“What!” Alice cried, looking at the recently finished art display in the main corridor.
“That dirtbag didn’t use any of your pieces,” Joseph huffed.
“He hates me,” Alice sighed.
“He’s a major bitch,” Joseph sighed. “And that’s saying something coming from me.”
Alek Jeffries, the TA in her Art class had taken an immediate dislike to Alice. He took every given opportunity to bring her down, insult her work or belittle her in front of others. Now he’d left her art out of the school display, yet again, despite the teacher specifically telling her that her work was inspirational and should be included for sure.
“I’ll give him withering stares,” Joseph offered.
“Oh! We could start a rumour about him?” Ed offered, chiming in the for first time. He’d been deeply engrossed in whatever he was doing on his phone—probably trolling for dates on Grindr.
“Na, we ain’t that bitch,” Alice said. Giving him mean looks and laughing behind his back was one thing. She wouldn’t ever go further than that, it would only bring her down to his level.
“I feel like we need to do something though,” Ed sighed. “He’s such a dick to you.”
“Maybe he secretly fancies you,” Joseph suggested. He seemed to think that every straight guy was after Alice.
“I doubt that’s it,” Alice disagreed. She could tell if a guy was into her. Usually.
When they walked into the Art room Alek stared daggers at her.
‘What did I ever do to you?’ Alice wondered. She tried to forget about him during the duration of the lesson, concentrating on getting the first painting of her coursework planned. She was using the style of Jenny Saville, creating a large portrait with oils. Something about Saville’s composition choices and use of colour were fascinating to Alice. She couldn’t stop looking at her creations.
Alek waltzed over, interrupting Alice in the middle of her painting. Not that he cared.
“These were too big for the board,” he said, dropping Alice’s work onto the desk as though it was a pile of dirty washing for the laundrette. “You’ll have to take them home. I have nowhere to store them.”
“Okay,” Alice said through gritted teeth without looking up. It was better not to give him the reaction he so clearly wanted. Getting upset and complaining only made him feign niceness to show her up as the bad guy.
“Great, how am I going to get this lot home?” Alice sighed.
“I’ll drive you, sweetie,” Joseph offered.
“You’re a good friend,” Alice smiled.
After school, Alice returned to the art room with Joseph to collect her work. Unsurprisingly it had been dumped in a pile by the sink with all the used brushes. A green splotch marred the corner of one of her most beloved pieces of work.
“Great,” Alice huffed. She was getting sick and tired of being treated like a second-class citizen in this lesson. Alek was lovely to the other students, treating their work with great care and praise, even the ones who—Alice hated to say—had zero artistic talent.
“We’ll fix it,” Joseph assured her. Ever the gentleman, he picked up her work and took it out to his car. After placing it carefully in the boot of his Corsa they got going. For the first time all week, Jamie was home which was a relief. Alice hated scrambling about the yard for the key which was never where her mum told her it was.
“Oh my, who is that?” Joseph whispered, grabbing Alice’s arm as if he’d just spotted a celebrity at the local theatre.
“Erm, my brother?” Alice frowned. Joseph had already met him on previous occasions.
“That isn’t your brother,” Joseph gasped. “He looks so different.”
“Hands off,” Alice warned, seeing the look Joseph was giving her little brother. “He’s too innocent for the likes of you.”
It was weird to see Joseph acting this way over a guy. He was usually the one being chased. Joseph had a habit of snaring guys, making them fall for him, sleeping with them and then never speaking to them again. As much as Alice loved and adored Joseph as a friend, he was not exactly the first lover she’d want for her precious sibling.
“Hi,” Jamie said. His eyes lingered on Joseph for just a second longer than normal. He put down the bowl of brown sauce he was mixing and came over to look at Alice’s paintings.
“So amazing. I can’t believe I have such a talented sister,” Jamie said.
“Alek doesn’t think so,” Alice grumped.
“Fuck him,” Jamie said. It was weird to hear him using profanity so casually. Another behaviour change she’d noticed since meeting his new friends.
“Hmm,” Joseph nodded, agreeing with Jamie who was now leaning over him to grab the next painting from the pile. It was cute how much he loved to see her work, being that he had no artistic hobbies of his own, besides cooking if you wanted to count that.
“What are you making?” Alice asked.
