It happened before she even had time to realize it. Just a moment ago, they had been running back from the 5-and-10 with their stolen masks, exhilarated and impassioned. Their heavy footsteps on the concrete sidewalk—that was all it had been merely a moment ago.

Then they had burst into the door, panting; their success in their mission gave them both leaps of confidence. That's all it was, she told herself now, a case of swollen confidence. Crazy and reckless, and just like children again. But they were more than that, weren't they? They were wild people, only moved by their unadulterated feelings.

There was a moment of heat. From running, she told herself. She suddenly felt lightheaded and quickly took off her colorful cat mask–she could hardly breathe and the inside smelled of cheap plastic—and he followed suit. They panted and laughed—they found it so funny at the time.

And then they kissed.

There was the kissing. It was quite unlike anything she had experienced before. It was soft and gentle, yet passionate…painful even. As if those feelings had been building up inside of them for so long like water building against a painfully pathetic dam, waiting for release. That kiss was very unlike the hollow, aggressive kisses of her many rats, whose mouths tasted too much of alcohol, whose arms held her too tight. No, this was very different.

His lips and hers, their bodies intertwined in the foyer. She could feel the heat of his skin against hers; it was sweltering there in the foyer…and to think she'd ever been cold!

It was really too hot in the foyer.

And then, as if he could hear her thoughts, she could feel her feet being lifted from any steady surface; he had swept her up off the ground. She felt very precarious there in his arms; it was odd. She knew she was safe, but she felt as though she were dangling from a thread off a very tall building. So she clung to him tighter.

She could hardly remember the ascent up the stairs, nor the entering of his apartment. She could vaguely recall a jangling of keys and the click of the turning lock. But the rest of their trip upstairs seemed very vague, as though everything were shrouded by a dense fog. She felt almost as though she were flying. Well, she thought in an attempt to justify, I couldn't have stopped him if I hadn't a clue what was going on. And by the time I realized what was going on, it was all too late.

But what happened after her head hit the pillow was still very clear to her. It was as though she could replay it like a movie over and over again. She could even recall that the precise moment he lay her down in bed was also the moment the smoldering sun fell below the horizon, welcoming the lusty night, shrouding everything in a cloak of mystery and desire and danger.

The stars came out, shimmering boldly like beautiful diamonds, urging the two souls on. And what happened under those stars was beautiful; it was a beautiful, perfect mystery. She'd had many men before, this was very different. This was like and extension of the kiss, their perfect kiss. Two bodies intertwined together, but more. Two souls ignited in that roaring night.

But Holly awoke cold in the morning. The sweat from the night had dried and there was no fire to heat her now—the flames of passion were extinguished by layers of sleep and the brisk morning air. She had soared so high last night in exhilarating flight, but now, she found herself back on the cold ground, trapped in the reality of her situation.

He still lay sleeping next to her, his face turned toward her, peaceful and relaxed. As she watched, he moaned quietly rolled over away from her, rippling the sheets around him.

She didn't want to wake him, but she felt as though she were suffocating in the largish room. It was awfully stuffy in there. She needed to get out.

She saw her cat mask lying on the floor beside the bed. She considered slipping it back on, but decided to leave it for him instead, arranging it on the statue he had adjacent to his bed along with his dog mask.

She then gathered her clothes—orange coat and gray dress—and slipped out the window into the frigid morning air. Her breath trailed from her lips like a disembodied puff of cigarette smoke. She held her hand to her head as she absentmindedly slipped back into her apartment and into new clothes. As she fed the ginger tabby, she couldn't help but scold herself for being a fool. How could she do something like this when her brother needed help? Her brother had no money, no home, no connections, no anything…and here she was throwing all she had worked for away! And for a man, another man! As if she didn't have enough of those already. They followed her home like drugged, bedraggled strays, who wanted nothing more than a night of company.

And what was this with the writer? Why was she going about getting herself ensnared in the vines of another romance? Because she loved him. She loved everything about him. That was why. It was ironic, she knew, out of all the men she had had, she chose to fall for who couldn't give her exactly what she needed. She needed money. She was always the one in control of relationships, always the one holding the cards, or so she thought. But now, her feelings were threatening her feeling of safety.

Even in her own residence, she felt as though she were slowly asphyxiating. She let her feet lead her outside and downstairs into the cold, gray morning. At first, she didn't know where her feet were taking her, but she figured it out soon enough. She needed to think, and what better place to think than among all the soundless words and soundless thinkers of books in the library?

Presently, as she walked, her thoughts caught up to her present self. Though she was angry with herself, she couldn't help but utter out loud and in awe with a small, unwanted smile, "Quel night!"