Tuesday morning at the office started out like it always did for Roger, with Richard popping in to coordinate schedules. “I have two cases before the Wizengamot this afternoon,” Richard began, leafing through his planner. “I filed the movement on the Turpin will, but I forgot to attach the original deed. You’ll have to pop over to the Ministry and deliver it. Here it is.”
He handed Roger a long piece of parchment, covered in glowing green ink.
“I can do that,” Roger said, taking the deed. He looked up when Richard didn’t leave. “I thought you had a busy schedule today.”
“I do,” his brother said, leaning against the door jam. “But I wondered how Lisa took the news.”
“Took the news?”
“About her cottage.” Richard winked. “Was she appropriately grateful?”
“She was grateful,” Roger said frostily. “I don’t know what your idea of appropriate is.” He frowned at his brother. “I told her that you did the leg work.”
“That’s very noble of you,” Richard said, smirking.
“It’s the truth.” Roger shrugged and opened the Ministry file he was working on.
“Did you tell her that it might take a few weeks?”
“I don’t remember, but I will when I see her tomorrow,” he answered absently, wondering why the quills at the Ministry never wrote in dark enough ink for a person to read the second copy.
“Why not today?”
“Because I’m going out with a Healer from St. Mungo’s today after work.”
Richard looked disappointed. “Was this a previous engagement?”
“You’re fishing,” Roger said suspiciously. “And no – I happened to chat her up while I was waiting for Lisa.”
“I see,” Richard said finally.
“What do you see?”
His older brother sighed and stood up straight. “The same old, same old,” he said before disappearing down the corridor.
While Roger waited for Candace in the visitor’s lobby of St. Mungo’s, his thoughts wandered to his brother and why he had been acting so strangely this morning. Richard seemed to disapprove of Roger asking Candace out, which was ridiculous since Richard had never met Candace. Roger wasn’t sure if he liked the insinuation about same old, same old either. Even though it came uncomfortably close to the idea of déjà vu.
He tugged at his collar and watched a witch with an arrow through her nose approach the receptionist. What was wrong with asking out a very pretty Healer? He smiled to himself as remembered how, long ago, he and his dorm mates had concluded that Healers were the best possible girlfriends – they could give massages for one thing – they knew anatomy for another –
Then his smile faded. Of the five Ravenclaws boys in his year, he was the only one left relatively unscathed by the last war. Bruce and Rashid had died. Karl had immigrated to Australia, and Sam – He sighed. Sam was in and out of St. Mungo’s – having never found a cure for the unnamable thing that was broken in his mind.
Maybe they named such things in the Department of Mysteries, he thought. He would ask Lisa that when he saw her tomorrow. He paced impatiently, wishing that he could see her today instead – there were so many things he wanted to ask her.
A Healer called the witch with the arrow. “Ah, an Appley fan, are you? This way.”
“Hello, Roger,” Candace said breathlessly. “Sorry to be so late, but I wanted to change out of those ugly Healer’s robes. Green is not my color.”
“So purple must be your color then,” he said smoothly, taking in the low cut neckline of her tight robes.
She giggled. “I adore purple. I even Charmed my eyes to match.”
“So you did.” The effect was rather startling, since she didn’t appear to have pupils. “Well then. It’s early so I thought we’d Apparate out to the country for a meal at The Inn.”
“Oh,” she gave a tiny frown. “I don’t really Apparate that well.”
“That’s fine,” he said. “I can take you.”
Once they were seated at a table that commanded a view of the Wyer River, Roger set about learning a bit more about Candace. “So, how do you like being a Healer?”
“I’m just in training,” Candace answered, swirling her wine around in her goblet. “I don’t know if I like being around sick people all the time, though.” She frowned. “They’re so cranky.”
Roger wanted to laugh, but he didn’t think she was trying to be humorous. “I think there are all sorts of cranky people out there in all sorts of jobs.”
