THE QUIET ONE
She’s wearing the purple one today. The strap on the left never stays up. The other one’s digging into the flesh at the top of her shoulder where it’s soft, but the left one hangs loose. I don’t know if she notices. God, just looking at that strap and I’m hard. I don’t know if she notices.
Chloë’s confident. And she should be, she’s good. Better than me. She has . . . aspirations. Me, I’m just happy I’ve got a job at all. I think she reckons she might be head chef or something one of these days. It’s funny really, her running about all efficient, yes chef, no chef, right away chef. She likes it, showing me up. I’ve been here a year and a half and I’m still peeling potatoes. But Geoff’s always calling her over and there they are, huddled over a steaming pot while she pretends not to notice him staring down her front. Once he actually dropped a big dollop of marinara sauce, a big blotch on her new white jacket and I swear he nearly started licking it off before he remembered where he was. And her eyes just staring at him. Like she was daring him to. Come on you dirty fucker — if you’re gonna do it then do it.
But with me, I don’t know. She’s nice to me — you know in that way that people are when they know they can do it better than you. Just a hint of patronising, not enough to be offensive, just that little bit flirty, enough to give you ideas. And she’s not even pretty, you know. But she has something — it’s like she has the secret and she’s not telling. Her eyes, dark, and the way she moves them around at you under those eyelashes, the way she holds her back so that her breasts sit like they’re perched on a shelf, the way she tilts her head a certain way, and that smile — is she smiling at you? — it’s there at the corners of her lips.
There are times though, there are those times when I just can’t tell where I stand. She’ll brush right by me when there’s plenty of room to pass, she’ll be across the room and overhear some pathetic joke I’ve made to try and charm the waitress and I’ll hear her laugh to herself. If she’s just stroking my ego it’s almost as good as a physical touch. There are days . . . most days. I’m in that cubicle by lunchtime, and a split second later there’s come dripping from my clenched fist that I’m wishing was her.It’s the middle of summer, and it gets fucking hotter than Hades in that kitchen. I’m standing in the doorway out to the car park, with an unlit fag hanging from my lips. Janice is talking up a storm next to me, laughing too loud and all the while stroking her throat like there’s buried treasure under the skin. God, if only I could. Janice would be a goer, I know it. But . . . bloody hell, I’m trying not to stare but there she is, Chloe, with her back to me at the counter just inside, chopping up onions. Not a drop of perspiration on her except there, right at the nape of her neck, there’re those dark soft hairs clinging to her skin like a jealous boyfriend. Then suddenly a drop skittles down into the warmth beneath her collar and her hand whips back to catch it and just a pause before she sucks it off her finger with a loud snap. And she’s looking straight up at my reflection in the gleaming pot on the shelf above her. My mouth starts to water as if the sharp taste of her sweat was on my tongue and I have to use all my strength to turn back to Janice and flash her a smile as I light my cigarette.
Tonight’s the big party — fifth anniversary of the restaurant. It’s going to be a nightmare, I can tell already. Geoff’s running around like a Michelin star depends on it (he’d be lucky) and they’ve drafted in some extra waiting staff who look like their faces could be the inspiration for the bullshit fancy pizza they’ve got on the menu; barely out of nappies. But of course, there Chloe is, dicing, stirring, grating at every turn. She wanders out the back door just as I’m exhaling the last of my cigarette, and the butt hitting the ground matches my sinking feeling. Shit. I should’ve stretched it.
‘All right Ben?’
‘Mmm, yeah. Not bad.’ I made a point of looking her in the eye. I wanted to see where this feeling was coming from, maybe I could cheat it.
‘Ready for tonight?’
She was reaching round behind her to pull a packet of cigarettes from the waistband of her trousers and a gap appeared at the front of her jacket, a peek of flesh clad in purple lace. Then gone.
‘Have you got a light, doll?’
