Juicy Lucy Coslett naked in the mirror, twisting left then right inspecting the taut lines of her swimmer’s body. Juicy Lucy pouting, bending, hands caressing silky pink skin still shower slick, fingers creeping the taut curve of her belly, quivering closer for the tight lines of her Brazilian wax. Eyes in the mirror, eyes right into Iain’s soul, and there it was, his Big Moment, and then preparations for Big Night could resume for the third time.
After he had put the cushions back to neatness and turned Nana’s photo on the mantelpiece round the right way.
Him and Juicy Lucy together for how long was it? Nursery, so his Nana reckoned, and he remembered primary school, this blur of golden curls pretty much every one of his memories. High school the high point, both of them top set everything, time and again top girl and top boy on stage for their awards. It didn’t matter she went to unit without him, those dark twenties, they were behind them now. Him and Juicy Lucy together again at last. It was going to be perfect.
They were having duck, Gressingham duck breasts, skin lovingly massaged with fine Maldon salt, crisped to a heavenly crunch then placed – skin side up – in the oven to allow the thick layer of fat to render into a delicious sauce. He’d heard her talking, duck her favourite, but she’d never have duck like this. The bought special wine thermometer said her favourite Chardonnay was at the perfect temperature, but there was also three different kinds of foreign beer because he was sure he’d heard her mention it just as the lift doors closed.
The dining room was already perfect, Nana’s best china and cutlery, and obviously pride of place given to her hand crocheted placements she saved for best.
Iain took himself up to his Nana’s room and stood in front of her full length mirror. He was already the man in black, everything dull black, nothing that reflects. He had a pot of black camouflage paint into which he dipped two fingers then began to draw circles around his eyes.
Lucy Coslett did own a full length of mirror but the only naked it reflected was a blur as she scurried past. Still enough for those honking great horns of cellulite to sound, and that flabby mess around her middle despite the yoga. She only stood full length in front of the mirror fully clothed, and even then – God – this top with these jeans, how paunchy did they make her look?
When the doorbell chimed she flew, slowing at the last step, counting to six by the front door. When the bell rang again she opened the door. Duncan grinned back at her. He raised both shopping laden arms aloft. Before he’d even set the bags on the kitchen counter she snuck the wine.
‘Chilled already, you wonderful man!’
The first decent gulp of Chardonnay began to work its magic.
‘God, I need this,’ Lucy said. ‘After the week I’ve had.’
‘He’s still, uh…?’
‘Oh God, yes. That man gives me the creeps. The way he-‘
She paused, bright light streaming through the gaps in the kitchen curtains from the outside security light.
‘Probably a cat,’ she said.
‘Or a fox.’
The light went out.
Duncan said, ‘The way he…?’
She shuddered as she gulped more wine.
‘Everyone knows when I shut my office door I’m changing for the gym, or for court. He knocks, then a nanosecond later he’s pushing his stupid little mail cart through, I swear he-‘
The light came on again.
‘Bloody thing,’ Lucy said. She reached behind the curtain and switched off the light. She smiled at Duncan. ‘No more interruptions. Right, where were we?’
Duncan sipped his own wine.
‘You were telling me about Dodgy Iain, how he’s started bursting in unexpectedly…’