She was pressed up against him so close that he could feel her heart beating against his chest; three of hers for every one of his slow, calm pulses.

He ran his fingers through her blonde curls, marvelling at their softness. They had started the night so pristinely: carefully arranged and artfully pinned upon her head, their gold length cascading over her shoulder. Now they were askew, made loose by his continuously wandering hands as they slipped between her locks, caressing the warmth of her scalp and savouring its sweet perfume.

Her eyes flitted across his face as he continued his exploration. He had been patient, waiting all night for this dance between them to begin, and it had been worth every agonising second of denial.

The dress she had chosen to wear tonight was a world of sensation all on its own. Red satin trim that slipped and moulded between them. Panels of velvet: warm, and ever-so-slightly itchy under his palms. And there, modestly covering where her dress ended, tantalising shadows of lace, hinting at what lay beneath. It was a marvellous dress, one that John had appreciated from afar, but adored up close.

Sliding his hand along her tapered waist, he rested on her hip as he leant in to whisper his intentions in her ear, watching the red flush light her alabaster cheeks. It was such a beautiful colour, that red, and John prided himself in bringing it out in her.

Raising his hand once more to fulfil his promise he watched, transfixed, as that red flush drained away, escaping through the fine line circling her delicate neck and soaking down into the gown she had carefully chosen, matting curls to her skin.

Stepping back he let her fall to the cobbled street, the inevitable dénouement to the dance he had perfected. He wiped off his blade and sheathed it, barely sparing a moment to admire his work. He really should be going. He and Helen had tickets to the theatre.