That woman sitting by the bar with the straight spine and pencil skirt: there is something intangible about her. She is bleached into partial nonexistence by the light above her head like a shadow caught in the beam of a torch. The woman carefully crosses her knees. Long, insect-leg fingers around her glass, she looks up, frowns, narrows her eyes as she pulls him into focus. She graciously offers a smile. The man gives her a tentative kiss on the cheek. He sits, talks, and she listens. An almost imperceptible nod animates her face every so often. He has a biro smudge on his hand and a button is missing from his cuff, thread unravelling.
Besotted is the word he would use. He is besotted. In its truest sense, it means to become a sot or sottus: a drunken fool. To find yourself besotted is to become intoxicated, utterly stupefied by alcohol or emotion. They are in the hotel room now, pastel prints on the wall and a laminated brochure by the telephone. He watches the woman pour herself a white wine. She has the hands of a strangler, he thinks suddenly. The nails are short, skin roughened by work and age, yet slender-boned, elegant. Perhaps, in another life, she would have been a pianist. Her fingertips, as they weave their way up his chest towards his throat, are harder, coarser than he had imagined. For a moment, he thinks of childhood, of the reptile-house, remembering the startling texture of that warm undulating snakeskin as he first touched the creature held out before him – not slimy or even particularly smooth as he had expected, but like dry patent leather under his palms.
Later, the man is cruciform on the bed, the woman astride him, just as she inevitably ends up being each time they meet. He knows not to struggle. Her hips pin him into the springs of the mattress, her cool, bare thighs pressing against either side of his ribcage, squeezing the breath out of him. He attempts to thrust again, but she stops him, those hot, slick muscles inside her clenched around his cock so that he is caught. She breathes silently, mouth curling around wet lips, and gives a quiet laugh. He is immobilised. His cock is clamped tightly in place, captured and suffocated. She moves those cruel fingers down. One dances on the hard little nub of her clit and he feels the first tremor ripple through her. She strokes herself hard now, firmly, selfishly, circling with her fingertip, barely moving on the outside yet pulsating, wriggling, throbbing against the bulging head of his penis, contractions moving down, crushing him. It hurts. The woman’s face is inscrutable. Her cunt constricts tightly, again and again, coiling. It is the most intense and wonderful physical sensation he has ever felt. He hates it. He loves it. He whimpers aloud, breathless, the pain and ecstasy drawing him suddenly close to an orgasm of his own. The woman squeezes down once more, then slides up and off, leaving his cock wet, swollen, bobbing helplessly without her. He wants to sob. She smiles, skin flushed but otherwise just as composed as she first appeared in the bar earlier, and offers him a drink. All he can do is nod.