Sorry I didn't update earlier this week, but I was suffering from a bit of writer's block. This story is a post-ep for Dutch Courage, however, it is not actually related much to that episode as my previous stories have been - it justs falls at this time on the timeline. Once again, if you've noticed, the story's title is a song that relates to the narrative in one way or another. This song, It Had Better Be Tonight, is an adaptation by Michael Buble, and it's probably my favourite song from his works. But, as you will soon find out, this is the first time that I've used the song directly in the story. You'll soon find out why.
The dress that Kate wears might be familiar to some of you - it is the one worn by Lisa McCune in the current issue of Women's Weekly. For those of you who haven't seen it, I suggest that you make the trip to their website. She's on the front cover. The dress is being auctioned off on eBay for a charity and I'm actually watching it on my Watch List, although, I'm not likely to buy it. Enjoy the story and please review.
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters, locations or storylines from Sea Patrol. Those rights belong to Hal and Di McElroy, and the Nine Network, and I do not intend to infringe copyright laws. I am not making any profit from this story and am writing it for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of others.
It Had Better Be Tonight (Meglio Stasera)
She sat nervously at the round table, ignoring the pleasant but mindless chitchat beside her and glancing across the full expanse of the room. Fidgeting in her Aurelio Costarella designer gown, she absently took three more sips, although they were more like gulps, of her champagne, and watched her commanding officer as he finished a rather endless conversation with a young blonde he'd just met.
Technically, he was her date to the black tie charity event organised by one of the few friends she had outside of the navy, but there he was, flirting and engaging another woman in full view. Kate tried hard to convince herself that it was nothing more than a tactic to make her jealous. When it came to devising strategy, professionally or personally, Mike was becoming something of an expert. It was her opinion that he'd definitely mastered the skill of avoiding awkward conversations.
Kate wasn't really having fun. She'd convinced, and partly ordered, the senior sailors and officers on Hammersley to pitch in for a table and, although she'd paid for most of the tickets herself, she was glad for the company. Swain had brought Sally, who Kate spoke to for most of the night, from entree through dinner, Charge had come alone, and Dutchy had brought a tall, exceptionally thin brunette by the name of Cara Fielding. Kate wished that she had a less confrontational word to describe her than airhead. She wasn't able to hold much of conversation with any of them for more than five minutes. It got to a stage where Kate actually felt sympathy for her buffer... until Cara offered to take Dutchy for a walk which they all knew was code for something entirely different. They had not returned.
The opportunity to finally speak with her friend came after dinner. Satsuki Tashokara and her husband, Jun, ventured south to the tip of Australia with their young sons five years ago and decided to stay. Their conversation didn't last long—Satsuki had pressing matters to attend to and Mike was starting to look bored, and so, they parted ways. By the time Kate caught up with her date for the evening, he had struck up a chord with yet another person. And she could swear that they were all women.
Dessert was served and taken away before Mike finally came back to the table. It wasn't often that Kate saw him in formal civilian dress—most of the events they attended were in their dress whites—but she had to admit that it suited him well. Shuffling slightly in her expensive silver silk dress, which cost her more than a fortnight's pay to purchase, she tried to look away as he sat down beside her, as though she were interested in something else.
"Something the matter, Kate?" he asked in a low voice so that only the two of them could hear.
"Why would it be?"
He leant in and whispered in her ear. "You don't really seem to be enjoying yourself."
"And you do seem to be enjoying yourself."
Mike laughed lightly. "Is that jealousy I hear?"
"Or just boredom. You've left me alone all night."
He stood up again. "Well... I was about to ask you to dance."
"Seriously?" Kate commented, her brows raised. She didn't believe his intentions in the slightest. He was, again, trying to get himself out of a bad situation by deflecting or being charming. Or both. Nevertheless, if he was offering to dance, she wasn't going to say no.
"If you don't want to, then I'll just sit down." His knees were already buckling towards the empty seat.
"No," she said at once, stopping his downward movement immediately. She stood up next to him. "No, a dance would be great." She offered him a hand which he took, quickly and tightly, and led her on to the dance floor.
Their round, white table was now empty—Swain had invited Sally to dance as soon as dessert had been taken away, Charge was engaged in a rather animated discussion with a group of men at the bar and Dutchy was not likely to return for the rest of the night if Cara had anything to say about it.
The dance floor, on the other hand, was as busy as a major shopping centre in Sydney on a Thursday night. Almost everyone had converged on the same patch of timber floor at the same time and was shaking it away to the styles of one of the hottest DJ's on the Cairns event scene. It wasn't New York, but the wealthy philanthropic class of one of Australia's northern-most towns and biggest tourist attractions were all in attendance at this one event. Kate never doubted Satsuki's ability to throw a party.
