Sep 6, 2013

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Dakota Johnson, Charlie Hunnam nab 'Fifty Shades of Grey' roles | Inside Movies | EW.com

Finally a decision, phew!!  I wish Dakota Johnson and Charlie Hunnam well…

May 4, 2012

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May 4, 2012

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Chapter One UNFINISHED BUSINESS by S C Cunningham

Visiting Room

HM Belmarsh Prison, South East London, England

He wanted her dead, she needed to know why.

Squirming uncomfortably in a prison issue plastic bucket seat, she brushed invisible dirt from her plaid skirt and nervously pulled at a loose thread on the cuff of her jacket… what the hell am I doing here?

A key turned in the lock of the connecting room, the heavy door squealed open, her guards fell silent. The damp weight of menace crawled over her, looking up, she saw David’s towering frame fill the doorway, bile heaved in her throat.

She’d forgotten how intimidating he was, his regal air and mocking grin unnerved her, crushing what little confidence she had. She wanted to run for the exit, but her body froze, paralysed with fear, invisible tentacles bound her to the chair. She couldn’t move… shit… this is a bad, bad idea.

Tara watched him saunter towards the chair in front of her and settle leisurely into the seat, taking his time, enjoying all eyes on him. A flimsy glass partition separated them, looking to his feet and hands, she was grateful for the shackles.

The killer and his prey sat staring at each other. The pungent smell of onions and urine hung in the warm recycled air. Red lights flashed intermittently on microphones, muffled prison noise emanated from wall-mounted speakers, ceiling cameras whirred overhead.

David looked up into a lens and gave a slow salacious wink. He was enjoying this attention; it was his turn to be watched.

He lounged back in his chair and calmly surveyed the scene before him; four burly prison guards, a rotund, sweating lawyer and the beautiful Tara Warr. The love of his life, sitting all prim and proper, as if butter wouldn’t melt. He sniffed the air, trying to locate her smell.

Why hadn’t she come to him before, when he needed her, all those years ago, bent over the headmaster’s desk? Why?

He smiled, no matter, she was here now. He had missed her; she had been his obsession for twenty five years, his every waking, sleeping, living thought. He liked to watch her, he watched her now as her body stiffened.

He sniffed the air again, he could smell her, he smelt her fear. His cock lurched… ahhh, a little lab mouse ready for dissection.

Tara’s lawyer had strongly advised against the visit. David was dangerous, controlling and unpredictable. But she refused to listen, after months of sleepless nights and unanswered questions, she needed to face the bastard, and find out why?

She was shocked at his appearance; he looked healthy, tanned and happy. Nothing like the pale, broken, repenting convict she was expecting…  what is this place, a bloody holiday camp?

He sat quietly observing her, performing his mesmeric trick of staring directly into her eyes until her body stilled. At first she glanced around the room awkwardly, knowing what he was trying to do, fighting it, but then succumbed and stared right back at him. Her breathing calmed, he had her full attention.

She looked into his face, focusing on his eyes… there! He saw it, her pupils dilated, popped to double their circumference… a sign of attraction, I have her!

He smiled, she may have been out of physical reach for the past few months, but she was still his.

Relaxing further into his seat, he let his legs fall wide open. All the while keeping eye contact, he slowly, provocatively, licked his lips, dropped his hand to his lap and cupped his cock.

His heady palpable sex pulled at her through the glass, she flinched with shame and turned away. She knew what this bastard felt like, tasted like, the smell of his skin. He had stalked her, ruined her, and tried to kill her, she should be spitting on him right now not watching him get a hard on. Yet a part of her wanted to fuck his brains out.

How could this be? How could you fear and want someone at the same time? Hypnotism? Drugs? Brainwashing?

She closed her eyes and let her head rock back, taking a long slow breath… shit, shit, shit, this is sick, I am sick… he still has a hold over me.

Four bulky wardens stood guard, two behind David and two behind Tara. Backs rigid, arms crossed, legs apart, silently waiting for any sign of trouble, stealing cursory glances at the classy blonde. She was not the norm for Her Majesty’s Belmarsh. It seemed lover boy David swung both ways. Jonesy would not be happy.

Warden Jones was not, standing protectively behind David he assessed his competition… so this is the bitch he’s obsessed with.

He gave David a warning punch to the shoulder, knocking the cupped hand away from his cock.

Opening her eyes, Tara caught Jonesy inspecting her legs; she tugged at her skirt, pulling it over her knees. She looked nervously over her shoulder for support, but her jittery, overweight lawyer stood at the door hugging his brief case, anxious to leave… pathetiche said this was a bad idea, he was right?

She had gone with the intention of screaming at David… why you bastard, why? But the minute she saw his exquisite face and lounge-lizard body sprawled across the seat in front of her, she froze, unable to breathe, let alone string a sentence together.

She knew he was evil, knew what lurked beneath the handsome packaging, she had experienced it first hand… how could someone blessed with so much turn out to be so bad?

He broke the silence.

‘Darling Tara, it’s so good to see you,’ he beamed, eyes flirting, scanning her body, reading her like a book, a book he knew intimately. ‘Sorry I can’t offer you a drink.’

Again, bile retched her throat… the bastard.

Closing her eyes she was back in his flat, naked, bound star-shaped to the bed, choking on the red wine being poured down her throat, drowning, fighting for life, his laughter ringing in her ears.

Panic pumped her chest. She took a deep breath and tried to focus on why she was there… breathe in, breathe out… in and out.

Opening her eyes, she fixed on the scratched, smeared glass between them, and focused on the strangely calming sounds of prison; slamming doors, metal on metal, distant cries, life outside the suffocating visitors’ room… breathe in, breathe out… in and out.

Knuckles clenched tight, she dug fingernails into the palm of her hand, tearing at skin; forcing her mind to still, to concentrate on the pain… he can’t get to me here, I’m safe breathe in, breathe out… in and out.

They sat in silence. He tilted his head sideways, watching her as if analysing a rare specimen in the school lab. He missed his boarding school days, he particularly missed the science lab, his secret haven, the place where he felt godlike, in control, dissecting small creatures that couldn’t fight back. The headmaster never visited the science lab, he was safe there.

‘Tara, look at me,’ he teased. ‘I won’t bite.’

Unable to meet his stare she lowered her eyes… this is a mistake… fuck, fuck, fuck! She picked at the thread on her cuff.

He smiled, nothing had changed, he still had control over her, she was still his angel.

Giving a cocky I-told-you-so glance to Warden Jones he snapped into chatty, jovial David, as if they were old friends meeting in a bar.

‘So come on, tell me, how are you darling T? Have you missed me? It’s been a while, but my goodness we had fun, didn’t we?’

Memories of the three days he’d held her hostage were hazy, distorted by the drugs he’d given her and the mind games he played. Brutal one minute, yet tender the next, frightening yet romantic, claiming undying love, yet wanting her dead.

