Author's disclaimer: Don't own 'em, never will. Don't sue
Between "The Edge" and "All The Queen's Horses"
Authors's Notes: TYK to Courser (I work fast, don't I?). I'm sending it to her and she can send it to the list. I'm not allowed to post direct to the list at all any more, and after this Sunday, my outgoing email dies entirely...I'll just be allowed to check until the Sunday after that, when it's goodbye to EVERYTHING!. She helped me work out the steps and avoid those nasty toe accidents. Oh, and the author highly recommends that the reader find a way to see "Mask of Zorro" with Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Not only is it a pretty fun movie, but you'll get a chance to see this dance actually performed. Imagine Paul and Camilla taking over for Antonio and Catherine, and you'll see what I'm talking about! J
He was beginning to seriously question why he was there in the first place.
Certainly, his previous experience with one of the Canadian Consulate's black tie events hadn't been entirely bad. In fact, he'd had a pretty good time, once he had gotten to take off that uniform. Ray really didn't know how Benny could stand to wear something that itched that badly without ripping his own head off. As it was, he'd only been able to stand it for a few hellish hours before he had been forced for his own sanity to trade it in for a beautifully tailored - and he was proud to say, personally owned - Armani tuxedo.
The buffet had been delicious, choked with smoked salmon, fine wines, and french pastries light enough to evaporate on your tongue in a smooth touch of butter. The conversation had been boring as hell, but he had compensated for that by finding a particularly exquisite Scandinavian woman to dance with. She was all legs and curves and sky blue eyes and cascading blonde hair, and to top it off, she didn't speak a word of English. Instead, she just smiled at him through two waltzes and a foxtrot, also proving to be most agreeable to a slightly lower than usual hand placement.
Of course, the coup of that particular evening had come at the end. It was really a stroke of luck. He'd taken up the doorman thing again while Benny ran in to dance with that runaway bride they'd spent all day trying to give the invitation to. Seeing that penguin-suited bastard who'd deliberately splashed mud all over his boots was just a bonus. He hadn't actually known that when he frisked he would find 'recreational chemicals' as Benny had called them.
That had been a good way to end a good night. Unfortunately, this was turning out to be a bad way to end a bad night.
Benny had gotten him an invite to this one over the 'recreational chemicals' thing, and also because of Ray's involvement in uncovering the whole Gerrard mess and in saving the NAFTA convention. The cop knew that even with those reasons his friend had cited, it still probably took a lot of groveling to get the Dragon Lady to write "Detective Raymond Vecchio" on one of those fancy little embossed invitation cards. After all that, it had never been a question if he would come or not.
It was turning out to be a very large question as to whether anything could be done to redeem the evening. No, he hadn't stood guard half the night, and he hadn't gone dodging bullets in mounds of garbage. He was, however, beginning to wish that he had.
He'd been stupid enough to mention to Benny that he'd had a great time with that Scandinavian blonde. In what he assumed was either a gesture of naive friendship or thinly veiled sadism, the Mountie had found him a Scandinavian blonde.
All he knew about her was that her name was Elsa, that she was Scandinavian, blonde, spoke no English, and oh yes, bore absolutely no resemblance to the woman he had spent the previous evening with. She was several inches taller than Ray's own six feet, as well as having about fifty pounds advantage on the cop. Her massive cleavage was revealed by the low neck of her distressingly form-fitting black dress, and he kept having visions of her with a breastplate and horned helmet, belting opera at the top of her lungs.
This was a Valkyrie, an avenging Viking warrior woman designed to crush men like most women crushed roaches.
The entire night had been spent pressed up against her vast body, being physically propelled around the dance floor as he desperately attempted to keep his toes intact. She didn't seem to tire, and had not missed a single dance. Ray had only been able to sniff at the buffet as he was hauled past it, nearly smothered by the twin mounds of pale flesh that she continuously pushed his face into.
Several times, he had tried to escape, but each time she had only laughed and pulled him firmly back, ignoring his insistent pleas with a terrifyingly girlish giggle. She was strong as an ox, and he knew that he was going to bear bruises where she had clamped onto his forearm. He'd called out to Benny once, but the Mountie's attempt at taking his place had been completely ignored.
After the second failed attempt at escape, he began to wish he had his gun. Not for her. For him.
