Author Topic: A Midnight Snack  (Read 120 times)

Derek Reese

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A Midnight Snack
« on: November 29, 2020, 10:30:53 AM »
A couple of hours after their first date had abruptly ended, there was a blurb on the late night news about the incident, stating that someone known as "The Shadow" had broken into Logicorp Headquarters and threatened the CEO. Logicorp, the audience was reminded, was being investigated for so-called "illegal practices", but nothing more was known at this time. If anyone had any information about the presumed vigilante, they were urged to contact the authorities.

Holli kept an eye on the news when she got home, making sure nothing incriminating was being broadcast unintentionally by well-meaning but ignorant reporters. She still had to go through the information she had picked up at Logicorp, but she would do that in her super secret bunker - essentially just a basement she had rented on the other side of the city. It was better to keep the dangerous stuff away from home.

It was after midnight when there came a knock at her door, a faint rap of knuckles so as not to wake the neighbors. The knock wasn't accompanied by any shouts or anyone claiming to be the police, but it was a little late for a social call.

Holli's head snapped up, a curious frown on her face as she moved across the living room toward her door. Cautiously, she peered through the spy hole, though she knew she wouldn't see anything if someone was there with malicious intent.

There he was - standing outside her door with a paper bag in one hand and a six-pack in the other. He knew he probably shouldn't be here, but something had drawn him here and it wasn't just a desire for company.

Despite herself, despite the surprise, she smiled, shaking her head almost in disbelief even as she undid the locks and opened the door. What he was presented with was a much more relaxed version of the woman he'd met twice that day - blonde hair down, wearing Christmas pajamas out of season, bare foot, and smiling. "Aren't you supposed to call ahead of arriving for the booty call?"

"Is that what I'm here for?" he asked, a grin on his face. He held up the bag and the six-pack. "I came bearing gifts," he told her, though he did not step inside and wouldn't unless and until she invited him.

Chuckling, she stepped back, jerking her head to invite him inside. "C'mon in. You look exhausted." And edible, she added to herself, but held that one off her tongue. She still wasn't entirely sure he would be comfortable with her playfully objectifying him just yet.

"Exhausted and hungry. I hope you don't mind. I brought take out," he said, though that much was obvious. It smelled like Chinese, though there weren't many Chinese restaurants open this late.

"Come in, take a load off," she told him, gesturing for him to make himself comfortable. Her apartment wasn't huge, but it was big enough that she had a separated living room, kitchen, and bedroom, and her couch took up most of the living room space. Clearly she was a woman who liked comfort.

"Thanks," he said, as he stepped inside and paused just inside the door. "Do you want me to take my shoes off?" he asked, polite enough to ask and willing to abide by her wishes. It was her home, after all.

"Whatever makes you comfortable," she told him. "No shoes on the couch or the bed, though. If that happens, I will have to spank you with a frying pan."

He winced. "Ouch, that sounds painful. I didn't realize you were into that sort of thing," he said, as he toed his shoes off and left them by the front door.

She laughed. "Well, it wouldn't be a punishment if it was going to make you get off, would it?" She took the six-pack from him so he'd have a hand free to take off whatever he wanted to take off easily.

"Thanks," he murmured, handing her the paper bag, as well, so that he could shrug off his jacket. "You like Chinese?" he asked, as he looked around for someplace to put his jacket.

There was a short row of hooks against the wall beside the door where she clearly hung her own jacket and coat, with room to spare for his. "Who doesn't like Chinese?" was her reply. "You still haven't eaten?"

"Duty calls," he replied, tossing his jacket over a hook. "I know it's late," he added with a small frown. "Like I said before ... insomniac." Maybe he had other reasons for being here, but if she hadn't answered the door, they wouldn't be having this conversation.

She held his gaze for a long moment, charmed by the almost guilty hesitation he expressed without actually apologising for his presence. A slow smile curved at her lips. "It's fine," she assured him. "Weekend starts tomorrow - you can keep me up all night if you need to. Now sit your butt down and eat something, you ridiculous man."

