|jude. (thefixer) wrote in doorslogs,|
@ 2014-01-26 14:07:00
|Entry tags:||cassandra cain|
Sing a ballad of a Vegas evening and the Vega was its shining star, its true north and pulsing heart. Sing something plastic wrapped and tinsel-bright, skip past those bent low over the guttering at the side of the street yawning until their bodies uncleaved from all that sodden revelry, witching hours tied up together until the clock read thirteen. The Vega had not missed Halloween, even without either mistress at its helm. Remnants of her guise clung, the week long vestments of twenties Prohibition and the sweet vice of sinning when the law stood in for Temperance. The flapper beads clicked and clacked as the bartenders poured glasses that sweated temptation along the mahogany line of the bar upstairs and downstairs no one cared what it was they tossed down their throats. Downstairs the Charleston threaded in between the quickstep-sharp rhythms of something too modern to taste and upstairs, the throaty sinuousness of the woman poured into dark red silk on stage stroked minor chords into major. Sin well, children, sin whilst the streets are filled with young things gorging on innocent gluttony whilst pride and vanity twine kissing-close with their cousins.
But the mistresses of the house had not swept in to take command when the sea-bitch of an iron ship had spat them back out - them, or one, singular, she whose blood ran with the paces of the Vega, the night stretching out like the beginning of clean day. Lyra had stripped off every beaded inch of expensive silk, peeled away stockings and tossed aside the guise in clean water that did not smell of brine, but the Vega clung to hers, enchanted with the depths of her own depravity.
Thus the woman in the far corner, far enough away from the main bar to lack interference with the oiled clockwork of bar staff and table staff and close enough to that she was watching, predatory threat for all who knew to look past the drift of flimsy black silk knotted at her throat, the white knots of her wrists and her lowered gaze, green as grass and sharp as poison amid all that unrelenting black -- she did not draw herself into the whole, nor seek out the tracking spotlight that skimmed over luxury like approving sinner. She had a glass in front of her of something too expensive to put behind the bar and she listened as the music oozed hedonism into the air. Her corner of the room was empty, a bastion of skittering wait-staff and the ignorant who circled around her, the parting of a turbulent and untroubled red sea. Lyra drank. She thought of iron, she thought of death, she thought without satisfaction of the costume the Vega wore tonight.
Five years ago, Trenton wouldn't have know what day of what week of what month it was if he'd been standing knee deep in confetti on Times Square, getting kissed when the clock struck twelve. His life then had been the result of a hedonist's prayer, absent minded and driven purely by an ambition that rose out his loins rather than family honor. Which was convenient, seeing as he dug dishonor into his family name, deep as a war trench, unresolveable as a mile of barbed wire with your brother dying on the other side. He hadn't given a shit then, and maybe he still didn't, but there was some moderate sense of routine that came with getting a job, as much as he despised the concept. None of his old friends had jobs, they were all dead or still riding the fallen crest of their trust funds. But he worked, so be it. Weal or woe.
And tonight, he was still hazy on the date. Too halfway clean to bother with the party scene or old friends, too selfish to turn on the television or open his journal. He hadn't been to work all week, because while his job was an inconvenience, it was a paperthin construction built on the shoulders of his father's corporation. All Trenton really had to do was show up as a board member, and even that was rare. They say that idle hands are the devil's playground, and he's kept himself busy with whatever boy or girl he could find on the Strip. He still had a taste for the illegal, card games and sex, but he hadn't burned his penthouse down in the midst of a drunken coke binge.. so shit was looking up.
The fact that it was Halloween only registered when he'd walked into the first club, swapped some girl's little cat-eyed plastic mask for a handjob without quite explaining that he was winning on both accounts. But that was Trenton, leaning bar side and talking hands down his pants in seven minutes or less. Sometimes he timed it. The white shirt was long sleeved and strictly business with cufflinks of muddy gold, or it had been strictly business. Now it was unbuttoned and there was cigar ash at the elbow, a rorshach inkblot that resembled an apple out of Eden.
She was spotted alone, separate and far from equal with those dancing and laughing nearby. Trenton regularly operated without a plan, he just let his feet carry him forward into ever crumbling devastation. There was a gin drink in his hand, and that sponsor he'd bedded a year ago when he'd been trying to stay straight would have frowned, but he didn't quite care. He was molten, and he flowed. Stacked against the wall near her, Trenton was a slanted orchestration of bones, somehow simultaneously muscled and wane. His eyes were hidden behind that black shining mask. It was dollar store quality and scuffed, which made for as good a costume as any. Wasn't the point of Halloween to be the complete opposite of yourself? His clothes were still Dior Homme, and his loafers never knew sand.
