Kate Comes HomebyCactus Jack©
(Many of you enjoyed reading about Kate and myself in a previous submission, 'The Trouble With Kate'. As before, this story about our life together is a genuinely true account, and is effectively a love letter to the one person in my world who makes me who I am. This is for you honey. I'll love ya forever.)
Sometimes it's easy to forget the simple pleasures in life. I'd been working solidly for the last week, sometimes for as much as fifteen hours a day, to complete the backlog of work that had been piling high on my desk. Every morning I'd looked through the door of the little back bedroom that I'd converted to an office and groaned loudly. Piles of papers seemingly sprang up overnight as I slept, and after several weeks of moaning and cursing I finally decided to get it in order. I rang editors, checked deadlines, sorted notes and drank gallons of tea. Mostly though, I hammered away at the keyboard and got some solid work produced. After what I glumly termed the week from hell had finished I checked my word-count. Over thirty-thousand. Not too shabby, even if I do say so myself.
My breakneck output had ended yesterday. Today I'd promised myself that I'd recall those simple pleasures that made life worthwhile. I'd risen early and bought Kate coffee and toast in bed, and after she'd left for work I quickly picked up around the apartment while letting AC/DC blast out from the stereo at a volume that could have woken the dead. I even allowed myself to strut with a little air-guitar while Angus was soloing through 'Let There Be Rock'. By nine-thirty I'd changed into jeans and my ancient denim jacket and was heading away from my building towards the Chelsea underground. The morning was bright and the air was as clear as London ever got, and I stopped at a local cafe to grab a sandwich that was seeming made up of half bacon, half grease. No matter, to my untrained palate it tasted fantastic, and I was still working through it as the tube rattled to a halt at the dirty station and the doors slid open with their ominous whisper.
As the train tunnelled it's way beneath the city I checked cinema times in the back pages of The Evening Standard. The Scala was situated near Kings Cross, one of the roughest parts of the city, and the area kind of suited the scruffy old cinema, which was a haven for movie lovers who favoured something a little different. I spend a lot of time in press screenings for my living; a big part of my work is freelancing for film magazines, and just lately the output from Hollywood had been depressing, and that was being generous. I'd spent weeks slumming through dreary teen flicks, romantic comedies and unwanted sequels. What I needed was a decent hit of cult movie madness, and I knew The Scala would be able to provide that for me.
I couldn't have asked for a better double-bill. Two hours of utter kung-fu madness with 'Five Deadly Venoms', a cracking old Shaw Brothers flick from the early '70's, followed by 'Suspiria', the shit-your-pants scary Italian horror classic from the crazed mind of director Dario Argento. I bought enough popcorn to feed a third-world country and chatted to a couple of familiar film-geeks for a few minutes before the first picture started. As the lights dimmed I couldn't keep the smile off my face. Some people relax by walking the dog, going to the gym or lazing in the bath, and if that's what floats your boat then good luck. I relax by losing myself completely in bizarre cinema, and I'm not going to apologise for it.
I emerged from the cinema hours later feeling sick from the popcorn overdose yet revitalised from the delights I'd just witnessed. Just down the road from The Scala was a bar I used to frequent in my early London days, and I popped in for a quick Guinness and to hear the usual foul-mouthed lies that were as always being traded around the place.
After that, it was into the city centre, past Trafalgar and the usual heaving masses of Japanese tourists, until I stepped through the doors of Tower Records. I spent the next hour scanning the shelves, picking up, contemplating and then replacing various albums until my final choices were made, my usual assortment of blues and rock and the new U2 compilation which I knew Kate had been wanting to get hold of. I stood outside Tower and looked at the disc; Bono and the boys stared back at me but I barely saw them. Instead, I thought of my girl, working hard while I was cruising around the town enjoying myself, and I felt a moment of guilt. Although Kate knew what I was doing and had no objection to it, and had encouraged me to relax after my stress-filled week, I still felt bad. Truth was, the good day I'd been having would only have been improved if she had been with me. Okay, so she'd never have sat through the Kung-Fu, but I'd have made that sacrifice to have felt her hand holding mine in the dark.