He was beginning to lose his sense of time. No longer was he thinking about surviving to the end of the evening, or even the end of the dance. It was living from one step to the next, catching his next breath with his face buried and his ribs squeezed like a vise. Was this how prisoners of war felt?
Finally, he had no choice. It went against everything his Ma had ever told him, but he didn't think that even Ma could fault him this time. He stepped on her toe. Not simply the accidental treading that he had already committed several times, but a good, hard stomp. Every ounce of his hundred and seventy pounds was behind that stomp, and he willed the leviathan to a halt with the Italian footwear.
Elsa stopped. Her blue eyes in her round face welled with tears as she looked in Ray's face and saw the look of a caged animal reflected back at her. Storm clouds gathered in her eyes, and he winced. She was gonna kill him. Better to die now than keep dancing.
To his surprise, she didn't kill him. Instead, she merely yelled something in Scandinavian that he had the feeling wasn't all that complimentary, then slapped him. It was the kind of slap after which you are not entirely certain that your head is still attached to your body, and Ray reeled, stumbling back several steps. He was painfully aware not only of the throbbing in his cheek and the possibility of having lost several teeth, but also of every eye in the room being on him as Elsa stalked off.
He didn't care. He didn't care if the Pope himself was watching. He was a free man.
Still rubbing his cheek, he stumbled off towards the buffet. Maybe there would still be something to salvage from this evening after all.
Ray wondered how long he was in the clutches of the giantess? Two hours? Three? It had to be at least two, for now that she had finally released him, sweaty and rumpled and gasping for air, the gala was almost over. The smoked salmon of the buffet had been picked over, the wines depleted, and even the dance floor was beginning to thin.
Despite his exhaustion, he began to plot a series of truly evil things he could do to retaliate against Benny for this one. He was no longer willing to believe that the Mountie had innocently assigned that monster to him, and he was going to make sure that the torture was paid for in spades.
He'd get Dief a line of credit at Dunkin Donuts in Benny's name.
He'd tell Frannie that Benny wanted to marry her, but was too shy to propose.
He'd tell Frannie when Benny was on guard duty, and let it slip that he wasn't allowed to move, no matter what was done to him.
He'd volunteer Benny to sing in the Saint Michaels choir every Sunday for the rest of his natural life.
He'd deliberately go into Benny's office and mis-file every sheet of paper he could get his hands on.
He'd steal the hat.
As Ray plotted the Mountie's demise, he slowly worked his way down the buffet line, selecting the remaining acceptable bits of food from the evening's rubble. As he reached the wine at the end, he became aware of someone watching him. Not only someone watching him, but someone smirking at him.
Turning sharply, he saw it was the Dragon Lady. She stood there almost too leisurely, a glass of champagne held loosely in one manicured hand. Her admittedly nice figure was clearly outlined by a sleek black velvet halter dress that fell to the floor, a long slit up one side exposing more leg than he though Canadians would be allowed to expose. Her hair was perfect, falling in a gentle wave over one eye, the other side secured with a crystal bobby pin. Her makeup was perfect, her pale skin not showing the slightest hint of sweat.
And she was smirking at him. Smirking at him like some damned Goddess, looking down at the mortals from her ivory pedestal.
Ray felt a sudden urge to rub his creme puff in her face. "What's your problem?"
"No 'problem', Detective." Forget the creme puff. The remains of a lemon meringue pie were just within arm's reach... "I was simply admiring the grace and diplomacy you've demonstrated tonight."
His hand moved towards the pie. "That's really interesting, coming from you." Ray allowed the scorn he was feeling to seep into his voice, and he was rewarded by a dangerous flash in the hazel eyes.
Fingers clutched the edge of the pie tin. "I didn't see you out there dancing." He paused, thinking. "In fact, I didn't see any of you Mountie-types out there even once." The pie was forgotten now as he turned to face her fully, long arms crossed over his chest as he allowed a smirk of his own. "What's the matter, Inspector? They don't teach dancing at Mountie school? They teach you how to bitch at Constables and kiss up to diplomats, but not how to survive a waltz?"
Oh, this was gonna be good. The fire in her eyes built up higher and higher, then suddenly, the blaze abated to a coolness that sent a shiver down Ray's spine. He'd been trying to make the Dragon Lady blow, to humiliate herself by losing her cool in front of everyone. Whatever had just clicked in that brain of hers could not be a good sign.
