Tessa was really enjoying this part of her adventure. She hadn’t really had very high hopes when Anton sent Agent Todd to pick up painting supplies. He seemed like a nice guy, but he certainly didn’t look like he knew the business end of a paint brush, but he’d managed to find a good-quality canvas and the very brand of paints that she liked to use. Someone had probably managed to figure out what she bought, but she wasn’t too concerned about that at the moment.
Patri was in another room working with the wheel and clay Agent Todd had obtained, and she seemed just as happy with the arrangements. Will seemed happy just sitting back and watching the artists at work. He was here in the painting room watching her work on her latest creation. It was a medium-sized canvas and she was working on something new.
Unlike her usual paintings, this was much more abstract. She was working with a variety of globes. She was trying to make them look like glass orbs with reflected images on their surfaces, but it wasn’t easy, especially since she was working from her own imagination. She was tempted to ask Agent Todd if he could find some models for her, but she doubted she would have that much time to work on this project as it was, so she decided against it.
“I’m not sure you have that one quite right,” Will observed from the couch.
“Since when are you an artist?” Tessa demanded.
“I never said I was an artist,” Will casually remarked. “I’m just saying that that orb is just a little off the others.”
“It’s still a work in progress,” Tessa insisted. “Once I figure out how this is supposed to work, I can come back and fix it.”
“You could probably fix it now,” Will suggested now.
“I take it you have a suggestion,” Tessa hinted.
“It’s probably a good idea to take a break from it for now,” Will offered. “When you come back, you’ll probably see what I’m noticing.”
“What exactly do you plan on doing?” Tessa asked. “It’s not like we can just go out for coffee.”
“I know,” Will replied, “but you and Patri have your art to occupy you and I don’t really have anything to do. I’m not really comfortable with that.”
“So what do you want to do?” Tessa asked.
“Do you want to play some cards?” Will suggested.
“Sounds good to me,” Tessa replied as she set down her palette and moved towards the table. “What should we play?”
“Do you know how to play gin?” Will inquired.
“I’ve played a few times,” Tessa acknowledged. “It’s been a while though.”
“I’ll take it easy on you the first couple of hands,” Will teased.
“First,” Tessa replied, “I don’t believe a word of that.”
“And second?” Will asked.
“Second,” Tessa added, “I’ll slap you silly if you do any less than your best.”
“I might lest you win a hand just to see you try,” Will joked.
“Just deal that cards, Staige,” Tessa demanded. “I’ll slap some sense into you another day.”
“Promises, promises,” Will replied as he dealt the cards. “Actually, I’m not sure I want to take my chances against you.”
“I wouldn’t want to face me either,” Tessa prodded. “You’re going to have enough trouble with the card game as it is.”
“You talk a big game,” Will responded, “but you’ll have to back it up with more than just talk to impress me.”
Tessa looked at her hand. It wasn’t the best of starts, but there was still a chance that she could put something together. The three eights in her hand were nice and there were a couple of options on a run, but the smug look on Will’s face spelled trouble. She wasn’t about to let him off easy though.
“I’m sure you think this will be easy,” Tessa noted, “but I’ve got a hand to play too.”
“We both have hands to play,” Will commented. “I’m just not sure that yours will be anything against the one that I’ve been dealt.”
“Why don’t you flip over that card, and we’ll see how that game turns out?” Tessa suggested.
“As you wish,” Will joked as he flipped over a card and revealed the queen of hearts.
Tessa hesitated, but in the end she picked it up. She didn’t need the extra points, but it did give her a pair of queens to possibly work with down the road. She threw out a king. Will ignored it and picked up the top card from the deck. The game continued and things looked worse and worse for Tessa.
Will knocked and Tessa considered her options. There wasn’t much chance she was going to win this hand. It was a mistake to pick up that queen of hearts; it had left her with twenty four points in her hand. She picked up the top card and found just the thing that she needed-a queen of diamonds. She discarded a four and had two points left over.
