The sudden draft blew her hair into her face, the displaced air announcing Ali’s arrival. As hands slipped around her waist Steph smiled.
“To what do I owe the pleasure?” Lips brushed against her neck.
“Can’t I just come to enjoy some time with you?” That was met with a chuckle.
“You were due to be at the HQ all day and possibly into the evening so I repeat my question.” Turning in Ali’s arms Steph placed a kiss on soft lips before Ali sighed.
“I just needed to get out of there for a little while. I went home first but you weren’t there.” Steph frowned at the surprise she heard in Ali’s voice.
“It’s on the family planner. I have a shift all day.” Ali nodded but then gave a little shrug.
“It’s just…what with…”
“The end of the world as we know it?” Steph supplied. Her raised eyebrow was met with Ali giving her the puppy dog eyes that had ensnared her in the first place.
“Babe,” she sighed in frustration. “It’s not the first time something like this has happened.” Ali stepped back and leaned on the racking across from Steph.
“This time it’s different.”
“Yes, you were very emphatic about that last night when you were disobeying orders and telling me everything. I remember. I was there.” Steph pointed at her own face. “I have the bags under my eyes to prove it.” She turned and picked up the scanner she had been using and consulted her stock list again. She heard the growl of frustration Ali made but refused to turn back around.
“And what was it that drove me to spill my guts?”
“Yes, Ali. Your mentor lied to you.”
“So how can I trust him now?” Slamming down her work Steph spun on her heel.
“Maybe because he’s never let you down. Even when you told me what he did you managed to make it sound like he did you a favour. Because of what he did you couldn’t do something stupid that could have gotten you killed. So I’m really sorry if I’m not actually feeling betrayed by a man I’ve only known existed for nineteen hours!”
“You’re supposed to be on my side,” Ali said through gritted teeth.
“He kept you alive. How can I not be happy about that?”
“Steph!” Came a shout from somewhere else in the racks. Ali was gone, another draft the only evidence of movement. Stephs manager came around the corner a moment later. Steph had already picked up her scanner and list,
“What do you think you’re doing?” Steph just looked at her in confusion.
“You’re fully aware that there are no phones allowed during work hours. They are to be kept in a locker.”
“I wasn’t on the phone. It is in my locker.”
“I could hear you yelling,” her manager said with a look of smug satisfaction on her face that scrunched her features.
“Ah, I was going over lines for a reading my partner and I are taking part in next week. I must have got carried away.” Steph pulled a face of contrition. “I didn’t realise how loud I was being, sorry.” Her manager wasn’t convinced and after turning her pockets out and being marched back to her locker to prove that her phone was in fact in her locker she was finally allowed back to work with a warning to keep her line running to an inside voice only.
As Steph got back to her task she felt another draft.
“I could make her disappear for you.” Steph rolled her eyes to herself but didn’t turn to face Ali.
“Better the devil you know,” was her reply. “Now can I please get back to my job? You’ve almost gotten me in trouble once today. I’d just like to get on with it.” When Steph got no reply she looked over her shoulder to check if Ali was even there. Ali was leaning against the racks again looking at the floor. When Ali finally looked up Steph put her hand out but Ali had moved just out of reach, sighing before speaking again.
“I’m sorry for that. I guess…I just don’t get why you put up with this shitty job when you know what’s going on out there? When you could be at home with your daughter. Spending time with her.”
“Or you?” Ali looked up at Steph but didn’t deny her accusation. Putting her work things down Steph took a tentative step toward Ali.
“This job puts food on my table. A roof over mine and my daughters heads and allows me the time to study so I can get a vastly better paid shitty job. And I can’t afford to lose it.” Ali started to speak but Steph held her hand up. “I know something big is happening. But you’ve also told me that you could do something about it. And more importantly that you have done so several times before. My real life hero.” She smiled and saw Ali’s face begin to brighten. “So I came to work because I know that you’re going to make sure that it’s still here for me tomorrow. And the next day.” Steph ran her hands up onto strong shoulders and around Ali’s neck. “So I don’t need to go be with my daughter. You’re going to make sure nothing happens.” Ali just stared at her. Steph waited as the puppy dog eyes looked for any sign that she was lying. Seemingly finding none Ali let out a huge breath.
“You’re putting a hell of a lot of trust in me.”
“I know,” Steph replied with a grin on her face. Ali enveloped her in a hug and kissed her.
“Dinner at mine tomorrow night?” Steph asked.
“Love to. I’ll text you to let you know I got back safely.”
“You better.” With another rush of displaced air Ali was gone.
Featured image from pixabay,com and used under Creative Commons