Her voice was like silk ribbon wrapped around the claws of a tigress. "I assure you, Detective, we are trained in the full range of diplomatic skills."
With that, she swept away, and Ray felt himself relax. That hadn't been half as bad as he had thought. Maybe she was losing her edge.
Then he realized that her path was taking her on a direct line towards Benny, who was standing off in one corner, talking to some old guy about trade something or other. From the determination in her stride, she was planning on doing something significant when she got to the Constable, and Ray's attention returned. If he'd pissed off the Dragon Lady as badly as it looked like he had, he might not have to bother with stealing the hat.
The Inspector's fingers clamped onto Benny's sleeve as with only a few brusque words of explanation, she hauled the poor officer into the middle of the dance floor. Ray leaned back against the wall, his plate and his recent horror with Elsa forgotten. From the look of sheer fury and determination on Thatcher's face and the confusion on Benny's, this was going to be interesting.
The loss of his uniform really should have warned him to approaching disaster.
It hadn't really been lost, Ben reminded himself, just...soiled. Rather severely. Ray might have held the belief that he had been Scotchguarded at birth, but even that couldn't handle an approaching tidal wave of several thousand gallons of melted ice cream from a grenade-ruptured industrial vat. Thus, the red serge was currently residing at the cleaners, which was where his second uniform had already been sent due to the pickles in the sewer incident of two days past.
Inspector Thatcher had not been pleased to say the least when he showed up in a hastily-rented tuxedo in lieu of the dress reds. She had been further displeased when Ray had arrived, although she had already agreed to inviting him. Diefenbaker's little indiscretion with the eclairs hadn't helped either, and had gotten him relegated to Ben's office for the night.
The Constable himself had been relegated to conversing with the guests. He would never have considered actually complaining, but occasionally - ever so occasionally - he wondered if she steered certain people towards him on purpose. The evening's conversational partners had been singularly uninteresting, even for a someone whom Ray had once accused with being fascinated with watching moss grow. That, of course, was ridiculous. The Detective simply didn't understand how intriguing that could actually be, if one knew a thing or two about moss.
Perhaps the Inspector was punishing him. The vat incident hadn't been his fault, and the criminal had been apprehended, but that rarely mattered with her. He had stood guard for less. She couldn't make him stand doorman without his dress reds, but from the looks he had been getting from her all night, he had a feeling that as soon as they were ready, he would be protecting the Consulate from the next month's worth of interlopers.
Ray probably wouldn't even be willing to rescue him with a few interesting cases between shift. He seemed to have misunderstood his friend's request for a dancing partner. Elsa Karlsdottir had been the only guest fitting Ray's description, and while he had initially thought that she wasn't his 'type', she had seemed most eager to dance. He hoped that Ray would understand that he had quickly realized the mistake, and indeed tried several times to rectify it, but somehow he doubted that any significant understanding would be forthcoming.
He sighed, dejectedly swirling the seltzer water in his glass as he forced himself to listen to the Argentine diplomat's broken English as he went on and on about the RCMP. Normally, it was a topic that he was quite eager to discuss, and was in fact extremely knowledgeable about every facet of his chosen organization. Unfortunately, the diplomat's version of Mounties seemed to have been entirely formed from Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, and he had become very irate when Ben had tried to correct him.
Suddenly, a hand gripped his arm with a strength that belied it's small size. Startled, he nearly dropped his drink, but managed to set it on a side table as he was hauled bodily away. The cup safe from spilling on the Consulate's rug, he turned to try and identify his kidnapper. His eyes widened. "Inspector?!"
Ben had never seen her like this before. Her body was tense with palpable defiance, and he felt the distinct tingle of fear shiver up his spine as she dragged him into the middle of the dancers gracefully waltzing around the floor. There was no "would you like to dance, Constable", nor any other form of pleasantry. Instead, a very confused member of the RCMP was simply pulled into the middle of the dance floor and deposited there while his superior officer went off to confer with the band.
His mind reeled. Had she completely lost her mind? What on earth was she planning? A range of possibilities spiraled through his imagination from verbal reprimand to flogging, all of them involving his public humiliation. There really could be no other reason that Inspector Thatcher would suddenly want to do something with him when she was this furious at him.
