Site hosted by Build your free website today!


New Page 1

Title: Solo Tu (Only You)  

Author/pseudonym: Tinnean  

Fandom: JAG  

Pairing: Neville Webb/Porter Sebring  

Rating: FRM (fan rated mature)  

Disclaimer: They're not mine, but Bellisario isn't doing anything with them. *sulks* Porter's family is my creation, however. *cheers up*  

Status: new/complete  

Date: 8/23/06  

Series/Sequel: This is number 16 in the Soundbyte Series and follows Chasing Rainbows.  

Summary: Neville's POV of his meeting with the woman who would eventually become his wife and Clayton Webb's mother.  

Warnings: m/f  

Notes: Soundbytes are an offshoot of the Mind Fuck Universe, and tend to be stories about the secondary characters. They are not necessarily in chronological order. This story, which (to clarify) takes place in 1958, deals with some events in Blue Velvet. The Kellogg-Briand Pact, also known as The Pact of Paris , (1928) was designed to outlaw war. Didn't work. Yaskov belongs to Brian Garfield and appeared in the book and movie Hopscotch. The title comes from Dean Martin's Return to Me, which was recorded on 1/23/58 . This is for Gail, to celebrate 6 years of friendship, 8/8/06 . Gail also beta'd. Thank you, chere amie.


Solo Tu (Only You)

By Tinnean


The first time I saw Porter Sebring, she must have been about twenty. She was visiting her brother Bryan, who analyzed data for the CIA, where I worked also, supplying him with that data. I felt my prick stir, which startled me. Granted she was pretty, but I'd seen many women who were prettier, had even appeared with some of them on my arm, but none of them affected me in this manner.

However, I couldn't afford distractions to my work. I forced myself to fade back into my office, unseen by either her or her brother.

Things heated up over the years on the international scene - that summit in Geneva in '55, the Hungarian Revolution in '56, the launch of Sputnik 1 in '57 - and I seldom thought of her. Whenever I did, my body no longer reacted in the same way. I assumed it was a fluke, and I went about my job.  


There was a tap on my door, and I glanced up from the report I was updating. Anthony Sebring, Sr. stood in the doorway to my office.  


"Yes." What he was doing here in Langley ? He was usually at State. "Please, come in." I rose, about to cross my office to offer him my hand. "You wished to see me, sir?"    

He held up his hand. "Sit down, please. " He closed the door and took a seat on the other side of my desk.  

"What can I do for you, Mr. Sebring?"  

"You know who I am?"  

The man whose family had espionage bred into their bones, who was almost royalty in the intelligence community? "Yes, sir."  

"Good. I wish to speak with you."  

"Of course, sir. May I offer you a brandy?" I kept a bottle in my bottom drawer for those times when… for those times.  

"No, thank you." He straightened the crease in his trousers, seeming fascinated by it. I remained silent, watching him. He was a tall, fair man with a hard, angular face. His offspring had no doubt inherited their good looks from their mother's side of the family, although except for his middle son Jefferson, they were as fair as he. He caught my gaze and smiled, a tight twist of his lips. There was no humor in it. "No doubt you're wondering why I'm here. My son Bryan has spoken of you."  

"He's an excellent man to work for." More than that, I trusted him not to get me into a situation that would result in my death. Of course, it could happen, but not because Bryan Sebring was sloppy or careless.  

Mr. Sebring crossed his legs and leaned back, his hands now motionless on his thighs. "You have quite a reputation."  

"*I*, sir? Oh, my work… "  

"Your work is above par, and your file is filled with commendations. That wasn't the reputation to which I was referring."  

"Then I don't understand, sir."  

"A number of women here at Langley have shown an inclination to be attracted to you. I can understand that, you're quite good looking from a female point of view."  

"Er… thank you." I struggled to keep the color from rising in my cheeks. "I still don't understand your reference to my 'reputation,' however. I've stayed away from them."  

"Exactly, treating them with unfailing civility, and yet rebuffing their… offers."  

"I was raised not to… soil my own nest, so to speak."  

"I must say that doesn't surprise me. I'm acquainted with your father."  

"Yes, sir. He's spoken highly of you." I concealed my confusion. I had no idea where this conversation was going.  

"You know my daughter, Porter."  

"I know *of* her, sir. Of course." Blonde, blue-eyed, petite, and rumor had it she could freeze a man with a glance or a word.  

"I want your honest opinion of her."  