"Didn't anybody tell you that its a party?" She was so quiet in the dark.
The club knotted around itself, vice found in all corners. It was a playground for the undercover agents of the DEA, threadlets of ambiguous gray to be found in the riot of bloodstained pearlescence that was entertainment and selfish amusement, pills and powders and the array of the almost-harmless glinting from behind the bar. - but those hosting knew them well, cat and mouse games played for the long-term, the sweetness of a battle well-entrenched. The Vega smelled of sweat and of sex in dark corners, the soft sweep of cobwebs to dredge for victims drifted from the rafters and the smoked glass at the bar was the only spot truly well-lit. Halloween was celebrated in shadows, by the debauchers who drifted beyond the neon tackiness of the main Strip for something that demanded more.
There had been many who had thrown themselves down in the chair opposite the small table; two chairs remained (and always two, a nod to the mistress forever present if not if attending, the milk-and-honey sweetness of the cool blond who was tossed on the Vega’s rolling tide of all oblivion to be found instead of dredged up, as the ink-drawn woman at the table, from the very depths of its bottom). Many, and the clenched hands and the knowing smiles a-drift on the servers who wove between the tables, sold temptation along with the liquor and who turned deliberate eyes away from the recesses in the walls, the low-lit spots where temptation could be taken in flesh as well as drawn into the blood. And she leaned on pointed elbows across the polished sea of her own table and whispered something soft and dangerous-sweet, or she said nothing at all, onyx patience for their own scuttering free. This was not to be unraveled, Lyra’s loose threads were trawling rather than innocence to be undone.
Her head lifted, her spine uncoiled like oiled silk, a sinuous flowing from one movement into the next like ink spiraling, curling outward in water. It was a motion too perfect to be anything but practiced but the seams between one movement and the next were so elaborately concealed that it was not possible to find the pressure points, the melding together smoothed over like seaglass. Her eyes flickered up, the impossibility of agate, green relief in so much black. The gin that hung between his hands, the notional nod to costume; Lyra’s smile was cool distinction, the regality of a feline who walked alone rather than the put-upon apartness of the wallflower.
“Your divination is impeccable.”
She was a cobra woman rising to the reed flutes of music that drilled deep into walls and meditated miles. Just a stir past the mouth of a vase was enough to signal trouble to smarter, less equipped men, but Trenton was blessed with the ignorance of mainlined youth that never needed to grow up or know better. He'd bought his way out of every problem except death. Death which ripped half of his soul away in the dead of night, and death which dragged him down snakeholes with more than one overdose. Still, he'd kept the reaper at bay miraculously through the trials of his youth.. save for the time his twin went through that windshield to savor the pavement of a New York borough. These days Trenton was an apparition; a flimsy form half caught between worlds. Life versus fear. Club versus boredom. Snake oil versus real smile.
"And you talk like Garbo," he leaned harder. All hips and elbows and dust in his veins. The ice was melting in his drink, but it still rattled like a game of bones in dead man's alley. He took a swig, crunched some.
They were never prudent, those whose interest was piqued by a woman who gave them nothing for all their rudimentary attention, did not follow the prescribed steps of a dance that the Vega accepted with placid ingratitude for something far older than all her polished surfaces. Had it been Anais seated at the table, it would have been honey-sugared interest and the soft machinations of a kitten with needle teeth. Lyra had no downy-soft fur, no paddy-paws with which to undo the defenses of those who stirred her out of her observation, just the bittersweetness of poison taken as seen, the coiling and recoiling of ancient asp. “Or Garbo spoke like me,” the angulation of his body parting from the wall was a deformation of his interest. Lyra smiled like shadow blotting a yellow moon.
They were always loud. They were forever loud, the swish of frigid liquor in his glass and the clatter of the ice; she watched in silence, the unmarred stillness of a face blank of curiosity, of all the indicators humanity gave away beyond the bland amusement of a woman without intent. Her elbow was sharp on the edge of the table, her chin rocked into the curl of her fingers.
“What is it you think a party must be?” Her voice was a lower timbre than she looked, woodsmoke and black ink, the ochre of crumbling burned incense and warm copper. It was intimate, an illusion conjured when she spoke quietly in a room dedicated to noise and hedonism and expected to be heard.
