“I could, you know, be persuaded.” We’ve progressed from strangers in a library to even stranger human beings considering sex. I take a sip of the cognac he’s produced from his suitcase. I drink not so much to imbibe as to catch my tongue. Over the rim of the glass, I look at the famous author stretched out on the other hotel bed.
“I don’t make this offer to just anyone.”
“And you think I’m someone?” I laugh and hate myself for my impulsivity.
“What’s that line? I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy.”
“I’m no boy.” He holds the fat bottomed tumbler in his left hand and taps the side. Tink, tink, tink. “And I’m not just offering you a free workshop.”
I take another sip. “I’m familiar with your reputation.”
“Those unfounded lies?”
I set my glass down on the table between us. “All rumors are true.”
“It’s a song.” I slip my feet back into my heels, preparing to leave.
“Who sings it?”
“Tinsley Ellis,” I say. “He plays the blues.”
“Now why would a charming woman with your beauty listen to that?” He sets his glass down beside mine while maneuvering himself into a seated position.
I give us both an out. “My marriage.”
His laugh is sweet, like maple sugar candy. “I like the blues, too,” he says. “And country.”
“Good answer.” I stretch out my right leg; it touches the cuff of his slacks. “And in the nick of time.”
“So not only do you watch Julia Roberts’ movies.” He leans across the divide and puts a hand on my knee. “You’re familiar with Bonnie Raitt?”
He rubs his thumb in a circle over my nylons. “And what is her most famous song?”
# # #
T. L. Sherwood lives in western New York near Buffalo. She’s the Assistant Editor of r.kv.r.y Quarterly Literary Journal. At Literary Orphans, she serves as a fiction reader, book reviewer, and interviewer. Among other places, her work has appeared in New World Writing, Rosebud, Thema, The Good Men Project, and The Chrysalis Reader. Her story, “We Were Those Girls,” won the 2015 Gover Prize.
Photo credit: Terri Malone