Movie Night, Part 2 (Alpha & Omega, Chapter 8)

Finally united again, our heroes try to navigate the treachery waters that come with unplanned kisses.
Adelie’s heart sped up, and her palms became sweaty as she spotted the familiar baby blue, banged up workshop truck in front of her house. She hadn’t seen Nate all week since their date, but he had made up for his crazy schedule by writing text messages every day, sending her pictures of himself buried in books. But now it was Friday, and even sleet falling from the skies couldn’t dampen her spirits. He’d suggested a movie night but after a week of not having him around her, she would watch paint dry as long as he would be there too. She opened the passenger door and climbed inside, seeking refuge from the nasty weather. Nate greeted her wearing a grey wool sweater that sat snugly around his shoulders, his hair in its usual off-duty disarray and his blue eyes twinkling.
“Hey, handsome.” She scooted across the bench and kissed him quickly on his cheek, figuring that after kissing him good night a welcome kiss was justified. His five o’clock shadow bristled against her lips, and she found him smiling appreciatively as she pulled back.
“Hey, beautiful. How’s my little Spitfire?” How she had missed his deep, sonorous timbre. It added a much-needed base to the melody of her days.
“Cold and wet and hungry.”
He laughed, not taking his eyes off her for a second. “Oh my, that’s a lot of misery wrapped inside a pretty girl.” He started the engine and turned on the heater, directing the flow of the warm air stream towards her. “I better bring you home quickly.”
She placed her hand on his thigh after he’d pulled back into traffic. “It’s good to see you. How did your report and presentation go?”
His hand fitted over hers, squeezing it lightly. “The report and the presentation at least went well, considering the short notice assignment. Payne certainly lives up to his name sometimes.”
“He sure does. He was such a PITA the whole week. Makes you wonder what ticked him off so badly. Thank you for your adorable study pictures. Although – at one point the circles under your eyes became so deep, I wondered if you’d slept at all.”
He chuckled. “I can recall dreams of a beautiful woman who looked remarkably like you, so I must’ve slept.”
One of his quick, teasing smiles. It sent her heart into a frantic gallop and leaving her out of breath. She laced her fingers through his, and he lifted their intertwined hands up to breathe a kiss onto her knuckles while not taking his eyes off the road.
Sleet drummed its rhythm on the truck roof, and the wipers had to work hard to push it from the window shield. Sitting in Meadow Junction’s crazy Friday afternoon traffic with Nate was one of the most mundane things she could think of, but it filled her with a happy calm. They chatted about their week and elaborated some more about Payne’s mysterious streak of finding joy in punishing his cadets with almost unbeatable deadlines and overall sour demeanour. Eventually, they circled back to the night ahead.
“What movie do you want to see later? We have the house to ourselves, Eddy and Bob took the Chieftain for a spin to Lewiston to watch some shows and exhibitions. I sure hope they have better weather there than we’ve got here. So, what would you like to see? Something cheesy, something thrilling, something… romantic?” Nate glanced over and winked, trademark grin flashing.
“I really like the Lord Peter Ramsay adventures. They’re a bit of everything… cheesy, exciting and romantic. At least the ones with Polly. I don’t like the most recent ones, where they replaced Polly with Percy. He’s a bore.”
They stopped at a red light, and he turned to her. “I like them too, especially the ones with Polly. We have the whole collection, which one is your favourite?”
“Huh, tough question. They are all great. I think I like The Pyramid of the Moon and The Curse of the Inca Temple best.”
***
Her looks. Her smiles. The blush on her cheeks when he caught her glancing at him. The way she held his hand and sat as close to him as possible. Nate felt a little lightheaded as he eventually pulled into the workshop yard. Eddy had been right; he was in neck-deep. As they exited the car, sleet hit them straight on, coming in horizontally. He wrapped his arm around her waist on the short way to the door to guard her against the elements, happily noticing that Adelie sought shelter herself at his shoulder.
“Gah, horrible weather,” Adelie muttered.
“What weather, sunshine?” He squeezed her, and she poked him playfully.
“This water-ice-mix threatening to drench me.”
“Come inside then…” He extended his hand and helped her up the slippery steps of the wet front porch. After they’d peeled themselves out of their outer shells in the hallway, he had her sit down on the huge leather sofa in the living room, built a fire and made her hot cocoa. She wore a caramel coloured cashmere dress that clung deliciously to her body and exposed a great view of her silk-clad legs. Inhaling deeply, he switched on the entertainment unit dominating the wall in front of the sofa.
“How hungry are you? I’ve got a hearty stew on the stove, but it might need another hour or so.” He used to be better at making conversation, but her presence made thinking hard.
“Stew is perfect comfort food for this kind of weather. I think I’m good for one movie, but then I’ll be ravenous.” Adelie seemed to be either oblivious to his troubles, or set on bringing the simmer between them to a boil because the second he sat down next to her, she snuggled up close. “I’m cold.”
Nate was anything but cold and feared she’d notice. Yet he pulled her even closer and draped a blanket over both of them. Adelie settled in the crook of his arm, her head resting on his chest, her hand finding his under the blanket. To his great surprise, the tension in him lessened almost instantly. Pieces of him that had been in turmoil all week suddenly fell into place, pacified by the wave of sheer bliss that swept through him.
“Better?” He mumbled into her hair, brushing a kiss on the crown of her head.
“Much better.” She craned her head and smiled happily at him. With both of them comfortable, they began with watching the Pyramid of the Moon, but Nate soon realised neither he nor Adelie were paying close attention to the booby-trapped chase fest that was unrolling in front of their eyes. Instead, their hands had their own agenda, playing with each other and setting forth to tentative explorations. And then, just as the dashing Lord had plucked Polly from certain doom by the hands of the mummified zombie Pharaoh and held her while they shared a long glance, and the score swelled with kitschy violins, Adelie’s hand splayed on his chest, gripped his sweater, she looked up and then their lips met like an invisible director had set them up. Nate didn’t care.

