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The tap at his window surprised him. His eyes automatically shifted to read the clock. It was 2:58 a.m. No one he knew ever called on him so late. Curious, he rose from behind his desk and slid back the curtain. He peered through his own reflection and recognized the woman who waited without. Again he was surprised, for, though he knew her, they were not close friends and the only other time she had been at his place had been in the company of mutual acquaintances.
He stood staring, wondering what she could be doing there, and at 2:58 in the morning.
He grinned sheepishly as she tilted her head, raised her palms, shoulders and eyebrows in an eloquent expression which asked:
"Well?" Dropping the curtain he glanced quickly around, noting that everything was neat, as usual, and ready for company, then moved quickly to the door to see what the situation was.
"Hello?" he asked, as he opened the door.
"Hello." She made no move.
"Please come in." He opened the door wider and stepped slightly aside.
She shook her head and he shrugged and stepped out, closing the door behind him so as to not disturb his housemates, who occupied the upper floor.
"You weren't here earlier," she stated in a tone which suggested that an explanation was required.
His eyebrows shot up. "I was out walking," he replied, wondering why he was explaining, even as he did. It had been a beautiful night for a walk - warm, with a velvety breeze. It was one of those late summer nights often dreamed of, yet, when the dream came true, usually allowed to slip away, denying it its potential.
"Good," she said, somehow satisfied. He quirked an eyebrow, confused. "Let's go." She took his hand, started off, was surprised when she met resistance and looked inquiringly at him.
"Where are we going?" he questioned and was then confused at her seeming confusion. "What's up?"
Her face brightened in sudden comprehension. "I'm dreaming,"
she explained, "you called, and here you are, in my dream. But you don't remember calling, do you?"
He shook his head as if that would help clear the confusion; then he grinned. It was neat, what she had done. Now he could not deny having called - whatever calling was. He decided to play along. "No, I don't remember calling." She nodded, her suspicion confirmed.
"Okay. It's good you told me. That changes things slightly.
Now, let's go."
"Just a moment, please. I'll save my work and turn off the computer." He turned but her grip on his hand stopped him short.
"Not allowed," she said and tugged again on his hand.
"Not allowed?" His eyebrows come together in consternation.
"Not allowed," she confirmed, then explained smugly, "it's my dream. Don't introduce resistances. Too many and it'll end prematurely."
He wondered if she were on drugs. It didn't appear so and he recalled their mutual acquaintance telling him she never touched that stuff. Well, whatever, she needed a keeper tonight and he did like her. "Okay, let's go." "Good." She started off swiftly and he stumbled, caught himself and matched her stride. His thoughts were jumbled and nothing seemed to make sense. He didn't like that. He much preferred it when things made sense. He looked down at her. She was looking ahead, calm and composed, as if taking a "dream walk" at 3 in the morning were the most natural thing imaginable.
Form followed thought and he bent his wrist to check the time, but her hand tightened and prevented him from seeing the watch face. He was annoyed and made to speak, however, she beat him to it.
"Take that thing off and put it in your pocket," she sounded peeved. "I told you."
"Told me what?" He couldn't keep the annoyance out if his voice.
"About introducing resistances," she explained firmly as if to a slow learner.
Great, he thought, time is resistance. He shrugged and removed the offending article. He was annoyed at having to take off the watch and further annoyed that his need to know the time had been brought so sharply into focus. Time is reality, it came to him suddenly. He grinned, and this is pretty surreal, all right.
His thoughts were interrupted as she moved closer to him, released his hand and placed her arm about his waist. He stiffened momentarily, then relaxed and placed his own arm around her shoulders and tentatively drew her a little closer. She turned her face upwards and smiled a satisfied smile. Apparently this was scripted in her dream, he decided. I'm getting the hang of this, he congratulated himself.
The congratulations were premature, for she suddenly melted into him, throwing his emotions into confusion. Afterwards, no matter how he tried to describe the sensation to himself, he could never come up with a better description than 'melted into me'. Now, however, he was too busy to describe anything, for the twin sensations of sexual excitement and fierce protectiveness rose within him, pushing all else aside. The former he controlled tightly, to the latter he gave free rein. Protector was a role he could play.