She shook her head confused. On the final day, when her friends gate-crashed his apartment, David had been preparing blades to cut her up, why?

Since his arrest she had been trying to ignore the memories, pick up the pieces, and get on with her life, a life that he had torn apart.   But flashbacks of their time together kept flooding back, passion, fear, love, hate, she needed to put an end to the nagging doubts.

Listening to his soft low voice, watching his mouth, following his hands, uncomfortable images began to surface. Skin on skin, fingers searching, tongues softly touching, she shook her head chasing them away. He smiled as if reading her thoughts.

A new stronger image appeared, of David hovering over her, naked, smiling, leaning forward, entering her roused body, fucking her hard. She almost gasped out loud with the shock. Covering it with an awkward shuffling of her chair, she tried to look composed. But he caught the flush of her cheeks and nodded his head, knowing.

‘I would offer you a delicious glass of Chateauneuf-du-Pape,’ he whispered softly. ‘I know it’s your favourite.’

More memories cascaded in, suffocation, panic, the taste of bile, she couldn’t breathe, he’d tried to kill her. Putting a hand to her mouth she held back the retch in her throat. He ignored it. 

‘But we don’t have that vintage in here darling T,’ he reached out as if to touch her.

She snapped back in her chair, its legs scraped noisily on the lino floor, the wardens stepped forward. He raised both hands in innocent protest, they stepped back.

‘Hey, hey, hey,’ he soothed. ‘Shhh… little one…’ beaming, enjoying her fear.

‘Don’t worry my angel, I can’t get to you right now, I’m a little tied up,’ extending shackled wrists to the glass he waved them in front of her.

‘But I will my darling, I will…’ lowering his voice, barely audible against the hiss of the speaker. ‘You will taste me again, have no fear.

She stared into his eyes, he meant it, it was not over. Prison hadn’t changed him, it wouldn’t stop him, he would still haunt her. Her life would never be her own. Anger flashed her face… how fucking dare he.

He noticed the change in her demeanour, raised an interested eyebrow and waited, he loved it when they fought back. But Tara was unable to hold her nerve, her eyes flickered and she looked to the floor, he laughed.

‘I am addictive, aren’t I T… hard to resist,’ his eyes shone with amusement, his half-smile calm and controlled.

‘It’s ok, don’t worry, I know, it’s been like that all my life. People just can’t get enough of me,’ he sighed, turning with a wave of his hand to Warden Jones.

‘Isn’t that right Jonesy boy?’

Warden Jones stared straight ahead, seething. His fellow guards sniggered. David and Jonesy’s sex life was talk of the prison. David liked to leave doors open so that others could watch. It was obvious that Jonesy was completely besotted with the handsome inmate, and obvious that David saw him as a useful plaything. Jonesy wasn’t the only Warden that shared David’s affections, or inmate, but Jonesy was his favoured.

There were privileges to having sex with a besotted guard, just like at school, there were privileges to being the headmasters favourite, a role David knew how to manipulate. A role he had mastered and used to his advantage.

David enjoyed having Jonesy in the same room as Tara, he knew the jealousy would be a turn on, he would fuck him hard later, on show for others to watch of course, dogging was a favoured hobby in prison.

Raising a finger to the partition, David slowly traced the outline of Tara’s face, gently stroking the surface of the glass as if caressing her. She turned away sickened; the memory of his touch goose bumped her skin.

No matter how much it disgusted her, she knew deep down that the sex had been consenting, not taken, not forced, but wanted… hell, she had begged him for it. The evil bastard had made love to her, and she let him. She’d had sex with a killer, a manipulative, evil, sadistic, psychotic killer. A flashback of the headmasters murder scene pictures flooded her thoughts, her stomach heaved.

‘I know you want me,’ he whispered low. ‘You do want me, don’t you Tara, you’re getting wet I can sense it,’ he beamed, licking his lips.

The lawyer shuffled behind her, yanking at the collar of his shirt, realigning his tie, the intensity getting to him, he was unsure whether to interrupt.

‘I will be gentle angel,’ his voice soft, as if lovers.

She closed her eyes and mustered up the strength to speak.

‘W… w w why?’ she stammered. ‘I need to know why David?’

‘Finally she speaks,’ laughed David, mocking, clapping his hands like an eager child.

His face turned dark.

‘Because I can fair lady,’ he spat. ‘Because you are mine, because you’re on my list.’

‘But now, NOW,’ he shouted, anger bubbling. ‘Your interfering friends have been added to that list, you silly, SILLY girl for getting those bumbling idiots involved.’

‘I’m gonna be such a busy boy when I get out.’

‘Two minutes,’ barked Warden Jones. Tara jumped.

 David laughed.

‘A little nervous aren’t we T, you need to relax more,’ he sat back to survey her, savouring her unease.

‘Hmmmm….’ pressing the side of his forefinger against puckered lips; he eyed her like a piece of art. 

‘You look a bit peaky dear… you’ve let yourself go, still wearing black I see, your wardrobe never was very imaginative.’

She sat up in her chair and sub-consciously ran her hands through her hair and smoothed down her skirt. This pleased him; he leaned closer to the partition.

‘Don’t worry, I still loves ya…’ he smiled, drawing a large heart in the dirt of the glass.

The wardens became alert, eyes followed his hands. He kissed the tip of his finger and placed the kiss in the centre of the heart. Watching her reaction through splayed fingers, he slowly opened his hand and pressed it flat against the glass.

She didn’t see it at first; finally the large black letter T tattooed into the palm of his hand came into focus, its grotesque devil-forked tail trailed the skin of his wrist. She recoiled in shock.

With a half-smile, he whispered.

‘You see, I keep you close my darling T…’ lowering his hand, he cupped his cock, and gave it a seductive squeeze.

‘This is my wanking hand, I think of y….’

‘Time’s up Howard,’ snarled the warden behind Tara, opening the door for her to leave. ‘Miss Warr, time to go.’

‘Ahh what a shame, just as we were warming up,’ he sighed, leaning back in his chair, open legged, brazenly showing the extent of his hard-on beneath flimsy prison scrubs.

The lawyer gasped, unable to hide his admiration. David was blessed with a large cock and was proud of it.

‘Good by Angel, see you soon, we have some unfinished business…’

He stood and stretched, thrusting his hips at Tara’s eye level, his cock knocking the partition… the bastard?

She snapped, leaned forward and spat at the glass, covering the view with saliva. She spat again and again. Her two guards moved forward, ready to pull her out of her chair.

Warden Jones yanked David towards the door.  But he wasn’t finished yet, he turned back and shouted through the spittle sullied window.

‘I so had you begging for more, remember?’ he sneered. ‘You do remember T, don’t you, our nights together?’

She stared up at him… how could he be so fucking arrogant?

