“My soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tamboura I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.” ― Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
Alexa gathered Mariah’s hair from around her face with her fingers and ran the brush through her hair. They sat on the floor, silk robes flowing loose over their fresh skin in pleats. Alexa’s smooth strokes of the brush soothed Mariah’s anxious heart as she held out her fingers and blew on them to let the French tips dry on her nails.
“Have you thought about what you are going to do with your eye makeup?” Alexa asked.
“I want Peter to notice my lips so I want to play down my eyes a little.”
“He’s going to notice a lot more than your lips in that red silk dress.”
Mariah smiled at the thought of Peter seeing her. She wanted him to want her. Her mind wandered to thoughts of his hands sliding under her dress. She closed her eyes and recreated the feel of his lips on hers.
“What perfume are you going to wear?” Alexa asked as the brush flowed through Mariah’s hair.
Mariah thought about what Jon told her on scents that attract men. That night in the car she was cloaked in a subtle fragrance with a fresh, clean scent, nothing too fervent or floral.
“What I have planned is expensive,” Mariah giggled and wrapped her arms around her stomach.
The girls laughed together as they sensed each other’s intent.
“Jon told me that different perfumes send mixed signals to men and some even turn them off. He said I could plan my date’s outcome by the fragrance I wear.”
“Oooh, I like that. Tell me what you’re wearing tonight.”
“I don’t want too provocative, just subtle and seductive. I’m wearing Hermès’ Eau d’Orange Verte. Jon says men love the smell of Mandarin orange and soft florals. It makes them want to mess up the sheets with you.”
Alexa smiled as she finished pinning Mariah’s hair in an Asian bun with gold dragon pins and a decorative bow.
“Let’s get our makeup on and see how we look in our dress. The boys are finished with their video games and putting their tuxedos on by now. They’ll want to go right away.”
“I want to see them in their Tux. I like a well-dressed man.” Mariah imagined how Peter looked in his tuxedo.
“I hope they like how we look,” Mariah said with a touch of uncertainty.
“We’ll know they approve if they forget video games for the rest of the evening.” Alexa mused with a broad grin.
Mariah smiled and blinked as she thought about the look in Peter’s eyes when he saw her and caught her scent. She always felt good when he looked at her with that longing in his eyes.
“I want to hear more about what Jon says on how to attract a man. I have one in mind that needs a little shaking up tonight at the symphony.” Alexa and Mariah giggled again. Their girl talks were always a source of inspiration and tons of mischief.
* * *
The black Mercedes wound its way down the coast road toward the city as the sun sat low over the water. The offshore breeze picked up, and small white-capped waves glinted in the sun. Mariah daydreamed out the window as sunlight flashed between the fir trees growing along the edge of the elevated road. Peter watched in silence as the cabin of the car became dark then light again as the setting sun shined through the huge trees.
Peter watched as shadows danced across Mariah’s face bathing her in darkness. The high points of her lips and face glowed like golden straw in the light between the shadows. The rhythm of the flashing light was mesmerizing as soft music piped into the cabin. Peter reached for her knee and felt the texture of her stocking and suppleness of her leg. Mariah turned into Peter’s face as he looked out over the horizon.
There was a pause as the two looked into each other’s eyes. Peter wanted to tell Mariah how beautiful she looked, how he wanted her, but all he could manage was a smile. Mariah reached up and placed her fingers on Peter’s chest and felt his heart’s wild beat. She turned and looked out the window. Mariah put her hand on top of Peter’s, closed her eyes, and willed his hand to trace the inside of her thigh.
* * *
No one ever treated her this way. She wondered if this was a typical day for the humans. She wanted to live in this fugue she felt when Peter opened the door and took her hand; shielding her dignity as she stepped from the car into the crowd. He placed her hand in the crook of his arm.
“May I escort you to our seats?” Peter took her wide-eyed smile as a yes.
Mariah found herself pulling closer to Peter as the glances from the other guests flashed in her face like mocking calls from losing gamblers at a prize-fight. They moved away out of respect. Ushers flanked them and escorted them upstairs to the balcony and private room with a view of the orchestra.
Mariah sat with Peter in the shadows against the back wall. Peter tried to concentrate as violins resonated and the piano filled the air, but all he felt was her hip against him. She leaned into him and rested her head on his shoulder. The silkiness of her hair and delicious scent mingled with the music. Peter felt drunk in the comfort of her closeness.
Gloria stared up at the balcony. Her hard stare gave her the countenance of a bird of prey. The lights on stage flashed as the music from the orchestra seemed timed to the flare of her nostrils. She saw the outline of the bitch Cybrid that lay claim to her man. She would allow the whore to enjoy her last moments and then dispose of her at her leisure.
Master Ong watched Gloria, then glanced up at the balcony. He looked over at the archway that served as an exit. The Dragon Messiah came to the Dragon Master’s side and followed his eyes to Gloria staring up into the balcony. He saw murder in her black eyes, squeezed to narrow slits.
The taut muscles in her legs bulged under her dress. She was a Sentinel Warrior, and her instinct was not bred for tea parties and subservient duties. Her job as a waitress was a cover for the real talents she possessed. He could tell she was about to go off her leash. A soul always departed the body when that happened.
Image Source: Hyperion Sturm
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