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Opening Night

"You fucking whore!"

Brian's face reddened with rage as the blue carrier bag fell from his right hand, the condition of its contents causing him no concern whatsoever, transfixed, as he was, by the scarring scene before him. His entire being emptied of reason, understanding and, with a painful jerk, love, the vacuum they left being immediately occupied with searing anger and deeply entrenched hurt.

In a flurry of flailing limbs and flung bedclothes, Kathy came towards him, dressed in nothing but an anguished look of regret, vomiting a series of semi-coherent apologies, accompanied by a repulsive concoction of tears and snot. She was pushed forcefully away from her livid boyfriend and stumbled back a few pathetic steps, howling his name. The wretched, snivelling creature before him was not the woman he had loved, whom he had once admired and respected; not even a shadow of his Kathy now survived.

"Listen, mate…"

The advance of the puny man who had, until now, nervously stood in the corner of the room, shielding his nakedness with his hands, was met with an unhesitant fist squarely between his beady eyes. The impact sent him across the room, his collision with the wall creating a tremor which stirred the dense tension that filled the room. The young man cowered by the bed, nursing his almost certainly broken nose, whimpering like a scolded puppy.

Kathy stood, eyes streaming, shaking with fear under the maniacal stare of her boyfriend, the blazing fire in his eyes burning straight through to her core. Hands turned to fists at his side; his stance became more threatening as he seemed to bear down on the pitiful whore of a woman whom he had allowed unrestricted access to his life and to his heart. Her pleads for forgiveness made him despise her yet further; no amount of begging could make him forget the heinous incident he had just witnessed.

The pungent smell of sex, of adultery, hung in the air; the sweat of passion and lust clung to the ashamedly naked bodies of the perpetrators. A sense of loathing nested in the pit of Brian's stomach as his gaze darted between them, looking for but not truly wanting an explanation. He was incensed; rendered mute by his own fury. Before he could articulate any thought, it was superseded by another in a frenzied mental jumble. All he could do was stare, boring holes in the black souls of these detestable, worthless pieces of scum.

When Kathy made to move towards him once more, Brian instinctively raised his readied fist, as though to strike her. Sobbing hard, she shrank away from him in genuine terror; his fist hung in mid-air as a new, more sinister silence engulfed them all. Brian, finally shaken back into reality by his own madness, looked in shock at his own right hand, revolted by the mere thought of what he had nearly done; he felt physically sick.

Knowing his rage had not subsided and seeing what such a version of himself was capable of, he hastily took the action to remove himself from the situation altogether. On his way to the door, he kicked the blue carrier bag hard and splattered the Chinese takeaway food therein across one wall. He left with no intention of ever again returning to this tainted hell of a house, slamming the heavy front door with a dark sense of finality.

He walked. With just enough sense to know not to drive mad, he decided to abandon his car for the night, only hoping that he would have the nerve to return to it in the morning. For the time being, all he could do was walk, breathe the soothingly cool, late evening air and allow the erratic whirring of the machinery of his mind to slowly settle back into its usual, clockwork rhythm. With no conscious instruction from his brain, Brian's feet were free to choose their own path, their own direction in which to carry their wounded possessor blindly onwards into the comfortless night.

An hour passed before Brian had calmed sufficiently to assess his current situation. He glanced around and, slightly dazed and surprised, immediately knew to where he had automatically traveled, and why. Rows of terraced houses stretched along the road before him and he unwittingly smiled, nostalgic at seeing the neighbourhood in which he had grown up, the very street where he had played as a child. It was fast approaching five years since he had abandoned this run-down, depressed place in favour of the city life, never once looking back.

Now, here he was, four miles from where he now considered home, uncertain whether to laugh or cry at his in-built instinct to return here in times of distress. Glancing at his watch, he continued on, knowing most definitely where he was going to, and took out his telephone to make a call.

"Hey; you busy? Good. Can you meet me at Mikey's? Yes, really. Cheers; see you shortly."

The recipient of that phone call was Jack, Brian's younger brother and only sibling. Conveniently, the two also happened to be tremendously close friends and Brian knew, just as he had known to walk halfway across the city, that Jack was just the company he required on an evening such as this. They did not do deep, emotional conversations over a couple of beers; they did hard liquor and horrifically lewd, yet impressively in-depth, discussions of female anatomy. Jack would not care to hear of his brother's pain and heartache but rather wage a bet with him on who could acquire the barmaid's telephone number first.

They met in Mikey's a short while later and promptly, with no questions asked, began to drink the bar dry. It had been their "local" as young men, the scene of many of their less dignified evenings, but had not been graced with their presence for many moons now. Their visit came as quite a surprise to Mikey himself, who emerged from the back room around half-way through their second tequila shot and, in deference to how much the boys had turned out like their father, bestowed upon them the remaining quarter of a bottle of whisky.

An onslaught of not-for-radio jokes and crude innuendoes, combined with an unceasing flow of strongly alcoholic beverages, all but cleared Brian's mind of the earlier events of that evening. For him, nothing in life compared with a drunk catch-up with one's brother, whose life was ever filled with the most amusing and often unbelievable anecdotes, a scandalous amount of which were of a sexual nature. Jack was, rather fittingly, a real "lad"; a different woman every night, sometimes more than one, and never even a hint of regret. Brian had, for a long time, admired his brother's outlook on life and the way he enjoyed every moment of it, seizing any and all opportunities that came his way; his zeal was almost tangible, like a field of energy surrounding his very life.

