No Second Guesses, No Regrets
Calm Before the Storm
Tasha caught up with Steve on Monday, prodding him for information about his date with Taryn. "We had a nice date on Friday and she made lunch on Saturday."
Natasha raised her brow. "Seriously? What is wrong with the girls I suggested?"
"What is wrong with Taryn? Do you know something about her that I don't?"
Tasha sighed. "No, I'm just a bit leery of those who can manipulate minds… thoughts… How do you know she isn't playing you?"
"What, you don't think she could be genuinely interested in me? She's not manipulating me, Tasha. That isn't one of her abilities."
Natasha sighed, knowing she wasn't going to change his mind. "Just be careful, please? When are you going out with her again?"
"I will. Saturday. We're going to the movies. Why, do you want to spy on us?"
She playfully hit his arm. "No. Just be careful."
Steve had run into town Saturday morning to pick up a few things for his date with Taryn. He found himself more and more attracted to Taryn. She was smart, funny and spontaneous. She was very good at her job and wasn't just another pretty face. Although that was very pretty… And her eyes… the look he saw in them moments before he kissed her. Emerald green that deepened or lightened depending upon her mood. He surprised himself in really noticing that detail. She was special and he wanted to get to know her better. And they hadn't really had a chance to talk about the kiss… He supposed it was no big deal, and didn't want to think on it too much. Thinking on it just made him want to kiss her again…
His last stop was the theater for the tickets and he then headed back to the facility to get ready.
Taryn dried her hair and curled it to tame it. It must be humid today, she thought. She picked out a pair of wide leg navy pants, white sleeveless blouse and a light little navy cardigan. She grabbed her white espadrilles and checked her makeup one last time in the mirror. She unintentionally looked like she was out of the 40s.
She grabbed her small red, cross body purse and stuffed what she needed in there and went out into the living room to wait for him. It wasn't long before she sensed him walking down the hall. Taryn rose and put on her purse and waved the door open.
"I am trying not to be surprised by that."
Taryn laughed. "Sorry, habit. I'll wait until you knock next time."
Steve chuckled and produced a bouquet of carnations, daisies and other wild flowers.
"Aw, Steve, they're beautiful. Come on in for a minute and let me put these in something."
He stepped in and looked around at her quarters. She had it decorated with photos and there were even a few paintings up on the walls. Quite homey for the compound, actually…
Taryn found a vase tucked in a cabinet and placed the flowers in there, filling it with water. She placed it in a prominent place on the kitchen countertop. She reached out and touched his arm and kissed his cheek. "That was really thoughtful of you. I haven't gotten flowers from someone in a long time."
Steve smiled and blushed at her lips touching his cheek. Note to self, he thought. Send her more flowers. He cleared his throat. "Shall we go? You look very nice by the way. Like you stepped out of one of those movies."
"Thank you. I've always loved the style of that era… It was unintentional, but I think it works."
They drove to the theater chatting about old movies and when he parked the car, he got out and opened the door for her. "I already purchased the tickets, so we can go right in."
Taryn felt like a school girl. She hadn't been to the movies on a date in years, and she had to force herself not to giddily laugh. "Popcorn?" she asked.
Taryn ordered a large popcorn and large drink to split, then batted his hand away when he tried to pay. She laughed at his glare. "Hey, it's the 21st century. You bought me flowers, I'm buying you popcorn."
He looked slightly dejected and she suddenly felt bad. She wasn't used to the guy wanting to pay for absolutely everything. They found a seat in the back and she turned to him, placing her hand on his arm.
"Steve, I'm sorry."
He looked at her quizzically. "For?"
"For insisting on paying. I'm not used to a guy wanting to pay for everything. Sometimes I don't remember that you're from a different era. You have so much more class than any guy I've dated and I didn't mean to insult you."
He blinked at her for a moment. "Well, I'm sorry that you haven't been treated properly in the past," he said genuinely.
She placed a hand on his. "I just want you to know that I like you for you. Not your money, or what you are. You can pay for everything, or you can let me pay. I don't care. I just like spending time with you."
He grinned his lopsided grin. "And I like spending time with you. I… I like you, and I want to get to know you better…"
"Despite what Natasha thinks?" she laughed.
"Despite what she thinks."
The first movie, Bringing Up Baby started and the house dimmed the lights. Steve not so subtly put his arm around her shoulders and Taryn smiled to herself and snuggled in next to him. After an intermission and stretching, they sat and watched The Philadelphia Story. Steve settled in with his arm around her again and she pressed closer to him and it made him feel confident. He really had high hopes for this relationship. He didn't have a lot of experience with relationships, but if she was willing to invest the time, so was he.
Taryn was smiling brightly as the movie ended and the lights came up. "That was the best idea for a date."
Steve grinned and took her hand as they left the theater. He was so happy that she enjoyed the movies, even though she had already seen them. For a brief moment he had been back in time, recalling the first time he had seen them… only he had been alone. He noticed that it was only six and he didn't want the date to end so early. They got in the car and he turned to her. "Do you want to get some dinner while we're out?"
"I'd love to."
"Hungry for anything in particular?"
Oh you have no idea, she thought wickedly. "Well there is the Italian place we ate at last week… there is a diner down the road… the pub…"
He had been to the pub a few times with the guys, but they had good food… "The pub then?"
She nodded, and he drove down and parked the car. They were a bit surprised about the wait, so they sat outside on the bench with the pager. "It was really great seeing those movies on the big screen," said Taryn smiling up at Steve.
He returned the smile, gazing into her eyes. "I'm glad you accepted."
