She did not know that I watched her.
It was better that way, more meaningful.
She knew me enough to smile a hello if she saw me as I was drawn in her wake. Living in a town of 40,000 has its conveniences: people recognize each other so there is no surprise at meeting a familiar pair of eyes, and if mine were always watching her then she could dismiss it as recognizing a face you could not put a name to yet.
I watched and thought that someday when she stopped dating the pretty boy I would talk to her, even if watching felt like it could be enough.
She lived across the street on the third floor of a brownstone. I did not notice her until I looked out my window early one morning. I had an early interview for a temporary teaching position at the local community college. I did not need the job but teaching young writers helped spur my own creativity. I had gotten up earlier than necessary to quell the interview butterflies. I took a cup of coffee to my window and stared out into the morning. There was nobody outside except garbage men. I thought about running outside to give them my bag, but it seemed more trouble than it was worth. A flash of white caught my eye making me turn my head towards it. She was bouncing in front of her television in white panties and a matching sports bra. Her, just below the shoulder, brown hair was in a ponytail and bouncing to the rhythm of her movement.
The brownstones around town usually had two twenty-four inch wide windows with a 36-inch separation between them. Her building was different: there was only one window taking up the space that other buildings put two in. My window was slightly above hers so I had an undisturbed field of view into her entire living room.
I watched her bounce, strain, and pump her way through her workout with the unbridled enthusiasm of an early riser. My coffee was cold before I took another sip. I discovered that energetic aerobics watching has some of the same effects as caffeine.
She finished her workout and moved deeper into her apartment. I must have been avoiding the peeping urge before, because as I studied my view I was amazed at the detail I could get into her apartment. I guess seeing her brought everything into focus.
I took a shower, changed into my interview clothes, and went to stand just inside my building door. Misfortune had bought me the building so I did not have to worry about anyone coming up behind me. My parents died in one of those faulty equipment industrial accidents. The bean counters thought the payout would be less than making financially unsound changes for something that might never be a problem. My parents had been successful and because of their background had led frugal lives. Their estate alone might have meant I only had to work to keep myself busy.
My uncle did not take his brother and sister-in-law dying in a preventable accident well. My father had paid for his law school and bought him a house as a graduation present so my uncle had been allowed to follow his heart as a left-wing legal crusader. The accident changed that for the time it took him to make everyone involved pay for my being orphaned and for losing a big brother he had idolized. The companies knew they were in trouble; we had the money to live well and the legal help was motivated and free. They kept coming back to my uncle with larger and larger settlements. I think he only stopped because he thought he might be setting an example of greed for me.
I used the second and third floor of the building for myself. My uncle's daughter lived in the first floor apartment with her new husband as the family did not want me to live alone.
She came out of her building, and I got lucky. She had parked her car in front of my steps. I opened the door, walked down the steps, and at a brisk pace passed in front of her car just as she got to the door. One quick look showed me what I wanted to see: violently dark eyes, the hair a light shade of honey brown instead of the dark brown I saw from my apartment. She was six inches shorter than me, and her body was lush. It is a disappointment that so few women can be described as voluptuously attractive. She did not have a socially defined perfect body, but you could not convince a teenage boy she was flawed. She was short and each part that described her as a woman was straw on a camel's back. Her breasts were too big for her frame, hips a couple of inches too wide, a waist a bit too tiny, thighs thick enough to squeeze the breath from your body, lips ripe, it went on and on. She was not mother-earthly, but she broadcast enough femininity to make pagans.
I walked away before she turned to look at me. I wondered at the speed my fascination had risen. I was more into the athletic than the baby-making hips type.
That was how it began.
I crossed her path time and time again. I bought her a drink as I left the restaurant she was walking into. I would walk down the main street on a Saturday morning and recognize her from a block and half away. We would pass close enough for me to smell her perfume. I spent a day finding that perfume. I liked to open the bottle at night letting the scent invade my bedroom. There was something of her that mixed with the perfume, but just the perfume was enough if I closed my eyes.
She went alone every two weeks to watch a movie and relax. I understood; it was relaxing to sit behind her.
There was now a ritualistic goodnight at my window. She had her own bedtime rituals, and they became a part of mine.
I woke up early on her aerobic days and had a cup of coffee by the window. A full time writer does not like to get up early in the morning, but my eyes snapped opened at the every day at the right time. I did not need the coffee, but it was cold comfort.