The night wore on and the clientele, typically elderly gentlemen, gradually dispersed from the establishment, stumbling home in much the same way as they had always done, until only Jack and Brian remained to prop up the bar. In actuality, the opposite was true and the two inebriated souls, when, at last, they were forced to likewise depart, struggled to hold each other up as they staggered onto the street in vain hope of finding a taxi. Their drunkenness obnoxiously shattered the serene calm of the neighbourhood where they had spent many happy boyhood years, even their heavy footsteps discordant in the darkness.

Jack, the marginally soberer of the two, attempted to support his older brother who, by now, was melodramatically muttering some barely coherent nonsense about "the bitch that ruined his life". Though he had not broached the subject that evening, Jack had managed to piece together what had happened with Kathy. It pained him to see his big brother, who had always been something of a role model to him, in this heartbroken state; he took him in a rare comforting embrace at this sad thought.

As the hug ended, an unstable Brian took a few involuntary steps backward onto the road just as a black Bentley Mulsanne rounded the corner, instantly coming face to face with the incognizant man. The scene was observed in silent horror from the kerb, Jack helpless to stop what was surely about to occur. The brakes of the expensive, hulk of a car gave a blood-curdling screech, its penetrating headlights illuminating the comparatively minuscule figure before it. Jack was not even aware of the loud exclamation he let out as metal made contact with flesh; all he heard was the dull thud of the impact, then silence.

The sobering effect of the incident was immediate and Jack, finally overcoming the shock that had rendered him temporarily immobile, ran to the place where Brian lay starfished in the middle of the road. The door of the great car swung open and a man of a stature to match stepped out, his face ashen. Joining Jack directly, he knelt over the man with whom his £220,000 vehicle had just collided.

"I'm so sorry," the grey-bearded motorist began, an evidently wealthy and successful man reduced to a quivering, apologetic wreck. "I didn't see him… I couldn't have. I turned the corner and he was just… there."

His distress was abundantly obvious but Jack barely heeded him as he attempted to revive his stricken sibling, noiseless tears tracing paths down his face. There was a pulse and there was breath but not a solitary sign of movement. The force with which he was hit was not, in and of itself, sufficient to cause him any serious injury but the cold concrete on which his head now lay bore a much more concerning potential.

The older man was all but sobbing as he watched one brother tenderly check the other over for any signs of breaks or internal bleeding. With a gulp, a trembling hand lifted Brian's lifeless skull to inspect the back of his head; no blood could be seen, though the shadows of night may have shielded it.

A groan and a drool-accompanied mumble escaped unexpectedly from Brian as his head lolled in Jake's hands. In unison, two men breathed an audibly heavy sigh of relief as Brian slowly regained consciousness, still slurring semi-sentences. His eyes opened but were still prevented from focussing by the copious amounts of liquor still in his system.

"Are you alright, Bri?" Jack asked, touching concern in his voice.

"Stupid bitch slept… asshole… Ruined… life… Cow…" was the response that Jack received from his brother, evidently unfazed by the two and a half thousand kilogram car that had just mowed him down. He stirred and falteringly made his way to his feet, apparently ready and willing to continue on his journey home.

The owner of the car broke his prolonged silence, his words directed at Jack. "I am really sorry about this. I can take you both to A and E if you want to have him checked out. Anything you need, just let me know."

Jack detected a sense of fear in his voice; he must have been worried that they would call the police on him. Seeing his brother was obviously fine, he extended his hand to the almost shaking man with a grin and enquired, "What's your name, mate?"

A wary smile accompanied the handshake. "Charles Watson; pleased to meet you."

"Charles Watson? Aren't you the guy opening that fancy-dan hotel down by the river?" Jack, who fancied himself something of a professional socialite, had heard that this place was going to be the most upscale place this city had ever seen and was to attract more elite clientele than one could wish to shake a stick at.

"Yes, that's me," Mr Watson replied, relaxing considerably, fancying himself in the clear. "We're opening tomorrow night, as a matter of fact; big champagne reception. Say," he continued, almost as an afterthought, "How would you and your friend like to come along? Five course meal, open bar… lots of very attractive women. Call it my way of making up for this little… mishap?"

Jack had not heard a word after "open bar" and was already heartily agreeing to the deal, knowing, first of all, how expensive tickets for that event were and, secondly, how long it had been sold out.

"Black tie affair, I take it?" he inquired.

"Oh, yes, of course." Mr Watson fished in his pocket and produced a card. "Head over to this guy tomorrow, tell him I sent you and he'll fit you both out for a nice dinner suit, on me. I'll call ahead to let Tony know you're coming; what are your names?"

"Jack and Brian Lomond." Jack felt like all his Christmases had come at once.

"I'll make sure you're on the guest list, although I can tell already that my event planner is going to have a fit." Their laughter echoed down the cold, dark street where they were still standing. "Do you boys need a lift somewhere?"

"Yes, that would be brilliant; thank you so much." He ushered Brian into the back of the car and they drove off, leaving their barren neighbourhood of origin in a machine worth more than what either of them earned in ten years.

* * *

"And you're sure we're on the guest list?"

"Yes."

" 'Cause I don't want to get to the front of this queue only to look like a fucking idiot, Jack."

"We're on the list, Brian; he remembered about the suits, didn't he? He wouldn't do one without doing the other."

Brian glanced down at the beautiful suit he now wore; never in his life had he adorned such finery, making him feel even more like a fish out of water in his current situation. All around him were the kind of people whose servants made a better living than he did and whose pets were better fed. Snooty, old rich women with priceless pearls draped around their turkey necks and twenty-something entrepreneur playboys sporting sunglasses and carrying a sickening air of smugness; this would be Brian and Jack's company for the evening.

"Would you look at these people, Jack," Brian said to his brother in a whisper, "We couldn't be any more out of place; maybe we should just go. I don't even remember this Watson guy."

"Will you shut up and just relax. No one needs to know we don't belong here, just act natural, mingle and try to enjoy yourself. It's a free meal and booze at a five-star hotel, for crying out loud."

They reached the front of the queue to be met with a rather intimidating fellow who stood at least two heads above either of the comparatively dwarf-like men. He looked them both up and down with a serious expression before bluntly asking, "Names?"

"Lomond," Jack stuttered, "Jack and Brian Lomond."

The stern man scanned through the list, exacerbating Brian's nerves with each turn of the page. After what felt like much too long, the guard spoke flatly yet politely to them. "Wait here one minute, gentlemen." Taking a mobile telephone from his jacket, he stepped just out of earshot to make a call.

"Shit, Jack; what's going on?" An anxious Brian danced on the spot. "He didn't have to make a bloody phone call for anyone else. Let's just go."

"Brian, if you don't calm down I will fucking knock you out. Just wait and see what he has to say." Jack spoke quietly while eyeing the curvaceous blonde that was waiting behind them.

After a minute or so, Mr Watson appeared at the great double doors of the twelve-storey hotel, beaming as he spotted his waiting guests. Arms open wide, he rushed to them, saying, "Boys!" and taking them in one big bear hug. The blonde giggled as Jack shot her a look of desperation over the shoulder of his enthusiastic and, perhaps, already tipsy host.

Eventually releasing the taken aback brothers from his tight grip, he looked at them as the father did his prodigal son when he returned to him and said, "I asked Darren to call me when you arrived so that I could personally welcome you to this, the grand opening of Kingston House." A grin as wide as his face appeared as he gazed up at the architecture of the gargantuan building behind him, truly an outstanding feature of the cityscape. "How are you feeling, Brian?"

"A little hungover, sir," Brian laughed, trying hard to act as though he retained some recollection of having met this man the previous night, "But not too bad otherwise."

"Ha, I'll bet." Mr Watson gave Brian an intendedly playful, yet surprisingly painful, slap on the arm and led them into the most spectacular foyer. Waiters expertly balancing trays of champagne flutes weaved their way across the marble floor between groups of immaculately dressed guests as they held the obligatory polite conversations with all the people worth knowing. A magnificent staircase swept into the room on one side, disappearing upwards to the undoubtedly luxurious suites.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Mr Watson asked the Lomond brothers rhetorically as they, with their jaws dropped, took in the room. Tasteful sculptures were subtly dotted around the room, complementing the fine art, each piece painstakingly chosen to take pride of place on the walls of this breathtaking hall. They had scarcely begun to appreciate the incredibly ornate ceiling when its owner spoke to them once more. "How did you gents get here this evening?"

"We took a taxi," Jack replied, still gawping at the building around him, "We didn't want to be rude by not taking advantage of that free bar of yours so we left the cars at home."

"Well, you gentlemen needn't worry about getting home tonight; I've reserved two of my best rooms for you." The jubilant man produced a key for each of them. "You'll be amongst my first guests. Now, I really must go make sure that everything is in place for dinner. I've put you at Table Seven where I think you'll find the company more than agreeable." He gave them a mischievous wink and happily hurried across the room.

"Wow," Brian started, looking at the key in his hand, "This guy feels really bad about knocking me down, huh?"

"Yeah, the poor guy was practically crying when he saw you on the road. It was a pretty scary moment."

"Tough as nails, me." A waiter walked passed just then and Brian grabbed two glasses from his tray. Handing one to Jack and, holding his own in the air, he toasted the evening, "Let's make the most of it, eh?"

Upon taking a sip, Jack once again spotted the flirtatious blonde who gave him a beckoning wink. "And I think I know just how I'm going to do that." Looking to his brother briefly for the go-ahead, he straightened down his jacket and made his way over to charm the young lady in the sapphire gown.

Brian, used to playing second fiddle to the numerous floozies his brother took up with, surveyed the room, breathing deeply as his nerves disappeared with the bubbles of the champagne. He noticed, for the first time, the neoclassical music that floated through the dense hum of pleasantries and fake compliments. In his search for the source of the music, his eyes landed on the bar set up at the far side of the room. "Time for a real drink, I think," he said aloud to no one before draining his glass and heading into the obstacle course of rich, obnoxious party guests.

He ducked and weaved and narrowly avoided being trampled by a squiffy, walrus-like man before he finally had an open path to the bar where a dapper fellow in a bow-tie was putting on a cocktail mixing performance for a gaggle of giddy girls, conceivably the daughters, but more likely the arm-candy, of some the the maturer businessmen there present. No sooner had he taken a single step more in that direction than the tall, oaken doors to his left opened wide and a short, balding man stepped out, mystically silencing the hall.

"Ladies and gentleman," he announced with alarming resonance, quite in disagreement with his person. "Dinner will be served in fifteen minutes; please make your way to the dining room."

Before he could even contemplate continuing to the bar, Brian was swept along in a stream of seemingly starving diners. All he could do was pray both that he could order a drink from the table and that his brother would actually show for dinner - Jack was not known for prolonging courtship, if one could call it that, longer than was absolutely necessary.

The dining hall was just such a spectacle as one would have hoped having seen the foyer. Twenty or so beautifully arranged circular tables, each with a dozen high-backed, brown leather-clad seats, were positioned around the room, leaving an ample expanse of floor space, obviously intended for dancing, in the centre. The modernity of the hotel was exemplified in this one, huge room; the tremendously classy atmosphere in no way compromised by the sleek, contemporary design. Brian had never felt so far removed from his distinctly humbler origins.

Table Seven was situated near the top of the room on the right hand side and Brian quickly found a place card with his name printed in gorgeous typography. He quickly came to realise the meaning behind Mr Watson's wink - the table gradually began to fill with astoundingly attractive women between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five and it soon became apparent that there were to be only two male diners at Table Seven that evening, although the other was conspicuous by his absence.

Brian seemed, indeed, to be in most wonderful company; a positive bevy of bright, successful beauties, all dressed to the nines, seated themselves around him and graciously introduced themselves to him. The two seats on either side of Brian remained empty even as the introductions were made and wine began to flow. Though one seat obviously belonged to Jack, Brian dearly hoped that he was not destined to spend his evening sandwiched between his brother and the blonde thing whose throat probably, at that moment, had Jack's tongue shoved down it. Curious, Brian leaned over to inspect the place card to his left and could not but frown at the name he saw there. There surely could not be many women by that exact name yet it was equally unbelievable that such a peculiar coincidence could occur on an already slightly bizarre evening.

The suspense lasted no longer than a few ponderous minutes; a tall, elegant beauty donning a silvery satin dress arrived at the table, apologising profusely to the table for her tardiness, and took up her seat by Brian's side. He stared in amazement at the girl he once knew, now a woman of quite a different calibre but unmistakably the same person with whom he once considered himself acquainted. She was not the blonde he had feared but the brunette he had forgotten; next to him sat a woman he had not seen in close to eleven years and with whom he could not now remember how or why he had ever lost contact. Claudia Peterman and Brian had gone to high school together; they had belonged to the same group of friends but had drifted rapidly since then. He had always thought highly of Claudia and sometimes wondered what had ever become of her; being one of the more intelligent of the group, she had aspired to much greater things than he had.

After shaking hands and exchanging smiles with the nine other women at the table, she turned her attention, for the first time, to Brian. She was about to introduce herself when a sudden flash of recognition struck her and her demeanour brightened immensely.

"Brian?" she exclaimed, almost doing a double take. Evidently, Brian's appearance had not altered a great deal since their last meeting either.

"Claudia, how are you?" They stood and embraced, an interaction Brian immediately regretted as it highlighted just how much taller than him she was, especially in heels. Regardless, he was elated to have this surprising opportunity to catch up and reminisce with an old friend. The two found themselves deep in conversation, completely ignorant to anyone else in their company, before the first course had been served.

"I must say," Claudia commented following a long sup of red wine, "I'm rather surprised to see you here; as I recall, fancy dos were never really your thing."

Laughing, Brian replied, "I'd be offended if it weren't true. To cut a long story short, the owner of this place ran me over with his car and so we were invited tonight to help rid him of his guilt."

"We?" she enquired, glancing towards the still empty chair on the other side of Brian with what he thought was the faintest glimmer of disappointment in her eyes. "Is Kathy here with you?"

"Oh, no," he answered quickly, "I'm here with my brother, Jack; you remember Jack? Kathy and I… broke up."

Claudia flushed slightly. "Sorry, I didn't know. The last time I spoke to Susan, she told me you were still together, I just assumed…"

"We only broke up last night so you'd be forgiven for thinking that. How is Susan, anyway?"

They continued talking spiritedly and Brian noticed, or at least thought he noticed, how Claudia seemed more at ease since discovering that he was single, though it was more likely a trick of his mind. The free and not inexpensive wine was being taken full advantage of and it was not long before they had to call upon a waiter to replenish their supply.

A once quiet, reserved girl, Claudia now seemed perfectly comfortable in her own skin and positively shone with confidence. It turned out that she had become quite successful as a barrister and still lived in the city. Mr Watson was an old friend of her family's and she had been sent along to this event as their representative and to feign an attempt at sating her father's poorly-concealed desire to have his daughter meet and marry a well-connected man of wealth. Her life seemed so extraordinary next to Brian's and he soaked up every word as she spoke.

Jack arrived with the fish course, hair atussle, brow moist and grin wide; Brian didn't even have to ask what had taken him. "Glad you decided to join us, Jack. You remember Claudia, from high school?"

"Not even a little." He leaned across to shake her hand. "How do you do, Claudia?"

"Very well, Jack; long time no see," she answered, flashing him a sparkling, toothy smile. "You haven't changed a bit."

"I'll take that as a compliment whether it was meant as one or not, my dear." The three of them laughed together but it only lasted a moment before Jack noticed what other delights awaited him at the table and immediately diverted his attention from his relatively uninteresting older brother and his school chum. Simply rolling his eyes, Brian returned to the enchanting conversationalist he had found in a long absent friend, promptly topping up her near empty glass.

They spoke of all manner of things, from the dotty character of their host to the still somewhat delicate topic of Brian's recently terminated relationship. When the latter was broached, Brian could feel the rage building within him once more as he remembered the heart-rending scene of betrayal he had walked in on the night previous. Though a painful subject for him, Brian found himself, due in equal measure to the red wine and the relaxedness with which Claudia's presence had imbued him, speaking remarkably openly about the whole thing. To be able to tell someone plainly for the first time how he had known for a long while that the relationship was in its dying days was exactly what Brian had unknowingly longed for. Though he would have rather it ended in any other way, a large part of him was glad that it had finally concluded.

As he was talking, Brian suddenly noticed that Claudia's hand was resting innocently on his thigh, a single finger lightly stroking back and forth over the top of his trousers. She was gazing at him intently, taking in his every gesture, hanging on his every word. What a beauty, he thought to himself as his eyes locked with her hazel ones, igniting an almost imperceptible spark. The smile she gave him then was sweet, yet somehow suggestive. Of what, he could only guess, and he dared not assume that they were, at that moment, of the same mind.

Waiters all around the room began to clear the dessert plates and a band who appeared, it seemed, from nowhere began to play, the smooth, baritone voice of the singer sailing over the heads of the invariably satisfied dinner guests. Within moments, Jack, a well-practiced dancer, had a woman up on the floor; it was one of his favourite forms of foreplay. Brian looked to the ravishing delight sitting next to him and, though not much for dancing, could not have forgiven himself for missing such an opportunity, let alone for being so ungentlemanly as to not ask her. Keenly did she accept and allow herself to be led to the quickly filling dancefloor by the hand as Van Morrison's Moondance began.

Her tresses swished as they moved amongst the other couples; their bodies pressed close against each other as they let the rhythm fill them and the buzz of three bottles of Shiraz hit them like a wave. A hand on her hip, almost her bottom, guided them in the dance; a twirl out and a twirl back brought their faces mere inches apart and Brian could feel her heavy breath on his upper lip. The instant of electricity passed and the energetic dance continued, the tension between the two building with every bar, Claudia's smouldering eyes eliciting a pang of want within Brian.

The song ended and they stood holding each other, panting as applause filled the room. Claudia's fragrance was tantalising, drawing Brian into her to the verge of a kiss that they both wanted. He could feel her chest rise and fall against his own with her breath, her inviting lips slightly parted, beckoning him. They came to within a hair's breadth, an instant away from giving into the will of their desirous bodies, when Brian diverted his mouth, planting his lips instead on her soft cheek and whispering, "We can't." Those words were agonising but Brian was still raw from his break-up and knew he did not want Claudia to be his rebound girl and to, potentially, hurt her.

She laughed and placed a hand on his chest, separating their bodies as the next song began. "You always were a gentleman, Brian; that's why I had such a huge crush on you in school." Taking his hand, they made their way back to the nearly empty table.

"Is that right?" he asked as they walked, trying to make sure his half-erection was not visible through his trousers, to Claudia or anyone else. "I never knew that; you never said anything."

"You were always going out with one or other of my friends; I was hardly a catch back then."

"Well, you're certainly a catch now, Claudia." He took her in once more as they sat, internally battling the regret of their 'almost' moment. "To be honest, and not to be rude, I can't believe you're still single," he continued.

"Being the best comes at a cost, I'm afraid," she said with a wink and just a flicker of sadness. "When I was training to be a lawyer," she went on, " I never made the time for anything serious. A fling here or there but I could never make the commitment the guy wanted me to. Now… work rules and a quick romp with a cute intern is just enough to keep me ticking over until the next time."

Brian placed one hand on hers and with the other raised her fallen head by the chin. Pressing his lips lightly against hers, he smiled and reassured her, "You're beautiful and the right guy is out there for you. Under different circumstances, I'd be taking you home tonight, but you deserve more than a one-night stand and, at the moment, I couldn't guarantee any more than that."

Pecking her forehead, he excused himself to the restroom, glancing back at the now sad-looking figure, sitting alone in that magnificent dress. "You're a fucking idiot, Brian Lomond, I'm sure of it," he told himself, shaking his head as he pushed through the door of the men's room.

He felt almost unworthy of urinating in the facilities before him. The porcelain urinals gleamed brilliantly and the whole room had such an air of grandeur as to be in the starkest of contrast with a typical gentlemen's lavatory. In awe as he was, needs must and he promptly unzipped at one of the urinals and sighed deeply as he relieved a bladder that had been on the brink of bursting. The toilet was empty when he entered but, during his outstandingly long urination, he heard someone else enter and go into one of the stalls. The stream finally ceased and, with a few more shakes than was strictly necessary, he washed his hands and turned to the door, ready to comfort and console the breathtaking, sexy young woman he had just, with all the will he could muster, rejected.

Before he could reach the door to exit, he was suddenly grabbed and dragged, barely sensible of what was happening, into a stall where he was forthwith backed against a wall and taken in an indescribably passionate clinch, a second tongue finding its way into his mouth, wrestling with his own. Hands roamed under his jacket and over his shirt, wildly exploring his body, even before he could fully comprehend the situation. After a few seconds, the shock subsided and he grabbed Claudia by the shoulders, gently holding her back and staring straight into her crazy, lust-filled eyes.

"Claudia, what are you doing?" Brian was still catching his breath as he spoke. "We can't do this; it's not…"

"I don't care, Brian," she cut him off breathlessly, "If it's just for tonight then it's just for tonight, but I need this; I need tonight." She threw both hands behind his head, grabbing fistfuls of hair as she pulled him forcefully into another deep kiss. Brian was utterly powerless to resist; he could not deny that he wanted this, too, and she had just relieved him of any obligation, although he knew that would not impede the feelings of guilt that would follow the next day. For now, he let himself be caught up in the tide of her impulse and enjoy the wanton woman, whose firm breasts he could now feel thrusted against him.

Losing himself in the steamy encounter, his hands went to her bottom, clenching firmly and pulling their hips together to grind against one another. Claudia bit down on his lower lip as his arousal swelled against her, letting out a sensual whimper that drove Brian wild. The long, seductive fingers of her right hand went between them to trace the outline of his stiffened protrusion, her palm massaging the bulge with increasing vigour. Her other hand followed shortly, the two skilfully slackening Brian trousers between them and sliding over the exterior of his underwear. He found the slit of her dress and slid his hand just beneath the delicate lace of her French knickers to feel the smooth, bare skin of her left buttock.

A deliciously wicked grin spread across her face as she stepped back slightly, one hand remaining on the crotch of Brian's white trunks. With a strong tug, his trousers and underwear fell to his ankles and the object of her craving sprang forth before her, eager to submit to her every will. In the abnormally spacious cubicle, Claudia was able to bend at the waist, the pear-cut sapphire of her necklace drooping down, and extended her tongue to lick his entire length. She cupped and gently squeezed his testicles and Brian's hands splayed against the wall; he took a sharp intake of breath as her lips brushed his most sensitive part.

What followed was an altogether inexpressibly pleasurable experience. Her talented tongue worked its way up and down and around his swollen shaft, slicking every inch with saliva. Using her whole hand to ease back the skin, Claudia placed both lips over the end, teasing him with the tip of her tongue, occasionally grazing him lightly with her teeth, an action which caused his hands to seek in vain for something to hold on to. It had never been like this with Kathy, or any woman for that matter, and, speechless, Brian began to babble incoherent noises which could not be construed as anything other than indications of his approval.

Just when he thought that the experience could not be improved upon, she took him in her mouth, her tongue firm against the underside, while still using a hand to intensify his pleasure. She began to fellate him with her, he imagined, experienced mouth, varying the level of suction expertly to make Brian eyes roll back in his skull. He grew louder, unable to control his groans of sheer delight; anyone entering the room could be in no doubt about what was taking place. Three fingers were abruptly shoved into Brian's mouth in an attempt to stifle his audible excitement; Claudia was sure she had heard someone enter a short time ago. While he licked and sucked on her slender fingers, she never broke rhythm, continuing her oral assault.

His moans, though now muffled, were still loud enough for this to turn into an embarrassing situation and so Claudia stood up straight to silence him with a long, powerful kiss, still slowly stroking his hardness. In one obscenely fluid motion, she removed her underwear, broke contact with Brian's lips and stuffed the moist garment into his mouth, his eyes wide with surprise. She held a finger to her lips and stifled a giggle at the sight before resuming her former position.

A gagged Brian watched as her shapely rear came into view but could not concentrate on the wonderful sight for more than a few seconds before being drawn away once more into a world of pleasure. He savoured the taste and smell of her arousal-soaked underwear which were now adequately damping the vocalisation of his satisfaction. A stirring deep within him told Brian that proceedings would soon to be drawing to a close and, though wishing it could go on forever, knew an almighty release was bubbling just below the surface.

Indicating as much to the enthusiastic Claudia by means of running his fingers through her hair, he braced himself against the wall. An involuntary thrust of his hips had the effect of spurring the desirous woman on to dramatically increase both tempo and ferocity. With a cry that not even the French knickers could mute, Brian let go as the wave of his orgasm crashed thunderously over him. It seemed to go on for an inordinately long time and not at any point did Claudia let up in her efforts, taking in her stride everything he had to give, unrelentingly prolonging his rapture as long as she possibly could.

Gradually parachuting down from his tremendous high, he opened his eyes to face his gorgeous gratifier, her brow coated in the beads of exertion. With her teeth, Claudia reclaimed her underwear, stuffing them in Brian's trouser pocket as she knelt to return him to a reasonable state of dress. His breath was shallow, his heart returning to a steadier pace, and he struggled to find the right words, if they existed. She required none, however, suitably satisfied with his flustered state and irremovable smile; they shared then the most tender of kisses, her body falling into his as they both rested on the wall.

"I live three streets away," she hinted in a sultry voice, raising a suggestive eyebrow.

"What are we waiting for then?"

Claudia peeked out of the stall to make sure the coast was clear and then hurriedly led Brian out, impatient for the continuance of their dalliance. When she reached for the handle, the door pushed against her hand as an elderly gentleman entered, stumbling slightly in his tipsy state. She flattened herself against the wall and Brian leapt forward to grab the door to conceal her, nodding politely to the moustached man. Peering out, he judged a good moment to slip out unnoticed and pulled Claudia swiftly from her hiding place; they giggled like schoolchildren as they reentered the noise-filled hall and darted, hand in hand, between the mingling guests back to their table so that Claudia could retrieve her purse.

Jack was a few feet away, necking with the blonde from earlier; his brother caught his attention and mouthed, "I'm going," whilst pointing discreetly at Claudia. With a wink and a hearty thumbs up, Jack resumed his own mission for the evening. It was on seeing this obscenely overt display that Brian suddenly remembered something and plunged his hand into pocket, past the damp undergarment, and found the small, silver key Mr Watson had handed him at the beginning of the evening. The attached keyring had the room number, 109, engraved on it; Brian smirked and dangled it in front of Claudia's face.

"You've got a room?" she almost shouted in faux outrage, unable to fully suppress her smile. Lowering her tone as she leaned in, she went on, "And you had me giving you head in the fucking toilet?"

"In my defence," Brian retorted, "I didn't get much of a say in that. And you've got to admit, those toilets were classy as fuck."

They shared a laugh and Claudia leaned across, taking a fistful of his shirt in her hand and kissing him hard, then whispered, "Let's go," and dragged him across the room as quickly as they could without appearing too conspicuous. The party had spilled out into the reception area and groups of three and four people stood about, sipping from cocktail glasses. When they reached the foot of the staircase, they bumped into Mr Watson on his way down. His joy at seeing them was great and he threw his arms out, taking Brian into another uncomfortable bear hug.

"Brian," he bellowed, "Are you enjoying yourself? Was the meal to your liking? Is there anything I can do for you?" His hospitality was overwhelming.

"It's a lovely evening, Mr Watson," Brian replied, jumping slightly as Claudia naughtily pinched his bottom, "You've been very good to my brother and me."

"Glad to hear it, my boy. And Claudia." He turned to the evidently impatient woman at Brian's side. "How wonderful to see you. How's your father?"

Trying hard to conceal her agitation at this unexpected interruption, her sexual thirst aching to be quenched, she gave the curt response, "He's well and sends his apologies," and discreetly nudged Brian.

"Send him my regards, won't you?" Mr Watson showed no signs of moving on any time soon, oblivious to the impassioned pair's eagerness to be done with the conversation. "I haven't seen Horace in a long while," he continued thoughtfully, beginning a reminiscent ramble, still blocking their path to what they both hoped would be a splendidly torrid night.

Brian, unable to come up with a polite way to say, 'Sorry but I'm in the middle of taking this girl to my room to fuck her,' stood silent, barely hearing Mr Watson's words over the filthy thoughts running through his mind. Claudia, reaching her breaking point, finally spoke up, cutting him off mid-sentence. "It's a beautiful hotel, Charles; Brian was just going to let me see one of the rooms, so…"

"Oh, of course," he said, taking the hint, "I'm terribly sorry. Must be getting back to the party anyway. Enjoy the rest of your night." He shot Brian another of his winks and shuffled off to rejoin his many other guests.

"Nicely done," Brian praised as they began to ascend the stairs. She didn't reply, only grabbing him tightly and running up the stairs like a couple of teenagers sneaking off to the parents' bedroom at a house party. All he could think of was running his hands all over her svelte body and kissing her perfect lips; the anticipation was a thrill he had rarely felt before. Even as the effects of alcohol faded, their excitement and lust heightened by the minute.

On reaching the door bearing the number 109, Claudia turned and took Brian in a hot, lusty kiss, roughly rubbing the growing bulge of his crotch. He pulled out the key and fumbled to unlock the door, never breaking the kiss, and walked her backwards into the room, kicking the door shut behind them. She pushed his jacket from his shoulders and he let it fall to the floor as they continued to walk into the gigantic hotel room, heading for the luxurious, king-size, four-poster bed.

Their preoccupation with each other prevented them from appreciating the sheer grandeur of the room. In all, it was only slightly smaller than Brian's entire flat and far better decorated. The spacious bedroom extended to a cosy sitting area equipped with a short bookcase and flat screen television. Modern art adorned the neutral walls, adding to the room a pleasing splash of colour, and the high ceiling made it seem very open and airy. At the foot of the bed, silk pyjamas had been left out for Brian and, the next morning, he would open the tall, oak wardrobe to find an outfit Mr Watson had left for him, knowing that he would not have been expecting to spend the night.

Lost in passion, they made their way across the cream, wool carpet, pulling savagely at each other's clothes. Brian found the zip of Claudia's dress and pulled it down easily before grabbing her by the hips and pulling her into him, his sex pressed against hers. She eased off the shoulders of the dress and it flowed to the floor, leaving her standing in just her black, lace bra that matched the panties in Brian's pocket. His hands roamed over her ineffably soft skin, eventually finding their way to her firm, bare buttocks and squeezing roughly.

Claudia began to unbutton his shirt but quickly grew impatient at the fiddly nature of the task and refocussed her efforts on the more pressing matter of his trousers. As he continued to sensually massage her, their lips still locked and their tongues thrashing against one another, she undid his button and lowered his zip, forcefully pushing his trousers, along with his underwear, to the floor to join the growing pile of clothes. She claimed her prize in a tight grasp and guided him onto the bed; he slipped off his shoes as he stepped out of his discarded clothing and clumsily removed his socks just before being almost flung onto the bed.

