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Old 03-11-2012, 10:48 PM   #1
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Seconds - Chapter 11

Title: Seconds
Authors: GraceRyan & wo_speaking

Rating: PG13
Disclaimer: This didn't actually happen. U2 was not born until the 1960s.

*************

Adam.

Lyneth smiled as she imagined his name rolling off her tongue. She could barely believe her good fortune - what were the chances that this man would end up in her hospital ward one day and at her side at the White Hart just over a fortnight later?

They’d been out a few times already and always bid farewell each evening planning the next. She’d known about the Christmas mixer for weeks, but she was unable to commit, knowing that she’d be working nights then. So when Matron Wright asked for a volunteer yesterday to switch to days to cover for a nurse in Ward Four, she was more than happy to put her name forward. She would have volunteered regardless, wanting to help the nurse who was stricken with grief after losing her son to polio, but now she’d also have the chance to surprise Adam at the mixer.

She stirred her tea, anxious for the night to begin. She must have done her hair four different ways by now, finally deciding on a neat side-sweep that she managed to get just right after the third attempt. She didn’t even have an outfit planned until about half an hour ago, finally settling on her go-to dress, the pink one - the same one that she’d worn the first night out with the boys at the White Hart. Adam hadn’t seen her in it yet, after all.

Carrying her tea into the bedroom to drink as she finished applying her makeup, Lyneth wondered if anything true would come of her budding relationship with Adam. He seemed interested enough, but tonight would be the true test. If tonight she arrived unannounced, would she find Adam in the arms of another woman? Would he turn out to be just like Paul? Always on the prowl and never going on that elusive second date?

She was so preoccupied with the thought of Adam being unfaithful to her that she startled herself with the hot splash of tea crossing the front of her dress.

There would be no time to wash the stain out.

She had to get to Ava’s. And soon.

* * * * *

Adam looked up at his reflection in the bathroom mirror to see Paul staring at him, with shaving cream covering half his face.

He raised an eyebrow. “Yes Paul?”

“Is your lady going to be there tonight?” he moved beside Adam to finish his shave.

“Lyneth? I don’t believe so. She was working some nights last we spoke,” Adam continued to comb his hair. “Are you asking if Ava will be there?”

Paul shrugged nonchalantly. “No, not really. I just wondered if the girls would be there.”

“I heard she’s working when I mentioned this party to Lyneth,” Adam said.

Paul’s shoulders drooped a little. He had envisioned holding Ava close and dancing with her, touching her soft hair. Paul noticed Adam watching him. With a whistle, he continued to shave.

“Hello ladies,” Nigel’s voice bellowed through the bathroom with a towel slung around his shoulders.

Paul rolled his eyes. “Nigel.”

“I see you’re getting all pretty for tonight,” he chided.

“Just shaving meself,” Paul could only stomach Nigel for short periods - like one minute.

“Are you not going to the Christmas mixer?” Nigel’s tone was condescending. “You must be off to that pub, White Hart?”

For a moment, that sounded like a good plan to Paul. If everyone was at the mixer, perhaps he would have some meaningful time alone with Ava.

“At least that would leave some birds for us,” Ben jabbed Paul in the ribs.

“He’s got a girlfriend now, there will be plenty for us,” Nigel trilled.

“Feck off, I do not,” Paul rinsed his face.

“I heard she’s already engaged to another bloke. Some Yank, I heard,” Ben laughed.

“Bollocks, you are out of your head,” he shook his head as more men gathered around them.

“I bet you never get past her Mason Dixon line,” Nigel sniped.

Paul’s hands balled into fists. While it was never wise to strike the first punch to a commanding officer, Nigel was begging for it.

“Oi! Feck off the lot of you!” Larry bellowed as he entered the scene.

“We were just having fun,” Ben griped.

It gave Paul a moment to regroup. What Nigel said was true however – pining for Ava had made him a bit soft. He couldn’t remember the last time he had a good snogging session. Kisses on the cheek from Ava only got him so far into the cold night.

“They were hoping I wasn’t going to make a showing at the mixer tonight. Sorry lads, I’m going and there will not plenty of lovely ladies for you. I’ll leave you the dogs to fight over,” Paul dried his face on the scratchy towel. “As long as they don’t mind your small willies.”

“You arsehole,” Nigel spat.

“That’s what your date will look like, my arsehole,” Paul shot back.

“OK, let’s get dressed,” Adam grabbed Paul by the shoulder before a punch was tossed. He wouldn’t get any ladies with a black eye or bloody nose.

“Why do you let him get to you?” Larry shook his head.

“I don’t know. Something about him from day one rubbed me the wrong way,” Paul pulled a t-shirt over his head. “Thanks be to God I wasn’t on his plane. I’d have jumped to my death on day one.”

