Excerpt from
The Annealing of Aliza Bennett

     A cloud passed in front of the sun as a chilly wind blew over the water. Aliza shivered with an embarrassed smile. She is slight, Jesse thought, a feisty but frail little creature. Jesse put his arm around her shoulder, feeling as he did so that it was the most natural thing in the world. She didn't stiffen or pull away. He held her to him and rubbed her arm to warm her up. “Do you want to go back?” he asked reluctantly after a moment.
     “No. I don't mind the wind. It makes me feel alive.”
     Intense desire to kiss her surged up within Jesse, but he hesitated, examining her unreadable expression. Before he could act, she turned and put her hand to his face, gently brushing her fingers along his cheek.
     “Your skin is like porcelain,” she said, her voice quiet and subdued. Her eyes caught the light, her long lashes fluttered in the breeze.
     It was too much. Jesse cupped her face in his free hand, sliding it to the back of her head, and kissed her gently, but with passion. Their lips parted for a moment, as he drew in a sharp breath. He saw what he felt mirrored in her face, surprise mixed with awe. Aliza moved towards him, ever so slightly. Jesse did not hold back this time. He kissed her intensely, fully aware of a powerful attraction. The world closed about them, enveloping them in blissful solitude.
     As they parted a second time, Jesse stroked Aliza's hair and pulled her into an embrace, holding her tightly for fear she would try to escape him again. She made no effort to do so. His heart felt so full, he breathed in her scent‒vanilla and orange, a creamsicle girl‒and hoped she would begin to trust him.