"Yes, ma'am," he told her obediently, gesturing in the general direction of the kitchen. "Kitchen?" he asked, unsure if she wanted to take a chance on his eating Chinese from her couch.

"Sure." She waved him in that direction with a smile, following along to flick on the light and reveal a square kitchen with a small but sturdy oak-wood table set beneath the window and padded chairs. "Are you a barbarian who eats Chinese with a knife and fork?"

"When in Rome," he said in answer to her question, a smirk on his face. He set the six-pack on the table and claimed a seat. "A little early for Christmas, isn't it?" he asked as he tugged two bottles of beer from the case. Yes, he'd noticed the silly holiday pajamas she was wearing.

She laughed, leaning over to tweak a couple of sets of chopsticks out of a drawer. "What, you actually have PJs you wear only at Christmas time?" she asked impishly. "I like these, they're comfy."

He smirked further at her reply to his question. "So, that makes it okay to wear them in July?" he asked, as he cracked open a beer and handed it over.

"Yup." She grinned, swapping him chopsticks for the beer. "Thanks." Taking a slow sip, she thumped down into a seat herself. "You don't need to stand on ceremony. Eat."

"Or you could get comfy pajamas you can wear all year round," he pointed out, though it hardly mattered. She sure did look adorable in them though - and a little more fit than he'd expected her to be. He took a seat and reached into the bag, pulling out a couple of cartons of food, as well as the obligatory fortune cookies. "Did I wake you?"

Derek Reese

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Re: A Midnight Snack
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2020, 10:31:08 AM »
"Does my non-seasonal attire offend you, Mr. Reese?" she teased, drawing one foot up onto the chair to hug her knee comfortably. "I was up, don't worry about it. I just wasn't going to spend the evening in heels and make up if I didn't have someone to show off for. You're getting a look behind the curtain."

"Hardly. In fact, I might even go so far as to call it cute," he said. With obviously practiced skill, he took up a bit of spicy chicken from one box and some Lo Mein noodles from the other and brought them to his mouth. "Mmm," he murmured as he chewed and swallowed. "Not the same as steak, but not bad either."

"The steak was good," she told him in amusement. "The wait staff thought you'd just up and abandoned the date, so they were very nice to me, too." She grinned.

"I'll make it up to you," he promised, without going so far as to say so. "You want some?" he asked, offering her a box, even as his stomach grumbled loudly, reminding him to eat.

"There's no fun in stealing your food if you're just going to offer it to me," Holli informed him cheerfully. "Seriously, if you don't eat until you're full, I'm going to force feed you. It's been hours, Derek."

He wasn't going to argue with that, though how many hours, he wasn't about to say. "I'm a busy guy," he said with a shrug. "So, what did you do with the other steak?" he asked, just making conversation.

: "Got it boxed up and gave it to the guy who lives on the Liberty Park bench," she told him. "I didn't see the point in letting it go to waste."

He arched a brow at her response, before digging back into his dinner. "Good idea," he said. "Even better if we could get him off the street," he added. Winter was coming, after all, the homeless in Horizon City were becoming a problem no one seemed very interested in solving.

"Tell that to the 1% and see if any of them lift a finger," she said, and there was a definite darkness in her tone and expression for a moment before she forcibly adjusted her mood. "We do what we can, right?"

"I did a story on it last year. Things got better for a little while, and then it was back to same old, same old," he said, before taking a swig of his beer, not just to wash his dinner down.

"Well, the watchword is to look like you're doing something, not actually to do it," she said, careful to keep her tone mild. "There was a company, a few years back, who tried to break the mold. They didn't last long when they started getting results."

"We can do better. We should do better," Derek murmured, mostly to himself. It was nice to find someone who was like-minded though.

"One day, they'll get what's coming to them, and decent people will take over," Holli said, and then sighed. "It's a nice dream, anyway."

"Maybe," he said, leaving it at that. He didn't sound too optimistic, but he knew something she didn't. "So, what did you say you do for a living? Personal assistant or something?"

