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Concerto: Part 5

 

As promised, here is part 5 of Concerto, in which our pianist’s efforts become a bit more dangerous, and our writer is forced into a dark place. Enjoy! And please remember, this is a WIP, so be gentle.

 

If you’v missed the rest of the story, follow the link.

 

 

 

 

Concerto Part 5: A Duet in the Storm

 

As I refilled the kettle, the music began again, and even in the pouring rain, I couldn’t resist its pull. In an instant, I was out the door. In another instant, I was drenched to the skin, a condition I didn’t notice as I strained to hear the music against the wind. I only became aware of my waterlogged state when I slipped inside the French doors without so much as a knock and stood savoring the music as I dripped on the wood floor. My pianist gave only a quirk of what might have been a smile and kept on playing. While he said nothing, somehow I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that the music was an invitation especially for me.

 

Without saying a word, he looked me up and down and then nodded to the overstuffed chair next to the sofa. A towel and a navy silk robe lay draped over the back. While the clothing I wore was not nearly as revealing as what I’d been in last night, it was soaked and heavy from the rain. His gaze caught mine and held only for a second before he returned his full attention to the piano, but something in that look, something in the undulating, intimate suggestiveness of the melody he now played made me giddy and a little reckless.

 

I didn’t seek out a private place to change, and he didn’t offer. I couldn’t imagine he would ever experience me more stripped bare than he had last night. So I undressed. It didn’t take long. I hadn’t bothered with underwear that morning in my rush to check if the occupant of the cottage at the end of the stable yard was stirring. He didn’t look up from his efforts while I toweled myself dry, and yet I felt as though he watched me, studied me, caressed me vicariously, with every phrase, every note of his music. I could almost imagine his fingers moving over me as they did the keys, and I found myself lingering in my task as though it were him I touched and fondled and toweled. When I was finished, I reluctantly slipped into the robe that was far too big for me, his storm and ozone scent pressed deep into its folds. I felt a flood of relief at the realization that the robe must surely be his and not that of another woman. It startled me, such possessiveness of a man I’d not known until last night, of a man who, even still, I only knew through his music, and yet I felt I knew him intimately in ways I’d never known another. I tied the sash around my waist and looked up to find him studying me.

 

Yet still, he didn’t speak. He only nodded his approval, and I knelt to crawl once again beneath the piano, where I found a tartan throw and a pillow waiting for me. I settled in a soft swish of silk and wool as the melody encircled me in a tight-fitting embrace. If I had expected that musical caress to be a gentle one, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was barely settled before the music crescendoed, changed key three times in rapid succession and became the wild ride of a leaf tossed about on the storm. The edge of the arpeggios sliced me like a scalpel, the blunt chords tore at me like a rusty knife, and I knew immediately this would not be a clean cut. And then, when I was sliced, torn and battered open wide enough, the music migrated and became the still wilder, far more devastating, storm raging in me. For almost a year now the dead calm of my life had been the threat of sameness never ending, oppressive and hopeless. That empty monochrome day-in-day-out had been there so long I’d barely noticed until now, until the calm vanished with the key change. As the force of the chords broke over me, I realized as I ached and raged, that I was not the leaf tossed on the storm, I wasthe storm, and there was no protecting me from myself.

 

The music became discordant and disconnected, an overwhelming pounding in my head, in my body. It matched my angry cries and snarls and rants, which I only became aware of when they ceased and the rawness in my throat reminded me that my voice had been the piano’s accompaniment.

 

I don’t know how long it went on, this tempest inside me, but outside, darkness had fallen when I calmed, when the music calmed. Strange that through all my raging and mourning, the pianist had made no effort to stop me, nor to comfort me. He had only accompanied me, mirroring my emotions on the keyboard. When I came back to myself, the music no longer raged. But I felt the melody of it like a thread in my belly pulling me, coaxing, me, inviting me to a different kind of participation in the ritual being created on the keyboard.

