Dinner for Two

Studio 10 - Upstairs Apartment

The second floor apartment is open, airy and divided into two distinct areas by a floor to ceiling shelving unit. To one side of the shelves is a kitchen and dining area, on the other is a living room with doors which open onto a roof top patio with a hot-tub. The kitchen has stainless steel appliances, and is separated from the dining room by a high bar with three tall stools. The floor is dark red Spanish tile, and the walls are a complimentary egg-shell white. A window behind the sink has pots of herbs for a touch of green. The dining room is done in warm earth tones, with a carpet to match the tile. Abstract paintings decorate one wall. The table, chairs and china cabinet are black lacquer work giving the room an Oriental feel.

The shelf divider holds books, knickknacks and family photographs. The living room is the reverse of the dining room, with off-white carpet and warm, red walls. A black leather sofa, love-seat and recliner are arranged in front of a lacquered black entertainment center holding a flat-screen television, DvD player, stereo and a vast collection of CDs. A matching coffee table provides a place to set drinks, while hanging plants soften the room with touches of green. Impressionist paintings decorate the walls, while floor to ceiling windows and a sliding glass doors allow for natural lighting. Attractive lighting fixtures provide light at night. Outside, the roof is a jungle of plants around a 10-person spa. Attractive chairs are arranged around a glass-topped patio table.

It's early evening when the buzzer alerts Desiree someone's at the downstairs entrance. She doesn't exactly rush, but presses the intercom, letting that person know she's on her way. After putting a few finishing touches on the table, she pulls off her apron and heads down to greet Steve. He's accepted the invitation to dinner, after all, and she's very pleased to see him again. To find out how he's doing, and if he's contacted Max yet. "C'mon in, Steve," she says, opening the front door. Her smile is warm, welcoming and the interior of the studio is cool, something the Dallas evening isn't. It might rain later, but at the moment, with the sun barely set, it's hot and muggy. Mostly hot. She lets him inside, closing and locking the door behind him. "Can't take chances, even in the good neighborhoods," she says with a grin, leading her colleague up the stairs. "Please don't let the cats trip you," she says when she opens the apartment door and two black shadows rush forward. "I can put them up, if you'd like."

Steve dressed nice-casual for the occasion, so he's looking about the same has he has the last two times they've run into one another. "Hi, Desiree," he says. "How's it going?" He takes a moment to look the apartment over. "God, what a beautiful place," he says quite sincerely, looking impressed. But then he's looking down toward the cats. "No way, I love animals." He crouches down and slowly extends his fingers toward the cats if they seem amenable to the stranger in their territory.

Stranger? Is there such a thing as a stranger when a cat's being admired and solicited for attention? At least Nip decides this is a human and therefore not suspicious; the solid black Scottish Fold extends his nose forward without breaking that beautiful seated position, and soon has actually moved over for petting. Tuck, a little shyer, doesn't approach until she's seen her brother being petted. Then she's all for this affection thing. Nice human, pet me, love me, adore me and I shall purr for you…! "They're a mess, but they're company, and I love them," she tells him, moving into the kitchen. "Have a seat at the table. Dinner's ready. Hope you don't mind plain cooking. I'm no Iron Chef." Her laugh is pleasant. "There's a bottle of claret on the table if you'd care to pour for us?" The aroma of roast meat wafts from the kitchen as it's taken from the oven and put onto a platter, along with vegetables. "Tah-dah!" is said as it's placed on the table. "Dinner is served."

Steve uses both hands to pet the sweet little cats. "Wow, where do you get cats like these? I've seen them on TV before but never in person. They have such round eyes." He stands up after a moment. "Oh, mind if I wash my hands real quick?" he wonders, heading toward the kitchen. "Then I'll pour."

