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The Way You Wear Your Hat

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The first thing June did after showing Neal the apartment at the top of the house and giving him the grand tour of the rest was demand a fashion show of Byron's old clothing. "It's been so long since I've seen anybody dress with style and we need to make sure they fit. I can tack up anything and then take it to the tailor." Neal had only quirked an eyebrow at this, even when she dropped the pile right there on the unmade up bed, sat in a straight-backed chair in front of him, and crossed her legs expectantly.

"There's the bathroom right there if you prefer or you can change here." She let that sentence settle and gazed at him frankly.

He only said, "Shall I just. . " and trailed off delicately and a little warily; this was her call, her place, and if this was the price of rent, then he'd paid higher.

"You haven't got anything I haven't seen and nothing I want in trade," she said with a sardonic but not unkind twist to her mouth. "Try on the Devore first." And then she actually turned away and bent for her bag to retrieve pins, so Neal didn't bother shedding his current set of clothes sexily. They weren't worth the effort; they were cheap, scratchy, and he still imagined he could smell prison, flop hotel and failure on them. It felt like shedding an ill-fitting skin. He stood for a moment with his back to her to enjoy the slightly cool, musty air on his skin and the weight of nothing on him but his briefs (and the tracker of course but that was different). When he turned back around, he didn't find the leer he would have expected (or gotten, in prison) just a slightly distant admiration, as if June were looking at a Rodin and measuring the lines with her eyes. She didn't even blink at the tracker, just took it all in and nodded. Neal felt his throat go a little tight and made himself relax, show nothing on his face but openness.

"Yes, I think that all should fit nicely," she said. "But let's just see them on."

Neal slipped into the first pair of black slacks, only a little longer than needed and almost perfect in the waist. June moved then, dragging the chair closer until she was in front of him, along mirror to his back. "Turn," she said firmly.

"Yes, ma'am." He broke out a grin and did his best Four Tops spin. She laughed delightedly and smacked him lightly on the ass.

"Slowly! A woman my age likes to take her time about things and my eyes aren't what they were."

"Oh I think they are just fine," he said, putting emphasis on fine and she rolled her eyes. But he spun obligingly, slowly, tracking her in the mirror. Her mouth was still crooked in amusement, and she was clearly appreciating what she was seeing, so score one for Neal. "Nice," she murmured in a way that encompassed not only the fit, but also his ass ass. Neal had practice in noticing these things.

He sketched a mock obeisance. "That's high praise from a lady of taste such as yourself."

"Oh I have lost many things, but my taste for beauty is not one of them." Her eyes took on a slightly faraway cast at that, and Neal suspected his ass in the mirror was not the primary thing she was focusing on now. But she pulled back to him, clapped her hands once lightly and said. "And I have also not lost the little sewing skill I have, so let's pin these up." She stuck a couple of pins in her mouth and leaned down. Given her position in front of him, Neal had expected the pants to be a pretext, but she didn't even pause at his placket, pinned his hems, and then scooted back a bit. "And now the shirt."

So this was to be a fitting after all. He had even fewer objections to playing dress up than any other game she wanted to play. He walked over to the bed and picked out a white shirt.

"No, try the light blue, I think," June said, settling back in her chair in front of him. He didn't even pretend not to look at June all through the buttoning and the curl of her mouth said she was quite aware of it. "And now the jacket."

Neal put on the matching jacket and held obediently still while June pinned up the cuffs. It was odd to have someone taking care of him after so long, and that as much as anything held him in place. When she was finished, he donned the tie, and on a lark, flipped the black fedora onto his head and gave her his best panty-dropping grin.

June laughed, low and delighted, looked at him and then stilled, caught again in that faraway stare that looked through Neal to some other person or place.

“Byron was wearing that suit when I first met him at the Lenox Lounge. My, he was a sight to see. He was younger than you are now and looked like he had the world by the tail. You remind me of him some.”

Neal found his face relaxing into a softer, realer smile. “Well, I can only hope to have as much good taste and luck as Byron to end up with someone as wonderful as you.”

June drew back from her reverie and smiled as soft. “Flatterer. You’re about as silver-tongued as Byron was too. Now let’s see how the rest of this fits.”

They spent the next hour with Neal trying on the greater portion of the suits, June telling him stories of the times she and Byron had had and Neal feeling more and more himself with every change. Yeah, this was going to work out fine.