Chapter One - The Here and Now
There wasn’t much of a choice, Will thought as he carried an excessive amount of luggage up two narrow flights of stairs and into a bedroom. There were six unoccupied beds to choose from. Each one had been covered in a cheap and uncomfortable white sheet to hide the evidence of sexual abuse and other natural disasters endured over years of wear. The window had been opened on this warm summer day, but it wasn’t enough to blow away that lingering odor of panties belonging to an eighteen year old. He tossed his bags on the bottom bunk bed by the window. It was just for two weeks.
Being an American in Europe was nothing new for Will, but living out of a suitcase had become a regularity to which he was far too familiar. A little over twenty-five and still sleeping on a bunk bed, he took a deep breath to calm his nerves. His last cigarette had been on the beaches of sunny California. What with the flight and other travel back to the East Midlands, it had been far too long. He made his way to a sink and splashed some water on his face. This was a nightmare.
One look in the mirror was all it took to remember how long it had been since he last slept. The man’s dark brown hair had reverted back to its usual messy curls while his focus sporadically went from perfect clarity to obscurity from staying awake for so long. He couldn’t help but laugh. Back in Nottingham, it was the shithole of his existence.
If only his business in this city had already been completed, Will thought to himself as he lit a cigarette on the front doorstep of his temporary home. The hostel was nothing spectacular and more closely resembled a halfway house that had witnessed its fair share of the bizarre. Made from dilapidated brick and, like everything else in the area, should’ve been condemned half a century ago, it was without a doubt one of the worst accommodations in the city. With a walkway littered with cigarette butts and empty bottles of beer placed neatly in a row, the place was not for those looking to stay clean and party-free.
“Sorry,” a voice called out from an alluring brunette approaching the hostel. “But could I trouble you for a cigarette?”
“Usually people only apologize if they’re planning to leave in the morning without saying goodbye.”
From behind his sunglasses, Will could see the subtle red in her cheeks rise to the surface with the realization that his eyes were examining and appreciating. The curve of her trim long legs was visible through her tight-fitting jeans. While locks of brown hair danced pleasantly in the breeze occasionally rubbing the tips against her delicate and soft breasts, one hand remained firmly on her hip in anticipation of a more concrete answer. Will lit a second cigarette and handed it over.
The woman pressed the tiny stick to her lips as it was clear she had done a thousand times before.
“That certainly wasn’t what I was apologizing for,” she commented through a cloud of smoke. “And besides, I always go back to my place. I’m Laura. And you are…?”
“…wondering what color you painted the walls. I’m Will.”
Her eyes glanced at the hostel door.
“Nice place. But I thought most Americans were afraid to stay at hostels after that horror movie came out a few years ago.”
“Most of them are,” he admitted. “But getting offed in a hostel doesn’t sound like such a bad way to go.”
She let out a final puff of smoke before tossing her spent addiction on the walkway and resting a shoulder against his chest.
“I think getting off in a proper bed sounds like a better idea.”
He turned in Laura’s direction to see her again waiting for a definitive response. He was tired enough to know that sleep was the only thing on his mind; but at the same time, there was no harm in trading a bed that desperately needed to be aired for one that would be fragranced by the satisfied body of a woman. Will shrugged his shoulders.
“I’ve never seen an authentic English house before.”
“Then I’ll be kind enough to give you a guided tour.”
Four drinks and three body contortions later, Will woke the next morning to find the glowing brunette smiling admiringly in his direction. The morning sunlight caressed her face with soft beams of light reflecting in her eyes. With such an air, Will adored her, and he lifted his head to meet her lips with his.
“I told you I didn’t need to apologize for leaving in the morning,” she said with a smile.
“I should’ve believed you.”
“Are you in the mood for breakfast? I have enough food here to last for a week.”
“Breakfast sounds delicious,” he said after a moment’s thought and hopped up to find his clothes on the floor. “But I should’ve told you that I’m usually the one who does the apologizing in the morning.”
“We had an incredible time,” she began with a frown. “Where do you think you’re going?”
Will tossed the shirt back over his shoulders and lifted his nose.
“There are a few things I have to do this morning. But is that coffee I smell?”
“It is,” she responded in the same vexed manner. “I woke early to make it for us.”
“Thanks,” he said taking an old cup off the counter and filling it before closing the door on his way out.
Laura sat motionless. Frozen in place by the man’s candor, she threw a lamp across the room in a futile attempt to draw his attention back to her. From the other side of the door, Will took notice of an impact and loud scream while appreciating his first sip of coffee. Leaving the empty cup at the end of the driveway, he picked up breakfast at a bakery before heading back to the hostel.
“As disdainful as his actions were, they were put into place for protection against the absolute truth. Men and women lived and loved for a time; but always too soon, that illusion of perfection inevitably fell from the heavens with a crash. One side was always destined to leave, and that was the tragedy of life. Perhaps that woman would’ve loved him for a week, a month, or even a year, but no amount of perfection would stop her from ultimately seeking the exciting and new.” This had been the ultimate analysis of his shrink before the good doctor decided to get rid of his obnoxious patient.
So, as usual, Will had simply sped along the process.
Chapter Two - Treading Water
“So tell me,” Will heard a feminine and obviously American accent say as he walked through the entryway of his begrudged residence. “You’re Italian but decided to come to Nottingham. Are you feeling alright? What possible reason could you have for coming to the armpit of England?”
“That would be Newcastle,” he heard the Italian correct her with a laugh. “And as much as I’d love to still be in Italy right now, I’m here for work. But you’re here as well. What does that say about you?”
“I’m masochistic and just passing through. What about you?” She asked directing her attention onto the new arrival.
