Click here for the first section of the story.
When Dannie reemerged from the bathroom, work clothes folded in hand, Steve had poured them each a glass of wine and situated himself on the couch. Dannie looked around for the best place to stash her clothes and walked towards where she had left her shoes. Steve, watching out of the corner of his eye, stopped her about halfway there.
"You can put that in the bedroom if you want. Shoes too."
"Oh, okay, thanks."
Dannie ventured into the bedroom and commandeered an empty corner. At the same time, she tried to get a good look around. Interesting art on the walls and the most fantastic four-post bed ever. She hurried to place her things neatly in the corner and went back to the living room.
"Hey, remember that movie that Carrie was talking about, Fear of A Black Hat?" Steve asked.
"Yeah, she said it was pretty funny."
"I picked it up if you want to watch it."
"Excellent! Let's watch it!"
They sat down on the couch, not quite at opposite ends, but at a friendly distance. As the wine in the bottle diminished, so did the distance between them. More than halfway through a movie that could only thoroughly be enjoyed with a bottle of wine, the doorbell rang.
"Was that your doorbell?"
"Ugh, yes. Hang on while I see who it is."
Dannie was polite enough to pause the movie while Steve was away. He had gone down to the front door. It seemed to take longer than she thought it should, and she soon found out why.
"Dannie, this is my buddy Steve."
"No kidding, you're both Steve?"
"Honestly, but I was Steve first," new Steve said. Just what Dannie needed was name confusion. For the sake of clarity, we'll go back to TS and NS for New Steve.
We all went through the pleasantries of being introduced and then NS went into a barrage of questions that Dannie found amusing. By far, the most revealing question was regarding a certain band that Dannie loves, Metallica. NS asked some obscure question about the band and Dannie rattled off the answer without even thinking.
"I told you she liked Metallica," TS gloated.
"Yep, you did," NS conceded.
There wasn't anything for Dannie to add to that little conversation, but she did make a mental note that TS had been talking about her to at least one of his friends. How interesting.
"I've gotta get going, I just wanted to stop by and say hi," NS said on his way towards the door.
"No problem, man. Always good to see you."
"Nice to meet you, Dannie."
"Same here, Steve."
And with a finger laid aside his nose and a twinkle, NS disappeared into the night.
"Do you always have friends stop by so late?"
"Not always, but sometimes. We're all in the restaurant business, so no one has regular hours. It isn't that late."
Dannie looked at her watch and was shocked to find that it was already after one in the morning. She was getting a little tired and still had to drive 45 minutes to get home.
"Maybe not for you, but I'm going to turn into a pumpkin soon. I think I should get ready to head out."
"Is it far for you to get home?"
"Not bad, 45 minutes maybe."
"Wow, it's really too late for you to be making that drive. Why don't you just stay here?"
This, this is what Dannie was waiting for, and yet, she had a sudden urge to run. Steve must have seen it in her face.
"Don't worry, you can sleep in the bed and I'll take the couch."
"No way, I can't kick you out of your own bed! If anything, I'll take the couch."
"Look, don't be difficult. You take the bed, I'll take the couch, we can finish the wine and the movie."
A little warily, Dannie agreed. This wasn't like her at all to be so close to the prize and then shy away and she knew it. She was entering dangerous territory.
After all the excitement of the day, Dannie was flat-out exhausted. She started nodding off towards the end of the movie. It was always the same with wine. One or two glasses puts her to sleep but a steady flow keeps her awake and gives her a nasty hangover. She felt a little bad, but the moment the movie was over, Dannie just needed to get to sleep.
"Steve, I think I'm gonna turn in. I'm just wiped out."
"Don't worry, I'm pretty tired myself. Go ahead in, make yourself at home. I'll shut everything off and lock up."
"Thanks, Steve. You're a lifesaver."
Dannie went in to lay down in Steve's bed in Steve's clothes. She found those facts highly amusing and smiled in spite of herself. She knew that she wasn't winning that bet, at least not tonight, but she was okay with that as well. The lights were going off, one by one, until there was nothing left to see. It didn't take long for Dannie to get comfortable enough to start drifting off to sleep. She had just slipped into her lovely sleep coma only to be jolted awake by movement. Close movement.
Although he had said that he would sleep on the couch, Steve had decided to slide into the bed with Dannie. Again, it's why Dannie had come here, so she decided to keep quiet and see how things played out. As Steve made himself comfortable, Dannie tried her best not to move, or breathe for that matter. It seemed that as long as she stayed still, she might somehow find sleep again.
It didn't take long because Dannie was really just plain tired. As odd as she found the situation, she was too beat to care. She started relaxing once more only to be jolted back into mummified stage when Steve draped his leg over her. He obviously felt the tension as he immediately asked if it was uncomfortable for her. Dannie mumbled that it was fine and tried once more to get to sleep, but sleep would not come. Not for a long time.
(to be continued…)