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And as we stood in the quiet of her bedroom – the otherworldly garden, I wanted to say something, and fill the silence between us. I told myself to breathe deeply, as I could feel the heat building within me, and at any moment, I would give myself – I was mortified, intimidated. But her eyes lulled me. I wanted inside her mind.  

I drank more, took her in, and wanting to remember her just as she was in that moment, confounding and breathtaking, I memorized her. She had changed into a pair of silk pajamas, nearly the same shade as her skin. There was no bra, and although it was a warm August night, I could have sworn she had caught a chill.

She set her drink down on the mahogany dresser, and I exhaled.

Finally, someone had moved.

“Oh! I almost forgot. I want to pay you back.” She reached for her purse. I wanted to stop her. “How’s fifty?”

Fifty what? Fifty for what?

I set my glass down beside hers, and shook my head as she took a fifty dollar bill from her wallet.

“Use it for gas or lunch money.”

“What are you talkin’ about?”

“The boxes and suitcases. I’m not gonna let you just –”

Lunch money? What?

I tilted my head as I spoke. “I wanted to help you.”

“Your parents made you.”

“I’m twenty-three years old; they can’t make me do anything.”

Monroe looked as if she wanted to laugh, but instead of making me feel even more like a child, she stepped closer to me. Her eyes traced over me as she reached for my pocket, opened it, and slid the money inside.

You win – and in which pocket was the letter I had stolen?

“Take it, Dominique.” Her hand lingered in my pocket for a millisecond too long. She stood on her tiptoes. “Just take it.” She pressed cold, cordate lips to my cheek and whispered, “Goodnight, and thank you.” 



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