from Depraved Heart: A Novel
His friends proved to be correct on three accounts: the apartment was amazing, with marble walls and muraled ceilings; there were dozens of women, one more lovely than the next; and Raven Silver was there in the center of the throng. He was hard to miss - he was the one with half the women in the room wiggling around him.
Not that they were neglected. From the minute they were identified as NFL players, there were enough ladies in the room, with clearly no loyalty to the hometown team, to make for a worthwhile evening. But somehow, despite the attention directed at him, Syd found himself more amused watching the escapades of the notorious dancer. Raven disappeared with a blonde wrapped around him only to re-enter the room twenty minutes later with her - giggling, blushing and re-applying lipstick - while he quite flagrantly finished zipping his pants. An hour later there was a repeat performance, this time with a redhead.
“Unbelievable,” Syd murmured aloud.
“If only that was true,” a voice near him responded.
He turned and looked down into the sweetest face he had ever seen.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to...” He stopped. He didn’t have any idea what he intended to say.
She raised her eyes, eyes that were the color of the summer sky on the most beautiful day he had ever lived through, and smiled a soft little half smile.
“Don’t apologize,” she said. “I’m used to how he affects people. It’s been that way all our lives.”
“I’m... I’m sorry...” He was aware that he sounded like an idiot but his mind seemed to have left him. “I’m ...” he tried again. “I’m a babbling idiot.”
She giggled and that did it. He was lost.
“In my vanity I sometimes forget not everyone knows us. I’m Rachel Silver.” She held out her hand. “The slut over there is my brother, Raven.” She shook her head slightly. “I don’t really want to admit that all the time, but since we’re twins, it’s hard to deny.”
He took her hand and held it longer than his mother would have approved of. He noticed she didn’t take it back.
“Twins,” he managed to mumble, reluctantly releasing her hand.
“Yes.” She smiled and seemed to lean a little closer. “You’re a football player?”
“I am.” At least he got that right.
“I don’t know anything about football, I’m afraid.”
She was making this easy and he appreciated it. “You’re a ballerina. I don’t know much about ballet.”
“I bet you know more about ballet than I do about football.”
When he thought about it afterward Syd was a little awed to realize that she had been as attracted to him as he was to her, but when it was happening he felt, for the first time in his life, like an oversized blithering idiot.
“I almost went to see The Nutcracker Suite one time but then...” He paused, recollecting his date for the evening and the very erotic reason why they didn’t make it to the performance. “Well, plans fell through.”
She tilted an eyebrow at him and he flushed. “Would you like another opportunity?”
“I’m dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy with ABT this year. Can you come tomorrow night? Here...” She opened the tiny silver bag at her hip. “Just give them this, you’ll be my guest.”
He took the pass, well aware that he would do whatever it took to attend. “I’ll be there.”
“Rache.” There was a flurry of wild, dark hair, laughter, and an arm surrounded her waist and lifted her off her feet. “Come here, I want you to meet someone.”
“Don’t.” She pushed free of her captor and Syd recognized Raven Silver who appeared at her side, attempting to drag her away. She turned to Syd. “This is my brother Raven, I’m sorry I don’t even know your...”
“Syd Jupiter,” Raven Silver stated. “Pittsburgh’s powerhouse.” He stuck his hand out but, Syd noticed, he kept his left arm around his sister’s waist. “Raven Silver, nice to meet you. I caught the last half of the game today. Your leap on that last interception was higher than any of mine.”
“I doubt that,” Syd mumbled. He was good, Syd thought, Raven knew how to say the right things.
Rachel uncurled herself from her brother’s hold and stepped closer to Syd.
“Meet my twin,” she said. “My brother, my dance partner, my tormentor... What would I do without him?”
“I don’t mean to interrupt...” Raven began.
“Of course you do,” Rachel said.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Syd manage to insert at last. Up close he noted that they didn’t really look that much alike. Where Rachel was fair-skinned with sleek dark hair pulled back into a twist, Raven was tawny with wild waves a shade or two lighter than hers. What was voluptuous and licentious in Raven’s face was delicate and vulnerable in Rachel’s. Even their eyes were different colors; hers were sky blue, but his were a gray-blue, as though a storm cloud had covered the sky.
“Look, I’m sorry to butt in, but this guy’s a patron and...” He reclaimed Rachel’s waist and gave her a tug.
“It’s okay,” Syd mumbled, not really meaning it.
“I’ll see you tomorrow?” Rachel said over her shoulder as her brother dragged her off and Syd was thrilled by the eagerness with which she asked it.
“Absolutely,” he replied.
Just before midnight the following evening Syd Jupiter stopped to face Paul Manship’s famous gold statue of Prometheus in Rockefeller Center. Snow drifted down dreamily, and skaters waltzed to Christmas music. He turned Rachel Silver toward him, slipped his hands inside the fur hood she wore, tipped her head back stroking the curve of her jaw with his thumbs, and softly kissed her upturned mouth. In that moment he promised himself that he would love her to the best of his ability for as long as she would let him be a part of her life. Earlier that evening, as he watched her float across the stage through the sparkling, snow-covered trees like a faint, cool wisp, he fell more deeply in love than he had ever thought himself capable of falling. Even when she danced the second act’s pas de deux with her brother, moving with him in absolute symmetry, Syd saw nothing but her. With every pirouette she seemed to bind his heart more closely to her. By the time the ballet ended Syd Jupiter was utterly besotted.