This week's teaser is one of my few vampire-free stories, In This Life Or The Next. It's not entirely free of supernatural elements, however, as the heroine stumbles upon her past lives... and a past love. It was also my first self-published story, way back in the dark ages - or maybe it was just in 2006 ;)
Sipping absently on her champagne, she detailed once more each of them, stopping for a minute or two in front of each framed work. Like her first walk through, the two portraits of the woman and the landscape of the wheat fields touched her the deepest, awakening a sense of memory when she knew that she had never seen either the woman or the depicted place.
She had brought the glass to her lips again when something on the oversized painting in front of her caught her attention and made her blink. For a second, she had almost thought…She squinted; the painting was as it had been before, field, trees, house and sky, nothing more, especially not silhouettes running through the field.
Except that there they were again.
Wondering if it was the champagne playing tricks on her mind, Tania looked at her glass. She had barely drunk half of the slim flute and that couldn’t possibly be enough for her to be intoxicated and hallucinating. Yet, when she looked at the painting again, the two figures were there, seen from the back, a man pursuing a woman, both of them, she knew without understanding how she did, laughing as they ran.
She blinked again, and the painting returned to how it had been earlier again, devoid of human figures if not of life. Still puzzled but already thinking she had to be more tired than she thought, Tania stepped a little closer, until all she could see was the painting in front of her. By some trick of the light, the golden field seemed to undulate as though a soft summer wind stroked the golden stalks. But that wasn’t all; she could almost feel the warm air on her face, could almost breathe in the deep scent of the coming harvest. City girl that she was, she had never even seen a field in person, but the rough warm of the wheat was right there, under her fingertips, a tactile memory as clear as any she had ever had.
Suddenly, it wasn’t just a memory. Feeling lightheaded, she closed her eyes, and in her mind, she wasn’t simply in front of a beautiful painting anymore. Instead, she was in the field, running and laughing.
Laughing, Lauren ran through the field, careful to follow the furrow and not bend or snap the wheat. Tomorrow, they would work hard to gather it, but today was theirs. She could hear him behind her, quickly overtaking her as her long skirts prevented her from running as fast as she could have. It didn’t matter; she didn’t really want to escape anyway.
His hand caught her wrist and stopped her, pulling her to him. She allowed herself to be drawn into his arms, allowed his lips to cover hers, so gentle yet trembling from his repressed desire. If it had been anyone but him, she would have been scared when she saw how wide, how dark his pupils were, swallowing almost all the brown of his eyes until she thought she was looking into two pools of darkness. But she knew that look, she knew it was nothing but a testament to how much he loved her, how much he wanted her, and she started pulling him wordlessly toward their island.
It wasn’t really an island, just a small nook carved in its bank by the streaming water that ran along the edge of their property, separating their field from their neighbor’s. The water almost completely surrounded a carpet of soft grass and wildflowers, and made it a delightful place to be. They had picnics there, sometimes, on lazy Sunday afternoons. A few times over the summer, when the nights had been too hot, they had walked out here together and spent the evening lying on a blanket side by side, watching the stars and quietly talking. But mostly, they came here to make love.
Letting go of his hand, she took the last few steps by herself, taking her ankle boots and stockings off and putting them neatly to the side. The grass was fresh and soft under her feet, the murmur of the water a quiet melody, and she suddenly felt like dancing. She raised her hands to the sky, threw her head back and laughed as she twirled, her skirt billowing around her legs. When she looked at him again, he was just on the edge of their island, and his eyes burned even brighter with desire.
“Show me how beautiful you are,” he requested, his voice a quiet but sure caress.