Nate walked into their new headquarters a leaned his dripping umbrella against the brick wall. He was early for their meeting and no one else had arrived yet. He looked behind him, through the restaurant and into the stormy clouds gathering in the sky; no chance of the rain passing by soon. He shed his raincoat and tossed it onto the back of a chair. Just as the coat slipped and fell to the floor he thought he heard a noise coming from the far end of building. He tread quietly across the wooden floors until he saw the black trench coat and pagoda umbrella lying beside another chair.
"Sophie?" he smiled and looked at his watch, they had at least forty minutes before anyone else arrived for something…fun. "Sophie?" There was no answer. He crossed over to the bathroom, the door wide open, and found her staring introspectively into the mirror, a small frown on her face. "Sophie!"
She snapped to attention and her hands flew up to her hair as she blushed. "I…I was just fixing my hair. Really Nate, out of all the places in the world I still don't see why you chose Portland."
"What were you really doing?" He smirked at her, he knew she hadn't been fixing her hair—it was in a ponytail…there wasn't anything to fix.
Sophie laughed in resignation and walked towards the brewery. "Care for a drink?"
Nate smiled happily and followed his beautiful partner into the adjoining building and sat down at the bar. Sophie smiled appreciatively at the man in front of her as she handed him a small glass of whiskey. He really was handsome in his own way. Rough around the edges but with a heart of gold.
"Practicing lines?" Nate questioned. "Please, Sophie. I thought we agreed on the whole 'no more plays' business." He had originally said it was because she would be too distracted for a con but the truth of the matter was that he didn't want her hurt when she was laughed out of yet another audition.
"No, no. I was just…fixing my hair." She smiled coyly. When Nate started to protest this lame alibi she held up her hand to stop him. "Honestly! I went in there to dry my hair and I was just side tracked a little." She poured herself a glass of Merlot and leaned over the counter ensuring that neckline of her blouse hung forward just enough to tease him. The effect worked quite well and Nate almost forgot to press the issue…almost.
"Sidetracked by what?"
Sophie rolled her eyes at his persistence and then surveyed him thoughtfully for a moment. "Look." She said as she leaned forward again, this time bending her head down as well.
Nate was at a loss. "I don't really see…there's nothing unusual…"
"No?" Sophie stood up, walked around the bar to stand beside him and the repeated the odd gesture of leaning her head down. "Look again."
Nate inspected her head, ears, neck…anything he could think of as to why she was so flustered. He was about to give up when something caught his sharp eye; less than a dozen fine, silver strands of hair running through her ponytail. He almost laughed but caught himself just in time. "I don't see anything."
Sophie looked at him sharply and frowned; he never could pull off a convincing lie. She picked up her wine glass and headed back to their office when Nate's laughter stopped her.
"Soph, come back!"
She looked at him, trying to convey how insulted she was but he looked so genuinely merry that she couldn't help the small smile that crept onto her face. She walked back to him and leaned against the bar with a defeated attitude. "I'm old, Nathan."
"I've got quite a few gray hairs myself, you know." He reminded her gently. This comment didn't help her mood and Nate tried a more chivalrous response. "Sophie, you'll be beautiful until the day you die."
This answer worked well and she flashed him a genuinely grateful smile and kissed him quickly. She started to pull away but Nate wrapped his arms around her waist, an unusual display of affection for him.
"Who would have thought?" he asked with a little laugh. "The two of us growing old together." He kicked himself the minute he said it, afraid she wouldn't receive it the way he had intended.
Sophie was surprised by his comment and she stared blankly at him for a moment trying to decide what he meant by it. His worried look told her all she needed to know. She smiled and rewarded him with another kiss.
"I wouldn't want to be anywhere else…well…" she shrugged and gave a little laugh as she looked out on the rain storm. "I suppose I mean I wouldn't want to be with anyone else."
Nate hesitated with showing any more affection that he had already but they rarely spoke so freely and he wasn't sure when he would have another chance. He reached his arm up and stroked her cheek gently.
"I'm glad we're together, Soph." he barely choked out.
"Growing old together?" she clarified, her eyebrows raised.
"No." Nate kissed her softly. "Just together." He sighed and began to struggle for words. "I want us to be together, like this, together because I want…" he gave an exasperated sigh and he organized his thoughts. Sophie looked on expectantly, her heart beginning to race. She had known Nathan Ford long enough to know exactly what he was trying so hard to say but she couldn't finish this for him, she had to hear him say it.
"I want us to be together…officially." He finally poured out.
Sophie tilted her head to the left and gave a wry smile. "Does this mean…" she said slowly—seductively as she lightly traced patterns on his shirt with her finger. "…you're retracting your former declaration of never wanting a relationship?"
"You want to be my boyfriend?" she was working hard to suppress her smile.
"More." Nate said unexpectedly. That part Sophie certainly wasn't expecting and she gave him a very startled look.
"Eventually." He amended, never breaking her gaze. He gave a nervous chuckle knowing he had completely given himself away. He wasn't surprised with her reaction though. Nate knew he needed to work on even being in a relationship—to earn her trust—before he could even think of asking anything more of her.
Sophie took a deep breath, joy shining clearly in her eyes in spite of her attempt to appear demure and sensible. She reached out and grabbed hold of the front of his shirt, pulling him close. "I look forward to growing old with you, Ford." She whispered before he leaned in to her awaiting lips.