 

It was an effort to crawl from beneath the piano. I scrabbled up to my knees and then climbed my feet, legs trembling,
shoulders tight. This time I found the man’s gaze focused completely on me, even as he played. I stood for what felt like an age under his scrutiny, almost as though he were inspecting me for storm damage. There was no sympathy, which was just as well, I wanted none, but there was satisfaction, as though for a job well done. Then with an abruptness that startled me, he shoved back the bench. At first I feared he’d stop playing, a thing I realized I wasn’t yet ready for. But he continued to play with his left hand, beckoning to me with the right. He invited me, not onto the bench next to him, but onto his lap.

 

Concerto Part 3: Too Much to Bear Alone

 

Sometimes a story takes a little while to unfold, and sometimes the path I thought something would take when I began
it isn’t the one that the story insists I go down. That’s when the fun begins. From that point, I honestly don’t know where the characters will take me with the tale they have to tell. With part 3 of Concerto, I’ve reached that point. That’s why this episode is a little longer. This was the episode that dragged me in, and I needed to ride it out to its full conclusion. And now I’m getting excited about this little ditty. I hope you are too. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve missed the earlier instalments, catch up here:

 

Concerto Part 1: A little Night Music

 

Concerto Part 2: Distractions

 

 

 

 

 

Part 3 Concerto: Too Much to Bear Alone

 

A writer expresses herself through words. They’re the tools she uses, not just to tell a story, but to make people feel, really feel, the life blood that flows through her tale, the very heart beat of each character, each setting, each layer of meaning. I’ve always thought that those results were better achieved with words than with any other artistic methods. Words are concrete in ways that visual arts and aural arts can never be, but I was wrong. That night as the storm outside snarled and rampaged around us, the music this strange man created became the pounding of my heart, the racing of my blood. It became my death and resurrection, my creation and destruction. It became the ache of every secret longing, every burning desire I’d ever had, all of it laid bare at his feet. And it truly was at his feet because I couldn’t stay on the sofa. It was too far away from the center of what he created, too far away from the tapestry he wove and too far away, it felt, from my own soul. In desperation to be nearer, I had, at some point, crawled beneath the piano, where I lay writhing and drowning in the wild sea of music, and wanting nothing more than to never surface again.

 

Then when he held me totally bound by his magic, when his music had somehow uncovered the very building blocks of my own story, he broke me apart. Bone and sinew, blood and tears — he broke me apart. Molecule by molecule, he tore me down until I floated away from myself, all boundaries dissolved, no sense remaining of where I left off and the music began. My essence spread thinner and thinner until I joined with each note, rode each phrase out into the night and let the storm blow over me.

 

And when I was gone, nothing remaining of me that he hadn’t played, that he hadn’t destroyed and recreated and destroyed again, he gathered me back to myself. It was in that gathering, just before the music stopped, that I became aware of the tears on my cheeks. Then, when silence filled the room as though it were itself a part of the music, accompanied by the storm that now seemed far away, he slid off the bench under the piano next to me and drew me to his body, cool against my fevered skin, his bare chest pressed tightly to my back. In my scramble to get to him, to his music, the tartan had fallen away. He reached for it and pulled it over us, then encircled me completely in the solid muscle of his arms. His breath came in heavy gulps, as though he had been running. Mine came in convulsive sobs. He didn’t speak. I couldn’t have spoken if I’d wanted to, and I found that I didn’t. It was only when my own shudders eased a little that I noticed he too was trembling. I hadn’t thought how the music he created might affect him. I had only assumed that he controlled it, created it, made it do his will. It had angered me, at first, that with the world of sound he created, he could so completely manipulate me. But then it didn’t matter any more. Nothing mattered but that he kept playing. I hadn’t known. I hadn’t understood that perhaps, he was as much in the thrall of his music as I was. Perhaps the power of what he created around us was not entirely of his own making.

