Leticia grunts moodily.

Suddenly, an image of Leticia tied spread eagle on her bed with a chocolate bar stuck between her legs pops into my head and I press my lips together to hide my amusement.

Leticia turns towards Billie. ‘You told her, didn’t you?’ she accuses.

Unfazed, Billie takes another small section of my hair and carefully coils it around the curling iron. ‘Be thankful I didn’t tell her what I did to you last night,’ she says, and crusty, cross Leticia squirms.

When we are ready, we walk over to Jerry’s place. It is such a warm evening we don’t even need coats.

The music is loud and there are many people there, but Billie, who is always the centre of any party, gets immediately pulled to the middle of the dance floor. When my mobile rings I almost do not hear it. I look at the screen. It is ten o’clock and it is Blake.

‘Hi,’ I say, but it is so loud it’s impossible to hear him. ‘Wait one moment,’ I yell and fight my way out of the crowd. ‘What’s up?’

‘Nothing. My party was rather flat, so I left. Can I come join you, after all?’

‘Of course.’ Suddenly my heart feels light and happy. He wants my company.

I am sitting on the stairs waiting for him when he arrives.

‘Where’s Tom?’

‘Sent him home.’

He locks his car and walks up to me. ‘What are you doing sitting here?’

‘Waiting for you.’

He turns to look at a group of youths. They are swearing loudly and holding beer cans. ‘It looks dangerous.’

I laugh. ‘I grew up here. I know those guys. They’re Jerry’s mates. If you want to score some coke, they’re the ones to go to.’

‘You don’t take drugs, do you?’

I laugh again. ‘No.’

He sits beside me, and takes a curly lock of hair in his hand. ‘What’s this?’

‘Billie did it. It’s not permanent.’

His hands move to the white shorts. ‘And this?’

‘I can hardly wear the fancy dresses you bought me here. I’ll stick out like a sore thumb.’ I look at him hungrily: the man looks good enough to eat. A soft breeze teases his hair. I have a desire to flirt with him. ‘Don’t you like it, then?’

He looks at me expressionlessly, a master of disguise. ‘What do you think?’

‘I think yes.’

‘Go to the top of the class, Miss Bloom.’

I laugh.

He watches me closely. ‘I don’t think I have ever seen you laugh.’

‘And?’

‘I like it.’

I giggle. ‘Good. Let’s go find you a drink.’

‘Is my car safe there?’

‘It’s not Detroit, you know.’

He jerks his head at the group of youths with the beer cans. ‘Are you sure?’

I look around and further away notice Kensington standing with a group of boys watching us. I point my thumb over my shoulder. ‘See that boy in the green baseball cap? If you give him a ride he’ll watch your car for you.’

Blake looks over at the boy.

‘That black boy?’ he says doubtfully.

‘Be careful, you might reveal your hand as not being an equal opportunities employer.’

Blake crooks a finger in the boy’s direction. Kensington doesn’t need any further encouragement. He jumps on his bike and tucking his head into his shoulders races towards us. He screeches to a stop dangerously close to Blake’s feet.

‘Oi! Watch it,’ I warn.

‘Sorry,’ he apologizes with a cheeky grin.

‘What’s your name?’

‘Kensington Parish.’

‘Want to watch my car for me, Kensington?’

‘Yeah,’ Kensington agrees enthusiastically. He looks at the car admiringly. ‘This car was made by God, man.’

‘Here’s fifty.’

Kensington’s eyes sparkle. ‘Fifty quid?’

His thin hand reaches out for it, but Blake pulls his hand back slightly. ‘If I come back and find the car exactly as I left it then there’s another fifty for you.’

Kensington’s face splits into an almighty grin. ‘Thanks, Mister,’ he says and snatches the note. Unceremoniously, he drops his bicycle on the ground and hops lightly onto the bonnet of the car.

‘You’re generous,’ I say.

‘Not at all. A single scratch can cost thousands to repair.’

We go up the stairs and find Billie. Billie makes a licking gesture behind his back, but she is very polite. ‘Forget about good Scotch here,’ she says, and goes to get Blake a beer. As we are talking, Jack walks in. He has a pretty girl on his arm and he introduces her as Alison.

‘Hello, Alison. Great to meet you,’ I say warmly, and turning to Jack, widen my eyes to say well done. He pretends he has not seen my gesture and, briefly shakes hands with Blake.

‘Right, I want you lot on your feet and dancing,’ Billie orders bossily, as she thrusts a bottle of beer into Blake’s palm.

‘I don’t dance,’ Blake says, as Jack and Alison quickly move off in the opposite direction.

A couple vacate one of the battered sofas. ‘Perhaps you would like to join me on one of these lovely sofas,’ Blake says, and collapses into its creaky springs. I laugh and fall next to him. A young man who looks the worse for wear comes and sits next to me on the sofa. He has a tattoo of men in a tug-of-war on his shaven head. Blake mutters something indecipherable and scoops me up and deposits me on his lap.

‘What are you doing?’ I squeal.

‘Don’t want you catching anything off him,’ he whispers in my ear.

I feel the hard muscles of his thighs. Flirtatiously, I look at him from beneath my lashes. He puts his big hands on my bare knees and pulls me until my rear is in close contact with his groin. I can feel how hard he has become.

Blake pulls me closer and captures my mouth. He smells of caramel and tastes divine. I slip my hand into his unbuttoned shirt, and find a man’s skin, hot, taut, muscles rippling underneath. It makes my lips part.

‘I want to take you home now,’ he growls in my ear.

‘OK,’ I agree instantly, and we stand to go.

‘Leaving so soon,’ Bill moans moodily.

‘It’s not really my scene,’ Blake says.

‘Call me tomorrow,’ Jack says, as I kiss his cheek.

‘I will.’

I turn to Alison, who is holding onto Jack possessively, as if she fears something is going on between Jack and me. ‘Take care of my brother,’ I whisper in her ear and see her relax and smile warmly for the first time.

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