Jack Savage, being a Casanova, or something close to that definition, was nothing new for Cynthia.
As far back as the vixen could remember, there had always been an aura around him, charming and somewhat soothing, just like cologne. It had became more refined through time, as the hare fitted the role of suave Agent Savage more and more, reaching the high point – or so she believed – over the last year; and Cynthia would have lied to herself, if she affirmed that she hadn’t been close to falling under his spell at least once.
Not much of a fall, of course, since their relationship was as far from being friendly as it could be without resulting in open hostility, but many times she had found herself thinking that Jack was, objectively speaking, a desirable male. Thus, it was no wonder that he was able to attract so much attention to himself at mundane events, especially from female company. Even so…
“… It pisses me off.” She emptied her glass of wine and slammed it on the table before assaulting the strawberry tarts to her right – which, for the sake of truth, were absolutely delicious. “You stupid, seductive…” Her complaint was interrupted by the food that was being stuffed in her mouth, and resumed when she swallowed it, “You like being in the spotlight, don’t you? So much for money, that was just an excuse to make a spectacle of yourself…” She kept on munching, pouring her anger into the movement of her jaw, with her eyes fixed on Jack at the other side of the hall; he was surrounded by a wide variety of mammals, including Princess Diana, clinging on his right arm like she was drowning and that hare was the only thing that could prevent her from disappearing deep under the pavement.
And to make matters worse… he looked damn fine in that suit, to the point Cynthia almost wanted to join his new-born Venezuelan fan club and become part of the worshippers’ crowd… Almost.
‘It’d be so much easier, if I could just do that ’, she thought in exasperation. Just admiring him from the sidelines, like a fan would do; having a no-brainer relationship – no questions to be asked or to be answered – or even less than that. It would have sufficed the purpose of maintaining a connection with Jack, without all the negative implications. But there was no way she could settle for just that.
More: Cynthia wanted more. She thought she was entitled to get more, too, but the only ‘more’ she managed to obtain consisted of more headaches, more faltering, and more self-doubt as well as less opportunities of seeking clarification by him, because, in the end, she didn’t even deserve an explanation for Jack’s silent treatment. That was how little he valued her.
More wine went flowing down her throat and more tarts were picked as sacrifices for her insatiable stomach. But, even if the best banquet the Venezuelan court had to offer was actually able to feed the appetites of a hungry – and angry – Cynthia, it did nothing to fill the immense void the vixen felt in her chest.
Despite his best efforts, Jack couldn’t refrain from thinking that Cynthia looked gorgeous in the tight red dress she had chosen to wear for the event. Especially tight , much to his dismay; the way it bound her hips and waist was… engaging, and dangerously distracting – but the latter became clear only when the hare found a pair of big, round eyes staring at him from under his left shoulder. Then, he finally realized he hadn’t listened to a single word Princess Diana was saying and forced a little laugh in response. “Is something the matter, Princess?”
“It was about time!” She pouted, digging her tiny fingers deeper in the sleeve of his tuxedo. “You were spacing out so much; it was like talking to a statue.”
“I’m sorry, I was, just… reflecting on something”, Jack apologized , hoping that Diana wouldn’t request a more detailed account of his thoughts. “I didn’t quite grasp what you asked me, but blame partly lies with the noisiness in there, I’m afraid.”
“Then what are those long ears of yours for, my dear?”
“… Would you mind repeating your question?” Jack chose to ignore her remark and gave her a smile instead, though the hare wasn’t so sure he was actually smiling. He had no reason to do so that wasn’t pure etiquette, particularly while Cynthia Walker was making a spectacle of herself in the crowded hall – not because she wanted to, at least he was sure about that, but still… How could she not realize how attractive she was? The vixen should have chosen her dress more carefully, preemptively taking into account the lascivious looks she’d have ended up collecting at the party. Really, what a…
“I said, do you have a fiancé , Mr. Savage?” Diana’s intrusive voice suddenly barged into his hearing range. Jack blinked and regained focus on the Princess’s face, looking at the skunk as if he failed to recognize her for a moment. “So, do you?”
“I…” He started, as his right paw slowly swirled the clear liquid in his glass, “My work doesn’t leave much room for romantic relationships”, he eventually replied, his tone as professional as ever. “As an Agent, I must not indulge in sentiment of any sort; they could affect my performance.”
“I see, I see!” Diana agreed, nodding in a rather overly enthusiastic way. “So… you don’t have any?”
Jack pondered for some seconds, before eventually opting for a simple and honest answer: “At present time… no, I’m not involved with anyone.” He already knew that conceding such claim to Diana was nowhere near being a smart move. However, it couldn’t be helped, since his mind was also nowhere near being in the conversation, but pretty close to a certain snow-white fox in the process of hoarding food as if she was preparing herself to survive the winter. “I beg your pardon, Princess, but…” Jack gently freed himself from her clingy hold, deliberately ignoring Diana’s resulting disappointment, “I need to leave for a while.”
“Has something happened?” She asked, preoccupied. “Will you come back to me, Mr. Savage?”
“Sure, I will.” Jack offered her a polite bow and then left, before she could demand any more from him. He wouldn’t have escaped Diana’s clutches for the rest of the night, but a little leeway was mandatory and, anyway, he needed to halt his target as soon as possible.
So, he started stalking towards Cynthia, making his way through the other guests. “She’s eating too much, again”, he sighed, “and yet, she’s got a body that…” He didn’t finish the sentence, though the rest of it was crystal clear in his mind, potentially dangerous in the way it manifested itself not through words, but through images that flashed before his eyes and caused his throat to clog up and his nose to twitch, all in a split second.
