It was dark. The only streetlight flickered, casting a rhythmic lick of light over the alleyway, like an old-fashioned movie.
Julianne pushed her hands deep into her pockets and glanced back toward the main road. She wasn’t that late, only a few minutes. He’d told her to wait but she wasn’t going to stand there like some target in the night, ready to get mugged. She was hardly dressed for running away.
She shifted her feet, feeling the pinch from her sky-high heels. A little shiver danced up and down her spine. She looked good, underneath her light silk coat, and there was something exciting about being hidden there, waiting for him. She leant back against the wall, feeling the cold brickwork hold her safe. Strange, how reassuring the night could be, how tender the darkness felt against her skin.
He’d said wait there, and she’d wait. He’d said that she would see him.
The broken light played over the cobbles. She found herself watching for the jump, the brief pattern as the light bounced on and off the alley walls. The flicker of the light played with the flicker inside her, the knowledge that he’d be with her, again. It was like her body could already feel him, inside her. Her nipples hardened and ripples of excitement ran over her stomach, and with each faint picture of light, she needed him more, but as she watched the patterns on the cobbles, she became aware of another light, a window in the basement of a building a little further down the alley, away from the streetlight.
Curious, Julianne moved a closer, unseen in the night. There was no sign, no house number, and the railings along the top of the steps looked old, like the ones in the tall Victorian houses.
She stumbled, her heel catching one of the cobbles. With her heart in her mouth she grabbed for the wall as the sound of her movement seemed to scream up and down the alley. With both hands on the wall, she found her balance, but under the heat, under the knowing excitement in her body, there was something new.
What if he wasn’t coming? What if someone saw her?
She hesitated, but he had said to wait. He’d told her to be there. As the hammering in her chest calmed down, she peered through the dark to the little basement window and realised there was someone there, behind the glass. Moving almost silently, careful of her feet, she stepped a little closer.
The window was naked, without curtains to soften the line. Inside, the room was bare, just wooden boards and plain walls, with a low red couch and a high backed chair, and in the middle of the room, a woman danced. She wore a red halter neck dress and her thick hair fell in unruly curls around her face. Moving forward, forgetting her fear, Julianne could hear the soft beat of the music, a low New Orleans blues. The woman moved with her hips, catching the beat with her whole body, and there was someone else there, too, a little away from the window. His body was hidden in the darkness but Julianne could see the outline of his legs, the edge of his hand. He cradled a glass. Ice moved in the amber liquid, catching the play of the light.
The woman turned, a slow smile on her lips, and as he watched, so did Julianne.
The woman ran her hands over her hips and the thin fabric of her red dress pulled up over her thigh. Julianne breathed in sharply as she saw the pretty lace of the woman’s stocking tops but the woman moved as if she knew how good she looked, as if she knew the power she had in her soft curves, her tiny waist, and her plump, round breasts.
She brought her hands up to her hair and turned to the music. Julianne edged closer, pulled forward by the woman’s dance, and as the woman ran her hands up over her body, teasing, touching, Julianne felt the touch on her own skin.
The woman laughed. She beckoned the man to come a little closer but he stayed where he was, and as she danced, her fingers went to the ribbons that held her dress around the back of her neck. She turned to the window and it was almost as if she was looking right at Julianne as she slowly pulled the ribbons, but then she closed her eyes and let the dress fall.
She was naked. She was perfect. She kicked away the dress and danced on in her stockings and shoes. She let her hands travel over her stomach, up, tracing the lines of her beautiful breasts. She pinched one nipple and then opened her eyes wide and laughed, again, and Julianne felt the heat burning through her own body. Her mouth was dry and she ran her tongue over her lips. The man lifted his drink and she could almost taste the bitter twist of the whiskey over the cold ice. Without knowing what she was doing, Julianne took hold of the railings. The woman turned, a perfect slow spin. Her nipples were darker than Julianne’s, her breasts fuller, her waist a little tighter, and she had kept a neat triangle of hair at her centre, and with every sway and turn of her dance she was touching herself, letting her fingers dance with her body, displaying herself to them. Her mouth was wide, her lips slick with deep red lipstick, and she smiled the slow, sleepy smile of a cat that knew what she wanted.
She lifted one arm, stretching out to the window, and beckoned.
Julianne gasped. She looked behind her, all around her, but there was no one else there in the dark, only her – then the man stepped out from the shadows, and even before she saw his face, she recognized the sharp outline of his chest, his broad shoulders, and the single tattoo on the top of his arm.
He moved into the light, beside the woman, and looked up at Julianne, and he nodded.