“Chocolate fudge sauce,” Jamie said.
“Oh, let me try, please,” Joseph asked, eyes sparkling. He had such a sweet tooth.
Jamie took the spoon and fed Joseph some of the sauce.
“Oh my, that is the best thing I’ve ever had in my mouth,” Joseph sighed. “And I’m not just saying that to suck your dick.”
“Huh?” Jamie frowned.
“It’s a saying,” Joseph explained.
“It’s really not,” Alice laughed. “The saying is ‘I’m not just saying that to blow smoke up your arse.’”
“Which is just as inappropriate, right?” Joseph asked Jamie who just laughed in response. “I mean… who literally blows anything up another person’s arse?”
“He likes to make up his own idioms and phrases,” Alice tried to explain away her friend’s weird comment to her amused brother.
“I like it,” Jamie grinned at Joseph. “I’m going to steal it.”
“Seriously though, I need some more of that chocolate fudge in my life,” Joseph begged.
“It’s for my cake,” Jamie explained. “I’ll bring you both up a piece.”
“You’re an angel,” Joseph said, practically drooling over him. Alice had to grab him by the arm and pull him away.
“No,” she warned her friend sternly.
“Oh, what!” Joseph cried. “He was the one flirting with me. Didn’t you see? He touched my leg when he leaned over me. It was so on purpose.”
“No way,” Alice refused to believe it. “My little bro isn’t like that.”
“I feel like little bro is growing up,” Joseph commented.
Eventually, the conversation turned to other issues. The pair sat on Alice’s bed discussing everything from past boyfriends to part-time jobs and bad first dates. They never ran out of stuff to tell each other; this was why Alice loved the friendship so much. In many ways, the friends differed, but in their ability to chat for hours on end they were identical.
As Joseph told a story Alice felt her phone vibrate in her pocket.
What she found when she opened the message was so shocking, she dropped the phone. As she lent over to pick it up Joseph caught a glimpse.
“Oh my God,” he gasped. “You’ve been naughty.”
In a panic, Alice closed the picture message. It was a picture of her bending over in the maid outfit. The image didn’t exactly leave a lot to the imagination.
Underneath the text read, “I though it was only polite to let you know I just wanked over this.”
Alice read it and re-read it, mouth hanging open in shock.
“Who is that?” Joseph cried. “You never said you have a man in your life.”
“I don’t… honestly,” Alice said, for the first time telling him the truth.
“But someone has a super revealing picture of you?” Joseph pressed. “How does that happen?”
“I… erm… I—” Alice tried to think up a lie but ended up spilling every sordid little detail. By the end of it, Joseph’s mouth was hanging so far open she thought his jaw might hit the floor.
“Woah, Adam Hargreaves,” Joseph said, shaking his head and letting out a huge sigh. “I’ve heard some very unpleasant stories about him. You need to be wary. He isn’t some misunderstood but ultimately loveable bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks. He is a legit criminal who hurts people for fun.”
“I know, I know… but it’s Jamie. I had to do something. One thing sort of led to another and…” Alice made a face that said, ‘What can you do?’
As though hearing his name, Jamie appeared, knocking on the door with cake. Alice gave Joseph a very pointed look, indicating for him to stay schtum about the whole deal with Adam.
Jamie wegded himself on the bed between the friends. Alice did notice how close he was to Joseph, but there was literally nowhere else to sit in her tiny box room.
“This cake is perfect,” Joseph gushed. “It’s sweet and rich and balanced with the perfect ratio of frosting to sponge.”
“Bloody heck,how much British Bake Off have you been watching?” Alice giggled.
“What?” Joseph moaned. “I like Paul Hollywood. He has such blue eyes.”
“Eww, he’s like… old,” Jamie grimaced.
“I like an experienced man,” Joseph shrugged. It was weird to hear her friend and her brother discussing men like this.
“He’s also, you know, not gay,” Alice interjected. Joseph shrugged this fact away as a minor inconvenience.
When Jamie had finished his cake, he used his finger to scrape up the remaining fudge frosting and licked his fingers, while Joseph watched with hungry eyes.
‘This is weird,’ Alice thought. She’d never seen Joseph acting this way before. He’d usually retain an air of uninterested mystery around the guys he wanted to sleep with. They unfalteringly came to him.