"Executive assistant to the board of directors at Brook Industries," she said with a sigh. "I'm practically implicit with everything they're doing, I know, but jobs are hard to come by these days."

"We all gotta pay the bills somehow," he said. "Besides, you just work for them. You don't make the decisions." Everyone had to work for someone - unless you were one of those one percenters.

"If I was in a position to make those kinds of decisions, I'd be on a hit list," she said with a wry chuckle. "Is that what you're working on right now? City corruption?"

"I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you," he told her, with that smirk on his face again that made it hard to tell if he was kidding or not. "Besides, I think killing should always be a last resort. You get blood on your hands and you're no better than they are."

"I agree." She nodded. "Besides, justice should be seen to be done. You can't keep people's faith in the system if the system is failing them all the time."

"Or if the system is broken," he added, which he thought was a more accurate statement. The system only failed because it was broken. The real question was how to fix it.

"Can't fix the system if the money that flows into it is buying silence and freedom," she said, shrugging. "I don't know. Maybe these are things that cleverer people than me should be dealing with."

"Change starts with just one person, Holli," he told her. "Kind of like this vigilante on the news," he added. "There are people who will say it's wrong to do what she's doing, but that depends on your point of view. Breaking the law isn't something one should take lightly, and yet, during a time of war, all kinds of rules are broken. And isn't that what this is? A kind of war?"

"I guess it is." She tilted her head, seeming curious as she met his gaze. "The vigilante's a woman? I haven't seen that on the news. Should you have let that slip?"

He shrugged. "It's just a feeling," he told her. "Nothing official." He dared not say more about it than that. He had his reasons for believing the vigilante was a woman, but he also knew there was more than one vigilante.

"See, now you have me intrigued," she said, leaning forward onto the table with a teasing smile. "What makes you think it's a woman? Most people don't think women are capable of that kind of covert, hands-on stuff."

He chuckled. "Are you kidding? Women have always made the best spies. Ever hear of Mata Hari? In some ways, women are even better at covert ops than men are. Women inherently know how to keep secrets. It's in their DNA. As for combat?" He shrugged. "Anyone can be taught how to fight."

She laughed, easing back again. "You know there's no actual proof that Mata Hari was ever actually a spy?" she said. "There's agreements that she would spy for money, but no evidence that she ever did anything. Besides, she got famous for it. That is not a good spy."

"Semantics," he said, with a wave of one hand before he went back to his dinner. "Are you going to argue that women are not suitable for spying?"

Derek Reese

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Re: A Midnight Snack
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2020, 10:31:28 AM »
"Nah, I'm just nudging your balls," she chuckled, sipping her beer. "So I guess this answers some of my question from earlier, though. You eat Chinese to forget about work. Good to know."

"I eat Chinese because it tastes good!" he countered with a chuckle. "Even though it's not very good for you. Everyone has their vices, I guess," he said with a shrug.

"A little of what you fancy does you good, as my father used to say," she agreed warmly. Despite the smile, though, her concern was clear as she next spoke. "So why did you need company tonight? Is something bothering you?"

He furrowed his brows at her question. There were so many different way to answer it. "Maybe I just wasn't ready for our date to end yet," he confessed, which was at least partially true.

She smiled, letting him have that one. "Well, I'm flattered," she assured him, reaching over to steal a dumpling from his carton. "Even if you are terrible at looking after yourself. I feel like I need to put alarms on my phone to text you reminders to eat lunch and dinner."

He chuckled again. "It's been a long time since anyone looked after me," he admitted, almost immediately wishing he hadn't. His past was no big secret. If she did her research, she could figure it out for herself, but he wasn't one to talk about it very often, if ever.

"You and me both." She shook her head, her smile just a little sad but not forced. "Adulting sucks when you're on your own. But hey, you are now in my bubble, and I may never let you leave, so get comfortable, my dude."

"We all have to grow up sometime, Holli," he agreed. No one could stay a child forever. He chuckled at something else she said. "Your dude?" he echoed, looking amused. "Be careful or I might take you up on that."

"Honey, we met this morning, you're in my house past midnight, and I'm not wearing a bra," she pointed out teasingly. "You already took me up on it, you're stuck now."

