It’s not just her nails that she bites but the skin surrounding each. It doesn’t hurt but even if it did she couldn’t stop. She mostly wears gloves when out and, when she remembers, rests her hands in her lap whilst in company and at home. Her mother, who worries about appearances more than just about anything else, notices still, and, along with loud tutting, supplies regular applications of a sour nail liquid in the hope of discouraging the frequent chewing. It upsets her that her mother is distressed but the biting continues. It helps her to concentrate when thinking through ideas and writing them down and she cares not enough about the stigma her mother fears she will accrue.
His father - a psychologist – believes that the foods a person likes says a lot about their personality. According to the theory those who enjoy their coffee strong and their food bitter are more likely to be narcissistic and indulge in everyday sadism. A gentle and thoughtful young man he doesn’t want to give his parent cause for concern so keeps his stash of limes and coffee consumption hidden. He sips expresso and sucks on the fruit whilst reading and composing the romantic poetry he favours. Secure in his inclinations and his preferences he gives little credence to the argument that he has a predilection for dark traits.
They meet at the newly formed local writing group. The assembled eight includes two poets, two biographers, a crime writer and three currently dabbling in different genres. The evening is stimulating and encouraging and everyone is comfortable to share ambitions and read their work aloud. As they gather their coats and accessories on leaving he is distracted from his conversation with the man who read out a particularly bloody murder scene. His nose wrinkling he turns to see where the unusually acrid, yet inviting, smell is coming from.
Taking her hand he raises it to his mouth. Undeterred by the astonished attention of their new friends they look into each other’s eyes whilst he slowly, deliciously sucks the end of each of her fingers.