Dee just laughs. “Do I look like a banker?”
“No . . . I wouldn’t say you do.” Her eyes cut to Dee’s dress, and her voice takes on that bitchy, passive-aggressive tone that I can’t stand on a woman. “Your dress is much too . . . bold . . . for a banker. Not every woman would be so . . . brave . . . to wear something so unusual.”
Delores smiles sweetly—but there’s a bite to it. “So nice of you to say. And your dress, it’s so very . . . beige.”
Rosaline caresses the fabric modestly. “Well, you know what they say—less is more.”
Dee looks her right in the eyes. “And sometimes less is . . . just less.”
She lets the jab hang for a moment. Then she turns to me. “I love this song. Do you want to dance?”
Instrumental music has been floating around the room all night. The song Dee loves is a jazzy, wordless version of “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole.
Rosaline chuckles. “My dear, that’s just background music. No one actually dances at these things.”
Delores shrugs. “Life is short—I never pass up the chance to dance to a good song. Matthew, what do you say?”
I take Dee’s hand and kiss it softly, so proud of her right now. “I say, I’d dance with you anywhere.”
Then I lead her to the middle of the room. As we pass Rosaline, Dee whispers, “Lovely to meet you, dahling. Ta-ta.”
I take her in my arms and begin a smooth, easy fox-trot. Dee follows my lead effortlessly. “Wow, look at you, Fred Astaire. I didn’t know you could dance like this.”
“I’m very talented.”
She grins. “Believe me, I know.” Her eyes slide in Rosaline’s direction. “Sooo . . . is every woman you introduce me to going to be a bitch?”
I think it’s over. “No—she was the last of them.”
“Is she an ex-girlfriend or something?”
No man wants to tell the story of how he was played—made a chump. It’s embarrassing, uncomfortable—we generally choose to block it out and replace it with stories of our winning touchdowns and all-night f**k fests.
“Or something. Why do you ask?”
“It feels like she’s trying to slit my throat with her eyes.”
Skillfully, I turn us, so my body obscures her view.
But Dee still says, “She’s very beautiful—like a Victoria’s Secret model.”
“Baby, she doesn’t hold a candle to you.”
She stops dancing. Fully. Immediately. And her face—her gorgeous face is a mixture of hurt and doubt . . . and a trace of resentment.
“Don’t do that.”
“Don’t do what?”
“Don’t feed me a line like I’m a girl you just met in a bar. Tell me you hate her, or tell me you want to f**k her brains out, and either way, I’ll deal. Whatever you say, just . . . mean it. Be here with me . . . be real.”
She’s right. Right on the money. Reflexes are a body’s reaction without input from the brain. They happen independently—without thought or consideration. Insecurity is not something I’m used to hearing from Dee. And I sure as shit don’t want to keep talking about Rosaline, so I said the first thing that came to my lips. Without thinking.
Without meaning it.
And she deserves better than that.
“I . . . I’m sorry.” I pull her back to me, and we’re dancing again, slower than before.
Dee rests her cheek against mine, and I kiss the shell of her ear before whispering, “What I meant to say was, she’s beautiful—but only on the outside. You, on the other hand . . . you’re like a diamond. Clear . . . and flawless . . . through and through.”
She tilts her head up to look at me. And she’s smiling again. And I feel like a master of the universe.
“I like that much better.”
I brush my hand up her arm, over her shoulder, under her hair to the back of her neck. Then I kiss her softly. Tenderly. I worship her lips, venerate her tongue. It’s wet and wonderful—the kind of kiss that makes you forget you’re in a public place—or if you do remember, that makes you not give a flying f**k.
When the music and the kiss end, Delores licks her lips. “Let’s get out of here.”
When we get back to my apartment, Delores takes off her heels, dropping each one with a thud as she walks straight to the stereo system.
“Do you want some wine?” I ask.
Her eyes rake over me appreciatively. “I’m not thirsty for wine.”
As she plays with the buttons, I press up behind her, skimming my lips across her neck and my fingers up her sides. The speakers come alive with “Demons” by Imagine Dragons. Dee presses the REPEAT button and swivels her ass against me.
“I like this song,” she says.
“I like this dress.”
She turns to face me. And her breath tickles my ear as she whispers, “You’re going to like what’s underneath it a lot more.”
She drags my jacket off my arms and drops it on the floor. I take her mouth, and she makes quick work of my shirt. Her hands glide over my chest as she backs me up, wordlessly guiding me to the couch. I sit back, expecting her to follow me down.
But she doesn’t. Instead she stands up.
And the heat in her eyes—the hunger—makes my heart pound. She retrieves my camera from the coffee table, then she kneels between my spread knees, presenting it to me, like an offering.
“Take my picture, Matthew.”
I breathe heavy—almost a grunt. And my c**k aches with anticipation. Of watching her, touching her, and yes, photographing her.
On some level, every guy wants to be a p**n star. I mean, really, can you conceive of a more awesome way to make a living? Disneyland may be the happiest place on earth, but Silicone Valley is the place men’s wishes come true. Homemade sex tapes and photographs allow men—and women—to taste that fantasy. To reminisce and relive the most erotic experiences of their lives.
If that’s too wild for your tastes, you may want to skip this next part.
Dee smiles when I take the camera from her hands. I double-check the film and the battery while she stands up and sways her hips in time with the music. Her eyes close, her head rocks side to side, her shiny, strawberry-blond locks fan out around her as she spins.
And she looks so . . . free. So beautifully unrestrained.
It takes my breath away.
I capture the moment with eager hands. Click, click, click goes the shutter.