When her brother got up and left Alice turned to Joseph with brows raised in question. “What was that all about?”
“I know… he was so flirting with me. Weird, right?” Joseph said.
Alice shook her head. “It was you.”
“No way, didn’t you see how he squeezed my leg as he got up?” Joseph asked.
“He did not,” Alice said, refusing to believe it.
“Oh crap, I have to get going, I have a shift at the Indigo Shark,” Joseph said, jumping up and gathering his keys, bag, and coat. He’d been working at the bar for a few months and had yet to turn up on time once. It was a good thing the owner liked him.
“Bye,” Alice said, giving him a kiss on the cheek.
She followed him to the door and caught her brother taking selfies in the bathroom as she walked back up the stairs. Instead of being embarrassed, he ran over to Alice to show her how many likes his picture had gotten.
“Wow,” Alice smiled. It was nice to see him being happy with himself for a change. It made her dangerous dealings with Adam worth the hassle.
“You weren’t flirting with Joseph, were you?” Alice asked.
Jamie laughed as if it were the funniest thing he’d ever heard. “Me? Flirting?”
Alice chuckled as she went back to her room. As soon as she was alone and behind a locked door, she reopened the picture message from Adam to find he’d sent another message.
“Send me some more pictures. Nude ones.”
“It hasn’t been a week,” Alice replied.
“Yeah, I decided I can’t be bothered to wait. You do what I say, when I say from now on. Capish?”
“Do I have a choice?” Alice messaged back. It was a pointless question. She already knew the answer.
“Of course. But I’ve made your little bro incredibly happy. I can undo it all so easily,” he replied.
“Okay, give me a minute,” Alice said.
Like last time she plastered on makeup. After a random flash of inspiration, she decided to pull her hair up into a high ponytail. It looked good.
She pulled off her clothes, feeling dirty and naughty and almost turned on in a weird way. Something about the seediness of the situation was doing it for her even though she didn’t like to admit it, even to herself.
She posed and clicked, taking almost a hundred pictures in an obsessive desire to get the perfect image. They had to be amazing if there was any chance they might get leaked onto the net. Having naked pictures online was one thing but having embarrassingly bad ones was a whole other kettle of fish.
She deliberately turned her face away, looking down in most of the pictures. This way it would be more difficult to identify her. It wasn’t as if she had many defining features.
When she finally selected the perfect pictures and sent them Alice went to bed. She was drifting off to sleep when she heard her phone buzz.
“Nice,” the message read.
A few minutes later he sent another.
“Don’t think I didn’t notice you hiding your face. I might make you do it again.”
Alice sighed heavily.
“I’m in bed now,” she messaged back in the hopes he would get the hint.
He rang her.
‘Why are you ringing me?’ Alice panicked. She hated phone calls with a passion and wondered how people had coped with the social anxiety of it before messengers and texts.
“He’s going to be pissed if I ignore it,” Alice muttered to herself as she pressed the green ‘accept’ button.
“I don’t care if you’re in bed,” Adam said, without bothering to say hello. “If I tell you to do it you get up and do it.”
“Please just let me go to sleep,” Alice begged, trying to make her voice sound as tired as she felt. “Please, Adam.”
“Hmm, yeah, whatever but I want some more tomorrow, and you have to be staring at the camera. Okay?” he asserted.
“Okay,” Alice agreed. She didn’t really have a choice.
“I like them though. The ponytail,” he said and made a kissing noise.
Somehow, she’d know he would like it.
“I’m going to get you to wear your hair like that while I fuck you from behind and pull on it,” he said.
“Ahhh,” Alice almost choked on her own spit. She had no idea what to say to that. Was he serious?
“Would you like that?” he asked.
“Erm—I… I don’t know…” Alice stammered and mouth, ‘What the fuck?’
“I’m gonna do it either way,” Adam said.
“How did your meeting go?” Alice asked in a desperate bid to change the topic of conversation.
“Oh… that. Yeah, it was alright. She was impressed with the tidying so well done you,” Adam laughed.
“Great. I’m glad,” Alice said.
She realised she was smiling, and worse, that she genuinely cared about how his meeting had gone.
“You’re a fucking weirdo,” Adam scoffed.
Alice shook her head in shock. ‘Where did that come from?’
