Moon In Scorpio

Chapter 45

It's gone eleven when Kate finally manages to push Lanie out her front door. She's exhausted. Revealing everything to her friend, especially the kiss in the car, has made her realise how crazy the whole thing is. She's kidding herself thinking that this is some sort of Pretty Woman scenario where she, the penniless messenger with a criminal career is going to be rescued by her handsome writer.

Lanie's enthusiasm had been contagious, but now, in the relative quiet of a lonely apartment that would fit inside his sitting room, she realises she's delusional. She leans back against the closed door, then allows herself to slowly slide down until she's sitting on the floor, knees up in front of her, arms clamped tightly round them.

For a few days she's been living a dream … well, a prelude to one anyway, but she mustn't kid herself, there's no future there for her, maybe a few months of fun and games and telling him where he's got the technique wrong … not much to build a future on. He'll soon get bored with her, start looking for the page six arm candy he can take to the ball … not Cinderella.

She pushes herself up off the floor and looks around the room. Lanie helped her to tidy up, so there's only the dishes and glasses to wash up and then she can head to bed. A little while later she's walking round the room, turning off lights and pulling the curtains back in readiness for the morning. Walking past the couch she scoops her phone off the table and carries it into her bedroom, dropping it on top of the bed covers before heading for the bathroom. Ten minutes later she's turning off the bathroom lights and rubbing moisturising cream into arms, neck and face then sitting on the edge of the bed to wipe the last remnants from palms and between fingers into her legs.

The nightstand lamp throws a warm glow over half the bed and part of the floor, dark shadows contrasting with the yellowish light. She slips in under the covers and the phone gets kicked out from where she'd dropped it. Grabbing it she checks the alarm's set for her early morning start and sets it on the nightstand before stretching out to switch the light off.

She settles back and pulls the covers up, crosses her arms over her stomach, rubbing one thumb gently over the other. She feels exhausted but not sleepy, her body begging for rest, her mind running a thousand miles an hour.

She stares unseeing at the patterned spray of light on her ceiling cast by the street lights forcing their way through the gap between curtain rail and wall, the curtain rings casting tooth-like shadows, an oblique oblong of light with a serrated lower edge. She turns over, pushes her hand under the pillow and pumps it up, raising and lowering her head in an attempt to find a comfortable position, then stares at the darker shadow of the bedside lamp against the backlit curtains.

Her eyes flicker involuntarily to the darker oblong of her phone just visible next to the lampstand. She closes her eyes, tries to think of sunny beaches and waving palm trees and the gentle rush of waves on sand, tries to imagine herself on a low-slung hammock, sipping a cool fruit cocktail whilst a gentle breeze cools her skin … except that every time she's fixed the picture in her mind he's suddenly there, walking next to her, lying in the hammock an arms breadth away, kissing the palm of her hand and sending shivers up her spine.

In frustration she turns over, setting the pale patch of curtains behind her, pulling the covers over her head as if they'll protect her from him, her eyes staring into the gloomy corner where the dresser is just a darker mass against the walls. She suddenly develops an itch on her cheek, has to scratch it … then the damned thing's moved round to her back, just where she'd cut herself and his fingers had brushed her skin, made her wince and tingle, made her gasp in pain and hold her breath in anticipation.

She's back to lying on her back, covers pushed down to her waist, fists grabbing the bedding in frustration. Sitting up, she swings her legs over the edge of the bed, leans forward and runs her fingers through her hair. She makes a half-hearted grab at the phone, swipes her finger across it and looks at the time … 12:23 … she could have sworn it would have been later … earlier … whatever. She drops the phone back on the nightstand, gets up and patters through to the kitchen for a glass of water, feeling the cold biting into her, the warmth of the bed she's just left no longer a prison, it's appealing once more.

She carries the glass back with her, places it carefully on the nightstand and slips back under the covers, feet cold as ice, the sheets still warm but quickly losing any residual heat. She's once again lying on her side, back to the window, sheets pulled up tight under her ear. She closes her eyes, tries her usual sleep mantra of running through the lyrics from some of her favourite songs.

Three whole songs later and she gives up, she knows she's not going to get to sleep tonight, not the way her mind is whirling, so she gets up, pulls on some sports underwear and then slips into her bike leathers and boots.

Ten minutes later she's walking out onto the street, helmet slung over her arm as she heads for the Harley parked a block away on Greene. She slings her leg over the bike, settles back comfortably into the saddle and starts the bike up. The rumble of the engine and the vibrations running through the bike stir her pulse and she decides to sling the helmet over her arm … tonight she wants to feel the rush of air through her hair, and to hell with possible fines from traffic cams.

She slips on a pair of wrap-around night-time glasses, their yellow-tinted lenses designed to reduce glare and enhance night vision. Soon she's roaring down towards Battery Park, the cold air whipping her hair back and blowing the cobwebs from her mind, the city lights become a shimmering sequence of multi-coloured blurs which zip past ever faster as she hits Broadway and opens up the throttle even further.

Half an hour later she's turning off FDR and heading up the slip road which will bring her parallel to the Brooklyn Bridge and take her back towards the Civic Center on to Canal Street and all the way home.

She rolls the bike to a stop, kicks out the stand and turns the key, silencing the rumble of the engine. The exhilaration of her night-time ride is beginning to wear off already, but she reckons she'll be able to grab a couple of hours sleep before her shift begins.

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