How honest was honest? The intelligence community was littered with Sebrings, and while Anthony Sebring, Sr. worked at State, I knew that was simply his official cover, and it behooved me to tread warily. I could find myself stationed in Paramaribo , the worst, most tedious job in the Western Hemisphere .  

I cleared my throat and decided to play it safe. "She's very attractive, sir." All parents liked having their children complimented, didn't they? Well, not my father perhaps, but then, the man sitting opposite me wasn't my father.  

"I know how pretty my daughter is, Webb." He harrumphed and frowned at me. "Let me be perfectly plain. Does she get your… how do you young people phrase it? Your motor revving?"  

I swallowed wrong and choked on my own saliva. He started to rise, but I waved him back, indicating I was all right, and swallowed again.  

"Honestly, sir?"  

He gave an impatient nod. "That's what I told you I wanted, wasn't it?"  

"Very well, then. Your daughter is a very cool, contained young lady." I'd wondered, as I'd seen Porter Sebring from a distance, if that cool exterior hid any kind of warmth on the interior. I had a very similar exterior, although in my case, my interior was as cold as I was reputed to be. I rarely had sex, and when I did, it was perfunctory at best, with women who knew there would be nothing in the future for us beyond that fairly pleasant evening. I'd considered the possibility, when I'd been serving in Korea , that perhaps it was men who would 'get my motor revving,' but a single experience while on leave in Japan had shown me otherwise. Not that it had been unpleasant. The young Naval lieutenant had been enthusiastic, but I'd found my mind wandering, even while his talented mouth engulfed my prick and sucked me off.  

"Yes, yes, I'm quite aware of her reputation as an ice princess. There was a time… Well, that's neither here nor there. Is she the sort of woman in whom you would be interested?"  

I raised an eyebrow. Now I really needed to watch how I stepped. "Are you asking me as a father, sir, or as Anthony Sebring of State and the CIA?"  


"That puts me in a very difficult predicament, sir. Whether I say yes or no, I stand the chance of pleasing the one and displeasing the other."  

His expression became one of grudging respect. "Your father told me you were a cautious son of a bitch."  

I didn't let him see how that affected me, striving to appear merely politely curious. My father and I were not close. One could say, if we exchanged more than a handful of words in the course of a year, that we had been exceptionally chatty.  

"You'll go far in this business, Webb."  

I nodded, still not saying anything.  

"Playing your cards close to your vest, eh?"  

"As you say, sir."  

His thin lips twisted in what might be called a smile. "Very well, I'll be candid with you. I would like you transferred to my son's division of the NSA – temporarily, I assure you – where you'll come into constant contact with my daughter. You were an excellent cryptologist during the Korean War, so having you on board to break Russian codes would be eminently logical. Once at Arlington Hall, Anthony will see to it that you meet Porter. You'll wine her, dine her, sweep her off her feet."  

"To what end, sir?"  

"She needs to be married. An ice princess is one thing, but getting the reputation as a… " His eyes became hooded. "… as a sapphist is quite something else."  

That startled me. I'd heard nothing of that. Still, I'd been out of the country for the last four months.  

"And you want me to marry her?" I moistened my lips, trying to buy myself some time to think.  

"If she likes you. I'm not Victorian, Webb. I want my daughter to be happy."  

"Why the need to have me transferred to the NSA, then, sir? Surely that's taking matters to an extreme?"  

"If I'd realized this matter was going to crop up," his tone was aggrieved, "I would have had her working for her brother Bryan from the start, and your meeting with her with would have been perfectly plausible, but how could I have foreseen this? As it was, she was needed in Arlington Hall."    

"All right, I'll give you that, but why marriage? And why choose me?"  

"If people talk about her, become curious about her, they'll look more closely into what she does. Once she's married, the talk will die down. As for choosing you – you work for the government, you've a cool temperament, and you're frequently out of the country, so the marriage will cause minor distractions to her work." He tugged on his lower lip. "Right now, Porter's cover story is that she's dabbling at being a working woman, the pampered daughter of a well-to-do dilettante."  

"Dilettante? You, sir?" I couldn't prevent a laugh. "Sorry."  

"My cover story has held for the last forty years, Webb. I have my wife to thank for that."  

"Excuse me for asking, sir, but is Mrs. Sebring aware of what you do?"  

"Of course. Clever woman, my wife. Figured it out shortly after we married. Didn't let on until sometime after I'd returned from Paris in late '28… " For the Kellogg-Briand Pact, I wondered? "…  when we'd been married more than eight years."  

"How do you think your daughter will respond to learning you're planning her life in this manner?"  

"I don't want her to learn of it. However, she's a sensible girl. She shouldn't object. She'll have a husband."  