I walked quickly West from the music store until I started to see signs for Carnaby Street. Although far removed from it's swinging sixties reputation as the place to be seen, and now more for tourists than anything else, some of the smaller streets that branched off it still had a varied collection of individual shops. The two of us had been browsing around a little boutique a couple of weeks before, and Kate had pointed something out to me that she really loved. Neither of us had the money then, and truthfully I didn't really have the money now, but what the hell. What was a credit card for if you couldn't bend it once in a while?
The store was virtually empty when I stepped through the door, and I instantly saw the dress that Kate had been looking at with longing. It was sea-green and double-layered, almost see-through yet almost not, depending on the way the light struck it. Short sleeves and short in length, retro in style and just the kind of thing she loved to wear. Just the kind of thing I loved to see her in too, and I knew the light material would wrap itself around her and make her already beautiful body appear just that little more sensual. I never hesitated, handed my plastic over willingly and watched as an assistant with a huge smile and purple hair wrapped it for me.
The tube was busy with afternoon commuters, and by the time I made it home the wind had risen and rain was in the air. I kicked off my boots by the front door and was heading for the bathroom when my cellphone rang. It was Kate, calling from the office to see how my day had been, and I told her everything except for the gift I'd bought her. A couple of the girls from the office had invited her out for a meal, and she was going to go along unless I had any other plans. I didn't, and in truth just wanted to kick back, listen to music and eat bad food. She told me she'd be in around Ten and that she loved me, and we hung up. There's a lot of great things about our relationship, and one of the best is the way we exist around as well as with each other. The occasional times that we spend apart only serve to make our life together that much stronger.
I lifted weights with little enthusiasm for the next half-hour and then took a quick shower, and by the time I was on the phone ordering Chinese food darkness had already overpowered the city. I watched MTV while I ate, shouting abuse at the pop fodder on display in a way that made me think I could be turning into my Father, before working through a couple of my new albums while I cleaned and re-strung my guitar. The new Ramones compilation received my approval, the new Foo Fighters less so. Maybe it was a grower. I certainly wasn't about to give up on Dave Grohl just yet.
By eight-thirty I was yawning regularly, and even though I'd done very little all day I still felt knackered. Maybe I was just well-relaxed, or maybe I was getting old. Whatever, no-one but me would know that a guy of thirty was heading for bed this early, and I threw my clothes into the wicker basket in the corner of the bedroom and was just about to slip between the sheets when I remembered the dress. I wanted Kate to see the present when she got in, and I laid the wrapped package on the seat of the old chair that we keep in the bedroom. The moonlight shone through the open drapes at the window and bounced off the silver paper, giving it a luminescence that was impossible to miss. I climbed into the cool bed and retrieved my Elmore Leonard from the side table, but after no more than a few pages I felt my eyes go heavy and I started to neglect sentences. Last thing I remember was Chilli Palmer pulling a gun before I fell back against the softness of the pillows. If I'd been an act in Vegas the announcer would have informed the crowd that I'd left the building, and I was gone.
The next time I opened my eyes Kate was in the room. I usually sleep fairly lightly, and her entrance must have disturbed me. The light was low due to the single lit lamp and I watched as she walked quietly towards the dresser on the far side of the room. She didn't speak and I assumed that she thought I was still asleep, and I lay still and watched her silently.
She still wore her work clothes; a dark grey fitted jacket and matching short skirt that instantly made her look businesslike and sexy at the same time. Her job brings her into contact with clients on a daily basis and she always makes a point of looking her best. On the evenings and weekends she's happy to slob down with the best of us, but in the week when she needs to turn the style on she does it with seemingly effortless ease. That's where the two of us differ; for me the idea of getting dressed up means changing into cleaner jeans and a slightly less offensive T-shirt, and I suppose that's just one of the thousand reasons why I'm a scruffy writer and she's a junior lawyer.
She slipped her jacket off and was just about to hang it over the back of the chair when she noticed the package laying on the seat. I saw her frown for a moment and then break into a soft smile as she looked at the box more closely. She looked up at me and I closed my eyes quickly and levelled my breathing to keep the illusion of sleep running. I heard her cross the room and a moment later her lips brushed the stubble of my cheek as she gave me a gentle kiss. After a moment I squeezed my eyes open again to see that her back was to me once more as she had returned to the dresser.
