Hasta la vista

The first time it was almost an accident. We were at dinner, overlooking Trafalgar Square while waiters hurried through too-narrow gaps between chairs like rats through a maze. You took out your wallet to pay, and a £20 note fluttered into my handbag, gaping below the table. I’d have said something but you were trying to speak French, and by the time I remembered you were asleep, naked and snoring. And then I told myself it had been too long, that you wouldn’t believe me.

I planned it next time. You, drunk on red wine and cigars in your lounge; me, slipping my hand into your coat pocket on the way to get another bottle. The time after that, when I went to the cloakroom at some corporate event I’d charged you double for (it was industry awards season; supply and demand, baby). Since then hardly an appointment has gone by without me checking for that tell-tale bulge, or the teasing tops of notes peeking out from their leather holder. I only did it to you; it’s our little secret. Don’t you feel special?

In case you were wondering, I sleep very well. I can justify it in lots of ways: socialist redistribution; objectivist rational self-interest; feminist assault on the impact of structural patriarchy on women’s pay.

But really, I just like the feel of the notes crisp between my fingers, the one-way ticket to Madrid in my pocket, and imagining the look on your face as you read this.

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