My mind rushes with asinine, ludicrous thoughts in spite of myself, my usually logical disposition betraying me, momentarily indulging in the type of fantasy I know only exists in rom-coms and happily-ever-after romance novels.
Get your mind right, Reau! This is not some Cinderella-turned-Sex-and-the-City fan-fic!
The pads of my fingers bite into the plush cushion of the sofa as their southern equivalents come into contact with four-figure insoles.
I hold my breath impulsively at the feel of his over the arch of my heel, trailing up to circle above my ankle. Slowly, Zane slides my foot into the pump and, for a second, I’m positive I feel his grip tighten, but I’m shaking so badly it’s likely just the reactive flex of his hand.
He fastens the strap, large fingers replaced by a velvet band, their owner focused on nothing but the task of housing my lower extremity in a shoe I could never afford.
I regard him from my unique vantage point, his dark, long lashes framing incisive eyes I can’t currently see because they’re cast to the floor. I swallow, gripping the arm rest, trying desperately to not reveal the magnitude of my anxiety but unsure of how much longer I can endure this.
I lick my lips impulsively, acutely aware of the heat from his own fingertips, fanning up my leg from the point of contact at the speed of sound; the sound of my heart roaring in my ears. It reverberates even louder at the juncture that merges it with the rest of my trembling body. He repeats the action with my other leg, pulling off my shoe and replacing it with the brand new, exponentially more expensive one.
The overlaying string of crystals is cold against my skin, a complete contrast to the fire emanating from the digits maneuvering them. I wouldn’t be surprised if visible steam started wafting off my feet.
Air glues itself to my throat, backing up in my lungs as I continue to clutch at the fabric of the chaise holding my weight, holding my breath as he continues to stoop at my feet.
His hand lingers, cuffing my ankle even after the shoe is secured. Abruptly, he lets go, his fingers sliding away from my skin, the heat of his touch disappearing as they disconnect. But I can still feel the dawdling impression of contact. Like a phantom imprint against my flesh and bone. A disturbing sense of disappointment hits me despite the unbearable tension. I tear my gaze away from him as the pulsing between my legs accelerates, swallowing against the lava silently collecting where they meet.
Zane stands, rising to full height while Magda reappears quite timely, as if on cue.
“My goodness! They’re even lovelier on you than I imagined!” she gushes, urging me to my feet, as well and emphatically guiding my taut form to a multi-angled shoe mirror that seems to have appeared out of nowhere.
I continue to avoid any and all eye-contact with Zane, but feel his on me as I allow myself to be led once again by the industrious saleswoman. As Magda continues to shower me with compliments and tell me what every businessperson wants their customer to hear, I pretend to indulge her with an agreeing smile, but my mind isn’t at all present, still jumbled and reeling from what just transpired.
I stand on wobbly feet, their unstable disposition having little to do with the new heels hiking them, trying to appear unaffected as I regard the pair in the mirror.
Haute couture, indeed.
The shoes look stunning and complement the dress perfectly. But being in them feels foreign. Unusual. Pretentious.
“If the lady’s happy, we’ll take it,” I hear Zane say.
If I’m happy? Ha! Now, that’s rich.
“Wonderful!” Magda squees, triumph splitting her lips from ear to ear. “I’ll pack them up right away.”
She escorts me back to the changing room, uncontained glee drenching her face. Maybe the ‘lady’ Zane was referring to was her.
My stomach feels like gravel when I think about how many times he’s said that line. Uttered those words. How many other “ladies” he’s brought to her to shower with outrageously expensive dresses and shoes—and whatever else made them “happy”. I think back to the pair in the cafeteria. How many more share their sentiments—explicitly or otherwise? How many have accompanied him on dates? Real ones?
A few moments later, I’m out of the posh apparel and back into those I actually belong in. The former are packed up as promised with an offer to have them delivered to my address within the hour.
“That won’t be necessary,” I decline, not wanting to add to the heightened immoderation, especially when there’s absolutely no point. “I can take it with me now.”
Magda looks to Zane, seemingly for confirmation. While I find it annoying, it’s understandable. Even if I’ll be wearing her items, he’s the one paying for them.
He offers no reaction. “As the lady pleases.”
Magda nods, smiling and expertly placing each polished box in customized, luxury totes, handing them to me.
She thanks us both, offering me another warm grin. “I hope you enjoy them thoroughly.”
She waves emphatically as we walk away, hands whipping back and forth like a varsity cheerleader even though she’s clearly already won.
“Come by again soon!”
I hope to hell not.