THE MYSTERIOUS LOVER
Sandie’s erotic history was a panoply of misfortunes: the rubber fetishist who was allergic to latex, the world-class adulterer who left incriminating notes in all his pockets, the truth-teller who was not content until he had made all his partners cry. She was tired of men whose vigour was never matched by finesse. And then all of a sudden a new one appeared, who was like no-one else she had ever met.
Luce seemed to be able to change his height. Sometimes he was enormously tall, sometimes quite compact. And he could shift from willowy to solid in the blink of an eye. But whatever size he was, one thing was constant: the intensity of his focus on her, when he was there. He seemed to intuit what she needed. She never liked to be emotionally crowded, so he kept a respectful distance most of the time. Sometimes she needed intimacy, so there he was, snuggled by her ear. He followed up every hint she dropped - her reading tastes, her walking speed, her favourite colours. He even seemed capable of internalising her memories and acting them out in front of her, in little tableaux. And the gifts! A massive shell whose whorls seemed endless, a little flock of goats, a genuineShakespeare Folio. Once he even brought her a shimmering cloak made of peacocks’ feathers, because she had admired one in a film.
One afternoon, when they were in bed, Sandie’s fingers traced a path down his long back, and there at its base (but how had she missed it before?) was a tiny tail. Pert, tufty, it had a blithe little curl. It was embarrassing. Finally she plucked up courage to ask, and was told it was vestigial, like a sort of appendix. Laughing, he said it only came out when required. The next week, she ran her hands through his hair, and found, close to his temples, two little bud-like horns. They were quite endearing really, and didn’t show much. In windy weather, she noticed, he took care to wear a hat, so that the horns should not be on display.
Gradually, Sandie became curious about Luce’s day job. He was reluctant to reveal much at first, and then gradually began to talk about a fall he had had, and how, oddly enough, this had generated an enormous amount of energy. He hated his ex-boss, who he said was narrow-minded and self-righteous. It was his task to discredit his boss, by making people question what they were told and by encouraging them to push against the boundaries. His horse was, he said, “fairly breasting the barrier”. Discreetly, persistently, indefatigably, he was challenging the law. And then it went through Sandie with the speed of an arrow that she was in love with the Devil himself.
Actually, it felt quite comfortable. Now she was able to make sense of the little pet-names he had given her- Morticia, Evie, Batibat. Even Lucifer needed company, it seemed. As long as he didn’t make her do anything too awful, all might yet be well. Perhaps the Prince of Darkness was a gentleman.