Faint Praise

“Let me take that,” Mark said, reaching for her coat.

“Sure,” she said, putting down her guitar case and glancing at the short shelf of tattered paperbacks along the near wall. Mark tossed her wrap over the back of a tall rocking chair and putting down his black notebook, he leaned down to turn the switch of a lamp. The light glowed a pale yellow through the cloth shade. A slow rhythmic creak marked the fading reaches of black wool toward the wooden floor. “Nice place,” she said.

“Thanks. Make yourself comfortable and I’ll get us something to drink. Can I get you a beer, or a rum and Coke?” Mark glanced hopefully at his pretty companion as he started into the kitchen.

“Do you have any wine?” she asked, picking up a small indigo vase and then turning it over for a quick glance at the dusky underside. No price. She smiled at herself.

“I might. I might,” he called back from beyond the harshly lit doorway.

Strolling along the sofa, her finger trailing along the rough fabric of the flowered upholstery, she listened to the echo of her heels on hardwood. She fingered the leaf of a dry green ivy and then leaned over the table of plants to push aside a faded linen curtain, taking a quick peek at the view outside the small window.

“You’re in luck,” Mark said, carrying two fluted glasses glistening in pale pink. “I had one bottle left.” She took the wine glass and rang it gently against his. “To a beautiful performance,” he said. She blushed slightly.

“Thank you,” she said, taking a sip of the tepid wine. Her nose wrinkled slightly.

“You were really quite lovely,” Mark said, beckoning her to sit down. “I mean, it shouldn’t really matter, but it does. In this day and age, the image a performer presents is at least as important to her success as the way she sounds.” She sat down on the sofa timidly and took another sip of the wine.

“I didn’t think my set went very well,” she said.

“Nonsense. I mean the acoustics of the club are poor and I think that made you sound a little tinny, just a bit, and well, the audience was really unworthy of the music, but a real ear can sort past the situation and hear the musical qualities that hide underneath.”

“I don’t like the place,” she said, eagerly. “Jeff lets me play and at this point, that’s worth something to me, but the place is just gloomy and smoky and it all depresses me a little.”

“I know it does,” Mark said, softly touching her shoulder. “But I’ll bet we can arrange something more suitable. A good review should get the attention of, maybe Ed at the Wilderness.” Her eyes lit up at the words.

“I would love to play the Wilderness,” she said, her voice ringing with ambition and promise. He smiled and nodded.

“I know I can at least get you a spot with Jerry at Serena’s.”

“That would be all right,” she said, thinking seriously as she considered the possibilities. “I mean, I’ve played Serena’s a couple of times, but still, it’s better than the dump I did tonight.”

“Absolutely. A few good words in my column should go a long way in moving your career along.”

“I know,” she said. “They do pay attention to you. We all do. Are you really going to write up tonight’s show?” She wrinkled her nose and frowned slightly.

“I have to write about something,” Mark said, laughing. “Why not your show? You certainly entertained me. I can probably think up a few nice things to say about you.” He put his hand over hers and squeezed.

“But I can sing so much better, you know, when I’m in the right mood. I didn’t even know you were there until I was almost finished.”

“Your honesty came through. There was a magic to it all; a beautiful girl baring her soul over the clatter of dishes and the inconsiderate laughter of a bunch of sorry drunks.” Waving his arms, Mark acted out his vision of a rose blossoming in a tempest.

“It was terrible,” she said, her eyes wide in remembering. “I wanted to just pick up and go home, but I knew I had to keep singing.”

“It moved me, watching you struggle to perform under those conditions. But you rose above it and gave me a chill. I kept looking at you up there, and I knew something good was going to happen.”

“I saw you writing. It made me really curious. What were you saying about me?” She looked over at the black notebook on the table.

“Just notes, reflections, details to help me recreate the feelings you inspired.” Mark smirked, remembering his florid descriptions. “Like the way your eyes gleamed when you sang the chorus to, what was it? Riding?”

She leaned forward, excitedly. “Can I see what you wrote?” The faint outline of her nipples pressed through her tight blouse.

“Um, I’d rather not. You’ll see when I put the article together,” Mark said, taking hold of her hand. She frowned, disappointed. “It’s just that my notebook is kind of personal,” he said.

“Did you say anything mean about me?”

“No,” Mark said, playing with a loose thread in the flowered upholstery.

“Tell me the truth,” she said.

“Not at all. I just, well, I started writing about how beautiful you looked, while you were singing, and I wrote about how much I would like . . . to . . . see more of you.” Mark’s voice trailed off, suggestively.

‘How sweet,” she said. She paused, waiting for the kiss she knew would follow. Mark obliged her gently.

“I wrote that you were the most beautiful performer I had seen since, well, ever.” Mark whispered as he drew her closer, bringing her into his grasp. He fondled the swell of her breast, teasing her nipple through the fabric. She seemed to melt into his kiss, responding to his touch with a ready eagerness.

“I knew you could hear me,” she said, as Mark kissed her neck and slipped his hand under her shirt. “I could tell you were really listening.” Mark pushed the underwire up over her breast and pinched the stiffness of her nipple. She moaned softly.

“I wanted to see you perform,” Mark said as she kissed his strong jaw attentively. He pulled at her shirt, until she lifted it over her head and shook her fine whitened hair loose. “Mmm,” he said with a lascivious grin as he took a tit in his mouth and sucked as his hands slipped back behind her, and squeezed the fullness in her skirt.

“You’re so good,” she said, running her hands over his back through his shirt.

“I want you so bad,” he murmured, lifting her black skirt. She squirmed uneasily as Mark worked a finger around her panties into her the tight crevice between her thighs.

“Oh,” she said as Mark struggled to unzip his pants and push her panties down her thighs. “Wait,” she said, twisting herself slightly to let the thin fabric out from under her. She started to lean forward as he pushed his rigid prick between her pussy lips.


“I wanted to fuck you so bad,” he said, shoving his cock deep and she let her eyes close as he gave her an eager pounding, the sudden wild blows of impatient, anxious lust. He watched her titties bounce as he stroked steadily into her tight cunt, a stunning vision of beauty that touched his hungry core. “Incredible,” he said with a glimpse of her soft blue eyes. “Give it to me,” he demanded.

“Ooh,” she moaned almost ecstatic, “Fucking me good.”

Mark pulled his prick free and squirted his appreciation onto her pale muff, groaning in happy release. She reached down to rub the juice over her hairs, teasing her pale clitoris with a few rapid turns of her agile fingers and then sat up, pulling down her black skirt.

Mark leaned over to kiss her and then stood to zip himself back up.”You are fantastic,” he said. She pushed her arms through the straps of her bra. “Mmm,” he said, leaning over to kiss the last glimpse of her breasts. She picked up her blouse.

“I’m anxious to get started on your review,” he said, laughing. “I think I can find a few good words for you.” She picked up the wine glass and downed the warm alcohol in three long gulps.

“You’re sweet,” she said. “Just fabulous.”

“I’ll even give Jerry a call in the morning. I’ll bet we can get you onto a better stage.”

“That would be nice,” she said, standing. “I should probably go. You have some writing to do.”

“Yes,” he said, picking up her coat and walking toward the door. She picked up her guitar case and he handed her the thick wool cloak.

“You are so beautiful,” he said, kissing her softly.

“You’re incredible,” she said, opening the door. “Really just incredible.”