Tag Archives: Togetherness

A last farewell…

Your time on earth is over and what’s left is the rest of us – and a void the size of the Grand Canyon. Those who got to know you, who now miss you, have to find a way to cope without you. You touched so many people and changed so many lives, including mine.

We talked a lot through the years, about everything. Your youthful, honest, kind, loving spirit was in every exchange. You gladly shared your sprightly personality, your hilarious jokes, the amazing stories from your eventful life. You enriched my days. Every time my phone beeped, I hoped it was a message from you. I grew fonder and fonder of you by the day.

When we finally met, you gave me six wonderful days with you. On the first day you took my hand, looked into my eyes and said, “I’ve been looking forward to this moment for so long, I can hardly believe you’re actually here. You’re even more beautiful than I had imagined.”

Over the next few days we laughed and cried, we talked and embraced – and exchanged the words we’d both wanted to say to each other for a long time. Then you sang to me, three times. Your voice was rugged, the words were sincere and your heart and love was in every phrase. I tried not to cry, as I sat on my knees in front of you while you held your hands on my cheeks and crooned softly as you looked into my eyes.

Thanks to you, I had six perfect days that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

Then I had to leave and you slowly got worse – but we managed to stay in touch and exchange sweet messages of love every now and then. We talked a little on the phone on a few occasions, reminded each other of the words we’d exchanged in person and talked about what we’d do when we next met – although we both knew that’d never happen.

When you took your final breath, we had nothing left unsaid. It was still a shock, although it was expected. I’m hurting now for purely selfish reasons – because I’ll never get to spend another day with you, I’ll never get to hear you say “I love you, sweetheart” again and I’ll never get to hold you in my arms again…

But you were ready.

You were fine about leaving your earthly existence, because you’d lived “the perfect life” and because you knew you’d end up in a good place, based on the life you’d been living and the way you’d treated people. I know you wouldn’t have wanted any of us to be sad, you would have wanted us all to follow our dreams, to never settle for less and to celebrate a life well lived.

I’ll love you and keep you in my heart forever, for all that you were to me. Knowing you made me a better person. You reminded me that not realising my full potential is not an option. That it’s up to me to do what it takes to live the life that I want and deserve – just like you did. I’ll never meet anyone else like you, but at least I got to meet you.

I’ll treasure that for the rest of my life. Thank you. For everything.

The Disappearance of Higgins

It was nearly 7p.m. and I was running down Bow Street on route to the Covent Garden underground, where I would meet my date for the evening. I was late, for no apparent reason at all, and as I approached what felt like fifty miles an hour I regretted wearing my stupidly high heels and summer dress.

As I passed the Fielding Hotel, I crashed into a man on his way out. To say that I went flying is an understatement. It was as though it happened in slow motion: the first thing that went down was that my bag released itself from my shoulder, turned on its head and threw up all the contents onto the street; my right shoe slid off my foot and hit said person on the head – followed by me grabbing onto the first thing I could, tearing off the arm of their jacket in the process. And yet, even after all that, I fell flat on my face – still holding the torn-off arm.

I’m fairly certain I’ve looked more elegant.

For a moment I just lay there, in shock, trying to figure out if I was still in one piece. Before long, a pair of black shoes appeared in front of me, followed by a man kneeling before me and offering me his hand.

‘You alright?’ he asked as I let him help me up. ‘Allow me,’ he chuckled, knelt down again and put my shoe back on my foot. As he stood back up, we finally saw eye-to-eye. It was difficult to tell his age. Certainly in his late 40s, at least. He was overall broad without being overweight, his hair was greying and he was wearing big glasses that looked like something out of the 60s.

‘I’m so… so sorry about your jacket,’ I muttered in horror and meekly handed him the black sleeve. He was wearing a white shirt underneath. ‘I’ll replace it!’

‘Never mind the jacket,’ his deep, velvet voice assured me. ‘Are you alright?’ he repeated.

‘Superb,’ I responded as I looked down myself. My right knee and ditto arm looked like they belonged to a 10-year-old that liked running down hills in the summer. Before I knew it, he was back on his hands and knees, putting my mobile phone, two pens, note pad, digital voice recorder, a packet of Extra gum and antihistamines back into my bag. I thanked my own good sense that I’d put the condoms in the pocket with a zipper. ‘Thank you, you didn’t have to do that,’ I offered as he handed it back to me.

‘You’re a journalist?’

‘What gave me away?’ I grinned.

‘Well, you’re no doubt late to meet someone and I need to change my jacket,’ he smiled. ‘It was nice… running into you.’

‘You too.’

Without much further ado he went back into the Fielding Hotel and I decided to text my date and inform him that I was running late. So to speak. Then I walked the last three minutes to the Covent Garden underground station, arriving fashionably late at 7:12p.m. to the obvious question: “What the hell happened to you?”

As I turned up for work Monday morning, half an hour late, the first person I met was Sandy. We both worked on the entertainment section of the newspaper where she basically did the celebrity gossip and I did, well, real news. She made no excuses for her taste for gossip and I no excuse for my distaste for it. Together we were a formidable team, even though she was 47 and I was 30.

