"Hello," Clarice said. She was late coming home. She volunteered at a local women's shelter a few times a week. Monday's always seemed to be busier days. Women making their escape after a bad weekend she supposed.
"This is Will. From Saturday night."
"Good. How was church?"
She smiled a little at the question.
"It was fine. The sermon was a little long."
"Sorry to hear that."
"It may have been that last drink I had."
"I suppose I should apologize again."
"Are you actually sorry?"
"For the last drink? Not in the least."
She wasn't quite sure what else to say.
"Are you?" he asked?
"So," she said, wrapping the phone cord around the tip of her index finger as she looked through her refrigerator. She still had to make dinner.
"Are you busy tonight?"
"On what?" he asked?
"Are you just being curious or did you have a specific reason for asking?"
"Well, I've heard there's this thing called Monday Night Football."
"I've heard tell of this, yes."
"Would you like to join me for a beer? I'll even spring for dinner."
"Wow. Twice." She closed the fridge door. No cooking tonight it seemed.
"I know, right?"
"Sure. Where would you like to meet?"
"Or I could pick you up properly."
She paused at that, leaning back against the wall near the phone.
"It's probably just easier to meet you."
"No problem. A girl can't be too careful," he said.
"Do I need to be careful with you, Will?"
"Not in the least."
"I'd expect you to say that."
She laughed a little. They said a few more things and hung up. The game started at nine o'clock. She had time to change, fix her hair, and touch up her makeup.
She spotted him immediately as she entered the place. His hair was a little scraggily, she noticed again. Did Jack Crawford allow that in his unit? She hadn't really thought on it, but assumed everyone would be clean-cut, professional.
Will looked like, well, a professor.
He was polite anyway. He stood when she got to their table. She brushed off his attempt at pulling her chair out for her.
"Thanks," she said.
He didn't say anything at first. He was quiet as he studied her from his spot across the table from her.
"Hi," he said finally. She wondered what he saw, realizing somehow that it was probably too much. Had she done too much? Her hair and makeup were always minimal, but she'd added lipstick tonight. Did he know, despite this being the second time seeing her that the lipstick was unusual?
"Hi," she said with a smile.
She did let him order her beer for her. He seemed to want to, and she had to admit it was kind of nice. Politeness. Manners. Things the people at the orphanage tried to teach the guys, but some just couldn't be taught.
They both ate burgers and one beer turned into four then five as the game progressed. They didn't talk much.
He walked her to her car when the game was over and they finished their last beers.
"Thank you for coming."
"Thank you for inviting me."
"It certainly is an improvement over drinking alone."
She hadn't stopped to think on the fact that he'd been sitting at the bar alone the night they met. Did he do that often? And if so, why?
He reached, hesitating for a minute as if making sure she'd be okay with him touching her. She didn't flinch or pull away, so he must have realized she was okay with it.
He tucked a few strands of her hair behind her ear. She smiled a little as he did it, and then he touched her cheek.
Her breath caught a bit, realizing he was going to kiss her. Her back pressed against her car, she welcomed him as he kissed her. She slid her arms around his neck, noticing as she slid a fingertip along the nape of his neck that in addition to her heart beat increasing and her breath catching, her palms were also sweaty.
What was wrong with her? She had never reacted to a kiss like this before.
All thought left her mind when she moaned softly into the kiss and his tongue snuck in between her slightly parted lips. His tongue met hers and she responded in kind, exhilarated at the freedom she was giving into.
His body pressed firmly along hers, against her. This was far more intimate than making out on his couch the other night had been despite standing outside at the moment.
Her or him?
She wasn't sure, didn't care, and found it exciting.
Hands that hadn't strayed under clothes Saturday night reached under her blouse. A hand against her hip. Warm flesh to warm flesh.
Her palms weren't the only ones sweating.
Good to know.
She mirrored his movements, reaching under his sweater.
He flinched and hissed simultaneously, drawing away then.
He was breathing heavy, resting his forehead against hers as he swallowed hard as if calming himself.
"Thank you for looking nice," he murmured.
"You're welcome," she said. She should be insulted maybe that he was suggesting she would not look nice ordinarily. She knew he didn't mean it like that, though.
"I should let you get home. It's late and I'm sure you have classes tomorrow."
"Yeah, okay, I do," she said, confused. He was sending her home? She hadn't mentioned classes or needing to go. Had she done something wrong?
"Maybe a movie next weekend?"
"Sure," she said.
"I'll call in a few days then."
He kissed her again, but there was no attempt to deepen it or anything.
He took her keys, unlocked her door and opened it for her.
"Thanks," she said.
"Good night, Clarice."
She smiled a little.
"Good night, Will."
It wasn't that long of a drive home, but she spent all of that drive wondering why things had gone from smoldering (in her mind anyway) to ice cold in a matter of seconds.
"Men," she murmured.
She doubted highly she'd ever understand them, despite her Psychology degree.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com