perchance to dream: ghost song
R for mild sexual situationsauthor’s note:
a series of short scenes that take place in the "Curiouser & Curiouser" unreality; originally intended for "Twisting the Twilight Zone Challenge 2009" but I got sidetrackedword count:
they don’t belong to me, no money is being made. I’m only borrowing them. Forever Knight
was created by Jim Parriott & Barney Cohen.story began:
March 2009story finished:
May 2009summary: a marriage, an affair and a baby on the way
"Janette is going to have a baby," Nick tells the back of her retreating head.
Natalie’s head, he reminds himself. Here, he can call her Natalie.
“Well Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,” she answers, as she turns to face him, her voice laced with sarcasm and her smile sharp.
The headlights from a passing car momentarily cast her in a harsh, brilliant light.
"That’s all you have to say?"
“Well what do you want me to say? Bust your balls for infidelity? Frankly, I’d be worried if you weren’t sleeping with her.”
Nick can tell Natalie's dropped the subject when she cocks her head to the side and the slightest hint of pink tongue enticingly pokes out of the crook of her mouth.
And so he goes to her. His presence in her home is a privilege, and Nick doesn't want to blow it.
Somewhere, in the back of his mind, is the ghost image of Natalie curled up on his couch at home. Popcorn and video rentals complete the odd but rapidly fading image. Her hands, undoing his belt buckle in confident strokes, bring Nick back to reality.
"Nick? Say something."
He heard her. His pretty, loving wife is pregnant with his child, but Nick's mind is telling him that this shouldn't be happening.
“Honey, that’s wonderful,” Nick answers, with what he hopes is reassurance in his voice.
He reaches for Janette's restless hands and squeezes. She quickly releases the dish towel she holds and returns the gesture. Her hands are clammy and it almost breaks Nick's heart.
"I'm sure you've noticed the nausea and I'm always tired," she'd remarked earlier.
In all honesty Nick hadn’t, and he'd instantly felt guilty. So now, Nick pulls Janette close and kisses her cheek.
Against him, Nick can feel Janette let out a quiet, shaky breath and then another more subdued one.
This is supposed to be a happy moment. Instead, Nick fights the urge to move in search of something solid to reorient himself.
Slowly, Janette's perfume surrounds him like a comfortable blanket and for a few precious moments Nick pretends this is exactly what he wants--the trappings of domestic bliss.
Nick refuses to think about the impracticalities of the loft, his car and all the little things that encompass the life of a couple that's about to add a very fragile third member.
He's terrified of all the ways his...their
lives are about to change and it's in ways Nick doesn't think he's ready for.
Nick sneaks a look at his watch. If he leaves now, he can make it. That is, if he doesn't hit too many red lights on the way.
He has an enigmatic yet very upfront woman expecting him soon. A cancellation this late wouldn't be well received and Nick doesn't want
“We’ll go out and celebrate," Nick says as he disentangles himself from Janette's arms. "That French bistro you like, we'll go there. This weekend, when I'm off.”
Another kiss, this time on the lips and a final declaration that he's happy about her news and Nick retreats to the elevator, winter coat in hand.
He didn't just abandon his wife Nick assures himself, because to admit that is to make it true.
Pinned. Natalie's hair is always pinned and it’s the first thing Nick reaches for.
He loves the curly weight of her hair, free of constrictions and gliding through his fingers.
“Nat,” Nick whispers when he moves to kiss down the open deep V of her dress. His nose nuzzles the fabric aside from the curve of a breast.
“Don’t call me that,” she commands in her Captain Lambert voice. Her once limber body is taut with tension and she threatens to free herself from his embrace.
Another slip up like that and he won’t be seeing her bed tonight.
Nick apologizes for his transgression with a perfectly placed hand. It slides up a thigh and eases into her underwear. He finds her not quite ready but she will be. Nick teases her with the right amount of circular pressure. Hot, ragged pants land just below his right ear.
“Hurry up and fuck me, Knight. You’re driving me crazy.”
Janette is lovely.
From the moment Nick first saw her, taking photographs for a sociology class in college, he knew he wanted her.
She's intelligent, idealistic, and caring. Everyone who meets Janette loves her. How can they not? But lately, Nick's been looking for something else in his wife.