Movie Night, Part 1 (Alpha & Omega, Chapter 8)

After the sweet ending of their date night, our heroes are having second thoughts.

Adelie met with Leslie on Sunday afternoon to go for a run in the little nearby park, like they did every week. It had rained in the morning, and there were a lot of puddles on the paths, splashing up high when they ran through them. The first laps were usually spent in silence until they’d found their rhythm, but Adelie guessed from Leslie’s impatient side glances that she was dying to know what had happened at the Marmoset the night before.
“So?” Her friend finally blurted out on their third pass of the statue of General Guisan.
“So what? It was a lovely evening.” Adelie wasn’t sure if she wanted to relate anything more. The mere thought of their kiss still made her lips tingle. She hadn’t heard from him since, and she didn’t know what to think of the whole thing herself.
“A lovely evening.” Leslie huffed. “Adelie, I know you long enough to know that when you’re stingy with words, something more than ‘lovely’ has happened.”
Shoot. There was no way to avoid confessing now. “We danced. We kissed each other good-bye.”
“You let him kiss you? Did he make you drunk to achieve that?” Leslie abruptly stopped and pushed her fists into her pink tracksuit cladded sides. “You said he was honourable!”
“Woah, I didn’t say the kiss wasn’t honourable. And maybe I instigated it?” Adelie couldn’t help but smirk at her friend, even though she knew that this would make her furious.
“You did WHAT?”
She turned and fell back into running. “Leslie, I know that it probably wasn’t the smartest move on my side. It’s just…” She stopped again. “I don’t know. When I’m with him, I just feel good. He has shown me his vulnerable side, and I feel safe enough with him to do the same. I know you just see the unscrupulous womaniser in him, but I swear he’s more than that. So… kissing him was just a natural progression of the events. It felt right then. And he’s a good kisser.”
Leslie’s impression changed from agitated to concerned. “So why do you think it wasn’t a smart move to kiss?”
Adelie tightened the elastic on her ponytail. “Before it was just playful banter. Flirting. Neither of us venturing out so far that we could get hurt. Both playing it safe. This… this has changed now.”
Leslie touched her arm, her blue eyes wide with worry. “Why?”
“Because now the cards are on the table. We need to make our next move, and I hate to say it, but all involved parties could suffer a broken heart.”
The ran a lap without saying a word. Eventually, Leslie stopped again.
“I’m sorry.”
“Pardon?” Adelie brushed back a pert strand and gave her friend a surprised look.
“Because I acted stupidly. I just realised that he’s not just a cute boy who goes around and breaks hearts with intention. I never thought that he might do it to protect his own. And that there must be more to him when he manages to win your friendship and possibly your heart. You’re not a fool, and I forgot that too. If you think he’s worthy, I should not berate you for believing so. I’m sorry.”
“Hey, Les.” Adelie pulled her friend into a hug. “I know where you’re coming from. We’re all a product of our experiences. Sometimes this is helpful; sometimes it’s not. You know what – let’s call this off, have a shower and go pig out at Schmitz’s CafĂ©. I need some cake.”
***
Nate found Eddy in the workshop, cleaning the rusty engine he’d pulled out of his latest restoration project.
“Hey man, need any help?”
Eddy glanced up and nodded towards a wire brush. “Sure. What do you want to talk about? Did your date not go well?”
“We kissed.”
“So what’s wrong?”
Nate took the brush and started to clean a rusty spot on the engine. “I don’t know what to do.”
This made Eddy look up for good. “You’re in neck-deep, aren’t you?” Nate could only nod. “Well, I can’t blame you. If I were straight, I’d fall for her too.”
Nate laughed. “Sure you would, she’s an ex-racer.”
“And pretty to boot. C’mon.” Eddy put down his own wire brush and motioned towards the rickety bench in front of the workshop. He pulled a crumpled cigarette packet out of the coverall’s breast pocket and lit one up. “Sit down. Tell me. What’s the trouble?”
“You know when you’re with someone, and it feels like you’ve known them for ages, even if you haven’t? I feel as if I’ve known her since our nappy days. We just click.”
“Not the worst place to start a relationship from?”
“True. And I really like her. She’s my workshop buddy and my study partner and… and my best friend. I don’t want to lose her. But what if I ultimately find that this relationship thing isn’t for me?”
Eddy puffed a cloud of smoke into the washed out sky. “A true, stable relationship isn’t far away from what best friends are. Yes, you have the sex and the kisses too, but ultimately and hopefully, you and your partner are also best friends. Because if you’re not, once the hormones have settled down, things won’t work out. I can’t tell you what to do. I can tell you what I’ve seen, though. You spent a lot of time with Adelie and a lot less with other girls lately. You already prefer her.”
Nate cleared his throat. “I just don’t want to hurt her.”
“Do you want a piece of advice?”
“Sure.”
“Forget about not hurting her. You will, sooner or later. And she will hurt you. This is the thing with being together, you can’t avoid hurting each other. But there’s always the potential of coming out as a stronger couple on the other side.”
Nate stared ahead, more talking to himself than to Eddy. “Is it all worth the risk?”
Eddy slap-grabbed his shoulder and shook him. “Nate, jeez, of course it is. Christ, buddy, people you click with aren’t waiting around every corner! How often have you found a woman willing to spend time with you in a dingy garage?”
Nate leant back, rubbing his face. “Never. The truth is, I’ve never found a woman like her. When she’s around the air tastes better, and the colours are more vibrant. Her smiles… oh god, her smiles. And she has this tiny watercolour kit and is always painting. It’s amazing what she’s seeing and capturing. Do you know how utterly fascinating a glass of water can be? How the light breaks, and how it magnifies things behind it…”
Eddy laughed. “Do you hear yourself? You’re gushing.”

