With practiced ease, he flips a grey plastic tray onto the conveyor belt and starts to fill it. He removes his suit jacket and folds it in two, then unloops the belt from his trousers, placing both on top of his briefcase in the middle of the tray. Next come his watch and cufflinks, flashing silver as he lays them neatly inside the black leather coils. Finally, each pocket is emptied in turn. Wallet. Keys. Coins. Pen. USB.
He isn’t clean-cut, but she likes that. His hair is a bit too shaggy: in summer it tufts out of the open neck of his shirt, and creeps underneath his cuffs, like a previously well-tended garden slowly returning to the wild. Like heather on the moors, sprouting up wherever the sun shines. He wears shorts in spring and autumn, while she shivers in thick woollen tights. When he laughs, his eyes crinkle at the corners.
“Promise me one thing,” she says. “Promise me you’ll always cut your nails.”
Their first date. They’re in a cab back to her place and she’s squirming against the seat, his fingers jammed inside her cunt. There’s no finesse – he doesn’t know her yet – and he just allows her to grind down onto him, cocking her hips till the angle works, oh it really works; till the streetlights blur into iridescent flashes as she takes grateful, greedy pleasure from him.
Three weeks later. It’s Sunday morning and she wants to go for a run. No, come back here, he says, back here under the covers where the only ache you’ll feel is…well, y’know. He laughs and buries his head in her hair, wishing he knew how to do this properly. She takes his hand and guides it between her legs. His fingers relax, softening against her warm, buttery skin. Yes, she says. Yes, I’ll stay. Just don’t stop till I…ahh…
The ritual of it. Drawn out more and more as the months go by. When they have time, she throws her head back and opens herself up to him. He licks his middle finger – a long, slow swipe of his tongue – and drags it up between her labia. Don’t say it like that, she says. Call it my cunt. Touch my cunt. Oh God, please…touch my cunt.
Where else, he says? Where else should I touch you?
Each time he learns a little more. How to use the heel of his hand to massage her clit. How to curve and bow his fingers inside her, the knuckles little knobs of pleasure for her to squeeze and rub against. When to be soft and slow. When to tease – and when not to.
He flexes his fingers and feels the muscle memory building inside them; her cunt clenches as she watches the confidence spread across his skin. It’s like stepping outside on a clear, damp morning and seeing the first green shoots thrusting proudly out of the soil. He barely grazes her clit now. She’s a lobster, sinking slowly, blissfully, into a bath of warm water, as his thumb pushes her closer and closer to boiling point.
Their world grows bigger. She travels for work, reluctantly at first. I love you, I miss you, he writes. Meet me at the airport, she replies. Don’t say a word. Just let me taste the salt on your skin as you push your fingers inside me.
Their time together feels snatched. Urgent, but focused. She drinks in his delight; the look on his face each time her eyes squeeze shut, and open again in startled, newborn wonder. Yes, you did that, she says. No, he always replies. We did it.
When he has to travel too, they’re forced to be creative. You’ll be back when, she says? What if I move my meeting back a couple of hours? Will that work?
They meet in car parks and cinemas; he fingers her in bistros packed so tight there’s hardly room to breathe, and on country lanes where the stars are the only witness to her gasping, mewling surrender. They fuck – of course they fuck – but it’s not his cock that makes her claw his skin. Not his tongue that stiffens her spine with each exploratory pass across the bumps and swales of her eager cunt.
No, it’s his fingers she craves. Not too big and not too small. Supple. Dextrous. Entirely ordinary to everyone but her. She learns their grooves and creases; she kisses the callus at the top of his palm, and her cunt gets slick and hot at the memory of the change in texture when he rubbed it over her clit.
She likes watching him talk to other people; his hands weave patterns around his words, giving them weight and shape. They conduct an orchestra that plays only for her, and she itches to be alone with him; to give the whole performance a special kind of standing ovation.
His fingers look different when he touches his own cock. Harder and more threatening. She likes the change, but it always leaves her feeling unsettled, as if they no longer belong to her. She kisses them afterwards, each one in turn, and presses her nose against his palm, letting the smell of him enter her airways. She grips his wrist and opens her legs, as his fingers reach out in search of her wetness.
She reclaims him as her own.
He passes through the security scanner and waits for his tray to emerge. He picks it up, takes it to one side, and starts to collect his belongings. Each item is returned to its original place, except for his jacket, which he folds carefully over one arm.
As he scans the departures board, he brushes a loose thread off the collar of his shirt and catches sight of his nails. He reaches into his pocket and fumbles through loose change till he finds the clippers. It’s a four hour flight and she will be waiting for him at the other end.
He turns and walks toward the men’s room.