THE limo moved off at a majestic pace. Jaywalkers skittered across the road. They darted towards the limo and veered into the shadows as the limo gained speed. The jazz funk was too soft. Discomfiture permeated every nerve of her body, rendering her rigid. Bex would have lowered the strap of her dress had she been sitting here now. And she would not have honored her oath of silence. She would be giggling or dishing out her daring cheek. Nancy had no doubt that Leon’s dry humour would commandeer; his guise for keeping the upper hand forever preserved. And Bex would never know.
Cora would be quieter but no pushover. She could be sly, ingratiating herself into a longer ride. Her broken heel would be instrumental. She would say she’d sprained her ankle and get Vince to massage her feet. But how was Nancy any better? She was a pretender, saddled with a past she hated to contemplate. Bex’s drunken stints always forced murky memories to the surface and freeze Nancy up into a statue. Occasions of revellry were the worst. Propositions rendered her tongue-tied, defensive and standoffish. Nancy was probably the most unfitting selection of the three for Vince’s shoot.
Still, how anyone could submit their faculties to yeast pee? Nancy couldn’t bear the false sentiments, the empty promises and the hammy declarations. She remained the outsider, branded by a mother who believed drink made her a fun person to be with. Only since Nancy had got sacked from her caring job, did she realise it wasn’t the drink she feared, but the betrayal. Nancy feared her trust had been pummelled to shreds by a person who traded in her former self for dumbing-down, for selling herself out to booze.
A rustling sound severed her thoughts. Vince was inclined forwards and was rummaging through a drawer of garments he’d pulled out from beneath a rear compartment. He fished out a shirt from Savile Row. She knew this because the label was still on the wrapper. Her sights rebounded in a half-attempt to look away. She watched expressionless as Vince unbuttoned his overcoat and place it on the seat between them. He proceeded to unbutton his shirt. ‘Change the disc, Leon,’ he uttered, ‘I fancy something classic, something smooth.’ His tone clipped the air in a dark resonance that she wagered rarely rose in volume.
Roxy Music’s Avalon dulcet tones seeped from the stereo as Vince stripped off his shirt and crumpled it atop his jacket. Vince had a torso to flaunt but he did anything but. He oozed indifference; not scorn, not denial of her presence, just indifference. The seam at the centre of his torso rippled as he contorted his shoulders and sheathed his arms one by one into his shirt. Dark down tracked this seam in an ever thicker assemblage from his navel to the waistline of his trousers. His chest wasn’t hairy. Coiled strands flecked his sternum and his nipples. This exposed broad expanses of flesh; brown, toned and lightly scented with expensive cologne. Yes, expensive, because one odour such as apple or mint didn’t overpower. His comprised a subtle blend that came together to form a new scent entirely; a little oaky, yet with the tang of sap.
Bex would have ogled brazenly and mouthed OMG! Yes, Vince’s proportions pleased the eye, but the manner in which he buttoned his shirt up to the collar implied he knew this. His display was not for Nancy’s benefit. In fact, his inappropriately-timed changing of shirt served to underline the disdain she had seen on his face. Her place in his compartment was on loan. Nothing in here was hers, not even the memory of watching him change his shirt.
Leon’s soulful voice cut into Brian Ferry’s intones. ‘How are the shares doin’?’
Vince whipped his tie around his collar and tucked it under. He brusquely looped the tongue and fed the end through. ‘Down, he replied gutturally. ‘Definitely down.’
Leon whistled. ‘That bad?’
Vince adjusted the tension until the knot sat square. ‘The situation is desperate.’
Roxy Music’s synths filled a segue. ‘You mean like Chelsea’s own goal?’
Vince snorted. ‘Positively.’
Nancy detected a subtext to this exchange but couldn’t interpret the meaning.
Vince piped up again. ‘And there was no need to remind me about Chelsea.’
Leon returned with a throaty chortle. ‘Sorry, Vince. By the way, Menez sends his regards.’
Menez was a name Nancy knew well. Chelsea’s star striker, Menez had played alongside the likes of Rooney and Gerrard for the England squad in the last two cups. Her ex, Robbie Probert obsessed on Menez’s defection from Manchester United. Strange how Menez was the best striker in the Premier League until he left. And then (according to Rob) he became shit. Vince’s next words caused her to blink in disbelief.
‘Get him on the speaker, will you?’
Nancy couldn’t help mouthing the very name she had become sick of hearing. Vince donned his coat and reclined into his seat as though Leon were merely patching through his mother.