8 p.m., 20 blocks from the Gala… and closing fast
(Written by Jason Wright)

Ten points for pedestrians, thought Winona Horowitz as she sped past and nearly through someone foolishly attempting to cross the street. The incident with Taglianetti had been fun, but it had made her late for the Gala. And with her luck, if she didn't show, Taglianetti would.

And then, embittered by being lied to by me, his one true confidant, he would turn evil and become… Dark Tag!!! she thought to herself. O the horror! How could I live with myself? Probably a lot easier than I could live with this art gala thing. Yet another social function I attend to respect the wishes of my father. He still thinks that I will find a husband at these things. Doesn't he know all artists are gay or should be castarated at birth to prevent them from polluting the gene pool further? Whoa, I'm there. The car slid into a parking place perfectly. Not the parking place she originally wanted, but an acceptable one nonetheless.

As she stepped out of her car and made her way to the gallery, she amused herself by setting off every car alarm on the way there.

8:00 p.m., somewhere in New London
(Written by Jason Wright)

A council meeting was always a difficult thing to control, given the volatile nature of those involved, but even more so considering the circumstances. The intelligence report Lars just gave didn't make it any easier.

Eric, the head of the council sat quietly, waiting the inevitable retort by Karl. He didn't dissappoint.

"Well," said Karl turning his head towards Eric, "the situation is rather obvious."

"Tell me the obvious," Eric replied.

"It is obviously a trick on their part to infiltrate us or to discredit us."

"That would be foolish." replied Derek, his deep voice booming in the near-empty room. "They know that any one of us would detect the subterfuge instantly. And so would any of our enemies, any worth fearing at least." The black man had always been the voice of calm reason Karl had looked for on the council.

His opposite, in temperment and skin color, Karl turned towards Derek. "Why else would this blatant act of foolishness be done, if not a trick?" Turning back to Eric, "This is an act of war."

Eric remained quiet, lost in thought.

Karl continued. "We must act, if not to respond to this, to prevent the inevitable flood of treachery that will surely follow. You know what they are like! Parasites! Cowards! Fighting from the shadows! We… must… strike."

Eric finally spoke. "This is no trick, but probably a rogue." He raised his hand to silence Karl. "If that is the case, the cowards either know about it or not. If they do know of the rogue's existence, they insult us by allowing this farce to continue. If they don't know, then their claim that no rogues could operate in this city is useless and they must be reminded of it. Therefore, we shall send them a message of our displeasure. Not flowery words, but simple actions. Such is our way."

Karl smiled and Derek nodded.

The rest of the evening was spent crafting the message. Such is their way.

8:20 p.m., Gala Opening, E-Town

Terry Gear pulled into a parking space and glanced out the window. He then glanced at Zoe, "We don't have an umbrella do we?"

She laughed and shook her head.

"Okay, stay there," Terry commanded. He then struggled out of his jacket, Zoe helping as best she could, still giggling. She couldn't figure out what he was doing, but getting his jacket off seemed fine to her. She ran a hand over his shirt, soothing it out.

Terry turned his head, her face was so close, all he had to do was lean forward slightly. He licked his lips and opened the door, tempted to stand there in the rain until he had cooled down. But he threw the jacket over his head and hurried to the other side.

Opening the door, he tried to keep the jacket over the both of them.

Inside, Zoe pulled the invitation from her purse and showed it to the doorman.

Her attention returned to Terry and his dripping jacket with a look of exaggerated sympathy.

"You're so gallant Terry," she said dreamily.

Suddenly she broke into a giggle again and smiled brightly at him.

He gave her an odd look as he hung up his jacket to dry and then smiled. "Thank you, milady." He gave a short bow.

They stepped into the main area and began to mingle. Zoe talked to a few aquaintances. Terry followed her acknowledging introductions and gazing at the art. A few times when others wern't looking he'd raise his eyebrow and gesture at a piece.

Eventually, Zoe went to the washroom. As she was washing her hands one of the women she had talked to came in.

"Wow, Zoe, he's a hunk. Is he your partner or your bodyguard?" She smiled at Zoe in the mirror. "He sure has a big gun."

8:30 p.m., Gala

Julian sipped on his wine, half-heartedly looking at the paintings. Suddenly, a soaking wet man, obviously quite drunk, pushed his way past the security guards.

"I gotta talk to Julian," he slurred. "Where is he?"

