“I was fighting some demons.
In the field, I’m deep in.
I was raised in the deep end.”
-‘Envy Me’, Calboy
London, UK, September, 9:11 AM
Eve Polastri jumped up from her cozy bed, the covers already calling her back with their warmth and comfort. Her alarm hadn’t alerted her that morning had arrived and the amount of sleep she’d been getting was suspicious.
“Niko! Why didn’t you wake me up?” She asked, hitting him with a pillow. Turning, she headed for her dresser, yanking a pair of palazzo pants and an oversized sweater from the same drawer. It was a wonder she found anything to wear, especially because she simply threw everything in whatever drawer it would fit in.
“You needed the rest.” Was all Niko said before turning his back to her and resuming his sleep.
Eve rushed through her morning routine, and power walked as fast as she could to the local bus stop somehow managing to not spill a drop of her precious coffee.
It was the first day of classes at Central St. Martins, and Eve was not prepared. Despite having taken a tour of the campus a week prior and spending the last three days designing her classroom, Eve was as nervous as it could get. Fashion Design Womenswear was an extremely challenging course to take. Eve, while an easygoing professor, took her craft seriously. She molded young minds and helped create timeless pieces of clothing that were to be envied by all. At least, that was her goal. And CSM was the exact place for it. In a converted warehouse complex, the college’s infrastructure was just as eclectic as its students and faculty. Renowned for its famous alumni, Central St. Martins was organized into nine programs including the fashion course taught by Eve.
She ran past the glass windows and into the building where she would spend countless hours over the next thirty weeks and flew into her design studio. In a frenzy, Eve deposited her shoulder bag and coffee on the desk, spilling just a little much to her chagrin.
Deafening silence captured her attention and she turned to watch fifteen sets of eyes peering curiously at her. She took them all in, appraising expressions from amused to concerned to confused.
“You,” Eve said, pointing at a random student. He looked more terrified than anything.
“Me?” He asked, pointing at himself.
“Yeah, you. What’s your name?”
“Give me your scarf, Kenny.”
“M-my scarf?” He looked around at his pupils for confirmation.
“Yes, your scarf.”
His eyes widened a fraction, but he pulled off the formal satin scarf that hung around his neck and handed it to her skeptically. The entire room watched in silence as she used it to wipe up her spilled coffee before tossing it in the trash bin.
When she turned back to Kenny, his mouth was open and his hand was reaching outward as if yearning to pick it out of the trash. “It was hideous. I did you a favor.”
Laughter drew Eve’s attention to her left and her eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets. A young woman stood with one arm casually draped over the shoulder of her work mannequin as if they were best friends. Her blonde hair was pulled back into an elegant chignon and her tailored pantsuit told Eve that she came from money. Once she noticed that she had captured Eve’s attention, she coolly slipped one hand into the pockets of her Dries van Noten cigarette pants and gave a confident smirk. Eve was instantly enamored with the woman’s confidence. With her posture alone, she let Eve know that she was going to be not only a pain in the ass but also one of her hardest working students this year. She lived a fashionista lifestyle and she was not going to apologize for it.
Eve took in her expressive eyes and full lips that were painted a lovely shade of neutral pink. She was beautiful — probably a mean girl, Eve deduced— which meant it was the older woman's duty to bring her down a peg or two.
“What’s your name?”
“Villanelle.” The blonde replied, tilting her head. Her accent was different. Eve guessed Russian. “My friends call me Billie.”
“It’s not nice to make fun of the natives, Villanelle,” Eve replied, making it clear that they were not friends. Villanelle’s eyes flashed, enjoying the way Eve said her name.
“Okay.” Eve clapped her hands together once. “Welcome to Fashion Design Womenswear. I’m Professor Eve Polastri. You can call me Eve. I’m brutally honest. You’ll hate me while you’re here, but after graduation, you’ll come back to tell me just how much you learned from me.” That elicited a few chuckles from the group, and she watched as a few of them began to visibly relax. “I’ve been teaching here for ten years, and every year one of my students has won an internship to whichever major fashion house sponsors the end of the year fashion show. Don’t let me down this year.”
Many of her students looked impressed, others excited. Except for Villanelle. She just looked bored. The blonde looked at her own manicure before using the same hand to cover a yawn that Eve was almost positive was forced.
“This year’s theme is—,” Eve turned back to her desk and opened her portfolio. Pushing a few papers out of the way, she skimmed the contents quickly, “‘duality’. You are each expected to create twelve pieces to showcase. Can anyone tell me why we expect twelve pieces?”
“Because this isn’t our first rodeo.” Villanelle quipped, sarcastically.
“Wrong. Can anyone who isn’t a smartass tell me why?” Eve replied. Villanelle smirked.
A hand went up in the back.
“You,” Eve pointed, “what’s your name?”
“Oh, I’m Hugo.”
“You have an answer, Hugo?”
“Yes, ma’am. Twelve pieces are considered a full collection.” He replied.
“Excellent. Ten points to Gryffindor. Oh, and Hugo?”
His brows raised in response.
“Don’t ever call me ma’am again,” Eve told him with a smile. A few relaxed laughs went around the classroom. Hugo grinned and nodded his head.
“Any questions so far?”
A few students shook their heads, and others remained silent.
“Great, so, let’s get started.” Eve picked up her cup of coffee and sipped from the now-lukewarm liquid. “Turn to page seven in your text.”