‘No!’ she shouted. ‘No I don’t … that’s why I came here…’

She stood and leaned into the glass.

‘… to make sense of it all… but it was a mistake, you just like fucking with people’s minds, you’re sick, a mental case, and NO, we won’t be seeing each other again, because quite honestly David, you weren’t that good… I’ve had better sex with dildo.’

Her lawyer sniggered, nervously. David’s malevolent face whipped around, stopping him in his tracks.

‘Having to drug someone to fuck you is not a good sign David, if you were any good at all they would gladly do it sober, you’re pathetic, rape is for losers, dickheads that are SO disgusting, SO repulsive, they can’t get it any other way.’

‘It was not rape, you begged for it,’ he corrected. ‘Besides, the sex is not the thing, you silly, SILLY girl, I can get that anywhere, anytime,’ he grinned, flashing a ‘come hither’ pout at the guard standing behind her. Jonesy caught the exchange and tried not to freak out.

‘It’s the control that’s rocks my boat deary… don’t you get that yet?’

‘Control of what exactly, a lifeless, defenceless, drugged body, where’s the turn on in that?’

‘The mind, my dear, control of the mind, I had you eating out of my hand, begging me take you… I still do, don’t I angel, you’re here aren’t you? You can’t get me out of your head can you; thoughts of me just keep going round and round… you are wet right now.’

‘Fuck you, FUCK YOU,’ she slammed her fist on the glass. ‘What did you do? Hypnotize me? Brainwash me? What, WHAT?’

David glared at her, getting bored with the outburst. This is not what he had envisaged, she was stronger than he thought.

‘You’re sick. Control? Control? Don’t make me laugh. Who’s in control now David?’ she spun around, pointing toward the exit door.

‘Who’s walking out of that door, you or me?’

‘Times up Madam,’ ordered her warden. ‘Leave now please.’

‘With pleasure… go rot in hell David Howard.’

‘Oh I’m sure I will, much more fun down there,’ a fake smile covering his anger. 

‘But before I do…’ he hissed. ‘Know that you’re mine and that I’m coming to get you, gonna kill you and bring you with me, we’ll have oh SO much fun.’

The malice in his voice frightened her. He meant it. She would never be free of him.

‘Know it Tara Warr, I am coming to get you.’

She teetered as if about to faint, the lawyer pulled her out of the room; she ran down the corridor and vomited into the nearest rubbish bin. David’s voice ringing in her ears.

It had been a mistake to visit him, she had only made things worse.

 

Chapter One

Heddington Hall

Boys Boarding School, Berkshire, England

At the end of choir practice young David had been summoned to the headmaster’s study.  His small frame shook as he fiddled with his tie, neatened his fringe and tip toed nervously down the long dark corridor to the head’s private quarters.

Taking a large gulp of air, he filled his lungs to bursting point and ran as fast as his spindly legs would carry him, holding his breath all the way. The cloying smell of floor polish mixed with candle wax made him retch – a reflex that stayed with him for life.

He was proud that on a good day he could reach the end of the passageway, the head’s doorway, in three gulps, other boys needed four; fat-boy Bartie needed five.

He knew what was in store, but was powerless to stop it. No one eversaid no to the headmaster, Lucian Samell, or his playmate, Father Michael.  This was their world and they ruled it with fear; fear of the whip, of the wrath of God, of burning in hell, of parents knowing vile secrets.  Fear and shame kept the silence; silence gave the headmaster and the priest power.

He was eight and three quarter years old, but one day when he was big enough, strong enough, he would reverse that fear and make them pay. He kept a list of those that had hurt him; their names were etched on his heart. The certainty of revenge gave him the strength to live through the pain - strength beyond his years.

He stopped midway along the corridor to check his socks; one had slipped to the ankle.  He bent down and pulled it to the knee, neatly aligning the folded cuffs. Appearance was all important to the head. For whatever reason you were summoned to his study, whether it be for punishment, reward or ‘special time’, you had to look smart and wear your Heddington Hall uniform with pride.  You didn’t want to upset him and add a flogging to the ‘special time’.

Happy that he looked smart; he carried on running, his shiny black shoes clip-clopping against polished stone, lateness was another reason to be whipped.

As he neared the head’s study he started the chant under his breath.

‘One day I will be bigger, I will be badder… I will be bigger, I will be badder,’ the words kept tears from his eyes. 

He reached the heavy oak door and stood nervously before it. Steeling himself to be brave.

‘I will be bigger, I will be badder…  I will be bigger, I will be badder.’

He puffed out his chest and stood tall, ready for the game to start. He wouldn’t be beaten; he would get through it by storing up the damage for sweet revenge.

Stepping forward, he heard a low childlike whimper from behind the door.  Another boy was already in the room, how could that be?  He normally had special time alone with the head, except for Father Michael of course, who stood silently in the corner watching.

Although initially fearful, David was now grateful for Father Michael’s presence; his noises off stage were a welcome gauge of when the game was coming to a close, of how much more pain he had to endure.

As a rule, whilst the head humped David’s small frame stretched over the large oak desk, the priest’s heavy breathing could be heard from the shadows.  It would slowly build to a crescendo, followed by the muffled cry of a pained animal, and then silence.

Seconds later, he would be heard scurrying out of the room with a swish of cassock and a waft of old hymnals, the heavy oak door leading to the school chapel slamming shut behind him, cutting off all responsibility for the scene he’d just witnessed - the sodomy of a defenceless boy by a cowardly, perverted, greedy old man, a man entrusted by parents, pupils and society to raise their young.

Father Michael never spoke, never touched David, but the all-important clunk of that door meant the special time was coming to a close. Soon after the head would also cry out, release his seed and the pain would finally stop.

He would take a tissue from a box on the desk, clean up juices seeping from David’s buttocks and abruptly dismiss him from the room, with a quick ‘Our Father’, a vow of secrecy and more threats of death, fire and damnation if he told anyone… why is the moment when they cry out so important to these men… how can they enjoy giving pain…  why can’t he talk about it… why is it a secret… does God approve… he is all seeing, all knowing, why doesn’t he stop them?

Checking no one else was in the corridor, David pressed his ear against the doorframe, straining to listen. As the cries grew louder, his heart pumped hard, the boy was being beaten.  What had he done to upset the head? It must have been bad; the whack of leather on skin could be heard through the door. The boys pleading voice was deeper than David’s, he was older.

Suddenly the cries stopped, the door flew open and David tumbled head first past a disgruntled headmaster into the dimly lit study, clambering on all fours, panicking at being caught.

‘S s s sorry Sir, sorry Sir… I didn’t mean… I…’

‘Get up you stupid boy, chop chop,’ the headmaster bore down on him, giving him a kick in the shin.

Wearing a black kimono covered in large pink flower print and waving a horsewhip, his rotund body looked ridiculous.

