friend with hardly any clothes on wasn't making it any less arousing.
"Have you ever thought about..." she whispered, and suddenly the relaxed atmosphere of the evening was replaced with something totally different, electric and crackling.
I couldn't answer that one honestly at that point, so I deflected it with a feeble
"Have you?" I countered desperately
"Lots of times" she said simply, and I knew in that moment that something was going to happen I had never dreamed would.
"Naomi" she said, and I trembled again, not wanting to turn my head because I knew she could reel me in at any time. Effy Stonem always had that power when she chose to use it.
"Naomi" she said again, and this time her cool fingers pulled my face around so I was looking straight at her. I could smell alcohol and perfume and the combination was even more intoxicating than the weed.
"Naomi, its just sex, OK?"
Right, I thought, just sex. Between two girls, best friends who had never in the past 5 years ever had a sexual thought about each other. What could possibly go wrong?
She wasn't about to let me off the hook.
"Look, you're horny, I'm horny, and we won't be disturbed, OK? Its just an experiment. Tomorrow we go back to normal...just best friends"
Sounds reasonable, I thought stupidly. Oh boy.
The first touch of her lips on mine was wonderful. Soft, searching and gentle. So unlike my previous snogging experiences. No stubble, no probing tongue, no beer breath. It was as if I had never been kissed before. I found myself relaxing into it. Soon her tongue did make an entrance, but it was subtle, sly and easy to accept. I heard myself moan quietly and knew she could do anything she wanted to me from then on, I would let her.
So she did. I never thought to ask her where she learned the things she taught me. Knowing Effy Stonem's mythical ability to be good at everything, I wouldn't be surprised if you told me she was kidnapped by fairies at puberty and educated in seduction to Karma Sutra levels by the age of 15.
Magically, it seemed, I looked down after long moments being kissed within an inch of my life, and found I had lost my top. Suddenly I was semi naked, my boobs pressed against an equally undressed Effy. The film had moved on, but we were having our very own Summer of Love.
By the time I felt her busy fingers between my legs, I couldn't have stopped if Jeffrey Epstein had popped in to ask to the time. Both of us were moaning now, and the feeling of her fingers in me and mine in her were the strongest drug I had ever taken. Fuck MDMA, this was amazing.
It didn't last long. We were both too excited and breathless. I don't remember who came first, but I know we both did, noisily, explosively. I don't think even my own fingers had worked that kind of magic, despite all the practice I had given them over the past 3 years.
It was embarrassing afterwards, of course. At least for me. I don't think Effy does embarrassing. She coolly got dressed and thankfully looked away whilst I found my knickers (behind the sofa) and bra (under the coffee table). Once we were dressed, she offered me another glass of warm Chablis, but I was in full Naomi denial mode. I muttered something about having promised my mum I would be home before midnight (yeah, right) and left.
The only reference she had ever made to that night after was a text the next morning. I had woken full of shame and remorse, wondering if I had lost my best friend for the sake of a heated fumble, but the message was concise and to the point, Effy like.
"No regrets, but no repeats, OK? - lets do something this afternoon, pizza?"
And that was it. We went back to being best friends all through college and beyond. Once I had got the embarrassment and guilt out of the way, I would be a liar if I said that I didn't replay that half hour a few times in my head, purely for self pleasure moments, you understand. I had gone on to a succession of unsatisfactory boyfriends, along with Effy. Until today, we hadn't ever mentioned it again.
And now here we were again. She wasn't using it to hurt me, more remind me I guess that none of us are 100% straight. I was obviously attracted to this Emily, but whether she was into girls, or more specifically me, was open to lots of doubt. I suppose if I had been Effy Stonem, I would have already known, but us mere mortals have to deal in realities. What the fuck am I going to do about this girl?
I officially hate Effy Stonem. Period. No one asked her to speak to king creep Manager to ask for permission for me to watch the pile of crap I am currently waiting to start during work hours. Now he thinks I am an aficionado of obscure European cinema shit like him. As if... No one asked her to push me bodily into Screen 7 without telling me why. And no one definitely asked her to make sure the theatre was deserted. I still don't know how she managed it. But that's what goes with being omnipotent I guess. I'll never know, I'm just a mortal.
So I'm sitting here, on my own, in the middle of an empty 150 seat cinema, with the lights just dimming, which just about sums up my understanding of what this French film is . Oh, Right...the titles are saying "Un amour de femme" and even my schoolgirl French is able to translate THAT! Jesus H Christ, a lesbian film, could you be any more subtle Effy? What next, rainbow dungarees, brogues and an usherette with ice cream flavoured vibrators? I fold my arms and prepare for at least an hour and a half of unsubtle French femme action. Bitch.
Then the door opens in the corridor below me, and a thin stream of light crosses the carpet. Hang on, I think, I thought Effy locked this screen off as part of her 'convert the homophobe' project? Obviously not. It's not Wednesday, it's Tuesday, so the usual stream of creeps and wankers aren't queuing outside. And it's definitely not 'dream girls day' as my charming best friend has taken to describing Wednesday nowadays. So who is going to be my fellow sufferer?
Oh fuck. I should have known it. It's her of course. Wearing a very preppy short denim pinafore dress with a dark tee under, and carrying the obligatory 7 pint cola cup and a popcorn tub the size of Kent. She looks about uncertainly, although surely she must be used to deserted cinemas? Indie afternoon is only popular when the usual punters can guarantee at least three naked scenes. But it's not even fucking Wednesday, so how... Well of course, I know exactly how. Effy Stonem, Queen bitch. My so called best friend. Double bitch.
Emily stops looking around and finally spots me scrunched down in my seat in the middle upper tier. Her surprise is nothing on mine, but she smiles up at me uncertainly. I mean, what's a girl to do? It's not as if I have anything else to do for the next 90 minutes, is it? I wave at her dorkily and she waves back. Bloody hell, its like a Pandora Moon meet and greet...
She climbs along the row, staring at her oversized cup of cola like a drunk with his last vodka, determined not to drop it. When she gets to me she manages to spill a good slurp over my leg anyway, which would normally produce a hurricane of abuse from me, but what the hell. I figure one day off for the Campbell sarcasm is due. I wave away her apologies, and take the damned thing off her before she drowns me and then squeeze it into the frankly undersized cup holder between the seats. She puts the popcorn the other side, thank God, and finally settles herself into her chair, sighing far too attractively for my liking when she does. "Right so", as my erstwhile step dad says far too frequently, here we go then.
Emily leans over and whispers in my ear. The fact that we could set off a nuclear depth charge in here without alerting management or other patrons obviously escapes her, and the sensations her warm breath on my ear has on my churning stomach is way out of proportion to the intent.
"I didn't know you liked arthouse cinema, Naomi?" she says, and I turn to answer her. Bad move. Two entirely inappropriately sexy chocolate eyes look into mine earnestly, and I instantly feel self control slipping away. Fuck, I'm in serious trouble here, I thought..
"Err, I quite like French cinema" I managed, wondering how long that lie would be watertight if she actually asked me any questions about the wordy crap that was unfolding on screen. I know about as much about French cinema as I do about advanced fellatio, so God help me if she probes.
"This one is a favourite of mine, although it's quite sad" she said, holding my eyes with her own "You have the most amazing blue eyes" she added, apropos absolutely nothing and I felt my stomach tighten another notch at her artless flirting.
"Err, thanks" I managed "Yours are really beautiful too"
She blushed so deeply I could see it even under the dimmed lights, and I cursed myself for being so obvious. I had no actual idea how to react to her. Dealing with boys was easy compared to this. Flash some cleavage, sucker them out of enough alcohol to get buzzing and dump them at the door if they get too handy on the way home., The occasional mercy shag had occurred, but in my admittedly limited experience, that usually ended way too quickly and required some self help to bring a satisfactory conclusion. Sex was overrated, end of.
After an altogether too long a pause, in which we silently parodied the 'no, you put the phone down' scenario, I tore my eyes away from her and tried desperately to concentrate on the film. Mistake number two. It was actually quite a good film once you got used to reading the dialogue instead of watching them speak. Trouble is it was fucking sexy, and I started to really watch it, instead of pretending to so I could get out of there sane and still conversing in Anglo Saxon..
Suddenly it was deja vu. A beautiful girl was sitting next to me, her thigh pressed against mine, while I watched a pair of very attractive women make love. Over and over. It was worse than watching one of those raunchy TV movies with your mum in the same room. At least when it was at home, you could cough and make some excuse to go out for a coffee or something. Here, you were stuck with it. I could feel her moving around slightly and I prayed to God she wasn't demonstrating uncontrollable passion. I don't think my feverish brain could have coped with it to be honest. A passive and shy Emily had enough of a hand grenade effect on my libido, a sexually aroused and pro active Emily would probably turn me into that Gestapo officer in Raiders of the Lost Ark, face melting at the sight of the seraphim and cherubim..
I shifted in my seat slightly and felt Emily tense beside me. On screen, one of the women was kissing the other passionately and one half of my brain was screaming at me to just grab my new companion and kiss the fucking face off her. Luckily the other side of my brain was screaming equally loudly to get the hell out of there before I did something really stupid and embarrassed myself.
When that happens, I do nothing. It's usually best. Luckily the on screen action slowed down at that point, and I sighed in relief. The temperature in the empty cinema reduced to merely tropical. I felt Emily relax slightly too, but my alert system was still on Defcon 2. Nuclear war could still break out, it was just a matter of when, not if.
Just then I felt something. Not something overt, but something subtle. You know those tiny gestures which can mean more than two hour speeches? Well this was one of those times. I felt Emily's finger touch mine. Just the finger, the little finger to be exact. She ran the tip of it along my own little finger. And that was it. After she had travelled the length of my finger, she stopped. It was like Morse code. Tap tap tap, wait for an answer, yeah? I sat there like a lemon for a few seconds, then reacted. I ran my little finger along her smaller digit. It seemed the right thing to do...
Do you know you can hear someone smile? It's true, trust me. I actually heard her smile. Not a big smile, not a belly laugh, not a giggle, not even a snicker. Just a smile. A smile that was going to change my world. I fucking knew it at that moment, and everything that happened after that, the laughter, the tears, the loving, the heartache and the pain, was started with that tiny inoffensive gesture. I hooked my finger over hers and she gripped mine. Then we watched the rest of the film in silence. My stomach was still churning, and my brain was firing multiple warning messages at me, but for now, in this single moment, we just sat. Connected.
Well that was interesting, I guess. The film ended, I got a brief squeeze of my hand from the girl beside me and then she was gone. Down the stairs and out through the emergency exit like a bloody ninja. By the time I opened my mouth to, I don't know, ask for her phone number, say thank you...kiss her ass (stop that at once Naomi, kissing that rear would be altogether too dangerous and way too close to what I had just watched two attractive women do in the film, simultaneously, I might add, OK, stop now, right?) she was already half way down the stairs. Strange.
I sat there for a moment, wondering what to do next. I picked up the half empty cola cup and then the empty popcorn bucket. Out of nowhere I debated how someone that small and slim could put away an entire family tub of toffee popcorn in an hour and a half. An enigma, this one. But gone. Several emotions went through my head almost at once. Puzzlement, doubt, a touch of sadness, and then a small ripple of anger. Fucking bitch had just run out on me. That was my party trick, how dare she hijack it?
I sighed to myself and braced for the inevitable post mortem outside. Fucking Effy, she wouldn't be content with a plot outline. A full script reading for her or there would be hell to pay. Dropping the cola cup into the empty popcorn tub, I shuffled along the seats and walked quickly through the empty theatre and out into the bright foyer.
Outside, I got the patented Stonem eyebrow raise as she noted my solitary exit. I tried to brush past her on my way to the rubbish bin, but a hand gripped my elbow as I attempted to shimmy past.
"Oh no you don't" she hissed at me, meanwhile trying unsuccessfully to suppress a smirk "Our office. Debrief. Now"
I fucking knew the entire crew was watching this exchange, but her grip was tighter than a skinny brunette has any right to possess, so I allowed myself to be propelled into the staff canteen, which at this time of day was almost deserted. Apart from Adrian, the youngest member of our staff, that is. 16, with hair that could lubricate a diesel engine and more spots than a polka dot table cloth. Poor sod had about as much chance of pulling a female as I had of winning the Pulitzer Prize. One word and Medusa stare from Effy and he swallowed what remained of his disgusting double cheeseburger and fled.
"Right" she said "All the details. Nothing left out. Oh, and start with why the fuck you didn't come out together, kissy facing like I know you spent last night daydreaming about"
I bridled at that. Mainly because as usual she had hit the nail on the head unerringly. I might not have known what Effys plan was, coming in to work today, but there might have been a certain amount of daydreaming last night (and three nights previously) about a certain petite brunette and colliding lips. That reminds me, get mum to change the sheets tonight. Not that I made a mess...oh shut up Naomi.
"Fuck off Eff" I managed, which for a sharp retort is about as weak as it gets. My lack of sarcasm told her immediately she was right, and this time she failed miserably to suppress the smirk.
"So" she said when her mouth had returned to passive duties. "How why, what and when?"
I stared at her for a second, hoping for, I dunno, a tsunami, a tornado or any other earth shattering weather event to happen, so I wouldn't have to spill. But Essex is the most boring meteorological county in England, so the chance of that were less than Adrian walking back in with Emma Watson on his arm. I would have to do it.
"Well" I began "First, thanks a fucking bunch for setting me up like that Eff"
She nodded impatiently and muttered something about hell freezing over before I got off my lazy ass and did something positive about Emily. It doesn't help when someone's always right, you know?
"So, we sat together, watched the film and she left. End of" I tried pitifully.
This time the non verbal fuck off was sent in my direction. She sat there with that crazy Mona Lisa smile and waited me out. I folded under questioning, as always.
"Look" I blustered " We hardly said 5 words to each other, OK?"
Again the impassive smile.
"OK" I surrendered " She was very cute. We talked a bit, she offered me popcorn, which I refused, obviously, coz I hate popcorn, and toffee popcorn even more than the salted..."
Effy interrupted. "Quit the side issues, did you do the dirty deed?"
"NO!" I squeaked, which is not an attractive or impressive trait of mine when under extreme pressure.
"Look Eff, we talked about fuck all, really, just the film and stuff. And she might have held my hand" I grimaced at how fucking lame that sounded, but to be honest, I had no way of adequately describing the effect that sly finger rub had had on me. I just hoped Effy's inbuilt emotion meter would record it accurately.
She threw her head back and laughed out loud.
"Fuck me Naoms" she spluttered. "It cost me a hand job in the Managers office to get you two alone, and in Screen 7 without interruptions, and you held hands?"
I stared at her like she had grown two heads.
"You did WHAT?" I choked
She shrugged and waved away my disgust without stopping
"Not relevant Campbell" she said tightly "Do you want me to draw you a diagram of what to do with her, or can you just about remember a certain night in July now?"
Again I flushed beetroot red. I certainly didn't need any manual, and the events of that night were burned into my mental circuit board indelibly. And she fucking knew that.
"Look, its complicated OK?" Again the patented eyebrow raise was my only reply.
"Complicated how" she said quietly "You like Emily, Emily likes you. You are carefully positioned together, by your wonderful best friend, alone in a dark room, no distractions or interruptions, with the added bonus of a horny visual stimulus right in front of you both...and you hold hands, right?"
"Eff, its not like I'm not grateful, but I don't think Emily would have been up for anything more, err , physical, considering that we hadn't even exchanged a word until today" I added nastily "Not everyone drops their knickers when the wind changes"
I got a withering stare at that barbed remark, but fuck it, I was in full flow now.
"We held hands. End of, then she left. Not saying a fucking word to me before she did. How else do you want me to dress it up Stonem? No screaming naked fucking. No 69 on the sticky carpet, not even a heated fumble under her dress. Is that clear enough for you?"
I sat back until she spoke, slightly winded by my own anger.
I think she realised that she'd gone a bit too far, because her expression softened before she spoke again.
"Oh Naomi" she said "what are we going to do with you?"
I shrugged in completely false indifference. How the fuck did I know? This girl was more of a mystery to me than Effy, and that didn't make me feel very comfortable with the situation.
"OK" she said "so you got her phone number at least? Please say you got her number?"
I shook my head miserably. It hadn't occurred to me until it was too late, and now it was too late.
"Jesus" Effy groaned "I'd have more luck trying to get Adrian into the sack with Florence Welch"
I sniggered at that mental image, and so did she, but it didn't help. Not really.
"Well, as you seem totally incapable of making a move on her unaided, I'm going to have to do my detective impression. Do you know what her second name is?" she asked
I didn't, but the only bit of sensible sleuthing I had done on my own this week was to ask Jenny on the cash desk to find out what the name and address was on Emily's ID, on the pretext of being suspicious about her actual age. I told Effy that, and she immediately rushed out of the staff room, telling me to stay put, 'or else' I did, much against my better judgement. I just knew if I didn't Effy would make my life a misery for weeks.
A few minutes later, she came back with a triumphant grin on her face.
"Well" she smiled "Unless our Emily is actually a spy with several different identities, I think we can safely say that this " and she flourished a torn off note page "is her name and address. Lets go do the Nancy Drew bit Campbell"
So here we were, in a suburban street a mile from Bristol city centre, outside a nondescript modern house with the obligatory integral garage and neatly kept front garden. They even had a cat flap, for fucks sake. I had started to get twitchy even before we got off the bus, but Effy was having none of my increasingly less credible excuses not to do this.
The garage door was open, and it looked like someone was rattling metal about inside. Effy raised her eyebrow at me and walked purposefully into the garage.
"Excuse me" she said, and a tousled head appeared from under an improbably built weight machine.
"Hello love" the guy grinned, his big over white teeth reminding me of a grand piano with the lid up. I couldn't place his accent until he spoke again. Ah yes, Scouser.
"Looking for Ems or Katie?" he smiled again, and I think we both got the message that his teeth were the real deal.
"Err, It's Emily we've come to see", Effy drawled, allowing the guy, who when stood upright, looked like he knew his way around weight machines pretty well, to run his eyes over her. Effy has that effect on most men. Like a moth with a candle, usually. Didn't matter what age, her indifferent sex appeal was magnetic to schoolboys and retired vicars alike. She let him have a good look before reminding him what we had asked for with a twitch of her eyebrow.
"Oh, right" he stuttered, probably reminding himself that eyeing up a teenage girl in front of his own house with his wife inside wasn't the greatest idea he had had today. "James!" he roared, and I swear several starlings brought forward their migration plans. "Go get Emsy, will you?"
Another tousled head appeared from behind the huge machine and we stared at what was almost certainly Emily's little brother. He couldn't have been more that 12, but the look he gave me and Effy wasn't in any school book I remember reading.
"Cor" he said, running altogether more blatant eyes than his father over both of us "Top Fanny!"
The man's hand seemed to appear from nowhere, clipping the top of the boys head with an audible crack. He didn't even flinch, just rubbed his head ruefully, whilst still openly eyeing us up like a pimp with his posse lined up in front of him.
"Go get Emsy, James, and stop embarrassing these girls. I've told you about it enough times" Again the slightly manic grin, and I was beginning to wonder if madness ran in this family.
Slowly and with several backward glances, 'James' disappeared finally through the internal garage door. I could hear him shouting inside the house for his sister at the top of his voice. Did no one in this family talk at normal volumes?
"Friends of our Emsy then?" the man said, holding out a freshly wiped hand "My names Rob Fitch, nice to meet some of her friends at last"
Effy and I gingerly held out our hands and suffered the inevitable strong man's squeeze. I tried not to wince at the pressure, but Effy held his grip longer than me which produced another of those trademark grins from 'Rob'
"Nice firm grip" he laughed "work out, do you...err, didn't catch your name?"
"Effy Stonem" my best friend replied "and no, I never try...at anything actually"
I think his brain short circuited trying to work out the implications of that statement, so he turned his gaze to me as I spoke
"Naomi" I said shortly. I have had enough shit about my surname never to give anyone the chance unless pressed. There was a short uncomfortable silence while he presumably waited for my last name. Fuck him, I thought, let him wait, he's had enough fun ogling our tits for one day.
"Right" he said, giving up "Well, nice to meet you Effy and Naomi" He turned to the contraption behind him "Best get back to work, no pain no gain huh?"
Effy shrugged and I rolled my eyes. Seemed like the thing to do.
A couple of seconds later, another pair of eyes regarded us from the newly opened front door. They were chocolate brown, and the face surrounding them was vaguely familiar, but not quite right. It was Emily, but not Emily, if that makes any sense whatsoever. I heard Effy chuckle next to me, because, of course she was already clued in to what we were looking at.
"Oh" she said, in that sweet voice she reserved for the opposition, as she called it "Don't tell me. Katie, right?"
I saw anger flash across the pretty eyes of what was presumably Emily's twin sister
"Who the fuck are you two" she said. Right, skip the formalities then, I thought.
"Friends of Emily?" Effy tried, still using the conciliatory tone I knew could disappear in a millisecond if required.
"Emily doesn't have any friends" she rasped, folding her arms across what was a pretty impressive chest. OK, her tits were assisted by a push up bra, but my eyes were drawn to them nevertheless. Luckily she was still trying to give Effy a totally pointless death stare to notice my leching. She would soon learn that nothing short of a thermonuclear device will deflect Effy from her chosen course.
I felt rather than saw Effy stiffen next to me, and I felt like Harry Hill was going to appear, shouting "There's only one way to sort this out...FIGHT!"
Luckily at that second, another pair of beautiful brown eyes appeared next to the other ones. Rather softer eyes, surrounded by a more oval face. I thought, out of the blue, that they might be twins, but anything but superficially identical.
"Oh" she said, and a rather fetching blush crept up her neck. I had to bite my lip to stop myself falling at her feet then. Jesus, this girl has all too powerful an effect on me. I felt like Superman shopping for Kryptonite at Waitrose.
Effy took over, because I seemed to have lost the power of speech temporarily, a phenomenon that my dear mother would have sworn on a stack of bibles wasn't physically possible.
"Hi Emily" she smiled, as if they had been friends for several years at least. "You left your ID at the Cineplus this afternoon. Naomi and I were on our way to the park ,and thought you might need it later"
Now call me suspicious, but I don't think Emily had left anything at my place of work, except a rather flustered employee with a serious case of the hots for one of her customers. How was Effy gonna pull this off?
"She doesn't need it" Katie said in a voice that was used to getting no answer. She obviously didn't know Effy Stonem.
"How is your sore throat Emily?" Eff said sweetly "Getting better?"
I saw the puzzled look on both sister's faces.
"Sore throat?" they both said, one genuinely puzzled, the other laced with suspicion.
"Yeah, because otherwise your very rude sister wouldn't be trying to answer for you, would she" Effy smiled artlessly, but I could sense the steel behind her words. Careful Katie, I thought, you've met your match here.
Then I saw several different expressions pass over the sisters faces. For a second, Emily showed shock, then a tiny smile, then she ducked her head in that shy way she did in the foyer, but I swear the smile was still there. Katie's emotions were a lot easier to read, momentary shock then pure anger.
"Yeah, whatever" she said angrily "Give her the fucking ID and then you can pretty much fuck off "
Still Effy kept that sickly smile on her face. She passed me and pressed something in Emily's hand. I saw Emily register shock and then cover it pretty well with a small nod. Katie glared at all three of us and pulled at her sister's shirt.
"Come on loser" she growled "you promised to colour my hair tonight. Say goodbye to your little 'friends'"
And with that she was gone. There was just enough time for Emily to flash us both a small smile before her sister pulled her inside and the front door boomed as it shut in our faces.
"Well, that went wonderfully" I said with a shrug as we turned away from the door
"I don't know" Effy said. "I thought it worked out rather well"
I looked at her impassive face and wondered for about the 5000th time in our friendship what the actual fuck she was talking about. Sitting on the bus ten minutes later, it became a little bit clearer. My phone buzzed in my pocket. I took it out, thinking it was a bit early for my mother to start asking what time I would be in for dinner.
The number was unknown, and I almost deleted the text without reading it. Another fucking marketing company wanting to know if I needed Viagra or had erection problems.
"Hi Naomi" it read "thanks 4 yr number, can I call you tonight, bout 8?"
I turned to Effy, who was doing her normal people gazing out of the window
"What the fuck..." I started. Without turning her head, and with the merest hint of a smile, she said quietly "Leave it to Auntie Eff, Naoms, the course of true love will run smooth, trust me"
I sighed and sat back in my seat. Fucking Effy...The grin on my face was entirely coincidental, obviously.
What am I, fucking 14 or something? Tucked up under the duvet at ten to 8 at night, while my mother recovers from seeing me turn in while it's still daylight . It seemed the only way to get some peace from her continuous chatter about banana's and other apparently 'patriarchal' fruit. Jesus, if she only knew how patriarchal a courgette can really be... OK, way too much information, I know, just don't tell me you haven't tried the fruit and veg route when you're bored and horny. Batteries aren't always available, you know.
