A tale of heat, the devil, romance, massage and scented oils.
In a nameless street on the warmer, sun-baked side of Europe, there was a masseuse.
The street was cramped but seldom crowded. It's terraced sides were composed of earth-red edges and flaking window frames. Coloured clothing danced on zipping washing lines, with an assortment of glowing paper lanterns and bleached bunting. Flitting little birds would perch on the string bridges, hiding from the shade when the sun reached it's apex, and bobbing and chirping until they were merely silhouettes against a vista of twilight.
The street itself was a place for commerce. The people who lived upstairs were just villagers, but once they were downstairs they wore the various faces of business people. Perhaps not in suits and shoes, but they sold their products as any would. They knew what they were doing. But none stayed long.
The masseuse herself didn't plan on staying forever, though she began to cherish the characters of this secluded little isle. The robust woman who sold cured meats who would wave and waft the pleasant scent of smoking flesh from her little shop. Opposite was the tye-dye woman with the piled up hair. The small girl in the burnished spectacles, polishing her antiques from behind a dusty glass pane.
Add the spice market cluttered into a small square room and the silent window filled with blown glass and sugar that were barely indistinguishable, the scent and feel of the street was one of dust and flavour and heat.
But enough of that.
She herself was called Fiore, and the scent of her residence leaked onto the street in the scent of oils and sweat.
(Sweat can smell good too, and you know it. This is the odour that spilled into the air.)
Her window was warped glass of varying purples and oranges that filtered through onto her massage-table. The floor was stone. Surrounding her workspace were black candles shaped like trees and branches. Some were the size of potted plants. All were lit.
Too often she was mistaken for a gymnast, or a dancer. Short in stature, but with strong hands. Stocky, but svelte. Olive skinned with black hair, black lashes, black eyes. Red lips. Unfurling cropped strands of ink lingered close to her freckled cheeks. Her get-up was revealing yet baggy, and her feet were bare, and her hands were strong.
She was a maven of her trade.
In fact, the best and most beautiful in the world.
So much so, that even the Devil himself knew it, and this fact will certainly come into play.