Authors: Again the Magic
Kitt was sitting on the sofa, her knees pulled up and her arms wrapped around them, and now she rested her chin on one knee and smiled faintly at Ez.
"Well... I suppose if you look at it from that viewpoint, it was something of a breakthrough. Understand, though, it was all I could do not to pull away from him and run like hell. And the kiss was so quick, I didn't have time to react. He did it deliberately—I know he did. It's scary how much that man knows without anybody telling him anything." She paused and cocked an eyebrow at Ez. "Unless you said something to him?"
"No. I wouldn't. Not without talking to you first." He paused to give her a searching look and then continued, "He did ask me what had happened to you. Said you were obviously an overwound watch."
"Terrific. What did you tell him?"
"Just that you'd been through a bad patch some time ago and were still getting it together." Ez possessed a deep understanding and compassion that few people other than Kitt ever saw. His face reflected that perception now as he asked softly, "Do you want me to tell him what happened?"
"Hmmm... no... I don't think so. I don't know. Ez, I don't really know what to do or to think about it. It's all so out-of-the-blue—I never expected anything like this to happen."
"For what it's worth, I think any explaining should come from you. Oh, maybe not right now. It's got to be when you're ready to talk to him about it. But, Kitt, that's going to be the real breakthrough—when you can care about a man again, care enough and trust him enough to tell him about Leon and all that happened and ask him to help you."
"O'Mara. That's the man you think I can ask?"
"From what I remember of the way it was with you two that last summer, and from what I sensed tonight, I'd say he's probably the only one you'd ever be able to ask. You were both falling in love back then, and if you'd had a little more time, I think you both would have changed your plans and spent these years together."
"I've thought of that sometimes over the years," Kitt said pensively. "But, old saying, it was the wrong time and the wrong place."
"And now it's a different time and a different place, and it looks to me as though you're both picking it all up from where you left off." Ez smiled when Kitt shook her head in denial. "Oh, yes, Sis. What I could feel zinging back and forth between you two tonight wasn't anything like the
of love; it was a continuation of what you'd had."
"He said he'd found me again."
Ez stood up and stretched and then reached for Kitt's hands to pull her up. "Oh, he has, he has. But, then, you've found him again, too, and that may be the start of a full, complete cure. C'mon, you're out on your feet. It's been an emotional day for you, and right now you need sleep more than anything else."
Much to her surprise, Kitt did sleep, almost from the moment her head touched the pillow. It was a sound, healing sleep, and she awoke a little after seven feeling considerably calmer than she had when she'd watched O'Mara drive away the night before.
She stood and stretched, suddenly feeling energy surging through her body, and pushed open the shutters to see a beautiful, bright April morning waiting for her. Scooping Hero off the foot of the queen-sized bed, she bounded out the door and into Ez's room. He was still sound asleep, sprawled on his stomach diagonally across another big bed. She dropped the dog beside him and ordered, "Hero, wake Ez."
A banshee howl filled the room and echoed from the walls. Ez went straight up in the air and came to rest on his knees in the middle of the bed. Wearing only pajama bottoms, he looked formidable with the broad bare expanse of chest and shoulders rippling with muscles as he lunged across the bed, growling and reaching for Kitt. Still laughing, she leaped back and whirled out of the room.
"Hurry up and get dressed. It's a great morning and we've got time to take Hero for a run before breakfast," she called back.
It was a busy Saturday, and Kitt moved through the day filled with a sense of vital well-being. She rode with it, not trying to analyze the feeling of expectancy that kept bubbling through her. When Midge came in, they exchanged conspiratorial grins and needed no words to understand each other's mood. As it turned out, there was little time for talking anyway. It was a lovely, warm April Saturday, and the town was full of day-trippers and weekenders, at least half of whom seemed to find their way to the bookshop.
Ez strolled in a few minutes after five and lifted an inquiring eyebrow at the dozen or so customers still milling about the shop.
He leaned over the cash register where Midge was making change and said, in a whisper loud enough to rattle the windows, "I thought you were closing at five."