“What do you have?” she asked hopefully.
“Three points,” Will gloated.
“I just went down to two,” Tessa bragged.
“Well played,” Will admitted.
“Actually,” Tessa confessed, “I just got lucky on the last card.”
“Better lucky than good,” Will quoted.
“I can’t argue with that,” Tessa laughed as she picked up the cards and shuffled them.
“Shall we keep playing?” Will asked.
“I’m game as long as you don’t mind losing,” Tessa prodded.
“Just deal the cards,” Will insisted. “We’ll see how it goes.”
“There must be something wrong with this deck,” Tessa complained.
“Don’t blame me if you dealt yourself a bad hand,” Will shot back. “I’m not going to complain too much.”
“You wouldn’t,” Tessa shot back. “Here’s your card.”
“I don’t need it,” Will replied with a grin as he lay down his cards. “Gin.”
“That isn’t good for me,” Tessa said shaking her head. She counted her cards. “Fifty-two points, I guess that puts you in the lead.”
“By a little bit,” he bragged. “I expect you’ll catch up soon enough. I just got a lucky hand. There’s no fighting that.”
“William Edward Staige,” Tessa said “you are quite the human being.”
“Should I take that as a compliment?” Will asked.
“Most definitely,” Tessa confirmed, “I’ve been living a separate life for a while now and I wasn’t terribly excited about meeting you when Patri called. It’s nothing personal, but I just didn’t expect to like you.”
“I had no idea what to expect either,” Will acknowledged. “Patri just said she wanted to go see an old friend. I definitely wasn’t expecting you when we got there.”
“I just like to be thorough,” Tessa answered. “You handled the situation pretty well. That’s when I decided that I could trust you.”
“Because I let you poke around inside my mouth?” Will asked.
“Because you let me check you out without any complaints or questions,” Tessa replied, “You trusted Patri enough to trust me in return. That meant more to me than you could know.”
“It wasn’t that big of a deal,” Will shrugged. “It gave me a chance to check you out as well. The fact that you went to so much trouble meant just as much to me.”
Tessa sat in silence for a few moments. She hadn’t had a chance to sit and have a serious conversation with Will. They were usually bantering and trying to keep Patri from being too overwhelmed by everything that was going on around her. The game had come to a halt and they were both sitting in silence trying to figure out what would happen next.
On a whim, Tessa leaned over and gave will a kiss. At first he didn’t react, but then he started to kiss her back. It had been a long time since she’d kissed anyone that she really enjoyed the moment, and Will was a very good kisser. Then Tessa started to think about what she was doing which is always a bad idea when you are trying to enjoy a kiss.
Tessa thought about her relationship with Patri and the history that they shared. She also thought about Patri’s relationship with Will. There were so many questions about the small group and so few answers. She broke off the kiss and whispered, “I’m sorry, Will,” before she ran back to her painting.
Will was a little confused, but he had good reason to be confused. Actually he’d been confused pretty much from the moment that he’d met Patri. He wasn’t complaining, because the confusion was actually enjoyable. It sounded strange, but lately his life had been changed for the better by breaking him out of his regular pattern of running away every time his parents managed to track him down.
Sure there was concern about what was going to happen to Patri, but he always felt confident that they would find some way to see her through this difficult situation. Things looked even better now that the FBI had contacted them. It was a rough start with Agent Martinez being a jerk, but life at the safe house was going pretty well so far. There was just that little thing about him just kissing Tessa.
It was a great kiss, and it had been a long time since he’d allowed himself to have anything to do with relationships. He didn’t want to leave someone behind like he’d done with Sarah Jean. She wouldn’t have gone with him anyway even if he had bothered to ask.
Patri had changed that. For some reason, he’d changed his way of life to chase after this unusual woman. It didn’t make sense, but that was OK. The part that wasn’t OK was the kiss he’d just shared with Tessa. Then again, maybe it was going to be fine. Will hadn’t even talked to Patri about what kind of relationship they had. Maybe that needed to change.
