Kneeling before the porcelain goddess, Liz took pleasure in the waiting line behind her as she purged her sins of the night in heaves of mislaid regret. Throbbing bass pulsed in her chest in time to the tapping impatience of her best friend’s right foot, rabbiting in opposition to a stiff left side and jutting hip as she examined her manicure with open indifference to the bowl worship as she stood sentry outside the door. The nicotine cloud was still in her clothes and hair and the revulsion of smell, sight and sound reached deep in retching to void the abyss of anger and doubt that had Liz in this position.
Stumbling through the crowd, Liz followed Mags through a maze of undulating bodies with spinning thoughts that raced blurred vision in circles that danced in dizzying images of boys and booze and bad choices that felt good. She was so focused on her next step she didn’t care how high her dress crept or that so many were reaching out to touch her body. She was hot and then cold and the cold outside was a reprieve that was suddenly too cold for the flesh that barely covered her bones.
Mags was always sober and her strut placed one foot in front of the other, hips leading and swaying to the authority of her sex and the power of her gaze. She could undress a man with one look and strip him bare. There was no gray area for Mags. The men loved or feared her, and anyone caught in her seduction wanted her or to be her. She was a vixen but shared her knowing smile with anyone brave enough to openly stare at her. She knew she would be fuel for a few fantasies that night and she was confident in her gifts. Her barter was attention and she had enough of what she craved to last for days just on the way to her car.
Outside of the club, the clacking chant of sling back heels was punctuated by the stumbling stomp of patent leather stilettos on the ground that seemed to shift below Liz. Mags stopped just feet from her car while reaching into the right front pocket of her skinny jeans for her keys while her off shoulder top slid further down her arm. She was still tender in this position from her last hike and she loved the feel of sore muscles and the stretch that pulled in tight agony. She pivoted on the ball of her foot to size Liz up. She was wearing a silver wrap dress that was revealing enough to show off the Daddy issues she had inked all over her body. Her hair was a tangled mass from fingers running through it all night. It stuck to her neck in sweat and framed her face in damp tendrils that started to curl. Her makeup was starting to melt in the sheen of sweat. The stench of bile mingled with cigarette smoke and stale perfume. Mags wasn’t letting that mess in her car.
“I told Danny I’d meet him at the pier. I’ll app you a ride,” she half lied. Liz’s pout is always worth a laugh but in her current state, that would probably make her cry. Instead Mags tilted her head into compassion and continued, “I’ll wait with you until the Uber driver gets here,” sealing it with a soft smile that never really reached her eyes.
“Thank you Mags. You really do love me, don’t you,” she said between burps that tasted like the cognac she thought she could handle. Liz realized talking made the spinning worse so she swayed in silence and tried to focus on Mags and her pretty hair.
Mags nodded as noncommittally as she could and said, “always love.” She then reached into Liz’s bra to retrieve her phone and arranged the ride she had no intention of paying for.
Mags snapped a picture of the car and license that arrived, then watched Liz leave as brake lights glared and the car slowed on the corner . Then she headed to her own car, stopping at the trunk to rescue her purse and change into her Ugg boots. She thought about seeing Danny with his blue eyes, soft hair and tender lips but he had so much hate and anger that she always left with more rage than she cared for. His emotional needs weren’t worth his talented touch. She considered Alessandro with the dark hair. She loved his thick accent and his need for physical touch but he was a sensitive one and she wasn’t in the mood to be his shoulder to cry on. She considered Tom. She could tell that he partied too hard at one point and knew all of the neighborhood drug dealers which wasn’t her brand of partying but his solid muscles always made her smile. The thought of all of them made her bored and she wasn’t in the mood for them. They were all very cute and really dumb. She wore her men like warm socks and decided she wanted to be barefoot for the rest of the night.
Mags pulled into the 7-Eleven parking lot for a bottle of coconut water and almost walked past the glorious specimen of a man reaching for a couple of bananas. He was tall and lean and he worshipped the sun as much as she did. He wore running shorts and a t-shirt that clung to his solid chest and grazed his stomach. He looked at her and flashed a smile that was mainly confident, but betrayed his fear of her rejection in his quick glance away and the slight bounce of excitable energy in his legs. She stood beside him, examining bananas and him with her peripheral vision. Mags was on the prowl. She waited for him to look back at her. She waited for him to say something because in his moment of fear, she could feel his need to prove his dominance in being the first to speak to her. She picked a banana and began to turn when he said, “you know, if you get two it’s cheaper.”
Mags turned and gave him her full smile. It’s the one that will make you want her or fear her and she knew it was a gamble. “Thanks for the tip. I might actually be in the mood for coffee.”
“This late?” He looked at her in shock and wonder, and she knew the iron was hot.
“Well, I’m open to tea and thought you might want to join me.” She adjusted her smile into demure interest and waited to see how spontaneous he was.
Glancing at his watch, he looked into her eyes with regret etched into the lines of his face. “I have a deadline and I can’t, but I’d love a rain check.”
She masked her disappointment in a search for the steno pad and pen she kept in her purse. She scribbled her number and ripped the page out of the notebook before she folded it and placed it in his hand, holding it until his warmth sent shivers up her spine with a flush that started in her chest and raced up her face. In that moment she saw their tomorrow and a series of his needs being her desires. She knew his inability to jump at her suggestion made him unworthy of her attention when there were so many options available.
She left him with the memory of swaying hips and a knowing smile, not knowing she had a growing reverse harem and he was her latest addition.