Kicking my slippers off my tired feet, I peel back the sheets and slip into bed. The cold cotton is almost shocking after the heat of the shower, it makes me shiver so hard the bangles on my wrists jingle against each other. I’ve always been at my happiest during the latter half of the year, but since Linc left I’ve dreaded summer coming to an end. It takes me too long to warm the bed up when I’m sleeping alone, and since March I’ve been doing that more than I care to think about.
Yet thinking about it I am. I need a distraction. Something to occupy my mind until the sandy scratching in the corners of my eyes spreads until the only thing I can do to relieve it is lower my lids. I want to sleep but it’s pointless trying before exhaustion forces it upon me.
The lamp on Linc’s side of the bed hasn’t been lit since he moved out. I can smell the dust that’s settled on the glass starting to burn as the bulb heats up. It shakes when I pull his top drawer open, casting eerie shadows on the walls. One looks canine, another similar but a bit more vulpine. I shiver again, pull my attention away and snatch up the book that’s lying on top of a pile of papers and a few rolled up ties.
I’m still angry with Linc. It shows in the too hard slam of the drawer, the way I knock over a frame containing my own image in my frantic search for the lamp switch. Sometimes I feel numb when I stumble across things Linc left behind, but if I actively engage with something that was his, the anger always comes. I suppose reading the book he’d been reading the night before he left would be the death knell for a good night’s sleep, but with any luck an author’s worse would chase out Linc’s and I’d soon forget about him.
After settling back on the pillows on my side of the bed, I flip the book over and look at the cover. Should I get up and turn the heating on? That’s the third time I’ve shivered in five minutes. I tell myself that I’m just feeling the change in the weather, but my eyes betray me. They flick to the wall where Linc’s lamp had thrown shadows.
I’m being silly. Like my grandmother always said, don’t look for connections in a coincidence. But still, it is strange that the book Linc abandoned has a picture of a red-eyed black hound snapping at the heels of a petrified red fox on its cover. It’s called The Hunt, and I’m not sure I want to read it. Just like most things Linc was ‘pro’, like trophy hunting, shooting, and fur, I’m ‘anti’. It’s probably a good thing that he’s gone, we never did have much in common.
Despite my feelings on the subject matter, I open the book on the last page he was reading and almost choke on my own snigger. He’d used a picture of us as a bookmark. Bastard. Damn, I wish he’d get out of my head. The book probably won’t work, but that’s not going to stop me from trying.
I snuggle further in and start to read. The words bounce around in my head, some of them uncomfortable, a few of them harrowing. I discover in the first few pages that the heroine in the story is vehemently anti-hunt, and she quickly draws me in.
As I read, I start to relax. My eyelids become harder to lift with each blink. My breathing becomes slow and steady, my limbs relax, and the book drops into my lap…
White clouds billow in my face. They leave my cheeks feeling damp, my eyelashes covered in tiny beads of moisture. I’m breathing so hard my lungs ache and my ribs feel like they’re twisted. Oh, that’s what the clouds are. My own breaths.
It’s dusky here, but I can see shafts of sunlight highlighting patches of copper mulch and clusters of mushrooms. I’m close enough to the ground to smell the decay, to feel stubborn clumps of grass tickling my belly. Where the hell am I, and what the hell am I doing here?
Why can’t I get to my feet? I’m trying to stand but all I can do is scramble across the uneven ground on all fours. There’s a dip in the earth and it’s leading me to a shallow trickle of a stream. I can drink here. Catch my breath. Find somewhere to hide.
But what from? Given my state, it’s clear that I’m being chased, but I can’t remember why or by whom. I know that I’m in danger, though. From beneath the rocky ledge I’ve hunkered beneath I can see that I’m not in the woods. The trees that surround me are part of a small copse. Beyond the edges all there is for miles are fields, fences, and brambly hedges.
I need to be brave. To creep to the edge and see if I can find out what I’m running from. My knees sink into mud, it oozes between my fingers and toes. Critters scurry away from me, insects crawl on me.
