The Muse's Touch

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He Looks Like Who

He surged within her and she cried out in the pleasure of their joining. They soon settled into a steady rhythm and their hips moved together as one. Her hands tightened their grip, fingers interlaced with his above her head as her body strained to pull him in deeper still.

Paige pushed her glasses back up along the ridge of her nose before her fingers returned to flying across the keyboard. Channelling her frustration from the interrupted dream to her writing was pure therapy, even if it meant she would make her poor characters suffer more.

A sudden knock on the door jolted her out of her writing flow. With a semi-coherent mumble of irritation, Paige pushed her chair back and plodded across the laminate pine floors.

“Paige, I know you’re in there!”

If it was anyone else, Paige would have tried to hide and pretend no one was home. But recognizing the voice of her best friend since tenth grade, Ainsley, she opened the door.

With energetic steps and a bounce of golden curls, Ainsley swept into her suite as she took a step back to let her in. Paige had always held an admiration for the way Ainsley took up space despite her diminutive form as if her presence was larger than life. Beside her, despite being taller, Paige felt meek and awkward in comparison. She had to admit, she modelled much of her author persona after her best friend.

“So, how did the interview go?” Ainsley tossed her handbag on the couch and sat down next to it, eyes flashing with excitement. Paige had to smile. Ainsley was often the first to ask about progress or to cheer her on and she was also a damn good beta reader.

“It went well, I think. Jess asked for an advance copy of Heated Nights to review and said she was a fan.”

Ainsley squealed and clapped her hands together. “That’s awesome! See? All that preparation was worth it!”

Paige nodded and pulled her computer chair over to sit. “Definitely. Thank you.” Ainsley, who also happened to be a public relations professional, had insisted they roleplay the interview to practice. Without her, Paige wasn’t sure if she would have answered each question so smoothly.

“Well then, we need to go out and celebrate!”

She swallowed hard. Ainsley’s idea of celebration often ended up with hangovers the next day. “Ains, it was just an interview…”

“With only one of the biggest YouTube channels of your industry! Think: millions will hear about your work.”

Rather than becoming excited, Paige paled. Her mind began to replay the interview, nitpicking over whether she said anything regrettable.

“Paige. Paige! Snap out of it!” Ainsley waved a hand in front of her face. “See? You‘ve proved my point. Sitting here by yourself in the basement, dwelling, will not do you much good. Come on. There’s a new bar on Fourth. Come check it out with me. Live a little.”

Ainsley was not someone people said no to. Or at least Paige found that to be the case. With a huff, she nodded her assent. “Okay, you win. Let me take a shower.”

“Okay, you go do that. I’ll raid your closet and get your outfit ready.” Ainsley tapped a finger on her lips in thought. “I think for tonight, we want to go with something that doesn’t scream trying hard but not your usual t-shirt and jeans. Didn’t we get you that nice backless black top the last time we were at the mall?”

“What’s wrong with my t-shirt and jeans?”

Ainsley levelled her a stare and answered by herding her to her bathroom instead. “Go.”

By the time they arrived at the bar, Paige was beginning to wonder if Ainsley had an ulterior motive. Paige had to admit they looked good. Ainsley was in a pair of waist-high shorts and a rose pink crop top that showed off her flat tummy, paired with a pair of stilettos that gave her at least another two inches. In contrast, she had dressed Paige in a pair of ripped tight jeans that reached just above her ankles and that drapery black top that exposed most of her back. It framed the larger black and white tattoo between her shoulders: a tree of life with birds flying away. That tattoo was likely what inspired the dream where she had met Shade.all those years ago.

Ainsley hadn’t dressed them up for casual drinks but to attract. At least Paige had drawn her line at makeup.

Half the city seemed to have the same idea as they waited in a line that circled most of the block. At least she could see the door from where she was, but it didn’t help that she was back in those wedges again. Paige crossed her arms, her mind wandering back to the memory of Shade’s hands on her. So much for her plans to go to bed early and dream him back into existence so he could finish what he started.

“Maybe we should just head to another club.” They had been waiting for half an hour now and Paige kept casting longing glances away from the club. Even if they got in now, she did not relish the crowd inside.

A new wave of murmurs and whispers rippled through the crowd.

“Over there.” Ainsley elbowed Paige, and she followed her friend’s gaze. Three gorgeous guys strolled down the street, their pace slow and casual. The shortest of the three had an almost cherubic face with a short textured crop of light blond hair ending in frosted tips. His grin and wink to ladies that met his eyes, however, spoke of a naughty innocence.

