Before Caty took the red eye from LA to London a week earlier, she’d felt her life was just a bit – empty.
Her divorce was a good part of it – not her fault, childhood sweetheart came back into his life, he begged her forgiveness, her understanding. She did forgive him, she did understand. What she couldn’t forgive, what she didn’t get, was why she’d stayed with him as long as she had.
Her work, too, in the world of reality television, also lacked – fulfillment. She wrote and field produced lifestyle shows about diet and beauty, filler for various cable channels. Or at least that was what she was doing when she was abruptly taken out of her work comfort zone by her boss and packed off to London to work on “something wonderfully splashy and edgy,” partnered with a “wonderful documentary director.” Her boss said she was chosen because “We need someone without conflicting commitments, to immerse fully in the project.”
So, here she was, doing her best. The way she was feeling right now, perhaps she’d immersed herself a little too well.
A bell jangled above the door of the Drum and Whistle as she pushed her way down a narrow corridor and into the pub’s main room. There was an appealing stone fire place with a roaring blaze, and she stopped to rub her hands together in front of the smoky hearth. This wasn’t exactly the kind of heat she wanted, but it would have to do for now.
The pleasant dark room was crowded, every booth taken, standing room at the bar, everyone seemingly occupied by a rugby match spilling noisily out of televisions mounted in several corners of the room.
“There you are, Caty,” James said, smiling.
He took her elbow and steered her through the crowd. She liked feeling his hand on her arm.
He was tall, angular, well-built, and somewhere in his mid to late thirties, not that much older than she was. Now his hand moved from her elbow to grasp her own hand as they wound through the crowd.
“You’re frozen. You feel like you’ve just come in from Antarctica,” James said.
He rubbed her cold palm with his own warm fingers. She liked the way that felt. Very much.
“Are you all right? You’re shivering.”
“Just used to LA weather. I’m fine,” she said, and she felt finer than she had in a long time just from the way his hand felt on hand. She wished he was touching her some place more – intimate.
She felt her cheeks color. “It must be true that your blood thins the longer you live in a warm place.”
James maneuvered them to a table near the front window.
As he pulled out her chair, his arm accidently brushed her left breast. Just that small contact and she could feel her nipple harden.
She allowed herself briefly to imagine what it would be like if he was stroking her nipples, not accidently, deliberately. If he was moving his hand beneath her sweater and under her shirt, unhooking her bra, slipping his fingers against her nipples skin on skin, taking first one and then the other between his thumb and his forefinger, making them harder still. He’d push her sweater off her shoulders, lower her bra straps along with it, until both were down around her elbows, pinning her arms. Her breasts would be constrained only by her shirt, rubbing against the fabric, as he leaned in for a kiss, his tongue agile, slipping between her teeth and out again, tracing the outline of her lips, along the line of her jaw and down her neck, and then lower, shifting between kisses and small circles right up to the edge of her shirt.
She felt her cheeks heat up again, and she glanced at him quickly, but he was looking at the screen of his laptop, open on the table.
“Here’s what I have about tonight’s ‘event,’” he said, turning the laptop screen toward her. He smiled at her again. He had such a very nice, open, friendly smile. It was the kind of smile that just made you want to smile back. So, she did, and they just sat for a moment, enjoying each other smiling.
There was definitely something between them, she thought. Complicity, maybe, over the salacious subject they were covering. But maybe something more than that. Maybe he felt the same way she was feeling, had been feeling, ever since she’d seen exactly what this project was all about.
She forced herself to look from James to the message board on the laptop screen. She scrolled down the page. “Seven tonight, behind the Drum and Whistle,” she read.
She looked up at James, questioning. “And you’re sure -”
“Oh, very,” James nodded. “Camera’s set up. I’ve already gotten a release from the main players.”
He leaned across the table and tapped his finger against the puppy icon marking that post. It looked like a bull dog.
“The code of the week,” he said, a lock of somewhat unruly dark hair fell across his brow.
Caty fought the urge to brush his hair back, to stroke his cheek and invite him to stroke hers, and move in, perhaps for a long kiss, move in and reach beneath the table, and put her hand on his thigh and –
“I’ve spent a long time on this project. I know pretty much everything there is to know about this, and it’s fascinating sociologically of course,” James said. “but also titillating enough that along with your production company’s interest I’ve actually got full funding for once in my life.”