‘How was your date?’ she asked and handed me a cup of tea.

‘Who? Oh, he’s 32 and still lives with his mother.’

‘Say no more. Did you hear about Drake Neville?’

‘Who?’

‘You’re kidding, right? Well, I suppose he may be a bit vintage for you. He’s a highly intellectual singer/songwriter who had some hits in the 80s and early 90s, went on to acting in some HBO TV-series in the US, did a degree in law and was going to appear at the Old Vic from Saturday.’

‘That’s an eclectic CV. Was?’

‘Nobody knows where he is. He never showed up for a sitzprobe on Friday evening and they couldn’t reach him on his mobile either on Saturday or Sunday so a colleague went to his hotel room yesterday and found signs of a struggle, apparently. There were torn-up clothing, his glasses were broken and the way the furniture was arranged suggested something had happened.’

‘How odd… So he’s doing “My Fair Lady”, I presume?’

‘Yes, he was going to be Higgins.’

‘He may still be Higgins.’

We both sat down with the rest of our colleagues to hear today’s brief by the editor. Our colleagues were mainly men in their 50s, except for the editor in chief who was a woman – though she was of ditto age as the men, and behaved more of a man than they did. They were all afraid of her because she had more balls. This taken into consideration, it surprised us all to see Carole really distressed. Carole McKenna never got distraught.

‘You’ve probably all heard about Drake Neville by now. We will make this case a top priority. Katie, you will focus only on this case. Go out, talk to colleagues, trace his steps, talk to the hotel and report back to me. Use your investigative skills for something useful,’ she said as she walked slowly towards me, her voice shaking. ‘We will find… this man. Do you hear me?’

‘Sure thing,’ I stated, not actually daring to point out that my actual journalistic skills were more in the regions of reviewing plays, operas and musicals. Maybe do the odd quickie of an interview with an actor or singer, but that was usually the extent to which my skills were required to stretch. Now I was suddenly going to be thrown into an investigation?

‘Why her?’ Stuart Summer asked from the opposite side of the table. She quickly turned her head and sent him a glare that made him cower ever so slightly in his seat.

‘Because,’ she spat and left the room.

‘Thanks, that explains it,’ he mumbled sarcastically as we all got up and sauntered back to our computers. I eyed Sandy and she sent me a look that told me she knew what this was all about. As we sat down and booted up our laptops she moved her chair closer to me and demonstrably looked around to make sure nobody was paying attention.

‘Carole had a monster crush on Drake Neville after a brief meeting in New York in the late 80s when he was playing some club. Apparently they met afterwards, had talked a bit and he had kissed her goodnight.’

‘So he was a stud, then?’

‘Yes, back then. He’s getting on a bit now but he was quite a charmer. He had one of those voices that could make devils cry, both when he sang and when he spoke. I can’t believe you haven’t heard of him!’

‘I’m really bad with names, but I’ll probably recognise him when I see a picture. Will you find one while I get another cuppa?’

As I returned to our desk she had Youtube up on her screen.

‘This is from a private gig he did last year, seemingly. That voice…’ she muttered. I stopped behind her back and leaned over her shoulder to get a closer look. I nearly dropped my cup as the camera zoomed in on his face – as I realised that Drake Neville the man who had introduced himself to me as Daniel three days before.

A Forbidden Moment

As I arrived at his dressing room after the show he opened the door slowly, stood aside and watched me closely as I quietly made my way past him. Just as I was about to move out of his reach, he grabbed hold of my hand, pulled me back and virtually threw me against the door with a numbing thud.

We stood eye to eye, quietly. I parted my lips and leaned in so I almost met his mouth, but stopped and awaited his next move. His chest was moving rapidly, his nose flaring, like that of an agitated bull. He lingered, teasing me, until he bent his head to the side and made the first impact. I noticed that whatever I did he followed my moves with precision and subdued excitement, eager to please. I lost myself in the moment, wrapped my arms about him, unable to hold back a quiet moan as he pressed his body up against me.

He bent his legs, wrapped his arms about my thighs and lifted me up, sliding me against the surface of the door, hiking me up until he faced my ample cleavage. He buried his face in it for a moment before allowing me to slide back down so he could bury his face in the crook of my neck, tickling me with his stubble. He started fiddling with his hand against the wall and it was only when the room went dark that I realised he’d been looking for the light switch. I looked over his shoulder as he went for my neck once more and saw a stripe of light entering through the window, leaving a beam from a nearby street light.

‘You still owe me that song,’ I whispered in his ear. He stopped in his tracks and chuckled for a moment before taking a step backwards, into the dark room. ‘Woo me with your gorgeous voice…’ I muttered as my eyes still grew accustomed to the darkness. There were moments of silence as I moved across to the window, leaned against it, watching the world pass by outside. Taxis, foot traffic, cars pulling up and leaving the street.

Then I heard his voice. It was in Italian, a song I’d never heard before, performed almost like a lullaby. There was no accompaniment, just his voice surrounded by the silence and darkness of the room. I got chills as I realised he was walking slowly towards me, ending the last note alongside my cheek as he wrapped his arms about my waist, just under my bust line, the lace of my black bra scratching gently against his arm.