“I know you can’t stand the sight of him, Paul, but he might make Officer far before I do. Especially with this bum leg. It still hurts, but I don’t want any of them to know it.”

Paul punched Adam in the shoulder. “If that fecker makes Officer before you do, I...”

“What was all that racket?” David asked as he laid back on his bunk.

“Nigel,” Adam and Larry chorused.

David saw Paul’s flushed face. He had a feeling that Nigel hit Paul in a tender spot - Ava. “Leave him. He’ll get his one day.”

Adam peered under the bunk at David, who lay tucked under his blanket in just a pair of shorts. “Are you getting dressed?”

“No,” he shook his head and pulled out a tattered journal from under his pillow. “I’m staying in.”

“What?” Paul’s eyes widen. “And miss the opportunity to mix it up at the mixer?”

“I hate that shite. I’ve better things to do than stand around drinking,” David sighed, retrieving a pen from his rucksack. He slumped back on his pillow and began to doodle on the lined paper, starting to sketch out some clouds above the drawing of Moydrum castle he’d been working on for the last few evenings.

“It’s just us tonight. Four lads on the prowl,” Paul protested.

“Paul, when have I ever prowled?” David looked up from his artwork.

Paul stuck his face just inches from him. “Perhaps you should start. We need to get you deflowered.”

“Feck off,” he shoved Paul away. “If I listen to you, I’ll get lots more, obviously...”

“It happened ONCE!” Paul rolled his eyes. “I wish I never told him.” His eyes glared towards Larry who chuckled as he tucked in his shirt.

“C’mon Dave, it will be fun,” Larry said. “Like Paul said, it’s just us. Adam has a night free from his new girl.”

David’s eyebrows raised. “Free night?”

Adam straightened his tie. “Lyneth’s working tonight and Ava is singing.” He slung his arm around Paul. “So this one is definitely on the prowl.”

Paul flashed his winning smile. “That’s right. Lovely lasses watch out.”

Maybe a night out would be nice, especially if he didn’t have to watch Lyneth and Adam snog all night long. He looked at his lonely castle then at the three men hovering over him.

Paul shoved his hand under his bunk and pulled out a silver flask. “C’mon Dave, we’ll have a toast to a good and successful night before we go. Put that feckin’ journal away, would ya? It won’t be the same without you. Yaget to wear that snappy new uniform you have in your locker...the girls are always ready to drop their knickers when they see a man in service dress...”

David rolled his eyes. If he didn’t relent, Paul would not give up until he agreed to go along. “Oh, all right then. I’ll come along, who will get you out of trouble otherwise?”

* * * * *

Ava opened the door to Lyneth's watery eyes. Panic ripped through her. Had something happened to Adam? Did that mean Paul too?

"Lyneth, darling ...whatever is the matter?" Her hand flew over her heart.

"I need your help please," she pleaded. Stepping inside, she opened her coat to reveal a large tan stain on her favorite pink dress.

"Oh dear," but Ava was inwardly relieved. "What happened?"

"I was feeling a bit tired so I made a cup of tea. I was in such a state to get ready, I spilled some on me," Lyneth looked down hopelessly at the ugly stain. "I had nothing else fitting to wear. Please tell me you have something - anything I can borrow. I promise I will be very careful with it," Lyneth sniffled.

Ava had never seen her so worked up before a mixer. "Hon, don't you worry. I have the perfect dress for you," Ava hugged her tightly. "Now get yourself a glass of something to calm you, and I will go shopping in my closet."

Lyneth took a deep breath and fetched herself a glass of Ava's bourbon. She so desperately wanted to look nice for Adam.

Ava returned with a low cut emerald green gown. "I think this is perfect. It goes with your coloring, and it's festive."

"What are you wearing?"

"I have a blue one that I'm wearing. I think this is the one. It was made for you," Ava said. "Go try it on."

"It looks small," Lyneth said nervously. What did she have to lose? She could turn up in a dress with a stain or one that was a bit too snug.

Ava applied makeup while Lyneth changed in her room. She was glad that she wasn't singing tonight. It'd be nice to have a full night to enjoy herself and her company. She was disappointed to not see Paul turn up at the White Hart since the tree decorating night. Since none of them had appeared, she concluded they were flying.

Lyneth emerged from the bathroom smoothing down the green chiffon that clung to her body. The colour reminded her of the green rolling hills of Wales, the thought of which made her smile. The dress came down to a respectable yet sexy v-line in the front but fell low in the back, her elegant shoulder blades and the graceful contour of her spine on display. The skirt billowed around her ankles as she strode across Ava’s floor in delicate heels, spinning around to give her friend the full effect of the gown.