The Marmoset, Part 5 (Alpha & Omega, Chapter 7)

In which our heroes deal with some unfinished business.

The drive home was quiet, both of them occupied with their thoughts. Only as he pulled into her street and killed the engine in front of her house, Nate realised he wasn’t ready for the evening to come to an end. Her fingers entwined with his on the short way up to her door. Every step brought him closer to saying goodbye. His heart raced as she stopped and turned to him, gracing him with a gaze that made him feel three sizes taller and like a king. Dancing together had evaporated all borders of personal space, at least for tonight – she stood deliciously close to him, her hand brushing his arm. A mischievous smile danced over her face, and she cocked her head.
“You should persuade me to go on romantic dates with you more often.”
“If you let me…”
She laughed softly. “Sorry for being so hard to convince sometimes.” Continue reading

The Marmoset, Part 4 (Alpha & Omega, Chapter 7)

In which Jake plays an unfortunate part.

Jake ushered his lady towards their turn on the dance floor almost as soon as they got back. Nate didn’t mind having Adelie for himself a little longer. She sat next to him and watched the dancing couples, one hand supporting her chin, the other resting on his thigh. He reached out and traced a finger over her beautiful pale back, dewy with transpiration from dancing herself.
“Hey.” She turned towards him and nestled into his opened arm. “What’s up?” Her eyes were almost black in the dim light of the lamp hanging over their table.
“Nothing. You look a million credits tonight… it’s hard to resist not touching you.”
A throaty laugh. “Thank you.”
“Are you having fun?”
She nodded, “Yes! Beautiful venue, great music, great drinks, and very agreeable company.”
“Agreeable? Just agreeable?” He poked her shoulder, and she giggled happily, shifting even closer. Continue reading

The Marmoset, Part 3 (Alpha & Omega, Chapter 7)

Things get finally to the sizzle point…

Nate wondered if he’d finally met a woman too hot to handle. Adelie was not only breathtakingly beautiful and dressed to the nines, but she also was not evading him in any way. He was failing spectacularly at keeping his hands to himself, and she apparently had no interest in telling him he should stop. Their bodies had a conversation of their own, and there was a chance it became anything but civil soon. He needed to get her on the dance floor. He needed to be alone with her. He gave Jake an asking glance. Good wingman that he was, he just smiled and nodded him a go ahead, then focused again on his own woman.
Nate leant close to Adelie, whispering in her ear: “Do you want to test the dance floor?”
She turned her head and whispered back, her lips tantalisingly close to his skin: “I’d love to.”
“Well then, let’s go.” Continue reading

The Marmoset, Part 2 (Alpha & Omega, Chapter 7)

More fluttery butterflies in Adelie’s stomach.