Although the song was over, I could still hear the softness of his voice in my head as his hands began to lightly massage my flesh. Whatever it was about it had sounded so passionate, needing, wanting, like a hunger that built up slowly and ended in our current position. In one quick move he ripped open the buttons in my shirt, causing the rusty orange glow from the street lights cut a thick beam diagonally across my belly. This beam travelled up and down my naked torso, illuminating my breasts now and again whenever I moved far enough into the light.

He turned me around so I could face him, took an extra step closer to me, his chest very nearly touching mine as he was breathing. On impulse I lifted my hands and put them on his moving chest, feeling the heat coming from it. I tilted my head back, enough to meet his eyes properly, before grabbing hold of his shirt with both of my hands and ripping it open, buttons coming undone and falling onto the floor. I wasn’t prepared to give him full control just yet – so I turned and sauntered towards the baby grand piano.

I looked over my shoulder, slightly humoured by the expression on his face; shocked at the fact that his shirt currently missed six buttons. He quickly followed me and I turned around, slid his shirt off his shoulders and onto the floor.

I let my hands run across his chest and stomach before I opened his belt and tugged at the buttons in his jeans, releasing him from his cage. I then knelt on the stool before the piano and made my way further up the instrument itself, not stopping until I was sitting on top of it and closed the lid over the keys with a loud bang as I put my feet on it.

My eyes were growing familiar with the darkness, but not enough for me to be able to see anything but the contours of him as he moved slowly towards me. I could hear him breathe, felt the heat oozing off him, the energy between us roaring as he finally came close enough for me to see him. He bent down slightly and with one rapid swing of an arm the stool went sailing across the floor until it hit the wall, stopping dead in its tracks.

My legs were shaking as I spread them, welcoming him to do whatever he saw fit. As though reading my mind he came as close to the piano as he could, resting one hand each side of my hips, leaning over me until I gave in and lay down flat on my back.

His chest touched my stomach as his mouth began its journey above my belly button, circling it with his tongue, tracing his movement downwards with it and finally reaching the desired spot between my legs. He groaned as his tongue dove into the heaving flesh. I sat up on my elbows as he grabbed hold of my hips and pulled me towards him until my pulsating crotch hit his waistline. He lifted me off the piano, looked around and carried me towards the stool that stood against the wall.

Once we reached it he forced me onto it, turned me around and made me stand on my knees, holding onto the back rest, with my back against him. His hands caressed my skin in bold, broad sweeps, covering every inch of my body. I could feel his erection between my legs, rubbing my most sensitive area without actually entering it. I could hardly breathe, but he made me wait as he caressed my buttocks with his hands, extending the movement upwards over my back. I reached behind me, grabbed hold of his strong thigh to try and pull him closer, making it obvious what I wanted, what I needed him to do. He entered me slowly, gradually speeding and roughing it up. His hands were holding firmly onto my hips, thrusting me against him, the friction increasing rapidly with each urgent thrust.

Suddenly he stopped. I held my breath, hoping it wasn’t over. He moved me from the chair and sat down on it himself before guiding me onto his lap, facing away from him. The dance began again with a renewed vibrancy. I arched my back against him, reaching for the back of his head as I felt the climax approaching. I could hardly breathe as a violent wave of shivers hit me with the energy of a runaway train, leaving me unable to keep my legs on the floor any longer. Moments before my own orgasm was over, he joined me.

The mighty grip around my waist loosened and I rolled down his arm, hitting the floor with a gasping sigh of relief.

Nothing Ever Really Changes

I stopped by the entrance to the museum and pulled my phone out of my pocket. Another message: “Take your time, I’m sitting on a bench opposite Nelson.” I took a final look down myself, feeling relatively confident in my tight jeans that accentuated my rounded bottom and a top that accentuated my waist and chest – giving me the hour glass shape I knew he couldn’t resist. I had also chosen my shoes wisely, because I knew he’d notice. To top it all off I wore my hair down, my dark red curls bouncing off my back as I approached him.

I’d pulled out all the stops. For old time’s sake.

As I walked down the stairs to the square itself I saw him on a bench across from the statue of Nelson, as promised. He was staring into his music player as I slowly walked over and stopped in front of him. Once he realised I was there he slowly looked up, taking in all the sights in the process, yanked the earplugs out of his lug holes and stood up. For a moment we just lingered. I bent my head backwards ever so slightly to meet his eyes as confidently as I could.

He didn’t say anything, just looked down at me over the bridge of his nose, before bending his knees and picking me up by snaking one arm around my back. As a reflex, I put my arms around his neck and took in the scent from his skin. It seemed like he, too, was trying to give me a trip down memory lane by putting on that perfume he knew used to drive me wild. He rested his mouth in the crook of my neck and sighed, hugging me tighter with the arm that held me up and slid his fingers through my hair with the other.