I held the flame to her face and she moved closer to me. I could feel her making the air warm, moist from the heat she’d carried with her from the kitchen. She put both her hands around mine, as if to steady the flame. Was my hand shaking? The touch of her fingers felt like ice and then fire. But I kept looking at her. She lingered for a fraction of a moment, and then exhaled a dart of grey smoke, her eyes whipping up into mine. Then that smile, just at the corners of her mouth.
‘All right. I’ll see you in there, Chloë.’Three minutes past one. The last punters have finished their pretentious conversations over coffee and cognac, and the last of the spotty teenage waiters have been picked up by their mothers. Geoff and the owners are draining their fifth bottle of Moet at a corner table. We’ve got through a good few bottles of dessert wine and brandy in the kitchen and there’s that orange hazy slow motion feeling in the air — candlelight, alcohol and, yeah, I suppose a job well done.
I’m sweeping a pile of peelings into a mound, trying to avoid Janice, who’s been making eyes at me all night. She was wearing some kind of low-cut wrap-around dress that made me wonder if she thought she was a madam rather than a hostess. It was for my benefit, I know, and I admit she caught my eye for a second. Shit, I can’t figure it out — I’ve got pussy being served on a platter and here I am wanting to work for it.
She had gone into the toilets, Chloë, getting changed out of her uniform. By the end of the night I had given up trying to hide the fact that I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. She’d look up and there I was. But I wouldn’t look away, and she’d carry on cooking, moving in my gaze. With that smile playing at the corners again . . .‘Ben?’
Fuck, did I pass out? Only for a moment. I’m sitting on one of the benches in the cloakroom area, where the uniforms are hung up. I’d taken off my jacket and I’d forgotten that I’d not worn anything underneath because of the heat. Chloë is staring down at me.
‘It’s always the quiet ones, I suppose.’ Her voice sounded like she had grains of sand in the back of her throat.
‘What? Shit, sorry — has everyone gone?’ It was dark in here, and she was framed by the dim light from the kitchen just beyond. She was wearing a shirt, one of those fitted ones, and jeans that were too tight. I’d never seen her not in uniform. I suddenly realised I had an erection. She couldn’t have missed it either.
‘Oh. Yeah.’ She stared down at my chest, then back into my eyes.
‘What does it mean? Are you heartbroken?’
‘Not broken. Bit sore I guess.’ I don’t know why I’d got a fucking bleeding heart. It seemed like something noble I suppose. She stayed quiet, just standing over me. I could see her breathe, her chest moving in and out, tense, like a balloon about to burst. Finally she speaks again.
‘I’ve got one too you know.’
She chuckled, the way she’d laugh to herself across the room from me.
‘If you can find it . . .’
She stopped. Deciding whether or not I should be allowed to take it that far with her. Her head was lowered and her hair was in her face. Then after a moment her head sprang back and she shook it away like it was restraining her. She exhaled.
‘If you can find it I’ll do whatever you want.’
Her eyes are boring into mine, challenging me. Come on you dirty fucker — if you’re going to do it then do it.
I made myself stand up before I could think about it too much. My cock was straining against the front of my trousers and I couldn’t help feeling a bit ridiculous as I walked over to her. But no, all she would do was stare into my eyes. I was standing close enough to smell the faint tang of cigarettes on her breath. And then I move that fraction of a step closer and she lowers her eyes, just for a second. She looked away.
My hands feel like they’re moving through drying concrete, I can’t do anything fast enough. But the minute the tips of my fingers touch the skin on her chest where her shirt falls open, I’m hit by a rush of electricity so sudden I can barely see straight. Slowly. Yes slowly. I’m tilting her chin out of the way, so that V of skin can catch the light. Nothing. I edge the fold of her collar away at each side of her neck, peering down at her shoulders between the shadows of her clothes. There it is, the one strap of her bra digging in to her shoulder, the other one’s hiding down in the sleeve of her shirt. I can feel my breath bouncing off her skin, our chests matching each rise and fall. She smells incredible, vapours of warmth are coming off her body and it’s sweat and something else, I didn’t know what it was but it was elemental, animal . . .
