Dirty Game

Dirty Game by Jessie Keane Read Free Book Online

Book: Dirty Game by Jessie Keane Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jessie Keane
peering out nervously. ‘Seen enough?’ she demanded loudly, and the door closed. A curtain twitched again across the street. ‘Nosy old bitches,’ shouted Annie, and the curtain fell.
    She snatched up the case and started walking. She didn’t know where she was going or what she was going to do about a roof over her head. She’d think of something – she’d have to. She was deeply irritated to see that Billy had fallen into step beside her. Why didn’t he just bugger off? This was just what she needed, an idiot for company when she was on her uppers.
    ‘Has she chucked you out?’ asked Billy.
    ‘No, I’m off on my holidays. Of course she’s chucked me out. What else did you think when you saw this suitcase flying past your ear?’
    ‘What will you do?’ he asked. Billy was impervious to mockery and deaf to insults. He’d suffered them all his life. He was happy for the moment because he was at last talking to the beautiful Annie, the girl of his dreams, and she was talking back to him.
    ‘Who knows?’ Annie shrugged, but deep down she was worried. She wondered who else Ruthie had told about her and Max. This could turn out to be a difficult situation if she’d blabbed it about too much.
    It was starting to rain more heavily. People were diving for cover, ducking into shop doorways, heading for home. Home! She didn’t have a home now. She looked up and down the road and saw a big black car drawing nearer. Her heart seemed to stand still in her chest. The car drew level with them. Annie and Billy stopped walking. The back window wound down and Max looked out with cold blue eyes.
    ‘Fuck off, Billy, there’s a good lad,’ he said.
    Billy glanced between Max and Annie. He hesitated, but knew better than to disobey. He scuttled away up the rain-misted street and was soon lost to view. There wasn’t a soul about now. Annie’s hair was hanging around her shoulders in rat-tails, her mascara was running in the rain. She was shivering.
    The car door opened. ‘Get in,’ said Max.
    * * * 
    ‘Take a walk, Tony.’
    The driver got out and walked off, flicking his collar up and hunching his shoulders, into the rain. The windscreen wipers were still going. Ker thunk . Ker thunk . Ker thunk . Annie felt the sound inside her head. She felt as if she were going mad. Max just sat there, cool as you like. He was always cool. Usually, she liked that about him; but she didn’t like it now. It smelled of leather in here, and petrol, and expensive cologne. She felt as if she was going to throw up. Yet despite her fear she felt that old treacherous tug of attraction. Max had an aura of intense male sexuality. Even when he was looking at her as if he despised her, still she felt its pull.
    ‘Some men hit women,’ said Max.
    Annie’s head flicked round. She stared at him. He looked right back at her, dispassionately, like she was a bug wriggling on a pin.
    ‘My old man,’ Max went on, ‘was going to hit my mum once. Came home from the pub all tanked up and full of himself, she had a go, gave it some verbal, and then he thought he’d have a go. Funny how you remember these things.’
    Something was required of her. Annie worked some spittle into her dry mouth and swallowed before she could speak.
    ‘What happened?’ she asked, trying to make it sound casual.
    ‘I broke his arm,’ said Max. ‘In two places. Men who beat up women are scum. They’re not men at all.’
    Annie nodded. It was too soon to feel relieved, but still, she did. She knew Max had a strict code of honour. A man on equal terms, fair game. Women or children, forget it. So she was safe enough. And yet, she doubted it. He was seriously pissed off with her, that much was plain.
    ‘Why did you do it, Annie?’ Max asked.
    Annie shook her head. It was all a jumble. All those years of being second-best with Ruthie forever the favourite. All those small slights and hurts that had somehow burrowed beneath her skin until they formed one huge

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