“Are you as bored with this crowd as I am?”
The man who spoke was tall, just over six feet, with warm brown eyes and wavy dark hair that fell to his shoulders. His bearing was immaculately casual as he leaned against the bar with a practiced ease. His voice was deep and rich, a nice alto rather than a rumbling bass. I turned to him and looked him in the eye. I looked deep, deep enough that he winced, involuntarily flinching in discomfort as I peered into him, just for a moment, just long enough to take his measure. Then I looked down and gave him the requisite once-over, flitting my gaze past his face, down to his expensive-but-tasteful boots, working my way back up before looking him in the eye again, but not so deeply this time. He was easy on the eyes, to be sure. This was going to be fun, one way or another.
He was a musician, a rock-and-roller successful enough to be comfortable, yet still driven by the passions and intensity his craft required. He was part of a band, I recalled, but none of his band-mates seemed to be here at the moment. Still, he wore his professional persona for this evening’s appearance, garbed as he was in black leather pants and a matching vest, a v-neck t-shirt underneath – also black, of course. All in all, he managed to balance the dark, not-quite-metal motif of his costume with a charming, roguish quality, almost as if you had crossed Errol Flynn with a young Gene Simmons. He had enough edge to be cred-worthy, but he still retained that boyish, innocent mischief that had made Errol such a delight. Fun, indeed.
We were at a party, a premier or release party for something, and I turned around to look at the other people present. They were the usual crowd you found at these sorts of events. Older men with money and power who liked being fawned over by bubble-headed girls barely out of their teens. Assorted actors, male and female, who were looking to make connections that would lead to their big break. Other people who worked in support industries who were there to schmooze and be seen with celebrities. And others who, like me, didn’t quite fit in, but who blended into the chaos, pursuing their own agendas, visible yet invisible within the visual and audible feast around us.
“It could be worse. At least Downey Jr. showed up. That’s always good for some entertainment.”
He laughed, nodding slightly. We made small talk while watching the antics of the crowd. His name was Keith. I told him mine was Sophie. That drew an odd look from him.
“You don’t look like a Sophie,” he said, his expression puzzled.
“Oh?” I replied. “And what does a Sophie look like?”
“I dunno.” He looked at me then, hard, concentrating, as if he was trying to inventory everything he could see about me. “It just doesn’t seem to fit you,” he said finally, obviously perplexed. Interesting… I thought.
I looked good, I knew, dressed in a crushed velvet gown the color of a rich claret that showed plenty of leg and hugged every curve, and which showed just enough decolletage to entice while remaining classy and tasteful. My blue-black hair curled gracefully down my neck, lightly touching my shoulders, drawing attention to them and to the curves of my bare arms which had enough tone to be enticing, but not enough to seem muscular. For this evening I had decided to go with blue eyes, a deep sapphire with subtle golden highlights that would flash at unexpected moments. I had also made sure my skin was ivory and flawless, with enough rosy glow to radiate health and, somehow, wholesomeness. Add the classically arched eyebrows and deep red lipstick, carefully matched to complement both my dress and my complexion… Yes, indeed, I looked good, and he knew it, too.
I shrugged and blew the matter of my name off with a, “Whatever.” Then I turned my attention back to the crowd and took a sip of my drink. He wasn’t satisfied with this response, but he had better manners than to press the issue. So he changed topics.
“So what do you do, Sophie?” he said, trying somehow to make the name fit, even though his instincts told him it wouldn’t, no matter how hard he tried.
I quirked a smile at him, turning to face him while leaning toward him, revealing cleavage at just the right angle to snare his attention fully.
“Whatever I want,” I said, slowly and deliberately, cranking up the mischievous gleam in my eyes, daring him to… something. The devilish grin that sprouted on his face in response, combined with the deep, in-drawn breath he took, was exceedingly gratifying.
He quickly downed the last of his drink, then said to me, “Let’s get out of here,” moving closer, close enough that I could feel the warmth from his body and smell the drink on his breath.
I quirked my head and gave him a look as to say, “Why should I go anywhere with you?” He took the bait.
“Look, I’m staying at the hotel across the street,” he told me then, looking as if he felt incredibly masterful. Silly man. He thought he was snaring me instead of the other way around. “Not much else is going to happen here tonight. Besides,” he said, pouring on the charm and intensity, smiling with frank and mature appreciation, “I want to get to know you better.”
He was so charming, so earnest. I tilted my head back and laughed, smiling at him warmly. Then I took a final sip of my own drink, set it down and said to him, “Let’s go.”
We made our way out of the party, sneaking out quickly to avoid any further delay. Then across the street to his hotel, a Five Star affair, of course, resplendent with gilt and glass and perfectly manicured plants artfully placed to dampen sound and enhance the overall lush ambiance. But before we headed up to his room we stopped by the concierge desk where he requested two bottles of wine and a fruit and cheese plate to be sent up directly. Nice touch, that, I thought.
Neither one of us spoke as we rode the elevator up. We just looked at each other and smiled knowing smiles, relishing the anticipation of what was yet to come.
