July’s Story Circle begins today with a stunning and dangerous blonde–and that’s just the author! Angela of Tread Softly is not only my colleague at Write on Edge, but also a friend. Angela spins more blogging plates than anyone I know. In addition to her work on Write on Edge, she crafts fiction, memoir, book reviews, and encouraging, heartfelt essays for her own blog, and also contributes to Just Be Enough.
Without further ado, Stiletto, Part One:
Grass and green apple lingered on her palette, a manicured finger stroking the base of her wine glass. Air conditioning obliterated the oppressive humidity from the space around the gleaming bar. Condensation threatened to drop onto the cream cocktail napkin. For now, she could afford the Didier Dagueneau Sauvignon Blanc, herbs and fruit perfectly balanced in the crisp, chilled varietal. An envelope of cash rested in the lining of her expensive leather bag, money she’d earned only in the oldest sense of the word.
She’d drifted out of Henry’s suite at the Ritz-Carlton around dawn. He slumbered naked and tangled in Egyptian cotton sateen, his debit card in her purse and the pre-paid cell phone she’d used for months on the nightstand. Emptying his checking account while he snored until noon allowed her the freedom of flying far from the Golden Gate Bridge and living comfortably until something promising caught her discerning eye. Henry’s shifty eyes and groping, sweaty fingers had told her long ago that he’d rather lie about the sudden emptiness of his substantial bank account than confess his ill-advised tryst to his wife.
Even his lawyers wouldn’t know how to begin to locate her.
She was again firmly ensconced in a suite with a view. Henry was barely an uncomfortable memory. New La Perla nestled in the tiny dresser so even bits of mesh and lace couldn’t tease any recollection of his overpowering Ralph Lauren cologne or underperforming lovemaking. Slight wardrobe changes were a charming hazard of her geographical rootlessness, her non-cataloged life.
Platinum hair shimmered around her cheekbones in the low light of the bar, catching and reflecting the candlelight. The color was new and indulgent and contrived, chosen to simultaneously attract and intimidate. Deliberating about the gamble had kept her from venturing out until this Thursday, when the trendy hotel bar bubbled over with tired businessmen, desperate for anything but a monotonous meeting in a stuffy conference room.
Years before, in another bar in another city, a drunk accountant had accused her of being an escort. His face had flushed more with each drink and even more with each tug on his safely striped tie. She’d miscalculated his bank account and his intentions, a rare professional misstep. Bleary eyes crawled down her cleavage as he spit out his judgment, fingers wound tightly around her wrist. An impossibly sharp stiletto dug into the tender flesh between Achilles and anklebone, her smile beatific when she murmured, “If only my occupation were so easily classified,” before walking away, his sneer twisted into a grimace of pain.
Now she swiveled on the high-backed barstool, cooling appraising the selection of men. Soft lips parted slightly as she automatically crossed her toned legs. Practiced ennui relaxed her shoulders, though she secretly wanted to steal another glance at the gorgeous new Stuart Weitzman heels wrapped around her ankles. She swiveled back, not seeing anything to her liking.
The bartender set another glass of wine in front of her without a word, dimples and shocking green eyes traveling down her body in a wave of heat. Brody, she recalled, testing the gloss of her lips with the tip of her tongue. A brief nod of his head indicated the patron she would need to thank with a perfunctory smile. She was already resigned to another night alone.
The heat started by Brody’s effortless attractiveness swelled, and she felt dampness bloom between her thighs.
She could smell the money on him from across the bar. An expertly tailored suit and an impeccably veneered smile exuded confidence, but she could smell the other thing, too – the ugly core of cruelty that forced him to use his money and passable looks to draw people into his sphere.
Tossing hair in lustrous waves over her shoulder, she slid across the floor to caress his exposed wrist.
“Thank you. So very much,” she practically whispered, forcing his ear closer to her glossed lips.
“Of course. I’m Nathan.” His smile spread like oil.
She wasn’t, but it would do.
He was perfect.