"You're not wearing much of anything," he pointed out, with a quick and appreciative glance at her attire.

"Ever think you might be overdressed for the company you're keeping?" she countered laughingly, taking another sip of her beer. "Hey, are you working tomorrow? Or are you always on call, kind of thing?"

He chuckled again. "Would you feel better if I stripped down to my underwear?" Once again, it was unclear if he was just kidding. "I have a flexible schedule," he added, answering her question.

"Fair enough. I guess sometimes I'm lucky to have a nine-to-five, even if it's sometimes a nine-to-eight." She chuckled once again, the sound warm and easy in the little kitchen.

He noticed how she ignored his question, but said nothing about it. Instead, he set the mostly empty box of takeout on the table and gestured toward the fortune cookies. "Pick one."

Her personal opinion on his being overdressed might have been a little much, so she had just side-stepped the idea. Grinning, she dropped her foot to the floor, leaning forward to select a fortune cookie. "And you get the one I picked?"

"If that's how you want to do this, sure," he said. Was he always this easy-going? Then again, it was just a fortune cookie.

"Makes it more random," she laughed, handing him the one she had chosen before picking up the other to break it open, carefully drawing the little paper from within. Her lips curved into a wry smile as she read it aloud. "The greatest risk is not taking one."

"Hmm, wise," he murmured regarding her fortune before breaking open the cookie she'd chosen for him. He paused a moment to read before sharing what it said. "Nothing in the world is accomplished without passion."

"The cookies have spoken," Holli intoned. "Let's have sex." She winked at him, cackling at her own joke as she bit into her cookie.

He blinked, as her suggestion took him a little by surprise. Then again, she was a tempting sight, sitting there in her pajamas, but he wasn't the type of guy who would take advantage of a woman. "I'll pretend I didn't hear that," he said, trying to exorcise the thought from his head.

She laughed. "I wouldn't joke about it if I didn't feel safe around you," she assured him. "Definitely wouldn't joke about it if I wasn't already planning to seduce you."

He smiled, though he was feeling a little conflicted. Or maybe she was just confusing him. "I can't tell if you're joking or serious," he admitted.

She considered him for a long moment. Then, in one smooth motion, she leaned forward, curling her hand to the back of his head and pulling him toward her, lips covering his in a kiss that both answered his question and somehow left it up to him. It was soft and inviting, eager without demanding, and it ended far too soon as she drew back to her own seat once again. "Does that help?"

He didn't bother to resist because why would he want to? She was a beautiful woman who clearly wanted him. No man in his right mind would resist that, but was the spark he was feeling between them real or was he just imagining it? "What happens in the morning?" he asked, staying right where he was, close enough to kiss her again, if he wanted to.

"That sounds like a plan," she agreed. She wasn't going to push it; everyone had boundaries, after all. She was just making her interest clear, that was all.

"No, Holli ..." He said, as she seemed to misunderstand him. "I mean, if we sleep together tonight, what happens in the morning?" Will they regret it? Will she regret it?

"Oh." She laughed at her own misunderstanding. "Sorry, I totally fudged that. I, uh ... I'm not a one-night stand kind of person. The invitation is there, if you want it, but if you take it, I'm gonna want to explore where it goes. Full disclosure."

"Holli, I wouldn't have asked you to dinner if I didn't feel an attraction. It wasn't just about spilling your coffee," he assured her. He paused a moment as he seemed to consider something. "Do you believe in fate?"

"I don't know," she said thoughtfully. "But I do believe some people are meant to meet. I think what they do with it from there is up to them."

Derek Reese

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Re: A Midnight Snack
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2020, 10:31:43 AM »
"So, what you're really asking me isn't to go to bed with you, but to have a relationship with you," he said. As tempting as it was to accept her offer, they both needed to know that once they crossed a certain line, there was no going back, for better or worse. And yet, her fortune cookie was right - Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Everything in life was a risk; it was what you did with those risks that was important.