His “room” turned out to be a suite, as lavish yet tasteful as the rest of the hotel. There were at least two bedrooms, a living room, dining room and an office area with a desk, complete with phone, laptop and printer. I took it all in quickly, then turned to him and asked, “What, no groupies?”
He immediately turned, anxious expression on his face until he saw my smirk. Then he relaxed, shaking his head at me ruefully. “You,” he said, “have a wicked sense of humor!”
“I’ve always thought it was one of my better qualities,” I replied as I strolled into the living room and slipped out of my high heels. For dramatic effect I went to the large window at the far end of the room, gazing down at the street below. As I expected, he came up behind me, casually, of course, yet close enough for me to feel him there and for him to be able to smell my hair, my perfume… Gently, he pulled my hair to one side so he could nuzzle the back of my neck, inhaling deeply and appreciatively. He had placed his hands on my arms and was lightly kissing my neck and shoulders when the door chimed.
“That would be the wine,” he said, sighing softly as he stepped away to accept the delivery. I moved to the couch, reclining at one end of it while wine, glasses, edibles and accouterments were placed on the coffee table before me. The delivery complete, the hotel attendant left and Keith closed the door, turning and leaning on it afterwards with exaggerated relief and a deep sigh. I chuckled and smiled, then waved him closer, to his obvious delight.
From that point we drank and nibbled, kissed and fondled, taking our time and enjoying the moment, immersed in the sensual delights we freely shared. Eventually we moved to one of the bedrooms, unwrapping each other slowly, appreciating the revelation brought by each garment removed until we were both fully unclothed. Then our kisses and caresses intensified, stoking the fires of our shared passion until the moment when he was hard and I was wet and the waiting was over. We both gasped as he entered me, the shock of that first penetration sending waves of pleasure through us both. Then we danced that primal, primordial dance, bodies and senses entwined, neither one of us certain where one ended and the other began. Hours passed, unheeded, until finally we reached that state where everything exploded and all we could to was cling to each other as we rode wave after wave of ecstasy and bliss.
Then the moment passed, leaving behind languorous contentment and deep restfulness. It wasn’t long before that restfulness pulled him into a deep sleep, but to be on the safe side I placed my lips on his and sipped at his essence, taking no more than was necessary to keep him asleep for at least an hour or so. I had decisions to make, and I didn’t want him waking while I pondered what to do next.
The bedroom was spacious and had several chairs, one of which was overstuffed and off in a corner. I rose from the bed, pausing a moment to look at the sleeping man within it before settling myself in the chair to begin my contemplations.
I had a dilemma to solve. I had been hired to seduce this man, to make him infatuated with me, and to break his heart. This was nothing new. I had long since lost count of how many men I had broken over the years. But I didn’t like breaking men who were undeserving of my cruelty. I don’t know, maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, but now that I knew this man, had tasted him on more levels than he could imagine, I was seriously thinking about cancelling the contract and giving my client a full refund. She wouldn’t like that, of course, but now that I knew both parties involved I knew that, while, yes, Keith had broken more than one heart in his day, he didn’t do so maliciously. His charm and good looks were as good as catnip for any number of women, and I was sure that more than one had misinterpreted his good manners for something else, partly, no doubt, out of their own misguided desires.
On the other hand, I could complete the contract, reaching into him and twisting his soul so that he would never know peace, so that he would crave my attentions like an addict craves his next fix. But since “Sophie” didn’t exist, that fix would never come, and eventually his desires, left unrequited, would drive him mad. He’d never forget me, no matter which path I settled on, so perhaps I’d get a song or two out of this adventure.
No, I realized, I had no desire to break him. He had neither malice nor cruelty. He was a musician, an artist, full of that creative lunacy true artistry requires. The woman who had hired me had none of the qualities that appealed to him, and I sensed he had seen her interest and done his best to let her down gently. The more I thought about it, however, the more I realized that even if I did cancel the contract with this woman nothing would satisfy her until either he gave her what she wanted, or he was destroyed, whether by my hand or by someone else’s.
The sky grew light while I pondered. I supposed that I could cancel the contract, then hire the Memory Eater to visit the woman, removing the memory of whatever moment or moments had triggered her obsession. That would be costly, however. The Memory Eater only exchanged favors, and I was already indebted to her… it… whatever. The last thing I wanted was to deepen my debt, so I needed an alternative. But what?
I was still pondering when Keith began to wake, stretching with relaxed pleasure, then realizing that he was alone in the bed. Groggily, he looked around until he found me lounging in the chair. First, he smiled. Then he started, not sure what he saw, but obviously startled by it.
While I had been thinking over my next moves I had obviously relaxed my camouflage. My hair would still be black, but now it fell far past my hips, some of it draped carelessly across my lap. My skin would still be creamy white, but it had most likely lost some of the rosy quality it had had the night before so that now it looked more like marble than flesh. And, I expect, my eyes had probably gone full black. I quickly shifted them back to sapphire so as to be less disturbing to my lover. He was in for enough shocks as was. No need to frighten the man more than necessary.