"Sure. You can use the sink in the kitchen. Bathroom's a mess right now. Lot's of 'girl things' hanging around," Desiree warns, chuckling. "It's the one place I didn't have time to clean today." She begins carving the roast, the succulent meat that perfect combination of brown to pink to red in the center. "Oh, and thanks for the compliment. It used to be one solid unit, but there were some problems with the other half of the building, so it was torn down. Voila!— instant patio. I considered eating outside, but it's a bit on the muggy side, and I'm afraid it'll rain." As for the cats…? "Oh, they're Scottish Folds. I adopted them from this rescue group in Houston. Poor babies were part of a 'puppy & kitten' mill, horror of horrors. Most of their siblings had to be put down, but these two were in good health. My brother has one, and my sister has three. I'm just keeping family tradition, I guess." An easy grin as she gestures with a very sharp knife she's using to carve.

Steve washes his hands in the kitchen sink, then comes out to pour the claret. "Scottish Folds, that's what you call them," Steve recalls. "They're really nice. Not too skittish." He sits down after pouring the claret, not being overly formal. "How've you been? I have to thank you for buying me a drink of absinthe the other night. I'll have to return the favor sometime."

"Oh, no worries," Desiree says, waving away his thanks. "I enjoyed it, though the evening did get a little strange later." She lifts a shoulder as she sits down. "But, life is always strange when you date a vampire." She laughs again. "Not that Michael and I are exclusive, or anything. I like being single again, and I'm not really looking to jump back into matrimony." She lifts her glass in a "toast." "Here's to remaining single, and enjoying life." After all, he's never married, either. "So, did you manage to get hold of Max yet? He couldn't make it tonight, unfortunately. Something about a family emergency. I let him off the hook, of course." She's served him a couple of pieces of meat, potatoes, carrots, all in a savory sauce made from stock. Fresh bread and butter. "Dig in. I don't stand on ceremony here."

"Yeah, I haven't been free this long for a long time," Steve agrees, lifting his glass. He doesn't insist on clinking, though. Some Pygmalion along the way has taught him that that is unnecessary. "Oh, yeah, I gave him a call, actually. We've got a meeting this week. I want to go over everything really carefully. I mean, I know you say he's a good guy, but it's easy to get taken for a ride by and agent. I'm not exactly a business genius." He picks up a fork. "Man, you went to a lot of trouble. It looks great."

"I can understand your caution," Desiree says with a nod, picking up her fork and stabbing a piece of roast. It's tender and juicy. "I'd be in your place— and have been," she assures him. "Just wait till you meet him, though. You'll see how he is." She eats more for a moment, then, "You know, you should've at least seen him when I was guesting on the show. Short, bald, Jewish— the typical cigar smoking executive who got into knock down drag out fights with the directors and all." She grins at Steve. "Anyway, I'm sure you'll like him, and his career speaks for itself. Check with some folks in Hollywood. THey'll tell you, I'm sure." A pause, then, "No trouble, really. Just followed directions in a cookbook Mother left behind. Like I said, I'm no Iron Chef. Much more than this is beyond my meager skills."

"I thought that was all agents," Steve jokes, perhaps inappropriately. "Well, I mean, I'm sure people like him, I just want to make sure the terms are right for me, you know? I mean, I may not work much from here on out." He digs in, trying the vegetables first. "Mm," he murmurs while he's still chewing. Apparently he approves.

"I wouldn't worry too much, Steve. If you and Max aren't a good fit, or you don't think he's the one for you, I won't be upset. At least meet him, and see what happens." Dinner progresses much like this for the next few minutes, with both eating in companionable silence punctuated by comments, remarks and one tense moment when Nip decided to live up to his name. The black cat wrapped around Desiree's ankle and earned his name. A string of expletives erupt before she can stop herself; certainly not as bad as Steve's own eruption, but bad enough. The blush that follows turns her cheeks bright red. She coughs. "I, um, excuse me," she apologizes. "The cat— Nip, comes by his name honestly." She explains, ending with, "Please just ignore what I said." Oh, the embarrassment.

When the cat bites Desiree, Steve of course doesn't first see what happened. So he just murmurs, "Oh, shit," when Desiree flips. Apparently he still can't watch his mouth with particular skill. "Are you okay? You need a bandaid or something? I could get it for you?"

