“Do you smoke?” He said. He leant over the railing beside me, picking a leaf off of the ivy and letting it fly away in the wind. It dipped once, twice, and then fell into the marble fountain below. He was tall and had slanted, broad shoulders, his suit was navy and his crooked bowtie an offensively bright red.
The night air felt suffocating in his presence. The stars like spotlights, lighting up each freckle on my nose.
“Of course I smoke,” I said. He didn’t offer me a cigarette though, he just tilted his head back with a smile. His brown curls were threaded with gold from the light dancing out of the glass windows behind us.
The laughter and clinking glass echoed ghost-like through the air.
“I’ve never seen you at one of these parties before,”
I snorted. “Liar,”
His smile widened, his hands clasping together in prayer. “How`ve you been, Licia?”
“You know how I’ve been, it’s been hell,”
“What did a little girl like you do to get into hell?” He laughed.
I let my hands drift along the stone railing, pushing up and smoothing out any of the creases that had begun forming in my dress. The navy lace caught on my glittering silver rings. “You’d be surprised,”
“Would I?” Then in a lower tone, he said. “You shouldn’t have come,”
“You invited me,” I turned around, putting my hands on either side of my hips so I could look through the windows, into the party. There was a woman watching me from inside and when our eyes met I smiled cuttingly, all teeth. She looked away first.
“I didn’t think you’d actually come,” He was still smiling. A stark contrast to his dark tone.
“I’m hurt, I thought you knew me better than that by now, Ben,”
He laughed. “Anyone who thinks they know you well is a fool,”
At this it was my turn to smile.
Ben reached into his suit jackets pocket, his tanned hands lined with pale pink, raised scars from better days- when we were still partners. It made something in my throat constrict.
“You still never told me why you left,” I said, so quietly I was sure for a moment he hadn’t heard me. But then he replied.
“Not good job security,” Ben wasn’t smiling anymore.
“I’m serious,” I scowled, crossing my arms petulantly over my chest.
“So am I, Alicia. “Secret agent” looks made up on a resume- I’d know. The first few interviewers I had after I left laughed in my face,” Ben slipped a flask from his pocket. He sloshed the liquid inside around for a moment before turning to me. He flicked open the lid and took a swig. “Would you like some?” He offered.
I took the flask and tossed my head back. I didn’t care what was in it, as long as it was strong. As soon as I took a sip, I realized it was poison. The alcohol it was mixed with was strong, at least.
“Trying to get rid of me now?” Ben took back his flask as my hand shook. “This stuff is quick, where’d you get it?” I asked nonchalantly. He didn’t answer me. “You’re trying to kill me, you could at least answer my questions.”
“I’m sorry,” He said. “I don’t usually do this kind of thing anymore, it’s just. They offered me so much money, and like I said- finding work’s been hard,”
I hummed in agreement. “Well,” I said lightly, raising an eyebrow. “I hope they paid you in advance, because the stuff they gave you isn’t going to take down an old veteran like me,”
Ben smirked. “I was planning on it, now get out before I really do have to kill you,”