He says you have nothing to lose.
You’re watching him slide the knife into the creamy flesh, and carve off a curve of coconut meat that fits perfectly into the palm of your hand. You raise it to your mouth and slide it inside, so cold you almost expect it to meet the heat of your tongue with a hiss.
You’re watching his hands.
You can’t even speak.
A vein at the line of his wrist is pulsing and you watch his muscles swivel. You crunch the coconut so fiercely it spirals down the back of your throat and you cough, your hand on your chest. He fills a wine glass with water without taking his eyes off your face and when he holds it to your mouth, his other hand slides into your hair, tangled with the sweat and salt of this humid night, and tightens, hard. You try not to moan, but you both hear it.
He knows what he’s doing.
The water rushes over your tongue and you wish it could quench the fire down where it should have burned out years ago. You try not to feed the flames, you try, but one murmured word, one glance from these bluest of eyes, one hand on your thigh is enough to keep the embers alive and you’re feeling the heat tonight.
He takes the glass away and a fat little droplet of water flicks from the corner of your mouth. It lands on your neck and he watches it slide, watches it trace a dance over the line of your collarbone and onto the curve of your breast. He reaches out one long finger and the water glides effortlessly onto the tip. You can’t take your eyes off it. He lifts it towards your face and when he rubs it across your lips, they betray you and part to let him inside.
You can hear your own breathing.
When he places the wine glass down it sends the knife clattering onto the stone of the balcony. You shift your weight, the soles of your feet slick with sweat, and blink, twice. And he smiles. When he turns to gather the bowl of berries and plums you shake your head to break the spell and see the hunger in the set of his jaw.
You don’t smile.
He cuts the stone from the plum and hands you half. It’s large and ripe and when you hold it up to the light, you see it’s slightly bruised. You suck it into the warmth of your mouth anyway and feel the sourness with the sweet, feel the flesh explode as you close your teeth together. You lick the juice from the hollow where your thumb meets your forefinger and watch his pupils widen. Your hair hangs in damp coils down your back from the sweltering night and your eyelids are heavy with the heat of it all.
And then he hands you three cherries, and you stop.
He knows the whimpers you make in your sleep when you dream of a mouth against your belly. He knows that one hand placed in the small of your back, and squeezed, can make your chest break open with desire. He knows the hand in your hair and the mouth on your neck and the thousand and three ways to make your spine melt with the wildness of it all.
But he still doesn’t know that cherries make you ill.
He hasn’t noticed either that orchids make your fingers curl with joy and sometimes, you stop in the street to smell the fur of random cats; that an opal ring decorates your left hand every day and you sing to Koko Taylor in the shower. You feel dark when you think it but really, now, you want to know if he even knows the colour of your eyes.
You place the cherries back in his hand and watch his head tilt. Something has shifted and you’re moving away but he’ll never ask the right questions to find out why. His fingers know your body more than any man’s has or ever will but the look in your eyes holds the story he’s never, never been able to read.
Sweat slides down your calves as you walk down the alleyway. You look at your hand and see the cherry juice smeared across your fingers, dark as blood and thick as desire in one crimson sweep.
It’s all you can do not to slide them inside your knowing mouth, and suck the poison away.
This is what happens when I listen to Serge Gainsbourg on a steamy hot night.
When trails of sweat trickle down between my shoulder blades…
When I can’t sit still, and the squirming makes me groan….
When I want, I want, I want.
They’re ex-boyfriends for a reason, remember.