They sat in an awkward silence, one on either end of the posh leather sofa. The room was large and impressive, expensively furnished with a high ceiling and detailed, decorative carpets and rugs. A huge open fire place stood majestically, its flames burning green and turquoise and growing higher and higher with every passing second. The room was dark and the heavy black/purple curtains were closed – tight. The only source of light, save the fire, came from a small lamp with a darkening shade around it.
The woman, who was sat on the left hand side of the couch, had her long legs crossed and her feet dressed in high cream heels. She wore a long golden dress, the top half covered with shining sequins; the bottom was a long layer of gold silk. It shimmered and glittered in the faint light like a million stars in the black night sky. Her face was pale, her eyes like giant sapphires, glinting and piercing and the brightest blue. Her hair was a sunshiny yellow and was sleek and curly. However, she looked slightly ruffled; still amazing, but slightly less perfect than usual. And if you looked really closely (not that she would ever let you that close) you would be able to see that her peachy pink lipstick was a tiny bit smudged.
In her hand she held a recently poured glass of '99 Tokay. There was a mark in her fourth finger along on her right hand, a bit of skin that was paler than the rest, where a wedding ring would normally sit. But if you looked carefully around the apartment, you would see a 24 carat gold ring discarded on the cream carpet floor, almost hidden beneath a small chest of drawers, as though worthless. And to her, it pretty much was.
On the right side of the sofa, there was a tall man sat. He had short, mousy brown hair that was stuck up in all different directions. His fresh face was shaven but he still had that little bit of stubble that gave you a little tickling sensation when brushed against your skin. He wore an expensive tweed suit with white shirt, navy tie and a grey/brown jumper. His two top buttons on his shirt were undone; his tie lost in the darkness of the room, and his jumper was very creased. He wore long black trousers and black Italian leather shoes. His eyes were mossy green but not dull; they were fascinating, full of ideas, intelligence and passion.
The room was delightfully warm and so, on entrance, he had removed his tweed jacket and tossed it onto the old mahogany table sitting, unnoticeable, in the corner of the room.
She turned her neck a few degrees to take a quick glance at him. He looked the same way at the same time too. They looked into each others eyes, locked onto one another, daring the other to look away first. After a few seconds, they looked away and she, in a high but harsh tone began to speak,
'Well…Asriel. This evening certainly was most…constructive, but I'm afraid I must be leaving.' At this, his neck snapped round and he stared at her intently as she put on her long cream coat and beckoned to her orange monkey dæmon who had been sat lazily on a chair in the room.
'Leaving?' he asked, with a pinch of accusation in the question, 'Why are you leaving?'
She looked at him sceptically, as though questioning his basic intelligence,
'I have to go home, I have a husband. Edward will be waiting for me.' She replied coldly although she really felt a bit guilty. His expression turned from confusion to anger,
'You mean after everything we've…been through together, you're still going back to Edward? That pompous old buffoon?' he yelled, his voice exploding with incredulity.
His dæmon, Stelmaria, a beautiful and graceful snow leopard, soft and gentle at times, angry and ferocious at others, emerged from out of the shadows and gloomed over Marisa's monkey. The monkey glowered up and hissed loudly at the huge leopard.
'You do not forget that Edward is my husband? Do you Asriel? I love him.' Asriel scoffed at her remark, replying cleverly.
'Then why do you seek me? You come here nearly every day but…you say you love him? Because it seems to me like you're looking for an escape.'
Her brows furrowed and her eyes sparked with anger, she curled up her fist and went to strike him. Her mind and body was fuming with rage but just before she reached his handsome, chiselled face, he grabbed her wrist and held it tightly, their faces only centimetres away.
Stelmaria towered over the monkey again, but this time she didn't try to look threatening, just tired.
They looked deep at each other, her neck tilted up to look at him. He let go of her hand and his other hand held up her chin. Slowly and very steadily, they drew into a completely perfect kiss.
Minutes later he pulled away, but he still held her face, keeping their faces just millimetres away, nearly pressed against each other. She had tears in her eyes, but she pulled away, even though he tried to clutch her back again.
'I'm so sorry Asriel. I – I – I –I can't.' she stammered, before leaving out of the door, leaving Asriel once more in a stony, cold silence.
Four days later and the wedding ring still lay hidden and Marisa Coulter was missing it very much so. And so was Edward…