The brick exterior walls of the pre-war council flat are cold and damp. A sheen of frost has formed on the bottom three steps of the staircase where they meet the open air. It glitters beneath her feet as she goes up, heels crunching gravel from the yard, into the musty shadows of the unlit stairwell.
Half past three in the morning. The rest of the world is asleep. At the door to flat 15a she digs into her pockets for the key. It is there, coldly answering her seeking fingers. She hopes it's the right one, hopes the chalked numbers on the unpolished wooden door aren't some joke at her expense. There's no light at the window, no sound from within.
She rattles the key into the lock with trembling hands. It turns easily. Her relief becomes panic as the door opens an inch or so and then stops. The blasted thing is on the chain! Fourth floor up, all those stairs again; her toes are getting numb. she presses her face into the gap in the doorway. "Shane! Let me in!" - a kind of whispered shout.
Eventually she hears footsteps, her heart pounds too. A pause, a voice swears quietly. Shit! No! But it is him, he has stumbled in the dark. The door slams shut, as if of its own accord, and the chain rattles.
He stands back, hiding himself from her even as he lets her in. And too nervous to look him in the eye, she inspects the shabby hallway instead - cracked plaster walls and thin carpet. Careful of where she steps, she makes her way towards a faintly flickering light.
The room they reach is bare. The door is propped open by a wooden chair on which sits a white candle, it's little flame burning bravely. "That won't last very long" she remarks.
"We haven't got very long. I'm not supposed to be here." he reminds her. "Neither am I," she sighs. Why pretend otherwise?
She feels him move away from her side. Wordlessly he undresses in front of the flame; each layer of clothes lifts to reveal his slightly plump but well-muscled contours. The candlelight glows on his skin - proper little boxer-nosed East End thug. Not the one you'd admit you want.
He kicks a switch on the fan heater. He knows she feels the cold.
She is sliding her knickers gradually down and onto her thighs. Still time to back out. He is preparing himself; it mustn't take too long. The leather collar goes on with miliitary precision. D-ring at the back. Lead in his mouth. He crouches on his knuckles. Head down. Shoulders up.
Suddenly the circumstances don't seem to matter any more. There he is - her dog, Butch.
Her knickers are at her ankles, she steps out of them and tosses them with a swift kick to the other side of the room.
Butch obeys at lightning speed. He dives onto the knickers and, taking the crotch part in his teeth, bounds back to his mistress. She ruffles his head, the short, ugly haircut showing every imperfection. Butch faces the floor. Now she lifts her knickers to his nose and bids him smell them. Butch grunts and sniffs, shifts on his paws.
"Find!" she whispers, "Find it, Butch. Find the smell."
Butch's head disappears under her skirt. The whole thing tickles, his head nearing her cunt, the folds of her skirt shifting around her bare bum. She thinks she won't be able to stand it. Even so, she stretches her legs further apart to let him do it.
He's found it now - that gorgeous scent. Tentatively, the doggy's tongue reaches up into the folds of his mistress's labia and begins to lick. First gently, teasing - she is calmer now, a little detached. Then Butch is greedy and slurps in earnest, determined to savour every inch of this hard-earned meal.
Poor Mistress fears she will lose her balance. Already her nails claw in vain at the wall. Already she gasps and shrieks. Tells herself he's just going down on her, for Christ's sake. But it feels almost unbearable. He parts her buttocks to make himself more space.
This would be enough for her, but Butch must have been in quarantine for a while as he definitely seems to be frustrated. She pushes his head away, and he dives into the nearest corner. She can see his cock, pink and alert between his strong, back legs. Playtime, perhaps?
No. He was a naughty dog to get carried away. The white candle on the chair will be useful. Careful to keep it alight, she takes it to him. With the flame held low over his back, she burns a wax trail on his skin. Butch holds still through the pain, brave dog. He'd do anything to please his mistress.
Five in the morning. A pool of wax and a blackened wick in the candle holder are all that's left. The flame spits little blue sparks. Not long now.
It had been time to end the game. She had reached down and unfastened the collar, which fell to the ground with a heavy clunk. Butch became Shane, who stood up and walked to get his clothes, free, no longer her toy.
She has to pass him to retrieve her crumpled knickers from the floor. By chance he looks up and she happens to look back and sees the streetlight from outside and the way it catches his cheek, eclipsing the rest of his face. A curl of smoke from the floor and again the smell of wax tells her the candle is dead. She goes back to where he is sitting and rests her hands on his shoulders - facing him. Not an expert in this, she fumbles the condom he's offered onto his again upright cock. Then she straddles him on the chair and lowers herself down.
5:15am. They do it human-style. For a change.