Embarrassed, Julian walked over to the guards. "I'll take care of this. I'm sorry."

Julian pushed the man into the lobby.

"What the hell are you doing here, Ivan?" Julian hissed.

Unsteadily, he warbled, "Ya know Marina loved this kinda stuff. Whatcha doin' here without her, Julian, Huh? Ya know she wanted to be here."

"Listen Ivan, you know what happened. I'm getting you a cab. Go Home."

"No man, I wanna staay," the drunkard whined.

Julian pushed Ivan outside as a police car pulled up.

"I'm sorry officer, could you make sure he doesn't hurt himself? I'll come and get him in the morning when he's sober. Thanks."

As the police pulled away, Julian turned and went back inside.

Returning to the group he was with, he said, "I apologize, Ivan, my brother-in-law, didn't take my wife's death easily."

Chester, the home of April Hanewick

A half hour later, April was sitting in the kitchen listening to her mother and her friends, laughing from the living room. She glanced around and in a flash of lightening, a dark face appeared in the window. She eeked a little, almost spitting milk through her nose. And looked closer… was it Andrew?

April opened the back door and grabbed Andrew. As he started to speak, she hushed him and dragged him up the back stairs to her room. Once inside, she promptly locked the door and leaned up against it. Catching her breath, she adjusted her glasses. He was here in her room. God, those eyes… that butt… oh no… She shouldn't think like that. But there it was… she was getting all weird again. "Sorry… for the rush… just wanted to get you up here… beeefore Mom started vacuuming." She grinned. Nice save. Not.

April's room was a semi-chaotic mingling of little girl, young woman, and tomboy. Posters of teen idols competed for space with scifi and comics posters, and pictures of unicorns and rainbows. Her bed was a bunk bed, the top covered with junk like models and kits. A rather nice computer system sat a on desk by the bed. A book case loaded with sci fi and fantasy as well as some feminist literature took up most of one wall. Her pride and joy, her comic collection, was in a large case in front of the bed.

Andrew looked around the room. "Wow. You got an autographed copy of the first issue of North by the one of the Kingsmen brothers?"

She nods eagerly. "Yeah… got it at Comicon 13. Met the authors and everything. I love the artwork!" She launches into a comparison of various comic art styles then stops after a minute. "Um… I talk too much, don't I?"

A surprised look passed over Andrew's face. "No. What makes you say that? It isn't often I find someone as into the Kingsmen as I. By the way, here's that issue. It's rad. It must have drove you nuts not knowing what happened to Kim."

As she read the comic, he leafed through her collection and then wandered over to the computer. "You got Net? The only computer we have is my dad's, we're not allowed to use it much. Not without him being there."

She couldn't really concentrate with her eyes looking up at him behind her shades. At his question, she jumped a little. "Oh yeah… it's hooked… my dad gave it to me." Putting the comic down, she walked over to him. "If it wasn't storming, we could surf…" It gave her an excuse to be closer. He even smelled good. A little like flowers, though… weird…

He cleared his throat. "Yeah. Well it looks like we're going to have to find another comic shop."

She grinned, "Yeah, hopefully with no gas tra… I mean, yeah, sure will." Nice, let that slip… doofus.

He walked over to her bookshelf. "You read all these books? Ringworld. Hey, Battlestations was the best one. Your Inner Goddess?"

April swallowed. Why that one, why… don't open it… don't look at the pictures. If there is a Goddess do me this favor. She stepped up to him. "Um hmm… how'd that get there…?" She followed him over. "Yeah… I love most sci fi… Want something to eat? Drink, maybe?"

"Yeah, sure," he smiled at her.

A few moments later, April opened the doorway. Andrew was going through her music selection, lying on his stomach on the floor as he read the titles. He rolled over when she came in.

"We listen to the same types of music too," he grinned.

If not for her enhanced reflexes, she might have dropped the tray. Instead, she almost did, catching it an instant later. "Really? Wow… cool…" she said. She set down a plate piled high with what looked like most of a package of Oreos. "Most guys don't like new age… I like mostly Tangerine Dream and Tesh… but I'll listen to anything but Yanni." She pulled a face. "You like other kinds of music?"

He reached over and grabbed an Oreo, popping it into his mouth. While finishing the cookie he nodded and held up a finger.

"Most people think I'm weird because I like Bach and Strauss. Beethoven's 'Für Elise' is my fav. I also like Debussy and a little of Tchaikovsky."

