Talulla Rising Page 36

By telepathic agreement we separated to get our jeans and underwear off, then reconvened, side by side, face to face. I pushed him onto his back and slid on top of him. A little milk had crept out. He neither avoided nor made a fetish of it. To him it was part of the body’s casually sanctified continuum. If he desired you, physically, he desired all of you. It was what the girls in the schoolyard had animally sensed in him as a kid. It was why they’d exempted him. I reached over to my purse, extracted a condom, tore the foil and slithered down his torso. His cock, modest in size but with a lovely lewd optimistic arch, visibly throbbed. Packed with blood, the monster reminded me, with a nudge and a wink and a lick of her teeth – but I was far enough from full moon to shush her. He got up on his elbows. His face was full of life focused on me, the blue-green eyes glimmering, the mouth edging into a less innocent version of its smile. I breathed, open-mouthed on the head of his cock, watched its rhythmic obedience, suffered a mental image of trying to bite clean through it, a mess of flailing blood, Walker screaming. One more cunning look up at him – yes, I know exactly how good this is going to feel – then I took him into my mouth. I felt him swallow, sensed his head tip back – then forward again for another greedy look.

Later. More of this later. For now I was desperate, unequivocal, righteously selfish. I got the condom on without disaster, slid back up his body, took him in one hand, looked down at his wholly seduced and radiantly hungry face, and lowered myself onto his cock.


It wasn’t perfect, but it was more than enough for a start. His instincts were good, hands and mouth read the signals, moved more or less to where they were wanted. It was understood between us that the first big expenditure was for me, me, me, all for dreadful me, and he held back and worked with a mixture of gallantry and artisanal concentration to make me come. Not that that – in my state – was any great achievement. It took about three minutes. Then another three, then five, then ten. Then I settled down and could be reasoned with. When he came (we were approximately in the spoons position) all his strength gathered in his hips and chest and his arms wrapped around me and his breath jabbed soft and hot at my ear and a note of tenderness was there at the end like a lovely curlicue and I liked him because there was no disguising the honest male gladness that went from his body out to mine.

‘Holy moly,’ he said, afterwards.

‘That’s my phrase,’ I said.

‘Is it?’


‘I’ll never use it again.’

‘The way to handle this, by the way, is to not talk about it.’


‘What we’ve just done.’

‘My lips are sealed.’

‘I don’t mean other people. I mean each other.’

‘Got it.’

‘Are you always this biddable?’

‘Well, you know, you’re like a horse whisperer.’

I was thinking of the diaries. (I would often be thinking of the diaries. Perennial bloodless infidelity would be part of my package, for decades. Maybe for ever.) Modern humans talk their love affairs into an early grave, Jake had written. Eros hasn’t got a fucking chance with people yammering at each other about everything the whole time. I think we should talk. No, believe me, we shouldn’t. You want to give love a chance? Find someone you can’t communicate with.

Walker’s cellphone rang. It was his WOCOP insider, Hoyle, with an update. The attempted hit on us in the Hammersmith parking lot was from a couple of loose cannons from the organisation’s Spanish division – get this – on vacation. Murdoch had risked an international meltdown by beating them half to death when he found out. The dead vampire was definitely one of the priests, almost certainly six-hundred-year-old Raphael Cavalcanti, since he’d been logged in London only one week before, but until the remaining (known) priests were accounted for it was impossible to be sure. Meanwhile still no news on Jacqueline and the Disciples. Therefore no news on Lorcan. Which shrivelled me back to my dreary dimensions.

Walker felt the mood shift. Loudly didn’t ask what the problem was. Part of me was thankful he didn’t, part of me wished he would. I hadn’t told anyone, not even Cloquet, the filthy truth of the kidnapping: that my heart had remained grotesquely neutral, though I’d held him in my arms still warm and wet from birth. You can’t live if you can’t accept what you are, it said in Jake’s last journal, and you can’t accept what you are if you can’t say what you do. The power of naming, as old as Adam.

If I stopped to think about it too long the moment would go.

‘There’s something you should know about me,’ I said. ‘Something else, I mean.’


‘I’m defective.’



He didn’t say anything. Zoë whimpered for a moment in her sleep, then fell silent again. We were still lying on the comforter on the floor, on our backs now, not touching.

‘When my son was born,’ I said, to the ceiling, ‘I didn’t feel anything for him. There was just a blank space where love should’ve been. Then he was gone.’

He didn’t reply for a while. Nor, thank God, did he try taking my hand or giving me a hug.

‘A lacuna,’ he said, eventually.


‘A lacuna. You know the word?’

In spite of everything a slight irritation because I couldn’t, immediately, remember what it meant. Then I did. A lacuna was a gap or a blank or a blind spot. In manuscripts a missing word or section of text.

‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘I know the word.’

Again he fell silent. Then he said: ‘There’s no comfort.’ Not a question. A diagnosis.

‘There’s no comfort,’ I agreed.

‘Even though you know it was nothing.’

‘Was it nothing?’

‘It was just bad luck that they took him in a lacuna. Sixty seconds later the love might have come flooding in. It’s there for her ladyship.’

It’s there for her ladyship.

Was it? The Devil’s subtlest temptations are the ones you yield to without even knowing you’ve given in. There was footage, which, though I’d shut the bulk of myself off from it while it was happening, made itself available now: me kissing her head and smelling her scalp and talking to her and calling her Sugar or Missy or Toots, which were all names my mother had called me. I’d done all this obliquely, in terrible secret from my hardened Pharaonic heart, all without really looking at my daughter, who was like a little murderer, who, if I did look at her, met all my hidden love with all my exposed failure. Her eyes held all the rights I’d forfeited. She was like God: said nothing, reflected everything I’d done, everything I’d failed to do, everything I was and everything I wasn’t. If I came in from the dreamy periphery of talking and kissing and not looking, if I came, honestly and fully to her, she could look at me so that my love felt like an obscene thing, a greed, a vice, and I got a feeling of falling away from her, thinning, into nothingness. Love turned me to her and turning to her exposed the too-lateness of the love.

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies