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A photographer hired for the event takes a picture of each guest as they enter the ballroom. Later, looking back at his night’s work, he'll skim through two hundred thumbnail previews. He’ll pause at one, beguiled by the apparent poise of its subject, and tap it open.

The photo will show Sadie, the upper part of her face obscured by a black Colombina mask. The photographer will zoom in to her incarnadine lips, which, caught half-open, frame the wet cavity within. He will scroll down, past her neck, to the close-fitting black dress that, ending above the knee, invites the gaze lower. Her legs are sheathed in black stockings.

The photo portrays Sadie as attractive and confident. It’s taken a second too late to record her dithering adjustment of the braided ponytail that bubbles like a stream between her shoulders. A fraction too early to catch her closing one hand into a fist, her fingertips sliding across a clammy palm. It will give no indication of her thoughts, which were that in this dress, looking like this, Bunny surely won’t place her.

 

Sadie steps into a ballroom vibrant with noise. Handed a glass of champagne from a tray, she coughs at her first, fizzy gulp, though not her second. She edges around the crowd. The masks worn by the nibblers and sippers she passes do not hide necks fractionally thickened or hair beginning to thin. Slithers of conversation: ‘Only Bunny could organise a school reunion where everybody hides from each other,’ says a masked woman with red hair. ‘I hear he’s an investment banker,’ a man replies.

The red-haired woman – Sadie might have once sat next to her in Maths – shrugs. ‘I thought it was film production. But no ring on his finger. That’s what matters.’ She giggles into her tequila.

The woman and the man stare across the room. Sadie follows their gaze and pinches the stem of her champagne flute so hard her fingertips go white. They’re looking at Bunny. Although Sadie last saw this hateful man ten years ago and although he is wearing a mask, she recognises him. She’d have recognised him solely by that sickening mannerism of his – the way he scrapes his hair over his ear as he speaks. But mostly, she’d know Bunny by the crowd around him. It was always this way: Bunny Richardson, centre of attention.

 

If Sadie had been tidier she wouldn’t be here. A month before, when she’d pulled the invitation from its envelope and read the embossed words ‘BUNNY RICHARDSON’, she’d dropped it instinctively. Left it where it fell, on the kitchen worktop.

Moments later, her boyfriend Max came through and circled her with his arms. He kissed her neck. Sadie flinched.

She had moments like this. A few weeks before, in front of the bedroom mirror, she’d bunched her hair up and asked Max if she looked boyish. He’d said not to start that again; she was beautiful. He’d kissed her shoulder; she’d flinched then too and apologised. Can’t help it, she’d said.

Still better now than a year before when Max had found her drunk, sitting cross-legged on the bathroom tiles. ‘Hey Max,’ she’d said. ‘Want to see the real me?’ And she’d hacked at her hair with a mercifully blunt pair of nail scissors.

Now that he had a lover, Max no longer questioned Sadie’s silly moods. His eyes were on the invitation. ‘Bunny Richardson, on behalf of King’s School, invites you to a reunion,’ he read. ‘All years. Black & White !masquerade. Masks until midnight.’

He looked up. ‘You should go – a weekend away.’ He quickly added: ‘Who’s Bunny Richardson?’

‘Don’t know,’ Sadie said. Which was true, in a way.

 

Bunny Richardson, head pupil, had joined the school in sixth form. Straight from Dream City, according to Hayley Johnson in year ten. He had been everyone’s crush – even among the boys. Eighteen years old, with dark eyes and bronzed complexion, he projected an abnormal vitality. Teachers addressed Bunny as if he were a colleague, while in Sadie’s year – two years below his – adoring stories about him circulated every day.

‘Finally found out why he’s called Bunny,’ the red-headed girl in Maths leaned in to whisper one morning. ‘He fucks like a rabbit.’ Sadie overheard Mark Chown at the top of the steps to the chemistry block divulge that Bunny had seven lovers bound never to reveal their identities. The listening girls, who thought the story incredible yet believable, looked mutely into space.

Sadie thought the stories stupid. She was indifferent to Bunny, and to boys in general. And they were indifferent to her; thanks mainly to her appearance; full of enough unconscious counterbalances to stifle male interest. Her epicene prettiness – delicate brown eyes and lush eyebrows – was clouded by spidery awkwardness. Her height was dulled by Converse trainers; her looks unenhanced by makeup; femininity muted by a pixie haircut. The school-standard trousers she preferred were unflattering. But Sadie was indifferent. When her PE teacher rested his hand on her and said she was ‘gamine’, Sadie didn’t bother to look the word up later.

Shortly before Easter, Bunny spoke to Sadie. No-one else was around when he approached outside the school gates, swept ink-black hair from ink-black eyes and said something. Sadie was not sure what it was. She was so abruptly mesmerised by his looks and the creamy cadence of his voice she was unable to recall any of their conversation; just that it had been cut short when two girls called him away. It was enough. In the flowers of afterthought that evening, Sadie opened her diary, signed herself ‘Sadie Richardson’, and twisted her head this way and that to see how it looked.

That week, whenever she ran into Bunny, he smiled. She blushed back pathetically. Once, glancing around, he said hello. But nothing more. So when Sadie opened her front door at home the following Saturday and faced Bunny on her doorstep, she stared at him, open-mouthed.

‘Hello,’ he said. ‘Like to come for a drive?’

In his cramped Ford Ka – not the showy thing she’d expected – Sadie balanced rigidly on crisp, dog-eared essay papers. She fixed her eyes ahead, save for clandestine glances at his profile when he checked his mirrors. He beetled along the hedged outskirts of town, probing her with questions. He was easier to talk to than she'd thought. They drove past the old quarry to park in front of a chain-link fence. There, not knowing how it tripped out of her, she told him about her obsession with Jean-Luc Godard films, about the new family kitten which shat everywhere – literally, she said. She thought days had colours – he nodded – and said no, she didn’t have a boyfriend. From there, too quickly, to her mum, a Shakespeare obsessive. ‘She calls men “fellows”,’ Sadie said, eyes wide. ‘How can I ever bring one home?’

She only stopped talking when Bunny brought his mouth to hers and kissed her. It felt like tasting clouds on the point of rain. She wished she felt able to tell him that.

At school the next week she saw him a couple of times; the same diffident smile; the same returning blush; yet the next Saturday, he was at her doorstep again. This time they parked at a secluded area at the edge of the woods and walked until they reached a sun-bathed clearing. Here Bunny leaned into her, kissed her dark eyebrows and placed his hands around her waist. She kissed back, wantonly and open-mouthed with a fierceness that knocked the back of his head against the bark of a tree.

‘Sadie,’ Bunny said, kissing her nose. ‘Don’t tell anybody about us, will you?’ Of course not, Sadie said.

He was back on Sunday. Past a turn-off onto waste ground, Bunny bruised himself on the gear-stick as he reached over to kiss Sadie. He ran his hand down her side and when it touched the strip of bare flesh between t-shirt and jeans, it reversed and slid up to stumble over her nipple, already hard, clinging to her chest like a limpet. He rotated his finger around it. Sadie hissed into Bunny’s mouth and stretched. Bunny drew a finger across its tip, sharp and hard as the lead of a pencil, and his hand retreated downwards again, palm-down over her tummy into her jeans. There, wet, so much wet. She pushed towards him and found her hand at his groin, pressing in, shocked by its hardness. Her hand moved across, surprised that the material under her fingers was slick to the touch. She glanced down to see a damp patch. She nuzzled his neck, scavenging him clumsily with her teeth, which made Bunny pull away, breathing heavily. He stared ahead, along the road. In the distance, Sadie could make out a figure on the pavement.

‘We’d better stop,’ Bunny said. ‘I think I know that person.’

That was the last time Bunny spoke to her. Until now.

 

‘Scotch, please.’ That unforgettable velvety voice. Tiny hairs stand out on her forearms. She doesn’t need to look, and doesn't: Bunny is standing next to her at the bar.

‘Hello,’ he says, in her direction. He pushes his mask up. ‘I’m Bunny. You are –?’

Sadie adjusts her own mask in place and twists towards him. ‘Masks until midnight, isn’t it?’

Bunny rubs his chin. ‘Yes. I think it is. Anyway, do masked girls drink?’

Sadie says no. Draws her handbag towards her. Then, yes. Yes, another champagne if it’s not too much trouble. As Bunny orders, Sadie hesitates, before moving towards a corner table. On the way she mouths to herself: I have a question I’ve been dying to ask. Do you still think I’m a boy?

When Bunny brings the drinks across, he’s trailed by a group of other guests. He’s oblivious to them. His questions to Sadie are the same probing type he’d once asked in his car (‘What have you done since school?’ ‘Did you come alone?’) and are interspersed with self-deprecating asides that make her remember how easy he is to talk to. He leans into the table, head cocked when she speaks. Behind her mask, Sadies eyes stutter across his face as if reading him. She fingers her plait, tips her champagne glass into her mouth. It’s empty.

Sadie starts, ‘I have a question to ask – ’ but behind him, her gaze falls on the fringe of people around their table, their fixed expressions glazed, like a display of toby jugs. And she trails off.

‘It’s crowded here,’ she says. ‘Difficult to talk.’

‘Would you like to go somewhere quieter?’

‘Do you have a room?’

Bunny lifts his eyebrows. But nods, finishes his drink, and stands.

 

She hadn’t seen Bunny all week. This didn’t worry her, even though a rumour had started that he was off sick. In English, Hannah Blackwell had heard he was recovering from an all-night shag.

Yet Sadie saw him that afternoon, approaching along the corridor at the centre of a quarrel of final-year boys. He hadn’t seen her and she stood aside as they approached in a wave of undulating conversation that bounced off the walls. As they came alongside the noise dropped.

One glanced at her trousers, ‘Looks like a male model.’ Sniggers.

Sadie caught Bunny’s eye. He didn’t smile and looked away quickly.

The group passed. Someone turned his head and asked: ‘That the one who stalked you, Bunny?’

Bunny’s voice: ‘Yeah. Not often I'm stalked by a boy.’ A roar of laughter. They swept around the corner.

Sadie looked after them. Her mouth was open, dentist-numb. She rubbed her hand against the back of her bare neck and slid against the wall.

 

In his room Bunny lifts teacups from a tray (‘I’ve drunk urine that tastes better than hotel coffee,’ he says.) Then he replaces them. (‘Not really. I just said that for emphasis. Don’t expect you’d like one now, would you?’)

‘I had something to ask you.’

Bunny clears his throat.

Sadie stands in front of him. She swings her open palm towards him as if she is going to slap him. But it slows before it reaches him and only brushes against his arm, before moving down to rest on his hip bone.

Bunny looks down at it. ‘What were you going to ask?’

‘Did you know you were the first boy I did this to?’ Sadie watches her hand trail inwards, sink into his groin, run along the material until it comes up against a lump. From there, up her fingers go, following an outline that is beginning to strengthen. A heat comes through to her fingers.

‘Always excitable, weren’t you Bunny?’

Bunny gulps. ‘We shouldn’t.’

‘Why not? You’re Bunny. You can fuck all night.’

‘That’s nonsense. Take off your mask. We’ll talk.’

‘Not yet.’ Sadie’s fingertips tease into his zip flap. Tug the zipper. Her hand burrows inside, unfolds him out of his briefs. She pulls him out, stiff. ‘Soon.’

A frost of sweat sits above Bunny’s lips. ‘Really – this is wrong.’

‘Oh Bunny, I’ll show you what’s wrong.’ She has a hold of his cock – hard and hot – and uses it as a handle to push him back. He totters and falls on the bed, his erection flailing out of his trousers.

Sadie follows, kneels on the bed, unbuckles him, yanks his trousers. Bunny looks stupidly up at her. She lifts the hem of her dress above her hips, exposing her suspenders, which intersect a gap of unblemished flesh at the top of her thighs.

She climbs on him; straddles him at his waist; lowers herself. Her sinews stretch white across his groin. She curls two fingers underneath his penis to pull it up. It resists, desperate to slap back against his tummy.

With her other hand, Sadie tugs at the ribbon securing her mask. It catches, so she slides the mask from the front up her forehead. One of the straps of her dress falls off her shoulder.

‘Do you recognise me now, Bunny? Should I make it even clearer?’ In a sharp movement, Sadie draws the back of her left hand across her mouth, smearing lipstick across her cheek. With the same hand, she reaches behind her, grabs her plait and pins it against the back of her skull.

‘Clearer now, Bunny? I’m the boy who stalked you.’

Her other hand pulls his cock until it reaches such an angle that, from his perspective, it could belong to her. She behaves as if it does, dragging its base it across her panties, where it catches on the material, revealing a fragment of her dark pubic hair.

Bunny grimaces. She pulls his cock further until its length rests against her lower belly and its shining tip lies an inch below the black dot of her bellybutton. She claws the head between four fingers before clutching him down his length. It’s as if she is masturbating her own penis.

‘Did you think I had a dick, Bunny? That why you dumped me?’

‘No,’ Bunny, mesmerised. ‘No. It wasn’t like that.’

‘Kind of fucks up your life, when the first guy you fall in love with tells everyone you’re a boy. Not something you forget.’

Sadie’s face is expressionless. She strokes his penis harder, the head first shrouded by his foreskin, then glassily exposed, weeping into her fist. She lifts herself to her knees and releases his cock. It bounces back against him. She tilts forward and, stabilising herself with one hand at the side of his head, she moves her face over his.

‘You humiliated me Bunny. Destroyed my confidence. I’ve wanted to do the same to you for years.’ Her head edges closer, an inch from his. She looks into the ugly dark eyes of Bunny Richardson, pulls up a fraction and spits. It sounds like a slap. She pulls up as her saliva runs down his cheek.

‘I’d have preferred to have done that in company,’ she says, climbing off him. She stretches to grab her shoes, strewn by the side of the bed, before she stands with her back to him. She walks to the door silently in stockinged feet, her dress still hitched above her waist, panties pressed into the gap between her cheeks.

At the door she pauses. One hand is on the handle, the other anxious to pull the dress back into position. It’s then that Bunny speaks. ‘I wanted to say sorry, Sadie. But you’re hard to say sorry to. This reunion was the only way.’

Sadie stiffens.

‘I couldn’t track you down, Sadie. You’re not on social media. You didn’t keep in touch with anyone. I could only reach you through school. So –.’

‘So what?’

‘So this.’

‘This reunion was for me?’ Sadie says to the door. ‘That’s crazy.’

‘It’s true.’

She turns, drops her shoes. ‘You knew who I was?’

‘Eventually. It was a process of elimination. Took me half the night. You look different. Your hair –’

‘ – is longer. Kind of what happens when you try not to look like a boy.’

‘I can explain.’ He begins to tuck himself in. Sadie shifts from foot to foot. Finally, he says, ‘Bunny Richardson isn’t real.’

Sadie takes two steps towards him, still pulling at her dress. ‘That’s it? Ten years to think up an excuse and it’s that you aren’t real?’

‘It’s just that being Bunny was like wearing a mask I couldn’t take off. It was a lie. The stuff about me having seven lovers –’

‘I never believed that.’

A thin smile. ‘The others did. Still do. Really I was a virgin until I was twenty. But people made up stories about me, and I was too scared to contradict them.’

‘Why?’

‘I couldn’t.’ Bunny himself pushes up on his elbows. ‘I didn’t see the harm at first. But the lies built on each other into a myth. Even when the stories got crazy people believed them. When people believe you're incredible, it's hard to tell them the truth. Then someone asked why I was in a car with a weird girl two years younger than me.’

‘Twenty-one months.’

‘They thought I was going out with some model from London at the time. If I was caught with you, everything would collapse. So I made out you were stalking me to protect myself. I’ve regretted it ever since.’

‘Like fuck.’

‘It’s true. I liked you. Not just because you were pretty, but because you were true to yourself.’

‘But what you did –’

‘I know. But I had to apologise at least.’

The silence between them makes her glance towards the rattling of an air conditioner. But she takes a step towards him. ‘It’s funny how we shape ourselves to what others expect.’

