Tonight my name is Mary… Or is it? Sometimes she’s Tiffany or Syd or Bobbi. But whatever face she wears, she returns to the same bar, to find a new man and seduce him, safe in the knowledge that no one will recognize her. Until one man does.
Tonight, my name is Mary.
Mary, Mary, quite contrary. That calls for fiery red, steampunk crimson carved into long, perfect ringlets. Not a corset, though. Not for Circle2, a bar that tends toward the conservative, at least so far as cosplay is concerned, unless it’s Halloween or something. Instead I choose the black sheath dress with the deep vee neckline to show off the inner curves of my breasts, and advertise that I’m not wearing a bra. Or anything else beneath.
Have to set the bait properly, after all. And Mary can do what I never could.
For makeup, I go with a retro vibe. I have to layer it on thick anyway, to make myself into Mary, so the heavy stuff works best. Theater pancake in the fairest tone to complement the hair. False lashes and black eyeliner, with a cat’s eye flair. Bright green contact lenses. Lipstick in screaming scarlet, just shades darker than the wig. Amazing, really, how redrawing the lines of lips and eyes change a face entirely.
No one ever recognizes me, not even me. Maybe G_d does, but we’ve had a falling out and I don’t care.
At the last moment I go for boots instead of stilettos. High heels, black leather, over-the-knee. Maybe I’ll let him fuck me in just the boots. Whoever he’ll be tonight.
The night air slaps chill on my bare arms, so I hurry the few blocks to Circle2. I don’t like to wear a coat. They’re too expensive to wear a different one every time and I’d rather spend the money on wigs. Too bad there’s not a wig wear-and-return system, as I never wear the same one twice.
I don’t mind the coolness either. It helps combat the heat. I’m alive with the anticipation, already wet, primed for the release to come.
Tonight I pick out a stool at the bar. Mary is the sort who’d do that. I cross my legs so my hem rides up to show a strip of skin above my boot, turning sideways to display my cleavage.
Come and get it, gentlemen.
“What’ll you have?” the bartender asks. He’s a genial sort, always ready with a friendly smile. Never hits on me, no matter who I am that night, which makes me think he doesn’t take advantage of the women who come to the bar. That’s part of the reason I go to Circle2. It sets a tone to the hookups, I think, as the men who frequent the place are generally clean and polite.
He’s always working, six nights a week. The bar is closed on Mondays. I suspect he owns it, but we don’t have conversations. At least, not connected ones. I’m always a stranger to him. He smiles, asks what I’ll have, then leaves me alone.
Tonight it’s Prosecco and he gives it to me in a tall flute. He’s wearing a shirt that says “The book was better.”
“I’ll get that for the lady.” A tall man, dark skin, pretty brown eyes, makes the offer hopefully. He’s wearing a good suit, has nice hands, long fingers. I’ve never seen him in here before. Yes. Yes, he’ll do nicely.
Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook. Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated for best fantasy romance of the year. A fifth series, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, released starting with Going Under, followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.