The tableau lasted for several seconds. She read the look on his face as frustration and not anger. He always had been even-tempered, she thought.
How the fuck had she known that? Just as those fragmented images had swirled through her mind, so too now did feelings. Love, lust, joy, sorrow. The anger was hers. And as suddenly as the feelings blew through her, that one flared.
She stalked over to him, and, surprising them both, pounded her fists on his chest.
“Why? Why? You fucking bastard!”
“Ma petit,” His hand was on the back of her head, pulling her into his chest. She could hear his heart beating just under her ear, while she cried softly.
“Why what, mon doux amour? Tell me.”
Her voice, when it came, was barely a whisper. “Why did you leave me?”
His lips compressed, the line of them hard. He lay his cheek against the soft dishabille of her hair, breathing in the scent of her. “Tell me more, petit.”
“I can’t. Don’t you get it? This is now, and …I don’t know you. I don’t remember you. I only know that I’m so angry that you…you left me.”
Anthony touched her shoulder. “We can find out. Francois and I can research the dress more thoroughly. We had just enough of the history to make an interesting sale, sweetie. But …we are history detectives.”
She couldn’t help but giggle a bit, as Anthony puffed out his chest, struck a pose with his hand on his hip, and wiggled his eyebrows. She would have pulled away from Gabriel, yet he continued to hold her, his large hand cupping her head, as his fingers played in her hair, across her cheek.
“Come with me, doux amour, let us have a bit of time. Let me touch you…”
She pulled away, struggling with the emotions. Anger, fear, and desire swam through her. Overcome, she stared at him.
He stood watching as she ran from him, again.
(you didn’t really think i’d leave you hanging? You *did* watch the video, oui?)
She struggled with the key, jabbing it at the lock. Her eyes were blinded by tears. The crying had started halfway home, nearly suffocating her with the ferocity. At last the key slid home, and she wrenched the lock open, flinging open her front door. She all but fell inside, before slamming the door behind her and re-locking it.
Her keys and purse fell to the floor, as she almost tore herself out of the dress. The heels were flung, one after the other, down the hallway to her kitchen, the stockings and panties and bra all scattered as she flung them away. Naked, she ran upstairs, shivering with the surfeit of emotions, and slid under her blankets to cry herself to sleep.
****** ******************************* ******
“I need…” He paused, a strange look crossing his face.
He was talking with Francois and Anthony. They had watched Cara run from him again, yet when Anthony would have gone after her, Gabriel had stopped him.
“Let her go, my friend.” His voice was rough with emotion.
“What can you tell us?” Francois, always the more sensible of the pair, turned to Gabriel.
“Only bits, pieces. I…” He blinked, and swayed a bit. “MERDE!”
One moment he was there, the next, he was gone. The lights were dim, the music loud, the crowd busy.
Francois looked at his lover. “Well, wasn’t that …” For once he was at a total loss for words. He felt gooseflesh pop out all over his body. He wondered if anyone else in the club had noticed the sudden departure.
Anthony shivered. “I’m never going to get used to that, and he’s done it to me several times already. You know….come to think of it, i’ve always seen him when someone has tried on the dress!”
He was on to something here, he was certain of it. “I’ll bet Cara just took off the gown!” He clasped his hands together gleefully. “That must be it, darling!” Throwing his arms wide, he embraced Francois, who rolled his eyes at his partners antics. “Boy, contain yourself. Are we done here? I believe we have some sleuthing to attend to.”
Arm in arm, they left the hubbub of noise and activity behind, and slid into their Beemer. With a smooth flick of the gears, they were off.
*** *** ***
She woke in the wee hours of the morning. Her eyes felt raw, her nose was stuffy, her pillow, damp. She didn’t remember arriving at home, only the driving need to get away. She lay on her back, rubbing between her breasts.
It hurt so fucking much. She’d never felt this way before. She was a logical person. All she’d wanted to do was go and get a tattoo on her other tit, forchrissakes. And suddenly she had a ghost of a lover. Or something. Whatever Gabe was to her. Gabe. It sounded funny to think of him in modern terms. Back in their past, she would never have dreamt of calling him anything but ‘m’lord’.
She closed her eyes.
No. More. Memories.
It had to stop, somewhere. This whole deal was freaking her out. Perhaps she should just take the gown back to Felicitations. Ball the fucking thing up, stuff it in a garbage bag and be done with it. She could almost feel it, down there at the bottom of the stairs, laying in a heap.
Really not the way one should treat an antique gown. She didn’t want to go down and get it. She closed her eyes, pulling the blankets up to her throat. It was warm and comfortable here. She wanted to just doze off.
She flung the covers off in a huff. Grabbing her robe, she stomped her way downstairs. She glared at the dress as she deliberately walked past it. She scooped up her panties, her bra, the stockings. Walking down the hall, she collected her shoes. She went back upstairs and put her shoes away in her closet, then the lingerie went into her bathroom sink. She turned the water on, barely warm, while squirting a bit of Tender Care detergent into the bowl, and filled it. She swirled the bits of lace, her stockings, with her finger.
Fucking dress could wait a few damn minutes. She popped a few bubbles, swirled her panties through the water. Fucking dress. Drying her hands, she growled as she went downstairs.
Once more she stepped over the pile of chiffon on the floor, and headed into the kitchen. She drew a glass of water, and sipped at it, glaring down the length of the hallway at the heap of black fluff by the front door.
A cool current of air swirled around her ankles, skittered up under her robe to tease at her knees, rose higher to tickle the triangle between her thighs.
She jumped back, water sloshing from her glass.
“STOP THAT!” she yelped. The tiny puddle of water on the floor began to move, separating into tiny letters.
A M O U R.
Love, she translated in her head.
She dumped the last of the water into the sink, jumped over the puddle and stalked down the hall. She stood, staring at the dress for a moment. Damn, she’d forgotten the trash bag. Turning she walked back to the kitchen. She glanced back over her shoulder, half-expecting the dress to rise up and follow her, yet it lay quiescently on the floor.
She glanced down at the puddle on the floor.
T O U J O UR S
Shaking her head, she grabbed a towel and mopped it up, ignoring the tingle that ran up her arm. She left the towel on the floor, and opened the drawer for the trash bag.
“Fucking bastard, keep trying.” She growled. She didn’t mean it as a challenge, but derisively. As if trying would accomplish anything. Slamming shut the drawer, she wheeled on her heel, and stormed down the hallway.
The dress was gone.
She stood, trash bag in her hands, knowing, knowing that it was once again hanging in her closet.