Author Archives: Flight Control

Laundry and Lemonade, Part 2 (Alpha and Omega, Chapter 3)

This entry is part 12 of 28 in the series Alpha and Omega

Cherry Red by IcarusHasFallen on DeviantArt

Nate finally gets a date with the elusive Baroness.

Adelie’s place was as very white and very elegant. A generous front of floor-length windows allowed for ample light to come in, even on a grey evening like this. She had a cosy looking love seat, and two armchairs arranged around a coffee table in front of the windows. There was a pot of tea on a warmer, and candles sitting in tall lanterns. Opposite of all this stood a large white bed, her desk, and a tall bookshelf. She also had a tiny kitchen, where her washing machine sat underneath the countertop. Nate was incredibly grateful that he could wait in one of the comfy leather armchairs, having a pleasant chat and a cup of tea, instead of having to wait on one of the wire benches at the laundromat without any company. Adelie lounged in the love seat, foot propped up and still wearing his hoodie. The sight tugged at some almost forgotten heartstrings.
“How was your day?” He asked, putting down his cup.
“It was okay. It wasn’t easy to reach the classrooms, and I had to skip combat training.” She brushed back a pert strand of hair falling into her face. “I’m glad I don’t have to hobble around anymore today. The new soda shop sounds interesting, though.” She smiled at him, and even though she obviously was tired and her foot probably bothered her more than she was willing to admit, it was like dawn was playing out on her face. The need for these smiles in his life grew steadily; irritatingly fast.
“I have a rugby game tomorrow morning. Ruins all the greatness of sleeping in on a Saturday, if you ask me. But if you want, we could check it out in the afternoon? If your foot is up to it, of course.”
She pulled up a knee and rested her chin on it, looking at him pensively. “Wouldn’t you be terribly tired after a game of rugby? I’d feel bad chasing you around town.”
He smiled at her. “You’re not chasing me around town. I’d get a sleek car from Eddy, I drive you around, and we have some lemonade down there. Sounds chill enough to me.”
He managed to get the cherry red two-door sedan from Eddy, which never failed to impress a girl with its generous curves and ample chrome accents. Eddy had also put in a lot of work into the interior, making it pretty with custom red and white striped upholstery.
“Riding a Chieftain, eh?” Adelie slowly made her way down the handful of steps leading to her building’s main entrance. She wasn’t limping anymore but still walked carefully. Today, she was wearing sneakers and white capri pants. She had tied her red sleeveless blouse over her belly button, allowing him a glimpse of creamy skin, which instantly put him into hot water. To redirect his thoughts, he focused on her face. Which was a mistake, because now he was confronted with a dancing ponytail of chestnut hair, warm brown eyes and red lips pursed into a welcoming smile. He pushed himself away from the hood, meeting her at the bottom, narrowly hindering himself to take her into his arms and at least hug her hello. They weren’t there yet.
“I admit, it’s a bit too much metal for my liking. But I can hardly pick you up on a motorcycle, can’t I?” He said jokingly.
She laughed and slipped her arm through his, leaning on him while walking to the car. His heart skipped a beat, then lurched into a frantic gallop. It had neither expected her sudden closeness nor the familiarity of her gesture. “Can’t you? I’ve never ridden one, I’d love to know how it feels.”
“Too bad my bike is a rusty pile of parts, pipes and two wheels leaning against a wall right now. I’d love to take you for a ride, but I need to restore her before I can do that.”
She wanted to know more, and so he told her about his project while they cruised down the road: How he found it buried in hay in an old barn, who the previous owner was and how long it was taking to bring it back to life. To his surprise, she readily commiserated with him about the difficulties he had trying to find spare parts. Adelie kept him always on his toes. Her enthusiastic reaction to his restoration project was just one of many examples. That she used to be a race car driver another. He learned so much about her in the last three days. It had been too long since he’d known more of a woman than how she looked after spending a night with him. It had been too long since he actually wanted to know more.
He tried to find a parking spot close to the soda shop, but they had no luck. Graham Boulevard was a major shopping street, and it was a busy afternoon. So he parked a block away, hoping her foot wouldn’t protest. He opened the car door for her. Adelie smiled at him, a lovely, honest, open smile, as she stepped out of the vehicle. Then she hooked her arm through his again and said: “Sorry – I still need you as my crutch.” He didn’t mind. Walking with her along the tree lined street while listening to her comfortable chatter was something he could’ve done for the rest of the afternoon. At one point, she stopped at a window display, asking for his opinion on a dress.
“I might be biassed, but I bet you’d look gorgeous in it,” he answered honestly.
Laughing she poked him in the ribs. “Oh, you’re already biassed?”
Thankfully, the soda shop was right next door.

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Laundry and Lemonade, Part 1 (Alpha and Omega, Chapter 3)

This entry is part 11 of 28 in the series Alpha and Omega

Summer Rain by kristianna11 on DeviantArt

Adelie has a hard time convincing herself that she isn’t interested in Nate – with questionable success.

