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Just One Night

Kategori: Genel

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Harmony blushed as she took the flowers, her teary eyes glistening. “They’re beautiful,” she whispered. With one hand she tenderly, lightly, stroked the rose petals.

“It’s only the best for my girl,” Gary boomed. His husky voice, low and resounding, echoed through the old building’s entryway corridor.

Harmony swallowed hard, trying not to look directly at him. “Thank you,” she mumbled.

“I can take those, dear,” her mother interjected, reaching around Harmony to grab at them. “You two need to practice your dancing.”

“So do you and Dad,” Harmony reminded her. “In fact, I think the two of you need it more than we do.” She glanced over to Payton, who sat unusually silent in one of the large sofas, toying with her long ashen hair. “Gary, why don’t you hand these over to Payton? She can hold them while we dance.”

His face gave a brief nervous twitch before he clenched the bouquet and turned to hurry across to where Payton sat.

“The two of you will be so happy together,” her mother beamed, whispering into Harmony’s ear. She laid a heavy hand on Harmony’s shoulder. “How are you feeling about the wedding? You can’t tell me you don’t love a man who gives you flowers like that.”

Harmony clenched her jaw for a moment, watching Gary as he strode across the hallway. He was large and powerful, but as gentle with her as if she were delicate blown glass. “Sometimes I do, I think,” Harmony agreed. “I care for him more each day.”

She felt her mother’s grip tighten, then drop away. “You’re doing the right thing marrying him,” she assured Harmony. “He’s a catch. He’s from an excellent family, and truly a righteous man himself. His ancestors joined the church generations ago. They were part of the pilgrimage that crossed the plains. They have a wonderful heritage, Harmony.”

“Besides,” Harmony’s dad towered over the two of them as he quietly came up from behind, “You’re not getting any younger. This is probably your best chance, if not your last.”

“I’m… only twenty, and…” Harmony stammered, stopping as she realized that in public was not a place to have the same old discussion again. Her brow furrowed as she watched Payton look up at Gary, her face suddenly flush as he handed her the flowers.

“Don’t forget you have chunky calves,” her mother poked her in the ribs. “Men like really slender legs. You’re lucky Gary doesn’t seem to notice.”

Harmony looked at the floor to hide a pained grimace, absently pulling down on her long skirt.

“You care about him,” Harmony’s mother whispered quietly. “You will learn to love him, and the two of you will be happy. I promise.”

Harmony squelched a long, frustrated sigh and went to meet Gary on his way back to her. He took her hand warmly and led her into the dance hall.

“Just a couple more hours of dance lessons,” she heard her mother crowing behind her. “The wedding is going to be simply perfect.”

“I’m going to be glad when the wedding’s over,” Gary whispered, putting his arm around Harmony as they stood to wait for the instructor. “I’m just a bit concerned that your mother thinks she’s the one getting married.”

Harmony choked back her laugh. “That could make for an awkward honeymoon,” she agreed.

Gary went dead quiet, and Harmony scrunched her nose in remorse.

“Have you thought any more about what you’d like to do for our honeymoon?” he prodded after a long, uncomfortable moment.

Harmony felt the familiar knot in her stomach. She shook her head. “I’ve been trying not to,” she confessed.

Gary gave an aggravated sigh. “I don’t see what the big deal is. We don’t have to spend the entire time at the hotel. All I said is we should get a room with a nice hot tub and a king-sized bed.”

Harmony blushed, hoping desperately that no one else was listening. “And,” she grumbled, “all I’m saying is that I don’t think we’re going to spend that much time in the room. I’d like to get out and see some sights or something. I don’t want our marriage to be all about…” The word stuck in her throat.

“It’s not,” Gary objected. “But the honeymoon typically is.”

“A marriage is like a cake,” Harmony informed him judiciously. “And sex is just the frosting. That’s my point.”

“And my point,” Gary glanced up to see Harmony’s mother walking over to the CD player, “is I want to spend my honeymoon licking the icing.”

“I think the instructor is running late,” Harmony’s mother called out. Harmony was grateful for the interruption. “While we’re waiting let’s put on some music and try practicing what we learned last week.”

In a moment a quiet song echoed through the large room. Harmony’s dad rushed over to join her mother, and they began to jostle clumsily over the floor. Harmony took a deep breath and rested one hand on Gary’s shoulder and the other in his grasp.

She waited, watching Gary count out the beats, his knees bending on every other one.

