The Long Game

In Remnants of Sleep

She lay with him, their unadorned bodies comfortably intertwined. His breath was her breath. Whether she had attuned to his or he had attuned to hers, she did not know. But here they lay. Quiet, peaceful, breathing together as one.

She drifted through the remnants of her sleep. Her thoughts wandered by her and she leisurely considered their ebb and flow. What had she done? She should be aghast at her unseemly behavior. Falling into the arms of an older man, her former fiancé's employer no less.

But she felt the deep connection of their souls. It had been there from the beginning, at the first sight of him standing on those steps at the Geo-Magnetic Energy introductory demonstration. She had been unable to name it at the time, but it had been there nevertheless.

Attempting to refocus her romantic attentions on Jonathan even after he had proven so flawed so many times. Feeling drawn to Alexander Grayson in a way she could not explain. As if she had found someone she had lost and now recovered. She had tried to ignore the connection, the attraction.

But he had been there when no one else had. He had provided not simply a phonograph as she had requested, but a small orchestra for her devices. And when they had danced together in the empty hall, she could not deny she had felt the heat between them and their souls speaking to each other.

He never expressed doubt in her abilities. He comfortably engaged her intelligence and humor in conversation. He mystified her by exhibiting delight in the simple act of walking in the sunlight. He had tried to hide his emotions but she had seen them there, roiling just below the surface of his gentlemanly restraint. He had visited her in hospital. Bringing her roses. Making her laugh. Watching over her. Always watching over her, it seemed. He loved her in a way that she did not fully understand.

He had rescued her from her captors. Denying it, just as he had denied his true feelings for her. That did not make it less true. She knew he had destroyed them, heard their dying screams as she lay helplessly strapped to that accursed table. And despite her gentile upbringing, she was tremendously glad they were dead.

When the Resonator demonstration was sabotaged, she had strived to help him until Jonathan had dragged her away, screaming for him over and over. After the explosion, she had experienced sheer horror at the thought of losing him forever. She had entered his darkened home just to be near his things, and in the quavering hope of somehow finding him alive.

The pictures of her. Not of her. Of Ilona. His wife of long ago. She understood so much more now of his initial infatuation with her. But still so little about how all this had come to pass. She had given herself to this man she knew so well and yet not at all. And it had felt right, it had felt good, like coming home. Like another piece of her soul falling into place.

Dreaming of Ilona. Always dreaming of her as long as she could remember. Sensing something she could not quite describe. Like a memory hovering just beyond her reach. Ilona, who looked just like her. Ilona with her beautiful face and always outstretched hand, forever reaching out to her. But why?

And now here she was, laying with her body pressed to his. Surrounded by the lingering aromas of the previous night. The smoke and ashes. The fire and the ardor. She could still feel the echoes of their bodies writhing. The welcome weight of him. And it made her tremble inside.

What was she to do now? How was she to proceed? This would be quite the scandal if and when found out. Her father would be mortified. Nearly as or more so disgraceful as the tryst between Jonathan and Lucy.

Her heart clenched and a small, soft sound escaped her throat. She felt a soothing touch from him that eased her anguish, allowing her to continue examining her thoughts with somewhat less pain.

What chain of events had brought this to pass?

Her best friend Lucy, always so close. Always the wild one, the playful temptress, yes, but this? She had professed a love for Mina that should only be between a man and woman. And Mina, appalled, had sent her away.

And Jonathan. Once she thought she had felt love growing between them. Then he had begun drifting away. Changing. Suggesting her medical career was only a distraction until she began birthing his children like a prized piece of livestock with no thinking brain at all? As if he had been indulging her in her fantasies all along as though she were a child.

She had given herself to him in the heady moment of romance and passion. But it had been a fleeting dalliance and he had withdrawn from her again to pursue what he considered his more important endeavors. His absence and disregard invalidating her pursuits as unimportant.

Disappearing completely after her attack only to take his comfort in the arms of Lucy. Upon her scrutiny, he had placed blame first with Lucy for pursuing him. As if he were incapable of making his own decisions to halt her affections or simply remove himself from her presence. Then he had blamed Mina for his infidelity, citing her apparent love for Grayson as an excuse. She could not deny her feelings for Grayson had been growing, but there was a distinct difference between feelings and actions.

And now she was here, in the arms of a man who claimed she had been returned to him from a past life. Which should have sounded insane, but the union of their souls was undeniable. She felt complete safety and companionship with him that she had never quite felt with anyone before. Her spirit calmed further from its angst at the thought of him so near.

She stretched her body as she began drifting from out of her reveries, savoring the touch of their warm skin together. She opened her eyes and raised her head to gaze at him. His expression of open love was so intense that made her heart swell.

"Alexander."

"Mina."


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