 

The storm must have eased again at some point. At some point I must have slept the exhausted sleep that catharsis brings. I vaguely remember him lifting me into his arms, followed by the chill of the night air on my face. In protest, I remember burying my face in the heat of his chest, listening to the steady thud, thud of his heart, a different kind of music, as he carried me back to my cottage and eased me down into my bed. He pulled the duvet up around me, and I reached up and touched his stubbled cheek. “Is it always like this?” I managed, my words slurring with the threat of sleep.

 

He caught my hand and pulled it to his lips. His eyes darkened as though the storm from outside had come into them, and the succession of emotions that crossed his face were too fast for me to decipher. “Sometimes …” The muscled of his throat rose and fell and, with an effort, he cleared his throat. When he spoke, the words were tight and strained. “Sometimes it’s just too much to bear alone.” Then he tucked my hand under the duvet against my chest. I wanted to ask him to stay, I wanted to hold him close, to ask him all about his music, himself, the two of which I was certain were very closely entwined with a story of their own to tell. I wanted to hold on to the moment just a little longer, but as he turned to go, I was already riding too close to the edge of sleep. The last thing I noticed before I lost consciousness completely was his bare feet treading silently over the wood floor.

 

When I awoke to the subdued morning light of mist and drizzle, the whole night had a dreamlike quality to it, and as it all came rushing back to me, I stumbled from the bed and looked out the window. The cottage at the end of the stable yard was silent and dark, barely visible in the mist. If the man played all night, he surly must sleep late into the day. Every artist has their own best time to create. I was an early morning person, usually falling into bed just after ten and rising at six. Though lately I hadn’t been sleeping well, and the nights had been an endless desert of self-doubt and struggle to hold back the encroaching panic of a life I feared I’d wasted, of success I dreaded and yet was terrified of losing. For the first morning in a long time, I felt refreshed. I would tell him that when I saw him later today, and I would make a point to see him. I didn’t even know his name, and yet I couldn’t remember ever sharing such intimacy with anyone.

 

I quickly dressed in my heavy tracksuit and fuzzy slippers against the chill and fumbled with the radiators, remembering vaguely that the landlady had explained to me how to work the ancient storage heaters. In the kitchen, I
plugged in the kettle, happy to see the electricity was back, then I built a fire in the hearth to warm the lounge where I would work … or not work, as the case might well be. Once the fire was crackling merrily in the grate and in the kitchen I could hear the kettle starting to bubble, I stood, wiping my hands on my trousers. It was then that I noticed my laptop
sitting open on the desk near the window.

 

For a long moment, I stood staring at it. I didn’t remember opening it. I didn’t even remember unpacking it. With a clap of thunder, that made me jump, the rain began in earnest again. A gust of wind rattled the window as though it were keen on getting my attention, and I moved to the computer. The kettle clicked off with a loud pop and lightning flashed as I bent over and scrolled to the top of a word doc simply called “concerto.” The first sentence of what was clearly a multi-page document read: I started awake from disturbing dreams that I couldn’t quite remember.

 

Concerto Part 2: Distractions

 

Happy Holiday Easter for those of you who celebrate. Happy April Fools Day for those of you who like a good joke, and happy damp spring weekend for everyone else.

Today, as promised, I’m sharing the second instalment of my new WIP, Concerto — which may, as the story evolves end up being called Sonata. Beautiful music and those who create it and mysterious isolated places have always intrigued me. Both have inspired this story. I hope you enjoy the second instalment. Once again, I remind you to be gentle with the author. It is, after all, a work in progress.

 

The music stopped with a brutal glissando, and the only sound that broke the breathless silence following was a cold baritone voice. “You’re trespassing.”

I would have answered but the fall had stunned me and knocked the air out of my lungs, which was more distressing than the wet cold stone of the patio, but less so than the chill in the pianist’s voice.

“What in hell do you mean coming outside in this weather half naked?” He was up from the piano and kneeling to throw a blanket around me before I could catch enough breath to respond. What I did manage was another undignified yelp as he lifted me into his arms as though I weighed nothing, turned on bare feet and carried me in to the lounge where he plopped me unceremoniously onto a sofa covered in richly woven tartan throws. “You’ll catch your death, and it would serve you right spying on me, trying to seduce me dressed like that. Who sent you?”