It was becoming harder and harder to eradicate those kind of thoughts when they showed up, even when he was expecting them to happen. For that matter, he already knew that Cynthia would’ve given him a heart attack that night, much earlier than she emerged from the dressing room, but his prior knowledge didn’t help him at all… neither did her actual choice for the occasion: a long, crimson gown that had her right shoulder and the upper part of her chest completely exposed, candid and silky fur in plain view for everyone’s delight . And on top of that, both her hips were covered by an elaborate embroidery which emphasized the softness of her curves – like she even needed that – and offered an invitation to cup them firmly, and yet lovingly, that at least half of the males attending the party would have accepted without a second thought.
If it wasn’t virtually impossible, Jack could swear that smoke was blowing out of his ears when he finally arrived behind her, just a couple of meters away. He stopped in his tracks and stared at her back, unsure of how to – or whether he even should – start a conversation. But staring wasn’t an option he could afford, as it soon became apparent when he found his own mouth hoarse, and so the hare hurriedly began to speak: “Quite a lively party, isn’t it?”
Cynthia’s ear twitched and she turned around quickly, her jaw frozen. When they locked eyes with each other, she rolled hers almost immediately. “Oh, it’s you”, the vixen commented, and then she started chewing again. “What do you want?”
“Blunt”, he said, frowning. “Can’t I approach you without being despised even for misdeeds I haven’t done yet?”
“You’re approaching the wrong female.” Cynthia gulped whatever she was munching and pointed at Princess Diana with one long, sharpened finger. “There is your target, Savage.”
“I don’t know what you’re trying to imply, but I suggest you’d refrain from making such allegations.”
“Yeah, right, then let me just eat in peace and vanish”, she smiled at him, ominously, “would you?”
“I’d rather not”, was Jack’s dry reply. “How much food have you already ingested, Walker?”
“I fail to see how this information could be of any relevance to you.” There was no shame on her face when Cynthia refilled her plate with three more tarts; neither was there when she started eating the first one with her amber irises still gazing hostilely at him. “Are we done?”
“Actually, I’ve got one more thing to say, if you’ll allow me.”
“… You know”, Jack said, his lips curving upward even so slightly , “You don’t sound very convincing, not with those tart-filled cheeks of yours.”
“My cheeks have… munch … nothing to do… munch … with this… and I believe I already told you to dissipate, Jack. Why are you still here?” With no more sweets inside her muzzle to soothe her mood, the vixen immediately regained her veneer of annoyance and wielded it against him like a sword. “You’re the last mammal I want to have small talk with right now.”
Although Jack had definitely expected their conversation to be along that line – they were always along that line – this time he found it hard to just shrug off her belligerent attitude toward him. “Let me at least say that your enmity seems a bit unnecessary. Certainly I can see your point of view, but…”
“Allow me to doubt that”, she interrupted him promptly. “You knew I didn’t want to be here. And yet, here I am, because of you .” Cynthia touched the middle of his chest with her claw, “You, and your blatant and revolting attention-seeking.”
Jack lowered his gaze to admire the vixen’s reddish, curved nail pointed right at his shirt, feeling a vague interest at the prospect of it ripping his shirt apart on the spot. “Careful with that claw, Walker, my suit is not rip-proof.”
“Oh”, she chirped, “indeed, what a tragedy it would be if I accidentally tear your shirt apart.” On those black, slightly moist with wine lips, the sentence sounded a lot more inviting than it was actually supposed to be. “I’m pretty sure Princess Skunk would love nothing more than your naked body on her bed, Mr. Savage”, was her sour comment as she got her claw away from him in a huff. “As for you… I still don’t know what goal you’re trying to achieve by having your arms enveloped in Diana’s clutches. Maybe you, too, want to…”
“Stop right there ”, Jack ordered, his ears ready to twitch at the sound of whatever she was going to imply, “Wine could have loosened your tongue, but I won’t allow another word of such sort coming from your mouth.” He hid his face in one wide palm for a moment, and when his eyes met hers again, the vixen’s muzzle had taken on a kind of pouting form, in odd contrast to her mature, alluring attire. “… Now what is that look for?”
“Nothing”, she grumped, looking away as her free paw started roaming the dish again.
The vixen didn’t say anything after that, but Jack felt there was more behind her answer than she was willing to admit, and he wanted to know what it was. “… Come with me for a second, Walker.”
Cynthia shifted her gaze on him and moved her rounded ears up and down. “Why?”, she asked, carefully, but the fact she hadn’t refused to follow him on the spot was, if anything , encouraging. “I’m fine right here; there’s wine, food, no Jack Savage … well, there was no Jack Savage until a minute ago…”
“Just come”, he insisted, lending her a paw before realizing that she didn’t probably need or want his courtesy. He coughed rather awkwardly and hid it behind his back – all under Cynthia’s dumbfounded eyes – before saying: “I, hum, need to get some fresh air. And you too, so it’s ideal. I’m not planning to kidnap you or anything, I promise.”
“…” The vixen watched him silently, probably weighting his proposal. “You won’t kidnap me?”
It was so foolish of him to think that her question had sounded languishing for a brief moment – Jack himself wondered if he had really perceived a hint of disappointment in her voice or if he was just imagining things – and even more so if the thought would cause him to feel a grip on his stomach. “I won’t”, he managed to assure, holding back the need to loosen his bow tie. ‘ … not that you’d let me anyway. ’