The air was bitterly cold tonight, and my mood was sour enough to match. A gust of wind ruffled my hair, and I groaned with irritation as I swiped my hand through it before reaching into my front pocket and pulling out my smokes.
“No, Viktor, we don’t have time for that. We’re already late! We’ve missed half the damn thing.” My business partner, Jameson, shoved at my shoulder and kept walking towards the theater.
God, I just wanted a cigarette.
“If we miss this stupid ballet, then we might miss the chance of snagging the support of the mayor and we need him for the expansion.” Jameson stopped and when I reached his side, his arm shot out to grab my elbow. “You do want to see the expansion succeed, don’t you?”
“What a stupid question. Of course, I do,” I snapped, shrugging his arm off. “Don’t touch me. If you weren’t my uncle, I would have hit you for that.”
Jameson laughed and rubbed his belly. “Don’t talk to me like that, boy. I got you into this company, remember?”
“Whatever,” I kept walking. My Italian leather shoes clicked on the pavement as we walked past the fountain in front of the building. Ignoring Jameson, I pulled out a cigarette for a few drags before we snuck into the front of the theater. Meeting with the mayor to compete for a plot of land to expand our business against our rival had my nerves frayed. I blew out the smoke as we walked in through one door and walked through the cloud.
The mayor was a nobody, busy little man in a suit, but our rival… Far too clever for his own good. We needed to land the mayor’s approval tonight while he was at this ballet. Before anyone else could.
Poor man gets dragged to the ballet every month by his wife, and thanks to that Jameson and I could pinpoint when he would be here and away from his office.
The bright lights shone over us through the glass wall that made up the front of the David H. Koch Theater. Those lights were so bright, and everything was so pale, every surface looked as if it was shimmering gold. It made me roll my eyes.
“They should go to the first intermission any minute now. We should be able to catch the mayor out here and pretend we’ve been here the whole time.” Jameson rubbed his hand over his forehead, briefly enhancing the wrinkles that lined his eyes.
Jameson and I could hear the music fading from the auditorium as the ballet ended for the first intermission. Even with the lessening noise, my head didn’t stop throbbing. I rubbed my temple and groaned.
“Doing alright there, boy?” My uncle was focused on the task at hand, but there was still an underlying note of concern for the family I could pick up.
“It’s been a long week. I just want a drink and a smoke.” We had been working on this business plan for too long for it to fall apart.
“If this goes well, I’ll buy you a drink,” my uncle snorted and smacked me on the back. I turned to say something else, but the doors to the auditorium opened as a flood of people filed out to break for intermission.
“According to my resource, the mayor always gets a whiskey before going back to his wife. He doesn’t like ballet any more than you do, but his nuts are in that woman’s purse.” Jameson shook his head ruefully, as if he wasn’t the same with my aunt.
“Then let’s find the man and get him a whiskey.” I want one too.
“No drinking for you yet. I need you sober and on your toes for this deal.” Jameson careened his head around and from my height over him I could see the bald spot he was getting on the back of his head. “I think I see him. On your left. Let’s go.”
He nudged me in that direction. I turned, and we made a beeline for the mayor. The man was a lanky string bean in a suit with at least five decades of life greying his hair and lignin his face. The pressure of running New York weighing him down and permanently tensing his body into a ball of stress. The whiskey in his hand already half gone.
“Mr. Mayor, fancy running into you here!” Jameson caught the older man by surprise and swept him up into the fantastical tale of our business proposal. I stood off to the side offering input as needed, but mostly listened as my uncle put the moves on the mayor.
It wasn’t long before the crowd thinned and make their way back inside for the second act of the ballet. I caught the eyes of several women in over-the-top sparkling gowns on the arm of some wrinkled old man. One even had the audacity to wink at me when her date for evening was turning away.
A smirk curled onto my lips and I winked back. I needed a drink and a woman in my bed. And soon.
“Wow, that’s a substantial offer. I’d love to hear more about this, but it’s time to return to the show.” The old man looked conflicted about going inside. Jameson was always a pro at hooking his claws in.
“We’re going in too. My nephew and I love the ballet!” Jameson jerked his head for me to follow and I gave the mayor a large performative smile. The two men started walking inside and continued going back and forth until we under the dimmed lights of the auditorium.
“The wife and I have a few private seats roped off. Why don’t you and your nephew come sit with me and we can continue this conversation discreetly?” The Mayor leaned down to whisper.
“We’d be honored!” I couldn’t help myself when I rolled my eyes at his fake enthusiasm.