“Are you serious?” I forced my way upright on the couch shoving the blanket aside, not wanting to be flat on my back and vulnerable to meet my accuser. “No one sent me. I woke up and heard your music. It was a bit of a surprise since the landlady told me there was no one here but me.”

“So, my playing disturbed your sleep, did it?”

“No. It’s just I woke up, and the storm had passed. I heard music and …”

“And?” He studied me with a raised brow. His dark hair was mussed and slightly damp, as though he too might have just come in from the out of doors.

“I wondered where it was coming from, that’s all.”

 

 

“Well now you know.” He nodded me toward the open French doors.

But in the few minutes we’d been talking, the rain had started again and a gusting wind flung the lace curtains about as though they were nothing more than wisps of fog.

“Fine, you don’t have to be so rude.” I shoved off the couch with as much dignity as I could manage and stormed toward the patio. “You might have considered that flinging your doors open in the wee hours of the morning and playing music like that, someone would want to listen.” I braced myself for the slog back to my cottage as another gust of wind flung a cold spray in my face.

“Wait.” He grabbed me by the arm and pulled me back, then with some effort against the growing gale, slammed the doors. “You can’t go out in that.”

For a long moment, he studied me where I now stood shivering, freshly chilled and wet. At last he gave a hard put upon sigh and, before I knew what was happening, he stripped out of his shirt and handed it to me. “You’re … not decent.” The muscles along his high cheekbones tensed at his words. “And you’re wet and cold.” He gave a quick nod to the front of my nightshirt. I hadn’t noticed until now that the fall and the rain had rendered it transparent. “Besides, you’re a distraction. I can’t play with you … like that.” He turned his back, and I found myself blushing furiously as I stripped and slid into his white shirt, still warm with the heat of his body. He was not a small man, and the shirt fell to my knees. It smelled of the night chill and the lightning heat of the storm, though I suspected the disturbingly arousing scent was more his own than that of the storm.

When I finished fumbling with the buttons, he once again stood facing me, holding one of the throws. He wrapped the tartan around me, moving close enough that I could feel the heat radiating off his stripped torso, and I was struck again by his size. I don’t know why I had thought a pianist must be a tall, thin wraith of a man, who lived on the music and little else. He was robust and well muscled, with a peppering of scars low across his belly.

I couldn’t help myself. Maybe it was the fact that the whole incident seemed like a dream that I half expected to wake up from at any minute, one of those that I would long to go back to once it vanished in the daylight. “And you don’t think this will distract me from the music?” I rested my palm against his chest, and he drew a tight breath between his teeth, trapped my hand with his own, then lifted it away, with more of an effort than the act should have demanded.

“Trust me,” he said holding my gaze with milk chocolate eyes, “when I play, you won’t be distracted by anything.” He curled a finger under my chin and lifted my face until my heart accelerated and my mouth watered at full lips slightly parted, so close to mine. Those lips curled in a smile and he pulled away. “That is what you came for, isn’t it? To listen.”

And just like that he turned like a man with a purpose and seated himself once again at the piano, nodding me to back to the sofa.

 

The Psychology of Dreams 101 Episode 16

Psychology of Dreams cover12985576_1537272663241009_8777292825525497968_nWelcome to the next instalment of The Psychology of Dreams 101, in which there are rewards for punishments and a return to the dream. I thought this would be the last episode, but as it turns out there is one more, so hang on for the ride.

 

What if you got punished when you didn’t get your dreams right? That’s the dilemma our heroin, Leah, and her psychology of dreams teacher, Al. The Psychology of Dreams 101 is a romp into the sexy unconscious as Leah Kent takes a Psychology of Dreams adult education class, only to discover that the required Dream Journal leads to some seriously kinky night journeys.

 

If you missed episode 15, find it here.