Adelie curled up on her love seat and poured herself another cup of tea. Her foot complained about a day of hobbling around campus, and she was firmly set on not moving anymore this night. Outside a light summer rain made the leaves on the trees shiny. Adelie snuggled deeper into a hoodie that wasn’t hers. It belonged to a man she barely knew, and it smelled of him. The musk of his aftershave, traces of motor oil and the personal fragrance of his body. Nate. Memories of the last evening were tied to that scent. Memories of his smile while they joked at the Lemon Tree, after a meal of burgers. The way he always ran his hand through his hair or rubbed his neck when he was flustered or thinking. How he’d offered his arm to lean on so that she could hobble the few steps to the diner. It was silly, but she was in awe of his strength. He’d carried her as if she was a featherweight and she certainly wasn’t. Her remark about it had led to him flexing his arm to let her feel his biceps, which she dutifully und giggly did. He deserved some admiration. They had laughed so much her cheeks had been aching in the end. That was when he’d wrapped her in his jacket because he had noticed her shivering.
“Don’t catch a cold, Princess. A hurt foot is enough malady for one day,” he had said, closing the zipper all the way up. At that moment he had looked like he also wanted to wrap her in his arms. With a smile Adelie leant back into her seat and imagined how being enveloped in these arms, being pressed against his chest would feel. Probably glorious. She should not think about him in this way. She was not interested. Her InstaComm beeped, interrupting her ponders.
“How’s the Princess and the royal foot?” Nate, with perfect timing. They had exchanged numbers after he’d driven her home in the baby blue, banged up workshop truck.
“If I’d known I have such precious cargo today, I’d found prettier transportation,” he had sheepishly said in the gym parking lot. She hadn’t minded their transportation, she was too busy being grateful that he had a car at all. Even if it was a rusty, creaky truck that smelled of dog and was filled with spare parts.
“The foot’s still miffed, the Princess is fine.” She hesitated, then added: “How’s the knight in shining armour?” She quickly pressed Send before she could change her mind.
“Currently wondering if you’re interested in checking out the new soda shop on Graham Blvd.”
Oh. A new soda shop. But that would mean walking again. “Sorry – foot says no.” She typed. There was no answer for a while, she’d already almost forgotten the little exchange and lost herself in her book, as the device beeped. It was Nate again. He’d send her a picture with two soda bottles: her all-time favourite Hensley’s lemonade in lemon and in raspberry, sitting in his lap propped up against a steering wheel. Underneath he’d written: “Which one do you want?” – “The lemon.”
Her doorbell rang. With a groan, she got to her feet and limped to answer it. The sight that presented itself to her was worth the pain, though. Nate stood there, with an impish smile, holding the requested bottle in his hand. He wore a fitted flannel shirt with rolled up sleeves, torn blue jeans and motorcycle boots, his hair was tousled and his blue eyes sparkling. Maintaining her state of disinterest would be very hard if he kept showing up at her doorstep looking like this.
“Hi. I thought, when you can’t come, I bring the soda to you.” His eyes lingered on her, and he smiled as he realised she was wearing his jacket. “Still cold?”
“Uh, ahem… it’s very comfy. What’s up with the lumberjack attire?”
He cleared his throat, scratching the back of his head. “I… uhm… Our washing machine broke down, and I’m actually on my way to the laundromat to do my laundry. This was my last batch of clean clothes. Just wanted to check on you, see if you’re alright.”
“I have a washer and dryer up here. Want to use it? Comes free of charge and with a cup of tea.”
He looked at her from below a tilted head. “You serious?”
She crossed her arms and leant against the doorframe. “Of course. You carried me all the way from the pond to your car.”

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Picnic by the Pond, Part 6 (Alpha and Omega, Chapter 2)

This entry is part 10 of 28 in the series Alpha and Omega

Piggyback time! by Georginastokes on DeviantArt

Nate gets the chance to do a little rescuing by himself.

