The sound entered his ear, swirled through his brain, flowed, eddied around his groin, and sank to his toes. He felt, rather than heard. A mouth touched behind his lobe and trailed to his shoulder and his nerve ends rippled with it. A sense of silk swept across his chest. Coolness licked and a streak of flame ignited his genitals. A major case of elephantiasis. A hand, too small, smoothed and moved. He tensed. The mouth angled over his chest, his stomach and almost ... almost ... frustration exploded.
She was back. And a little bolder. Thank God for dreams. Hands and mouth strayed but still would not commit themselves. A repeat performance for both. She touched, he exploded, and oblivion.
Why couldn’t he see? Or move? It wasn’t fair, giving him the dream and not letting him make full use of it. She was tense. Relax, I’m not going to bite. I wish I could. She stretched lengthwise against him, pelvis pressing his hand, leg imprisoning his, the rise of her breast pushing into his bicep and chest. Hand caressing his cheek. She felt good. She smelled good. He could smell. Things were improving.
She left his side to settle on his hips and slow motion warmth sent a spiralling shock to every extremity. His hair stood on end, his teeth clamped. She impaled him to the bed. Her weight shifted. She lifted his head and folded her arms under. Her mouth tested his. He felt her tongue probe while, all the time, her body moved. Her weight eased. His heart thumped around its cage. Cool fingers gripped and guided. She lifted away. No, don’t stop! Back again, trying carefully. Perspiration ran like tears from his face and body. He wished he could scratch. He wanted to gulp air and all he could do was lie like a slab. She needed help and all he could do was sweat.
Everything in him was being drawn to one spot. There would be nothing left. Everything except the husk would be in her. And she was a dream. He’d never be able to find himself because she didn’t exist. Can’t do it. Stop! Fingers caressed and opened his mouth. Then he forgot to be scared as smooth skin brushed his cheek and pressed past dry lips. Creamy firm skin. The sweat was back. So was the sound. He listened. It washed through him. He let her take him.
If this is punishment for something, God, I’ve had enough. Don’t let her touch me. Don’t touch me! Hands and mouth. That cool burr in his ear but this time he would ignore it.
‘Come on, gorgeous, I know you know I’m here.’
Words! He was straining.
‘Okay, gorgeous ...’ A whisper. Had he heard it? ‘You can do it. I have every confidence in you.’ What? She breathed ‘Torture time again’ into his ear and kissed his palm. Each finger, his wrist, the crook of his elbow, was feted. And then she turned them on herself. He could feel her cheek, her neck. Her breast was perfect. Life would be perfect if he could just move his fingers.
‘Stubborn,’ she murmured, raising goose bumps from his chin to his ankles. He was deeper than ever in the dream, acutely sensitive to the least move and touch. Nothing covered him. The thought that he was flat on his back naked to her gaze was erotic in the extreme. She stroked his thighs and blood rose and stained where she had been. She was teasing. He held his breath waiting to be touched but she teased. Heaven sent hell. Her tongue and fingers traced whorls across his ribs. She was watching. Waiting to see how long it would be before he snapped. Any second if she didn’t do something.
She nibbled her way down, hand massaging him to the consistency of glue. Tentatively her mouth wandered. When the tip of her tongue connected the shock lifted him off the bed.
She must have stared for a full minute. He bore holes through closed lids staring back. He could feel every knotted muscle on his drenched body. Softness sucked him in and exquisite intensity flooded out thought. She took an unendurable breath and arching wildly he grabbed her with both hands.
It wasn’t his appearance that unnerved her, unexpected though it was with its neat new track runnelling the middle of his chin, curving through cheek and across the outer corner of his right eye to disappear into the hairline. It wasn’t even that they were alike in colouring and delicacy of features.
It was his expression. A mixture of hope and no hope.
He was red-haired, fresh smooth skinned, freckled with a faded tan, 19, and not far from the trial of his life.
He sat straight-backed, knees wide, hands hanging, in a hard chair in front of a square metal table and looked at her. Straight at her. What was she going to do for him? What could she do for him? The question was there. In his eyes. And she thought the answer just as probably was in hers. But she said, ‘I want to help you.’
His feet shoved wide, forcing hers back under her chair. ‘They’ve all said that.’ His hair was back-brushed and short. The deeply burnt freckles merged like a birthmark coating his nose and cheekbones. ‘What makes you any different?’
‘I believe you.’
A supercilious mask disguised fright, and vulnerability. He snorted. ‘That I didn’t do it?’
‘No. That you can’t remember.’
Again reaction was distorted. She rubbed a hand up the back of her neck, feeling the unfamiliar rasp of a newly razored hair-line.
‘Because the man’s wife says she saw you do it. Why lie?’
‘So you think I’m guilty?’
‘You don’t think you are.’
She forgot her hair and pulled her feet forward. It was her turn to ask ‘Why?’
He moved his away. ‘Because I can’t imagine doing it.’ He thrust himself over the table, hands clasping, eyes like a green rush of spring.
She had to swallow. ‘Then we need to have a look at who did, don’t we?’
He sat considering, then eased himself away, leaving his hands on the table. ‘Why can’t you do it?’ He spoke to the third person in the room.
Robert Murphy moved for the first time since introducing them. ‘I don’t have the experience that Elisabeth does.’
‘But she doesn’t know anything.’
Robert Murphy spoke persuasively, his voice a soft baritone burr. ‘I’m going to help.’
Elisabeth watched, with short and widely spaced breaths through the nose punctuated by a thudding in the chest.
‘Why can’t we wait until Mr Beaumont recovers?’
Robert hunkered down directly beside the young detainee. ‘Russell, I’ve told you; he had a major heart attack yesterday. It’s going to take him a long time to get well.’ He put his hand over the boy’s wrist. ‘Don’t you want it over and done with? Surely you don’t want to stay here any longer than you have to.’
Their heads were very close.
‘No.’ The voice was almost a whisper. ‘But I don’t want to be where they’ll put me afterwards either.’ He took a deep breath, an uneven intake.
Robert Murphy, a man with his own fair share of doubts, applied a sudden pressure to the wrist under his hand imparting, he hoped, some confidence, then stood back and looked deliberately to Elisabeth.