"Oh, no, he never breaks the skin," Desiree explains extending her leg from under the table so he can see. There are red teeth marks, but no blood. "It's just a damned annoying habit he has. I suppose, in cat terms, it's a sign of affection." She chuckles, retracting her leg. "So, are you … seeing anyone in particular, these days?" she inquires, a touch of color still on her cheeks. Interesting question, and one asked as Desiree concentrates now on her food for a moment or two. "I don't remember whether or not you told me last time I saw you." A pause while she sips her wine. Of course, that's about as wide open an inquiry as you can get.

"No, I'm not," Steve says, shaking his head. He pauses to have a little meat, then continues. "I've been single since I fell." Literally and metaphorically fell, that is. "Incidentally, you don't need to be so embarrassed about swearing in front of /me/."

Desiree nods, an almost satisfactory smile on her lips as she sips her wine. "I just don't want you to think … bad of me," she says, very openly. "You always treated me like I was this delicate, china doll— never swearing around me, not making those horrible innuendos the other actors and crew did. It was appreciated, and I don't want you to think I've … changed. I'm still a lady, just … a little more grown up." She pauses, smiling. "I did know what you all meant." A beat. "Most of the time."

Steve laughs, looking to the side with a little embarrassment. "Well…you were young," he says. "And…you know, I mean, my folks brought me up with /some/ manners. But yeah, I know you're a grown up lady, now." He shrugs. "I try not to swear as much as I might /want/ to."

There's still a bit of that naive young girl in Desiree. Her eyes may have a bit more experience in them, her body filled out more, but her sweetness is still there, despite the bitterness of disappointment. "I'd overhear you all in your dressing room. It was … often educational." Especially when there was a woman in there with him. "I just … really appreciated that. Now, it really doesn't matter, though the coarser epithets still make me blush." She sips, toying with the leftovers on her plate. "Quite a few things still make me blush."

Steve clears his throat. "Dressing room, huh," he murmurs. "Didn't realize it was so, uh…permeable to sound, there…" Maybe he's a little embarrassed by a few memories. Did the producer's wife ever pay a visit there? Maybe. "Well, there's nothing wrong with blushing. After all, how much do women pay in a year to make their cheeks pink? Right?" He pauses to eat a little more.

"Very true," Desiree agrees, picking up her own fork to finish her plate. "There's plenty, so if you want seconds, help yourself." She grins, saying, "I make a lot of money modeling that make up, so I'm rather hoping most of them forget how to blush naturally. And, Michael finds it … endearing, I guess. As old as he is, I suppose it's refreshing to find someone who can still be naive." She clucks her tongue. "I can't imagine living that long. I don't think I'd want to—" But that thought is cut off rather abruptly. "There's chocolate mousse for dessert. I didn't make it, I bought it from the store, so I hope it's decent."

"I know I wouldn't want to," Steve says. "I feel old already." He hesitates at the offer of more food, but then he shakes his head. "Let's move on to dessert, then, if you're done," he says. "You know, I ran into Michael last night."

"Sure." Desiree rises, gathering the dirty dishes, but leaving the dessert spoon. "Oh?—where at?" she inquires as she carries the plates and utensils into the kitchen. She returns, picking up the platter of roast; she'll eat on that for a week or so! "What was he up to? I was … well, I was otherwise engaged." Yeah, with a book and her bed. In a moment, she emerges with two small dishes of mousse, with a dollop of whipped cream on top. "Would you like coffee? I've a pot brewed." That smell, too, has wafted through the house. "Or, we can have dessert out on the patio. It doesn't look like it's going to rain anytime soon."

"The park," Steve says. "He was out there thinking, he said. I was taking a walk. …Yeah, I'd love a coffee." He turns to look out toward the patio. "Might be nice to take it out there. "Want me to help carry stuff out there?"

"If you would? Just take the desserts, and I'll get the coffee," Desiree offers, returning to the kitchen. "Did he say what he had to think about—or would that break some masculine bond, or something? To tell a lowly female, I mean." There's humor in her voice as she calls out of the kitchen. "Patio door's unlocked, just head on out and I'll join you in a moment."

