They were driving in his truck when she slapped her palm to her forehead. "I can't believe I forgot. Can you stop at that drug store up the street?" "Sure." Ben pulled into the parking lot and turned off the engine. As she was getting out, she banged her foot against the door. "Owwwwwww." "Hilary, you okay?" He scooted over to take a look. Poor thing, but she held up a brave front. "Yeah." "I'll go in for you. Just tell me what you need." She looked at up him with gratitude in those soft green eyes. "Protection." His hand clutched the door. Damn. The bed worked better than he thought. "Uh, Hill. I don't mean to be too assuming here, but I have some. You don't need to worry about it." She looked at him, eyes wide. "Feminine protection?" she drawled, the hint of Atlanta in her voice. Ben felt a deep flush heating his face. "Uh, no, not that. How's your foot?" "Stings a little," she said, her brows coming together. "Do you mind?" "Mind?" "Getting some for me." "No, no, not at all." God, give me strength. "But I don't know much about brands and stuff." "Blue package. Wings. Extra absorbent." She smiled at him. "You'll do fine." ***** It took him thirty minutes and he finally got up the courage to ask the clerk, a sixteen year old with 'Freddie' sewn onto his blue jacket. If the kid had snickered, he would have socked him. Age difference, size, didn't matter. The fact of it was, Ben was enduring the ultimate humiliation, and this childling bearing witness was beyond fair. But the kid was smart, his mouth only quirked up at the corners once, and Ben squinted at him, Clint Eastwood style. The kid got the message. Smart kid. When Ben got back to the truck, he laid the bag at Hilary's feet. "How's your foot?" "Like new. Just needed for that stinging to stop." "Yeah. Right." Ben put the truck in gear and they drove off to watch Hugh Jackman on the big screen. Joy.
She took his hand, led him towards a stone bench that was nestled in a quiet corner, and gestured for him to sit. She followed, adjusting her skirts. “Well, for example, suppose you wanted to ask me for something. Perhaps a kiss.”
“A kiss?” His brows arched charmingly.
“Yes. Now, some men would quote pithy platitudes, fawning over a woman’s eyes or lips. But, you, the man of action, you would do no such thing.”
He smiled. “I wouldn’t?”
“Oh, no.” She waved her hand airily. “Much too commonplace, much too ordinary.”
“I’m intrigued. What would I do?”
She took his hands and settled them around her waist. “You’d move, like so, and stare, serious and brooding, studying me with those dark, velvet eyes of yours.”
“Oh, yes, much more effective than poetry.”
“Do you think so?”
He pondered that for a moment. “And then?”
“Well, you’d lean in,” she moved forward and tugged on his jacket, “closer, and lower your head.” She wrapped her arms around his neck.
His lips moved to within a whisper of her own, warming her with his breath. “Like this?”
“Yes, yes, I’d move my head to one side, pretending to be shocked by your impertinent behavior.” His mouth slid down the side of her neck, as he pressed warm kisses against her skin. “But of course, astute man that you are, you would see through such an obvious ploy.”
He continued his pleasurable diversion and she found herself completely diverted.
“And?” He reminded her, his lips teasing the hammering pulse that beat in her throat.
“Yes, finally, you would move even closer, yes, exactly like that, and then…”
He raised his head and stared into her eyes, all teasing gone. “How am I supposed to walk away from you?”
She didn’t understand at all and tonight she had no patience for his cautious nature. “Why do you even try?”
He didn’t answer, instead covered her mouth with his own.
Dear heavens, he was definitely a man of action.
“I suppose you would like to hear a story?”
The boy remained silent, no screaming, no kicking, so Colin proceeded to tell him about the dragons. He had begun telling the stories several weeks ago, and they seemed to calm the child.
“There are many differences between the eastern dragons and the western dragons. Eastern dragons use magic rather than wings to fly, while the traditional western dragon is stronger and more muscular and has a tremendous set of wings that enable it to achieve flight, similar to a bird.”
“In order to kill a dragon, you must aim for the soft set of plates that cover its heart. It is here that a dragon is most vulnerable, very similar to the physiology of man. You must be careful, and this is the part where extensive skill is required, for a dragon can freeze you with its very stare. St. George and some of the other more famous dragonslayers used their shields to protect themselves from the eye of the dragon. However, an ancient legend says that if a man is quick on his feet, he may meet the gaze of the dragon, and through the strength of his will, reverse the affects of the stare, thereby weakening the creature enough to render it harmless.”
“Pardon me sir, but I believe Master Ethan is asleep now.” Giles’ voice came from the hallway and Colin turned to see the rotund butler standing in the doorway .
Colin glanced down at the still features of the lad and smiled with satisfaction. “Yes, it works every time.”
“Perhaps your might impart some drama into your stories?”
“You’re just upset because I do such a better job at the telling than you ever did.”“Excellent deduction, sir. England should be proud to have you on her side.”
Pat swam up to the glass and watched with approval as the couple groped and stumbled their way into the other room. What nice humans they were.
The sound of muffled laughter came from the kitchen.
“Hey! Wait a minute. This was intended for uncensored decorative purposes, not a food fight.”
“Oops. My trigger finger must have slipped. This sweater is going to have to go.” The Mike-man didn’t sound very sorry.
“Oh my. Look at that, will you? What a mess. Here, let me help you clean it up.”
Pat dove for some nibbles of food and then poked at the undersea diver. He was no fun. There must be some way to speak with Carol. Another fish would liven things up immensely.
“Carol? Carol! What the -- Oh, yeah…”
The Carol-lady must be giving the Mike-man some fish delight. The kitchen became quiet, other than an occasional shuffling sound. Pat swam some more, and surveyed the Carol-lady’s space. The habitat was too small for two humans to share.
“Would you look at all that gunk?” The Carol-lady finally spoke. “I really need to sweep under the fridge. Maybe tomorrow we could — oh, my. Can you do that again?”
Long moments of silence followed. Maybe the Mike-man had fish. He didn’t seem to be the type, though. Probably he had dogs if anything. Noisy creatures, but harmless. Hearing the low murmuring voices from the other room, Pat’s gills perked up.
“Do you know how much I love you?” The Mike-man spoke with such intensity, Pat’s normally cool body temperature began to spike.
Pat picked through the last bits of food before an appalling thought occurred.
What if he had cats?