Jimmie sat in the warm sand, watching the waves roll towards her, the surf lapping at her feet. Impact Entertainment had, in an unprecedented act of generosity, sent a group of its performers to a posh resort in Edgewater Valley for a weekend of relaxation. Jimmie had thought it was just what she needed - she'd been melancholy lately, and a weekend in the sun had sounded wonderful.
Unfortunately, once she got there, she slowly realized her mood wasn't necessarily due to her surroundings. She felt just as down there, looking out at the crystal clear waters of the ocean as she had in the studio in Junction City, or during her downtime at home in Simberry.
Jimmie glanced sideways, blinking herself out of her reverie, and saw Leander sliding down into the sand next to her.
"I almost didn't recognize ya, love, without the blazin' red hair!"
She gave him a small smile, and tucked a lock of her now natural-colored hair behind her ear. She hadn't bothered with the upkeep that crimson red hair required. "Yeah," she lied, "Just figured it was time for a change."
"Well it becomes ya," he grinned nudging her. His smile was infectious.
"Did you have a good trip out?" She asked.
"Good, good. You know, Verity's thinking about booking a cruise back to Simberry, making the vacation last a bit longer."
"Now there's a bonzer idea! You gonna go too?"
"Nah, I don't think so."
"Com'on, Jim! Live a bit."
"With my luck, we'd end up reenacting the Simtanic."
"Jim!" Leander laughed, but Jimmie shook her head.
"I'm serious. It'll be a nice weekend, but just being able to loaf around at home sounds good." She was silent for a moment, watching the waves, before realizing that he was staring at her. "What?"
"Yer startin' to worry me, Jimmie. You've been glum since we got back from the tour."
"Ah, it's nothing...."
"And yer a terrible liar, to boot."
Jimmie regarded him for a moment, before shaking her head. She slowly got to her feet, "I think I need to get out of the sun."
"Oh, com'on, Jim! Don't go!"
"Yeah, I think I'm gonna head back to the hotel...."
"Jim, look," Leander stopped her, and leaned in. "You can't leave. I mean, for Pete's sake, shelia. If Dahlia's out here bravin' the sun, I think you can." Jimmie peered over Leander's shoulder to see the goth rock singer playing a spirited game of catch with Anouk Bramley, her skin so white she nearly blended in with the sand. "If she's not worried about burning to a crisp, you've got no excuse."
Jimmie snorted. "Yeah, I guess."
"And plus, Verity's been drivin' Anouk yarra lately -- crazy, before ya ask. So much so, Noukie walked out of a recordin' session the other day. It'd be good for her to see us all out, havin' a laugh together, wouldn't it?"
Jimmie frowned, and fixed him in a long stare. Finally, she sighed. "You're a real pain sometimes, you know?"
Leander flashed her a thousand-watt smile, and threw an arm around her shoulders. "You're a doll, ya know that, love?"
"Yeah, yeah." She groused, but couldn't keep the smile from her face as he led her over to a half-built sandcastle near the surf.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent most enjoyably by all. Jimmie found it difficult to sulk with Leander around -- his smile was infectious, and he was upbeat as a man could be. He was in his element too, on the beach and surrounded by women. He taught Anouk to surf, or attempted to; he and Verity danced in the sand to Story's End's 'Born Free'; and he even helped a slightly reddened Dahlia search for seaglass.
Jimmie was relaxing in a hammock shortly before sunset, when Dahlia moseyed by, collecting sticks. "Leander says we're building a fire," she announced, a thoughtful sort of smile on her face. “He says we’re going to roast marshmallows on these sticks. He thinks of the oddest things...."
Jimmie blinked confusedly but nodded, deciding as Dahlia walked away that she was just... unique.
Sure enough, as soon as twilight rolled around, Leander had a roaring fire built for them, the crackling of the logs just audible over the sound of the radio.
"I think Impact needs to sign a few more guys," Jimmie said with a laugh, watching Leander spin Dahlia around in the firelight. "A little competition for attention might do him good!"
"Right!” Anouk agreed from across the fire, “But I think it'd break Leander's heart, not being the center of feminine attention.”
"All right!" Leander laughed after the end of the song, making his way over to the fire and depositing a giggling Dahlia gently in the sand. "Com'on, Jim!"
"Sorry? Com'on what?" She asked, her brow furrowed.
"Com'on and dance with me, love! I've had each o' you girls out here on the floor, for lack of a better term, 'cept you! Now get up, n' gimme a dance."
"You're a hard man to say no to."
"That’s what I count on,” he grinned, taking her hand, pulling her to her feet and out into the sand and spinning her around.
They danced for all of a minute before the fun, upbeat pop song ended, and the radio cut to something less heart-pounding -- one of Jimmie's own. With the first strains of 'Looking Back at Me', Jimmie stepped away from Leander, and turned back to the fire.
"Well that was fun, thanks, Lea-" Jimmie said with a smile, retreating toward the fire when Leander caught her hand.
"Where do you think yer goin'?” He asked, pulling her back towards him. “That wasn't much of a dance! Com'ere!"
"Leander, no, I can't...."
"I...” Jimmie pursed her lips, glancing down at the three other women sitting around the fire, seemingly too engrossed in conversation to pay much attention to her words. “I don't slow dance,” she whispered, as if she were giving away government secrets and not admitting her lack of dancing prowess.
Leander’s brow furrowed. "What'ddya mean?"
"I've never danced slow," she whispered again.
Leander gaped at her. "What?!"
Jimmie rolled her eyes skyward. "I didn't go to dances in high school,” she explained. “I... I never really needed to learn, to do the kind of music I do. I can’t foxtrot across the stage during my songs. I don't know what to do with my feet. Or my hands."
Slowly Leadner’s confused expression faded, and he looked like a cat in the cream. "We can fix that. Here, put your hands here, well, no, more like... right, let's just do this, here, come closer.” He began maneuvering her stance, and her arms. “A bit closer now, love, I won't bite. There. Now just step this way… follow my feet… there you go. No worries, eah? Not so hard?"
Jimmie chuckled, "Yeah, I guess… I guess not." She followed his steps as best she could, watching her feet stumbling through the sand. She felt like a teenager again. This was exactly what she’d spent her high-school years avoiding. How embarrassing, she thought, to be her age being taught how to dance. She felt redness creeping up into her cheeks as she tried not to notice Leander grinning at her from all of a breath away.
Slowly she began to follow his steps more easily. She glanced up at him, her cheeks still burning, ready to tell him that he missed his calling as a dance teacher if he could teach her how to slow dance, but that thought was cut off by the pressure of his lips on hers.
The kiss didn't last long, but it didn't go unnoticed, either. Catcalls rang out almost immediately from Verity, Anouk and Dahlia.
"What's the phrase? 'You go girl'?" Dahlia asked, deadpan, winking at Jimmie who hid her face in Leander's shoulder for a moment before stepping away from him.
"That'd be it, Dahl! And I concure," Anouk laughed, puckering her lips.
Verity too couldn't bear not chiming in. "I'm shocked, absolutely shocked. And kind of turned on, but mostly shocked!"
"Oh hell," Jimmie grimaced, and glanced over to see Leander still grinning at her. "Oh, this amuses you?"
"To no end," he laughed, and pressed his lips against her forehead.