The auction is tonight and my mind has never been more preoccupied.
I know it’s unlikely to find love so easily. I’ve heard the stories of lifelong searches for that perfect soul, of years of heartache and suffering until finally meeting the one.
But that’s just it. I’m not one for waiting. I don’t care for drawn-out searches. I will go to this auction and I will find a worthy partner. Whatever the cost.
“No, no, no,” I shriek, unzipping yet another dress. As I shimmy out of perhaps the hundredth dress I’ve tried on today, I cast my pleading eyes at Rebel. “This one won’t do, either! I need something that’s me and something that will win a heart. I don’t do pink, or red, or-purple-or-blue-or-orange—” I’m panting by the time I finally step out of the ruffles— “or any color for that matter. I need something black. Surely, one of these Goddesses had something black!”
From her perch atop the dumpster, Rebel bounds off the ledge and scurries back into the depths of discarded items. I follow shortly after, in nothing but a strappy bralette and lace garter set. At least I’ve been able to decide what I’ll be wearing when the lights go off tonight.
Rebel and I have already swum through three of the dumpsters, with only two more to go. Although I haven’t found the perfect gown yet, at least we’ve uncovered a few additional items for Dream A Little Dream: red satin sheets and a fishnet leg lamp for the Fornication dreamland; a set of emerald curtains to hang over a one-way mirror, that showcases a wide view of the Avarice room from the Envy dreamland; and a gold-gilded vanity mirror that I plan on mounting directly above the bed, for those who wind up selecting the Pride dreamland.
Together, Rebel and I climb out of the third dumpster empty-handed and clamber our way into the fourth.
I land on something soft. Not the softness of bread or pasta like I stepped into in the first, but something fluffy, like pillows or linens. Or perhaps clothes.
I tear at the bag beneath me, not bothering to untie the knot at the top. The black plastic shreds beneath my desperate fingers to reveal heaps of dark fabrics. There’s velvet, silk, and chiffon; I find charmeuse, polyester, and damask. Each folded mound is more stunning than the last.
“Well, this just might do,” I say, sitting back on my knees, a proud smile stretching across my face. “Rebel, do you remember which bin we found that sewing machine in?”
I spend the rest of the morning – and a decent portion of the afternoon – sewing my very own custom gown. A sultry dream of lace and shadows, the black fabric cinches at my neck like tulle, and splits into two teardrops that smooth themselves down and over my breasts, the filigree not leaving much to the imagination of what lies beneath. The lacework continues down to my waist, as tight as if it were painted on. It cascades at my hips like a waterfall of sin, pooling at the floor.
The part that took me the longest, though, was strategically concealing my most tantalizing assets. Using the midnight silk, I’d added more shadow, more mystery, but only enough to make the eyes hesitate, to make the mind wonder just how much it could see.
Whoever I am to select tonight, I want them to go weak at the knees when they see me claim them as my prize.
With my gown complete, I take great care to perfect my hair, a spiraled updo to show off my neckline and the rest of my hard work. Then, of course, there is my makeup. Although I typically stick with a black palette, I’m feeling inspired to use the smallest hints of color. A bold raven wing eyeshadow that fades into a deep sunrise red, a subtle dab of gold at either tear duct. I use the same gold to accentuate the ridge of my nose, and that same shade of red on my lips.
I take my time with it all, making sure every detail is perfect, even though I know am running late.
It doesn’t matter. Late is fashionable. Late is memorable.
By the time I arrive, everyone is already seated before the big curtains, awaiting the first auction contestant. Even from the backs of their heads, I recognize some of them: Eros and Thanatos, among many others.
Even though there are open seats much closer to the front, I take my place in the back row. I don’t want them to see what I have in mind for tonight, and the wicked grin that I just can’t seem to suppress is a dead giveaway.
I sit down, crossing one knee over the other, my legs peeking from the inviting slit up the center of my skirt.
The Fundraiser’s great hostess, Artemis, enters the stage, everyone applauding but me. I lose interest the longer she talks, telling us all of the significance of the event and other tedious details.
My gaze wanders, as does my mind. My business endeavor seems to be ever present in my thoughts these days, but I guess that’s to be expected as Rebel and I make our final preparations for our first clients. And now that the dreamlands are complete, with the few finishing touches we secured today, the fun really is about to begin.
I am more eager about it than I expected. The decorating, the planning, that part has been more fun than I anticipated, but my talents won’t really shine until I am constructing entire living dreams for my dreamers. It’ll feel good to put my shadows to work, to help combat some of the humdrum of everyday life.
Dream A Little Dream will be my creative outlet.
The audience applauded, and I come back to just in time to see the first contestant leaving the stage. Apparently, I’d spaced-out during an entire bidding war, which is all well. Even from what little I glimpsed of the man leaving the stage, I knew I was disinterested.
But then the clapping slows.
The next contestant walks onto the stage, each step slow and deliberate. She is a vision in black, the dress clinging to her body and fanning at her knees, not too dissimilar from my own gown. Where my dress is sewn from lace though, hers almost seems to be made from nylon, strips of sparkling black crisscrossing over every inch of the fabric and begging the eyes to stare at all of those sensitive places, just barely covered.
I feel my cheeks flush—actually flush—at the sight of her and that plunging neckline.
As she walks, her head lowered, I imagine myself licking every inch of that dress off of her silken skin once I get her back to my room of shadows, a room she looks like she’d feel right at home in.
“We’ll start the bidding for Nemesis at—”
But dear Nike doesn’t get the chance to finish.
I cast a pool of dreams out, so thick and inky that the room fills with darkness like the sea at night. Everyone falls under my spell, slipping into each of their own personal nightmarish slumbers so instantaneously that some of them even begin to snore.
All except for Nemesis.
I rise from my chair just as she lifts her chin. She sees the shadows first, but only searches the bodies beneath for a second before turning her eyes to me. There is no fear in her gaze. She looks upon me with only curiosity and intrigue.
It makes me want to devour her all the more.
I raise one of my slender eyebrows, a question and invitation. I will not claim her if she does not want to be claimed. I need a partner, an equal, someone who does not blanch at the sight of my demons.
But if she is interested…
She gives a coy shrug, the confidence of which says she is anything but shy.
I snap my fingers when I sit back down, the shadows sucking back into the crevices of the room just as fast as they’d come. The other Gods and Goddesses awake with abrupt breaths and grunts, some having to wipe drool from their chins, but not knowing why.
Even Nike awakens, her eyes blinking wide and cheerfully, just as they had with the other auction winner. Which makes sense, considering the dream I’d just given her, the one of a ravenous bidding war, with three Gods and Goddesses battling neck-and-neck throughout. Until one called a price too high for the others to compete.
“Sold!” Nike squeals into the silent auditorium. “To the Queen of Nightmares in the back, Miss Melinoë! At the auction’s end, please find me so we can arrange for your date with Nemesis.”
My jaw snaps open so that I may protest that I’d like that date to start now, but the auction is already moving on without me.
Nemesis turns away, revealing her deliciously bare back. But before she leaves backstage, she gives one final glance over her shoulder at me, and I swear those beautiful eyes of hers stop my immortal heart.
If love at first sight exists, I believe I just succumbed.
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