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Madcow

Oh Nostalgia

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He waited patiently, hoping his reasoning was enough to convince her. Roman watched her pretty little face, his eyes searching for a response. Within a moment he felt her hand run down his arm, a tingle running through it before her fingers caught his, watching and feeling her pulling away from him towards the flowers. A smile lit up his face, thankful to see the change of her opinion. The tug and smirk on her lips was something he couldn't resist, following her a few steps behind as she wandered into the field, taking his time just watching her. The way she bent down to smell the flowers, glanced back to make sure he was still there, it made him smile, inwardly and outwardly. He just wanted to stand there, hands in his pockets, watching her. It wasn't until she spoke again, calling back to him, that he took another few steps through the field, eyes down on the flowers as he thought about how he had found the place. It wasn't an extremely exciting story, but if she wanted to know, he'd tell her.

"Well I was out here with my good friend Henry when we were, oh, 'bout twelve," he started as he got closer to her, bending to pick a pink and orange flower on the way. "We were just being boys, you know, exploring and stuff. And we just stumbled upon it," he said, squatting down next to her once he made it to her, smiling over at her and holding out the flowers. "Nothing too exciting or anythin'," Roman added with a shrug.

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Colette listened to his story, allowing it to come to life in her head. She tried to picture Roman as a child, running around wild and free with a friend and stumbling upon the meadow. She wondered if they'd been awed by the beauty or were simply grateful to have found a quiet, secluded place to play. Then she attempted to imagine herself growing up here instead of Charleston. But the picture fizzled out quickly, unable to imagine growing up anywhere else. "Nonsense," she said softly, "It's about you, of course it's exciting."

Her body straightened as she picked one of the yellow flowers, sticking it into the vase. She was aware of the boldness her words had, that most guys preferred coy and hard to get. She played both parts well. But this wasn't under normal circumstances. They only had the summer. Three months. The time had seemed impossibly long only a week ago now didn't seem like it could ever be enough. It was a deadline. Colette found a couple more flowers as she slowly moved away from him, dark red and lilac. She was picking up one the color of the sunset when she spoke again, as though she hadn't said anything before, her voice light and teasing, "At least y'all found a good place to take girls when y'all were young." She was digging, wanting to know about his dating history without coming out and asking. Not that it truly mattered, the past was the past, but if he was the kind of guy who only did a date or two then she would need to remain guarded and aloof. She would need to not say things that let on how much she liked him, as she had done while they were both by the yellow flowers.

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Alice listened carefully as Joan explained the game to her. She was a little concerned that it would be like chess, the only other board game she knew, which was dreadfully complicated. There were so many rules to remember, Alice could never keep them all straight. If Candyland was anything like that, she knew she would be absolutely hopeless, which would be a shame. She didn?t want Joan to see how utterly useless she was, she didn?t really Henry to see it either. Not yet.

Alice glanced towards Henry as Joan led her up the walk to their house. It was small. She had been expecting it to be modest, after all, not everyone lived in a house like hers. But this seemed impossibly small. And then Henry opened the door. It seemed much larger when she actually stepped inside. Not big in an empty, hollow way like her family?s Philadelphia estate or her grandparent?s house. But big enough. It was warm and bright, it smelled good and you could hear the bustle of his family in the next room. It was full of life and more of a home than any house she had ever been in before, which Alice thought more than made up for the lack of fine china and perfectly arranged rooms.

She was ready with a polite compliment when Henry introduced her to his mother but Alice didn?t have a chance to get it out. The woman had stepped forward and pulled her into her arms. The hug was warm and pleasant but Alice was not used to such affection and therefore not entirely sure how to react.

?Brave?? She asked softly, she finding her words as Mrs. Scott led her to a chair. She glanced towards Henry, her eyes wide, ?Oh, I?m not at all brave! Maybe I ought to go...? In spite of her words, she settled neatly into the chair crossing her legs at the ankle and folding her hands in her lap.

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Roman's eyes watched Colette, catching the details of her actions, movements and facial expressions. He wanted to be able to read her, understand her and know her better than anyone he'd ever known before. Of course observation would only get him so far ? he would need to have her open up more. Yet she didn't seem guarded, but something seemed reserved, although her comment let on more than he expected. A grin crossed his face, catching the words and holding them in his mind, but deciding against saying anything in retort when she started to move away again. He held his tongue, wanting to put forth his best manners for her, not wanting any immature moment or comment ruin anything. He stood again, hands back in his pockets as his feet kicked a little at the dirt, observing the weeds packed around the beautiful flowers. All the memories from when he came here with Henry began to cross his mind, from the first time to the most recent. They had come most often when they were little, making up games and role plays as boys, being soldiers in the grass or cowboys in the fields. They were all pleasant memories, making a fond smile form on his lips.

Glancing back over at her when she spoke, he pulled out a toothpick from his pocket, sticking it between his teeth with one hand. Roman gave a chortle at her words, finding them a bit funny. What would make her want to mention something like that? The comment just amused him, shrugging it off because he didn't want her to think he was one who got around to all the girls. He had been a bit of a Don Juan in his younger years, and could still be, but something about Colette kept that part of him at bay.

"Yeah, but this place is reserved for only the best of girls," he commented, rolling the toothpick between his fingers, looking over at her with a twinkling smile.

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Colette could feel her lips twitching up into a grin at his words, glancing toward him when she felt his gaze on her. She resisted the urge to primp her ego, to coax him into telling just how amazing he thought she was. Instead, she read the twinkle in his face that his smile brought about, spreading her lips farther apart as her grin widened. Her eyes held his across the field for a moment, soaking in the warmth that ran through her. She blinked, turning away when she realized that she was staring. Making her way through the field, Colette picked more than enough flowers, at various stages of blooming, to fill the vase. As she picked, she asked the normal questions, if he'd grown up in Seabrook, what he did for work and whether or not he enjoyed it, and what he had in mind for the future.