Indeed, it was strangely satisfying to think of himself as the protector of his smaller, weaker companion. He straightened slightly and his walk became less of a saunter. If this "dream" was what she desired, he would see to it that she would have it.
"Is talking allowed?" he ventured.
"Only of what isn't," she replied, and in a way it made perfect sense to him.
"The stars are wondrous bright tonight. It's a magical sky."
He was rewarded with a soft smile from his soft companion and her arm tightened in a momentary hug.
Encouraged, he continued, "and you see that line of trees?" She nodded. "They are like sentinels against the sky."
"What are they guarding?" she asked.
"Us, of course," he answered flippantly.
She looked at the trees, perceiving what he could not perceive.
"You know, I think you're right."
He chided himself for getting too carried away with the game.
One of them had to keep a grip on reality. They came to a corner and she slowed. He hesitated, then realized that, as protector, it was his duty to choose a course. Arbitrarily he turned left and she followed his lead willingly. He glanced down, once more, at her face, softened further by the darkness. Her gaze caught his and something leaped inside of him. It felt so incredibly good to be there beside her; she so trusting, so safe in his embrace.
They made another turn and halfway down the block he spotted a cat, crouching near the road, watching them as they approached.
"It's amazing how many you see," he said, "yet the same cat that will allow you to pet it, and purr for you, in the day, will keep its distance at night."
"The cat is a creature of darkness," she murmured, "as am I.
During the day we rest and look pleasing, if a little dreamy, to day-dwellers; at night we come alive and . . . ." She hesitated, but he completed the sentence in his mind - 'and hunt'. She continued, "don't you feel the life coursing through me?"
He did and it caused him some misgivings. She no longer appeared as soft and helpless as she had earlier. He brushed that thought away. He also felt, more acutely, his own life force. He redirected his attention.
"And I?" he asked somewhat jokingly, "am I a creature of darkness or of the day?" He smiled as he awaited her reply.
She stopped and peered at him intently, consideringly. His smile faded. Finally she nodded, as if confirming a diagnosis. "Of the twilight," she finally said, "yet, although not of the day or night, neither is twilight your natural state. Your possibilities are greater, yet you don't see them. You don't know where you belong - you look at the day-dwellers and at the night-dwellers and you feel you fit in with neither. Thus you feel apart from all others and occupy a position in between - in the twilight - where day and night-dwellers mix, where both accept you, though you feel this acceptance is for all the wrong reasons."
He stood, stunned at the accuracy of her words. Though the concepts were alien, the sense of it seemed to fit. Cold waves washed through him and he shivered. Something important was happening - he pushed it aside.
"You don't want to hear this," she confirmed, "but it is my dream, not yours. Let's go."
Their relationship had been subtly altered in a way he didn't understand. His sense of control of the situation was damaged, but not irreparably. It suffered another blow, however, when she coaxed him out of the area in which he normally conducted his walks. He walked more alertly, slightly on edge, yet he did not force the issue - he didn't want to be accused of 'introducing more resistance into the dream'.
They continued on and he felt less at ease the further he strayed from his territory. When he realized they were heading for the park he rebelled. Resistance or no, he was going to take a stand.
She urged him on gently but he stopped instead.
"It's the park," he protested. "It's closed and it may not be safe."
"Do not worry," she replied earnestly, "I will protect you. You will be safe with me," she added as she saw uncertainty cross his face. She did not realize, or perhaps did, that the uncertainty had been brought on by the sudden loss of his perceived role as protector, by the realization that this role had never truly been his; that he had only thought it was. His sense of control, of knowing his place, was crumbling all about him and he couldn't see a way to regain it.
Her expression bordered on calculating, he thought, and wondered if she were orchestrating this play. One part of him cried out that 'of course she was'. It was, after all, her 'dream'; the other part refused to believe it possible. He felt a momentary panic.
"Don't worry," she repeated soothingly, "my protection is all around us. Do you not feel it?" He calmed down, felt back in control, until he realized what she had said.
