She hates me. My casual betrayal the other night was the final straw and now my apartment is too empty, the posters on the walls staring down at me with accusing eyes. Of course Uri blew out of town the day after and now I've got no one. Bloody well serves me right, the dick I am.

But even assholes have feelings.

And I'm feeling decidedly sorry for myself. Third night in a row at The Event Horizon and rubbing shoulders with the pretty girls and boys kitted out in their funerary threads doesn't do jack shit for my state of mind. In Afrikaans it's called a gemoedsbekakking. I don't even think that translates into English save to say I'm in a shitty mood. A very shitty mood.

The few lines of Charlie I schnarff with Gavin up in his office do little to alleviate my wangst and even less to wipe the scowl from my face. Ja, so I was a douche bag for cheating on Gabby, okay? I admit it freely. She's so right for cutting me out of her life. But remorse after the fact can't gloss over the fact that I fucked up.

Or that the relationship was broken long before I offered the coup de grâce.

So ja, Lisa's pretty much left the bottle of Jim on the bar in front of me. She knows enough to not bother putting this on the tab. Gavin's treat, she tells me with a smirk. I think she's secretly pleased the proverbial paw-paw's hit the fan. The coke and the whiskey mingle, searing the back of my throat, yet nothing dulls that deep-rooted throb.

The familiar strains of an old Joy Division number only serves to drive the blade deeper and the people around me blur at the edges. I've lost control.

I see the woman the moment I lurch onto the dance floor. The strobe illuminates her face―a white mask among many. But it's her eyes that grab me. She's not Gabby. I know that. She's just some random Goth chick dancing on the stage, her arms describing serpentine arcs that trail phantom flashes so that for a moment she appears Kali-like.

Maybe it's my fevered state of mind, my limbs jerking in time to the beat, my heart stuttering and twitching my blood through veins that contract painfully to the tempo. I cannot stop staring.

It's usually me doing the mesmerising around here. I haven't looked at another woman for years. Now I've compromised myself and this woman must sense my desperation. My cheek still smarts with the week-old imprint of Gabby's palm. Oh, it was a scene, all right. The flavour of the week.

The woman licks her lips. Pretty lips, I may add. It's difficult telling what colour lipstick she's wearing save that it all looks black under the strobe's flutter, the insidious click-track that runs parallel to the music. Her hair is teased into a Siouxsie Sioux splendour. Old-style. Not the neon mess of synthetic dreads the kindergoths favour nowadays. Gods, I'm getting old.

It's inevitable that I feel the faint stirrings of lust. I need to be wanted. I need to know that someone finds me attractive. I need to affirm that this body is still etched in desire.

She knows I'm aware of her attention. Her lips are curved into a half smile as she steps onto the dance floor and weaves between the gyrating bodies; deftly steps aside when limbs are flung out. The woman makes her way to me and I swallow back the inevitability of her approach. A simple look is all it takes? Fuck me.

We dance facing each other, our bodies mirrors.

People will talk.

Oh, look, Jamie's hitting on some other girl tonight. Looks like it's definitely over between him and Gabby then.

They'll speculate about almost a decade gone down the tubes.

Ha! Maybe word will get back to Gabby. She'll have a good laugh at my expense.

So I was an idiot. It still didn't justify her causing such a scene.

Joy Division morphs into an old Sisters of Mercy track, the beat carrying me away on memories of other nights with painted faces and too much red wine.

My partner's eyes are pale. Must be contacts but who cares. I drown in her regard, her icy come-hither smile, and when Alice fades into Switchblade Symphony, I allow her to lead me away.

Her skin is cold, her fingers curled around mine loosely but I wouldn't be able to let go even if I tried. For once it's better to let someone else take charge, for me to go with the flow. I pretend to ignore the knowing glances. Oh, look, he's going upstairs, with a woman. We all know what happens next. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

Black lace tatters whisper up the stairs into the cloying darkness past Gavin's office.

"Where are you taking me?" I ask, bemused. The music thuds a faint heartbeat in counterpoint to my rushing pulse. No one really goes up to the second floor. A security gate bars our entrance to the long passage that yawns into nothingness.

The woman turns to face me then, the orange glare from a streetlight gleaming through the window onto her pale, pale skin.

"You are so beautiful," she says, her voice a sigh. She frames my face with chill palms and the cold flows from the contact, down my throat to lodge at the base of my spine. Her breath smells of cloves.


Someone nudges me into wakefulness. Why the hell am I sprawled so awkwardly, my head at an odd angle? Gavin is silhouetted against the blinding sunlight that halos him in the window's many panes.

"Hey, what the fuck, dude?"

I sit up but cannot stifle the groan that accompanies the steady throb of my head. What the hell? How the hell?

Gavin laughs then squints as he peers at me. "What's that on your neck?