He popped his mouth closed and looked away, swallowing. What made you say that? She's going to think you're weird or bragging or something.

Wow… sensitive and smart too… She smiled to herself. She was so lucky… he would talk to her. "I like some classical too, it helps me study… and I like to listen to it before I go to sleep… yah… people think you're weird… it didn't go over well with my friends in LA either…" She popped a couple of Oreos in her mouth in quick succsssion. Great, now he's gonna think I'm a porker. But she was starving. "You always lived in New London?"

"Yeah. My dad works for Hybrid Technologies. My mom did too, until… So," he jumped to his feet and began pacing. Whew, that was close, almost told her. What? Until my mom turned into the swamp thing with tits? He stopped, his face flushing as he realized what he had thought and that he was staring at April's chest.

"So…" He cleared his throat and looked out the window. "What… umm… what kinda movies you like?"

Poor Andrew,April thought, he's still pretty broken up over his mom. She would be too. Getting to her feet, she walked up to him and slipped her arm over his shoulder. "I like lotsa diffrent kinds… sci fi… fantasy… I really liked historical stuff… geez… that must sound so geeky… and my dad… he used to take me to see horror pics all the time."

Oh wow. She's touching me. "Umm. Did you want to see a movie sometime?" What do I do now?

Her heart stopped. Did he say that? He did. OHMYGODOHMYGOD! Wait, can't look too eager. "Yes, oh yes, sure!" Great.

"Great." Did I just ask her out? "Ummm. Tuesday?"

"Okay, yeah, I should be free." By any means necessary. She smiled. "What looks good?" Letting the guy pick. Mom would be po'ed. But he is black. She would like that. Is that racist? Mental shrug. "I was thinking Millenium myself… but that's AA rated."

April was acutely aware of his proxmity all thourghout their conversation. He was just… nice to be around. She felt happy and a little unsure all at the same time. Constantly, she reached up to check her glasses, making sure none of her eyes were showing.

Andrew sighed, "I have got to be going. My… ah, babysitter will be worried. See you tommorrow."

"Okay… sure thing…," she smiled, getting to her feet and walking him to the back door, listening carefully for anybody in the kitchen. Are they still here? Hopefully not doing anything too weird. April felt a little bad. They were nice ladies… if a little weird. At the door, she paused, looking at Andrew. "Well… it was really fun having you over." There was a uncertain pause.

"Yeah, I had a good time. Monday we'll check the comic stores and find a good one," he flashed her a smile, "that's if my dad lets me anywhere near comics again. Umm. Did you know there is a police car out front?"

Just then the sound of raised voices came from the living room.

"Police car?!" She looked around at noise from the living room. "Mom… you didn't…" She headed to the door and peered in. In the living room, her mom and her sister were just starting to get into one of their infamous shouting matches.

Oh, whew… She turned to Andrew. "Oh, well that's my, well, sister… she's on the police force." Have to get him outta here before it gets to full volume! She stepped back toward the door. "It was really nice having you here… I… I hope you'll come over again?"

"Yeah. It was fun. Um. I play soccer on Mondays and Wednesdays. At the school sometimes, and the other school yards. That's if you like soccer."

"I LOVE soccer!" She had never played in her life. That wasn't important now. Andrew in shorts was important. "I'll have to come and see you. Um… Andrew, can I ask you a strange question… but its kinda serious, ok?"

What?! Andrew could feel panic starting. "Yeah, sure, go ahead."

April swallowed. Why did she want to share this with him? But well… damn it… she was gonna and if he didn't like it… well, she would only cry for a few weeks. "What do you think of… of, well, mutants?" In the background, mom and sis were headed down their old familar road.

He went completely still. She knows! He was surprised to find his mind a blank, the best he could come up was with, "What do you think?" He kicked himself and then interrupted her, speaking in a rush. "They're people, too, right? They have families. Sons, daughters, husbands, wives, sisters and all that. I am black, you're white. My best friend is Italian." He shrugged, "My mom always said that the world needs something to hate, but it was our job to try and see people as people and not as a group." He took a deep breath. "I am sure that I could hate some mutants, just like I hate some of the kids at school. But I would hope that I have the guts to know the person first."

"I… I really hope you mean that…" she sighed, reaching up and taking off her sunglasses. She looked into his eyes with her mirrorlike black ones and waited for his response.

Oh wow. They seem to be popping up in my life lately. First my mom and now April. He stepped closer. I can almost see myself. Well, she's definitely different. He grinned. "Cool." He gave her a quick peek on the check and left, waving.