He doesn’t reply. She comes closer, standing over him.

‘Did you have your mask on when you were with me?’

‘Of course not.’

Sadie sits on the edge of the bed. She notices Bunny has aged, around the eyes. ‘So why are you called Bunny?’

Bunny tucks his hair behind his ears. ‘At my old school these used to stick out. I’ve always tried to cover them.’ He opens his mouth and catches a fingernail behind his front teeth. ‘And I had an accident as a kid that knocked these out. I got a brace. That’s where Bunny came from. Naturally, I jumped at the rumour about fucking all night.’

‘Was it this tooth?’ Sadie puts her finger to his lips. It slips down the gap between his front teeth, then over his lower lip, down his chin and across to his cheek, still wet from her spit.

‘I can understand why they made up stories about you,' she says.

Bunny holds her wrist and brings her lower. His mouth presses against hers. Their teeth clack and her tongue pushes against his. His hand cradles the back of her neck; his other arm stretches around to lift the hem of her dress and grasp the resisting flesh underneath. There is no fight to take off her dress;  his troublesome fingers find the path of its zip down the back, while she wriggles like an escape artist. His clothing is opened down the centre: she unbuttons his shirt with a coroner’s single-mindedness, pulls his trousers undone. She breathes heavily as she does this as if she has run to get here.

Still grasping her bum with both hands now, he draws her up until she straddles him at his throat and closer. Bunny kisses the satin of her panties, stretches the gusset to the side and presses his tongue into the oily, matted slickness underneath. His tongue-tip folds and unfolds her swollen lips and flicks against their gossamer frailty until she twitches.

He lifts her off, lies her flat on her back. His shirt slips off. He kicks off his trousers into nakedness. He kisses her neck then trails his tongue along her collarbone, lending it a reflection in the soft light. From there, down his tongue goes to circle a nipple. He pulls it between his lips, distending it harshly until it looks like a stubby, red crayon. When he releases it, it stays long and his tongue flicks at it. He does the same to the other nipple: pulling, distending, licking. Her hands shoot above her head, wrists twisted to hold the headboard. But she quickly brings them down again to grab his hair and whisper, ‘It’s very hot.’

She twists to her right, so she is side-on to him. 'It's bad air-conditioning,' he says. His hand crawls through her legs. Grasps her damp pussy and begins to rub her from behind, which slackens her legs. One finger curls inside her, then a second.

‘We should adjust it,’ she says, between gasps, ‘Sometime.’

His fingers move slickly in and out. She lifts a bent leg and pulls out the waistband of her panties to make it easier for him to finger her – and let her watch his actions. She stretches them so hard that they begin to slip down her legs. She wrestles them off while his fingers are still inside her. Her stockings, somehow unhooked, have slumped below her knees.

Sadie reaches with her left hand to grab his swaying erection and wanks him; wanks him so fast the colour of his shaft appears to change: tan and pink and red and tan and pink. She twists her head over his belly to inch closer to his stiffness; at one point her lips brush against it, her pistoning fingers hit her own nose. But she senses – from a change in his breathing or the texture of his cock – that he is near, that he can’t hold out. So Sadie twists once more, never releasing him, and climbs on him. Sweat stands out on her skin, on his too. Along their bodies, they are jewelled. Stretching behind her, she holds him at her before lowering herself until he is drawn into her. He thrusts up and smacks against her. She grinds back, rocking.

He pushes like this two or three times before he warns her that she must slow; that he is near. She does not stop, her eyes closed and mouth dully open. Still rocking, she rubs his nipple with the pad of her finger, licks her finger and rubs again. He says, louder, that he will come and she holds herself still, knees pressed to the mattress. He lifts himself – and her with him – and his release is felt in her somewhere like a pang of hunger. When he stops thrusting and the breath is sizzling out of him, she returns to rocking on him. Each movement now triggers a soft wet noise and she giggles, but does not stop.

‘I’m so close, so close and so hot.’ Seconds later a tremble begins at her toes and rises in wave after wave until she is stiff and muscle-hardened all over. ‘Oh,’ she says, to herself. ‘Oh.’

