The dragon was slow and lazy and content to sit still in the dark night, its breath hissing around him. But the air was cold, so cold the inner pane of the window began to frost over.
The patterns were beautiful and lazy as their maker. An ice dragon then.
He didn’t realize they had begun to move until he saw the large white ring on his right as they tuned slowly. It happened very quickly. The dragon started along the run way, bouncing against the imperfections along the ground, gaining speed with every second that passed. The beast let out a shudder as it launched itself into the air and his heart lurched backward with the force of the ascension.
The dragon flew up and up and up until it began to level out, soaring through the dark, cloudy sky. The dragon rider smiled as the wing dipped low and the beast faced its large head toward the dawning horizon.
Harriet sat at the front desk, clicking away at the computer. She glanced nervously around every few seconds, watching for her cousin or one of his spies. So far it was a relatively slow day, so slow in fact, that she was playing Minesweeper and pretending she was doing work. No one had ever said how boring this was going to be. She was set for her first round of assistance in the operating room in a month. Three weeks and five days to be more exact. It was a relatively simple surgery, just an appendectomy for an eleven year old boy who’d been having problems with it. It wasn’t dire, but he had a history of problems in his family and Harriet’s higher ups (not Chris, but another one) thought it would be best to get out before it became an issue as it was like to be.
Harriet bit back a sigh as she hit a bomb. Well, it was better than winning again. She had it on the hardest mode and was still winning nine of ten rounds in under two minutes. She glanced at the clock. It was barely three. A patient was due in a half hour that she would have to pull up records for and be sure he followed all the instructions given to him in order to be sure the operation went well. Then Harriet would be sure the operation ACTUALLY went according to plan. Well, she would make sure the people who did the operation would have an easier time of it. Due to Chris thinking she needed some down time, she was left to being a glorified receptionist. She almost wished he had never given her that one form of pity.
Night shifts were more interesting. She almost envied Martin. She usually just went around checking on post-operative patients who were staying overnight, but sometimes they would get notice of a patient being rushed in and Harriet would meet them at the door, ready with medical records if they had them and would wheel them into the operating room. Harriet always felt guilty when the adrenaline thrill raced through her body, knowing it was at someone else’s expense.
None the less, she was glad she only had three hours left.
“Excuse me? Uh, is this were you go to get operations and stuff?” A man’s voice asked and Harriet clicked quickly out of Minesweeper and into the hospital’s data base.
“Yes it is. Do you have an appointment?”
“No, but I’m hoping someone can fix my severe case of butt-hurt.”
“Butt-hurt—” Harriet looked up, entirely confused, and screamed.
Every head in the room whipped toward the sound, but Harriet didn’t care. She surprised herself by fact that she even went around the desk instead of launching herself up and over the surface. Andrew grabbed her up to him and spun her around, almost knocking her legs into the desk as they went. Andrew tried to set her down, but she didn’t let him.
She held tight and kissed him deeply. Someone in the room—one of her co-workers probably—whistled, but they ignored it. When the human need for oxygen finally drove them apart, Harriet began to laugh.
“What are you doing here?” She asked. “I—we haven’t even talked—”
In three days. Since she’d yelled at him over the phone and hung up.
“I know.” He said, his green eyes full of pain. “I had to see you. It’s not enough anymore, just talking to you over the phone.”
Harriet’s heart leaped. “You’re staying?”
Andrew winced. “No. I have to go back tomorrow night.”
The heels of Harriet’s feet finally found the floor. “Oh.”
“But I plan to make good of what time we have.” Andrew gripped her hip and tugged her close and she found herself grinning like an idiot.
Then Harriet’s smile fell. “I—I don’t get off until six tonight.”
“Well, we’ll go out to dinner or go bowling or something like we used to.” He said. “And then tomorrow we can—”
“I work tomorrow Andy.” She said softly. “And after that I have a mortality conference.”
Andrew didn’t give up. “Then let’s not go out tonight. We can go to your house and spend all night—”
“Harriet.” A voice called and Harriet flinched, whipping her head around. Chris was standing in the doorway between the front room and the halls, looking none too pleased. “You can rendezvous on your own time. Get back to work.”
As he disappeared back through the door, Harriet muttered, “When exactly would that be?”
