I Take You

I Take You by Nikki Gemmell

Book: I Take You by Nikki Gemmell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nikki Gemmell
precious thing. Something to revel in, cherish. It’s not just fucking. Argh, I can do that with anyone and bollocks to it. But this,
this
, wakes me up. Hauls me into …’ He struggles for the word.
    ‘What?’
    ‘The world again. And I’d given up on it, until a little bird came into my life.’ Mel looks at Connie – ‘Yes’ – with his warm, kind, speaking eyes. She kisses him softly, rightly between them, in chuff. ‘It really has,’ he adds.
    ‘I know,’ she whispers, kissing his thick black lashes that still have something of the little boy in them, first one side, now the other, in rhythmic gentleness. ‘Do you care for me? Do you? Really?’
    ‘What do you think? I try my hardest to resist you – everything you represent – but can’t. Just … can’t.’
    Mel’s hands curve firm over Connie’s body not with desire now but a cherishing, an ownership. A pleasure that all is well, and all is his,
his
, as if he can scarcely believe it. He kisses her with the lifetime’s tenderness in it and Connie marvels at that – when Cliff had not a scrap.
    ‘Thank you,’ Connie whispers, ‘thank you.’
    The day is winding down and she runs home through air that is vibrant with stillness. What has happened, what has transpired on this day feels like an anointing, a hauling into womanhood, finally, a strong, rooted maturing into something else – or at least a journey’s departing. Connie runs home to the hull of her marriage, high and dry on its sand. The kiss with all the world’s tenderness singing through her still, giddying her up. The touch of his lips, like voice, something she will never forget. She just knows it.

41

    With her foot on the threshold she waited a moment longer in a scene which was vanishing even as she looked, and then, as she moved … and left the room, it changed, it shaped itself differently; it had become, she knew, giving one last look at it over her shoulder, already the past

 
     
    Connie’s heart like an oven, a furnace, just opened. The heat of it, the roar. She cannot slam it shut. Who can tell? Everyone? The blare of it.
    She rushes in to the kitchen. Marichka is spoon-feeding Cliff ice cream, the last of it and Connie has no idea why but he is lapping it up. Some game they are playing. She comes upon them like an intrusion. It is a scene of collusion, tinged in early evening light, a sixteenth-century Dutch painting of domesticity, caring, quiet. Marichka looks up at her like, so, whatever works. Connie nods, yes, whatever works, keep on going, girl, keep at it. But there is something new in her stance, a freshness, a wildness, Marishka can sense it in the other woman. She slips away. Connie turns and watches her depart, wondering for a moment if she is listening by the door.
    Steps forward. Takes a deep breath.
    ‘Clifford’ – she only calls her husband this when something serious is to be said – ‘would you like me to have a baby one day?’
    From her husband: furtive apprehension. Trying to second-guess what comes next. To control, to win, command, as he always wins.
    ‘I wouldn’t mind,’ he says carefully. A pause. ‘As long as it made no difference between us.’
    Connie cocks her head.
    ‘Yes. I could be quite willing, I suppose, as long as it doesn’t affect our marriage.’ He’s like a cornered dog, thinking aloud, trying to see ahead, work it through. ‘Affect what we have. Con.’ The voice lowering, warning. ‘Nothing must come between us. Why are you saying this? What’s going on?’ He is suddenly cold, brittle, as still as a hoary January frost. Connie recognizes it. It is a threat. Cliff crushes people, of course; that’s how he’s always succeeded, in his business and his life. Rivals, colleagues, friends, clients.
    Leaving him – magnificent rupture – would humiliate him, of course, the anger would be encompassing and immense. Connie is inside the black oil of his mind now, inside his desire to infiltrate, dominate, swamp.

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