"Oh Lyn, you must wear that," Ava gasped. She thought of poor David and hoped he had a strong heart.

Lyneth's hands covered her chest. "I do like it, quite...but is it too revealing? I think you have the better figure for it."

Ava shook her head. "It's a bit too small for me in the bosom region. I look very inappropriate in it. I'm not sure what Mama was thinking when she sent that."

"I'm sure that Paul wouldn't mind you in it," Lyneth pulled a face.

Ava glanced up from her mirror. "That Paul?"

"You should mind yourself around him," Lyneth's tone was serious. "I know his type.”

"I do too. I see them almost every night," Ava shrugged.

"True, but I've never seen you curl up on your sofa with one" she said.

Ava blushes a bit. "That was just a bit of flirting."

Lyneth looks at her seriously. "Ava, I've seen you flirt. You bat your eyes and you might touch their arm. That went beyond just flirtatious."

"I'm just having some fun. I know you can't take him seriously - and that's the point. I won't break his heart," she looked at her reflection in the mirror.

"But will he break yours?" Lyneth touched her arm.

Ava laughed uneasily. “Lyneth, please. My heart is already taken.”

“I don’t know that Paul gets that in his thick head,” Lyneth fluffed her hair.

"Watch it with the liquor, missy....you don't want a large head again," Ava warned.

Lyneth groaned. "I'm certain David was trying to poison us."

"Maybe some of us," Ava muttered

"What's that?" Lyneth’s head whipped around.

"Does this dress look okay to you?" Ava changed the subject quickly.

* * * * *

Paul did a quick scan of the crowd in the large hall. The voices around him disappeared into one as he scoped the scene. He doubted that Ava ever ventured on base for mixers such as these. More than likely, she was curled up in a luxurious robe listening to her records and reading one of the many books in her flat after her show tonight.

“Looking for your girlfriend?”

Nigel's tone was taunting.

Paul winced as Nigel’s elbow jabbed him in the ribs. If he didn’t have to fly with him, Paul would have gladly tossed a punch to shut his mouth. His eyes gave one last scan of the dance floor and tables surrounding it – she wasn’t here. He shoved his disappointment down and decided he needed to show the boys that Paul had not gone all soft – Paul was still very much the ladies man.

“Larry, shall we find some lovely ladies to buy drinks for?” he said loud enough for all to hear.

“Erm, alright,” Larry shrugged.

“Care to join us?” Paul turned to Adam and David.

Paul knew he had to find a real bombshell to shut those boys up rightly. He pushed thoughts of Ava to the back of his mind as he sidled towards the bar making eye contact with every girl he passed.

David shook his head wearily. Paul’s pride would certainly get in his way of a real chance with Ava. He’d notice a slight change in the way Paul carried himself in recent weeks – he was a lot less cocky. David thought it was a nice change and reminded him of Paul back home where he wasn’t out to prove himself to anyone. He’d noted that around Ava, Paul was being more genuine. He still flirted mercilessly – they both did. The night of tree trimming party Paul had been content sitting beside Ava on the sofa chatting with his friends and drinking wine. David focused his attention on their stealing touches and glances to avoid Adam and Lyneth.

As David followed Paul, he glanced left and right for the familiar brown hair. Perhaps Adam would become beguiled by one of the other lasses here. He just wanted a night out without their blossoming affair tossed in his face. If he could find the gumption to talk to her, he would have asked if she was coming tonight. He had taken to hiding in hallways when he saw her pass. She would offer him a smile as she paused to attempt to begin a conversation, and like a coward, he would drop his gaze and run. He didn’t trust himself to not blurt out his objections about her and Adam. Next week, he was scheduled at the other hospital – away from Lyneth. Maybe some time apart was good, he tried to convince himself.

* * * * *

“Does Adam know you’re going to be here?” Ava slipped off her coat.

Lyneth shook her curls loose from her scarf. “I wasn’t sure we were coming. Luckily I found someone willing to switch with me.” She smoothed down the dress she has borrowed from Ava. It was a bit more daring than she would normally wear. “Does this look okay?”

“Lyneth darling, you are the cat’s meow in that,” Ava clucked. “In fact, you look so much better in it, I want you to keep it.”

“Ava no, I couldn’t,” Lyneth protested.

“I won’t take no for an answer. Call it a Christmas present if you like,” she lopped her arm around Lyneth’s. “Now, let’s go find some handsome men to buy us some drinks.”

And that’s how Ava was – generous and a bit pushy at times. For what was normally used as a mess hall, they had done a decent job of decorating. A large Christmas tree towered over the band at one end. It wasn’t half as pretty as the one they decorated at Ava’s a few weeks back, but that had been a magical night surrounded by new friends...and Adam.

