‘Flirt with him. Bustle about. Bend over a lot. Are you sure he’s not getting a hard-on every time you swish by in your tight little uniform?’
I think of the unmistakable reaction when I washed him that first morning. The soft shape warming up, firming up in my hand like a delicious pastry.
Any man with red blood in his veins would get hard, being handled like that. It was nothing special. I unzip my dress. As soon as the expensive, silky embrace falls away from me I stop being the poised, confident woman I was when I was wearing it.
‘I think he quite likes me, but it’s just a job, Fran. I’m just his carer, a servant really, just like I am to all the other spoiled, rich malades in that clinic.’
‘Don’t be so tough on yourself, cara. You’re coming down after your glittering performance tonight, that’s all. Anyway, if this Levi bloke won’t look at you twice, someone else will. You’re a catch for anyone.’
‘Maybe. It won’t be that long before he’s discharged or I’m sacked or I quit. I won’t see him again and then I can go properly hunting.’ I hang up the dress, aware that if the connection is working my sister can see me in my bra and knickers. ‘Look, Fran, I can’t chatter on. The signal’s hopeless tonight. You might all be chilling out over there in New York, but I’ve got to get some sleep. I’m absolutely done in.’
‘How did the gig go tonight? You look great, by the way. Although satin and silk isn’t normally your style?’
‘I was going to pick up something from the Kate Moss range at Top Shop but my employers insist on high-end cocktail dresses so they sent me to Bond Street. They give me a credit card and a personal shopper. The dress code at the club is very strict for everyone on the premises, staff and members alike. They’re all men.’
‘Who, staff or members?’
‘All the members are men. And most of the staff. They have to wear black tie. Or white tie, if they have military medals, no matter what time of day it is, because the idea is that the minute you walk through those doors you are in another zone. Day and night become meaningless.’
‘Classy! Or pretentious. Sounds like the Starship Enterprise!’ Francesca chortles. ‘All a bit antiquated, though, isn’t it? Black tie? What’s wrong with kilts, or some sharp tailoring? They sound like a bunch of pompous gits. So where is it again?’
I reach into the thin fitted wardrobe for my kimono. If I don’t cover up it won’t just be my sister who sees me semi-naked. If I don’t close the shutters on these portholes anyone motoring down the river or walking along the embankment at this time of night can see me, too.
‘I’m not supposed to say, but you know what? I don’t give a shit. It’s the London branch of the Club Crème.’
And here's a random pic of a cool Italian...