Every muscle in his body tensed as she approached again. She looked like a she-wolf, sleek, dangerous, graceful and beautiful in a vaguely terrifying sense. He remained stock still as she took his hand. She raised it as she stood away from him as far as their joined hands would allow, her other arm held gracefully away from her body like a ballet dancer.
Thatcher's eyes burned with a suddenly sultry light that took his breath away. Standing there like that, her hand in his, her body a strange mixture of tension and grace, he was reminded of her sheer feminine beauty with the force of an avalanche hitting a house of cards. *This is not good this is not good this is not good this is not good!!!!* The little voice rang through his head in chorus with the alarm bells screeching through his body. What in heck was she thinking?!
Her tongue flicked out, moistening her lips, then the soft, ruby-painted flesh parted, releasing a whisper meant for his ears alone. "Do this right, and I'll let you live."
This? What was 'this?"
His question was answered by the clear, bright notes of a trumpet from the band. Ben recognized the Latin melody immediately, and his suspicion was only confirmed when she came spinning along the line of their arms, wrapping herself in his embrace as she flew in close. Their eyes met, a question asked and answered in a fraction of a heartbeat.
Yes, he knew what she was doing. Yes, he knew the dance. The confusion in his eyes, however, only heightened with that revelation. This particular dance was rather...spirited. He doubted seriously that it would be appropriate for two professional law enforcement officers to engage in, but Thatcher was his superior officer, and he was obligated to follow her orders.
Continuing the momentum and direction of her spin, he caught her against his right forearm, releasing her from his left as she let herself drop against the support he provided. Her arms were thrown back, her neck and spine arched like a cat in an almost impossibly sinuous line, as though she had melted against him. She had barely the time to fall into that position when he used the arm at the small of her back to push her upright.
She spun into the same position against his opposite arm, almost giving the effect of throwing her from arm to arm. Her body was loose, sinuous, seeming to have completely abandoned all stiff constraints of bone in favor of glorious flesh and muscle.
Ben knew that his own motions were technically flawless, delivered with a smooth grace, yet he was still to puzzled to exhibit the complete intensity that seemed to have gripped the Inspector. She was like a barely contained wild animal, not merely dancing, but performing with all her heart and soul as though trying to brand the entire room with her fire.
Even if that were not her intention, the tuxedo was certainly getting a bit warm. Was it possible that only twelve beats of music had passed? It seemed like an eternity.
Thatcher curled up from her loose drape over his forearm. They were standing hip to hip at each other's sides now, turned to face one another as they began the next step of the dance. His hand and arm slipped around her slender waist, his fingers seeming to sear themselves against the texture of the velvet and the slight give of her body beneath it. At the same time, her own arm was encircling his own waist, slipping under the tuxedo jacket and wrapping around the cummerbund, her fingernails dragging slowly over his back.
It really was beginning to not matter all that much why she wanted to do this dance. Her eyes were locked with his as they turned together, a slow, almost lazy circle. Faces moved closer and closer, only a breath apart, now half a breath. He could feel her heart beating, smell her heady scent, see the few dark hairs that had already fallen from her sleek style to drape like black gossamer threads over her creamy forehead.
They turned like this twice, moving as the single being that they had melted into. It took all his willpower to pry his fingers away from her as she slid past him at the end of the second turn. He followed, turning to wrap his other arm around her waist now, the arm that had previously been granted the privilege now held free and away. They repeated the same slow, sensuous turn twice in the opposite direction, then the band abruptly began to change it's rhythm.
The music pounded harder now, faster, the trumpet brighter and more insistent. Improvising to handle his lack of castanets, the drummer clacked his drumsticks against the sides of the drum. It was like a heartbeat, moving them faster and faster, harder and harder.
His own movements now matched hers in intensity. Ben had completely forgotten that he was at a supposedly official function. Indeed, the fact that he and the beautiful woman he was holding were not the only human beings in the universe would have, at that moment, come as a distinct surprise.
Ben released her, allowing her to continue the arc of their circle with a single twirl. Her arms were held high above her head, her movements parting the slit on the side of her long, black dress, offering a tantalizing glimpse of perfectly formed pale leg that pushed his thoughts even farther into the realm of the unprofessional. Moving quickly, he followed her path, ready to catch her hand in his.
