Marise arrived promptly at six. One thing Kasen loved about her, she was always prompt. Kasen sighed when he caught sight of her dressed in sweatpants and white girl shoes. At least he would not be distracted by her calves tonight. This was purely about helping her, Kasen told himself for the hundredth time that hour.
“Hi, Mr. Montgomery.” Marise said as she walked in to his condo. Marise gasped as her eyes caught glimpse of the view from his large windows. One could see the Mississippi river and the trees that dotted the banks. It being still early in the year, there were no leaves, and a few flecks of snow still clung to the rocks.
“Let me take you coat, and stop calling me Mr. Montgomery.” Kasen took her coat and led her into his studio. Actually, he thought, it is more of a corner with a wall length mirror and wood flooring. There was a small stereo in the corner playing soft piano music. The recessed lights were dim and Kasen looked like he was glowing in the soft amber lighting.
She looked at him and put her hand on her hip, and said nothing. Damn she was a hard cookie to crack.
“So where do we begin?” Marise said, looking around her. This corner was bigger than her living room, and Marise liked the homey feeling in Kasen’s condo. It felt lived in, not some model thrown up to attract the young jet-set crowd. His paintings were colorful with hues of rust and yellow. She smiled at the figurines that lined the large window sill, which stood kiddy corner from the mirrored wall. They were all couples, entwined in a state of dancing.
“Well, we will start with a basic waltz. Everything else is just as easy, just with a few more turns. So come and stand face to face to me.”
Until that moment, when she was asked, Marise hadn’t bothered to look at him fully; not at work, not in passing, not ever. A part of her knew it was because she couldn’t afford herself to view Kasen Montgomery as a man, just someone who signs her checks. Right now, she saw him as just a man. His pectoral muscles showed definition beneath the gray cotton tank top. For the first time, Marise realized how devilishly handsome her boss was. It was his hair that made Marise gape at him. Usually it was styled out of his face, but tonight, it was unruly waves on his head. The shades of brown and blonde swirled together like his paintings. His body was more artistic than the paintings. Even though he wore baggy navy blue sweat pants, they dipped at his waist, a telltale sign the rest of him was as defined. Marise shook her head of her thoughts. She had to focus. This was for her and Darryl, her husband. Sooner or later, Darryl would get enough of running the streets and it will just be them. With no threat of death and debts hanging over their heads, Marise believed that she and Darryl could make things work.
Marise stood in front of Kasen and put her arms in front of her, wondering if she could remember the dances from her 9th grade gym class. There was no need as Kasen grabbed her by her wrists and pulled her close. She could feel his muscled chest on her cheek and she almost stopped breathing. He scent was fresh and almost hypnotic. Funny, I didn’t have this much problem breathing around him last night and I had on close to nothing. Marise reflected. Kasen took her left arm and settled it on his shoulder. He took her hand in his right and stood still.
Kasen needed another moment to collect his thoughts. He was touching her, and all he could think of is touching her more. He knew she was doing this as a last resort, but he could not help but to think of it as a date.
Keep it together, Cassien, his father’s words always came back to him when he gets ahead of himself. His father, George, would always use Kasen’s full name when he was about to teach him something. .George “The Captain” Montgomery was a domineering man that owned a large fleet of boats. To teach Kasen to swim, George picked up the seven year old boy and threw him into the lake that he was named after. Learn to swim or you will be a sacrifice to the lake that bears your name. Kasen remembered thinking that the beautiful Lake Saint Cassien would be his final resting place. Kasen shook his head to rid himself of the troubling thoughts. This was about Marise.
Kasen’s arms tensed as he slid his arm in the curve between Marise’s hips and her waist. His hand settled there and he remembered to breathe. He looked down at her skeptical face and smiled. He would keep it together.
Her skin was warm to his touch, and it felt as though her skin was as soft as her smile.
“The first thing is to step this way,” Kasen led them to his right. “Good, now to the front, I will lead.” Kasen took a step forward and Marise tentatively followed his movements. The movements were simple, and Kasen took the lead with ease.
“Very good, lets keep going.” Kasen had Marise in his arms and they were sliding across the floor. Their bodies moved slowly at first, but the more comfortable they became in the steps, their bodies seem to connect on every turn. On instinct, Marise tensed up every time their bodies touched, but Kasen remained firm in his grasp. His grip didn’t allow her to pull away. The second time the front of her thigh met his, Marise only hesitated a moment.
It was over too soon though. The small clock that Kasen had on the stereo began to chime. They had been twirling and dancing for two hours and did not even notice. The alarm broke the moment and Marise came out of her trance of the music.
“This is going to be easier than I thought. You are a great partner to dance with.” Marise said as she bent to rub her calves. Now that they had stopped, she had felt a burning sensation rising up her legs. Yet, she was thankful that she was not standing in those high heel shoes for hours. Marise heard Kasen take a deep breath, but she did not look up. They had just spent two hours dancing, anyone would be winded a little.
Kasen was not gasping for air because of his exertions. He was watching as Marise gave herself a calf rub. She had given herself over to the music, and soon her movements were as fluid as his were. Kasen became enraptured by her presence. The dull ache he felt when he was alone seemed to disappear when Marise was with him. Yet, she was not his. It was just for mere minutes of a song that he could say that she was his.
“I will take that as a compliment Marise, even though you didn’t notice me mess up a step or two.” Kasen chuckled.
“How was I supposed to know? You were teaching me, remember?” Marise’s smile lit up her face and she was laughing in her way that shook her whole body. She picked up her bag and slung it over her shoulder.
“Same time tomorrow?” Kasen said as he walked her to the door. He did not want her to go. He would have cooked dinner for her, anything to keep her longer. But he knew that would be pushing too far.
“Yeah, you bet. Thanks again, Mr. Montgomery.”
“Stop, please don’t be so formal with me.” Kasen sighed heavily.
“How do you want me to be?” Marise retorted.
“I want you to be my friend, and I to be yours. My name is Kasen.” Kasen eyes turned a dangerous hue of blue.
Marise straightened to her full height.
“Good night.” Marise said, and slipped out of the door without a backward glance.
Rushing down to her car parked on the street, Marise had to get a grip. She was made of steel, nothing could faze her, or so she kept telling herself. No, this was just another job, there was nothing personal about it. It is just like being on the stage, Marise thought as she climbed into her small hatchback. When she looked up to the top of the ten story condo complex, and saw Kasen watching her from the window, deep in her gut she knew it was nothing like being on the stage. With this private dance, her emotions were on the line.