Behind him walked two others. The one closer to the side of the line was lean and tall. With short gelled back nut-brown hair, sunglasses and hands jammed into his pocket, he looked off to one side, paying no heed to the fawning girls, a complete contrast to his friend’s flirtatious manner.

As he moved out of the way, Paige glimpsed the third. Her heart stopped. The mop of dark hair, the almost too pretty face. That hint of the all-around bad boy aura clothed in dark jeans and a button-down black shirt.

Shade.

There was that smirk on his face as he turned to the ladies and only then did Paige realized his eyes were steel blue, not the glowing amber of her muse’s. She exhaled. Not Shade.

Their eyes met. Paige could have sworn that his smirk faltered for just a quick second but if hard-pressed, she would admit she couldn’t be sure.

“You okay?” Ainsley stepped closer to Paige and whispered, placing one hand on her shoulder.

“Yeah…” It was the only answer she could give. How could she possibly explain that her muse, the source of all her inspiration, especially the erotic parts, just took flesh and form before her eyes? Nopes, not happening. Still, her eyes follow the trio as they breezed past the rest of the line and with a quick conversation with the bouncers, were let in.

What. The. Hell?

“Must be some VIP, but I don’t recognize them.” Ainsley has taken her phone out and her thumbs were hammering at the screen. Paige peered over her shoulder. Her friend was typing up notes and searching for anything that would tell her who they were.

“Ains, that’s bugging you, isn’t it?”

Paige could tell that Ainsley was reluctant to put her phone away, but she did anyway.

“Of course.” It’s my job to know who the movers and shakers of the town are. Three guys that can just talk their way into a brand new club can’t be nobodies.” She huffed in frustration. “I don’t think they were just paying their way in either. I didn’t see anyone slip the bouncers bills.”

Now it was Paige’s turn to pat Ainsley on her shoulder. Part of her wanted to know who those men were, too. Okay, she wanted to know who that one particular guy that looked so much like her dream lover was. Had she seen him somewhere before and had subconsciously modeled Shade after him? Was he someone she knew in the past? This was driving her nuts. Paige contemplated asking Shade when she saw him next but that would be silly. How would someone she invented know something she did not?

“Finally!” Ainsley grabbed Paige’s hand as the line began to move. As they shuffled through, they both breathed a sigh of relief when the bouncers let them through and patched the velvet-covered chain back up behind them. Velvet covered chain. Paige eyed it, wondering if it was something she could work into her story.

“Come on!” Now that they were in, Ainsley was all action. Soon they had paid for cover and made their way to the bar. The music was hot, and the place was packed but crowds parted for Ainsley all the same as they made their way through. Paige silently thanked her friend’s superpower as they stood with their first drink of the night in their hands - a rum and coke for Ainsley and a lemon sour cocktail for herself.

Her eyes scanned the floor, seeking that trio only to travel upwards as if pulled by something. There they were, sitting at a table on the second-floor lounge, glasses an ice bucket with a bottle of something on the table in front. A few girls sat with them, one leaning over to whisper something to the Shade-look-alike. Paige felt an unreasonable shot of jealousy and had to shake her head.

“Damn. Mystery aside, they’re hot.” Ainsley took a sip of her drink.

“I don’t know...” Realizing she was grinding her teeth, Paige forced her jaw loose and took a healthy swallow of her drink.

“Hey, doesn’t that black-haired one look a bit like Tobias from your books?”

Paige flushed at that and busied herself by lifting the glass to her lips again. At this rate, she was going to down the entire drink in less than a minute.

“Slow down girl,” Ainsley murmured but finished her own the drink in one big gulp. “Come on, let’s go dancing.”

Ainsley garnered attention as soon as they hit the dance floor. Who wouldn’t be attracted to her vivacious friend who, despite her smaller form, seemed to have legs that go on for miles? Paige herself, however, was content to just dance, letting the beat of the music wash over her as she swayed her hips.

Someone stepped up from behind and she felt the heat of his body radiating against her back. He was close, so close. And then she felt it, hands on her hips. Paige’s head whipped backwards, with full intention of telling the guy off when the words died in her throat.

It was the near white-haired one from the trio earlier and meeting her eyes, he gave her the most charming smile, a mix of delight and mischief. When she didn’t sock him one right away, he leaned forward to whisper in her ear.

“Whoops, caught.”

Paige could not help but laugh. The laughter, however, died off when the Shade-look-alike approached, hovering over both of them, lips set in a tight line.

“Hands off Finn.”

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