Two souls meet at a dark railroad crossing… there’s no hint this night will be the beginning – and end – of everything.
Drawn again to the view, this time with the sky lit up from the sunset, she walks to the wall of windows. The stones of Edinburgh Castle glow with a kaleidoscope of purple and vermillion hues, the shadows a dark Payne’s Grey. It would be fun to try and paint, she thinks, to capture the colour and movement. The castle looks otherworldly, sitting on the hilltop with the dwindling rays of the day dancing across it.
Lily senses a presence behind her, and before she can turn she feels an arm slip around her waist and warm breath is in her ear.
“I’m so pleased you’re here”, Stuart says huskily, his arm tightening, pulling her against his body. He kisses her hair, drinking in the subtle scents that waft off of her.
She is speechless; once again she is spellbound simply by sharing a room with him. She doesn’t needed to see his eyes; his sultry voice, accent and the warmth of his arm around her instantly make Lily feel wobbly, as if her will is being sapped, as if nothing else matters but that she’s here with him.
“It’s beautiful”, she says softly, glad he is there to enjoy the majestic colour, the fiery clouds, the corona of darkness pushing down towards the horizon. It is one of the most gorgeous sights she has ever seen.
“It’s nearly as beautiful as you”, he whispers it so quietly she isn’t sure she heard it. Things have moved, this declaration was a surprise. Probably just gratitude, she reminds herself.
“You didn’t need to invite me to supper.” She says, still watching the light show outside. “You don’t owe me anything.”
His arm tightens around her. “Is that what you think? The invitation was out of gratitude for what you’ve done?” God, how that sounded like the very thing she had been thinking.
She doesn’t know what to say. “Answer me”, he demands, and turns her around to face him.
Stuart’s eyes are ablaze. How they can be blue but still fiery I don’t know, she thinks as she looks into them and then scans the rest of him. The tailored navy suit hangs off him flawlessly and his tie is the colour of his eyes. My God… what a perfect man, she thinks before crashing back to reality.
She can feel his annoyance. “You said you’d invite me to dinner as a thank you… when we talked in the hospital, the note”, she reminds him. “I just assumed…”
“I kissed you last night.” He sounds incredulous. He doesn’t understand how Lily could think this way. He steps closer and looks down at her. “I think you enjoyed it.”
“I…”, she has to look away. Liliana knows what is in her eyes; that she craved more but the desire frightens her.
“Did you Lily?” His hand moves to her face and turns it back to his. “Look at me. Did you enjoy it?” She tries to turn her head again but he holds it firm, his fingers curled around her chin.
She feels cornered. “What do you want from me?” she pleads, her eyes looking at his mouth, no, not his mouth, not his eyes…
He moves his right hand and cups her face in his palms and forces it upwards – she has no choice. Their eyes meet and it is like falling into an abyss with walls of sheer blue ice on either side; nothing else is real but those impossible eyes.
“I want the truth, Liliana”, he says her name as if it is a caress. “I can see it in your eyes regardless. But I want to hear it. Did you enjoy it when I kissed you?”
“Yes”, it is almost inaudible.
“Why are you struggling against me so?” His thumbs are stroking her cheeks.
“Who are you?”, she asks, her voice tinged in wonderment.
“You’ll find out to-morrow.” She hears a distant bell. “That will be supper. Come.” He offers his arm to her.