[...] Watching Alex move his eyes over the pile of objects stirred something in Sasha. She put her arms around him from behind, and he turned, surprised, but willing. She kissed him full on the mouth, then undid his zipper and kicked off her boots. Alex tried to lead her toward the other room, where they could lie down on the sofa bed, but Sasha dropped to her knees beside the tables and pulled him down, the Persian carpet prickling her back, street light falling through the window onto his hungry, hopeful face, his bare white thighs.
Afterward, they lay on the rug for a long time. The candles started to sputter. Sasha saw the prickly shape of the bonsai silhouetted against the window near her head. All her excitement had seeped away, leaving behind a terrible sadness, an emptiness that felt violent, as if she’d been gouged. She tottered to her feet, hoping Alex would leave soon. He still had his shirt on.
“You know what I feel like doing?” he said, standing up. “Taking a bath in that tub.”
“You can,” Sasha said dully. “It works. The plumber was just here.”