Leila let out an involuntary gasp as the man released his grip on her hand just as the small bolt of energy passed between them. Her hand still tingled from his touch. ‘What was that?’ she wondered.
What she said aloud while half laughing was, “Well that was...unexpected.”
She was looking expectantly at the dark stranger, silently willing him to say something since he seemed lost in thought. Seriously he looks like….no! Leila mentally slapped a hand to her forehead. She placed her hand lightly on his right arm, hearing his sharp intake of breath. She noticed the tingling sensation prickling along her skin once more. He felt strong and oddly cool to the touch. Time seemed to stand still while she waited for him to say something, anything. She’d never felt this sort of thing with any other guy. His touch put her nerve endings on high alert. What made him so special? Exhaling, he shook out of his reverie and replied in a warm foreign accent that she couldn’t quite place, but it sounded vaguely russian.
“Yes. It was.”
He looked at her quizzically, his eyebrows quirked, waiting for her to explain. Leila was going to say something witty, but she had lost her train of thought. Why does he keep staring at me like that? All she could focus on was his eyes. His expressive, beautiful hazel-gold eyes. It was really hard to discern the right color in the strobe lights of the Cathedral and the fact that he was wearing a mask. The shape of his jaw struck a chord with her and she found herself looking down to study his lips. Nice lips were a big turn on for her. His lips looked simply delectable! They had a definite pout to them. They were a light coral color, the perfect compliment to his pale mocha skin tone. She wondered if they were as soft as they looked! To her dismay, she realized that while she had been so intently focused on his mouth, it hadn’t dawned on her until now he had been talking to her.
She thought that she would try to be smooth to hide the fact that she wasn’t paying attention by saying, “I can’t hear you, do you want to dance?”
Thankfully he just nodded, a fleeting smile sweeping across his face that made her inarguably weak in the knees. She started walking towards the dance floor, not daring to touch his bare skin again, fearing the literal electric spark that was between them. The song was hypnotic and flowing, perfect for someone like him who seemed to have two left feet, if his dancing with Elaine was any indication.His skills in that department were sorely lacking. Biting her lip, she led him to the dance floor, thankful for the music. Confidence was not her strong suit, but when it came to dancing, she didn’t care what anyone else thought. If she was able to lose herself in the rhythm, she could let go of everything and just dance.
As it were, she was quite frankly intrigued by this man who was but a mere stranger at best. She should have been more cautious, yet she somehow felt drawn to him as if by some magical force. Leila stopped in the middle of the dance floor and turned towards him expectantly. She put her hands on his shoulders and he gripped each side of her waist gently, inhaling sharply when her fingers accidentally touched his neck. The spark she felt when their bare skin made contact ignited a flame deep in her belly, a longing that she didn’t yet fully comprehend. They swayed together, the music flowing around them in a lilting romantic lullaby.
“So...I missed what you were saying earlier, Nikoli….”
“Well, the music was pretty loud.”
“I was just asking you why you were sitting alone at the bar.”
Leila sighed, scrunching up her nose before answering.
“My friend is out dancing her little butt off and I’m...not as social as she is.”
“Ah, I see. That seems a little off to me.”
“What do you mean?”
Her eyebrows raised and her hands fluttered nervously behind his neck, causing his skin to prickle at her touch.
“You seem to be doing just fine with me.”
He smiled at her and she chuckled nervously, looking up at him.
“Yeah, well. For some reason you’re….an exception. You seem different than most guys.”
His smile caused the burn in her belly to spread outward, lower, making her face flame crimson. She looked away from him, hoping he wouldn’t notice her red cheeks in the dim lighting set-up for the slow songs, probably to help set the mood for romance.
“Is that a good thing?”
He smirked at her and she couldn’t help but to smile back, that strange niggling feeling pricking the back of her mind once more. I know him...but how? If only he wasn’t wearing a mask that hid most of his face. Asking him to show his face to her seemed a little out of the ordinary even for her. Leila was curious about him, however, and couldn’t seem to shake the feeling of wanting to see the man behind the mask.
“Yes, I think so. Although I don’t know much about you, or what you look like. So, my opinion on that seems a little untrustworthy, don’t you think?”
“I suppose so. Do my looks mean that much to you?”
He stopped swaying to look down at her, but she looked away, embarrassed by the prospect that he thought she only cared about his level of attractiveness. She started to shake her head, looking back up at him to deny the claim only to discover that he was no longer looking at her. He was looking out into the crowd, darting his eyes back and forth like he was looking for a specific person.
“What’s wrong, Nikoli?”
He didn’t answer her at first, he just stood there with his eyes closed, sniffing the air.
“What are you doing?” she asked Nikoli before she could stop herself.
He was acting so very strange. Nikoli opened his eyes quickly, his head shifting to look up towards the ceiling. He grabbed her by the shoulders and gazed down at her, a grim, determined frown forming on his face.
“I’ll be right back. Stay here alright?”
Confusion was written all over her face; her eyes were narrowed, her lips clamped together and her brows were knitted together. He reached his hand out to brush the back of his hand across her cheek and grinned an all too familiar sad smile that she couldn’t seem to resist. Something was tugging at the deepest corner of her mind. She pushed it aside and took his hand, cool yet soft. The touch made her hand tingle again. Nikoli’s brows furrowed as he brushed his thumbs over her hand.
‘He must feel it too,’ she thought with confusion.
“Oh...Okay…Is everything alright?”
“I hope so.” He nodded his head at her briefly and turned around, facing the opposite end of the room.
She called after him, but he had already started to walk away. She scoffed in annoyance, crossing her arms over her chest as she watched him cross the room. He waded through the crowd of partygoers towards a small, hidden staircase she hadn’t noticed before. He looked back at her once more and smiled a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes, as reached out his hand to grasp the railing. She couldn’t help, but to be intrigued by his strange behavior. Leila knew he had asked her to stay where she was, but she wasn’t very good at following orders either. Curiosity killed the cat...she thought, hoping that this wouldn’t bite her in the butt, as she willingly disobeyed his request to stay put and followed him up the long, dark, winding staircase. She had reached the top, barely registering what was happening when she heard the voice…