Will looked at the two who were a bit of an odd pair. While there was nothing overly special about the brown hair, brown-eyed girl from the States, the Italian man looked like someone who didn’t play games. Tattoos covering both arms added to the character with a rolled cigarette positioned above his ear, but the enjoyment of life was visible through the glimmer in his eyes.
“I’m a glutton for punishment,” he said flatly while falling into a nearby armchair.
“I think we all are to some degree,” the Italian agreed. “But I expect to be compensated for my time while Constance here just wants to see the sights.”
“I’ll be in and out faster than my last boyfriend, “she said with a smug grin. “Just passing through means I’m almost gone already.”
“Of course you are,” he agreed. “Isn’t that always the way these things start? You leave home in search of better things, and it’s good for a time; but after a while, every place starts to look the same. I know the feeling. So you run and keep running until inevitably ending up in Nottingham. Being here is obviously not the first choice, but what is the alternative? Staying home and making nothing of yourself? That’s why I’m here: to live, work, and keep from standing still. It’s not perfect, but it’s life.”
“That’s a bit depressing, Giovanni. Especially for such a sunny afternoon,” Constance noted.
“It’s taking the lesser of two evils,” the Italian countered.
Will couldn’t help but agree.
“I suppose you’re right. Being in this city will be the longest two weeks of my life, but it certainly is the better choice.”
“The better choice?” Constance asked. “What alternative is worse than torturing yourself?”
“Giovanni was it?” He asked as the Italian gave a nod. “Like you said, we can either move forward or stand still. Both of us are here to do something with our lives: you with finding a job and me with finishing my postgraduate degree at the university. I’m here for exams; and as soon as they’re passed, I’ll keep moving but in a very different setting.”
“Well, best of luck to you,” Giovanni said while rising and taking the cigarette off of his ear. “Since you’ll be here for a while, I’ll be seeing you around. But for now, I really need to smoke.”
Pulling the lighter from his pocket, he walked towards the door and disappeared outside.
“Postgraduate?” Constance repeated as if practicing selective hearing. “Which subject?”
Will looked in her direction all the while hiding his amusement at her predictable nature. Like so many other women, she too chose to relate to the conversation in the way that suited her interests. A degree had caught her attention – not so much for his own personal efforts to do what was required but because of the thoughts it inspired. Right now, images of socializing with friends were running through her mind. She could see herself boasting the achievements of her boyfriend and in doing so finding some validity for her own life. What was she if not eye candy for the highest bidder? But that arm would have to belong to someone she could talk about – gloat about. Without doing any more than offering a smile and an occasional lay, it was her goal to share the benefits of another’s success. Recognizing this gold-digger in a flash, Will refrained himself enough to keep from spitting at such a pathetic creature.
“Art,” he lied with obvious reservation.
“Smart and creative,” she said musingly. “What’s not to like.”
The man let out a sigh, knowing the damage had already been done. No matter what else he said, Constance was going to hear only what she wanted. It was an illusion that was becoming clearer in her mind with every passing second.
“So you’re just passing through?” He asked making an obvious attempt to divert the conversation in a different direction.
“I just arrived a week ago. My plan was to be in Scotland by now, but something kept me here.”
“That happens more often than you think,” he countered while lifting himself from the armchair. “But this city will be the end of you. Get out while you still can.”
Constance let out a giggle, but it was not enough to falter the intrigue still appearing in her eyes. The man walked away with the feeling of her stare burning into the back of his head. Will had warned her of the city’s desire for destruction, and that was the entire length of his responsibility. She was on her own.
Chapter Three - Tidings of Joy
Sleeping soundly surrounded by eight, it had become a usual practice to hear the strange sounds from those around him. In the city of unspoken gloom, they had followed his example and decided to opt for the cheapest possible accommodations. It was a complete abnormality that caused Will to let out a soft moan and awake from his sleep. At first glance, the room contained only that of sleeping bodies with the gentle rhythmic movement of chests rising and falling almost in unison; but beyond this, there was the unmistakable lump under his duvet that was the focus of his attention.
It wasn’t clear when the clandestine occupation had begun, but its mission was being carried out with the experience that comes with years of practice. The lump rose and fell in perfect synchronization with the man’s breathing; and with each sudden descent, Will bit his lip to keep the sensation from overpowering him. Awakened by the feel of a warm mouth was indeed a surprise, and he sensed the expected moment was close at hand.
His eyes were closing of their own accord. Will could feel his pelvis rocking as the mysterious mouth moved faster. In a final moan, the back of the throat tightened urging his release. Keeping his lips together to hide the climax, the torrent of pleasure felt like lightning.
Instead of moving away, the mouth held tight and buried him with the depth that any good chagasse yearns to achieve. The throat continued to swallow as Will felt himself filling mouthful after mouthful with that most intimate of fluids. With his body feeling completely drained, taking a moment to catch his breath was the most Will could hope to accomplish.
There was a flick of the tongue, and the mouth released him in one prolonged motion. Instantly remembering himself, Will reached for the unknown head and pulled it towards the surface. The curvy lump rose over his chest until at last, Constance’s face popped out from under the duvet with a smile.
“It’s you,” Will whispered in response to such a predictable situation. “What was that for?”
“Can’t a girl enjoy herself? I wanted a late night snack.”
For a moment, her forehead wrinkled as she looked deep in thought; but just as sudden as it had arrived, the look was gone as a slight giggle took its place.
“I take back what I said earlier,” she continued in the same low voice. “This may still be a depressing location, but Nottingham just became a lot more interesting.”
Kissing him on the cheek, her knickers and a tight shirt came into view as she hopped off him. The woman climbed up one of the other bunk beds and lifted her head above the pillow. Giving Will one final glance, she blew him a kiss.