Jack's house was big, of course, and in a close where all the houses were different. Outside, in the streetlight I could see elegant white statues of two sphinxes, reminding me of something I’d watched on TV about Egypt years ago. It smelt of money. But right then, for once, I wasn’t interested in the location or what it might look like if I drew it.
Inside, everything was clean and so luxurious I thought I must be dreaming. In the hallway, I stared at the mirror framed with carved wood that glittered gold in the light. In the reflection, I saw him come close, lean down and kiss the back of my neck, our two heads blended together, one dark, one fair. Seeing us like that made me think of monsters or magic, and I almost laughed. Without asking, he took off my jacket, half-caressing my shoulders as he did so and making me shiver with excitement. This was going to be one hell of a one-night stand. Or first date. Which was it? God, please God, let it be the second choice. I’d do it with him now, no need to give me dinner. He only had to ask.
“Is this too quick for you?” he asked.
I shook my head, but my stomach rumbled, giving me away. He laughed and stepped back.
“All right, that’s settled. Food first. I promised you food, didn’t I? Is pasta all right? It’s what I had planned, and there’ll be plenty for two.”
“Okay.” The wait would only make things better. I followed him into the large, oak-lined expanse of kitchen, running my fingers over the smooth work surfaces and wondering if I would ever afford such luxury. Maybe, one day, when I had a gallery of my own, somewhere I could place my artwork and watch people admire and buy it. One day soon. While I dreamed, Jack cooked real spaghetti, not the dried stuff, and added chopped chicken, herbs and sauces, the heavy smell of it filling the air. I watched him, drinking in the way he looked, the way he moved, and the fair down on his arms that glowed golden like the mirror frame.
At last he smiled. “Michael, if you continue eating me up with your eyes, there’ll be nothing left of me at all.”
I looked away at once.
“That’s a shame,” he said. “I was enjoying your attention. But here, have some bread while you’re waiting. The pasta will be ready soon.”
It was. I began to eat what he’d placed in front of me. It was delicious, and I knew fresh pasta would now always be my favorite. Whatever happened. He, on the other hand, didn’t even pick up his cutlery.
“Aren’t you hungry?” I asked him, between mouthfuls.
“Yes,” he said. “But not for food...”
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