Settling in the backseat of the town car that picked him up for his meeting crosstown, all Oscar could think of was roses. The roses in the hotel lobby Severine walked past when they arrived days ago. They were deep scarlet. Her smile framed by scarlet roses was so beautiful, he had barely made it upstairs with her.
When they got to New York, they both knew that they had stuff to deal with. He knew she was not insincere when she was with him, but when she talked about Rafe he could see her heart was bruised. And he never told her about Shanghai, because he wanted something of Eliza to himself.
When he met Eliza in the hotel restaurant, there were bright red petals on her arms as she drank fresh-squeezed orange juice. There were rose petals on him as they went up in the elevator. He watched her when she saw the reflection in the mirror of the man she had had dinner with the night before with Severine. Eliza slumped even more against him, as they got off the elevator and took his hand as they walked into the hallway.
Oscar was happy he and Severine were staying in separate rooms. He had to have meetings in his, so it was best that way. Eliza walked ahead of him into the room after he opened the door.
He did not turn on the light.
“You still want me?”
She nodded without hesitation. He wondered if it was revenge sex. Or lack of guilt sex, because she knew that her fiance was with someone else. He studied her, but she was closed.
Her voice soft and pleading, he knew intuitively what she was feeling. A combination of what he thought she was feeling, and things he did not know because he had no idea the dynamic of this relationship that she held onto yet made her stray in the first place with him.
He held her close, she smelled like roses. She always did, but this time perfumed and fresh ones because petals were on her.
Close to her he lacked control. Though he was not sure she was there emotionally, he wanted her. And her body began to demand from his, everything he wanted to do to her.
Naked except for rose petals was how he remembered her now, as he got a text from her. Her naked back rising from the bed covered in rose petals.
It was Severine’s lips that matched the roses in a firm line looking at him later. She started speaking French, as she did when she was mad or frustrated. He felt vulnerable as he felt rose petals float over his body on the bed.
He could still smell Eliza.
“She is the woman, I did not know…” Severine started in English.
Oscar propped himself up on pillows.
“No one knew…”
“Rafe was furious, he is the type of man he would cheat on her, but want her to be encased in glass.”
“What about you? What does he want of you?”
Severine looked down at the bed, a tear fell on a rose petal. He sat up stretching his long legs onto the floor, squishing rose petals under the soles of his feet. More rose petals squished as he held her close against him…
“Well do you want me to sit in your lap Oscar?”
Oscar had lost track of time thinking about Eliza and Severine. He had not noticed they were already at Polly’s townhouse. Polly would take his mind off everything, because she never hid her dislike for him. She stood angrily outside the car.
“Hello Polly,” he said kissing her cheek, which she disregarded as she sat in the back with a small painting after he moved aside hastily.
She smelled like a bouquet of flowers. When he first met her he was attracted to her, but made it a rule not to date people he worked with. Polly made it very easy, she was always super crisp with him.
“Don’t hello Polly me! We are going to be late as per usual when I have to go see a client with you!”
“We will be fine–”
She turned and looked at him directly which was rare.
“I saw you in the newspaper, making art of yourself. You are like a rock star in the office…Well, I am not a groupie. I am all about business, and not the business of you making me look bad!”
“You got the DeLempicka?”
“Of course. I am good at what I do, I just don’t make a show of it like you.”
“Polly, you are amazing at what you do. You are lovely with clients, and a terror with your colleagues. Well at least me.”
“Are you accusing me of being badly behaved? I am never! I was raised to be a lady. You just bring out the worst in me…”
Oscar looked out of the window, secretly happy to be even in this moment with a woman who disliked him. It was grounding.
He looked down at the painting, and saw Polly’s stilettos on rose petals. Rose petals on her hip.
Everything was roses…
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photo by f dot leonora