But anyway, here I am, sitting up in bed with the curtains closed and an entirely unread and superfluous 'Heat' on my lap, pretending not to be counting the seconds until 8.o clock. My phone is beside me, and I even charged the fucking thing properly, which is a bit of a first for me.
8 o clock comes and goes. 5 past. Ten past, quarter past. My tension increases as the minutes tick away, and the digital numerals on the screen of my phone count down my frustration. Fuck it, I knew it was too good to be true. Fucking Effy with her 'infallible' gaydar, and double fucking Katie, with her pinched little homophobe face and questionable fashion sense (pink leopard print never was, and never will be a thing)
Finally at 20 past, I sighed theatrically and slide down in the bed, dropping my pillows until I could lay down properly. I slung the magazine down onto the floor beside the bedside table and turned on my side. My phone dropped onto the carpet too, but to be honest I couldn't be arsed to pick it up. Fucking Emily, I hissed at myself reproachfully, before tucking my arm under the pillow and closing my eyes.
Suddenly the room was lit with my phone screen flashing white, and the handset buzzed busily from below. I almost didn't pick it up. Something of the normal Naomi Campbell was alive and well, and being royally pissed off normally meant I took my revenge by distancing myself from what had hurt me. But as if it wasn't under my control, my arm extricated itself from under the pillow and my hand scrabbled for the phone. I picked it up and looked at the screen. 'Effy' it said in bold blue script.
Fine. Then I could vent my frustration on the cause of my problems then, I thought.
"What?" I grunted when we were connected
"Naoms?" she said, in that frankly annoying semi detached way of hers.
"No, actually it's Rita Ora, Naomi can't come to the phone, she's giving me a thorough seeing to at the moment". I said bitterly.
"Ha fucking ha" Effy said "Why isn't this line engaged while you do phone sex with Emily?"
"Err, maybe because 'Emily' is otherwise engaged being a dormouse to her ridiculously unpleasant sister. Or maybe she's changed her mind about fancying girls, and is currently entertaining the band of the Coldstream Guards, one at a time"
"Unlikely" Effy said "I think if you had said the Dagenham Girl Pipers, I might have believed you though"
"Fuck off Eff" I said shortly "She's obviously bottled it, and to be honest, I've wasted a perfectly good evening waiting for the call to come. I could have gone down the Starlight Club and pulled"
"Yeah, right" Effy snorted " You in a gay bar? That's likely, considering you are still hanging onto that closet for grim death. But we could try it on Saturday, if you're serious?"
I heard the snigger in her voice, and not for the first time, wished her infallible reading of my inner thoughts wasn't quite so accurate. I had actually stood outside the Starlight one Saturday night on my own, last summer, daring myself to go in, but a couple of dungaree and brogue regulars frightened me off by propositioning me fairly crudely. I fled with my honour, if not my pride intact.
"Anyway" she continued "She might have just got held up, or that she devil of a sister may have side tracked her. I'll get off the line and leave you to it, huh?"
It was my turn to snort. Who were we kidding. Emily wasn't going to call, and I wasn't about to get dressed and do any lady killing down the Starlight either. Just another boring night, with work looming tomorrow. We said our goodbyes, and I slung the phone onto the bedside cabinet and dropped back onto the pillows for the second time tonight.
It must have been well over an hour later when it buzzed again. I was just drifting off, A naked Emma Watson and Bonnie White were just about to offer me a tempting threesome, and frankly I was pissed off. Dreams like that don't happen every night, you know.
"Yeah" I said grumpily, not bothering to look at the caller ID before I put it to my ear.
"N..N..Naomi?" the voice said, and I was instantly awake. Emma and Bonnie grumbled and disappeared into the heavenly place they had appeared from.
"Emily?" I managed, doing another spit swallow routine that made me choke.
I could hear the huskiness in her voice, but it had another quality, deeper and cracking, as she tried to answer
"Are you crying?" I said, and was rewarded by a gulp and a long pause. Fuck it, she WAS crying, I thought.
"Who's upset you Emily?" I said in a voice harder than Intended. This time I heard her sob, and I sat up fully in bed and held the phone closer to my ear.
"Three guesses" she managed eventually, and my lips made that thin line they do when I'm about to explode
"Fucking Katie, yeah?" I said harshly
No response for a couple of seconds, so I tried humour even though it was the last thing on my mind.
"Nodding doesn't work on the phone Ems" I said, instantly wondering where the abbreviation had come from. We'd only had two conversations in our entire lives, and now I was giving her affectionate nicknames.
I heard a tiny chuckle in amongst the crying, so I tried again.
"Want me to come around and pop a cap in her ass?" I said, in my best cod Brooklyn accent, which to be fair was absolute shite.
"Might be an idea" she said, slightly more brightly " Except her ass is currently pole dancing on her latest conquest downstairs, my sister can be...vocal, as you know"
"That description is giving me entirely unwarranted mental images Miss Fitch" I laughed, "Kindly delete it from my hard drive immediately"
This time she laughed properly and I decided we could move on from this banter to something more direct.
"So, what's she been doing to upset you, apart from acting like your parole officer?"
Again the small chuckle, so I pressed on.
"I take it she is the reason my 8 o clock call was postponed to" Looking over to my clock radio "10.15?"
"Yeah" she said in a tired voice " I had an hour and a half lecture on not mixing with 'gay bitches' in case one of her friends mistook me for her and spread the word she was actually a bit of a muff monkey instead of just the town bike"
It was my turn to chuckle at that description.
"Muff monkey huh?" I spluttered " Where did you dig that one up from, Emily Fitch?"
"Have you heard of the internet" she said "Source of some wonderful homophobic insults and well as some...rather stimulating images"
I laughed out loud at that one. The thought of the demure Ms Fitch watching gay porn was an image I could live with.
"Stimulating images huh? I laughed "Be careful Miss Fitch, your gayness is showing"
We both had a small laughing fit then, and the rest of the conversation settled down into something more rational. I discovered she had begun to think she liked girls at 13, and a couple of minor snogging incidents with other girls at school parties etc had confirmed her preferences. The trouble was, inevitably, her sister. Katie had apparently started in with the boys at about the time Emily started noticing girls as something other than friends, and being twins, it wasn't long before Katie began digging deeper. After a couple of screaming rows, Katie had decided the best form of defence against infectious gayness was attack, and that was something she relished. She sounded like she would have been a great commandant of one of those North Korean brainwashing camps.
Now she kept an eagle eye on her sister, and so today's pit bull response to our visit was just her normal modus operandi. After we left, Emily had got the full third degree, which culminated in a slap round the face from Katie and being forbidden to have any contact with us 'gay freaks' again. Now Katie was downstairs 'entertaining' while Emily sat on her bed nursing a swollen cheek. My whole body was vibrating by the time she finished telling me what had happened, and it took all her anxious pleas to stop me getting on my bike and going round to deliver my own form of justice to her fucking sister right then and there.
So, bottling up my anger for use in the future, I promised Emily I wouldn't take physical revenge on Katie, in return for a promise that she would meet me tomorrow after my shift. We arranged to meet at the park about a mile from her house, a few minutes walk from mine. She said Katie was going to a concert in London tomorrow, and was taking the 11 am train from Bristol, so we would be safe.
Hanging up, I dropped back to the pillows for the third time an entirely happier Campbell than previously. Tomorrow sounded like it might be fun and even as Emma and Bonnie reappeared, dropping clothing as they approached, I smiled to myself at the prospect of getting closer to one Emily Fitch. Mind you, it would be a shame to waste a perfectly good erotic dream, I thought. Now where was that courgette.…
Waiting for people, I mean anyone at all, is a real bore for me. I don't really do patience. Waiting for Emily is like 500% up on that, with extra topping and a side salad. Will she turn up? Did she get lost? Has her evil twin tied her to the railway track and is, even as I speak, twirling an oiled curly moustache and waiting for the train? All those thoughts and more went through my mind before I finally spotted a completely unmistakeable figure making her way up the hill to the bench I am sitting on. I come up here quite a lot. It has amazing views over Bristol, the grubby rat hole I know and hate looks almost romantic from this viewpoint, with the reality of the dingy back streets and wind blown rubbish masked by distance. It's deserted up here at the moment, just a few kids playing football with jumpers for goalposts a few hundred yards away down the slope. It's my thinking spot, away from people and distractions like work. Usually you would have to pry the location out of me with a crowbar, but I gave it up without a whimper when deciding where to meet this girl who has so comprehensively bulldozed her way into my life, flattening all my preconceptions and certainties, not bad for a tiny shy creature with communication problems, huh?.
And, looking slightly flushed, but still completely adorable, from the steep climb, she finally arrived, smiling at me in that timid, but not so timid way she has. I catch a tantalising view down her blue button up shirt, noticing with only fleeting embarrassment that my stomach has just clenched hotly at the glimpse of the top of her small breasts and white lace edged bra. She looks up as I try to drag my eyes away from the smooth brown skin on show, and I see a quick grin flit cross her pretty face. Fuck it, caught openly perving. Nice one Naomi.
"Shopping?" she says cheekily, and I smile lamely back, reddening at the fact I had absolutely no excuse whatsoever for doing that.
"Just checking" I say, apropos nothing at all.
"Checking for what" she says, her pretty face creasing in puzzlement at my cryptic comment.
"That everything's in order" I mutter, not knowing where the fuck this conversation was going. Get it together Naomi, I silently scold myself.
"Was when I last looked" she said, using those Bambi eyes in a totally artful manner to disarm me. Right, now I have the image of Emily checking out her own tits before getting dressed. Inappropriate, Naomi. Scold number two, and she's only just got here.
Jesus, this girl has a direct hotline to my libido. Wasn't it possible for me to look at her without imagining her naked? Was it only a few days ago I had been determinedly straight and definitely not into muff? Yep, that was me, Naomi Campbell of this parish, cock cruncher first class... I guess it was at that moment that I actually surrendered to my feelings for her. No one else had come close to making the world start spinning in the opposite direction for me. No sticky fumble with adolescent boys, no horizontal jigging with beery college students after parties and definitely not my exciting but never repeated girlie fling with Effy. This was what they meant about the stars colliding as you looked at each other. A planet tilting event. I'm fucking cooked, I thought, stick a fork in me, I'm ready.
She sat quietly beside me and I caught the faint smell of strawberry and vanilla she seemed to carry with her. It wasn't perfume and it wasn't soap, it was just a...I dunno, Emily smell, and it was intoxicating. I mentally shook myself, trying without much success to get it together so that the next words out of my mouth weren't as socially inept as my last ones.
"Thanks for coming" I said simply and she rewarded me with that million watt smile which was just as affecting as that damned aroma she carried with her. Was there anything she did which wasn't cute, I thought helplessly?
We managed to get the inane pleasantries out of the way quickly, and then both sat together chatting, looking out over the sunny grassy slope below us. The kids were still playing football, their shouts and laughter just about audible up here, but it didn't kill the mood. I found out that her twin sister Katie was just as evil as I had guessed from our brief but unpleasant recent conversation. And she had a sidekick in Emily's mum, Jenna, who made the Iranian Ayatollahs seem moderate in comparison when it came to homophobia. Great, I thought, this is going to be hard on both of us then. Then realised that I had just mentally conjured up an 'us' without actually doing any more than passing the time of day. When did I suddenly become half of a couple?
I told Emily about my runaway dad and my ridiculously clichéd hippy mother, but to be honest, compared to the ugly sisters, as I mentally christened Katie and Jenna, I guess my own fractured upbringing paled in comparison. I made sympathetic noises and let Emily speak for as long as she wanted. It seemed to me that she desperately needed to let off some steam.
Finally we sat in comfortable silence, just enjoying being with each other. I never felt like this with anyone other than Effy, but then she was like that with most people. Eloquent silence was Effy's stock in trade. This was different. There was a definite edge to our silence, comfortable or not. Something was going to happen, and we both knew it. The minutes dragged by, and I turned my head to her as she did the same.
"Emily..." I said at the same instant she said my name, and the tension went up about a thousand notches.
"The answer is yes" she said quietly, to the question I had not yet uttered
So I kissed her.
I'm not capable of accurately describing that first kiss with Emily Fitch, but here goes. Her lips were soft as velvet and slightly open. The smell of strawberries and vanilla were stronger this close, and I found that my hand had reached up all on its own and cupped her smooth cheek as we slowly explored each others mouths. It wasn't like kissing any boy I had ever kissed, it wasn't like kissing Effy, even though the softness and sweet scent had some similarities. It was just...Emily. It only lasted maybe 30 seconds, because I seemed to have temporarily lost the power of breathing. Oxygen deprivation required that I stop, but I think I briefly became one of those mad people who dive down hundreds of feet underwater without an air tank. Mere breathing was put on hold until I had to physically wrench myself away before unconsciousness.
The gap between that kiss and the second was pretty short. Just enough time to gulp in a few lungfuls of air, but the draw of that pretty mouth was too powerful to resist. I lunged forward and we clunked teeth painfully as our lips engaged again. Nice one Naomi, I thought, emergency dental work is really expensive, didn't you know?
We giggled stupidly for five seconds and then she looked at me again with that "Well?" look she had suddenly perfected, and I found myself air-locked against her again. The second kiss sealed the deal. This was a hobby I could definitely take up full time.
It was only the slow realisation that we weren't, as we hoped, alone in the universe, that stopped us kissing for the next 24 hours. The laughter and shouts from the pubescent footballers down the slope had changed to cat calls and jeers, and I saw we had an attentive audience. Someone had obviously noticed our free floor show, and there was now a crowd of 13 year old boys within 20 yards of us, giggling and throwing insults at the 'Dirty lezza's' Quote, unquote.
I sighed, more disappointed than angry at their crude insults. 13 year old boys lived on fantasies like this, so I guess their mums would be changing sticky bed sheets tomorrow morning, but I wasn't interested in furthering their education any more.
"Fuck off, all of you, before I kick your baby bottoms right back down to Bristol" I snarled, and years of perfecting my very own Campbell sneer paid dividends, because, with very little resistance, and just a few backward glances and lezzer jeers, they did.
I turned to Emily apologetically and reached for her hand
"Sorry about that. Do you want to go somewhere else?" I said slowly
She grinned up at me and batted those gorgeous long eyelashes before answering.
"My hero" she laughed "I quite like dominant Naomi"
My anti sarcasm defence mechanism almost kicked in automatically, but I swallowed the normal barbed retort before it emerged.
"My pleasure ma'am" I smiled "Always ready to defend a lady's honour"
She stood and linked her arm in mine, a move which I would have resisted with all my being a few days ago. Public shows of affection were not my thing, you know? But this was now, this was Emily. I introduce the new touchy feely Naomi Campbell, fresh from the box.
"I know a place" I stage whispered in her ear, and actually felt the shudder go through her body at the implication in my words. She looked up at me and squeezed my arm as we started walking. I did know a place, and I used up all my credits with God, hoping against hope that it would be as deserted as I needed it to be this afternoon.
Fifteen minutes and a mile or so later we stood on the outside of a tall brick wall, covered in ivy and wisteria. I stopped, and Emily bumped into me, not expecting the sudden halt. I caught the puzzled look in her beautiful brown eyes and pressed my finger against her lips to stem the inevitable question.
"It's OK. I have a cunning plan" I said, using my very best Baldrick impression. The puzzled look stayed on her face and I made a mental note to show her the entire Blackadder box set at the earliest opportunity. No one should go through life without seeing it at least once, its a given.
"This way" I said and she released my arm so I could hold her hand (which incidentally increased my pulse another 20 beats, just by itself) I tugged her along until we turned the corner, still skirting the wall. There was a small gap in the brickwork, covered with a piece of rusty corrugated roofing, and I thanked my creator when I saw that it had been undisturbed since last time I had to use this entrance. With a 'nails on the blackboard' squeal, it moved aside as I heaved it, and I led Emily inside. After pulling the metal back across the gap, I turned to see her looking around uncertainly.
I will admit, on first impression, it wasn't the best outlook. The weeds were waist high right across the garden, for that was what it was. More accurately, a vicarage garden. A hundred feet away, the old Vicars house loomed up like a refugee from a Gothic horror film from the last century. Emily turned to me and raised a nervous eyebrow.
"Not there" I said "That's just the house. This way"
I grabbed her hand again and she let me guide her across the overgrown garden, round the back of the house and into the small copse of trees which grew there. They may have been few, but the trees that grew there pre dated the house by a good fifty years. Oak, Ash and Chestnut, a hundred foot tall, some of them, and in the middle, masked by the others stood 'my tree'
An English oak, massive and heavy limbed stood as it must have done since Henry the Eighths time. watching the puny lives of us mortals impassively. My tree. My refuge since I was 12. It was only about half a mile from my house, but it might as well have been a thousand miles away on another continent. Because nestling on the lowest huge boughs securely braced with sawn timber joists, was my best friend from my childhood. The tree house.
Now I know tree house means different things to different people. It can mean anything from couple of boards slung across a branch right up to a grand Victorian masterpiece, with more than one room and ornamental cornices and wall covering. Well, this one was definitely towards the latter. OK, it was only about 8 feet square, and no one could describe the construction as ornate, but it had been built to last from timber cut from the surrounding trees over years.. I think the last vicar of this de consecrated church had been a firm believer in the Christian exhortation to go forth and multiply, because rumour had it he was the proud father of 7 children. All of which had long gone before I started using it as my private hideaway years ago, but it must have seen a lot of use in its time. It had been my refuge, when my mum and dad had been at daggers drawn before the divorce, and my study room when I had been doing my exams. No interruptions, and the more the vicarage grounds overgrew, the more I loved it. The ladder had two missing rungs, and the door to the house needed a good solid wrench to unstick, but it was watertight, cool and, with the addition of off cut carpet and an old leather couch someone had manhandled up there years ago, reasonably civilised.
I persuaded Emily to climb the ladder in front of me, not for a second, obviously, checking out her pert rear and smooth bare legs as she clambered up. What do you think I am?
When I had helped her unstick the wooden door and duck inside she turned and smiled at me.
"This is great" she laughed "How many unsuspecting virgins have you lured here then Naoms?" she added archly . It was her use of that nickname which threw me, not the jibe about seductions. Fat chance I thought. No longer a virgin maybe, but not exactly Kim Kardashian either. I don't think two brief relationships, a few (very short) unsatisfying shags with random guys and one never repeated sticky and orgasmic fumble with my best friend count as extensive experience. I think the expression on my face told her more than words how wide of the mark that was.
She frowned and started to apologise immediately
"Naoms, I didn't mean, I didn't think..." she stumbled, blushing.
I smiled brightly and stopped her rambling apology with that finger on the lips again (any excuse to touch her huh Naoms?)" I thought
"S'OK," I grinned "You're number 345, I think"
We both laughed then at the ridiculousness of that statement.
Then the awkward bit began. I sat down on the worn leather couch, after brushing some random foliage off it, and she sat tight against me, both of us looking out of the plastic glazed widow across towards the vicarage. Suddenly we both resembled bird watchers, fascinated by the view.
Again it was Emily, the shy one of the two of us who broke the silence.
"So..." she said "here we are then"
I turned to look at her and she raised one eyebrow quizzically at me. I started to giggle, she followed, and it turned into a full on laughing fit. Tears streamed down my face as I tried unsuccessfully to stop. My stomach hurt, for fuck sake, but every time I thought I had it under control, she lifted that impeccably trimmed eyebrow and I dissolved again.
Finally, I had laughed myself out, and the silence that followed was as loud as a passing express train.
"I..." I started "I just wanted..." and this time her slim finger pressed up against my lips.
"I know" she said simply "I know" and this time, she kissed me.
No audience this time, and as the gentle kiss deepened, I relaxed. This was easy, this was Emily.
She let me unbutton her top and I wished for a millisecond that our lips weren't joined because I wanted to drink in the sight of her body. But my hands were sending signals to my brain that were better than any Braille. I cupped her small breast in my right hand and she sighed into my mouth, her tongue slipping and curling round mine. Soon that wasn't enough, and I reached round with both hands to her back, searching for the clasp to her bra. She stopped my hand, and I thought that she was having second thoughts, which sent a stone plummeting down my stomach, cold and heavy. But then she broke the kiss with me for a second before reaching back herself and unclipping the clasp, quickly capturing my lips again. I knew then how several adolescent boys had felt whilst trying to distract me, clumsily wrestling with my underwear, as I tried to fend off their efforts at seduction. Although Emily of course, wasn't resisting. Just helping me undress her, and that thought ricocheted around my brain like a cruise missile. Emily wanted me to see her naked! My clothes suddenly felt far too restrictive. Was it just me, or had it become tropical in here?
Once I cupped her smooth breast in my hand, I wanted more. Nothing was enough. Her small nipple hardened quickly against my palm as I gently kneaded and stroked her. The small moan into my mouth that produced just fuelled my hunger. I needed to touch her...there. Now.
As I released her breast, she moaned again, but this time in disappointment. A moan that was repeated with far more urgency when I slid my palm up the length of her smooth thigh until it was under her short skirt. I stopped. Not because I wanted to, but her legs were closed, and I panicked that she was going to stop me going any further. I pulled my lips from her reluctantly, looking into eyes that were heavy with lust.
"Emily" I said, in a voice almost as husky as hers "I have to..."
She blinked at me like someone coming out of a coma, then looked down at my hand under her skirt.
"I've never" she started "not with anyone..."
Jesus, I thought. She wasn't joking about the virgin bit, was she? A tiny part of my brain wondered how any girl in the 21st century could get to 18 without surrendering to this sensation with anyone at all.
I swallowed thickly, my voice still blocked with the tension of the moment.
"It's OK" I said finally, disappointment clear in my tone "We can stop if you want to"
She looked into my eyes directly and searched them for something, I don't know what for several seconds. I desperately hoped she would find what she was looking for in them.
"No" she said eventually "I want to. I've been waiting for someone special, and you are special Naoms"
My heart jumped. She thought I was special! My hand was still resting on her thigh, fingers pressed lightly between her legs. Then I felt them part slowly and realised that she was signalling me to continue. I covered her mouth with mine, resuming the passionate kiss we had interrupted and slid my hand upwards until the heat from her radiated over my fingers. I cupped her over the thin cotton of her knickers, and the moan she sent into my mouth then reduced my own sex to a heat and wetness that I had never experienced with anyone else before. Not even my own self exploration in early adolescence had excited me this much . Her thighs opened fully and I began to slowly stroke and squeeze her there. Soon even that wasn't enough, and I scrabbled clumsily at her waistband, her skirt pushed up around her stomach as I tried to gain entry into her underwear. I had to touch her, to feel her.
When I finally slid my hand into her kickers, she pulled her mouth from mine, gasping for breath.
"Please" she moaned, and I prayed that she was begging me to carry on, not to stop.
Her hand answered me by moving down until it was covering mine through the thin white cotton. She began to guide my fingers as they explored the wetness there. Her body fell back against the smooth leather and her eyes closed as I began to probe and circle there. She was so hot . So fucking wet. I know that all girls know how to do this, I mean. I had been doing it to myself since I was 13, so I didn't need any guide books on the female anatomy. But this was strangely different, this was Emily. Somehow, I knew if I got this wrong? not just the sex, but the whole relationship thing, I could break her as easily as a bone china cup. I wasn't just holding her sex in my hand, I was holding her heart too, and it was pretty fucking scary, I can tell you.
But she needed me, not just what I was doing to her, so I swallowed my fears and carried on. I knew what I had to do to physically get her off, but watching the range of expressions on her pretty face as I entered her and made love to her, I knew I also had to do it with real love. She needed that extra element. This wasn't like Effy and me sharing a physical moment. An orgasm was the only similarity. I instinctively knew that Emily needed it to mean something, and it suddenly felt like a whole big new responsibility. Its an odd thing, making out with a girl and fucking analysing it at the same time...but I did.
Soon enough, her moans and cries got to the point when I knew what was about to happen. I didn't mean to do what I did, it just seemed right at the time. I wouldn't take it back, but I probably wouldn't have said it right then if I had the advantage of hindsight. Too many things have happened since because of it, but fuck it. I felt right, OK?
As her face contorted (and Emily Fitch in pre orgasm mode is about as lovely a contortion as you will ever see) and her hips rolled in time with my thrusts, I leaned forward, my head resting on her shoulder as she moaned and shook. I put my mouth next to her ear and whispered
"I think I'm falling in love with you Emily Fitch"
Which, when you think about it, is a fucking silly thing to say to someone who you have only spent a few hours with in your entire life, but, like I said, it seemed the right thing to do at the time.
I pulled back then, OK, mainly in a slightly pervy attempt to see her face when she lost it. She opened her eyes, which is precisely the opposite to what I do when I come, and gazed into mine.
"Oh God Naomi" she cried out "I'm going to...It's...fuck...Oh...Oh...OH!"
