It’s Monday in Nairobi. Since matching on Tinder on Friday, Lucy and Brad have had the sort of whirlwind romantic weekend that usually only happens in the movies, and have spent the whole of the day texting like it’s about to be made illegal.
Even though they only saw each other yesterday, Lucy’s hungrier to see Brad than a chocoholic on the last day of Lent. Now that she’s found him, she wants to fill her face and all her senses with him, to bathe in him, inhale him, absorb him through every pore. When he’s around, life’s taken on a new colour, a new brightness. Without that bright shining Brad light, everything seems faded and dim.
Of course if Brad knew she was feeling this way, he’d almost certainly shriek like Jennifer Grey in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, kickbox her twice in the teeth, and sprint in the opposite direction. So Lucy’s going to tough it out and make sure he has no idea. She can’t possibly let him know she actually, like, properly LIKES him. That would be total, five-star, put-her-in-a-straight-jacket-and-cart-her-off-to-Bedlam lunacy.
His office is only a short drive from her house, so she
begs casually suggests that maybe he’d like to stop by after work and she’ll cook him dinner. And then she panics because she has no idea what she’ll be able to get in the supermarket, and because the house barely has any kitchen equipment apart from a couple of blunt-looking knives, and one or two pans that are about as non-stick as a glob of chewing gum on the bottom of your shoe. She looks for recipes online, but Google, which has clearly learned how insufferably middle-class she is, only offers her recipes that include things like balsamic vinegar and artichokes which she’s certain she won’t be able to get. She’s just going to have to make something up, which is risky, because back home Lucy lives on restaurant food and M&S ready meals, and hasn’t prepared a home-cooked dinner since about 2008. If she even has an inner domestic goddess, that bitch has definitely been asleep on the sofa with her feet up for far too long. Time to slap her awake and pack her off to the kitchen.
Lucy finishes work at five and heads straight for the market near her house to see what she can buy. There are ladies lining the side of the road, their heads wrapped in colourful scarves and their wares laid out on mats: onions, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, pineapples, mangoes. Lucy buys vegetables, though she has no idea what the correct price should be. She’s probably paying a tourist tax, she knows this, but she doesn’t really care. A pineapple is only about 75p, even if that’s a rip-off it’s still an absolute bargain!
She’s too afraid to buy the meat with the flies all buzzing round it, so she picks up pasta, cheese and beers in the little grocery store instead. Kenya might be a good place to become a temporary vegetarian – she hopes that as a red-blooded Australian male Bradley’s going to be happy with this.
Back home, she jumps briefly under the scalding dribble that passes for a shower to wash her hair. The electric water heater gives her a mild shock every time she touches the tap, so she quickly learns not to do that. Then she gets dressed, annoyed that she only brought practical black cotton underwear with her and almost no nice clothes. Ah well, he’s a man, he probably won’t notice anyway.
Brad turns up at 7 pm, looking improbably crisp in office clothes and smelling as intoxicating as usual even after a full day’s work. He gives her a hello and a very quick kiss before following her into the kitchen. Is that it? she thinks. After more than 24 hours apart, and a whole heap of text flirting, she’d rather hoped he’d be as gagging to see her as she’s been to see him, sweeping her off her feet with needy kisses and pushing her straight into the bedroom with a hard-on you could hang a coat off.
But no. Not a sausage – literally. Maybe he’s tired after a long day. Or maybe he’s still just a bit unsure? Or maybe he’s already losing interest now he’s had his wicked way with her. Oh fucking fuck, is he already cooling off? That’d be so typical! Why are there no decent men left in the world?
Then she remembers that this hasn’t happened yet, and calms herself. There’s still a chance that Brad might be one of the rare good ones. From where Lucy’s standing it seems fucking unlikely, but miracles do, apparently, happen.
Ashley, her 25-year-old housemate, is out, so they have the place to themselves. They head to the kitchen and Lucy hands him a cold beer and puts the water on for pasta. Brad grumbles at the suggestion that he’ll be forced to become veggie for the evening, so she hands him a blunt knife and sets him to work chopping tomatoes.
It’s all rather pleasantly cosy, cooking dinner together, and yet he still hasn’t touched her. Lucy’s confused. This is the thrilling first stage of romance, shouldn’t they be unable to keep their hands off each other? The first few times previous boyfriends came over there was immediate hungry snogging before they were even through the door, and usually she ended up having to laughingly push them away so she could get them inside before the neighbours complained. But not with Brad. They’re almost like an old married couple already, companionably spending time together, but the desire has faded. Lucy knew things were escalating quickly here, but she didn’t think it was so quick that they’ve already fast-forwarded through several years.
An Uninvited Guest
A key scrapes in the front door and Ashley appears. Oh buggery bollocks, thinks Lucy, who was hoping she’d be gone all evening. But instead she’s forced to introduce Brad, and invite Ashley share some of the pasta they’ve just made. Which she accepts, annoyingly. Stupid girl, doesn’t she know she was supposed to decline?
