Excerpt- Finding Gaia

After the initial dribble of early arrivals, it wasn’t long until the house began to feel full with people spilling out onto the terraces, sampling hors d’oeuvres in the dining room, playing in the billiards room, and chatting noisily in every available sitting space. The small band in the corner of the ballroom played loudly enough that some people danced nearby, but softly enough to be drowned out by excited chatter elsewhere.

At first, Jason made an effort to greet everyone individually, but once the flow of people became too heavy, he found himself continually dragged from conversation to conversation. Before he knew it, he was too busy to keep staring at Anna’s still-closed door.

Caterers presented trays laden with elegant finger foods, all of which had an elaborate environmental story: this one contained only fair trade ingredients, another only local, all were organic and delicious. So it was with the wines and spirits: organic, sustainable, local or at least carbon-offset. The foundation’s theme was drummed home with every sip and nibble. Trish quipped to Don that if she ate any more hippie, she’d get hair in her mouth; he almost choked on his drink.

Jason finally found some peace amidst the mayhem chatting with an old colleague who’d made his own fortune by developing a roof coating that would reflect sunlight in high ambient temperature and absorb it in low but always appear clear so as to allow the natural colour of the roof to show through. Jason had invested heavily and put up his own roof as a test ground to help inspire confidence in the product that later became a worldwide hit.

The man was telling him about his latest idea when an older woman beside him gasped. “My goodness, who on earth is that?”

Jason followed the woman’s line of vision to the top of the stairs. There stood Anna, resplendent in a golden ball gown with sparkling beads. Ivory gloves on her elegantly clasped hands went just above her elbows and reflected the hues of the dress below. Only a few inches of her upper arms were exposed between the gloves and the soft, slightly downward-puffed sleeves, but most of her shoulders were bare. The bodice gave her waist a lovely tapered shape and featured a delicate line of the crystal beads across the top. Her dark hair was up in an elaborate set of curls upon curls, all seemingly held together by an intricate network of real flowers and tiny budding vines.

Best of all, she was smiling directly at him.

Suddenly, there seemed to be nobody else in the room as Jason made his way toward the stairs. Anna descended as if she were floating. They remained locked in each other’s happy gaze as they gradually came together at the foot of the curved staircase. He wanted to say he was glad she was there, but he couldn’t find the words. She blushed a little under the intensity of his eyes, but she didn’t look away.


In the far corner of the room, Trish scrambled over to the band and told the leader, “I’ll make sure your pay is doubled if you start a waltz now!”

The man raised his eyebrows while continuing to play. “Ma’am, we’re not really a waltz kind of group. We do more contemporary—” He stopped when Trish narrowed her eyes at him.

The player behind him said, “Hey, boss, we do know that Strauss-Tchaikovsky medley.”

“We do?”

“Yeah, that wedding thing you hate.”

“Oh that. Okay, whatever you want, ma’am.”


As the music gave way from light jazz to the Sleeping Beauty waltz, Jason’s smile stretched even further than he thought possible. He bowed to Anna, and she curtsied deeply back to him. He extended one hand, the other behind his back. She put hers over his, and he led her down the central stairs into the ballroom.

Once they were amidst the other dancing couples, he extended his arm outward and she followed. He brought his other around to put on her waist as she lifted hers to his shoulder. They began slowly at first, her dress swishing gently behind her.

In the second part of the medley, Strauss’ “Vienna Blood Waltz”, they picked up their pace and the other dancers took more notice, along with everyone else in the room. The crowd came in from the adjoining rooms and the terrace to form a ring around them, but Jason and Anna only saw each other as they swept around, her dress fluttering out on the tighter turns.

They paid no heed to the comments and questions buzzing around them, ranging from the catty to the enchanted: “What’s with the gloves?”, “Who is she?”, and “Do you see how they’re looking at each other?” Young women giggled, old women put their hands over their hearts, and men of all ages stood and stared.