And she did. Explosively. There aren't many better sights in the world than a pretty girl coming (OK, who am I to be an expert on that subject? Whatever.) but Emily Fitch coming is definitely Helen of Troy territory. Epic and world changing. I made an instant promise to myself that no one would ever see her do that except me from now on. Period.
She shook, she shuddered, and my fingers were gripped by her walls like a vice. She cried out once, twice, three times, and each time her hips pumped against my hand wildly. I could have watched her do that all day. Seriously. It was that wonderful.
As she came down slowly, gasping for breath and looking into my eyes adoringly, my heart jumped at the realisation that I was seeing something no other person had ever seen before. An orgasmic Emily Fitch. Sounds stupid now, as I say it, but that's how it felt.
I kissed her after she got her breath back, gently and slowly. Her hands came round my back and gripped me tightly for long seconds. Then I felt wetness on my cheek, and realised that she was crying. I pulled back and looked at her nervously. Did she regret it, was I shit at it? All the usual Naomi Campbell uncertainty and fear rushed back in to fill the Emily Fitch shaped void.
"OK?" I said stupidly, looking for any sign of regret on her face
"More than OK" she smiled weakly, still in mid sob. "I had no idea it could feel like that"
"What, not ever...when you?" I said, suffering an entirely common Campbell amnesia
"Not ever" she said "I have tried..you know... on my own, of course ...but Katie was always around, usually at the wrong moment, and I could never be sure I wouldn't get interrupted, so I sort of avoided it a bit. Her eyes searched mine for any trace of amusement, but I was actually thinking what a bitch her sister was, for the hundredth time since I met her, so it was easy not to betray my surprise that she could get to 18 without finding out how much fun a spare electric toothbrush could be, but that's too much information, I know.
"It's OK Ems" I said, and realised we had both lapsed into shorthand for each other "It makes it all the more special, you know" I smiled at her, and she smiled back. Then I realised I still had my fingers in between her legs. Not inside her, it's true, but close enough to remind us both where they had been seconds ago.
She blushed prettily as we both looked at my hand between her thighs.
"Do you want me to...?" she said in a shaky voice
I seriously considered it, believe me. Watching Emily get off isn't exactly cold shower city, I can tell you. Although a cold shower would probably be the best thing at the moment, considering the dampness in my knickers.
"It's OK Ems" I said (there it is again, the cute nicknames. We'll be wearing matching cardigans next)
"I think you've given me enough pleasure for one afternoon"
She bit her bottom lip and I thought even that expression was way too cute for human consumption.
"Don't you need to...get some relief?" she finally managed, which actually made me chuckle out loud
"Err...yeah, but we both have to get back, I have a shift coming up, and Cruella will be scouring the hillsides for you?" I muttered, not at all sure I ever wanted to leave this safe haven. Rambling is a definite Campbell trait, and I was indulging it to the full.
I saw the disappointment in her eyes, but to be truthful, I really needed to get away to process this all. I haven't completely changed character. And my electric toothbrush had two spare heads...
I looked away as she straightened her clothes, and when I looked back she was almost brand new again. Just that unmistakeable 'just fucked' expression on her face came into my mind unbidden. I almost fucking said that out loud. Jesus. Some tact here Naomi?
"Look" I said finally, when I could look at her without random impure thoughts bombarding my brain " I really, really like you Emily" Again the small shadow of hurt crossed her face, For fucks sake Naomi, you said you loved her, my inner demon prodded. "And I want to see you again. Like soon, right?" I said quickly, probably too quickly.
She nodded uncertainly, searching my eyes again with that laser intensity for signs of betrayal
"But I have to go, you have to go, yeah?"
There was no actual reason for me to leave so quickly, we had hardly been here half an hour, but my inner demon was urging me to run run run, as always
I saw a barrier come up in her eyes then, and I knew she had seen through me easily. I cupped her face in both my hands, desperate for her to believe what I was saying, while not totally believing it myself.
"Listen" I said "I want to spend time with you more than any human being on this earth, right" Again the uncertain nod, hampered by my grip on her face
"What do you say to a proper date next time?"
She smiled, and it was like the sun coming out on a cloudy day. My heart pounded again at how easily this girl played with my emotions.
"Can I text you later?" I said
"Yeah" she said quietly "I'd like that, a lot"
We climbed out of the tree house, me casually, after years of practice, her gingerly and over cautious. The walk back to the main road took a few minutes and even in my flight mode 'post coitus', I allowed her to shyly hold my hand as we walked. Part of my brain was screaming at me that someone might see us, but the feeling of that small hand in mine was a powerful antidote.
I kissed her briefly on the lips when we separated, trying hard not to look around for any observers. Luckily her eyes were closed. Mine should have been, I know, but old habits, yeah?
I watched her walk down the avenue two streets from her house, unwilling to walk away before she completely disappeared. If I hadn't been concentrating quite so hard on her retreating form, I might have noticed I was being observed too. Another pair of beautiful brown eyes had been watching our touching farewell. But these eyes weren't gentle and adoring. They were angry, vengeful and as hard as obsidian.…
Fuck, shit, bollocks. With cheesy crust filler and extra anchovies. I'm sitting here with my silent mobile phone in one hand and my other hand somewhere I won't go into at this point in case there are children about, and wondering what the fuck just happened.
Everything was going so well too. I had wandered back to my house in that stupid mood you get when you just start a new relationship. You know, the one where you smile at small dogs and dribbling elderly owners for no reason at all. The one where you feel like the whole world is silently congratulating you for meeting someone very very special. And Emily was way off the Richter scale when it came to being special. All my previous relationships, and I use that term loosely to describe some of the abortive hook ups I laughingly called relationships, paled into entirely incidental mood music compared to this fanfare of a thousand heavenly trumpets. She occupied every part of my brain. I could still smell vanilla and strawberry, I could still taste those soft and demanding lips, and if I squeezed my eyes shut a bit, I could even see her dark eyes and bright smile. So this is what falling in love feels like, I thought, and even my years of carefully cultivated Campbell indifference cowered before this monumental fact. Instant, overpowering and frankly utterly terrifying. Suddenly, there was someone in my life who mattered. I mean really mattered to me.
I found myself in front of my own yellow door, which opened before I could put my key in the lock. My dippy mum barrelled out of it, all white cheesecloth and flowery skirts, looking as usual like a refugee from Woodstock circa 1969. Jesus, was she ever going to grow up? Being a Jimi Hendrix groupie in the 1970's might have been just about acceptable, but it's 2013 for fucks sake, its embarrassing! I cringed internally, but managed a tight smile before she bumped into me, sending me reeling against the porch upright with a painful bang.
"Oh, hi Naomi!" she said, entirely ignoring the fact that I had missed by a whisker several broken limbs. "Had a good time with...?"
I narrowed my eyes and stared back at her
"A good time?" I said sharply "Why would I be having a good time today in particular?"
It even sounded unconvincing to me, and sure enough, she spotted the insincerity instantly. My mum may be an ageing hippy with about as much understanding of the real world as our toffee nosed over educated Prime Minister, but she can spot a phony answer in the time it takes to say 'Greenham Common' (Oh yeah, she was one of those hairy peace protesters who spent months camping out against the perimeter fence of a nuclear war station back in the old days, but then you knew that, didn't you?)
"Is that a slight flush on the usually impassive features of my favourite daughter" she grinned, and I blushed, I fucking blushed. I NEVER blush.
"Oh" she said in a small voice "It's that serious, then" she finished "Want to talk about it?"
"Not if you were pulling out my fingernails one by one with pliers " I growled, trying desperately to lower my facial temperature by sheer will power alone.
"He must be nice, then?" she said calmly, staring spookily intensely into my eyes for some form of reluctant confession. I tried so fucking hard, I promise you, but that damned Emily Fitch had obviously disarmed my automatic defences, and I must have given my bloody mother some sort of unconscious signal, because I saw her own eyes change expression.
"So it's not a he?" she said, relentless in her interrogation technique
"None of your business mum" I said trying frantically to retain some sort of calm in the face of this questioning. My mum never questions me like that, I promise you. What was it with today, was the whole world going crazy?
She smiled again, and I knew I was in for one of those home grown homilies that Gina Campbell had stored up for every conceivable occasion. I steeled myself for the inevitable.
But instead she said quietly, and with no hint of snark
"Well, if she has this effect on my emotionally suppressed daughter, I really want to meet her. What's her name?"
"Sorry?" my mum said "I didn't catch that...Emma, was it?"
I raised my head and looked her in the eyes, something I think I've done 4 times in the past 4 years.
"Her names Emily" I said " and she's actually rather fucking wonderful"
My mum stared at me for a second or two before blinking twice.
"Wow" she said at last "Finally, the ice maiden melteth"
I searched her face for any sign of sarcasm or ridicule, but after a painful few seconds of silence, I could see that she had said what she actually thought, without lacing it with anything.
My bottom lip actually trembled. Great, I thought, now I've gone from emotionally retarded to Liberace in one afternoon.
"I don't know what to do mum" I managed eventually, my eyes brimming with unshed tears.
I felt her arms come around me as I stood there, and for the first time in years I allowed my mum to give me a proper hug. She squeezed me far too tightly, but I thought, fuck it, today is so weird, I might as well give up and go along with it. I wouldn't have been surprised to see the tin man, scarecrow and lion walk up the path behind us.
She finally pulled away, allowing the circulation in my chest to return to normal. She brushed a treacherous tear from my eye and looked at me silently for a moment.
"The people we fall in love with are never the ones we expect Naomi" she said quietly "Don't question it, don't over analyse it. Just go with it"
I started to bluster something along the lines of "Yeah, but what if?" but she stopped me by putting a single finger on my mouth. That's twice today that's happened. I mentally cringed, remembering the last time resulted in a rather intense kiss. Now that would be a bridge too far...but luckily she wasn't about to commit incest. Thank fuck for that.
"We can live our whole lives on what if's and yeah but's love" she said sadly "the simple truth is life is a massive fucking gamble, and we have no way of working out in advance what's the best option. We just have to spin the wheel and hope"
She stroked my cheek and her eyes seemed to drift away as she obviously remembered something from her own past.
"If you don't buy a ticket, you can't win love" she said finally, coming back to planet earth. "Take a chance, just take a chance"
And with that she released me completely and was gone in a haze of musky perfume and swishing skirts.
I stood there for a few seconds, absorbing what she had just said, and then mentally shook myself.
So, three hours later, I was in my room, after a very much needed shower (who knew emotional distress wears you out so much?) laying on my bed wrapped in one of those huge white fluffy towels my mum had liberated from a 'capitalist' hotel in London. My hair was still damp, but I couldn't be arsed to dry it yet, and listening to Jeff Buckley sing Hallelujah on my old turntable music centre (another liberated item from the dim distant past – my mum still had all her old vinyl records, and I have to confess, I quite liked to listen to some of her hippy shit when I was in a reflective mood. Just don't tell Effy, she would mercilessly rip me for it) made me even more mellow.
Just then my phone buzzed it's message alert. 'Emily' flashed up on caller ID
"Hi. Its me. R U OK?"
My spine tingled instantly and the relaxed ambience in the room disappeared faster than a politicians promise.
Stabbing rapidly at the keypad, before I lost my nerve, I answered her.
"Gr8. Just lying here after my shower, thinking about things"
After I pressed send, I cursed myself. What the fuck did that mean, Naomi? Thinking about what?
"Oh. Second thoughts?" the answer came back quickly. I didn't know that disappointment could translate into text, but apparently so...
"Not a chance" I tried "Just wishing you were here now" I pressed send as fast as I could
This time the message was preceded with one of those silly smiley faces I never used in texts.
":) Me too Naoms" It said "Did you say you have just got out of the shower?"
I grinned. Emily Fitch, you little perv, I smirked to myself, before replying
"Yep, just a warm and naked Naomi and a fluffy bath towel" Take that Miss Fitch, I grinned to myself.
Then before I lost my nerve, I thumbed another message
"Just an object of lust, me"
It took a few seconds more for the reply to come back, and I briefly wondered if I had pushed her a little too far. Some chance as it turned out.
"Oh shit" she answered "I think I'm in trouble"
"What sort of trouble?" I answered
"Naked Naomi type trouble" the next message said, and I grinned to myself
"Shopping?" I texted quickly, remembering her comment when we met on the hill.
"Nope, I'm defo buying, not just window shopping"
"How can I help madam?"
"Take that towel off"
"Wish I cud see u!"
"Wish you cud too. Can u guess what I'm doing now?"
"Oh God Naomi, really?, that's so fucking hot"
"Well, only one of us got off today, and it wasn't me ;(" (Jesus, now I'm using fucking stupid emoticons)
"I guess I owe you one then?"
"I'll take a credit note, Just call this a temporary payback"
My other hand was getting rather occupied, and I knew this teasing together with the afternoons 'activity' wouldn't let me last very long, so I took a chance. I pressed the green call button. Fuck this, I needed to hear that voice while I was still capable of coherent thought.
The ring tone sounded a couple of times before she answered. Her voice sounded breathless and nervous, but I put that down to the things we had been saying so far.
"Hi" she said "It's a bit difficult to talk. Katie is only next door washing her hair, so I don't know how long I can..."
"No problem" I said, the disappointment all too evident in my voice "I'll just have to take care of myself. Later?" I know it was harsh, but dammit, I was so fucking horny.
I heard her take a deep breath, and then she started talking really quickly. Like the longest continuous sentence in history.
"It's not that I don't want to. I've thought about nothing else since I got back here. I even had to go into the bathroom and...you know, do it, just to stop myself exploding on the spot. And you know I don't normally do that at all, not even at night, I mean this afternoon was so...intense, and I really want to...do it with you so badly, but if my sister catches us talking, she'll tell my mum, and then I'll get grounded and never see you again, and I couldn't bear that...and..."
"Emily, Emily" I talked over her, mainly because I was scared that she would pass out from lack of oxygen.
She stopped abruptly and I jumped in before she could go off on one again
"It's OK, really" I said in as calm a voice as I could manage naked with my hand between my own legs. "I just want to be with you and the moment sort of got to me"
"You really are so lovely" she said when I paused "And don't think I will hold you to what you said to me while you were...well, you know"
I don't think you can hear a blush on the phone, but it was a close thing. Both of us.
"I don't say things like that unless I mean them" I said "But you seem to have this effect on me which make me do the craziest things. Not that I was crazy when I said that to you today...oh fuck, this is all coming out wrong"
This time she spoke over my gabbling
"It's OK Naoms" (again the cheesy nickname which didn't even grate the tiniest bit)
"I understand its way too soon for that...word, but I kinda feel the same way about you, so don't worry, please"
I smiled to myself. She liked me too, maybe more than like. The world is an Emily Fitch shaped trifle suddenly, full of delicious things and bright colours.
"So where were we" I laughed
"Umm, making Naomi happy?" she giggled
"Sounds like a plan" I said and settled back onto my pillows.
"So what would you do if you were here now" I said, smoothing my hands over myself as I propped the phone on my shoulder.
"Punch your fucking face in with a hammer before burning your body, you fucking dirty lezzer bitch"
You know when people say its like getting a bucket of cold water thrown over you when certain things happen? Well this was worse. Much worse. I could hear the sound of Emily crying and begging for her phone back, and I could actually feel the menace and hate radiating from her sister as she shouted down the line
"I told you before bitch" She said in a voice harder than granite and colder than Antarctica " She's my sister. She's not fucking gay, and if I ever see you or hear from you again, I will personally murder you and bury you in the woods, get that?"
I wasn't usually a person that threats work on, but lying there naked, being bitch slapped by Emily's homophobic sister broke down any defence I could muster. I heard myself say "OK" weakly, before the line went dead.
So instead of a nice little self help session with the assistance of the lovely Emily Fitch, I wrapped myself, shivering, in the towel as the temperature in my room seemed to plummet. Jesus, this was fucked up. What was I going to do now?
Almost without thinking, I picked up the phone again and pressed number 1 on my speed dial.
Effy. Who else?
I never got hold of Effy that night, which was probably just as well. To say I was a mess would be the understatement of the century. I cried, I wrapped myself in my quilt like a new born and my brain ran over and over all the horrible possibilities Katie's dramatic intervention would mean to 'us' Yeah, us, I had just started to think that thought, and now there was no us any more, was there?
Part of me wanted to get dressed and go over to the Fitch house there and then, but the sensible side of my brain reminded me that I was about as welcome as a rattlesnake in a lucky dip over there, so anything I said or did would be counterproductive in the extreme. I desperately wanted to talk to Eff, but her phone kept going to voice mail. She even has a witheringly insouciant message, bitch.
"Hi, this is Effy. But then you know that. I'm doing something more important than talking to you. But then you know that too. Try again, why don't you"
It turned out she had been at a party, and I finally got a reply to my 6 messages sometime after 12 the next day. My eyes were red and sore from last nights crying as I gradually woke from a troubled doze. I think I actually dropped off just as dawn was breaking over the grimy Bristol rooftops, but I didn't feel refreshed, not a bit. I hate that 'coming to' sensation when for a couple of seconds you forget why you went to sleep angry and scared, and just for those tiny, precious seconds, you look up at the ceiling dreamily and look forward to the day. Then, Bamm. Reality strikes and it all comes flooding back. Emily. Katie being murdered and buried in the woods, Oh God, its all so fucked up. I choked back fresh tears.
"Hello" I said "Eff?"
"Nope, this is the Empress Cleopatra and I'm looking for some saucy extras for tonight's orgy. Interested?"
"Fuck off smartass" I said automatically to her normal sarcasm, "I really need to talk to you"
"I thought that's what we were doing, queen of the born again lesbians" she said crisply and my blood pressure went up another two notches.
"Not funny Eff, this is serious" I said, and my voice actually broke a bit at the end of the sentence. There was a brief pause while my best friend digested my tone.
"Be there in 10" she said briskly "Buy vodka"
The thought of drinking anything alcoholic after just waking up was frankly disgusting to me, but Ms Stonem was not so fussy.
If she'd been on an all nighter, I guess the thought of a top up wasn't as vomit inducing to her as it was to me. Luckily there was still a half full bottle of cheap supermarket Vladki in my top drawer, so I got up, doused my face in water from the washbasin in my en suite and cleaned my teeth before running shaky fingers through my bed hair and pulling on an extra large tee to cover my modesty, before fishing the bottle out and putting it next to a tumbler on my dresser.
30 minutes later, she appeared at my bedroom door, having been let in by my long suffering mum, who obviously knew from my absence at the breakfast table that I was holed up in Fort Campbell for the duration.
"You're twenty minutes late, and you look like you've just been gang fucked by JLS" I said shortly.
"Morning to you too babe" she smiled without offence "You look like shit too, and you haven't got the multiple partner excuse. Little Emily screw what civility exists in that skinny body out completely?"
My eyes filled with unbidden tears, and her demeanour changed instantly. The one thing you can rely on is Effy Stonem in a crisis, she slips into ninja mode so effortlessly, and I was grateful for her ability to spot genuine anguish in her emotionally retarded best friend.
"Sit. Now" she said, pushing me back until my legs connected with the mattress, forcing me to obey her command. She swiped the vodka and glass from the table in one move before sitting cross legged at the bottom of the bed opposite me, observing my face with that all knowing expression I had got used to over the years we had been close friends.
She poured a healthy slug into the glass, before passing it to me and taking a long swallow from the bottle herself.
I stared back at her and then down at the half full glass of clear liquid in my hand.
"I don't want a drink" I said, looking back up at her ocean blue eyes.
"Yes you do" she said simply, and without meaning to, I lifted the glass and allowed a decent quantity of neat spirit to fill my mouth. It tasted like shit, especially mixed with recently swilled toothpaste, but the second it hit my stomach, I was grateful for her ability to spot my need for artificial stimulants. A warm glow replaced the empty cold spot in my stomach which had been there since Katie put the phone down on me hours ago. I took a deep breath as she waited for me to speak.
"It's all gone to shit Eff" I finally managed
"Really?" she smiled sarcastically "I thought everything had gone so well, you got me over here to describe in graphic detail your total conversion to Sappho". She grimaced after swallowing another mouthful of neat Vladki. "I fucking KNOW that Naomi. Just how and why has it gone to shit, dumbass?"
That girl always knew how to press buttons with me, and it all came tumbling out, right from the moment I had perved on Emily's tits to the final crushing put down her sister had delivered before cutting me off, verbally and physically. Effy sat and listened impassively, even when I had to pause for tears and a fresh top up of vodka. The warmth delivered by the spirit wasn't making things better, but it was certainly dulling the constant ache in my stomach.
"So basically, cutting out the over descriptive heavy petting scenario, you met, kissed, made out in a tree house, declared undying love for each other and when she attempted to return the favour with phone sex after you got home, her evil sister overheard her, snatched her phone and told you to fuck off?" she said flatly.
"Got it in one" I said
"Hmmm" she said, swallowing another slug from the bottle. "Doesn't sound irretrievable. I mean, short of being held prisoner in Fitch Towers until she social services come calling, there's not much they can do to her. She has to go to college or whatever, doesn't she?"
I realised with a start that I actually knew very little about Emily apart from the fact that she smelt of strawberries and vanilla, had always been gay and made a delicious gasping sound when she came. I don't know where last bit of unwarranted over description came from, but the rest of it was true. Apart from sitting together in the Cineplus and yesterdays awkward 'first date' conversations about her awful sister and mum and general chat, we hadn't really got too far into the who why and when of our respective lives. I thought we had time for all that. Now it didn't seem as if we would ever have time.
Effy swallowed the last mouthful of vodka before dropping the bottle onto the rug beside the bed. She reached into her cotton top and pulled out a small metal tin and lighter, starting to build a spliff. I never ceased to be amazed, even in my broken state, just how much Effy can fit into a 32b bra. Apart from her tits that is. In a rare moment of humour I once christened her tits TAR and DIS, because there seemed to be much more room inside than physucally possible. Effy not being a Doctor Who fan, I had to explain the joke to her, which kind of killed the moment, and all she said was that I should stop obsessing about her tits, I wasn't going to get another chance to play with them, which obviously had the desired effect of shutting me up completely.
Once she lit up, she took a long draw and passed it to me. I haven't really ever been into drugs that much, but following the vodka kick, I thought fuck it, why not. I took the spliff from her long fingers and took a deep breath.
Once I recovered the power of speech, I passed it back to her gingerly
"Fuck Eff" I said, my voice gravelly with vodka and resin "Where do you get that stuff? Its fucking nuclear"
"I have my sources" she smirked "JLS do a good line in shit as well as bang a groupie sessions" Her eyebrow did that dance I knew and loved, and even though I knew she was kidding about sex with boy bands, nothing Effy told me was ever off the scale. She had done stuff which would make a sailor blush, and really enjoyed retelling her conquests in great and excruciating detail. More than once I had had to leave the room. Some descriptions are better left unsaid, right? Whipped cream is for fruit salad, OK?
"OK" she said "Lets plan..."
So we did.
Two days later, I was beginning to lose hope, despite my faith in the Stonem infallibility factor. Effy had found out that Emily went to the local college doing a post A level course in Film Distribution and Marketing , hence the interest in art house movies as part of her research. Her sister had left school and was working for her mother in a wedding planner business. She also had a dad who owned a local gym and fitness centre and she had a younger brother called James. They had lived in Bristol all their lives. How she found out all that is a mystery known only to ninjas and mystics, but Effy was both, so it didn't surprise me in the slightest. But none of it mattered at the moment because Emily hadn't been seen at college for the past two days and even using Effy's mums car to stake out the Fitch house in some lame arsed attempt to be secret agents, revealed nothing. No one came or went from the house in the four hours we sat there, and as evening spread over Bristol, and the lights stayed off in the house, I resigned myself to the fact that they weren't there. No answer from the phone either, even though we tried the anonymous mobile trick and using 141 from a landline. Nada. Nothing.
Effy was on her third spliff, and I was starting to fear for my physical safety, purely on a second hand toxin basis, so I sighed heavily, rolled down the window and breathed in some marginally fresher Bristol evening air.
"That's it then" I said in a small voice, my head still out of the car "She's gone"
"Fuck sake Naomi" Effy snarled, blowing another unwanted plume of fragrant smoke in my face, then throwing the evidence out of the other window. "You always give up, don't you?"
"What do you mean" I said weakly, knowing exactly what she meant.
"OK, time for some tough love bitch" she said and I saw her push the door lock button, trapping me for the inevitable bollocking.
"You're gay Naomi, right?"
I blinked stupidly. That wasn't what I expected to hear
"W..what?" I said eventually, mouth open like a person in a golf ball swallowing competition.
" You're G. A. Y." she said deliberately. "As a window"
"You've spent your whole life running away from who and what you are. Time to man up and admit it"
I honestly couldn't speak. All of my defence mechanisms were based on flight, and she'd taken that option away. My hand went to the door handle, but I withdrew it after she looked down pointedly at my useless scrabbling for escape.
