Chapter Ten: Killian

"Thank you Maurice." I uttered, as he stopped in front of my house.

He tipped his hat, "Anytime Sir." 

     Clambering out the vehicle, I watched as it disappeared round the corner, ready for Maurice to park it in the garage. The dinner had definitely gone well and my heart thudded as I recalled Nissa's willingness to see me again so soon. Sure, I was eager to see her. One night certainly wasn't enough. 

    Clenching my palm around my keys, the memory of Nissa's warm, soft hand curled in mine lingered in my mind. She hadn't pulled away or retracted her hand. They had stayed together, each of us touching the other in a polite but fierce way. 

     Oh yes, I was in trouble alright. I think I had been from the moment her letter ended up on my desk. Unlocking the door, I stepped inside the hallway. The sound of gentle footsteps padded towards me, as Janessa and Jasper came into view. They were both bleary-eyed and immediately released large yawns. "I'm sorry my sweethearts, were you sleeping?" 

    The cats glared at me as if to say "Yes we were, thank you very much. We now require compensation." Plonking their butt's down in front of the kitchen cupboard where I kept their treats. 

"Alright, alright. But only because I love you both." My fingers wrapped around the door handle and as I yanked, an unbidden voice in the back of my mind went you could grow to love someone else too. Hurriedly, I opened the bag of dreamies treats and put a bunch in two piles on the floor. I knew I was attracted to Nissa; it didn't take a genius to deduce that. She had looked damn good tonight, very good. She'd become an incredibly beautiful woman, not that she wasn't beautiful before, but still.

      I watched as Jasper and Janessa gulped down the treats, while I continued to ponder. Her laugh was incredible; I'd never tire of hearing it. There just seemed to be a lot more light in the world when she laughed. She was intelligent and creative, going from criminal court to artist all in a day. She still loved her food and a smile twitched at my lips as I remembered her adamant suggestion of ravioli. Under all her worldly experience, she was still the same Nissa. 

       A loud sigh breathed through my lips, causing the cats to glance up for a second before wandering off, done with their compensatory snack. Tonight had gone brilliantly, but I didn't want to rush her. I would have to take it easy. After all, we hadn't seen each other in so long, it would be better to build a friendship back up first before daring to pursue anything more. I could wait. Nissa was worth waiting for.

***

The rare nice day was perfect for exploring town and other areas of Osegate. I hadn't had time to familiarise myself with restaurants and bistros, apart from the occasional Starbucks on my way into the office. There had been too much work to do for that. But I needed to find somewhere that was just as good if not better than Italia. Nissa had done her best to try and find a place where she thought I'd be happy to eat; it was only fair I do the same. 

      I knew Nissa would eat practically anything, so the type of food being served wasn't a big deal. There were some fancy looking steakhouses I'd marked as "maybes" on my imaginary list. An old fashioned styled pub was doing a big Sunday roast with all the trimmings tomorrow according to the menu outside. There was a Chinese buffet style place, and across the road from that, a Japanese restaurant. While the Chinese one called to me more, I could probably whip up a similar dish. That's it. 

      Would it be too soon for her to come over to my house? Would she feel comfortable with that? Then there was the snag of her saying she wanted to pay next time. But "Next time" was a vague phrase. Next time we saw each other may not be the same as next time we went out. Before I put my plan into action, I retrieved my mobile from the trouser pocket, thumb dancing over the keys as I fired off a text to Nissa. How would you feel about me cooking tomorrow? 

Almost immediately, a reply came through. Depends how well you can cook?

Pretty well. I didn't want to give too much away. I wanted her to be impressed with my cooking, without giving her any expectations. 

OK, sure. What time and where?

      I relayed the time and my address to her, before slipping the phone back into my pocket. I had ingredients to get and was fairly sure there was a market round here somewhere. For what I had planned, only the freshest stock would do.  I'd also have to replenish my spices and sauces. I had no idea how much was left in each jar or bottle, but I wasn't going to take any chances. I was going to show Nissa the best kung pao chicken I could make. I just hoped she'd deem it a decent meal. I swear in another life she must have been a food critic.

       With that in mind, I headed in the direction I thought Osegate's market was located. It had been awhile since I'd had the opportunity to visit a market and found myself looking forward to the sights and sounds. The market was under a giant canopy, with lots of stalls and the familiar loud yelling that went straight through as a result of stall holders trying to outdo each other and sell the most produce.

    

A silver dish brimming with peaches caught my eye and I pondered on whether to attempt a dessert as well. If the main course goes wrong, at least I might be able to win her over with something sweet. 

      Just as I was about to ask the stall owner about their fruit, I heard a familiar voice call my name.

 "Killian?" 

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