The streets of this restless city never slept. Two couples walking as one stumbled along the sidewalk, clinging to each other for support, prattling and pointing, spilling and sinking, drinking through the night’s festivities. Those standing in doorways watched as they passed; others laughed and flashed, reaching for necklaces falling from balconies.
The street was filled with pedestrians instead of cars, the parties spilling out from the bars, creating a single group of hedonists. The couples finished their drinks and dove into the crowd to dance. Passing masqueraders and exhibitionists, they claimed a spot and let the music take them to the next level of ecstasy. The guys swayed and the girls twirled, reaching out and pulling back into each other’s arms.
“May I have this dance?” a masked man asked, stepping out from the surrounding dancers—offering a painted hand.
He bowed and the girl curtsied with a smitten giggle. Her partner stepped back and allowed the guest into their group’s intimate circle. She took the costumed man’s hand and stepped closer. He kept her at an elbow’s length as he led her through a classical waltz. They glided to the music like royalty amongst peasants.
When the song they started with bled into another, the elegant stranger cupped the girl’s hand in his and held it out.
“You are a lovely dancer, my dear. And so very beautiful,” he said and raised her hand to his lips and gave it a soft kiss. She blushed from his old-fashioned etiquette—and moaned when he sunk his teeth into the meat surrounding her thumb.