Femme Noir
    Max laughed. “So you see what I mean.”
    I nodded. My breakup with Michelle had been cataclysmically ugly. I shuddered just remembering it. It had been like a small personal disaster.
    “So you really don’t know anything.” I shrugged.
    “Nope.” Max grinned. “Just a kept woman, sheltered and pampered and utterly naïve.”
    “Oh, please.” I stood, ending the interview and dismissing Max’s preposterous remark. Without a further word, I strode to the cigarette box and snapped it open. In a split second, I closed my eyes and was lost in fantasy. Legs sliding apart under my commanding black hands, creamy, magnolia white skin yielding under my grip. Max’s curly tangle of auburn pubic hair offered up in supplication. Please, Nora, please. Open me. Spread me apart, explore me. I am Braille, I am your food, I am your water. Pull my lips apart ever so slowly. Where do your fingers fit? What if you put your mouth on me? Red on red. Can you fit inside? All of you? Let my cunt suck all of you in and hold you there, your entire body, until I am satisfied. Tell me about myself. What can you do with me? What will you do to me? And when, when, when, when? I opened my eyes and took two cigarettes and put one in my pocket and the other I perched unlit on my lower lip. “No one keeps anything from me that I really want,” I growled. I snapped my thumbnail over a match head and it obediently burst into flame. I lit the cigarette. Max lowered her eyes and smiled. Then Max stood, preparing to see me out.
    Suddenly, I pinned Max to the wall, my cigarette smoking itself in my hand. I pressed with my weight and stretched to my full height. Max let out a tiny gasp of surprise. “You move just like a panther,” Max whispered. I stared down at Max with smug satisfaction. I brushed a curly red tendril of hair from her face.
    “Say you don’t want it. Look at me and say it, ” I hissed, passion forcing the words into Max’s ear.
    Max looked up very slowly. She seemed to be struggling to veil the snapping fire in her eyes. Finally, she tilted her mouth and said, “I don’t want it.”
    I laughed. I could feel Max’s curves through our clothes. I leaned down again and spoke to Max’s collarbone. “Keep saying that over and over. Maybe you’ll convince one of us.” Then I stepped back, regarding Max, looking for the crack, but there was none. Triumph and defiance mingled in her manner as I replaced the cigarette in my mouth. Max watched all of this silently, absorbing all, revealing nothing.
    We talked as we walked to the front door.
    “But perhaps those people you spoke to wanted us to meet.” Max’s tongue trembled at the corner of her mouth. Its seductive pinkness…its shining wetness… “For numbskull reasons of their own. But then we hit it off…and we—”
    I shook my head. “I don’t need any more trouble.”
    Max approached, desire rising from her robe in hypnotizing waves. “No trouble at all.” Her voice was smoky and swirly.
    I jerked open the door, surprised at my own force, and pushed it into Max.
    Max just smiled, her eyes dark and twinkling. “Kissing a black man is just like falling face first into a velvet pillow. I wonder if kissing a black woman is the same?”
    Max’s lower lip hung open, and to me, it looked like a dewy slice of peach. I gripped the doorknob and walked out, after first leaning into Max and whispering, “You’ll never find out. I came here for nothing. ” Then I slammed the door without meaning to. I looked back and saw Max watching from the window, her robe untied and open, exposing her bra and black panties. Perspiration pooling in all my hollows and creases, I got in my car and before I drove away, I looked again at the house. Max was gone. Because of her absence from the window, I had to clench my fists to keep from returning at a run. But I was angry. And upset. Angry because Max hadn’t offered me the simple relief of a cigarette. Upset because I knew

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