They sat opposite each other at the groom's table.
Rich curtains of red hair framed her face in smooth curls. They fell from her bangs and danced at the sides of her face, beside sparkling earrings. And the rest of her fiery hair was tied back in a bun, clasped with an imitation monarch butterfly. A delicate, ephemeral creature. Its wings were perpendicular to each other. And when the moonlight hit her hair just so, it matched the brilliant orange of the wings.
Her fair skin was freckled from a summer's leisurely exposure to the sun. The subtle mascara that outlined her eyes brought an air of distinction. As he continued to watch her, she smiled.
"You are as beautiful as ever, Maeve," he told her. It was a French Canadian accent, and she always found it impossible not to listen.
With a slender grip, she brought the champagne to her lips. It fizzed with wonder, as it poured into her. And it was just a sip.
He brought a hand and pushed a curl behind her left ear.
Maeve laughed lightly at his gesture, rubbing one calf against the other beneath the white-clothed table. Candlelight danced in her eyes, and she saw it reflected back in his.
It was his turn to smile. The coffee stains were too whitened to be seen.
She brought a hand to his well shaven face, and found her self thinking, After being down on love for so long, how have I found myself so vulnerable?
His smile faded, but not completely, and he looked down the long table at the other guests. They were talking amongst them selves, and drinking with relentless merriment.
"Jacques, I want tonight to be special."
Something about her tone of voice betrayed to him her full meaning. It transcended her local, London accent; and the subtle drawl of the wine she'd had. He could only make firm eye contact. For a long moment, he looked at her in wordless solemnity.
Jacques, I want to spend the night with you.
He knew it was more than an act. She was thinking it. She was wanting it.
"You know my policy," he whispered. "I don't cross such boundaries with my clients."
She laughed, spitting champagne into her napkin. It fizzled up her nostrils, and she remained florid with much stifled amusement.
Nervously, Jacques cleared his throat.
And then, realization struck cold and hard. Maeve gaped, "You are not joking, are you?"
She was drawing attention; sidelong glances from down the table.
He continued in a whisper, "I've never slept with a client, and I never will."
"No, not that!" Maeve's brow furrowed with outrage, but she brought her voice down to a low whisper that seethed raspingly. "You still think of me as a mere client!"
Jacques looked cautiously at the men and women on either side of them before saying another word. His hand was trembling. He made sure the man beside him knew it was a private conversation before continuing, "I've let my 'eart get in the way."
With his accent, she was barely sure whether he'd said heart or art. She fancied the possibility, but knew it was not so. After a great pause, "What if I stop seeing you, as a client?"
"We both know that would not work well, eh?"
"Don't you love me, Jacques?"
He got up from the table, and left the wedding reception. A vein pulsed upon his forehead.
The pay phone was nestled between a vending machine and a public fountain. It offered little privacy. A man stood at it, in a formal suit with a bow-tie. He dialed a final digit and brought the set to the side of his head.
"London Escort Services, Jacques DesRoches' Office. How may I help you?" It was a young man's voice, the accent said he was from somewhere around Brampton, England.
The man at the phone brought a sweaty hand to his forehead, and ran it through the spikes of his gelled brown hair. He didn't answer for a few heartbeats. Then he spoke, with reluctance, "Cupid shot another one, Mel."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Jacques."
"Mel, I can't take it! They'll fire me, maybe blacklist me, if I start a relationship with this woman!"
"You really put your heart into this one, didn't you?"
"I've been faking it for so long, I didn't know when the real thing crept up on me."
"Well, is a refund in order?"
"No, Mel... she broke the agreement, not me." He admitted reluctantly, "I 'ave every right to be calling you at 'alf time."
The beep of a handheld device came from the other side of the phone, "Maeve McLorne? Man, she was a long-term customer. Daaaamn, mate. You've got it rough."
"Tell me about it," Jacques said as he pulled apart the bow-tie. "I'm calling it a night."
"Jacques, you can't do that! You've got an appointment to keep tonight. Going clubbing downtown with Bollywood's finest."
"Look, I'm not gonna let another drunken actress on vacation cry her martini back out onto my shoulder tonight. I'm just not up for it. Give 'er back 'er deposit, or arrange a substitute. What the 'eck, see if that Biff Roger guy is available. She won't know the difference."
"Bill, er-- William Rogers? He was dismissed for sleeping with his clients, pending three lawsuits."
"I didn't need to know that. I really didn't. I have 'alf a mind to, myself."
"Don't," the office administrator was stern.
"I won't, Mel." I won't. "I won't."
"Anyways, I'll settle things tomorrow morning, Jacques, when I'm actually in the office."
"Right, bye." Jacques hung up the phone. A single tear ran down his handsome face.