~She sat on the sweat-coated bed sheets, her skin glistening with the sin she had just committed; the tip of her cigarette glowing red as she inhaled. He was shaking quietly beside her knowing things would never be the same again, his eyes unable to meet hers. He took a deep breath and held it in as he reached out his hand to touch her exposed thigh. “I…” He stopped short, cleared his throat and tried again, the rise of courage apparent in his voice. “I can’t believe I’m actually saying this but I…” “Don’t,” she interrupted taking a long drag of her cigarette. She released the smoke from her mouth as she spoke next; he watched as it curled up around her eyes and crashed into the dark mess of hair on top of her head. “It doesn’t mean anything.” Her words forcing their way into his ears like an intruder. “Not a damn thing,” she spoke more softly but with a sense of supreme authority. He looked up at her just then, her eyes straining to see the wall across the room. He noticed how the haze of smoke masked the color behind it; the color that drove him to their current situation. Within that moment he knew exactly what would happen next. He knew her past, her future, and everything about her. She was more than just beautiful flesh and bones. She was her own walking revenge. ~
His eyes snapped open at the sound of crying. It took a few seconds before his brain made the connections as-to-what exactly was happening. With distain, he shut his eyes, cursed aloud, and realized he was going to be late.
He was already twenty-five minutes late the first time he met her. Two cars had just flown through the now red-lit intersection as he began to make his way across. Within that moment of rushing anxiety, he felt that something was different, as if something he didn’t intend to be a part of was coming for him; neither unneeded nor sought after. An overbearing wind kicked up with the force of an all-star major leaguer swinging for a home-run. He shut his eyes fearing the invasion of dirt particles and continued blindly through the intersection, only forcing his eyes to open in fear that me might trip over the fast approaching curb. There they stood, face-to-face, the color in her eyes so vivid that he had trouble forming words. Fearing the wind was actually a speeding vehicle and he another victim of the clock, he grunted to make sure this was reality, to make sure the woman in front of him was just as human as himself. “You okay there tiger?” she questioned, her voice smooth with an edge of roughness, like wrinkled silk. He blinked four times before an “uh yeah,” fell out of his dry mouth. The red of her dress fluttered in the wind as he stood transfixed, his body still partially in the crosswalk. His eyes locked onto hers as if some scientific anomaly were occurring right in front of her face. The shriek from the car horn shook reality back into his skull and forced one foot in front of the other onto the sidewalk, only a few inches from where she stood. A giggle escaped her, sending a rush of blood through his body as he choked on the oxygen entering his lungs. “I uh, yeah sorry I’m fine. Thank you for asking. I’m just…late is all,” he said while running his right hand through his wavy brown hair, a nervous habit he’s carried with him since the age of seven. “Well, I’m sure you’ll be fine. It’s been nice saving your life but I too must be on my way,” she sang through the continued rush of passing cars. Her lips formed into a magnificent grin, exposing the brilliant white behind them. He imagined the soft pink of her lounge, trapped like a prisoner in that brilliant cage, like some magical creature used to hold men by their will letting them suffer until there was nothing left. He shook the though from his head and smiled in returned, his eyes still on hers. “Oh, of course,” he said while holding out his hand. “James, pleasure to meet you, and thanks for…” “Cassidy,” she interrupted placing her hand into his. It was warm and soft against his, which was cold and had become increasingly clammy as the gesture dragged on. “You can just call me Rouge,” she said with a slight wink. He bore his teeth with glee as he began to speak but was cut short. “Yes, exactly like her,” she answered without him having to ask. She released his hand and stepped past him into the crosswalk. Movement ceased as she moved away from him. As he watched, an ever soft buzzing started in his ears and held him there. He didn’t know what had caused it or why he felt so drawn to it. Rhythmically, his eyes began to shut with the oncoming impulse of a blink. Just before his eye lids completed the eclipse he willed them to stay open, not wanting to miss a beat of her step. Just as quickly as she had come into his view, she was gone.