He stepped towards her and she hurried to step out of his way. He pulled her back, trying awkwardly to swing her around Sincan Escort himself.

“Ow” Harmony squawked, jerking her foot out from under Gary’s.

“Sorry,” he grunted. He stopped, counting the beats again.

Harmony glanced to the doorway, hoping the instructor would arrive soon and save her. He hadn’t yet. But someone else had.

He stood there, watching, his piercing dark eyes showing an intense humor. He leaned casually against the doorway, chuckling to himself. Gary saw Harmony’s stare and turned.

“That’s not the instructor, is it?” he asked.

Harmony shook her head. “It’s not who was here last time.” She turned her head away, but watched the stranger from the corner of her eye, swallowing back her uncomfortable interest. His broad shoulders filled his black tailored suit perfectly. His thick, full hair was an obsidian forest of desire, his skin a rugged, sweet mocha. His lips curved over his chiseled face in a contagious grin.

“What are you laughing at?” Harmony’s mother broke the silence, staring in contempt at the stranger.

“I’m sorry,” he laughed as he stepped into the room, his stance tall and confident, his words rich and strangely enticing with the hint of a foreign accent. “Am I not supposed to laugh?”

“We’re learning to dance,” Harmony’s mother chided.

“Oh no,” he chortled, “I may not know what it is you are doing, but that is certainly not it.”

Harmony’s mother straightened her back defiantly. “Who do you think you are?” she retorted.

He stopped, offering a polite smile and genteel bow. “Just who do you think I am?”

“Are you the dance instructor?” Harmony’s dad joined in. “Could the other instructor not make it?”

“Don’t you think he would have been here by now if he could?” the stranger offered. “But not to worry, I can teach you what you need to know. My name is Stelian, and I will teach you how to actually dance this evening. But first,” he glided over to the CD player, quickly shutting off the music, “we need some good music.”

“That was a beautiful song,” Harmony’s mother objected. She turned to face the man, giving him her most offended glare. “I chose that one, I’ll have you know.”

Stelian gave her a puzzled glance, then started sorting among the CDs. “Have you considered getting a hearing aid?” he joked.

“What?!” Harmony’s mother screeched.

Stelian stopped abruptly and looked up at her, his face instantly sullen. “I’m so sorry,” he groveled. “Have… you… considered… a… hearing… aid!?” he repeated loudly.

Harmony felt Gary gripping her hand, and she became aware how intently she was watching Stelian. She felt her body growing hot, but subdued the urge to start fanning herself. She looked away, searching for a window to stare out of while they waited.

“This one’s garbage,” Stelian mumbled. Harmony could hear a CD clatter across the room. “And this one, and this one…”

Every word he spoke dripped with that maddening accent, reverberating deep inside Harmony until she felt her insides trembling.

She looked over to watch Stelian slinging CD after CD across the room, muttering to himself as he sorted through the selection. “If the music isn’t right,” he explained calmly, “no one can dance properly.”

Harmony tried to look back at Gary, but found herself unable to look away from the enchanting stranger. She watched the CDs twirl through the air, one after another.

“Someone should probably watch where those land,” Stelian remarked casually. “The other instructor may want to use them for something. Drink coasters maybe?”

His face brightened in triumph as he pulled out one of the CDs. “Voilà,” he announced, “A slow rumba. That’s perfect.” He inserted the CD in the player and stepped around the little table.

“What difference does it make what song we play?” Harmony’s mother objected. “As long as we learn the steps it will look the same.”

Stelian gave her a brief glance, then his eyes roamed to take Harmony in. She fidgeted as his gaze studied her face. “A rumba has power. It has passion, and sensuality.”

Harmony’s mother clenched her jaw, her glare sharpening.

“If you can’t breathe the music, it doesn’t get into your soul,” Stelian swooped his hands dramatically as he motioned for Harmony to join him.

Harmony’s breath caught in her throat, a long shiver crawling up her spine and her heart racing as she stumbled over next to him. As she came up to him she inhaled his scent, a warm balsamic that swam through her.

“The problem isn’t with the music,” Gary grumbled. “You need to teach her some grace.”

Harmony fought back the grimace, and glanced morosely up at Stelian. His deep walnut eyes sparkled with humor. He turned, his gaze tracing over every inch of Harmony’s quivering body as she fidgeted nervously.

“It would be impossible,” his rolling accent filled the air with melodious tones, “for such a magnificent creature to lack grace to any measure. It would defy Etlik Escort nature itself.” He pointed to her high heels. “But the shoes must come off. They are not meant to be used for gliding over the floor. Bared feet will work far better.”