Steve picks up the desserts, pushing the door open. He must have experience waiting tables, because he handles the dishes and the door together quite dextrously. "I guess I wouldn't mind telling you, but I didn't ask him. He seems like a pretty private guy. I try not to be too nosy. Don't always succeed."

Desiree has good ears, but, then, the apartment isn't all that huge. "He is a private person," she says, bringing out a tray with coffee cups, sugar, cream (real!) and a lovely silver coffee pot. "There we are," she says, placing it on the table. Silver spoons for coffee and the mousse are set on the place-mats on the glass-topped table. "I really like it out here, especially when there's a breeze. Winter's not much fun, but spring, summer and fall are wonderful. I love the spa. It's my … well, I don't mind admitting I spend a lot of time in it. You're free to come soak sometime, if you've a mind. It might help—" She stops, eyes inadvertently dropping to his leg and the cane leaning against the table.

"Man, you have some really nice stuff," Steve says as Desiree comes out with the coffee. There's probably a more elegant way to pay that compliment, but Steve didn't find it in time. He follows her gaze to the cane and smiles. "Yeah, maybe so," he agrees. Desiree's one person he won't make it awkward on.

There's a blush on her cheeks, but whether from him having noticed her glance to the cane, or from the compliment. "Most of it came from my divorce," she says bluntly. "And before that, my parents' house. I sold it after my Dad … died." There's just a fraction of a second's hesitation. "It's old, but it works. If you'd like, we can soak after dinner. Does wonders for the body to just relax and let those tiny bubbles massage away all your troubles…" She grins, giving him a wink. "It's clothing optional, too."

Steve laughs. "Well, I dunno, we'll have to see," he answers, smiling. He looks at the coffee pot. "Well, you've been through some bad stuff, maybe, but…at least you got some, uh, experience and stuff from it, right?" He's doing his best to offer a little optimistic wisdom.

"Oh, do you mean have I learned lessons?— sure. I learned never to make the same mistake twice, so that's why I avoid commitment. I'd rather date a hundred men than pick one to be with forever and ever, amen." Desiree says, sinking her spoon into the mousse. "Not bad. I've had better, though." A moment of silence, then, "Look, Steve, we've both had some rotten breaks, but we lived and learned, and we won't do it again. That's what life's aboutlearning what /not/ to do over. So, let's relax and enjoy what time we have on this mortal coil. Cheers." A toast with mousse that's as good as with champagne, right?

Steve has a bite of the mousse. He doesn't comment on it particularly, but he seems to like it. "I don't know if I'm as good a learner as some other people," he says with a tilted smile. "Takes a lot to get stuff through my skull."

Desiree shrugs. "Life ends when we stop learning, and since you're alive and relatively well, I'd say you learn pretty well." There's a grin on her face as she scoops up the last vestiges of her dessert. "I love chocolate," she sighs. "It really helps get the old endorphins going." Bowl and spoon are set on the table as Desiree looks out over the city. Hers is only a two story building, and there are much taller around her. The view isn't spectacular as from one of those tall structures, but it's pleasant enough. Ambient light bounces off the clouds, casting strange and wonderfully colored shadows in the sky. "I hope you're settling in well."

"Chocolate's okay," Steve says, nodding. "I don't know how much it does to my personal chemistry, but it tastes pretty good." He leans back a little once he's finished with the mousse, coffee cup in hand, to enjoy the night air. "Not bad," he says. "Still trying to meet people. I pretty much just know you and, uh…"

"Gertrude," Desiree supplies with a smile. "You'll meet people, don't worry. If you still have a tux, I can always use an escort to museum functions and all. You'd meet quite a few of the upper echelon of Dallas there." She's at least offering to open doors for him, which is a nice thing. The breeze picks up, bringing with it the scent of rain. Desiree lifts her face to the wind, letting it toss her hair. "More coffee? Yours must be getting cold by now."

Steve laughs. "Gertrude. God. And there's some guy who always recognizes me but forgets me right after. I think he even asked me on a date, once." He grins. "I've got a tux, yeah. But I don't want to piss off a vampire…" He looks into his coffee. "I'm all right," he says, filling his lungs with night air.

