Exclusive Look Inside: Man-Eater

All that Kathy ever wanted was for somebody to love her as much as she loved them.

After a brief tussle, David was on top of her again, his sweat trickling down on her as he thrust inside her over and over. All of that weight—the mechanical inevitability of each thrust and groan—was like riding a mechanical bull, except she was trying to buck it off instead of the other way around.

Did David love her? She knew that she loved him. She wouldn’t be lying here, legs all twisted up at odd angles, crotch aching and insides churning with cheap beer and agonising friction if she didn’t. She tried to look into his eyes, to see her love reflected back at her from inside them, but he was staring into the pillow, eyes slack and unfocused, mouth hanging open and drool pooling at the corners, clinging to the stubble of the day. There were no answers to be found in that vacant face, not after a long night at the pub.

He didn’t love her the way that her father had loved her mother, all sharp words and blunt fists. She knew that for certain. David was slow with his fists, even when some fool deserved it, and he was so soft on her that it made her feel uncomfortable sometimes. He was so soft that she could push her fingers right inside him like his skin was just the skin on a pudding.

He didn’t love her in the way that the little animals that she’d rescued from the roadside and nursed back to health loved her, with the unconditional adoration and terror of someone meeting their god. He wasn’t obedient and cowed like an animal would be. He certainly had some animal in him, but it only came out in places like this, when his rutting and grunting and growling were somehow acceptable.

She didn’t even know if he could love through the haze of booze that had been hanging around him all day. When he’d picked her up on the back of his motorbike this morning, his breath was already strong enough to strip paint. He must have spent the whole night out drinking with his buddies. One last night of freedom, he’d said. Freedom. Like she was some prison he was being sent to. Like she would ever stop him from doing what he wanted instead of helping him on his way.

Who the hell did he think he was, talking about her like she was a punishment instead of being the only good thing in his shitty, little life? How dare he make a joke out of her? She started thrashing underneath him, raking at his back with her nails. Thrusting up against him as hard as she could, desperate to throw the rotten bastard off her. He probably couldn’t even feel it through the booze. All he did was make appreciative little moans.

No matter how she twisted and pushed, he just seemed to love it more—maybe this was the only way he knew how to love her, with his big meaty hands clamped on to her hips and her hair spread across the pillows. Maybe that was enough, these moments of total adoration in exchange for spreading her legs? Her mother had always told her to just go along with what men wanted to make them happy. It had been about the only good advice the old hag ever gave anybody. Kathy was tough enough to take it. She was tough enough to take on anything.

She’d proven that every day in the charnel house. Men blanched when they saw guts and blood for the first time, but Kathy took to it like a fish to water. Her knives, her precious knives, moved through that dead meat like sharks through the water, smooth and perfect, never making a ripple out of place until she wanted them to. At work, they might have feared her smart mouth a little, but they feared those knives the most. She’d offered to settle any argument or score that folks had with her with her by the knife and not one of them had balls big enough to try. If it were up to her, she’d carry those knives with her everywhere she went, but her fist served just as well when one of the women or, more often, men, in the pub had a wrong word to say about her and her man.

Her man. It was worth it. To be loved, to be truly loved for the very first time in her life. It was definitely worth lying back and pretending that every drop of sweat didn’t sting like acid. To pretend to be as soft as he needed her to be. As soft as he was under the tough mask that he put on to impress folks.

With just a little of his blood under her fingernails, Kathy stopped clawing at him. She could do this for him, she loved him and, at the end of the day, it wasn’t really all that bad. She even found she could enjoy it when she wasn’t trapped inside her own head. She envied David for having it that easy; for being able to close his eyes, inhabit his body and just feel things instead of spending all his time lost in the echo chamber of his memories, repeating some snide comment that one of his cousins made about their wedding ceremony being held in a registry office, and how it was no surprise that the bride wasn’t wearing white.

Had Kathy had her knives with her, she would have painted that bitch’s dress red at that moment. Instead, she’d let herself get dragged along by David, twirled out onto the makeshift dance floor in the bar for their first dance together as man and wife. He’d been so drunk that he trod on her toes and let out his stupid gruff laugh when she stamped on his in return. She reached up to cup his face in her hands. He was hot to the touch. She took him upstairs.

Eyes closed and grunting with the effort. Determined to hammer her right through the bed and into the floor. The headboard of the bed was clattering against the wall with every thrust and, on their hook above the bed, Kathy’s knives jangled along like a musical accompaniment to their lovemaking.
She’d had more than a few beers right alongside David tonight. She was allowed to celebrate, too—it wasn’t all about him. It wasn’t all about him getting to haul her eighteen-year-old ass back to bed and grunt on top of her and then go off to hoot with triumph about it to all of his stupid friends. This was what she wanted. Kathy kept repeating that to herself every time he hammered into her, every time it felt like she was going to tear in half. This was what she wanted. She wanted the husband. She wanted to have kids and settle down and do everything right, the way that her own shitty parents had never managed to. She wanted it all. She wanted to be loved.

If that love burned a little, then she would let it burn her. There were far worse fates than to be warm at night, cradled in the shelter of a big, strong body. She wanted this. She had wanted this for as long as she’d been old enough to know what a man could be to a woman. It was true enough that she could never wear a white wedding dress without lying because she’d been chasing after this love since she was old enough to run. The boys back at school had been on the receiving end of her fists a lot more often than they’d gotten under her shirt, but she put that down to being raised by a pair of bad examples. Dad’s example had led her to being free with her fists and mum’s example had led her to being free with her tits.