"Me too." She felt giddy. She wanted him to kiss her. The kiss in the gym last week only added fuel to the fire, but she didn't want to embarrass him in public. She didn't want to scare him away, not now.
Steve sat beside her on the bench. It was a nice evening and he draped his arm across her shoulders. He liked it when she moved closer to him and settled against his chest. He enjoyed the feeling of her against him. His thoughts began to drift into ungentlemanly territory and he reeled his mind in, feeling his face flush. Just then, the pager buzzed and saved him from further embarrassment.
The two were seated and the place was packed. Steve was a bit disappointed as he knew they wouldn't be able to carry on much of a conversation.
Taryn looked around and could hardly hear herself think. She knew he wasn't enjoying it much either. She got up and sat in the booth next to him. "I have an idea," she said very close to his ear.
He turned, her face just inches from hers. "What's that?"
"Why don't we get the food to go, head back to my quarters and watch some TV or play a video game or something?"
He nodded. "That sounds like a great idea."
After getting their food, they headed back to the facility. "I didn't realize it would be so darn noisy in the pub," said Taryn as they walked down the hall.
"Well at least we figured out an alternative before we went deaf," he joked.
Taryn laughed. "Well we know the food will be good, anyway, so we won't go hungry."
Back at Taryn's quarters, Steve set the food containers on the coffee table and Taryn handed him some plates and utensils. "What can I get you to drink?"
"Soda is fine if you have it." He split up the food for them and she brought the drinks and sat beside him on the couch. She turned on the TV and found A League of their Own just starting. "Have you ever seen this one?"
Steve shook his head. "No. It looks like a baseball movie…"
"It is. It's about the women's league that played from 1943 to about 1952."
"Oh, right! I remember them. Because most of the men went off to war…"
They ate and watched and there were always a few parts that emotionally got to her. "Sorry," she apologized, sniffling.
"Don't apologize," he hugged her close and wiped a tear from her cheek.
She laughed. "I feel foolish, but I do this on sentimental movies."
Steve kissed her forehead. "It's okay. You're human."
Taryn settled her head on his chest and breathed in his aftershave. He held her close, and she probably stayed there a little too long, but it was comfortable. Very comfortable. Finally shifting, he loosened his arms and she looked up at him.
"Okay?" he asked.
Laughing nervously she replied, "I'm fine."
Steve found himself staring into her eyes. "You're eyes are very green right now…"
"They do that sometimes when I'm emotional," she replied in a near-whisper.
"I'd really like to kiss you right now. May I kiss you?" he asked, his eyes not leaving hers.
"Yes, please," she breathed.
Steve placed his hand on her cheek, and his lips met hers. Her lips were soft, and a bit salty from the French fries and tears. She parted her lips and he shivered as her tongue brushed his.
Taryn sensed that and broke away from him. "I'm sorry! Too aggressive?" she asked, genuinely concerned.
Steve shook his head, smiled and pulled her close again. They settled back into the couch, her in the crook of his arm. His hand caressed her face and hers rested on his bicep and he kissed her again.
Taryn reveled in the kiss. He was gentle and deliberate with a slight hint of passion behind it. She felt safe and comfortable with him. He was so different and it was refreshing that he wasn't trying to get her clothes off of her.
They parted from each other and he smiled, his cheeks flushed. I could do that all night, he thought. Taryn rested back on his arm. "I like the way you kiss me," she said.
"Well that's good, because I like kissing you." Steve leaned in again and she placed her hand on the back of his head, running her fingers through his short blonde hair.
She took a deep breath and leaned back. "Can we just shut out the world and stay like this for a while?" she asked half-jokingly.
He chuckled. "Well, it is only seven, so we have a little time…"
"Mmm," she kissed him again. "So," she said languidly. "Do you want to watch more TV or break out the Playstation…?"
Terribly inappropriate thoughts of Taryn flooded his mind and he shifted on the couch. "Ah… I've only played a few things with the guys…"
She rifled through the games she had. "Oh, here we go. Lego Star Wars."
"Oooh! I've seen Star Wars!" he said excited that he knew what she was referencing.
She laughed and sat to explain the game. At least he was familiar with the controller. The nice thing about the same was they could play together, and it was one she didn't curse a lot at. She was terrible for that and knew he had a thing against foul language.
They played for about two hours, finishing off the food as they played. Completing the board they were on, they decided to take a break. Taryn rose and stretched. It was only 9 pm, but she wasn't sure if he was getting bored or not. He stood, stretched himself and looked out the window.
"Looks like a nice night out. Care to take a walk?"
"Sure. Let me change and I'll be right back." Taryn turned off the console and dashed into her room to change into something more comfortable for walking. She grabbed her sneakers and a fleece just in case.
Steve cleaned up the food containers and put the dishes in the washer for her. Then he wandered around the living room a bit looking at her photos.
Even in jeans and a tee she looked beautiful. He shook himself out of his thoughts and they headed out the door. They made their way outside and it was a nice night. Slightly cool, but refreshing. Taryn looked up at the night sky, but there was too much light pollution to see anything but the moon.
Steve took her hand and they walked casually around the walking trail, chatting about anything and everything. "How do you feel about the upcoming mission?" he asked.
"Good," Taryn replied sitting down on a bench. "I've gone over the files backwards and forwards… Undercover is my specialty, so I don't foresee any issues. I'm looking forward to taking Thornfeld down."
He nodded and sat beside her. "It's sad when people like Thornfeld get a following. Anyone who is gifted deserves the same consideration of those who aren't. It's too bad everyone can't recognize that."
She pat his arm and smiled. "Thanks for not being freaked out by me."
He smiled. "I could never be." He pulled her close and kissed her forehead.