She filled the vase with the flowers as she stopped in front of Roman, searching for his flawless green eyes, her smile wide and sincere. "This has been lovely," she said, her small frame pulsating with excitement simply by the nearness of their bodies. Her fingers were wound around the vase, keeping it close to her chest as she lowered her nose to the fragrant flowers for a moment before looking back at him. She didn't know how long they'd been in the meadow, but she knew that she wanted to sit down and talk to him longer, even with the sun sinking lower in the sky. Because even though it was about to be just the two of them in the stillness of the night, she felt completely safe and comfortable.

-----

Henry chuckled as Alice spoke, not really sure whether she knew she had just made a joke. Although, she could not be kidding. The thought sobered him up quickly, while the rest of his family continued to laugh at her. His mother had apparently heard from the kitchen as she was grinning when she came back in with a pitcher of ice water and another filled with sweet tea. Cups were already set around the table, but she had an extra one balanced in her arms that she set in front of Alice, asking her which one she preferred before pouring it for her. She made sure that everyone had drinks before she sat down, ignoring Henry's instant offer to help.

"Don't worry," Henry said with a wink, "I'm sure you can handle it." He slipped his loafers off, tucking his socked feet under his chair. Once his mother sat down and poured tea for herself, she read off the instructions for the game. Every now and then she would pause at a certain point at shoot one of them a look, as though they were notorious for breaking that rule. Not that they were, they all followed the rules, but some liked to stretch the rules, or interpret them a little differently. When she was done going over all the rules, she glanced around to make sure everyone understood and then they began the game.

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Roman stood there, the toothpick in one hand, the other in his pocket, gazing over at her. Watching her watching him he felt elated in the moment. It was all he could've hoped for on the date. Even though they were only halfway through it, he felt like it couldn't get any better. She seemed to be reciprocating the feelings he had for her, giving him hope that he had a chance. She was amazing, beautiful and everything he could have dreamed of and he had her in this stunning meadow right as the sun was setting. The way the orange and pink light caught in her blonde hair, giving her a glowing hallow, it was as if time stood still. It wasn't until she turned away that he was snapped out of the moment. A smile stayed on his face as he wandered through the field, watching the flowers and then occasionally glancing over to her, answering her questions politely. All he could think about was how perfect, how perfect this was.

Once she seemed satisfied and made her way over to him, he looked at her large bouquet of flowers, both of his hands placed rightfully back into his pockets. He looked down at her, the most sincerely happy expression on his face as he just admired her. She stood closer than two friends would, but not so close as lovers would. The proximity of their bodies made him was to reach out and grab her, lift her chin up from smelling the flowers and kiss her gently. The impulse was so strong her could barely resist, but when they locked eyes again he knew it wasn't right, not yet.

"Good, because there's still more," he replied, looking forward to seeing what the next part of the date could bring. "Just follow me this way," he added, once again placing his hand softly on the small of her back, guiding her further through the meadow and out towards the river edge. The grassy bank was illuminated by the reflections of the sunset on the water, the slow hum of the river providing a mellow ambiance. The blanket with the picnic basket sat just to the left and the mill another hundred feet from that. Usually the place was a bit dreary and daunting, but the sunset improved it's appearance a bit. He led her over to the blanket and helped her sit before taking his own seat next to her.

"I hope you don't mind homemade meatloaf," he said as he pulled the food from the basket, removing the foil. He knew it was probably a much more quaint meal than she was used to, but it was the best he could do. "My ma makes the best though," he added, smiling. He also pulled out mixed cut fruit and potato salad, all homemade, but when he went looking for the cutlery, there was none to be found. He had to do a double take, searching the basket thoroughly, but he never found it. Scowling at the basket, he thought back to when he was packing it and realized he had forgotten it all together. The scowl soon turned to an apologetic look, finally looking at Colette a bit sheepishly.

"I guess I forgot the silverware," he admitted, a bit embarrassed. He couldn't imagine what she might be thinking, how she probably had never eaten a meal by hand before. It wasn't completely common out in the country, but Roman had resorted to it many times before.

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His hand seemed to burn through the fabric of her skirt, she could feel the rough, work callouses on his large hands and fingers. She walked close to him as he directed her toward the river bank, breathing him in. His hands were softer than she could have ever imagined they could be, not forceful like the other guys she'd been with before, more like a question, like she had a choice. She loved being given that choice, especially when it was a profound yes. She took a moment to take in the scene. The mill was old and had a distinctly haunted feeling, but it was offset by the setting sun and the slow moving river, more than either of those though, the picnic on the bank set the tone. No one had ever done anything like that for her. It would have taken time and effort, because she knew that he didn't have a cook at home who had planned it out for him.

Colette sat, adjusting her skirt so her knees could be bent toward him, her frame tilted in his direction as began to pull food out. Meatloaf, it was a rarity in their household and she'd only had it once or twice, but she'd enjoyed it. She was pretty sure that she could eat anything right then and it would taste wonderful. Her eyes were trained on him and she noticed the scowl that ran over his features, hardening them. She was about to ask him what was wrong when he glanced up at her, his expression altered to something bordering embarrassed. When he explained the situation, her forehead furrowed somewhat as though she didn't quite grasp what he was saying.

She connected the dots in less than a second though and she couldn't help the laugh that escaped her, light and easy. The date had been perfect, and she was pretty positive that this made it more perfect. Colette liked that there was something not right about it, it made it all the more memorable. She shook her head, her curls bouncing around her shoulders, as she smiled wholly, "I guess we'll just have to get creative then."

