The FK universe and its characters are the property of James Parriott and Sony/Tristar. This fiction is for entertainment only; no profit is being made. Permission to archive to the Seducers website and to www.fkfanfic.com. Comments to email@example.com
By Molly Schneider
Janette leaned in the doorway of the office, gloved arms folded across her waist. "You're brooding again," she said.
"I am not brooding."
"Yes, you are. Like a molting old eagle."
He didn't even bother to glare at her, though he did look up; as always, the sight of her softened his heart. "I've had a lot on my mind."
She crossed the room to stand behind him, leaning down and wrapping her arms around his shoulders. "I know. I also know that you will never be defeated. But where's the joie de vivre that I've enjoyed for the last thousand years--or should I say 'joie de morte,' eh?"
Her little joke brought a smile; he turned his chair to take his waist in her arms and draw her nearer. "Forgive me, dear heart."
She made a little moue. "Hmmn...maybe..."
"Will it help my cause if I tell you that is a charming dress?" It was: a strapless, full-skirted confection of deep red taffeta, with a black velvet rose gracing the heart-shaped neckline and another at her tiny waist.
"Perhaps. If you take me dancing in it."
"Dancing?" A characteristic quirk of the eyebrow.
"Why not? We used to go dancing all the time. Don't tell me you've forgotten how?"
It didn't take much consideration. She was right; this wasn't the first bleak period he'd had in his very long life and it wouldn't be the last. Life went on. *He* went on. He rose to his feet, bowing his head gracefully to her. "No, I don't think I have. I would be delighted, ma petite."
The club was dark and rather small, dominated by a spacious wooden dance floor. Tiers of plush banquettes and an elegant bar filled the rest of the space. He hadn't known there still were clubs like this; the only modern touch was the substitution of a DJ for the dance band. The manager was apparently an acquaintance of Janette's; he sent over two goblets and a bottle of Petit Sirah. She splashed a little wine in each glass, then surreptitiously filled them from a flask she brought out of her purse. LaCroix smirked. "I've always admired your resourcefulness."
She raised her glass. "To living well."
"Indeed. To living well, and to life."
For a little while they watched the dancers. There were older couples whose physical frailties could not dim their grace or pleasure; younger, self-assured pairs who moved with the ease of constant practice, and others who giggled at their bravery in taking their first steps onto the floor. Circles, thought LaCroix. Rhythm itself; the rhythm of life, rising and falling and rising yet again. How long had he followed that rhythm, entranced by its endurance?
His daughter excused herself--to freshen her makeup, he thought, but then he saw her by the DJ booth, handing up a CD. She stepped onto the floor as the opening strains began of a song they'd first heard long ago, in a chic brothel in Buenos Aires. He set down his glass and rose.
She was waiting for him, with a carefully aloof expression on her perfect face--and a wicked light dancing in her blue eyes. He stalked onto the dance floor, straight-backed and dangerous, his steps falling easily into time with the music. She stood still, regarding him with studied indifference. His prowl took him to face her; he waited a full 4/4 count, commanding her attention with his eyes...
Then with the power and speed of a striking cobra, one arm seized her waist. Her recoil was partly instinctive, partly for effect; she leaned away, one hand pausing on his bicep. He stepped forward with the beat, slow-slow-quick-quick-slide, driving her backwards across the floor. As they neared the edge the power shifted as she took the initiative and advanced on him--or did it? The subtle smile on his face seemed to say that he was only biding his time, leading her on, luring her. A staccato flurry in the music and he pivoted, throwing her back over his arm so that her hair brushed the floor.
For a full count he leaned over her, lips barely grazing her throat...
Slowly they rose, her eyes locked on his, lips parted. Again and again the drama was played out: slow-slow-quick-quick-slide, but now her hands clung to him, her eyes never moved from his face. As the music ended they came to a halt in the middle of the floor. Again he bent her backward but this time she bowed in submission to him, turning her head and arching her throat yearningly.
So intent were they upon each other, the flurry of applause startled them. Coming to himself he brushed her throat with his cool lips, then released her, keeping one arm around her waist as they returned to their seats. "Thank you," he said. "I enjoyed that."
She did the best to ensure that he enjoyed the rest of the evening, too, chattering lightheartedly and making silly jokes. Time and again they returned to the dance floor, running through a repertoire of steps learned long ago and still remembered.
At last they left, walking home arm in arm through the nearly deserted street, washed with silver by the full moon. On impulse he kissed her dark head. She favored him with another of her brilliant smiles. "May I tell you something, mon pere?"
"I need to brush up on my carioca?"
Janette's laughter rose, tickling the moon. "No." She turned to him, taking his face in her small hands. "I will tell you this, and then not again for a long time, lest you become too spoiled. You are a remarkable man; a strong, intelligent, charming man, and I love you dearly. The deeper emotions have their place, but they cannot be endured for long. Frivolity and pleasure are just as important to us, or our lives become a graveyard of regrets."
LaCroix received her earthy wisdom with a small smile. They walked on in companionable silence, two shadows dancing along the path of the moon.