All Lenore could see through the peephole was a confused mass of dark red.
The bell rang once more. “Who is it?” she demanded. “I don’t answer the door for invisible people.”
Lenore rolled her eyes. “Who is me?”
“It’s Astro Boi , we met last night, well not really met. I dropped my drink in your lap?”
“Yeah, and?” A thought struck chills down Lenore’s spine suddenly; “How do you know where I live?”
“Um, friend of yours told me.” Whatever it was that had been blocking the peephole moved away, and Lenore could see enough to recognise the butch brat that had soaked her legs with all-too-aromatic Jack Daniels. She unlocked the door and cracked it open.
“You are going to tell me who that was,” Lenore directed.
“Um, no, they thought I was an old friend, it isn’t their fault, and they shouldn’t get into trouble for it…” Astro, in the light of day, was jeans-clad and sneakered. She wore a white button-down shirt, sleeves rolled up past her tanned forearms. Her dark brown hair was pulled back into a tail, and gleamed with shiny health. “Anyway, I just wanted to apologise.” She held up the bouquet of roses. Lenore hardly looked at them, glaring into the woman’s eyes instead.
“You were an asshole last night. And you’re being an asshole right now, do you know that?”
“Yeah,” Astro shrugged. “I really only wanted to give you these.”
The roses were a deep magenta hue. The color was everything at once; bloody and innocent, heated with passion and cold with malice. Lenore took them from the other woman’s hand, turned them in the sunlight. Their leaves spread over her fist, each one as perfect as the blooms, a green the color of English billiards, the edges touched with heraldic bronze. The sun seeped into each petal, and seemed to be trapped within.
“Smell,” Astro suggested; Lenore nearly drowned in the overpowering perfume. Her eyes had fallen closed, she realised. She forced them open, blinking at the woman who stood before her. Astro was staring into Lenore’s face, with an intensity that made Lenore turn her head away. She looked at the bouquet instead, and noticed more clearly the metallic curling ribbon that tied the stems together, and how it was battered and crumpled, and inappropriately gold and baby blue. The ends of the stems were not cleanly cut, but torn from a bush. Lenore raised accusing eyes to her suitor.
“Please tell me you grew these.”
“I got no place to grow roses.” Astro ducked her head, and gave Lenore a glancing apologetic smile. “But I swear I went to look at a flower store first, and they don’t sell anything that…” The shoulders heaved with her deep breath; “that’s good enough for you baby. So, these are Mister Lincoln roses, and you should have them.”
Lenore battled down a glow of pride at the compliment. “You stole these? out of someone else’s yard?”
“I just think you should have them.” Astro repeated. She jigged from foot to foot suddenly. “I just wanted to tell you that you’re the most beautiful woman… And I always watch you dance. You… I’d like to talk with you, sometime.“
“By ‘talk,’ you mean what exactly?” Lenore folded her arms.
“Coffee?” Astro’s eyes stopped their roaming and came back up to meet Lenore’s. “Well, we could start with coffee.”
“Fine. I’ll be out in ten minutes.” Lenore said, and thoroughly enjoyed the wide-eyed shock that replaced Astro Boi”s smirk.
She shut the door on her suitor, and headed for the back of the house, planning out the day. They would go to Le Bistrot, not Starbucks. Lenore would pay; Astro needed to understand from the very beginning who was calling the shots. She would wear the sage green dress; casual enough to match the young butch’s attire, and the plunging neckline would make sure Astro’s attention never flagged.
She swept a glance over her bedroom, approving the tousled bed covers as picturesque and suggestive rather than sluttish, and stepped into the shower. Her face turned into the needle spray, she laughed out loud; a new lover, cooling impatient heels on her front steps. Perfect.