April stood there. He kissed me. She stared at the door after he stepped through it. He kissed me. In the background, her sister stomped upstairs. He kissed me. The rain continued to pour and for the longest time in a long while, April Hanewick was completely still.

April sighed after some time and went back up to her room. She went to her room and flopped down on the bed, thinking of him… she could still catch a whiff of that weird floral odor he carried with him. It was nice. He didn't think I was a freak… wow… or a stick. Holding up her arms, she looked at them, thinking how long an skinny they were. She was so weird. Mom told her about all the changes she should expect. But it was like she was going though them at, like, warp factor 9. Nothing, then a few days later, hair in all sortsa new places, boobs… A month or so ago she couldn't have cared less about boys… then they were cute… now she had some other thoughts. Grabbing her towels and robe she headed to the bathroom to soak and think about things.

Gala Opening

Akemi took a few quiet minutes waltzing with Josh to get the hang of his movements, as well as to enjoy being next to him, and to let him enjoy how she felt. Then she leaned in close and whispered in his ear. "I'm glad I only had to ask once," she said. "And," she continued, with a smile and a knowing glance at his crotch, "I'm even more glad that you're not simply being polite, or diplomatic."

She pulled back and looked him in the eye, without breaking step, and added, "I like you, and if you'd like to fuck, I'm sure we can find a room or alcove here. Like Sara said, I'm not much for these sorts of gatherings either, and nothing personal, but I prefer erotic art, and there doesn't seem to be much of that here. So why don't we wait for her to come back, and then go somewhere more intimate, where we can discuss this further in privacy, just the three of us?" As she finished, the tip of her tongue slipped between her lips. To any observers, it could have been passed off as just an affectation, but to Akemi and Josh, its meaning was unmistakable.

He looked thoughtful as they continued to dance. "I thank you very much for the compliment." Sara would hit the roof. He smiled at the thought. "But I have enough problems keeping up with Sara sometimes, let alone two women."

"Is she really that intimidating?" Akemi replied, amused.

He grinned, "That good. At least for me."

His words and body seemed to be at odds. He took the opportunity of a dip to run a hand over her ass. Akemi could see the desire flare in his eyes, though to give him credit, she doubted few people could have seen it.

That's good. Just a little more. I'm only a half-step ahead of your own desires, she told him with her own eyes.

As they straightened she could see a woman pause at doors of the only other veranda. She stopped, looked back, and then entered, leaving the door ajar. A few seconds later a man followed her, stopping to pick up some wine. He closed the door behind him.

Hmm. So at least one other couple here has thought of that. I may have to drop in on them later. There may still be some hope for this evening.

Then she looked Josh in the eye again, brushing her thigh against his crotch as she did so. The wicked smile and smoldering stare she gave him was evidence enough that she liked what she felt there. "Well?" she whispered, making the one-syllable word sound like two. The meaning was clear: he could have her, but only if he had courage enough to take her. And if Josh let this chance go, she wouldn't give him another. He would have to speak now, or forever hold his "piece."

Josh closed his eyes as the sensation went through him. This is not good. Still… "You'll have to ask Sara," he whispered. "If you can convince her…"

A quick glance around showed Sara dancing with a priest.

Akemi tapped Father O'Mallory on the shoulder and said with a smile, "May I cut in?"

When the priest turned to respond, Akemi deftly took her place–not with him, but with Sara. "Would you excuse us, please?" she said over her shoulder at the priest, still smiling, as she gently but firmly began to lead.

Once he was out of earshot, Akemi turned back to Sara and whispered, matter-of-factly, "Josh loves you. For you to have any doubts of that is absurd. But you do neither your love nor your beloved any honor by cutting them, or yourself, off from the rest of the world."

Sara stopped dancing. "What are you talking about?" A look of confusion crossed her face. "I have no doubts about Josh's love for me. What do you mean about cutting ourselves off from the rest of the world?"

Akemi looked at her straight. "I mean that love requires the intelligence to recognize it when it's right before your eyes, and the courage to act on it," she said in that same soft and low voice.