Andrew was looking over her shoulder. “That was Chris, huh? What a killjoy.”
Harriet sighed and nodded in agreement. “He means well. Here, why don’t you go to the house and get some sleep. You look tired.”
Andrew gave her that stupid, goofy smiled she’d missed so much. “I can no longer feel my feet.”
Harriet laughed and unlooped the house key from the chain and gave it to him. “I’ll see you in a couple hours. I don’t think we’ll make it out of the house tonight.”
Andrew kissed her again and gave her wicked smile before slinking out of the waiting room. Harriet smiled after him as he turned left down the hallway, just as Martin came through. Martin’s dark eyes found hers before looking back down the hall at where Andrew had disappeared. Harriet went back behind the desk and woke up the computer again, forcing her mind to go back into work-mode.
Martin just came up to the desk and leaned against it. Harriet looked up at his smug face and glared at him. “What?”
Her cousin just laughed softly and let himself through the RESTRICTED ACCESS door behind the desk.
“We hit turbulence a few times,” Andrew explained, as he made biting kisses down her torso. Harriet loved how they could carry on whole conversations, even when every sense was clouded with lust. “Once when I was asleep with my head against the window. I cracked my head against it.”
“Why didn’t you use the pillow?” Harriet asked as she spread her legs wider as he bit down her hips and thighs.
Andrew chuckled against her skin and she nearly convulsed. “You’ve never ridden coach have you?”
“If you had called, I could have paid for you to—” Harriet hissed and moaned at the same time before rising up on her elbows and glaring down at Andrew.
He was all innocent smiles as if he hadn’t nearly just taken a bite out of her thigh. “And ruin the surprise? Coach is fine.”
Harriet rolled her eyes and flopped back on the bed, forcing herself to bite her tongue just as Andrew released his.
Harriet’s joyful screams filled the night air as they raced through the freezing waves, chasing them back into the sea where they belonged. He could see the barest outline of her willowy form, running just ahead of him. God in heaven, he’d missed that sound. It was one that he had to push her in order to get. Back in LA, they’d spend date nights bowling or dining or picnicking up on the rocks where they’d first kiss. Sometimes they’d go to an Octet concert or one of the other bands playing that Em had connections too. But this…
When they’d gone out for Harriet’s belated camping trip, he’d convinced her to take a running leap of a short cliff into the deep waters below and she’d screamed with joy and laughter and an edge of fear. The time they’d gone go-carting she’d done the same thing.
The time they’d went to the Rocky Horror show, the time they’d done a home-improvement project at the shop and Andrew had handed Harriet a sledge hammer and let her go to town on an obstructive wall. It was rare that he heard it, but when he did, it almost broke his heart with happiness and sadness all at once. He was thrilled that she could do that, let loose with him on occasion. But he was also saddened by the fact that each laughing shriek was built up over a lifetime of having to stay poised and calm and quiet. Sometimes he wondered if she screamed just to be heard, to make noise.
Andrew was so distracted in his own thoughts that he realized too late that the wave was coming back at them and Harriet was already running away. He tried to turn, but his feet were caught in the wet sand holes that the wave had dug around his feet as it had pulled back. He shouted as he fell and the wave came up over him.
“Andrew!” She screamed and ran over to him, grabbing his arm and pulling him up. “Are you alright?”
He coughed and sputtered, but managed to say, “Yeah, I guess I just got caught up is all.”
Harriet cocked her head. “Is that a joke?”
“Have you been away so long you’ve forgotten my brand of humor?” He asked and she smiled. I drop of water dripped off his nose and Andrew suddenly found that his body was freezing. He wrapped his arms around himself automatically.
“Oh, God,” Harriet said, dragging him out of the surf. “It’s like fifty degrees out here. Let’s get you back.”
“No.” Andrew said and halted. Harriet turned to look at him. He could just see her dark eyes glittering in the distant lights, filled with confusion. “I don’t want this night to end. My plane leaves tomorrow before you even get off work. All we have is now.”
“Andrew,” Harriet smiled and laid a warm hand against his cheek. “We have forever.”
“You don’t know that.” He said, the fear overriding the cold. “We don’t know anything. The plane might go down or you might die driving home.”
Harriet reached up onto her toes and kissed him soundly. “The plane’s not going to go down and no one is getting into any car crashes. I promise.”