Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WIP Wednesday

I'm in the middle of finishing my Christmas short for MLR, but since it's so short, I'd rather not pull anything from it. Instead, I'm going to post from All the Devils Here again, the sequel to Two Lives in Waltz Time. This is the first time Quin meets Colette, though they're both dreaming so neither realizes it's actually happening.

* * *

Sunlight dappled the sidewalk through the trees, scattering onto the grass to merge with the shadows. A flock of birds suddenly took off, their wings battering the air, but they were the only living things Quin could see, no matter which direction he turned. That wasn’t right, not for Central Park in the middle of the afternoon. The theater where they did the Shakespeare was around the bend, he realized, and he jogged the few feet necessary to reach the back entrance.

Empty seats, just like the rest of the park. But there, at center stage, sat the sultry young woman who’d been in his room with Maddy.

She sat with her legs stretched out in front of her, her head and torso angled back as she leaned on her hands. The sun turned her hair to golden honey, the curly ends trailing almost to the stage. She was oblivious to Quin’s approach, lost in her own world it would seem, but that simply meant he had freedom to watch her without either of them being self-conscious.

Her accent didn’t do her any favors, though neither did the nose stud. She looked like she should be running wild on the Highlands centuries earlier, with the wind whipping a long skirt around her legs and curvy hips, somehow out of time in an entirely different way than most of the women he’d grown up knowing. Not a shrinking violet, though, not with the flash of intelligence he’d seen in her brown eyes. This one would stand up for what she wanted, what she believed in, with her hands firmly on her hips, and her gaze locked with her opponent’s.

He realized he was semi-erect by the time he reached the edge of the stage.

“Hello,” he said, and knew immediately it was a dream. He’d spoken aloud. He hadn’t done that since Dubai.

She turned her head and immediately smiled. Like she’d been expecting him. “Yep. I knew it. The accent is to die for.”

“You mean you don’t know me?” That was a shame. He would have preferred some measure of familiarity in his own dream. Of course, considering how long it had been since he’d found any woman physically attractive enough to dream about, perhaps he should just be grateful she was there at all.

She rose and wiped her palms on the back of her black jeans, drawing his attention yet again to the swell of her hips. “Well, we haven’t been formally introduced.” She thrust her hand out to him, advancing a few steps closer. “Colette Weir. And you’re Quin, right?”

Though her grip was firm, his hand almost entirely engulfed hers, making him long for a moment to find out what else he could cover completely on her soft body. He let her go, but she caught his wrist and turned his palm upward, tracing over its hard calluses.

His pulse leapt. Such a simple contact shouldn’t have turned him on so much, but the contrast of the delicacy of her touch with the surety of each stroke was a tantalizing combination. “What were you doing in my hospital room?” he asked.

“I found you.”

“But why did you stick around?”

She looked up then, finally dropping his hand to stick hers in her back pockets. “Because you didn’t have anybody else.”

The innocent observation choked off the response he would have made. He turned out toward the empty seats, imagining what they would look like filled with a hungry audience, all eyes eagerly glued to the stage as the actors played out the story. His gaze drifted toward the section Cash had been in. Did he understand the irony of the play he’d chosen for their date? Probably not. But then, he didn’t seem to understand why Quin was there in the first place.

“Here.” Her small hand curled back around his, tugging him downward. He had little choice but to sit as she had been, with her legs stretched out beside him. “This is the best view in the house.”

Glancing at her perky profile, Quin wasn’t so sure about that. But in that moment, in this dream, he wouldn’t correct her. He wouldn’t tell her how grateful he was for her company, or how he liked the way her hair gleamed in the warm sunshine. He would take the comfort she offered and hold it close.

For all his mistakes, he refused to let his life signify nothing. And if he could find strength in a dream version of what was likely his guardian angel, then so be it.