“Really?” She raised her eyebrows. “It’s my first job after Hogwarts, so I wouldn’t know.” She batted her eyes. “I heard that you’re a barrister. That must be exciting.”
Roger thought about how he had spent his entire day at his desk writing a brief and answering owls. “A solicitor – and it can be.”
A waiter placed a salad in front of Candace. She started to flick the croutons to one side of the plate with her fork.
A dieter, Roger thought. She was going to hate the Beef Wellington, which was the specialty of the house.
“So what house were you in at Hogwarts?” she asked.
No one had asked Roger that question in years. She really was young. “Ravenclaw.”
“Oh,” she smiled. “That’s why you seem so intelligent. I was in Hufflepuff.” She licked her lips. “We’re the friendly ones.”
Candace did look friendly, leaning over the table like that. He smiled – she was obviously old enough for some things.
This date ran true to form – he could have predicted it down to the minute. Candace picked at the magnificent Beef Wellington placed before her and refused dessert.
When she returned from the ladies’ loo he again felt that overwhelming power of déjà vu. She was going to badger him to take her to one of the London dance clubs.
He headed her off. “There’s a lovely path that runs along the river. Fancy a little walk?”
She pouted prettily. “These shoes aren’t really made for walking.” She held out her leg to show off a shapely foot shod in a strappy sandal.
It was his last chance to avoid the dance clubs. “A swan boat ride then?”
“Ooo,” her weird purple eyes widened. “I always wanted to do that. It sounds so romantic.”
Actually it was kitschy – but it was better than trying to shout over loud music.
They Apparated to a small, still lake set high in the green hills of Wales. The boats, much like the ones that delivered the first years to Hogwarts, were propelled by magic – the pair of swans that appeared to pull them were only for show.
“Did you know that swans mate for life?” Candace asked dreamily.
Roger looked at the pair of white birds in front of their boat. One of them was gouging the other in the neck with its long, black beak. “Yes.”
Candace wiggled closer to him, and he automatically put his arm around her waist. “I’m so glad you suggested this,” Candace said, cradling her head on his shoulder.
He smiled down at her. She straightened and put her arms around his neck and lifted her face. As if on cue, he kissed her gently on the lips once, then twice, noticing that she must have brushed her teeth in the ladies’ because she tasted pleasantly of toothpaste. Candace had obviously come prepared.
He pulled her closer, enjoying the feeling of her supple body next to his and that very friendly Hufflepuff way she had of using her mouth and hands. Her hair was nice too – silky and black….
He froze. Candace did not have black hair and if he opened his eyes he would see that she did not have the dazzling blue eyes clouded with passion that he had been imagining while he kissed her. This had never happened to him before: he had never imagined one woman while kissing another.
Instead of being relieved that his bout of déjà vu had been cured, he was horrified.
He broke away from her mouth with a sigh. She was warm and curvy and willing – and with enough force of will, he could probably banish all thoughts of blue eyes to placate his conscience. But still – it wasn’t right.
“I see we’re headed back to shore,” he said lightly.
Candace adjusted the neckline of her robes and tossed her hair back so it gleamed silver in the setting sun. “My flatmate has a knitting class tonight.”
Roger was so preoccupied that he answered without thinking, “Everyone knits these days. I wonder why?”
“So their flatmates can have the place to themselves one night a week,” Candace said sharply.
Startled, Roger laughed. “I’m sorry. I missed my cue.” He took her hands. “I’ll take you to your flat – but I can’t stay.”
He hated that he would hurt her, but Roger thought it was more a matter of pride than any attachment she had formed for him.
“Because – sexy as you are – beautiful as you are – I can’t stop thinking of someone else.”
“Sorry – I –”
“It’s a man, isn’t it?” she demanded, pulling her hands away.
Again, Roger wanted to laugh; and he almost wanted to tell her that it was true. It would assuage her pride if she thought that she had almost turned a gay man straight – but he couldn’t do that either.
“No,” she said in a defeated voice before he had a chance to speak. “It’s not a man.” The boat scraped against the dock.