She couldn’t help her eyes from searching for him among all the uniforms. Leading up to Christmas, Adam had been flying quite a bit, causing Lyneth many sleepless night as she recalled how they met. She prayed to the Lord to keep him safe – she had just found him in her life.

It took awhile to get near the bar as Ava stopped to talk to people she knew. Lyneth mused that if it was possible, Ava could run for elected office in this town and win handily for all the people she knew. Men were starting to flirt with Lyneth as their eyes poured over her in the green dress. She was flattered, but she was distracted by searching for Adam. She should have asked if they were flying tonight – maybe he wasn’t even here at all. I squeezed into this for nothing, Lyneth lamented.

As she scanned the crowd for Adam, her eyes caught on a familiar figure with brown hair. It was probably the detached gaze that she recognized first. David stood on the outskirts of a small group by the Christmas tree on the other side of the room. He held a drink as he watched the band looking thoroughly uncomfortable and a little bored. Adam wasn’t in the crowd as far as she could tell.

She looked over toward the bar and saw a red head clinging to Paul’s side for dear life – yet he did not seem too bothered by it. He smiled and whispered in her ear as she shrieked in delight and gave him a playful slap. Whatever he said, he looked pleased with himself for making her blush. Lyneth was glad that Ava would get to see him for what he was – just a smooth talker. Sure, he had shown bits of real humanity the last few times they had gathered, but Lyneth was not as convinced as Ava that something real existed under that bravado. She knew if Ava were to ever consent to anything physical, it might be the last time they’d see him at the White Hart. She was grateful that her Adam was nowhere to be seen and that he was proving to be a true gentleman – not the scamp Paul was.

“There’s your man,” Lyneth said sharply as Ava joined her, continuing their walk to the bar.

Ava followed Lyneth’s gaze in time to see Paul plant a small kiss upon a red head’s lips. He smiled and pointed to the mistletoe up above them. Ava felt a distinctive twinge that she didn’t like and had no right to feel. She knew she’d see him tonight but thought she’d spend her night dangerously flirting with him as he attempted to win her over.

“It would appear that our friend is doing quite well for himself,” Ava commented.

Lyneth picked up a hint of disappointment in her voice. “I think she has a horse face.”

Ava smiled at her fiend’s attempts to diffuse her edge. “I guess that will be something he will have to contend with tomorrow morning.”

Lyneth nudged her with a giggle. “Ava, you are terrible and I love you for it. Let’s get drinks.”

“Yes, let’s,” she cast a final glance in Paul’s direction.

* * * * *

Mary had proved to be a decent kisser – not too sloppy, not too dry. Paul had missed women’s lips. For the most part they were soft and usually tasted of wine. Her green eyes drew him in as her smile promised there may be more kisses later in the evening. As Mary swayed against him, his eyes searched for a dark corner somewhere in the mess hall; it was too cold to take this party outside. Most of the doors to the galley were locked. There had to be an unoccupied supply closet somewhere that hopefully no one else had used to sneak a kiss or anything else.

He saw David by the bar looking miserable. For a moment tonight, Paul thought he saw him grin. As a friend, he knew he should probe more into what was getting at him. He knew that the shifts at the hospital were getting to David, for he saw the worst of the war. Paul was all too aware how terrible things were as they flew smoke filled skies, but he watched from the relative safety of his bubble.

David’s eyes were locked on a group by the Christmas tree. Looking over Mary’s shoulder, he saw Lyneth and Adam with their arms wrapped around each other. His heart stopped – did that mean? His eyes searched further and as he suspected, Ava sat in a chair surrounded by men – one being Larry, with his hand leaning casually on the back of her chair as he ducked his head to talk to her. As he felt Mary’s lips brush the skin above his collar, Ava, threw her head back in laughter. Shit, he cursed. Had she seen him with Mary? He felt foolish for screwing up weeks of hard work for a little physical contact and to mend his bruised pride.

While Mary walked her fingers teasingly up and down his tie, he snuck a long look at Ava. It seemed that every dress she wore was more dazzling than the last, but this one in particular had him close to speechless - an arduous task indeed. The gown was a sky blue number, and it hugged her voluptuous body in all the right places. It clung to her hips and then flared out from knees down like a mermaid's tail; he swallowed hard as he imagined his hands tracing her curves over the satin. His gaze drifted northward to her bust-line, a rhinestone broach drawing his eye to the cusp of her cleavage and the swell of those beautiful breasts...

Suddenly the air around him felt close, Mary’s machinations becoming more unwelcome by the second. He pulled his palm across his forehead, encountering a thin sheen of sweat that seemed to appear the moment he fell prisoner to Ava’s curves.