He laughed full out, he had a really nice laugh, Caty thought, just as nice as his smile.
He had nice brown eyes, too, a golden brown, rather like amber dipped in chocolate. He was muscular beneath his turtle neck, she could see his biceps, and the strength in his forearms.
She wished they were crushing her tight against him.
All this talk about sex, all this watching sex, all she could think about was sex. Specifically, with him.
“A pint while we wait?” he asked her.
She managed a nod.
What did he think of her, she wondered?
She was told she looked younger than thirty-three, her hair long and still naturally blonde, her cheek bones high, her manner usually circumspect. But not now. Not today, not this week, not now.
“You have to admit, it’s pure voyeurism,” James said to Caty as they sipped their beer. “It started in fairly remote locations – people with not too much to do after their local – their pub – closed for the evening and they’d had a few and they were bored. The far fingers of suburbia. The pristine countryside of boarding schools and dairy farms. You see, public exposure isn’t illegal in the UK, not like in the States.”
“Yes, so you’ve explained. We’re really more Puritanical in the U.S. Not that the English have a reputation for being exactly uninhibited,” she added. “That’s what I find so interesting about this. It’s so hedonistic for English culture.”
“True, the English have the reputation of being reserved. And yet on the other hand you have a tradition of rowdy comedy – of accepted vulgarity -” he drew a deep breath. “Frankly, we’ve always had a strong sense of ourselves as very sexual beings. Even if we don’t show that side of ourselves in public.”
“Until now,” Caty pointed out.
He nodded. He sipped his beer. He tried not to notice the faint outline of her nipples through her sweater. He had never expected to be working on a subject like this with a woman who looked like she did. It was either too difficult or too easy. He wasn’t sure which just yet.
“I think at heart, it’s a longing for human connection,” he said.
“More than a longing, apparently,” she smiled, brushed a strand of hair off her cheek, a strand that he, personally, would’ve liked to have brushed away himself. Or better yet, he would’ve liked to have run his fingers through her hair until many more strands fell across her cheeks, as she was bending over him, unzipping his jeans, taking out his cock, gasping at how hard it was already, as hard as he was getting right now just thinking about it, thinking about her bending over him, right there in the pub, and licking him —
He shook his head as if to clear it. Her finger tips grazed the top of his hand briefly. Just her touch seemed to electrify him. He wanted to just grab her and take her in the back room and strip off all her clothes.
She was too damned pretty to be sitting there across the table analyzing the reasons for the new English phenomena of public sex. Rather than talking about something they’d never personally experienced, maybe they should do it themselves and then figure out the reasons why it was happening. It even occurred to him to suggest just that. But he did not.
“It’s like watching porn and inviting all of London to watch with you,” he said. “It’s a shared group experience, and that’s where the longing gets fulfilled.”
“A sort of broad spectrum hooking-up,” she suggested.
He nodded, vigorously. “That would be one way of putting it.”
All he wanted was to hook up with her. Period. What in the hell were they doing here in this pub waiting to chronicle someone else’s sexual activities, when they could be – God, what was wrong with him. He usually, no he always, tried to be respectful of women, to get to know a woman, to carefully and cautiously, only after due consideration, after mutual discussion, agree upon adding the physical elements into their friendship. Of course, maybe that explained a certain lack of, well, spark, in his last relationship.
Did he imagine it, or did her fingers rest just a moment longer than necessary on his hand when she moved the mouse on his laptop? Did he imagine it, or was her knee actually – had to be deliberately, brushing his? But the most important question of all was this: would it violate his journalistic integrity if she invited him to violate her.
Honestly, he didn’t care if it did or not.
When the televised soccer match ended, slowly, one or two at a time, people began to leave the pub. There was nothing unusual about that, people leaving a bar after a game, Caty thought.
Except they were all slipping out the back door, and many of them were looking at each other, both excited and nervous, or pointedly not looking at each other.
She followed James outside into the soft dove-grey twilight.
Someone had started a fire in a metal trash bin, and its flames leapt up in a lively way. There were ten or twelve pub patrons standing around in the back, plus the relief bartender and a couple of young men on bikes who seemed to have just come by.
