Free Fall
Part One
by SarAdora

~~~~~~~~~~

It was a mean time. Everything conspired against her, even the weather. "Not supposed to snow in April," she grumbled softly to no one in particular. "Not supposed to have ice on cherry blossoms when they're in bloom. Not supposed to... Goddammit! Watch where you're going!" she yelled at the solid wall of muscle that she crashed into, making her lose her balance.

"You okay?" the deep male voice rumbled, hands reaching out to steady her and catching her before she fell.

"No," she hissed. "What are you? A goddamn bear? Jesus! Can't you watch where you're going? Bears don't belong in the street; they belong in the..."

He growled at her impertinence. She started to snap a caustic reply, but her mouth dropped open when she finally looked at him. He had the warmest brown eyes she had ever seen - in a face that struck her as drop dead gorgeous.

"Jesus! You are one beautiful man!" she stated and then flushed pink to the roots of her dark brown hair, making him laugh softly, in spite of himself.

"And you're the prettiest woman I've bumped into in a long time," he chuckled, "but you need your mouth washed out with soap."

"Listen here!" she snapped, shaking his hands loose, slipping on the ice and losing her balance again.

"I'm listening," he grinned, catching her once more, and hauled her up against his chest until she regained her footing.

"Are you real?" she asked, her finger poking into his chest. "Is that brick under there?"

Clucking his tongue, he admonished the feisty woman. "You don't know me and you're getting very personal. We haven't even been introduced."

"Call me... what's your name?"

Craig Mitchell arched a brow. "What's yours?"

"Asked you first."

"Mitchell," he answered, looking her up and down and was happy with what he saw.

She grinned at his assessment.

He grinned back.

"Your first name Bob?" she asked, both brows arched.

He shook his head.

"Didn't think so. You don't look like a Bob."

"What do I look like?"

"A tight ass."

Bingo!

His lips curved into a smirk. No one would believe this was happening. An Assistant Director of the FBI was standing in the middle of a busy street in the nation's capital, holding an attractive stranger in his arms and behaving as if it were a perfectly natural thing to do.

"What's your name?" he asked again.

"Pip. What's yours?"

"Mitchell."

"No, I mean what's your first name?"

"What's your last name? He arched a brow. She smirked.

"Well, Mitchell... I think I was the one who ran into you," she apologized. "Can I buy you a cup of coffee and we'll call it even?"

Of course not, I have a ton of work to do.

"Sure, why not?"

"There's a little café around the corner. Great lattes, good chicken soup and fresh baked bread. You interested?"

He nodded. "Lead the way."

The proprietor acknowledged her and smiled when they entered the tiny café. Pip was a long-time favorite customer. "Pipila, Pipilina, you brought a friend! Sit, sit, I'll bring food."

"Hey Pipster! How ya doin', kid?" the proprietor's son yelled from the kitchen. "Haven't seen you in a while. You still with the Fibbies?"

Craig's antennae twitched and he arched an inquisitive brow. "You with the FBI, Pip?"

"No, not any more."

"What did you do for them?" he asked quietly.

"Was training to be an agent, dropped out of the program."

"Didn't like the job?"

"Hated it."

"How far did you get?"

"Let's not talk about it. Not with them any more."

"What did you say your last name was?"

"Didn't say." She turned away from him to survey the contents of the deli cases. "Hey Morrie, got any of those spicy meat kreplach Jewish wonton?

"Sure, sure, I'll bring you some with the soup. Go sit down, mummuluh little girl. You want matzo balls, too?"

"Yeah," she replied automatically. "Any kasha varnishkas noodle dish today?"

"Not today, kugel puss."

"Kugel puss? Who you calling a kugel puss?" she glared at him.

Craig laughed. His father used to call his mother a kugel puss.

"What's so funny?" she asked when she pointed him toward a table.

"What's your favorite pudding, Pip?" Craig asked with a straight face.

"Oh no, not you, too." She rolled her eyes.

"I'm thinking banana cream," he said, his lips curving slightly.

"Don't you dare call me a kugel puss - I am not a pudding puss."

"I love banana kugel," Craig admitted and grinned. "My mother always made it sweet and moist."

"I'm neither sweet nor moist," Pip retorted and then blushed a fiery red, realizing what she said.

Craig laughed. "Bet you are, *Pipster.*"

"Hey! You don't know me and you're getting *very* personal," she threw his words back.

"How come you dropped out of the FBI training program?" he asked again.

"What's it to you?" she snapped and folded her arms across her chest.

He smiled. She did that very well - not quite as well as he did, but not bad.

"Give me your coat," he said as he stood and removed his own. "I'll hang it up for you."

"Thanks," she replied, shrugging it off and handing it over and then arched that brow again when she realized he was staring.

"Like what you see, Mitchell man?"

"Yes," his voice came out in a hiss. "I do and I apologize for staring."

"That's one of the reasons I left Quantico."

"Because you're built like a brick sh... because you're...?"

"I think the word you're looking for is *stacked,*" she smirked. "Yeah, the instructors always made me do more physical stuff than anybody else - always running, jogging, doing extra crunches and pushups."

"They probably saw your potential. What's wrong with that?"

"What's wrong is that they couldn't keep their friggin' hands off the merchandise," she spat. "That's what's wrong!"

Craig leaned back in his chair and unwittingly, pursed his lips and folded his arms across his chest. This was disturbing news. Instructors were supposed to be above that sort of thing. He knew he'd have to look into the matter. Even so, he knew he would have had to exercise a little control not to stare at that body. She was stacked all right, with a waist he thought he could span with both hands and nicely rounded hips - perfect for spanking. Her body was definitely fodder for a man's fantasies... and wet dreams.