His phone rang, cutting through the twisted fantasy unfolding in his thoughts. He took the call with shaking hands, his reality of where he currently was flooding back over him. “Hello?” he asked without the habitual intake of air. “You sound out of breath. Is everything okay at work?” his wife questioned on the other end. “Oh, hi honey; yes, everything’s fine.” He responded without hesitation. The truth was twofold; he let his imagination run wild, which for obvious reasons he couldn’t tell her. The second was how she made him feel. He could remember the day they first met, at the exact moment in which he had fallen in love with her. It was as if all the air had been sucked out of the room they were in and he had trouble catching his breath. He remembered that if he had died right then and there, he’d be satisfied just having her as the last thing he had seen. Death by loves sickening effect would be justifiable. “Well, I just wanted to remind you that everything is set for tonight. Please don’t be late; this means a lot to me and to you as well,” her voice cut across time and space through the receiver. “Honey, I know, I will be there,” he replied with a smile. He could see her on the other end; white tank top firm against her skin, streaked hair in a ponytail. He could spend hour watching her put that hair up. It was hypnosis the way she did it, the way her back muscles tightened like the skin over a hand drum. The way her hair folded up and through the ring of fabric that held it in place. He missed her without knowing. “Oh and please don’t forget the…” he cut her off, a twinge of irritation rising in his voice yet dying just as quickly. “I know; I have a reminder in front of me and one in my pocket. See you tonight,” he said. “I love you,” the words firm with meaning as they spilled into his ear. “Love you too,” the words dry, hanging in the air about him. He placed the receiver on its cradle and sat low in his chair. He was not in this moment. He faced straight ahead and blinked without necessity. Like a lurking phantom, she crept into his brain. The memory of her voice, the thrill of her name, and just as if he had called upon her audibly, a voice came from behind him. “Hey! So, this is you?” He became ridged, like a newly lit match his pulse faired. He choked out the words, attempting without success to steady his breathing, “Yeah, I mean yes, this is me. Do you work here too?” Her chested moved up and down with each controlled breath she took. She stood staring as if measuring the temptation rising between them. She knew exactly what she was doing and enjoyed its thrill. The curves of her mouth separating to breathe out the words used to ensnare him. “No, I’m a consultant. We actually have a meeting later. It’ll be off site.” “Oh…I wasn’t unaware,” he said while adjusting his tie, his fingers fumbling on the fabric. He kept eye contact and again felt himself lost, felt himself being draw-in. The prey and its killer; he sat there helplessly, unable and unwilling to budge. “Well good thing I found you. See you later tiger.” She bore her teeth as if ready for the kill. Words failed him as she turned and walked away. His eyes followed her outline as it left. He sat, not yet defeated but beginning to erode, a man just like all the rest.
His phone range violently in the pocket of his pants. Slowly and without the others knowledge, he slipped it out underneath the table. He read the first lines of the message and held back the agitated grunt. Don’t forget to… was all he needed to see and knew what it meant. He tapped out his reply on the LCD and hit send, shoving the phone back into his pocket. He gave his head a small shake a breathed out the budding anger. As he looked up his eyes met hers again. They had been locked on just him the entire meeting, which had become a marathon of controlling every firing impulse within his body. The others in the room had become nonexistent long ago. It was just them with the titanic sized tension, barley held together by constant prayers for mercy shot into the rapidly darkening sky.
“I’m going to be late,” he said in a low voice, emptied of any and all emotion. He stood in the hallway just outside of the conference room. Through the glass, the others kept to their own business, making calls or sending emails. He could see her back tense on the other end of the phone as the disappointment spreading across her face. She tried to mask it in her voice but he knew it was there and ignored it as best he could. “Well, do you at least have a timeframe when you’ll be coming…” he cut her off, his nerves getting the better of him. “No, I don’t. Listen, I know how much tonight means to you but I just…I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do. The meeting is starting back up and I need to get back in. Oh and don’t worry, I won’t forget the thing. See you soon.” Before she could respond the red end button had already been pressed. The door swung open and he stepped into the conference room. He took his seat, forgot about the phone call, and looked up; like clockwork, her eyes had found their target once more.
The meeting concluded and everyone but James and Cassidy left the conference room. He was convinced that she was a magician, for no one thought twice or asked why the two of them had decided to stay and review last minute notes. He let his mind wander at the tune of her voice. He couldn’t focus or give any care as-to-what was on the table before them. He was falling fast, running off of pure hormones, ones he had turned off years ago, ones that for so long, had been for another woman only. His eyes traced the curve of her back; he watched the slow pulse within her neck flicker with each beat from within. He wondered, although he knew exactly what the answer was, of the mysteries that lay underneath the perfectly pressed clothes that clung to her body. He could feel her sweet scented breath as it passed through the hair on his knuckles. He wanted to be bathed in it, hold it in his expanding lungs, and exhale every possible version of her. He was deaf, heard nothing over the sound of his own hammering heart. He felt himself leaning forward without knowing, her eyes coming closer, ready to devour. Without warning he was on his feet, the automatic motion of adjusting his tie kicked in, but her hands were like lighting. “Allow me,” she said with a darkening smile. Her skeletal fingers tugged and adjusted, smoothed and flattened. She flattened her palm against his chest where his collar met and slowly slid it down to his breast bone. He felt the warmth radiating from her skin; she felt the forever run race of his heart underneath. “Let’s get out of here,” she said, moving closer without moving at all. His hands dove deep into his pocket crashing into the thread and lint collecting at the seams. “I…I can’t,” he said with a heavy breath. His pulse was in his ears and the sound of her voice was barely audible. “Can’t or won’t? I know what you’ve been thinking all day. You don’t have to hide it,” her words clawed their way into his brain with as much ferocity as he wanted to claw her back with his nails. For the first time that day he was able to break eye contact and look about the room. Her hand slid further down his chest and found his exposed wrist at the edge of his pocket; he wished the fabric would have gone on just inches longer. He swallowed hard in preparation to speak but found her eyes once more. Like a car hitting a wall at a high rate of speed, he was no match. She would revel in the carnage, as the last of his moments would belong to her.