Now naked but for his shirt and bow tie, Brian looked up at the simply divine looking woman standing over him, sporting that wicked smile that he was fast becoming terribly fond of. Claudia, still in her four inch heels, reached round to unclasp her bra, revealing her two glorious breasts to her lover-to-be who, by now, was practically drooling. She let her long, voluminous hair down and paused for a moment, giving Brian the opportunity to drink in the unbelievable beauty of her naked form in its entirety; he internally began to worry that he would wake from this magnificent dream at any moment.

This was, however, no illusion of his mind. The very real, very sexy Claudia placed a knee on either side of him on the bed and gave him a long, lingering kiss, then, with one finger, pushed him on his back. He was engorged more than he could ever remember being; his loins ached for her and he longed to be inside her. Her teasing continued for a little longer; she lightly began to stroke him with one hand while using the other to massage her breast and toy with a nipple between her fingers.

Reaching down, Brian ran his fingertips over her thighs, savouring their silky feel, but when they strayed too close to her neat little patch of brown hair and creeping downwards, Claudia batted his hand away with a playfully stern look. She could torture him no longer, however, as her own desire was becoming unbearable. Her body slid along his until their lips met and her moistened opening was in the desired position; she lowered herself to coat his length in her juices, biting down on his lip once more.

Claudia sat up straight, her fiery eyes locked on Brian's, and used her hand to guide him to her entrance, holding him there for a second. A gasp escaped her and her eyes closed as she sank onto him all the way. Her hips began to roll as she placed both hands on his chest, progressively building speed and occasionally letting out another gasp. She then raised herself from him, pausing only momentarily before plunging back down, the gasp this time a moan. The rhythm slowly built up, her hips perpetually rising and falling, the clap of skin on skin growing louder, until she was riding him like a bucking bronco, her eyes clasped shut as pulses of pleasure coursed through her.

They each would later look back on this night as some of the best sex they had ever had; it was raw and animalistic, something Brian had not theretofore experienced. He began to thrust to her rhythm, pushing deeper and deeper, driving her closer and closer. The sight of her bearing over him, her perfectly-sculpted breasts bouncing up and down, her hair flying wildly about, was sexier than anything he had even imagined. That, combined with the sound of her moans and whimpers, spurred him into a frenzy and soon he could tell that she was nearing a climax.

With her body now flat against Brian's, her head buried in his neck, Claudia let out a tremendous cry as her orgasm took hold and began to ripple through her. She clung on to him as he continued to drive into her with fierceness, biting down on his shoulder as she rode out the intense pleasure; it felt to her as though it might never end and her amorous lover showed no signs of letting up, even for a second, to let her recover. It grew to be too much and Claudia lifted her hips high off of him, panting heavily and grinning broadly as her body relaxed; Brian pulled her into a soft, tender kiss.

The brief interlude was brought to an abrupt end as Brian grabbed Claudia and flipped her onto her back on the bed, switching their positions. Now it was his turn to deliver the wicked smile and take the lead for the first time that evening. He grabbed her breasts and leaned down to suck and nibble on her erect, pink nipples. The surprise of this sudden turnaround, coupled with the fervent stimulation, had Claudia battling to catch her breath; this heat was something most other men she had slept with had never been able to create or maintain. He kissed her neck roughly and then seized her legs, putting one over each of his shoulders and holding her by the rear, slightly off of the bed.

He slid into her with force and immediately began to thrust rapidly, pulling her towards him simultaneously. The bed began to rock and it banged loudly against the wall as Brian expended every ounce of energy he could muster, urging himself and his devastatingly beautiful lover to another peak. They both grunted and groaned as the crescendo neared ever closer to the pinnacle; he was delving as deep as he possibly could with every shove, sweat streaming down his back. Keen to repay his debt of gratitude to this amazing woman, he powered on, not once relenting even a little.

At last, he could feel the familiar sensation building in him; he grasped Claudia's legs in anticipation of the imminent earth-shattering release. She, too, was teetering on the brink and had brought her hand to stimulate her button in an effort to more quickly attain her second high. A long, deep groan accompanied Brian's powerful ejaculation and his thrusts slowed to a trot; his body trembled throughout the eruption, his hold on Claudia painfully tight. At the same moment, Claudia pushed herself over the edge and yelled out Brian's name in her fit of passion. Their ecstasy lasted some time until their bodies came to a grinding halt and Brian held himself in her, his eyes still closed, while he came down. Their smiles would not be erasable for many hours.

They lay down together and shared a weak kiss, physically drained. They exchanged no words as they got into bed and Brian wrapped his arm lovingly around Claudia's hot, naked body; she felt safe there. As satisfied as either believed possible, they drifted into a peaceful slumber, the smiles still etched on their faces.

When Brian awoke, he was alone. Though initially confused, he soon heard the sound of the shower in the bathroom. He lay on the bed and smiled as he remembered all that had happened the night previous; he grew visibly excited upon recalling some of the details and absent-mindedly began to stroke himself.

The ringing noise of a mobile telephone began to emanate from the dense pile of clothes strewn across the floor, marking their path to the bed. Brian sprung up to retrieve it from his trousers, guessing it would be his brother, eager for the gory details. When he managed to extract the small device, he saw that it was Kathy calling. He laughed aloud at the name on the screen and rejected the call, tossing it haphazardly onto the bed.

Walking, completely nude, across the room, he opened the door of the bathroom and could make out through the steam the silhouette of a beautiful woman. "Good morning," he said, closing the door behind him.

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