I stepped into heels that made me four inches taller, and wobbled.
“You’re kidding, right?” I steadied myself on a nearby wall and tried, gently, to straighten up. The dress was bad enough—strips of red crisscrossed under my breasts, a diamond of white flesh marking me like a target—but the shoes were like a $500 tightrope that clicked on tile.
“And he’s still five inches taller than you. But they don’t make nine inch pumps.” She grinned. “Not for civilians, anyway.”
I looked down into my best friend’s vicious brown eyes and flicked a smile on and off my face. Then I grabbed her by the shoulders.
“This is not going to work,” I said. “I am not this kind of girl.”
Violet laughed. She painted a shape in the air with sharp red fingernails. “Everyone is ‘this kind of girl,’” she said. “Even guys—if you get them drunk enough.” Her smirk was like a lopsided slash. Her hair flipped around her head, and I fought the urge to grab it and hold it still. Then I realized I was just shaking. She grabbed my purse and stuffed it into my hands.
“Walk,” she said. “Let’s see how you do.” She stepped back and crossed her arms.
I took a step forward and my foot nearly snapped off at the ankle.
“Can you get workman’s comp for trying to slut up your walk at work?” I asked.
“This is America, Trish, you can’t get workman’s comp at all. Now WALK.”
I shrugged internally and stabbed at the floor with my steps. There was something undeniably erotic about the unnatural length of my stride, and each time the stiletto bit into the carpet, the shock rolled up my leg and forced me to walk… sexy. I guess.
I felt like an idiot. But I also felt like I was worth looking at. So I kept walking.
The liquid reflection in the glass of my office window stretched me into a kind of glossy red taffy. I looked over and saw myself. A brief flash of excitement percolated up from my stomach.
“Well,” I said. “I look okay.” I ran my finger down the slit that joined my thigh to my ankle with a slash of soft white skin. I realized I was walking without thinking about it.
I immediately stumbled, tumbling into a table and dropping my purse.
“You’re getting better already,” Violet said.
I turned around and the sheer weight of the leather and metal pumps pulled my legs back down, spreading them to either side of the table and forcing me to pump my hips to slide off onto my feet.
“Hell,” Violet said, “you’re even assuming the promotion position on your own.”
“Oh, shut up!” I made a face. Then laughed.
Violet walked silently on identical metallic pumps and self-consciously touched her breasts where they crested her dress. I looked down at her, feeling a lot sexier than I usually did. The outfit made a huge difference. She smiled at me.
“Listen. You’re not this kind of girl. But you want to be.”
I shook my head but she cupped my chin and held me, staring into my eyes.
“Right? You want to be looked at. You want to be appreciated. You want to be…” she looked at the table where I’d accidently spread my legs. “…promoted. Right?”
I stared at her, shocked at how serious she seemed, the watery image of my blue eyes staring back at me from inside her pupils, the yellow corkscrew of recently dyed hair curling around my face.
I told my head to shake, but it wouldn’t. She was right. I pulled out of her grip and looked back at the slick red S-shape of my body in the glass.
“Yeah,” I said.
Violet sat on the edge of the table. The slit in her dress parted on either side of a thin triangle of leg, and she traced a little O with her heel.
“You want to be like me, right?” she said. “You want men to see you. To want you. To reward you.”
She slid back and let her legs peal apart as I had, but on purpose. She pulled the skirt toward her stomach, sliding it up and over inch after inch of leg.
It was as riveting as a sunrise, and I couldn’t look away. A wedge of darkness appeared under the skirt, and I felt myself ducking to look inside.
“Yes,” I said. I want it.
Her hand stopped. “Okay,” she said. She nodded. Slid off the table and stood.
The air shattered. I shook my head.
What was that about?
“Anyone can be teased,” Violet said, “If they want something. It doesn’t matter where it comes from.” She stepped into my personal space and circled my shoulders with her arms. “Did you want to fuck me when I was up on the table?” she asked.
I blinked. Did I? “Not… exactly,” I said.
Violet grinned. Her mouth came up and slid along my cheek. She spoke directly into my ear.
“Imagine what you’d have done if you did,” she said.
She twirled me in front of the window. Streaks of light smeared the dark beyond the glass. We were very far up the skyline. I stared at myself in her arms.
I was panting.
I closed my eyes and held the back of a chair. The painted face and the shaking legs. Newly blonde, my little girl eyes looked out from hoops of eyeliner. The fingers of alien lashes reached out of my face. I fell without moving. “I’m not like you,” I said, choking.
Violet’s arms circled my collarbone and her chin hooked my shoulder.
“You’ll get there,” she said. She squeezed me, and I relaxed.
I clicked the fifty feet between my office and the big room at the end of the hall. It was a huge vault of stone and metal, like a set snapped out of a movie, and you needed an ID just to get near it.
My boss was
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