Trenton had known plenty of difficult women in his life, most of them were strung up in his family tree, pouring the acid of genetics down into his sacrificial blood. Of course, difficult to Trenton meant self-contained, needless, smoke and mirrors. Not the ones that concocted the plans determined to turn men into mice. Not the ones that brought home wild dog gypsy souls in an effort to tame, hammering the itching feet of wanderlust to the hearth, bathing the filth from ravaged hearts over humble mantelpieces where wedding pictures went. Those women were mulled wine at a ceremonial holiday, but the difficult ones were absinthe in the bathtub, gutting your pride in back alleys for the thrill of it. The reticent ones who let silence speak volumes.
But like we said, familiar with the family roots, yeah? Trenton was fearless aplomb, and he collapsed in a nearby chair with limbs disheveled and precocious hair flopping. He tucked the glass of swirling juniper between his knees when she spoke, and his crownless head fell back with a one shoulder rock of a shrug as he considered her question with blue eyes lit upon the ceiling. Those eyes softened dreamily, and he felt himself eradicating the years between where he stood now and the days when parties were florid. Revving recollections of lust and danger to the top of wasted memories, he grinned. "An excuse, I suppose." That's what it always boiled down to.
Family roots roved deep in dark runneled through the bloody calamity of old habits etched deep, Lyra was unmarred peaks, the icy perfection of built over the burial grounds of old bones. To a puppet-master man, anyone who resisted the smooth jerk of strings was difficult, was to be commended as much as they were beaten for their efforts; her chin twisted hard against the pathways of the lines in her palm and she looked at him as he sagged down, broken as any marionette flung with abandon for another toy reached through. There was danger in the cool agate of her eyes, the unfortunate sophistication in inky pupils. A casual hand wafted away the shrinking attention of the nearest wait-staff, hapless man ready to shoo away usurper of her privacy. Lyra smiled; it showed in the corners of her eyes, the glimmer of interest stirred, leonine.
“A party is a facade, it has no excuses to give nor reasoning, it has no mind to argue.” He was not drunk, there was not the sloppiness of motion, blurred out by whatever it was they were selling behind the bar (her machinations were neat cobwebs throughout the noxious network of the Vega’s far reaches but did not extend so far as to the arrangements of the alcoholic entertainment, such things she left to those who were called management and were haplessly responsible for anything she chose not to like). He had chosen, with clarity of purpose to step in, closer rather than away. Lyra was not small Infanta these days, being paid attention was no curiosity to bait the hook, reel in anything but knowing.
The dauphin operated de profundis. Yet unarmed with the inkspotted snares of Wilde, Trenton had no choice but to self-detonate. Part of him imagined that it was easier to saw away at one's own self-discipline and sanity if there was some anchor of art to cast out when the waves got too rocky, but he'd never been particularly artistic. Functioning as a muse for girls with canvases and men with fabric shears wasn't the same thing. Balancing on the wuthered shoulders of the nearly greats while they did the time warp in and out of his life, that was his motif.
The artists always had a tendency to reappear around the holidays, and he knew that it had to be an internalized clock that dragged them all together again in Paris. Because the street clowns were Russian and the writers were on break from New York. The models were local, and that was the only reason that Trenton kept a morsel of francais in his back pocket. Something to salvage the isolato with warm bodies during cold winters. It was getting to be that time of year again; the season of warmed wine and mordacious sneers that masqueraded beneath holiday cheer. He'd probably be expected to get it together enough to call his mother in the coming weeks, and that idea didn't sit well with the gin in his stomach.
The pair of them were ill fit for blathering, and Trenton smiled upon realizing it. The smile wasn't for her, but rather born from thoughts unsaid and motives unexplained. He shrugged a little and swallowed some more of his drink. He was too classically trained to spit ice cubes back into his glass like that, but it didn't stop him. "No, the party is the excuse.. and the party can argue. It's not.. fucking sentient or whatever, but it can go to war with better judgement. Usually we know that and show up anyway." Trenton shrugged, as if to say well, at least that is how it was for him.
The curl of her fingernails against her cheek, milk pale slivers, unpainted and bare as cat’s claws; Lyra’s elbow rocked like a small boat on uncertain seas, the glass-clear tempest of the table-top as she inclined toward him, the felix proximity of softly pliant spine. She had no intention of publishing sorrows, ill-felt miseries to the world, ink-stained and type-set or even the private territories of woes fit for walls to rail at. The silk beaded costume suited to riots set to scratched gramophone records, the aching beauty of gin poured over ice and the delicate disaffection emulated by a generation set to see standards fall instead of soar - it was balled up tightly in a corner of the bathroom, white cold tile as bland as newspaper sheets. No one argued with Lyra, incandescent court that were too sodden with pleasure or bound up in blood and contracts filed in dented cabinets upstairs to argue.
