Emilia's eyes sparkled as she beheld it, the lovely trinket. It was soft between her fingers, the edges trimmed with white lace. She noted the fine embroidery and nearly caught herself feeling jealous of her lady.
It would not be the first time that she had felt the twinges of envy. Desdemona had not yet learned the dangers of love and the woes of matrimony. Emilia shook her head wistfully. She knew better than to believe that Desdemona and her lord would always be so happy together; however, they were still bound tight with the wonder of young love. Ah, well. Let them enjoy it while it lasts.
"I am glad I have found this napkin," Emilia said aloud, smiling softly and holding it betwixt two fingers. "This was Desdemona's first remembrance from the Moor."
Emilia's own husband had never given her such a gift during their courting days. Her smile lessened slightly as she acknowledged the fact, but she held her head high as she began to exit the courtyard in search of the man. "My wayward husband hath a hundred times wooed me to steal it," she murmured, "but Desdemona so loves the token—for the Moor conjured her she should ever keep it—that she reserves it evermore about her to kiss and talk to." She slowed her pace to inspect the handkerchief once more. The embroidery depicted a patch of plump, rosy strawberries—symbols of love and happiness. She ran the tip of her tongue over the edge of her lips. How she craved the fruits.
"I'll have the work taken out and give it to Iago. What he will do with it heaven knows, not I." She sighed and held the handkerchief close to her heart. "I nothing but to please his fantasy."
Emilia quickly stuffed the handkerchief into her bodice and whirled around in surprise, finding her husband approaching from behind.
"What do you here alone?" Iago slowed his steps, stopping before he was even within five feet of Emilia. He placed his hands on his hips and tilted his head, showing neither sign of mirth nor merriment.
Emilia exhaled, conjured up her most devilishly tempting smile, and slowly strided up to her husband, eliminating the space between them that he had left unfilled.
"Do not you chide," she said in a low voice, circling around him deliberately and stopping to whisper in his ear. "I have a thing for you." She snaked her hands over his shoulders, gently rubbing them.
"A thing for me?" Iago returned, in a tone that was indicative of the fact that he took her no more seriously than he would a child. "It is a common thing—"
"Ha?" Emilia stopped, briefly forgetting the act.
"—to have a foolish wife," Iago finished, plucking Emilia's hands from his shoulders and dropping them as though they were but a pair of soiled gloves. He turned his gaze away, and Emilia realized that he was making to leave. Not yet ready for defeat, she quickly rushed in front of him, seizing his hands and placing them about her waist.
"Oh, is that all?" she said loudly, so that his eyes widened ever so slightly at her sudden rise in volume and then narrowed once more. "What will you give me now for the same handkerchief?"
"What handkerchief?" Iago asked tiredly, beginning to remove his hands from her sides.
"'What handkerchief'?" Emilia laughed, cupping Iago's face in her hands and stroking his cheeks with her fingertips, hoping to soothe his sour humor. "Why, that the Moor first gave to Desdemona, that which so often you did bid me steal."
Iago raised his brow, the bitterness seeming almost to melt away, making Emilia feel quite proud of herself. Slowly, Iago placed his hands on top of hers, gazing intently into her eyes.
"Hast thou stolen it from her?" he murmured, before sweetly raising Emilia's hand to his lips.
Emilia smiled warmly. Iago's palms were hot against her own, and she allowed herself to delight in the much—wanted attention. Her very soul quivered with happiness as his thumb caressed the back of one hand while his lips kissed the other.
"No, but she let it drop by negligence," Emilia breathed as Iago laid a row of kisses upon her arm, then upon her cheeks, and finally her lips. "And, to the advantage, I being here, took it up." She slowly slid her hand out from under his and drew the handkerchief from her bodice, dangling it before him in a tantalizing manner. "Look, here it is," she said softly.
Iago watched the handkerchief sway back and forth from her fingers. His eyes flashed.
"A good wench, give it me," he said condescendingly, snatching the napkin from her grasp and twice patting her rather harshly on the cheek that a minute before he had kissed. He turned away from her, the previous moment forgotten as he held the handkerchief up to the sunlight, the token becoming the new object of his interest. Emilia, somewhat slighted, touched her cheek where his touch still stung.
"What will you do with it, that you have been so earnest to have me filch it?" she questioned, frowning.
"Why, what is that to you?" Iago asked indifferently, without turning her way.
"If it be not for some purpose of import, give it me again," Emilia said firmly, biting the inside of her lip and holding out her hand. "Poor lady, she'll run mad when she shall lack it."
Iago turned to face her, his expression cold and commanding. "Be not acknown on it," he ordered curtly. "I have use for it. Go, leave me."
Emilia stood in quiet shock for a second or two before quietly nodding and slinking away. As she left, she drew to mind the memory of the gentle look on her husband's face and the display of affection she had received in payment for the handkerchief, and allowed the fleeting warmth to erase the sting of his spurn.