Pastor Weinbaum’s sermon was dragging.
‘The ungodly shall burn in hellfire...’
At least I’d be warmer, I thought; frost had bitten hard last night. It was the first time I’d needed this coat since last winter. I shoved my hands deep into its pockets in a futile attempt to thaw my half-frozen fingers.
‘…haunts of the wicked, where all manner of debauchery…’
There was a small rectangle buried deep in the pocket. Intrigued, I drew it out. I turned the pink card over and read the words printed on it.
The Emporium of Delight.
My hand snapped shut over the ticket, my fear of discovery now, as great as it had been then. Heat flooded my body - surely the pastor must feel it radiating from me?
‘…women of ill-repute! Gigolos! Alcohol!’
How could I possibly explain the lure of prohibited pleasure? Memories filled my head. I’d felt like a sparrow among birds of paradise; heady from exotic scents, dazzled by a rainbow of colour and bewildered by music of a kind I’d never heard before. How could I have forgotten the decadence of the interior, all red velvet and gilded wood? Or my first ever sip of champagne from a crystal flute? Or the young gentleman in the peacock blue waistcoat who had flirted so outrageously with me and asked to see me again?
A secret smile tugged at my lips as I stopped listening to the pastor and considered the request.
Maybe he would, I told myself.