No Future Ch. 46bybradley_stoke©
"I have a daughter as well," said Lakeisha while sprawled beside Alex on the double bed that dominated the bedroom of his small apartment. "She's older than Iris, your daughter. Her name's Lisa."
"Does she live at home?" Alex wondered.
"You could say that," Lakeisha replied. "She lives with my mother, her grandmother, in Maseru. In Lesotho."
"It's a small country in Southern Africa. That's where I come from, Alex."
"Oh," said Alex. They'd made love—several times now—but Alex had never thought to ask. He'd guessed from Lakeisha's accent that she probably hadn't been born in West London, but he'd not done much thinking beyond that. "She doesn't live in London?"
"I'm a student, Alex. A medical student. I live in a crappy dormitory to save money because the fees are so bloody exorbitant. There's no space for an eleven year old daughter."
"Eleven years old!"
"I was a teenager when my bastard of a husband made me pregnant. If it wasn't for him I'd have gone to medical school when I was a lot younger."
"How old are you?" asked Alex. He'd thought that because she was a student, Lakeisha would also probably be about the same age as Karen. Typical, though, for his love life to pass from one student to another. And now his separation was about to become a divorce. It was a good thing that his salary was more than enough for him to cover the expense.
"You don't ask a lady questions like that," said Lakeisha peevishly, but she squeezed Alex's limp penis in tapering black fingers tipped by viciously long purple fingernails.
"I just thought you were a lot younger."
"That's nice, Alex. And I am pretty young. A lot younger than you, that's for sure."
"Even though your daughter's eleven years old..."
"You had Iris late. I had Lisa early. That's all the difference there is."
Alex was already at the age when he could no longer make an accurate estimate of the relative age of women in their twenties. Mid-twenties. Late twenties. Early twenties. It was all much the same. Lakeisha was probably mid to late twenties, but in her case Alex's powers of discrimination were even further compromised. It was the first time in his life he'd ever had a black girlfriend. She was tall, slim and most undeniably black. Her hair was braided. There were stretch marks on her belly that were probably an outcome of pregnancy. And when she wasn't naked in bed she wore stylish frameless glasses.
The variety of lovers that Alex had known in his life was certainly ticking a lot of boxes, but more by chance than design. He was still rather nervous about mentioning, let alone introducing, his new girlfriend to friends and work colleagues. He knew there was nothing he should fear but he somehow felt that despite protestations to the contrary many of his male colleagues weren't as comfortable as they claimed to be about mixed-race relationships. Indeed, Alex wondered himself what people thought when they saw him in the park hand-in-hand with a black woman who was probably ten years younger than him. Did they think he was a lucky bastard? Or were they wondering how much he paid for her services? It wasn't so much Lakeisha's ethnicity that troubled Alex as the hostile assumptions of strangers.
Alex had met Lakeisha in the most natural and normal of circumstances. Unlike the other women he'd met since he separated from Isobel, there was no internet dating involved.
Alex's new washing machine had broken down and his supply of clean underwear and shirts had run out. It would be a day or so until the store could replace the washing machine which, as it was less than a year old, was most definitely still covered by warranty. So for the first time since he was a student, Alex had to find a launderette in which to wash his clothes. Such amenities were hard to find but he located one on his mobile phone's search facility that wasn't too far from his Hendon apartment, although he still had to drive there.
It was at the launderette that Alex met Lakeisha, but he'd not gone there with any expectation of meeting women. In fact, he actually tried to avoid attracting attention. Here he was, a man with a well-paid executive job and expensive clothes, dragging a black plastic bin-bag full of underwear, shirts, socks and jeans into a launderette where he was by far the most affluent person. The other people were of the sort Alex very rarely encountered. There were young women with their snotty noisy children. There was a middle-aged man dressed in baggy trousers with a baseball cap positioned at a peculiar angle on his head. There were two frighteningly obese women who were folding and unfolding sheets in a mysterious never-ending ritual that Alex couldn't hope to understand. And there was Lakeisha sitting by herself, legs crossed, a shoulder bag beside her while reading a thick dull-looking text book.
What puzzled Alex the most was the complexity of the washing machines. Where did he even begin? Fortunately most machines accepted debit cards so he didn't need to use coins, which was a worry that had tormented him from the time he'd parked his car and walked toward the launderette. Where would he find several pounds worth of change at this time in the evening? The instructions associated with the washing machines were confusing, even though they mostly employed diagrams rather than text. At home he normally just threw everything in the washing machine at the same temperature setting that was suggested by the men who'd installed it in the first place. Now the choices were frightening and intimidating.
"Can I help you?" asked Lakeisha when she saw how helpless Alex was.
