Thursday, February 23, 2006

TNT: Ch. 58

(100th post! )

Eric and Gina walked out of the bathrooms at exactly the same time, looked at each other, and laughed. Eric had changed into a bathing suit and Gina was back in her ordinary clothes.
"I decided you were right so I bought a-" he said.
"I was a little rash, so I thought I'd-" she said at the same time.
They paused.
"So , swimming or work?" she asked.
"Go take your clothes off again," he replied
"Hey, now," Gina laughed, "That wasn't an option."
Eric blushed. He obviously had intended no innuendo.
"I just meant, we can go swimming. You're right; there's no big rush."
"Well thanks. I'll go change. Listen, I already nabbed our first lead. I met one of the discoverers of the springs. I'm interviewing him at the restaurant at six."
"I'll make sure I'm free."
"No, I think it'll go better if I handle it alone."
"I see." Eric paused. "This wouldn't be the same guy you were flirting with after you ran off, would it?"
"I wasn't, I mean, well yeah, he does seem to like me, and we can work that to our advantage if I go alone."
"Nice of you to put the quest first like that," said Eric disbelievingly.
"Eric, don't be like that. You know I'm right. Now I'm gonna go change."
He sighed as she turned around. She was right, but that didn't mean he had to like it. He felt like Gina should be his. He'd risked everything for her, to rescue her. And she's kissed him and it just seemed like they belonged together.
Yet they didn't really have a relationship. She didn't really have any kind of obligation to him romantically. In fact, maybe she didn't think about him that way at all.
He turned his mind toward the quest. He was worried about getting the springs. In this case they were caught between two sides who desperately wanted them for themselves. It wasn't going to be easy, coming in and demanding them for themselves. And he didn't have any kind of a plan. He figured once they did all the fact-finding something would come up, but there was really no way to be certian.
Gina came out of the bathroom, clad once again in her bikini.
"I should warn you, the water's awfully cold."
"Yeah, I got that impression." He stifled a laugh at the memory of watching her try to hide her shock.
She glared at him.
He glared back.
Despite her best efforts, her grin turned slowly to a smile.
His followed suit, and pretty soon they were both laughing.
"Race you to the water!" Gina yelled suddenly, and took off. The quest, Eric thought as he ran after her, could wait a little while.

Friday, February 10, 2006

TNT: Ch. 57

Sam slammed the 20-year-old copy of "Florida Property Law" shut, sending up a cloud of dust. He couldn't take this anymore, lawyering work on his vacation. He could feel the sun on his skin and see the vacationers happily playing in the springs. Countless towels were strewn about the lawn like his, their owners buried in a book, but he was pretty sure the other books were more interesting than his. They were reading for fun.
He had thought that coming here to do the work would make it feel less like work, but it was having the opposite effect. Now he needed only to look up to see exactly what he was missing. He sat back for a minute to take in the sights and sounds. He saw a group of teenagers roughhousing around the rocks at the deep end of the spring, and the lifeguard eyeing them cautiously. He saw two old women who should not have been out in public in their skimpy bathing suits swimming across the center. He saw some divers setting up for a deep dive (since the discovery the place was crawling with them).
That should be me out there, he thoguht, diving, swimming, doing the things I love. He would have been able to beat the state lawyers; wasn't even worried. However he'd just heard that they were hiring special lawyers for this one. Some of the biggest firms in the area. He was out of his league, and couldn't afford to play.
Just as he moved to get back to work,Sam heard an argument from over his shoulder.
" big rush! We can take a swim now, get the feel for the place, and start talking to people tomorrow."
"You're not taking this very seriously, Gina. We're not here on a vacation."
"The sun is hot, the water is beautiful, and some of us didn't forget to pack a bathing suit, so I'm going in."
And then he saw her. She bounded past him, a perfect figure in a modest but very flattering purple bikini, as the other voice, a male voice, yelled.
"Fine, have a great time. I'll be out here getting to work!"
He watched as the beautiful girl jumped into the freezing water and cringed as she screamed. She'd get used to it soon enough though, and then she'd be having a much better time than he was. He glanced up at the man who'd been fighting with her- a scrawny, nerdy guy. Was that what this was turning him into? A day like this and a girlfriend like that, and all that guy cared about was work? Sam wasn't going to have it. He stood up, grabbed his suit and headed for the bathroom to change.

The water was freezing. The Florida atmosphere had tricked her into expecting pleasant water, but the spring water was freezing. Gina screamed. She shouldn't have jumped in like that, but she couldn't get out while Eric was still watching. At least, she thought he was. Her view was obscured by a guy getting up and getting something out of his back. Yep, there he was, still watching her. She felt a tinge of guilt for fighting with him like that, but she desperately needed to have some fun, and Eric had gotten so serious lately.
It wasn't that she didn't care about the quest. She was caught up in it, and even if she didn't care much about toasters she cared about Eric and she cared about the people who had rescued her, and she wanted to make this work out. But she didn't see what the big ticking time bomb was, why they had to work all the time. She needed to relax. Still, the freezing cold water would have been more fun with Eric.
She swam around a bit, trying to have fun, but after a few minutes she decided to go find Eric and apologize. She climbed out of the water, and nearly screamed again. Now the air felt almost as cold as the water did before, and she hadn't brought a towel. As she stood there shivering and considering her options, a young and very handsome man walked up to her, profferring a towel. He said some things that were totally lost on her as she took in his swim-trunk clad body.
"What?" she said, looking up.
"I said you looked like you might need this."
"Thanks," she smiled, taking the towel and wrapping it around herself like a cloak, "I didn't think it would be that cold."
"It looked like you were less concerned about thinking and more concerned about winning."
"Winning?" she asked.
"The fight with your boyfriend. I saw most of it from up there. I have to thank you, your little tiff reminded me of how much I've been letting my work get in the way of having a good time here."
"Well, you're welcome I guess," Gina replied, "And he's not my boyfriend."
"Oh," said the man, not looking entirely surprised, "He's your...?"
"My friend. And we work together."
"What kind of work?"
For some reason she didn't feel like telling him the truth of it. She didn't want this nice, helpful, good-looking man to think she was crazy. At least not yet.
"We're journalists. Researching a story - the whole springs-of-life thing."
"Well then you're lucky you met me." He smiled. "I'm Sam Stalwart, head lawyer for the defense and one of the discoverers of the springs."
"I'm Gina. I obviously don't have a pen or paper on me, or I'd start the interview now."
"That's okay," he said, "Gives me an excuse to see you again. How about I meet you at that restaurant tonight at six?" He gestured toward the structure next to the spring.
"Well, alright. We'll be there." She turned to go, but he put a hand on her shoulder.
"Condition of my exclusive interview: You handle this one yourself. Your friend can find someone else to interview at six."
"There's no other way you'll do it?"
He shook his head.
"Then I'll see you at six." She smiled, folding up his towel and handing it to him before walking off toward her car.