He made his way to the room that Patri had turned into an art studio. One of the agents had taken the precaution of covering the room so that it wouldn’t be too hard to clean up since there was clay everywhere. Patri had stepped out of the room so Will decided to check out what Patri had been creating while he’d been hanging out.
Next to the wheel, there was a shelf with plastic draped over it. Will looked under the plastic to see what Patri was making. Will was impressed with the work that Patri had managed to put together in such a short period of time. There were about thirty different pieces on the shelf. It was an almost complete dinner set for six with carefully crafted and made so that it was impossible for Will to see any difference between them.
“Don’t leave them uncovered for too long,” a voice said behind him.
Will turned to see Patri behind him. He was a little confused by the blonde wig she was wearing. It was a short wig with straight hair. Patri was also dressed up like she was getting ready to go out. She was wearing a short denim skirt and a leather jacket.
“Sorry,” Will said, “I was just checking out your work. It’s really magnificent.”
“Thanks,” Patri said with a blush.
“So why are you all dress up?” Will asked.
“We’re going out,” Patri answered. “Besides, I wanted an excuse to wear a wig. This is all they could find on such short notice.”
“We can’t go out,” Will insisted. “This is a safe house. It’s the place where we can be safe.”
“I already made the arrangements,” Patri insisted, “and Tessa is getting ready too.”
“Patri,” Will scolded, “this isn’t a game. There are dangerous people out there.”
“You’re the one that taught me not be run away anymore, Will,” Patri replied. “Besides, this is important. You’ll understand later.”
“I was hoping we could talk,” Will muttered.
“We can always talk,” Patri informed him taking off her wig.
“I like you better without the wigs,” Will commented.
“I’ll need it later when we go out,” Patri mentioned. “For now, I can be myself around you.”
“Where exactly are we going?” Will asked.
“It’s a surprise,” Patri answered. “So what did you want to talk about?”
“It’s a little awkward,” Will started, “I’m not even sure how to start now that you’re actually here.”
“Just say what’s on your mind,” Patri suggested, “but be quick about it because you have to get ready to go too.”
“I’m not sure I even know what’s on my mind,” Will confessed.
“Will,” she started, “I really think you’re a great guy. I think there’s something special between us.”
“Well, I guess you know what’s on my mind even if I don’t,” Will laughed.
“We’re in a complicated situation,” she offered, “I’m not sure what might have happened if we’d met under different circumstances, but I’m really reluctant to do anything specific until we are past this situation.”
“I can understand that,” Will agreed. “I just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking about where we’re going.”
“I can’t tell you that,” Patri answered, “I can’t even tell you where we’re going once you get dressed.”
“I guess I’m fine with that,” Will replied. “We will talk about this when all of this is done, right?
Patri looked at him and smiled. She didn’t answer his question, but she lifted his chin and kissed him. It was a long slow kiss, and Will really enjoyed it. Patri eventually pulled away.
“I think that should answer that question,” she said. “Now go get dressed up so we can get going. I’ve got a surprise for you and Tessa.”
“Can you at least tell me how dressed up I need to be?” Will asked. “It could make a difference.”
“I picked out something that will work quite well,” Patri answered. “That should give you an idea if you don’t like what I picked out.”
“It’s been a while since I let a woman dress me,” Will joked, “but I’ll probably take your advice.”
“Don’t feel like you have to,” she responded, “it’s just a suggestion.”
“I’m sure it’s a fine suggestion, too,” Will said. “I’ll be back in a little bit and we can go find out what you have planned.”
“Don’t take too long,” she prodded.
Will walked towards his room. He didn’t have any more answers than when he’d started just more questions. He wasn’t sure he needed answers at this point, but he was hoping that there would be some kind of solution to his situation. He decided that the best solution was to keep doing what he’d been doing. Patri needed him and so did Tessa. Maybe that was all that mattered for now.