The Cheshire Cat
The kitchen was bursting at the seams with color and laughter. A few of the guests had spilled out onto the terrace, overlooking the pool. The party had started a few hours ago, and was now in full swing. People gathered in groups, men chuckling over business, women giggling in their flutes of champagne. I watched Melody sail effortlessly in between each cluster, refilling drinks, circulating the Hors d’œuvres we had prepared only a few hours earlier. I had not seen her in over a year since her move, and watching her flutter in her element only increased the sting of distance that had lapsed between us. She had always been a breath of fresh air. So carefree and light in her approach to people, fun loving and wicked in her pursuits of pleasure. A kindred soul of mine from our first meeting. I always envied her poise, her lust for life, how men vied for her attention. A friend in college and throughout the years following, Melody had always been one of my closest companions, and every part of me buzzed with happiness in being here with her, sharing her luscious surroundings. She had done well for herself.
Her hair fell down to the mid of her back, the tight red curls framing her soft ivory face. The black velvet dress she adorned hugged every curve of her body. From the swell of her ample breasts, inwards towards her small waist, flaring out to meet her womanly hips and over her lean thighs. She coupled the dress with silk stockings and black pointed high heels. She looked ravishing, almost disheveled, and simply glowed as she presented herself to each guest.
“God, can you believe this party is still going strong?” she asked as she made her way through the crowd towards me. It was easy to see the excitement in her eyes. They were brimming with green, big and bright, much like a child.
“Yes, check you out, Miss Social Butterfly. Quite a nice gathering of people.” I paused and looked at her in earnest. “Oh Melody, I am so glad you invited me up here for a few days. I sorely needed the break. And well, I need to live a little, too. All work and no play makes for a very unhappy Bethany. I have missed you!” I smoothed her copper locks tenderly, brushing them from her face. She wrapped an arm around my waist, planted a kiss firmly on my cheek with her red lips, and drew me closer. “You are always welcome here, and you are a sight for sore eyes. You look fabulous.” She smiled that impish smile of hers, and I laughed.
“Tell me,” I whispered over the bubbles, as I filled my champagne. “Who is that man over there? The one in the corner, talking to Alex?”
“Oh, that would be Nathan. We met on a business trip in Melbourne a few years ago. He now consults for an agency not too far from mine. Why?” She turns her grin towards me along with her query, that naughty smile plastered across her face.
“Oh…” I stumble, “No reason really. You know me, I like to watch people…” I felt like someone had caught me with my hand in the cookie jar. My cheeks warm immediately. I confess “I’ve spied him looking this way a few times is all…” I trail off and look away, hoping to change the subject.
“Yes, he likes to watch, too….” she confides under her breathe, a little above a hiss, looks at me and then laughs. “Oh look,” she exclaims. “You’re about to meet him.” And with a nod of her head, she points out that Nathan is making his way across the room towards us. The temperature instantly jumps by about 10 degrees. My fingers tingle with a mix of panic and excitement, the grip on my champagne flute tightening. Being a woman of detail, my stealthy accomplice notices the change in my composure instantly, this only tickles her further.
“Melody, you are nothing short of evil!” I gasp, laughing along with her, my face now sharing her smile, half beaming because of embarrassment, the other half because of the bubbly.
“Well, look what we have here.” Nathan purrs on arrival, a sly smile crossing his lips. He’s much taller than I had guessed from the distance of the room. His chest is broad, strong, manly. I’m taken aback at how handsome he is, how warm he seems. Open, almost. “You two look like devilish school girls, trading secrets, whispering in the corner here.” His attention turns to me, his hand extended. “My name is Nathan. And who might you be?” he inquires. His hazel eyes sparkle with curiosity, they smile with his mouth.
“Bethany, pleased to meet you.” I answer, directly meeting his gaze and holding out my hand. He takes my offering, his fingers wrapping around mine, and gently presses his lips to my hand. His mouth is incredibly soft, a delicious contrast to the slight prickle of his well kept facial hair tickling at my skin. I pull myself away from his strong grasp long enough to notice the absence of a wedding band.
“A beautiful name for a beautiful face,” he states, refilling my glass without a second thought.
“How very James Bond of you. Tell me Nathan, are you always so forward with women, or should I feel special?” My confidence has increased with his blatant cheekiness. This could become quite an interesting night.
He chuckles heartily, surprised at my brashness. “No, not all women. Just the ones that seem worthy of my charm and dashing good looks.” He winks at me, invitingly, and takes a slow sip of his scotch. I find myself pleasantly intrigued by this Cheshire Cat standing before me. There is a pause, and Melody gracefully excuses herself to tend to the thinning party.
“So Melody tells me you met in college,” he continues, his laser sharp focus back on me. “Looking at the two of you, I would have guessed you to be sisters.”
“Well, if by sisters you mean double trouble, then yes, you would be most correct.” I tease, with a wink of my own. Apparently my beverages are agreeing with me whole heartedly at this point. I’ve managed to relax a little, and my nervousness has been washed away in a jet stream of sparkling liquid.
“Well, that certainly does sound most inviting, Miss Bethany.” He laughs, a flicker of desire dancing in his eyes. “It makes me curious as to how much trouble the two of you could be…” His eyes hold mine.
“Quite a handful for the average man, I’d suspect.” I purr in response, my heart picking up pace with the attention he has given me.
Nathan moves closer to me and gently brushes the back of his hand against my thigh, from the outer, inward. Slowly, deliberately, taking his time to fully enjoy this small stolen gesture. Noting the pleasure on his face, a jolt of electricity surges up my spine, a ripple of pins and needles disbursing into my fingers. He’s close enough now that I can feel his warm breath dancing lightly on my neck.
“Sounds like a challenge to me. I’d love to test your theory….”