As Lyneth bent to whisper in Ava’s ear, Larry’s eyes caught on Paul’s. With a huge grin, he toasted his older brother as he mouthed ‘slainte’. The desire to find a supply closet to receive some attention from Mary dissolved into the inclination to stuff his baby brother into one. Paul felt trapped between his reputation and yearning.

While Paul devised a plan to quietly remove himself from Mary’s lips before Ava noticed, Larry had taken her hand to lead her to the dance floor - right in his direction. Somehow, he would get revenge on Larry - he was doing this on purpose.

“Why hello Paul,” Ava purred as her arms curled around Larry’s neck.

Paul swallowed hard as he attempted to put some distance between himself and Mary. “Good evening, Ava. We had no idea you ladies were coming tonight.”

With one eyebrow raised, she grinned knowingly. “It would appear so.” She looked at the brightly decorated hall. “They did a wonderful job. I’m guessing it’s not this festive most days.”

“Festive? No,” Larry relished his new position. He enjoyed watching Paul squirm as he held Ava a little tighter.

“You’re a Yank, right?” Mary asked her, wondering just who this woman with the strange accent was to have all the men ravishing her with attention.

“In a manner of speaking. Being from the South, I could never call myself a Yank, but I am American,” Ava nodded.

Watching Ava sway with Larry, Paul had no idea to clean up this mess. He did manage to get a thumbs up from the lads, but now he was dancing with the wrong woman.

“You sing at the White Hart, don’t you?” Mary recognized her at last. “I’ve seen you. You’re very good.”

Ava blushed. “Why thank you. I do sing there.”

Mary pulled Paul closer. “ ‘Ave you heard the pipes on her?”

His eyes penetrated Ava’s. “I have heard her sing a few times. It is quite something.”

Ava offered a wink before she rested her head on Larry’s shoulder, promptly ending the conversation.

* * * * *

What a bloody mess, Paul grumbled to himself as Mary wrapped her arms around him tighter. An hour ago, Mary was just what the doctor ordered. As he watched Larry spin Ava around with her golden curls bouncing, this is not where he wanted to be. Didn't Adam say they were busy or working? If he knew she was going to be at the party, he would have.....he sighed. That wouldn't solve the problem. The boys would still be teasing him. He had to decide what was more important to him - his reputation or Ava.

Larry led Ava to a table by the tree secured by Adam and Lyneth. As he pulled out her chair, Ava smiled up at Larry gratefully.

"Are you thirsty? Do you need a drink?" Paul pulled away.

He needed to get over to that table - imagining Larry spinning all kinds of semi-tall tales about him. 'Paul is cad. Broken hearts all over Dublin ‘cos of him'. But how could he untangle himself from Mary? He'd done a little more than just flirt. He'd laid the ground work for possible intimacy, and she'd been very receptive to the idea. He knew Larry was not going to help him out of this as he looked rather cozy beside Ava. Paul sighed, why did she have to wear blue tonight? The neckline highlighted some very lovely attributes. Paul grumbled as it was his own fecking fault.

"Ehm, sure. I could go for a drink," she grabbed his hand to walk to the bar.

Paul hoped Ava wouldn't see that. He caught Nigel's gaze as they approached the bar.

"I see that singer from the White Hart did turn up. I might ask her for a dance," Nigel grinned maliciously.

With his free hand, Paul clenched his fist.There was absolutely nothing he could say. Nigel was trying to get a rise out if him and he couldn't play along.

"Do you need a drink?" he asked.

Nigel held up a glass. "I'm fine."

Paul slipped his hand from Mary's vice like grip to order them some pints. The night was going downhill fast as Mary planted herself beside him. There was no graceful way to extricate himself. He cast a gaze back at the table and Ava was gone, yet Larry was there with David. His eyes searched for her - just a sea of people.

"I feel bad for taking you from friends," Paul said to Mary hoping she'd return to them. He knew the odds were slim.

"It's fine. I'd rather get to know you," she said as she fluffed her hair.

He offered a very weak smile. He was going to need help with this one. If Ava had been single, he'd quietly explain the situation. Mary might toss a drink and a slap, but a stinging cheek would be worth a night free to woo Ava. However Ava's situation was delicate, for he didn't know how many people knew she was engaged. Or how many of those people were friends with Dick. Deep down, he knew he was wrong to still seek her out, but he didn't care. Her soft skin on his would be worth all the hours of confession he'd need to endure after.

"Then, let's join me friends," Paul took her drink too so she could claim his hand.

David nudged Larry as they approached the table. "Yer brother is on his way back here."