She kicked her shoes into the corner and then slid her skirt around her hips until the button was at the front. There was the sound of a sliding zip followed by Kate wiggling the material over her bum and letting it fall to the floor. Her naked legs rose to the curves of her butt, which was covered by small white panties which hugged low on her hips and trailed a small strip into the darkness that lay between her thighs.
I love watching her undress, and the way she uncovers her body never fails to turn me on, especially if she doesn't realise I'm looking. Don't get me wrong, I don't get off on some kind of peeping fetish, and if she strips for me slowly and deliberately it's still fantastic, but I like the private moments that only I ever get to witness. The little things that only I know that she does. Like the way she rubs her finger absent-mindedly across the bridge of her nose when she's engrossed in a book, or the way she can't sleep unless her foot is touching my own. Of course, she'll never admit to that, but I've laid awake at nights watching her closed eyes and feeling her toes tickle me. Or the way she undresses and always puts her clothes down folded even if they are headed for the laundry, where as I just throw all of my crap in a heap on the floor. I watched in silent delight as she did that now. There are hundreds of other things she does, but they're for me to know. I'm sure you've got plenty of your own private moments with the person you love.
By the time she had unbuttoned her shirt to reveal the clasp at the front of her white bra and her small cleavage the sheets were fighting against my rapidly expanding erection. When she shook her hair loose, the movement causing the shirt to fall from her shoulder exposing one silk covered breast, I couldn't keep my breathing silent any longer, and she turned to face me. I grinned.
'Do you know how beautiful you are?' I said quietly.
She shook her head. 'I thought you were asleep?'
'I think I still am. If this is a dream I don't want to wake up.'
She came and sat on the edge of the bed and lowered her face to mine, kissed me gently and brushed a hand through my hair. 'I love all your tacky lines, baby.'
I grinned again. 'They're the only ones I know.'
She kissed me again and then pushed her face into my neck while I wrapped my arms around her back and held her tightly. 'I missed you,' she whispered. 'Have you had a good day?'
She sat up and listened while I told her what I'd been doing, rolling her eyes as I knew she would as I recounted the movies at the Scala. Kate accepts my love of crazed cinema with a tolerance that really should earn her a medal, and always does her best to show interest when I insist on subjecting her to a new Chow Yun-Fat flick or an old sixties Godzilla movie. You've gotta love a girl like that.
'I bought you something,' I said, running my fingers slowly between her breasts and down to her tiny bellybutton, dipping my finger in the minute hollow of her stomach.
'I know, I saw it on the chair,' she said, and the smile that she gave me was brighter than the morning sunrise. 'You shouldn't have.'
'Yes I should,' I replied. 'You've been working hard today, and I've done nothing.'
She slid her hand along my chest and onto the cool cotton of the sheet. 'Yeah, but you needed to relax, and it sounds like you have,' she said. I dropped my eyes from hers and watched her fingers move down and circle the rise in the sheet that my erection was causing. Her thumb brushed the end just once, agonisingly gently, and I felt myself jerk under her palm. 'Not totally relaxed though, right?'
I lifted myself upwards and kissed her once again. 'How can I be when you doing that?'
She giggled, kissed my mouth, cheek and then whispered into my ear. 'I'm going to see what you've got me, and then I'll be back to sort things out.'
I watched her walk over to the chair, shrugging the shirt off her shoulders as she did so and draping it across the end of the bed. The drapes were still open, and at that moment the moon chose a perfect time to make it's reappearance, spilling across Kate's body and highlighting the white silk of her underwear. She reached down for the silver package, tucking a strand of loose hair behind her ear as she did so, picked up the box and read the small message that I'd left on the attached tag. What I wrote is the only thing I won't reveal to you. Some things are just too precious to share.
My angel looked back up at me. 'I don't deserve to be told that,' she said softly.