"I'll make it stronger. Feel it now?"
Indeed he did feel something and he did feel inexplicably safe with her. At that moment he knew that it was, indeed, her dream and that his role within it was that which she wished it to be.
He didn't, however, know what that was. His sense of control shattered and she smiled, delighted.
"Now you understand. Take my hand and come with me."
He hesitated, fearing this step into the unknown, wondering if he could trust her. He fought down the urge to turn, to run, to make his way back to the comfort, safety and familiarity of his rooms and allowed himself to be led across the bridge and into the park.
Away from the street lamps it grew quickly dark, yet she made her way unerringly down the paths. All of his senses were on high alert for dangers unseen and unheard. His free hand clenched and unclenched without him realizing it. This was not a part of his world, this park at night. Still, something about it felt vaguely familiar.
"Relax, will you?" She spoke in a low voice. "I told you, you are safe with me. This is my domain, my dream, and I will not allow anything to happen to you." He felt better without knowing why. "Nothing not of my own doing," she amended in a throaty chuckle which sent shivers racing up and down his spine. He looked at her sharply.
In the dark her eyes were large and seemed to gleam as they caught the starlight. Her smile seemed a bit more feral and he knew that this was her true self; she was not the soft dreamy one he saw in the day.
"Let's sit for a bit and drink in the darkness," she suggested.
He complied and walked over to a nearby park bench and sat down.
She followed with a quick shake of her head and a quiet laugh.
They sat on the bench overlooking the stream, holding hands and listening quietly to the soft gurgle of the water. A breeze was moving the branches of the trees and they could hear the rustling of leaves. Above, the night sky blazed in all its magnificence.
The beauty of it all took his breath away. He began to feel, again, a deep longing for he knew not what. Often, in the night, he had felt that homesickness for a home he'd never known. Always he'd suppressed that idea as nonsense. This night he could not, and it so engaged him that he was unaware that his far hand had been taken in hers and held palm up while she began tracing patterns on it with her other forefinger.
The slight tickling brought his awareness back and he watched, fascinated, as she intently studied and drew on his palm. Occasionally the trace would move up a finger to the pad, circle, then make the return journey. His other arm, around her shoulders, drew her slightly tighter to him. He became acutely aware of her warmth, her closeness, and felt little jolts of electricity sparking through his body, ignited by her traces.
She stopped, raised his palm to her lips and kissed it. Her tongue darted out and moistened a spot in the centre. She looked up into his surprised eyes and grinned; then lowered her head again to lick at his exposed wrist. The warmth of her tongue and her breath followed by the coolness as she blew on the wet skin caused him to tremble. Little tensions coursed through his body and he obeyed the sudden impulse to stretch to release them all.
"Good, baby, very good," she approved. "Just let it happen."
She patted him on the thigh, "but let's get off this bench -
it's too day-dwellerish." They moved onto a nearby grassy slope.
He sat and caught the smell of the grass and breathed deeply.
She moved behind him and sat at his back, her legs surrounding him, knees up. She leaned forward and hugged him to her briefly, her hands meeting in front of his chest. He caught the trace of the perfume in her hair and breathed deeply once more.
Excitement coursed through his mind and body. Nothing had ever prepared him for the total loss of control he felt. Each sensation was new or felt new and though enjoyable - more: exciting and pleasureful - he still desired some control, some input, yet he feared to make any overt move - 'to introduce any resistance'
- in case she might object and declare the dream over. And he was beginning to fear ending the dream more than continuing it.
Thus, all he could do was to wait for whatever might come next.
He jerked at the unannounced touch of a fingernail at the nape of his neck. Again the soft throaty laugh. "Good, baby, good,"
she murmured and her fingers made their way up and into his hair, now massaging his scalp, now lightly scratching. It felt so good that, almost of its own volition, his head began to turn and tilt to help direct the caresses. He let out a low hum.
"Yes, good," she murmured, "I love the way you move to let me know I'm pleasing you. It makes it so much more pleasurable for me as well." She stopped momentarily and hugged him again. He enjoyed the feel of her breasts pressing against his back.