Larry smirked. "He looks mighty sore, wouldn't you say?"

Welcome to my world, David thought as Paul's eyes darted about the room. His head twisted so much, David feared it might twist right off his neck.

"Can we join you lads?" Paul pulled out a chair which Mary slipped into. He wasn't trying to be chivalrous.

"I guess so," Larry said. "What? No drinks for us? You're so charitable at the White Hart."

Paul fixed him with a glare. "You're a big boy. You can get your own."

Paul leaned back still searching the crowd. Maybe she powdering her nose with Lyneth. He hated that she would return to see Mary at the table. What he could say to persuade Mary to go away?

"Do you frequent the White Hart?" Mary asked.

Paul cringed inwardly. He didn't want or need a fan to follow him to his favorite place. "Sometimes."

"Hello Paul. Who's your friend?" Lyneth asked.

Paul turned to see Adam and Lyneth reclaim their seats. There was a gleam in Lyneth’s eye.

"Oh, this is Mary," he gestured to her without enthusiasm. "You met Dave and Larry. This is Adam and Lyneth."

"How do you all know each other?" Mary asked.

While Adam launched into the tale of how they all came to be, Paul finally spotted Ava - in Nigel's arms. The back of his neck broke into a burning rash. Fists formed unconsciously - he should have known Nigel would pull a stunt. Paul's stomach turned as he watched him whisper in Ava's ear. After all the denials, Paul couldn't even bat an eyelash or he’d never hear the end of it. He cursed his own stupidity while he weighed his options.

“Thank you very much, Nigel,” Ava said as he walked her back to her friends.

“What are the chances of getting another dance?” Nigel winked at Paul.

Ava watched Paul squirm in his seat. “Let’s see how the night goes, okay sugar?”

With a bow and kiss on her hand, Nigel returned to the bar satisfied that he ruined Paul’s night.

Larry offered his seat to Ava. “Thank you, Lawrence.”

“Did your feet survive?” Paul leaned closer to Ava.

She fanned herself. “They did, thank you. He was quite a dancer.”

Paul seethed. All he wanted was to hold Ava close as they danced. Perhaps he could somehow get Nigel and Mary together. Nigel probably wanted some female companionship and Mary had been ready to go earlier. He rubbed his forehead and concentrated - how do you solve a problem like Mary? The more he moved away, the closer she leaned. She scooted her chair against his as her arm wrapped around the back of his chair. Mary had taken ownership.

“I’ll be back, I’m off to the loo,” Mary announced to an uninterested Paul.

“Right,” he nodded. Watching Mary slip through the crowd, his expectant gaze turned to Ava. As casually as he could, he moved his chair closer to her.

"Mary seems very nice," Ava said casually after Mary left.

"Ehm, yeah, she's okay," Paul mumbled dismissively. He had only moments to whisk her to the dance floor.

She looked at him with one raised eyebrow. "Just okay? Your tongue seemed to think differently." Ava moved away from his ear.

Lyneth’s eyes flicked to David whose eyebrows were raised in a shared thought.

Patches of crimson flushed Paul’s face and words failed him completely. The ones he wanted to say seemed desperate and childish; his usual wit had left the hall.

David’s lips curled in amusement as Lyneth relished Paul’s obvious embarrassment.

Paul chewed on his lip - he needed to set her straight. Ava needed to know that Mary was just a mistake and he wanted to spend the rest of his evening with her.

Everything seemed to grow silent for that moment before the band launched into “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”. Lyneth loved the song but she could never remember who it was that sang it. She watched Paul rub the back of his neck, a nervous tic, as he leaned closer to Ava. Even though Lyneth would have loved to be enjoying it dancing with Adam right then, she instead nudged him with her foot and nodded to Ava. Adam chuckled quietly.

“Miss Ava, would you do the honors of taking a spin around the floor with me?” Adam stood and pulled down his suit jacket.

“Why Lyneth, are you prepared to give him up for a few minutes?” Ava grinned.

“Just so you know, I wouldn’t share with just anyone,” she winked.

Adam pulled Ava to her feet and led her to the dance floor. Paul shot a cold glare in Lyneth’s direction before he felt hands on his shoulders.

“Nose is powdered. Let’s dance,” Mary cooed in his ear.

He was certain that Lyneth chuckled with delight. There was no use in protesting, as Mary pulled him from his chair and into her arms. He heard her voice in his ear but couldn’t recall the actual words. His eyes watched Ava and Adam chuckle and dance on the other side of the room. Was there jealousy in Ava’s voice? Was she looking over in his direction? What were she and Adam talking about?

“Oh, I do love this song,” Lyneth smiled, watching as the couples on the floor pulled themselves into each others arms. She looked at David and grinned, “I’m no Ginger Rogers, but...”

