"First impressions count for a lot," she told him with a faint smile. "You found me talking to your mother's grave, and you've been nothing but kind and warm with me. That says a lot about you, and all of it good. Not to mention you offered me lunch, you listened to everything I had to say and didn't once get angry or accuse me of lying, and you offered to bring me back here. I think I have a good handle on you now, sure."
"Like I said, I want to believe you. I usually have a pretty good gut instinct about people. Even if your story is a little hard to believe, I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Crazy as it sounds," he added with a chuckle, wondering what had gotten into him. "Are you sure you haven't bewitched me or something?" he teased, nudging her knee with one of his.
She laughed. "You're playing with fire, Mr. Connors," she warned him in amusement. "Careful, I might just kidnap you for myself."
"Not if I go willingly," he replied, that smirk on his bearded face again. On impulse, he reached for her hand to brush a kiss against her knuckles. "Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight, 'til it be morrow." Okay, so that line had belonged to Juliet. It still applied to the situation.
Nali couldn't have hidden her blush at the unexpectedly romantic gesture if she'd tried. Her eyes stayed locked on his, enjoying that smirk probably more than she should do. "Ah, screw it," she muttered. Her hand reached across, taking a firm hold on his collar, and she pulled him close, planting a kiss on his lips that was a long way from shy or tentative.
It was either lean in or let her rip his t-shirt. Besides, he'd been dying to kiss her all day, and now that she'd made the first move, who was he to disappoint her? Blue eyes the color of a summer sky danced with mirth, even as he returned her kiss, careful not to go too far, but leaving them both a little breathless.
Drawing back, Nali was definitely a little breathless, green eyes just a little unfocused for a moment as she looked at him. "Damn," she murmured, drawing her thumb over his lips before letting go of him. "Should have done that sooner."
"Definitely some sparks there," he murmured, taking his time leaning back. "If you don't come back tomorrow, I'm going to be very disappointed," he told her, with an expression that told her he wasn't teasing.
"I'll be here," she promised. "And if you're not, I'll track you down. We have a date, remember?" All right, so it wasn't much of a date, but she was going to hold onto it. "It's been good to meet you, Rick."
"Don't worry. I'll be here," he promised, not quite ready to say goodbye just yet. At least, not until they were both out of the car. "I assume you can't do this here," he said, regarding opening a portal, though he really had no idea. There were no phone booths around, anyway.
"Not in the car, no." She couldn't quite bring herself to say goodbye, despite knowing she'd be back tomorrow. "I guess that means I should get out."
He was tempted to ask her to stay the night, but he knew it was a selfish request. She needed to go back and see Jack, and she really didn't know him very well yet. Only one more day, and he'd know whether or not she was telling the truth, and he could go from there. Though if she really was from another time and place, it would give new meaning to "long-distance relationship".
"I'll see you tomorrow, Nali," he assured her. The ball was in her court now.
"Damn straight you will." She began to lean toward him again, but caught herself. More kisses would lead further than either of them could afford to go on a first meeting. With a regretful smile, she winked at him. "See you tomorrow, darlin'." Opening the door, she slid out and into the hot sunshine, wincing as she set her hat back on her head.
He got out of the car, as well, not wanting to say goodbye, but curious what this so-called portal looked like. He looked around to make sure no one was watching, relieved to find them alone. It was really too hot to spend much time out in the sun, but that fact worked in their favor.
"Nali!" he called, reaching for her arm to draw her back around to face him, if only for a moment.
She'd barely gone a couple of steps before she felt his hand on her arm, turning back in answer to his call. "Yes?" The word felt eager and hopeful on her lips, warmth that was definitely more than friendly shining from her eyes as she looked up at him.
There was something she wasn't telling him, he was sure of it, but what it was, he didn't know. He was tempted to kiss her again. That was one way to ensure she wouldn't forget him, but he decided against it. Lifting a hand to touch her cheek instead, he smiled warmly, invitingly even, despite his doubts and misgivings. "Don't be late."
Her smile widened as he touched her cheek. "I'm never late," she assured him, catching his hand to press a kiss to his palm. "You can give that back tomorrow."
With another wink, she stepped back, checking the area for watchful eyes before pulling a smooth white crystal from her pocket. She drew her thumb over it, murmured something under her breath, and the air in front of her changed ever so slightly. There seemed to be a ripple there, some subtle alteration of the fabric of time and space, just waiting for her.
He found himself strangely reluctant to let her go, but he knew he had no choice. What was it people said about letting someone go, and if they returned, they belonged to you? He knew he was being silly, but he found himself hoping she was telling the truth. And then, something happened that he couldn't explain. Whether it was some kind of trick or the real thing, he wasn't sure, but he found himself frozen in place, watching as the air around her seemed to ripple, like a wave on the ocean.
She glanced back over her shoulder just once, offering him a reassuring smile. "I'll be back," she promised, and stepped forward. The rippling air seemed to fold around her, and for a moment, he caught a glimpse of a sunny beach, waves rolling over the sand, before the folding seemed to finish, and Nali was gone.
"Nali!" he called, moving toward her, unfrozen at last, but too late to catch her or to follow her through to wherever it was she was going. He'd caught a glimpse of it, wherever it was, surprised to find what appeared to be a sunny beach, waves rolling over the sand. He wasn't sure what he'd been expecting exactly, but that wasn't it. Either she had been telling the truth or she was a better magician than Houdini.
Either way, she was gone, and he couldn't exactly accuse her of having somehow orchestrated a prank that elaborate. He was just going to have to come back tomorrow.