Scarlett’s feet pounded the floor hard as she struggled to keep up with Jim, who was leading her by the hand away from the White Hart. Her hair streamed out behind her and the lights from cars and streetlamps illuminated her wide eyes and nervous parted lips. Her hand felt small and cold in his. She bunched her jacket up with her other hand, suddenly shivering in the summer night air.
They turned a corner down a narrow, poorly lit alleyway and Jim flashed her a smile over his shoulder when they stopped in front of an unmarked door. Scarlett could hear music emanating from the wide, industrial looking entrance. The surrounding area was covered in graffiti and litter.
“The coolest place in Shoreditch,” was the only explanation he offered as reached for the door handle and used his shoulder to barge it open.
Once inside, they walked down a few dark steps and the music got louder, one of her favourite Doors tunes. Scarlett was sticking so closely to Jim that she could smell the leather of his jacket mixed with his zesty, masculine fragrance. She could feel her legs shaking with every step downwards she took.
She gasped when they finally reached the basement level and she was able to peek out from behind him at their surroundings. On the outside it had looked like the back entrance of a takeaway or an off license but that couldn’t be more wrong.
Swathes of plum and cherry coloured drapes and lights hung from the low ceiling, large comfy sofas with mismatched pillows were tucked away in every corner, full of young, beautiful people, their limbs dangling over each other as they sipped cocktails and smiled at each other knowingly. A traditional style juke box stood in the corner, near a dark wooden bar filled with multi coloured bottles, plastic lights and trinkets.
Jim led them through the bar to a secluded corner with a dark blue loveseat and a gold table. A small chandelier made of wine coloured glass hung above them and an ornately framed picture of Aladdin Sane had been hung on the brick wall. The area was lit by red fairy lights and candles in stained glass lanterns.
“What would you like to drink?” Jim asked as Scarlett settled into the loveseat.
“Whatever you’re having,” was her breathless reply.
Jim smiled and turned, leaving Scarlett alone with her thoughts and the music playing from the jukebox.
You know that it would be untrue, you know that I would be a liar, if I was to say to you, that girl we couldn’t get much higher. Come on baby, light my fire.
Scarlett took her jacket off, willing herself to take a deep breath. She smoothed her hair down, ran her finger over her lips and tugged at her skirt, hoping she looked okay. This place was one of the coolest she had ever been, she wondered if Jim had ever brought anyone else here.
Of course he has, she thought, scolding herself. He is a player through and through, just you remember that and don’t let yourself get carried away.
While she was repeating this mantra to herself, Jim reappeared holding two cocktails the colour of blood. God, he was handsome.
“Zombie,” he said, placing one in front of Scarlett who nodded her gratitude and took a sip.
He sat down next to her, his arms sprawling backwards to hang off the loveseat, his knee touching hers, that familiar smile back in his eyes as he narrowed them at her. She felt incredibly uncomfortable under his gaze.
“Thanks for the drink,” she mumbled, anything to fill the silence between them which was buzzing with tension, “This place is cool.”
Jim said nothing, his lips forming a lazy half smile, his eyes still fixed on her as she placed her drink on the gold table.
“Have you brought me here just to look at me?” Scarlett finally said, raising her eyebrows questioningly.
His smile stretched across his face then, a glint of his white teeth appearing, “Definitely not.”
“What then? Why have you taken me away from my own birthday party?” Scarlett reminded herself that Jim was just a boy and she wasn’t scared of boys. Who did he think he was bringing her here and making her feel like this? She almost believed it.
“Don’t you like it here?” Jim pouted, his face amused.
“Yes of course, I just don’t get why you’ve brought me here.”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Jim leaned forward, that same look in his eyes that he’d had in the White Hart garden. It made Scarlett tingle somewhere in her chest and the bottom of her stomach. She tried very hard not to back away, or lean in, but to stay exactly where she was and look him right in the eye as her heart rate quickened. He stopped a few inches away from her, his striking blue eyes stopping to look at her lips, her nose, her eyes, he brought a hand up to her face and lightly caressed her chin, then leaned forward and touched his lips to hers.
She closed her eyes and melted into the kiss, she had only ever kissed two boys before and neither of them were anything like this. Jim was soft and sensual but forceful and urgent at the same time, she felt his hand tracing its way up her jawline and then through her hair, gently massaging the back of her head, sending shivers down her spine. She felt his other hand on her back, pulling her closer, his tongue in her mouth now, his kisses long and passionate.
Her hands pulled at his jacket, at his thighs, held his face and neck. He wasn’t like the boys she had kissed before because Jim Moriarty was a man, all hard muscles and hot breath. In that moment, she forgot everything except the feeling of his lips and his tongue and his skin and his touch.
She felt his hands on her bare legs now, snaking up her thighs and coming to rest on her bum, under her skirt but over her pants. He used this new position to lift her momentarily off the loveseat and swing her around, parting her legs so she was straddling him. They broke their kiss for a moment, Scarlett’s big, brown eyes meeting his pale, blue ones.