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Her light laugh eased his fears, making him relax a bit knowing that at least she wasn't devastated by the lack of cutlery. Yet he still felt it would be wrong to ask such a classy gal to eat with her hands, but he felt like there wouldn't be any other choice. Slightly unsettled, his face held a lighter expression, but his brows were still knit in concern. Her cheerful words should have lifted his worries, but he still was a bit bothered. He wanted everything to be perfect and this was definitely ruining it, at least in his mind. He glanced back down at the food, thinking as creatively as he could. He wasn't a very innovative person, but he knew he could come up with something... couldn't he? His fingers grabbing his toothpick in his pocket, rolling it between his fingers as he thought, a nervous habit. At that moment, a light bulb clicked in his head, his face registering the thought.

No matter what, Roman always had a few toothpicks in his pocket, ready for whenever he needed one. Smirking, he pulled two clean ones out of his opposite pocket where he kept the new ones. One pocket for unused, one for used. Holding one out to Colette, he smiled happily, glad to come up with an alternative. "This'll do, eh?" he quipped, decided they could use them.

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Alice glanced around in surprise as the Scott family laughed, all amused by her words. She hadn?t meant to be funny, she wasn?t sure that she knew how, but she hadn?t exactly been serious either. It was kind of nice to know that she had made them all smile and a small but genuine smile flickered briefly across her mouth.

She politely accepted a glass of sweet tea, though she?d never actually tried it before, then listened intently as the official rules were read. With the board in front of her, the game began to make sense and actually seemed quite simple. But she still interjected a few times, carefully asking for clarification so she could be sure that understood completely before they began. Once they started playing, she watched as the younger children went first, hoping that she understood everything that she needed to in order to play. When it was her turn Alice reached forward and turned over a card, hesitantly she moved her piece to the appropriate square, glancing at Henry first and then at the rest of his family, ?Is that right?? She asked, her voice tentative and hopeful all at once.

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Colette could see how disconcerted Roman was by the fact that they didn't have any silverware. She wanted to reach out and comfort him in some way, assure him that it really wasn't a big deal. But she didn't have any suggestions on how to fix the matter and she didn't like empty words. Her lips were parted, as though she were going to speak, when he handed her the tooth pick. Her lips snapped shut and swept into a smile as she thoughtfully pondered the thin piece of wood, "I believe it will." It would be the most rudimentary way of having a meal that she had ever experienced, and she wasn't quite sure how to go about it, but she was always eager to try something new.

She didn't dare point out the fact that they didn't have anything to cut the meat with or spoon the food out with. She let him handle the serving part, accepting her plate of food before settling back against the blanket. The scenery was soothing and lovely, it was hard to feel ill at ease there, even if there was a distressed, and somewhat haunting, mill. And the company definitely helped. Colette began eating slowly, as though she weren't quite sure of what she was doing - which she wasn't. She used the long edge of the toothpick to cut off dainty sizes of the meatloaf and then the sharper end to pick it up and put it in her mouth. The slowness of her bites also came from her savoring each bite, he hadn't been kidding, his mom's meatloaf was the best she'd ever had.

"Your mother is an amazing cook," she complimented with a smile, taking another bite as if to prove her point.

-----

Henry was concentrating on a strategy. Not that there were many, if any, strategies to winning a game like Candyland, which was probably why he disliked it so much. He liked the challenge of finding a way that made you nearly invincible when it came to games. They were his strength. If he could have his pick of things to do it would probably be designing games for children, not that he would ever admit that to anyone. What kind of lumberjack wanted to design games instead of being outdoors? He was counting off spots and cards when Alice's sweet voice interrupted his thought process. He'd watched her move carefully, as he'd done with all the other moves and found nothing at fault with what she had down. A surge of pity spiraled through him, she sounded so hopeful, like she'd never played a board game before. He found it comical that he felt bad for her, when she probably pitied him for being raised with no money or luxury.

He was about to reassure her when his Pa spoke. His Pa and he looked just alike, aside from the age difference, which was mostly notable due to the hard lines the sun had cracked into his face and the gray that peppered his short hair. He also had a thick mustache that was currently twitching as he smiled at Alice. The smile made him look kind and gentle, like a teddy bear almost, and his voice was sweet and mild, "Yeah, tha's right honey." Henry was thankful that he hadn't tried to be gruff and funny, which was usually all in good fun, but it could shake someone's confidence and ruin the evening at times.

Henry nodded to back his Pa's claim, just in case Alice looked to him for reassurance. He enjoyed that she seemed to direct her questions toward him initially, and then spread them out to the rest of the table as though just remembering that they were there. It was finally his turn, and when he went, he ended up on the same spot as Alice. He glanced toward her with a grin, gesturing to the rest of the board and the fact that everyone else was behind them - only by a space or two. "Looks like you're gonna be my competition for the evenin'," he teased, knowing that there was plenty of game to go.

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Satisfied with his makeshift fork, Roman served them both the food as best he could. Of course there were no spoons for the potato salad, but he poured it out in globs, deciding they could stab the potato chunks and call it good. He began eating as soon as Colette was settled, making sure she was set before worrying about himself. He hadn't realized how hungry he was until then, not eating since the lunch break at noon. He gobbled down his first serving quickly with less manners. He smiled at her comment about the meatloaf, proud to say his ma was a wonderful cook. "I'll tell her you say so," he said, knowing she would love the compliment and immediately want to meet Colette. He knew he ma would love Colette too.

Roman helped himself to seconds once he finished his plate, offering Colette some too, but guessed she wouldn't be eating as much as him. The casual conversations about their lives and the town crossed through the meal, the sunset adding a pleasant touch to the dinner. Once they had both finished, Roman sat with his arms behind him, propping him up with his legs stretched out on the grass. He was completely satisfied, loving every moment of the date. The view, Colette, the food, the flowers, everything was just as he had planned ? well, most.

"You wanna go explore the mill?" Roman asked after a few minutes of sitting and letting the food settle. He wasn't going to force her if she was too scared, but it would be one last adventure before the night fully ended. Truthfully he didn't ever want it to end, but he could drag it out as long as possible.