The nonchalant way with which she offered that information silenced him. Nate needed a moment to digest it, so he simply watched how she skilfully formed irregular blotches of colour into a beautiful picture. Of course, he knew she was a baroness and he sort of suspected that she had money – but the glimpse into her former life made it deducible that there was a lot of money. Racing was an expensive hobby, everywhere. She was so far out of his league, he should stop trying. The beauty of the place around them, her hair falling over her back, with golden highlights shimmering… she fit right in, looking like a little nature spirit, one with her art and her surroundings.
“You’re quiet. What’s up?” She looked up from her work, a warm smile dancing on her features. She treated him like her equal. She’d referred to herself as a spoilt brat. Maybe she didn’t care about status. She’d said she was a renegade.
“It’s fascinating to watch. A bit like magic.” He sheepishly smiled. “I’ve no idea how you do it. I would probably just produce a very colourful Rorschach test.”
This made her giggle. “Just like everything, it needs practice and knowledge of the right technique. A bit like flying a jet.”
“Only someone like you would compare watercolour to flying a weapon.” And that was what he found so fascinating about her.
They shared a mischievous glance. “Well, you make a wrong move, and the next thing you know is that everything’s going to hell, except that you don’t risk your life while painting.”
She put the sketchbook aside to let it dry. The sun stood low and would reach the horizon soon, long shadows now filling up the hollow. The skies slowly turned to lavender and indigo.
“It’ll be dark soon.” His remark triggered a sigh from her.
“Too bad. I had so much fun this afternoon.”
He decided to push his luck. “How about burgers, to conclude the day?” Adelie brushed her hair behind her ear, watching him with her head tilted sideways and smiled.
“I’d love to. But going downtown seems a bit tedious.”
“Don’t worry, I took the car as I had to bring Bob to the train station this morning. It’s parked behind the gym.”
“You own a car?” Now it was her turn to be gobsmacked.
He smiled. “No, but Eddy does, several actually, and he generously allows me to take one now and then. Is your picture dry?”
She patted it with a fingertip. “It needs a few more minutes.”
They packed their stuff as the setting sun tinted everything in a rosy shade. Adelie’s eyes wandered warily over the path between her and the top, favouring her foot. “I’m not going to make it up there. I still can’t walk.”
He scratched his head. “Are you okay if I leave you alone for five minutes? I’ll go and fetch the car. I can pull up behind the greenhouses.”
“Well, uh… I’d be more comfortable waiting up there, where there’s light.”
“Okay. Gimme a minute.”
Confused, Adelie watched him climbing the slope with long strides. He put his backpack down at the top and came back down. What was he up to?
“Need a lift?” He grinned, stretching his arms.
“Desperately. But…”
He turned and bent his knees a little. “Come on, climb on. I’ll take you piggyback.”
“I can’t do that!” He must be joking. “You can’t carry me.”
He straightened up and turned back towards her, stepping closer. His eyes were tender and kind as he took her hand. His palm was warm and smooth. “Adelie… I need to get you up there somehow.”
“I know! But…” She sighed. “I feel so helpless. I don’t like feeling helpless.”
He smiled. “It’s okay. I understand.” He reached back and took a flashlight out of his back pocket. “But you’re not entirely useless. I need you to light the way. I don’t want to trip while I carry you.”
She smiled. “Why do you have a flashlight?”
“Because the yard light is broken and Eddy doesn’t come around fixing the snapped wire. I need it to find my way to the door. That’s why I have it in my backpack.”
“I see.” With a trembling hand, she took it. “How do I… uhm, mount you? I can’t jump.”
He grinned and got into a squatting position. “Does this help?”
She bunched up her skirt and straddled his broad back, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. “I don’t strangle you, do I?”
“No.” He weaved his arms through her knees and got up. “Are you comfortable?”
“Yes, I think so.” She switched on the flashlight, and he began his climb. She looked over his shoulder to see where they were going and to light the way efficiently. They were basically cheek to cheek… and he smelled good. So good, she had to refrain from rubbing her nose against his scruffy jaw. His grip was tight and secure and his pace steady. Again, she felt she was in capable hands, safe even. With regret, she noticed that they had already reached the top.
The fact that she instinctively reached for him to find her balance as Nate put her down triggered a wave of protectiveness. What was wrong with him today? Yet, she stood there in the failing light, fiddling with the flashlight, and he could not leave her alone. Unprotected. Goodness, she was a soldier, she would probably clobber anyone to death with the torch… but she was hurt. She was vulnerable. He rubbed his neck which suddenly was flushed with heat. “I don’t feel comfortable leaving you here in this dark place. You’re not that heavy – I could carry you to the car.”
He thought he detected a smile in the almost darkness. No protest. Not even teasing that he was just looking for an excuse to touch her again? She either was really in pain or…
“I’d be grateful if you’d do that. Behind greenhouses, between compost hills and garbage cans is not exactly a place a girl wants to be alone in.”
“Your dignity can take it?” He gently teased, coaxing a chuckle out of her.
“I’ll pretend we’re practising a search and rescue mission.”
“Brilliant idea… and excuse, actually. Should anybody ask.”
She took his backpack, and they made their way to the parking lot of the gym without any disturbances.

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Picnic by the Pond, Part 5 (Alpha and Omega, Chapter 2)

This entry is part 9 of 28 in the series Alpha and Omega


Adelie shares a little bit about herself and discovers that her almost-fall earlier had painful consequences.