Harmony’s mother scurried up close so no one else could hear. “She’s a bit short,” she scolded. “She needs the shoes.”

“Nonsense,” Stelian refuted, his eyes meeting Harmony’s as he smiled passionately. “She’s perfect as she is. Let the woman be herself, and step back so I can help her experience music.”

He held a hand out for Harmony as she pulled her shoes from her aching feet. The rest of the room melted away as she hesitated, then reached up trembling fingers to his. As she felt his gentle touch on her skin a heat poured into her, sending her heart skipping.

His gaze held her own eyes captive, almost unwillingly. She was only vaguely aware that he reached over his other hand to press the play button before grasping her hip and pulling her closer to him. Harmony’s mind reeled in confusion, unaware that she reached up to grip his shoulder until she felt the firm muscle in her palm, flexing beneath his jacket.

Music swelled to fill the air, the beat reverberating powerfully within her, choking her fears beneath their weight. The notes echoed and swam around them, pressing with pulsating need at their bodies. His face, the strong angles and firm eyes, became her one desire. She was standing, her naked feet planted, and then she was floating over the floor, spinning, flowing like warm butter. The sound of her mother crying out in horrified dismay blended with the haunting musical tones like distant seagulls.

She tightened her hold on his strong shoulder as the pace quickened, pulling him closer still. She drank in his presence, touched his arm with hers, felt his breath against her cheek. A thrill rose from deep inside to fill her chest. And suddenly she was twirling, the room racing around her until she alone existed, her heart missing a beat each time she caught sight of him.

She was soaring, rising and swimming in a heated sea of sweetness, and the world fluttered wildly somewhere beyond her. Her feet felt above the ground now, no longer restricted to rest her weight on them. The music rippled and surged, lifting her and sending her flying as Stelian twirled her, caught her into the strength of his embrace, and sent her twirling once more.

The song ascended to pounding climax and she was suddenly falling breathlessly, landing in Stelian’s safe embrace, but leaning back in helpless submission. His face loomed inches from hers, his full, moist lips little more than a breath from her own, a kiss glistening only a mere…

“That’s quite enough,” her father barked.

Stelian grinned warmly at her as he raised her upright. Her knees quivered beneath her, and the realization of the dance they had just shared began to sink in. She forced her eyes away from his hypnotic stare and down to the floor.

“I see no lack of grace with her,” Stelian announced. “Quite the contrary, I find she’s…”

“This lesson is over!” Harmony’s mother shouted, grabbing Harmony by her upper arm and tearing her roughly away from Stelian. Briskly her mother escorted her from the dance hall and back into the corridor, tossing Harmony’s high heels at her feet. She yanked the bouquet from Payton’s arms and shoved them into Harmony’s. Choking back her brewing emotions, Harmony crammed her feet back into her shoes. They pinched.

“Why don’t Payton and you go out to the car and wait for us there?” her mother’s voice was tense, but controlled. “Your father and I need to have a word with the instructor.”

Payton slipped up to Harmony, putting a comforting arm around her shoulders. Harmony turned to watch her mother stomp back into the dance hall, pointing to Gary and Harmony’s father to follow her.

“What were you thinking?” Payton whispered as she led Harmony outside.

The sun was warm. Harmony followed Payton to the car and leaned against it. “You should have seen the hurt in Gary’s face while he stood there to watch you like that. How could you do that to him?”

Harmony shook her head, wiping at a stray tear as she struggled to understand it. “I…” She looked around at the trees, feeling a light breeze tickling her face. “I guess I wasn’t thinking. I’m sorry.” She gave Payton a pained look. “You’ve always been a good friend, Payton, thank you. I was just swept up in the moment. But, he was just…”

Her words stuck in her throat. A wave of guilt filled her stomach.

“He was just using you,” Payton insisted. “You need to get your head on straight, girl. You’re getting married next week.”

Harmony took a long, cleansing breath. “I know. I promise it’s not going to happen again. It’s just…” Harmony felt a shiver caress her skin, and turned away. “I guess I don’t understand how I can feel such a sudden, intense need for someone, and the frustration at not being Çankaya Escort able to explore it. I suppose you don’t understand it either.”

It was silent for a long, painful moment. “I understand far more than you realize,” Payton breathed. “Far more than I should – at least the frustration part.”

