The bar was buzzing with the sound of cocktail shakers, a broody jazz vocalist and the constant, indiscernible thrum of patrons. I had taken up a stool next to a young woman. Her fingers danced across her phone, an obvious habit developed over recent times, the screen flitting from one app to another, each filled with the faces of different men.
‘Another, Miss?’ A dark-skinned bartender with a black bowler hat asked.
‘I shouldn’t,’ I wrinkled my nose, playfully.
Beneath his earthy complexion, a deep shade of crimson appeared on the apples of his cheeks. ‘You look familiar, you here often?’
I shrugged, the thin strap of my dress slid down my left shoulder. Slowly, I dragged my finger up my arm, readjusting my strap. Aware of the bartender’s eyes on me, I continued, sliding my finger across my collarbone, pausing momentarily at the soft flesh of my neck.
A wine glass slid from his hands and smashed on the floor. Immediately, he stooped to the ground and began cleaning up the debris.
‘You OK?’ I leaned over the bar. His eyes dipped to the tops of my breasts and then quickly diverted away, looking under the bar for a distraction. When nothing revealed itself, he began stuttering about the lack of facilities and promptly took off his hat and used it as a dustpan, depositing the glass shards inside.
I caught the woman’s eyes next to me. She shook her head, looking me up and down.
The tell-tale ding of the elevator sounded across the room and a man in a well pressed suit emerged. He strutted across the bar. The woman sat up straighter.
He slid in between us, with his back to me and the introductions began. With a click of his fingers, he ordered a bottle of Bordeaux, not without first questioning its origins and divulging stories about the many holidays he had spent in the South of France. The woman cooed accordingly, providing the appropriate amount of awe in response.
Digits flashed on my phone. 09:15.
Discretely, I slid away from the bar and made my way to the back room.
The door opened without me having to knock, ‘Right on time,’ he said.
‘Shouldn’t you be working?’ I smiled, stepping into the room and running my hands down the lapels of his jacket.
‘Owners don’t work, they delegate,’ his voice was like whisky, smooth and comforting.
As usual, the white envelope sat on the corner of his desk. I tucked it into my purse, giving only a cursory glance to the notes inside. It had been some time since I had found the need to check his payment. His hand trailed the bare flesh of my arm, and down the silk hem of my dress, pausing only to tease a soft groan from my lips. He pressed his lips against my neck.
‘Do you like Bordeaux?’ I asked, arching my back against his touch.
‘I prefer Jacks,’ he whispered in my ear.
The silk material collected in a pool at my feet and he lifted me up, pressing my back against the cool glass of the window. As the lights of the city blinked behind me, I smiled, glad that my nights no longer included the mockery of pretense and pleasantries.