"Oh, you wouldn't piss Michael off," Desiree is quick to assure Steve, a hand reaching out to rest on his forearm. "I don't belong to him or anything. He has no claim on me, and that's the way I want it. No commitments, remember? That means no being claimed by a vampipre, human, werecritter or whatever else's is out there." She stops, then, realizing she may have gone just a wee bit far, but laughs to lessen the import. "So, you're free to escort me— unless you'd rather take the guy with the faulty memory." Eyes are sparkling, now. "So, you like Dallas? I warn you, the summers are sweltering, the winters are frigid, but spring and fall are nice."

Steve laughs. "Gertrude. God. And there's some guy who always recognizes me but forgets me right after. I think he even asked me on a date, once." He grins. "I've got a tux, yeah. But I don't want to piss off a vampire…" He looks into his coffee. "I'm all right," he says, filling his lungs with night air.

"Oh, you wouldn't piss Michael off," Desiree is quick to assure Steve, a hand reaching out to rest on his forearm. "I don't belong to him or anything. He has no claim on me, and that's the way I want it. No commitments, remember? That means no being claimed by a vampipre, human, were-critter or whatever else's is out there." She stops, then, realizing she may have gone just a wee bit far, but laughs to lessen the import. "So, you're free to escort me— unless you'd rather take the guy with the faulty memory." Eyes are sparkling, now. "So, you like Dallas? I warn you, the summers are sweltering, the winters are frigid, but spring and fall are nice."

Steve laughs quietly, shaking his head. "Real nice guy, but I'm not interested," Steve says frankly. "Actually, I'm from Waco, so it's not /that/ different," he says. "I've never even been up north. Dallas suits me fine. It's a good city." He sips his coffee and it quiet awhile before he says, "Now, let me ask you something personal, and then you can ask me something back if you want to even it up."

Desiree seems a little surprised. "Waco? Wow, I didn't know that. Your biography … didn't it say LA or something like that?" she asks, then "ohs." "I assume that was for publicity. Max had me change my hometown from The Colony to Dallas for that reason." And then she's canting her head to the side. "Sure, what would you like to know? I'm an open book—well, for the most part, at least. I have my secrets, but, then, who doesn't?" At the counter offer, she nods. "Sounds fair enough… Ask away."

Steve laughs. "Well, come on, Waco isn't the most romantic city in the world," Steve says. "But you oughta be able to tell if I get drunk enough." He rubs his jaw for a moment. "Well, why'd you ask Michael to bite you, anyway?" he finally gets around to asking.

Her laughter is almost musical on the night air. "Well, how about I fetch that bottle of wine, and we'll test that theory," she asks, rising from the table to remove the dessert and coffee things. "I'll be right back." Apparently, his answer will have to wait until she returns. WHen she does, it's with the two glasses and the nearly full bottle of wine. Seated again, she looks Steve in the eye. "I wanted to know what it was like, I guess. You read so much, and the fangbangers claim it's a wonderful experience. Call it curiosity or the thrill of danger, that's why I wanted to know." She's being honest. Pouring him a bit more wine, she serves herself, settling back in the chair. "I'll have to think of something suitably personal to ask in return, now, won't I?" Long legs are crossed, and eyes are sultry in the warm night.

Steve reaches for the glass once it's poured, exchanging wine for coffee. "Just curiosity, huh?" he echoes, with no indication as to whether he doubts that claim or not. He smiles and gives a slow nod. "Sure, I'll tell you the truth."

"Well, that, and I liked being around Michael," Desiree adds. "He's one of the most intelligent men I've ever known, and he seemed to take me seriously—not as just another pretty face. He /listened/ to me, and considered my opinions valid. Not many men take a pretty woman seriously, not when it comes to anything other than sex." She lifts that shoulder again. "So, call it curiosity with a … twist." As for her own question…? "Did you ever want to hit on me? When I was Villina, or even Veronica?" Zing! Pow.