The worst was watching her with the pretty boy that she dated. He was why I kept my distance, or at least he was my excuse. He was her height and thin with shoulder-length blonde hair. I could almost feel the disdain he worked so hard to exude. I wondered why she went out with him when she overpowered his presence. From where I stood, she was too much woman for him.
The fifteenth night of my nighttime ritual was when I met him. I had walked to the window to say goodnight. She was dancing with the pretty boy, and I burned myself with the coffee in surprise. Not at him, she was swaying to the rhythm of her heartbeat.
I watched the motion of her hips enthralled. He was not taking advantage. A slow dance, alone in her apartment, the rhythm seemed made to run your hands over her, to touch wherever she allowed, and to hope that each pass convinced her to allow more of her to be explored.
He did nothing.
She was in charge. I wished I could wrestle with her for control of that passion.
Surprisingly, it was the first time I thought of being with her.
I smiled as he just let her push him down to the floor She started a slow strip. I do not remember much of our first time. I remember the movement of her hips, my heartbeat in my head. I remember the heat from her; I could feel it through our windows and across the street.
He killed me with not moving.
He lay passively as she straddled his hips. His hands should have been on her nipples, on her hips, reaching around to grab her full ass. She undid his pants, moved down his body while trailing clothing nipping newly exposed skin.
He lay there as if his pleasure were her job. He was not wearing underwear, or maybe she pulled them down with the pants. She crawled up until she had the alignment she wanted.
She had to go to him!
His hands did not come down to grab her hips and guide her, smoothing the transition into her body. I hated him in that moment for wasting the opportunity she was.
She reached between her legs and placed him carefully. Her head rolled back in a slow sigh of pleasure that screamed her enjoyment of the moment that a man became a part of her.
He did not move.
She rotated her hips in punishing slow circles.
I turned from the window and went to bed. I had my first eight am class at the community college. They had to be serious students if they were taking a creative writing class that early so I wanted to be at my best. Staying by the window would have done nothing but increase my frustration. He was waste of heterosexuality; even the voyeuristic pleasure of watching the object of your desire getting it was missing.
I stared at the ceiling in my room playing the film of how it should be. The slow roll of her head backwards, her mouth opening as a small gasp of surprise and pleasure escaped. I imagined the motion, the sound, but I was in her apartment underneath her. Beneath her for every sharp intake of breath, for every squeezing of her pussy around me as she got a step closer to her pleasure, for every scream as she peaked, for every orgasm I could draw from her body with mine.
He changed nothing.
My bedroom stayed scented with her perfume. I drank my cold coffee on the right mornings. I watched a movie every two weeks. I ate in the same restaurants, and she drank the same wine. I whispered goodnight every night.
I left her their privacy though.
My family began to worry. I had isolated myself more than ever and even the teaching position did nothing to relieve their fears. I had been close to my parents. I had been old enough to understand everything I lost but too young to handle it. My family could not help me; they also hurt. Before her, I made the effort to playact involvement but no longer felt the need to make believe if I had her in my life.
My cousin tried to make everything better with a series of ambush dates. She would corner me in the hallway on my way to class or get her husband to ask me to stop by for dinner. There would be a different female that I had to entertain at the table to go with the food. I never saw any of them past the dinner encounters, regardless of any pleading on my cousin's part.
It was five months after the first time I saw them having sex that we collided.
I had the writing flow going and was almost finished with a short story for one of those 'best of science fiction' collections. It was the first time I had been asked and thought I could gain readers if it was the right story. I had written three books; one had critical acclaim and the other two had my publisher doing good science fiction sales cartwheels. I had left class and gone right to my writing. I stayed there finishing the outline and half of the first draft before I realized I was late for our Friday goodnight.
I walked to the window expecting not to see her; the first time that would have happened in months. I looked outside and was surprised to see them standing in her living room facing each other. Their stances were hostile. He was yelling at her, backing her up, but I could see the explosion building. I would have turned away except as I said goodnight, she lost it. She was vibrant in anger. She waved her arms around, and the same passion that awakened during the dance came alive again. I could tell she was winning because his face was burning. He tried to interrupt but she would not allow it. She pointed towards her door obviously telling him to get out. I smiled at her knowing if he left she would follow him outside to apologize.