Caty and James stood a little apart from the others. She wanted to move closer to the fire, but James pointed out a battered white commercial van just a few feet away. “That’s theirs,” he told her. “From here we should have an un- obstructed view.”
“Great,” Caty said brightly.
She was nervous, she felt like she was the one participating in an illicit activity, like she was the one doing something wrong by watching. But it wasn’t really wrong, was it? Neither the watching or the doing. Still, she felt the incongruity of standing there waiting to watch a live sex show with James. It was probably the most embarrassing date she’d ever been on. And the most exciting one.
Of course, this wasn’t a date, she reminded herself. It was research. Their relationship – you couldn’t even call it a relationship, their acquaintance, hers and James, was purely platonic. For now.
“I’ve seen three of these planned set ups. Just happened on a few others. Don’t be edgy about it. Everyone’s pretty-well behaved. My camera is in place by the van, we’re all set. Just here to observe, help with your script.”
“Yeah,” she agreed.
“It’s not particularly raucous. Mostly people just stand around. Sometimes they invite others in. To touch a little, whatever. But overall the group dynamic is very proper. For what it is. And anyway I’m here, it’s not like you’re out here alone.”
“I know,” Caty said.
She knew all too well she wasn’t alone. How close he was standing.
It wasn’t the chilly night that made her shiver. It was anticipation.
A set of headlights clicked on, illuminating the back of the van in a spotlight glare. Caty saw the license plate was obscured with a shop rag. Then the rear doors were thrust open. Inside the van there was a work light suspended on a cord from the ceiling.
A young, sturdy looking man stepped out and introduced himself as Frankie. There was a woman sitting cross legged on the floor of the van, and he called her Pam. They threw off their jackets.
The night air was cold enough that it made her nipples stand out beneath her thin turtle neck sweater.
The watchers in the parking lot quieted. James flicked the remote switch he held, and the hum of James’ digital camera was suddenly quite noticeable. A few people began muttering, but Frankie called out.
“We’re shooting ourselves a little movie footage. Nothing to do with the rest of you.”
Frankie’s face, illuminated mostly by the harsh headlights around them, was just a silhouette, his body hard as well as thin, as he tugged his girl up from the floor of the van, and pulled her up beside him.
She smiled languidly and commanded him.
“Do me good,” and she lifted up that sweater, beneath which her firm round breasts were already bare.
He leaned forward and began licking her, sucking on the nipples until they were shimmering wet and hard. He flicked them back and forth between his thumb and forefinger, then he unzipped his fly and leaned back against the van. The girl dropped to her knees, right there in the dusty lot and began to suck him, until his cock, like her nipples, was hard and wet.
Seeing other people go at each other voraciously, openly, avidly, did something to Caty. She wanted to moan the way the girl was moaning as Frankie lifted her lips away from his penis and rubbed his cock back and forth across her breasts.
Now he was moving her back against the side of the van and dry humping her. They were mere shadows now, just out of the edge of the headlights glare.
Then, masterfully, he moved her back into the light; they were, Caty thought, practiced at this. He pushed her gently down into the bed of the van and then he flipped her over, so that her bottom was facing the crowd. He lifted her skirt. She wasn’t wearing underwear. He rubbed her with his fingers, inserted one, two, three, making small, but audible pops. Then he pulled his hand free – she moaned again – and he dipped his head down and went at her with his tongue.
Caty could feel herself getting loose and wet. She shifted her feet, her shoes sounded unnaturally loud scraping against the gravel.
She looked at James, but he appeared to be completely occupied with what he was filming. She’d expected somehow that he would be looking at her.
Frankie flipped Pamela to face the crowd again. He spread eagled her in the back of the van.
While she was in that position he licked her, fingered her, teased her with his cock; she pulled at him with her mouth and her hands. Then he raised her legs around him and plunged into her, groaning. As they bucked and rocked in the back of the van, Caty could not stop herself from thinking how much she wanted to be doing exactly the same thing. With James.
They would start in the conference room, where she’d first met him. She would look at him, and she would see he was looking at her and that he wanted her every bit as much as she wanted him. He would lock the door, and come back to her, take her hand.
He rubbed his thumb across her palm the way he had in the pub.
He slipped his hands beneath her shirt, and rubbed at the small of her back, inched them up to bra, and stroked inside the cup. She gasped as his finger grazed her nipple. His other hand dropped to her stockinged leg, stroked her thigh, moved between her legs, and rubbed at her through her hose and panties.