Steve thinks that over, looking down at the surface of his wine, eyes narrowed a bit. "Well," he says at length, looking up once more to meet her eyes. "I definitely thought you were a pretty girl. And yeah, if I'd been younger and less…tired out? I probably would've."

Desiree smiles slowly. "I really rather wish you had," she teases him. For the second time, no less. "You might've got lucky." Her lips are as ruby red as the claret in her goblet. "I have to say I was one of those millions of women who had a crush on you," she admits, although that's been pretty obvious. "And despite what you may think, you're still a nice looking man, Steve. Don't sell yourself short." She pauses, sipping. "Anything else you'd like to know? You've got me in an expansive mood."

Steve scratches his cheek, smiling a little as he looks down. "I, uh…I don't know if I could've handled it back then. I was…pretty busy in those days. I had to…step out with a lot of people." He has a deep drink of his wine, then nods a little. "Yeah. I mean…what /was/ it like? I guess you must've liked it since you stuck around with him."

Taking a deep breath, Desiree ponders. "It's unique. Like nothing else. Pleasurable—once you get past the initial pain of the fangs. It's rather like … joining with someone, you feel it, but not as much as they do. It can definitely enhance an orgasm, I can tell you that." Her eyes are dark and smoky now, and perhaps she gives a little squirm in her chair. Desiree reaches out with a foot, hooking one of the other chairs and dragging it close enough to prop her feet on it. "He's only bitten me a few times. It's kind of … special, you know? The sex is good, too, or else I wouldn't still be with him. You should … um, well, give it a try sometime. There're some hot female vampires in Dallas."

Steve looks a little doubtful about Desiree's explanation, but he nods slowly. "Uh, okay, I see," he answers. "It's kind of weird the vampires can still do it. You wouldn't think a dead guy could, uh…" He smiles and shrugs, finishing up this glass of wine. "But anyway. I didn't mean to get so personal. I just never knew any vampires or whatever."

"It's all right, Steve," Desiree says, smiling. "It's the same as with any guy, really. It all depends upon your rapport, how much you have in common with the person. Michael likes me, admires me and treats me nicely— but I don't want to marry him, or even date him exclusively. I'm just not wired that way. Not … not since I was young and stupid." A hint of bitterness there. "So, how come you never got married? Enough women wanted you. Men, too, I suppose. It was the spandex…"

Steve rolls a shoulder. "It wouldn't have been very good for my career," he answers. "It was, uh…easier if I was free." The explanation is perhaps somewhat uncomfortable, but he smiles nevertheless. "Think I could get another glass?" He pushes it forward.

"Of course," Desiree says, pouring the goblet about half full. "There's plenty. I've a friend who's a wine salesman, and he occasionally offers me a bottle of something new. Not that I have a real good palate, but … it's nice to try new stuff. This is, believe it or not, from a vineyard up in Oklahoma. Tidal School. It's getting popular, so I hear." She sets the uncorked bottle between them. "Yeah, that's why Max and I kept my marriage a secret. I was just starting out, and he wanted m— people to see me as young, beautiful and available."

"Oklahoma, huh? I've definitely never had wine from /that/ particular region." His smile turns amused. "That's not really what I mean," Steve says, reaching for his fresh glass. "I mean, yeah, maybe it helps image a little to be single. But…I spent a lot of time with people for sort of…career reasons."

Back then, Desiree wouldn't have known what he meant. Today? Yes, she does, and nods. "I know," she tells him. "Not /all/ those rumors linking you to producers and directors could have been false." She's not stupid. "Look, Steve, I don't judge. What you did, you did it, and for your own reasons. I've done a few things, too, here and there— especially after I got divorced. Sleeping around isn't wise, but it's also one of the ways someone can get ahead." She gives his leg a nudge with her toe, sans high heel. "You never knew I spent three hours in Richard Beckenham's office 'modeling' costumes, did you? Trust me, there wasn't much left to the imagination for me after that."