I do not know what caused it, what she might have said.
He slapped her with the suddenness of a snake and with the same intentions. She had not been expecting it so it turned her hard. Her hand came to the side of her face; she was stunned. I could hear his words in my mind.
"Fuck you, bitch!"
He stalked out of her apartment.
I was moving before I realized what was happening. I opened my closet and grabbed a pair of work gloves I used while doing small repairs on the building. I opened my door and moved slowly down the steps. I knew where he was going. The lizard part of my mind extracted the knowledge but did not allow the connections that would have made me doubt my actions.
I knew the path he would take to his home. I was half a block behind him when I turned outside my building towards him. The measurements were exact, every few feet I gained inches on him. The chase was so controlled that he never noticed my approach.
There was a narrow alley two blocks from his house. It was off a block with shops that closed early on Fridays. The lizard was better at timing and planning than I could ever be.
The pretty boy felt the menace at the last second and started to turn. I grabbed the back of his neck and put my other hand on the small of his back. I used the grip on his neck to bend him down and with a running start shoved him into a garbage dumpster. He tried to protect himself and got an arm up fast enough to not be knocked unconscious. I had followed behind his body to catch the bounce. He came off the dumpster, dropping away from it only meet my kick into the lower part of his ribcage. I gave him another kick higher up on his body which forced him against the dumpster. I stopped for a second and it was enough time for him to start to turn his head towards me.
The lizard part was still handling the planning and timing. He came into position to look at me, and at the same instant my fist crashed into him turning his face towards the ground. I kicked him again to keep him stunned. I picked him up by the belt of his pants and his shirt so that I could shove him into the wall by the dumpster. This gave me enough room to move to his other side. The lizard waited for him to start to get up before I kicked him in the same lower portion of his ribcage I had assaulted on the other side. I kicked him high again but had to lift him myself to punch this side of his face. He fell to the ground, and I took two steps back to give him time to recover. He lay on the ground and I thought I heard sobs.
I walked away from him without looking around to see if anyone had seen us. I did not care either way; some deep part of me was satisfied with what I had done. The beating had been necessary for my world to remain cohesive. I could not have stopped that slap, but I had not allowed it to go unanswered.
I had left the door to my building open. I shook my head at how little I had noticed on the way to the alley. I closed the door and checked our mailboxes. My cousin and I left them open since nobody else lived with us. I dumped the junk mail in a garbage can by the door.
I walked slowly up the stairs thinking about giving her up. I did not have to think about what any psychologist would have to say about that. It was the right time to approach her, and instead I was thinking of not seeing her again.
I closed the door behind me as I entered my apartment. I sat down at my desk before I noticed I was not alone. It was probably because the lizard had not gone completely to sleep; a feeling made up of one part in five hundred thousand, a scent dissimilar only to me from the perfume that painted my bedroom. I did not smell her, but my body did.
I walked to the front of the apartment with my lungs burning. She was staring out my window down to the street. I walked to the back of my sofa and put my hands on it. We stood there for a couple of minutes. She watched nothing on the street below and I thought about everything I could not say.
She turned her face towards me and stared. Her features were too strong for her to be just beautiful. She was wearing the black dress that she had put on for their usual Friday night date.
"Your doors were open," she said softly. She leaned her head to the side against the window frame and studied me.
"You saw, didn't you?" she asked. Her voice was almost a whisper, but all of my senses were focused on her. I was bathing in the mixture of her perfume and something else that called me.
I nodded again. There was nothing to say about what had happened to her, except it should not have.
She walked to the small table beside the door where I usually dropped my things as I walked into the apartment. I had not been thinking so the gloves had been placed on top. She picked them up and studied them closely. She brought them to her face and inhaled their smell. I walked over to her and pulled them gently from her hands. She looked at me surprised. I gave her what I hoped was a gentle smile. She had seen the blood that stained the gloves. I walked by her to open the closet door and placed the gloves in their real home. She watched me over her shoulder. She nodded what seemed like acceptance when I turned back to her.
She walked around the living room touching the few things I owned. It would have been an exaggeration to call my apartment Spartan. She picked up the few things small enough to and studied them. She looked at me after each item as if her study brought her closer to some truth about me.
I satisfied myself with watching her.
She moved back to the window and sat on the windowsill leaning back against the glass. She tilted her head towards her shoulder and studied me again. I did not feel uncomfortable.