‘What are you doing listening in hallways?’ he quickly scanned the empty corridor and slammed the door shut.

‘Naughty boy, stand in the corner and remain silent whilst I deal with young Patrick Butler here.’

Eyes darting, taking in the room, David got shakily to his feet. The room was dark, curtains drawn, candles lit.  An older boy, probably a sixth former, was strapped naked, face down, across the Headmaster’s desk. Red welt marks covered his back and buttocks. His uniform folded at his feet, a neat pile of socks, pants, trousers, shirt and tie, immaculately folded atop shiny black leather shoes. 

David couldn’t see his face, but grimaced at the pool of snot and tears gathered beneath the sobbing boys head. He ran to the safety of the nearest dark corner. A shuffle of brown robes moved in the shadows behind him, Father Michael was already in residence.

‘Not there boy,’ shouted the head, pointing with his whip. ‘The other corner, you fool.’

‘S s s sorry Sir… sorry.’

‘Stop saying sorry Howard,’ barked the head. ‘It’s a sign of weakness.’

‘S s s sor… yes Sir,’ he corrected, feeling his way along the dark walls to the next corner.

He leaned back against the cool stone, enthralled with the scene before him; it was his turn to watch, to be a voyeur like Father Michael. Excitement bubbled inside; for once he wasn’t the victim.

‘Now where were we Butler dear boy, how many was that 25 or 26 lashes? I’ve lost count… Oh dear, we’ll just have to start again,’ he smiled raising the whip.

‘1… 2… 3…’ Patrick screamed with pain, his raw skin tearing under the impact of each blow.

‘Are you watching dear boy?’ he turned to David, mid hit.

‘Let me introduce you to Butler, you two have a lot in common, it’s time you met. My very ‘special’ boys. You’ll get to know each other intimately, what fun we will have… 4’ he smiled, slamming another blow.

Squinting at David in the dark, he continued the beating whilst he spoke.

‘5… Are you getting hard in your secret place Howard?’

‘Errr… s s sir… I d don’t know,’ David stumbled, not knowing what to reply, what would make the Head happy?

‘Of course you know boy. Don’t be so pathetic, take your clothes off, let me see… 6.’

Patrick cried out, David flinched, the head carried on.

‘Fold them neatly Howard, chop chop, tidiness is next to Godliness…7.’

‘Y y yes sir…’

‘You will pleasure me later and Butler will watch, if he doesn’t pass out like last time. Pathetic I say, PATHETIC, do you hear me Butler, PATHETIC….’

David shivered in the shadows, wide eyed and tingling. Patrick was beautiful, big and strong, he had more muscles than the Head… he is big enough, why doesn’t he stop it?…  does he like the crying out, is he part of the game or is he terrified like me?

If Patrick was powerless, what chance did he have?

Chapter Two

Twenty four years later.

Sunday morning, Tara’s Apartment, Chelsea, London

Tara’s computer screen lurched into life with a high pitched ping, letting her know a chat box message had opened from her internet dating site lurvtruk.com.

K9-2L wrote;

Get yer kit off n’webcam on, am long n’hard for u baby

She jumped, spilling the mug of lukewarm Earl Grey tea over her favourite sloppy pyjamas.

‘Fuck, shit, bollocks, shhh… ugar!’ she yelped, breaking the tranquillity of her revered Sunday morning papers ritual.

A second ping.

K9-2L wrote;

Am gonna throw u against the wall, n’pussy bash u til u drop

‘Bloody hell… ok, ok, keep your hair on!’

Weaning herself off swearing was proving difficult for Tara. Would she ever get out of the habit of cussing like a fishwife and start behaving like the genteel lady her mother had paid a small educational fortune for?  No, probably not. 

But why should she? Swearing was so wonderfully satisfying. Why bother putting dreary politically correct sentences together when the point could be made in one delicious succinct ‘bollocks!’ After the year from hell she’d had, she deserved at least one vice.

Sweeping her hand across her lap, she chased the droplets of tea away before they could seep through pyjama material. Too late, the cold damp liquid soaked her skin… yuk!

‘Shit, shit, shit…’

A further high pitched ping echoed the room.

K9-2L wrote;

Gonna gobble you til u cum, eat u all up, again and again and again

‘Ok, ok… don’t you ever get enough?’

K9-2L wrote;

I’m waitin… tool in hand, hard as steel

Today, she resented the interruption; she looked forward to her Sunday morning newspaper fest.

K9-2L wrote;

Gonna open ur legs n’ gobble u up.

Her scruffy pillow-hair head and nose perched reading glasses had been peacefully immersed in the all too common story of an overpaid, underachieving footballer caught snorting cocaine in a den of iniquity off the backside of a transvestite, judge and two hookers old enough to be his grandma (in defence of the hookers, like policemen, players were so young nowadays that grandmothers weren’t that old).

The footballer’s current heel-tottering WAG, Chaynelle, was avidly defending his character; seemingly oblivious to his repetitive indiscretion syndrome - his wallet blocking the view.

She wondered if her ex, a footballer, had ever used a hooker… surely not… he’s beautiful, stylish, famous and loaded, he of all people would not need to pay for it… would he? 

‘It’ was on tap at the drop of a cocktail stick with any number of micro-skirted, orange tinted, hair extended, floozies - hungry to get their claws into a slice of celebrity.

Sadly her ex had just started dating just such a creature, BiJou, a hard-nosed, talon-poised glamour model from London, the complete opposite to Tara.

His WAG choice was a surprise, the deliciously handsome Franco Rossellini that she remembered, wasn’t your stereotypical pretentious footballer. He hailed from a wealthy Italian family, oozed class, could read a book, string a sentence together, collect his own dry cleaning, was happy to give time to charities and patiently sign endless autographs. 

He preferred living out of the limelight, under the radar, and was picky who he played and partied with. But all had changed, the ambitious fame junky BiJou was having a detrimental effect on him, suddenly he was on the front pages of newspapers (again) as well as the back sport pages.

Thinking about him hurt, she pushed him to the back of her mind and scanned the rest of the paper, it was full of delicious inane trash, stories of scandalous affairs, deceit, sex and money, plots that sell papers. There had been a spate of hookers selling their sensational exposés to the media, no one else’s business, but Tara loved it, it took her mind off her own nightmares.

Why do rich, beautiful, world-at-their-feet men need to pay for sex? Is it convenience, laziness, a power-kick, women-loathing, cheaper? She made a note to ask Josie, her expert on prostitution.

Tara’s friends, Josie, Helen and Seb, and her enemy, David (Helens younger brother) had known each other from school days, their neighbouring boarding schools based in the leafy suburbs of Berkshire, England.  They had remained close, grown up together and now resided in bustling streets of London. 

Tara worked in advertising, Josie in the city, Seb in photography and Helen in… absolutely nothing… unless you counted the art of spending cash a career. Orphaned as teenagers, Helen and David lived off their substantial inheritance. 

