Steve knows Catherine is here somewhere. The Corvette is out front and the stereo is on. The music is familiar and mellow- a ballad of some sort sung by a woman whose name he should know after all the years that Cath has played the same in hotels and cars and here in this house. He's wet from running three blocks through the driving rain, his shirt is bloody, he really needs to clean the concrete scrape burning his forearm, and they are all meeting back at the office in forty minutes to regroup and press on. But he stops halfway up the stairs on instinct. Cath isn't up there.
He backtracks, leaving wet sock prints across the wooden floor on his way to the lanai. She isn't on the deck. He's about to turn away when motion on the beach has him stepping out into the rain again.
It's Catherine. In shorts and a loose white top over a dark bikini top showing through the wet fabric, she's turning herself about in large loops across the sand, her graceful arms flowing in opposing arcs, her legs taut and strong as her pointed toes lead the way. He remembers her hushed voice as they escaped somewhere humid and hot and overly bright by hiding beneath the sheets in a dark room with the air conditioner humming along on high. Years of ballet. Years of commitment and discipline long before her decision to serve. The scent of hairspray and leather slippers and the shush-scuff of toes along the floor in precision timing, the music in her head, the steady deep tone of the dance master's voice as she commanded the drill.
Steve tugs off his socks and then trots down the steps onto the cool, damp grass as he strips his shirt off and drops it. The rain is misty and drifts with the breath of salty breeze off the crashing surf. Catherine swirls and dips. He calculates his path to intersection, focused only on her now. He can see that her eyes are closed as she dances, but when he is just a step away, as she turns into him, her eyes open and meet his unerringly, as if he were expected. As if his sudden appearance is just what she needed, when she needed him to be there.
She takes his outstretched hand and opposite shoulder as if they have done this everyday for years, her heat on his cold skin shocking. Maybe they have done this everyday for years. They have always taken what the other has offered, when it's offered, and not asked for more. The fierce possessiveness that claims him hurts his heart, hardens his jaw.
For the first time, he wants more.
Eyes locked, they step as one into a waltz.