Out of Habit

Some people hold secrets they can never divulge.


Monica is sitting at the bar her long jeans-clad legs crossed, her foot swinging gently to the music. She is drinking alone, a wistful smile on her pink lips.

He enters, does a double-take then sidles up near, but not too close to her. Ordering a rum and coke, he eyes her obliquely, assessing her with care. He takes a long swig of his drink while he plucks up his courage. His expression changes as he decides to take a chance and, turning towards her, he smiles broadly.  ‘So, this is where you hang out when you’re not modelling, eh?’

She laughs at his cheesy chat-up line ‘Modelling? I wish!’

She accepts a drink with a good-natured grin, her body language open. Monica is an attentive listener, tilting her head slightly, her smiling eyes holding his as he talks. He tells her his name is Rodrigo, he’s divorced, no kids, he hails from Milan. He’s in town for a few days on business; it’s clear he’s lonely. He’s forty-two, same as her. She eyes his lithe body and decides he’ll suit her purpose nicely.

Rodrigo notices the white patch on her finger where a ring had recently been. ‘What about you, Monica? Are you married, got a bloke?’

Her mouth turns down at the corners, ‘kinda married, sort of, you might say…’ she breaks off, reluctant to talk about it.

‘Kinda? Like stuck with an older man or something?’

‘She grimaces ‘yes, an incredibly old man I’m afraid.’

Rodrigo is curious and starts asking questions about her relationship. She holds up her hand ‘Look, Rodrigo, I don’t make a habit of this, I can only get away very infrequently.’ She strokes his hand, smiling knowingly.  ‘We both know what we need so let’s just enjoy the evening, OK?’

He’s reluctant to let it go, he knows she’s hiding something and he’s curious, but Rodrigo hasn’t had sex for three months; he keeps his peace.

They dance. Another drink then they dance again. She’s as sensuous as a serpent writhing around him. His needs become urgent, overriding his curiosity. One more drink and then they leave.

*

In his hotel room, Monica is eager as he slips off her blouse and jeans. She responds, fiercely tugging his belt free, whimpering with anticipation as she slides his zip down.

They have wild sex three times before dawn, leaving the bed looking like a battlefield. She falls asleep with her head on his chest, her needs satisfied.   As the sky begins to lighten, she rises, dressing hurriedly, gasping as she drops a shoe.

‘Where are you going, Monica?’

Her heart sinks, she had hoped to slip away and leave him sleeping. She cringes inwardly, this was going to be awkward ‘I have to get back before I’m missed, Rodrigo.’

He rises and stands between her and the door ‘last night was incredible, Monica, I must see you again, please.’

‘I can’t Rodrigo, I told you that last night, please, let me go.’

He grabs her wrist, his face pained. ‘Please’ he pleads ‘give me your number, an address, anything.’

‘No,  Rodrigo, I can’t. Please, let me go.’

His eyes set hard ‘No, I can’t, I won’t, not until you promise to see me again.’

A distant clock starts striking the three-quarter hour, her mouth trembles and a tear starts down her cheek, she’s desperate, now. ‘OK, Rodrigo, OK, please let me go now and I’ll see you at ten a.m. at the pavement café across from St Marks, I swear.’

‘You swear?’

She touches the small gold crucifix hanging around her neck ‘yes.’

Reluctantly he accepts this, and she leaves.

*

10 a.m. Monica covertly observes him from across the street. He’s sitting at a pavement table, an untouched coffee before him, glancing at his watch.

As the last chime of St Marks clock fades, he rises, looking anxiously into the face of each passing woman.

It’s a terrible risk, but she has sworn to see him and must keep her promise. Monica takes a deep breath, butterflies dancing in her stomach and crosses the road ten metres up the pavement from him. She walks up, glancing into his face, smiling shyly. He responds with a curt nod, sidestepping her as he gazes up the street into the distance. She passes him, breathing a deep sigh of relief. She has kept her promise. Lowering her face, she pulls her wimple more closely around her head as she hurries back to the convent.

© pronto 2022
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