"And children?"  

"No, no. They would prove to be too distracting. That's why you're perfect for her. You have as little use for children as she does." Who on earth had told him that? And then I realized – my father. If he thought it would ally our family with the Sebrings, who were the blue blood of the intelligence community, he would have no problem prostituting his only son. "Two people with cool, reserved personalities. And of course, if you decide you need a diversion, I trust completely to your discretion."  

I felt sorry for Porter. Didn't she deserve better than that?  

"I assume she's to be permitted diversions also?"  

"*Porter*? No, not at all. That is to say, her interests don't lie in that direction."  

Was the man sitting across from me deluded, or was his daughter truly that way? I shivered at the thought of being married to such a cold woman.  

"What if she should meet someone after we're married, if we marry? Fall in love with him?"  

"Immaterial. My daughter is a sensible young woman. She will honor her vows."  

"Even though she loved someone else?" I knew if she ever came to me and told me she loved another, I'd have no choice but to let her go, if only for my own self-esteem.  

"Even though she loved someone else. She's a Sebring."  

"But at that point, she would be a Webb, sir." Was I really considering his proposal?  

"Don't be too clever, Webb."  

"No, sir." I paused a moment. "And if I tell you that I'm not interested?"  

"I understand Paramaribo is particularly unpleasant this time of year." The air so heavy with humidity moisture could be wrung from it.  

"Fair enough. What happens if she's not interested in me? Will I still be given that assignment?"  

"Of course not. I'm not unreasonable. However, your father assures me that once you set your mind to something, you invariably succeed."  

"My father is too kind," I murmured dryly.  

He ran a hand over his face, not hearing or else ignoring my words. "My daughter is excellent at what she does – cracking codes. One of the best we've got. She sees probabilities and possibilities where others don't or can't. A pity that she was born a female… This situation never would have arisen." He sighed heavily, then pinned me with a gimlet stare. "So tell me, Webb. Are you interested?"  

I assumed my most detached poker face. "She's attractive enough, and I eventually need to marry, myself." And in spite of what Anthony Sebring might think, I did want children, at least one, if only to prove that I could be a better father than my own. Still, it wouldn't do for him to know this. "Yes, sir. I believe I am."  

"Splendid. Splendid. I'll see about your temporary transfer to Arlington Hall, to my son Anthony's department. Porter works with him. And I'll trust you to keep me updated."  


I never went into a mission blind, and although this was nothing like any mission I'd been sent on, I researched Porter Sebring.  

Scholastically, she'd outshone her brothers, which was saying something. They had all done exceptionally well in college. She'd graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley , with a degree in International Relations.  

Socially, she'd made her debut at the Washington Debutante Cotillion, had a Season in London – the appellation 'Ice Princess' seemed to trace back to that time – and had been presented at court.  

Physically, she was slight, with a small bosom and slender hips, but she was an expert horsewoman who could control a thousand-pound brute and guide it over jumps that would make a man blanche.  

Emotionally – I couldn't discover much beyond the usual boy-girl relationships of her teens. Perhaps having three older brothers had proved to be a hindrance.  

The more I learned of her, the more I looked forward to meeting her. I began to suspect… well, hope, that beneath her cool, blonde looks was all the passion a man could wish for. The problem was, would I have enough passion for her?  

I looked at myself in the mirror as I ran a razor over my cheeks. When we finally met, would she see anything that would attract her? I washed the residue of shaving cream from my face, patted it dry and splashed on aftershave, and dressed in a three piece suit.  

I was about to start work at Arlington Hall.  


I'd been working there for about a week and a half and still hadn't effected a meeting with Porter Sebring. I passed her in the hallways and on the stairs, always nodding politely but never making an effort to introduce myself. I was sure she knew who I was, if only because her brother would see to it.  

Sebring, Sr. called me. "Planning on making a move any time in the near future, Webb?" he demanded irritably.  

"I thought you had confidence in my capabilities, sir."  

"I don't remember saying that."  

"I see. Would you prefer I return to the CIA, then?"  

"No, no. No need to be so precipitate. You'll contact me as soon as… "

"Trust me, sir. You'll be the first to know."  

"See to it." He hung up without saying 'goodbye.'  

The next day in the cafeteria, I happened to overhear a couple of secretaries gossiping about Porter over lunch. My back was to them, and they didn't realize I could clearly hear every word they spoke.  

"Do you think she heard us?"  

"She's a Sebring. Of course she heard us."  

"Uh oh. Are we in trouble?"  