"OK" she said in a voice that permitted no interruptions "Lets have a brief summary of life for Naomi Campbell so far, shall we?"
I swallowed some spit and stayed silent. It seemed safer.
"Fact. You've had two boyfriends so far in your 18 and a half years?"
I nodded dumbly
"That Matt from school, who spent the rest of the term after you dumped him telling everyone you're frigid and/or a lesbian?"
Again I nodded. This was going to get painful, I knew it. She was obviously on a roll.
"We'll forget about the fact that anyone with a penis that small wouldn't be able to penetrate a sheet of blotting paper, but anyway, I can safely say that particular union wasn't blessed with much physical activity"
This time I blushed. That's twice in three days. A record for the ice maiden. My mum would be pleased,
"Eff" I tried, but she waved away my attempt to interrupt her.
"If you're wondering, Matt and I had a little grope session in the nurses office 3 months before you decided he was the answer to your adolescent prayers. I spent more time trying to find his dick that holding it. You didn't miss out on much"
I couldn't decide if that comment warranted a smile or a frown so I did nothing.
"Then there was Tony...remember Tony"
Oh shit. I knew her fucking brother would make a guest appearance eventually. No chance of that bastard being accused of having no dick. I had personal evidence of that fact.
"What possessed you to get pissed and disappear upstairs with that arsehole of a brother of mine is a mystery, known only to Vladivar vodka and Cooks oblivion pills, right?"
I nodded silently. I remembered with far too vivid recall how her older brother, briefly on a break from his girlfriend, had taken advantage of my need to be seen to be 'straight' and persuaded me upstairs at a Stonem house party. I could still see in my minds eye the pile of coats on the bed, the rough hand down my knickers, and the contempt on his face when I resisted all attempts to drag them off me. He told me I would just have to give him a blow job, as part payment for wasting his time. I can still see that sneer and the oversized column of stiff flesh he had waved in my face as I sat on the bed. Throwing up over him and the coats didn't make me Miss Popularity that night, I can tell you.
Effy smiled tightly as she saw my face register the memories.
"It was my fucking bed too bitch" she laughed, without rancour. "Took my mum three washes to get the pillow cases clean!
I laughed nervously with her, hoping to Christ this was the last of her jibes. Fat fucking chance.
"And who can forget Josh?" she sniggered "Only a repressed lesbian could select a gay boy as potential boyfriend material. Jesus Naomi, he was so far out of the closet, he was in another room!"
"I thought her was nice, and he treated me like a lady" I said hotly
"Only because you were using each other as window dressing babes" she laughed
"More chance of Louie Spence and Joan Jett having a love child than you two consummating the union, huh?"
I felt I needed to at least put up some sort of resistance, so I interrupted her amusing attack.
"I slept with that guy on the ferry to Ireland that time!" I finally fished a genuine heterosexual shag out of my memory banks. There weren't many to choose from...
"Oh yeah" she smirked " Ten minutes horizontal jogging under a random Irishman and now you're straight as an arrow, right hun?"
I decided not to say anything else. Pointless.
"And then we had our little experiment" she raised that eyebrow, and I felt the temperature of my face reach stellar proportions.
She turned to me and her face got serious, real quick.
"Be honest, Naomi" she said quietly "Apart from what was obviously a very exciting encounter with the lovely Emily Fitch the other day, have you ever had a better time sexually with another person, than that time at my house?"
She waited for me to speak, and I honestly didn't know how to answer her. Did she want me to admit that the sex with her was mind blowing? Did she want me to say that it changed my life? Did she even remember much of what happened? No, cancel that thought, there were 80 year old elephants out in Africa with less recall than her. She remembered alright.
"OK" I said, dipping my head, because it was easier to answer her without those ocean blue eyes boring into mine. "I never had a sexual experience with anyone until Emily which came close to that night" I looked up finally "Happy now?"
"Perfectly" she said in a low voice "Me neither"
If I had been standing, I would have fallen over. What the actual fuck?"
Her hand covered mine quickly and she gripped my chin, forcing me to look at her.
"Don't panic Campbell" she smiled "I'm not going to jump your bones. I said I enjoyed it, which I did. So much that I did it again with someone else a couple of months later. Remember I used to babysit for Mr Bridger, the guy across the street from my house?"
I nodded dumbly, still trying to absorb what she's just confessed to.
"Well, his wife was really fit..." she smirked
"Annabelle?" I said, remembering a really pretty willowy brunette in her 30's with short dark hair and killer eyes. Fuck, my gayness was showing again.
"She came back early after one of their nights out. They'd had a row, and he had buggered off to his brothers house to sleep. We had several of glasses of wine, and she had this sheer red dress on with those amazing tits on show, and well, I just sort of went for it"
"You slept with her?" I said stupidly
"There wasn't a lot of sleeping Naomi" she said, her eyes glazing over at whatever memory that red dress gave her. "She taught me more moves that night than a whole year reading Diva can give you. That lady had been around, believe me"
"So, you're gay too?" I said, and for that I got the patented Stonem withering glare
"I didn't say that Naomi" she said quickly "I said I enjoyed it. I'm definitely into cock, but lets just say a naked and willing woman isn't entirely unpleasant to be with"
I just sat and absorbed what I just heard. Fuck me, its like confession central here, I thought.
She interrupted my totally inappropriate musing on red dresses and ample cleavage to go for the jugular. Ever the predator, Effy.
"So, you're gay, right?"
This time I answered her truthfully.
"Yes" I said simply "I'm gay, Effy"
"Hallelujah" she laughed. "The world has adjusted it's orbit. People can now sleep safely in their beds tonight. Well. Unless they're pretty little brunettes with big brown eyes called Emily. They are in big trouble". She finished with a wink and I laughed with her.
"OK" she finally said "Time for plan B"
And so we went home, she dropped me off with some vague promise of a plan B, and I spent the night gazing at the ceiling trying to get some sort of sense into my head. I'm gay, I said, I'm fucking gay. And although the ceiling didn't answer, it didn't fall in on me either. Effy was right, who gives a fuck. Time for Naomi Campbell to man up.
Three days later, we had solved the mystery. Still no sign of a message from Emily, or Katie for that matter, but the disappearing act was resolved when I got a text from Effy just as I was getting a bus for my Saturday morning shift.
'Emily's back' it said simply
I stopped fumbling for my bus pass and stood at the stop stupidly. The bus driver looked at me with the sort of look reserved for mentally challenged pensioners and gestured at me to show him the pass. I did, then walked down the bus, thumbing a reply as I did.
'How do you know?" I tried
"Coz their milkman is a friend of mine and he's just texted me to say their car has just arrived and her Gorgon of a mum has asked for 3 pints of milk"
I think that may be the longest text, by a street, that Effy Stonem has ever sent. Usually its a one word answer.
"Meet you after my shift?" I answered
"Try and keep me away, I feel the need to socialise with Katie Fitch" she replied.
Socialise. That's a nice word. I thought. Bit unlikely, but nice...
I should have stopped it really. I mean I'm against violence in all its forms. Living with my mother for my entire life, how else could I be? But Telling Effy I wasn't completely up for a physical confrontation with the evil twin wasn't going to make any difference. Effy does what Effy wants, so who am I to argue?
It took us three days actually. With more on the spot obbo's from Effy's mates (how do you actually meet fellow ninjas anyhow?) we were kept up to date. Still no texts or calls from Emily, although I checked my phone at least a hundred times a day. I guess that vindictive bitch had destroyed or stolen Emily's phone, not just snatched it. And it would be too much to hope Emily had saved my number elsewhere. It still hurt that she didn't find any other way to contact me, but I suppose living with the Bitches of Eastwick made it hard to contact the outside world, especially if she wasn't going to college at the moment. I remember my mum watching those old reruns of Tenko, and it had certain similarities with what I'd heard about the Fitch household...
Three days in which I cleaned up my act. Went to work, came home at normal hours, acted in character for my mum (for that read sullen, unhelpful and monosyllabic) It was like old times, but honestly, it still hurt like fuck. I couldn't escape the nights though. No matter how Effy tried to distract me with calls and texts. The fact that my phone kept buzzing made it worse if anything. Every time it did, I flipped it out of it's case and hoped it would say 'Emily' on the caller ID. But no chance.
So here we were, outside some neon plastered club in the City. One neither Effy or I had been to before. Far too shiny and Waggy for us. The queue outside looked like an audition for TOWIE, all fake tans and highlights. We didn't need to comment on it, a shared look was enough. Shit hole full of fake people. Very Katie, probably.
Even though we had never been there before, inevitably Effy knew the door staff, so no queuing for the caped crusaders. In we went, past ogling bouncers and the disdainful looks reserved for normal people by the terminally tanned. We went to the first bar we saw, all metal and shiny leather seats and looked around. It didn't take long. Across the floor, with a couple of Z list football types, was one Katie Fitch, queen bitch, resplendent in a shimmering silver cocktail dress. She hadn't noticed us yet and I looked at Effy to find her using her paranormal laser vision to sketch out a plan of attack. I had no idea what she was going to do, but I had seen many an unwary bully come unstuck when trying to physically dominant Ms Stonem. Skinny and waif like she may look, but that is far from the truth. We drank some skanky cocktail, all umbrellas and sparklers, because that was all that was on offer, but it tasted like the place, fake. I don't think much alcohol was involved, and at £8 a shot, you'd be better off licking the barman's apron if you wanted to get pissed quickly.
As I was scoping out the rest of the room, I had the funny feeling we were being watched, but I couldn't see anyone. Some of the private booths were darkened, and I really didn't want to know what went on it them. This was the sort of place where blow jobs were traded for fame, and I had absolutely no wish to have that image burned on my retinas.
Finally Effy stood up, brushing off her dark cocktail dress. Oh yeah, I hadn't mentioned that bit. We had both opted for the trusty LBD, and thank Christ that's all we had to do to get in, some of the 'almost on' outfits we had seen in the queue belonged on YouPorn. She tapped me on the shoulder and whispered in my ear
"Watch my back Campbell, I'm going in"
With that, she strode confidently across the floor to where Katie was holding court. I saw her rest her hand on the bare skin of Emily's sister's shoulder and the resulting turn and glare from Cruella. Effy whispered something in her ear, and there was a short, but animated two way conversation. To be honest, I cringed back against the bar as they passed me on the way to the quaintly named 'Dames' toilets at the back of the club. I didn't really want to find out this soon if Katie carried a shovel in that little shiny clutch bag. Coward, I know.
Anyway, what the fuck she said to Katie in order to separate the lioness from its prey I'll never know, but it worked. They walked purposefully into the loo's and I followed a discrete distance behind. I got to the polished door and slid it slightly ajar, listening for raised voices. Nothing.
This early in the night, there weren't many people in and out of the toilets. I guess everyone had topped up on booze and recreational drugs before they got here, so toilet refills hadn't yet started. I pushed the door open a,little wider and saw that they were facing each other in front of the sinks, with the fake gold taps these places always featured. The cubicles were all open and deserted behind Effys back, so I guess we had the place to ourselves. Fuck it, I thought, its my fight. I'm going in.
So I pushed open the door properly and walked inside. Both sets of eyes swivelled to meet mine. One set of blue's stared at me impassively, calm and measured. The others, chocolate brown and surrounded by far too much eye liner flashed in recognition.
"What the fuck is that lezzer bitch doing here?" she grated bunching her fists instantly "I thought I warned you what I would do if you showed up anywhere me or my loser sister went?" She took an aggressive step towards me and I confess to flinching slightly. This wasn't a fake attack, I think she might have carried out her threat if Effy hadn't been there.
"Katie" I heard Effy say quietly, and my would be murderer turned to look at her
"What?" she growled
"This" Effy said, still in that calm and untroubled voice. I heard the crack of hand on flesh before I registered the movement of the Stonem arm. Suddenly Katie was reeling backwards with a look on her face as if her lottery ticket had come up. A vivid red mark appeared on her cheek. She growled again, and spun to meet her attacker. Crack, crack crack. Three more meaty slaps sounded out. I think Katie was doing her best to fight back, but I've never seen so many blows landed in such a short time. Every time she lifted her arms either in defence or attack, Effy countered with another slap. I had no idea at the time why she wasn't punching, because I've seen her use those fists on grown men before, much to their shock and awe. Effy told me later it was deliberate. Punching is fighting. Slapping is insulting, like you're not important enough to waste fists on. Slapping is for bitches.
I heard the door open behind me and spoke without turning.
"Its busy" I said, and the door closed again quietly.
Again, two loud cracks sounded out, and this time Katie didn't even lift her arms. Her face was marked both sides with red weal's. Tears ran unchecked down her cheeks and she looked genuinely puzzled. This wasn't supposed to happen. Queen bitched don't get slapped into submission, do they?
With one final open handed roundhouse slap, Effy broke her resistance. Now Katie was crouching, her hands not threatening, but over her head. I heard her snivelling, a stream of snot from her button nose spoiling the perfect make up for ever.
"St...Stop..What...w..what is this all about" she managed between strangled sobs. "What have I ever done to you, I don't even know you?"
Effy crouched down so her face was opposite the crying girl.
"You threatened my friend" she said in a voice as hard as ebony "You bully your sister and you're a fucking homophobe. Want me to go on?"
"What's all that to you?" Katie mumbled, wiping the snot across her face in an unsuccessful attempt to restore her dignity.
Effy reached down and grasped the front of Katie's clearly expensive cocktail dress, bunching up the material and pulling her uptight. I swear my lezza instincts are going to get me killed. With all that was happening, I still managed to notice that she had excellent tits, which were shown off nicely by the way Effy was holding her. Perv of the century award number 57...
Effy continued to hold Katie on her tip toes and pushed her face right up against that button nose.
"Now Naomi and I are going to leave sweetie. You..." and she looked around the deserted toilet once before looking back at Katie "...are going to try to repair the damage I have just inflicted on that pretty face before going back out to meet your public" she stroked Katie's cheek when she said that and I swear that frightened the girl more than the slapping had.
"No ones getting buried in woods but you Katiekins. And if you think I'm joking, just remember I came into your club and did this to you. Outside here, you're not queen bee, I am. If I hear that either Naomi or your much nicer sister suffer any form of injury or upset, I am going to come back and finish this, do you understand?"
I think Katie Fitch has a genuine death wish, because she actually laughed through her tears.
"Next time I'll be ready, bitch" she tried to bluster. Bad move
I didn't even see Effys knee come up, but it connected with what I am certain is a very sensitive part of the anatomy. A part I think Katie Fitch was planning on using tonight. The knee is so much harder than the pubic bone, don't you know.
I saw Katie sway, and her complexion changed from healthy to arsenic white in a second. I've never been kneed there, and after watching it happen, I hope I never am. She sucked in a long ragged breath and doubled up, as much as she could do with Effy holding the front of her dress. Effy must have known what was coming next, because she spun Katie round until she was face down over the sinks. At £8 a shot, I just hope Katie had been given the several cocktails she regurgitated in a moment. Because it would rate as one of the most expensive vomits in history otherwise. Effy let her heave and shake until she was just panting, all fight now gone from her.
Effy released her from her grip then, stopping only to open Katie's bag and pull out her mobile phone. She shook it in front of her shocked face and said.
"You get this back when Emily gets hers, OK?"
Katie managed an agonised nod, still trying to bend herself in half.
Effy turned and spoke for the first time to me directly
"Time to go babes. Katie needs some time to freshen up"
She turned back as we got to the door and smiled a steely grin at the writhing girl by the sinks
"Nice to meet you Katiekins" she said in a cold voice "Nice tits by the way. You should really lighten up on the lesbian shit. I could give them a go any time you want" She licked her lips luridly, and even through her agony, I could see the beaten girl wince anew.
Our laughter as we left must have tasted like pure poison to Katie.
Two hours later, cocktail dresses replaced with tee shirts and knickers, we sat in my room doing some serious damage to a bottle of vintage port my mum had hidden unsuccessfully at the back of the drinks cabinet.
I was still a bit in awe of the serious physical damage Effy had inflicted, and thanked my lucky stars, not for the first time, that she had my back. Effy as an enemy, I could live without.
"So Naomi" she said between gulping the rich red liquid in her glass in a way vintage port distillers would no doubt have groaned at. "Muff munchers 1, Homophobes 0 huh?"
I laughed at her straight face and drank some more
"Nice tits?" I spluttered "That would have been the final straw for Katie"
She eyed me carefully, and the smile faded on her face.
"Actually they were nice tits" she mused "Shame she's such a cunt. She's wasted shagging the reserve team numpties in that club. I would defo give that a go" Her eyebrow did that dance again.
I spluttered some more. Katie Fucking Fitch tipping the velvet? Never gonna happen, was it?
Just then my phone buzzed its message alert. I pulled it out from under the bed and flipped up the front.
"Emily" it said, flashing anxious blue at me.
Effy stood and walked gingerly to the door as I stared at the name stupidly.
"Looks like someone will be playing with Fitch tits soon" she grinned as she left.
The pillow I threw at her missed of course.
I don't know what I expected when Effy did her disappearing act and left me with the flashing text alert on my phone, but I am pretty sure it wasn't what actually happened. I looked at the alert for a few dumbass seconds and then pressed 'open message'
"We need to talk" It said simply. No kiss, no undying love message, just those four words. Great.
I thumbed a quick reply. "R U OK Ems?"
"We need to talk now, where, when?" came the almost instant response. Fuck, this didn't sound good.
"Here, at my house?" I texted hopefully back. If I could get her over here, at least she would be on my territory, my cowardly side urged me slyly.
"No. The kids park, ten minutes?"
"K" I answered. No point in trying to draw anything more out of Emily now, it was obvious she was pissed off. I wondered what sort of fanciful take Katie had spun her before returning her phone.
I dressed in my blue RNLI sweatshirt, skinny blue jeans and black Converses, and put a light grey hoodie over my shoulders . Looking at myself in the mirror before I left my bedroom, I grimaced at the sight that greeted me. Standard lesbian attire much I thought? All I need is a rainbow hair-band and I'll be a fully paid up member. I'm turning into my fucking mother, with added gayness thrown in.
Slinging a casual good bye at the closed lounge door, where said mother would no doubt be watching something eco friendly on BBC4, I stepped out into the cool night air, I stopped on the porch for a second and took a deep shuddering breath. Why was it everything seemed out of my control nowadays. Three weeks ago I had been a (OK, reluctantly) vaguely heterosexual teenager with a so so job and daydreams of travelling across Europe in the spring with my best friend. Nothing very exciting, nothing very challenging. Boring, mundane and not a bit threatening. In that small time I had adjusted my sexuality by 180 degrees and become part of Effy's dynamic duo, bringing truth and justice to the grimy streets of Bristol. Now I didn't know who the fuck I was, or what I wanted out of life. Except it all seemed to depend on someone else now. Not me, but a small brunette with killer eyes and a funny little way of gasping when she came (Stop it Naomi, sex is obviously NOT on Emily's mind at the moment)
I swallowed, and zipped the hoodie up to my chin. Fuck it. I had to find out. I walked quickly across the road, down the steep hill and up the other side, between rows of identical terraced houses, until I was at the kids skate park we'd agreed to meet at. Luckily no little ankle biters were showing off their skills on wheels at this time of night. At least we would have the place to ourselves for whatever little miss Fitch had in mind. I wasn't a big fan of public humiliation at the best of times, and just at the moment, I was feeling especially vulnerable.
She wasn't there, so, walking to the fenced off little kids area, I slung a leg over the bucking bronco artificial cow thingy and tucked my chin into my collar. Suddenly, the night didn't feel quite as mild. I kicked my Converses idly on the footrests while I waited for her to arrive. I must have daydreamed for a few minutes before I felt the prickle on my neck indicating the presence of someone behind me. I turned my head quickly, because if it wasn't Emily, it could just have easily been our friendly local rapist, or a drug dealer, coming to see what fresh meat had wandered onto his patch. I wasn't. It was her.
"Hi" I said in a voice brighter than I felt. She looked steadily at me for a few seconds without answering. Build the tension, why don't you Fitch, I thought to myself miserably.
"Hi Naomi" she finally answered " Thanks for coming". Lovely, so formal.
"How can I resist my beautiful brunette lover" I said cheerily, and then mentally kicked the shit out of myself . Fucking hell Naomi, way to go with opening lines. I saw her blink several times, and realised that humour was definitely an unwanted guest at tonight's meet and greet. I shook myself, then looked down at the floor. This was going from shit to Hades in less time than it takes for Katie to sneer at my dress sense.
"Sorry" I managed when she didn't answer at all "You're obviously pissed off. Lets hear it then" I looked up and stared into her brown eyes. Bad move. She pinned me with them, and I temporarily lost the power of movement. I'd seen those eyes laughing, crying and orgasmic so far in our brief relationship. I hadn't until then, seen them as hard and flinty as her sisters. They shared that much at least, I thought despairingly, before she opened her mouth and spoke in a tone she had never used before in my company. flat and uncompromising.
"What part of beating up and humiliating my sister, oh, and stealing her phone, did you think would impress me Naomi?" She said quietly. "Was I supposed to rush into your arms, weeping and thankful that my 'friend' and her thuggish sidekick had beaten and bruised my twin sister?" The last two words came out a lot harsher than the ones that preceded it. Her eyes were now dark with anger and that pretty mouth, the one that I had daydreamed about kissing almost non stop for days was now a thin set line of disapproval.
"I...I'm sorry Emily..I just wanted..." I stuttered, trying to explain and failing spectacularly. " I wanted to help..."
"Save it Naomi" she hissed "What part of that tiny, fucked up brain of yours worked out that mugging my sister would resolve our problem?" Again the emphasis on sister. It's a twin thing, I though hopelessly. Never even had a sister, let alone one that looked like an evil Chucky doll version of me. I was way out of my depth. Only child, you know.
"I don't know what the fuck I ever saw in you. You're such a low life skank" she grated, and that broke my paralysis. That fucking hurt.
I'm ashamed to say that I lost it then. I have never been much good putting up with insults, and many a time my fists have settled disputes with bitchy girls in locker rooms and behind bike sheds, when diplomacy would have been more productive. I should have just shut up and taken my medicine like a good girl, but that would have meant forgetting a whole lifetime of sarcastic put downs and retorts in one evening. Was never gonna happen.
"ENOUGH, stop right there!" I said bitterly, and she took a quick step backwards. Part of me wanted to stop right there myself actually, but I was on a roll, and I didn't heed the sudden flash of fear in her eyes. Red mist and all that.
"No more playing nice then. Time for some home truths on both sides " I stood right up in her face and looked into her eyes again.
"First, your fucking sister is a homophobe, a bully and, excuse me for bringing reality into this surreal conversation, but a bigger skank than I will ever be" I paused for breath, and before she could get a word in, rushed on " Is there a single stiff prick in Bristol she hasn't sat on?"
The sudden sadness in her eyes should have stopped me right then, but when I get going, its usually only personal violence or the onset of illegal drugs that can halt the Campbell invective.
"Lets both be honest then" I sneered, "You seem to be happy to be her fucking doormat, pretending you're not gay, allowing her to dictate who you see and who you sleep with. That's a fucking healthy relationship, isn't it?"
I saw tears form in her eyes then, but my mouth was metres ahead of my brain at that point.
"You had a choice Emily, and so you've decided to make me the villain of the show. OK, I shouldn't have let Effy hit her, I shouldn't have let her steal her phone, but I was fucking desperate"
"I've put myself on the line for you, and what have you done? Hidden in your bedroom, doing whatever Katie decides is good for you, and left me dangling like a fucking glove puppet. Well, here is the news Emily. I'm not a mug, and I don't appreciate being made to feel like one. Go back to your sad little life, pretend you like cock, because that's what Katie wants and just leave me the fuck alone"
I threw Katie's phone onto the rubberised matting under the kids apparatus, and gave her one last cold stare before turning to go.
"Wait" I heard, and fuck me if my feet didn't obey. I gritted my teeth, willing my body to obey the commands my brain was sending, but she has this Kryptonite power over my bodily functions, I swear.
I turned back to see her straightening up after picking up Katie's phone. She looked at me sadly, tear tracks now visible on her cheeks, and I felt a shit for what I had said to her, but it was out there now. You can't take it back. Life's not a soap opera, full of awful insults followed by instant make ups. Some things can't be unsaid, and I'm pretty sure my little outburst was one of those things.
" I trusted you" she said simply "But I can't now. It would never be the same"
My heart dropped another two feet as the adrenalin rush of my temper tantrum faded.
"You may be right about Katie..." she said
May?, I thought, and almost snorted. That's one thing I was 100% right about.
"But you're wrong about me. I have to do what I think is right. My sister is in absolute bits back at home, and you're lucky my parents are away so you're not having this conversation at the Police station. So, I'm sorry this has happened between us. I can't forgive you for what you've done, and I think it would just be better for both of us if we go our separate ways, OK?"