"And right now, Josh sees what you are determined to ignore: my love for you both. And because you refuse not only to see, but also to act, Josh is paralyzed. He will not act on his feelings because he is afraid. Afraid that you will not understand that our attractions do not diminish his feelings for you. And that is precisely this doubt, this fear, of yours of which I speak: that because he finds me, or anyone else besides you, attractive, he may not love you as much as you thought. Thus you isolate him into a world only large enough for the two of you. But unless you confront your fear for what it is, you will hurt him, and yourself, far more than if you shared your love with others who love you. Because you will become incapable of loving at all. And that would be a tragedy."

Her voice held no hostility, only a sense of urgency, of caring. "Love must be brave if it is to grow, and escape death. Show him that your love has courage."

"Where do you get off talking to me this way? Yuo know nothing about my relationship with Josh. I am not Josh's keeper, nor do I have any pretenses that I control how he thinks. I don't care if he finds other women attractive. If it were dazzling looks like yours he was after, he'd have left me a long time ago." Sara's voice was calm and cool. "I know exactly what my fears are, and how to handle them. Losing Josh is not one of them. Nor am I intimidated by the fact that you may find Josh, and possibly myself, sexually attractive. To put it simply, I am heterosxual, and have never been interested in making love to another woman."

Sara took a step back. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some business to attend to." She took her leave of Akemi and the other dancers and returned to finish her conversation with Father O'Mallory.

Sara couldn't believe the conversation she just had. What a brazen… I know she may mean well, but come on. She doesn't know in the slightest what's going on. Upon seeing that Sara was again free, Father O'Mallory excused himself from a small group of people.

"Are you all right, Sara?" Father Raymond asked softly. "You look a little upset."

"I'm fine. Ms. Rhodes said I was smothering Josh, and that I was going to kill our relationship because I was too uptight. She also effectively propositioned me, tried to throw on the guilt that being monogamous is a mad thing, and that if Josh wanted to sleep with her, I should let him." Sara shook her head. "I can't believe some people. I know she probably means well, or thinks she means well, but this is not the sort of thing you say to a complete stranger at a public function like this." She sighed.

"The world is a large place, Sara. The basic understanding that people think and feel differently would go along way to tolerance if anyone paid attention."

"I know, Father," Sara said with a lopsided smile. "What message should I pass along to our mutual friend?"

"Come to the Church around midnight tonight and we will talk some more."

Akemi watched her stalk off, nodding. That confirms that. Desmond was more right than even he realized, she mused. I must make a note to tell him so.

After a moment, she turned and walked again in Josh's direction. She can say that she doesn't mind him being attracted to anyone else (though she'd probably have a stroke if a man came on to him), but that's only because she's convinced that the hold she has over him will keep him away from anyone else, and thus she'll never really have to confront it happening. On top of which, she's made up her mind that she's also supposed to deny that she can find anyone else besides whoever she happens to be sleeping with attractive. She may have a rude awakening on both those scores one of these days. What love is it that can only exist through denial of the truth about oneself and one's beloved? "If you say you love, be at least capable of acts of love, or else keep your mouth shut."

When she reached Josh, Akemi sat down next to him and said, "Her thinking is strictly either/or, whether in terms of numbers or gender. Her fears and prejudices preclude her seeing the possibility of even an 'AND' condition, as in 'He loves you AND me,' let alone that of degree of multiplicity." She smiled. "I can imagine what she's telling herself about me right now to make herself feel better. Anyway, what this means is, she wants you to do what she wants, while making it look like it's really your own decision."

She stood up. "As far as I'm concerned, it really is your decision. I've made my feelings clear. I won't expect the hypocrisy of you 'forsaking all others' for me. But I won't be anyone's consolation prize. If you want me, you'll have to come and get me." Lust flared again in her blazing green eyes as she said this. Then she turned in the direction of the infamous veranda, leaving Josh to make up his mind.

It hasn't been that long, so that couple should still be there. And if they're that adventurous, I want to meet them.

"To love, honor and cherish," Gina quoted softly, barely heard above the pouring rain. She leaned on the veranda, staring at the back of her hand as she slowly twisted her wedding band. "Does the absence of one negate the others? We haven't loved each other in a very long time. Sometimes, I wonder if we ever did."

Nathaniel placed the glasses gently on a nearby stand and curled one arm around Gina's shoulders. "Love can be as easily painful as pleasant my dear. You take the good with the bad I suppose; at least as long as there are both. My father always says that the proper answer to any difficulty is inside of us if we just look hard enough." Nathaniel's voice took on a chiding nasal tone, "The truth is right under your nose, Nathan. You just have to know where to look."