"I don't think so. I've never heard of her telling tales."  

"She's so cold. I get the shivers just from standing next to her in the ladies' room."  

"I don't think she's cold," although this secretary sounded dubious. "I think she's just very… well, reserved."  

"Maybe, but I heard that in London they called her Ice Princess!"  

"Yeah, everyone's heard that." There was silence for a bit while they ate. Then, "Y'know what? I'd like to be a fly on the wall if she and Mr. Webb were ever in the same room."  

"Mr. Webb isn't bad looking, but he's as cold as she is."  

"You can say that again! Sally told me that Linda heard it from Beth that Annette tried to flirt with him, and he gave her one of those looks of his, you know the ones, that would make the North Pole seem warm, excused himself, and walked away. You've seen Annette." Annette was a statuesque brunette who attempted to attract every male in the department. She favored very tight sweaters that emphasized her bounteous attributes. "The man must be… " Her voice lowered, and I couldn't distinguish what she said, although I could imagine. Eunuch was one of the less derogatory epithets with which I'd been labeled.  

"Really? Oh, wow!" The other secretary giggled.  

"That's why they would be perfect for each other. Mr. and Miss Freeze!"  

I gathered up my dishes and stacked them on the tray. The secretaries saw me as I rose, gasped and turned bright red, but I ignored them. I disposed of the trash and left.  


I stood outside the office of Anthony Sebring II and fingered the piece of paper in my pocket. A bit of code by that Russian, Yaskov. It had been sent to me by Jefferson Sebring, the middle one of Porter's older brothers.  

No sense in putting it off. I rapped on the door and let myself in without waiting for permission to enter. Tony Sebring, Porter's oldest brother and my titular superior in the NSA, sat behind his desk.  

"Yeah, Webb?" For some reason, he'd been antagonistic toward me from the moment I'd introduced myself to him my first day here.  

Not that I cared. There weren't many people who made the effort to get to know the man behind the icy façade I projected.  

"Your brother sent me something one of his people picked up. I thought we could take a crack at breaking the code… " I tapped on the paper I'd placed on his desk. "I used every trick I knew, but I've had no luck." Obviously Russian, it was as if the solution was at the edge of my mind, but it kept eluding me.  


"I'm not half bad when it comes to breaking codes. I'm more than just a pretty face, you know."  

He looked up at me, startled and then displeased. "What do you mean by that?"  

This was why I never let my guard down. I'd tried to joke with a colleague, and it had fallen flat. "Nothing, Sebring. Perhaps you can do something with it."  

We worked on it for three quarters of an hour. I'd removed my jacket, loosened my tie, and rolled up my sleeves, and Sebring had done the same.  

"Goddammit." He growled. "This may as well be Greek for all the sense I'm making of it."  

"Perhaps we should call in your sister."  


I looked at him. "I thought the plan was for her to meet me. This is the perfect opportunity."  

He scowled at the paper before him on his desk, then up at me. "It is. I know. I… " He reached for the in-house phone. "If you hurt her, Webb, I promise you I'll tear off your balls and stuff them down your throat."  

"I have no intention of hurting her, Sebring. And let me remind you, I wasn't the one who came up with this idea."  

"Don't remind me. But removing one's father's testicles is frowned upon in most circles."  

I couldn't help laughing. I liked his sense of humor, even if he didn't like mine.  

"As for Bryan … " Sebring's expression suddenly became unreadable.  

"What does Bryan have to do with it?"  

"Hmm? Oh, he suggested you."  

"Did he?" I knew better than to be flattered. "Think positive, Sebring. She might not even like me."  

"Yeah. That's a possibility." He dialed Porter's extension. "I need you in here right now. Jefferson 's forwarded a new code to us, and there's something about it that's driving me out of my mind." He listened for a second, then, "Good." He hung up. "She'll be right here."  

I raised an eyebrow. " Jefferson ?"  

"Well, he did forward it to me. Through you."  


Within a minute or so there was a brisk knock on the door, and Porter Sebring walked in.  

"What have you got, Tony? Oh!" She stopped when she saw me. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize… " Her eyes, frank and open, seemed to lock with mine. She caught her breath, her lips parted, and her small pink tongue peeked out to moisten her lips. Nerves? Or… something else?  

"Porter, this is Neville Webb. He's been vetted to us from Bryan 's department. Neville, my sister."  