While they’re eating, Ashley asks Brad about himself, his background and his family, and Lucy realises that she actually knows sweet F.A. about him – they’ve been so caught up in the banter and the sexual tension that they haven’t had any kind of get-to-know-you conversation at all. So maybe Ashley does have her uses.
She has another, as it turns out. Since she’s now home, the only place Brad and Lucy can get any privacy is her bedroom, so that’s where they go. Surely now that’s he’s eaten and relaxed he’s going to want to rip her clothes off and fuck her the way she’s been fantasising about all day? She lies down and looks at him in what she hopes is an inviting way.
But no (God dammit!). Instead he sits on the side of the bed, and he talks.
“So…” he begins. “I’d better tell you about me and my situation…”
Oh god, thinks Lucy, and a lead weight immediately plummets into her stomach like a fat man jumping into a swimming pool. Nausea rises. Ogodogodogod. I knew he was too good to be true. I fucking KNEW it! This is where he confesses some awful secret. He’s married, or he’s dying of cancer, or he’s on the run from the law, or he’s a carrier of some horrific infectious disease, or something else really bad that is going to ruin this amazing thing before it’s even started. She can hardly bear to listen.
“What situation?” she manages, eventually.
And so he tells her about his relationship history: about his ex-girlfriend, Karen, the mother of his three kids, who is sometimes perfectly friendly, and sometimes goes, in his words, ‘psycho’, refusing to let him see the children. Sometimes she cancels visits when he’s already bought plane tickets, and one time he was on his way over and she packed them all up in the car and drove off like a crazy bitch, and then didn’t answer her phone for 24 hours. He tells her about how, after nine years of drama, fights, breakups and makeups, it finally ended for good, and how just a couple of months later he met another girl, who moved in with him only 2 months after that. And when that ended, he met someone else shortly afterwards, but broke up with her at the end of last year.
“So you see,” he concludes, “my love life has been a bit of a car crash. And I’ve been hurt, a lot, and I’m just really afraid of getting hurt again. Basically I think I’ll never be able to find a relationship, because I travel too much and I have to go home every couple of months to see my kids, and who’s going to be able to fit around that? So I’m pretty much fucked.”
Lucy doesn’t quite know what to make of all this. She’s amazed that he’s opened up to her so quickly, and the honesty and vulnerability makes her heart ache for him. She wants to hold him tight and make everything ok, to be the girl that heals the pain and gives him a home after years of wandering in the wilderness.
Lucy’s clearly been watching way too many slushy romantic dramas.
But his heartfelt confession could also be a huge red flag. He seems to get into relationships worryingly quickly, bouncing immediately from one woman to the next. Is he a ‘future faker’, one of those guys who explodes into your life with hearts and flowers, promises the earth, and then overnight turns into a total cunt and disappears without a trace? But he seems so genuine, the vulnerability seems so honest: surely he can’t be faking that? And yet… she feels nervous. Anxious. She’s already developing feelings for him, she can’t help it, and while it’s all wonderful now, what if in three weeks he changes his mind and breaks her heart when she’s already fallen for him?
She tries to pull herself together. Anxiety and insecurity will only push him away – it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy. But it’s always the way – as soon as she starts to really like someone, she becomes terrified of getting hurt. She needs reassurance.
“Wow,” she says. “So you seem to jump from one relationship to the next. Are you sure you’re not one of these guys who lovebombs a girl for a few weeks, and then gets bored and moves on?”
He promises her that’s definitely not the case. He’s not a player, he says, he’s just a decent guy who’s had bad luck in love and is looking for something real. All his relationships have been long, serious ones that he put his heart and soul into. It’s just unfortunate that none of them have worked out.
It starts to get late. Brad’s going to need to leave soon, but he still hasn’t touched her, and Lucy begins to worry that he’s going to have to go before she gets to have sex with him again. Which would just be bloody rude, quite frankly. Where are his fucking manners? She cooked him dinner!
Maybe she should just take off her clothes – that ought to send the right message.
But she’s afraid of coming on too strong. In the past she’s found that guys tend to be put off by girls who are too available: she needs to be aloof and mysterious and let him come to her, otherwise he’ll lose interest faster than Lucy did that time her date showed up and turned out to be 10 years older than his photos. And right now she feels incredibly vulnerable, worried that she likes him too much, that she’s already been too keen. No, she thinks. Better to be patient. Let him come to you.
It works. She lets him take his time, and eventually, just as before, he finally kisses her and when he does, the waiting and the anticipation makes it all the sweeter.
Clothes swiftly hit the floor, and just as he did the other day, Brad kneels between her knees and buries his tongue in her like a kid with a double size Mr Whippy. Lucy watches him, baffled that anyone could possibly look so proud and happy while staring straight into her vagina. Honestly, as someone who’s never been even the slightest bit attracted to women, she’s always struggled to comprehend how anyone could get so excited about going down there, but Brad’s obvious enjoyment is next level. Still, she thinks, any man who goes down with such gusto is definitely a keeper, no question.