When I opened my eyes and looked over his shoulder, I realised that we’d attracted a curious crowd who wondered what was going on. I helped myself down, sliding slowly down his chest and torso, until my feet once again hit the ground. He still held me against him, refusing to let up until I took a physical step back.

‘It’s good to see you,’ he finally said, his voice dark and soft, like chocolate. ‘Thank you for coming.’

He looked how I remembered, but better. He’d toned up, his hair and beard had traces of gray and that “something” I’d never quite been able to put my finger on that made him irresistible… well, that was there too.

‘For old time’s sake, right?’

‘Right,’ he chuckled. ‘Shall we?’ he added and offered me his arm, like a proper gentleman. I slid my hand in between his rib-cage and his bicep, giving it a little squeeze. Probably as a reflex, he momentarily flexed his muscle, quietly reminding me that he still “had it”. A completely unnecessary exercise, as he’d already done that by lifting me off the ground using only one arm a minute or so ago.

We walked up St Martin’s Lane on route to Browns Restaurant, where he’d suggested in a previous message, in complete silence. He just touched my hand as I clutched his bicep, repeating to myself that it was “just a lunch”. That he’d married Rose and she was probably waiting for him somewhere, alongside their – probably – four kids.

‘Let me get that for you,’ he said as we reached Browns and opened the door for me. We were immediately shown to our table, that he’d booked in advance, and given menus. We both ordered beef with fries and salad. I made sure I got a glass of red while he stuck to Guinness with his upscale pub lunch.

‘What brings you to town?’ I finally asked, having gulped down a third of my glass of wine in one gulp.

‘I’m back at work, singing. Can you believe it?’

‘No,’ I said earnestly. ‘I didn’t know you’d started singing again. The last time we spoke…’

‘A lot has happened since the last time we spoke,’ he interrupted me. ‘I met a miracle worker that got had me doing yoga and breathing exercises. But don’t worry, I haven’t gone all zen on you,’ he grinned. ‘It took a while but for the past few years I’ve been welcomed back to the stages I never thought I’d grace again.’

‘I’m happy for you,’ I offered. ‘How’s Rose?’ I asked, getting it out of the way as quickly as possible.

‘I hear she’s fine. We haven’t had much to say to one another in the past four years or so.’

‘Right.’

‘I’ve enjoyed being on my own, putting things into perspective, finding myself…’

‘I thought you said you hadn’t gone all zen on me.’

He laughed out loud.

‘Did you like who you found?’

‘As it turns out, I wasn’t that hard to find,’ he chuckled. ‘I’ve had a pretty good grip on who I am for most of my life.’

I smiled to myself as I filled my mouth with another piece of beef. I don’t know what I’d expected, but for some reason I was still surprised that he the whole process, the life-changing events of the past few years, hadn’t really changed him. Zen my arse.

‘What’s new with you? I heard you dumped what’s his face and that he married the most level headed woman I’ve ever met.’

‘I think what makes it work for those two is that they’re both as sedated as each other and happy with that. He’s a lovely guy but I swear to God, he provided me with the most boring sex I’ve ever had,’ I said without thinking, causing him to swallow his meat down the wrong way, followed by a coughing fit and eventually a belly laugh.

‘I’ve missed that,’ he beamed. ‘At least you can’t say that the sex we had was ever boring.’

‘This is true. So, when do you start rehearsals?’ I asked, trying to steer the conversation away from the past, which wasn’t all that easy as it was literally staring me straight in the face. I could feel the blood rushing through my body, my heart racing even though I wasn’t moving – and I had to uncross my legs to avoid any friction.

‘Next week. You look… stunning,’ he continued, trying to steer the conversation back to where he wanted it. ‘So do you?’

‘Do I what?’ I asked flatly as I threw back the rest of my wine, fighting the urge to lunge at him.

‘Remember when I tied you up in LA?’ he asked, referring to the last message before our meeting that I’d avoided replying to. With good reason.

‘Is that why you wanted to see me? To ask me that?’

I heard that my voice sounded irritated. What irritated me the most was that I liked where the conversation was going. I liked that he almost immediately steered me towards sex, towards our shared desires, towards our mutual lust for one another. At the same time, I was angry that he felt he could just make contact after six years of nothing, four of them as single, and expect me to just – literally – bend over by doing something as simple as remind me of what we used to do. The hot, steaming, moments of passion that still made my nipples harden just from the thought alone.

‘I apologise for taking liberties. Old habits, I guess.’

‘I should go.’

‘We should both go,’ he said and had settled the bill before I’d had the time to object. They were clearly interested in catering to as many people as possible during the lunch rush, so for once the service was quick. On the street I kept my distance. Not because I wanted to, but because I knew I needed to in order to not get sucked back into a whirlwind fuckfest with him that would – without doubt – end in tears again for me in the not too distant future.

‘Thanks for lunch,’ I said, turned on my heel and walked hastily back down St. Martin’s Lane, counting the seconds before he caught up with me. He came around in front of me and touched both of my shoulders, holding onto me, making sure I couldn’t rush off.