Then she added, as Roger held out a hand to help her out of the boat, “It’s that woman from yesterday who had the box of parchments, isn’t it? She’s an old flame?”
“She’s not an old flame – exactly.”
Candace cocked her head in question and Roger found himself telling her about Lisa and how he always used to ask her out at Hogwarts. He really wanted some insight into why she wouldn’t go out with him back then. She listened carefully, asking a few questions about Padma and Lisa.
She didn’t say anything, though until they had Apparated back to London. “From what I know of the Ravenclaw girls,” she said slowly. “They really like a logical reason to go out with a bloke.” She smiled up at him. “You have the attractiveness factor down, that’s for sure. But she probably didn’t trust that back then.”
“Um.” He frowned – really trying to understand why attraction wasn’t enough. “I’m not sure –”
“Yes,” Candace said in a stronger voice. “That must be it – and if her friend – Padme –”
“Right. If her friend Padma felt the same way – well, there wasn’t much of a chance for you back then.”
She smiled. “I’m sure you’ve learned a few things since.”
He wasn’t so sure, but he smiled back. Candace was a good sport and nice person to boot. “You know, you Hufflepuffs are friendly – in the best sense of that word.” He kissed her cheek. “Thanks for listening.”
She wrinkled her nose. “Anytime.” Then she sighed and said without heat, “Ravenclaws really aren’t that smart, are they?”
Roger laughed. “Not this one.”
Wednesday dawned hot and clear – the perfect weather to wear her new pale yellow robes, Lisa thought. It would be cool underground in the Department of Mysteries, but Roger’s office was in a brick building between two Muggle office towers and it would be hot by five o’clock.
Lisa checked her appearance in the mirror one last time. She did look good – well, she looked good for Lisa Turpin. And that was all she could ever hope for anyway.
As she entered the revolving doors of the Department, Lisa realized that it was the first time in twelve years when the thought of discovering the secrets of the universe didn’t appeal. She just wanted the workday to be over.
After a quick reading of the latest inter-office memos, Lisa started researching déjà vu. She was deep into a seventeenth-century text when her boss, Mr. Johnson, called her into his office.
“We have been discussing your next assignment and we feel that it is time to trust you with the locked room.”
Lisa’s eyes widened and her heart pounded. The locked room. Now this was a secret of the universe. All of her moony thoughts about Roger were relegated to the back of her mind.
“What do you want me to do?” she asked.
Mr. Johnson stroked his thin moustache and looked dreamily out into space. “I think that should be up to you,” he answered. “You will be the first witch who has ever studied the locked room.” He glanced at her. “It never occurred to us that there might be gender differences in approach to any of these mysteries. After all, a human is a human.” He shrugged. “Then it occurred to us that perhaps you could bring something unique to our research.”
That was about as clear as mud, Lisa thought.
“Should I study the research first or…?”
“I think that you should experience the locked room first without prejudice,” Mr. Johnson answered. “In fact, I don’t wish to tell you the name of the force that is captured there. When you are ready to move beyond your own perceptions, then you can delve into the manuscripts.”
“How long do I have for this research?”
Mr. Johnson gazed at her in surprise. “Why as long as you like, my dear. There is nothing else as compelling right now, is there?”
Just trying to attract Roger’s interest, that’s all, Lisa thought. “No, there’s nothing as compelling.”
He handed her a silver key.
When Lisa unlocked the door, her eyes strained to see. Once the door was closed, the silence and the darkness seemed absolute. She wasn’t afraid exactly, just disappointed. What force could possibly be in here?
Then she saw it. A pin point of light, straight ahead. Looking up, she couldn’t tell the source of the illumination, but she could see that the light created a straight line that reached from the fathomless ceiling to the floor.
The force was light?
As her eyes adjusted, the beam of light appeared more golden and she could almost make out flecks of something within the column. But then she dismissed that notion. No, the light was solid and steady.
