In Trance — Sneak Peek
Vera moves in with three guys — friends from her college days — because she needs to cut expenses. She always had a secret love for Nico, but swears she’s moved beyond it when she agrees to live with him. Back in her old apartment, she thought she had ghosts who rearranged her furniture at night. When she moves in with the guys, they discover she’s a sleepwalker who moves furniture and strips in the wee hours. They figure her sleepwalking is harmless until Nico finds himself in an unexpected but passionate relationship with Vera — one she’s not aware of.
The house was mostly dark as Nico pulled his key from the door. The living room glowed a soft blue, occasionally broken by flashes of white. The tell-tale sounds of clicking accompanied the repeated Target Destroyed – Josh and Mitchell playing Xbox. Both nodded as Nico entered the room and tossed his keys on the side table. A quick check of the body count showed his friends behind by four kills.
“You’re losing?” he asked, heading for the kitchen to grab a beer.
Mitchell’s voice carried from the living room – “We were ahead, but Skilled-Kills left the game, so we’re short a guy.”
As he re-entered the room, Josh shushed Mitchell. “Vera sleeping already?” Nico asked.
Josh nodded and leaned closer to the screen, as though actually creeping up on his enemy. Nico set his beer next to his keys and picked up the third controller. “I’m in next mission.”
A late-bloomer when it came to gaming, he wasn’t much of an asset as a teammate, but since things at the restaurant got so crazy, he needed the distraction when he came home from work. Something else to focus on.
Game over, the console droned.
They waited as Nico signed onto his guy. “Kevin show up for work today?” Josh asked.
So much for a distraction. “No, the little puke.”
“Ha! Ten bucks, dickwad,” Mitchell held his hand out to Josh.
“You guys bet on whether or not my employees will show up to work?”
“Only some of them,” Josh said, tickling Mitchell’s outstretched palm. “I’ll get it to you tomorrow.”
Just great. Perfect end to a screwed up day. His order from the food service company was short by almost half, the assistant chef started a grease fire in the kitchen in the middle of the dinner rush, Kevin, one of his new waiters, didn’t show, and now his asshole friends were betting on his failures. On top of that, his guy was sniped from behind almost as soon as he appeared on the screen.
Nico looked up as Vera exited the hallway. “Shit. Are we too loud? Did we wake you?”
Dressed in cotton shorts and a t-shirt, she ignored him and sat at the dining table. When his guy died again, Nico tilted his head and studied her. “Everything okay, Vera?”
She stood abruptly and pulled the chair back to the wall, and then she lined the other three chairs up beside the first. Circling around the table to the opposite side, she grabbed the edge and pulled it a foot toward her.
Josh looked up from the game. “Uh, you need a hand there?”
Still she ignored them and shimmied around the table to the other side, pulling it a foot in the other direction.
Nico shook his head. “Vera, what the hell are you doing?”
“Dude, I think she’s asleep,” Josh said, the game forgotten. Even Mitchell’s mouth hung open, his controller dangling from his fingers.
“Vera?” Nico said. Moving to the final side of the table, she grunted as she pulled it over the carpet, only able to budge it a few inches at a time in that direction. They watched in stunned silence as she maneuvered the table across the room.
“Fuck. Should we wake her up?” Mitchell asked.
“You’re not supposed to wake a sleepwalker,” Josh said. “Could be dangerous.”
“That’s bullshit –old wives tale,” Mitchell said.
Unsure of the proper protocol, Nico tossed his controller aside and stood. What had he heard about sleepwalkers? Just be careful they don’t hurt themselves, right? It seemed unlikely she would hurt herself rearranging the furniture, so unless she headed for the couch, he decided to leave her be.
One by one, she brought the chairs to the table and flipped them upside down, placing the seats atop the table, just like they did at the restaurant to vacuum.
“This is incredible,” Mitchell said, his voice low as though watching a wild animal from the bushes. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Josh and Nico nodded.
When all the chairs were in place, Vera stopped and pulled her t-shirt over her head, turned it right-side-out, folded it in half, and draped it over a rung of one of the chairs. Nico’s eyes widened, as though he might take in more of the vision before him that way.
“Fuck,” he muttered, his breath leaving his body with the word.
“Fuck,” Josh agreed.
“Fuck me,” Mitchell added.
Without thinking, Nico lashed out and smacked his roommate in the chest. “Dude,” he shook his head at Mitchell, but couldn’t keep his gaze from darting back to Vera. He licked his lips – she seemed obsessed with straightening the t-shirt, smoothing away imagined wrinkles, oblivious to the perfect, pebbled nipples holding her roommates’ rapt attention.
When her thumbs hooked in her shorts and she began to pull them over her hips, Nico moved in her direction. “No,” was all he could manage. He stopped when a hand clenched around his bicep.
“Don’t,” Josh warned.
“We have to stop her,” Nico wrestled out of his grip as Vera moved to the next chair in nothing but lacy panties and perfected the shape of the shorts before hanging those, too.
Josh grabbed him again. “Do you have any idea how embarrassed she’ll be if you wake her up? We can’t let her know. She’d move out.”
When she dropped the panties to the floor and bent to retrieve them, flashing the two perfect globes of her ass, the light from the TV not bright enough to reveal more, Josh elbowed him. Nico didn’t need to see him to know his Adam’s apple bobbed when he swallowed audibly. “We should go. Just leave her be.”
“Uh huh,” Nico nodded, unable to look away from the naked apparition in his living room.