Kitt's laugh rang out from across the shop, and she called to the embarrassed Midge, "Ignore him, Midge. He's been out in the fresh air all day and is probably starving. Why don't you two run along? I know you've got reservations for dinner." She had gradually edged through the customers to the desk, and now, with her back to them, she scowled ferociously at Ez. Still in a carrying voice, she said, "I'm in no hurry to close up. It'll be another half hour or so before I'm through sorting out the art books."
Ez grinned unrepentantly. "Just trying to be helpful. Sure you don't mind if Midge leaves? We've got just time enough to change and make it to Ogunquit."
"Don't you want to change your mind and come with us, Kitt?" Midge asked. "You're going to be alone all evening— you did say O'Mara wasn't going to come by tonight, didn't you?"
"So he said, but we've got a dawn date tomorrow, and I'll be going to bed early. I'm fine. And you two don't really need a chaperone, do you?" Kitt teased.
"Hardly," Ez drawled. "Now that would really cramp my style." With one large hand encompassing her shoulder, he turned Midge around and propelled her ahead of him toward the door. "I'll run you home and then come back to change."
Kitt's evening was quiet. She'd let the late customers take their time, and it was almost six before she locked up and went upstairs to fix a light supper. After a short walk with Hero, she stretched out on the sofa to watch a spy movie on TV. She was so involved in the intricate plot that she didn't hear the phone until it rang for the second time.
Her hello was a bit breathless.
"Is that gasping expectancy, or did you run from somewhere?" Even softened, O'Mara's deep voice vibrated over the phone line.
"Hate to disappoint you, but it's neither." Kitt chuckled. "You startled me, and when I jumped for the phone, I fell over a hassock. Are you just getting in? How was the fishing? Did Gus catch anything?"
"Yes. Great. Yes. And I also caught a few, nice of you to ask. Have I lost you to my son even before I had a chance to get a firm grip?"
"Possible, possible. He's a charmer. Can't imagine where he gets it, unless it's from the same source as those very blue and sexy eyes."
"Are you flirting with me, Miss Tate?"
"Feel safe at the other end of a phone line, do you?" His voice dropped to a suggestive murmur. "Try it in the morning when you're an arm's reach away."
"Is that a tinge of panic? No need. It'll all come in its own good time. What are you doing?"
"Watching a spy movie, except I've just missed the ending. Ez took Midge out to dinner and whatever. I decided they could manage without a third party. I'm going to bed in a few minutes, since you're hauling me out at that ungodly hour in the morning."
"I'd love to suggest a more convenient arrangement, but... maybe next time." O'Mara's soft chuckle set up vibrations in the pit of her stomach. "Are you blushing, my Kitt?"
Drat the man!
Her face was flushed, and she groped for words.
Amusement threaded his voice as he asked, "Speechless, love? We'll have to discuss this odd habit you're developing of blushing and stammering when you talk with me. You didn't used to do it."
"I'm not... you... you're impossible, O'Mara. And I'm going to bed. See you in the morning."
"Good night, love. Dream nice dreams—preferably about me." And with that provocative comment, the connection clicked off, leaving Kitt, with a bemused expression on her face, staring at the buzzing receiver.
Moving in something of a fog, she turned off the TV, wrote a note asking Ez to take Hero out and got ready for bed. She set the alarm and, after turning out her light, opened the shutters to let the moonlight fill the room. Tall and slim in her tailored pajamas, she stood by the window for a few minutes enjoying the silver night before sliding into bed. She stretched out hill length on her back, ankles crossed and hands clasped behind her head. She closed her eyes but could still see a faint glow of the bright moonlight through her lids.
Dream of me.
The deep purr echoed in her mind. She could picture his face, the lazy smile, the warm blue glow of his eyes only inches from her own. Her breath caught as the hazy picture became actual memory, and she let it all flow back, realizing just what scene her mind had brought up from her subconscious. It was the last part of their last evening together so many years ago.
They'd gone with Ez and his date to the end-of-summer dance at the hotel. It had been an evening of magic and moonlight, the kind of evening that every girl dreams of having at least once in her life and that she remembers nostalgically for years afterward.