“Oh,” David responded bashfully, “I’m no... Fred Astaire. By any means.”

“Shall we show them how it’s done?” Lyneth asked him with a laugh. She held her hand out to him across the table. He wanted to reach out and take her hand, whisk her out to the dance floor and pull her into his arms, but instead he looked down at his hands.

“David?” she prodded. “A dance?”

“Um, with me?” he asked, his head snapping up as he looked at her in wide-eyed disbelief.

“Why yes, David...with you. I mean I could find someone else if...”

“No, no...” he interrupted, rising from his seat and stepping over to pull out her chair, “I’d love to dance with you, Lyneth.”

He gave her a tight smile, not wanting to appear too eager, yet he could barely believe that she was going to be in his arms. Quickly, he wiped his palm on his pants before offering his hand to Lyneth.

Her soft fingers grazed his palm before wrapping around his hand - and his knees weakened. Swallowing the lump in his throat, he helped her to her feet and moved toward the dance floor, her hand small and warm enclosed in his long fingers.

He bit his lip, trying not to feel too lightheaded as he noted that her dress was most revealing, her milky shoulders on display beneath the thin straps and the low neckline tempting him to gaze upon it. He’d already snuck one look earlier this evening, but he didn’t dare peek again, not with her so near - she’d surely notice if he were to look now.

Although the thought of holding Lyneth close made him feel faint, he was thankful that it was a slow song. He didn’t know to do that jive and swing dancing that the American GIs had brought over and the English girls were dying to learn. He figured he could do a fairly passable foxtrot, but that was only in the mirror.

David was careful to lead Lyneth just far enough from Adam and Ava so that she wouldn’t be distracted by him, yet close enough that it didn’t seem that he was trying to steal her away. She stepped toward him and lifted her free hand to his shoulder, looking into his eyes and affording him a small smile.

He knew it was proper to put his hand on her shoulder blade, but he couldn’t imagine the thought of touching her bare skin - he wouldn’t be able to breathe. He instead placed his right hand at the small of her back, careful to rest it lightly on the fabric of her dress. His fingers would have to be content with the feel of chiffon rather than the soft skin of her back.

“Do you get out to dance much?” Lyneth asked, forcing him to stop fantasizing for a moment about what it would be like to touch her as a lover would.

“Um, not as much as I’d like...”

“Why not, David? You do enjoy it, don’t you?” she whispered, a shiver running through him as her breath tickled his ear.

Don’t get excited…don’t get excited… he willed himself, knowing that she would feel his arousal through the thin fabric of that dress if he did...

“Well, um, I do, but I don’t have...anyone to dance with.”

“Oh, David,” Lyneth smiled brightly, “I’m sure that plenty of girls would like to dance with you.”

David simply smiled back at her - the only girl he wanted to dance with was presently in
his arms.

"Maybe."

With a turn of her head, he caught the scent of roses on her neck. He lifted his hand from her back for a moment, adjusting his hat - again. He’d just been issued his RAMC cap last month along with his new service uniform, and it still didn’t fit quite right. He hadn’t had much of a chance to break it in as he wouldn’t wear this to the hospital - it was reserved for special occasions such as this.

“David, you look very handsome tonight. You all do in your service blues...and greens...” she giggled, squeezing his shoulder playfully.

“Thank you,” he blushed. “You look...ehm….very nice as well...”

He wished he were more like Paul, who could utter a winning compliment without a second thought. It didn't matter if it was true, it sounded good. Instead, he tripped over his words, unable to find the right ones to convey how beautiful she looked tonight.

But Paul was right. The women definitely did love a man in uniform. David took a deep breath before straightening his back and placing his hand confidently on her shoulder blade, her soft skin warm beneath his touch. He was touching her at last; he hoped this song would last forever.

"Excuse me, sir," Adam's voice broke through his thoughts like a sledgehammer in a china shop. “May I have my girl back?”

Instead of hearing Lyneth’s gentle refusal, her giggle taunted him. His heart sunk like a stone as he lifted his hand from her shoulder and she moved away from him.

“Oh, of course,” David blinked and stepped away. His body ached at the absence of her warmth. Once he found the courage to touch her, he wished he hadn’t taken so long.

“Thank you, David. You are a lovely dancer,” she said softly.

He couldn’t watch Adam’s fingers entwine with Lyneth’s as he beckoned her into his arms. He bowed slightly and his shoulders dropped. He looked up to find Ava standing beside him, looking at him with compassionate eyes.

“Would you like to dance?” she asked quietly.

