A Winterfest Vignette by Teri
Though it was now her third Winterfest in the tunnels, this year, as in the previous two, Catherine listened in amazement as the string quartet tuned up for their first set. The Great Hall was vast, and the string quartet small, but the sound drifted overhead as if by magic, filling the space with the sweetest, trembling notes imaginable.
This night she felt her heart flutter in response, and she knew it was from more than just the music, as beautiful as it was. She shivered as the soft pressure of Vincent’s hand against her lower back increased slightly, sliding from mere fingers to warm palm, as he guided her through the chamber. The tingling of her skin beneath the soft cashmere of her gown, present since he’d first laid his hand upon her, suddenly sparked, making her inordinately aware of her own body and his, standing so close beside her.
“There’s Peter, Catherine.”
The sibilant whisper came unexpectedly, joined by a warm breath upon her ear, sending another jolt of tension rippling through her already sensitized flesh. Try as she might, she couldn’t repress the quivering that shuddered through her in response, and this time he felt it, stopping his forward motion abruptly. She stilled beside him without thought, and a part of her wondered how it was that the barest touch of his hand upon her could guide and control her body so completely.
Responding to the pressure of your partner’s hand was one of the first things she’d learned in her youth, at the dance lessons her mother had brought her to each Saturday morning on the upper east side. She remembered the teacher’s instructions to the boys, the cues and touches that would maneuver a couple through a crowded space. They were easy to follow, once you got the hang of it. Over time she learned to assess within minutes the skill level of her partner, distinguishing easily between the more heavy-handed touches that signaled a learned skill at odds with the comfort level of the man holding her and the deft, graceful technique that spoke of one of a more sensual nature, who’s mind and body were closely aligned.
None of the men she’d danced with over the years, however, could match the level of sensuality inherent in the being standing so still beside her now, and she knew he had never had nor needed lessons to master this subtle form of communication. It was all him, all Vincent, and the thought of all that implied held her frozen, her body suddenly taut and tense. Of course he felt that as well.
Catherine’s mind raced as she tried to decide what to do. Should she ignore it, pretending nothing out of the ordinary was happening? They’d done a lot of that over the course of their time together, especially during the last year. Vincent was particularly adept in that art, and as with his hand upon her, she’d unconsciously followed his silent lead, submitting to the overwhelming power of his mastery over her. Though the result was physically frustrating, she’d soon come to realize that there was an unusual and unspoken element of emotional pleasure to be had in that submission. Giving in to him, even in this, somehow felt both intimate and forbidden. It brought them closer together in an unconscious, primal way, even as he consciously held himself apart from her. She wondered if he felt it too, this contradictory push and pull that both frazzled and delighted her. Would he speak of it now? Would he bring the simmering tension between them out in the open, or would he ignore it, leaving it to bubble and shimmer below the surface, the delicious waves of pleasure and pain filling them until, like now, it seemed to jump in an arc from his fingers and palms, through the fabric of her clothing, directly to her body beneath it?
His touch upon her had stilled along with the rest of his body, and now the pressure decreased slightly, as though he was preparing to pull away from her. She tried to prepare herself as well, and was therefore all the more surprised when instead of that anticipated move, his hand slid over and down slightly, cupping the curve of her hip. He squeezed her gently, drawing her close to his side, and an electric spark quivered through her belly and pooled low, jolting her anew. Her thighs tensed as she tried to contain the sensation, and she closed her eyes for a moment, trying to gather her control together once more. It was impossible. The sensation grew and her eyes flew open, glancing frantically about the crowded hall.
“Vincent…” she whimpered.
Her voice was breathy and low and no one appeared to notice, thank god, except for him. She didn’t know if he actually heard her or simply felt her response over their bond, but either way it was clear he knew by the way he abruptly moved again, sweeping her forward and off to the side of the hall, away from the tunnel dwellers and helpers chatting happily within. They reached the wall where the edge of a tapestry lay, and Catherine’s eyes widened as he pulled it forward, revealing a dark opening behind it. He bundled her through it quickly and the tapestry slid back into place, closing out the beam of light that had momentarily spilled in from the outer hall.