She laid her head on his shoulder briefly and then moved away, her eyes cutting briefly towards the closed door. She then walked deeper into the shadows, trailing her hand over the rail.

"I have thought of my situation. I've been through it time and time again. From many different angles. And still I find no solution."

She turned and looked at him, face unreadable in the darkness. "I have thought that he must have had affairs. We haven't been lovers in over six years. Do you find it odd? That for all my thinking I've never thought of an affair for myself?"

Six years? What kind of marriage is that? Nathan thought. He stepped closer to her, placed his hands on her face and looked tenderly into her eyes. "You deserve better than that Gina. You are a very beautiful woman and a caring person who needs affection as much as those who you give it to."

She trembled at his touch, his words. "Yes." A whisper. Her hand came up and traced his jawline, her finger ran slowly along his lips. She moved closer.

Nathan's left hand slid behind Gina's head, his fingers spread through her hair. The back of his right hand gently caressed her cheek and slid along her shoulder and down her arm, his hand coming to rest on her hip. He leaned down and kissed her forhead softly, then her nose and her lips. Her lips tasted sweet so he kissed them again.

Sensing her need, Nathan pulled her to him. His strong embrace conveyed the emotions he felt: protectiveness, support… and desire.

Her hands came up, tangled in his hair, pulling him closer. Her mouth opened under his. Her body rubbed against his. Her breasts against his chest. Suddenly she pulled away. Her breathing was ragged, her eyes smoldered.

"Not here." She straightened her dress. "If I were interested in the humanities, where would I phone an expert?"

Composing himself, Nathaniel produced a card from the inside of his tuxedo jacket. "My card: it has my office number on it. My office hours are printed on the front as well. I will instruct my secretary to give you my home number if you ask for it." He gazed at her longingly. She was so vulnerable. He felt her need as surely as he had read her thoughts. There was a time and place for everything and this was neither for this. Glancing toward the door he said, "Guess we should rejoin the party."

Gina nodded and, straightening her dress once more, slipped through the door. Nathan waited a few seconds and then left as well. It was hard to believe that nothing had changed. People still moved around talking about the art pieces on display, danced, mouthed pleastentries. He watched as Gina snagged a glass of wine from a white on black server and downed half of it. Her eyes wondered in his direction, met and then danced away. She moved deeper into the crowd.

Nathan sighed and wondered what he was going to do about his erection. He couldn't go all evening with his hands clasped in front of him.

This was ridiculous. Young boys had difficulty controlling their hormones, not grown men. Nathan took a minute to gather his self-control, primped his own clothing and joined the crowded party. Though he had been living in New London for over two years now, he had not taken the opportunity to meet anyone outside of the college. This would be a good opportunity to introduce himself to the community.

Sara felt a touch on her arm. "Dance?" Josh asked softly.

"I'd love to," she replied, her love for him burning in her eyes. "If you'll excuse me, Father." She pressed up close against Josh as they danced, swaying to the slow romantic music.

"Are you okay?"

Sara could feel his tension, his body's excitement. His manhood was hard between them and she recognized the look in his eyes. But he had been like that when they walked onto the floor.

Akemi's doing? It doesn't matter. He's with me, and that's all that does matter.

Sara nodded. "Things were a bit hairy for a little while, then I had a little conversation with Akemi, but it's nothing I can't handle." She felt her own pulse quicken at the feel of him against her. The tip of Sara's tongue darted out to moisten her lips as she felt a soft throbbing start between her legs.

"How are you doing, love?" Sara asked, her hips shifting against his to avoid bumping into another couple who had drifted quite close. Her body thrilled at the sound of his quick intake of breath. She leaned her head forward, her lips brushing his ear. "Sorry about that." A thought crossed her mind and a delicious shiver went down her spine. "Too bad it's raining. It would have been wonderful to go out into the garden for a while. I hear it's designed so there are several little hedge and other plant-enclosed areas where people can sit and talk privately."

Josh breathed against her ear. "There's always the two verandahs, they're covered. There are also a few covered spots in the garden." He shivered and groaned softly, moving against her. "Sara."

Sara ran her finger lightly down the nape of his neck. "I don't feel like dancing any more. Let's check out the garden. Maybe the rain has let up." She tried to slow her breathing. I can't believe we're going to… The idea they might get caught by one of the greatest dignitaries of New London only served to heighten her arousal. Calm exterior, Sara. Am I glad I decided to wear the thong. He can just slip it to the side…