Her eyes stared back at her from the mirror, and there they were – wrinkles beginning to form in the corners of her eyes. She couldn’t bare their ugliness, ruining her perfect face.
She broke her gaze finally. Picked up her powder compact and delicately applied it on her face with a brush. Slapped on her red lipstick and took one last look in the mirror, she slowly put on her sunglasses, gathered her purse and jacket, and left her room.
She wondered, has he forgotten the deal…or was it her? But she had stayed true to it…at least…she thought she did. She locked the front door. It was dark outside. She walked over to her white ’69 Ford Mustang, and got in. She placed her gloved hands on the steering wheel and revved the engine, her watch said 10:30pm, the night was only beginning.
She drove into the Regency Hotel entrance, its lights were too bright and she could hear the chitter chatter of people and the faint lobby music escaping whenever the entrance doors opened. She handed over the keys to the valet and walked in.
The doorman greeted her as usual, she returned the greeting with a slight, graceful nod and a smile. She could feel everyone’s eyes on her, men stopped in their tracks women gaped, but she was used to it. She gave a small private smile.
She entered the bar and found an empty booth; the air smelled of expensive cigars and all sorts of different perfumes, they were colours in her head. A female baritone voice filled the room with jazz notes accompanying it, she stood to admire the band playing at the far corner of the room before taking a seat.
She placed her purse on the table and pulled the scarf from her neck, the loose knot untied itself gracefully. She didn’t take off her emerald green jacket or her gloves, her sunglasses stayed on too, she wasn’t too happy with her eyes today. Her black hair was neatly tied in a bun that rested on the nape of her neck where a gold chain lay, glinting. An elegant white silk shirt was tucked into a pert black pencil skirt resting comfortably on her body. Her feet were in black leather pumps.
A gin and tonic arrived at her table. She looked over to the bar and gave a slight wave to the bartender. He knew her drink. She looked around, it was the usual crowd. The mob leaders in the corner near the band, their body guards all in black strolling about with expressionless faces. The business men in the middle and the after work crowd filling the rest of the room. It was a risky place, but that’s what attracted the young crowd. Their bank accounts may not always be able to accommodate the expense but they wanted to be a part of the pizzazz.
A tall figure approached her table, pulled the chair opposite to her and sat down slightly facing the band. The man in black. He snapped his fingers to the beat of the song and hummed the tune. A signet ring with the emblem of two crossed bones embossed on it wrapped his little finger.
He turned his head towards her, an ageless face, pale grey eyes studying. “You really are a vision, Serene”, he said in his cool, raspy voice. She liked how he said her name. “Well…all thanks to you”, she said raising her drink to him. “Sarcasm…?”, he asked and laughed. She felt a chill go down her spine. She definitely was not in a position to act smart; she did owe him her life after all. A deal made years ago.
There was romance once, but not anymore. Now their relationship is just a contract she is bound to forever. He was old as time, she just a mere mortal in eternal servitude to him. She should’ve known better. But the cost of vanity is such.
His cold gaze swept the room, “Ah….to be young and naive to the dangers that surround you”, he said taking a deep breath, inhaling the scents that filled the room, tasting it on his tongue. “The night is young, Serene, you are a hunter and they your prey…do what you have to do, lest you’ve forgotten your purpose”, he warned, and he was gone.
She had already spun her web, and waited till the prey came to her. One was already drawn in by her allure, she sipped her drink. A tall young man around mid 20s walked towards her table. “I spotted you from across the room”, he said, standing in front of her, “you look like you are about to leave”, a grin flashed across his face, perfect teeth. She looked up at him, “Well, I haven’t finished my drink, so no I’m not about to leave”, she said, “you aren’t very smart are you?”, a smile reached her lips.
“Hahahaha!”, a boom of laughter, “well, just not great at breaking the ice, may I take a seat?”, he kept his hand on the seat in front of her. “Please”, she gestured with a gloved hand. He sat down, “So, you look like a regular”, he pointed out, “does this same band play here everday?”, he asked looking towards the band. “I used to be a regular, and no they only play on Thursdays”, she answered.
His face was chiseled, perfect dark features and great hair. He was wearing an expensive suit, dark grey, white shirt, his tie probably pocketed away. His perfume had musk undertones. He turned to face her, “how come not a regular anymore?”, a slight frown.
“Well…I guess it eventually got boring”, she answered leaning forward slightly, “same people, same drink, same music”, a lie, the music was the main reason she chose this place. She was not traditionally adventurous, her brand of adventure dabbled in familiarity.
“Well, you are here tonight, old habits die hard I guess”, he said and lifted his glass to her, scotch. She laughed; it was like water clear, pure, “True”, she lifted her glass in return.
The conversation continued for another 30 minutes. People drank, laughed, fed their indulgences and left all the while the blues kept playing. He was intrigued by her; she had played this game too long to find him interesting. Many men like him had come and gone, she could care less.