Lisa conjured a chair for herself and sat down to contemplate the light in the darkness that was kept under lock and key. Her mind cast out wide nets all in the form of questions. Who, what, where, when, why? Then for the first time in all of her professional life, she found her mind wandering.
She should take Roger out for dinner tonight, she thought. They would both be hungry and he had bought her dinner on Monday. But where to go? Lisa thought of all the spots in London that she knew, but nothing was as good as the food Blanche had dished out – it was almost like home cooking. Then Lisa smiled in the dark as she realized the only thing better would be actual home cooking. She would go shopping during her lunch hour again today – but for food this time.
With that settled, Lisa stared at the beam of light again.
Her breath caught in her throat. There were particles. And they looked like the diamond shards of light that were contained in the Bell-jar.
Lisa sighed with relief. A connection. Thank goodness – somehow this force was connected with time. Since she had been studying time for the past ten years, surely that would help her with this new assignment. And she needed all the help she could get, she decided, since she was no longer interested in putting in long hours at the Department of Mysteries.
Roger surreptitiously looked at his watch and listened with half an ear to Mr. and Mrs. Jones argue about who should be the executor of their will.
“Karl is perfectly capable,” she hissed at her husband.
“Your brother can barely fill out his taxes each year – and that’s when he has a job.”
“It’s important that he know I believe in him,” Mrs. Jones said sentimentally. “Even after my death.”
“It can be a good idea to appoint someone younger to be executor,” Roger said unsentimentally. “And someone who is comfortable dealing with legalities.”
“That leaves out Karl,” Mr. Jones crowed.
Mrs. Jones sulked. “You always get your way, don’t you?”
Roger decided that he didn’t want to draw up a divorce petition for these two next. “I suggest you take this draft of the will and think about it for a few days. I’ve no doubt that other names will come to you.” He stood up and glanced at the open door. Lisa still hadn’t arrived and it was ten past five. Maybe she had forgotten.
He heard a distant rumble of thunder. A storm was approaching; maybe that’s why he was feeling on edge all of a sudden.
“Thank you, young man,” Mr. Jones said, shaking his hand. “We’ll get back to you. Wouldn’t want to be murdered in my bed by the wife without a will.”
“Honestly, Ralph! You have the lowest sense of humor!” Mrs. Jones marched out to the corridor.
Mr. Jones chuckled and followed her. “Excuse me, miss,” he said touching his forehead.
Lisa must have been waiting outside his door. His first glance took in the pale yellow robes she wore that seemed to light up the dim corridor. Then she smiled politely at Mr. Jones. And then, finally, she looked at Roger with those incredible blue eyes.
The minute his eyes locked with hers, he understood why he couldn’t kiss one woman without distracting thoughts of this one. She looked even better after a full day of work at the Ministry than she had all dressed up for the wedding. This puzzled him, but he had all evening to figure it out.
“Lisa,” he said, “were you waiting long?”
“No.” She smiled. “I was watching the owls.” She pointed to the three owls with their heads tucked under their wings on their perches in the corridor.
“We use couriers who Apparate mostly,” Roger explained. “It’s more secure and it’s faster, since we don’t have to wait for darkness to send one. Still, the older witch and wizard prefer owls.”
“Everyone is in a hurry these days, aren’t they?” Lisa mused as she stepped into his office. “I noticed that at St. Mungo’s. Of course a lot of it is because it’s life and death – but even in the research field there isn’t a lot of patience for lengthy study or deliberation.”
“Is that in your perception of time analysis that you were going to present to me today?”
She laughed and took the chair he pulled out for her. “If I had known was a formal presentation, I would have provided notes.”
“Ah, but you dressed for the part,” he said admiringly. “You look very pretty and I like your robes.”
She blushed, but said calmly, “Thank you. I just bought them yesterday.” Then she added, “I also updated my bank ledger last night. I do have some gold left in my vault and now I know how much I make at Ministry.” Her eyes sparkled. “I’m worth quite a bit, you know.”
