The four-poster bed, blood-red velvet hangings and creamy muslin drapes dominated their room.   

He had to push hard upward and awkwardly at the rickety sash window.  It juddered and jammed, fully open. 

"You can have the bathroom first," she said. 

Already, the couple had their routine.  

She leaned out into the thick summer night.  The car park sodium floodlights deepened the shadows in the wisteria that framed the window.  The yellow glare muddied the mauve blooms.  She breathed in deeply, hoping for the heady aroma of honeysuckle, the starry stillness of a heavenly night; she tasted instead stale, unmoving fug and caught the inescapable swish of motorway traffic, the slamming of a car door below.  The artificial glow denied her the stars. 

"Where be my crutch, wench?" 

She turned to see him hopping towards her from the bathroom, naked, one leg crooked behind him. 

He flung her onto the bed, then, kneeling, drew the drapes round them. 

"I have ye in me own cabin!" 

He sustained his fantasy, entertaining her with rasped bawdy allusions to broadsides, Long John Silver and the Jolly Roger.  

Not for the first time, her response to his playfulness was, "This will have to be the last time.  Let's keep it the way it was, before.  Friends."  And once again, her lines became embedded in their passion.  The more she tried to smother it, the more it fought for itself. 

As she guided him into her, she pleaded, "Let's keep it platonic." 

She and he neither heard nor saw Jim climb through the gaping window and creep across to the bed, a knife between his teeth.




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