He’d slipped out for a breath of fresh air. The gallery’s climate control kept the art safely cocooned, but it couldn’t filter out the inane babble of the crowd at the opening.
The air was fresh, sharp with cold, too cold even for snow, though the clouds, steel gray, like the warehouse door, hung low.
He reached into his pocket for a pack of cigarettes, drew out a quarter, some lint, and the ghost of his nicotine addiction.
Shit, he thought, I don’t smoke anymore.
Peregrine would be looking for him. Craving or no craving, he needed to get back to her. Of all the artists he represented, Peri was the most fragile, and the least predictable.
He put his hand on the door handle, the cold from the industrial steel handle driving straight through his flesh.
It wasn’t Peri he thought of when the cold burned his skin. It was another woman, another door handle.
Sara, warm and pulsing with humor and desire, between him and the antique five-panel door to her bedroom. He reached for the cool glass knob with one fumbling hand, the other attempting to work free the buttons of his shirt. She’d have known putting it on after her shower would drive him crazy.
“I’ll never be able to wear this shirt again,” he’d whispered against her mouth between kisses.
She’d pushed him away, reached for his belt buckle, looked up at him through her lashes.
“I want you to wear it. I want to think of you, babysitting your artists, hard for me, wearing this shirt, remembering slipping it off my shoulders.”
Impatiently biting her lower lip, she’d tugged at the button of his chinos.
“Sara.” He was a beggar.
He’d threaded his hand into the hair at her nape and brought their mouths together. The glass knob had turned in his hand, and they’d stumbled backwards into her bedroom.
Under his hand, nearly frostbitten in his reverie, the handle turned, the hinges protesting. Peri’s clear eyes, too heavily lined, peeked around the door.
“Seth? Are you okay?”
He snapped back into the cold reality of January in Boston. The warehouse stoop on SoWa so far from Sara’s Brattle Street house, only a few miles as the crow flies.
“I just came out for a cigarette.”
“Seth, honey. You don’t smoke.”
Peri opened the door expectantly.