~ sinners, aren't we all ~
black mary janes - chapter one: august 23rd 1926, the grand opening of the newly built hotel cortez. amidst the flirting, dancing and drinking that is a mid-summer soiree, you make the charming acquaintance of mr march; an introduction to what some call the greatest love affair the cortez has seen since its inception.
wordcount: 2,168 tw: sexual assault + harassment (NOT JAMES) + description is brief but PLEASE DNI IF THIS TOPIC IS TRIGGERING TO YOU [i originally posted this as a oneshot type thing, but i have decided to continue on the story with james x reader] --------------------------------------------------------------------------
"There 'aint a flapper in town who hasn't been invited to one of his private wingdings," you pranced through the entrance, black mary janes clicking against the floor, checking your names off the guest list. "His hotel is said to be the finest on the West Coast. Oh, and I've heard he's single! And filthy rich!"
"This is beautiful," you remarked, admiring the lavish design of the place. "How'd you get us invited to such an extravagant soiree, Alice? I mean, not that I'm complaining."
"Well... I may or may not have spent the night with a certain Mr Davey..." she smirked.
"Alice! You cheek!"
"I've been stuck on him forever... Good friends with the owner. Said he'd get us invited if I necked him."
The two of you stepped out of the elevator and joined the party. At the front of the room stood a tall gentleman. His dark hair was slicked back, and a thin, pencil moustache embellished his upper lip. He was conversing with a man standing beside him, his face intently focused.
"Well, well, well, ain't he a dime," Alice trilled.
"Alice you can't even so much look at a man without wanting to diddle him." You shook your head.
"Y/n, you are a bluenose."
A young server, dressed neatly in white, offered a drink to the both of you.
"Can I tempt you, ladies?"
Your gloved hand grasped a crystalline champagne glass.
"Thank you," you nodded politely.
Alice followed suit. "Don't mind if I do."
The bustle of minglers began to hush, as the clink of metal tapping against glassware filled your ears. You fixed your attention to the front of the room, where the dark-haired gentleman stood.
"I'd like to welcome you all to the opening week, of the Hotel Cortez," he addressed the crowd. His voice wasn't at all as you'd imagined. Instead of the harsh, husky New Yorker, you'd envisioned, his dialect was smooth; a mid-Atlantic type accent, reflective of his high society status. "Shame we can't enjoy these libations in my new Blue Parrot Lounge. But, until someone revokes that nasty Volstead Act, both I, and Mr Capone, will have to make due."
For a split second, there was a silence throughout the party; you swear you caught the gentleman's gaze fixated upon you. But this was quickly outlived as he popped the bottle of Ayala in his grasp.
"I'll drink to that, March!" A rowdy mug yelled from the rear-end of the room.
The crowd, including yourself, applauded vivaciously, as the downtown jazz band began to play.
"Enjoy the festivities! And make yourselves at home!" The gentleman addressing you, whom you presumed was March, signed off.
The room once more filled with the buzzing of chatting and flirting.
"Right then, I'm off to mingle," Alice announced. "So many handsome eggs just waiting for my attention. You wanna join? You need a gentleman in your life."
"No thanks." You reply. "You, my friend, are such a floozie. What about Mr Davey?"
"He's married," she winked.
The evening rolled on and soon six o'clock was seven, seven was eight, eight was nine and so on. You tried your best to make the most of the atmosphere, invoking casual conversation with fellow party-goers.
You were on your second glass of champagne for the evening, making small talk with the manager of the motor-car dealer a few blocks away. His name was Hingly, David Hingly. Mr Hingly was attempting to explain to you the function behind the Ford Model-T. Whilst you were flattered a man would even consider speaking to a woman about such, it was, to put it bluntly, terribly boring.
“Hingly!” a voice cheerfully greeted from a few feet away, interrupting the lecture (thank god). You turned to see a dark-haired figure walking towards you. It was the man from before, March, or whatever his name was.
“March! Good to see you old chap!” Mr Hingly took the gentleman’s hand, shaking it aggressively. “What a grand place you’ve built here.”
“Ah thank you,” the man swayed on his feet, as his gaze fell on you. He had not registered your presence until now, which he appeared to be rather remorseful of. “Oh, dear, I deeply apologise for not seeing you there.”
He held out his hand and you took it, as he placed a gentle kiss on your knuckles. Not that it was your place to say, but you couldn’t help but notice his lips lingered on your skin a fraction longer than what was deemed mere etiquette.
“My name is James Patrick March. And you are?”
“Y/n. Y/n Y/l/n.”
“What a lovely name.” It seemed Mr March had completely forgotten and/or disregarded Mr Hingly’s presence, who stood awkwardly to the side, grasping his whiskey glass.
“Oh, you flatter me, Mr March.”
“Please, call me James.”
The moment dwindled with a silence - a silence that was neither humiliating nor uncomfortable, however. But you couldn't quite put your finger on an exact description of this silence. This was quickly outlived, as you felt an eager tap on your shoulder from behind.
“Y/n!” It was Alice. “You have to come to meet someone! Oh...” she took notice of the two gentlemen already in your company. “I apologise sirs... but I must drag my friend along now. I’m sure her conversation wasn’t overly riveting anyways!” And without further ado, she grabbed your arm, dragging you away before you got the chance to bid Mr March a good evening.
After introducing you to him, your friend had quickly hurried off, leaving you alone with the man. He was buff, and blonde, dressed finely. He seemed friendly enough. Mr Ferry, his name was, although he insisted you call him Jimmy. You warmed up to him, and soon the two of you were deep in conversation. Perhaps Alice was a better matchmaker than you’d originally thought. To say the least, you enjoyed his company very much.