'You deserve it all the time, honey,' I replied, but I had to swallow hard before I could say it. I've looked at Kate many, many times over the last few years and felt love for her, but I can faithfully say that it had never been more strong or powerful an emotion than what I felt at that instant.
Our eyes stayed locked on each other for a moment, and then she carefully rested the box on the end of the bed and began to slide the bows loose from the paper. The purple-haired girl had wrapped the package beautifully, and Kate took her time in revealing it, pulling the silver paper away gently whereas I would have just torn into it. Finally the wrapping was gone, and after contemplating the white box for a second she raised the lid and looked inside.
Even before she'd taken out the gift the expression on her face was worth everything, was the reason that I felt about her the way that I did. She glanced up at me with the kind of excitement in her eyes that's usually reserved for small children on Christmas morning, and I couldn't hide my grin as she lifted the beautiful green material out of the box and held it up infront of her.
'Oh, baby,' she whispered. 'You remembered?' When I didn't answer she finally took her eyes from the dress and looked at me. 'You shouldn't have bought this, it's was too much.'
I sat up and crossed my legs under the sheet, rested my elbows on my knees. 'Do you like it?'
'You know I do. I love it.'
'Then that's all that matters. I'd give away my world if I thought it would make you smile the way you're doing right now.'
And I meant it too. It would soon be four years since I'd first seen Kate walking into a bar early one evening with a couple of friends, the skin on her face flushed from the cold air that was whipping around London that spring. I'd been playing acoustic guitar while a good friend of mine, Stevie Monaghan, was blowing harmonica and working through a collection of Dylan tunes in his soft Scottish voice. Both me and Stevie worked the bar and gigged occasionally for a little extra cash to boost our incomes; he was a struggling chef and I was writing reviews for the New Musical Express and contemplating going freelance. Both of us were broke, as are the thousands who come to the big city every year to try and make their mark. Working at Murphys was a godsend, plus we stayed warm at night and got a few beers tossed in if we were lucky.
So Kate sat at the bar, and I literally couldn't take my eyes off her. She was wearing a long grey coat that wrapped itself around her and her hair was tied back and fell lazily over one shoulder. I kept staring as I rattled out bar-chords and Stevie sang 'All Along The Watchtower', and when she looked directly at me I felt my heart do a little double-skip. We finished our set to minor applause and I took my position behind the bar to finish my shift, still unable to stop looking at her. She caught my eye a few times and I found myself blushing; this girl was making me feel about fourteen again. I got her and her friends another round of drinks and finally my tongue started to work, and before I knew it we were talking as much as the demands of other customers would let us. Before she left she asked when we'd be playing again, and when I said tomorrow night she replied that she'd be there. The next night Stevie and I were four songs in and halfway through Neil Young's 'Like A Hurricane' when she came through the door, and I was so surprised and nervous to see her that I totally flubbed a chord, much to Steve's disgust. After we'd finished I sat with her at the bar and we talked until closing time, before heading out into a night full with sharp needles of cold against our faces. We walked along the Thames and ate an all-night cafe and just talked and talked. I finally hailed her a cab at three a.m and she kissed me and gave me her number, and I watched her disappear from view before starting my long walk home. Even then, after only one night, I knew a small part of me loved her. The girl had worked her way into my soul...
It took a mere fraction of time for me to recall in my mind what I've just related, and I pushed my memories aside while I watched my girl raise the dress up against the moonlight before holding it against her body, obscuring her simple white lingerie. 'How does it look?' She asked.
I sighed. 'Looks good. It would be better on you though.'
She glanced up and saw my grin, then poked her tongue out at me. 'Do you want me to try it now?'
'Definitely. Just the thought of you wearing it is turning me on,' I said, and indicated down at the lump between my legs that was still covered with the sheet, although in truth it wasn't just the dress. It was seeing her walk around the room wearing virtually nothing, her slender body lit by the soft lamplight and her dark hair falling across her shoulders that was also to blame.
She moved back around the bed and leant in to kiss me briefly on the forehead, twisting away from me before I could wrap an arm around her back and pull her down. After she'd crossed over to the bedroom door, the dress folded over one arm, she stopped and looked back at me.