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Smoke and Mirrors
By tremblingmoon


Truth be told, you noticed her across the gallery over half an hour ago, and you're not entirely surprised when she materializes in front of you—things you want always do eventually, although for someone like her you may have crossed a room or two. Then Eric casually introduces you, as if this moment isn't going to change both your lives, and you can't help but think, as she smiles in greeting, that Tina's pretty banal as far as names go, but you're used to finding beauty in even the simplest of things.

Eric walks away blissfully unaware he's left his pretty blond lamb with a lion.

Or that's the way you remember that first moment, her bright eyes reflecting your smile—so calculated to charm, to win hearts and minds and patrons. Her gaze and tone are surprisingly guileless, and you find yourself trying to put forth a genuine expression to match her frank curiosity, but can't seem to get past the practiced inventory of smiles you've so firmly established in your repertoire. Besides, is it really possible she's as innocent as she seems, one real woman amidst the flock of artifice-ridden, Kodachrome art world devotees you invite into your gallery week after week?

Of course, you don't get to ask her—not that you would have, not really—because she's gone by the time you make it through your second circuit around the gallery—another hour spent welcoming newcomers and schmoozing with critics, your eagle eyes sharp for the enraptured, those potential new benefactors. So, she's gone by the time you look for her again and that's fine. She knows nothing about you, and you know nothing about her, except: she's shy and gorgeous and probably pretty damn straight and incredibly unpretentious and her eyes are baby, baby blue and it'd be easy to lose yourself in her smile and, as a matter of fact, it'd be good business practice to play nice with one of the best young art dealers in town and his beautiful girlfriend, wouldn't it?

Your tone is completely professional in the morning when you tell your assistant to add them to the guest list for your next dinner party. After all, you're just securing another valuable connection.

Truth be told, you saw her lose her earring that second time, too—traitorous bauble making its way down a strand of her hair during the dessert course, tangling briefly in her curls, a flash of metal glinting, and then tumbling unnoticed (by all except you) to the floor—so you're not entirely surprised when she comes to you again.

Seduction is so easy. You're very much in her personal space, but she doesn't blush or startle or prevaricate; she meets your gaze with a softer one of her own, open and waiting, like she expected this as much as you did. And in that moment you almost lose your nerve, almost decide the stakes are too high. She could change you, if you let her. You could destroy her, if you wanted.

Instead, you kiss her. She pulls away after a brief eternity, but doesn't move away, accepts her wayward earring from your hand, but not before brushing her fingertips lightly against yours. You kiss her again and realize you're already different, realize she's changed you in a heartbeat.

You haven't mastered a smile for this moment, but one comes to you anyway, and she matches it easily with her own.

The End

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