Like a cartoon character, she is held in mid-air for a moment before gravity takes her to his chest like a dead weight. After a minute he slips out of her, but his heart beats against her so loudly it is as if part of him is still inside.

They do not talk. They hold each other and drift off to sleep in a bed that is too narrow. In the middle of the night, Sadie goes to the bathroom, naked save the garter belt that still hangs around her waist. Shivering, she leaves the bathroom light on when she returns, so she can find the air-conditioning unit to turn it off. There seems even less space back in the bed, so she sits cross-legged at its foot and bites into an apple. Bunny’s eyes are open, looking at her. He says she is beautiful.

‘I know that now,’ she says.

He closes his eyes and she watches him for minutes or hours. She is not aware of going back to sleep, but only of awakening, in an insubstantial early light, shipwrecked on his body. An angular leg is strewn across his thighs like flotsam, her head rests on his belly.

‘Bunny?’ she says.

Bunny croaks.

‘You need a shower.’ But her head slips down and flicks the salty tip of him and chases his strengthening shaft as it lurches around his groin. When it stills, bloated by excitement, she tongue-paints it in lapidary detail. With her cheek resting on his abdomen, her tongue plays along the ridge behind his foreskin and licks the head, in broad strokes, finally curling around it to suck him into her mouth. When his cock pops out, twitching and spent, a minute later, a tide-mark of saliva and come shines half-way down it.

In the shower they soap each other; she moves around him, washing, wiping his chest and his back and stroking along his dick. Every so often he gathers her unplaited hair and pulls it so her face swings up to his and he kisses her under the hiss of the shower. His cock is lolling, swinging heavily again. She pulls him out the shower, slapping the sliding door wide. While she is still goose-fleshed and slippery and he is dripping over her, he pushes her over the sink, clawing at her small, rubbery breasts, nuzzling into the cold strands of her hair. His cock is a granite spar sandwiched painfully between them. From a holder by the basin, she grabs a sample-size bottle of shampoo or soap and squeezes its cream onto her palm. She crooks her arm behind her and daubs between her cheeks. As his cock stutters against her skin, she pulls its head into the gunk and rubs it against her bumhole. His feet slip; he hardens his grip as he steadies himself and pushes. His cock pops in and she whimpers; his cock retreats, and gently – the head frothy by now – he enters her again. In this way it goes on, his splayed hands gripping her breasts, his cock just inside her bum and then just out. When he comes it streaks up her water-flecked back in a spatter that follows the shadow of her spine.

‘I should go,’ she says after. But she doesn’t. They return to bed and miss checkout; at lunchtime, to the accompaniment of football commentary on the radio, he tastes her afresh, slavishly licking over her tummy to her bellybutton; knowing her body and its perpetual baby-warmth and where he can go. He presses a licked finger into her arsehole, which draws her breath and brings her knees up to her tummy. When she goes to hold him, he says he is so raw it hurts. Sadie says she will kiss it better and licks his cock until it is so unbending and painful that the only thing he wants to do to relieve it is to fuck again and come in her again.

Afterwards, everything is at awkward angles, yet obvious. She lies on her front, legs apart, knees bent. Calves waving in the air like saplings. He notices the way her skin changes colour, from tawny calves to the tight curve of her bottom, paper white. He admires her nakedness for all that it hides inside her. He says he wants to take a selfie of them with his iPhone, just like this, lying together on these furrowed bedsheets.

This selfie will be his only record of their weekend. When Bunny looks at it later what will strike him is how comfortable she looks. Her smile, her unvarnished face angled into his neck. The next time he looks, he’ll see something else: her tongue, poking out the corner of her mouth, ready to laugh, and her arm, extending out of shot, cupping his tender balls. Another time, he’ll notice what she’s wearing; remember her reluctance to be pictured naked and how she’d rummaged at the side of his bed for something to put on. He’ll see the way she lies, in his shirt, unbuttoned beyond her navel. This will trigger the memory of her words before he pressed the camera button: ‘I’ll keep your shirt, Bunny. It suits me.’

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than Lushstories.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

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