If someone had asked Martin Crieff to make a list of things he would expect, in all likelihood, to see in his flat upon returning home from a wearying round trip flight, he probably would have answered a dirty dish in the sink, or a pair of pants on the floor of the bathroom, or a pile of unread mail.
He most definitely would not have said Molly Hooper, in his captain’s hat and jacket, draped lazily over his hastily-made bed.
And yet—probability be damned—there she was.
“How did you get in my flat?” He sputtered.
“I followed your neighbor in the front door. I thought you’d probably have a spare key under the mat.” She smiled. “I was right.”
Martin hovered in the doorway, awkward in his own space.
“We’ve only been on five dates, Molly…” He hedged, embarrassment masked as uncertainty.
“Yeah, five dates, and I thought they went well. Didn’t you?” Molly’s eyebrows tugged upward just a little, a small hint of worry betraying the effortless, languid pose of her body.
“Yes, very well,” Martin replied, a little too eager.
“Then don’t you think it’s about time you brought me around to your place?”
Martin felt the tips of his ears burn as he stared fixedly at the foot of his bed, waiting for the inevitable. Waiting to be asked why a pilot—a captain, even—lived in such a sad, lonely little place with peeling wallpaper and a persistent, musty odor in the hallway. But the inevitable never came.
Instead, deliberate movement caught his eye and he looked up to see one long, pale leg slide over his duvet. His stomach plummeted; she was wearing nothing but his captain’s jacket and hat. As she stood, the jacket slipped, revealing the smooth curve of her bare shoulder.
“And don’t you think it’s about time to finish what we started before you jetted off to Bucharest?”
Martin’s breath hitched and he stood with a rigidity that suggested his body had been recently and artlessly carved from marble. He saw the way Molly’s mouth began to turn downward and her heel lifted as if to begin futilely backtracking. He saw the way she misread him so wholly and completely, and the panic and overwhelming desire that had seized his throat and every muscle in his body eased just enough for him to squeak out yes.
“Yes?” She repeated, and that gorgeous smile began a tentative return.
Martin nodded dumbly.
“You’re not like other men, are you?” Molly said.
Martin wasn’t sure if it had been meant as a compliment—he could imagine it curling off of Douglas’s tongue, marinated in sarcasm—but the way she said it almost with a tone of wonder made the scarlet color in his cheeks deepen a shade.
“I like that about you.” She lifted one hand and ran it through his hair, down the nape of his neck, eliciting a pleasant shudder. “You’re shy, but sincere.” Her voice was low, but touched with a strange bittersweetness.
She had leaned close enough that Martin could feel every exhalation whisper over his skin and smell the way her soft perfume mingled with the faint, acrid aroma of lab chemicals. He knew how she tried to scrub it off, that clinging smell of the lab, but it never quite dissipated completely. The sharp contrast conjured up all that she was—a bright doctor, a dedicated scientist, a beautiful woman—and its closeness reminded him that such a woman was interested in him. Him, Martin Crieff. He marveled at it and thanked whatever deity had seen fit to reward a lanky, barely-adequate pilot with unruly hair with a woman like Molly.
She had turned up the long sleeves on his jacket; her thin, exposed wrists made her seem unexpectedly fragile, almost. It was a side of her he hadn’t seen during their companionable dinners and casual walks afterward, and it made him hunger to see every other hidden facet. When she raised her other hand to trail her fingers over his chest he caught her hand lightly before it came to rest over his racing heart.
He swallowed hard and licked his lips. “Have you considered a career in piloting? The uniform suits you.”
Molly smiled coyly and met his gaze. “I thought, maybe tonight—“ she sighed, but it was mild, inviting. “I could be the captain.”
A soft little noise, almost like a whimper, bubbled up out of Martin, but before he could put the thought to words she guided his face down to meet hers and pressed her lips to his.
They had kissed before (Martin, though he would sooner die than admit it, kept a detailed mental record of every instance), but never with the objective so plainly laid before him, and the anticipation uncoiled around his heart with a sudden, demanding neediness. There was nothing subtle about the way she licked into his mouth, no mixed message sent by his jacket clothing her naked body, no need for Martin work up the scarce courage to lead when Molly was so willing to show him how to follow.
He moaned into her without even realizing; Molly broke the kiss and brushed another lightly across his cheek.
“Why don’t you come to bed, then?”
Martin Crieff had never heard a more agreeable suggestion in his life.