November 23, 2012
The lake stalled moisture overhead leaving the air heavy with foreboding. The mist’s fingers were ever grasping today, hovering around the rocks that wreathed the lighthouse. The sun lost the battle with the clouds today.
He burrowed his hands into his windbreaker that he’d thrown over his fisherman’s sweater. Water had always been a balm for him. This place felt different. Close to all that he knew, but as foreign as a distant country. Fishing trawlers and rusty barges played cat and mouse along the inlet. No pleasure cruises here. No phony smiles and slick suits—no, Prince’s Bay was a good place to hide.
His boots crunched on seashells and stone as he made his way down the path. The hooks that held The Bar’s weathered sign creaked in the brisk wind. He shook off the damp, flicking his hair back with his palm. The bar was as dank and grey as the roiling sky outside. The fact that it suited his mood was even better.
Nodding to the waitress, he took the corner booth. Her booth. Her empty booth. He smiled tiredly at the waitress when she dropped a napkin at his elbow.
“Bottle of red?”
“Coffee with a—“
“Coffee with a Tyrconnell chaser—two of them.”
He looked up, his eyebrow rose at the woman standing there. He hadn’t heard her come in. His body was usually so in tune with her.
“I saw you come in.” She shrugged and sat. “I followed.” A fat, messy braid fell over her shoulder and copper leaves dangled from her ears. She was dressed similar to him, but her sweater was a battered navy with ratty sleeves at least two sizes too large for her. She leaned forward her long, unadorned fingers clasped his wrists. Metal clunked to the table.
He jolted, his fingers fisting.
She scanned his face, fierce and fiery gold eyes took everything in. “You’re angry. The arctic chill has moved through those ever changing eyes.” Her voice was rusty as if she didn’t use it much.
“When a woman I don’t know grabs me, that’s what happens.”
She flattened his hands to the table her palms infused his skin with warmth. The copper beads at her wrist pooled around his middle finger and slid across the table. “It’s not sexual.” She paused, her gaze flitting from his eyes to his mouth. “Yet.”
He tried to pull away, but she pressed harder. His lungs stalled and his stomach muscles clenched as tight as his cock. Christ. What the hell was it with this particular female?
“Even deeper.” Her voice conveyed fascination and a blood pumping sexuality that clawed at the deep freeze living in his chest. “I bet you could make an employee piss his pants with that hundred yard death stare.”
He blanked his face. “How do you know I have employees?”
“A man that sings for…” She trailed off, her whiskey eyes calculating. “What? Thirty years? You have employees.”
Regret swamped him. “Is that what this is? You want to touch a famous person?”
The waitress came back. Her faded dollar bill eyes flicked to the woman before him. Not a stranger to her—but there wasn’t any warmth in her gaze, or her body language. Just an odd curiosity.
His table-mate sat back and her hands slid away. He curled his fingers into his palm.
Heavy white mugs and a pair of tumblers clunked to the scarred table, but the stranger’s eyes never wavered from his. The waitress wandered off before he could thank her. Evidently rude was catchy today.
The stranger cupped her hands around the mug, lifted it for a gulp then dumped the whiskey into her mug.
He lifted his mug to do the same and scalded his tongue. “What? Do you have asbestos in your mouth?”
“I’m used to the heat.”
He steepled his fingers over the steam that rose from the high octane coffee. The backs of his hands still tingled from her touch. He ignored it. Happy cock or not, he didn’t have it in him to deal with a fan right now.
“What can I do for you?”
“Just sit here. Just drink. Maybe fuck.” She shrugged and he realized she was reading his emotions like a damn teleprompter. “We don’t need to have sex. Ah, there’s a new blue now. Is that interest or disgust?” She looked down at herself. “I actually have a really amazing body under all these layers. A strong body. Quite bendy.”
Jon’s hands fell to the table. At a loss, he didn’t even know what to say to that one. He’d been objectified, assaulted, even propositioned on more than one occasion, but nothing like this. His dick swelled until his jeans pinched. For the love of fuck, he didn’t want to think about how bendy she was.
“This is the strangest conversation I’ve ever had. And that’s saying something.”
“Your eyes telegraph everything. Stunning, haunting, witchy eyes.”
He knew how to work around anyone. Whether it was a lawyer, an executive, a fan, or an employee—he knew how to chameleon himself to suit his role. So what did she see that others couldn’t? Or was he really that lost?
“I’m sorry. I don’t do the public thing much.” She held out her hand and the copper rosary swung between them. “I’m Fiona Bettencourt.”
A lifetime of dealing with crazy had him fitting his palm in hers. “Jon.” The buzzing awareness returned in full force.
“Obviously.” She leaned forward, covering his hand on the table again. “I’m not a crazy fan or anything. I think I like one of your songs. Not with the super band—a stray song I tripped over on internet radio.” Her thumb tapped on the table. “Now that cold grey fog’s just a rolling down the highway, he’s come to carry me home, it puts a little smile on my face.”
Her voice was honest and throaty, haunting and heartfelt. Everything that Little City had been when he’d written and recorded it. And the song was about as random as this night and twice as odd.
“So, what do you want with me if you’re not a fan?”
He cleared his throat. “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to say to that.”
She shrugged. “I’ll sit here and get my fill if that’s what you want. I think you might be uncomfortable with that.”
She leaned in until her scent wafted over him. Rich and dark…plums maybe. Just outside the edge of her eye a tiny silhouette of a bird in flight tattoo made her face even more fascinating. “I like your eyes. I want to figure out the color.”
“Why not?” She searched his gaze. “You’re as bored as I am. Restless and grey inside. I want one thing—well, two if you’re willing—from you.”
Everyone wanted something from him. “Really.”
Her mouth curved into a smile and a dimple popped in her left cheek making the bird twitch on her skin. “I like how you can do that. The deep freeze in your tone curls right into your eyes and stays there like the fog here. September in Prince’s Bay is all about the fog. I hope you’re not here looking for sunshine.”
The conversation had gone so far off the rails, Jon scrabbled to catch up. “As fascinating as you are, Mz. Bettencourt I’m not interested in whatever it is you want from me.”
“Sure you are.” The heel of her palm slid along his hand. “It doesn’t require anything other than time.”
“Why would I give my time to you?”
“You want to live again and I want a subject.”