I nodded silently. It was actually the last thing I wanted, but I had no answer for her brutal logic.
I couldn't just leave it though. Another Campbell personality trait.
"We both know what we had was special Emily" I said, my voice starting to betray me by breaking at the end of the sentence " I'm sorry too, but mainly because you can just throw it away so easily, I fucking liked you, in fact I think I ..." the L word hung in the air, silent but flashing like a neon sign.
I just couldn't say it. Not here, not now.
My eyes were filling with tears now, and I don't cry in front of anyone. Period.
I turned again and started to walk back across the kids area. As I did, I heard a quiet voice say something low. It sounded like "I'll miss you" but I could be wrong. It could have been anything.
To say the next month was weird is a bit of an understatement. At first I went through the traditional stages of romantic separation. Grief, sadness, anger and melancholy. In no particular order, if I'm honest. I was fucked off in the extreme with everyone. Emily, Effy, Katie and most definitely me. I stayed in my room for 48 hours straight. My mum was used to my regular periods of moody isolation, so she kept me well supplied with bacon rolls and lots of coffee. I read, I doodled, I looked out of the window a whole lot, I ignored all and any texts from my friends (especially Effy) but mostly, I laid on my bed and felt fucking sorry for myself. I got very friendly with a small black spider who lived in the corner of the ceiling. He was my only friend and sounding board, when I felt like pouring my heart out. Luckily, he was a very small spider, otherwise he would have rejoined the outside world very quickly. But the third morning, I looked up when I woke blearily from another nights interrupted sleep, and he was gone. Fine, another deserter, I thought bitterly. My life is so fucked up, even arachnids have had enough of witnessing it. They should make a documentary about me. On second thoughts, I don't think the Samaritans could handle the volume of calls they would get from depressed viewers, so maybe not.
Effy, of course, was immune from the petty mood swings of mere mortals, so when at about 11, my mum tapped on my bedroom door, ignoring my initial "Fuck off!" and poked her head in, preceded with two steaming cups of coffee, I pretty much knew who was going to be following her. Sure enough, Mystic Stonem glided in, looking like she was on casters, as always, dressed in her heroin chic ripped jeans, Uggs and silky top with far too many buttons undone and definitely no bra underneath. Jesus, I thought, looking with undisguised interest at the points of her nipples, if I went out looking like that, I'd be face down in an alley with a queue of rugby players waiting their turn on me, but she gave off this aura which seemed to protect her from incidental lust.
"Alright?" she said simply, folding herself onto the end of my bed and crossing her legs. She nodded politely at my mum as she left the room silently, and fixed me with that all knowing stare.
"Not really" I said, hating her for looking so effortlessly good when I knew I resembled nothing more than microwaved shit, dressed in a crumpled plain white tee and faded bed shorts. My hair was uncombed and I hadn't worn any make up since that night. I knew I looked a fright. Unlike Effy, most of us have to try to look good, and I was all out of trying.
"Talk, Campbell" she said flatly. So I did. I was fed up with telling the spider my problems, he hadn't come up with any fucking answers, so she got the lot. 10 minutes of non stop verbal vomit.
She nodded in all the right places, winced a bit at what Emily had said about us mugging her sister and blinked indulgently as I recounted my uncontrolled temper tantrum at the end. Finally I stopped, all talked out, and she nodded to herself slowly before opening her mouth. I felt like a panellist on Jeremy Kyle.
"So basically, plan A didn't work?" she said quietly.
"Well no shit, Sherlock" I said angrily " Went like a dream actually. She now hates me, her sister has resumed total control over her life, and I'm sitting in my bedroom, two days short on wages this week, because Cineplus don't do sick pay, with no fucking idea what to do now"
"So we go to plan B then" she shrugged, and I wanted to slap her for being so fucking calm whilst sitting in the wreckage of my miserable life. Luckily, what little common sense I still had stopped me. I had seen what those thin arms could do in a physical confrontation, and I didn't want to lose my dignity any more than I already had. I settled for words.
"Plan B?" I said hotly "Plan fucking A was a complete and total disaster. Why would I want to go along with anything else you come up with, Eff?"
"Because you haven't got one of your own, and as your best friend, my job is to rescue your sorry arse when you royally fuck up" She smirked, and I almost reconsidered the slap option.
"Me fuck up?" I spluttered. "It was you doing the heavyweight boxing impression, remember?"
"Yeah" she sighed "Not one of my better nights on reflection, but hey, it could have worked"
I looked up at the ceiling, then closed my eyes to prevent myself launching suicidally towards her, and breathed hard for a few seconds, trying desperately to calm my raging brain.
Opening my eyes again, I stared at her impassive face and wondered for about the thousandth time why the fuck we were even friends.
"I know I'm gonna regret this, but what's plan B?" I said hopelessly. She was right, I had no plan of my own. What could possibly make things worse...
Two nights later, I realised with sickening certainty that not only could things get worse, they could get fucking catastrophic.
Obviously we didn't queue. I've already said that Effy has magical powers, but they seem to include VIP entry to all and any nightclub in Bristol. She can't have shagged all the door staff, so it must be the industrial strength drugs she carries with her at all times that gained us entry to this swanky bar. A quick smile and a palm swipe with the huge black guy on the door, a few hateful stares from the TOWIE blondes standing in what looked like their underwear shivering in the queue, and we were inside yet another upmarket Bristolian establishment. It was the third we had visited tonight, and I was still no wiser about what she was up to. We didn't come to these sort of places usually, not on the sort of wages I earn, that's for sure, and if it wasn't for the fact that every sleazy Z list celebrity and semi pro footballer in Bristol wanted to buy us drinks, I think we would have gone home already. But here we were. In another glass and metal bar, heavy bass from the sound booth assaulting my eardrums and the usual crowd of wannabe's and never gonnabe's hanging round the VIP area, waiting to be selected, like cattle at the West Country Show.
We approached the brightly lit bar, and a couple of fake tanned male faces turned to greet us.
"Whoah!" the first goon shouted with a lop sided grin revealing his almost radioactively whitened teeth. "New fanny! Things are looking up Mike" This to the identikit twat beside him. They both grinned stupidly at us like sharks sizing up their next meal. I gave them my best eye roll and started my patented fuck off routine, but they were immune. Either the tanning salon or the extreme dental work had probably fried what little brains they possessed. I saw Effy turn from ordering our drinks and she fixed the mouthy one with an impassive stare.
"Sorry boys" she said, voice dripping with insincerity "Actually we're practising lesbians, so you're wasting your time. Thanks for the drinks though" She smiled sweetly and swayed past us, holding two brimming cocktails. The barman was looking expectantly at our would be seducer, his hand held out for the no doubt exorbitant price. We left them to it. Fuckers.
"Practising?" I giggled as we walked away "I thought I was pretty good at it" and raised my eyebrow at her. Bad move.
"One brief shag on the sofa isn't exactly the Karma Sutra, Naomi" she said grinning and I blushed as usual. Damn her ability to top anything I came out with. "But if you're up for more lessons, let me know"
We walked over to a quieter area and drank from the oversized glasses, looking over the rims at the dance floor. The usual crowd was there. Lots of perfume, running makeup and over-tight clothes, and that was just the guys. I had no wish to join that mosh pit.
"You still haven't said what we're doing here Eff" I shouted in her ear, trying to overcome the deafening bass.
"Hunting" she said simply, and carried on casually looking around. Just then something must have caught her eye, because she gripped my elbow in the hand that wasn't holding a glass and nodded in the direction of the upper balcony. I stared in the direction she pointed and my heart fucking pounded like a drum instantly. It was Katie. Resplendent in a black sparkly cocktail dress, slashed down one side and with a neckline that showed off her admittedly mint tits a treat. Surrounded by admiring guys of course, but there was no mistaking her face. Trouble is, it wasn't the face I dreamed about, just a sort of cheap facsimile, and my expression froze into an almost Effy like impassivity as I looked at her working the crowd. In her fucking element. Probably deciding who was going to be the lucky lad tonight, I thought bitterly. I bet her doormat sister is sitting at home with a bumper book of Sudoku for company.
Just then, she must have felt the stares, because she looked down at us. I caught a definite flicker of fear in her eyes, which was quickly masked by anger and she and Effy had a bit of a staring competition for a few long seconds. Then I caught something else in those brown eyes, something nasty. She smirked and whispered something in the ear of the guy who had been trying his hardest to get into her knickers. He nodded, and pushed through the crowd behind them. Still the smirk, and I knew nothing good would come from this. Was the guy on his way to security? Did he have a crowd of goon like mates who would take turns gang raping us outside in an alley?
It turned out to be worse. Far worse. Seconds later, I saw him push his way back to where Katie was standing. Another guy, shorter, with curly brown hair followed him, holding onto the hand of a girl. Not just any girl, you understand. The girl I had been fucking agonising over for the past few days. Emily Fitch.
She looked totally gorgeous too, and that made my stomach lurch again. She was wearing an electric blue sparkly cocktail dress identical in design to Katie's (of course, I thought, it would have to be identical) Her dark hair was up revealing her smooth neck, and her skin almost glowed in the flickering lights above her. She didn't look that happy to be honest, and I saw her saying something urgently into her sisters ear. The guy beside her was holding her tightly around the waist now, and I gritted my teeth, hoping for lightning bolts to strike him dead on the spot. I could hear faintly Eff saying something beside me, but I was frozen to the spot, transfixed by Emily's beauty and her total unavailability. This was so fucked up.
Finally, as Emily pulled away from her sister, who was grinning at her maliciously now, I saw her look quickly down to where we we standing. Her eyes met mine, and for a few seconds we connected. If eyes could talk, mine would be pleading with hers. I willed her to walk away, come down to us and leave this fucking place. I saw sadness and hurt in them and then a second later the fucking dicksplash holding her waist whispered something in her ear and she turned away and smiled at him. I felt like she had dumped me all over again. Jesus, this hurts, I thought. This fucking hurts. I saw Katie's smile of triumph before I had to tear my eyes away from them and look dumbly at Effy.
"That was all just for show, Naomi" she said "Don't let that bitch Katie win so easily. It's what she wants, so don't give it to her"
She held my chin in one hand and her eyes fixed on me, holding my gaze like a hypnotist.
"Two can play that game" she whispered.
My stomach was cold and knotted, but I managed to keep it together, holding back the tears and hysteria which were fighting to overcome me. I dragged in oxygen, willing myself not to let Katie see me break down. Eventually, I could tear my eyes away and I looked back up at the balcony, but they were gone, just another crowd of shouting and laughing piss heads in their place.
"Come on" Effy said, and grabbed my hand. I wanted nothing more than to leave now, drink a whole bottle of cheap vodka in my room and feel sorry for myself for about two years, but my best friend wasn't having any of it. She weaved through the increasingly drunk crowd, and up the stairs until we were on the top level. It was quieter up here, apart from the few loud individuals on the balcony edge, the rest of the area was filled with couples and small groups talking. The music below was slightly less ear drum damaging and you could actually hear people talking at near normal levels. My eyes searched for the very thing my brain feared the most seeing, but I couldn't see them anywhere. I should have known that ninja's see whatever they are looking for, because even though Effy was looking around the same as me, she immediately spotted them. In the corner, sitting in a booth. Six of them. Katie and her prey, Emily and the knob she was with, and another couple, a dark haired skinny girl in a red dress and a guy with olive skin and Italian looking features. Great, I thought, happy families. The guy Emily was with still had his hands on her waist and my teeth ached as I ground them. A low growl came out of my mouth without warning, and I felt Effy grip my hand painfully, warning me to calm down.
"Don't" she said simply "Like I said, two can play that game"
She walked us over to the group, my legs almost losing the power of motion as I reluctantly followed. If she hadn't been holding onto my hand, I think I might actually have collapsed onto the stick carpet and made star shapes on the floor, like a three year old deprived of sweets in a supermarket. I was that desperate. I tried to keep my face neutral, but I was losing the battle.
Katie spotted us coming over and I saw again the flash of fear on her face, quickly hidden. I guess she hadn't got a lot of faith in her partner saving her arse if Effy got violent again.
When we were finally standing right opposite them I saw Emily look up from the obvious attempts her partner was making to monopolise her time and the shock on her pretty features was almost worth the agony I was going through, seeing her with this fuck-wit guy.
Katie bristled and stared at us aggressively
"What the..." she started to growl, but Effy stopped her words with some of her own.
"I just wanted to thank you Katie" she said, smiling innocently.
"Thank me?" Katie said dumbly, momentarily losing her thread at this turn of events.
"Yeah, thank you" Effy continued "If you hadn't broken up Emily and Naomi, I wouldn't have had a chance with her" she said, looking sideways at me.
Now there were six sets of puzzled looks. Katie was processing the words, but she looked a long way off solving the actual problem. The guys were all doing the same, with varying degrees of understanding. The other girl was smirking, so I guess she was quicker on the uptake than Katie. Emily was just looking at us with her pretty mouth open, like she had been shot with a stun gun. I must have looked pretty similar, because I hadn't seen that one coming at all. Effy slid her hand round my waist and pressed her body up against mine. I saw Emily's eyes flick over us and she closed her mouth with an audible snap. Someone at least was joining up the dots.
Katie finally regained the power of speech. She stared hard at us both, looking for the punch line, but Effy's face was impassive, and the shock running through my head had rendered me speechless, so she didn't get any clues there.
"How nice for you" she sneered unpleasantly "That's all sorted then. You two lezzers can pretty much fuck off now then?" She shook her head and turned to her sister. "Right Ems?"
It took about three seconds of Emily staring silently at us before Katie tried again "Right Ems?"
"Err.. right" Emily finally said. Tearing her eyes from Effy and me. I saw the bright sparkle of tears in her eyes, and knew with a tiny tiny twinge of satisfaction that it most definitely wasn't alright with Emily, any more than it was with me. The dork that had been living in hope all night spoke then
"Emily...what does she mean.. You're not gay...are you?" He stared at her like she had grown another head.
Emily shook her head, but when she looked back up at me, the outright lie might as well have been written in neon over her head. She wasn't fooling anyone, least of all herself.
"Nothing wrong with a bit of girl on girl action" the numb nuts sitting next to Katie tried, stupidly as it turned out
"You can pretty much fuck off as well Sam" Katie growled, and I saw him shrink visibly under her withering stare. " Bad enough these two losers are trying to turn my sister, I don't need your fucking help" She dismissed him with a turn of her head, and I had the satisfaction of knowing that this was one stiff prick which was going to go home dry tonight.
"Well, lovely to catch up Katie" Effy smiled, totally unfazed by the poisonous atmosphere she had just created "Me and Naoms have places to go, things to do, drinks to drink...and, of course, muffs to munch" She punctuated that with a lewd swipe of her tongue across her bottom lip. Katie shuddered, the guys drooled and Emily's date frowned uncertainly.
I got one last look at Emily as Effy pulled me away. The tears that had threatened were now brimming over in her eyes and I almost tore myself away from my friend. Emily was hurt, and I wanted to comfort her. But Effy was stronger, both physically and mentally, and I felt myself being propelled across the floor and up to the bar.
The rest of the night was a bit of a blur to be honest. We drank an awful lot, mostly bought by hopeful guys, especially when we caused a stir by err... dancing a fair bit. Well, I say dancing, but Effy made good and sure we put on a first class stage show for the guys buying drinks and our little group of Effy haters in the corner. She held me closer and closer, until by the time the club was emptying at 3 am, she was virtually fucking me upright. I could blame the vodka, I could blame my tiredness, but I guess the main reason I let her was because it made me feel something after the emptiness of the past few days. She kissed my neck and whispered filth in my ear for long minutes. What can I say, I was drunk, I was horny, and I'm fucking gay, OK? What's a girl gonna do?
I never saw Emily leave, although I spent a fair bit of time staring over at where the group still sat. I'm pretty sure we fucked up more than one evening. Katie spent most of the rest of the night staring anywhere but us or her date. Emily looked at her hands a lot and her date seemed to be doing a whole lot of questioning, which she didn't seem to answer. I couldn't help the small glow of satisfaction that gave me.
Effy and I stumbled out of the club when there were only a couple of others left in there. My head was swimming and luckily there was just one taxi left. I don't remember the journey home, being put to bed. Or much else.
I do remember the hangover, however It was 1812 Overture time in my head. Sometime the next day I gingerly lifted my head from the pillow and turned sideways. Effy was gently breathing next to me, her face a picture of innocent repose . A mixture of nausea, shame and utter embarrassment swelled in my body and I knew I had about ten seconds before I lost whatever I had still in my stomach, so I quickly lifted the quilt off me and stood swaying for a second beside the bed before bolting for the bathroom. The only saving grace was the fact that I seemed to still have my underwear on. And so did Effy. I think that sniffing my fingers was a bit over the top, but it was inconclusive anyway. Thank God, I thought, before saying his name several times between heaves over the sink. Never again, I think is the phrase?
Its been a week now, and I'm starting to weaken. Effy phones and calls round most days, and I've been back to work every shift like a good girl. If nothing else, the wages help with the mind numbing vodka supplies. She doesn't come in on Wednesday, of course. I stood in my usual position by the barrier, hoping against hope that she would come in with her pretty face and shy smile and just want to watch a movie. But nothing, nada, nitch. Just the sorry bunch who make up our usual world cinema clientèle. I tear their tickets distractedly, not even making eye contact. Fuck the "Have a good time" I'm supposed to deliver. The manager scowls at me, but he's short handed, so I get away with it. At least for now.
I keep my phone on me all the time, night and day, even resting it on the folded towel when I'm in the shower, and I definitely think the steam has affected the touch screen, because its cloudy now. Like me. Everything seems murky and unclear. Should I phone her? Does she really hate me? Who was that fucking guy with her? Will I go through my entire life wondering what if? A million questions unanswered. Effy tries, but she's spent a lifetime being mysterious, and I don't know what the fuck she is really thinking most of the time, let alone now. She just says I have to play the waiting game, but its easy to say that when you aren't the one waiting. She goes out on the pull and shags the odd random, just to keep her hand in, but even she seems distracted, or more distracted than usual, even for Effy.
About a hundred times I go to thumb a text to Emily, and then bottle it before I can press send. My thumb hovers over the button so long, I get cramp and have to drop the phone before my hand seizes up. This is crazy. Plan B may have been temporarily successful, but I'm no nearer seeing her or hearing her husky voice again. And then there's that fucking dick who was with her...My stomach clenches every time I remember his sweaty hands on her.
So, I sit in my bedroom and look out of the window a lot. Bristol is going through one of its bleaker weather patterns, and it suits my mood exactly. Grey clouds scud urgently over equally monotone rooftops and the rain drums on the window. Great. I think about one of those old scratchy Tamla Motown records my mum listens to, Four Tops or something. 'I wish it would rain' I think its called. Well it is raining, but I don't need that to hide my tears, I seem to have an unending supply.
Finally, a week and a day since we all went to that club, I crack. Laying on my back in the early evening gloom, I decide to text her. She can only ignore me, right?
"Emily, its Naomi. Please talk to me?" Pathetic, I know, but I'm all out of subtlety.
One minute goes past, then five, and then ten. Nothing. I get up, wash my face in the en suite sink and pull what's left of a bottle of Navy dark rum out of my top drawer. I don't even like rum. It was the only thing left in my mums drink cabinet when I got home from the early shift at Cineplus. She's gonna shit a brick when she sees how I've laid waste to every bottle of vaguely alcoholic liquid in there. You name it, I've pillaged it. Whisky, Gin, Vodka and two bottles of disgusting cheap white wine from some Spanish holiday trip. I left the rum till last because I fucking hate the sweet sickly taste. It was my Grandads, when he was alive. He was an old sailor, and a bottle of Lambs Jamaica was always in the cupboard for his visits. God knows how he stomached the stuff, the smell alone makes me gag, but it's alcoholic. It'll have to do.
I stumble back to my unmade bed, collapsing against the padded headboard and raise the dark bottle to my lips, steeling myself to take a swallow. As I tip the bottle up, I catch a flash of blue from my phone. I nearly drown myself in neat rum, snatching it up off the bed.
'Emily' its says and I start to tremble. I open the message with no hope at all, its probably a straight 'get fucked' anyway. I remember getting a text from Camelot when I was naïve enough to do the National Lottery. It said 'Please log onto your account, there is news about your ticket' I had about thirty seconds of breathless excitement while I logged onto the site, dreaming about cruises and fast cars. 'Congratulations, you have won £10' it said, and the disappointment was acute. Bit like now, really, I steeled myself for the sting of rejection.
"Where?" It said, and I swear my heart banged so hard I was sure my mum would hear it at work. Hope, its a bastard, isn't it?
I really didn't want to meet at the kids park again, the memories of that place were all dark and grim. More in hope than expectation, I texted a reply.
I held my breath for a minute, hoping I hadn't blown it. If the park had miserable memories, maybe the tree house was too full of happiness for her to stomach.
"Half an hour?" she answered, and I had to suppress a full on Indian war whoop. Fuck!
I was there a full fifteen minutes before her, and I spent most of it checking my hair and makeup. I've never been a big one for too much slap, but this was my one shot, I didn't want to blow it.
I heard her before I saw her. A muffled "Shit, fucking spiky bush" would have made me giggle any other time, but the laugh dried in my throat as the tension built. I heard her hands pull at the stiff door, and then she was standing in the opening. Fuck me she's gorgeous, was my first thought, actually it was my second and third too. Totally inappropriate, given the situation, but completely true. She was wearing a pair of tight black leggings with a really short blue denim skirt over, and a Blink 182 logo'd black hoodie over her white tee shirt. Did I check her out? Yep. Instinct will out every time. Did she notice? fuck yeah. Busted, I thought and lowered my gaze to the floor. This is no time to bring a baby into the world, my treacherous brain sang in my ear.
She was a bit breathless after weaving her way through the overgrown garden, and up the rickety ladder, so I just stood there for a moment, inspecting my toes.
"Well" she said finally and I looked up to see her standing there, arms folded defensively, looking at me with eyes which gave nothing away.
"Can we sit down Emily?" I said quietly, and for an instant she paused, flicking her eyes over the leather sofa in the gathering gloom. I knew exactly what she was thinking. The last time we had sat together on this worn leather, things had happened. Crazy, breathless, amazing things. Well, I certainly didn't expect that to happen tonight.
"Please" I said
"OK" she said flatly, and carefully positioned herself at the very end, about as far away as you can get from another person sharing your perch. I sat down at the other end.
We looked at each other for a couple of seconds before she spoke first
"Hows Effy?" she said briskly, and I spotted the bear trap in that question pretty damn quick.
"Effy is my best friend Emily, not my lover" I said evenly. I saw her flinch at the word lover and rushed on "I saw you with that.." I swallowed, the words just wouldn't come out "guy, boyfriend, lover" I said, nastily "and I just wanted to show you that I can be wanted too"
It sounded pathetic even as it left my lips, and I searched her eyes for humour or scorn, but what I saw wasn't that. Just sadness, which kinda hurt more actually.
"He's not my boyfriend or my lover" again that word seemed to give her pause. "He'd like to be, and my sister would definitely like me to hook up with him, but it wouldn't work would it?"
"I don't know Emily" I tried a small smile "Why not?"
She stared at me defiantly, and I saw that she wasn't quite the docile dormouse her sister packaged her as.
"Because I'm fucking gay Naomi. And so are you"
I sat there for another two seconds, digesting that. Hallelujah, my spinning brain whispered to me, at least she's not in denial. However, I knew there would be a kicker, and here it came, rushing down the tracks I was tied to.
"But it's not that simple Naomi, is it?" she said sadly, and my heart bounced back from its elevated position to reside yet again somewhere near my Converses.
"Isn't it?" I heard myself say. Stupid, stupid, stupid answer.
"Not if you live in my house it isn't" she said in a a voice so low I had to strain to catch all of the sentence.
"Will you let me talk to you Emily?" I said when my voicing could be trusted not to disappear on me. My throat was constricted as if I was starting a cold, and it felt like I was negotiating a verbal minefield without a map. She looked up at me and fixed me with those Bambi eyes and I nearly melted in a puddle at her feet. How did she do that? I thought Effy was the Ninja?
"That's why we're here, isn't it" she answered. "And I can only be out for another half an hour, Katie is hoovering up half the menu at Mama Amalfi with her latest conquest." She spat the last two words, and I momentarily revelled in the sensation of her open distaste for her twin. At least she seemed to be off the 'noble sister' thing for the moment.
"OK" I breathed nervously " Here goes"
"Emily, I want to be your girlfriend" I said flatly. I saw the panic in her eyes and ploughed on regardless, I would only get one chance at this, and I was not going to fuck it up this time.
"But if you can't do that. I will settle for being your friend, if that's all you can offer"
She smiled at me uncertainly, and I chalked up another small win. Now for the hard bit.