"It doesn't have to be a deep one," she admitted reluctantly. "Could stay light, just a bit of fun. Unless we both want it to go deeper, maybe."

"Are you trying to talk yourself out of it?" he asked, reaching for her hand. That's what it seemed like anyway. Or was she trying to talk him out of it? "I don't let many people get close to me, Holli. But this ..." he said, gesturing between them. "This feels right. And it's not just the beer talking."

"You didn't seem confident, or sure," she said. "The last thing I would ever want to do would be to pressure you into something you're not comfortable with. I'm just ... laying it out there." Her hand turned beneath his, stroking her fingertips over his palm lightly. "I wasn't joking when I said I feel safe with you. That's no small thing."

"I'll take that as a compliment," he said, smiling. It wasn't every day a pretty woman told him these things, and it made him glad to know she felt safe with him. It was important to him that she did, and he didn't want to do anything that made her feel otherwise. They'd already had their first kiss, but only because she'd beaten him to it. "You said you're off work tomorrow?" he asked, as if to confirm it.

She nodded. "Office hours," she said. "I generally have weekends every week. Haven't been called in for an emergency in a few months, either." Her gaze flickered to his curiously. "Do you need a toothbrush?"

He chuckled. That wasn't quite what he'd been getting at. "I like you, Holli, and it's because I like you that I'm gonna ask for a rain check." He hated himself for saying it, but he was trying to think with his big head. He wanted this to go farther than a one-night stand, and that meant getting to know each other a little.

Despite a brief twinge of disappointment, she smiled back at him cheerfully. "I get it," she assured him. "I mean ... I really don't just throw myself at a guy I like on the day I meet him. I must be a bit unsettled tonight myself."

"It's tempting, believe me," he told her, giving her hand a soft squeeze. Why had he even come here at this time of night anyway? Hadn't he been hoping to go to end up in bed with her? What the hell was the matter with him anyway? "I have to go into the office for a few hours tomorrow, but I'm free after that, if you want to try again?"

Holli didn't need to think it over. "Yeah, I would," she agreed. "No overdressing this time, though. Or underdressing," she added, glancing down at her pajamas with a grin.

He chuckled. "How do you feel about pizza and bowling?" He asked. A date like that wasn't too formal, but was it too casual?

"Wow, I haven't been bowling in years," she admitted, chuckling along with him. "That sounds amazing to me. And you're almost guaranteed to win, if you've done it in the last decade."

"Neither have I, but you said no overdressing, so wining and dining are out. Unless there's something else you'd like to do?" he asked, open to suggestions.

A strangely nostalgic smile crossed her face as she thought about this. "I've got something," she said. "But I think I'll save it for date three."

"Oh?" he asked, brows arching upwards in curiosity. "I won't ask," he added with a grin. So, she was assuming there would be a date three. That was a good sign.

"I just always had this rule, you know? Date three is when you know if it's going to go somewhere, so make it memorable." It didn't seem as though the memorable she was referring to was an extreme sport or anything like that, though. She straightened her shoulders. "Do you want to stay over tonight? No funny business, just company."

He smiled at her invitation, but wasn't sure it was a wise to tempt fate. Then again, they were both consenting adults. "I didn't bring my toothbrush," he pointed out.

"That's not an answer," she pointed out in return, her smile warm but without any demand in her expression or tone. It was an offer made in good faith, in the certainty that if he accepted, that would also be done in good faith.

"I should really go," he said, his smile fading a little. "The sooner I get to the office, the sooner I get off work," he explained, though really, his was not the kind of job that had regular hours.

"All right." She conceded the point with her smile still intact, touched by his insistence on being a gentleman, if only for tonight. "Need me to call you a cab?"

"It's okay," he assured her. "I drove. I'm parked outside." So, it seemed he had a car at least, though most people did. Or some form of transportation.

"Had to ask," she said with a smile. "You did bring beer with you, after all." Not that he had drunk anywhere near enough to prevent him to driving, though.

"I only had one," he reminded her - hardly enough to impair his driving. He felt a little conflicted about leaving, tempted to stay, but knowing it would probably be better if he didn't.