"Errm..." said Alex who wasn't sure he wanted to admit his ignorance. "If you could..."
The progression from a fairly gauche conversation about Lakeisha's studies at Middlesex University and how long she'd lived in London to Alex asking her out on a date was not straightforward. Several times through their chat Alex was convinced that Lakeisha had lost interest in her and he was ready to pretend to be enthralled by the sight of his laundry tumbling around in the washing machine, but then conversation retuned to track. It was possible that she actually quite liked Alex's lack of conversational polish. She seemed genuinely interested in Ibex International and actually knew rather more about the company's products than he did. At one stage he speculated with her that she should work for the company but she was adamant that she wanted to finish her medical studies and qualify as a doctor.
"It's what my parents are paying my fees for, so I don't want to disappoint them," she said.
Alex and Lakeisha began a very tentative relationship. It took rather longer for sex to become part of the relationship than Alex was normally used to. Mind you, this was a natural consequence when you didn't meet a woman through an internet site where a mutual interest in sex was already predicated. It was actually Lakeisha rather than Alex who eventually took the initiative and this after he'd first taken her to his small apartment where the washing machine was by now in full working order and he'd finally put his vacuum cleaner to use to make the flat halfway presentable.
Alex wasn't disappointed in the sex they enjoyed together. His new girlfriend was different in so many ways from his previous lovers. She was less matter-of-fact than either Karen or Gabby. She was much more passionate than Isobel. She also smelt quite differently. Her bum was much more of a handful. She was more eager than any previous lover to position herself above him in a cowgirl pose and piston her body up and down on his penis. She was happy to give Alex both oral and manual stimulation, but extremely averse to any penetration that wasn't in her vagina and properly sheathed.
Lakeisha said relatively little about her own life and was more interested in hearing about Alex's. It was a while until Alex discovered that Lakeisha was married and that only after he'd confessed that he was. This was something he'd been anxious about. He was sure that the right thing to do was declare this early on and not after the relationship had stretched through several restaurant meals, many wine bars, four movies and a jazz concert. On the other hand, Lakeisha didn't seem at all surprised by his revelation. It made sense that a man of his age and relative affluence wouldn't be living in a relatively small apartment unless he'd lost a fair proportion of his accrued wealth in a costly separation or divorce.
Alex had now become belatedly aware there were yet more points of similarity between them with regards to marital separation which was that they both had daughters, although Lakeisha was reluctant to elaborate.
"Do you even like your daughter?" wondered Alex when the conversation about Lisa abruptly turned elsewhere.
Lakeisha looked at Alex with a flash of anger in her eyes, but when she saw that he was expressing the question more for information rather than as an accusation she nestled beside him on the sofa where they were sitting, still naked but with no expectation of sex.
"You misunderstand me, Alex," she said. "I love my daughter. I truly do. I talk to her every day by phone or internet. It's just that it hurts me to talk about her. I feel so guilty that I've abandoned her while I'm in London studying. She's old enough now to feel genuinely aggrieved at my absence, but I have to do something. I've tried to make up for the years of lost education that came from having an early pregnancy and being married to a bastard of a husband. It's been hard work. If I want my daughter to have the best, I have to be able to afford to give it to her."
"Why study in England rather than in South Africa where you could be living near your daughter?" asked Alex.
"And also be near my bastard husband..." said Lakeisha bitterly. "I don't think so."
"Is he that bad?"
"How bad does he need to be?"
"I'm not sure. You tell me."
"He drinks heavily. He whores. He beats me up when he has the chance. He's a bastard. I hate him."
"And your daughter..."
"He's her father. She doesn't quite see it the way I do. And anyway he's as sweet as a puppy whenever he's with her. Butter wouldn't melt in his mouth."
"You obviously don't like him," said Alex.
"In fact," admitted Lakeisha. "I don't think I've liked men at all for a long time."
Alex pondered this.
"But you like me," he said.
"You're the first man I've had sex with for a long time."
Alex felt sure he should be flattered, but he had sufficient self-awareness to question this.
"What's so good about me?" he wondered.
"I don't think you're going to be as bad as my husband. You don't look like the sort who'd whore, drink heavily, or beat me up."
Alex knew this assessment was very nearly absolutely true, at least as far as the last point was concerned. He most certainly wouldn't hit anyone. However, in the year or so of his separation he had stooped more than once to the advertised services of women on the internet who most certainly weren't looking for a steady relationship.
"What's wrong with other students?"
"They're just children, Alex," said Lakeisha snuggling up close to him. "I want a real man."
"A real man?" wondered Alex who'd been called many things in his life before but not that.
"Someone more mature," Lakeisha clarified. "And someone who can pay his way."