Chapter 16 Taking a Risk

In a spastic tango, Al walked her back against the wall, kissing her as he went – really kissing her as he went, and all the while he nudged and pressed and undulated up close and personal, coaxing and enticing her one step at a time until the wall pressed up tight against her shoulders. He tugged and worried her sweats down over her hips. With a little shake and wriggle of her bottom, they dropped to pool around her feet and she stepped free and gave them a hard kick. With one hand, he dug in his pocket for a condom while with the other he struggled with his fly. Clearly this sort of multi-tasking wasn’t his forte. She uttered an impatient curse, slapped his hands away and made quick work of the snap and zipper, grabbing a double handful of his clenching ass-cheeks as she shoved jeans and boxers down. His cock gave her a stiff salute, and she closed her hand around the shaft and began to squeeze and stroke.

“O God! Oh Christ,” he hissed between gritted teeth, closing his fist around her wrist. “Don’t to that. Jesus, Leah, don’t do that – not yet. I won’t last two minutes if you don’t stop.” He nearly dropped the condom before he managed to roll it on with in between some seriously colorful language, then Leah grabbed him again, reaching between her legs to open herself. She was already slick and swollen. Hell, hadn’t she been horny for him from the beginning? And as much as she wanted to linger, she also wanted to hurry, just in case they got interrupted, just in case this time was no different than the others, just in case this time was no more real.

She gave a little yelp of surprise as he cupped her bare bottom in his hands and lifted her onto him. “I wanted our first time to be long and lingering, Leah.” His voice was breathless and, as he thrust home, he spoke almost as though he’d read her thoughts. “I wanted to make it last. Not gonna happen. We’ve both waited too long for that.” He bit her ear, and she bucked against him, sheathing him still deeper. “We’ll have to save the lingering for the second time.”

“I’m okay with that.” Her words came out in hard little grunts, and then she went back to eating his mouth. She didn’t need it to last. Right now she just needed it to happen, right now she all she wanted was to come with Al inside her. She needed that in the worst sort of way. She’d needed that for what seemed like an eternity. She wrapped her legs around his waist and began to thrust, and he thrust back, groaning as though the very act might have caused him as much pain as it did pleasure. He gave up trying to unbutton her shirt, and she raised her arms so he could drag it off over her head. She wasn’t wearing a bra, and her nipples were heavy and aching for his attention, which he gave happily – first with his thumbs, and then with his mouth. He’d barely managed a good hard lick and suck of each in turn, before his whole body tensed and he held his breath, shivering and convulsing as he came, and the tremors of him inside her sent her into her own release with a little cry of surprise, as though she hadn’t actually believed that this time it would really happen.

Their coming was not a graceful act. She bumped her head on the wall. He nearly tripped over his jeans, fallen around his knees, a move that would have taken them both over backward onto the floor if he hadn’t caught his balance at the last minute and, with her still wrapped around him, carried her to the bedroom where he deposited her in the middle of the bed in spite of said jeans around said knees, which turned his efforts into a mincing-stepped shuffle. The man was coordinated. She’d give him that.

“Not on the bed,” she managed weakly. “Don’t put me on the bed. I don’t want to sleep. I don’t want to dream.”

“No sleeping happening here,” he said, as he slid out of the rest of his clothing then deposited the used condom in the trash while she grumbled at his sudden, if very brief, absence. That done, he all but fell onto the mattress and wriggled in between her spread legs face first. As he slid his tongue wide and flat all the way from her perineum, in between her swollen labia and right on up to her clit, she wondered, for the briefest of moments, just where the man got his oral skills. From what he’d told her, she’d guess it wasn’t Diana and, if it had been Dr. Clyde, well, that possibility somehow made her all the wetter. That was the last coherent thought she managed about much of anything as he began to circle and suck, circle and nip, cupping her ass cheeks in his hands, pulling her closer to him, as though he wanted to climb up inside her face first – a thought that made her tremble all over.