The three girls met regularly for lunch, to giggle through the latest gossip, the cost of designer shoes, their disastrous love affairs and the complicated science of men. But a year ago their fun-loving, cosy little world came to an abrupt halt. Childhood secrets surfaced, lies unravelled, Tara ended up in hospital and David in prison.

After ten years of child abuse at the hands of his Headmaster, and a further ten years of plotting and planning his revenge, the mentally volatile David kidnapped Tara, his Angel, his spurned love and prepared her for death.

She had no idea that she was on a list of names that would pay with their lives for his ruptured childhood. In David’s eyes, when she’d spurned his schoolboy advances she had abandoned him to the abuse, and now as an adult she abandoned him again each time she took a lover.

She’d never thought of him, he was a distant memory from school, she wouldn’t even recognise him if she bumped into him, yet he thought of her every waking second.

He painstakingly stalked her for years, focusing on Tara had become a part of his life, helping him ignore the humiliation of abuse and the feeling of worthlessness.

Renting a flat above hers, he set up cameras through floorboards and filmed her. He drugged her drinks and visited her at night as she slept, they would have sex without her knowledge. She was David’s precious angel; if he couldn’t have her no one would. His plan was to slowly ruin her life, as she had his, and then kill her.

She lost her lucrative advertising job at Harvinger Larvsen, and her lover, footballing superstar Franco Rossellini, when pornographic photographs David had taken of the lovers went viral.

Using Seb’s mobile he set a trap and kidnapped her, keeping her drugged and chained for three days. As he was about to cut her up, scalpel in hand, her friends, led by Franco’s chauffer ex SAS sleuth Michael, charged his flat and saved the day. She ended up in A&E, and he at Her Majesty’s pleasure, Belmarsh Prison.

To complicate matters, whilst the saga was unfolding, bi-sexual tour de force David seduced school friend Seb to ensnare Tara. Josie, after years of living a lie, admitted to her friends that she was not a successful ‘something in the city’ as they’d proudly thought, but a high class whore called Josephine.  Helen, who’d boredom-bonked her way through every male in London (the rest of Europe and parts of central America), started a torrid affair with male fatigued Josie, and they moved in together.

Leaving a gobsmacked Tara on the side-lines, not quite sure which she found more uncomfortable, the thought of Josie whoring with dirty old men or minge munching best friend Helen… ewe!

Now, a year down the line, Tara was rebuilding her life, trying to forget David Howard had ever existed.

She had lost her job, Franco, her mother wasn’t talking to her (which was actually a godsend) and Seb, Josie and Helen were now gay, but hey, as long as they were happy… if no longer Josephine, should Josie now be called Joe?… what a very flexible name.

An image of the girls writhing around in a hayloft crept into her mind, she squeezed her eyes shut, hunched her shoulders and shook the image out of her head. Would she ever get used to it?

Another ping brought her back to reality, her chat box vibrated, eager to be answered; maybe she should charge K9-2L… a further question for Josie, what’s the going rate for sex chat lines?

K9-2L wrote;

I’m waitin… hellooooooooo

‘Ok, ok,’ she shouted, uncurling from the sofa.

Her legs, damp with cold tea, ached with cramp; she stretched out, pushing against the stiffness.

‘Urrgh, old age!’ she muttered, shuffling open legged, crablike, avoiding wet PJ’s, across the room to her desk.  ‘Thirty three… going on ninety three?’

The collection of newspapers slid with a whoosh from her lap to the white wooden floor, creating a carpet of grey text and grainy photographs.  A shiver went down her spine as she stood over them; it wasn’t so long ago that pictures of her own bare arse had been splashed across the tabloids.

Thanks to David, her affair with Franco had been well documented by the British media. He’d sent numerous sordid pictures of the lovers in action to gossip hungry newspapers, he didn’t like sharing his angel with Franco.

As Franco ticked all the boxes for a media target; handsome, wealthy, respected sportsman, squeaky-clean image, loving son of an aristocratic Italian family, the public ate it up, and the paparazzi hounded them.

Luckily, it wasn’t long before another poor fool in the public eye messed-up and stood in line for his fifteen minutes of shame-fame, providing the nation with fresh entertainment. 

Conservative MP Lord Battasliegh had foolishly attempted to pay for his gay lover’s mortgage and penis enlargement on constituency expenses. Lady Battasliegh, dutiful wife of thirty years, had no idea that her husband was gay, yet alone had a pocket-sized paramour and a cute little love nest in a Brighton mews, but the operation did explain the bumper box of nappies she’d found in the boot of her husband’s Jaguar, and there she was suspecting he had a secret love child.

Every cloud has a silver lining. Their gardener, having had a long term furtive fondness for Lady Battasliegh and an utter loathing for the obnoxious MP, was more than happy to step into his shoes with armfuls of flowers and moral support… moreover, the marital home’s award winning country garden rockery had featured heavily in the background of several BBC news bulletins, causing the nation to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at its splendour. Lady Battasliegh and her lover were chuffed to bits, the petunias looked fabulous and the gardener was offered his own television show.

The MP’s downfall toppled Franco and Tara from front page status; they soon became yesterday’s news, fish and chip paper. But the damage had been done. Tara lost her job and her man, allowing David to keep his angel all to himself.

Who would have thought that Helen’s sweet little choirboy brother, with his skinny knocked knees, saucer brown eyes and long dark lashes, would turn into the stalker from hell. That the shy pint-sized urchin she’d protected from a bullying sister and cheered on through bitter-cold sports days and dreary school plays, would grow into a six foot six monster that wanted her dead.

He was now in prison, and until two months ago she had been staying with her Aunt Oonagh in County Wicklow, Ireland, but enough time had been spent hiding away feeling sorry for herself, it was time to get back in the saddle, back in her old flat and back on the market.

Ping. She had started with internet dating.

K9-2L wrote;

Cum on girl, cum out to play, u no u want 2

Settling at her battered table she squinted to read the text.

K9-2L wrote;

Wakey! wakey! rise n’shine blondie.

‘If he could see me now he’d run a mile,’ she giggled.

She wasn’t quite the dishy blonde bombshell her dating site blog had led him to believe. More like an aging, scruffy, short-sighted old dog, with last night’s make-up and shaggy hair coiffured by Edward Scissorhands - on acid, in the dark.

His biography photograph had shown him as a ruggedly dark handsome Italian, with a cheeky grin, six foot four inches of muscle and scruffy brown hair. It claimed that he was an ex rugby player who, due to injury, now worked in marketing.

What was it about marketing that made her eyes glaze over with boredom? And what was it about Italian men that made her body perk up with interest?

Urrgh! She would have to pretend her webcam was still on the blink, she didn’t have time to wash hair, put on make-up and get sexily dressed from the waist up.