‘I’m not going to lure you with some speech about how I’ve changed and become a better man. I don’t have any guarantees, all I can say is that I’ve had time to get my ducks in a row. I know I was a prick to you on several occasions in the past. All I ask is that we go on a proper date so we can get to know each other again. Tomorrow night, what do you say?’

I looked at him. This gesture was slightly out of character. Maybe he had changed, maybe he hadn’t. Even though I leaned towards “hadn’t”, I figured I owed it to myself to find out – so I made eye-contact with him, gave him a quick nod and pushed him out of the way.

Rather than rushing, I got my hips swaying and my hair bouncing off my back as I walked away, making damn sure I had the upper hand when we met again the next day.

The End?

To my surprise he was on time and actually waiting for me.

‘Thanks for coming,’ he said and lingered before me, trying to suss out whether I was going to agree to a hug or not. As I didn’t volunteer to step close to him, he seemed happy to leave it. ‘Let’s go to my place.’

For him, the 1-bedroom flat was rather modest, but for being in the middle of Covent Garden is was quite sizeable. He showed me into the sitting room and parked on the couch, waiting for me to sit down.

I felt angry, mainly with myself, for allowing his presence to toy with my emotions once more – especially as it was officially over and had been for some time. For a moment I wanted to just run out of there, but before I could make up my mind he pulled me down onto his lap, facing him, and put his strong arms around me, willing me to do the same. I followed his orders, as usual, and for a moment it was as though my hurt was on pause and it was old times again.

‘I’m so sorry for confusing you and for hurting you. For all this…’ he said, the velvet in his voice caressing my wounded soul with the words I had given up on hearing from him. I nodded, indicating I was listening. ‘I’ve just been trying to figure out what I want in life…’

A silence built up between us as he rested his chin on my head, allowing me to put my mouth and nose against the crook of his neck, inhaling the scent of his skin.

‘I’ve appeared angry at times because I’ve been frustrated…’ I eventually offered.

‘You don’t need to explain, I understand. I do,’ he whispered and sighed, simultaneously tightening the grip around my back, like he didn’t want to let go.

I considered standing up and gracefully bowing out, leaving it like that, but I felt unable to move. He was like a drug I’d spent a long time trying to quit but could just never resist when it was in front of me.

‘Ideally I’d have you naked right now,’ he sighed a minute or so later, making me wish that I in fact had followed my instinct and walked out before – at the same time making me glad I hadn’t. ‘You bring out sides of me that others just… don’t.’

‘You know what you do to me…’ I muttered and didn’t move, although I knew I should have.

He laughed sweetly, once more tightening his grip around me, allowing one of his hands to travel up and down my back. I pulled back slightly so I could look at him as I stroked his face and neck, his mouth lingering just over mine. I could feel his heart beating hard in his chest. ‘You’re not going to make this easy, are you?’

I shook my head. To me, it was a bizarrely satisfying moment of knowing he wanted me as much as he ever did, if not more. I knew I could have him, even though I shouldn’t. I wanted him to seduce him and make him give in to his desires, especially as he shouldn’t succumb to me. I wanted to take him from her, if only for a moment.

‘What is it you want?’ he asked and I noticed that the touch of velvet was back in the middle of his voice.

‘Isn’t it obvious?’ I asked, my expression strong and clear.

He nodded. ‘You know how I like it when you’re vocal about what you want.’

‘I want you,’ I whispered as I looked straight into his eyes. ‘Now.’

‘Could we end it on a positive note, like this?’ he asked but didn’t wait for an answer, just moved his hands from my back and up to my cheeks, pulling my face up to his and meeting my mouth in a kiss that reflected the raw passion we had for each other, one that didn’t seem to vanish – in spite of our best efforts to stay away from one another.

We couldn’t reach the bedroom fast enough, only stopping off in the hall to share another kiss. A simple touch of his lips made my crotch pulsate with noble passion.

I pulled him with me into the bedroom and let gave in to the urge once more.

Just. Once. More.

As I finally rolled off him about an hour or so later, the afterglow of my orgasm left me wanting to say things to him, things I knew would be better left unsaid. He embraced my back and offered another kiss. He stoked my back, kissed me once more, let his fingers play with my hair, as we both enjoyed the silence and the afterglow.

‘…definitely on a good note…’ he finally uttered and I could feel my heart go cold, to be reminded so abruptly that it was indeed “the final time”. ‘I know what you’re thinking,’ he added quickly. ‘Don’t dwell.’

As the spell was already broken, I got up and followed the trail of my clothes into the hall. I put them on in silence, avoiding eye contact with him but all the time weary that he was standing there next to me, waiting for me to finish. I finally stood up before him and rested my head on his chest.

‘Please don’t dwell,’ he said again. ‘I do it too. Don’t…’ he whispered, before squeezing my shaking body against him. I took a step back and lingered before him, once again trying to overcome the strong desire to just… say it. To say the words I never felt the urge to say to anyone. I met his eyes and took a deep breath. He knew me well enough to know what was coming. ‘Please don’t…’ he pleaded quietly.

Overcome with sadness I waved the urge goodbye, stood on my toes and let my mouth barely touch his lips for a moment, followed by a deep, slow breath that gave me the necessary strength to step away and out the door.

