Eliza was always waiting. As a younger woman with her friends in bars looking for Mr. Goodbar like the novel and movie she had read and seen. Now she was in the hotel bar waiting for her fiance. Curled protectively over her drink, she thought about all the things going on in her life, all at once at a pace she could barely control. Slowly, a man sat beside her at the crowded bar, everything about him was slow, measured including his smile at her. Eliza felt inside her as if everything had stilled in that moment.
She tried to be still, still curled over her drink. The man did not even seem to notice her after he smiled, which she felt was for the best as she stirred her drink aimlessly with the cutoff straw that was inside it. She crossed her legs, hooking her ankle so her legs seemed crossed twice.
Eliza’s lips had just touched the rim of her glass, as she looked up at him startled by his sudden speech.
“Yes,” she choked slightly even though she had not had a sip. Looking around nervously to avoid looking in the man’s eyes, she remembered she was waiting for her fiance conveniently.
“Looking for your fiance? He’s probably not going to come.”
“What do you mean?”
She was sure her eyes darkened like Rafe told her they did when she was mad at him. The stranger was taken off his game for a moment which pleased her.
“I mean I don’t think your fiance is going to come, and I think you are coming with me.”
He held her upper arm loosely, but his grip was firm nonetheless.
His finger on her mouth was soft, almost a caress, and she was lulled into silence. She knocked over her drink, and burned with embarrassment. When she looked up at the bartender, he waved her off and she got off the stool as she was being gestured to by this man who she did not know. Her heart was beating calmly, nothing about her was wild as he took her out of the bar.
They waited near the elevators, as he took out a pack of cigarettes. He offered her one, she shook her head but he kept the cigarettes extended until she took one.
“You are going to have a hard time with the obey part of the vows, aren’t you?”
“They do not have that in the vows anymore.”
“They should,” he said inhaling smoke.
Eliza raised her eyebrow at him as he lit a cigarette for her. She had stopped smoking a few years ago when she became domesticated, or rather when she started living with Rafe. But now the feeling of the cigarette in her mouth made her feel happy. Made her think of a time when she was free. It was almost as if she were that person again.
“You think so, huh?” she said blowing out her own cloud of smoke. “Does your wife obey you?”
“I’m not married. But if you vow to be with a man you should obey him, and he should protect you.”
Eliza inhaled and shook her head. She wondered if Rafe was looking for her now. It was a very dim thought in her head, she did not think it would be awful for him to wonder where his perfect fiancée was for a moment.
Perfect, perfect, that was what he said about her and what he expected. She did obey him, and he did protect her but it was hard to be perfect.
“My fiance is perfect,” Eliza said out loud what she was thinking.
“Then what are you doing out here with a stranger when he is looking for you?”
Shrugging and swinging her cigarette back with her arms, from her perfect black dress that Rafe loved her in so much, she declared.
“I am not perfect.”
He grabbed her and kissed her so hard she thought she would lose her breath. Her lips throbbed from his after he pulled away from her, and put his arm about her.
The elevator was right on time and they walked into it. It was mirrored all around and she could see every angle of their bodies.
He kissed her again, this time she was not out of breath but wanted more even as he gave it. When they pulled away this time, he lifted her chin so she looked up at him.
“Are you going to obey me?”
“I am not getting married to you,” she stuck out a her tongue with insouciance.
He pulled her close to him.
“But I will protect you if you do.”
“Protect me from what?” she questioned looking up into his eyes. He looked down at her without blinking.
“From what will happen if you don’t obey me.”
Her eyes fell to the floor, she felt him looking at her. When he tilted her chin to look up at him again, she tried to avoid his gaze, but he made her look.
“I have simple rules: no names, no questions, no guilt and you keep your ring on.”
He nodded then pressed her to the coolness of the mirrored wall, kissing her so that she almost believed she would go through the glass. Peeking for just a moment as they kissed at the overhead mirror to see how it looked to have him cover her. The view made her so wet she shifted her legs, so he pressed himself all the more to her. She moaned unexpectedly even to herself, as he kissed her neck which was always her weakness.
They came to his floor and managed not to look so disheveled, since she could see in the mirrored hallways. But in his room, he did not turn on the lights. There was just the light from the moon outside.
She clapped her hand over her mouth.
He took her hand from her mouth and kissed it. She did feel protected from herself when he did that, as if to say he was okay that she had forgotten for a moment.
He pulled her hands up over her head, and pulled her body closer than close to his. Eliza was on a tilt as if dangling from a puppeteer’s string, pressed herself to him and closed her eyes opening herself to the darkness. His mouth on hers was so divine she almost wanted to pull out all of her hair as he tugged at it, her hand rose tugging at her hair with his until he kissed her fingers after pulling her hand away.
Everything she experienced was going to be him: his hands, his mouth, his body. And he was much more gentle than she would have expected considering how brutish he came off at the bar and in front of the hotel smoking. She liked the smell of cigarette smoke on their clothes as they floated past her against the wall.
Against the wall he pounded into her, her head rolling and bobbing, knocking her into another reality. He held her so close she almost could not breathe, she closed her eyes and embraced this other world she was in where she was not perfect. A world in which her arms were tight around a man whose name she did not know, but whose savory scent she wanted to scrape with her teeth.
Because it would end, this would end…
They dressed in the moonlight, and he walked her back out into mirrored hallway, and into the mirrored elevator where she watched him cover her overhead in the mirror again with a kiss. The elevator opened and revealed the bar from a distance. Eliza walked out first, Rafe was standing facing the opposite way at the bar. She walked over to him with a spring in her step, knowing she was imperfect.
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photo by f dot leonora