"What do you do now that you're not with the FBI?" he asked casually.

"Sign language interpreter," she replied, getting up to help Morrie with a heavy tray filled with the deli's delicacies. "Morrie," she admonished the old man. "I asked for soup and kreplach, not the whole migila the whole shebang!"

"You're too thin, mummuluh," he smiled. "You need a little more fat on your body."

"You just like your women zaftig," she teased him. "You old reprobate!"

Morrie smiled. It was true. He liked his women to have a little meat on their bones.

"Nu? Well?" he turned to Craig. "And you are?"

"A.D. Mitchell," Craig said as he stood and shook Morrie's hand.

"And your intentions?" the older man unashamedly asked.

"Morrie! A.D. and I just met."

"Even a better reason to ask," the old man looked pointedly at him.

Craig's lips curved. "For now, my intentions are to enjoy the chicken soup and the...?"

"Kreplach and matzo balls," Morrie said, pointing out which was which. "Ever had kreplach?" he asked. Craig didn't think so, but wasn't sure.

"Kreplach is Jewish wonton," Morrie explained. "And this is challah," he added, pointing to the warm crusted bread and emphasizing the hard 'ch' sound in the word. "Fresh from the oven. Dip it in honey. It makes the meal sweeter. Try it," he said, pushing the honey jar forward, then left them to the meal.

"So-o-o," Pip drawled. "Your first name is A.D. "

"And you're a sign language interpreter," Craig grinned, not correcting her.

"Yeah," she grinned back, her right index finger sweeping across her nose, the universal sign for bullshit in the vernacular of the deaf.

Morrie's son looked up as he placed strips of freshly butchered flanken skirt steak in the deli case, catching Pip's eye. He laughed softly. He didn't know a lot of sign language, but Pip had taught him the good stuff. He knew she'd probably sign something else before she left.

Craig was aware something untoward had transpired but for the world of him, he didn't know what it was. The deli man's kid was laughing at something. The kid's either an idiot or Pip said something with her hands. He watched her but couldn't see anything out of the ordinary. Must be my imagination.

"Who do you interpret for?" he asked as he dug into the chicken soup and matzo balls.

"I work at the Capitol mostly. I sign speeches for politicians when the press and TV cameras are around - makes them look good for the hometown folks."

"You get a copy of the speech before they talk?"

"Rarely. Usually, I just listen and sign simultaneously."

"You have to be fast," he commented, wiping his lips with a napkin.

"I am," she caught his eye, swallowing wrong when he winked at her and choked on a piece of challah.

He was standing behind her back in a nanosecond, his arms around her waist and his fist punching her hard under her breastbone. Morrie and his son ran over, but Craig had the situation under control.

"It's nothing," she gulped air, pushing Morrie out of her face. "I'm fine, I'm fine. Don't make a federal case out of it."

"You okay now?" Craig asked. His arms remained around her, the muscles twitching slightly when he felt the weight of her heavy breasts.

"You can let me go now, A.D. Mitchell," she growled when she felt his arms tightening around her.

"Take a few deep breaths," he ordered as he lowered her into her chair.

"You give orders too easily," she grumbled. "You a goddamn drill instructor, too?"

Craig smiled, saying nothing as he returned to his seat across from her. Lifting the spoon, he gestured toward her bowl. "Sip it slowly. You'll feel better in no time."

She glared at him. "I invited you for lunch, not for some goddamn advice."

"Might have to wash your mouth out with soap," he grinned.

Pip brushed a finger over an eyebrow, a slang sign for bastard in American Sign Language.

Craig pursed his lips. Have to find someone in the Hoover who knows sign language, he decided.

They finished their meal and Craig paid for it before Pip had a chance to sign the check. "I said I'd buy," she reminded him."

"I prefer doing the honors," he smiled at the feisty, good-looking woman. "And I'm definitely coming back - the food's good."

"Thank you," she said softly, reevaluating her opinion of him. Pip was used to paying her own way. A.D. Mitchell was refreshing. Anal retentive, but refreshing.

"I have to get back to work," he told her, rising to his feet. "I'd like to see you again. You interested?"

"Yes, I am," she replied, surprising herself. "How about I make you dinner?"

"You can cook?"

"No, but I can order in," she grinned. "Chinese or Italian?"

"Chinese," he grinned back. "Give me your address."

~~~

7:00 PM
Pip's Apartment

He was prompt, carrying a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, and a nice bouquet of flowers.

"Your momma teach you to do all that?" she asked when she answered the door.

"Nope. I like wine and I like chocolate. I figured you'd enjoy the flowers while I eat and drink," he teased. "You look beautiful," he added, admiring the fit of her dark gray pantsuit, its color matching her eyes, and her curves clearly outlined under the silk.

Pip laughed. "You bring me gifts and now you're sweet talkin' me, too. You really a twenty-first century man or am I having an out of body experience?"

How about a naked body experience?

"I like wine. I like chocolate," a voice that sounded a lot like Craig's repeated his words. "You're beautiful," it added. "Horse poop!"

"What the hell!" Craig swore.

"Hoover! Stop that," Pip yelled into the kitchen.

"Hoover?"

Pip gestured for Craig to follow her. In a large cage against a corner wall, a giant macaw stared at them.

Craig laughed. "He mimicked me," he said unnecessarily.

"He's a quick learner," Pip laughed.

"Why do you call him Hoover?"

"He's gay."

~ End Part One ~

| Go to - Part Two |

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