Author: Steve Smith, Staff Writer

“Traffic’s wild tonight,” the driver offered, making brief eye contact in the rearview mirror.

She gave him a thin smile but didn’t respond. She caught her reflection in the Plexi partition and wondered if he noticed her eyes. Wondered if this disguise would survive the evening.

She reapplied lipstick and steadied her nerve. She could hold it together a little while longer.

On arrival, the driver was paid without a word, a cash transaction and an unremarkable tip. She wondered if he’d even remember her in the sea of faces and fares on just another California evening.

The security seemed laid back and lax, but there were familiar bulges under loose-fitting jackets that spoke of imminent violence should the need arise.

The gentleman receiver scanned her invitation and checked against the guest list.

“Weather’s mild tonight,” he spoke without looking up, “you’re all set. Welcome, I hope you have a pleasant evening.”

She smiled a practiced cocktail smile and drifted past him without a word.

Did he suspect? Surely not, or he would have stopped her there at the gate, where she could have been dealt with out of view of the other guests.

She breathed the salt from the breeze off the ocean, composed herself, and walked the ground-lit pathway towards the polite cacophony emanating from the expansive grounds where the party was in full swing.

A waiter appeared with a tray of drinks, and she helped herself, sipping the cold martini while in flight, sucking the fat olive from the skewer, feeling the flesh tear between her teeth. She’d never cease to enjoy that sensation.

She drained the glass and exchanged it for a fresh one before slipping into the sea of suits and low-cut cocktail dresses, her senses aroused, she was hunting now.

For hours she drifted from pocket to pocket of vapid socialites, nodding and smiling at the talk of fashion, of celebrity, the latest jaunt to the South of France, or Monaco. She observed the object of her interest make his way among the crowd as well, shaking hands and kissing cheeks. She orbited the space opposite him, catching his occasional glance, but never allowing him to close the distance between him.

When everyone was starting to sway a little, when the voices got a bit loud, the laughter overly pronounced, she slipped away and into the house. She made her way toward the bedrooms, avoiding confrontation with anyone, but staying in plain sight of the cameras.

He’d be on notice and would follow. The low cut of her dress and his masculine drive to seek out in earnest that which had eluded him all evening guaranteed it.

She waited in his bedroom, sat in the highback armchair under the window, and clocked the passing time.

He wasted none of it.

“You’re not supposed to be here, you know that, don’t you?” The question in a mock-serious tone.

She crossed the room to meet him, held out both arms, wrists up, submissive.

“Are you going to arrest me?” Her tone was coy, inviting.

He put his hands atop hers, slid them towards her, and wrapped his fingers around her wrists, so delicate that his fingers touched easily.

She did the same, her fingers closed around his wrists, and then continued wrapping, snakelike, coiling around and around his arms.

She locked her eyes with his, and he found he couldn’t move.

She entered him, then, through the flesh of his wrists, puncturing the bone to the very marrow, feeling the flesh part for her as she exited her spent shell for this new one.

She’d never cease to enjoy this sensation.

They broke eye contact from this new point of view, the flesh of their previous host sublimating before them, the dress settling to the floor atop a pair of heels and a clutch that would be easily disposed of in the morning.

He adjusted his cuffs as he rejoined the perimeter of the party and motioned to security.

“Get them all the fuck out of my house.”

Climbing the social ladder was exhausting, and he very much needed to sleep.