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Colette wasn't half way through her first plate when Roman asked her if she wanted seconds. She smiled in amusement and politely refused, astounded by how much he could eat so quickly. But, she reminded herself, he did do manual labor all day long, something she'd never been exposed to but she was fairly certain that it would work up quite an appetite. The conversation flowed wonderfully, no awkward pauses as one of them tried to think of something clever or impressive to say, it was just easy. She set her plate down at the same time that Roman set down his second.

Her stomach felt as though it were about to burst, she hadn't had that much heavy food in a long time. And it felt wonderful to be so full, so content. She was still curved toward him as they sat for a few minutes in silence. Her eyes were steady on his features, studying the crisp angles of his face, the slope of his nose, everything. Colette wanted to commit him to memory. Even if he didn't want to progress things, he had shown her the best date she could possibly have imagined, and that was worth remembering.

His words snapped her out of her reverie and she was thankful for the night to cloak the slightly dazed look in her eyes as her mind tried to process what he'd just asked. Her gaze shifted past him, to the mill. It was definitely not something she would have thought to do, or would have done on her own. But Roman was suggesting it, so it couldn't be that bad, right? Plus, if she refused would they have to say goodnight? The mere idea of the night coming to an end pressed the words from her mouth, "Sure. It's not too terrible, right?" Her question carried her doubts, bugs, decaying wood that they could fall through, etc. Even with the question, Colette knew he could tell her it might fall in around their heads and she would trust him to keep her safe.

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Her gentle hesitance and want of confirmation from him made Roman smile, almost drunk off of happiness in the moment. His green eyes watched her face, forgetting to reply for a moment as he just took her in, the way she sat, her eyes, the way her skirt gathered around her slim waist. After a moment he glanced over to the mill, a bit daunting in the darkening distance, but more appealing than ever. "It's wonderful, actually," he reassured, standing up himself before reaching his large, calloused hand out to help her up. Every time she touched him a little spark ran through him, like electricity. Her small hand felt right in his. Normally it would be right for him to let her hand drop gently from his after she was standing firmly, but this time he didn't want to. Not now. Instead his hand wrapped around hers a bit tighter, holding it out in front of them like a guide. Of course he would let go if she wanted him to, but the mere contact of their hands was all he wanted in the moment.

It didn't take long to reach the mill and it's largeness was ghastly beautiful. The old rotting wood, grass growing tall around the base ? all of it changed it's appearance. The old water wheel sat stagnant above the slow moving water, covered in moss. The front door sat open, broken and crooked on the hinges. The sun hadn't quite set yet so there were dusty shafts of light seeping through the open windows into the dark mill. Leading Colette in, Roman was careful to make sure she didn't step anywhere unsafe. Inside there were old machines powered by the water wheel, broken furnishings, things of no use. It was dusty, dirty and the air was stale, but the warm sunset light lifted the room's unnerving atmosphere with illumination. He stopped them in the front room, letting Colette take in the sight he loved so much.

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Her small hand fit easily inside of his as he helped her up, a grateful smile on her features. She was briefly concerned about how her skirt had wrinkled while she was sitting. But as his hand tightened around hers, she seemed to forget all about it as she had to fight off a childish grin, the corners of her lips merely twitched as though she wanted to smile. Colette's fingers squeezed his palm, the way his callouses rubbed against her hand made a slight ache of longing shot through her. Every time they had touched she'd felt this inexplicable spark, like the world was suddenly coming in to focus. Everything seemed sharper and more beautiful.

The prolonged touch sent shivers of euphoria to her head, making her feel like she was floating. Which was absurd. They were, after all, only holding hands, she attempted to chide herself. But to no avail, even the mill managed to like hauntingly beautiful in the dimming light. She took her time, looking at everything as they entered. Colette liked the way he watched out for where her feet were when they walked, it allowed her to focus more on her surroundings. Her eyes widened at the sight before her. She had been expecting a worn, empty room but it was so much more than that. There were machines that looked as though they'd been left and forgotten, covered in inches of dust. She wanted to inspect them closer, but she didn't want to let go of his hand, ever.

So, she moved forward, slowly, timidly, wanting him to follow her to the edge of a foreign machine. She turned her body gracefully toward him, her dark eyes narrowed thooughtfully as she sought his gaze. "It reminds me of a ghost town," she said quietly, as though she didn want to disturb the air too much. To Colette it appeared as though the workers had simply walked away in the middle of the day and left everything to rot. Why hadn't someone come to claim the machines? She glanced toward the machine for a moment, before looking back at him, "What did this used to be?"

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Watching her gaze, his eyes followed hers, taking in the same sights she was exploring. None of it was new to him, but he enjoyed seeing her reaction to it. He remembered the first time he had visited it with Henry. They had been feeling risky and confident even though the place had secretly scared them. It had stayed a scary memory for a while, until he grew up a few years and realized it was an amazing place, nothing to be afraid of. Now it was his favorite place to come alone. He was happy to be able to share it with Colette.

As she pulled him towards a machine, he followed the tug of her hand, not wanting to let her go on her own. It wasn't that he was scared for her safety, but he just didn't want to lose holding her hand. Noticing the look in her eyes, connecting their gazes, Roman listened to her comment, nodding in agreement. It was true that it seemed strange that the machines were still there, but there was a somewhat fair answer to why. Her next question gave him an opportunity to explain it.

"They're textile machines. They made fabric and cloth. I've figured they were left here because once there was a better way to manufacture the stuff, they weren't worth enough to sell 'em," Roman explained, glancing at the machine and then back to her. No one had ever confirmed this assumption, but it was sound enough for him to believe.