Jim leaned forward to claim her lips again, using his grip on her to grind himself against her. She felt his hard bulge touching her between her legs and took a sharp breath of air in between kisses. Jim’s hands were on her hips now, still under her skirt, gently encouraging her to move against his hardness rhythmically. She frowned, moaning, her mouth falling open, unable to focus on kissing anymore as the sensation of him on her clit began to stir up feelings she had never experienced before with someone else, even through the layers of lace and denim.
She fluttered her eyes open to see him staring at her, his mouth open and his eyes wide in wonder and arousal. She suddenly felt self conscious under his gaze and wondered if anyone else was looking at them. She tried to look around but he brought his hand gently to her neck and held her head in place, looking at him. Then he leaned forward and began to plant feverish kisses along her neck and collar bone, one of his hands feelings its way from Scarlett’s hip down to her inner thigh. He stopped just at the seam of her panties, his fingers lightly tracing the sensitive skin there.
Scarlett was quivering with anticipation, her breath ragged, her shyness forgotten. She put her hands on his strong jawline, feeling his stubble and the warmth of his skin, and guided his face back up to hers, bringing their lips crashing back together. Jim’s fingers plucked at the seam of her panties and she felt his thumb slip through and lightly trace the outside of her wet core, stopping at her clitoris to rub light circles on it. His thumb was soon replaced by his fingers and the light circles replaced by heavier strokes.
She began to grind against his hand, her kisses wet and frantic and muffling the moans that were escaping as she began to orgasm. She buried herself in Jim’s neck, his scent filling her nose, her lips sucking desperately at his skin as a wave of pleasure rippled through her.
Scarlett folded into Jim's arms when he wrapped them around her, pulling her close. “Happy birthday,” she heard him say. She could tell he was smiling.
* * * * *
“Where the fuck did you disappear to?!”
Mairead and Tabitha were lying on Tabitha’s bed sharing a monster munch multipack and reliving the previous night when Scarlett had appeared sheepishly at the doorway, wearing a long t-shirt and a guilty smile.
She shuffled wordlessly into the room, closed the door behind her and perched on the end of the bed.
“Well go on, spill it!” Tabitha said, incredulous, “We were worried sick!”
“Until we figured out Jim was missing too,” Mairead giggled, she had a crisp on the end of each finger and was eating them one by one.
Scarlett’s cheeks were hot but she tried her best to look nonchalant, “It’s not a big deal.”
She thought back to Jim’s words last night, he had seemed so cavalier about the whole thing, like it was the most normal thing in the world to abandon your friends to get hot and heavy in a random club. He’d told her not to make a big deal of it and that it wouldn’t be a big deal.
"What isn’t a big deal? You haven’t actually told us what happened yet,” Tabitha raised her eyebrows impatiently.
“I’m sorry I left you guys,” Scarlett said, pulling on the end of her shirt nervously.
“Where did you go?”
“Some cool underground club. We only had a couple of drinks there but by the time we got back to the White Hart everyone was gone.”
“Drew disappeared shortly after we realised you and Jim were gone and then Mairead spewed in the smoking area so we called it a night.”
Scarlett felt a twinge of guilt, she was sure Drew had been about to kiss her before Jim interrupted them. And she was sure she would have kissed him back. The twinge of guilt turned into a pang of shame - what was she turning into? Was she just the sort of girl who kissed anyone and everyone now? And what would Drew say when he found out what happened? What even had happened?
“Come on then,” Tabitha interrupted her thoughts, “We want details. Did you have sex?”
“Okay but you did something?”
“We just...kissed and stuff.”
Tabitha sighed, she looked deflated, even disappointed. Mairead gasped and giggled, clearly enjoying the gossip.
“He’s a good kisser, isn’t he?” Mairead grinned, loading her fingers up with another round of pickled onion monster munch.
“You’ve kissed him too?”
“Oh yeah, yonks ago in college. We were piss drunk. Never again!”
“Everyone has kissed him,” Tabitha groaned, exasperated, “Apart from me, because ew. But what I’m saying is just be careful with that boy. I love him like a brother but he doesn’t half put it about and I’ll be damned if I’m losing another friend because Jim Moriarty can’t keep it in his pants.”
“Don’t worry,” Scarlett said, her voice soothing, “he made it very clear that it was just a bit of fun. I’m not about to fall in love with him or anything.”
Tabitha looked relieved and chucked a bag of crisps over to Scarlett who tore into it gratefully. It was true, Jim hadn’t been rude about it but he had been clear that he wasn’t the girlfriend type.
“I like having fun,” he had said, his hand absentmindedly tickling the inside of her thigh as she laid across him on the loveseat, sipping on her zombie cocktail, her brain working overtime trying to comprehend what she had just done in a public place, “Don’t you?”
She had nodded, of course she did. Who didn’t love fun?
“I’m just not ready to commit to one person. Fall in love or whatever,” he’d continued, “it all just seems so...final. Don’t you agree?”
She nodded again. The slurping sound through her straw indicating she had finished her cocktail. He smiled and took her glass, gently lifting her legs off him before standing and walking towards the bar.
I’m definitely not ready to fall in love either, she thought as she watched him walk away. But if I was, I would definitely fall in love with you.