For a moment, Meg (*Inspector Thatcher*, you fool, when did it become *Meg*?!) passed by him, then stopped, engaging in a short, teasing feint back and forth, as if flirting with the question of which way to turn. He matched her motion for motion, blue eyes never leaving hazel. Decision finally made, she switched hands, then began to twirl beneath his upraised hand with the speed of a Turkish dervish.
The crystal bobby pin flew away in a glittering arc as she spun, releasing her hair to cascade down like a flow of dark molten chocolate. She was a blur of dark hair, white skin, red lips, flashing eyes, and midnight black dress. The rapid twirl lifted her skirt away from her legs completely, their smoothly curved lines moving with impossible precision as she negotiated the high speed in higher heels.
Finally, the last revolution brought her flying into his arms, her small body almost crashing into his. Every centimeter of her form from ankles to neck was pressed up against him, sending his already well-honed senses to heights that he had not thought humanly possible. One sinuous arm slipped behind his head, pulling his face down as she leaned back against the arm supporting his back. It was another boneless swooning motion, only this time, his face was being pulled along for the ride.
His lips brushed down the line of her neck, skimming briefly across the thin gold necklace she wore before slipping towards the inviting mounds that swelled and heaved with each breath. Meg had actually pulled his lips well below her collarbones when she stopped. With a sudden, almost violent motion, she pushed away.
Ben knew it was part of the dance, but the abrupt revoking of the teasing promise stoked the fires already blazing at an intensity that would have sent their RCMP superiors into a coma. For once in his life, however, Constable Benton Fraser could honestly say that he didn't give a damn what the RCMP thought.
Her original motivation had been Detective Vecchio. The honor of the RCMP, not to mention her own personal annoyance with the damned American had been at stake.
She was not, as he seemed to believe, some stuffed-shirt who had slept her way up the rungs of the ladder that political correctness couldn't scale. Inspector Margaret Thatcher was an accomplished field officer who had placed her derriere in harms way as often as any man. She had been shot once, stabbed twice, and received several field commissions for valor. And thanks to a summer spent in Europe, she *could* dance.
Thankfully, so could Constable Fraser.
Unfortunately, Constable Fraser could not only dance well, he could dance very, very well. Distractingly so, in fact. With his body pressed against hers and his hands and arms winding across her skin, Meg was having considerable difficulty remembering that this was all a performance to shut Vecchio up once and for all. It was hard to remember things like that when you had a dancing partner as edible as...
*NO! He is *not* 'edible'. Junior officers are not in the same class as chocolate bars.* But oh, he did look just as good as any Godiva truffle or Hershey's kiss. Indeed, his skin was the pale, creamy color of fine white chocolate, his hair a perfect dark syrup contrast. She wondered if he would even taste sweet.
Clamping a firm lid on the inappropriate desires that were beginning to suggest themselves, she pushed away from his grasp. Slowly, chin held high, she took a long, gliding step backwards. Her arms were stretched high over her head, her wrists and fingers held loosely in a flourish that smoothed the otherwise harsh line. Meg kept her eyes locked on the perfect blue orbs of her partner.
He took a step closer, matching her, moving in perfect rhythm to the music. His own arms were swept down and back, as if imploring why she had left him. A wicked smile spread over her face, and she threw her arms down towards him, curling her body down as she fell into what was almost a deep curtsy, nearly bowing before him.
It was an almost violently executed motion, like so many in this dance. This was a difficult dance, especially for the woman, which was why she had chosen it. When done properly, it showed off the skill of the dancers to an amazing degree. For the woman, it was all twirling and fast, strong movements, throwing the head and body back in poses that made it seem as though the spinal column had been completely removed. For the man, it was grace and elegance and strength and perfect timing. For an audience, it was breathtaking.
For a couple...for a couple, she was quickly realizing, it was dangerous as all hell. It was a sensual dance to say the least, but she had always been able to separate the dance from the dancers. This time the lines were blurring.
The desire in Fraser's eyes certainly seemed real enough, but then again, it could all be part of the act. It was supposed to be a passionate dance, wasn't it? The kind of dance that you simply can't pull off if you're playing it cool. Still, that look, that burning hunger in the icy blue, it seemed to be beyond the realm of simply dancing.
Quickly, she dispelled the thoughts. This was Constable Fraser, for God's sake. The man probably wouldn't know a carnal impulse if it bit him in the ass.