How they’d left casual conversation and made it to the nitty-gritty of personal preferences was beyond Adelie. His gaze drifted from her to the pond to the bushes and back to her. He rubbed the back of his neck, hunting for words. Then he cleared his throat.
“She needs to be a home.”
The way his jaw ticked told her that he probably got once hurt as much as she did. Interesting. His face brightened again. “Liking my cake is a start, though.”
She shoved him with her shoulder, desperately needing to reach shallower waters. He shoved back. She giggled as she had to steady herself with her hand to not keel over. He caught her around her waist and drew her to the dangerous safety of his body. “Sorry. Rugby player. Don’t know my own strength.”
“Yeah, sure.” She was more out of breath than the giggles should have caused. His hand slipped from her waist to her bottom, and she gave him a warning glance. He put it on the ground but his arm remained behind her, providing a quite comfortable backrest for her. She shouldn’t lean against it. She did it anyway. They munched the cake in companionable silence, only interrupted by pointing out the occasional dragonfly darting over the sunlit pond.
“Your cake is delicious,” she eventually tried to jump-start the conversation again.
“Thank you. It’s left-over from yesterday. It was Bob’s birthday.”
“Who’s Bob?”
“One of my housemates. The other one’s name is Eddy. It’s Eddy’s house – he’s a mechanic and runs a workshop. Bob’s a professional guitar player and travels a lot. He gets booked for concerts often.”
“A musician, a mechanic and a pilot – what a mix. I live alone, I have rented one of the studio apartments in the Starcity complex. Immaculate, dull.”
Behind their backs, their hands had found each other, and his thumb was stroking hers. Little gestures. His proximity was maddening, she needed to put space between them.
“This is really a beautiful place. I should paint it,” she declared, rummaging in her purse for her travel-sized watercolour kit. It would give her a reason to get up and fill the little water bottle at the banks of the pond. But as she got up, a sharp pain shot through the foot that had gotten caught in the root.
Nate was up and next to her in the blink of an eye. “What’s the matter? Are you hurt?”
She steadied herself with her hand on his chest and tried putting weight on the foot. Again pain flared up. “I don’t know. I can’t walk. Maybe I twisted it earlier on the way down.” She somehow managed to sit again.
He squatted before her. “May I take a look?”
Adelie nodded. Gently he took her foot and twisted it. “Does this hurt?”
He stretched it. “And now?”
Only as he flexed it, she winced. This time, he needn’t ask, it was evident she was in pain. “Guess you overstretched a tendon. It’s not swollen, and it’s not hot… but I can drive you to the doctor if you want.”
“It’s okay, thank you. I don’t think it’s that bad. But you need to fetch me some water now.” She grinned at him, and he grinned back. Before he left, he took off his jacket to prop up her foot. “Even when it’s not swollen, I think putting it up would be a good idea.” He strolled over to the pond and filled the bottle. Then he pulled out a clean white handkerchief out of his back pocket and wetted it before he returned to her. His movements were poetry, his walk a song. She’d never seen anyone moving with such grace, such harmony. It would be a pleasure to just watch him all day. With a shy smile, he kneeled next to her propped-up foot, folded the dripping piece of fabric into a neat rectangle and carefully draped it over her foot.
“Guess a little cooling wouldn’t hurt.”
Their eyes met, and the inexplicable feeling of being in good hands rushed through her. “Thank you.”
He settled down next to her on their makeshift blanket again.
“Have you been painting for a long time?” He asked.
“Yes. Classically trained baroness.” She smiled. “Although it’s the only role-appropriate thing my mother could get me to do besides playing the piano, I much preferred racing cars against my brother. Unlike my sister, who always did what she was supposed to do, I was a tomboy.”
He blinked. “You mean toy cars, right?”
Setting up her sketchbook and the kit, she shook her head. “At first, of course. But as soon as we were tall enough to drive, we switched to real ones.”
“You raced cars?” His mouth stood open, and his eyes were wide. She put her finger on his chin and closed his mouth.
“I’m the youngest of three kids. My sister will inherit the barony, my brother my father’s mines – the only role left to play by me was the one of the renegade. I’m well off, I’ll probably never have to worry about not having enough money… I was a spoilt brat who needed some thrill in her life.”

Picture by Y Nakanishi on flickr.

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Picnic by the Pond, Part 4 (Alpha and Omega, Chapter 2)

This entry is part 8 of 28 in the series Alpha and Omega


Nate makes an unexpected apple cake discovery.

Nate hunted for his pen hiding in some parallel universe or crevice deep inside his backpack to distract himself from the fact that Adelie sat so close to him that their elbows brushed against each other. Instead of his pen, he found a box full of apple cake. “Oh, I totally forgot I packed cake this morning.”
“You carry around a box of cake, and you forget about it? I have a very hard time believing that.” Her face lightened up as he took out the sweet treasure and placed it on the grass in front of them. “But I’m certainly not complaining. This makes our little adventure all the more perfect.”
That Adelie found this little spot and the prospect of cake perfect filled him with unexpected delight. With her perpetual mask of indifference, he had assumed it was hard to please her. “You like it here?”
She raised him a mocking eyebrow and stretched out on the scarf, tucking her arms behind her head. “What’s not to like? Blue skies, this enchanted little place, a surprise picnic and pleasant company… I’m willing to postpone thinking about how many other women you brought down here.”
“Why d’you think I’ve done that?” Shit, he sounded more offended than he’d wanted. Why was he even offended? He had a reputation, after all, she was right in assuming everything.
“Oh, come on – this is the place to woo a woman. You can’t tell me you haven’t tried.”
“I haven’t.” Their eyes met, and she quizzed him with a searching squint to see if he was honest. He was. He could never lie while being held accountable by the large brown eyes of his guardian angel. Darn it; this woman had a power over him he was unable to resist. “But would it work to win your heart?” He couldn’t help asking either. She smiled, looking up into the sky above them.
“Certainly. If I enjoyed being courted in an overly romantic way.”
“But you don’t.” Disappointment settled in his chest. Why? He wasn’t the romancing guy. He was not after a relationship. All he wanted was to get her out of her clothes and explore the body he had the unexpected pleasure to briefly get acquainted with as she had stumbled into his arms. Unaware of his emotional troubles, she lay next to him, cute toes wiggling in the green grass, giggling as the blades tickled her soles.
“What do you like then?” He had to ask; he needed to know.
She sat up and ran her fingers through her hair, picking out pieces of dried grass. “Little gestures. Honest interest in me. Bringing cake was a good idea too.” Her eyes focused on him, twinkling with a smile. “What about you? What does a girl need to do to win a wanderer like you?”