He let the thought settle, his eyes searching hers, a sweet moment of connection he felt as they held hands in the dim room. Her soft face, brown eyes and perfect lips entranced him for a moment and he felt the sudden urge to kiss her. It wasn't like any other urge before, but something his heart was telling him to do, not his head. There was a second when he started to lean in like a force pulled him towards her, but he caught himself. Something stopped him, his common sense telling him it was too early, kisses weren't meant for first dates. But Roman could feel this wasn't just a first date, it was the start of something special.

Yet he couldn't do it and he snapped the moment with the break of eye contact and the unfortunate drop of her hand, looking back around the room. As soon as he let go of her hand he knew it was wrong, too sudden and would probably unsettle her, but he knew he couldn't take it back either. "We shouldn't go up 'cause I don't trust the stairs," he told her, knowing it would be nice to see the more empty upper section and enjoy the view, but he didn't know if the stairs could handle two people at once. He wasn't smiling anymore, bothered by his course of action through the last few moments. "But the view from this window's nice," he offered, gesturing over to the window looking out over the water wheel and to the river.

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His explanation made sense and she glanced at the machine against when he did. Although she had no idea how it worked, it seemed like something that would be used to make clothing, or at least the fabrics. She lost herself for a moment, trying to picture how it could have looked back then, with workers fastidiously attempting to make sure everything was right and to meet their quotas. At least, she assumed they had had certain quotas to fill each day, that was how her dad had always made his business seem. Colette felt his gaze on her and quickly turned her attention back to his, meeting his eyes.

She read the longing in the reaches of his green eyes and her eyes echoed his. As he leaned toward her, her heart started to beat rapidly in its ribcage, already anticipating the feel of his soft lips. Something in the back of her mind, the sensible part, told her to politely turn her cheek to him or pull away entirely; it was much too soon for a real kiss. But before she even had the time to have a fast, mental argument with herself, he had pulled away entirely from her, his eyes, his face, and most discouragingly of all, his hand. Colette released the breath she didn't know that she had been holding and frowned at him.

The taste of bitterness flooded her mouth, like metallic and ash. She tried to convince herself that she was being stupid, that he wasn't really even going to kiss her and it was probably better that he hadn't, because it displayed what a gentleman he was. But she reasoned, it could just so easily mean that he simply didn't want to, after all, he hadn't dropped her hand until then, maybe he just didn't want to string her along any farther. Colette hardly heard him about the stairs, nodding when he mentioned the window.

Her features were smoothed over, like glass, and she crossed her arms in front of her chest as she moved to the window he had pointed out. Colette took in the old water wheel, noticed that moss that sat in each of the arms and was once again perturbed by the way that something that had once been so useful was discarded as if it had never meant anything. She turned her attention to the river, it winded slowly through the woods, curving to the right where it disappeared from sight. She didn't trust herself to speak, or ask questions about what the water wheel actually did, afraid that there would be an edge to her voice and she hated when she couldn't control her tone. So, she attempted to satisfy herself with just staring out the window until he directed her attention elsewhere.

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Roman could have kicked himself as soon as he saw her reaction. He caught a glimpse of the frown on her face and it made his heart ache with the longing to fix it. He knew his snap decision had ruined what they had going and now there was going to be no easy way to fix it. He was savvy to the way girls elongated their negative moods to prove a point. He watched her body language, noting the way she didn't even speak and fists formed at his sides, all the upset he held towards himself gathered in the action. Following behind her as she moved towards the window, a million thoughts ran through his head. Should he just let it go and hope she'll come back around? Should he say something? Should he apologize? He never knew which one she would approve of, but he could tell if she was upset at him none of them would be able to turn her back around. Not saying anything would probably leave her tense and unhappy, lowering his chance with her, but he didn't know if saying something would just make it worse either.

As he stood beside her at the window, his eyes taking in the same view she was, an argument was arising inside him. Maybe if he just took her hand again in his, like a silent apology it would fix things a bit. But it seemed naive and childish and she would probably just refuse his hand and that would just make things worse. Roman suddenly realized maybe he was making it a bigger deal than it even was. She hadn't prominently displayed her anger or upset towards him, just a change in her outward expression. Maybe he should just test to see what she was really feeling.

Gathering all he could, Roman glanced over at her, seeing her defensive arm cross and lack of expression, another pang of heart ache running through him. Closing his eyes momentarily, he pushed himself to say it. "Sorry," he breathed out, a whisper in the room just audible between the two of them. If she wanted to acknowledge it she could, but it was soft enough she could ignore it like she'd never heard it and he'd know where she stood. He didn't watch for a response but waited anxiously by staring out at the river, feeling his pulse run through him.

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Her eyes were dark and unhappy as she stared out the window. Colette was aware, in the back of her mind, that she was being incredibly unfair to him, but she couldn't help herself. it was selfish and childish, but she couldn't seem to stop herself, or relax her shoulders. She tried to ignore the way her body tingled when he came to stand beside her at the window, making it impossible for her to pretend to ignore him. She lowered her chin slightly, so it wasn't set in such a defiant fashion and her eyes instantly softened at his nearness. There was a certain anxiety he was putting off and it was making any anger melt away into simply sadness.

His words surprised her so much that she looked over at him, her eyes clouded with confusion and lingering remnants of hurt. She wasn't even sure that she had heard him correctly at first. And his voice, it sounded cracked and desperate, as though he wasn't quite sure that was what he was supposed to be saying. It made her ache for him, for a way to erase the last few minutes, or at least change the outcome. When she was sure that she had heard him correctly her gaze softened. Why was he apologizing? It wasn't his fault that she had misread the signs and wasn't able to handle it.

Colette tilted her chin slightly, regarding him with curiosity. "You have nothing to apologize for," she said quietly, her tone sincere but upset. She attempted to force a smile onto her face, but it was one that didn't touch her eyes and didn't change her expression aside from a slight upward turn of her lips.