That assurance made her feel a little better as she came up again, gracefully raising her arms as she took another step back. Again, Fraser countered with a step forward, only this time, when his own arms were thrust back, it was with a shrug of his shoulders and a quick tug on the sleeves of his tuxedo jacket. The black cloth fell away behind him.
Meg gasped. Disrobing was *not* a dance step she remembered! She almost called a halt to the entire thing right then and there, but then she stopped herself. Her halter dress gave her complete freedom of movement. He had probably discarded the jacket for the exact same reason...to be able to move. Why was she getting so paranoid as to think otherwise?
As if challenging her own timidity, she turned away from him, looking with open flirtation back over her shoulder as she struck the classic flamenco dancer's pose. One arm up and curved slightly over her head, one arm down and curved at the wrist, her leg extended to the side to expose it through the slit of her dress.
She held it for the four heartbeats it took him to half step, half glide to her side. Then he gently took her hands, turning her to face him. Her heart was hammering wildly now, and she wasn't sure whether it was from the exertion, or from what her eyes were soaking in so greedily.
He was a beautiful man.
Oh, certainly, she had noticed before that her junior officer was attractive. She would have had to be dead not to, and indeed, that had been part of what had raised her initial suspicions against him. Never before had she met a man who had been granted good looks who hadn't also considered himself God's gift to women.
Standing before her now, hands clasping hers, was a living, breathing
exception to that rule. His features were like those of a diagram in
an art book. Everything was so perfectly formed, so perfectly balanced
and sized as to be almost unrealistically classical, almost impossibly
handsome. The smoothness of his features belied his age, making him
late-twenties than the mid-thirties she knew to be the case. His eyes were rimmed with lashes any woman would envy, their color as bright and clear as a Yukon sky. Lips were full but not pouting or girlish, and she felt a desperate urge to explore them with her own, to devour him whole.
Their hands raised sharply above their heads, pulling their bodies together rapidly enough to take her breath away. For the briefest of moments, their noses were touching, black velvet dress pressed to white shirt and black trousers. Then she was thrown back again, out to arms length, her body arcing backwards with the momentum. Her torso was almost parallel to the floor, her head tossed back in a posture of almost orgasmic ecstasy.
In and out. In and out. So close that she could count the flecks of silver-gray that lent thundercloud intensity to his sky blue eyes. Then so far, thrown back and again arched like a cat in the sweet frustration of being pushed away once more. The motion was repeated four times, each time turning slightly so that the series of four turned them in a full circle.
As he tossed her away the last time, he released her hand, letting her spin away, eyes flashing with the sheer physical excitement of it. Dancing. So primal, so raw and sensual and physical. It was motion and passion and sweat and drama and acting and reacting and timing and chemistry...damned if it wasn't the whole human saga wrapped up in a series of movements that could rip your breath away and leave you feeling as drunk as any wine.
Once again, her every motion a verbal exclamation point, she struck the flamenco dancer's pose, tossing her head back to remove the strands of hair that had fallen to block her vision. Again, he came up behind her, only this time, his hands slipped around her waist. His body pressed against her back, and she could feel the movement of his chest with every breath, feel his muscles flex in anticipation of the next moves.
Her own hands came down to cover his, her fingers entwining with his, her arms crossed across her body as she leaned back against him. Meg turned her head just enough to look into his eyes out of the corner of hers. It was a good thing, she reasoned, that 'sparks flying' wasn't literal. If it were, they would not only burn down the Consulate, but the entire city.
Clasping his hands tighter, she pushed back against him, ducking down and under to spin beneath her own crossed hands and face him. Now that they were again nose to nose, again with both hands clutched together in a sweaty tangle, they repeated the in and out tossing motion again. Close together, then thrown out again. Once. Twice. Three times. Four.
Her mind was reeling. It was like being high and intoxicated and turned on all at once. The trumpet was singing in her soul, the castanet clack of the drumsticks had become her heartbeat, the strumming of the guitar moving her feet and numbing every reasonable impulse that tried to rear it's head.
Now she was flying in, and he was catching her. In a repeat of the move that had begun it all, she tossed herself back against the strong arm that she felt bracing the base of her spine. With her head thrown back, her world existed only in his eyes. She *was* melting, and the laxity of her body only reflected the heat that was scorching through her spirit.
