Chapter 4. Author's note: So, I include these, though this story has little popularity, as a method of communicating with any readers out there. Anyway, I've been experimenting with different titles for the chapters and this is the latest. Vote/comment for the Macbeth reference!
Nightingale awoke with a good deal of fluttering of eyelashes and realized with a jolt that the surface upon which she was sleeping was too soft, too warm. Opening her eyes, she found herself swaddled in blankets in bed.
Then, looking up, she smiled. Michael was seated on the small chair at the vanity, smiling at her.
"Were you watching me sleep?" she asked, pleased with how at ease she felt in the bed.
He grinned. "I was."
"Anything interesting happen while I was in the depths of slumber?" she asked, sitting up and yawning. She stretched, rolling her shoulders and hearing the satisfying snap of joints and tendons.
"You speak in your sleep," he said.
"No, I don't," said Nightingale. She felt a little thrill of pleasure at allowing herself to engage in back talk with a client.
"Really? None of your clients has ever told you?" laughed Michael.
Nightingale eyed him curiously. "No," she said warily. "They never have. Tell me, what did I say?"
"Something to the effect of 'the Thane of Fife had a wife, where is she now?' I don't particularly remember," he said. He stood and then very hesitantly, like a husband approaching his reluctant and timid new bride on her wedding night, sat down on the edge of the bed.
Nightingale leaned over and nuzzled her face against his. Much to her chagrin, he recoiled from her mouth and pushed her back onto the pillows.
"Something wrong, Michael?" she asked.
"No. It's just - will you sing for me, Nightingale?" he suddenly jumped up and went to stand by the door, as though nervous that she would snap at him for the suggestion.
Nightingale smiled gently at him. "Come back tonight and you'll see me sing," she said. "And dance too, to boot. I'm fairly talented at both."
"No. I don't want to hear you sing whatever you sing to entice the scum who come to this place...what do you call it?" asked Michael.
"The York Bordello," she said, using the name Bobby had coined for his whorehouse.
"Well, Gale, I don't want you to sing something like that. I would like to hear a pleasant song," said Michael, dimpling like mad as he smiled bashfully.
Nightingale sighed as she realized that Michael wanted to feel as though he were special. It wasn't that uncommon among her clients. She did her best to accommodate that illusion - it was very good for business. But a nagging thought reminded her that for Michael, his uniqueness wasn't an illusion.
"What would you like to hear?" she asked, reaching for her bathrobe before getting up.
"A folk song or something," he said.
Nightingale nodded. Climbing out of bed, she began to sing a soft, sweet voice. She watched as he became motionless, listening to her raptly as though hypnotized. Nightingale smiled as she continued to sing. She knew the effect her voice had on men. It was one of the many reasons why she was so popular - her singing entranced and enraptured every person for whom she performed. Even her fellow Inamoratas adored the sound, often asking her to sing gentle rounds to distract them from the daily strife of their lives.
When Nightingale finished singing, Michael snapped out of his trance and gaped at her.
"Where did you learn to sing like that?" he said, his jaw nearly dropping off its hinges.
Nightingale smiled. "Natural talent," she said. Then she stared off into space for a moment before musing, "I suppose you could call it unnatural talent. Nothing's natural about me."
Michael laughed ruefully, tousling his hair with a free hand. "You've very clever, Nightingale."
"I'll take that as a compliment. Though I don't see why it's flattering to commend someone for something they were born - or created - with," said Nightingale, winding herself down onto the floor.
"What do you mean?" asked Michael curiously. His eyes were alight with bright verve as he sat down across from her, folding himself into an awkward-looking position on the rug.
"One shouldn't commend someone for their beauty, or their intelligence, or their singing voice," she said, pointing to herself. Michael nodded. "It's idiotic to commend someone on something they can't control. You might just as well congratulate me for having ten fingers."