Quiet Walks the Tiger - By Heather Graham


GRACE, POISE, AND MAGIC...she was all of these, the epitome of all the beauty that the physical body of woman could be. She had been born to dance, her body trained to utilize the natural talent to the utmost. As she swayed and dipped and swirled, the muted lights enhancing the unusual mixture of brunette, red, and gold that mingled in her flowing hair, she was a creature in her element. The music was in her slender form, a goddess sheathed in a shimmering bath of violet-tinged clouds. The love of the music, the instinct to follow it, glowed radiantly in her face. It touched her feet until it seemed she flew, no servant to the laws of gravity. She allured and enticed as she danced, emitting a message as old as pagan ritual, as natural as man himself.

To most who watched her, she was simply a part of the magic of the evening, a striking member of the prestigious Fife Dance Company. They would go home and remember the enchantment of the theater, the fascination of the dance, and then take off their gloves and cloaks and bask in pleasant memory until another night out in dress-up enlivened the monotony of day-to-day life. They would think of those on stage as something more than mortal, incredible beings of sheer physical perfection. They would shake their heads and momentarily wish that they too were so agile, so taut of muscle, so fleet of foot. They would envy without thinking of the endless years of commitment and work, and then they would forget.

One man in the audience would not forget. He knew the woman who had taken center stage, exhibiting the full and intoxicating physical expression that was dance.

He had come because of her. He didn’t plan to try to talk to her, he just came to see her. He knew she was married, and because of the man he was, he truly wished that marriage all the luck in the world. But he was in love with her. They had dated only once, but that one night had hopelessly entangled him. She had invaded his bloodstream and dreams ever since.

He was a bit like an out-of-date Lancelot, he told himself ruefully as he watched the performance. She belonged to another, but she held his heart. And so he was sworn to her, to love and forever cherish her from afar.

He wasn’t at the theater alone, and he knew his companions would have a hell of a laugh if they knew what went on in his mind. He and the two with him were also creatures of physical perfection—a different kind, and at the moment, more famous than any of those on the stage would ever be.

They were football players and the backfield of the team that had just won one of the greatest American quests for glory—the Super Bowl.

And here he was—the macho, rugged leader of the pack—the quarterback, mooning over a slip of a girl who moved like quicksilver over a stage...

The performance ended. The three tuxedoed men in the audience, friendly giants of virility, were asked for as many autographs as the dancers.

Backstage the girl changed. She hadn’t a single thought of the audience on her mind; she was anxious to see her husband. She had marvelous news for him. Intimate, wonderful news. They were expecting their first child.

The football players were heading for a party. He might have sworn his heart to her...but hell, a man had to live...

He wouldn’t remember the name of the woman he was with that night or the color of her hair. But he was gallant. He always was. Charm was as much a part of his nature as power and the innate magnetism that drew respect from men and women alike...He had a good time at the party.

He didn’t see his dancer until five years later. And on that occasion he remained in the background again, although his heart was breaking for her.

She was a solemn figure that day, ramrod straight and proud. Slim and hauntingly beautiful in black.

The last earthly remains of her husband were interned into the earth. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. She was surrounded by people who loved her, but she would be led away by none. She stayed as the first shovels of earth fell on the coffin. She stood straight and unyielding until she was alone.

Then her knees buckled and she fell to the carpet of green grass that encircled the mound of newly dug