 She nudged her reading glasses into position, pulled the chair snug into the desk, held her hands hovering over the keyboard and wriggled her fingers with anticipation - a maestro ready to perform.

The tingle of excitement crept over her… hmmm, how shall I get his juices going today?

She hit the keys with speed; a stream of words gushed out before she realised the curser hadn’t moved; nothing had been typed in the reply box… urrgh! not again, what’s wrong with this bloody machine?

Grabbing the mouse she jiggled it backwards and forwards in an effort to bring the cursor back to life but it sat stubbornly still, teasing her with its lazy pulse… timing, puhlease, I’m trying to get laid here!

The mouse batteries were new, maybe she typed too fast for it to keep up.

‘For fucks sake you little shit, don’t do this to me now, my Italian stallion is hot to trot… urrgh!’ she shouted at the screen, willing it to life…I really must stop bloody swearing.

The computer had been playing up recently, with pages crashing and the cursor either freezing or throwing a fit, seemingly with a life of its own. If she didn’t know better she would say that someone was controlling it – but that was ridiculous.

Suddenly the cursor miraculously appeared, racing around the desktop like a deranged fly.  Settling on the chat box, it input the letter ‘K’, and then hovered over the ‘send’ button, replying to K9-2L’s message on its own.

‘Hey! who’s in control here?’

Blueyz wrote;

K

His reply came back fast, he was eager.

K9-2L wrote;

Want u NOW.

She wriggled the mouse but the cursor jammed again, refusing to budge.

‘Urrgh,..  why, why, WHY?’ biting her tongue from swearing.

Typically, the machine had just past its three year warranty date… surely they should last more than three years, rip-off merchants?  

Blowing her fringe out of her eyes with an exasperated sigh, she thumped her elbow on the table, rested her chin in her hand and waited for the computer to defrost, defreeze, defecate… or whatever the technical babble was for releasing a cyber blockage.

Finally it moved to her touch.

‘Ahhh, that’s better, we’re off!’

She wrote with speed, her fingers flying across the keyboard.

Blueyz wrote;

Whadaya want big boy, r u nice n’ hard 4 me?

K9-2L wrote;

U know wot i want… turn ur cam on…

Blueyz wrote;

Webcam still not working… but take me through it nice n slow, I’m in the bathroom of ur office, the door is locked, I’m wearing stockings n suspenders, bent over the sink, no panties, u r standing behind me, I’m watching u in the mirror, now whotcha u gonna do?

K9-2L wrote;

I’m gonna get on my knees, twist around, slide between ur legs n sit with my head up between ur fyz…

She giggled, his English was good but he never could spell thighs, with modern message jargon it didn’t matter, anything went.

K9-2L wrote;

… gonna spred em wide n hold ur arse while my tong serches ur clit, gonna lick, roll, flik til is bursting, engorged, fat, beggin 2 cum.

‘Good Gawd, his lingo’s improving,’ she giggled.

Engorged was a big word for him… he’s probably using spellcheck.

They had not met, yet they were sharing intimate fantasies and private secrets that she had barely admitted to herself let alone anyone else. The ‘not knowing’ her cyber-lover freed her inhibitions. He had made it clear that they would never meet; his life was his work, he had no time for relationships and lived overseas, a ‘pen pal’ was all he needed. Which suited her down to the ground; she was just dipping her toe back into the relationship market, getting back on that horse, learning to feel sexy again.

After experiencing the wrath of David and her unhappy bosses, Tara had gratefully accepted a redundancy package and taken on the self-imposed torture of writing a novel.  She had always wanted to write, but never had the guts, choosing instead the umbrella safe 9-5 job option.

Facing death had given her the kick she needed, life was too short, she would write a bestselling thriller.

The romantic idea of being a novelist, leaving behind petty office politics and the hamster wheel of London commuting, of working at her own pace with no anal retentive boss peering over her shoulder, appealed to her.

But what the hell was she thinking?  Writing was harder than she’d ever have imagined; slow, tough, frustrating and bloody lonesome.

On one of her lonelier days, facing a bleak blank page with zero inspiration, missing the office buzz, banter and social schmoozing, she found herself joining ‘lurvtruk.com’, an internet dating site.

What could be the harm, everyone was doing it. She would just sign up and see what happened, she didn’t need to actually meet any one, just read their messages, if any.  A bit of fun, they can’t all be desperate, perverted, dangerous, losers surely?

After filling in the tedious forms to create her profile, she added her photos, a little bleary and out of focus, which softened wrinkles, but they would do. 

Three weeks later she needed a private secretary to handle the mayhem, 5,000 hits, 560 favourites and 598 mails – which after her year from hell was a much needed bombardment of attention.

Initially it was shocking, she felt a strange mix of desperation and guilt at being open for the world to see how lonely she was, but once she started reading the mails she realised that most of them were actually human; kind, shy, funny, lonely… normal. 

Like her, they were just trying to reach out and connect, feel important to someone. They didn’t want to sit through fiercely embarrassing blind-date dinner parties’ setup by well-meaning friends or drunkenly trawl bars and clubs to find companionship.  They had plucked up courage, put their heart on their sleeve and jumped into the world wide web of lost souls searching for one another.

Maybe there was a place for the lottery of Internet Dating after all. Her confidence grew and she found herself rushing to her page ten times a day with guilty schoolgirl pleasure, eager to see who had made contact. Of course there was the odd prat, but she soon learned to circumnavigate those.

The username was the first giveaway for a total plonker; ‘cumallnite’ or ‘hard4u’ just didn’t bring to mind someone to invest a lot of time into, introduce to your friends or risk your health on.  Their heart didn’t seem in it… another organ maybe.  She couldn’t resist advising that they were possibly on the wrong website.

Of course the sexy chat would eventually come into the mix, as it had with K9-2L.  But not until you had got to know each other first, shown your Mother Theresa, caring, loyal, dog loving, bring-home-to-mother side.  Too soon with sexy chat was a turn off – the equivalent of cyber premature ejaculation.

She was a little concerned at the number of women on her ‘viewed by’ list, but put it down to them sussing out the competition, girls will be girls, even in cyberspace… or had she inadvertently ticked the ‘woman looking for women’ box?  She was lousy at form filling.

It was only a computer screen (when it worked!), armed with an all-powerful delete button, what damage could it cause?

May 4, 2012

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Chapter One THE PENANCE LIST by S C Cunningham

Cellini’s Restaurant, Chelsea, London

“Granted, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, if you swallow, you are in the minority, it needs sugar or brandy or something,” Tara blew her blonde fringe out of her eyes, concentrating on her defence.

“Depends on the guy’s diet of course, pineapple is meant to be good, no fast food, no ciggies, no drugs, and it could almost be palatable,” the two girls looked at her blankly, “it’s full of protein, low on calories,” she enthused, but no, they were still not convinced.