Hands in my pockets, I trailed behind them. The already low lights went down further and before I knew it, we were introduced to the mayor’s wife and sitting with him in his private seats for the rest of the show.
This is when I let my uncle take full control and whisper his plans to the mayor as the performance started up. My head was throbbing, and the music was grating against some nerve I never knew I had. I couldn’t stop shifting around in my seat as the show lit up.
I had to admit that this view was fantastic. We were so close to the stage I might have been impressed if I gave a single shit.
Then something changed.
She took the stage.
And when she did, I could swear that every person in that theater held their breath. The air left the building and ice dancing across my skin. The lights flashed, and she moved with impossible fluidity and grace to the trill of the music.
I didn’t care about ballet, but I knew enough to know that this was the lead of the show. This woman was the star. She was Odette. She was the Swan.
This was the most gorgeous creature I had ever laid my eyes on.
Even from this distance, I could see the intense emotions written across her face as her petite frame flew over the stage. Blue eyes as clear and pale as crystal glistened like she was crying; her full lips set in a permanent pout. My pants felt tighter, imaging what those lips were capable of.
The way she moved made my chest feel lighter. It occurred to me that this is what it felt like to witness, and angel come down from heaven. The rest of the world faded away and all I could see was her.
Without realizing it, I was leaning forward in my seat and each breath was slow as I got lost in her performance. When the show was ending and it was time for Odette to die, I could have sworn the tears on her cheeks were real.
My hand itched to swipe them away. To peel off her dress and feel that delicate skin under my hands. As my thoughts progressed, my heart rate spiked, my chest felt constricted.
“Are you enjoying the show, my boy?” Jameson chuckled into my ear when he broke conversation with the mayor. I tensed and leaned back into the red cushioned seat once more.
Straightening my tie, I shrugged and let a short laugh slip through my lips. “That ballerina caught my attention. Seeing her dance like that makes a man dream of devilish things.”
“Did she now?” My uncle looked up to the stage as the performers were bowing and the audience burst into thunderous applause around us. “Devilish things you say”
“She’s beautiful.” I had to have her. I knew right away that I set my eyes on her.
“Well, good news then. The mayor invited us to the after party. We were going to go anyway, but all the performers will be there, and I know a man who has connection to the New York Ballet who will be there as well.”
I sank back and absorbed what Jameson was telling me. If he had a connection, there was more to the dancers than met the eyes. It did not surprise part of me at the inference I was picking up on from my uncle’s tone.
“What are you telling me, old man?” I narrowed my gaze on the ballerina as the crimson curtains swept over the stage and blocked her from my vision. I wanted to growl like a beast as she left my line of sight.
“If you want the ballerina, I’ll talk to my guy at the party. Maybe we can come to an arrangement if she’s on the menu.” He waved his hand dismissively, whispering so the mayor and his wife didn’t overhear.
“If she’s on the menu? It’s an intriguing offer.” More than intrigued. There was a fire in my chest burning me to get to the after party and see the dancer again. We rose from our seats and followed the mayor out of the auditorium.
“Then let’s go complete this deal with the mayor and buy you a ballerina, Viktor.” My uncle clasped my shoulder and the grin on his face was wicked.
The Mayor and his wife were enamored with my uncle and insisted we ride with them to the after party. Jameson went into further detail about the business and delighted everyone with his stories.
I tried to pay attention, but my mind was elsewhere. Every time I tried to focus, all I could see were those pale blue eyes crying as she fell to the stage in a mock death. Her lithe body was so flexible, and each movement was elegant. If I didn’t get my thoughts under control, I would be forced to hide an erection in the back of the crowded limo.
If my uncle was right and he could get me introduced to the dancer, then there was no price I wouldn’t pay to have her. The cost didn’t matter if those full lips were at my disposal.
It got increasingly hot in the limousine as we crossed the city to the event venue the after party was being held at. Most of the big names from the audience would be there, as well as minor celebrities in the city who knew about it. Jameson told me the performers took a while to arrive but after the show they just put on it didn’t surprise they needed a little break time.
Jameson didn’t go into detail about what he knew. He put his full attention on blowing away the mayor with as many extensive plans as he could get away with. But my mind lingered on how he worded his statement.
“Buy you a ballerina.”
Our entourage entered the event for the party. We were met with low lights and thumping music echoing off the walls. The bar in the back was screaming for my attention.
“You owe me a drink,” I stated loudly, interrupting my uncle’s conversation. He widened his eyes and looked between me and the Mayor.