For good.

Excerpt from my novel, “A Masochism Tango” (2012-)

A Masochism Tango

There I was, three years later, allowing one reminder of his existence to think that it wouldn’t be a totally disastrous idea to check if I could find his schedule to see where he was currently at. He was probably still at the Met anyway and therefore far away from where I could potentially run into him.

Moments later I’d gone online and plotted his name into a search engine, hoping for a result. He didn’t have his own website, but on page two of the search results I found what I was looking for; he was in town, doing a series of recitals in… churches. One was that same evening, at a church half an hour by motorbike away from where I lived. Chances were I’d never get in, because he was a fairly big name by then. For all I knew he was still with her, and did I really want to go there again?

It didn’t take me long before the emotional masochist in me decided that the answer to that question was, in fact, yes.

I took a quick shower, fixed all the bits that needed to be fixed and put on my leather suit, aka my protective gear for the bike ride. The recital had already started, but all I was worried about was catching him on his way out. If I left straight away I’d get there in time for the intermission and possibly manage to sneak in for the second half. I rode there too fast, and broke various speed limits, as a thousand thoughts flew through my head.

Yet, as I arrived at the church, I had no idea what my supposedly genius plan was.

I saw a few hundred people standing outside smoking and talking, which confirmed my suspicion that I would arrive in time for the intermission. I looked around for someone who looked vaguely in charge of entries and eventually found an elderly lady with a clip board on the steps. I enquired whether it was possible to obtain a spare seat and as we stood and looked through the seating chart, people started moving past us inside the church. Mid-crowd the lady in question grabbed me by my elbow and pulled me through the masses at an alarming speed.

Row three, aisle seat.

The only place worse would have been at the very front. Considering I was still in my leather gear, I stood out like a sore thumb among the crowd of dinner jackets and dresses. I even managed to get a few disapproving looks as I sat down, which made me feel a whole lot better.

The orchestra came on to great applause, as did the conductor and the chorus. I sank down into my seat as the principle singer came back on to even greater appreciation. It was just him by himself. I’d have expected at least a female companion, but there was nobody else in sight. The orchestra started playing, and from there everything else fell into motion and ended with his strong, velvety voice filling the church room. I started feeling faint.

As he accepted his applause gracefully from the first number, my crash helmet fell to the floor with a loud thud – causing him to look in my direction just long enough to recognise me. He looked like he’d been hit by a thunder bolt and froze in his tracks, stared wildly at me for a moment before turning away, scratching his neck nervously. This was one of his little ticks that I’d learned to recognise.

It was at this point I realised that if this concert had been a few days away, I would have had time to think about it and acknowledged what a stupid idea this had been in the first place.

Moments later he started singing a song whose melody I didn’t recognise, and yet it seemed so familiar. As our eyes met briefly, I knew which song it was; it was the one he’d sung to me, a’capella, in his dressing room that time. The one I still had no clue what was about but that made my whole body tingle at the thought of that experience – and others.

As soon as he was done I made my way out of the church behind frustratingly slow-moving people, sneaking out in the middle of the crowd as I wanted to get on my bike and race away as fast as humanly possible before I got myself into trouble. I wasn’t sure I could take another round of what nearly drove me insane some years earlier.

‘Excuse me, miss?’ I heard a male voice behind me enquire as I was about to put my crash helmet on. It wasn’t his voice, I knew that straight away, so I turned and looked at a balding man in his mid-40s with round glasses that looked a bit like George Costanza in “Seinfeld”.

‘Yes?’

‘Will you come with me, please?’

I don’t know why I came, but I did. He didn’t say anything, just lead the way back into the church, through a corridor on the right, up a flight of stairs and basically plonked me outside a closed door before disappearing. I figured I would either be forced to do ten Hail Marys for causing disruption in church with my helmet, or I was about to come face to face with him behind that door. I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to find out, so I turned on my heel and was about to shoot back down the stairs when the door opened and a voice filled the empty space between us;

‘Leaving so soon?’

I didn’t even have to turn around to see which one of my options were standing in the doorway behind me. I knew that if I turned around I’d be sold, so I just nodded quietly and caressed the wooden banister. I could hear his steps disappear inside the room behind me so I looked back, noticing the door was still open and inviting me to walk through it. I took a deep breath, continued a couple of steps downwards, before stopping again.

Oh, who was I kidding?

I walked through the door and closed it behind me. It was a small church room with a cross on the wall, a chair and a small table, a sink and mirror across from the small window. He stood with his back against me, his hands in his trouser pockets, looking out the window. The bleak lamp on the table next to the chair gave the room an eerie atmosphere. I tried not to look at him, tried not to awaken the beast of desire by remembering what the man before me was able to make me do at the wink of an eye and the crooking of a finger.

I didn’t trust myself with him – with very good reason.