Click, Click…. hidden in a cafe across the street, he focused the camera, fitting all three in shot.

As per normal for most Fridays, the girlfriends giggled through lunch discussing men, or the lack thereof. Tara, Helen, and Josie were single, beautiful, intelligent, best of friends. They had reached the age of thirty having avoided the three things that sap a girl’s energy; marriage, divorce, and kids. It wasn’t that they didn’t want long term relationships; they were sexually active and adored men, they had just never quite understood the workings of the male mind.

If you give them what they want, the chase is over and they move on, if you don’t give them what they want, you are a frigid bitch. If you give them the babies their egos crave for, they are out the door, financing as little as possible, and seeing their offspring at weekends, between the golf, football and their latest sexual conquest. They want commitment yet freedom, for you to be faithful, yet them to be free, for you to be a full-time mother, yet them a part-time father.  You can’t win.

Sourcing a man that knows what he wants, is a balanced, reliable, trustworthy soul mate, a good father and sexy as hell, was a tough call. Maybe the girls asked for too many boxes to be ticked, their quality control too high. Maybe they shouldn’t even consider long term stuff until the guy was at least over thirty five, forty, settled in who he was and what he wanted. The trouble was a girl’s time clock ticked away. The choices were test tubes or older men. It was a tricky one, can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Hell, did they need to have babies anyway? Weren’t they overrated and oversupplied?

Tara had a particularly high setting on her quality control button, although highly sexed, she was extremely choosy, the consequences of which would lead to long periods of man-drought. She was currently going through a serious dry patch, climbing the walls as she had not been with a man for a year. She craved the relaxed laissez-faire attitude of Helen.

Helen had a lower par setting, ‘love the one your with’, she made do with whatever was available on the day, or rather, whoever actually showed an interest in her, which, because she was beautiful, was quite a lot of men.

Josie tended to laugh along with the girls stories of man-woe, giving advice and sympathy where needed. She seldom dated, was wary of men and was happy to be alone; she was more interested in her career, often working late.

However cynical they appeared, they each had the romantic seed of hope, that one day Mr. Right would come bursting in on his white charger, or gas-guzzling SUV, meanwhile they waited, grazing on titbits.

Tara and Helen had met as juniors at a convent boarding school for young ladies, upsetting a multitude of nuns in their wake. Josie had been adopted by them years later at college. Her cheeky up-front London cockney savvy and their self-effacing Sloaney wit made an entertaining mix. They had stuck together through thick and thin, enduring life’s roller coaster; they were a good team.

Their bond was about to be tested. Evil was to enter centre stage of their cosy, comfortable lives. It had been sitting on the periphery for years, plotting, planning, patiently waiting. It was watching them now; they only had to look up through the restaurant window to see it, hiding behind the large black lens that focused directly on them.

Click, Click…. the shot pulled in tight on slender fingers wrapped around the stem of her glass.

“I love it, but I totally understand those that don’t, especially when you think about where it’s actually coming from… so to speak,” giggled Tara, “excuse the pun!”

“Yes, urrrghh!” Helen groaned, jumping on the gruesome fact with gusto. Although she loved sex, she was not an advocate of placing anything remotely live or squidgy in her mouth. Her retch-reflex was too sensitive, oysters, snails and egg white had the same effect.

“Think about it T, they urinate out of the same hole, it’s absolutely disgusting! ” she raised her hand to the front of her face, blocking out the image, “yuk! second thoughts don’t think about it, don’t even go there,” too late, she had gone there, her face scrunched up with disgust.

“But, so do we,” corrected Tara, levelling up the case for the opposition.

Helen grimaced; covering her face with both hands to push away two sets of visuals. Looking down at her wine glass, the yellowy chardonnay didn’t look quite so appealing.

“Urrrgh… STOP… I’m eatin, do ya mind?” moaned Josie, her cockney accent shouting over the two girls. She punched them both smartly on the shoulder, secretly loving it when they got into full debate on the endless subject of men and their ever-fascinating appendages.

The girl’s discussion mainly flowed in this vein; their witty banter moved at a gallop, sprinting through sentences that didn’t need completing, interspersed with giggles, tears and hugs. They ‘got’ each other with intuitive precision. When a man joined the table, the conversation would politely shift a gear to less risqué subjects. Men were sensitive souls; they may not be able to cope with the intense level of, utterly pointless, discussion given to their private parts.

Tara did sometimes wonder how they could talk such utter rubbish for hours on end; she put it down to a necessary form of free DIY therapy from those who actually loved, cared and understood you. Knew how to make you laugh and what made you tick. She believed in avoiding shrinks whenever possible, buy a friend lunch; it was cheaper and didn’t keep the drug trade in business. Too many unnecessary pills out there.

“I hate BJ’s; I hate the taste, the feel, the pressure. I am SO useless at them, they make me gag, which is SO not such a good look,” complained Helen, pulling a very unattractive gagging face.

The girls giggled; Josie put her fork down, giving up trying to eat.

“No, seriously,” continued Helen, “I try really hard, but I can’t swallow to save my life, and my hand jobs are a nightmare. I get into a nice rhythm; everything’s going fine, then it starts; the insecurity creeps in. Am I doing it right? Am I holding too tight, too hard? Am I yanking too fast? He’s not saying anything, not helping, except the odd sharp intake of breath or animal-like groan. Was that a ‘pained’ intake of breath or a ‘pleasurable’ intake of breath, a ‘yeah, good’ groan or an ‘ouch! fuck that hurt’ groan; how the hell do you know? You have to be a mind reader. My hand gets tired; my knees ache; my jaw starts to lock; my teeth get in the way; I remember that he pees out of it and …”

She takes a slug of wine, soldiering on with her regular moan about her disastrous sex life.

“… whoosh!…I lose it; hand-to-mouth coordination gets all out of sync; and I go into a blind panic, knowing that he knows, that I know, that I’ve lost it. It’s like reverse parking; start analyzing it and I mess up, every time…”

The girls look at her quizzically, trying to keep up with her line of thinking…reverse parking?

“And, to make it worse, he’s looking impatiently down at me, like, ‘come on, babe, get a move on,’ probably waiting for the footy to start, spotting my roots need doing, and trying not to laugh at the farting noises my mouth is making…urrrgh!! It’s all SO unattractive.”

She sighs, serious faced, topping up wine glasses, the girls trying not to laugh.

“How do you know if you’re doing it right?” she pleaded.

“Hey relax gal, you don’t ‘ave to do it, it’s not mandatory. Some guys don’t like blow jobs, having a set of gnashers around their privates fills them with terror, and some guys don’t like to go down on us for the same reasons; we pee out of it, and the little ‘panic button’ is hell to figure out,” Josie tried to calm her, but she wasn’t listening.

