Max strolled along the promenade next to Bournemouth beach. It was a warm summer’s day, so tourists clustered in droves close to the pier. On the edge of the beach, Max found himself the perfect view of sun-lotioned, glistening bodies and bikini-clad breasts. It was beautiful. From such a vantage point, he could select a variety of potential conquests to prey upon. With his hotel just two minutes away, it was perfect. The sales conference had finished two days ago and he was simply enjoying the view.

In a matter of weeks, when he completed his contract, he would be free of her, the drain. He could have whatever he wanted – whoever he wanted. Max began the stroll back to his hotel and glanced at his reflection in one of the pier shop windows, he looked shattered. He wondered how much more emotional support he could provide Olivia. It was draining, but he was close to the payout.

A raven landed on a post close to where Max was admiring himself. It squawked but was ignored.

Max smoothed his hair; he had the image, but certainly did not have the collateral. He posed in his lavish car, chosen purely for sex appeal. He dealt in cars; he needed the best – of course. Admittedly, it was not his own, he could never afford such a vehicle with all his debt. Max turned his back to a group of giggling girls and watched them in the mirrored window. One particular petite blonde caught his eye and smiled back. He intended to ‘have’ her by the end of the day.

He glanced at his mobile phone, Olivia’s number was on the display ready to dial. He shook his head; Olivia was business, the blonde, on the other hand, was potentially unadulterated pleasure.




Olivia assembled her sketchbooks and shoved them into her green corduroy bag. She checked herself in the mirror and adjusted some of her dark ringlets. She searched her scalp for cuts – nothing. Why did she feel so bruised? She paused by the mirror, she’d changed so much of late. At least she was recognisable now, rather than the withdrawn skeleton she had been through her years of ‘escape’. The mind is a powerful tool, Olivia, but your body still needs to function. She rearranged her hair, picked up her bag and made her way out of her apartment.

Descending the remaining steps into the garage, Olivia clicked her car key. Her purple Peugeot sat waiting. It had been a birthday present from Max. She often wondered how he had raised the money.

Turning the key in the ignition, Olivia revved the engine and drove off at speed. The events of the morning spun through her mind. Some lively music would distract her. That was exactly what she needed: a distraction.

To make it to the Tate gallery in Pimlico, Olivia had to cross the Hammersmith Bridge and it was nearing rush hour. She was already late and the traffic would not be kind. What’s more, when she arrived she would have to deal with a sweaty, angry maniac. Olivia unconsciously shook her head. How do I explain?




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