Now, she was old enough to know right and wrong for herself. Old enough to recognise that the map her parents had laid out for her led to nowhere but loneliness and misery. Her reputation might have been tarnished by her school years, but she’d swung at anyone who tried to keep her dirty when she was trying to clean herself up. David wasn’t the first man she’d ever been with, not by a long shot, but he was the first one that she felt like she could trust. The first one that she gave herself to fully, instead of trying to hide inside her head when the clothes came off, the way that she had when she was a little girl.

David was getting faster and faster, his eyes still squeezed shut, even though his face was held between her hands and Kathy was kissing him with a passion that surprised even her. The jangling of the knives above them was like sleigh-bells. His breathing had a hitch in it and, for a moment, sore as she was, Kathy felt the spark of lust light up inside her. She didn’t just want this. She wanted him.

She’d wanted him after the two of them staggered home together that night. She’d wanted him when he picked her up, carried her over the threshold, kicked the door shut and dumped her into the bed. Right up until the moment that he’d stripped her out of her dress and climbed on top of her for the first time, she had been electric, desperate for him and arching up into every touch. But, the moment that he was actually inside her, she vanished back inside herself. Every grunt echoed in the dark cavity of her mind, coming back louder with a dozen bad memories coming along to keep it company.

The first time they’d ever made love, she bit his lip and he’d called her a bitch, but he hadn’t stopped. Just like none of the others had stopped no matter how she squealed and hollered. She’d stopped biting him now. Her old defensive instincts had grown lax. She really was getting soft.

The first time that they consummated their marriage that night, she had given him nothing harsher than kisses and he’d given her nothing gentler than the same methodical, mechanical pounding that he always did. No matter what she did, it always turned out the same.

Ten minutes after that first attempt, she’d wrapped her lips around him and started off round two with a distended grin. She knew what was expected of her as a wife. She knew that she had to let him do everything to her and she had to act like she liked it. She’d learned that much at least. If this was how he showed his love then she wanted it all. Every sweaty, painful moment of it.

This third time, she’d climbed right on top of him the minute he finished and started slithering all over him. Smearing the two of them with sweat, dragging her smooth skin over his rough hairy chest and stirring his passion up all over again. This belonged to her. This night was all about the two of them and there was no way that she was going to let it end. He couldn’t turn her down. He could never turn her down. All she wanted was his love. Rejection was an impossibility. A betrayal. It had taken only three slides up and down him before he was ready to go again.

Now, it was almost over. She could feel him clenching up above her. Felt those violent thrusts get harder, deeper and slower. He let out a noise like a deflating balloon when he finished, then he rolled off her, gasping, ‘I swear, keep on like this and you’re going to kill me, woman.’

She lay there for a long moment letting the cold seep into her. The ache was still there between her legs, but there was a sweetness to it now, a longing. This time, when she climbed back on top of him, it wasn’t just going to be for him. It was going to be for the both of them. She was going to feel whatever it was that he felt when they were making love. She was going to be complete, like the other girls got to be with their sweethearts. She was going to feel the good as well as the bad.

David’s cheek bristled her when she kissed it. His breath stung her eyes as it gusted out of him in shallow puffs. His eyes were shut, but they weren’t clenched shut as they’d been in the heat of the moment—his whole face was slack, even looser than the beer usually made him. She climbed on top of him and fumbled around in the soggy mess where their bodies joined. She was trying to line everything up, but David was being awkward, flopping limply in her grip in a way that he never did. She let out a little growl and jerked at him, trying to get the motor running again.

With a dirty laugh, she leaned in close to kiss him on the lips, but she stopped when he made another of his little animal noises. Not quite a grunt, not quite a breath. Her eyebrows drew down. She knew that sound. A moment later, another snore joined the second. The bastard had fallen asleep. This was her night and he was sleeping through it. He wasn’t here with her. He’d shut his eyes and left her behind. He’d abandoned her. It was their wedding night and he’d fucking left her.

She untangled her hands from his nethers and took a grip on his broad shoulders instead. ‘Wake up, honey.’

It took all her considerable strength to lift him and drop him back onto the mattress, but he didn’t even stir. She shook him. Slapped him. Hammered her fist into his shoulder. ‘Wake up, you piece of shit!’

He was still ignoring her. Still leaving her behind. Her hands slipped up over his thick-corded shoulders, trailing up his collar, leaving tracks in the cooling sweat. ‘David. Wake up. Wake up! This is my wedding night! Wake up, you miserable bastard!’

Her fingers were as calloused and strong as any man’s from days on the tools and when they closed around his throat they were filled with terrible anger, born from pure, blind fury. When she crushed his windpipe in that grip, his eyes finally snapped open, but by then it was too late. His blushing, beautiful bride was gone and this other Kathy—one that he didn’t even know—had slipped into her place. Her face locked into a rictus of rage and hands locked around his throat.

Even his Kathy’s voice was gone. This one sounded more like a growling dog than anything human. ‘I’ll teach you a lesson you’ll never forget, you bastard.’

Man-Eater will be live on Amazon on 23rd January 2019