She moved her own hand to his crotch, felt him swell to her touch.
He was whispering now, “I want to explore you, every single inch of you, I want to watch you, frame by frame, until I know your very pores. I’ve wanted to do all sorts of utterly unspeakable things to you and with you and have you do them to me.”
She tingled all over, running her hand lightly along his hips and down to his bulging crotch. “Before you do,” she said, and paused, “I want to come myself while you watch.”
“Go ahead,” he said, his voice low and thick.
“Just the way I do it at home, where no one can see me.”
“Talk me through it,” he whispered. “Step by step.”
“I slip off my shoes,” she said, and she did so. “I push my sweater down – and pop out my breasts, and rub at them until my nipples are – nice and hard.”
“Do you ever – make them wet?”
“Sometimes,” she said, and she licked her fingers and rubbed them across her breasts, across her nipples until they nice and hard, and shiny, too.
“Then my bra starts to feel in the way.” She reached behind her and unsnapped it, so that her breasts, unfettered now, fell fully from the fabric. She tugged her shirt lower, so he could see the dangling blue lace bra, her pale skin, her pink aureole, those darker, hard, wet nipples.
She wet her finger again, wet it quite a bit, rubbed at her nipples. There was a drop now of saliva slipping off the end of each nipple now. He couldn’t help it, he groaned.
“Now,” she said, dropping down on the plush carpet of the conference room floor. She drew her stockinged feet up, bent her knees. “Now for the main attraction.”
She bent her knees and hiked up her skirt. He could see the sheer lacy top of her panty hose, and the blue panties to match that loosened bra beneath them, she rubbed at herself until her dampness gathered visibly on the fabric. She shuddered and cried out softly when she came.
“Do you ever -” he began.
“Go inside?” she whispered, her voice hoarse now.
“Go inside!” he demanded.
She raised herself off the carpet and tugged her hose down from her hips, peeled them ever so slowly, and then all the way off just one leg, left them dangling on the other.
She pushed her panties to one side and inserted a finger, tentatively in and out, in and out. Then she plucked her finger free again and rubbed that wetness across her nipples.
“Oh yeah,” he breathed.
She stretched her panties far to one side now, so that he could see her pubic hair, thick and damp, so that he could see her deliciously swollen pink clit. She flicked it with a finger, she inserted another finger deeply inside herself, she began to rock on her own finger, rhythmically. She closed her eyes, moaning when she came. Again, and then again.
At last she lifted her hand away from her pussy. Then she just sat there for a moment, breathing hard, leaving herself in disarray, as if she knew what the sight did to him, her skirt pushed up, damp breasts dangling.
“Hike up your skirt,” he suggested.
She did so, rolling it up at the waist, affording him a view of her twisted, damp blue panties.
“Would love to see a little more,” he said.
She peeled her panties down to mid-thigh, left them binding her there. Seeing him watching her, she felt as if her clit was dripping.
He unzipped his fly, pulled his enormous penis from his jeans.
She rose to her knees, still partially bound by her panties. She knelt and she sucked him and licked him until he was crying out, and she was licking up the last of the cum dripping from his cock. She could feel him twitch and respond beneath her tongue; she could taste more salty drops quivering from him.
When he’d quivered his last, she lifted her mouth away.
“Next time,” she said, “next time you should do me like Frankie did Pam behind the pub…”
Frankie and Pamela had collapsed in a sweaty, panting heap on the brightly lit floor of the van. There was ragged applause from the parking lot crowd.
Frankie lifted himself from her, zipped up his jeans. The girl tugged her skirt down again.
“I’m his,” Pamela said, taking his hand and sucking his fingers. “But didn’t we all have fun?”
The two of them scrambled around to the front of the van and climbed in, tearing out of the lot, spewing gravel. Just like that, it was over.
James looked at Caty then, for the first time since Pamela and Frankie had started their – act.
She managed a shaky smile.
She tried to quiet her breathing, but she wasn’t entirely sure she could.
“You okay?” he asked her.
“Definitely. Fine. Of course,” she said.
It was the first time in her life she’d ever come without even touching herself.
She felt as if everybody was watching her. She was still coming now.