" I have no words to describe how sorry I am for what happened to Katie" I said and watched her eyes harden at the memory of Effys humiliation of her sister. I don't know how it was relayed to Emily, but I bet anything you want, Katie spiced it up even more than it deserved. "But I honestly had no idea that was gonna happen. I thought Effy was just going to have it out with her and settle things that way, but things went sideways pretty quickly" I tried a tiny smile, and at least she didn't have that flinty look in her eyes any more, just a blank stare.
"Your sister doesn't respond well to diplomatic persuasion, does she?" I tried hopefully. This time she smiled herself and I guess that may have pressed some familiar buttons within her.
"Not exactly" she said grimly "She's very much a fan of the nuclear option when confronted"
I smiled again and this time she allowed her face to relax. Time to press on then, I thought.
"Effy too. So we had an irresistible force up against an immoveable object, right"
Just a nod this time. Was this progress? I didn't allow myself to hope too much. Early days and all that.
"I was just so worried that I would never see you again Ems" I said with feeling and her gentle face encouraged me to go on. "And that's something I couldn't live with. You've become really important to me in such a stupidly short time, it seems like I can't remember a world where you weren't an important part of it. I know this sounds dramatic and over romantic, and believe me, speak to any of my other friends and they would be slack jawed at the 'new me'. The words 'Who are you, and what have you done with Naomi Campbell?' would definitely be popular" I paused for breath, but she wasn't stopping me, still that shy smile on her face so I carried on.
"What do I have to do to make you trust me again?" I said finally, all out of ideas "I'll do anything"
She looked at the floor, then at her hands for a few seconds. Enough time for the flock of butterflies in my stomach to take off and mill about for a while. The smiles disappeared from both our faces.
"I honestly don't know Naomi" she said quietly and I kicked my heart back and forth between my shoes for a moment, knowing it couldn't get any lower to the ground. What else could I possible offer her other than this grovelling and frankly embarrassing continuous apology? The old Naomi would have just got up and left. I was never one for lost causes, unlike my mum, so things were definitely simpler pre Emily Fitch. I briefly considered laying prostrate and kissing her shoes, but my change in personality only went so far.
"Do you want to be my friend Emily?" I said eventually. Someone had to break the uncomfortable silence.
"More than you know" she said, and this time when she looked up, there were unshed tears surrounding those beautiful eyes. "But Katie and my mum..." she trailed off.
"One thing at a time huh?" I ventured "We can meet here, and if we're careful, talk on the phone and text. I take it Katie doesn't check your phone every day?" I know that was unnecessarily harsh, but I wouldn't have put it past the evil twin to do just that. Again Emily smiled sadly and I knew I wasn't far from the truth.
"That sounds lovely Naoms" she said, and my heart sang at the use of my intimate nickname again. I felt briefly like rushing off, grabbing a daisy and tearing off leaves saying "She loves me, she loves me not" but resisted the temptation, thankfully.
I slid a bit closer to her. Fuck it was difficult not to be closer to Emily Fitch when we were alone. This was going to be hard on me at least.
"Is this OK?" I said, hoping like hell it was.
"Yeah" she breathed, and I got the scent of strawberries and vanilla again. "Friends, huh?"
Yeah, I thought, friends, right. I held her hand and she let me, I slid closer and she let me. I rested my head on her shoulder and she let me. For tonight at least, that was enough. We sat there for a bit, both thinking our own thoughts. The world was suddenly full of strawberries and fluffy bunnies for yours truly. It couldn't last, of course. We only had minutes, but I wanted to have something tangible to remember when I was alone tonight in my bed.
Finally we sat up, and looked at each other. Moment of truth then, I thought.
" A kiss goodnight...between friends?" I said, my lips tingling at the prospect.
"OK" she murmured "Just between friends, right?"
I cupped her face in both hands and drew her head towards mine. She closed her eyes, and before our lips touched I savoured the sight of Emily Fitch, surrendering to me. It was delicious.
When our lips touched, I actually got goosebumps all over. Soft, slightly moist and utterly irresistible, was my last conscious thought. It wasn't much of a kiss to be honest. Certainly not on the scale of the passionate ones we had shared last time we were here. But it was enough to make me feel it was something I would spend the rest of my life craving. No tongues this time, no scrabbling hands and wet warmth to look forward to. Just a kiss.
As we stood to go, I held both her hands in mine , as we looked at each other silently. Hope was burning in my chest like a flare. This would be alright, wouldn't it? Me and Emily?
"Well, I'd better go... Katie will be on the Tiramasu by now" she giggled shyly, and I laughed with her, relaxed for the first time since we had last been in this place.
"Will you text me?" I said, and she nodded. It was enough.
"There is just one thing" she said, and I cursed my over confidence bitterly. Of course there was, there always is.
"Katie and I are going to Sasha's party on Saturday, you know, the girl at the club with Freddie?"
I looked at her dumbly, before remembering the guy with the olive skin tone and the dark haired girlfriend who had caught on to the lesbian undertones pretty quick when Katie and Effy were verbally sparring.
"Oh... I mean yeah" I said "Have a good time Ems" I gritted my teeth and hoped it had come across as sincere.
"I'm sort of going with someone" she said, looking at me with a strange expression on her face. My heart did the basement elevator thing again.
"Dicksplash?" I said said in a voice harder than I intended. Of course. It would be wouldn't it?
"Huh" she said, genuinely puzzled, before understanding what I meant.
"You mean JJ" she said, at least having the grace to look down guiltily.
"If that's his name" I said in a cold voice "I prefer dicksplash actually.
Her eyes looked up at me and I saw hurt in them. "He's my friend Naomi" she said quietly and although I wanted nothing more than to remove that hurt expression, the old green eyed monster was roaring in my ear.
"Like we are friends?" I said, trying to hold her eyes with mine.
She shook her head "No, Naomi, not like we are friends. I know JJ wants more from me than friendship, he always has, since we were kids at school, but I've told him I'm gay. He doesn't like it much, but he does understand now. But Katie insists I take someone with me when we go out as a group, in case anyone makes the mistake of thinking she is gay too"
She looked up at me again and this time it was her holding my eyes.
"Which is a fucking joke considering the fact that I caught her snogging Jennifer Ramsey in the gym when we were both 14"
"W...what!" I said to that little pearl. Fuck me with a well oiled cucumber, You mean Katie Fitch is a lot less hetero than she makes out?
"Say that again" I said, not trusting my ears the first time round.
"True" she said "She swore me to secrecy, but I know for a fact they spent a lot of time 'revising' in Jenny's room during the summer. Didn't do a whole lot for Katie's grades, so I guess she prefers 'oral' exams to written ones" She winked extravagantly at my shocked expression.
We both burst out laughing at that one. Curiouser and curiouser, I thought. The evil twin has definitely dabbled with the power of the pussy, so why is she so hard on her obviously gay sister?
Emily must have seen the puzzlement in my face, because she stopped laughing at her own joke and spoke again, seriously this time.
"Katie is all about two things, Naoms" she said "Appearances and pleasing my mum. Being gay is almost like being a member of a terrorist cell in my house, so Katie figures if she can suppress any 'unnatural' feelings in herself, she can damn well do it with me. As long as my mum thinks we are two 'normal' twins, everything is OK. We get a good allowance each, we get clothes and holidays and mum doesn't ask too many questions about where we go and who we see. Katie spends a lot of time going from one limp dick to the next, and as long as I have JJ in tow, normal service carries on"
She swallowed thickly, and I knew this was a big confession for her.
"I've known that I'm gay since I was 14 too. Seeing Katie kissing that girl was the catalyst I guess. Oh, and Jenny was totally hot, by the way, amazing tits!" She giggled and I play punched her arm in mock horror.
"Perv" I said, and she laughed again. I could spend about three lifetimes listening to Emily Fitch laugh.
"So, I kissed a girl myself later that year, and knew from that second, that was who I am from then on. Trouble is, if I don't keep up the pretence, everything goes tits up overnight. No more Mrs Nice Guy, no more allowance, no more clothes or freedom to do what I want. And do you know what would be the absolute worst thing?"
I shook my head.
"No more seeing my best friend Naomi" she said and kissed me again. I let my heart rule my head all over again.
I wanted to say more. I wanted to tell her that she needed to get the fuck away from her mother and her hypocrite sister and the artificial environment she was living in, but something told me that Ems and me had made real progress here tonight. She wanted to be my 'friend' and she had opened up to me in a way I had never expected her to. Some things may take longer than I thought, but I had hopes, fucking high hopes.
"So you're going to the party with Dick..err JJ" I said, still bridling at the prospect.
"Fraid so" she said sadly "It's been planned for weeks. Freddie and Sasha have the house to themselves, her parents are in Morocco for the rest of the month. They live in this huge fucking pile in Clifton. You know Victoria Square?"
I knew the square. Massive Georgian fuck off mansions, most of them split into apartments, but million pound apartments. Sasha's parents must be minted.
"No chance of an invite Ems?" I chanced, but the panic in her eyes stopped me persevering with the joke
"Katie would go ape shit" she said, " Absolutely no chance. Sorry Naoms"
"S'OK" I said quietly "Just as long as 'JJ' doesn't get any ideas about converting you to dick"
Emily hung her arms round my neck and wet her lips. I instantly lost any interest in JJ's plans. God those lips...
"Not a chance babe" she smiled, and I lost myself in another thirty seconds of gentle kissing.
Finally, Emily looked at her oversized Police watch and shrugged resignedly.
"Katie will be on brandy and fake promises by now, so I'd better go" she said
"I'll miss you" I said as she turned to go
"I seem to remember saying that to you once" she smiled cheekily over her shoulder at me. "Lets not miss each other again, right?"
"Bye Ems" I said to her disappearing back, and sat back down on the leather couch.
I'm starting to think someone has kidnapped my sister and replaced her with a lifelike, but more pleasant clone. Since the evening Naomi and I thrashed it all out and restored some of the lost trust between us, Katie has been really nice to me. Strange in the extreme. I have been meticulous about keeping my phone with me at all times, and deleting all and any texts and call logs after Naoms and I have chatted. But she hasn't even looked at my phone, let alone mentioned the other night at that club, and apart from doing the very Katie like manic speed shopping in advance of Sasha's party on Saturday, she has gone out of her way not to bitch at me. OK, I am still very much second fiddle when it comes to conversations and use of the bathroom, but she actually stood up for me yesterday when James made some crude lesbian remark about my 'fake boyfriend'.
I sat open mouthed when she slapped him round the head, earning for herself a stern look from my Dad and a sharp rebuke from my mum. James has always been a serial perv in the making, but its has been one of my greatest dislikes how my parents always make allowances for him, even when he is caught looking at one of us naked in the shower with his maggot in his hand. He gets told off, but in that distracted, low key way parents dispense bollockings when they're not really bothered about the result. At least it made him shut the fuck up, which is something I have been trying to do for 11 years. Trust me, Katie may have met her physical match with Effy, but she reduces mere mortals like me and James to piles of volcanic ash just fine.
She helped me choose my dress, of course. Luckily this time not a replica of hers, but the sheer white silk Charmeuse with the gold edging was tasteful and although I'm not a big fan of one shoulder strap minis, it did look good pretty good on me. Trouble is it shows so much flesh I have had to agree to leave the bra at home, because, as she said with infallible Katie logic "It's not as if JJ is gonna get his hands on your tits anyway is it little sis?"
I hate the 'little sis' nickname. 7 minutes isn't what you would call a massive age gap, is it? She has traded on that seven minutes all our lives and it was getting a bit old, to be honest. Still, that was the only bad moment this week.
So we have one day to go. Katie is busy networking to make sure the right people go (and by definition that the wrong people definitely don't) and I am spending every spare moment texting my 'friend'. I have got pretty good at sitting on the bath edge with the shower running, having conversations with Naomi. Occasionally I risk actually talking (well, whispering) to her, but its very nerve racking with Katie in the house. She has ears like a bat, and I don't want any repetition of that night. No thanks. So mostly texting. And mostly fairly innocent stuff at that. Its kinda like having an intimate pen friend. We talk about her work, her family and my coursework. We skirt around the L word, although its there in every conversation. Is it possible to fall in love with someone this quickly? She never says anything about me leaving home, but I know its the elephant in the room with us. I know it's stupid, I mean I'm 18 for fucks sake, but 18 years of being one of twins, and under my mothers roof have left me very badly equipped to be on my own. We make plans, but vague, half formed plans involving summer breaks and stolen evenings, but since we met in the 'our' tree house, we haven't actually been together yet. I promise her that after this fucking party, I will come to her house next week on the pretext of a study session. It worked for Katie with Jenny, so its good enough for me. Maybe then we can take things a step further. God knows I want to. They say abstinence is good for you, but since I met my beautiful blonde, I don't seem to be able to stop these lurid dreams. Dreams where I am naked with her, somewhere we can be together alone for as long as it takes. I know its fairy tale stuff, but there have been more solitary self exploration sessions when Katie is out of the way in the past week than in the past two years. I'm frightened I might wear it out... That little button doesn't unscrew, does it?
So anyway, tonight's the night. I pour myself into the white dress. My hair is down this time, freshly washed and combed to distraction so it hangs over my shoulders in gentle waves. I have been growing it lately, and even Katie has commented how it suits me longer. I consider sensible knickers for a second, but with Katie fussing in and out of the room, stealing my best underwear as fast as she spots it, I finally make a grab for that tiny thong I bought on a whim last year and never wore. It hardly feels like I'm wearing anything at all under the thin material of the dress, and for a few seconds I look at myself in the mirror, wishing I was going on a date with Naomi tonight. The thought of her hands exploring over and under this dress make my cheeks glow and I shake myself. This is no time for damp patches, Emily.
Finally we are both ready. Katie in her tight black mini dress, tits on show as always, and me in this. I thank my mum at the bottom of the stairs as she looks at me admiringly. She paid for the dress of course. Where is a student gonna get £300 for one night out after all, but that's the price I am paying for mute obedience these days. She makes just one catty remark about Katie's abundance of exposed flesh, but its a waste of time, and she knows it. Katie has been dressing to kill since she was 13. I'm surprised she has never been jumped in an alley, but I guess her natural predator persona has saved her from harm.
Just then the doorbell rings and my Dad springs into action. Oh God, please not the hunt with dogs speech. He's been making that one since middle school. Katie and I exchange an eye roll, but just for once he resists. Our dates stand nervously on the step, waiting to be invited in. My Dads teeth are bared in a too wide grin and I catch the usual fear in JJ's eyes. He's been 'taking me out' since last year, off and on, and I don't think the feral look in my fathers eyes have failed yet to loosen his bowels.
Katie's date is more confident, and reaches out to shake my Dad's hand. I see them exchange manly over grips and at least the guy is clever enough to let my dad win. He isn't one of Katie's usual dead eyed, perma tanned, lower league football types. She dumped Sam after his faux pas at the club. Katie never did appreciate lesbian digs, and this guy, Mike I think, seems a bit more mature than usual. He is smartly dressed in an expensive looking blue jacket and white chino's. Someone's been reading GQ, I think. He didn't get those in River Island... JJ of course is more formal, he doesn't really do casual. His suit is grey, and new looking, but a bit boring and I think that floral tie will definitely have to go later, but I guess he'll do.
I smile at him. After all, he is doing me a favour, I suppose. Being my male arm candy without any chance of a shag after is a bit of a chore, but he is infallibly willing. Poor fucker.
We get out safely without any more macho peeing competitions between my dad and our dates and trip up the path in our 4" heels (that's me and Katie of course, not the guys) and step into the waiting taxi. I narrowly escape a disastrous fall as I do, but JJ manfully supports me and I ignore the glare I get from my sister. Her fault anyway, I never wear heels.
Ten minutes later and we're pulling up outside the house in Victoria Square. Its an imposing Georgian block of a house, four stories high and set back in substantial grounds. The basement level is dark and silent, but the middle two floors have every front window open and I think to myself that the residents of the square are in for a disturbed nights sleep if the volume at 9pm is anything to go by. Some mindless techno shite is pumping out, and the front door is open, couples and singles going in and out like its the revolving door at Selfridges. There are a few stragglers down the street, drinking from champagne glasses, and I realise it's going to be a long night. Katie's eyes light up at the sight, and she's out of the cab before her partner can do his gallant thing and help her out.
"Right" she says determinedly "Lets get this party started"
She opens her black handbag and pulls out a plastic zip lock of tiny white pills. She hands two to Mike and one to JJ, who looks at it suspiciously before closing his hand over it. She puts two in her mouth before raising her eyebrow at me.
"Up for it loser?" she sniggers nastily as I blink at her. Right then , normal service resumed, I think. Oh well, fuck it, might make the night go quicker. I take the bag from her fingers and pull out two pills. Before she can stop me, I slip them on my tongue and dry swallow, They taste disgusting and chalky, but I get them down.
Katie looks at me with something resembling respect on her face.
"Way to go Emsy" she smirks "I got these last week. Fucking ace E's these. You'll have a really good time tonight now""
I don't like the smile she exchanges with Mike, but I put it down to my usual paranoia, and turn towards the party, JJ's hand in mine. Lets have some fun then, I thought grimly.
Two hours later, I am certainly having that. A couple of tall glasses of real champagne, a shot of tequila and a cool beer have reinforced my mood. And the MDMA has kicked in big time. I'm in the middle of a group of wildly swaying and grinding people. That crap music suddenly isn't so crap. I can actually feel the bass rippling up through my bare feet (I dumped the shoes an hour ago) and every time I turn I feel the drugs accelerating the sensation of omnipotence and euphoria. Katie was right, these things are fucking A. I feel a pair of hands slide over my hips from behind and push back. Its a guy, I can tell that from the semi hard on which is pushing into my lower back, but suddenly I don't really care. His body presses up against me and I let him run his hands down my sides until they reach round and cup my tits. He breathes hotly into my ear and shouts over the music
"Mint tits babe, and no bra either, you naughty girl"
Normally I would run a mile at the suggestion of being drunk and stoned on my own, let alone being felt up by some random, but the drugs were rushing through my system and it all seemed totally surreal . I swing round and hang my hands round his neck, not really seeing his face, in the blur and rush of heaving bodies around me. We dance, well, he grinds against me and I laugh manically, my hair wet across my face and my head back, looking up at the ceiling, which pinballs around. I feel a hand grip my arm and a surge of childish resentment that someone is interfering in my crazy bubble. A head touches mine and a harsh voice rings in my ear
"For fucks sake Emily, you're practically shagging him in the middle of the room"
My eyes focus, and I see it is my sister, pupils wide with chemical stimulus, but obviously more in control than me.
"If you want to shag him, bitch, there are plenty of rooms upstairs" she shouts
"Don't show me up" she growls threateningly
"Why not" I shout back "A shag would do me the world of good, right Katiekins" I slur, staggering against her.
The guy I was hanging onto butts in then
"Let me take her somewhere quieter" he leers, winking at my sister drunkenly "Unless you want to join us too, dinky tits, I'd fucking love a twin thing"
She gives him the finger and drags me bodily away, into a side room, where couples are talking and drinking, rather than screaming at each other and whirling about. I still feel amazing, the drugs are even now increasing their grip on my sense of reality and I giggle at Katie's stern expression.
"What's the matter, Katie" I say in a mock serious voice "I thought you wanted me to fit in...wasn't I fitting in babe?"
She rolls her eyes again, but then looks at me in a weird way, like she's sizing me up for something.
"If you're gonna shag someone" she says sneering "At least make it the guy you came in with. Here hold this" she gives me her glass, and I gulp at the burning liquid thirstily. I don't know what the fuck it was. She comes back a few seconds later with JJ. He's had a few himself, by the looks of him, tie off and hair wild and curly, but I hope to hell he didn't see what I had just been doing in the other room. My fuddled sense of friendship towards him merged into the drug induced love of everything MDMA gives you and I smiled at him crookedly as he stared at me.
"JJ!" I shout "My best fucking friend, my best fucking lover!" I grabbed him by the lapels and planted a wet kiss on his open mouth. His arms came up to stop me, but as I kissed him, his resistance faded. I felt his arms go round me, and he relaxed into the kiss.
I vaguely heard Katie speaking and I pulled away to look blearily at her. She was standing there, a strange, triumphant look on her face
"Take her somewhere JJ" she said. "Somewhere quiet. I think she needs to lie down".Her mouth twisted in amusement. The words 'quiet' and 'lie down' stayed in my head.
A few minutes later, and a lot of dodging and weaving through drunk and stoned people, and we were on the top floor. There were fewer people here, and the ones that were here were only interested in each other, not the couple threading their way through the crowd, looking for a quiet place, as Katie had described it.
Suddenly we were in a bedroom. Small and dark, with a window open and over the square. The sounds of the party below and the traffic outside seemed remote and distant.
The rush was still on me and I spun JJ round as he turned and closed the door. My head was starting to spin, and I stumbled a little as he gripped my forearms.
" I think I may actually need to lie down JJ" I said thickly. The tequila, champagne and lager were mixing unpleasantly in my stomach, and the room felt hot and oppressive. JJ helped me onto the double bed, and I stared up at him as he hovered over me.
"You're a good friend JJ" I said "Sorry about all this.." I waved my arm drunkenly.
He had a strange look in his eyes too, but I couldn't quite work out what it meant straight away. My fuddled brain tried to arrange the world into a format I could process.
"I really like you Emily" he said quietly, and I tried to suppress the stupid giggle that formed in my throat.
Then he lifted his hand and put it on my tit. Not hard, not demanding, just rested it there. The room stopped swimming for a few moments while I looked at his hand and then up at his face. He squeezed slightly and I gasped.
"No JJ" I said in a voice suddenly weak with foreboding "I'm not... you know...I don't..."
He shushed me and I felt his other hand releasing the clip at the top of my shoulder strap. Cool air suddenly swept over my upper body as he stripped the dress down to my waist.
"N...No JJ" I said again, but his hands slid over my breasts, his eyes hot and excited as he squeezed and kneaded.
Suddenly I was very afraid. I didn't want this. I knew it with every part of my brain, chemically enhanced or otherwise.
"Please JJ, not like this" I said. "It's me, Emily...I'm gay, remember?"
"I can't help it Emily...sorry" he said in a voice I hardly recognised. I had a sharp and deep coldness running through my belly. I am going to be raped, I thought dumbly. I'm going to be raped.
He dipped his head and kissed me, open mouthed and hard. My hands came up to push him away, but all my strength seemed to drain out of me. I moaned "NO" into his mouth, but his lips were hard and persistent. I felt his knee come up and force his leg between mine. I felt a rising sense of panic, but he was too strong. He was going to do what he wanted with me, and I couldn't stop him.
I felt him lift off me, and saw him tearing off his jacket and shirt as he knelt between my legs. My eyes filled with tears and I tried again
"JJ, please" I begged, but his face came down and hard demanding lips covered mine, smothering the scream in my throat.
I had given up then. I couldn't stop him. What was it the Chinese say? "When rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it" A sob escaped my mouth, as he reached down to pull up my dress...
Suddenly there was a burst of harsh light. The door was wide open and two people stood there. The difference between the dark of the room and the bright hallway light meant I couldn't see who they were, but I knew the voice immediately.
"E...Emily?" the voice said brokenly
I tried to sit up, grabbing the strap of my dress in a vain attempt to cover my naked upper body. JJ looked for a second as if he was going to make a fight of it, but I felt his weight come off me and he stood by the side of the bed, looking back and forwards between the two people in the door way and me on the bed. Finally, he muttered something indistinct and pushed past them out into the hall..
Naomi walked over to the bed and stood looking at me with eyes huge with hurt and betrayal.
"It wasn't what you think" I said weakly,and knew when the words left my lips it was utterly pointless "I wasn't... I didn't want him to..." I tried numbly to explain.
"Save it" she said in a voice as cold as Siberia "Katie has already explained"
I saw tears running down her cheeks as she turned to the other figure.
"Can we go home now Eff?" she said in a voice so hopeless and sad, it broke me into pieces.
"Naomi please" I begged "I didn't, it wasn't like that..." the words just wouldn't form.
"Goodbye Emily" she said as she walked quickly out "Have a nice life "
The door closed and I collapsed onto the bed, tears finally streaming down my cheeks. It was over.
I stumble through the dark streets of Bristol, blinded by a mixture of tears and eye liner. I knew it was all too good to be true. Effy coming to my house grinning because she'd bumped into that Sasha girl in New Look and being invited to the party whatever Katie Fucking Fitch felt about it. Oh, and bring a friend, she had said, all bright eyed and artless, Effy had said. Right. Bring a friend. Especially gullible bottle blondes with the hots for Katie's sister.