She blushes at the scrutiny and playfully threatens to offer the loft for her office's Christmas party.
Upstairs, in their bed, when Nick looks at her, he can sometimes see the likeness of someone else.
Someone lit by candlelight, the scent of beeswax in the air, layers of petticoats and whalebone scattered by an opulent bed--impressions of another Janette and another him.
Pale skin. Janette. Otherworldly eyes. Janette.
His Janette curls up drowsy and overheated on her side of the bed.
The lights are out in the windowless bedroom but Nick can feel her watching him, sensing his detachment. The bedside clock provides little illumination and for that he's grateful.
This is just a rough patch Nick thinks to himself as he rises to get ready for work.
His actions have lost all finesse. It's all about release now.
His. Hers. Theirs.
Natalie meets him thrust for thrust. Her fingers are threaded through the hair near the nape of his neck.
Any second now. Any second now.
Nick's grunts become more pronounced when he sees Natalie lean her head back against the pillow and let out a soul wrenching moan. Her throat is bared to him and it's enough to awaken the inner, more animalistic part of him.
At his own orgasm, Nick buries his face in Natalie’s neck. Dull teeth play against her skin. For the briefest of seconds he's surprised by the absence of something. What that is, Nick can't be sure but it feels significant.
The new precinct Captain is a woman, a transfer from another precinct. Word has it that Captain Lambert is strict, meticulous and has little room for fools.
In anticipation of meeting her, Schanke repeatedly dusts imaginary lint off his coat. Nick does something else entirely--he stares. Natalie Lambert is familiar and yet she’s not.
"Knight, in my office," she barks after a week on the job.
A look of barely contained shock shows up on Schanke's face, as his ego takes a decided blow.
Schanke's the senior partner and the consensus in the precinct is that Donald Schanke is the brains of the Schanke/Knight homicide partnership. And yet, it's Nick Knight the Captain wants to speak to.
"Can't win'em all Schanke," Nick thinks as he makes his way to the Captain's door.
The office blinds are closed, but they've been like that since the Captain started. She's standing ramrod straight and flawless by one of the filing cabinets.
Captain Lambert glances up from the open folder she holds and Nick is automatically struck by the potency of her gaze.
She is strength, discipline, and something else that's yet to be defined.
"Your file," she says in introduction and tosses the folder onto her desk. "You're decent enough. You get the job done. That's good, but this file is textbook mediocrity. You don't really stand out do you?"
Nick doesn't know how to respond to something like that.
Defend himself? Accept responsibility?
"I've been watching you, Knight. You seem to be going through the motions, waiting for something better to come along. Do we bore you, Detective?"
"No ma'am. No you don't."
Nick groans inwardly at his verbal slip up. The slight quirk of the Captain's lips tells Nick it didn't escape her attention either.
She considers him for a second. It’s long enough for her to give Nick a very obvious once over.
"Captain, what exactly is it that you want from me?"
She's so close now that Nick can smell her perfume. It's spicy and forbidden.
She studies him. Captivating eyes take in every one of his gestures before they drift off towards the office door.
"Extracurricular activities,” the Captain replies, like she’s talking about the weather. “One on one. Perhaps we can break you out of the rut you're in."
And with that she retreats back to the filing cabinets and retrieves another file.
"You've got a week. Close the door on your way out."
As easily as Nick was summoned, he’s being dismissed. Her proposal is left hanging in the air between them. It wasn’t too overt. If pressed she could offer plausible denial that it ever existed, but the intent is there, residing
between the lines.
This could be exactly what he needs. Nick was going to have to reassess all his preconceptions about affairs. They're supposed to be spontaneous and wrong not carefully planned out like they were storming the beaches of Normandy.
"That won't be necessary. Name the time and the place, Captain."
She snorts in amusement and offers the use of her given name, in private of course.
"Natalie," he repeats as he tries the word out.
Nick decides that it sounds laughably awkward in their present location with Captain Lambert standing before him in a severe, high necked suit. Later, as he trails his fingers down her nude and sated body, shoulders to waist to thighs, saying 'Natalie' sounds like the most natural thing in the world.