He was interested in her white mustang, she suggested going for a ride. They left the bar; he was slightly drunk, but not too much. He couldn’t remove that stupid smile off his face. The valet brought her car up and they got in.
“Wow, this is one hell of a car”, he said amazed, like a kid in a candy store, “vintage is best”.
“It definitely is”, she stepped on the gas. They arrived at her house; he suggested they end the night there, saying he could get his BMW in the morning. Lucky him, she thought with a sly smile, lucky me.
Her house was at the end of a private lane, it wasn’t too big or too small, it was just right. The backdoor opened to a forest, with a wide lake that sparkled in the moonlight. She had left the lights on so he could see the house in all its glory.
He got out of the car slowly, eyes wide with amazement, it was all part of the game. “Colonial house?”, He asked gaping, “yes”, she answered with a sigh, “family heirloom”. She walked up the porch stairs and entered the house, leaving the door open, “close the door once you are in!”, she called.
She took off her jacket and sunglasses now. She hung the jacket on the coat hanger and placed the sunglasses and keys on the coffee table in the living room. She glanced at herself in the big mirror hung over the fire place, he was in the house now, she heard him shutting the door behind him. “So…you live here alone? Aren’t you worried about…security?”, chivalry or concern or just pretence she didn’t care but she answered back, “I have a good security system”, she walked into the hall way. “How about I fix you a drink?”, she smiled at him, “you can continue the interview while I give you a tour of the house”, he laughed, she walked down the hallway into the bar. He followed.
She was prepping the glasses when he walked in. He unbuttoned his jacket and sat down on the velvet sofa. She handed him a glass of scotch and sat down next to him. She took off her heels, he watched while he took a sip of the drink. “So…what does a girl like you do to own a house like this and have car like that up front”, he asked, the ice clinking in his glass. He clearly hadn’t heard her the first time, “Nothing much really, my family’s rich”, she answered titling her head, she gave a little chuckle. “Haha…I see…it must get lonely up here though”, what a poor segue to the target she thought…so cheesy. “Yes, but I have many hobbies”, she said, “and I attend alot of functions”, “how many functions can there be…?”, he asked, moving in a little closer now, “you’d be surprised”, she raised her eyebrows, “time to see the rest of the house?”, she said it, got up and left the room, he followed in a hurry.
She took him up the stairs on to the 2nd floor; contemporary art pieces adorned the walls. He thought he was scoring when she said, “you should see the attic, most of the good stuff is up there”, she had a mischievous glint in her eye, how could he say no?
He followed her up a narrow flight of stairs at the end of the hall to a dusty attic. Antiques adorned the room with some bare space in the centre, only a sofa placed there. A huge antique mirror was placed in front of the sofa, a few feet away. You could see the night sky through a window on the ceiling. “What can I say….your place is truly magical”, he said in awe.
She put on an old record on the player; he gulped down the last of his drink. He approached her; he thought this was his moment. She didn’t turn around, she sighed, “you know…many men have come up here…all of them mesmerized”, he wasn’t really listening to her, “all that flattery…that fake concern…”, he held her waist, smelled her hair. She turned then, there was a glint, something caught the light and then it was red.
He gasped as blood sprayed from his neck, he staggered backwards. His blood covered her face, her silk shirt stained by his blood, a pocket knife clutched in her right hand. His vision was beginning to blur, he grasped at his slashed neck, blood spurting everywhere. She walked towards him and dragged him to an old bathtub at the back of the room. His body had begun convulsing, going into shock like an animal at slaughter. She held his neck over the rim of the bathtub, the blood gushed into it.
She was muttering an ancient chant under her breathe as she struggled to keep his head in the right position, fighting against the convulsions. The blood gushed out of him with supernatural force. He had finally stopped moving, a shrivelled corpse was all that was left of him. She let go and leaned against the tub, tired out…She slowly took off her clothes lay herself in the tub of blood, still warm.
She submerged herself fully, holding her breathe, her eyes shut. In few minutes she got out of the tub, gasping. There was a small shower in the corner, she rinsed herself and walked over to the mirror. The moonlight hit her skin. She had lost almost 10 years, she felt fit, her skin was supple, and those crow’s feet were gone.
She put on the green robe that lay on the floor next the mirror. It had an intricately embroidered peacock on it. The record was still playing, she begun to hum the tune, it was her favourite. The man in black emerged from the darkest edge of the room. She was startled by him, “it feels good doesn’t it?”, she looked at him, a smile creeping up her lips, “yes…I almost forgot what it felt like…”, he smiled then.
The man in black walked towards her, “may I have this dance?”, he asked with a bow and an outstretched hand. She looked at him, surprised, taken aback…it had been ages since he had danced with her…let alone appeared in front of her. She laughed, “yes”, she slid into his arms as they swayed to the music.