Exactly two hours later, the class came to an end. Over the sound of laptops shutting, papers shifting and backpacks zipping, Eve reminded her pupils, “Guys, I expect a few brainstormed ideas and rough sketches when we meet again on Wednesday.”
She turned on the lights that she’d shut off halfway through class and unplugged her laptop from the projector. The studio emptied out, except for one lonesome figure that was headed directly towards her.
“Eve.” The blonde smiled.
When she didn’t say anything else, Eve’s brows raised, her palms open in question. “Questions? Comments? Concerns?”
“You did a very good job today.” Villanelle reached into the Louis Vuitton backpack hanging off of her left shoulder and produced a shiny, red apple. She held it between herself and Eve and the corners of her lips twitched. Eve suddenly felt like Snow White, and briefly wondered if the apple was poisoned. Reaching out, she accepted it.
“Thanks.” The brunette placed the fruit in her purse before pulling her hair from its clip. She fluffed it out, before asking, “So, do you have any ideas for your collection?”
Villanelle, whose expression had gone from amused to something that resembled curiosity, visibly pulled herself from her own thoughts. “I’ll have to do some research, but I see tailored pantsuits on the horizon.”
“This is a womenswear class.”
“Women don’t generally wear,” Eve looked Villanelle up and down, “pantsuits.” Though she had to admit: Villanelle did wear a suit extremely well.
“Duality is both, yes? Two opposed parts coming together to make something,” Villanelle took a step forward and Eve found her personal bubble being invaded, “magical. Sexy. Something different.”
Vanilla and teakwood assaulted Eve’s nostrils and it was such a unique smell. It was equal parts feminine and masculine; a unisex fragrance that would now always remind Eve of Villanelle.
“Fair point,” was all Eve could manage. She cleared her throat and took one step to the side until Villanelle was no longer overwhelming her senses. Despite making a show of clearing her desk, Eve realized that the young blonde did not pick up on social cues very well.
“Is that your husband?”
Eve looked over to see Villanelle peering at Eve’s laptop background.
A breathy chuckle. “He has an excellent mustache.”
Eve laughed. “He certainly likes to think so.”
Villanelle’s eyes lit up. She liked hearing Eve laugh and she made a mental note that she was going to make sure she heard it more often. Eve closed her laptop, slipped it into her messenger bag and Villanelle adjusted her backpack on her shoulder.
“See on Wednesday, Eve.”
“See you Wednesday,” Eve replied and began to gather her hair.
Villanelle headed to the exit, stopping at the door. “Wear it down.”
Before Eve could respond, Villanelle was gone.
“She’s just, like, intense, you know?” Eve said, biting into a raw baby carrot. She leaned her hip against the island in the kitchen and watched as her husband wiped his hands on the dishtowel that he’d slung over his shoulder.
“She sounds a little like you. Forward, determined, a little awkward.”
Eve feigned shock. “Me? Awkward?”
Niko grinned and leaned over to kiss her. She hummed into the first kiss. Just before he kissed her again, she put her hand on his chest. “Hungry. Food. Now.”
“Is this all I am to you? A nice meal?” He joked, turning to stir the contents of a simmering saucepan.
“No. You’re a hot piece of ass, too.” Eve teased back.
Moments later, Niko was serving them a savory home-cooked meal.
“My day was fine, thanks for asking.” Niko half-teased.
“Oh my gosh. I’m sorry.” Eve put a hand on her forehead. “Of course I want to know about your day.”
She knew Niko wasn’t actually upset. He married this woman so he knew that sometimes her mind was a cluttered wasteland and Eve could be forgetful. But there was balance. Niko, himself, was structured and he remembered what Eve couldn’t, which was usually anything that involved a calendar.
“It was a shit show.” He commented, shrugging as he drank from his glass of white wine. “The power went out and the backup generators are fucking ancient.”
“Jesus. What did you do?”
“Flashlights and ghost stories.”
Eve laughed, heartily. “I’m sure that was a great first impression.”
“I would say so.”
“I threw a student’s scarf in the trash.”
It was Niko’s turn to laugh. “You did not!”
“I did. Well, after I wiped up the coffee I spilled with it, of course.”
“Oh, of course!” He agreed as if it were the most normal thing in the world.
“It was ugly, but still, I’m sure my students think I’m nuts now.”
“You are nuts.”
“ Touché,” Eve chuckled.
When they finished their meal, Niko told her to close her eyes. She did as she was told and listened as he shuffled around the kitchen for a few moments.
"Okay, open them."
She gasped, dramatically. "Tell me that's not what I think it is."
"Oh, but it is."
Niko's hands held a small cake from their favorite bakery. Apple cinnamon crumbles cake, to be precise. They moved around the kitchen in perfect synchronicity, Eve gathering plates and utensils while Niko cut the cake into perfect slices. When Eve took the first bite, her eyes immediately shut and she reveled in the smooth taste of the moist cake. Cinnamon, an aphrodisiac, combined with the heady white wine, made Eve's entire body tingle. And mixed with the sweet taste of apple, Eve practically came.
Like the one Villanelle had offered her that she'd so willingly accepted.
"Do you want to go upstairs?" Eve asked her husband.
He searched her face, understanding almost immediately. Dropping his fork, he stood from his chair, Eve following just behind him.