"So you like watching me in the mornings?" she asked straightforward. I was surprised that there was no judgment in her voice, only curiosity.
I moved so that I was closer to her, on the wall near the door. I put my hands behind me and leaned back. I looked at the ceiling thinking about how to traverse the minefield in front of me. I went with what felt right.
"It's a reason to wake up," I told her. She smiled at me and I felt the lethargy of a cat stretching its claws coming from her.
"I have to admit; it's a reason to get up and do my workout," she said watching for my reaction.
I had to smile a little at that.
"And at night, why do you watch me then?" she asked moving to the side of the window that was closer to me.
I looked at her feet and traveled up her body. She was blushing when our eyes touched.
"I like saying goodnight to you."
"But you're not saying it to me," she pointed out.
"Does he say goodnight to you?"
I knew it was the wrong thing to say because her eyes flashed. She moved around the apartment looking at the same things she had before. I moved to her place at the window.
It was different to watch while she watched me, almost intimate.
"I see you around town a lot," she said trying a different approach.
"As much as I see you around town, some people would think bad things about you," she said.
"I could move away if you asked."
"I couldn't ask anyone to do that over a few glasses of wine," she dismissed the suggestion gently. She had circled the apartment until she could take my old position by the wall. She leaned her head against the wall and continued her study of me.
"I would just like..." she hesitated mid-sentence and closed her eyes in thought.
"I would just like to see you less," she continued.
"I would move away if you asked me to."
Her eyes widened as her head came down to meet my eyes. We stood there for a pair of silent minutes as she tried to take meaning from my statement.
"That's his blood on the gloves."
"Deserved," I told her turning to look out the window and into her apartment.
She moved to stand beside me.
"Have you watched us?" she turned her face to look up at me as she asked.
"Once." I admitted. I turned my face to look down at her.
"He wasn't very exciting." I continued.
"You were hoping for him to be exciting." she arched an eyebrow in a moment of humor.
"I imagine it's hard to burn against wet wood."
She laughed suddenly and moved away from me to circle the room again. She seemed lighter all of a sudden as if I had confirmed a suspicion of hers.
"Well, David," she said. "I was expecting to go out tonight, so I think it's your duty to substitute for the foolish."
She turned to look at me as I stared at her. She did the tilt her head to the side thing before she started giggling.
"You don't even know my name, do you?" she said swallowing giggles between the words.
"It hasn't mattered until now."
"Oh! It matters now?" she asked archly.
"You just asked me out. I figure that has to put us on a first name basis."
She nodded her head.
"Dacia," she said.
"Thank you." I replied.
"It was the least I could do considering you're buying me a VERY expensive dinner." She raised an eyebrow to see if I would say anything to that. I kept looking at her.
"I mean all that working out has to let me do a little splurging."
I shook my head.
"No?" she asked with her brow furrowing cutely.
"I was thinking more along the line of dancing."
"Hmmm." she made it a throaty sound almost of satisfaction. "You do know how to get to a woman's heart."
"I don't need a woman's heart," I said.
The eyebrow went up again.
"I want yours," I continued. "He can settle for 'a' woman's heart."
"Careful..." she said her voice dropping as she came close to me. "A woman takes those kind of words very much like a commitment."
She was standing close enough that I could feel the heat coming off her body. I looked away and moved from the window. She leaned against the window and licked her upper lip, not across but up and down.
I smiled at her. She arched the eyebrow and tilted her head. I felt special.
"I'm deeply committed to getting up early on the right mornings and whispering goodnight before you go to bed."
She put her hands on the windowsill and arched her chest towards me. It was a subconscious motion as she turned her head to look away from me.
"Is that all you want?" she asked turning her head to look at me again.
"If that was all I wanted, I would JUST buy you a very expensive dinner tonight."
"So dancing means something?" she asked starting to move towards me again. I allowed the heat to drift me towards the sofa and stood so that it was between us. She gave me a smiling pout.
"Dancing means something to you, and you might mean something to me," I replied.
"You know something. You throw those words around like they were nothing," she came close to snapping at me.
"You know something; I've never thrown those words around before," I said meeting her eyes.
"You're almost making promises here."
"No. A promise is he's never going to do that to you again," I said motioning with my head to the cheek he slapped.