He slowly turned around and faced me, his eyes looking dark, cold and controlled for a moment as he made his way towards me. The scene seemed strangely familiar. In a mild strike of panic, I backed away until I hit the closed, heavy wooden door. He stopped a few inches shy of me and supported himself against the door. His arm was so close to my face I could smell the scent of his skin; that impossibly masculine scent that he always seemed to smell of, a scent that didn’t come out of any bottle. He leaned in, his face close to mine, his eyes trying to focus, and it was with some relief I saw the stern look disappear and a softer one appear.

He sighed and looked down.

For the longest time we just stood there, him looking down and me closing my eyes to attempt escaping that way – obviously failing miserably. With another sigh he lifted his gaze and looked at me, slowly moving his face closer to mine, before meeting my mouth with a slow, soft and controlled kiss. As resisting would be pointless, I welcomed it but moments later he aborted, lingering face to face with me for a few seconds before taking a few steps backwards into the centre of the room.

‘Jesus, you look good in that body armour,’ he muttered after having given me the once-over whilst running a hand through his hair. ‘Seeing you there tonight…’ he paused. ‘How long has it been?’

‘Three years. I take it you’re still attached?’

‘Yes. No. I mean, the thing is that…’

‘…it’s complicated. Yes, it always is,’ I said with a hint of sarcasm and started feeling for the door knob. Immediately he moved close to me again, his hand cupped mine, stopping it in its tracks towards freedom.

‘Please…’

‘The same woman you left me for?’ I asked, not really interested in hearing the answer.

‘Technically,’ he said earnestly. ‘But what I was going to say is that as we speak, she’s packing her things and moving out of our shared accommodation. So it’s complicated… only it’s not. It’s been coming for a while, as she’s with someone else and has been for a while.’

‘What goes around…,’ I said sternly, wiggled out of his grip, turned around and walked out the door in a rush. I knew that if I lingered for just another second, I’d never leave. I heard his voice calling for me, begging me to wait. I could hear the door slam behind him, his footsteps running down the stairs after me. I dug out the bike keys from my leather pocket, burst out through the heavy church doors and ran towards my motorcycle as I put my helmet on. Once I reached the bike I jumped on it and put the key in the ignition. The engine roared. I saw him in the doorway, eyeing a car that I presumed was his. It looked like he weighed the pros and cons for running after me and fetching the car, but pretty quickly started running towards the vehicle.

I span around on the pebbles and rode off as fast as I could, hoping I’d escape him – and yet hoping he’d catch me up.

Excerpt from my novel, “A Masochism Tango” (2012-)

A Serenade – Part VI of VI

He asked me how I wanted to do it. Small? Big? Church? Register office? I had never been terribly romantically inclined and wasn’t one of those girls who’d planned her wedding since she was four. I didn’t have hundreds of friends, family and acquaintances that I needed present, so I went for the least complicated option: register office with two witnesses, namely Mrs Connelly and her son Marcus. I got a simple, white dress and he wore a flawless black suit. We took a taxi together to Westminster City Hall, holding hands. Laura and Marcus were already there when we arrived and took us to the waiting room with other couples.

As it was our turn to stand before the clerk, he looked at Alfredo and nodded. A melody came on and then he started singing. The serenade that he had first performed when he thought I wasn’t around, then again at my request:

Over us the moon is shining
Bright as flowers in the spring
Silently heard is the sound of a bird
Mixing in the air that’s beaming

Can this song be heard forever
As it calls my heart to you
While we drift along together
Adrift are my thoughts of you

Your voice is the sound of the wind beneath the willows
Your features I see in the strangers that I pass
The wind that’s bending, the strangers passing
The seashore brushing against the tide
Stringing along where my heart has a song
And that song in my core cannot pale
This is a serenade, my yearning serenade

Over us the moon is shining
Bright as flowers in the spring
Silently heard is the sound of a bird
Mixing in the air that’s beaming

Can this feeling last forever
There is nothing more I want, so trust me
Let this feeling live forever
And till the end of time

It was soft, powerful, loving, moving and highly emotional. Normally the cheesiness of the lyrics would have made me gag, but the way he sang every word as though he’d written them himself had me in tears. So much so that I was unsure of whether I had any mascara left on my eyelashes by the time he was done. I fell into his arms as he finished the last word on a soaring high note that sent shivers down my spine.

‘I love you,’ he whispered into my ear and kissed my cheek. I was unable to speak but my reaction to his outpouring was probably enough of an answer for him ‘Let’s get married, shall we?’

I turned to the clerk and noticed that he had “something in his eye” and had to clear his throat.

‘Right… we are gathered here today to join this man and this woman in marriage… You fell in love by chance, but you’re here today because you’re making a choice. You both are choosing each other. You’ve chosen to be with someone who enhances you, who makes you think, makes you smile, and makes every day brighter. You’re about to make promises to each other that you intend to keep. You’re going to vow to take care of each other, to stand up for one another, and find happiness in the other. There’s a simple premise to each of these promises: you’re vowing to be there. You’re teaming up and saying to the other, “Every experience I am going to have, I want you to be a part of.” Will you, Maria, keep Alfredo as your favorite person – to laugh with him, go on adventures with him, support him through life’s tough moments, be proud of him, grow old with him, and find new reasons to love him every day?’