They came again – several times. In fact she wasn’t sure how many times because her last memory before she lost consciousness was of him fucking her from a spoon position slow and lazy-like — though it was probably less laziness and more exhaustion, but her brain had been too muddled from so much fabulous sex to realize their mistake until she found herself on the roof of the high rise from which Dianna had jumped, from which she had pushed Al and Dr. Clyde. Al sat next to her, and they were both naked.

“I should have known. I should have forced the issue when you took me into the bed,” she said looking out over the lights of the city far below. “And now here we are again, back in the dream.”

“It wouldn’t have made any difference if we’d been in the bed or on the floor or out at the campground. You’re exhausted. No matter how hard you tried to stay awake, sooner or later you were bound to sleep, and when you sleep, you dream.”

“Why did you bring me here?” she asked, figuring she would be terrified of the way they both sat unclothed with their feet dangling off the edge of the roof into nothingness if she hadn’t known that it was a dream.

“I didn’t bring you here,” he replied, “but it’s not too much of a surprise that this is where we ended up, is it? Under the circumstances.”

“Not really, I guess. “Is Doctor Clyde here,” she asked with a quick glance around.

“Nope. Just us this time. No interruptions.”

“No interruptions,” she repeated. “I still don’t understand what’s going on. I told you I wouldn’t dream with you.”

I didn’t plan it if that’s what you think. I wouldn’t lie to you.” He scratched his stubbled chin and shifted just right for her to get a view of his cock at half-mast. “The thing about dreams, Leah, is that we can’t really control them. Derrick and I couldn’t and neither can you and I.”

“But maybe you didn’t tell me the whole truth. Is that possible?”

He shifted and ground his ass against the concrete, laying a protective hand against his growing erection. “I suppose it is. Maybe my unconscious took things out of my hands. You know how the unconscious is.”

“And what are we going to do if we can’t get back?” She surprised herself at how matter of fact she asked the question.

“You can leave whenever you want. All you have to do is wake up. That’s all you ever had to do. You stayed because there was something you wanted from the dream, something your unconscious needed. You know you didn’t sleep, or even dream, any longer than you normally would on any given night. It was just a nightmare, that’s all, a nightmare that seemed unusually real.”

f7c97536836dc44ea7a1faaa02ab1a6a“But what if I can’t? What if I’m stuck? Then what, Al? I know you say it was just a part of the nightmare, but humor me.”

He dropped a gentle kiss on her lips and held her gaze. “You won’t be stuck, Leah. I’m here now. For the first time you’ve finally let me in, and I’ll help you find your way back.”

“Finally let you in? Al, what the hell are you talking about?” Her chest tightened and she felt a chill rise up her spine. “We’ve dreamed together before, that’s why I didn’t want to come back here.” The wind had picked up and the benighted city below seemed even darker than usual. She tried to remember if she’d ever seen the city in daylight.

He rested his hands gently on her shoulders and held her gaze. “Leah, we’ve never dreamed together before. You’ve only just now let me in, and I’m encouraged. I’m hopeful that now you’ll let me take you back, back to the waking world.”

 

The Psychology of Dreams 101: Chapter 14

Psychology-of-Dreams-cover12985576_1537272663241009_8777292825525497968_n

 

Welcome to the next instalment of The Psychology of Dreams 101. Leah may be awake at last, but a confrontation with Al proves that things are far from simple and far from finished.

What if you got punished when you didn’t get your dreams right? That’s the dilemma our heroin, Leah, and her psychology of dreams teacher, Al. The Psychology of Dreams 101 is a romp into the sexy unconscious as Leah Kent takes a Psychology of Dreams adult education class, only to discover that the required Dream Journal leads to some seriously kinky night journeys.

 

If you’ve missed Episode 13, find it here. 

 

 

Chapter 14 Reality Bites

“How the hell did you do it?” His voice rose just enough to make her pulse jump and her skin prickle. “How did you invade my dreams?”

