waved the waiter away from the empty place setting on the
other side of the table, her voice husky from too many cigarettes,
too many drinks, too many lies swallowed year after year
until she could no longer breathe. Explanations would be
lost on the attending stranger, so she offered up her glass
He’d spit in it,
retribution for the hours she’d taken up his table nursing
her cocktails and despair, for the rings of dark lipstick
she’d left on the rim of her glass.
Her roommate had
done her makeup, the two of them clad only in lacy underwear,
fishnet stockings, and padded bras. They’d done shots to
calm her nerves and giggled at the names of the powders and
paints. Brute Champagne for her eyelids, Arsenic Lace for
the lashes, Maiden’s Pallor on her cheeks. The perfect colors
for an impending engagement.
Or a funeral.
backwards in his chair, his own peony lips pursed in an exaggerated
pout as he lined hers with Blood Diamonds. When he finished,
he blew her a kiss. “Gorgeous lipstick, darling. Almost as
hot as my own.”
His was called
Lolly Pops, created specially for him by an adoring fan and
named after his own one-man show.
“Are you sure
you want to go through with this? You should leave him instead,
before he breaks your heart. Hop a plane and charge it to
the bastard’s credit card. Fly to Fiji or Tahiti, drink spiced
rum while nubile cabana boys lather your naked body with
were always sexier than her own.
There would be
no naked cabana boys for Annika. Love, that was her aphrodisiac.
A half-carat diamond nestled on her finger. A white satin
gown with a train so heavy it pulled piles of rose petals
behind her as she walked down the aisle. Tow-headed children
who shrieked as their father chased them barefoot across
a carpet of fern colored grass.
A rush of cold
air and tinkling bells wrenched her from the fantasy and
back to the candle-lit restaurant. And then he was beside
her, her golden Adonis, her flawed Prince Charming.
“Sorry, I’m late,” Graham
apologized. “Work was hell. Traffic was awful.”
The lies fell
from his lips and lay discarded on the table next to her
lipstick stained napkin. Neither virtue nor tidiness had
ever been his strong suits.
“What’s that on
Her hands, naked
aside from the Veiled Threat polish, remained folded in her
lap as he struggled to view the pink kiss pressed against
the cotton fabric.
voice was low, his eyes teasing.
The nickname always
made her melt. Even now, she wanted nothing more than to
sink into his arms.
If only it had
been cheap makeup. Maybe then she could have ignored it.
Forgiven him. Forgotten all of this.
But this lipstick
had a name.