Harmony looked quizzically up at her. Payton looked sharply away, her deep blue eyes misty, her face fallen.

“What do you…” The words caught in Harmony’s throat as she spotted the dark figure.

It was him, strolling towards them across the parking lot. He smiled to her as she looked up, and she felt her soul interlock with his once more. He held his broad shoulders back, and for an instant she imagined him to be royalty.

Harmony didn’t notice as Payton saw him, her face cringing in dismay. He came directly up to them.

“Did my parents talk with you already?” Harmony asked, her weak voice nearly inaudible.

Stelian shook his head. “They must have missed me. I slipped outside through the back doors. They’re probably still inside looking for me. What did they need?”

Harmony gave a sheepish grin as she shrugged. “They didn’t say. I assume they wanted to thank you.”

He chuckled. The sound of it was invigorating, thrilling. “I’m sure that was it,” he mused. “They seemed very grateful as they stormed from the room.”

“Well I’d like to thank you for… for the lesson today,” Harmony offered. She felt Payton jab at her arm, but ignored her.

“You’re a marvelous dancer,” he said. Hot shivers flooded inside her with his voice. “But you really need a better dress. That one restricts you far too much. I could feel it holding you back as we danced.”

Harmony swallowed. It took a moment before his words made sense to her. She glanced down at her skirt. “All of my dresses are pretty much like this.”

“On your wedding day,” Payton interrupted, “you’ll be in your wedding dress. What you’re wearing now won’t matter.”

“Would you like me to help you find a better dancing dress?” Stelian offered gallantly.

Harmony stared back at him in surprise, her chest fluttering inside. “You’d do that for me?”

“I could never leave an angel such as yourself fettered as you are if I can help it.”

“You can’t help it,” Payton growled. “She is engaged.”

“I take that to mean ‘yes’.” Harmony replied, ignoring Payton. “But I could never…”

“I insist,” Stelian motioned to a gleaming black Mercedes a few spots further down. “I’m parked just over there. I would be honored to help you find attire more fitting a young lady such as yourself.”

“There’s no way,” Payton protested sternly as she gripped Harmony’s arm. “Your mother would never want you running off with a stranger like that.”

Harmony couldn’t help her beaming smile. “Just tell her I left to go shopping. It only makes sense that I get the right dress. After all, the wedding must be perfect.”

“If Gary finds out there might not be a wedding,” Payton baulked. “Don’t you even care?”

Harmony shoved the bouquet back into Payton’s arms, took Stelian’s hand and followed him to his car. “I won’t be that long,” she assured Payton. “Just cover for me, okay?”

Stelian opened her door for her before climbing in behind the wheel. “Your family seems a bit controlling, don’t they?” he mused.

“They’re just concerned about me, that’s all.”

“If you’re old enough to get married, you should be old enough to make your own decisions,” Stelian shrugged as he started up the car. The engine purred evenly. He pulled out onto the street.

“They’re trying to protect me,” Harmony sighed.

“From me?” Stelian laughed.

Harmony went silent, staring down at her hands before allowing the moment alone with him to wash over her. “I love your accent,” she offered. “Are you Russian?”

“Romanian,” he grinned.

She felt flush as his smile seemed to pour inside of her. She looked down sharply. “So we’re going dress shopping?”

“I know the perfect store, too,” Stelian assured her. “The styles are fashionable, but classy.”

Harmony fidgeted as her eyes grew wide. “I can’t afford anything too fashionable. Actually, I don’t know that I can…”

“It’s my treat,” he grinned. “You don’t need to worry about a thing.”

Her brow furrowed. “This is part of the dance lessons – having the instructor buy a dress?”

He chuckled. “I have no idea. I don’t work there.”

“But… I thought you said you were the dance instructor.”

Stelian shrugged. “It was your tenacious parents who said that’s who they thought I was. Do you think a dance instructor could afford a car like this?”

“I was wondering,” Harmony confessed.

“I only said I could teach you how to dance, and I can. But first you need a dress you can dance in.”

“Okay, but…” Harmony looked out the window nervously, “who are you?”

“The name,” he presented gallantly, “is Stelian Lungu the third, from Romania. We live in Portland currently. I’m here for a few days with my parents for business. They’re preparing for a party that starts in an hour, and I’m avoiding having to help by wandering the streets. I came across the little dance studio and was curious about the architecture. Needless to say I saw your fiancé tossing you around over the dance floor. I know a damsel in distress, and you’re one of them.”

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