Show Me How

“Fucking stupid piece of shit lighter,” she snapped, words mangled slightly around the cigarette clamped between her lips, cupping her hand awkwardly around the end of it, clicking the lighter fruitlessly. Her movements were clearly inexpert, and I couldn’t help my laugh.

“Give me that, you idiot,” I said, taking both the lighter and the cigarette from her and lighting it easily, allowing myself one pull only before pocketing the lighter and handing her the lit cigarette. “Can I ask why? You don’t smoke. I know this because you’ve often gave me long lectures about the health risks, even though other than a few sneaky ones on a stressful day I haven’t properly smoked in years.”

She took the cigarette from me carefully and gingerly, as if holding a bomb. “Because two women standing outside a random house is suspicious and shady, but two women standing outside a random house passing a cigarette between them are just out for a smoke,” she said primly, and I smiled, impressed despite myself.

“Smart,” I said, grudgingly, and she grinned smugly, taking a too-deep drag on the cigarette and choking, her cough loud in the empty street. I chuckled, and she glowered at me. “You’ll draw more attention doing it wrong,” I said, and she sighed, clearly unwilling to admit I was right. “Let me show you how? Watch me,” I said, as I plucked the cigarette from her hand, and, exaggerating my movements, took a careful drag. I blew out the smoke, and suppressed a shiver at her eyes watching me so intently, watching my lips. I took another puff and gave it back. “Now you try,” I said, and she did.

I stared at her, glad that the dim light hid my blush. She blew out, with only a tiny cough, and I smiled proudly. “You’re a natural,” I said, and she grimaced.

“I don’t like the taste,” she said, and I laughed.

“You’ll get used to it,” I said, tilting my head back, squinting through the smoke.

“I hope I don’t,” she said, and I didn’t argue.

We stood there, trading the cigarette back and forth, and the atmosphere was strange, tense, hot. Every time our fingers touched I felt a spark, no matter how cliché that sounded. And I knew that wasn’t just the lit end of the cigarette. I couldn’t drag my eyes away from her lips, her throat, her eyes. Her dark skin glowed in the yellow streetlamps. She was beautiful.

“There he is,” she said suddenly, breaking the silence, her voice hoarse. I glanced across the road to see our mark, finally leaving his house.

I squinted down at my watch. “He’s early,” I murmured, and then extinguished the cigarette. “You ready?” I asked, but she stiffened.

“He saw us,” she said, tight and scared, and my brain worked lightning fast.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, and then I kissed her, my arms wrapping around her, her hands touching my back gently, her touch growing firmer, the kiss deepening. And then I remembered where I was, and I broke away, breathing heavily.

“Why were you sorry?” she said, her face very close to mine, and I knew we had a job to do, and I could see our mark, out the corner of my eye, wandering away, but all I could think about was her.

“I wanted the first time to be for real,” I said faintly, unable to pull together the brain cells to lie, and her eyes went soft.

“The second time can be for real,” she said, and it sounded like a promise.

I nodded, a smile growing across my face, and she shook her head fondly, reaching into her jacket and pulling out her gun.

“Shall we?” she said wickedly, and I nodded again, following her down the street.

-Maura Kenny

[05/02/17: Cigarette]

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