It had been somehow a hard sleep and in the dim light Dix wondered why – the bed was soft and the woman pressed against him softer still. As they had settled down her arms were a comfort, holding him and absolving of any blame but somehow through the day the position of comfort had slipped slightly. The head on his shoulder was a reminder of her – and how often had Cat slept like that? Not enough came the silent reply.
The mind plays tricks, flittering from memory to memory – a motorbike bulling through a Scottish park, walking along a cold Alaskan lake, a shower in a dirty bathroom in Romania but the scent of myrrh and opium from the dark chocolate hair under his nose pulls others – blood on a cold beach, explorations in the dark of a bunker, wild rides and wild nights.
As she starts to edge to wakefulness the girl held loosely moves without thinking, pressing closer and closer, sliding skin like satin across him – the fingers of one hand moving slightly against his chest – and filling Dix’ head with thoughts he cannot allow himself to entertain.
“I think not star, as much as I’d like and as much as we didn’t owe the other anything she’d not approve, she envied you and I cannot think why as you’re different as chalk and cheese – and you’re another’s same as she was.” He murmured, suppressing thoughts of how this lady feels, and suppressing his own passions as the lips move.
Instead Dix cast his mind back to Cat, and the times they’d spent – more dank basements and dusty earth than silk sheets and comfortable beds – and he found he could recall each, remembered exquisite pleasure and teasing desire, recalled coming to know the girl under the façade of the lady, and then clouding as he recollected how he hated the word ‘concubine’
Thoughts banished as the woman, Elena to the world but in the insides of his head the red-haired Tanya still, slowly opened her lashes to show her striking eyes the colour of rich earth. She was more beautiful now than ever she had been whilst they rode together Dix realised again – always a shock – even as she smiled. He doubted she realised how well her lips looked when she did that, how they cried out to be kissed. How good she felt pressed against him, that she was pressed even.
Dix smiled “Hey” and gave her a companionable squeeze. The odd thought drifting through his head that this had better get easier or he’d not be holding out much longer from his passions.
The one hand of hers raises to his cheek, almost tracing its passage from his chest to his face and caresses him, then that smile which could stop a charge of cavalry from 50 paces before the weight of why there is cotton separating them hits, and Dix can relax his will once more.
“Good morning, love” she mumbled, even the voice pitched to tempt.
Then the grin returned, the cheerful one which was mask and armour and as near as he could come to politics all in one “It is now” he replied. All the while one thought echoing through his head – how Cat would hate him being in her bed, he could almost hear her “anyone but her”…but Cat was gone, and now only the grin remained.