It was pitch black in this hidden space, and even the sounds of the party revelers in the hall were now gone, the heavy tapestry absorbing and muting the noise from without. Within it remained only the sounds of their breath, suddenly harsh and loud in the dark. She couldn’t see Vincent at all, but his hand had never left her waist, and now the other joined it, pulling her close against his suddenly trembling length. The absence of light was both unnerving and exhilarating, liberating something wild within her. The tightness in her chest fell away and she let herself go, melting into his arms.
It was as though they were a single entity, contained together within a womb of warmth and comfort, where nothing and no one else existed. Her arms circled his shoulders, holding him close as her hands grasped convulsively at him. She could feel every inch of his body against hers, amazed at the closeness he was allowing them. For once he wasn’t trying to hide from her, neither his emotional nor his physical responses. Against her belly she felt the steely strength of his arousal. She pressed against it hungrily, seeking out more of that forbidden sensation, needing it. His hands abruptly left her waist and she whimpered in protest, clutching him tighter, hoping to keep him there, his body tight to hers. The breathy gasps turned into a soft, whimpering moan, and from there into a full-bodied groan of pleasure as his hands slid down instead of away, cupping the round curves of her buttocks to pull her up and in, pressing the core of her desire against the evidence of his own. It was too much. The sensations in her belly coalesced and exploded outward, and she collapsed in his arms with a stunned cry. Vincent’s cry echoed her own, and even through the dazed shock filling her she felt the pulsing of his erection as he found his own release as they sank to their knees upon the stony floor.
Catherine’s senses returned slowly, the darkness a soothing blanket surrounding her, his strong, muscled length cradling her gently but firmly.
“Catherine…” he whispered, his voice shaking and full of awe.
She nestled deeper into his body and nuzzled along his throat, her body tuned so fully to his that she needed no sight at all. All her senses were saturated with him, with his scent, his form, his touch. The little catches in his breath almost undid her again, and she soothed him with unconscious strokes of her palms along his arms, shoulders and back as she rubbed her breasts lazily against his chest.
“Do you hear it, Vincent?” she murmured, pressing her lips warmly to the tender hollow between his collarbones. This place she’d only ever glimpsed through layers of clothing was now as familiar to her as her own hand. He smelt of ginger and spice, beeswax and sultry smoke, and without thought her tongue licked into the deep indentation to taste. Perfect. He gasped and arched into her touch, and to her ever-lasting amazement did not pull away. More than anything else, that told her of the astonishing transition that had occurred between them in little more than minutes. Hesitation and doubt were gone as though they’d never been, and she knew – she knew! – that he felt it too.
“Hear what, my Catherine?” he asked, his voice catching in a way that made her heart ache with happiness.
“The music,” she whispered in reply, brushing her face lazily against that silky spot that so entranced her.
One hand slid from around her back to cup her cheek, and she almost swooned dizzily when he momentarily pressed her closer, before slipping down to lift her chin so that her face was raised to him. Her sightless gaze sought him out, and she shivered as she realized that he saw her. Her lips trembled and she blushed, but she didn’t pull away, letting him see the love and desire for him in every line and plane of her face.
“I hear, it, my love. So beautiful, so sweet,” he murmured.
The very air between them suddenly seemed to condense, and she knew that he had drawn closer. When his lips met hers, the air left her body abruptly, in a shivery rush. He kissed her slowly, thoroughly, exploring her lips as though he never intended to leave them. When his tongue licked lightly across the trembling curves she opened to him with a sigh of delight, melting bonelessly against him. He drew back slowly and she followed, pressing eager kisses to him to stop his retreat. She needn’t have worried. The separation was for a moment, only.
“I’m home,” he whispered huskily, drawing her close once more.