Disclaimer: I am not Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But I believe Holmes is public domain by now, so HAHA TO YOU STUPID LAWYERS!
That Woman Strikes Again
That woman. Thatwoman. Here? Now? How absurd. I must remember not to make an utter fool of myself.
Mr. Adrian Galetine, the newest pseudonym of the great Sherlock Holmes, pondered such as he entered the ballroom of the ? Palace at ?. He could not, must not, would not abandon his real quarry in questing after her. Not today. Not now. But he never experienced any trouble keeping himself along those lines, did he?
Admittedly, he was a natural cavalier, a world-class gentleman, always the same but always ostensibly different. Nevertheless, this was the third time in months he had required a reminder not to side-track, to remain focused, all because he could not divert his eyes from her.
Last time, at Monte Carlo, solving the riddle of Johannes' Mildreich's valet. Time before last, in Bonn while investigating the affair of the Polonaise Abacus. Before that, while in Rome when the Pope discreetly saw it fit to ask his presence. All three times, he hid undercover; each time she did not. And, every time, he hesitated to advance, to make known to her his presence, though every time she seemingly had no relation or bearing to the case—and did not once the case had closed. This fourth time took place here in Spain, though. Might he chance it now?
He could not lie and say he always thought about her every moment of every blessed day, the way Watson might ardently declare to one of his long line of wives. No, he had much more consequential and relatively more important affairs to keep boredom at bay. But, on occasion, between cases, with his mind lax as cotton strewed upon the meadows, he allowed himself the pleasant diversion of admiring her photograph.
Though, granted, he occasionally found it objective to don a sneer if Watson called while in his reverie, and addressing her merely as 'that woman'. He could not even let his 'Boswell' and trusted friend know that he, of all men, had a vulnerable spot in his heart—that Sherlock Holmes had a penchant for a lady! Watson, man of eager matrimony, would never understand, though he claimed to fall in love each and every time anew for his various line of brides! Love! No, perhaps Watson did rightly know love; what Holmes felt was more like torture than anything else!
A torture to him and to the woman concerned. He longed to seize her in his sinewy arms with a fiery and passionate kiss--to bicker with her on matters of the intellect and never compromise—to have her stand over his chemistry and hear her critiques and nagging—and to have wild and undomesticated sex at the end of a serious case that they battled together. None of which he ever had experienced, but that he desperately wanted, and only from her. This love—if he could title it such—would be representative of his less genteel side, the only safe way he could display his fearsome personality without necessarily accord of his mental faculties. He knew the function of the most sensitive bodily organs, and what scholarly texts said about ancient rites involving them. He knew the Epic of Gilgamesh, had read Balzac, Chaucer, and Rabelais. But he did not know of such things they related from firsthand experience. And he wanted to learn. But only from her.
Could he risk . . . could he risk a glance? Yes, he did, a good and long one. Beautiful—an understatement. Gracious—not enough to describe her still. The epitome of pulchritude, the vise of Venus, the ray of a rainbow, the gentle glory of a fluently-solved arithmetic problem—much more apt metaphors, but never enough.
Her flowing brocade and satin, shimmering like a thousand candles at an altar, her hair soft as fawnskin and more eliciting than a kitten's hair, eyes more like reflections of the celestial spheres of which Holmes scornfully forgot the names. Every tender quality a woman might and ought possess, she contained, and beyond. How stupendously dazzling she appeared tonight!
So he had risked a glance. Any sane man in his position would have felt satisfied for years to come with only that. But Holmes could not feel so, against all logic. He burned to approach her, to speak with her, to set forth on an intellectual crusade against her! Yet he should not! What if she recognized him, informing his quarry, a certain ambassador of ?, of Holme's true identity? He would have to resolve defeat, in that case, attend the presence of the great and influential body who hired him, and admit he had forfeited this case for a woman. Woe to him who failed that great mass of men! Holmes doubted any less punishment than execution, swift and painless, even despite his reputation. No, he knew he had no chance.
Oh! She had left the group possessing her at the time, advancing slightly towards him! Though she saw him not, she withdrew and positioned herself on an elegant sofa. She beat her fan against herself, and discreetly yawned. Oh, but she tired of the company? He ought to approach her and provide some mental respite, if he were a gentleman!
He found his feet leading towards her. Rarely did he ever allow his impulses and emotions to succumb his faculties, and usually doing such led him to disaster, but, somehow, he felt that his conscience approved of his actions.
Then he touched the gleaming mahogany of the chaise, no less than one foot away from her. Slowly, sensing his presence, Irene Adler turned her delicate birdlike head and spoke in a soft voice only they both could hear.
"Good evening, Mr. Holmes. I was beginning to wonder if this was to be another time when our crossed paths would go unheeded. It seems that you've been quite about Europe lately, have you not?"
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