Rating: PG 13
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
A/N: Written for leverageland's AU challenge [Prompt: The Long Weekend] - a 20s AU, but you don't actually notice that much of it? Oops.
He was sure she possessed some kind of magnetic force, pulling everyone and everything towards her, when he first saw her. She moved gracefully between the party guests, laughing, talking and sipping from the champagne flute she was carelessly holding in her hand. The velvet dress she was wearing was of such a dark red color it appeared almost black in the dim lights and no matter how hard he tried, he found himself unable to tear his eyes away from the way the fabric moved against her body. Gulping down his drink, he tried to remind himself that he was a decent man, with a wife and a kid at home – but still his eyes followed her wherever she went.
When she finally disappeared from his view, he sighed, simultaneously regretful and relieved, before making his way towards the bar to get a much needed refill. Absent-mindedly he scrambled a bit to get on the barstool - conveniently empty and conveniently close to the steady stream of alcohol it was providing - and tried focusing on what really mattered again. He wasn't at the party for fun, after all, but had a job to do.
Receiving the new glass greedily, he took a moment to enjoy the clink of the ice and the cool liquid tickling down his throat before turning his back to the bar and surveying his surroundings. The party had been going for hours and by now no one was taking much notice of the priceless art adorning the walls anymore, but he knew that this was a perfect opportunity for thieves. If not to steal the paintings immediately, then at least to case out the location and security and as much as he liked ignoring the fact, it was still his responsibility to keep the artwork safe. So far he hadn't noticed anything suspicious, but then he'd also been a little distracted. Still - with so many people around even the best thief in the world couldn't carry a painting out of the room unnoticed.
Looking around the room one more time, he felt a distinctive pang of disappointment at not seeing heranywhere, but, he decided as he turned around again, another drink would probably make up for it. His previous one had been steadily emptied during his surveillance, but quickly replaced by an attentive bartender.
As the pleasant buzz in his head grew stronger, he smiled contentedly into his drink. All things considered, he was still a lucky guy, getting paid to supervise a party with free drinks at hand, he thought and his smile grew even wider until his face froze. She had appeared out of nowhere and was now a mere breath away from him (the same breath that got caught in his throat as her bare arm brushed his hand on the surface of the counter) flirting with the bartender and receiving, in turn, three glasses filled with champagne.
The moment seemed to pass in slow motion while it happened, but then it was over quite as suddenly as it had begun and he was left with the memory of a smile and a buzz in his head that certainly wasn't alcohol induced.
She disappeared again after their encounter and time went back to passing in completely average speed for him. Always sticking to the edge of the crowd, he walked around the room again, free, at last, to watch people other than her until he eventually grew tired of the same round over and over again and stepped out onto the balcony for a breath of fresh air.
At first he didn't see her in the darkness, but then the faint glow of her cigarette's tip gave her away. She stepped out of the shadows then, and he caught himself thinking how she looked even more beautiful in the moonlight than inside. Distracted, again, for a moment, he barely heard what she was saying.
"It's a nice evening, isn't it, Mr. Ford?" she asked, turning towards the railing and then leaning against it, as if stretching her body out into the night would somehow make the experience more profound. Nate mirrored her movements in hesitation and felt rather at a loss for words. How had she found out his name?
The answer was provided to him unprompted and rather sooner than expected when she turned to face him again, presenting him with his wallet on her outstretched hand. "You dropped that earlier," she blatantly lied, well aware that he would know it was lifted from his pocket rather than found on the floor.
Clearing his throat, he awkwardly plucked the wallet from her fingers and put it back into its original place. "Since you obviously know my name, may I ask what's yours?" Nate adressed her at last, aware that he had been caught in her web with no obvious way of escaping.
"Sophie Devereaux - pleased to meet you," was her answer, paired with a smile and a hand offered for him to take.
He took it and squeezed it softly and, still flustered by the whole situation, remained silent. Miss Devereaux did the same, occasionally taking puffs from her cigarette while watching the stars until she reached the end of her smoke and a shiver ran through her. This time quick to react, Nate shrugged off his jacket and draped it around her shoulders, hands lingering on her arms a little longer than absolutely necessary. She smiled and thanked him, before taking a long look at the door, and the party inside.
"I think it's time to leave this place anyway. Do you want to join me?" she asked, rather as if they were good acquaintances instead of perfect strangers who had only met a handful of minutes ago. "I know the greatest little jazz bar at the other end of town - we could have some fun... dance a little..." She had inched closer to him and was now stroking his lapel while giving him a suggestive smile.
It would be so easy, Nate thought, biting the inside of his cheek. So easy to forget Maggie and Sam back at home, forget that he had a job to do and spend the night with this beautiful stranger, knowing that he'd do anything she might ask of him with pleasure...
"I can't," was his strangled reply at last, dropping his eyes with regret. "I get paid to be here," he tried to explain, hoping it might excuse his refusal somehow, but apparently Sophie Devereaux wasn't one to take no for an answer. Stepping even closer to him, she let her hands wander further as her whispers reached his ear.
"This isn't 1890 anymore, Mr. Ford. It's the 20s, time to have fun," she told him, voice dropping so low that he felt goosebumps rise on his skin. "You've been indulging in forbidden pleasures the entire evening - why not make a whole night of it?"
He swallowed hard and tried even harder to ignore the feelings her words were eliciting. Taking a deep breath he surprised himself by actually taking a step back. "I... I appreciate the offer," he stammered, embarrassed by his sudden inability to do anything properly. "If I... If I were a different man-- I just can't."
When he finally met her eyes again he was met with disappointment. "I'll walk you out and find you a taxi?" he offered helplessly.
Sophie regarded him for a moment, then smiled. "Alright - you can walk me to my car."
"A kiss before I go?"
They had made it down to the street and Nate had admired the sleek black motorcar with more than just a hint of envy. Now Sophie was leaning back against it with a wicked little smile dancing across her lips. He must have looked rather incredulous, because she started to laugh after a moment of silence had passed.
"Don't worry, Mr. Ford, I will leave you in peace. I can appreciate a truly decent man if I see one - although I rather think you might be in the wrong place for this..."
Pushing herself off the car, she removed Nate's jacket from her shoulders in one swift motion. After she had handed it back to its owner, she regarded Nate briefly. "Well, Mr. Ford... I'm sure this won't be the last time we meet," she told him, the smile reappearing. "I suppose you should go back to... whatever it was that you were doing before." With that, she opened the car door and slid in gracefully before looking over her shoulder and raising one hand in a wave goodbye.
"I... I will do that. Good night, Miss Devereaux." Flustered again (or still?), Nate stood by rather awkwardly as she let the engine of the car roar.
As he watched her disappear into the night, a sudden realization dawned on him; was she the thief he'd been looking for all night?