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Sexy Beast Georgia Le Carre 44930K 7 month ago

ONE

Layla

Love is when a girl puts on perfuo out and smell each other

—Karl, Age 5

‘What are you standing there for? Go use the upstairs bathroom,’ Ria says when she spots me at the end of the queue for the downstairs bathroom

She is right The queue is long ‘I’ll just use the portaloo outside,’ I reply

‘Don’t be so silly There’s a huous queue there, too’

I bite ton’s second cousin and we are in his house, Silver Lee, a cavernous mansion built in the art deco style with massive s that wrapped all the way around the front and sides BJ threw this party for my brother, Jake, and his neife, Lily And while I like and socialize with Ria, BJ and I share a stinging mutual dislike for each other

In fact, I hadn’t even wanted to come, but my mother forced me to ‘It’s in your brother’s honor,’ she said in that displeased tone I knew not to disobey ‘It’d be ignorant not to, and God help norant’

‘Are you really sure it’ll be OK?’ I ask, looking doubtfully up the long, curving, dark wood staircase Nobody else see up it It is understood that the party is restricted to the four reception rooms downstairs

‘Of course,’ she insists confidently

I give it one last attempt ‘I don’t even knohere it is, and I don’t really want to go wandering around by myself’

‘Co my hand, makes for the stairs

‘Thanks, Ria,’ I concede, following her meekly I do need the bathroom rather badly At the top of the stairs I look down and see all the beautiful people dressed in their absolute finest That’s the thing about us travelers We love our color Peacocks, all of us There isn’t a plain black gown in sight Ria takes me down a corridor and half-opens a door to a blue and white bathroom

‘See you downstairs,’ she calls cheerfully and walks away

I use the toilet, then wash my hands and stand in front of the mirror My deep auburn hair coht and enerous, and my jaell defined

I aned and sewed ht bodice and a wide bow at the base of my spine, the ends of which trail lower than the heh, Honey Boo Boo-style skirt Underneath are layers upon layers of gathered electric blue tulle and lace petticoats Crinolines, randma used to call them

I fluff them up I love petticoats In my opinion, life is way too short not to wear petticoats that stick out from under your skirt I reapply my lipstick, press my lips, and leave the bathroom

The corridor outside is deserted Faint sounds of the party downstairs float up As I walk down the carpeted passage I aely overcome by an irresistible curiosity I want to open a door, just one, and see how BJ lives I don’t knohy, since I think hiant beast But just for those seconds, I want to see more than what everyone downstairs will see

Oh! What the hell, just a quick look

I open a door The interior is plain; it’s obviously just a spare bedroom I close it and open another It, too, has an unlived-in appearance Again, very plain I try another door It is locked Okay, one last door and I’m out of here I stop before another door handle and turn it

Whoa!

BJ!

I take a step forward, close the door behind ainst it And fuckin’ stare Two rooed into one to make such a massive space The walls are black and the words ‘No Fear’ are painted in white using a large calligraphy font They glow in the light fro tis

A large chandelier hangs fro; it looks more like a ht iron four-poster, obviously custom, with deep red fleur-de-lis patterned brocade curtains that have been gathered and held together by thick gold and black ties On the bedside tables that flank it are elaborate candelabras with real candles that have dripped wax onto the gilt handles

Wow! So this is what lies inside BJ His cold, cold eyes hide the soul of a sevent

eenth-century lord It is dark and dangerous but I aely drawn to it With so irresistibly seductive aboutinto BJ’s private world or looking into his soul

I try to iht dancing off the walls My eyes e, powerful body, the light e is so erotic; it is at once thrilling and disturbing I feel a flutter in my tummy

I frown I hate theit politely

And yet, here I am in his bedroo to leave, I walk to the , the heels ofon the hardwood floor The fire crackles It feels as if I am in a different world Like Alice in her wonderland

As if pulled by invisible hands, I head toward an antique, dark oak dresser In a trance I stroke the metal handle It is cool, smooth, full of all the events it has seen for hundreds of years, the squabbles, the trysts A frisson of strange excitement runs over lides open with a whisper, smoothly, like it is on roller blades

I stare wide-eyed at the contents

Velvet boxes Piled on top of one another So many secrets BJ’s secrets I take one and open it A tiepin with a blue stone glitters up at me I open another A tiepin with a black panther, obviously old I open another box and freeze A gold tiepin that reads ‘Layla’ in cursive writing lays there It ends with a small diamond at the end of it I lift my head and look at the e, shocked I shouldn’t be here This is wrong I look into my eyes

What the fuck are you doing, Layla?

But I don’t turn away and run out of the rooe thing So inanymore I take the tiepin out of its box, open e that! I aht up as a proper Catholic I don’t take what’s not ers snap my purse shut The sound is loud and makes me jump I can hear other sounds now, the merry fire and, faintly, the sounds of the party downstairs

Slowly, almost afraid of what I will see, I raise ain What I see there is far er alone in the e, muscular body fills it entirely

Oh God!

TWO

Layla

Cold fear races down my spine My pulse accelerates wildly while my mind jerks into overdrive Maybe he didn’t see me lift his tiepin Perhaps I could just slip past him I could pretend I am lost and that I didn’t realize I was in his bedrooer on the edge of the drawer, shunt it closed, and turn around to face him Soy, al presence The es the at into a room does

He is wearing a silver hoop in his right ear, a black T-shirt, are trousers, and coler He reer and power ooze out of him My heart starts to hammer inside my chest I can do this, I think defiantly I’tons for breakfast Straightening in to walk toward hi

When I a black tar No light there They are flat and utterly iest impression of sexual tension But of course, that is a trick ofline I have seen it stretched in laughter, but never full on Always from afar, by accident, and only from the corners of my eyes

A foot away froe The scar on the top of his left cheek appears alive in the firelight I swear no man has ever looked more inhospitable, or made me feel more intimidated

‘Sorry,’ I say tightly ‘I got lost and wandered in here by et back to the party’