“I’ll text you tomorrow, aight?” he said and hung up.
Alice laid back down and stared up at the ceiling with wide eyes.
She stayed that way for the next two hours, replaying the conversation in her head.
When Alice woke up, she felt a little better about her situation, weirdly, considering the position she was in. At least she now knew Adam was using the pictures for “personal use” and not for plastering over the internet like a bitch.While it was creepy to think about it, it was also a compliment. Her ex used to look at porn all the time and it made Alice feel like she wasn’t attractive enough. Now she was the porn. Even though she was being forced and putting herself completely at the mercy of another person, something about having him look at her that way felt almost empowering. She was almost excited about taking nude pictures. As weird as that was to admit.Looking over at her phone, Alic
Alice stared at the message from Adam for a full five minutes before sighing, “I’m going to need more than just one drink.”“Did you say something, Hun?” Joseph asked. He was dithering behind the bar, doing little cleaning jobs that never got done when the place was packed. When he wandered over, cleaning a glass with a yellow cloth, it made Alice feel like she was staring in a film. There literally hadn’t been a bartending scene in history, ever, where the bartender wasn’t polishing a glass with a dirty cloth.She considered asking for a dirty martini with two olives on a cocktail stick but ultimately went with something more familiar.
When Alice woke up her mouth felt as though she’d spent the prior evening eating mouthfuls of sand followed up with bleach chasers. As the haziness in her brain subsided the memories came flooding in, filling every corner of her mind and making her feel somewhat nauseous.‘I sucked his dick,’ she thought. The strangest thing about it was how guilty she felt. It wasn’t as if she had a boyfriend anymore, and even if she did… he was a cheating scumbag. Adam was only a year or so younger so she was fine on that front too… the age gap might seem odd now but when he was 30 and she was 31 it wouldn’t be significant enough to even class as a gap.It was the inherent seediness
Ste was just tidying away the brushes from his art lesson when they appeared. His old gang plus his replacement. Every time he saw Jamie it felt like a kick straight to his stomach.He’d offered to help clean up the classroom in a desperate attempt to avoid Adam and the others. Normally, they wouldn’t have thought to look for him here, being a bunch of underachieving delinquents, but Jamie was different. He was smart.“Aren’t you the good little boy, offering to help the teacher,” Reece commented. He picked up a piece of artwork that was drying on the side, gave it a look of contention then dropped it like it was a piece of trash. After giving his input Reece turned away from the gr
Alice was sitting in an English lesson when she received the dreaded message.“At 11am you will call me for phone sex.”‘Phone sex??!!’ Alice cried internally. ‘I can’t have phone sex! What even is phone sex?’11am was break time at Adam’s school. Alice knew this since she’d gone to the same place before deciding to give it up in favour of the local college. Her school offered the same choices, but something about going to college made her feel grown-up. Independent.
On the walk to the bus stop, Alice was still deep in thought about Alek. Was it possible the TA was attracted to her? Or was Joseph just being Joseph.She was concentrating so intensely that she failed to notice Josh trying to get her attention. Glancing up, she frowned as she found him waving his art folder at her, saying, “Hello, world to Alice.”“Sorry, Josh,” Alice said, wondering why Josh had dashed over and flagged her down. Aside from the odd hello or sporadic conversations about paintbrushes, they hadn’t really spoken before.“Hey Alice, I sent you a friend request,&rd
When Dad dropped her at home Alice waved bye and rushed into the house. After an unseasonably warm Autumn, the weather was just beginning to cool down and the first signs of frost were appearing, glittering the tips of lawns and the edges of car windows.A blanket of warm air enveloped Alice as she entered her home. She searched the house for Jamie and found him in his room.“That was a real dick move,” she scolded him, bursting into his bedroom without walking.“Learn to knock,” Jamie tutted.
Ste squeezed through the crack in the fence, his trainers sliding on the wet mud and grass as he tried to unhook his shirt from a splinter in the wooden panel. He was ten over ten minutes late so figured Adam and the other would definitely be in class by now. They had to be.He spun on his heels to find Jamie staring him down with cat-like eyes.“Shit,” Ste gasped, an involuntary slip of the tongue. He didn’t bother to apologise or explain his outburst. “Where are the others?”“In class, I presume,” Jamie said. “You are ten minutes late, you know?”