"Not going to sleep hungry, either," she added. "Don't forget to eat breakfast, or I'll buy you a breakfast burrito the second we meet up tomorrow."

"Yes, ma'am," he replied with a smirk. "I really should get going," he said, as he reluctantly got to his feet. "I'll call you tomorrow when I'm done with work."

She rose with him, tucking her hair behind her ear. "I'll be waiting," she promised, though she would likely be working on getting into that encrypted information she'd collected today until he called.

He leaned close and tilted her chin up to meet his lips as he pressed a second kiss against her lips, this one of his own volition, his lips tasting vaguely of beer and spicy chicken.

Derek Reese

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Re: A Midnight Snack
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2020, 10:31:59 AM »
She didn't resist, but, oh, it was hard not to press closer and deepen that kiss. She forced herself not to, knowing herself well enough to know where that would go, but it didn't stop her hands from rising to smooth over his shoulder and into his hair.

He drew his arms around her waist, careful of her injured ribs and careful not to throw caution to the wind. It wasn't that he wasn't attracted to her or didn't want her; it was just that he wanted something more than a one-night stand. She deserved more than that from him. "I'll call you tomorrow," he reminded her, as he reluctantly drew away from her lips, his forehead coming to rest against hers. He needed to leave before he changed his mind.

As he drew her in, resting his brow to hers, her hands slid down to rest against his chest, breathing the unique scent that clung to him as she sighed softly. "You're really bad for my good intentions right now," she agreed, her tone playful but serious.

"I'll take that as a compliment, too," he replied, an amused smile on his face. "For what it's worth, the feeling is mutual," he said, touching a third kiss to her lips, this one brief, but soft and tender. "I should go."

"Not helping," she murmured against his lips, her own curving in a smile. She patted his chest, making a colossal effort to step back, out of his arms. "Go, before I decide to lock the door and snuggle you all night."

"That is a tempting offer," he said, that amused smile on his face again as she stepped out of his arms. "But the best things in life are worth waiting for, right?"

"So I hear. I'm impatient as all hell, though." To keep her hands to herself, she wrapped her arms about her own waist, hoping that her bruised ribs would be less painful the next day. "Looking forward to tomorrow."

"So am I," he said, before starting toward the door to collect his jacket and shoes. As nice as this was, there were things he needed to get done, and he couldn't lose his focus, even for someone as lovely as her.

She watched him, following to the door on bare feet. "Sure you're good to get home?" she asked, just making sure. Just in case.

"Do you want me to call you when I get there?" he asked, as he stepped back into his shoes and threw his jacket over his shoulders.

She laughed softly. "I trust you. I won't make you check in at least until you've seen me naked twice."

"Well, I've seen you half-naked anyway," he said, looking her over again and resisting the urge to indulge himself any further.

Holli snorted with laughter. "This is not half-naked," she informed him, prodding his arm teasingly. "You'll know half-naked when you see it."

He chuckled at her reply. "I can't wait." He lingered a moment longer, struggling with the desire to stay. "I'll call you tomorrow. Promise," he said, turning to the door at last to let himself out.

"I'm looking forward to it." She followed him right to the door, waiting until he stepped out before touching her hand to his arm. "One more for the road?"

He paused at the door, smiling as she touched his arm. "It would be my pleasure," he said, turning to fulfill her request. This time he let the kiss linger a little longer, a little deeper, and yet still as sweet and tender as before. "Get some rest, Holli," he told her as he pulled away. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Mmm ..." She smiled as she leaned against the doorway, drawing her lower lip through her teeth in a way she was probably innocent of. "Sweet dreams, Derek."

"Sweet dreams, Holli," he replied, touching his fingers to her cheek in a final caress before making his way from her door and the building with a smile on his face and hope in his heart.

Who'd have thought a careless collision would open up the opportunity for more? Funny, how the winds of fate occasionally worked their magic. Now they just had to hope that Fate and Destiny had already worked out their differences, or the road ahead was going to be filled with obstacles.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2020, 10:36:06 AM by Derek Reese »