The way you hold your knife,
The way we danced till three,
The way you changed my life,
No, no, they can't take that away from me.
That, it seemed, was that.
"I enjoyed dancing with you the other night, up on the roof," Linda said suddenly, turning slightly to face her temporary husband.
Peter's eyebrows shot up his forehead, giving him an expression rather like that of a startled rabbit. "You did?"
She nodded. "It was fun." She glanced down, scuffing her shoe slightly against the deck of the ferry. "Lots of other men I've danced with have seen it as an excuse to get...familiar, but you didn't. It was nice just to dance without any expectations."
Things began to click into place in Peter's head. "Is that why you're retiring?"
She harrumphed lightly. "I threw the last one in a fountain; I don't like my chances with the legal system if things keep on like that."
He put two fingers under her chin and tipped her head up. Her eyes were clouded, and her mouth set in a straight line. He let his hand fall back to his side. "But that's not the whole reason."
She stared at him for a long moment before shaking her head. "I like it, I do. There's nothing in the world like an audience that really appreciates what you're doing up there. But an audience isn't any kind of substitute for someone...someone who's there after the lights go off and everyone's gone home."
"And you don't want both?" he asked softly.
Her expression gathered pity and scorn. "Don't be naive, Peter. There isn't a man out there who'd want his wife dancing onstage every night."
He leaned back against the railing, a tiny smile on his lips. "Oh, I don't know," he said, saturating the words with nonchalance. "Maybe if he were in the dancing business himself he might."
Linda's eyebrows knitted together and her nose wrinkled adorably. He could tell, though, that the glare was tempered with something akin to affection. "Now, come on. I already married you. You can't expect me to actually fall in love with you."
He shrugged expansively. "No, I suppose that would be unfair of me."
They both had to laugh a little at the absurdity of their situation.
Knowing that the ferry would soon be docking in Manhattan, Peter took his wife's hand. She looked at him quizzically, but didn't pull away. "Would you like to dance one more time?"
"There's no room," she said, but she stepped into his arms anyway.
"There's room enough," he said, determined to have this last dance.
Slowly, to the beat of the tune he'd been thinking of all night, he walked her around the little circle that could be said to be their dance floor, testing the boundaries of railing and rope. She followed him like she'd been born to do it; even when the tight quarters necessitated a sharp turn or a sudden change in direction, she never missed a step.
Once he knew the space, he became more adventurous. Lifting his arm, he spun her into a finger turn, then led a short bit of tapping footwork; a few steps later, he took advantage of her supple back by dipping her, letting her arch backward as far as she dared. Her hand skimmed the wooden deck and even stretched out over the water before he returned her to her feet.
The engines shuddered, and even through the fog, they could see the lights of Manhattan very close by. Any minute, they would be tying up at the pier. Foregoing any kind of flashy finishing step--after all, they had no audience but themselves--he pulled her close and softened their movements to a gentle sway, not much more than the rocking of the ferry. She was just the right height that he could touch his lips to her temple, if he dared. He didn't, quite, and so he tried to memorize the feeling of every connection their bodies made through winter layers, from the gossamer weight of her hand on his shoulder to the brushing of their legs. Time seemed to slow along with the boat, granting him this last, lingering moment before he had to part from her.
All forward motion finally ceased, and the small crew swarmed into activity, mooring the ferry to the pier. One of them paused next to the dancers and cleared his throat loudly.
Peter felt Linda stiffen in his arms, and he reluctantly let go of her hand. But he kept his fingertips on the small of her back as they walked the short distance to the car. She didn't seem to mind.
After they had settled themselves in the car, but before he had started the engine, she said his name. He turned his head. Her eyes were bright--an effect of the fog, he should try to tell himself--and she had an expression he couldn't read on her face. "Thank you for...well, for everything," she said.
He managed, just, to restrain himself from pulling her into his arms. "The pleasure was all mine."
They drove back to the city in silence as the fog slowly began to lift.