Chapter 20 – Closer
“Wow, Miami’s amazing at night.”
“Amazingly full of freaks you mean.”
“You’re grumpy when you’re not driving, is it a control thing?”
“No, it’s a wantin’ to live thing, you drive like the hounds of hell are after you.”
“Well aren’t they?”
“Good point, but slow down for Christ’s sakes Freckles you’ll get us pulled over.”
“Okay, okay, why don’t I just stop at that Wendy’s and you can drive?”
“Please do… ‘sides I’m starvin’, their baked potato with sour cream an’ chives is just what I need.”
Kate laughed, as she zipped into the inner lane and swung the convertible into a parking spot in one neat 180 degree turn. The motion of the car threw James forward and his chest would have slammed into the dashboard had it not been for his seatbelt. He gave her a withering stare which she laughed off as she cut the engine and undid her seatbelt.
“Come on I’m buying.”
“No it’s okay honey you save your money… I’ll get it.” His voice dripped with sarcasm.
Kate grabbed his jaw her green eyes searching his blue; then on impulse she leaned in and planted a wet kiss on his lips, she drew away but James pulled her back his hands on either side of her head. The kiss deepened as they teased each other with their tongues. She did not know when it happened but Kate was surprised to find herself straddling his lap when their lips parted. She nipped his lower lip with her teeth as she went back for more. James obliged, letting his hands slide down her arms and resting them on her hips then circling around to cup her buttocks. It was when she moved her hips insistently against him and he felt his own instantaneous response that he pushed her away from him, breathing heavily. Kate reached for his zipper and James grabbed her wayward hands.
She relaxed in his grip, biting her lip she scrambled off him, leaning her head back onto the headrest in the driver’s seat. Wordlessly, James unbuckled his seatbelt and climbed out of the car. He walked around to the driver’s side and opened her door for her and held his hand out. She took it resignedly, dragging the key out of the ignition as she got out. She avoided his gaze but he tilted her chin up and smiled at her a little sadly, his eyes silently pleading her not to blow the situation out of proportion. She looked away then looked back at him. She shrugged and gave him a half smile. He ran a fingertip down her nose then placing his hand in the small of her back propelled her towards the restaurant.
“Wait! We can’t go in there they’ve got close-circuit cameras in there.” Kate dug in her heels like a stubborn mare.
“So?” James tried to gently nudge her towards the entrance, not understanding her logic.
Kate whipped around to face him.
“So… we don’t know how far and wide the tentacles of Dharma stretch, do we really want to give away our location when we’re already at a disadvantage?”
James cursed volubly under his breath then turned them back around. In the car, he gripped the steering wheel, flexing his hands as he glared at the brightly lit welcoming entrance.
Kate curled her hands into fists; she wanted to reach out and touch him but was unsure of how he would respond.
“What now? I’m jonesin’ for a square burger an’ my goddamn baked potato.” He was still staring at the entrance, his shoulders tense.
“If you’re any good at accents we can go through the drive-thru.”
“What the hell?” James fixed sapphire daggers on her.
“To be on the safe side an accent will minimise the risks of identification via voice recognition software.” Kate explained patiently.
James stared at her like he’d never seen her before.
“Trust me; I helped work out the kinks in the software at Securicare.” She squirmed.
“Trust me when I say I’ve had more than enough of you.”
“Oh James.” She giggled, failing miserably at stifling her mirth.
He pulled up to the speaker and placed their order in a very convincing Australian accent. When they had gotten their food and paid at the window, James sped off with a whoop of joy. Kate shook her head and covered her smiling lips with her left hand; the boyish expression on his face reminded her of DC. She nearly dropped their food when James suddenly slammed on the brakes, and deftly manipulated the car into a vacant parking space.
“Gimme it!” James ordered her as he snatched the two large bags of food from her.
He opened the first bag peered inside then thrust it back at her. Ripping open the second one, he took out a box. He let out a deep sigh of pleasure when he opened the container and the smell of baked potato and sour cream with fresh chives wafted throughout the car. Accepting the plastic fork and knife from Kate he winked at her as he tucked into the meal. He was oblivious to it but she was smiling at him indulgently, drawing similarities between him and Tristan as he ate with relish. Warmth spread from her heart and flooded the rest of her body; this time she did not fight the feeling, letting it suffuse her being. ‘You really are in trouble Kate.’ She sighed to herself. Stealing one last lingering glance at him she opened her own meal and followed suit.
“Mmmm… that was perfect.” James said as he patted his still relatively flat abdomen.
“Yeah, I gotta admit it was pretty good.” Kate agreed as she drained her soda cup.
They had made short work of their food, she had discovered that she had been ravenous and was glad in retrospect that James had ordered two of everything.
“Now all we gotta do is figure out a place to stay tonight.”
“Why’s that so hard?”
“You’re the one scarin’ me with voice recognition software an’ whatnot… you tell me.”
She opened her mouth to say something but shut it again. He had a point, where they chose to stay could make or break the whole mission. She cracked her knuckles as she ran through all the possible scenarios she had researched and trained for at Securicare.
“We need to go somewhere where we won’t draw attention.”
“No shit Sherlock.”
“Be nice.” She warned him distractedly.
James snapped his fingers at this and started the engine. Bewildered Kate looked around to see what had prompted the sudden action. James turned twinkling sapphire blue eyes at her.
“I’ve got just the place in mind.”
“Do you wanna share it with me please?”
“South Beach baby! There’s so many different kinds of freaks an’ weirdos there that we’ll only stick out if we’re too normal!”
“Oh my God you can’t be serious!”
“As a heart-attack.” James reassured her as he navigated through a small crowd of drag queens singing and dancing in the middle of the street.
“Do you even know how to get there!?” Kate asked incredulously as a man dressed like Britney Spears blew them a kiss.
“Just follow the Fairies.”
She crossed her arms unimpressed she was finding his good humor and confidence daunting for some reason. James made a face at her.
“An’ yes I know where I’m goin’ this city used to be my playground once upon a time.”
“Oh even better.” Kate grumbled as she looked at the different people standing in line outside a neon-lit palm tree shaped nightclub entrance.
James grinned and turned on the radio, flipping to his favourite Miami station. To nobody’s surprise a camp Latin beat blared out of the speakers.
One Hour Later
“Okaaay Honey now all you gotta do is slide this card right here in the slot like this et voilà you’re in! If you don’t think you can handle it I can come up and show you…”
“Thanks I think I got it. You’ve been a great help Destinee.”
“Okaaay Baby, bon nuit if you need anything else just give me a call and hopefully I’ll see you tomorrow morning before I get off my shift!”
James grinned despite himself as the Cuban transvestite wiggled his fingers at him and turned to serve the next male customer totally ignoring Kate. He picked up their bags and strode towards the elevator, a fuming Kate trailing behind him. They got into the elevator and disembarked on the sixth floor. Setting their bags down, James drew the key out of his pocket before he could do anything Kate had snatched it from him. Inserting it in the slot briskly she pushed the door open and stomped in.
“You okay there Freckles?” The laughter he was suppressing coming out in his voice.
“He… She…. Whatever…. Ignored me completely and yet I paid for the room!”
His cheeks dimpled. “What can I say-”
“I wouldn’t say anything at all if I were you… I’ll kick you out and since this was the last vacant room you can sleep downstairs with Destinee at the reception desk.” Kate warned him waspishly.
“My my… you sure are testy when you don’t get any attention.” James observed as he set their bags down.
“Blow me.” Kate snapped as she slammed into the bathroom and locked the door behind her.
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