The music thrummed through her body, thick and sweet as honeyed wine. The smell of cigarettes and beer, the brush of other dancers and the darkness all worked their magic on Rose’s senses. But it was the beat, slow and throbbing, moving inside of her, that she’d been craving.
She tried to ignore the man holding her. His movements were smooth and graceful, but controlled. God forbid that he let the music pulsate inside of him, that he forget and press against her too tightly. He had brought her, and that was good enough. For now.
It made her sad that he held himself so tightly. But as long as he was going to watch over her, perhaps she could really let loose. When the song ended, she asked if he would choose a drink for her. “Not too strong,” she smiled up at him, “I want to dance.”
The drink he brought her was tall and sorta brown. It tasted like wood smoke and bittersweet chocolate, went down her throat like silk and moved through her blood like slow fire. When the jazz beat started again, she took his hand and led him onto the floor. But instead of going into his arms, she dropped his hand and closed her eyes, swaying to the beat. He would watch over her.
Her hips found the rhythm, swaying slowly back and forth. With a sigh, she let her head fall back. Her arms lifted up, waving like smoke, like water, like a graceful bough in the wind. Her feet twisted and rolled, hardly lifting from the ground.
The beat filled her, found her heart and became one with it, complete. She twirled, arms splayed out and her hips rocked in an ancient rhythm of completion, her belly muscles flexing in slow, long ripples.
She opened her mouth, tasting the air. He was very close. Slowly, she flicked the tip of her tongue out, tasting the last of the drink on her lips. When she slitted her eyes open, he was there, watching her, eyes dark, face unreadable.
She smiled softly. She was learning what unreadable meant.
“I want you to feel …” She couldn’t find the words. If only he could feel this, the slow, sensuous beat that rocked her hips, fired her blood, flowed across her skin. Without thought she took his hand and brought it to her face, pressing his fingertips to her temple. “Feel this,” she murmured. Feel this.
She didn’t take, didn’t seek; she simple gave. She gave him the slow smoky beat, the feel of her body pulsing to the music, the beat brushing against her heart. He gasped, and she felt his heart, that strange, alien, beloved cadence, beating with hers. The double beat filled her head, a syncopated rhythm that answered her own simple beat. She growled with pleasure, and the beat turned golden, as soft and thick as a wolf’s pelt. Feel this.
Slowly his body melted, his hips rocking against hers, and she sighed. They moved across the floor like water curling on a beach, like tongues of fire twining up from the surface of a star.
Rose threw herself out, out; oh, feel this! And he caught her, caught her heart and held its single beat inside of his, moved against her, breath a cool rasp into her open mouth, fingertips light against her temple, gathering her up against him.
The music ended and the other dancers drifted away. Still, they stood, his fingertips light on her temple, swaying together to the beat.