Her hands were less than steady as she flipped through the pages of his dream journal. In fact, by the time she realizes what she was looking at, they were shaking so hard that the risk of ripping pages out was very real. There was the dream she’d written with Dr. Clyde sleeping next to her – when she thought she had finally woken up, there was the dream in Eddie’s Diner, there were the dreams of her splayed across the doctor’s desk, there was the dream of her and Al in the darkened campground on Mount Hood. They were all there and all exactly in her words, as far as she could tell — though it was definitely Al’s writing.

She threw her own journal down on his desk. “That — all of that, was in my journal before I woke up. How the fuck did it get in yours?”

He picked up her notebook as though he was afraid it might bite him and opened it very carefully, then flipped through the pages. At last he looked up at her. “Jesus! You didn’t even give me my privacy in the shower?” He stabbed the entry of the masturbation dream with an accusatory finger, and she jerked the journal away from him.

“What about you? What about what you and Dr. Clyde did to me, all the things you did to me, always telling me the only way I could get out of the goddamned dream was to take my punishment, and that punishment always involved you two controlling me, doing something filthy to me? Hmm? What about that? And what about you stealing my dreams, did you ever think of that?”

“You killed us! You fucking killed us!”

His accusation, felt like he’d punched her. She drug in a shaky breath and slumped back in her chair. “You were holding me prisoner,” she replied softly. “Besides it was just a dream. You don’t look any worse for the wear. What about Dr. Clyde, he’s okay, isn’t he? Have you talked to him?”

“He’s dead!” Al dropped into his chair and ran a hand through his already wild hair. “He’s dead.”

The room spun and Leah felt like she might pass out, but before she could ask, Al spoke, avoiding her gaze. ” He died a few months after Diana. I … I haven’t thought about him, about them in a long time.” He glanced up at her and then back down at his desk. “Neither of them came out of the coma.” He nodded to his dream journal. “What you dreamed, what we both dreamed, is true, I mean about Derrick and me being lovers, about our experiments, about us both wanting Diana. I just don’t know how the hell you knew it all, how you dreamed it all.”

“I don’t know either,” she whispered. “All I know is that I was desperate to get out of the dream, and I couldn’t wake up. Every time I thought I was awake, it was only another part of the dream, and I couldn’t get free. You both kept telling I needed to be punished, but I didn’t. I haven’t done anything to deserve punishment.”

“Of course you haven’t, you’ve done nothing. But Derrick and I, on the other hand …” His voice drifter and he rubbed his eyes.

“I can’t see that you have any reason to be punished for what happened. It wasn’t your fault,” Leah said.

“And yet you killed me.” This time he did hold her gaze.

“It was a dream. I was trapped.”

“I know, and that was petty of me to say. Still dream images have meaning to our psyches. Either you believed I deserved to die or I believed it. Maybe we both did.”

“Why the hell would I think that? I knew none of this when I went to bed expecting more dreams about begonias or dogs and Big Macs.”

He didn’t reply. For a long moment they sat in silence lost in their own thoughts. She kept her eyes on her closed dream journal, but she could feel his gaze on her. At last he rolled his shoulders in an effort to release tension, then spoke. “Our experiments, Derrick and mine, they were real, just exactly like I described to you in my … in our dream, but no one else was involved in our dream sharing experiments. They worked with us – Derrick and me. We’d not perfected our technique. We’d not actually tried what we were using on each other until Dianna, and I honestly don’t know how Derrick pulled Diana into the dream. He was the one who knew hypnosis, but still, it shouldn’t have worked. He shouldn’t have been able to get her there.”

“The obvious answer is that she wanted in, that she thought she’d find what she was looking for there.”

“I can see that,” he replied. “That makes sense, but what doesn’t make sense is how you and I shared a dream when you had no idea.”

She ran a finger over the paisley pattern on her journal, suddenly unable to meet his gaze. “I wanted to dream. I wanted to … I wanted to please you by having interesting dreams.”

To her surprise, he chuckled softly. “Is that the reason for the masturbation dream?”

She blushed hard. “It was a dream. I can’t help what my unconscious throws at me in the middle of the night.”

“You should read the dreams I’ve had about you.”

