Charming

The room is smoky.

 

He toys with the cigarette between his long, elegant fingers, eyes drifting aimlessly. It’s late in the afternoon and we’re sitting in a parlour in town. The room is small, furnished with dark wood, chandeliers, and a high ceiling. I worry the carpet beneath my feet.

 

His eyes settle on me, and he sets his cigarette down. I take a long, slow breath, trying to breathe in as little of the smoke as possible. The corner of his mouth lifts. I feel like a prey being watched by its predator.

 

He drops his gaze and plucks at the strings of the guitar in his lap. The languid melody fills our corner of the room, and somehow merges perfectly with the sad jazz filtering through the speakers.

 

My gaze is dulling, the music and whiskey lulling me into hazy repose. The light is dusty, coming in from the window we’re seated next to and illuminating him gently. He looks like angelic; childlike, even.

 

He looks up again, seemingly feeling my gaze on him. Closing my eyes, I incline my face towards the sun, and feel his eyes on me. I hear him inhale and sigh, all the while plucking those sad, sad notes.

 

I open my eyes. He hasn’t looked away.

 

The cigarette is back between his lips.

 

I smile, reaching for my whiskey. His hand reaches the glass before mine and I watch as he downs the rest of my drink. He keeps his eyes locked on mine, unsmiling as he sets the glass down, the ice clinking. His hand ghosts over mine, and he slides the cigarette between my fingers. I shoot him a warning glance – he simply smiles, wan and soft, and returns his fingers to the strings.

 

I shudder as a draught enters the room. I take a deep breath, grateful for it pushing the smoke out of the room. I can’t help feeling like a spell has been broken. His head jerks up at my movement, and in an instant he’s laid his blazer over my shoulders, his hands brushing my arms and gently pulling my hair free. I shiver again, this time for a different reason.

 

Another glass of whiskey arrives, and the empty cup is taken away. He settles back into his seat, his long-sleeved checkered shirt filling my vision once more. His arms fall back into the same position, cradling the guitar – sometimes I wonder if he was born that way, it seems so natural. A small voice in my head breathes a wish that he held me that way. He chuckles; I suppose my face must have given away my thoughts. I can feel my face colour. His laugh is a deep and husky, a throaty rumble from deep within his chest that reverberates, and does not match his deceptively boyish face.

 

He breathes in sharply through his nose and leans forward, letting go of the guitar and gathering my hands in his. My eyes widen – he’s not usually this open in public. I watch as he rubs my hands with his, warming them up, and then he brings them to his lips. He kisses each fingertip, eyes fluttering shut, a tiny smile gracing his features. When he looks back up at me, eyes half-lidded, I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding.

 

He closes the door gently. The room is magnificent. A floor-to-ceiling window fills the room with light. A four-poster bed takes up pride of place, all dark wood and gold accents. The cream canopy billows slightly with our entrance, and matching cream pillows lean against the intricately carved headboard. The maroon sheets look so soft and I move almost automatically towards them. He tut-tuts disapprovingly from behind me, taking off the blazer and hanging it up, before sliding a hand around my waist and guiding me to a seat.

 

He kneels at my feet, hitching the skirt of my dress higher across my thighs and unbuckling my high heels. He slides the shoes off, rubbing my feet and ankles before helping me up. His hands on my upper arms, he maneuvers us to the full-length mirror, opposite the window. His fingers begin their expedition across my body, gliding across my shoulders and kneading at the muscles there. A soft moan escapes my lips and he smiles as my head lolls back against him. The pressure travels down my back, and his hands grasp mine briefly. He presses quick kisses on my knuckles, and then pulls my long brunette waves aside. His lips meet my neck and his eyes meet mine in the mirror. I take his hands, guiding them to the straps of my dress. He shakes his head. He draws back and I can’t help but feel disappointed.

 

He sits down in an armchair in the corner, next to the window. The light curtain casts diffused sunlight on him. He looks so good, so innocent, if not for the predatory look in his eyes as he rakes them over my form. He crooks two fingers towards himself and I obey, perching daintily on the arm of the chair. He looks up at me, reaching up to comb his fingers through my hair, fluffing it out and loosening the curls. His eyes crinkle as the light hits the strands. Then he’s up and offering me a glass of wine.

What a tease.

I accept the glass and take a sip of the merlot, gazing out the window. A few seconds pass – I’m ignoring him as payback. I hear him toeing off his shoes and undoing the buttons of his collar. I hear him sigh as strong fingers cup my chin. I put up a fight – I’m reluctant to tear my eyes away from the view, and-

 

Our lips meet, finally, and a growl rumbles from deep within his chest. His hands cup my face and I slide my fingers into his hair – messing up the carefully-sculpted quiff – and down his neck, into his collar. Another growl reaches my ears and I smile into the kiss. For all his cocksure teasing, he doesn’t lose a second as he melts right into my hands. I push the collar apart, exposing his undershirt and following the creases as I continue unbuttoning his shirt.

 

He pants slightly as he breaks the kiss, heated eyes boring into mine as I make quick work of the buttons. He joins in, undoing the shirt from the bottom up. Our hands meet and he laces our fingers together, pushing his forehead against mine and forcing me to meet his gaze. He pulls me up, flush against him, and hoists me up bridal-style. I can’t help but giggle, and he lowers me onto the bed, dragging his lips along the curve of my hip.

 

I look up at the canopy. It looks luxurious, all buttery soft and silky smooth. My sigh elicits a chuckle from him, and his face enters my vision again. He’s taken off his shirt. His undershirt skims his toned torso, and his tan pants He smiles indulgently, slipping something soft and smooth into my left hand, then peppering light kisses all over my face, while his hands are kept busy with my dress. His fingers push the straps of my dress off my shoulders oh-so-slowly, and he pulls the material down to my waist.

 

He hovers over me, eyes meeting mine and savouring my form beneath his. Placing his hands on my hips, he pushes the dress all the way off, pushing his mouth on mine and letting the rose-hued satin fall off the foot of the bed. He reaches for my left hand, retrieving the baby blue chemise and standing up. I sit up, as if attached to his by a string. He smirks and kneels at the foot of the bed, at my bare feet. He holds the slip up, all luxurious silk, eyelash lace, and thread-thin straps.

 

He takes his time, draping the dress over my head, gently guiding my arms through the straps, fussing over how the lace lays against my breasts and how the hem falls just above my knees. Then he steps back, evaluating, calculating. The chill of the room creeps across my skin, making me shiver slightly. He notices and steps forward quickly, gathering me into his arms and whispering apologies in my ear. My hands wrap around his waist, and I stretch in his embrace, sliding my hands around his jaw. Our lips meet, cutting off his worrisome mutterings.

 

He’s graceless now, fingers digging into my back, feet stumbling on the carpet, lips pressing urgently, tongue licking impatiently against mine. His body steering us back to the bed, we fall onto the sheets. My hands are on his chest, trembling slightly as they slide up to grip his shoulders. He brings my knee up to rest on his hip as his kisses fade into pecks and light grazes against my neck and shoulders. I catch my breath.

 

He maneuvers himself to cradle me, my head on his bicep, his arm across my torso, his chest tight against my back, our fingers interlaced. He lets out a contented sigh as he buries his face in my hair, and we drift off to sleep.

 

I awake alone three hours later, to a thick envelope of cash and a handwritten note on the pillow.

 

26 May. 7.30PM.

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