Anna laughed when the medley shifted to ‘Waltz of the Flowers’. Her dress cascaded over and over itself behind her like the reflection of a sunset on ocean waves. Cell phone cameras flashed all around them, making the room twinkle.

In the final crescendo, Jason held fast to Anna, not only because their speed risked her being flung into the crowd but because he needed to feel her against him again. She seemed happy to oblige. They turned and turned and turned, the world beyond whipping by in a blur, until that last conclusive note brought the dance to an end and he pulled her close, his hand on the small of her back, the other gripping her hand as firmly as he dared. He was desperate not to let her run off again and didn’t care about appearances, propriety, or anything else.

When a roar of applause erupted, Jason’s heart swelled because, instead of fleeing, Anna pressed herself further against him and pulled her outstretched hand to his chest. He covered it with his to keep it there. He beamed down at her, trying to keep his focus on her eyes instead of her alluring, panting bosom, so firmly against him that it curved up enticingly beyond the dress’s edge in irresistible, creamy suppleness.

Eyes, eyes! shouted what was left of his sensible mind. He blinked rapidly and managed to redirect his gaze appropriately.

Her eyes were wide, but he could not tell if it was in fear, shame, alarm, or a mix of the three.

“Are you all right?” he asked over the din, his smile beginning to fade.

Hers returned, spreading over her face and then over him like the sun itself, reigniting his as well.
There they stood, glowing at each other as the applause subsided, a beacon of light in the center of a maelstrom of noise, gossip, and ferocious curiosity. Then people began to press in from all sides.
Anna’s eyes left his to dart around the throng as she cowered against him.

He whispered in her ear, “Just stay with me. You’ll be fine.” When she looked up at him again he winked and added, “I’ll protect you from the barbaric hordes.”

She laughed, albeit a little nervously, but enough to assure him she wasn’t about to bolt back upstairs.
He began to introduce Anna around as fast as he could, but the sea of hands eager to shake hers was more than he could contend with, for what attention was paid to him was tenfold paid to her. He began to worry the enormity of it would spook her, since he found it daunting himself, but her grace amazed him as she greeted everyone with a handshake, curtsy, or both. She appeared to naturally intuit who would be delighted by an old- fashioned greeting versus who required more modern handling. She smiled away all compliments with supreme artistry and genteel humility.

Jason was utterly enchanted, as were so many others.

When she was asked how she could possibly keep the delicate blossoms entwined her hair from wilting, she replied with a witty grin and a single word: “Magic.”

Then she turned a more knowing grin to him, and the secretive sparkle in her eyes almost knocked him to the floor.

Bonus-Excerpt-Finding Gaia

She led him with her laughter through to where wide trees grew so close together he had to tread carefully to avoid getting his foot stuck between ancient, gnarled roots. When he came into a grove of evergreens surrounding a massive oak, he called, “Where are you now?”

Something tapped his shoulder; he whipped around and saw a thick vine growing downward from the tree above. A patch of vibrant green was woven amidst the rich reds and yellows of the autumn leaves, akin to a large nest.

“Am I to climb up there, then?” he asked.

“You’re quite welcome to do so,” she teased. “Shall I send down another vine?”

“This will do, if it will bear my weight,” he said as he gave it an experimental tug.

“It will.”

He pulled himself up, his feet walking the trunk, following the vine through the twisting branches until he poked his head into a gap in the green area to discover Anna sitting in a room woven of branches, vines, and ferns.

“Do you like it?” she asked.

He grabbed a branch and hoisted himself up. “It’s remarkable. You’ve been busy.”

“I wanted to be somewhere special with you. Somewhere natural but private. Come, please,” she said as she moved further back into the room, the green floor swinging lightly under her like a hammock.

Jason tentatively began to feel his way toward her, watching where he placed his hands and knees.

She laughed. “You are completely safe. It’s quite strong. I would never let you fall.”

“So now that you’ve lured me up here, what—”

She cut off his question by swooping in for a kiss. She tasted of apples.

