It was another warm summer evening, the air scented with the odours of the city, of a city living life to the full. The tunes from the jazz band in the café down along Brunswick Street drifted into air, magical and romantic. Esmé had seen where the band played, in daylight, and it wasn’t at all romantic, the sofas worn and greasy, the walls stained, and the floor holed ancient lino. Yet in the dim light at night, with the light glinting of the metal of the instruments, with a glass in your hand, somehow it all seemed glamorous and exciting.
There in the tiny courtyard, the music was softened and muted by distance and the thick air. There in the courtyard it seemed sheer magic, unspoilt by tawdry recollections, by reality.
The band was playing “Love is the Sweetest Thing” and Keith and Esmé were swaying slowly across the worm flagstones, their dance floor as private as any in the most expensive penthouse apartment. The tepid air was filled with the orange-blossom scent of Chinese jasmine which grew with robust shiny green leaves over the weathered brick. She could smell Keith’s Brut aftershave, his male body, his end-of-day armpits, the slight sourness on his breath from the wine. She could feel his erection.