At first I am unsettled when she grasps that mop of copper curls and tugs it from her head. What I had thought was her hair had been a wig- Instead she sports a full head of soft, mouse-brown hair, unevenly cut and shaggy towards the ends. Her lips as she swipes the lipstick from them are not bloody red but ashen pink, and her long neon nails come off with a click to reveal chewed stubs. I sit awkwardly alone in her living room as she excuses herself to shower, studying the mismatched pillows and threadbare throw rugs until she returns plain looking but no less intense. Soap removed much of her magic, yet she remains enthralling still, scrubbed clean and softly perfumed. Gone is the dizzy party girl. The woman who stands before me now, wrapped in a silk dressing gown with dripping hair tossed about her shoulders, has a different kind of presence. She is quiet, and strong. She seems to make the room fold about her, instead of simply inhabiting it, and she looks at me as if she knows what I am seeing.
She makes us tea, and we sit and drink in silence, observing each other. Her possessive gaze unsettles me and I avoid eye contact, peering about myself at her tiny, lavish house. The glasses are small and intricate. “My father bought them in Azerbaijan,” She whispers, reverentially, as she peers into the depths of hers. “I have never been, but I am told their tea is legendary.”
I nod silently in agreement, as if Azerbaijani tea is something I know much about. She doesn’t seem to notice, or perhaps she simply doesn’t care. The tea is bittersweet.
When the cups are empty we leave them to cool on the table top, reflecting the faux-firelight in gold and cherry-red. I lean forward to admire them but she wastes no time, catching hold of my shoulders and planting kisses beneath my throat. We fall wordlessly against each other, stripping, exploring, kissing and gasping. We make love on the floor for hours, catching our breaths on orgasms, writhing and rolling, feline in our ministrations. Her tongue is pointed; my fingers are wet. When we are exhausted we curl around each other and stare, still silent, preserving the sanctity of what we had just done.
I am hypnotised by her. Hours could pass; Days, weeks, months could pass, and I would lie there, unknowing, uncaring, lost in her. I can’t read her face, her eyes half-lidded but attentive. After a moment she shifts, burrowing her face against my knee.
Kisses punctuate her ascent along my leg and she pushes me gently until I unfold beneath her, stretched sanguine. She breathes against my breasts; her hair tickles my sides.
“I want to paint you.” Lifting her head, those heated green eyes catching mine and holding them, she murmurs with inescapable authority. “I am going to paint you.”
Far from the fire she leads me, into the cooler parts of the house, along winding limb-like hallways and past coloured doors with mismatched handles.
I am shivering when she topples me into the studio with more kisses, impatient kisses, and closes the door.