Bublè was playing at the moment. Mike had a hand in one of Kate's and his other resting lightly on her waist. Kate's unused hand was brushing against his dinner jacket, just below the shoulder. They looked like any other couple on the dance floor, swaying gently to the sultry tunes; moving as one with the music.
A slow mix soon gave way to a faster tempo—Buble's jazzed up version of the pop song, It Had Better Be Tonight (Meglio Stasera), and Kate had to admit that, in all the years she'd known Mike Flynn, she didn't know that he enjoyed a swift, albeit unchoreographed, samba, but she let him lead. Surprisingly, their bodies moved in almost perfect unison, with only a few minor bumps and hurdles.
'If you're ever gonna kiss me,
It had better be tonight.
While the Mandolins are playing,
And stars are bright.'
Their bodies were close now, touching at almost every twist and turn, her feet stepping in and out of his. It was electrifying, exciting every sensor in her body. The other couples on the crowded dance floor quickly evaporated into air, paving the way for them and only them to move concurrently across the woodwork.
Baby, go go go.
Or as we natives say,
Physical exhaustion did not enter their psyche, and whilst the dance itself was tiresome and particularly impoverishing, it did not dissuade the couple from wholeheartedly enduring the entire song. Onlookers were starting to gather nearby, impressed with their skill and obvious emotional connection, but they were oblivious. Kate could only see the eyes of the man holding her so close and so tight, even when she spun away and then, like a boomerang, spun just as quickly back into his waiting arms.
'If you're ever gonna hold me,
It had better be tonight.
Or somebody else may hold,
They might make me feel just right.'
After a quick turn to the left and some speedy footwork, Mike pulled Kate even closer to his body. There was no chance for an escape now. Their noses were almost touching and, although they moved a great speed to and from each other's bodies, Mike ensured that they always returned to that one fundamental position.
'Show me how, in old Milano,
Lovers hold each other oh so tight.
But I warn you, sweet paesana,
That it had better be tonight.'
Kate's eyes ventured a look at the small crowd that had gathered round to watch them and felt just a twinge of nervousness. Mike's presence, her graceful body in his arms, soothed her verves somewhat, but didn't displace them. He sensed her wariness and gave her a little more space to move around on her own. Thankfully, she didn't let go.
Baby, go go go.
Or as we natives say,
The song ended with a tremendous climax and a well-earned round of applause from the congregated audience. Kate wordlessly signalled to Mike that she needed some fresh air, and maybe some privacy, and he led her out on to the balcony. It was relatively empty as most of the guests were either inside dancing or had left already. There was a group of three older gentlemen smoking what looked to be cigars, but Kate couldn't see them clearly and, to be honest, she didn't much care. A young couple were kissing against the white cemented railing down the other end and a few women were laughing and drinking Cosmopolitans on the opposite side.
Kate headed directly towards the darkened white balustrade. Mike followed closely behind. She felt his hands at her waist as she leant up against the banister. The night had cooled rather dramatically, but not so it was cold, rather a comfortable warmth. The forty-one degree day had done nothing to ease the rate of perspiration in her expensive, one-use-only gown.
Her thoughts on the weather were interrupted by Mike's forward movement so that not even air could pass through the vacuum between their bodies. The side of his face suddenly appeared next to hers and it became very apparent that they were very, very close. Kate didn't mind at all. She let her head drop sideways to rest against his cheek. They took in the sights and sounds of the city together.
"I hope you didn't think that I was purposely trying to ignore you tonight," Mike said after a few minutes of peaceful, relaxing silence. "You're meant to mingle with strangers at these functions and I thought that that was what you wanted me to do."
"No," Kate replied. "It wasn't. I didn't actually invite you to this as my partner because I couldn't find another man. I wanted you here for me."
"I'm sorry," he told her sincerely, and motioned her body around so that she was facing him, with her back propped against the railing.
She didn't reply immediately, and then, almost out of the blue, she rose onto the tips of her toes. "If you're ever going to kiss me," she sang softly into his ear, "it had better be tonight."
Mike glanced unsurely at her when she sank back down, but then, as unexpectedly and as swiftly as her previous movement, his lips met hers in a passionate, forceful embrace. Their kiss lasted for more than just a few seconds and his hands trailed indecisively over her back and shoulders. Finally, he pulled back.
Kate did not hesitate to relaunch their passionate salutation. She met him halfway and just as hungrily, thoughts not dashing to the concern of onlookers, or whether or not any of those onlookers were members of her crew. It lasted for minutes, perhaps three or four, of voracious kisses and pecks, an explosion of months of buried emotions. But as expected, all good things had to end, and when Kate finally pulled away from him, she gave him one last longing look before walking back inside.