So I had gone. Feeling uneasily at the time that fate had a great big wet fish to smack me in the face with. I knew Katie would be there, and I reckoned I could guess the sort of reception we would get, but this moth was still attracted fatally to the flame of Emily Fitch, so I put my doubts aside and went anyway. And to make it worse, I fucking dressed up! My tired and boring wardrobe was definitely not pulling material, so I went to River Island with Effy and her mum's credit card. Poor Anthea, in Scotland for a fortnight. She would go ape shit when she saw the price of the black leather bralet top and black wash Rihanna skinnies, not to mention the white longline jacket I was wearing. I looked at myself in the mirror before we left my house and thought I looked kinda hot, you know. My hair was just brushed out long, with two thin braids at the sides. A dab of Viva la Juicy on my neck and I was ready to go. Emily Fitch, I smiled at my reflection, you are toast. Fuck JJ and his puppy dog eyes..
We were told the party started at nine, but what sort of lame saddo's turn up the moment the doors open? We went for a few drinks first at the Fishpond Tavern. Not because it was a great place to go, but because the old boys and raddled spinsters that inhabited it wouldn't distract us from our goal, to get nicely wasted before we made our grand entrance at Sasha's place. Three or four J20's were followed by a couple of shots and one of Effy's special powder breaks. I wouldn't recommend the toilets at that pub to anyone who valued their stomach lining, but we were only using the flat wash bowl work-surface for one thing, and it wasn't washing hands. A line of white powder, recipe known only to ninjas, in each nostril, and I was flying with the seagulls. Fuck me, that was strong. I got a virtually instant rush, and the alcohol buzz fled with it's tail between its legs. This was gonna be a good night. I just knew it. Emily would take one look at me with my new threads and come to bed eyes and dump her loser pretend boyfriend, pausing only to thumb her nose at her bitch sister, before joining me in a night of sex, sex and more sex.
Well, that was the plan anyway. Jumping out of the cab in Clifton village, there was no mistaking the address, even without a house number to go by. The one with the two storeys of open windows and blaring garage music. That'll be it then. Dodging various drunks, vomiters and tearful girls, we weaved our way up to the front door. Sasha was nowhere to be seen, but then again, nor was Emily and Katie, so I grabbed a bottle of something alcoholic from the nearest flat surface and we started exploring rooms. Every one seemed to have a different theme in it. The rooms themselves were fucking huge, high ceilings and fancy plasterwork everywhere. Not that you could see a whole lot of the architecture for gyrating sweaty bodies and flying booze. Jesus, some people had obviously got into the party spirit at about 2 seconds past nine, because there were some seriously wasted people about. I vaguely recognised a couple of guys from 6th form and waved half heartedly at them, I really didn't want a long repetitive conversation with a hammered college kid who aimed all his comments at my tits, so I avoided the temptation of walking over to them when they waved hopefully at us.
When we got to the second floor of this rabbit warren, I was starting to think they weren't here after all. No sign of any under dressed and over made up skank with a crowd of hopefuls around her. In the short time I had known her, Katie Fitch was nothing if not predictable in her habits. Where the fuck was she? However, I should have known better. Just as I turned to say to Effy that we had drawn a blank, I did see her. Not with the usual crowd of adoring guys, but talking hard and fast with our host, Sasha. Effy flashed me a look before plastering a totally fake grin on her face. Sasha saw us first, and tapped Katie on the arm, stopping her in mid flow. I saw her eyes widen when she spotted us, but strangely enough, the usual fuck off stare was absent. Instead she tried to out do Effy's imitation smile. I should have known right then that nothing good could come of this, but hope springs eternal, yeah?
They walked over to us, and Sasha air kissed us both. Thank God Katie settled for a brief nod. I don't think I could have stood that close a physical encounter with my nemesis. Sasha burbled on about something and nothing. Did we have a drink, did we know anyone else there, you know, the sort of party small talk I would trek a thousand miles across the Arctic Circle to avoid. But I would suffer it tonight, if it meant seeing that small shy smile again.
"Looking for Emily?" Katie said innocently, and I narrowed my eyes, trying to catch any snide inflection in her voice.
"She's here then?" I said stupidly. Of course she was here. Katie never travelled far without her whipping girl. I knew that much by now.
"Yeah" Katie smiled and again I felt like a tuna looking into the jaws of a Great White shark, just before the lunchtime bell rang.
"Actually" she smirked " I think she's overdone it a bit. Gone for a lie down upstairs. I'm sure she's be happy to see you though Naomi, she's always talking about you"
I thought I was going implode, trying so hard not to vomit at being patronised by this bitch, but I tried a version of Effy's plastic smile. I bet I'm a real popular topic of conversation at the Fitch house, I thought sarcastically.
"Thanks Katie" I managed "Do you know where?"
She nodded at the stairs in the hallway behind us. "Top of the stairs, last door on the right, I think. Try not to wake her if she's asleep, huh?" Again that artificial grin, and I think I would have preferred the outright venom she normally showed towards me, at least it was genuine.
Effy caught my arm as I started to leave the group. I saw doubt in her eyes, and I wish to God I had one tenth of her special powers, because if I had, I would have turned and left that fucking party without a backward glance then and there.
But the chance to see Emily again was blinding me to subtlety. I heard Eff call out behind me, and I saw Katie and Sasha exchange a smirk as I walked through the panelled door and up the thickly carpeted stairs. I guess Effy must have been two steps behind me, but I didn't know that until I was standing outside the polished wood door of the bedroom Katie had told me Emily was in.
As I raised my hand to knock, Effy reached me and stopped my hand.
"Naoms" she said, making me look at her by the tone in her voice "Maybe it's not such a good idea, this. I have a bad feeling about what we are going to find.
Fucking total idiot that I am, I actually scoffed at her expression.
"Oh sure, Eff, I'm positive Emily is entertaining the entire England Rugby front row in there, but I think she'll stop shagging them when she sees me"
If I had only known...
I pushed open the door and light spilled into the dark room. There were two figures on the double bed. I could only see the back of one. It was a half naked guy, and I started to say I'm sorry, because I'd obviously been sent to the wrong room. AS he twisted away from the girl underneath him, I noticed first that she was also naked to the waist, and God forgive me, my inner lesbian immediately noticed she had great tits.
Until I saw the owner of those tits, of course. One Emily Fitch. My supposed 'special friend'
The guy sat up, then jumped upright, leaving the girl on the bed. She scrabbled to pull her dress up around her chest, but failed miserably. I saw the shock and surprise on her face just before my heart shattered into a thousand pieces.
"E..Emily?" I said dully.
The guy, who I recognised as JJ (of course...my inner demon said nastily, her other special friend) brushed past me with a look of sheer terror and bundled past Effy into the hallway.
I walked over to the bed, my brain still not believing what my eyes were telling it. My Emily, naked on a bed with that fucking dicksplash..after everything we had said.
"It wasn't what you think" she said, and I almost hit her there and then. What was it then, a fucking organ recital?
"I wasn't...I didn't want him to" she tried again, feebly attempting to defy the evidence of my own eyes.
"Save it" I said bitterly "Katie has already explained"
I saw big tears roll down her perfect cheeks, and my own were just about to betray me. I wasn't about to let this bitch see that. Not here, not now. But unbidden, they started to fall and I cursed my weakness. I turned away from my so called girlfriend and spoke to my only genuine friend.
"Can we go home now Eff" I said in a voice which broke at the end.
Emily tried again as I was leaving Something about 'Naomi please', and more jumbled apologies. I didn't want to hear another word from her.
"Goodbye Emily. Have a nice life" I said, wanting to hurt her with more angry insults, but the words wouldn't come. I just made it out of the door before almost collapsing in Effys strong grip. She got me to the bathroom , where the contents of my stomach swiftly emptied into the superior quality toilet. After wiping my face and trying unsuccessfully to turn me human again, we made our way downstairs. We must have looked like one of the many wasted couples leaving the house. One drunk. crumpled and tear stained, the other slightly better for wear, helping her BFF home.
Apart from a brief moment in the hallway, Effy was with me all the way home and stayed the night in my bed with me. I must have cried an ocean of tears, but she soothed my sobs and held me as I shook and trembled.
I found out later that that moment in the hallway, while I swayed against the Georgian columns, was by way of her goodbye promise to Katie. I only found out about what she said later, but it was at least a small victory.
But for now, there were no victories, only dark and bleak defeats to contemplate.
I looked down at my cornflakes and said to myself for about the thousandth time this morning that life is way weirder than fiction. It is, believe me. Its been three weeks since my horrible discovery at Sasha's party, and today I'm sitting at the breakfast table in my house, with my mum fussing about in the cupboard, making sure there is enough cereal and bread for the table. I can hear her humming some mindless Spice Girls pap, and shudder anew at her total inability to move past the 90's musically. But it's not that that's making the hairs on my arms stand up, or my foot tap nervously at 100 beats a minute on the floor. No sir. That reason is sitting opposite me, looking unreasonably pretty in a borrowed tee shirt – my fucking tee shirt, at this time of the morning. Have a guess?
Emily Fucking Fitch. Betrayer in chief, adulterer, heart breaker, bitch, the insults just keep on peppering my consciousness. How the fuck did we get here? I hear you wonder (I'm clever like that) Well, I'll try to explain, but it's a long story, so get yourself a caffeine filled cup of something and settle down to listen.
It took me two days to get out of my room after the night from hell. Effy stayed over until the morning, and left me with a large glass of water and three paracetamol on the cupboard by the bed. It wasn't that I had such a horrendous hangover to get over, but betrayal and the resultant three hour crying jag will do it to you every time.
She promised to make up a good excuse for old bottle-bottom eyes at work (I didn't even know they made glasses that thick) and then went, in that mysterious way she enters and leaves most rooms. Cryptic, ethereal and Sphinx like to the end, my Eff.
Crying is very tiring, and at least that meant after I had swallowed the tablets and laid my head back down , I got another 2 hours sleep before waking groggily and being hit by grim reality for the second time that morning. Every time I tried to get my head round what I'd seen in that room, my stomach threatened to empty itself of what little remained in it. I groaned as the room span, and this time I only just managed to get to the bowl before dry retching a couple of times. Another glass of cold water, rolling the edge of it around my burning forehead and I staggered back to the safety of my bed.
Another hour passed, and finally I had to get up. I looked at my face in the mirror and groaned again. How could anyone fancy me anyway, I thought bleakly, I'm a fucking mess, both physically and emotionally. Luckily my mum was in London on some stupid peace march or something , so I was spared the explanations and the expressions of pained sympathy I knew I was going to get if she found out what a fool I had been. I went back to bed.
24 hours later, I surfaced again. This time my stomach was telling me that a hunger strike wasn't the best way of dealing with the situation. I wasn't due in for a shift today, so at least Eff wouldn't have to stretch the excuses further. I stood in a stupidly hot shower for as long as it took to clear my fuzzy head and then towelled myself dry. Pulling on a clean tee and shorts, I threw my frankly disgusting underwear into the laundry basket and padded downstairs on bare feet, looking for some comfort food. An hour later, with the residue of two huge sausage baps and three mugs of coffee on the table, I felt marginally better. Not good, you understand, but approaching human.
I heard the tap on my kitchen widow and caught a flash of long brown hair as my visitor walked past. I opened the door and smiled at Effy as she entered the kitchen.
"Alive then Campbell?" she smiled thinly. "Thought you'd at least be dressed by now. It has been two days, loser"
"Fuck off Eff" I said flatly "You're lucky I'm not still hugging my pillow and weeping for England. This is as good as it gets, at least for now"
Her smiled widened, and she put a hand on my bare arm. "It does get better hun" she said quietly.
"Does it?" I said "I fucking hope so"
"Has she been in touch?" She said
"Who?" I replied, knowing exactly who who was of course.
"The Empress Cleopatra, who do you think?" she smirked and I punched her on the shoulder, but without any real malice.
"No, and she'd better not" I lied in a tone which I hope told my best friend that particular subject was still off limits. Fat chance of course. She had been in touch. About a hundred texts and missed calls littered my in box when I finally found my phone under the bed. I deleted the texts without reading them, then added her number to my blocked callers list. That had given me peace for a couple of hours. That was until 'that bitch' as she was now named, found a way of using someone else's phone, but now that number too was blocked. Since then silence.
"I know this is gonna sound improbable, Naoms" Effy tried "but have you considered there might be another explanation for what we saw the other night?"
I glared at her without answering, but being Eff, she carried on regardless.
"I seem to remember someone with a remarkable resemblance to you, asking for the opportunity to explain things recently?" she smiled at my serious expression and I briefly hated her for reminding me about my own mea culpa. Had it only been days since the tree house part two?
"Katie Fucking Fitch is quite capable of setting up her own sister, you know" she continued and my teeth gritted as I searched for a killer phrase to stop this line of questioning. Why the fuck was I suddenly on the defensive?
"Look Eff" I said hotly, wanting more than anything to get off this fucking subject "Can we talk about something else?" Not exactly what I was searching for, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances. Luckily she left it at that, but I knew it wouldn't be the last I heard about it. She shrugged theatrically and picked at a crumb of bread on the table top.
"OK" she said "Lets go out tonight. You need to get properly fucked up and laid, and I do too"
I shook my head at that suggestion, I couldn't even face the idea of drink and drugs yet, let alone shagging some random against a pub wall, but she wasn't taking no for an answer. I got the impression if I didn't agree, we would be back to discussing Emily Fitch, and I definitely wasn't up for that yet, if ever.
So 12 hours later, I was out with Effy on the other side of town to our usual haunts, on our fifth shot and eyeing up the local talent in some bar. I caught a flash of long brown hair, and my heart skipped, but it wasn't her, of course. Just some pretty student with big green eyes and a long floaty cotton dress over her frankly yummy body. I stared at her long enough to make her aware that I was checking her out, and she looked back at me. It wasn't a long stare, but I felt a small thrill in the pit of my stomach as I realised through the haze of alcohol that she was checking back. A wink and a nod of the head was all it took, Five minutes later I was up against the pub wall, in an alleyway strewn with takeaway boxes and empty bottles. The random (I never found out her name) was sucking on my neck and trying her best to open my top and jeans at the same time. I leaned back against the chalky wall and let her use me. I did reciprocate briefly, but by the way she was going at me, mutual pleasure wasn't her prime concern. As her fingers entered me I heard her whisper in my ear hotly "Oh God, I've always wanted..." and thought bitterly, fucking straight girls, all the same. Probably has a boyfriend in the pub, but wants to try this just once, to see what the fuss was all about. She pumped in and out of me clumsily, and suddenly I wanted this over. Sliding both hands under her long dress, I ripped the small thong I found there off , which made her whimper, and, holding one smooth cheek in my free hand, slid my fingers up inside her. She was so fucking wet, I went up to the knuckle without stopping. Judging by the breathless "Yes!" someone's fantasies were being fulfilled tonight, I thought numbly as I used what little skill I had learned to bring her to orgasm. Curling my fingers back towards me and using my thumb in quick circles, I forced her to forget what she was trying to do to me. Her head went back, allowing me to suck savagely on her neck . I wanted to leave a mark. Try explaining that to your boyfriend, I smiled nastily as she moaned and bucked her hips against my fingers. In seconds she was coming hard, gripping my shoulders with scrabbling fingers and panting in my ear. I rode out her climax dispassionately , knowing what was bound to happen next, when the euphoria subsided. Sure enough, after a few seconds gasping for air and rolling her hips to the after orgasm stroking, she disengaged from my fingers and tried very hard not to meet my eyes.
"Oh God...that was fucking...I'm not.. I mean.. I've never, before" she stuttered, and I allowed myself a thin smile at the straight girl's normal reaction to some satisfying sex with another woman.
"It's OK" I said not even trying to be interested "I understand. Still at least you can say you tried it, and didn't like it" I smirked then, because her expression was a picture to behold, guilt, desire and fear crossing her pretty face in quick succession. I knew with absolute certainty that whatever her boyfriend had planned for the rest of the night, someone would be reliving this moment for some time to come, mostly on her own.
But I also remembered another half naked brunette stumbling for words recently, and it quelled my small moment of superiority like a bucket of well aimed water.
"Go back to your boyfriend" I said "And put this down to experience, huh?"
She smiled at me uncertainly and, with an embarrassed last look at her torn knickers on the alley floor, walked quickly back into the pub. Mission accomplished Effy, I thought grimly. Drink, drugs and anonymous sex. Tick those fucking little boxes.
Which is pretty much what the next three weeks consisted of. Now I wasn't getting hourly texts and calls from 'she who cannot be named' I relaxed into the routine of work, home, dress up, drink/drugs and random sexual conquests. I have no idea how many girls I fucked during that crazy time, more than 5 and less than 20?, I dunno. I remember being surprised at how easy it was to hook up with other women though. I had never really tried before. But with Effy's encouragement, and copious amounts of spirits and powder, it did have the desired effect. It numbed my brain and kept the nightmares to a minimum. Except for those fucking mornings. Waking up alone (I never bought any of my conquests home, too many difficult implications for that) always brought with it, apart from the hangovers, a few minutes where the tears still came. She wasn't out of my system yet, but I was getting there.
Until that evening.
I was, for a change, not going out. It was raining like a bitch outside, and I sat with a cup of hot chocolate, biscuit crumbs on my lap, staring across the rooftops at the distant hills. I had been at work until 7, and my mum was out at a meeting with other like minded lamo hippy's. Don't ask me what it was about, they all merge into one eventually, believe me. I saw movement in the street below the window and tried to make out, through the rivulets of rainwater on my window, what it was. It looked like a person, but the street light opposite was broken, and I could only see that whoever it was was dressed in a white tee shirt. Jesus, I thought. He or she must be soaked to the skin. They made no attempt to come up the path, just sat on the wall with their back to the house, bent slightly forward against the swirling gusts of rain and wind. Now I'm not like my mum. Waifs and strays don't really interest me. Life's too short to be trying to solve the problems of the world one lentil at a time, but I was intrigued. Who the fuck would be out on a night like this, dressed in a fucking tee shirt.
I briefly considered ignoring it and getting back to my new hobby of Olympic class brooding, but fuck it, I went downstairs, putting the half full cup of chocolate on the kitchen table, before slipping my parka over my top and pulling up the hood. I opened the front door and, cursing at the rain for splashing up my bare legs, quickly walked down the path to the gate. I opened it and turned to the random sitting on my fucking wall in the pouring rain.
If you could patent a stupid slack jawed look, I would be quids in by now. It was her of course. Emily fucking Fitch. Soaked to the skin (and I didn't for a single second notice that I could see the whole of her upper body through the wet material, what do you think I am? On second thoughts don't answer that) and shivering like a fawn abandoned by its mother in the woods. She was just sitting there letting the rain cascade down her face and body. She gave me one miserable, helpless look, and God forgive me, I nearly weakened. It would have been so easy to take her in my arms, usher her into the warmth of my kitchen and give in to the inner angel in my brain. But there were too many unanswered questions, too much anger and hurt to get over. I steeled myself to be strong.
"What the fuck do you want Emily?" I said harshly. She sat silent for a few more seconds, looking blankly into the night sky.
"I've left home" she said simply
"Congratulations" I said brutally "But what does that have to do with me?"
She looked at me then, and her eyes were huge and almost fatally compelling, even with her face awash with rainwater and her hair straggling across her forehead.
"Because I love you" she said, and then dropped her head.
"You love me?" I said bitterly "So much that the first chance you get, you shag some limp dick at a party?" I knew it was unreasonable, but I was still hurting, so try to understand.( and don't even go there when it comes to shagging and limp dicks, I know its a physical impossibility. I wasn't at my sharpest)
She looked up at me again and spoke softly "You once asked me for the chance to explain, and I gave it to you. Won't you at least give me the same chance?"
Fucking logic, is it just me, or shouldn't some things defy that irritating phenomenon?
But then, with impeccable timing, the situation was taken out of my hands. My mum, scuttling head down against the driving rain, arrived at the gate, took the scene in quickly and spoke.
"For fucks sake Naomi. What are you doing out here, and why is your friend sitting on the wall, soaked to the skin, when we have a perfectly good house to sit in?
Logic again, its a bitch, right?
My mum nods in the direction of my front door, Emily looks at her hopefully, then back at me. She drops off the wall, picks up the black sports bag which I hadn't even noticed by her feet and follows my mum into the house. I follow them both, wondering when my life got this surreal.
OK. Short end to this sorry saga. My mum fusses around Emily for a few seconds, then sends her up to my fucking bathroom to shower, and to cap it all, gives her my favourite tee shirt and pair of my best knickers to wear to bed. She doesn't ask any questions of us, just stares at me in that disapproving way she has when I have been a particular fuck wit, and packs Emily off to the spare room to sleep.
Sleep, yeah, I remember that. I spend most of the night tossing and turning, debating whether to go into the spare room and have it out with Emily, but the thought of her semi naked and in bed so close freezes my blood. I am not sure temptation of that kind is possible to resist, so I grit my teeth and try to get some sleep. Fat chance.
So here we are. My mum just about to leave for work at the supermarket (family owned and green friendly of course, my mum would never work for a corporate, ha ha) and me and Emily on either side of the scrubbed wood kitchen table, eating cereal like we are all part of the same happy fucking family. Cosmic…
My cornflakes turned to dry muesli in my mouth, despite the half pint of milk they were soaked in. Emily Fitch does have that effect, you know? I sat looking blankly at the cereal for another long painful minute, then looked up to find the inevitable big brown eyes studying me. She should have a shotgun licence for those twin weapons. Dangerous and infallibly accurate. I could feel my self control slipping after just a couple of seconds. She looked so hopeless, sitting there in my oversized tee, spoon suspended in her hand, just staring sadly at me. I wanted nothing more than to drown in them, forgetting the reason I hated her so much, but a tiny sliver of the old Naomi Campbell still survived somewhere inside me. I hardened my expression and spoke.
"OK, Emily. Your turn to explain, I think?. This should be good" I deliberately kept my expression blank, even though my heart was racing and underneath the table, that old Campbell nerve O meter, my rapidly bouncing foot, gave the game away.
She swallowed nervously and set her spoon back in the bowl with a metallic sound that made us both jump.
"Sorry" she said quietly, meaning the damage to the crockery, but I read more into the word than that, and I don't think I was wrong.
"Yeah, me too" I said flatly. Because I was, and not just for the new crack in my mums best Denby cereal bowl.
"Can I explain?" she said, using those laser beam eyes to hold mine. Who was I to resist, I thought bitterly, she seems to have me paralysed here. I nodded, not trusting my voice to answer her.
"Firstly, I meant what I said last night, Naoms. I love you" she said simply and I winced at the use of the familiar affectionate nickname . Too soon, I thought, too fucking soon. Which, when you think about it, is a surrender on its own. Too soon implies eventual capitulation, doesn't it? Of course it does.
She acknowledged my wince with one of her own, but carried on.
"JJ is...I mean was a friend, nothing more" she tried but that was too much of an open goal even for this clumsy fool to miss.
"If that's what you let your friends do to you on a night out, Ems", I said, immediately cursing myself for slipping into my own affectionate short names as well "I dread to think what liberties you allow when you actually get to know someone"
She blinked hard at that, and half my brain cheered when I saw the first tears spring into her eyes, the other half battered me round the head with a wet fish and called me a cruel bitch for baiting her. I knew that was uncalled for, but those bedroom images will haunt me until the end of my days, I promise you...
She swallowed again, and cleared her throat before speaking.
"I was really drunk, Katie gave me some totally strong MDMA, my head was spinning and I just wanted to lie down somewhere, OK?" she pleaded. Actually it was very far from OK, I thought, especially if that lying down was with a member of the opposite sex, but allowed her to carry on.
"I never wanted... that to happen, and you may not believe me now, but you coming in saved me from...something I would never have got over, ever"
I smiled, but not with my eyes "Why?" I said nastily, and regretted the words as soon as they left my lips "Shagging JJ wouldn't be so bad, would it, after all, he is your special friend"
This time she didn't bother to brush away the tears which were running down her cheeks, and her voice broke as she tried to answer my taunt.
"That isn't fair Naomi. You know I've never been with any boy. I thought I could trust him. He knows I'm gay, and he knows that I am in love with you. I don't know why he thought I would let him do ..." she broke off to sob quietly as her emotions overwhelmed her..."do that to me"
My desire for revenge, for spite and everything else in between, faded a little at that. Effy had been right. Emily hadn't been a willing accomplice to the scene I had witnessed upstairs in Sasha's house, and Katie fucking Fitch had at least a part to play in the set up. I thought coldly, that I would happily pay the ultimate penalty, just to see Emily's bitch of a sister pay for her crimes. I promised myself that whatever Effy had planned for her, I would be there to see it play out, whatever Emily thought about it.
I stood up, and she followed my movements nervously as I skirted the table. When I stood next to her, I held out my hand and she took it. I could feel the tremble in her cool fingers as I lifted her to her feet.