Her hand came up to touch her face. I was around the sofa before I knew I had moved. She looked up at me as I pulled her hand away with mine and stroked her face with my other hand.
"I'm not making any promises about me, Dacia."
"Don't you think you're moving a little too fast?" she whispered as she turned her face to stroke my fingers with her skin.
"Should I move away?"
"Not before you take me dancing."
I stepped away from her heat and dropped my arms to my side.
"I have to finish something I'm writing first."
"For your students?" she asked and then realized she had revealed she knew more about me than she might have wanted me to know. I smiled at her slip.
"For a short story I was asked to write."
"A real writer?"
"Science fiction so in the eyes of a lot of people, no," I explained.
"My little brother would disagree. Would I impress him if I said you'd taken me dancing?"
"Hmm... so I might have someone on my side, huh?"
"I don't know. He worships me. He probably would want to beat you up a little."
"I don't know, something tells me he'll be happy enough to let this one slide just so that he doesn't have to play nice with your ex."
"You're making a lot of assumptions, David," she warned me.
"He's not your ex?" I asked quietly.
Her eyes froze at the tone of my voice.
"You do that very well," she said finally moving away from me.
"Chill a room."
"He is your ex."
"I didn't say it wasn't a safe assumption, I just don't want you making too many concerning me," she looked at me searching for something.
"The only assumptions I've made are; he's your ex, and I'm a better dancer than you are."
I turned away and walked into the kitchen to offer her a drink. I smiled as I heard her annoyed steps behind me.
"Excuse me, who's a better dancer?"
"I'm going to be about an hour with my short," I said looking into the refrigerator at what whites I had.
"Red," she said to get me to look at her.
I closed the door and opened a cabinet door that contained a small wine rack. I studied her for a minute and pulled out a Beaujolais. I got a wine opener out of a drawer and smiled at her.
"What is this about you being a better dancer?" she asked crossing her arms in front of her chest. I opened the bottle and pulled a decanter out of a cabinet along with a couple of glasses. I poured the wine into the decanter and motioned with my head for her to follow. She did with a slightly annoyed clicking of her heels on the floor.
I felt her slow down behind me as she took the opportunity to open doors and look into rooms. I walked into my library and put the decanter on the coffee table. I almost laughed that it took her ten minutes to satisfy her curiosity about the rest of the apartment. I wondered what she would do if I told her there was an upstairs.
She walked in and her eyebrow dared me for to say something. I poured two glasses and handed her one. She took a sip while looking at me over the glass.
"So what is this about being a better dancer."
"I've seen you dance remember."
"So you think I'm not a good dancer."
"I didn't say that you weren't good." I corrected her, " I said I was a lot better."
"A lot better?!"
"Look, Dacia. It's going to take me an hour to finish what I'm doing here. Then I'll show you, okay?" I said calmly but could barely contain the smile on my face.
She huffed herself into the chair and scrunched her eyes at me in an attempt to look mean. She could also not keep the humor from her face. I watched her get comfortable in the chair and thought she looked good in my apartment.
I put the glass by my computer and went back to work. I had trained myself in focusing while writing by allowing only one thing to break my concentration in any sitting. I chose sipping from the glass for this particular session.
The first sip she was watching me intently. Our eyes touched in a way that was only us touching. The second sip she was staring out the window thinking about something intently. I hoped it was solidifying her decision to dump the pretty boy. The third sip she was refilling her glass. Almost her body moving was too much for me to concentrate on my story again. The fourth sip she was staring at the table while her fingernail tapped on her wineglass.
I saved my work and archived the version of the story before I shut my machine down. She was watching me again and smiled as I got up. She flowed out of the chair and I could tell by her smile the wine and the hour of silence had relaxed her. I told her I needed to change, and she walked in front of me to my bedroom. She sat down on the bed, leaned back on one hand, and took a sip from her glass. She looked at me when I looked the obvious question at her.
"You got to watch me," she said by way of explanation. I smiled at her boldness but had to admit to myself it was only fair. I looked into my closet and chose a black silk shirt to go with some black slacks.
She moved beside me as I finished dressing and brushed at some imaginary dust on my shoulder. I looked down at her and our eyes met. We froze looking at each other.
I took her hand leading her to the living room. I picked up my wallet and keys. I walked us outside and to my car. I drove us to the club.
