Jasmine breathed in the perfume-filled air as she battled her way through the crowd of bodies, slick with sweat and alcohol. She loved this place. The neon lights on the wall made for perfect social media pictures, the boys with bright eyes and loose hands, the thrum of the music in the air. Only here could she lose herself completely. She leaned against the cold glass of the bar, drawing in a deep breath. Here, she didn’t have to think about her parent’s divorce, about the sound her father’s hand made striking her mothers face. She didn’t have to remember her brother’s betrayal, siding with their dad, pretending not to notice the bruises dotting her mothers arm. Here, she knew she could torture all these boys who think they own the world. Someone had to pay for their gender’s abuse, right? She might as well enjoy taking that payment.
“What can I get you?” The voice startled her out of her reverie. She looked back to see the bartender, tall and dark and handsome. His bright blue eyes contrasted wonderfully with the black fringe framing his face.
“I don’t drink.” She glanced down at his name tag before looking back up at those ocean eyes, “But feel free to make yourself a drink on my tab, James.” He laughed, the sound barely audible over the din of music. She could see his eyes trailing down her face, stopping briefly at her lips before moving downwards over the silver dress. Her entire body hummed with electricity. She knew it was not desire for him, despite how attractive he was. Instead, she simply wanted him to want her, to be unable to take his eyes off of her. She wanted him to know he was flirting with the most gorgeous girl in the room.
“Well, one can never say no to a drink from a pretty lady, but I really can’t drink on the job. Since you already know my name, what’s yours?” She could hear it in his voice, see it in his dilated pupils. He wanted her. The thrill rushed through her veins like cocaine as she deliberated which personality to use on him.
“I’m Valeria.” The name rolled off her tongue like honey. She wasn’t sure why she never used her real name on nights like these. It just added to the sense of freedom that made them the best part of her week.
“So, what time do you get off?” She let a slight purr creep into her voice, knowing he’d be fooled into thinking she actually wanted him. She loved the control she had over these helpless men, the spell she cast over them. On nights like these, she felt like the most powerful version of herself.
Later, in a different bar halfway across town, she danced with the bartender whose name she had already forgotten. At some point, one of her high heels broke. For a second, Jasmine looked down at the shoes, and she saw them for what they truly were. She hated the expensive, gaudy shoes, just like she hated her expensive, gaudy dress. Picking them up, she tossed them over her shoulder, not caring if they landed on the head of some unsuspecting man.
“Are you ok?” The bartender’s question was obviously about her ankle, if she had twisted it in her shoes. But his question brought tears to her eyes, even as she nodded and put on her trusty seductive smile. She danced, frenzied and feverish, the ground sticky with spilled drinks beneath her stockinged feet. She abandoned her bartender, dancing with this boy and that, each one more handsome than the one before him, but she wouldn’t let a single one of them touch her. She didn’t want them to touch her. All Jasmine wanted was to hear their breath hitch, to feel their eyes on her, to laugh at their attempts to impress her, and then move on to the next boy she could find.
As the sun came up and the music wound down, Jasmine went hunting for her discarded shoes. She couldn’t very well go home to her roommate shoeless. She bent to search behind a table, and when she looked up, the bartender was standing there, her heels dangling from his fingertips.
“Looking for these?” He asked the question as if he had somehow done her a favor. He had, but she wanted to be the one with the power. She changed her mind about going home shoeless.
“You can keep them as a reminder of me.” The look on his face as she trailed her fingers down his arm was worth every dollar she spent on those shoes. She gave him a wink, and then she left, leaving behind the smell of flowers and some very expensive shoes.