”I do know,” he said, admiring the smooth lines of her bare arms and the pretty way her glossy hair brushed her shoulders.
She cleared her throat. “So – my presentation. Déjà vu is common. Anton Bulova in the seventeenth century speculated that it is a throwback to our caveman days when we lived by the sun and the seasons. Such a phenomenon would help us remember appropriate behavior for that time of year.”
“Yes – but wouldn’t a caveman or even a tiger know when to eat when he was hungry – that sort of thing?”
She leaned forward so her elbows were on his desk. “Yes, but those are biological impulses. I think Bulova was thinking of long-range planning, that sort of thing.”
“So being able to look back is also an indication of being able to look into the future?” Really it was difficult to concentrate when she was leaning over like that. The neckline wasn’t low at all – but it gave a wizard ideas….
She sat up straight, looking very pleased. “Ah, you’ve reached the crux of time.” She beamed at him. “And so quickly, too. Really the only moments we can know – document – count – detail – are the ones from the past. The present is too small of a slice of reality to really comprehend and the future –” She shrugged. “Who can say?”
“But I thought Time-Turners could launch you into the future?”
She shook her head and started talking faster. “There’s sand in Time-Turners because sand contains the history of the material world as we know it – it’s the past. We can go back to that past and we can come forward to the present – but no one has found a way to the future.”
“I knew you were going to ask that.” She squinted at the broom models on the highest shelf of his bookcase and then continued slowly, “Prophecies are sort of like déjà vu.” She glanced at him. “Now this is my idea only – but I think it’s a good workable theory. Prophecies are a clear-cut moment in time where one possibility for an outcome is clear. Usually the mere recitation of a prophecy will increase that possibility.”
“And déjà vu?”
“I think it’s a clear moment in time as well,” Lisa said, giving him a piercing stare that unsettled him. “I think that we rarely pay attention to what’s happening around us – that when we actually mark the passing of the present – it’s a little….”
“Yes.” She smiled, softening the speculation in her eyes. “Not horrible really, but just a moment when we realize what our life is made of. Perhaps a bit of a wake up call?”
Roger smiled uneasily. He didn’t want to speculate about that in his own life. To his tremendous relief, Lisa didn’t ask him any questions or make any leading statements.
“So,” she said, “what do you need to know about St. Mungo’s and Nigel Anderson?”
While Lisa sat at his desk and wrote out a list from memory of all the documents Nigel Anderson had taken from her, Roger tidied the office. He put the books he had been using back in their proper places, he returned the various office supplies he had filched from Richard and even filed a few documents in the cabinet even though it went against his very nature to do such a thing. Papers belonged in piles.
A gust of wind rattled the windows and sent the draperies flying upwards. For once, papers didn’t go flying since he had put them all away.
“I think it’s going to storm,” he said as shut the window.
Lisa didn’t look up; she was so absorbed in her writing. He remembered that about her from Hogwarts – how she could sit in the library with her nose in a book and not even notice when he walked by six times in one evening. He shook his head at his pathetic younger self and went to Richard’s office to close those windows.
When he returned Lisa was staring at the parchment. “I’m done,” Lisa said, finally looking at him. “I didn’t realize the extent –” She sighed and leaned back in his big leather chair. “Nigel Anderson has a lot of documents. Although I’m not sure if he knows what to do with them.”
Roger took the list and scanned it. The document titles looked very technical – he couldn’t imagine what the contents would be like.
“What are you going to do with it?” Lisa asked.
”I’ll copy the list.” Roger answered. “And then we’ll send a letter on this official lawyer- type letterhead asking for these documents back. If that doesn’t work, then we’ll get the Ministry involved. Your research is the intellectual property of the Ministry – right?”
Lisa nodded with big eyes.
“What? You’re looking worried.”
“It’s just that I don’t know how he’s going to react. Nigel Anderson has a terrible temper. He ranted at me for an hour the last time I asked for the documents. He said it was my fault – that I was careless and stupid to have lost them.”
