The Designer Named Mae
"Stay away from here if you can."
If it's work-related, does that still count? I hold the door open for Mae as she steps in pulling me behind her. As we draw closer to the cashier, I notice the faery is not there but someone else.
Her hair is as curly as Mae's and lays on the glass counter as she looks down at something. With the padding of our footsteps, she looks up.
Her eyes for a split second are a milky white with no iris before they change to a recognisable brown—speckles of gold if the light catches it right.
Mae stares back at me from across the counter despite me holding her hand. The Mae across the desk moves to one side her hand sliding across the glass, she cocks her head as she blinks slowly, her eyelashes long and delicately framing her eyes. She smiles her cheeks rising slightly.
She is crossing the threshold, her hips swaying gently enough for me to pick up. I inhale sharply expecting the whiff of jasmine.
I begin coughing as the overbearing smell of jasmine fills my nose. The Mae I know her scent is gentler, more caressing, this person was overwhelming, and it is slightly painful.
I take a step back, and the imposter frowns. A crack forms just above her eyebrow stretching towards her forehead, her face begins to crack further, pieces of it falling off, revealing the reflective material underneath.
It is both horrifying but fascinating to see the shell of Mae being chipped away and dissolving to dust.
Two soft hands are placed on my face directing my eyes somewhere else. A pair of warm brown eyes with flecks of gold if the light catches it right, and the gentle warmth of her jasmine scent and trail of chocolate to follow.
This is my Mae.
"Jesus Fauna put on your glasses," Mae says, her voice stern and hard. I want to look at the imposter again to see what she is doing, but Mae has a firm hold on my face, and her eyes have completely absorbed my own.
There is some fumbling behind us before a slender hand rests on Mae's shoulder. Mae turns around, and my eyes can take in my surroundings again.
Fauna is rubbing the side of her head.
"Sorry babe," she whispers, she raises her head to me her blue eyes like the sky just before a hailstorm. In her human form, the succubus is nothing like Mae, she is shorter, and most definitely appeared no older than 20.
Mae pulls the girl into a hug, stroking her burgundy curls.
"This one." Mae jabs her thumb at me. "Is off-limits."
I and Fauna both raise a brow at Mae.
Fauna goes back to her space behind the counter, closing the book that she had been reading.
"The girls have been working tirelessly to make your designs a reality, real sweatshop back there."
Mae laughs, before mimicking the sound of a whip cracking.
"I work my girls raw. When you're free, come to the back and help with some of the fittings, your slender body will work well in some of the gowns. Providing you wear your glasses."
Fauna rolls her eyes before saying, "if no one comes in, I will."
Mae takes my hand, pulling back the emerald curtain to the bustle of five other worker bees and their queen. With my marvel of Magenta and what she is, it didn't even phase me to find no long corridor but instead four workbenches in the centre of the room. Each with a line of mannequins in the different stages of design, some with almost completed looks others still had the basic shape of the outfit.
On the wall, farthest from us is a thin shelf filled with large rolls of fabrics surrounded by desks with sewing machines.
With the curtain drawn, Magenta lifts her head up from her work and smiles standing up from her stool and shifting everyone's attention on us.
"Mae, you made it."
Mae lets go of my hand and goes in for a hug with Magenta, the two rock from side to side briefly.
I can see the change when Mae came here as an escort, there is a clear hierarchy, but as a designer, even though Magenta is her manager, they are just like work friends.
"Thank you again for spearheading the designs," Mae says as they finally detach. "I'm sorry I couldn't give you more than a brief outline."
"Brief outline." Magenta laughs and looks at me over Mae's shoulder, rolling her eyes. "This one practically sent me a thesis, from the suppliers she specifically wanted to the type of stitching. She was very thorough."
Mae bows sheepishly before dropping her bag beside one of the tables.
"Gracie, show Mae the completed items to get her final approval." Gracie stepped forward.
Her sapphire eyes are piercing expected of a Jinn. Who is Magenta's source? With her body several shades darker than Mae's, Gracie's body seems to shimmer as though I am staring at the embodiment of space.
Her hair is in the traditional style of her kind—shaven to a buzz cut, while her ears are decorated with piercings and pieces of gold and silver.
"I don't believe your boyfriend has ever seen a Jinn before." Gracie's voice drags me out of my staring, and I smile awkwardly.
"Sorry, it just caught me off guard."
Gracie nods, seeming to forgive my blatant staring and takes Mae by the elbow leading her further into the room to the back.
The other workers continue, no longer interested in my presence. Magenta pulls two chairs from the corner, placing them side by side as she sits on one she beckoning me to sit on the other.
"You change the back of the shop regularly," I say casually as I sit down crossing on leg over the other.
Magenta laughs lightly before saying, "change I guess it's something like that. I like to think of it like revolving rooms, and I always display the one I want people to go into."
Mae and Gracie return chatting quietly, the two stay at the back discussing colour schemes and fabric textures. I tilt my head slightly as she directs some of the others with suggestions on the piece they are working with.
"She's a good employee," Magenta says suddenly, I turn to Magenta who has her amethyst eyes directed on Mae.
"As an escort or as a designer?" I ask a bit more bitterly than I care to admit, forcing my head to turn to Mae.
"Does it really matter?" she says, turning to me, her features soft and endearing. "I see her as a daughter. She reminds me of me in my prime, there is a passion and light to her that's just-"
"Intoxicating," I finish. "Makes one hate this service of yours."
"Why's that?" she asks. I frown deeply as Mae smiles and laughs with her colleagues.
"Because she can't date clients." I feel something slide into my hand and look down. It is an invoice of $200,000. I guess this is how much a goodwill will cost.
"Then perhaps you should stop being one," Magenta says softly.
A.N. Word of wisdom from Magenta. Did you guys like the intro of the succubus Fauna? Or even the Jinn Gracie. Let me know what you think, and most importantly, thanks for reading.