I nodded, smiling into the game. Pulling out a seat for Neave, and settling next to her, crossing my arms in exaggerated thought, I replied, “Tamayo’s America, actually”.
Tracy actually blanched for a moment, and then the entire table erupted with a discussion of Second World War and post-war mural art. The next hour saw several glasses of wine, and a brace of new faces and discussions and stories. Poul and Daci talked close, largely oblivious to the lively conversation. At one point they surreptitiously rose and made their way to the back of the place, to disappear into the dark hall with the restrooms.
Neave followed their path with her eyes before turning to me with a clouded expression. I shrugged and smiled. It was pretty clear what they were up to.
“You… You don’t mind?” She asked me.
“No,” I smiled, “I think I might have done something foolish if she hadn’t stepped in when she did. Do you mind?” I asked my question to forestall the next one I saw on her lips – I wasn’t ready to answer yet, if I even knew what the answer was.
“I… I don’t know.” She spoke slowly, thinking it out. “I mean, I just… invited you – both of you – somewhere it usually takes a potential or new lover weeks to go, if ever. I feel a little turned around. Should I be feeling possessed? Possessive?”
“Mmm. Well, one thing to know about Daci – no one owns her, and she… well, she could own anyone she wanted, but chooses not to.”
“Even those who might want to be owned?” Neave asked, and startled as if she hadn’t meant to say that.
I looked at her, and then cupped her chin in my hand.
Neave’s fingers stole up to her scarf-covered neck, over one of my bites. “And you and I?”
I realized I didn’t have a good answer still – not one I could voice, anyway, and it troubled me. Fortunately, someone at the table insulted Antoni Gaudi rather loudly at that point, and Neave scowled and allowed herself to be drawn back into the fray. I had to smile, because she beat me to it by only a heartbeat.
It was a shortish time after that when Daci and Poul reappeared at the table. Poul was a little glazed looking, even paler than before, but with a beatific look on his face. Daci, though she came barely to his chest, was clearly supporting him.
“Have a good time?” I asked as Poul nearly collapsed into his chair. He just smiled at me. I didn’t have the urge to hit him anymore, at least.
“We had a little chat,” Daci said, smiling pleasantly, looking just a little tipsy herself, though I was sure she hadn’t had a glass of anything but water.
“Um, Daci? You have something…” Neave said, pointing to Daci’s lip. A little pearl of white, streaked with red, beaded at the corner of her mouth. Daci delicately swiped a finger to collect the drop and looked at it before licking it clean with a little humming sound. Neave looked from Daci to Poul, whose long neck was plain to see and unblemished.
I leaned in to whisper, “Remember where she likes to bite,” and smiled as Neave’s eyes widened.
“I guess she takes sucking a guy off _very_ seriously,” she whispered back. I chuckled, and Daci, who likely heard Neave despite the table noise, winked at us.
Poul took another minute or two to shake himself out of his daze, and dove back in to the conversation, which had already hit the Dadaist roots of his own inspirations. Wine, pretense, intellectual snobbery, and humor all flowed smoothly after that, and neither Poul nor I bumped heads or egos – much – after that. I thought maybe I could like him, after a fashion. Daci dropped her innocent act and dueled with Poul on Post-Minimalism, which I could tell only aroused him all over again.
The party rolled well past last call and closing time, the barkeep and late staff also evidently part of the crowd. It was passing 4am when people started seriously losing steam. I saw the first waver of Daci’s good humor only because I knew exactly what to look for. Dawn wasn’t for a while yet, but it was time to go.
“And where do you think you’re going?” Poul intoned as we started saying our goodbyes.
“Home, Darling,” Daci said, allowing herself to look very tired.
“But I so wanted to show you what I’m working on now,” he protested, attempting to be suave in a way that alcohol no longer permitted.
“I am sure it as beautiful as you, my dear, but I must go.”
Poul’s face clouded as he saw Neave and I standing as well, but Daci’s hand traced his jaw and pulled him to look at her. “I’ll see you again. We’re not done yet,” she smiled. Poul’s darkened expression dissolved in a shiver – and the wave of lust and marbled with fear that passed through him was so easy to pick up it made me smile despite myself.
Emerging from the warm confines of the establishment to the pre-predawn street, we discovered how cold the weather had turned overnight. Spring still had several battles to fight. Neave shivered, not clothed quite adequately enough, and Daci and I flanked her with our bodies as I hailed a cab. One of my favorite things about New York – Taxis were as reliable as electricity.
We bundled into the yellow behemoth that pulled up, Neave still between Daci and I, and I told the driver, “SoHo Grand”.
It really wasn’t that far, but given Daci, and the temperature, I didn’t want to walk.
“Um…,” Neave said, “should I just take the cab to my place after you get off?”
I looked at her watching the street as she spoke, and waited for her to turn to me.
“Is that what you want?” I asked. My hand, I found, was resting on her leg, just above her knee, though I didn’t move it. Neave looked at me, then Daci. Daciana had relaxed a little more, confident that we were in plenty of time, and gave Neave a knowing smile. Neave turned back to me.
I nodded, holding my expression neutral. But my hand began to slide up her leg.