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He could sense her looking at him after he spoke, but he held a strong gaze out towards the river, waiting for something to come out of her mouth. He wanted to hear her speak, understand what she was feeling and thinking in that moment. Usually he could read people pretty well, but at this time he could understand nothing of Colette by just looking at her. The anticipation was brutal and painful, but he waited it out as patiently as possible. It wasn't until she spoke the six words he felt a hint of relief. Nothing to apologize for. Well at least she didn't regard the moment as a mistake. He could still tell she was unsettled, but at least she wasn't holding it against him, from what he could tell. Sighing softly, he managed to look down at her, her sweet face with the hint of a sad smile on her lips. There was nothing he could do to keep his body from aching for touch again. How could he have fallen for her so fast? Why did he feel so strongly? It was all a wonder to him and left him perplexed, but he knew it was something he was probably never meant to understand.

His green eyes flickered down to her crossed arms, noting she still held a tense position, and then back up to her eyes. His eyes held an expression of begging, wanting her to forgive him for whatever he did to make her act this way although she had already told him nothing had. Instead, he turned towards her, reaching his hands out and cupping her upper arms, gently pulling her towards him. He did it so tenderly, once again giving her the opportunity to refuse if she wanted, never ever wanting her to feel pressured. He drew her into his arms, up against his chest so his arms could wrap around her in a gentle embrace. One hand rested lightly against her head, coddling it, his chin just bobbing over the top. He knew in the back of his mind this was completely and utterly ridiculous ? too much for their first date, too sentimental for himself or any two people who were only just becoming friends, but he couldn't resist. If she felt as he did it would be perfect in the moment, but if she balked, it would ruin everything and be as awkward as it could. Yet he knew somehow it was the right gesture. Just the contact of their two bodies felt like magnets colliding and the electricity pulsed faster than before. Something about this moment felt dangerously perfect.

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Colette was once again startled by the tenderness of his touch, by how gentle his rough fingers could feel against her smooth skin. Her breath caught in her throat as he pulled her into him, the look in his eyes burning against hers. It was the image that flashed inside her lids as she closed her eyes, breathing him in deeply. His touch had instantly relaxed her and her skin seemed to be on fire wherever he touched her. It took a moment for her arms to relax, but when they did, one wrapped instinctively around his body and the other stopped at his side, slightly bunching up the material of his shirt to keep her hand steady. There was a steady thrum of energy flowing through her body, and heat wherever they were touching. It was the strangest sensation, but she knew she could never tire of it.

She moved her head so that she was facing the window, though she didn't crack her eyes open to see the view. She could care less about the view. Colette pressed her eyes tighter together at the confusion that moved through her, he didn't want to kiss her or hold her hand, but he could embrace her like this? Unless he viewed it as a friendly, apologetic hug and not as the romantic embrace that she was feeling. But that couldn't be it, she would never hug a friend like this, at least not with the same results. Maybe it did just have to do with propriety and the fact that it was just the first date. That idea made her feel a little better, although she wished that they could just throw caution to the wind, just this once.

All tension or sadness that the unfulfilled kiss had built inside her disappeared the longer they stood there like that. She wasn't sure how much time passed, it could have been a couple of seconds or a couple of hours, but she knew it would never be long enough, that her body would constantly ache for his warmth in a way that she never had before. Colette was terrified by how much she felt for him already - and, she reminded herself, it was absolutely absurd, she had to go to school in the fall and he would have to stay here to work. The very thought of goodbye made her flinch internally, but she pushed the thought away, not wanting to think about the future. She just wanted to live in the moment with him, so she snuggled her body closer to his.

Colette slowly counted to thirty in her head before she pried her body away from his. Her hand remained bunched in his shirt and she stood very close to him, still not ready to let go of his warmth. The swirls of desire in her eyes were hidden by the darkness that was beginning to surround them as she found his, the previous moment completely forgotten about. Still, she didn't say anything, not wanting to break the moment or make it so they had to leave.

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Her soft blonde hair rustled against his hand and Roman's head bent down, his nose just barely touching the top of her head. The sweet scent filled his nose, consuming him completely in the moment. There was nothing he wouldn't do to stay there with her, just embracing in the most sincere way. He knew it was the strangest of gestures, but it was all he wanted. He could feel her small hand holding his shirt at his side, sending another surge of spark through him. The way he felt with her there, body to body, was like nothing he had felt before. It was like time stopped, everything shifted into place and the world was right. He closed his eyes, letting his tactile senses take it all in rather than visually. It seemed like a lifetime as they stood, hugging, but he knew it was much shorter than that. A soft content sigh escaped his lips and he relaxed, every tension from before escaping him.

Her slight movement of pulling away forced his eyes open and he drew back just a tad, just enough room to be able to see her face. Looking up at him, her face was as angelic as a cherub, a light in the darkening room. A smile sat on his face as he just admired her, still feeling an electrical pulse where her hand was still clutched at his side. His hands slid so they clasped her sides lightly, not yet wanting to let go. As he watched her it was like a moment in limbo, waiting for one of them to make the move to end it all, but neither wanted to. Roman knew the night couldn't last much longer for he didn't want to keep her out very late.

"Let's get you home," he spoke in a low voice, as serene as the moment. His hands pulled away from her body with an inward resistance, one sliding down her arm towards the hand that still held his shirt. His hand coaxed hers free, wrapping his large fingers around hers. There was one last long look Roman gave Colette before turning and leading her out of the old mill, the sun already set and twilight now enveloping the sky. He led them slowly back to the truck, making their last few minutes through the wildflower field stretch. Once they reached the truck he helped her in again, shutting her door and walking around to his side, climbing in and starting the engine. He drove the way she directed him to her house, a drunken sense of euphoria swelling through the truck cabin.