“What constitutes better judgment? Is it poor, to drink gin and flirt at a club, or better than to go on without doing so?” The question lacked facetiousness, articulated with the precision of china breaking. There were no net dragging the profundis, although her nose wrinkled when the clatter of ice hit the glass, shattering of manners along with the delicate chime of the Vega’s glassware. “You embrace poor judgment or you merely give in to it?” There were many who came to the Vega looking for oblivion from poor decisions, who sought to put up their nose or in their veins or down their throats, the distance required to live once more, to put at arm’s length all that had gone before. Lyra knew; looking at the mordant remains of choice was the only way not to sin again. Daddy had held her head between his hands, had made her look.
Her foot flexed, her index finger tapped her chin. “Who are you?”
His brined smile was vintage, brass and velvet rope finery at the bottom of a sunken sea. Fine like the Titanic on its opening voyage. Sure, he was self-aware enough that he knew he was doomed somewhere down the fine.. but wasn't fucking everybody? If old money wasn't going to save his soul, he was basically out of luck. There wasn't a single redeeming quality about him aside from his bank account.. but as far as he could tell, that wasn't going to be a problem. If the Catholic church was any indication, God loved some gold.
He considered her question, eyeline performing some nuclear fusion on the way her nose crinkled with distaste a moment later. He glanced down, the remnants of that drink and dissolving ice in his hand. "Am I flirting?" Because he was drinking gin, and if there was a connection to be made, he was going to staple it together at the first convenience. To be honest, he was always flirting. He flirted with girls that laughed and boys that frowned and every cab driver in between. He flirted with his secretaries, and he flirted with nurses that drew his blood, he flirted with himself in the mirror every morning. "I embrace free will, the option to have poor judgement at all. Not that it ever seems poor at the time, does it?"
He stretched in the chair. His shirt was tailored loose enough that the buttons didn't even strain, utterly familiar with the ballet of his rising intoxication. "Trenton Beck," he offered. If she followed investment portfolios or the Forbes list, it would mean something. He didn't expect her to, but that was the traditional misogyny of corporate business.
There were dark corners to cluster in, sin along with shadows smooth as velvet for flirtation to tip toward cliff’s edge. What the girls did when the spotlight swung on to another’s cream-milk skin and honeyed voce was off the clock, the house bayed for no blood but they were all women, and light set ablaze. She read the newspapers with blackened coffee, oil-thick and crumbs sweeping the white sheets from the nibble-nibble from the pillow next to hers, the salmoned pink of stock-charts rising and falling in the smudged print beneath her fingers. The name registered, a spark in the center of sea-green irises that gently blew the pupil outward.
An arched shoulder, a shiver-shrug of dissolute lack of care for the metaphor frail as spun sugar; she looked at the dissolving strands of ice still in his drink and thought of iron and salt and water black as pitch. “Free will is an illusion,” puppet strings pulled themselves taught, the unyielding curl upward of her spine to the singular suppleness of straight line, her chin notched into her palm, her smile lost behind her fingers, like clouds over moon. “Lyra Vasiliadis.” The Greek was melodic, placed side by side with guttural American; all men were mongrels in this bastard-born country. “You must ask me?” Her hand fanned outward, encompassed the club,
“There are countless others drinking gin tonight.” Her own drink was pallid, the color of fly-caught amber.
"I make no assumptions," he explained with words that breezed and whipped the kite string of his smile into a slow curl. He thought her name sounded Greek, although he couldn't quite say why. Something about the -dis that slid like olive oil at the very end. He didn't know the first thing about Greece, the south of France had always been a more interesting destination when he considered beach-front vacationing. Maybe one day he'd invest himself in more adventurous travel, but it wasn't likely. Besides, this woman spoke like slow-poured liquor and dark magic, it made him wonder if she'd grown up somewhere else. "Are you local?" In this city, nobody was local originally. That was a basic law of the land.
His laugh quickened like a pulse when she said that others than him were drinking gin. "Yeah, but they're boring." Which was something that Trenton had never worried about growing into. And as much as he'd been accused of in the past ten years, being boring wasn't one of the words tacked onto his crown of debauched thorns. Not even close.
