Gwen's shoulder-length hair was carefully turned in at the ends. She wore a pearl necklace that flickered in the light as she moved. Her eyes were green and her lips were narrow but opened when he pressed against them. Her cheekbones were high and smooth, like Belleek china. Her hotel room was warm and smelled of woman, fragrances and scents that aroused his passions and his curiosities. She rose to greet him and her brocade robe opened revealing her scalloped lace bra, a short black mini slip and black silk stockings.
She smiled crookedly: their times together were so contrived.
She held his face for a moment. Her breath smelled of gin and her lips were warm as her hands fluttered, stripping him without ceremony. She pushed him back on her wide bed and mounted him without disrobing.
He liked watching her body coil and thrust as her breasts brushed against him and her mouth puckered, emitting a stream of oh, oh, ohs. He always knew when she was about to climax. She would lean back and run her hands through her hair, moaning loudly as her eyes rolled back into her head. And then, with sudden awareness, she would lean forward and grasp her breasts, staring into his eyes as she bit her lower lip. She would begin to nod knowingly at him in time to her writhing hips. She would moan, louder than before, and freeze, nodding at him with staccato conviction.
“Yes, yes, yesssssssss!” She collapsed and slithered up his chest until their lips met. She inhaled urgently with her eyes closed so he couldn't see into her soul, but he didn't notice as he held her and stared at the ceiling.
There was a time when they lay together and his mind wandered through fields of words ripe for picking. But now as he reached for them, they scattered like crows across the closing window of the sky, denouncing their love with a raucousness that would follow him back into the streets, dogging him as he stepped around puddles.
“Oh my God,” she exhaled as they lay back, sharing one of his cigars. “You make me feel so good. I don’t know how I would manage without you.”
“Isn’t the old man enough for ya?”
She wished he hadn't said that. It would have shattered the mood if they were like other lovers. But it did shred the veils she had draped around the room, and now it looked a little dowdy. The wallpaper had a damp stain in the corner and his breath was tinged with stout, even the taste of his cigar couldn't mask that. But that was the way Fate had decreed it. She got into the ridiculous costumes their trysting demanded and played the part so well. She could inspire him with her passion and hunger; she had done it often enough. She could even seem grateful as she doled out his rewards – Fame, Adulation, Relevance and Influence, such easy favours to bestow.
“So why don’t ya leave him?”
“Leave him? Then what? Set up house with a penniless poet?” She laughed a bitter twisted laugh that hung in the air. “Aidan, darling, we have a very good arrangement; let’s not do anything to mess it up.”
He took her in his arms as he nuzzled her until she seemed to sleep.
But she was awake.
Their covenant demanded True Love, something he was incapable of. Without that, she had little command over him. But there were ways: the Laws of Fate were pervious. There was always a chink. She would just have to find it and force her hand inside and squeeze his heart. He could decide how long she squeezed.
He stayed awake, too. He had to get away, but she wouldn't allow it. She published his work and pulled the strings to get him noticed. She promised to make him famous if he promised to keep her sated. It was a price he'd been happy to pay. But now that lust had evaporated, it was just a little sordid. It made him feel servile. He wanted to move, but even as he stirred, she murmured and held him.
“Promise me that you will never leave me. After all, we have just begun to shake the world. The article in the 'Times’ was just the beginning.”
“I know darlin’ an' listen, I'd never fuckin' dream of leavin' you.”
“Forsaking all others?” she whispered without opening her eyes.
“Ah, now, you're married; you shouldn't be askin' me things like that.” He pulled himself away and sat on the edge of the bed.
“Aidan. A good poet would know better than to risk a woman's scorn.”
She watched with some trepidation. She couldn't afford rejection. She feared that more than anything, fading into memory; like an old photograph. “Do you need money, darling?”
“Well, there's money on the dresser, take it if you want it.”
He reconsidered and slid it into his pocket with a dexterity he'd learned on the street.
As the door closed behind him, she rose and walked to the mirror. She would find a way. If she couldn't gain his heart, someone else might, someone who might mean more to him. Then she would find a way to tear that someone from him and leave him to bleed to death in the gutter.
The old green Jaguar was parked outside of the Laragh Hotel when she got off the bus. Maurice was inside fortifying himself with whiskey, but Gwen didn't chide him for that. It was part of their deal: they would never intrude on each other.
“Bridey, darling,” he greeted her as she stepped inside, “will you have a little sherry?”
“Actually, darling, make it a whiskey, a big one.”
His face was owlish, but he smiled as only a cuckold can. “Did you sort out everything in the city?”
“Yes darling, thanks for asking.”
“And did you deal with that damn dog?”
“Oh, darling, he wasn't so bad. He didn't mean to upset the sheep.”
“And the cattle, even the horses were skittish around him. Damn hound of Hell if you ask me.”
I never could stand your side of the family, Maurice smiled to himself. “Well, you look damn fine, Bridey, if I may say so. Let's have another drink?”
“Oh, darling, let's make it an early night. I am exhausted.” She looked at her reflection in the mirror behind the bar. No one else would notice, but she was starting to wither a little. Maurice certainly wouldn't; he was lost in his own thoughts.