“Kitchens. Let’s go into the kitchen. I’m something of a kitchen hunter. Bedrooms, I don’t do bedrooms. Something about the predictability of beds and sheets. Facile,” Maria said, inviting his deeper investigation.

Carl sat a whisper away from her, the scent of the latest Gaultier wafting through unwashed skin. He wanted purity, he wanted peppermint and peach. He concentrated every effort on her curling lips, focussing too hard on the way she pronounced her S’s, something like a kiss, or a hiss, whichever way you were inclined to see her. Snake woman. He hated her; he wanted to bite every cell of her. Danger emulsions, crackled within their orb, two people twined together on a kitchen floor. He heard a tap, a toilet flush, her breath, footsteps. Her fingers laced a web. Somewhere inside his chest, he knew she was searching for the perfect place to stab.

He had walked right into it. This woman. Her allure, that heady magnetism of red lipstick and fake perfume. She would kill him, that he knew. Like she had narrowed her eyes, and sucked his body into hers, this woman was death and all His Friends, all rolled into one. Le Petit Morte….

“Want a drink?” she asked, winking into his soft underarm.

“Why not? Got any vodka?”

She passed him a bottle, iced from the freezer, not bothering with glasses, not bothering with the nakedness that purged itself in unabashed vanity.

“Drink up, Bumblebee,” she snarled, and Carl slugged, waiting for the ways that she would make him die. Death and all his friends.

Zainub Dala