Summary: Adam tries to serenade The One — if she’d only let him. The seventh story in the “Art” universe.
Word Count: 1200
Juliet slung her warm blue shawl round her shoulders. After an exceptionally blazing hot autumn day the evening had brought a cold breeze, and Adam and she had decided to spend the precious little time they had on the front porch where they could savour the fresh night air. Soon enough Mrs. Hawkins would not too subtly remind Adam that she wouldn’t allow male visitors at unsuitable times and that he had a long ride back home anyway.
Adam had gone to check on his horse that was sheltered in Mrs. Hawkins’ barn, while Juliet, in very polite but certain words, had told Mrs. Hawkins that her company wasn’t required on the veranda tonight.
When she saw Adam coming back carrying his guitar Juliet’s eyes widened.
“What?” she smiled, surprised. “Are you going to serenade me?”
“I thought I’d give it a try.”
“Good gracious.” She shook her head and sat down on the veranda swing. “Is there any way to make you stop?”
“Nope,” Adam smirked and settled down, too. “I guess you’ll just have to live through this.”
Juliet leaned back and waved her hand impatiently. “Go ahead then,” she sighed, rather dramatically.
Adam chuckled, gave her a last brief glance and concentrated on his guitar. He strummed a few low chords and then started to sing slowly and quietly. The melody was sweet and soothing; the words spoke of love and devotion. His dark voice filled the night air with warmth and tenderness.
He would never have thought it possible, but Juliet managed to wriggle herself through under his arm and snuggled up at his side. And so he somehow held both woman and instrument in his arms, and it was perfect. Juliet laid her head at his shoulder, with her eyes closed and listened to him. Then she started to hum.
Adam tilted his head and breathed in her ear, “Don’t sing.”
“Don’t sing. You’re spoiling a perfect song.”
She turned away from him, only a bit, and playfully slapped his chest. “Don’t be mean, Adam.”
“I’m not mean. You can’t hold a tune. Your humming is awful. And I like this song.”
She crossed her arms. “My humming is awful?”
Adam watched her right eyebrow rising ever so slowly. Up and up it went, higher than he ever thought possible. It was a clear warning signal, but Adam was anything but a coward.
“It is awful, and you know it. You are a woman of a great many talents, Mylady, among which singing is not listed.”
“Name one talent I have.”
“Name. One. Now!”
He tried to read her face. Surely she must be joking. Or not?
“You are a very gifted writer—“
“That’s my job. Name another one.”
“You have a wonderful sense of humour.”
“That’s not a talent.”
“But it is.”
“Say something different.”
He gazed at her. Her face was an unreadable mask.
“You are…” He leaned closer and whispered something in her ear. She turned her face down and smiled, then she leaned back onto his chest again.
“Adam!” she scolded him.
“Well, you are!”
“Shh, Adam!” She actually looked around as if she was expecting someone lurking in Mrs. Hawkins’ flowerbeds and eavesdropping on them. And wasn’t there a shadow moving behind the sumptuous pink hydrangea? Juliet stared into the dark with narrowed eyes and that concentrated expression on her face Adam knew so well from when she was focusing on some important task at hand.
He tugged on a golden strand of hair that had fallen out of her trademark untidy bun sometime around midday, and that she never had gotten secured into her put-up hairdo, no matter how many times she had tried. When she turned to him he teased, “Are you still here with me, Juliet?”
“I’m sitting right next to you, Adam. I thought you’d noticed that.”
“There’s no way to miss that, Mylady, with your shoulder digging into my chest like this,” he chuckled. “You seemed a bit distracted, though.”
“I was just trying to find out who was lurking there trying to hear your naughty words.” She turned back to the dark garden. “Mrs. Hawkins?”
The hydrangea quivered, and from behind the shaking leaves a huge black cat emerged. It walked sedately up to the veranda, stopped right in front of Juliet and Adam, gave them a long, seemingly disapproving look, and then turned on the spot to jump back into the flowerbed with a loud, whining “meow”.
“Mrs. Hawkins, Juliet?”
“You know she’s everywhere, Adam. You better watch your words….”
He leaner closer and whispered into her ear again. She sniggered and squirmed when his breath tickled her neck.
“What?” He managed to look completely innocent. “All I’m saying is—”
He laughed softly. “But you like it.” His voice was low and husky.
“I didn’t say I do.” Juliet’s delighted face betrayed her denial, and her eyes sparkled.
Adam let the sparkles shower him. “Not with words, no.”
“Well, I most certainly didn’t hum it, too.”
“Yeah, and thank god for that!”
That incited another teasing slap on his chest. But this time Juliet only shook her head and smiled and her scolding, “Adam!” was rather mild and sounded more tender than anything else.
Adam gave her a tiny peck on her cheek. “Am I allowed to finish my song now, Mylady?”
“You may.” No one could put as much majesty in two little words as Juliet.
“And you won’t interrupt my performance with your humming?”
“No,” she said impatiently. “Now go ahead. Poser!”
They both laughed quietly. Juliet settled back in Adam’s arms, and Adam resumed playing and singing, only for her; and she snuggled even closer seeking shelter in his arms from the cold night breeze. From time to time, Adam felt her throat trembling ever so slightly, when she completely silently hummed the tune with him. And every time she secretly hummed, Juliet felt Adam’s chest rippling ever so slightly from his suppressed chuckling.
It was perfect.
Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away. ~ Dinah Craik, A Life for a Life, 1859