The scent of the flowers climbing the trellis behind her back wafted in the warm air, and occasionally a light breeze cooled and caressed Kat‘s hot skin. There was nothing like a summer night in St. Louis. Oh sure, there were times the humidity could make her feel like she was breathing soup, but tonight was actually quite pleasant. It was mid-September and an oppressive heat wave had sent temperatures skyrocketing above one hundred degrees for the last two weeks. When she woke up this morning, the air coming through her open bedroom window felt clean and fresh, not stale and stagnant as it had been. The change was being celebrated all over the city.
She listened to the music blaring from the speakers on the dance floor, a slow hypnotic rhythm calling to the soul. Her eyes were having trouble tracking people in the colored and strobe lights winking on and off, the effect causing people to catch only glimpses of their dance partners and making the atmosphere seductive and anonymous. The dancers tangling on the patio made Kat wonder how it would feel to move so freely, so seductively. Fantasies of a man holding her close and moving to the hypnotic music flirted through her mind. Too bad said man did not exist.
Looking up, she spied her best friend Amy with her fiancé and smiled. Seeing their happiness warmed a place in her heart, but it could not fulfill the longing to feel that closeness with another person. Kat didn‘t see that happening for her very soon, if at all. Allowing another person that close left a person defenseless. Kat had known vulnerability and complacency from a very young age and refused to allow those weaknesses to control her again. She deemed the occasional twinge of loneliness an acceptable casualty for securing herself from susceptibility.
Kat saw a couple on the dance floor so wrapped up in each other, she felt as if they had created their own little world. They were an attractive couple. The solidly built man stood tall behind his dance partner, whose height complemented his. She leaned into the man‘s chest, with her head resting on his shoulder as he circled her stomach with his arms and leaned down to kiss the nape of her neck and shoulder where perspiration glistened. Although they were barely moving, the dance--a gentle sway back and forth and a grind of the hips--made it easy to envision them standing just like that and slowly making love.
Kat became lost in the fantasy for several minutes, until a man's deep, husky voice whispered into her ear.
"Enjoying the show?"
She turned to examine the owner of the sexy voice. In the darkness all that was visible was a strong face and sensual lips. She coyly smiled at him. "I always enjoy a good performance." A playful smile shaped his lips. Kat couldn't help but stare. I wonder what they feel like? Are they soft and does the touch linger or do they command surrender? Do they bring pleasure or spew venomous pain?She returned her attention to the conversation.
"Ahh, so you're a voyeur?" he said.
Kat considered her response before answering. She didn't want to encourage some deranged stalker by answering with a suggestive remark."Isn't everyone to a certain extent? How else do you explain the obsession with physical appearance, or rubbernecking motorists trying to catch a glimpse of fatalities on the freeway?"
"I never thought about voyeurism in those contexts, but it certainly makes sense. It is the human response to innate curiosity. I'm Jace Hudson."
His hand enclosed hers in a warm, strong grip.
She felt rough calluses as their hands separated, giving clue to his rugged nature. Whatever this man did, it was not behind a pampered desk. That realization only enhanced Kat's interest.
Jace looked at the woman sitting in front of him. With the darkness, he could barely identify any distinguishing features, but he felt drawn to her in a way he could not explain. Jace watched as the lights from the dance floor flashed across her face and caught the aloofness in her eyes. The detached emotion was one he knew well; one he often saw in himself.
The nature of his work required a degree of separation from others. One could not serve in his capacity and maintain close relationships. He wondered what had caused the isolation in this beautiful womans eyes as she sat watching the exhibitionist couple. She managed to portray a heady combination of both loneliness and arousal.
The dim lighting made it difficult to tell the exact shade of her long, dark hair, which could have been anywhere from rich sable brown to inky black silk. Soft curves on her petite frame made him want to curve his hands around them. Jace had caught her scent as he walked up behind her an enticing blend of vanilla and peaches, with a darker hint of womanly musk that instantly made his blood heat. Her voice hit him like warm Kentucky bourbon, soft and seductive.
Her face wasnt what would be called classically beautiful, but very intriguing. With deep-set eyes, a small nose with a little turn at the tip, and full lips designed to be kissed. When shed turned around to look at him, a flash of the lights left him momentarily stunned by a glimpse of the most incredible green eyes hed ever seen. They were somewhere between emerald and sea- green, with brown flecks at the center, just like a cat. That thought presented out loud.
"Is it because of your green eyes?"
Kat chuckled. "No, actually my name is Kathleen, but nobody except my mother called me that."
Noticing that her reference to her mother was past tense, he wondered if that had something to do with the look in her eyes earlier. He watched as she closed her eyes and began to sway to the music thumping through the speakers surrounding the dance floor. Jace felt an overwhelming desire to see how she would feel moving in his arms.
"Kat, would you like to dance?"
Gasping, she responded with,"Oh, gosh, no...Idon't dance."
Jace was puzzled, considering their location and her apparently unconscious movements just moments ago. "You don't like to dance?"
"Oh, I love to dance, but only in my socks in the kitchen late at night."
He smiled. "Why is that?"
Kat looked straight into his smoky-gray eyes."Let's just say I don't like being judged based upon my lack of dancing skills."
"And who do you think would be judging you?"
Kat looked at him like he was a simpleton.
"Everyone," she stated.
"So, why come to a dance club?"
"Well, I let my friends think they were dragging me out to celebrate their engagement, but really I just needed the excuse to come listen to the music. I love letting the beat move through my body. There‘s something about feeling the rhythms as they blast through the air that can never be matched with any personal listening device. It's very stimulating."
Jace wasn't sure if she had meant that to sound seductive, but it definitely gave him stimulating images. "Okay, I have a solution for you. Come dance with me in the corner over there. We can feel the music together, but nobody will be able to see you"
Kat looked at the dark corner of the tented patio, and suddenly, all she could think about was his strong arms holding her in the dark. "Okay."
Kat and Jace headed out onto the dance floor, passing Kat‘s friend Amy without a pause. She gave a huge smile and thumbs-up sign, and Kat rolled her eyes. Amy was her best friend in the world, but her personality definitely had a silly side. One never knew when it would appear. A deeply rhythmic song began pulsing as Kat and Jace reached the corner.
As she moved into his arms, Kat noticed that Jace wasn‘t overly tall-maybe six feet-but since she was only five-four, she was a good fit in her high heels. His dark hair, crisply trimmed, gave the impression of discipline. The heat radiated from him, and she didn‘t think it was all due to the warm summer temperatures trapped under the tent. She felt his broad chest against hers. Her hands grasped his narrow hips, and her knees began to feel a little weak when he pressed one of his long legs between hers.