He was indolent, in the measure of men who poured minted liquor over sugar and let it fall in a sulfide slide down their throats, the opium-eaters, the redolency of wealth that stank like bodies behind doors, like dried blood. But he laughed like sin singing; Lyra’s smile was the flitter of broken glass behind the pale fan of her own fingers. In flagrant disregardof by-laws, a cigarette case snapped, the long fluted twist of paper flared, smoke curled in a twining corolla around her head. “And you will provide evidence no doubt, of how very entertaining you are.” She could not hear her own accent, she heard the rise and persuasive fall of her father’s caressive syllables, the sweet syrup-soaked lyricisms of Greek that drugged her to sleep. She shrugged a shoulder, the silks shivered over it.
“I am from everywhere,” she said with the apparent lack of interest for roots that twined up from earth, parched of acknowledgment. He was not quite drunk, this boy-king with his arrogance poured over liquidating ice that knocked against the tumbler glass etched with her own arching ‘V’, but he sat with the lazy intent of one set upon that measure. “And you, you are American.” It was not a question, a statement suited to names printed in financial papers, on salmon-fanned paper. She imagined the Hamptons, glassily green lawns and militant white fences. He had been corralled, she could smell money, brassily dirty.
Were he on trial for crimes deserted and well-deserved, Trenton could have provided evidence of his liveliness. In plastic baggies labeled numerically and alphabetically, in photographs detailing an abundance of blood money and an utter lack of shame. There were stories to tell and more rumors worthy of confirmation than denial, but bringing those kinds of things up wasn't going to earn him a merit badge or a phone number. Quite the opposite, potentially. Besides, trial or not, it seemed a little early to call the juror's hangman from his hovel. The Grecian goddess' eyes seemed fully up to the task of execution if it came down to that, anyway. She seemed like the type that was dangerous when bored, an Olympian queen with mood rings that stayed black as primordial midnight.
"Very American," he assured with a smirk tucked away from five seconds earlier when she'd proclaimed to be from everywhere. It was the kind of thing that artist girls trying to make it in the city said, meaning that they'd hopped trains and bedposts for miles to get where they were. Somehow, he was fairly certain that Lyra meant it for real, though. He'd known a few militant army brats that meant it for real, twenty schools in ten years and a tolerance for alcohol strong as gasoline to show for their loneliness. He dragged the flat pad of his thumb over the groove of that V etched in his glass, a bit of braille to derail an overactive mind. "But not a tourist," he swore with all the solemnity needed to cross his heart if he hadn't been more invested in swirling gin.
His fingerprint erased the arching violence of a letter scored in with diamond, she wondered idly if the whorls and rivers of the fingerpad would match scores kept in books, in blood, her father’s collection a grotesque facsimile for family albums, the familia that stretched beyond city lines, across seas. She could roll the glass later, a memento of a slouching, pouting prettiness, made from money; she could see the stitched-together seams of dollar bills, the ribbed edges of his collarbones, his shoulders. An American, tattered together from dreams, from broadcasts made by dead men, from purpose. There was little purpose to the man who reclined in his chair but the lingering echo of something perfumed like pleasure.
She watched the smile, the cobra-glint of her teeth behind her own lips and the wine-dark wave of her hair washed her cheek. There had been no little Greece, no chatter in another language, no bilingual melding of one and the other but the creation of Shelley that ransomed one culture and ransacked the other. He was American, his mind filed dollar bills, his hands mourned all that Europe had lost. “Is it so very terrible, to be a tourist?” Her head turned, the liquid line of her throat exposed beneath the ripple of silk; she held up a hand and the bartender turned, another glass carried across on a flat black tray.
“I make my money from tourists,” she said, examining the glass and the liquor within before ceding satisfaction.
"God yes," he said with an eyebrow tucked like a calligraphic swirl of ink. He couldn't believe she had to ask. "Especially in this city. People walk around like they just bought an interactive movie ticket for The Hangover." Not than Trenton blamed them or begrudged them their natural given right to be sloppy and obnoxious, he just wasn't following along. New York'd always had a similar problem, but that city was big enough that such a scene was easy to avoid if one stayed on the right side of Park Avenue. In Vegas, there was no chance of escape. This was a city whose sole purpose was wring out the blood and sweat from a body of Americana, then go and water the botanical gardens and bank accounts with it. Avarice had never been his cup of sinful tea, but he liked the look of it just fine. Men in green on a mountain of gold, selling a product that didn't even exist. Yeah, Trenton liked the fucked imagery of national hypocrisy just fine. Rust flaked just like glitter in the right lighting.