It was a formal dance, and her gown was a whorling blue-green swath of supple jersey, with a halter top that left her shoulders and back bare. She delighted in the silky, sensual feel of the long skirt swirling about her legs as she and O'Mara moved in perfect harmony around and around the ballroom in an endless waltz. Her high heels made it easy for him to rest his cheek against hers, and she could feel the warmth of his breath on her bare shoulder. Warmth, the slow golden warmth of honey spreading over her nerve ends, glowing into heat where he touched her—her bare back where his hand slowly stroked the smooth skin; her thighs as they brushed against his in the movement of the dance; the side of her breast pressed against his hand clasping hers between them. They didn't talk. They lost themselves in their senses, aware only of each other in a world that turned and glided in rhythm with faintly heard music.
She was so lost in a dream that she never knew the moment when he slowly whirled her through the open French doors and down the wide veranda overlooking the beach. Gradually, she realized that the distant music was only a thread of melody over the sound of the sea, and that he had both arms around her holding her close to the lean, hard length of his body. She blinked her eyes open, momentarily dazzled by the silver blaze of moonlight, and turned her head to meet his dark, intense gaze. Caught in the gleaming indigo net, she was vaguely aware that at some point she had wound her arms around his neck and that they were no longer dancing but standing still against the veranda railing.
His mouth touched hers, gently at first, and then as her arms tightened and her eyes closed, he deepened the kiss, the pressure of his mouth opening hers for his exploring tongue. There was no thought; it was all sensation and response. She could feel his muscles tensing and swelling as his hands pressed firmly down over her hips, the strong fingers curving and gripping as he pulled her tightly against the warm hardness of his body. The growing urgency of his tongue sent a white glow of heat surging up from deep within her to jolt the breath from her lungs. Her hands clenched desperately in his hair as she feltweakness spreading down her legs and heard a roaring in her ears.
Slowly, awareness returned. She was still in his arms, but held more gently now, and his hands were soothingly stroking her back. Her face was against the curve of his neck, his head resting on hers. She felt his lips brushing her ear as he whispered, "Shhh, my Kitt. It's all right, now. I didn't mean to let things get so out of hand."
Her voice was a mere breath, and he felt her words more than he heard them as she asked, "What happened to me?"
"You blacked out for a few seconds." There was a thread of laughter in his voice when he added, "I always knew there was a strong potential for passion between us, but I never imagined it would knock you out if we let go a bit. Next time I kiss you like that, I'll make sure we're lying down."
"Are you going to kiss me like that again?" Anticipation strengthened her voice, and she lifted her head to look at him.
"Do you want me to?" he teased.
"Yes!" She laughed joyously. "What I'd really like to know is why you didn't do it before. You've kissed me a dozen times this summer, but never like that." Her voice was gently scolding, but the smoky eyes were glowing with desire.
His arms closed around her, one hand sliding into her hair, and he held her tightly for a long minute, his head lowered to press his warm mouth against her neck. The brush of the balmy night breeze felt cool on her overheated skin when he stepped back, holding her away from him with his hands on her shoulders.
"You weren't ready before. I'm not at all sure you are now." For a moment, his face was somber, and then his expression lightened as he smiled and said, "Come on, let's walk home along the beach."
Kitt abruptly opened her eyes and sat up, pulling her knees up to wrap her arms around them. The room was bright with moonglow. She turned her head to stare out the window, not really seeing the lacy silhouettes of her plants. It's all as clear as if it happened yesterday, she mused. How can I possibly remember so much detail after so long? She smiled to herself as she recalled the oh-so-interested looks that the women had given him as she and O'Mara had strolled into the ballroom.
Lord, he'd been handsome that night—I couldn't blame them for staring, although some of them were old enough to be my mother! Only someone as tall, broad-shouldered and totally male could have gotten away with the lace and ruffles of that lemon-yellow shirt. But it had looked great with the deep blue dinner jacket. We must have been moon-mad that night, walking two miles home along the beach and leaving his car sitting in the hotel lot! Good thing Ez had known how to hotwire it so he could get his date home.