Barry jerked his gaze from the door. His breath was a soft rasp upon his tongue, and his lips were too dry.He shouldn’t be looking forward to this so much.He’d danced with beautiful women before, even very young ones. And he was, as he had been for nearly half his life, a happily married man.
So why were his palms sweating, and his nerves twitching with the niggling desire to feel this woman in his arms?
Terrance sat in the corner, half-obscured by shadows. His eyes held a merry light, and he was tapping his sketching pencil against his pad in obvious anticipation. Maybe she wouldn’t even see him; he liked to stay camouflaged and catch his subjects unawares. Normally, Barry couldn’t forget that he was there, but tonight…
Barry’s eyes targeted the door again, just as it opened and Corinne came in, a little hesitantly, wearing a simple flowing gown the exact green-blue of her eyes, which seemed, even from this distance, to glow as they searched the room. Barry’s breath got tangled up on its way out, and there was a long-forgotten stirring deep within him.
Corinne spotted him and smiled, and Barry knew he was in very deep trouble.
He’d never felt this attracted to anyone – let alone a girl young enough to be his granddaughter, and scarcely old enough to touch legally.
She started across the floor – it wasn’t crowded, this early in the evening – and Barry realized he was walking toward her only when they met halfway across it. Corinne smiled, the spicily sweet scent of jasmine wafting gently to linger in his nose, toy with his imagination. The dress clung softly to her curves, then flowed on to brush the floor. Above the bodice, a hint of cleavage, creamy and inviting.
She reached out her hands, and he took them in his own, drew her in close, but leaving, as his cotillion teacher had said, decades before this girl had been born,”daylight between you, for decorum’s sake.” Those hands trembled in his, and Barry was tempted to toss decorum to the wind, and pull her in tight.
The pupils of her eyes were wide, transfixing. Barry wanted to climb into them, and never come out – to hide from illness, and death, maybe to hide from what he felt thrumming between them, and the slightly dazed wonder he could see there.
I’m a married man. My spouse is dying… Barry tried to make it a mantra, in his mind – but, oh, he had never felt so alive!
“You look – wonderful,” she said, on a whispered breath, and the color came up beneath her fair skin. Good lord, she couldn’t be feeling it, too –
“You know that I’m an old married man, don’t you?” He wondered if he should stop this, right now, no matter what he wanted, what she or Terrance said about it. Neither of them could feel what he did, right now – that they were balancing on the edge of something shadowy and unseen.
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