"Oh Emily" I said quietly "what a fucking pair we are, huh?" I pulled her with me as I went upstairs to my bedroom, and when the door was closed behind us, wrapped my arms round her small frame, leaning against the door. She cried a little then, gripping my waist with her small hands and whispering 'sorry' over and over again. I'm not made of stone, what would you do?
Eventually, after a couple of minutes, the trembling stopped and we went and sat side by side on my unmade bed. I could feel the heat of her bare thigh on mine, and it was distracting me big time, but we needed to talk not fuck, at this point, tempting as the prospect of that was, so I made myself ignore the heat that was building at the base of my stomach and spoke softly to her.
"Can we just... start again?" I said and she nodded eagerly, looking up into my eyes with those magnetic chocolate brown orbs ."And lets do it properly this time huh?"
I saw the puzzlement in her eyes, so I went on " Lets go on a proper date first. Like a normal couple?" Again the nod. I was beginning to think she had lost the power of speech, but her next words proved me wrong.
"I need to tell you something first" she said, looking away from me as she spoke. My heart plummeted again like an out of control elevator. Oh fuck, I thought, more true life confessions, I don't think I want to hear this.
"What" I said, the apprehension clear in my voice. She looked up at me again, and shook her head "No, nothing like that Naoms" This time I smiled back. " I just need to tell you why I left home, and how difficult this is going to be, for both of us"
I narrowed my eyes at that and said "Leaving home must have been difficult, Ems, but believe me, you're better off away from that place. My mum will let you stay here as long as you like. We've always been a bit of a sanctuary for waifs and strays"
She looked at me reproachfully, and I laughed at her expression "Come on Emily" I giggled "You looked like a drowned rat last night. I think my mum was torn between inviting you in and calling the dog catcher"
I got a painful jab in the ribs for that one. She may be tiny, but her elbow is in fine working order. I rubbed my bruised ribs ruefully.
"Seriously Naomi" she said "Katie and my mum are not going to be happy when they find out I've gone" I looked up at the ceiling, so they didn't know yet?, ..."When they do find out I've left, they will be scouring the streets of Bristol, looking for me" She held my eyes with hers for a moment before adding "and you..."
"OK, First, they don't even know where I live" I said firmly. "And if you think your mum and Katie are fierce, you might be surprised at what my mum can be like when her brood is threatened. She might look like a refugee from Glastonbury 1976, but if anyone turns up here laying down the law, you'll see another side to her, believe me"
Emily smiled shyly and I hoped I had lied sufficiently well enough to reassure her. I think my mum puts herself down on official forms as a lover, not a fighter, and I don't think she'd be much good in a doorstep punch up with the Wicked Witch of the West and her gnomic sidekick, but Emily didn't know that. Not yet at least. But anyway, that was for later, not now. Better things occurred to me.
"Did you sleep OK?" I said after we had exchanged soppy, loved up looks. "The spare bed is a bit lumpy. My mate Chloe says she has permanent spinal damage after sleeping on it last summer"
"It was OK" Emily smiled shyly "It was just short of one thing" her voice was husky again and it was doing funny things to my sense of balance.
"Oh yeah" I said, the heat in my belly returning with a vengeance "What's that?"
"I needed a warm body to cuddle up to, or maybe another layer of clothes?" she grinned cheekily and I was cooked all over again.
"My bed, on the other hand" I said slowly "is not only comfortable and warm, but king sized as well...which means.." I slipped my hand inside her smaller one " that it suffers from the opposite problem to yours"
"And that would be?" she laughed prettily. I loved the way her eyes sparkled when she was happy.
"Far too many clothes" I said and looked pointedly at my tee shirt which was busy swallowing her whole.
"Easily solved" she laughed "Have it back"
She stood and pulled it over her head, standing there with her weight on one leg, just my new blue knickers covering her modesty. Her small breasts were amazing, all soft curves and pointy nipples. My mouth got dry very quickly and I reached for her. She skipped back a step and I nearly fell on my face.
"You too" she said, suddenly serious " I've never seen you naked"
Self conscious as always, I slowly stood up and pulled my own tee over my head. We perved on each other for a good thirty seconds. God she is pretty, I thought before her hands on my hips stopped any coherent processes completely.
"These too?" she said and slipped both hands under my waistband. I may have taken off a pair of knickers quicker in my life, but I really don't know when. When I looked up again, she was standing there as naked as me. Breathtaking, was my last rational thought before we sank together onto the bed. Her body flowed over me like silk, and we began to explore...
She may have been inexperienced, but Emily Fitch was a natural top, I can promise you. After I had used all my (admittedly limited) knowledge to caress and kiss every inch of her until she shuddered into a breathless orgasm, she proceeded to return the favour in spades. At one point, when her fingers were curling inside me, and her flushed face inches from mine, I saw a small flicker of satisfaction cross her face as I moaned her name and rolled my hips in time with her thrusts. What she lacked in experience, she made up for in total absorption in the task at hand. Which was me of course. "Come for me baby" she whispered hotly "Come for me, I want to see your face when you do", and I surrendered to the inevitable. Her lips crushed mine as I screamed her name over and over.
We went at each other three more times before I finally fell back sated, skin slick with sweat and the glorious taste of Emily Fitch in my mouth. We lay side by side staring at the same ceiling I had looked at with only a spider for company before. This time, my fingers laced loosely in hers, I gave myself up to sleep with a satisfied smile. I felt like I was really home for the first time for weeks. Just before I drifted off, I heard a soft snuffle as Emily gave in to fatigue as well. She buried her head under the covers like a little dormouse. God, I though drowsily, cutest human being ever?
The sound of my mother crashing through the door woke me from my entirely deserved rest with a start. I sat up in bed, clutching the quilt to my tits as she stood in the doorway with a knowing look on her face. I followed her eyes as she took in the small head on the pillow next to where mine had been and her smile turned to glee.
"So glad to see you two have made up" she said in a bright voice "But even first love has to have the laundry done, daughter of mine". She began to gather up various bits of my wardrobe from the floor and furniture, humming some tuneless rendition of yet another grim 80's band. Jesus, Duran Duran have some things to atone for, I thought stonily. I was torn between wanting to bury my head back under the quilt and screaming at maximum volume at my mother to fuck the hell out of my bedroom, but naked, and with the smell of recent sex in the air, I wasn't in much of a position to stand on my dignity.
I managed a strangled "Mum, please...?" as she carried on collecting mine and Emily's night wear in her hands.
She looked at me with a fond expression, "Don't worry, Naomi, its nothing I haven't seen before, love. In fact, when I was in college in Leeds, there was this girl Emma, and we..."
"MUM!" I screamed, desperately this time. "Too much fucking information...please!. Try the Samaritans, won't you?"
It would have helped if my partner in lust had helped me out here, but under the covers, I could only hear an infectious muffled giggle, and realised that someone other than my mum was enjoying my humiliation. This time I elbowed Miss Fitch in the side, and got the small satisfaction of hearing her pained 'Oof' as I did. My mother stopped her collection duties for a second and fixed me with what passed for a serious look in our house
"Don't bully your girlfriend Naomi, its not nice"
I sat there with a stunned look on my face that made my mum laugh out loud again. I don't know whether the fresh giggle from under the quilt helped, but the word 'girlfriend' certainly took the wind out of my sails...
I took the first option and drew the quilt over my head until my mother left the room.
The next three months were the happiest of my life, I think. Emily technically moved in as a guest in the spare room, but she spent about thirty minutes in there over the next twelve weeks. Every night for the first week she would say goodnight to my mum and go into the spare room, I would make a show about going to bed in my own room until my mum had retired for the night. Then the musical bedrooms began. Next morning, she would go back to 'her' room, tired and woozy after hours of mind blowing sex and jump up and down on the spare single bed, ruffling the quilt in a lame attempt to make it look slept in. Finally, my mum cornered me as I was leaving for work one morning with that knowing smile she used when I had been busted doing something I shouldn't. I felt like I had been caught sneaking a tenner from her purse, something I hadn't done for ages (well weeks anyway)
"Can we just stop with the midnight charades Naomi?" she said simply "I have no problem with Emily sharing your room. You must think I'm either terminally stupid, or completely deaf, if you think I haven't noticed the relocation of our guest every night. I'm worried Emily will wear out the landing carpet if she keeps going back and forwards like that. And by the way, her new found fascination with religion, although creditable, is getting a bit old"
I looked at her as if she was mad. Religion? WTF?
She fixed me with a mock serious look and, in a really bad parody of my girlfriend, falsetto'd "Oh God...Oh God, Naomi!"
I think my face was a degree under self igniting at that. Damn. I thought we had been pretty reserved...These walls were thinner than I thought.
I went to argue, but then thought, fuck it. No ones fooled here are they?
"OK mum" I smiled nervously "Can I move her stuff into my cupboards as well?"
"May as well make it formal" my mum laughed "Just as long as you don't start wearing matching rainbow sweaters"
"Ha bloody ha" I said, and rolled my eyes at her dig "We're in love, not middle aged" As soon as the words left my lips I wished I could have grabbed them out of the air and stuffed them back inside my treacherous lips. Who said anything about love?
My mums smile nearly split her face in half. "In love?" she said, staring at me in disbelief "It's that serious then, huh?"
I could have lied, I could have blustered, but Emily Fitch had worked some sort of personality changing magic on me. I found myself just nodding. There it was, out there. She wasn't just my girlfriend, she was the love of my life, and now it wasn't something I kept in my head like a guilty secret, or used in moments of passion. It was a fact, sitting up and smiling at the world like a grown up object d'art.
"Does she feel the same way?" she said, suddenly looking worried "I mean, its a big thing, love. Not something to be taken lightly"
I nodded again. Emily Fitch did love me, I knew that with a belief I had never had about any human being before in my life. Certainty on certainty, who would have thought it. Alice down the rabbit hole, no less.
"So what are you going to do about her 'family problems'?" My mum said, complete with air quotes. "Have you confronted her mother and sister yet with this world changing news?"
I shook my head.
We hadn't, but it was on the agenda for later that week. Something we had been putting off while we lived in our little romance filled bubble. But a new term at college loomed for Ems, and I knew we couldn't avoid it much longer. Emily had only made one trip back to her house since we had been shacked up together. Effy had offered to drive us over, when we knew that her family would be out visiting relatives, and we loaded the old BMW estate with all her clothes and personal bits, feeling a bit like bailiffs clearing a debt.
She had insisted on leaving a hand written letter which she had spent several hours composing at my house. I think she had re written it a dozen times, and each time she cried a river over her own words. I knew it must be hard, leaving your mother and your twin at once, but I gave her credit for perseverance, and eventually it was done to her satisfaction. She sealed the envelope, after first offering it to me to read. I refused, of course. Even between lovers, some things are personal.
My heart was in my mouth all the time we were parked outside the Fitch abode. It didn't help when the next door neighbour popped round as we were taking Em's battered Taylor guitar and music stand to the car. She was only being nosy, but I thought at any moment, the Fitchmobile would appear at the end of the road, like something from the Addams Family, complete with the green faced witch and her goblin assistant. But our luck held. We finally got rid of her, satisfying her curiosity by telling her that we were Emily's college friends and she was moving into student accommodation in town. It didn't sound convincing, even to me, but she bought it.
Driving away was a massive relief, although I caught Ems looking back at the house with a funny expression on her pretty face.
"Regrets?" I said, taking her small hand in mine and noticing how cold her fingers were.
"No" she said, although the tears in her eyes gave lie to her words. "It's just I have never lived anywhere else, and it's harder than I thought to leave it behind, despite the fact that its been a bit of a prison for the past couple of years"
I gave her a cuddle, and she rested her head on my shoulder as Eff drove us back across Bristol to my house. We christened the move by wiping out a bottle of Bacardi I had bought on holiday in Cyprus a year ago in the airport duty free shop and which had lain forgotten on a shelf in my wardrobe ever since. I fucking hate Bacardi, but I thought it would be something my mum might like. Turned out she liked it even less than me. Between the three of us and a large bottle of cola swiped from the fridge, we managed to get it down. Effy weighed in with three extra large spliffs, and by the time my mum came in from work, the living room was full of laughter, a pungent weed smell and discarded tumblers. In my drunken and stoned state I even managed to be nice to her.
"Hi mum!" I giggled, waving at her like a loon
"Having a good time girls?" my mum said, looking round at the wreckage of her lounge without malice "I hope you've saved a puff of that illegal substance for me Elizabeth Stonem" she winked extravagantly at Eff, who had the grace to blush and fish another crumpled spliff from her ever generous bra. She held it out to my mum, who took it without further comment and went into the kitchen, leaving us to look at each other with that "Did that just happen?" look you share when parents act out of character. Except it wasn't really out of character for my mum. Proper child of the 70's her...
Effy left after another half hour, and Emily and I went upstairs to christen another part of the house. A christening which definitely didn't need more than two participants, or illegal substances, to be rather fucking wonderful all on its own.
But the bubble had to burst of course, although not in the way I had expected at all.
Three days before Emily had to go back to college, we had a visitor. Well in fact two visitors. One very familiar one in the shape of my bff Effy Stonem, the other was a blonde girl (but not from a bottle like mine) taller than Eff, but with a body to die for, and I know what you're thinking. Why am I checking out other women when I have Emily Fitch to leer over at my leisure. All I can say in my defence was that she was stunning, with a pair of big green eyes and a bright white smile , and that being with someone, no matter how much you adore them, doesn't stop the libido taking over your eyesight when someone like that appears at your door. I tried hard to stop my face following my eyes into perving mode. I never liked repeats of Baywatch, but I now know what the attraction is
"Naoms" Effy smirked, totally noticing my eyes checking the girl out "I want you to meet someone. Naomi Campbell... Jenny Ramsey,
It didn't register at all, so I looked at Eff with that dumb look I get when I think everyone else is in on a joke that I'm not.
"Eh?" I said, thereby confirming that by opening my mouth I had in fact reassured everyone that I was actually as dumb as I looked.
Effy turned to the girl beside her and smiled indulgently at my inability to string a coherent sentence together. "Jenny, meet Naomi" she smiled "Living proof that education doesn't equal intelligence"
I opened my mouth to answer that one with a barb of my own, but just then I felt a pair of arms come round my body from behind, and a familiar husky voice spoke in my ear.
"Who is it Naoms?" I jumped slightly at the sensation of her warm breath in my ear and struggled not to relapse into vivid daydreams about the last time she had done that. Because that time we had been naked, in front of my dressing mirror, and she had been... oh fuck, I thought, don't go there, not now.
"Its Effy, and..." I seemed to have lost the power of recall too, so there was a second or two when I wanted the ground to just open up and swallow me.
"Jenny" the girl said and I felt Emily rest her head on my shoulder and take a proper look at our visitor. I felt her whole body tense when she did, and she abruptly stepped back from me.
"Jenny Ramsey?" Emily said uncertainly, still looking past me
"The very same" the girl said and smiled at us both, probably thinking that the nameplate on our home for the mentally infirm had somehow become dislodged.
"How are you Emily?" she said
"Err...fine, , no, really good actually" Emily said slowly "But I thought you were in Australia or something?"
"I was, but my parents had to come back over to go to my aunts funeral, and I tagged along, as its half term. I haven't been back here for years now, but I see some things never change?" She raised an eyebrow, and I really wished someone would clue me in on what was going on. Emily obviously knew her, but Effy?
Just then Effy interrupted, and as usual clarified matters in a few chosen words.
"In case you're wondering Naomi" she said "This is the Jennifer Ramsey, late of Clifton College and one time best 'friend' of one Katie Fitch, homophobe of this parish. Ringing any bells now honey" she ended, obviously enjoying the hell out of my state of ignorance.
"Oh" I gulped noisily "That Jennifer Ramsey. The one who... Katie..." I stopped before breaking any more social etiquette rules. Yeah, that one. The one that says its impolite to call someone a full time lesbian unless you are past the polite introduction stage.
Her smile didn't flicker, she just kept looking at me steadily, and spoke confidently
"Its OK Naomi. I won't get embarrassed. The Jennifer Ramsey who shagged the life out of one Katie Fitch for a whole term before she emigrated. The one that Katie has been trying to airbrush out of her life ever since."
I stared at her, still not really knowing where this was going.
"Wouldn't it be a good idea for us to come in Naoms?" Effy said snarkily. "I'm sure your neighbours don't want a lesbian convention on their doorsteps, do they?"
Ten minutes later, we're sitting in my lounge, having a totally surreal conversation about Katie's secret gay history. Obviously everyone else was up to speed on past events, but I really had no idea that the adolescent affair Emily's sister had had with Jenny had been such a big thing. For both of them apparently. I'll give Katie one thing, she had taste. I had to try very very hard not to stare at the sheer amount of brown flesh on show when the girl in question sat opposite me. She was wearing a very short blue skirt, with an equally tight tight white top over, and, how can I say, she had curves to spare, none of them unnecessary. I was quite relieved when she left to use the bathroom and I could finally quiz Effy about the purpose of tonight's little surprise visit.
"Simple" Effy said, blowing a cool plume of smoke from her lips towards the ceiling "Its about time we solved the Katie Fucking Fitch issue once and for all. You, my little fledgling muff munchers, are coming out with us tomorrow night, and someone is in for a big surprise"
And that's all she would say on the matter. Jenny came back, we exchanged some pointless small talk, and they left.
As the door closed, Emily spun me round and looked at me with a hard expression.
"You have some explaining to do Campbell" she said coldly, and my heart sank. "You could at least have the grace to introduce yourself before you start eye fucking the Aussie talent"
I started to splutter some shit about not noticing how attractive Jenny was, but I wasn't fooling anyone, least of all myself. Fuck, I thought, uber busted. Luckily for me, Emily was fucking with me. She couldn't keep the amusement out of her eyes long enough to convince me I was in as much shit as I thought I was in. She started to laugh even before I ended my garbled sentence.
"Your face" she giggled "Classic"
"Fuck off Fitch" I said, "I noticed you had more than your fair share of pervs on her tits as well".
Emily's eyes got dreamy and she looked away from me for a second before answering "They were gorgeous, weren't they" she said softly "big and bouncy and..."
I spun her round, and saw her face grinning at me
"Bitch!" I said sharply "Not funny, Fitch"
She slung both her arms round my neck and pulled me against her hungrily
"Good job I prefer pale English Roses to brown Australian orchids, isn't it?". And then she kissed me, and all the teasing stopped. At least as long as it took to get her out of her clothes, then I began teasing in earnest.
The next night at 9, we were outside yet another Waggy club, the four of us. I had talked myself into submission on the way to meet Eff and Jenny, and studiously avoided looking for more than a second at a time at our Australian guest. Because she looked even more fuckable tonight, which is, like, a fucking miracle considering what she looked like last night. Tonight she was dressed to kill in a pair of black silk trousers and a see through open cream top with a black Basque underneath. I won't go into detail about what that Basque did for her already impressive tits, but there was a bit of a dry mouth problem when we arrived, and I don't think it was just mine. Emily and I had gone for the LBD look. Both our dresses were black and short, but mine was off one shoulder whilst Emily had gone for one with spaghetti straps and a plunging neckline. Jesus, I thought, there are going to be some blue balls in the club tonight. At least three of us were full time muff munchers, so any male looking to chance his arm was out of luck. Poor bastards. Effy of course was effortlessly attractive in a blue satin dress, split up one leg, and her eyes were made up in that quasi Egyptian way she had of emphasising her incredible ocean blue eyes. All in all, we had absolutely no problem at all getting in in advance of the usual crocodile of Wags and wasters.
Once we were in, Jenny went to the bar, and we looked around for tonight's star prize.
It wasn't hard to spot her. In the middle of a small group, including Sasha and a couple of hopeful footballer types. She hadn't noticed us yet, but I knew it was only a matter of time. People like Katie are constantly scanning the herd, looking for a victim to cut out and chase down. Sure enough, within seconds, her eyes picked us up and I saw them narrow as she took in me, Eff and Emily looking back at her. She mouthed something to Sasha, and now two pairs of angry eyes were staring at us.
She started to walk over, putting down her drink as she did, and I saw murder in those brown eyes. She must have a fucking death wish, I thought, given what had happened last time she offered a physical response to my best friend, but I guess the sight of her sister in the company of not one, but two corrupting influences must have blinded her to the obvious.
As she got to us, I instinctively put my arm round Emily's waist, and felt her tremble against me. I might not be as combative as Effy, but I was fucked if Katie was going to hurt Emily while I was still standing. I prepared myself to fight to the death, if necessary.
Just then, a figure crashed into her from the side, and I saw a tray of four perfectly good Mojito's bite the dust, or more accurately, the carpet. Fucking waste, I thought before seeing Katie round on the person who had collided with her, a snarl already forming on her face.
"What do you think you're doing, you clumsy bitch" she yelled and then stopped dead in her tracks. Her face took on that rabbit in the headlight appearance I am so familiar with myself in the bathroom mirror. Her mouth hung open, the unsaid insults frozen in her throat.
"Hi Katie" Jenny said, smiling openly "So sorry. That was clumsy"
Still Katie looked in horror at the person next to her. I could see ten different emotions flitting over her face, but the overwhelming winner was sick horror.
"J...Jenny?" Katie said, her face paling visibly now she was sure her eyes weren't playing tricks on her. "But you're in Australia" she ended, blinking.
"Obviously not honey" Jenny said, flashing another one of her trademark grins
"Aren't you going to give me a kiss Katiekins, just for old times sake?" she laughed, stepping forward, making sure Katie's eyes had the chance to do the grand tour of those amazing brown tits. I saw Katie swallow hard, and knew another member of the Jenny Ramsey boob fan club was signed on.
I honestly though Katie was going to make a run for it, but I should have know she was made of sterner stuff. Give her her due, she tried to brazen it out.
"Long time, no see " she tried "We'll have to catch up later. In the meantime, I need a word with my sister, and her...friends" she said in a voice laced with acid.
"You mean these friends?" Jenny smiled at us. "But Katie, don't be silly, they're my friends too"
A sort of sick resignation came over Katie's face then. I guess she knew the game was up, but she was always going to go down fighting.
"You're still a lezzer then Jenny" she said nastily "You and my sister should get together, it'll be a step up for her after the losers she normally hangs around with" This aimed directly at me, and I started forward, ready to use my fists to defend myself at this point. Effy gripped my hand, and I stopped.
"Pots and kettles babes?" Jenny said quietly and I thought Katie Fucking Fitch was going to pass out on the spot, when Jenny opened her clutch bag and pulled out what turned out to be a bunch of small photos.
"Remember the Devon school trip, when we found that teachers camera and stole it for the afternoon?"
Katie just looked at her with growing panic in her eyes.
"You always were a poser babes, but some of these..." and she waved the bunch in front of Katie "definitely belong on Tumblr, don't you think? Specially the kissing ones, and that naked one when you were doing something naughty to yourself for me..."
"S...stop" Katie mumbled "You fucking bitch, why would you even keep those?"
"Memories, sugar" Jenny purred. "Great memories. You know, of the time when Katie Fitch liked nothing better than an afternoon of muff munching" She grinned artlessly, before licking her lips suggestively, and I saw all Katies defenses crumble right then and there.
"Oh, and I still have the letters you wrote to me when I first emigrated...and I think I may still have that little video you sent me, asking me to come home because you missed my hot pussy so much. Skype is such a good way of keeping records, don't you know? Would be a real shame if any of that found its way onto YouTube, don't you think?
No answer from Katie then, just a sickly look of surrender.
"So, I guess we'll have to catch up later hun" Jenny smiled "Say hello to your new friends for me" and she slid her arms round a frozen Katie's waist and planted a long kiss on her open lips. If there was any doubt about the nature of their friendship, I don't think Sasha and her hard eyed crew were left in any after that. Leaving Katie touching her lips and staring into the space left by Jenny as she walked way, we all went back to the bar and ordered fresh drinks.
I'd like to say that that was the end of the affair, but inevitably there was an epilogue. Emily went back to college, and buoyed up by her faith in me (and constant nagging from my fucking mum) I enrolled on an OU foundation course, and am currently half way through my second module. I'm enjoying it, although the studying for both of us gets interrupted by quite a lot of ' afternoon muff munching' as Jenny would so charmingly put it. She went back to Australia after her aunts funeral, but not before giving Effy a taste of what Katie Fitch had been enjoying as a young teenager. I swear to God if Effy gets any more descriptive about their brief but intense sexual liaison, it will have to be GCHQ censored first. She still likes occasional cock of course, but when Jenny sent her the address she is living at in Perth, I saw a dreamy look in Effys eyes I have never seen there before. I think someone is mentally booking flights...
And Katie? Well, that's quite another story. By the time I wrote this, she too had left the Fitch household. I wouldn't say that her and Emily have what you would call a normal twin relationship, whatever the fuck that is anyway, but they talk occasionally, and I'm sure I saw Katie walking down Park Street the other day. Nothing strange about that, I hear you say. No, but hand in hand with a short haired girl in full Emo gear? Miracles do happen then...