A half turn and she was over his other arm, one arm reaching up and caressing the back of his head. Her fingertips swirled through his hair, those curls that were almost coal black but not quite. The muscles of her arm flexed, pulling him down and her up just enough to close the gap between them a few centimeters. It wasn't enough to do anything but tease, and then she was gone again.
Both of their hands were still held together, but one joined pair was on her hip, the other pushed out and away in an almost waltz-like position. He swept her on the wings of a wide circle, then released the hand on her hip to let her spin beneath the other one. Once again she was facing him, and he took both of his hands in his, holding them together so that twenty fingers were entangled into a single knot, four palms pressed together as one.
Meg had to trust him implicitly for this move, and she did. She did without even doubting for the briefest of seconds. Every muscle in her body relaxed, and her legs slid between his, her body sagging to the floor. Only the strength in his hands on hers kept her head from slamming into the floor as she dropped it back. He leaned forward over her, a smile brighter than she had ever seen before on his face.
Ben (*Ben*? *Constable Fraser* when had he become *Ben*?) had dimples. She didn't know he had dimples. For that matter, she had never seen him smile before. One of his teeth was just a little bit oddly shaped, and her already giddy smile widened. That little touch of imperfection in the otherwise perfect face somehow seemed to heighten the appeal. It made him just real enough, less plastic.
They rose together, their bodies coming closer and closer and closer together. She leaned into him completely, knowing that if he were to move she would fall to the floor in a heap. He didn't move, and she rested all her weight against his body, the tip of one toe barely brushing the ground. Her other leg was working it's way up his body, higher and higher until her knee was well above his waist, slipping as far up the side of his chest as her flexibility would allow. Meg was very flexible.
His right hand was behind the small of her back, his left below her knee, holding her leg against him as her arms wrapped around behind his head again. Their faces came together until their foreheads touched, then noses, then lips. Could she dare to kiss him? Of course. Her lips pressed firmly against his, her tongue teasing briefly between her lips and tasting his. He was sweet. So sweet. So sweet and so strong.
Beneath the thin fabric of his tuxedo shirt, his body was completely solid. She could feel the curve of each muscle, the coursing of his blood through his veins, the heaving of his ribcage with every breath. Her hands slipped down towards his shoulders, shoulders so broad, so beautifully wide as to only emphasize the rest of his physique. Whether or not the dance had called for the shedding of his jacket, she was thrilled that he had done so. The cummerbund accentuated his narrow waist, the tailored pants his leanly muscled legs and the tight curve of his ass.
God, she could stay like this forever, but she only had two beats. Two unbearably short beats of music and then she had to let go. Well, not entirely let go. She merely slid down again in another backwards arch, falling against the support of the hand behind her back. Meg's hands remained clasped behind his neck, drawing him down with her. His head was drawn lower and lower, his lips finally pulled all the way down to her cleavage.
She had to fight not to moan as his lips teased her exposed neck and the tops of her breast with the gentlest of kisses and nips. If this continued, she was going to lose her mind. The worst part was that she wouldn't care.
It was lucky that Ben was so strong, because by the time the music required her to be upright again, her muscles were the consistency of wet noodles. He held her up and against him as the trumpet faded away. Those beautiful eyes were staring directly into hers, showing a need and a loneliness and a passion stronger than she had ever thought possible.
The dance done to music was over, but the new dance was beginning. The dance that they would do now that the secret was out. They both knew now of their hunger for each other, and they would have to deal with it. In the mean time, they would just hold this moment, hold it until....
There was a distinct moan that she was quite certain had come from neither her or Ben.
Suddenly, she realized that they were not, in fact, alone. They were in the middle of a very large room filled with a very large number of people. Every single one of those people were looking at the two of them, their expressions ranging from slack-jawed disbelief to barely suppressed lust. Turnbull, the apparent source of the previously heard moan, was lying in a limp red bundle on the floor, the actions of his superior officers having left him no other choice but unconsciousness. Detective Vecchio was one of the group that was currently attempting to retrieve their jaws from the hardwood.
Meg felt a hot blush spread over her already flushed cheeks, and she quickly pushed out of Ben's arms, self-consciously straightening her dress and attempting to repair her hair. Almost desperately, she faced the onlookers, shoulders square and chin raised. "Well...that's the way they're dancing in Canada these days."