The Sweetness of Eden; A Tale of Lust

The Sweetness of Eden; A Tale of Lust

No connections. That was Cazella’s rule. Favorites were fine; they kept her entertained and kept her paid. A win-win scenario. But connections could get people killed.

She danced her corners like they were stages, the street lights her spotlight, the passing cars the roar of the crowd. And she took appointments at the Madame’s request. It didn’t matter to her where the performance took place. She was good at it. Her clients were always pleased, the Madame even more so, and it kept her mind off other things.

That was the trap, more than anything. She had convinced herself long ago that the hired guns scouring the world for any trace of her kept her from living a normal life, but that was only a half-truth. The other half of her fears she buried in the time she spent with her clients, an endless string of men, an endless parade of passion and distraction, the perfect way to keep the truth at bay.

She was ready for the nightly charade; to swing her hips and bat her eyelashes and make some passing fool think she couldn’t live without him. The moment she had him under her spell, the true fun would begin. And if she was lucky, she’d be too exhausted after to think for the next eight hours or so.

It was still early, and she wasn’t surprised when her seeking sweeps of the surrounding area detected no hopeful prospects. She was discerning; not because of safety – the Madame saw to that – but because she wanted someone who could keep her entertained. Perhaps she should have been a little less discerning. It would have kept her from noticing him.

He was tall and muscular, but that wasn’t what drew her gaze. It was the cowboy hat. The distinctive Texan style invoked by his plaid shirt, faded and torn blue jeans and brown leather jacket. She was surprised he didn’t have a gun holstered at his hip. Or maybe he had it holstered somewhere it was harder to spot. He was that kind of guy.

He wasn’t the first man to make her break her rules. But he might just be the first she broke them for twice. If she could just catch his gaze…

It was a bad idea. She knew from the first swing of her hips, even as the click-clack of her high-heeled shoes filled the night around her. But memories of his body covered in sweat, his hair tousled beneath her fingers, and his breath hot on her neck momentarily drowned out the memories of knives flashing beneath bright lights and angry calls while someone restrained her legs and tried to bash her head into the pavement, and she couldn’t stop. After all, the former was so much more appealing than the latter.

By the time she crossed the first street, it was too late. His eyes had already found her. It might have been her blue hair. It might have been her pale skin. Or it might have been some cosmic force drawing them back to the same crossroads despite having parted ways permanently more than a year before.

Perhaps he hadn’t known it was meant to be permanent. That might work to her advantage.

She expected anger when she came to rest on the corner of his street, but he approached with eager curiosity and what might have been a hint of hope. She wondered, briefly, if she had wounded his heart or his ego. Men were infinitely more likely to forgive the breaking of their heart than the shattering of their ego. But for all his muscle and calm confidence, he had never been that kind of guy.

He stopped just short of her circle of light and swallowed hard before he spoke, perhaps under the impression that she couldn’t see him from the corners of her half-lidded eyes.

“Caz?” He almost seemed to choke on her name, as if it were tied to overwhelming memories.

She turned slowly, letting him see the grin as it spread across her lips, lighting up her pale face and yellow-contacted eyes. “Hey, big guy.” She said it in her most sultry, the voice that always brought them to her side, sometimes even to their knees. He had always liked that voice, but she wondered if it would serve her now. She hardly had any right to believe he would leave with her, considering how their last meeting had ended.

“Is this a dream?” he asked, in a daze.

She paced closer, the click of her heels breaking the stillness. She stopped three feet short of him. If one of them was going to close the difference, it would have to be him. It was the only way she could know for sure. “If it was, would you want me to tell you?”

He hesitated, dipping his head enough that his face was momentarily hidden beneath his wide-brimmed hat. When he raised it again, he shook his head ever so slightly. “Thought I was never gunna see you again.”

She shrugged as the wind carried her curls free of her shoulders. “The world isn’t always as large as we think.” When he didn’t speak she cautiously added, “I didn’t mean for things to happen the way they did. I had some things to take care of. Always thought I’d be back.”

He might have believed her. The glitter in his eyes made her think he wanted to. Or maybe he only wanted the same thing she did. There was no reason for love to be involved.

“You working tonight?” she asked, her eyes flicking toward his empty hip. Not that he normally carried his gun in the open, though it wouldn’t have surprised her.

He shook his head. “You?”

She shrugged again. “Slow night.”

“I’m staying at a hotel a few blocks away…” Again he hesitated, as if reason had gone to war with his obvious desire.

“Want me to meet you there later?” An innocent enough offer. She could always get a quick couple hours of work in. It would take some of the heat off of her delinquency.

He shook his head. “Let’s go out to dinner first. Sounds like you’ve got a long story to tell.”

It took effort to keep her smile from wavering. “Only if we go across town. Better selection,” she added, grasping for a reasonable explanation to the condition. She didn’t want to be interrupted, and if someone took notice of them out over here, there’d be hell to pay. Maybe there would be anyway.

He chuckled. “Some place ritzy?”

She laughed. “You know me better than that.”

“Nah. I know I been puttin’ a lot of pennies aside, just in case I ever got a chance to whisk you away again.”

Something about the way he said it took her breath away. Little did he know he had carried her off the moment she laid eyes on him. “Well what are we waiting for then? Let’s get going.”

*  *  *  *  *  *

It was easy to turn the dinner conversation to him. Where he had been. What he had been doing. Where he was headed. What he could tell her, anyway. Much of his life was as secret as hers. Though she supposed his were the good kind of secrets, the kind people wouldn’t mind if you kept because they led to something good. She had no such excuses, though she dared not let him know.

For all that men sometimes fussed over the way women talked their ears off, most men were more than happy to talk about themselves. All it took was the right questions and a few indications of interest and they would unload.

She doubted her dinner companion got much of the information he wanted from her. But perhaps he had decided he didn’t really care. Perhaps he was more interested in what happened after dinner. That was where her mind lingered for most of the meal. She couldn’t help undressing him silently, recalling every detail of his chiseled chest, his rippling muscles as they moved together, the way his tongue almost seemed to caress her name.

They were barely through the door to his tiny hotel room when they threw their lips at each other. It was the kiss of two people who had spent a long time longing, both believing they would never taste the sweetness of Eden again. He remembered as much as she did, his hands still skilled at the art of pleasing her.

The first several minutes were spent in frenzy as they reconnected, confirming that they were still the same people they had been a year ago. After that, the madness faded but the fire lingered and it was several hours before Cazella thought about where she was or the ramifications of where she had gone.

He had always been able to take her deeper than anyone else, and she gratefully embraced the contented haze that swirled throughout her brain while they were together. It was intoxicating enough that she could get lost in it, if she let herself, and part of her was oh so willing to take the dive. If ever anyone was going to lure her away from her personal laws, it would be him. He alone could give her everything she wanted and he’d probably never question what had come before.

But how long could it possibly last before reality crashed like a tsunami into her comfortable fiction? How much damage would she do to his life if she pursued her selfish desires? It had been exactly these thoughts that had driven her from his arms and the last time, and the same sharp reality would drive him from his bed again.

She gave him everything during the few precious hours they stayed together, kept him awake until the wee hours of morning before she let him pass out. She hadn’t taken her fill, probably never could. But she had to let the foolish fantasy go before it grew grim.

By the time he woke, she would be gone. He could spend weeks searching every corner in the city every night, but he would never find her. There would be another Madame to please and another city to explore, though the dance would be the same. It was time anyway; the realization had been creeping for awhile, though she had ignored it.

But the memory of her time with him would stay with her a long time to come. And maybe someday, if the powers of the universe aligned one more time, their paths would cross again.

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