She walks past him in a cloud of steam, smelling like roses and grapefruit and sits down before a lighted mirror. She smiles at him with the same babyish face he kissed this morning as she lay in his bed, lit by the sun. He’s distracted from the evening news as he watches her reach for tiny brushes and pots of cosmetics, like an artist before an easel.
Black liquid lines are delicately painted around her eyes, swooping up at the edge like the Queen of the Nile. Pink stains go on her cheekbones, giving her a tint that would never occur with embarrassment…she would more likely laugh than blush.
He’s hypnotized, watching her watching herself in the mirror, transforming from his angel into a vamp, painting her lips a dark, bloodied red. She smiles at him and slinks past him like a cat, dropping her towel for a form-fitting black dress.
Tonight he walks behind her through a crowd, his hand on the small of her back, watching the glances that come her way. He draws a cross on his leg like he learned in childhood in his country when he sees women staring at her with envious evil eyes. He wonders for a moment if she might have exchanged a knowing look with her cat-like face with another man who passes them, as his eyes wash over her. He shrugs off his paranoia and turns her body to his and kisses her roughly, the way she likes.
Her smile is a little forced as she talks to others and he feels as if he’s watching her at a masquerade ball. This is not the woman he wakes up to. This painted lady is rehearsed, poised and holding herself together. She’s like a beautiful stranger on his arm.
At home she slips her heels off and asks him to unzip her dress. He watches her sit before the mirror again, pulling out cloth wipes and passing them over her face. Her cat eyes come off in a black streak and she is his kitten once again. She tiptoes over to his bed and curls up against his chest, turning her bare lips up to his.