“And why the hell is it called a ‘blow job’? Granted, it’s a bloody job, but there is no bloody blowing involved, unless I’m doing it wrong,” she stopped in her tracks and looked quizzically up at the girls,  “do you blow in the hole?” they both shook their heads, trying not to laugh.

“I don’t want to force a bloody air bubble down his tubes, he’ll go blue… try explaining that to an ambulance crew. No one teaches you these things, its real trial and error stuff.”

“Well maybe that’s what the older man is for, hon… to teach a girl the sexual basics,” piped up Tara.

“That’s even worse, they take Viagra and never bloody stop… they have a hard on for days, you’re bits are as sore as hell, and they never bloody come, where’s the fun in that? To top it all they end up having a heart attack,” Helen gulped more wine, shaking her head.

Josie giggled. “We’re a bit old for older men don’t ya think? Ours would come with a wheelchair and bus pass.  It would be more useful to learn a few resuscitation techniques… a good bit of slap’n tickle and a cheeky bit of CPR, very sexy.”

Click, Click…. the frame catches their three heads rock back with laughter, a  cauldron of witches.

Chapter Two

Twenty-two years earlier

Heddington Hall Boarding School, Berkshire, England

His beauty was a curse. Even though he knew it was coming, his throat retched each time he heard his name summonsed in assembly.

“And lastly, would David Howard report to the Headmaster’s study, directly after choir practice!” bellowed the Assistant Head to the army of three hundred bored, shuffling schoolboys that stood before him.

He stood on an old wooden pulpit at the side of the stage. The heat of the morning sun poured in through the vast windows, mixing musty smells of stale milk, wood polish, and body odour. Ghostlike particles of dust caught in the sunlight and percolated around his hunched shoulders, captivating the attention of the younger boys in the front row. He mumbled through the Morning Prayer and attempted to lead the choir in the final hymn, ‘The Lord’s my shepherd’, as usual, he was painfully out of tune.

Thankfully, the morning bell rang announcing the start of class. He dismissed the assembly hall. Two sixth formers heaved open the large wooden exit doors and the boys obediently marched out row by row, relieved that the tedious standing in silence was over. Noisy chatter filled the room.

As the teachers began to leave the stage, the Headmaster remained seated, his beady eyes followed David’s small frame. A satisfied grin pulled across his face as he contemplated the afternoon’s pleasure. He particularly enjoyed the boy in his choirboy robes.

David prayed each morning that the Head would tire of him, move on to someone else. That he would become a normal, innocent, carefree boy again. He spent hours in the school chapel tirelessly chanting the holy rosary, kneading the worn string of beads in his small hands. He didn’t understand the meaning of the words he was saying, but knew that they were important, what God wanted to hear, so he prayed and prayed over and over, begging for help.

He was a good boy; he didn’t steal, swear, lie or hurt anyone. He cleared his plate at mealtimes and completed his homework. He regularly attended early morning mass, sung his heart out in the choir, and lit countless candles, but to no avail. He began to doubt there being a God. If there was one, he had been abandoned. Why? He obeyed all the rules, kept quiet, seen and not heard.  Why was he not good enough to be loved by God? Surely God loved everyone?

The Head summonsed him regularly for ‘private acts’, he frightened him into submission by telling him that he had the Devil in him, that he was a lost soul going to hell. The Head would graciously save him by exorcising the Devil and preparing his path for heaven. The exorcism occurred when they met in the Headmaster’s study, it was their ‘private act’. Their meetings were to be kept a secret; if anyone were to find out he would suffer the wrath of the Archangel. He would be tied to a wooden cross, slashed with a thousand knives to within an inch of his life and left to burn in the cauldron of hell. David often wondered in whose hands was the worse fate… the Archangel or the Headmaster.

He had thought about going to confession, telling Father Michael, the school priest, but the fear of the Archangel got the better of him. Even if he did find the courage to tell, he doubted the priest would help; he and the Head were best friends; they always sat together in the dining room at meal times, laughing and joking. He had a suspicion that Father Michael knew of the ‘private acts’. Sometimes he would be aware of another presence in the room, someone watching from the cupboard. He would hear a moan come from behind the door, the same type of animal groan the Head would give as he jerkily completed the exorcism ritual. He was alone, frightened, dirty and ashamed.

Recently he had been asking his Religious Education professor about the teachings of the Bible, about the fear people had of the Devil. It seemed to him that the Devil was as strong as, if not stronger than, God. If God did not love him, maybe the Devil would, he was certainly strong enough to protect him from the Archangel and the Headmaster. It would be pitting a demon against a demon; the nightmare would finally stop.

He wondered if he could change sides for a little while, just until the pain ceased. One day he would be as tall as the Head and could protect himself, then he could return to God’s side. Like supporting Man United whilst he lived in Manchester, but really he supported Chelsea, it was just to survive.

Plan B would be suicide, but he wasn’t brave enough for that.

As they marched out of the hall, a few of the elder boys glanced back at him. He lowered his head, he was sure they knew of his shame, of why he got extra attention from the Headmaster. He wanted to scream out that it wasn’t his fault, that he hated it, that it hurt when the Head tore into him, that he would do anything to make it stop. Did they know because the same had happened to them when they were small? Surely someone would speak up? Was everyone frightened of this man? Why did he have so much power?

And why had he been chosen? He had been told that he had a cherubim face, whatever that meant; should he put a blade to it, cut it up? Should he cut his body, his willy? Would that stop the Head calling him ‘his special boy’?

His shame kept his head low, unable to look students and teachers in the face. He had learned to dress and undress alone, cried off from swimming and PE, any activity that exposed his bruised, beaten, vile, ugly body to their pitying eyes. He concentrated on surviving from one day to the next. Blocking out the pain. He had changed from an innocent, cheerful, loving little boy into a lonely, degraded, dirty being that was going to hell.

His sister was a bitch, his father distant, the only person who truly loved him was his beautiful mother; he feared that if she ever found out what he was allowing to happen, that he would lose her also. He tried to keep up an academy award performance in his letters home. Inventing news of winning sports cups, gold stars, prefect badges, that he was a popular and studious pupil, but he no longer had the stomach for writing.

He was as much to blame for keeping the guilty secret. The shame of people knowing was as bad as the act itself. He began to form a scarab shell, keeping up the pretence, hardening his emotions.

During the assembly’s closing hymn, he came to a decision, one that would change his life. He scoffed as he sang the empty words ‘The Lord’s my shepherd’… oh no he isn’t, he’s got the sack, the Devil is replacing him; things are gonna get better.

With renewed strength, he stood tall and puffed out his small chest. Chanting his new plan under his breath, he marched out of the great hall, staring straight ahead, ignoring the serpent eyes that bore into him from the stage. The Devil would help him now, he would be loved, he was no longer afraid. He pushed through the heavy oak doors, defiant, caring less for the cusses from fellow pupils as he knocked them out of his path.

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