"I'm sorry," she said. "I only..." She gave a sad twist of a smile. "I only wanted to speak to you. You seemed like such a nice girl." I caught a glimpse of Derek, out of line now, striding over and glowering at the snickering boys. The woman got to her feet and leaned across the table again. "I was very nice talking to you, dear." She put her hand on mine...and it passed through.I leaped to my feet. "I'm sorry," she said again.The look on her face was so sad that I wanted yo say it was okay, it was my fault. But before I could get a word out, she faded away, and then all I could hear was the laughter around me, the mutters of "crazy" and "schizo," and I stood there, rooted to the floor, until Derek took my arm, his grip so soft I could barely feel it. "Come on," he said. "Yeah," the laughing guy called. "I think your girlfriend's day pass has expired." Derek slowly raised his head, lip curling in that too-familiar look. I grabbed his arm. He blinked and nodded. As we turned to go, the other guy at the table chimed in. "Trolling for chicks at the psych ward?" He shook his head. "Now that's desperate."As we passed the front window, I swore every eye inside followed us. I caught a few looks: sympathy, pity, distaste, disgust. Derek moved between me and the window, blocking my view as we walked. "They didn't need to do that," he said. "Those kinds, sure. They're idiots. But the grown-ups should know better. What if you were mentally ill?" He led me around to the parking lot then stopped at the back, under the shadow of the building overhang. "You'll never see them again," he said. "And if they'd treat a real mentally ill person like that, then you shouldn't care what they think. Bunch of morons."
I do love you.” He said it suddenly, raising his head so his black eyes could meet her startled green ones. “I mean it, Shea. I do not just need you, I love you. I know everything about you, I have been in your head, shared your memories, shared your dreams and your ideas. I know you think I need you and that is why I am with you, but it is much more than that. I love you.” He grinned unexpectedly, traced her lower lip with the tip of a finger. “What is more, I know you love me. You hide it from yourself, but I found it in a little corner, tucked away in your mind.” Shea stared up at the teasing smile on his face, then pushed at the solid wall of his chest. “You’re making that up.” Jacques moved off her, then reached down to pull her to her feet. His clothes were scattered everywhere, and he made no move to retrieve them. Shea’s shirt was still hanging open, and her jeans were down around her ankles. Blushing, she pulled them up. His hands stayed hers, preventing her from fastening them. “Do not bother, Shea. The pools are just ahead.” He walked a few feet, then looked back over his shoulder. “I did not make it up, and I know you are staring at my backside.” Shea tossed her mane of red hair so that it flew in all directions. “Any woman in her right mind would stare at your particular backside, so you don’t need to add that to your arrogant list of virtues. And stay out of my mind unless you’re invited.” She was staring, but she couldn’t help it. He was so beautifully masculine. Jacques reached behind him and captured her hand, lacing their fingers together. “But I find the most interesting things in your mind, my love. Things you do not have any intention of telling me.