Her hands moved up his chest, over his shoulders, and around to tangle her fingers in his hair as she continued to kiss him passionately. He slid his hands around her waist as she pushed him back to lie upon the surprisingly comfortable greenery. She was still on her knees beside him, and the new angle let her breasts swing against him; he shuddered in delight.

She kept kissing him, sometimes on his cheeks and chin but mostly lingering on his mouth, nibbling his lower lip softly. He found himself wishing he’d shaved before coming outside but abandoned the thought when it was clear she didn’t mind.

Anna moved her hands back down his chest to his waist, which filled with butterflies as she lifted the edge of his sweater and slid back up along his shirt. When she moved her kisses to his cheek again he offered, “Should I take the sweater off?”

“Yes,” she breathed into his ear before kissing it.
They both sat up enough for him to squirm out of the sweater, but before he’d even set it aside she started on the buttons of his shirt, so he obligingly helped her remove that as well. She put her hands on his bare chest and kissed her way hungrily along his breastbone as he lay back down.

When she moved sideways and her lower lip grazed his nipple, he gasped and had to fight an instinct to roll on top of her. But he recalled her request and wanted more than anything for her to be happy and fulfilled, so he acquiesced to her control, relaxing further into the comfort of the love nest she’d built for them.

His hand moved idly on her arm for a time, but gradually made its way to her side. He nudged the underside of her breast with the back of his fingers. When she looked at him he asked, “May I?” She smiled and nodded, so he caressed her through the dress. She gasped a little, her eyes closing as she sat up, but he kept his hand in place, his thumb rolling her very firm nipple.

She took her hands from him to slowly unbutton the top of her dress. He considered helping, but watching her do it was too good to interrupt. Despite his desire to see her unclothed, he realized her pace had a lot going for it, like a steady, warm hearth instead of an all-consuming blaze. She drew her arms gracefully from the sleeves, leaving the top dangling around her waist, and then reached back to unsnap her lacy bra. At long last her ample bosom tumbled forth; as she leaned forward again, he kissed her breasts and kneaded the supple undersides.

She ran her hand through his hair, moaning as he licked and nibbled. He stopped when he felt a curious sensation upon his ankles; he looked around her to see more vines beginning to grow up his pant legs.

When he raised an eyebrow at her, she grinned with a gleam in her eye. She kissed his mouth again and then murmured, “I know what I’m doing. It’s all right. But do please kick off your shoes.”

He squirmed with the tickling sensation along the backs of his legs as he granted her request. She pulled down a vine from above his head, and it immediately bore fruit. She picked a dark, plump grape and pushed it between his lips. Delightful sweetness exploded in his mouth. She ate one herself and then kissed him again, and the thick purple juices mixed on their tongues.

Jason arched his back slightly as the vines poked at his backside. Anna undid his belt, then his trousers. The vines tickled the small of his back as they wrapped around the waistbands of both his boxers and pants. Then he felt the ends by his ankles thicken, and the weight began to pull everything off. He broke off the kiss long enough to reach down and assist this most unusual manner of undressing, but as the cool air caressed his flesh he tipped his head up to kiss Anna’s waiting lips again...

About the Author

Kimberly Chapman has been making things up and writing them down for as long as she can remember. She holds a double major degree in Journalism and Anthropology and worked for a few years as a technology reporter, but she soon found that it was more fun to interact with the fake people who live in her head than interview real-life people about network hardware.

She left her native Canada in 2000 to marry an Australian and live in the United States with him, because love does that sort of thing to a person. They have a young daughter who keeps asking to read her books and has been told not until she’s twenty-five.

When Kimberly’s not obsessively transcribing the lives of the fake people in her head or busy with Mum duties, she can usually be found engaged in experimental cake decorating (which she blogs at, nerdy knitting, volunteering for creative community organizations like Capital Confectioners and The Biscuit Brothers, discussing topics both profound and trivial on Google+, or playing computer games.