He stared at me for several moments, his breath short, pulse racing, eyes glinting with suspicion and fear. Even so, he remained still, mastering his desire to flee in spite of the uncertainty of his situation. Finally he spoke.
“Who are you?” he asked, only a hint of tremble in his voice.
“I am Lilith,” I answered. “You and I have a mutual acquaintance, one Cindy Solomon. She hired me to seduce you, among other things.” I smiled slightly, then gave him time to absorb what I had just told him.
“Cindy? But, I don’t understand,” he replied several moments later, obviously confused.
“She fancied your attentions, it seems, and you denied her. She hired me to make you suffer for it.”
That got a reaction. He sat up quickly, pulling the bed sheet around him, as if that could protect him.
“No,” he said, shaking his head, “I still don’t understand. Cindy is married to a guy we’ve been talking to about handling a tour in the UK and Europe. I have never hit on her. This has to be a mistake.”
Married, I thought to myself. She neglected to mention that minor detail. I let him sweat for a bit, then I answered him.
“I believe you.”
This made some aspects of the situation easier, and others less so. I steepled my fingers in front of me while I thought over how this new information changed things.
“What are you going to do to me?” Keith finally asked, interrupting my thoughts several minutes later. He was truly frightened, and our recent intimacy gave him insight enough to know he was dealing with a power far beyond his control.
“You, my dear?” I chuckled softly. “Nothing. Not a damn thing.” To his credit, this made him more anxious, not less. The man had good survival skills, I had to give him that. I continued.
“Cindy made a grievous error when she hired me. She assumed that our contract only bound me, when in fact it bound her as well. By withholding the fact that she is married, she violated the full-disclosure terms of our contract. That,” and now I smiled broadly, “was a mistake.”
Keith’s eyes grew wide and I saw a shudder run through him. “What are you going to do to her?” he asked.
“Nothing,” I said, shaking my head, still smiling. “But I am going to help you free yourself from her interest.”
I thought for a moment, then asked, “How long are you staying here, at this hotel?”
“A few more days. Why?”
“Within the next 24 hours a package will be delivered for you. It will contain a vial of liquid. Liquid,” I said, all seriousness now, “that you must get Cindy to drink.”
The fear and discomfort on Keith’s face was inescapable. I couldn’t help myself. I burst out laughing.
“Don’t worry,” I told him, still chuckling. “It won’t hurt her. Think of it as a reverse roofie. Sometime within the next week you will take Cindy to lunch, or coffee. Something safe and innocuous. Put the liquid in her drink and you’re as good as free of her infatuation. One sip and she will lose all interest in you.” At this I grew serious again, reassuring him as best I could. “She won’t be harmed in any way, but she will no longer desire you as a potential lover or conquest.”
“You’re sure it won’t hurt her?”
“I give you my word.” He didn’t know how binding that simple statement was, but I did. I was committed now.
He relaxed, a little. He was still afraid, but his fear now was more generalized and nebulous. I could tell he had questions, too. Questions that had answers that would do him harm. It was time for me to go.
I rose from the chair, letting my hair fall to my knees. Then I stretched and rolled my head around on my neck. I had been sitting in that chair for hours and the stretch felt good. I thought about walking over to the bed to give Keith a farewell kiss, but I could tell that would end badly. Instead I gathered up the dress I had worn the night before, slipped it on and headed for the living room. Yes, it was definitely time to leave.
I poured the last of the wine into a glass and drank it, nibbled on a bit of leftover cheese, then headed for the door. I didn’t need to use the door, but Keith had dealt with enough startling things for one morning, and he had been ever so much fun the night before.
“Wait!” he said, scrambling from the bed, still struggling to keep the sheet wrapped around his waist. I paused, turning to look at him. Then I smiled at him as warmly as I could. I couldn’t help myself. He had been a lot of fun. Moreover, he was a good man, charming, conscientious and thoughtful, a considerate lover… If I wasn’t careful, I could get quite attached to him. That wouldn’t do.
“Will I see you again?” he asked, fear and uncertainty still warring with his earnest and endearing desire. This time when I looked into his eyes he did not flinch, but his eyes did widen a bit as he glimpsed some of what lay behind my eyes. After a brief moment I blinked and looked down, breaking the gaze and the connection that went with it. I could just say no, but if I left him with a kernel of hope… I might get that song after all.
“Maybe,” I said finally. Then I turned and went out the door, closing it gently behind me.
I checked quickly to make sure no one else was around, then I turned right and walked to the end of the hall, passing silently though the wall at the end. I had decided to wait a bit before cancelling the contract that led me to Keith. Long enough, I thought, for him to get Cindy to drink that potion, at least. But that didn’t mean I was completely off the hook myself. Not yet, anyway.
I spread my wings and rose to the sky, unseen and silent. I’d head for home and get my chores out of the way first. I needed to make that potion and get it delivered to the hotel. Then, I decided, I’d take the rest of the day off. It had been a lovely night, and it was going to be a beautiful day.