Steve takes in a breath and shrugs, opening his free hand. He can't help smiling after a moment, though. "Well, you're sharp," he says. "So you can figure why I didn't have the time or the option to get married, really." He drinks down some more wine. "I don't know whether I ever will. I'm not desperate to have kids or anything."

"Amen to that," Desiree nods, tipping her glass toward his. "Don't get me wrong, I like kids. THey can be fun. But I like being able to send them home after their classes, so I can have some peace and quiet. A drop of rain spatters on the table top. "Uh-oh. Hold on. There's one of those roll-down awnings, but I haven't used it in ages. Let me see if it still works." She's up and over to a crank on the wall, and after the screech of unoiled gears, the heavy canvas come rolling down to form a shelter over the spa and half the table. "Can you give me a hand? We can pull this under the awning. Hopefully, it won't leak."

"Yeah, sure," Steve says. He puts a hand on the top of his cane and pushes up, then grabs the table, pulling it a little closer toward the doors. "Well, my mother used to say the rain won't melt you if you aren't made of sugar," he offers. "And, yeah, kids aren't so bad. I just don't know if I should be responsible for one."

"I /know/ I shouldn't be," the dancer says emphatically, once more taking her seat at the table. Their chairs are now on the same side of the table, closest to the door in case they need to flee inside. "It's all I can do to keep it together when the kidlets misbehave in class. I have two other teachers who take the littlest ones. It's the pre-teen and teenagers who give us the most trouble. Most of them would rather be playing video— especially the boys." Another sip of wine as the rain begins to fall a little heavier. So far, the canvas holds without leaks. "I love the rain— even lightning," she says as a bolt shatters the darkness, followed by thunder.

Steve watches the white light streak across the sky. "It's pretty, I'll give you that," he says, taking in and letting out a breath. "Well, I just don't know anything about kids. I was an only child. All I ever did with kids was sign autographs for 'em." He frowns. "And take about a million pictures."

Steve watches the white light streak across the sky. "It's pretty, I'll give you that," he says, taking in and letting out a breath. "Well, I just don't know anything about kids. I was an only child. All I ever did with kids was sign autographs for 'em." He frowns. "And take about a million pictures."

"Don't forget the little buggers who'd kick, spit up, grab, knock you in the cajones— all that fun stuff," Desiree teases, lips curving upwards. The air is damp and cool now, the rain coming down in waves on the wind. Thanks to the plants, they're shielded mostly, only a few errant drops slipping through. "I did some of those promotions, too, remember? One of those boys nearly pulled my top off! He wanted to see if my boobs were real." She snorts. "I assured him— and his father, who put him up to it— they were quite real."

Steve reaches up to rub his eyes. "Yeah," he murmrus. "I remember." A laugh follows. He ruffles a hand through his hair after a drop hits him. "Now, that's some good childrearing," he comments sarcastically. "Keeping that apple close to the tree."

"I could've made out like a bandit, you know," Desiree says, voice soft as she finishes her second glass of wine. "Guy offered me $250 dollars to sleep with him. If I'd taken even half the men up who wanted some one on one time with me, I'd be sole owner of this studio by now." She shakes her head. "Just can't go that route. Odd that. How a woman will sleep with a man for pleasure, but gets all upset when money enters the picture. Yet, they'll let them buy expensive cars or jewelry— oh, life's just strange, sometimes."

"A) That's creepy," Steve points out, "But B) That's not nearly enough money for a beautiful young TV personality. I bet you could've done even better than whatever figure you're thinking of. But yeah, not necessarily worth it. Even if it's not logical."

"Nope, not worth the worry, nor the … insult." Desiree shrugs. The rain's slowing slightly, more a steady downpour than a storm. "You're welcome to sit out the rain with me, inside or out," she remarks, pouring some more wine. "I like your company. Besides, so do the cats— and all of us have excellent taste in men." She winks, offering him another pour. "It shouldn't last too long, I wouldn't think."

"Why not?" Steve wonders. "But I gotta warn you, rain always makes me sleepy. So if I fall asleep, just give me a shove and know it's not the company," he suggests, letting her pour him another glass.

To Be Continued Someday Soon…

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