by Rhonda Collins

     Diana roamed her loft restlessly.  It was evening, and the
hot August night sizzled.  All her windows were open and she
prayed for a hint of breeze, but it seemed the gods of the air
had all left for cooler climes.  The air conditioner in her
building had given up the ghost with the first onset of the heat 
wave and had yet to be fixed.
     Desperate for some relief, Diana had already stripped to
jogging shorts and a thin T-shirt, but the material was plastered
to her skin with sweat.  She stared at her computer ruefully. 
She had work to do, but feared a disk crash in the heat.  Her
computer was even more temperamental than she was, and she
couldn't afford to replace that disk.  After standing at the
window for ten minutes watching the heat curl up from the
pavement below, she collapsed, gasping, onto her couch--muttering
imprecations upon the slow-moving Super, who never fixed anything
if he could help it.  "You'd think he'd at least fix something
that'd keep him cool!"
     As she lay there, panting and sweating--feeling very
wilted--she was a little dismayed to hear a tap on the celestory
windows above her.  "Damn!  Of all nights for a visit.  I'm hot
enough, thanks!"  She and Vincent had grown very close of late.
Not quite as close as Diana would have liked, but they were very
comfortable with one another.  Enough so that Diana knew he'd
come up to share her air conditioning as well as her company.  
     Diana trudged up the stairs, acutely aware of her bedraggled
appearance.  She wished there was somewhere to hide.  But when
she opened the door to the roof, she felt a little better:
Vincent looked as miserable as she felt.  
     Vincent mopped at his forehead with the back of his arm. 
His hair curled in damp ringlets around his face, and he pushed
at it impatiently.  "It seems that you are as miserable as I."
     Diana managed a weak smile.  "Yeah.  My A/C's out.  I
figured you'd find a nice lake somewhere down Below and be
     He groaned.  "Don't mention it.  The Mirror Pool and Falls
are crowded with children--and adults.  It's not as hot down
there as it is up here, but it is warmer than usual."
     Neither of them spoke for a few moments as they both thought
of splashing in that cool water.  Diana thought she'd die for
wanting it.  When she glanced up, what struck her most forcefully
was the fact that Vincent hadn't altered his clothes one bit.  He
was still layered from head to toe in the heavy clothing he
usually wore.  No wonder he looks like he's gonna pass out!  Damn
the man's insecurities!  
     "I'm not quite as miserable as you are, Vincent.  At least
I'm not dressed for a goddamned snowstorm!  For Heaven's sake,
why don't you shed some of that baggage before you pass out?" 
She reached out impatiently and grabbed his cloak, pulling it off
in one swift, smooth motion.  She tossed it aside and reached for
the laces of his tunic.  She was genuinely concerned...he didn't
look well at all.
     Vincent backed away from her searching hands...until his
back encountered the corner of the roof.  He was trapped.  
     A reckless feeling surged through Diana.  She grinned.  This
is fun, she thought.  Maybe the heat's finally cooked my brain! 
She assessed the situation.  Vincent was trapped in the corner
with no place to go unless he ran over her...which she knew he
wouldn't do.  Her eye fell on the hose, which she'd used to clean
off the roof awhile back.  She grabbed it and aimed it at him. 
"Unless you start taking off some of those clothes, you're gonna
be very wet, mister!  Start strippin'!"
     Vincent's eyes widened in disbelief.  He braced himself. 
"You wouldn't."
     She nodded.  
     He grinned then, canines flashing.  "I dare you!"
     Like the Cheshire Cat, Diana's smile widened.  She never
could resist a dare, and he knew it.  She sidled over, turned the
water on, then blasted the water at Vincent with the
sprayer--catching him  full in the face before he could duck--and
soaking him.
     Instantly, Diana found herself flat on the rooftop with
Vincent on top of her wrestling for the hose.  She managed to
wriggle away, but lost the hose.  This time, an extremely wet and
obviously delighted semi-feline male stalked her across the
rooftop, the hose spraying her as he came.
     Diana sputtered and backed up, laughing through the water
spraying in her face.  She hadn't even dared to hope for such a
reaction from Vincent.  Diana ducked below the spray and sprang, 
catching Vincent unaware.  He'd been so sure he had her trapped. 
Once more, he lost the hose.  
     Diana managed to thoroughly soak him by the time he had her
down once more.  They were  both laughing and panting for breath
as Vincent reached across her and turned the water off.  She
tried to move, but Vincent's weight pinned her down.  
     He grinned down at her mischievously as she stuck out her
tongue.  "It seems your ploy was semi-successful."
     "Only semi?  Damn!  I must be slipping."  She raised her
head to lick the water dripping off the end of his nose.  "But
you're right.  You still have your clothes on.  Besides..." she
paused as he nuzzled under her chin.  "...um...besides...you have
the advantage--there's not much to be hidden under a wet 
     He raised his head slightly and peered down.  "You're right. 
I do appear to have the advantage," he commented smugly.
     She laughed again as he shook his head, raining water down
on her.  "Enough, already!  Share and share alike?"
     The laughter that rumbled through his chest delighted her. 
He reached for the ties of his tunic.  "I suppose it would be the
gentlemanly thing to do."

     The End
About The Author

I came late to Beauty and the Beast and discovered fandom even later. My first three books were written without any thought of anyone else ever reading them, but only in the interest of continuing the story for myself and a friend. I think that makes them kind of unique because since I knew nothing about fandom, I had no chance of being "influenced" by anyone else's ideas or work.

I have written eight third/fourth season zines and two classic zines. My first three zines, "A New Beginning," "The Trials of Life," and "The Truth of Love" have been out now for some time. Sold separately, the three books were over 270 pages of text. They have now been combined into the "Beauty and the Beast Trilogy," which is approximately 200 packed pages of double-columned small print with some art. The Trilogy sells for $25.00 in the United States; $27.00 in Canada and $30 overseas. A lot of good reading and time in the tunnels for a very reasonable price. See the catalog of my zines.

Throughout the last five years, I've tried very hard to stay as true to the characters and the possibilities of the storyline that we were given by the creators of B&B. I've tried never to write anything that couldn't have happened (except in a couple of vignettes and short stories which were flights of fancy). We were given a gift and I've tried to honor it.

This vignette was written for "The Spiral Staircase", edited by Lyn Roewade. It's quite a bit out of character for both parties, but I had a wild hair that day!

If you are interested in any my zines, you can e-mail me at collin99@ix.netcom.com or send a SASE to my snail mail address at 4511 Allegheny, San Antonio, TX 78229.