"I love this club," she told me as we pulled into the parking area, "But we can't get in on a Friday night. Look at the line!"
The line was fairly long and would not have been worth waiting on if I did not know I could get in.
"I like the name 'My Father's Club'," she continued, "It sounds like it has meaning."
I nodded as I slid into the tow away zone behind the club. She looked at the signs and then at me. She shrugged to herself.
I got out of the car and walked around to her end. She did the feminine turn of her legs and stood up when I opened the door. She had all the feminine wiles so we were only inches from each other, and even in the cool night the heat from her body warmed me.
"We're not going to get in David," she told me as I took her hand and led her towards the front.
I stopped and turned towards her.
"Why did you come to my apartment tonight?" I asked her.
She looked at me.
"I never felt like you were watching me. It felt like you were watching over me. I felt safe."
"I needed to feel safer tonight," she said looking at me.
"So trust me," I told her. She looked at me and touched her cheek. She smiled and nodded.
I walked to the front of the line. The guy at the door smiled at me and opened the door for us. The people at the front of the line started to grumble about that. He turned to give them a look that said the line would freeze until they left if anybody said anything else.
I could feel Dacia looking at me when I moved to the tables in the upstairs part of the club. One of the hostesses removed a reserved sign from a table that overlooked the dance floor. It was swing night so there was a lot of lively action. The band was very good at getting people moving. The waitress was by the table when we sat down and asked Dacia what she wanted.
Dacia looked impressed when the waitress did not have to ask for my drink but seemed to get exactly what I wanted.
"Do you come here a lot?" she asked me. The upstairs had been designed to buffer against the sound on the first floor so we only had to speak somewhat louder and be facing each other to be heard.
I shrugged and watched as Michael came towards us. I got up to shake his hand and he looked at Dacia expectantly.
"This is Dacia. Dacia, this is Michael, the club manager." I introduced them hoping Michael would catch the hint and make himself scarce.
Dacia seemed impressed with Michael kissing her hand. Michael had questions in his eyes when he turned to look at me but kept them firmly in check. He turned back to Dacia and told her to have fun tonight. He walked away and I felt more relaxed.
"That's how you can get in here. You know people."
I nodded; it was true that I knew people.
"So when are we going to dance?" she asked me.
"Finish your drink," I told her. "You need to be a little more relaxed if you want a hope at keeping up with me."
She gave me the evil eye but settled into her drink while watching the dancers on the floor. I watched her again struck by how right she looked in the club.
We made small talk while she finished her drink slowly. Finally, she pointed the open end of the glass to show me it was empty. I smiled and got up with her.
We walked to the dance floor, and she learned that I was a good dancer even if she might not want to admit I was better. She had fun as I kept the dancing basic. If she had been trained, she would have known how much better I was as I lead her effortlessly. She had the natural rhythm, but I did not let it get away from her. It took three songs before they played a slow one. She was laughing as she moved into my arms. Halfway through the song, she put her cheek on my shoulder and let the music take us away. The band broke out into a fast song again, and I kept her out there for a half hour. She could have been very good, and there was a joy to her steps that was contagious. The band broke out into another slow song, and we spent it looking at each other. Our faces came closer as the song progressed until our lips touched and not-touched for the last seconds of the song. I wanted to kiss her, but it seemed so much more to just touch lips.
She led me away from the floor and back to the table. The waitress came over and Dacia changed her order to a pitcher of ice water. I asked for some of the appetizers. The club had just enough food to make sure people did not have to leave to refuel.
Dacia was having fun telling me how I was not THAT much better than her, and it would only take some practice before I would be left in her dust. Her face was so excited that I satisfied myself with watching her as she kept talking. The waitress dropped the food off, and I looked up to see trouble.
Gloria was talking to Michael and looking over at us. Gloria was by most standards an Amazonian redhead. She was as tall as I was and built thickly. She had a brutal workout regimen that kept her natural size looking healthy. Gloria had also been hunting me for as long as I could remember.
People got out of her way when she focused on us and moved towards the table. I sat back and braced myself. Dacia must have noticed because she turned around and immediately noticed her. Dacia was as noticeable in any crowd, but Gloria did 'bearing down on you' very well.
I was surprised by Dacia's sharp intake of breath. Gloria grabbed a chair from a table as she passed and put it down by our table. She sat down and studied Dacia who tilted her head in her own study.