He ignored the flashing light indicating the missed calls and text messages as he sat alone in the darkened car. He took a few deep breaths and activated the screen. The glow of the LCD cast heavy shadows on his increasingly clammy face. With shaking hands, he tapped out what he had to say, hit send, and powered off the phone. Tossing it in the backseat, he opened the driver’s door and made his way towards the building. Soft light from the moon above showered through the windshield, catching the drops of condensation that formed on the container of milk sitting on the dashboard. The droplets began to trickle away from the much asked for container, soon engulfing the hollowed gold wedding band abandoned by its owner.
His knuckles hit the tall oak door twice and within a matter of seconds he was inside. Moving one hand past his right ear, she shut the door and pressed her body against his. Her lips fell on the base of his neck and worked their way slowly upwards. Words shattered in his throat and escaped his open mouth as moans. Her free hand tore into his shirt and found the hard, trembling skin it masked. “This is my doing,” she hissed into his right ear, saliva glistening from the hot words. He freed her from the shackles of fabric and down they tumbled; further into each other, further into the tangle of once dominated emotions. Nails tore flesh, fingers pulled hair, as they wrote one another’s names in the fiery breath that crashed into the others open mouth.
She sat on the sweat-coated bed sheets, her skin glistening with the sin she had just committed; the tip of her cigarette glowing red as she inhaled. He was shaking quietly beside her knowing things would never be the same again, his eyes unable to meet hers. He took a deep breath and held it in as he reached out his hand to touch her exposed thigh. “I…” He stopped short, cleared his throat and tried again, the rise of courage apparent in his voice. “I can’t believe I’m actually saying this but I…” “Don’t,” she interrupted taking a long drag of her cigarette. She released the smoke from her mouth as she spoke next; he watched as it curled up around her eyes and crashed into the dark mess of hair on top of her head. “It doesn’t mean anything.” Her words forcing their way into his ears like an intruder. “Not a damn thing,” she spoke more softly but with a sense of supreme authority. He looked up at her just then, her eyes straining to see the wall across the room. He noticed how the haze of smoke masked the color behind it; the color that drove him to their current situation. Within that moment he knew exactly what would happen next. He knew her past, her future, and everything about her. She was more than just beautiful flesh and bones. She was her own walking revenge and there was no escape for either of them. “I don’t…I don’t know what to tell my…” he began but stopped just as quickly. The unfinished question hung between them for a few moments. “I used to be like you,” she said without moving. He turned to face her now and observed a few strands of hair sticking to the side of her face. “What?” he asked in confusion. The soft buzzing sound from his first encounter with her began again just behind his ears. He shook his head in rebellion and spoke again, “What do you mean?” She took another drag and shut her eyes. “I was once like you. I had everything.” Hers eyes remained shut as he studied her face, attempting to decipher where she was going from this point on. He began to feel sick, as if everything in his life was different. As if the things he used to know so well were no longer that way and would never be again. “What have you done?” she questioned through the smoke and sweat. He told himself to hold back the liquid forming behind the color of his eyes. He told himself to find the air trapped between the mass amounts of rubble he felt buried under as the buzzing grew louder, cutting that thinning air with a sharp hiss of static, like an old television without a signal. “What have you done?” he heard her breath out again. Each letter of the word he couldn’t find broke on the back of his teeth and fell out of his mouth in crumbling pieces; the disenchanting sob of a weak man. The buzzing became too much, the air became nonexistent, and his body jolted with a reactive panic.
His eyes snapped open at the sound of crying. It took a few seconds before his brain made the connections as-to-what exactly was happening. The coating of sweat on his skin reflected the hammering of his heart. Moments past where he struggled to catch his breath. He focused on the sound coming from the next room, the sound that woke him in-the-first-place. He found strength in the sound and went to it. The cold air moved past his fingers as he reached down and discovered the warmth within in the sound. His hands wrapped around his child creating a protective barrier from the rest of the world. The cries began to die, the fear James held inside began to fade. He carried the child back to his room and sat across from his wife. He watched each breath enter and exit her body. He felt every bit of life that composed her being and made her real, made her here. She wasn’t the woman of his dreams but of his reality. She wasn’t the woman he lusted over but the woman he was in love with. He would spend every moment for the rest of his life with her on his mind. The alarm clock began to ring and was shut off just as quickly. He didn’t care that he was going to be late. He didn’t want to know what would happen in the world outside of that room, outside of that very moment. He smiled as he looked at his wife, exhaled salvation, and held their child till she woke up.