He took a sip of watered down gin, and his smile split on the rim of carved crystal when she said that she made her money from tourists. "So you're a predator." Joints rattled in sockets and shoulders went a little lopsided when he lifted that glass in a toast to tonight's slaughter. The city was full of hunters in one way another. The Strip especially, panther girls in nothing skirts at the gilded entrance of the Crazy Horse. Lounge Elvises slinging discount marriages outside the midnight chapel. The alleyways swathed in crack smoke like it was ceremonial incense for the second coming.
Chromated crystal lined the velvet behind the bar, chased along the kabuki black lacquer, long as the road to poor intentions. The Vega loved red, it loved sin without stint, it loved a tourist’s inability to hold onto their change and a local’s desire to chase pleasure down to its sticky-dark root. Lyra had seen movies young, crammed into the back row of the theater with no half-torn ticket in hand but purloined lemonade in a sticky bottle passed between two, laughter flickering like celluloid. She had not seen that one. A fractional frown, a moue twisted on unpainted lips. She was the entertainment as often as she was the entertained, her nails still glimmered like wet blood. Tourists pulsed through the streets and along the Strip like technicolor vessels, their dollar bills and checks oxygenation for businesses, the old and the grand or the young and plastic, put up to be torn down but oh, the heart of Vegas walked in orthopedic shoes and carried cameras up and down its arteries.
She laughed when he called her predator. Her mirth was blackened, ember-bright, she leaned her chin into the cool tips of her own fingers and assessed him with the clarity of an ocean-floor. “I am the predator,” and if something far more subtle, pale as driftwood had washed itself against familiar shore-line, widened-amber eyes and parted lips lived in the room upstairs, Lyra disregarded any challenge to her own title, any disparagement of her reign.
“Are you prey, or bloodspattered bystander?” Mocking. She rolled the glass from palm to fingers, the V flashing briefly between the white like a shooting star.
"Oh, just a bystander." The words existed on more than one plane of existence. They were self-assuring, self-building. They were a conjuring in the dark of space, the kind that brought civilizations into being. They were the mutant monster and the scientist who'd learned how to bottle lightning. I think, therefore I am, and all that. Even so, Trenton sounded a little bored by the realization. It was true that he always felt just out of reach of the action, even when he was neck deep in the gorethick of it. That was what had kept him cliffdiving into madness and hedonism for all those years. People should have an off switch, people should know the limits of their own humanity. Having an immortal deity in his head who was as old as the concept of time itself.. well, it wasn't helping his illusions of grandeur any these days. He motioned to a cocktail waitress in passing, dropping the pointed cue of a finger toward his empty drink.
"Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, you know?" Then that smile, the one that was still too young to belong to a man who'd woken up in as many hospitals as he had. It said that nothing and no one was so serious that he couldn't smile at it, not even grim reaper. If he was aggravating on occasion, he surely liked to be.
And her invitation card was marked in the mail, black spot bleeding out over the cracked map of the crevasses of her palm. She thought of him distractedly, the confidence derived from monied insulation, the dissolution of dissatisfaction that cut his smile like a knife beneath the pillow. Lyra had never not been the bride, bloodied and primed, her disembodied God knelt to, feared and loved smelled of pipe tobacco and bad dreams. As the waitress slid along the invisible net of consummated care the Vega provided like velvet snugged up behind a polished jewel, her own glass clicked down upon the table.
She liked him, she was surprised but lacked objection, the child that turns over a toy they don’t remember in the pile of discards. Lyra didn’t know if it was the air of irrepressibility, the dirty fingerprints left by hedonism beyond the initial menu provided by the club or simply the novelty of someone prepared to chase destruction down to its bones to suck the marrow. He would find his abstraction here in the Vega or he would not. “This town likes even knowing virginity,” she said now as she slid out from behind the table, oiled fluidity in the panther-stretch. She had forgotten her own dissatisfaction, the air that smelled of iron, the cool, urgent press of death close enough to kiss. She liked him because of that, perhaps. It was reason enough.
“And divorce is expensive.” Her smile lit the pale green eyes, kindled light through glass. It was peculiar, not warm but somehow vivid. “But come back another time. We’ll find you a groom.” Her fingertips drifted at his shoulder, she sifted back through the crowd, blotted-out black headed for the stairs to her own rooms. The party had been banished.