[editor's note: initially, Rachel's blogging identity wasn't clear, sorry for the confusion, all. Now carry on and read this spectacular and intriguing chapter of the story.]
Without further ado, Stiletto, Part Two:
Alone except for the company of her reflection, the image in the glass elevator does not belie her consummate guise as she types. Entice me.
For all the luxuries Nathan’s wealth allows her to afford, veracity is not among them. Ascending to the near top of Macau’s Banyan Tree Hotel, the source of those practiced countenances would soon unlock the Sky Villa—the itinerary, an artifice, a girls’ weekend with friends that existed as much as her affection for the man she’d made a show of tearing herself away from.
Safely on the other side of the International Dateline, Nathan’s phone would chime against a winter’s night draining into morning. Bourbon nightcap still clouding his breath and his cognition, he would begrudgingly swipe for his phone, then perch, his features glowing in the tantalizing contents of the video he’d never seen. Eager to place a buffer between himself and his slumbering billionaire heiress wife, his sickly pale feet would pad across the Persian tapestry. Beguiled by the arc of his mistress’s back, his hands guiding her onto him, he would linger in the memory, allowing it to trigger the swell of tension he craved. Suddenly processing her implied threat, new, horrifying tremors would surge.
Before she could be made weightless in the lift of the tempered water of her in-room relaxation pool, she would know if he was willing to play.
They always were.
Illuminated only by fading sun and glimmering skyline, her lambskin roller bags await. Within them, mountains of cash she’s turned into clothes: the wardrobe of war. The day’s outfit finally at her feet, she coquettishly salutes the mirror. The veteran, uniformed in exiguous lace and exaggerated heels, salutes back.
A decade on, her deceit has ventured varying depths: A 40-year bottle of scotch here. A heavy ruby necklace there. (A Ducati only once.)
Heading the long line of men from whom she’d eased money, was Wesley.
Liquor fueled most of her indiscretions back then. Her Tri-Delt sisters knew nothing of the scores of credit card statements she’d surreptitiously added to the bottom of the house’s recycling pile. What they did know: their girl had a penchant for attracting men eager to pick up their not insubstantial bar tabs. The co-eds assumed her bracelets and cashmere had come from similar sources. They had not. Eventually, they would.
Slinging a watch this wink to her friends, she’d slipped out of her first-class seat, into the empty space beside the stranger. What she’d hoped to reap from the gesture, she could not remember, perhaps a few post-flight drinks or a lift in a limo to the cabin the girls had booked only the night before. Gloriously, it was more than that—an invitation to a ski chalet that competed handily with the peaks surrounding it. The financial consequences of their impromptu trip had been wiped away with the magic wand of money.
Wes showed ebullient willingness to play the role of rescuer. In no time, those bulldog bill collectors had been satisfied, her creditworthiness restored.
Triumph had a lurid, expectant glow.
When, during a night of false vulnerability on her part, Wes earnestly volunteered the information about a daughter he’d institutionalized, she knew she couldn’t allow herself to be welded to such a legacy, whatever the gain. Still, his confession, that glorious reversal of fortune, meant she could assume at least part of his wealth without being snared in the net of marriage. Wounding him restored her.
Her friendships though, lost to equal parts jealously and repugnance, could not be salvaged. The cost of luxury—being tethered to leathered skin and more than whispers gray hair —did not appeal to them, nor did anyone who could be so easily bought.
Below, the details of pedestrians dim and sharpen as they step into and beyond the reach of lamp posts. She’s stalked the shadows long enough. Her cell delivers a gentle nudge; a message awaits. If Nathan reacts as his predecessors, by tomorrow she’ll be able to explore Macau without her usual armor of anonymity. For now, though, she lowers herself into the water. Her feet rest on the cool marble platform, the stilettos crossed like swords.