‘I will.’

‘Will you, Alfredo, keep Maria as your favorite person – to laugh with her, go on adventures with her, support her through life’s tough moments, be proud of her, grow old with her, and find new reasons to love her every day?’

‘Definitely.’

‘I would now like to read “Blessings for a marriage” by James Dillet Freeman.’

While the clerk was reading the Freeman text, Alfredo and I stood holding hands and looking at each other. He finally said we were man and wife, and “you may kiss the bride”. We met in a decent, understated, subdued kiss that would look romantic in a picture, at first. Then we pulled away for a moment, looked at each other again and a devilish look swept across his face. He turned to the clerk, then to our witnesses, said “excuse me”, bent me backwards and kissed me again – Hollywood style. We chuckled all the way out of the room, where the next couple was standing outside. The bride, in her 60s, was looking adoringly at Alfredo as he walked past.

‘Excuse me, Sir, was that you singing in there?’

‘Yes, it was.’

‘You really, really sound like…’

‘I hope you’ll have a wonderful wedding day,’ he smiled and touched her shoulder as we continued walking past them. It wasn’t like him to interrupt someone talking to him. As I was about to ask him, he turned to look at me. Something in his eyes seemed unfocused. Then, I watched it happen as though in slow motion: his hand went up to his chest, his eyes rolled back in his head and his knees gave way. I dropped to the floor and turned him over on his back as Marcus ran to the reception and shouted for them to call 999. I ripped open his jacket and was about to start CPR, once again, when he suddenly gasped for air and his hand took hold of my wrist.

‘I’m so sorry,’ he whispered as a tear ran down his temple. ‘Stay with me… please.’

Blankets appeared out of nowhere, one under his head and one covering him. I lay down on my side and put my head on his shoulder, where I could both be close to him and pay attention to his breathing. I slipped my hand under the blanket and put it on his chest, as his arm went around my back. His heart beat was weak but still somewhat erratic. His complexion was a pale grey and his skin was clammy. I blocked out the noise going on around us and didn’t even notice when the medics arrived, only when they lifted me off him and got him onto a stretcher. I fought off Marcus who wanted to comfort me and ran in the direction of the ambulance. He’d been given an oxygen mask and drifted in and out of consciousness as we rushed to the hospital.

Once we arrived I refused to leave his side, even when he was being examined, and nobody objected. It may have had something to do with me being in a wedding dress, of course. As feared, the news wasn’t good: he once again had blood poisoning, this time more serious than the last time, due to a kidney infection – but his liver was failing, his right kidney had shut down, his left was severely infected and his heart was weaker than ever before.

‘I’m sorry,’ said the doctor. ‘We can make you comfortable, but…’

‘Will you please give me a moment alone with my wife?’

‘Certainly.’

I felt numb. The silence in the room was deafening.

‘I love you, sweetheart. I’m so sorry.’

‘I love you, too,’ I sobbed. ‘Don’t worry, I won’t let you die in this place.’ I hadn’t said the D-word out loud until this point. ‘I’m going to take care of you.’

He nodded with a smile, just as the doctor returned.

‘Knowing you, Alfredo, you want to go home. What are your thoughts?’ he asked me.

‘Just tell me what I need to do.’

‘We’ll administer the first dosage of antibiotics and morphine intravenously and then I’ll give you a written schedule with when you need to administer the antibiotics. I’ll arrange for a nurse to come in three times a day to administer the rest.’

Within two hours we were in a taxi on route to Lennox Gardens. We’d been offered an ambulance, but Alfredo refused. He didn’t like them and wanted to sit next to me instead. He held my hand and rested his head on my shoulder, his breath caressing my naked skin as he was quietly singing the finale of the serenade he’d sung to me at our wedding ceremony a few hours earlier:

‘…can this feeling last forever? There is nothing more I want, so trust me. Let this feeling live forever and till the end of… time…’

Minutes later there was a change in his entire body, that was almost unnoticeable, like every muscle relaxed simultaneously, combined with the steady flow of air against my arm ceasing. I wrapped both my hands tightly around his and let streams of warm tears run down my cheeks, knowing that this was it: his heart had finally given up.

In a bid to keep him with me for as long as possible, I asked the driver to drive around Hyde Park, where he and I had walked every day for the past few months, and then to return to the hospital. I don’t know when the driver realised what was going on, but as soon as we pulled up he left the car and came back with two men in white and a stretcher. A nurse came out to look after me as they took him away. It wasn’t until the double doors closed behind him that it felt like my heart ruptured. The nurse took me to the doctor who had tended to him a short time before. When I stepped into his office he had a package in his hands.

‘He asked me to give you this in the event of his death,’ he said and handed me the brown envelope. ‘I’m sorry for your loss.’

He touched my shoulder as he walked past me. I slowly opened it and took out a vinyl single and a handwritten note. Underneath a picture of him as a young man was the title “A Serenade”, released in 1954. The note said:

“My darling –

Hopefully this will prevent the song in your heart from fading.

I’ll be with you, always.

Alfredo x”