Roger frowned, not wanting to make her more nervous, but trying to make sure he had covered all the possibilities. “Do you think he would try to harm you in any way?”
“You mean physically?” Lisa squeaked. She clasped her hands together and sat in silence for a moment. “I think he’s more interested in causing my career harm than me.”
“So he’s never threatened you any other way?” Roger asked. He had to ask – even though the primitive side of him didn’t want to know the answer. Otherwise he would have to tear Nigel Anderson limb from limb….
“No,” Lisa answered to his immense relief. “I don’t know how he’s going to react when he returns from holiday next week and finds that I’m gone.”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” he said firmly. They were probably overreacting. Nigel Anderson was a little tin pot bully of his own department. He could hardly argue with Lisa returning to her real job.
Lisa nodded and absently ran the feathery end of the white quill over her lips. She used to do that at school while she was writing essays. Back then, Roger didn’t know why watching her do that was so mesmerizing.
Of course, now he knew. He cleared his throat, hoping that would clear his mind. “Don’t steal my quill,” he said.
She grinned, her blue eyes lighting up. “This is a brilliant quill. Although I don’t think I should start my life of crime by trying to steal from a lawyer.” She set it on the desk in front of her and traced the white spine with her finger. “What kind is it?”
“Swan,” he answered, wondering if she was going to make the obvious remark.
“Swan,” she mused. “Swans are strident birds – and aggressive when threatened.” She looked sideways at him. “Perfect for you lawyer types.”
“They’re perfectly agreeable if tossed chunks of bread.”
“Oh, you must be hungry,” Lisa said looking around his office. “What time is it?”
He checked his watch. “Half past six.”
“Well let’s go then,” she said, standing up.
“Oh!” She flushed. “I should have asked if you had plans. I thought I’d make you dinner at my flat.”
Of course Roger didn’t have plans.
Roger looked around Lisa pristinely-neat bedsitter with interest. She had the inevitable wall of books, the soft curtains on the windows and the neatly-made single bed in the alcove. Normally Roger thought of going to a woman’s flat – especially for a meal – as sort of an awkward audition. See how cozily domestic I am? See what a good wife I would make you?
In this case, though, Lisa didn’t appear to be showing off since she insisted that he help instead of relaxing on the settee.
“You really don’t know how to cook do you?” she asked once she saw his trepidation at cutting up the mushrooms for the sauce.
“No,” he admitted. “It’s not a skill I’ve ever had to know, actually.”
She rolled her eyes. “Well, I’m not going to give you dinner then.”
“You know that old saying,” she teased gently as she tied an apron around her waist. “About giving someone a fish versus teaching them how to fish?”
“We’re having fish?” He wrinkled his nose.
“Don’t try to change the subject,” she chided. “We’re going to cook two vegetables and toss a salad.” There was more ominous thunder. Roger hoped that it wasn’t a portent for what kind of meal they were going to concoct.
“Then we’re going to fry a steak and make a mushroom sauce,” Lisa continued briskly.
“Afters?” He asked hopefully.
“Ice cream.” She grinned up at him. “And you’re buying.”
Actually it wasn’t fair to be in that close proximity with her and not have any rights to touch her. As it was, he kept inadvertently brushing up against her because her kitchen was so tiny.
She didn’t seem to mind – although she didn’t say very much – probably because she was doing several cooking spells at once. Roger was surprised to learn that most cooking spells were nonverbal and that the cooking utensils became attached to their owners, much like brooms did.
“I think your cauldron likes me,” he said as he finally succeeded in coaxing it to stir the sauce vigorously.
Lisa patted his arm and didn’t say anything, since she was directing the food on to plates.
They settled side by side on the settee with their plates in their laps. “I don’t have a table,” she apologized. “I usually just sit here and listen to the wireless.”
“Odd, I have a table,” he said. “And I don’t cook.”