It didn't take too long to reach her house, or more so mansion in comparison to anything else in the town. He pulled up the driveway, slightly awestruck by the perfect beauty of it. Pulling the truck to a stop, he turned it off, getting out and walking around to her door. Roman opened it, a hand outstretched to help her down, his eyes locked on her again, a gentle pleading looking hidden in them, begging her to never leave him, although it was absolutely ridiculous. The night was coming to a close faster than he ever had anticipated.

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His words were gentle and sensible, but her heart sank at the idea of the night being over already. Her fingers were resistant to let go of him immediately, though she complied as her hand slipped inside of his again. She felt cold without him against her, even though the night air was still warm, and wondered if she would ever be able to be warm without him again. Colette was surprised when they walked outside and the sun had completely set behind the woods, leaving them in an inky darkness. As the reached the meadow, she realized her vase of flowers was still at the picnic area and made him walk with her to get it before she allowed herself to be guided back to his truck.

The only conversation that passed between him were her directions and even those were a struggle for her to remember. She was still in a fog of bliss and her mind felt fuzzy and stiff, not allowing her to form complete thoughts. The sense filled the cabin and she knew there was no way that he wasn't feeling it. The vase was balanced precariously between their bodies, her fingers around the base whenever they turned to make sure that it didn't fall over. She was somewhat amazed by how quickly they appeared to reach her house, even though it probably took longer than it normally would have. The front, outdoor lights and the foyer lights were the only ones that were on, and the idea of leaving Roman to enter the cold, empty house made it even less appealing.

Colette accepted his hand, stepping down onto the rock drive delicately. She leaned against the truck, not willing to let him move them toward the house just yet. She was desperately searching for something else they could do together, but at this point, everything in town would be close to closing and she didn't know the area well enough to suggest the diner anyway. Thoughts of the blueberry pie that had been made that morning floated through her head, but she was unsure as to how forward it would be to invite him inside at this hour, especially when her dad wasn't there.

For the first time since stepping down, her eyes found his, the light from the porch splashing across his face so that she read the plea. And she knew, that he was dreading the end just as much as she was. Plus, she reasoned, they wouldn't really be alone, there were plenty of people that worked in the house who would still be awake, making sure everything was prepared for the next day. "Did you," she broke off, knowing how imprudent the offer may come off as, "Would you care to come in for desert? Miss Maudlin made pie this morning. Do you like blueberries?"

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After Colette stood firmly on the ground, Roman dropped her hand even though he didn't want to, knowing any unnecessary physical contact could be seen by someone in the house and he didn't want anyone to have a bad impression of him. He was going to move to lead her towards the door, but he saw her lean back and realized she was dragging the moment out just as he was hoping. Hands deep in his pockets, Roman stood in front of her, watching her face and waiting, knowing there couldn't be anymore hugging or hand holding, but just standing close to her was enough to satisfy him. Her abrupt words surprised him, a look of question crossing his features for a moment. It sounded delightful, pie with Colette, but he didn't know how appropriate it was. Usually a guy wouldn't meet the girl's family until after a few dates and he didn't know how he felt about intruding in on her house without being properly introduced. Yet as he caught the expression on her face, the one that replicated his plea, he knew he couldn't refuse without his own painful heartbreak.

"Would your folks mind? I don't wanna intrude or anythin'," he answered, genuinely concerned. He realized this might come off a bit like he was finding an excuse not to go in, so he quickly added, "I mean I'd love 'ta, but are you sure...?" Roman glanced from the house to her.

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She rested her hands on her thighs when he released her hands, figuring that it had to do with propriety and how it would appear if anyone was peaking through the curtains that made him do it, but that didn't keep her fingers from aching to reach out to him. Colette snorted, in quite an unladylike fashion would he asked about whether her parents would mind, and shook her head quickly. "No," she said firmly and then realized he'd asked if she was sure, "I mean, yes I'm sure but no, no one will mind." She didn't go into details, not finding them necessary. He could press for more details if he so desired, but she wasn't going to give them away willingly. She turned to grab the vase behind her, holding it safely in her hands before standing up completely, trying not to let her body get too close to his.

Colette tilted her chin toward the house with an impish grin and slowly walked up to the front door so that she could at least walk next to him. She was glad she was holding the vase otherwise she would have to pick up his hand, which he obviously wasn't comfortable with. She took the steps quickly and crossed the wide planks of the porch before opening the immense front door. The vase was placed on a table in the center of the grand foyer, knowing she would take it up to her room when she went to get ready for bed. As a good hostess, she knew she should offer a tour, but she would do that after the pie if he wanted. Her clip on earrings were irritating her ears, but she couldn't very well take them off in front of him, they weren't there yet.

Her heels clicked solidly against the floor and all she'd like to do right then was take them off. She clicked on the necessary lights as they went, thankful that they didn't bump into anyone. The pie was sitting on the breakfast bar counter, neatly put away with the server sitting beside it. Colette indicated that Roman should sit at one of the high chairs by the counter and grabbed two small plates and two delicate looking forks. She glanced at him, already heading toward the fridge, "Did you want ice cream? Or water?"

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Roman listened to Colette's words, finding himself relax a bit with her words of reassurance. He still felt a little anxious about it, he wasn't very comfortable with running in the high circles, but Roman would do anything to be with Colette. Stepping back as she turned to grab the vase, he smiled at the sight of her holding it, glad she liked the gift. Letting her lead the way up to the house, he kept his hands in his pockets, walking along side her glancing from his feet then up to the large house in front of them. Walking the steps to the large door, he was impressed and overwhelmed by the foyer and the grandness of it all. His eyes couldn't stay on one thing for longer than a few seconds. It was so fancy and expensive, nothing he had ever seen in his life. He tried not to gawk, keeping his eyes on Colette rather than the home. She looked so perfect walking through the grand hallway, the click of her heels echoing. He could tell she was in her element.