Adelie watched him steering the little sports car calmly and confidently. It was obvious that Nate enjoyed driving it, but he wasn’t a show off driver, a quality she esteemed greatly. They weren’t talking, but the silence wasn’t uncomfortable. Now and then, he quickly looked over, their eyes met, and he smiled. At a red light, he fitted his hand over hers resting on the middle console, threading his fingers through hers, thumb brushing along her index finger.
“Do you like dancing?” He asked.
She caught his thumb with hers. “Actually, I do. Do you dance?”
He smiled happily at her. “I love it.”
Fingers tightened around fingers in happy anticipation. Then the light turned green, and he had to let go of her hand. Continue reading

The Marmoset, Part 1 (Alpha & Omega, Chapter 7)

In which Leslie turns into a protective mother hen and Nate forgets that Adelie is a former racer.

Leslie sat in one of Adelie’s armchairs, ready for another night shift. Her uniform was starched and ironed, and her nurse cap throned between two perfect blonde victory rolls. Her mouth was twisted in disapproval. “I wish I was your mother, so that I could say ‘No, you’re not going on a date with him.’ Seriously, have you lost your mind? Aren’t there any other cute boys worth your attention?”
Adelie adjusted her earring in the bathroom mirror and took a step back to see through the door. “Frankly, no. Nate is a wonderful human being, once you get past his womaniser shell.” Returning to perfecting her appearance, she picked the bottle of her favourite perfume and dabbed the fluid carefully behind her ear. “I like him; I like him a lot. He cares, he’s never dull, and I’m happy to tell you, he has never stepped out of line once.” She walked out of the bathroom to put on her shoes. As she shimmied into her stiletto heels, she heard Leslie gasp. Continue reading

Calibrations, Part 5 (Alpha & Omega, Chapter 6)

In which it is time to face the music.

“She’s gorgeous. You have great taste.” Adelie never reacted in the way he expected. Nate didn’t quite know how to answer the compliment.
“Uh, thanks?” Avoiding his look, she played with the napkin holder, biting her lips. “You’re not holding her up against me, are you?” He asked.
She shook her head and sat upright with a sigh. “No. I can’t, can I? It’s just… weird. Weird to see you with another woman.” She aligned the napkin holder with the condiments tray. “I think I’m a little bit jealous.”
“Jealous?” Of all things, this was the last he’d expected her to be.
She turned and contemplated him openly. Her gaze swept over his chest and shoulders, lingered briefly on his mouth, wandered over his cheeks, forehead, nose and came to a halt at his eyes. She licked her lips and sighed again. “You’re gorgeous. It’s not like I didn’t notice.”
He raised his eyebrows. “So? If you want me, you can have me. You know I’m a full-service guy.” Continue reading

Calibrations, Part 4 (Alpha & Omega, Chapter 6)

In which one of Nate’s nurses makes an appearance.

“You don’t like Eden?” Nate guessed.
Adelie sighed. “Eden itself is beautiful. There’s no place quite as beautiful, and I’ve seen a lot of other planets. But it’s still a relatively small colony, they’re still not done with populating the first continent. It’s perfect for adventures in unexplored regions if you’re into that sort of thing, but my mother never let me go. It wasn’t befitting for a baroness to go exploring.”
“You sound like life there was like a bird cage for you.”
She nodded. “I had everything and nothing at the same time. I had tasted freedom on the Planet 500 tour, and settling back in was very hard. I felt like I hit the brakes at full speed. Everything had come to a halt. That’s probably why Christopher had such an easy time fooling me. Only that he loved my status and my money more than me. And I so want to be loved for myself and not just for my status and what comes with it.”
“But you are!” He blurted out, unable to stop himself.
She craned her head and smiled at him. “Am I?” Continue reading

Calibrations, Part 3 (Alpha & Omega, Chapter 6)

The ugly mess that are broken hearts.

He felt her taking a deep breath. And another.
“Christopher…” Her voice was strained, and she swallowed hard. Then she sat upright, still looking like if she was on the verge of tears. Adelie pushed back a strand of hair and looked into the garden, where silver veils of rain danced in front of the flower beds. “He made me believe I was in love. He played me like a stupid fiddle, and I was too blind to see it because I was bored to death after my return from racing. Then, the evening before our wedding, I finally saw it as what it was: a ploy to gain rank and status. The house of cards collapsed.”
“Holy shit.” He put his arm around her shoulder, needing to comfort her. She nestled into his embrace, her forehead resting against his collarbone. “I had no idea you were practically standing in front of the altar as the relationship failed. I’m so sorry, Lily. That must have hurt… that must have hurt.” Continue reading