David wanted to run after Adam and take Lyneth back into his arms, touching her the way she was meant to be touched. Maybe she would have leaned her head on his shoulder if he’d only done it sooner. Over Ava’s shoulder, he saw Lyneth’s eyes shine as they gazed up at Adam. He sighed.

“I would love to,” he smiled weakly.

“I tried to keep him occupied as long as I could,” Ava offered.

David’s face flushed red with a chuckle. “I thank you for your efforts. I had five minutes of heaven.”

“It was a start. You at least had a conversation with her. I know she seems like a smitten kitten now....but that can change. People change their minds about love all the time,” Ava said.

David wondered if she was talking about herself. “Maybe so, but I did something truly repulsive in front of her that I can’t stop thinking about.”

“What?”

“It was the day after I met you, you know, the night I got drunk.” He took a deep breath. “I had to assist in a blood donation for a transfusion.....and I got sick....in front of Lyneth.”

“Oh dear,” Ava covered her mouth. “Darlin’, I bet she doesn’t remember that, honestly.”

He hung his head. “She had to clean it up.”

Ava couldn’t find the words to comfort him. Instead, she wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tightly. That small gesture took him by surprise. No woman had ever willingly embraced him unless she was a relation.

“Dave, it will be okay. You just need to speak up and show her what an amazing person you are,” she said.

His cheeks burned at her words. “How do you know I’m amazing? We’ve only talked a few times.”

“I’m an excellent judge of character, Dave,” she winked.

Just over Ava’s head, he saw Paul’s face turn pallid, clearly disturbed by his close proximity to her. “You are driving him mad, you know."

“Paul?” she smiled. “I know. He deserves it a bit, right?”

David chuckled. "Absolutely. It’s great fun seeing him out of his element."

“I’ll bet he’s just glaring you down.”

"Can I hold you tighter?" Dave smiled.

"I wish you would," she laughed.

David pressed Ava to him. In fact, he noticed that a few men were looking at him in awe. Men had lined up at their table for a dance with Ava, yet she had asked him for a dance. Of course he was getting the deadliest glare from Paul.

“He’s pretty miserable,” David said.

Ava sighed. “I didn’t want that. I felt he was being unfair to that poor girl.”

“He’s a work in progress, but I’ve noticed a change in him since meeting you,” he said softly.

“David, we’ve already talked about this....I’m soon to be a married woman,” Ava clucked.

“A wise woman once said ‘people change their minds about love all the time’,” he smiled.

She gave him a playful shove as she attempted to hide the pink in her cheeks.
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Old 03-12-2012, 03:11 PM   #2
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Wow that was quite the treat! Well worth the wait to get so much new stuff.

Enjoying the big teasing going on about here, Paul falling flat on his face with his stupid male pride, and finally David is getting somewhere! It's really nice that Ava is being his friend, he sure needed one.
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And if U2 EVER did Hawkmoon live....and the version from the Lovetown Tour, my uterus would leave my body and fling itself at Bono - for realz.
Don't worry baby, it's gonna be all right. Uncertainty can be a guiding light...
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Old 03-12-2012, 03:20 PM   #3
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It's nice seeing Dave starting to loosen up a tiny bit.
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Old 03-12-2012, 03:22 PM   #4
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Thank you. We have to get working on finishing the second part of the night.
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Old 03-12-2012, 04:46 PM   #5
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New chapter! I'm happy!

I love the dialogue. You guys must be great at writing dialogue. There were some really great lines.

I like that David and Ava are friends. I loved reading about all of them dancing, and how Paul's night was ruined... poor him.
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Old 03-12-2012, 06:46 PM   #6
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Thanks all... so much more to come... hopefully should get Chapter 12 going before the weekend depending on how busy my week is!

Appreciate the comments as always.
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Old 03-12-2012, 07:15 PM   #7
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Yes, keep the comments coming. I'm glad the characters are settling in for everyone
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Old 03-25-2012, 04:57 PM   #8
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Thanks all... so much more to come... hopefully should get Chapter 12 going before the weekend depending on how busy my week is!

Appreciate the comments as always.
Before which weekend?
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Old 03-25-2012, 07:00 PM   #9
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Oh gg, I think we have grave news for you.....It might be a few weeks before chapter 12....I'll be going away next Monday....
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:07 PM   #10
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Oh gg, I think we have grave news for you.....It might be a few weeks before chapter 12....I'll be going away next Monday....
Ok no problem, take your time Grace and wo_speaking.
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Old 08-21-2012, 02:42 AM   #11
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oh gosh... Dave X...( geez. This is SO SAD. I mean, If I was Lyneth, I'd be all over that boy in an instant! siiiigh. my poor baby!
But Paul totally got what he deserved XD I love Ava, she's so cool! and Larry is just so funny!
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