My fingers are at the buttons now, working slowly. It’s open now, but there’s no light to see her by. I slip my hands underneath the fabric of the shirt and onto her shoulders, and slide them down her arms until the shirt’s hanging limp around her wrists, barely clinging on. She inhales a very small sharp gasp of air, like her breathing is caught for a moment. My eyes are roaming over every inch of her, but nothing. Her skin is smooth and taut and glowing. But nothing. I turn her toward the light, this way, that. I move around her, behind her now, I’m at her back, I trace my finger down her spine and she arches it even more coyly than usual. But there’s still nothing there. Shit, and now I can feel blood pumping into every cell of my body, not just my cock but everywhere, because my fingers are skimming the top of her jeans now, and the satin skin of her midriff spills ever so slightly over the band each time she takes a breath. I can’t go slow anymore. My fingers are fumbling at the button, the buttons, they’re all buttons all the way down and then I’m peeling at her jeans, my body leaning into her, hunching over her, my chin on the strapless shoulder, looking down her back at the curve of her hips, God it’s beautiful, her ass from that angle. I think I feel her tongue against my neck, just for a moment, but no, she won’t move and I pull back and she looks at me again, stares into my eyes. Come on . . .
Her jeans are bunched up around her knees. Her thighs are big but they look strong, she has that line where the muscle is defined along the sides of them. I run my finger along the groove as though that might help me find something, and now I’m resting on my knees in front of her, poring over every inch, and her whole body is trembling and for a second I think I feel her strain her pussy ever so slightly towards my mouth but no she won’t move because I can’t find it, it’s not there anywhere and I shuffle around her on my knees staring up at her soft dark pants that don’t quite cover the folds where her ass meets the top of her thighs at the back, God, I can’t take it — where is it?
I’m back around in front of her and I’m still on my knees. She’s staring down at me. And now my hand is at her left knee, gripping it, half-heartedly trying to lift it out of the jeans but she does it, her hands are on her hips and she won’t stop looking down at me, she doesn’t need to lean on me for balance, and both her legs are out of them now and there she is staring down at me with her hands on her hips in her purple bra and her cotton pants and that smile still at the corners. There we are, she’s staring down and I’m staring up and she’s won, she thinks. She’s won. You had your chance, you dirty fucker. Ha!
And then I see it . . .
It’s under her left arm; right up underneath in that sweet soft part. A small, black X. I can’t stop the grin from spreading across my face, I think I’m going to burst but then I look up and its not there anymore at the corners, her smile. It’s gone. And that moment, I know I’ve beaten her . . . Did I want it like this? I’m not sure.
But no, I have to. I stand up — really slowly, and all the time looking, watching, and now I’m looking down on her and her eyes can’t hold my stare, she can only glance up at me and then down at her arm, which I’m slowly lifting up by the wrist, my whole hand around, it’s around her arm. And then my mouth — my tongue, my lips, my teeth, everything I could offer — was against that spot, rough and angry against that sweet victorious spot, and I could feel her arm twisting round in the grip of my hand but I didn’t let go and we couldn’t keep our balance any more. She fell to the floor and it was hard but warm from the night air and the skin of her was against the skin of me but no they were in the way take off pull off rip off the bra and the pants and the trousers I could barely hold out but there I was, holding her down against the tiles (did it hurt? I don’t know) she said whatever I wanted and yes she wanted it my God her pussy was so incredibly wet I could feel how wet against the tip of my cock and I had to stop I held her there for what seemed like a century until I couldn’t I had to and I was inside her I was fucking her hard it felt like I went into her a thousand times and each time I can’t understand it she could squeeze me from inside her my hands are on her hair it’s tugging she screams and I pull out for a second and she groans I drag her up and bend her over she’s leaning over one of the benches and yes like that from behind every sound she was making fuck every sound I couldn’t —
AGENT PROVOCATEUR was founded by Joseph Corre, offspring of fashion’s radical couple Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood, and his wife and business partner Serena Rees. They opened their first London Agent Provocateur shop in 1994. A media sensation from the start they consistently set out to shake up the establishment and grab attention to their brand and message of liberated sexuality.