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Defining love
The last time he was on the campus grounds was the day the MSU museum of natural history was bombed. It had been a long time since he had designed one of his little special bombs, not since Mexico City. Mockingbird seemed farther and farther from who he once was. Perhaps Damien had had indeed erased the identity from him after all. Something else changed in Mexico City, too. A new thrill replaced the old. Aria had more to do with that than Damien, but regardless, Dane was fundamentally changed.

He shared tea with two young ladies recently and he'd come to an epiphany. Nobody was going to replace Aria. She was his elixir, his drug. Their hands entwined, working together, wet and warmth meeting the chill of lifelessness. He'd never felt more alive in his life than he had in Aria's arms. Maybe it was love, he couldn't be sure. Thus why he had open on a screen in front of him a book of classic sonnets. Love poems written by great authors. He studied the penmanship, the cadence of the words, and the flow of the style.

Dane attended boarding school across the English Channel in the south of France, amid warmth and ugly flatlands. There, he was forced to study the classics in literature, but he did not enjoy it. Poetry was worse. Oh he memorized the lines of Keats, Shelley and Poe, but only because it was expected. In the library here at MSU, he read their lines again, searching for meaning against what he knew of Aria. Nothing came close. It was all a giant disappointment.

He was about to close up the screen when someone joined him at the table. The badge of a student hung around her neck, granting her access to buildings and levels off-limits to Dane or any public visitor. Many of the individuals in the library were not students, but many were. Dane paid little attention to either group. Until this young woman of perhaps twenty-three joined him. She had brown hair that fell in curls to her shoulders, round eyebrows and a smile on her face. Dane straightened in his seat and greeted her with a quiet, "Hello,"
and let his accent clearly define his origin.

She was looking him in the eye, smiling in a polite, yet confident sort of way in which a woman accustomed to asking men out on a date would lead. Her response back was thickened by her own sort of accent, Eastern European, but not Russian. "Hello, I couldn't help but notice that you seem frustrated. I'm Annalise."

"A pleasure to meet you Annalise. My name is Dane Gregory."
She hadn't offered a surname, and he inwardly chastised himself for doing differently. He'd stopped introducing himself as a Lord for some time, refining his technique by bringing it up later in conversation. He could allow his posture, clothing and accent to speak for themselves, should someone recognize any of it. Annalise seemed to. "So what are you working on?"

Dane's eyes shifted toward the screen he was about to close. "I'm reading poetry. Suppose one could say I am searching for a definition."

Annalise tilted her head in a way that let her hair fall in front of her shoulder and graze her chin. Dane blinked, surprised to find her suddenly attractive. "Really? I'm doing my MFA on Poetic studies. Perhaps I could be of help. What are you seeking to define?"

Dane's answer was dispassionate. "Love."

And with that, she was hooked.

They spent the next thirty minutes discussing the merits of sonnets, love poems and pieces. She opened his eyes to words that once seemed cloyingly sweet and made them palatable. Perhaps most surprising was the revelation by Andrew Marvell, whose perspective on love was seduction in verse-form. When Dane read a passage to Annalise in his own dulcet, tenor voice, her mesmerization was complete.

"....then worms shall try
That long preserved virginity.
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust;
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace."

Before he parted, he asked if he could take her to dinner that night. Perhaps she could enlighten him more on the topic of love.

They agreed to meet at ten o'clock.
Continued at Spilled drinks

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