Picture by Javier Lastras on flickr

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Picnic by the Pond, Part 3 (Alpha and Omega, Chapter 2)

This entry is part 7 of 28 in the series Alpha and Omega

"Out of this world"

In which Nate tries to score with a magical place.

The sun painted glowing rectangles on the wooden floors of the library. Nate’s eyes were riveted to how the chestnut of Adelie’s hair suddenly had threads of gold woven in.
“You’re staring again.” Her voice had lost her sting as if she’d gotten used to his gaze. Like she’d gotten used to him showing up every Thursday in this room, taking the place opposite from her and studying in silence.
“Your hair shimmered lovely in the light.” The remark won him an almost imperceptible smile. To his surprise, she then shut her book and leant back in her chair, looking into the gardens around the library.
“The weather is too beautiful to be inside.”
“How about taking our notes outside,” he suggested, hoping she would agree. The brown eyes abandoned the window and focused on him. For two heartbeats she just watched him, considering the offer, then her impassive face lit up in one of her breathtaking smiles.
“This is a swell idea.” She closed her notebook and stuffed it into her bag. “Let’s go.”
The weather was indeed beautiful, and for a while, they walked along the garden paths in silence. Bees hummed and from open windows, they could hear teachers’ voices lecturing. Under the oak trees, groups of students were sitting on blankets, discussing problems. All the good sites had already been taken.
“I know a beautiful and quiet place, very secluded. It’s behind the greenhouses.” He had no idea why he told her that, but it made her grin.
“Why doesn’t this surprise me in the least? Of course, you have a private spot for charming unassuming women.”
Her grin got even wider as he tried to look offended. “I haven’t said anything about charming you, have I? But it really is a beautiful place, with a pond and waterlilies.”
She stepped closer to him, eyebrows arched and eyes brimming with the thirst of adventure. “This sounds quaint and pretty. Why don’t you show it to me?”
“Are you not afraid I’m going to try and seduce you?” Two could play this game, and nobody was a better partner in scurrilous teasing than her. She chuckled.
“Over our notes of the history of space travel? Hardly. This always puts me asleep in ten minutes flat.”
“Oh, come on then.” With a laugh, he walked with her towards the greenhouse, built for the non-hardy plants adorning the campus over the summer.
He led her past some trash bins and a compost hill, around a hedge, and then an old structure reminding Adelie of an old bomb crater became visible. It was now overgrown with white and pink blooming bushes. The air was full of the sweet scent of honey. At the bottom, there was indeed a little pond, dotted with pink and purple waterlilies. A steep and stony path went down the slope in a zigzag course.
“Ta-dah!” Nate made a flourish as if he wanted to introduce the scenery to her. “What do you say?”
“It’s beautiful. Like from a fairy tale.”
“Do you want to see the waterlilies from up close?”
She nodded. “Yes.”
Descending wasn’t as easy, though. She carefully balanced on her heels to not slip on the uneven path. Sneaker-clad Nate watched her efforts with unbridled amusement. “Women and their impractical shoes. It’ll take a week until we’re down there.”
She huffed and grimaced at his back. “Oh, excuse me, if I’d known that I’d go mountaineering today, I’d have picked more sensible shoes than these sandaaaaa…” Not looking where she was going inevitably led to her heel catching in a root. Flailing only seemed to speed up her fall. Nate turned around as she squeaked, opening his arms to catch her just in time. “Ooomph.”
“Careful, Princess. Don’t sprain your ankle. You okay?”
Grumbling she peeled herself away from his chest, trying to catch her composure before she had to face his inevitable smirk. “Yeah, I’m okay.”
He offered his arm with a gallant smile. “Allow me to be of assistance, Baroness.”
“Thank you.” She grabbed his shoulder for balance and slipped out of her shoes. “Before I faceplant myself on the ground. Why didn’t I think of this earlier?”
With him to lean on, it was a lot easier to pick her way, and they eventually reached the grassy bottom of the crater-like hollow. It was a truly enchanted place, filled with the hum of insects feeding on the blooming bushes, a duck paddling through the waterlilies and there was even a hidden frog croaking. Adelie pulled out a scarf from her purse to use as a makeshift blanket.
“Ha, I knew this would come in handy!” She sat down, fluffed her petticoats and smoothed her full skirt over her knees. Finally decent and comfortable, she patted the place next to her. “Come and sit here.”
“This is an offer I can’t refuse.” He made himself comfortable beside her.
Cautiously Adelie eyed her companion going through his backpack seemingly without a care in the world. No matter how much Leslie tried to talk her out of it, she enjoyed his company. Nate was pleasant and fun to talk to. He liked motorcycles and books and played rugby for the varsity team. Not to mention that he was easy on the eyes and had manners to match.

