I wanted to bring the sexy down just a little and clear up what was happening, while still giving a fun tantalizing.
He was breathing hard from the Pilates routine. There was no Reformer in the hotel to twist and flex his body into shape, but he enjoyed the older feeling of a gymnastics floor workout. It revived memories of USC days on the parallel bars in the broad yellow light of Southern California. He made a luxurious bridge arch, belly open, hips to the sky, then spring-pushed with his arms and hopped to his feet with a little bit of a wobble that wasn't there at USC. He gulped breath the uninhibited way you do when your body's all the way alive. He loved the way his hips flexed, and his abdominal muscles felt individually alive after the workout. More than that, he enjoyed the peace that came after – although it seemed short lately, way too short.
He padded onto the black-grouted diamonds of the bathroom tile, bare feet on the gold-trimmed Persian rug – the only color in the room. He bent to drink water straight from the silver neck of the tap, gulping until he ran out of air. He stood and slowly stretched his arms over his head, like a cat.
The vertical eye of the mirror showed the sweaty raven of his hair. It threw back the Irish-white skin he had burned over and over on the Chicago Lakeshores of his youth, trying to coax melanin out of a colorless ancestry. It showed him wiping a washcloth over the bare muscles of his torso, years after his hip injury had ended all Olympics dreams. The mirror tonight was the eyes of someone else enjoying the black workout pants framing his unbared assets.
Behind him was his kind of bathroom. Massive white towels hung on heated spindles over the claw-foot tub. The center of the back wall was frosted fists of glass, their soft internal light filling the bathroom with something that in that moment felt like a distant kindness. He imagined a hot bath, and floating.
The gnawing at the back of his head roused and ground its teeth. He sighed and rubbed his temples. Probably have a headache by the time he got to the restaurant. Alone, as usual. He’d have to make sure to get a massage before his Working tomorrow. Somewhere in the back of his head, the grinding of old fears and… something new.
He kept looking at himself, curious, fresh, like he was something new. An unfamiliar narcissistic desire opened inside him, disturbing. He wanted to leave the bathroom, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. There was something in his eye.
He blinked, and it wasn't what he wanted, didn't drop a dark lash onto his cheek. Leaning closer, he saw there was a face in his pupils, as though someone were back in the dark bathroom, observing.
He shivered, goose bumps racing across his torso like a tiny army. There couldn't be anything in the hotel with him, not after the Banishings he had done earlier. He breathed in, focusing his will. Between the blue circles of his eyes, she was there: about his age, framed by hair and skin that burned with sunset light.
There was the shock of eye contact. Everything sped up. Her mouth was the ‘o’ of surprise. He felt her feeling him, knew the arousal in him was hers. Excitement and alarm, familiarity and strangeness. There was a mirror-maze building between them, feeling and sensing back and forth through the silver of the glass. It rose in intensity like a rogue wave. He was suddenly straining to keep himself from coming undone, knuckles on white porcelain. He called his guardians and it seemed like a sword of fire ran through his heart.
The darkness of pupils cracked open. There were derricks drawing something up from the earth that was not oil, and black lake water boiling, and fire in dry hills that singed the sky.
He slammed his will into a tight bubble around him, protective diagrams filling his throughts. It didn't stop.
She was there on a hillside in the future, the sun going from red to black; she was the only light. This was not the messenger he had asked Gabriel to send.
He leaned in as the world broke open between them, the gold of her hair had stolen every color from the room. “Who the hell are you?”