“I suppose you use it as a desk,” she remarked. She was still flushed from the heat in the kitchen, but her eyes were cool and blue.
Roger wasn’t so sure that he liked that assessing gaze. “How did you know?”
“Because you have a demanding job and I reckon you take work home.”
“Shhh. You’re ruining my image,” he said only half-joking.
She reached for her glass of water on the low table in front of them. “I should have bought wine. I didn’t even think of that.”
“Not necessary. The food is good enough not to need it.”
“Aren’t you proud that you helped?”
“Another thing to ruin my image.”
She smirked at him, but went back to her dinner, not trying to engage in any more small talk. That was disconcerting as well – just to sit together in silence and hear the sound of distant Muggle traffic and the wind whistling in the chimney.
“We are going to have a storm,” Lisa said, watching the white sheer curtains billowing straight out into the room. She stood up with her empty plate. “Come on, we can see the sky from the kitchen window.”
Roger didn’t ask why she wanted to see the sky. He followed her into the tiny kitchen, full of the dirty pots and pans from their meal preparation. Lisa removed the entire window with her wand.
“I’ll put it back later,” she said, giggling. “It’s hot in here and if it rains in, it won’t hurt anything.”
“Is that how you clean up after a meal – wait for it to rain?” he asked.
“I bet a thousand galleons that you don’t know one Scouring Charm,” Lisa said.
“You shouldn’t gamble, you know – not unless it’s Quidditch.” The wind smelled like rain and was tossing her hair around.
“I thought it was illegal to gamble on Quidditch.”
“It is – but I was thinking more of odds than of legalities.” He moved closer to her so he could see out of the empty space in her wall above the sink. There were no tall buildings to block her view – he could see a wide swath of the city below and the grey boiling sky above.
“I picked this flat for this window,” Lisa said dreamily. “I love to look at the sky. And in a big city it’s surprising difficult to do.”
The clouds were moving swiftly, in dark churning masses.
“So, do you know any Scouring Charms?” Lisa asked with twinkling eyes.
“Then I win a thousand Galleons.”
“I never entered a wager with you. No contract –” He touched the end of her nose. “Ergo, no payoff.”
“Ergo no winner,” she said softly.
“Or loser,” he countered.
“Is it all about odds?” she asked seriously. “You know, to take a risk – to gamble?”
“It’s stupid not to think about the odds before doing anything.” How did his hand come to cup her jaw?
“Stupid,” she repeated. He brushed his thumb over her cheek.
The first heavy drops of rain hissed on the hot pavement below or was that her intake of breath when he bent to kiss her?
Again he felt that curious tingle when his lips brushed hers. This time, however, it was no accident and this time he buried his hand in her hair to draw her closer. She wasn’t kissing him back yet, but her mouth was soft and pliant under his.
It was maddening. He wanted to break that calm, soft surface of her mouth. He wanted to rouse her – to make her want him as much as he wanted her.
She clutched his shoulders and made a soft noise in the back of her throat that he could barely hear over the wet sound of the storm and the pounding of his heart. The she kissed him back with little expertise but with a passion that surprised him.
The edge of the counter dug into his hip and he could feel the driving rain on his back as it penetrated the gap in the wall. Those were small sensations however, compared to the overwhelming power of Lisa putting all of her concentration into kissing him.
She touched his hair and ran her hands along the wet cloth on his shoulders. When she slowed down the movements of her mouth, it was as if she was savoring the moment, as if she was savoring him.
It was oddly intimate and wonderfully arousing and terribly disconcerting.
He pulled away abruptly, with little finesse. She gazed back at him in confusion – her lips swollen from his kisses, her robes wet and clinging from the rain blowing into the kitchen.
He could make a joke about not wanting to stay and do the dishes. He could say that this was all a big mistake. Or he could tell her that lawyers didn’t like surprises.
But he picked none of those options. Instead, he stammered, “I have to go.”
“Sorry.” He Disapparated without another word, leaving Lisa standing in her broken kitchen with the rain pouring in.