Picture by Claire Tresse on Flickr

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Picnic by the Pond, Part 2 (Alpha and Omega, Chapter 2)

This entry is part 6 of 28 in the series Alpha and Omega

4months_after_new_years_by_ flattop341

In which Jake tries to figure out why Nate is not moving on.

The men’s locker room of the airbase gym was stuffy with its usual stench, a weird mix of sweat, shower gel and too much testosterone. Nate welcomed this gut-churning odour today, and he nearly craved it. He hoped it would take his mind off a pair of brown eyes, lips pursed in a superior smile and a warm, mellow voice.
“You look like you’re ready to bench two-twenty today. What’s gotten under your skin? Trouble with Payne?” Jake leant against one of the grey locker doors, watching him carefully.
“No, not Payne.” Nate took off his t-shirt and stuffed it into his locker.
“Can’t believe that you’ve got girl trouble. Did a nurse finally capture your heart?”
He only huffed a reply, stepping out of his trousers. Pulling a muscle shirt over his head, he eventually said: “Nope, not a nurse. And no girl will ever capture my heart.”
“It’s the Princess.”
Nate’s locker door slammed shut.
Jake folded his arms across his chest. “Lemme guess – she’s still indifferent to you?”
Nate huffed again. “She wandered into the Lemon Tree yesterday afternoon. Drank a lemonade, showed me a picture of her cousin’s adorable puppy, and we thought up names for it.”
“Sounds like you two had fun?”
“She’s like a slippery fish. Every time I think I grasp her, she wiggles away again. There’s a witty reply to everything I say.”
Jake laughed. “You’re so not used to women who are on par with you. She’s a pilot, Nate. She’s not going into headless chicken mode just because you smiled at her.”
“I’m not sure she even has a headless chicken mode.”
They walked out of the locker room and into the gym. A careful glance around assured him that Adelie wasn’t working out too. Not that he would mind seeing her in skin-tight workout attire, but he wasn’t entirely sure he’d be able to handle it. Stepping on a treadmill for warm up, Jake said: “Somehow I suspect you’re so interested in her because she’s not falling for your schemes. She’s challenging your ego.”
“Women are not game, mate.”
“Duh, I know that. But she has something that makes her irresistible.”
Jake chuckled. “A sense of self-preservation maybe? Sure, she’s a total doll, and knows how to handle a ‘ray – but you won’t be the first guy noticing that. It’s not like her squadron is only made up of other women.”
Nate laughed. “So? You think she’s already taken?”
Jake shook his head. “No. But she probably has a lot of experience in how to keep a cocky guy at arm’s length.”
Nate fell silent for the rest of their five-mile warm-up run. Jake had a point. Moving over to the free weights, Jake added: “Be careful buddy – don’t get burned.”
He went over to the bench press, putting on Jake’s predicted two-twenty. “Bah, humbug. Not gonna happen.”
His friend chuckled, shaking his head. “Even a heartthrob like you is not immune to falling for someone. Why else are you still pursuing her, and not moving on to the next one, like you usually do?”
Jake could call himself lucky that there had been a barbell in his hand, and not a rugby egg; otherwise, he’d thrown it after him. Instead, he funnelled the energy into lifting the weight out of its stand and held it, not taking the bait laid out for him. Even the burn in his muscles couldn’t take the mental image of her face away. The way she looked at him, how her eyebrows arched defiantly, her smile. Oh god, her smiles. They turned her impassive, unreadable face into something else entirely. Into the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. But falling for with her? Wanting her for something else than the pure pleasure of sex? No. Someone in a former life had made sure that he would never risk his heart like that ever again.

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Picnic by the Pond, Part 1 (Alpha and Omega, Chapter 2)

This entry is part 5 of 28 in the series Alpha and Omega


In which Adelie learns that there’s a thing called rosemary limeade and it’s delicious.