Things are going swimmingly until Brad, for no discernable reason, suddenly decides to liven things up with the addition of a couple of fingers. He prods and probes for a while as though he’s hunting for buried treasure, an activity which to Lucy feels far more like an examination conducted by a nervous medical student than anything remotely sexual. But she lets him carry on, (a) because he seems to be enjoying herself, and (b) because she wonders if maybe he will hit upon some new spot, or some new technique that hasn’t been tried before, but will turn out to be amazing. She closes her eyes and tries to picture their morning sex from the day before, in hopes that this image will distract her from the excavations going on below.
She lets him persevere for as long as she can bear it, and then, gently, stops him.
“Um, maybe you could just do tongue and forget the fingers?”
“Honestly,” she laughs, “well sometimes it can just start to feel a little bit like I’m having a medical checkup.”
This gets him laughing too, which in turn provokes her into a proper fit of giggles, until she’s shaking uncontrollably, lying there on her back, gasping for breath and an amused naked Brad kneeling between her thighs.
When the giggles finally subside he carries on, fingers a safe distance away, which is altogether much better and swiftly gets results. But either he fails to notice, or he’s enjoying himself too much, because even after Lucy’s gasped and shuddered he carries on, and although her lady parts have suddenly got intensely sensitive she’s not sure she can interrupt him – it seems like it’d be rude to spoil his obvious enjoyment.
Finally, though, he resurfaces and comes back up to kiss her (which Lucy always finds intensely icky, but as yet she’s not figured out what to do about this one. (If you have a solution, please post it in the comments.)
She pulls away and reaches down instead. “What shall we do with this, then?” she asks in her best seductive voice, hoping he will now finally get round to doing what she’s been gagging for him to do all day – pin her down and bang her so damn hard they break the bed.
“I’ve got a great idea,” he replies. “Don’t you want to suck my cock?”
Actually no, Brad, to be quite honest Lucy’s not that bothered, she just wants to be fucking fucked, for crying out loud! But now she has to pretend like that was what she meant all along, and go along with it, though after his explosive reaction last time she’s a little bit traumatised and hopes that she will be allowed to stop before things get that far. So she reluctantly obliges, and actually it’s not so bad really: he really is very suckable, and she likes that he seems to derive so much pleasure from the experience, and right now the thing she wants most in all the world is for him to be as smitten with her as she is with him, and this appears to be a pretty good way to achieve that.
So she carries on, but it’s clearly not enough because he puts his hand behind her head and pulls her into him, guiding her faster and deeper, which she likes in a way because it feels dominating and controlling, but also struggles with because now he’s forcing more of himself into her throat than she can comfortably accommodate. Soon jaw ache starts to set in, and she’s forced to pull away, sit up, and take a few deep breaths. She hopes he’s not too disappointed.
“Where do you want me to come?” he asks, which Lucy thinks is a rather odd question, but before he gets any more inconvenient ideas she swiftly hands him a condom, one of the nice, extra thin Durex ones she’s brought with her from home, so much better than the hideous rubbery red washing-up glove he produced last time, and finally, after ALL the waiting, she gets what she was after.
The better condom seems to make all the difference, because this time he goes at it with obvious pleasure. At the end he tips her on the side and grinds into her with such a look of sheer delight on his face that it makes her want to laugh out loud. And the experience of watching him taking his full enjoyment with her makes her incredibly happy, and afterwards he looks at her with such passion burning in his eyes that she feels emotional and scared, and then she wonders if this connection is really real, or just the sex talking.
After he’s left she lies on the bed, feeling freaked out by all this intensity. She still can’t believe how quickly this has all happened, how already they’re so good together than Anna thinks they’re like a married couple, relaxed in their relationship and making plans for the future. It’s totally bloody bonkers.
She knows she should feel excited and happy, and she does, but she also feels hideously vulnerable and insecure. A heavy burden of fear sits on her heart and stomach – fear of getting hurt, fear of messing up somehow, fear of losing him. Because in spite of the wonderful time they’re having together, something doesn’t feel quite right. He talks all the talk, singing her praises, sending cute emojis, opening up about his feelings, but something feels off. Why wasn’t he desperate to touch her? Why did he seem distant? Is he holding back because he’s as nervous about getting hurt as her, or is it something else? She wishes she could ask for reassurance, but she knows to do so would be a disaster. The last thing she wants to do is come across as insecure and needy. All she can do is try not to overthink things and just enjoy the ride.
But that’s easier said than done when she’s afraid of doing something wrong, and pushing him away by being too keen. She probably ought to calm down and try to play it cool, be a bit more distant and let him come to her – but how can she when this has all escalated so fast? They’re already going away for the weekend, FFS!
For now she thinks he feels the same way she does, but the whole thing feels balanced on a knife edge. One wrong move and the fragile house of cards could come tumbling down. And if that happens, it’ll already be too late for Lucy.
Maybe they should have stayed just friends after all.
Next time: the relationship progresses, and Brad reveals another red flag. Click here to find out more.