Taking a seat where she gestured, he pulled a toothpick out and rolled it between his fingers like usual, hinting at his small bit of nervousness in the situation. There appeared to be no one home, but he still was a bit on edge about being there alone with Colette. The only thing that kept him calm was the sight of her, so confident and beautiful. A smile found it's way on his face, relaxing a bit as she moved around so easily through the kitchen. "Uh, both," he replied, a smirk on his lips, knowing he could always feed his appetite.

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Colette smiled at his response, glad that she could indulge on the ice cream too without feeling like she was stuffing herself. She filled two glasses with water and pulled the vanilla ice cream from the freezer. Carefully dishing out the sweets, she made sure that Roman's piece and scoop were larger than hers and pushed the plate toward him before sitting down next to him. She had noticed him rolling the toothpick between his fingers and wondered if she had been selfish to ask him to come in, he was obviously uncomfortable with the situation. She took a small bite of the pie, making sure that she got a touch of ice cream with it, quietly chewing as she attempted to think of a way to get him to relax.

Her elbow gently nudged him, ignoring the pleasure that swept through her stomach at the mere touch, a roguish grin painted on her features as she looked at him. "It's too bad we don't have any more toothpicks," she said playfully, glancing ruefully at her fork before looking back toward his now familiar features, "They were so much more memorable than plain forks." It was true. While she felt certain, at that moment, that she would remember every facet of their relationship, every moment of their date, she also had a niggling sensation that some things would fade while others stuck out. And the toothpicks would not be easy to forget. Her feet her tucked neatly under her, resting on one of the bars.

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Thanking her as she slid a plate towards him, heaping with pie and ice cream. It looked absolutely delicious and he could barely wait to dig in. He waited for Colette to be seated, though, and took his time eating, making sure he got an equal amount of pie and ice cream in each bite. It was even better than he had expected, enjoying every forkful. He was busy focusing on the food, acting a little too much like a starving teenage boy, when she nudged him with her elbow. He stopped mid fork lift, glancing over at her with a smile, feeling more comfortable as she seemed relaxed too. Her comment made a genuine chuckle escape his lips, finding the thought funny. The toothpicks were memorable, but by no means very useful.

"Well I always got some if you ever want one," he commented, fishing another clean one out and holding out to her, smirking with a twinkle in his eyes. It wasn't until that moment that he felt at ease, like they had been before in the field during dinner.

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His chuckle made her smile widen happily, hoping she could always find a way to make him laugh. As he pulled another toothpick from his pocket she reached forward for it, her slender fingers gently plucking it from his hold, "Thank you." She could feel him relax as he spoke and she released a quiet sigh of contentment when he did. Colette knew attempting to eat the ice cream, and even the pie, would be fairly futile, so she placed it beside her plate, as though to demonstrate that she would be using it again. She took a few more bites of the pie, nearly finishing it off before she pushed it away from her, too full to finish it. Her father always told her that her eyes were bigger than her stomach, and in most instances he was right.

"Why do you always carry them around?" she asked, turning so that more of her body was facing him. Colette wanted to know if he always did it when he was nervous, or if it was just a habit that he reached for because he couldn't stand being still for too long. She wanted to know the nuances of his personality and be able to decipher his words and glances without him ever having to speak. In a way, she wanted to be able to know what he was going to do or say, or at least feel like she knew, so that he could surprise her by doing something out of the ordinary. She did her best not to stare at him, sipping from her water glass as she also took care not to let her knees press against his thigh, even though the bare contact would satisfy the desire gnawing at her senses.

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"You're very welcome," he replied, holding his smile. He watched as she placed it beside her plate before digging back into his food, trying to take his time even though he could have finished it in two minutes. Even though his surroundings still bothered him, Roman felt calm now, feeling like Colette was all he needed now to feel at ease. Already he felt some sort of dependency on her, like she was already a part of him he couldn't let go of. Just as he watched Colette push she plate away, partially finished, Roman took his last few bites, savoring each one. It was just enough to fill him up, so he was glad he didn't feel the need to ask for anymore. He relaxed in his seat, leaning back a bit, intertwining his hands and placing them behind his head, elbows out on either side of him. He let out a silent yawn, realizing how long his day had really been. He wasn't exactly tired yet, but exhausted.

Her next question made him think for a bit, considering the thought. There had never really been a reason and he didn't really remember when the habit started, but it had always come to be his trademark. Letting his hands loose and settling his elbows on the counter, he leaned forward and gave Colette a thoughtful look. "Well, y'know how some kids have security items, like baby blankets and such? It's kinda like that, but..." he paused, thinking, "it's really just a habit. It'll calm me if I'm uptight or nervous or somethin', but it also just keeps me busy." It wasn't until after he said it that he realized how much he had revealed. When ever someone asked he usually shrugged it off with a nonchalant answer. This time he had told her the truth, even if it didn't flatter him in the most masculine way. He wasn't the type of guy to let on his feelings of nervousness or tenseness, but he felt comfortable telling Colette, like she already knew him. He picked his toothpick up again, rolling it with his eyes examining it before smiling back over at her.

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OOC: SORRY! It's been a crazy couple of weeks.

Alice nodded and settled back into her seat once Henry and his father confirmed that her move had been correct. He and his family were so warm and welcoming, that Alice couldn?t help but feel right at home with them. She lifted the glass to her lips and her first sip was sweet and delicious. She had had sweet tea before but it had never been this good and Alice wasn?t sure whether it was so wonderful because of the environment or because Mrs. Scott simply made really good drinks.

She was surprised when Henry gestured to the board and pointed out the fact that she was ahead. ?Do you think so?? She asked, gently biting the corner of her lip to hold back a grin. She felt silly being so proud of herself for almost being in the lead. After all, it was a child?s game and involved no skill at all- just luck. But still, she had never really been good at much of anything besides deportment and generally looking pretty.

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