The next time she saw him was entirely by chance. Adelie entered the little diner near the airfield, and there he was, standing behind the counter, washing up some glasses. The Lemon Tree was a classic diner, with a black and white checkered floor, chrome accents around the table edges and red faux-leather benches. The wall behind the counter was covered with shelves filled with glasses and cups. Through large windows, sunlight poured in over the tables. Nate looked up as he heard the bell above the door and a broad smile appeared.
“What a lovely surprise. Hello there.” He put the glass on the rack and dried his hands with a towel that was tucked into the band of his apron.
She should have taken a seat somewhere in a corner, to not give him any ideas, but after a long and tiring afternoon in the simulator, she was in need of a little small talk. She slid on one of the bar stools in front of him, flashed him a smile and said: “Hi. How’re you doing?”
His level of handsomeness was ridiculous. Braced on the counter, his arms showed corded strands of muscles and honey-coloured tanned skin. Even the white apron tied around his waist couldn’t diminish his appeal. Blue sparkling eyes drenched with flirtatious mischief. “What can I bring you? Another lemonade?”
She forced her eyes up to the menu above the shelves. “Wow, you have quite a selection on offer. Which one’s your favourite?”
“Trudy takes great pride in making her own lemonade. The question is not what my favourite is, but what you need.”
“Okay then, what do I need, doc?” She couldn’t help but smile at him, and he smiled right back.
“You look thirsty and in dire need of a refreshment. So this naturally calls for something with citrus. But your call sign is Princess… so it can’t be any old boring lemonade then. It needs to be exquisite. Unusual!” He waggled his eyebrows at her, and she giggled. With a flourish, he opened the big red fridge behind him and fished out a bottle. “How about Trudy’s prized Rosemary Limeade?”
“Rosemary Limeade? This sounds indeed unusual.”
He laughed. “Trust me; it’s heaven in a bottle. It’s delicious.”
“Well… I think I trust your taste and have one then.”
He chuckled as he reached for a glass. “With or without ice?”
“With ice please.”
He placed a coaster in front of her and put her drink on it. Ice cubes clinked. Carefully she took a sip. A small firework of different flavours exploded in her mouth. The sour but fragrant zing of real lime, the sweetness of sugar and then the tangy note of rosemary. “This… this is delicious. I like it. Spot on selection.”
“I’m glad you like it. It’s even better in Gin Fizz.”
The ceiling fan above them filled the silent diner with its whooshing sound. She realised she was the only guest. “Not many customers today?”
He had returned to cleaning glasses. “It’s always slow between three and four. What you’ve been up to? You look like you had an exhausting day.”
She laughed. “Is that your polite way to say I’m looking tired?”
He flashed her a grin. “I worry about my guardian angel.”
“I’m not your guardian angel. And I just spent the better part of this beautiful sunny afternoon stuck in a Stingray simulator. I’m friends with on of the engineering students, and she wanted to test something. Sadly, it didn’t work as we both thought it would.”
“That sucks.” The bells over the door tinkled as two nurse cadets entered. “Good afternoon, ladies.” Nate dried his hands again and followed them to their table. “What can I offer you?”
They were all aflutter, and it took them quite a while to decide on their order, giving Adelie plenty of time to observe him. He was indeed charm personified but in a genuine way. She could see why Leslie’s fellow nurses fell for him head over heels without him having much to do. She pushed back a strand of hair and took her InstaComm out of her purse. There was a message from her cousin Cosima, with an attached picture of a sleeping blonde puppy. It said: “Look what I got! Isn’t he cute?” She typed a quick reply, as she heard Nate’s rumbly voice behind her.
“Got an amusing message?” She swivelled around on the bar stool, glaring at him, and he took a step back. “Uh, sorry – didn’t want to intrude on your privacy. You smiled at your screen.”
Adelie kicked herself, taking a deep breath. Leslie’s overly cautious nature was rubbing off on her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you coming, and you startled me. My cousin got a cute puppy. She sent me a picture of it sleeping in its basket. That’s why I was smiling.”
“Can I see it?”
“Of course.” She pulled up the message and the picture again, and he stepped closer to be able to see. The warmth of his body radiated out to her and with it his unique blend of aftershave and personal fragrance. Also the faint scent of coffee and chocolate syrup. It tickled something deep inside of her.
“Awww, that’s adorable. No wonder you were smiling. What’s his name?”
“She hasn’t told me yet.”
“He looks like a Eustace to me.”
Adelie snorted. “I’m going to tell her that, right now.”
“No, no, no – that was a joke! The poor dog. How about Ajax?”
They spent a considerable amount of time thinking up silly names for the puppy until the diner slowly filled up and he had to serve customers.

Picture by Maia C on flickr.

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Friendly Fire, Part 4 (Alpha and Omega, Chapter 1)

This entry is part 4 of 28 in the series Alpha and Omega


In which Nate is the victim of relentless teasing by Jake and meets the power of Adelie’s noble glare.

