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Leah Wright isn't only Iron Maiden. She has a day job as well, and she's in Chicago on business. But after a day dealing with crowds, she's ready for some alone time. She takes to the sky, where she encounters an attractive stranger--one of Chicago's own superheroes. One thing leads to another and she has a very good time.
When she returns the next evening her playmate has brought a friend. She soon discovers that the dynamic duo are very close, but more than willing to share the love, and the three of them make beautiful music together....
Leah's last scheduled event at Erie-Con this evening was a reading of her most recent short story, Bad Touch. It ran from eight to nine pm. Afterward, she spent a few minutes signing copies of her novels and answering questions from a few of the folks who'd attended the reading. By the time she'd shaken off the most persistent, she was more than ready to leave the hotel.
I have got to get out of here.
She loved fandom, and she loved conventions—especially now that she could write them off as legitimate business expenses—but it wasn't all roses. Her schedule today had been packed with panel appearances. She'd barely had time to grab lunch and never did get dinner. Tomorrow promised to be just as busy. She'd have to talk to the con com about leaving more free time in her schedule.
Leah's stomach rumbled, but she ignored it. She could eat later. Right now she wanted to get out. The elevators in this hotel were painfully slow to arrive, and twice she had to wait anyhow because it arrived full of other con-goers. But eventually she made it to the eleventh floor.
After dealing with crowds all day, the silent emptiness of her hotel room was a blessed relief. Leah dropped her bag on the desk and then stretched out on the bed for a moment, enjoying the solitude. Not that she'd expected to be alone, but her best friend Rachel had had to cancel her attendance at the last minute, leaving Leah with a room to herself.
A flicker of light outside caught Leah's attention. She got up and pushed the gauzy curtains aside. The sky over Chicago was low and heavy, with lightning flashing in the distance. It looked as if a thunderstorm was about to descend on the city.
Leah smiled. She loved thunderstorms. She chewed on her lip indecisively for a moment, then turned away from the window. Why the hell not? She dug her Iron Maiden costume out of the large canvas duffel by the bed, then stripped.
She pulled on the tights, leather miniskirt, tank top, boots, and coachman's cloak with the speed of long practice. The mask she didn't put on—not yet. She shut off the lights and only then opened the sliding glass door to the tiny balcony.
Traffic sounds drifted up from far below, accompanied by the faint rumble of the approaching storm. The air smelled of the coming storm as well. She looked around carefully; none of the balconies she could see were occupied and most of the rooms were dark. Now she donned the mask.
She launched herself from the balcony, climbing fast. In moments she was well above the skyline. She slowed to a halt, hovering high over the city. The city was beautiful from this vantage point, as most cities were. Nearly silent, ablaze with lights strung in abstract patterns that only hinted at the complexity of the machine below.
It didn't look like a wretched hive of scum and villainy from up here. She knew Chicago's reputation, of course. It was one of the reasons she'd come to Erie-Con. She was thinking of writing a mystery for her next novel, and the city seemed like an ideal background for it. She could do some research, see the sights and talk to some locals to add authenticity to the story.
Leah took a moment to set a waypoint in the GPS unit strapped to her wrist so she could find the hotel again. It was always embarrassing to have to land and ask for directions or fly low enough to follow street signs in a strange city. Then she began flying over the city, changing direction on a whim, investigating any sights that caught her interest.
The thunderstorm continued its advance, arriving at last as a shimmering curtain of rain. She plunged into it and was soaked within moments. The rain was falling in blinding sheets, illuminated by frequent jagged bursts of lightning, close enough sometimes to make the fine hairs on her arms stand up. She felt the force of thunderclaps roll through her body. She loved it all.
She swooped and soared through the falling rain, reveling in the freedom of flight. She looped through the air, did barrel rolls and other maneuvers, sometimes driving straight up at speed before letting gravity slow her to a halt and pull her earthward again. During one such dive, Leah flashed past a figure on a rooftop of a high-rise building. A man—dancing.
Leah pulled out of her dive, arcing low over traffic and then back up into the night sky, retracing her path. Yes, there he was. An athletic Asian man dancing on the ledge that surrounded the rooftop. He had short, dark hair plastered to his skull by the rain. He was wearing black kung fu-style pants with white trim. His feet and upper body were bare.
And what an upper body it was. He looked as if he were carved out of wood. Muscles bunched and relaxed smoothly beneath his skin, and he moved as though his hips were on ball bearings. Strength and grace all in one very attractive package.
If he'd noticed Leah, he gave no sign of it. He continued his free form dance with no hint of self-consciousness. Leah drifted closer, wondering who he was and why he was dancing here and now. One slip and he'd fall to his death. Was he suicidal? High? Crazy?