"Hello, I'm Gloria."
"Hello Gloria, I'm Dacia," she replied while putting her hand out.
"What are you doing with my man?" Gloria asked as she shook the offered hand.
"Gloria," I said quietly. Both ladies turned to look at me.
"He does that so well," Dacia told Gloria who only nodded having never heard me speak like that before. I had known Gloria since we were babies, and the only time she had not lived on the same block was when we went to different colleges.
"He did me a favor tonight," Dacia answered Gloria's original question.
"Do you mind if I dance with him?" Gloria asked.
"He is YOUR man," Dacia replied. They looked at each other communicating between them about me, but what was said I could not figure out. Finally, Gloria nodded and took my hand.
Gloria had been volunteered as my partner after my mother died. My family wanted me to maintain some continuity.
Gloria wanted to make sure that Dacia understood that we had history. It was obvious on the dance floor. People gave us plenty of space to do our thing. Gloria love swing, and she was a great follower. Most of our dancing was canned from the sets we practiced at our dance classes; there was more freedom to our movements tonight though. For the first time, I felt the heat from Gloria's body in the same way I felt Dacia's. She was laughing as we moved through some complex spins, and our bodies touched. We ended the dance with her legs straddling my thigh and our lips inches away. I led her back to the table laughing as her excitement swamped me.
She sat down and smiled at Dacia.
"He's never danced like that before," she told Dacia. The communication started between them again.
It was electric!
They talked to each other ignoring me so I watched the dance floor. Finally, Gloria stood up and whispered something in Dacia's ear. They both turned to give me identical mysterious looks. They turned to face each other and froze. They were inches apart and the electricity between them returned. I held my breath as their lips aligned almost naturally. They each gave a little shake and separated by inches. They kept looking at each other before breaking out into laughter suddenly.
Gloria kissed my cheek and waved to Dacia as she walked away from us. Dacia's eyes followed her.
"She's very beautiful," she said. Her tone made me think it was better not to say anything.
"You really are a lot better than me," she said looking back at me.
"My father met my mother in a club that sat right here." I told her. "My mom said he swept her off her feet. My dad wanted me to learn how to dance because if it was good enough to get him his perfect woman then how could I go wrong. My mother was my first dance partner and teacher."
I shrugged as I thought about them.
"So you had an unfair advantage," she teased me.
I smiled at her.
I watched Gloria pick up her summer jacket and look towards us on her way out. Dacia turned around in her chair to see where my eyes were. Gloria looked from me to her. They stared at each other for about fifteen seconds before Gloria broke out into a big smile and waved goodbye.
"So let's get to work on becoming better partners," Dacia said when she turned back to me.
"Excuse me?" I replied confused.
Her smile was wicked as she tried to look into me to get to what I had been thinking about. My thoughts had traveled to the hesitant leaning towards each other they had done.
"You make me feel safe."
I looked at her, and her smile was seductive. I got up to take her back to the dance floor. My mother had been like that; all knowing when it came to what my father and I were thinking.
Almost it scared me, but she made me feel safe.
The rest of the night was teaching her to allow me to lead now that she knew I was. Other dancers who wanted to trade dance partners interrupted us. We danced until Michael kicked us out so the staff could get out on time. She asked me to a local diner. We both had small salads and talked to hold off the next step as long as possible.
We were quiet on the drive to our apartments. I got lucky with a parking spot in front of her building. We sat in the car for a minute without saying anything. I decided I might as well make believe I knew what I was doing and got out to open her door. Her motion out of the car was even more feminine than at the club. She had made up her mind and stepped into me for our first kiss.
Her kiss crashed into me.
It did not, of course, but that is what it felt like to me. I could breathe her; it was only that the part of her that mixed with her perfume was more noticeable as our lips interlocked. It was almost too much for me: the feel of her lips, her scent, her arms moving to wrap around my waist, the pressure of my body touching hers, the taste of her. I was lost as I pushed her into the car and concentrated on one thing, her mouth on mine. It was a lost battle the moment her tongue came searching for a taste of me. I touched her tongue with mine and I felt.
I broke the kiss off to hold on to a piece of myself. She looked at me and her eyes hungered.
"Want to go start another bottle of wine?" I forced out as soon as I could break her eye contact. I looked back at her and she gave me a languid smile that said a lot that I wanted to hear.