It was some years ago.
A hot, sultry, starless night in Barcelona.
I had employed her, without meeting her. as a tour guide. She shepherded around a disparate, sweating group of international conference delegates, filling their admiring heads with Gaudi and Picasso.
I was infatuated with her from the moment she held out a tiny hand in greeting. She was barely five foot tall, had unexpectedly green eyes and thick raven-black hair. It hung and shimmered down to the small of her back.
Her name was Mercedes.
That evening I persuaded her to join me for a meal at what is supposed to be the oldest restaurant in Barcelona. You may know it, on one of the small alleys off that run off La Ramblas. We were hidden away in a small corner amongst the ancient brickwork and the age-and-smoke-blackened beams.
We ate fat, charcoal-grilled gambas, spicy patatas bravas, salted bacalao, and champinines al ajillo. We drank a heavily-oaked, sun-soaked Rioja.
We fell in love for the evening.
I bought her a rose from a gypsy woman who was moving from table to table. She winked at us as she took my currency.
Laughing, Mercedes placed the scarlet rose between her teeth. Her eyes flashed as she tossed back her head and ran her hands through her lovely hair. A thorn on the stem pressed itself into her beautiful lower lip and beaded it with crimson drops.
I kissed her then, in the flickering light of the candle, cupping her sweet face with my hand.
Sometimes, even now, when I drink a particularly heavy Rioja, I can still taste her blood in my mouth,
Tangy, metallic and special.
© the author writing as Romantic Dominant
Photo stolen from Alazay