Her pulse rate accelerated. “You dream about me, I mean other than … that.” She nodded to his journal.

“Oh yes, I dream about you, and the dreams were very pleasant until that.” He mirrored her nod to his notebook, then tugged at his collar. “Some of that was not too bad either.”

“But Dr. Clyde kept interrupting.”

To her surprise Al smiled and then shook his head.  “He always was a kinky bastard, always wanting to have sex in strange places or invite someone he found attractive to join us. He would have found you attractive, Leah,” he added quickly. “He would have done exactly as he did in the dream, wormed his way right in and wanted a filthy threesome, the filthier the better.”

“Then he would have approved of the dream?”

“Except for the part where you pushed him off the rooftop.”

There was nothing she could say to that, and once again the two sat in uncomfortable silence. At last Al spoke.

“I left the dream to get help, like I said, but what was different is that while in your dream he left with me, in reality he didn’t. He wouldn’t leave Diana, and after that first time, he wouldn’t let me back in. I tried everything I knew, but he wouldn’t let me in. Maybe he couldn’t. I don’t know. I just know I couldn’t get back to them.”

“I’m sorry.” She didn’t know what else to say.

“It was … unnerving to see him alive again, to see the continuation of his life as though he’d never died.”

“Then none of that part was true, I mean of him interacting with us.”

He shook his head. “It seemed so real though.”

Again the two sat lost in their own thoughts, and it felt like that minute of silence people are always having out of respect for the dead. Maybe it was.

“What do you think it means”? Leah asked.

“I wish I knew. That you and I can dream share without any preliminary prep, without any hypnosis is astounding. It took Derrick and I nearly three years to dream together, and even then it wasn’t without lots of prep, drugs more often than not, and hypnosis, well that was our last bit of experimentation. Even with all that, we were only managing to share anything more than a few images maybe fifty percent of the time.” Al looked down at his journal then back at her. “I never continued our experiments. I’ve never wanted to, never thought I could, but now…”

“Now you think maybe you should.”

He nodded, gaze still locked on her.

“What if it turns real, like it did with Diana? What if you die there?”

“I don’t have a death wish. Do you?” he asked.

“Neither did Dr. Clyde, did he?”

“He wanted Diana.” The muscles around his left cheek tightened and twitched. “It was way more than wanting her. He was obsessed with her and Derrick always got what he wanted.” The man’s jaw looked like it was set in iron.

“That bothered you.”

“Sometimes. Sometimes it did. With Diana, well …”

“You wanted her too.”

When he didn’t answer, she asked, “if he would have let you back into the dream, would you have fought him for her?”

He shook his head. “There was no need. I knew that from the beginning.”

She shifted in her seat, an uncomfortable tightness growing in her chest. “Then how did you know about the rooftop, about her jumping if you couldn’t get back into the dream?”

“I didn’t,” he said. “I didn’t know what happened in their dream until this.” He gently stroked his journal.

Suddenly it seemed hot in the room, and it was hard to breathe. “Then you think I saw what really happened then?”

f7c97536836dc44ea7a1faaa02ab1a6a“I’m sure of it.” He pushed back his chair and came to kneel next to her. “It feels like closure I never got. It feels like answers that I never had.”

“I’m glad, that’s good. So then it’s all over, and I can go back to dreaming about begonias and dogs eating my Big Mac, right? I never thought I’d say it, but if I never have another dream more interesting than that, I’ll be a happy camper.”

When he made no effort to move from his position on his knees in front of her, she fought the urge to push her chair back away from him. “What?”

The man was staring at her like she had two heads, and the look alone was enough to clench the nerves in her belly that hadn’t fully relaxed since this whole damn dream sharing started. “Al, I can go back to my boring dreams now can’t I?”

“Leah,” he took her hands in his in a fervent motion that caused her dream journal to slide onto the floor with a loud kathunk. “Leah, I know this is not what you want to hear, and I’ll understand if you tell me no, but I need you to dream with me one last time.”

 
© 2018 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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