Just as I reach the line of trees I hear a sound that freezes my heart. Excited barking. Shouting. And the blowing of a bugle. My stare is fixed in the direction the noise is coming from. Dread claws at my throat, squeezes my heart. No, wait…that’s not dread. It’s anticipation. Expectation. It’s as though I’m looking forward to them showing themselves.
Their ruckus gets louder. My back arches and I feel something tickling my thighs. I don’t want to take my eyes off the ridge but the tickle is insistent and I swivel my head to look. How startling! Erupting from between my cheeks is a bushy orange tail. It’s dark near my body and lightens to almost white at the tip.
The bugle sounds again. Hounds bark and howl, the thundering of hooves sends tremors through the ground beneath me. Shapes crest over the ridge, but I don’t wait to see them. I turn tail, splashing through the stream on hands and feet, racing deeper into the copse, getting closer to its outer edge, bursting into the mid-morning light and diving into the long grass.
I should be terrified. Running for my life like this should have me sobbing, it should have me panicked and praying for rescue. And though fear is the driving force behind my flight, the corners of my mouth are turned up in a smile so wide they might well split. I feel invigorated, excited, accepting that my capture isn’t a case of if but when.
Yes, head for that low hedge! The woody stems scratch my skin, the broken leaves stain me green, but I clear it with a whoop. Nerves make me tingle, I can’t see where I’m going, I can’t breathe. I hear them howl as they leap the hedge. I hear hooves smash into soil as their masters follow.
And then they’re on me.
Touching me. Jostling me between one another, tossing me into the air like I weigh nothing, pushing me to the ground, pinning me, pulling my legs apart. I see long, thin legs just beyond a teaming mass of thick, powerful ones.
My tail brushes the small of my back and I let out an almighty yip when something short and wide pushes into me. Oh, thank God they caught me! Thank God for that incessant, fast pounding, the stinging, cruel parting of my cheeks, the grunting and growling and moaning.
Hands are everywhere. Lifting me, nipping, slapping, bruising. Fingers pinch my nipples, nails scrape, teeth bite. They’re all biting me! Sucking, licking, laughing. My mind is reeling, I want to scream, to cry, to howl…and when spasms tighten my stomach, roll through my cunt, make my legs stiffen, I do.
I howl, they howl with me. One is beneath me, slipping a bulbous cock into my cunt. Another mounts my back, spanking me when the sensation of his long, slim cock forcing its way into my ass makes me whimper.
The hounds fuck me, stand over me, shower me with saliva and come and praise. They caught their quarry, they have their prize, and now they’re taking their reward. They come and I come with them, three times, for, five, we fuck like wild things as their masters watch and cheer.
How many hounds are there! One leaves me, and another immediately takes his place. The hardware of their collars and harnesses glitter in the sunlight, their sweat splashes on my skin. I’m giddy, delirious with desire, opening my legs further, my mouth wider, reaching for the cocks that stand in wait.
As the bodies around me dwindle, I see more and more horses’ legs. They stamp, tread the ground, snort and whinny, so impatient to be off. A pair of boots hits the ground. Tits jiggling, sweat dripping from my lashes, I follow the line of the body approaching. Long legs with a swollen bulge at their tips. Jacket tails resting neatly against narrow hips, strong hands, one of them swinging a crop. He’s broad-chested and wide shouldered.
Fuck, I’m coming again! His fingers flex around the crop handle. I know that he’s not coming for his hounds, he’s coming for me. My eyes reach his face and immediately, I know him. My voice, a tormented mix of gratification and hatred, carries his name to the sky.
A book smacks against a rarely used lamp and it falls to the floor. Feet tangled in sweat-soaked sheets, I pant and wheeze, cringing at the fading throb between my thighs. Tonight, I’ve been hunted, haunted, by the one who left me behind. Tomorrow I’ll finish the book and then it’s going where the rest of Linc’s stuff is headed. To a charity shop. I wonder if there are any charities that oppose fox hunting.