She's been entertaining him for several months now.
He's a considerate client: in fact, her best client. He visits her about once a week, depending on what's happening in his life and how much stress he's under. And actually, she hardly regards him as a client any more, because although she screens her customers carefully, and has a cordial and professional relationship with each one, he stands out among all the other men.
For one thing, he behaves toward her more as a lover than as a customer.
Though he always pays, of course. Much more than her stated price, in fact, however much she protests. She sometimes wonders if this is because he feels guilty for visiting her in the first place, and yet he never makes her feel as though he looks down on her or her profession. Quite the opposite.
Most of her clients are men slipping away for a quick dalliance during the day, so they can return home and be perfect family men in the evening. She quite likes it that way, since she enjoys having her evenings to herself. She likes to read or, now and then, paint one of the canvasses she keeps ready in the upstairs den with the wide windows. She sells the paintings through a nearby gallery, and they supplement her income rather nicely.
But no matter how immersed she is in a book, or how she's concentrating on a canvas, her heart lifts in breathless anticipation whenever she hears the distinctive tapping on her door, and opens it to find him leaning against the jamb, one hand clutching a bottle of wine, the other stuffed into his jacket pocket or the pocket of his slacks. He greets her with that casual, sidelong smile, his dark, exotic eyes warm beneath the unruly fringe of his jet black hair.
Sometimes he sweeps her away to a private dining room, where they share their mutual love of the finest cuisine, and they talk long into the night, never noticing the passing of time, and never quite making it back to her house and to bed. But most times, she takes her best wine glasses from the antique cabinet with the glass doors, and as he lifts her up into his arms, she holds the glasses splayed in one hand over his shoulder, cradling the bottle to her breast while he carries her upstairs to the bedroom. Her real bedroom, rather than the one where she entertains all the others.
After their initial lovemaking (fierce or leisurely, depending on his mood), he uncorks the wine and they retrieve the bed's many deep, jewel-coloured cushions from where they were tossed in haste onto the floor. Propping these against the curving, polished wooden headboard, the two of them sit up in bed, talking. He pulls her into the circle of one arm and they discuss poetry, or her latest painting, or history, or the theatre.
She's not sure which sort of evening she prefers, actually – going out, or staying in. Because he's the one man among all her clients with whom sex doesn't feel like a job. She loves the gentle flow of his hands along her body, the feel of his lips, the weight of him upon and inside her. When she turns him over and straddles him in her turn, her long black hair falling forward and enclosing the two of them like a veil of dark silk, she runs her hands up his firm, muscled chest and smiles as he raises his arms above his head on the pillow, arching back, gasping and losing himself in the pleasure she gives him.
And far into the night, without fail, he pulls her into his arms, entwining their limbs together, and in the depths of sleep he whispers a name: Riza.