The library was the oldest building on campus. It sat in the middle of everything, surrounded by old oak trees and lush lawns scattered with rose bushes. Stone steps led up to a pillar-framed entrance, which gave the whole building the touch of a Greek temple. Nate couldn’t stop thinking about Adelie, and he needed to see her again.
“Are you sure you’ve got the right place?” Jake asked, sitting on the steps and squinting because of the sun. Nate leant against the low wall that framed the raised beds of roses around the entrance. Their rich fragrance scented the warm summer air.
“Yes. Rojas told me she’s always in the library here on Thursdays, right after Foreign Cultures 101.”
“I sure hope he was honest with you.”
“Stop worrying, there she is!” He could see her tall figure weaving through the other students, swiftly coming up towards the building. She was even prettier than he remembered, wearing slim black cigarette pants and a cream coloured blouse, a satchel with books over her shoulder.
“Hey, Adelie! How’s your knee?”
“Hi, Nate! It’s doing fine. Sorry, I’m in a hurry – See ya!”
And with that, she vanished into the library with graceful, springy steps, leaving him standing there like an idiot. Jake snorted.
“I never thought I’d live long enough to see this.”
He huffed. “See what?”
Jake had a grin plastered on his face. “A woman who doesn’t stop, spin and fling herself into your arms. You’re not used to the cold shoulder treatment, are you?”
Nate gave him the stink eye, causing only more laughter on his friend’s side. But Jake was right. The tall, attractive Baroness, with her brown hair and superior smile, wasn’t answering to his advances like women usually did.
“Forget it, she’s only interested in books and jets.” Jake consoled him with a pat on the shoulder. “There’s Patricia.”
He didn’t even check, he was already halfway in the library. “I just remembered, I should really brush up my knowledge of the Warburton drive.”
Jake’s laughter followed him through the door. “Yeah man, sure! Good luck!”
“Hi again.” Nate placed his books on the table and took the seat across from her. Instead of the anticipated smile, Adelie looked up with an impassive expression and nodded briefly, then continued reading and scribbling notes. He tried once more. “What are you reading?”
“A book.” She didn’t even look up.
“I can see that. But which one?”
This time, she made eye contact, but her glare nearly made his balls shrivel up. “Nate – I came here to study. This is a tricky topic, and I have to concentrate. I’d love to chat, but can we postpone that until I’m done? Thank you.”
He sat down and grabbed one of his books to hide his burning cheeks. The room was secluded and empty, and only the tall cherry wood bookshelves had been witnesses to this encounter, but he was embarrassed nevertheless. Peeking over the rim of the book he saw her diligently copying parts of the text into her notepad. Her hair was in a neat braid, falling over her shoulder. Concentration furrowed her brows.
“You’re not going to get anything done if you keep staring at me,” she suddenly said.
He cleared his throat. “True. I’m sorry.”
The usual tactics were not working. Maybe he would win her attention if he studied too and didn’t try to keep her from it. An hour passed with neither of them saying a word. The long shadows of oak trees painted black fingers on the lawns around the library when she finally pushed her pen aside and stretched her back. Heat crept up his neck as he forced his glance down. He was not sure what would happen if she’d caught him staring at her chest, but he wasn’t keen on finding out.
“Gee, is it that late already?” She exclaimed as she looked out the window.
“Time flies, eh?” He said. She had a beautiful profile. He was staring again.
“Absolutely. I’m hungry — want to grab a bite at Todd’s?”
Hell, did she just ask him to go out with her? He blinked confused at her unreadable face. “Sounds like a brilliant idea, unless you’re going to bite off my head…”
She laughed, her frown dissolving like melting ice cream. “I promise I’ll behave.”
The expression on his face was priceless. Adelie bit her bottom lip to keep herself from smiling. “I’m sorry. I’m sometimes too focused on my work. I hope I haven’t been too harsh?”
He rubbed his neck, his glorious blue eyes sparkling with mischief. “I’m not made of sugar. I assume you have a license for those eyes of yours?”
License? She blinked at him, and he grinned. Standing up and putting the books away, he explained: “They’re dangerous weapons. I nearly got hurt, you know?”
“Do you need a band-aid?” She raised him a defiant eyebrow, and he stepped towards her, close enough for her to smell his aftershave. It was a warm, subtle scent. His voice was a deep rumble, his eyes intense. Talk about having a license, Mister.
“A bag of ice might be more helpful to ease the burn.”
She tilted her head, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “Are you sure you can risk going to Todd’s with me, English? I can’t vouch for your male pride surviving this without more burns…”
He chuckled. “I’m willing to take a gamble, Princess. It’s nothing compared to what you risked jumping in front of that stupid truck.”
Jumping in front of the speeding truck to push him out of harm’s way had been no conscious decision, she had acted purely on instinct. The same instinct told her now to be careful — he displayed all the traits of a confident man knowing how to charm a woman. Traits that brought up painful memories.
“What’s wrong?” His voice plucked her out of her thoughts.
“Uh, nothing.” She pushed the pain and the memories away. They belonged to another time, another planet. She picked up her bag.
He studied her with a questioning gaze but didn’t say anything. Instead, he followed her out of the library.

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watercolour life lessons

I’m trying to work more with traditional media lately, mainly sketching with pencils. A few days ago, though, I pulled out my little watercolour field box, firmly set on developing my not-yet existing skills. Watercolour is a challenge, in more than one way. It requires you to think from light to dark, from background to foreground and you can’t just paint over mistakes due to its transparent nature. Not mention that it has its own mind. Perfectionist me has a hard time learning to just go with the flow (of water and colour) – but if I do, magic happens. I set out to practice clouds, but instead I learned how to put depth and structure into the foreground mountain range. I learned that a colour that at first feels like it has no business of being there can actually make the difference between bland and vibrant.

I think one of the reasons I’m drawn to watercolour is actually its rebellious nature. It forces me to let go of the perfect picture in my head and work instead from a rough idea. And in that lies a valuable lesson of life. Let go of that perceived perfect image of how things should be, how you should be. Take a breath and take chances and something beautiful will happen.

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