By now the clock struck just past one am, with only a few guests left in attendance. The fathers and mothers had vacated to tend to their children, and so had the businessmen, in need of a good night's rest for the following day. Those who remained were mostly singles, eager and open to flirtatiousness. You would have been ready to leave two hours ago, but it wasn’t your desire to nag Alice. And anyway, had you left when you wished, you never would have made the charming acquaintance of Mr Ferry.
“I just value family so very much.” He confided in you. “Ever since I was a boy, I’ve wished to find myself a loving wife and settle down.”
“Oh Jimmy, that’s lovely.”
“Hey, do you wanna go for a stroll? I’m keen to see a little more of this place.”
“I’d love to.” You took his arm and wandered out of the room, away from the chatter and bustle, and down the hallway towards the elevator. He walked you inside and pressed the button to the 4th floor. The doors opened with a soft chime, and Mr Ferry lead you through the hall. He had not said a word since inviting you to venture off with him.
“Where are we going, Jimmy?”
He remained silent for a few seconds.
“You know what I admire about you?” He whispered.
“Your innocence.” His voice was different now. Seduction lingered in the back of his throat. Lust began to seep through his pores; you could tell. You no longer felt safe with this man. You wanted to flee.
“Mr Ferry, it’s getting late, and I just remembered I had to be home by now, so I’d-“
“I thought I told you to call me Jimmy.” He lunged forward and latched onto your forearm.
“Please let go of me,” the man failed to do as you’d asked. The sweet temperament and nature of the gentleman you were mingling with upstairs had vanished. Or perhaps, it was never there to begin with. “Let go of me!”
You attempted to squirm away but he gripped your body tight. You let out a squeal for help.
“Shhhh. Someone will hear you. We wouldn’t want that now would we?”
The man forcefully pressed his lips to yours. He spun you around, pushing you against the wall and holding you there. You tried to scream but his free hand covered your mouth.
“You bastard! Get off her!”
Suddenly, the man was no longer pinning you down.
There was a gunshot.
You were crying.
You felt a caring touch place your arm over a set of broad shoulders.
And then everything was a blur.
"Poor girl. I caught I glimpse of her leaving with that sleaze, Ferry. Knowing what he's like, I followed them. And he was goddamn violating her! So of course I took the liberty to blow his brains out."
"Of course, sir."
"Will you comfort her when she wakes? I do not wish to scare her. It is a woman's compassion, I believe she needs right now."
"I just don't believe I quite understand? Why this girl? If it is not too bold of me to say, you aren't exactly the most humane being yourself, are you, sir?"
"Enough. Do not question my judgment, Miss Evers. You will look after this young lady and bring her anything she needs. Is that clear?"
"Yes, Mr March."
You awoke in a start, your eyes darting open as you gasped for a breath. You were not in your bedroom, nor were you in Alice's. The curtains were drawn, but sunlight peeked in through the gaps in the linen suspended above the window. The room smelled foreign - and you didn't like it. You began to panic, as you desperately tried to register your surroundings.
"Easy there, dear," a woman appeared by your side. "It's alright you're safe."
The events of the previous night came flooding back to you.
"Do you need anything?" she croaked. "Mr March insisted you rest here overnight, to keep you safe."
James March saved you. He was your rescuer.
"May I see him?" You looked up at her, eyes wide, still groggy from your slumber.
"Um, well, he is rather busy, dear." It was then that you truly took in her appearance. Her ginger curls were pinned neatly behind her head and her makeup was slightly smudged under her lower eyelids; she'd been crying. "Oh, fine then. Up you get, I shall lead you to his study."
You followed the maid into the elevator and out again. She mumbled to herself nervously as she counted room numbers; until she stopped outside of a door, embellished with the number 64.
"Mr March? Miss Y/n is here to see you."
The door quietly opened, and there he was. Mr James Patrick March.
"I shall leave you be." Miss Evers hurried off, leaving you in the captivating presence of the hotel's owner. He gestured for you to step inside his office, closing the door behind you.
"Thank you for helping me. I truly do not know -" you suddenly felt the uncontrollable urge to cry, as your eyes welled. "Oh gosh. I am so sorry."
James rushed to your side, and took your hand, encouraging you to sit down on the bed. "Nothing to be sorry about, my dear. I am so incredibly sorry that you had to experience that last night."
His sincerity warmed your heart. You could not remember the last time a man seemed genuinely concerned for your wellbeing. Perhaps he was just trying to worm his way in, as they all did... but your instincts told you otherwise. He didn't seem like the user. Something about him was different. He cared about you.
You couldn't hold back your tears any longer.
"Shhhh, it's okay, darling. Let it all out." He took out an embroidered handkerchief from his breast pocket and wiped your eyes. "You're okay." You felt him warily and cautiously place a hand on your shoulder. You melted into James' embrace, quite literally having his shoulder to cry on. Your breathing slowed, as your emotions began to ebb.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to drag you into this. You have work to get on with. I shall leave you be. Thank you for your hospitality..." You began to get up, ready to leave, but his hand caught yours.
"Nonsense, my dear. I chose to..."
There was a moment of silence between the two of you, just as had occurred last night. It was neither uncomfortable nor humiliating. Except, this time you could identify what this feeling was... and it made you never want to be without the presence of this man.
He parted his lips to speak, but no sound came out, as though registering what to say. And then he proposed to you an offer which you knew you couldn't possibly deny.
"Would you like to stay for tea, Miss y/n?"
"I'd enjoy that very much Mr March."