"That feels good, too," he murmured in return.
"Shhh. No words," came the reply, but her hug tightened in appreciation. He placed his arms over her arms, his hands over her hands and held them to him. She allowed him to remain thus, wrapped in her arms, for a time, then released him to continue her ministrations on his head.
Finally she leaned forward and hugged him tightly. However, this time when she relaxed her grip she began to unbutton his shirt.
Her hands roamed over his bare skin then disappeared, leaving him feeling forlorn. Pressure on his shoulders bade him lean forward with his arms back and his shirt was stripped from him.
Deft fingers now cruised up and down his spine, played games down his back and over his shoulders, sometimes up his neck and into his hair again. He let out a long sigh of contentment and somehow knew without looking that her teeth were bared in a feral smile of satisfaction. Fingers slid into his hair then gripped it. She forced his head to turn, kissed him soundly, then released him.
One hand left his back, then the other. He gazed up at the stars, breathing shakily, as he awaited the next stage. He kept trying to find a role he could play, yet found none. He felt he was on the edge of some discovery.
Nails, lightly raking around his shoulders and down his sides, signaled her return. The nails raked across his stomach and his muscles gave a little jump. She was humming now and when she hugged him it was flesh against flesh. As her hands roamed his upper torso he could feel her hard nipples rubbing and touching his back. Occasionally she let out a gasp of her own and he was inordinately pleased to know that the flow of pleasure was not all one way. Without instruction he placed his arms outside her knees and began to stroke her clothed lower legs. She did not bid him stop so he continued, pleased to be able to give this small token of appreciation in return.
On one of their downward swoops her hands attempted to reach under his waistband, but were thwarted in that attempt by the tightness of his belt. Hairs on the back of his neck were raised at her growl of displeasure and the force with which she pulled back the tongue of his belt to release the buckle stunned him. Popping of the snap was quickly accomplished, allowing her easy access to his softer, less protected, regions.
As her hands made their first foray under his waistband, his whole body trembled and shuddered. The thought, incredible yet inescapable, that his safety, indeed his very survival, depended upon pleasing her, rose and rooted itself in his consciousness.
He could not shake the feeling that she was indeed a night-dweller, a predator, and that he was her prey. The feeling was both frightening and incredibly exciting. He was fascinated and knew that he was one prey who would not, could not, attempt escape.
Again her hands went low over the softness, this time to the hardness beyond, hesitated as if in surprise, then stroked possessively, approvingly. Her hum, now almost a purr, lent credence to both the concept of possession and the notion of predator. All that he was belonged to her in this time, in this place.
She lowered her knees, pulled him back against her, leaned back and, before he realized what was happening, he found himself rolled face down with her astride his thighs. She tugged at his pants and tenderly stroked his buttocks as they appeared, naked in the starlight. Face pressed to the ground, he breathed in the scent of the grass and earth. She reached back to his feet and found he'd already kicked off his shoes in anticipation. He heard her voice, low and soothing, in his ear while he felt her nipples grazing his back.
"Good, baby, good. You're learning."
She rose and completed the removal of his clothing. When she knelt once more beside him her bare leg touched him and he knew that she, too, was naked. He also knew what was coming next and rolled easily when her hands tugged at his hip and shoulder.
She quickly straddled him once more and laughed gaily as his body trembled beneath her.
"Poor baby," she whispered, "alone and at my tender mercy." She threw back her head and arms in a stretch of her own and he could see the line of her neck in the starlight. It was a lovely neck, he thought. Her head came back down and hair tumbled about her shoulders, framing her face. Looking into that frame he saw the picture of a great cat, eyes sparkling with the knowledge of immanent satisfaction, with the taking of the prey. She licked her lips, anticipating the moment then, in one quick movement, enveloped him. He shook in reaction as she cried out in pleasure - the pleasure of the hunt successfully concluded.
