“Hey.” A low voice, with a slight huskiness to it, like coarse fur, comes from a corner of the room. A beautiful woman, maybe twenty years old, smiles at him, a curve of full, luscious lips. She holds her chin high, arrogant and unafraid, and her feet barely seem to touch the ground as she walks towards him. With every step her hips sway, her silky black dress rippling and flowing over her like an unbroken stream of water. She reminds him of one of those ancient Egyptian statues, queens with long, slender necks, set to rule the world.
“You’re syndicate, aren’t you?” she says, stopping her approach only when they’re close enough he could kiss her if he leaned forward. Now he can see the color of her eyes, brown like sugar cooked to a crystalline crisp, with the same shine. She watches him distantly, her composure icy and flawless.
“Yes,” he says. “And I never leave any witnesses.”
“You should reconsider,” she says, and just when he thinks she’s going to kiss him, something sharp scratches against his stomach, a little paring knife pressed to his side.
“Let me off this fucking boat,” she whispers, “or I will gut you.”
It takes some time before he can focus on anything besides the cold turn of her lips, her calculating gaze, like he’s nothing more than a chess piece held between her fingers, hovering above the board as she considers her move. But finally he gets his shit together and strikes, a hand as quick as a cobra, catching her wrist in its bite. He twists hard, instinct and training replacing thought, until she drops the knife onto the carpet beneath them. She doesn’t make a sound.
The next moment seems to stretch and linger, her wrist still in his hand, her eyes cold and fearless as a winter night, as though she could match him, darkness for darkness.
He, who feels nothing, is unsettled by the stirring within him, by the way her every last detail seems fraught with meaning. The bones of her slender arm beneath the heavy press of his fingertips, the steady firm shape of her mouth, the curves of her body beneath a black satin dress that falls soft as a negligee.
She is dangerous, to him, to his father, to the syndicate. And yet…