Click, clack, click, clack. Your bright red dance shoes clicked on the pavement, your black dress stretching across the back of your thighs as you walked. You inspected your reflection in the shop windows and, dabbing at the corner of your lipstick with a paper napkin, you paused in front of a jeweller’s shop. Diamonds cut in beautiful shapes, fitting earrings and necklaces alike, glinted on the satin bottom of the display case. You’d noticed a pretty little thing, storing its image in your mind for future use. You’d get someone to buy it for you later, you decided and you ran through the faces of the men who doted on you.
Now inspecting the creamy pearls which curled around the hollow of your neck, you tucked a curl of hair behind your pierced ears in which more pearls glinted. You shifted your cashmere shawl further up your shoulders, your purse and a brown paper bag clasped between your hands. Continuing on your way, click-clack-clicking as you pulled out a croissant from the bag and nibbled delicately on the end of the pastry. Buttery dough melted on your tongue, flecks of the pastry clinging to your lips. You wiped them off with the napkin again, looking over your shoulder to check your lipstick was still in order. Window-shopping as you carried on eating, you walked to the apartment you shared with your heartthrob. It was when you spotted the black automobile parked in front of your apartment that your pace quickened, your expression souring.
Taking the front stairs at a dash, you threw your weight against the heavy door. Just as you’d entered the hall, the door flew open behind you. A sweaty, fedora-wearing suit-clad man came through it, his expression livid. Immediately your eyes were drawn to the long, white feather sticking up from the brim of his hat. “Miss (F/n)! Where have you been?!”
Feigning an innocent expression, you smiled and blocked his way up the staircase. “What on Earth are you talking about, Henry?” The fedora’s owner scowled. “My name isn’t Henry! That was the last one!” He said, outraged and hitting the end of the wooden banister. With a charming giggle, you turned and fled up the stairs, making sure to flap the hem of your dress – that would surely slow him down.
“You just disappeared! I gave you 50 dollars for the toilet and you were- were gone!”
Finally you’d just reached your level and you rapped on the door loudly, hoping against all hope that he was awake. As always your keys were in the permanent state of being lost. The number 17 was skewwhiff, the white paint yellowing in places. The suit started backing you up into the door, whilst you continued banging on it, getting louder and more insisting with each knock. He isn’t awake, he isn’t awake, this is bad! You thought, trying to keep smiling as the man placed his hands on either side of your head.
All of a sudden, the door behind you gave way, making you fall back with quite an ungraceful shriek. Luckily, you were caught however, by one bare arm, the owner of which reeked of alcohol, smoke and who, incidentally, was shirtless. He pulled you inside, pushing you behind him with a careless gesture. Leaning against the doorframe, he dragged a hand through his long hair, exhaling heavily when he pulled the half-ash cigarette from his mouth. “Get lost,” he growled, his hooded, blood-shot eyes only adding to his menace. Before ‘Henry’ could even reply, he threw the door in his face. Turning, François stopped in his tracks and gave you a cold, drawn-out look. “I will not be opening the door for you, next time.”
“Oh hush up Fran, I bet you were still awake from last night anyway.” You told him, reaching into your purse and drawing out the wad of cash you’d collected from the various men you’d leeched off that previous evening. “I was painting actually,” François said, before glowering at you. “And don’t call me ‘Fran’.” He added, sitting himself on a dingy old wooden chair, in front of an easel which was blank and presumably had been for some time. Standing behind him, you wafted the wad of money beside his head. He took it, then stuffed it unceremoniously in the rim of his trousers. He was constantly hoarding money to fuel his alcohol and cigarette consumption.
Leaning over to the side, you looked at what he was trying to paint, seeing the table scattered with rose petals, around a dark crimson rose. “Not making much headway it seems.” You said, your voice smug as you folded your arms. “Don’t you think I know that.” He grumbled, stubbing out his cigarette in the full, glass ashtray and starting a fresh one, lighting it in his cupped hand with a broken match.
He sat back, his eyes closed and one hand rolling the paintbrush with clotted acrylic on its head between his fingers. Taking advantage of his temporary blindness, you plucked the cigarette from his lips. Placing the stolen fag in your mouth, you drew on it deeply and exhaled in the manner that would wind any and every man around your little finger. Every man, save for the one you wanted most, the one sitting in front of you. “Give it back,” he grouched, dabbing some red paint on the canvas.
You contemplated his order for a moment, before sitting down on the sofa across from him. “I’ll give it back to you, if you give me a kiss.” You said, daring to speak your words of desire. “Not this again,” he started, before you leaned forward and exhaled in front of him. “It could be my reward, for getting you so much money.” Reaching down for your shoes, you pulled them off and flexed your toes, setting your shoes back on the ground carefully. His face darkened, his brows furrowing as he reached for another cigarette. “Fine, I’ll give it back.” You added, getting up and standing behind him. “Turn,” you order, ready to take your chance.
François turned and you quickly leant forward to capture his lips with your own, your eyes fluttering closed to enjoy the taste of him. The overwhelming undertone of smoke, red wine – and not the good kind – and what you could identify as stale coffee and old bread. His violet eyes widened, his mouth hanging slightly open so that you were able to place the fag back between his lips. “Thanks for the reward,” you murmured, drawing back with a sly smile. Hips swishing, you made your way to the bathroom, draping your shawl over the sofa as you went.
The grump licked his lips a little, before he placed his paintbrush down and, cigarette hanging from his lips, he sauntered his way after you.