Having sex with Marina would be a bad idea, in the same sort of way that taking a toaster into the bath with you is a bad idea, or drinking large quantities of neat tequila is a bad idea.
“What the fuck does she see in you?”
Briar handed me an over-flowing shot glass, a wedge of lemon, and proceeded to pour salt on my hand.
“This is a bad idea,” I said slowly and carefully in order not to slur. The barman gave me a steady, unconvinced look. We’d been in the dark, exclusive bar for over two hours, drinking constantly all the while.
“Seriously,” said Briar, not listening. “A woman like that…”
“I have my charms,” I said, pride creeping into my voice. I immediately realised that I was very drunk. Fortunately Briar still wasn’t listening.
“On three,” he commanded.
“Wait,” I said. “Is it salt then lemon, or lemon then salt?”
“See, you’re an idiot,” said Briar. “Can’t even do that. Salt first, jerk-wad. Come on. Three: Salt!”
Salt gag; liquid fire; sour lemon.
“That’s disgusting,” I said.
“You’re disgusting,” Briar countered smugly.
A loud drunk, but not aggressive, thankfully. He was built like the proverbial brick shithouse, with absurdly broad shoulders and a square, designer-stubbled jaw.
“Cheers,” I said.
I was losing the thread of what I was saying. It didn’t seem to matter too much to Briar. He was grinning widely now, with super-white American teeth.
“You’re grateful,” he stated.
“Yes,” I agreed.
“Good. Champagne,” Briar waved at the bored barman. “A good one. Fuck the expense. You like champagne?”
“I do indeed,” I confirmed quickly.
Keep Briar happy, Marina had said. Do anything.
I hadn’t realised ‘anything’ would include drinking champagne.
The barman poured two tall, frothing glasses.
We clinked clumsily, Briar dangerously forcefully. He was that kind of man; showing off his strength at any opportunity.
“To Miranda,” said Briar.
“Miranda,” I echoed, wondering whether he meant Marina.
The liquid fuzzed in my mouth, the taste muddled by the recent salt-tequila-lemon assault.
“This is good stuff,” I asserted. “Thanks.”
“You’re grateful?” he repeated.
“Sure am,” I said, unconsciously imitating his accent.
He leered towards me suddenly; big, solid, made of flesh.
I lost him at Euston.
I didn’t mean to; trying to change lines at Euston is always a challenge for me; with rush-hour and drunkenness added to the mix I didn’t stand a chance, really. There were people everywhere, all apparently intent on walking right into me. I kept having to swerve out of the way.
I looked around and he was gone.
I tried to turn back, but I was swept away in an angry surge of commuters. I found myself following the tide of people to the nearest platform.
The train was packed and boiling as hell. I could feel sweat patches spreading from my armpits and down my back.
People were staring at me; they could tell that I was pissed. Sober eyes judging.
I got off at Goodge Street, hot, panting and panicked, breaking out into bright sunlight and yet more rushing people.
If I hadn’t lost him, would his cock be down my throat now, I wondered. Was that included in the ‘anything’ Marina had dictated?
My phone was ringing.
I didn’t recognise the number.
I paused before answering, anticipating Briar, brandishing reproach and directions to his hotel.
“Hello?” I said cautiously.
“Hey. How was your big important, urgent meeting?”
It was the man from the night before.
What the fuck was his name?
I had no idea.
“Yeah, it was ok, thanks,” I said uncertainly.
“Just to say, I will be needing that shirt back.”
“Sure,” I said. “Sure…”