Leah really didn't want to have to deal with someone like that now. But it wasn't as if she had a choice. If she didn't, who would? Leah drifted closer still. The man moved with remarkable grace and fluidity.
"I'm not a jumper," the man said, never pausing in his dance. He had to shout to make himself heard over the torrential downpour.
"That's good, then," Leah replied. She alighted on the ledge a few yards from the man. "Why are you here?"
"I love a rainy night." Dancing closer, he spared a glance for Leah. "I know you," he added.
"Yeah?" Leah asked.
"Yes," the man said, moving closer still, facing Leah now. If he had any concern for falling, it didn't show in his movements or his face. He looked Leah up and down. "You're Iron Maiden. You're far from home, aren't you?"
"I am," Leah agreed. "And who are you?"
"I am Jiang Wu," the man said, dancing up into Leah's personal space.
Jiang Wu. Leah knew that name. It had come up when she'd Googled Chicago. There were lots of rumors about him but not a lot of solid information, though he seemed to be on the side of the angels. Very few pictures either, though this man did seem to match Jiang's reported appearance. He was reputed to be a martial artist, or maybe a sorcerer, but definitely capable of the sorts of feats usually confined to over-the-top kung fu films, swift and dangerous but overall a good guy. He was often seen in the company of another Chicago legend, The Dark.
Jiang continued dancing to unheard music while Leah studied him. He reached out and took Leah's hands, swinging her into his arms. "Please, dance with me," he urged her.
Leah remained still for a moment, then shrugged and started dancing with the man. He grinned, clearly pleased by Leah's cooperation. They moved back and forth on the narrow ledge, his free form dance segueing into something more formal.
He pressed close to Leah, took her left hand in his right and wrapped his other arm around her waist. "Do you tango?" he asked.
"Uh, actually…no," Leah said.
He shrugged faintly. "Eh, neither do I. We'll just have to fake it."
And so they did, a little clumsily at first, but with increasing grace. They stalked first one way along the narrow ledge, then turned and stalked the other. Leah yelped when he abruptly dipped her. For an instant, she hung suspended over the precipice by his grip, shielded from the rain only by his face inches from her own.
Leah saw the moment when he considered closing the gap and kissing her. Before Leah could decide whether she'd welcome it, he seemed to sense her indecision. He abruptly jerked her upright. She felt his hard-on pressing against her. She held his gaze for a moment, saw the flickering glance he gave to her left, toward the high rise across the street.
Leah's nod was almost imperceptible. He pulled her tight against his body once more as they turned to press their cheeks together. He stepped out into thin air. She stepped with him—and they danced on the void in the falling rain to the music of thunder.
It was a surreal experience, and one she wouldn't have missed for the world. They danced until the thunderstorm had moved on. Now they stood on the ledge again with bodies pressed together and watched the curtain of rain recede to the west, flickering and grumbling in the distance. The city smelled of the rain and of ozone, and gleamed like new.
"It looks beautiful after a rain," Leah said, looking down at the city. They were the first words either had spoken in half an hour. She was breathing deeply and felt a little flushed, not from exertion but from excitement. There was tension in the air that had nothing to do with the storm just past.
"You can't see the warts from this height," he replied. "But trust me, they're there."
She could hear the weight of experience in his voice. Leah thought about her own childhood experiences with violence and crime. Here was someone, she suspected, who knew the things she knew, the same way she knew them. It was a rare feeling.
She looked at him until he met her eyes. "I know," she said. "All the more reason to enjoy the good things in life whenever you get the chance, don't you think?"
"Hell, yes," he said. She didn't know which of them moved first, or if they acted in unison. His mouth was warm and soft and hungry for her, but no more so than hers was for him. She ran her hands across his rain slick skin, marveling at the softness of it and the way hard muscle played beneath it.
Leah wanted to feel that skin against her body, wanted it desperately, and there was too much fabric between them. Without breaking their kiss, she reached up with one hand to lift her mask off and discard it. She fumbled with the clasp of her cloak, then tossed the mass of fabric aside. His hands tugged at her tank top, slipped beneath and grazed her sides as he pushed it up to bunch beneath her arms.
She broke their frantic kiss, gasping for air, and raised her arms long enough for him to peel the tank top away. She took two quick steps backward, and they looked at one another across that space. His gaze roamed her body, and he drew a long, slow breath as if the air had grown thick with the force of the energy between them. His silk pants, soaked by the rain and clinging, did absolutely nothing to hide his arousal.
Blog: Signals From My Subconscious
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