Never would he even think that he had entered her, penetrated her or acted upon her in any way. It was she who acted and the act was one of envelopment. Now she was riding him, one hand on his chest for support, the other helping herself to take her pleasure from him. And he, below, shuddered and jerked as her motion wreaked havoc on his senses; threw his emotions into turmoil.
He panted and gasped, trapped, as helpless as a . . . .
A low laugh escaped him as everything shifted, slid into focus and locked. No, not helpless, not prey, but partner. The night, the darkness not adversaries, not allies, but a natural state.
She paused, looked at him closely, and asked, "Yes?"
"Yes!" came the resounding reply. Together they laughed and together their movements became a dance: she continuing her ride, he reaching up and stroking her neck, her breasts, supporting her, and rising up to meet her. The dance became wild and unstructured until she collapsed on him, gasping for breath. He continued to move toward his own completion, moving faster as he approached climax. She stopped him.
"Hold still," she ordered. He obeyed, fighting to hold back, as she resumed her motion. Her eyes were bright, her smile feral once more as she viewed his hopeless endeavour. His body grew stiff, tightened, then spasmed, jerking him almost upright, once, twice, and again until he wrapped his arms around her and held tight as he finished and sank, with her, slowly back down.
"You were beautiful, my night-dweller," she whispered in his ear as they lay, still joined, recovering in the aftermath.
"And you, my predator."
She laughed richly, then started. His eyes flicked open, concerned, as he read something akin to fear in her posture, in her eyes.
"What is it?"
"The eastern sky is lightening," concern in her voice.
"Is that all?" He relaxed again. She did not and drew away, leaving them separate once more.
"Quickly, now, get dressed." Her urgency drove him to compliance and he rapidly clothed himself.
"What is it, please?"
"I have to get you back before the dream ends. Now, no more words. Words are resistance."
They moved quickly, though without undue haste, retracing their path. As he moved into ever more familiar territory, his old consciousness began to impose itself over the newfound one. Even so, the new, though suppressed, would not be buried totally.
Soon they were back at his front door, standing just as they had before she'd taken his hand.
He started. Had it been a dream, indeed? Had any time really passed? His watch was in his pants pocket. 'Check it,' a voice within ordered. He refused. She looked soft again, a bit dreamy, perhaps. 'Check the watch!' He refused.
"Close your eyes," she ordered, "and remember." He complied, then took an involuntary step backwards as she pressed forward and kissed him fiercely, possessively. Pressed against his door, arms wrapped around her, he weathered the storm of her passion.
When it had passed she whispered again, "Remain so one minute and remember."
Before him an image of her as the great cat arose. After he was sure a minute had expired he opened his eyes. The fierceness was in her features once more, then slowly disappeared as if never there.
"Good, baby, good. Now once more close your eyes and remember."
He obeyed and she kissed him lightly on the lips. When he made to hug her she pushed his arms back. Joined only at the lips, he concentrated and an image of her arose, soft and dreamy. She moved back and he opened his eyes. She was, indeed, soft and dreamy.
"The dream is almost over, baby. Thank you for your participation. Now, once more, close your eyes for one minute and remember." Her lips barely touched his and then were gone.
The memory of the focus shift came and locked. There were possibilities! A part of him exulted.
He opened his eyes. She was gone. It was as if she'd never been there. Had it truly been a dream? 'Check down the block,' the voice within -- insistent. He refused. He didn't want to know.
Instead he opened the door to the house, returned to his work room, hit the keys to save his work and turned off the computer.
In his bedroom he pulled the blind and drew the curtains to keep out all light. He closed the travel alarm without looking at its face. He would not set it; he would sleep until he awoke, then arise. Perhaps he would sleep 2 hours, perhaps 10. He would never know. When he awoke there would be no direct evidence either for or against the dream theory.
She would never bring it up, he knew, for it was only a dream, her dream. He would never bring it up either, he decided. A dream it would remain. Perhaps the dream was a portent something new between them, something lasting and good. Definitely it did portend an awakening within himself.
The new consciousness arose as he lay down. Before his closed eyes he could see a face, fierce and lovely. His breathing slowed.
The present faded. This would be his dream.