“You’re absolutely right! I sure do. Excuse for a moment. I’ll go grab us all a round of drinks with my nephew and I’ll be right back.” As soon as he turned his back, his eyes were scowling at me.
“You know better than to interrupt me,” his jovial tone turned sour.
“Yeah, of course. Of course,” I waved him off, and we parted the crowd on our way to the line of the bar and wall of liquor bottles reflecting the low blue lights surrounding us. Without looking at him, I whispered, “Tell me about the ballerinas.”
Jameson rolled his eyes, but when we got to the bar, he waved over a bartender. Getting closer, he exhaled and spoke without meeting my eye. “New York is an expensive place to live.”
“Obviously,” I scoffed.
“Well, ballet might pay well for the tenured dancers, but for a lot of the newer ones they might need to supplement their income.” He smiled at someone he appeared to recognize down the bar. “My friend down there knows a trainer with the New York Ballet who has a type of contract with some of the girls.”
“Are you telling me they sell the ballerinas?” I demanded. The bartender quickly poured us two whiskeys after Jameson stated the order.
“Here he comes,” Jameson muttered before sipping his drink. “Ask him yourself.”
The man joined us at our end of the bar, and I took in his dark leather jacket and slicked back hair. There was a gold chain around his neck and bulky rings on his fingers. He didn’t quite fit in with the opulence of the other guests.
Jameson and the man leaned in to whisper in one another’s ear as they mock embraced as if longtime friends. I looked around the party, briefly wondering when the performers would arrive.
“Dax, this is my nephew Viktor. He’s interested in sampling the menu.” As Jameson introduced me, I shook the man named Dax’s hand.
Roguish smirk slashed across his face. “Alright then. Come over here where it’s more private and we can talk more.”
“I’ve got to get a drink to the Mayor, I’ll trust you two to handle this.” My uncle shook Dax’s shoulder and angled back to the bar. Dax nodded at me to follow, and we slipped through the crowd to a darkened corner.
“Alright, I trust your uncle Jameson, but I need to know that you’ll keep this information on the down low?” Dax pressed.
“Of course,” I shrugged nonchalantly.
“Which of the girls are you interested in?” He got straight to the point.
“The one who was Odette tonight.” As soon as the name left my lips, Dax sucked his teeth.
“She is. But that’s an expensive bird, my man,” Dax ran one meaty hand through his hair and exhaled loudly.
“You know my uncle, so you know that money isn’t a problem.” I crossed my arms and narrowed my gaze. Just the thought of a night with that woman was driving me to near insanity. The fact that I could ensure my dreams came true was making my blood burn with anticipation.
“Good to hear. Alright. That ballerina is available. I’ll get in contact with the handler and once we have payment, we’ll set up a meeting,” Dax spoke while digging his phone out of his pocket.
“When?” The words rushed past my lips. I swallowed hard and straightened my shoulders to keep my cool. Dax chortled but looked over the calendar on his screen.
“Hmm, you can have her tonight if you pay extra.” Dax seemed like he was musing to himself, but my heart leapt from my throat and I had to swallow it back down.
“Deal. Just tell me how much and I’ll send the funds.”
Dax slowly turned his head up to face me, his beady eyes were now wide. He looked me up and down, taking the time to examine me.
“You seem pretty serious. Normally we run tests and vet the guys before bringing in new ones, but since I know your uncle and you’re willing to pay, I think you’ve got yourself a deal.” He stuck his hand out. I shook it, forcing myself not to show how eager I really was.
“What’s your name, then? I’ll send you the information.”
“Viktor Novak.” A minute later my phone pinged, and we completed the deal. My body was an inferno of heat and I needed a drink as this became real.
“We’ll send you the instructions to meet the girl tonight. If you see her at this party, don’t talk about this out loud or try to avoid her,” Dax advised. “Save it for tonight, yeah?”
“I can do that.” Just then the volume of the crowd increased. A few people clapped or holler as a group across the venue walked in through the entrance.
The dancers were here.
She might be here. Hunger roared to life within me, and it wasn’t the kind for food.
“Oh, and Viktor,” I turned to look at Dax, “her name is Stella.” He winked. Then he vanished through the crowd.
I surged forward the moment he was gone. My limbs moved of their own accord to head towards the gathered dancers who just arrived. I was brimming with untamed energy at the thought of seeing her again.
My eyes scanned every face joining the after party. She wasn’t here. I kept looking, but she never showed up. Half an hour went by and the star of the show didn’t come. But then my phone pinged with a message.
A time and place to see her. To have her tonight.