I couldn't help staring at her. She could have been dressed in a suit of armor or a ball gown for all the notice I took of her clothes. My own breath seemed caught in my throat. I'd never had this type of reaction to anyone. She was so…  

"Yes," Sebring snapped, breaking into my thoughts. "We're aware there's a resemblance, so…"  

"Actually, she's much prettier than you or either of your brothers, Tony." I stepped around the big desk and walked toward her, my hand extended. "Miss Sebring, it's a pleasure."  

"Please, call me Porter." There was a faint blush on her cheeks.  

"Porter. And I'm Neville." Her hand was small in mine. I had the strongest desire to cover it with my other hand, as if to keep it safe. I was average height, and the top of Porter's head came to just about level with my mouth. If she tipped her head back…  

Her blue eyes looked up into mine, and I started to draw her closer, into my personal space.  

Sebring tapped a pencil on his desk. "People?"  

"Sorry, Tony." Did my voice sound as hoarse to them as it did to me? I cleared my throat. "You were saying?"  

"I was saying that if you'd release my sister's hand, maybe she could take a look at this code and make some sense of it."  

My cheeks felt warm. I was still holding onto Porter's hand. I let it go, surprised that I'd been overtaken by physical feelings in a more or less public place.  

Porter stared down at her hand as if she had never seen it before, then looked up at me, her eyes wide and so blue I could have gone swimming in them.  

"Webb, would you stop distracting my sister so she can see if she can make heads or tails of this code?" Sebring sounded irritated.  

That's right. I was supposed to see to it that the Ice Princess wasn't distracted. I scowled at him, but he was busy showing Porter the paper with the code.  

"There's something about this line… " He pointed it out.  

She took the paper and examined it carefully, then spoke the Russian words aloud. I couldn't take my eyes from her lips. I must have uttered a sound, because she looked at me. Her expression became cold, and I beheld the Ice Princess.  

"Do you find my pronunciation amusing?"  

"Not at all. I haven't heard anything that flawless outside of Mother Russia... " I could have kicked myself. No one was supposed to know I'd been in the Soviet Union . Sebring raised an eyebrow, but Porter was focused inward.  

"Mother Russia? That's it! The key to this code is in Tolstoy's 'War and Peace'!" Excitement lit her face, and she was vibrant and beautiful.  

When had I stopped thinking of her as a cool blonde and started seeing her as beautiful?  

She went to the bookshelf and took down the book.  

"Porter, are you sure?"  

"Tony, I'm more than sure; I'm positive!" She thumbed through the book until she found the passage. "There! See, there! Oh, that sneaky so-and-so! This is Yaskov's work, isn't it?"  

I'd known, simply because Jefferson Sebring had told me he'd got it from a double agent who worked for Yaskov as well as us. I was impressed. How had she been able to ascertain that so easily?  

"He did something very similar with 'Anna Karenina,'" she explained, bubbling with enthusiasm. "The man has a weakness for Tolstoy."  

"Nicely done. Nothing like a fresh pair of eyes!" Sebring was pleased. "I'll give this to the team to finish deciphering." He glanced at me, and his mouth tightened. He made a production of looking at his watch. "Webb, why don't you and my sister go out and grab a bite to eat?"  

An excellent way to get us together, perfectly logical.  

"That's quite all right, I can have a sandwich at my desk." Her words were rushed. "Besides, I'm sure you want him to work on his own code." Her lips were saying 'no,' but there was 'I want to know you better' in her eyes.  

"Porter." Sebring frowned at her, but she didn't notice, she was looking at me.  

I barely noticed him myself. Porter's eyes were so blue…  

Sebring huffed. "It's been a long day, and I think you could do with a break. Now go. But remember, you both need to be back here bright and early in the morning."  

I straightened my tie, rolled down my shirt sleeves and fastened the cufflinks, and smoothed my hand over my hair.  

"I never say 'no' to the man in charge. Miss… Porter?"  

"Just let me freshen up." She touched her tongue to her lip, smiled through her lashes, and hurried out of the room, the slim skirt she wore clinging to the curves of her backside and flirting against her legs.  


"Yes, Sebring?"  

"Porter's not stupid. Don't overdo it!"  

"Overdo what?"  

"Acting smitten… Oh, my god, you *are* acting, aren't you?"  

I didn't answer him, and his expression darkened.  

"Listen to  me very carefully, Webb. It doesn't take that long to have dinner."  

"You wouldn't want me to rush your sister, would you? Give her indigestion?"  

"*You* give me indigestion. I expect my sister to be home at a reasonable hour. I expect her hair to be in place, every button buttoned, every stitch of clothing exactly the same as when she leaves here. I expect… "  

"I get it, Sebring."  

"You'd better not." He took his wallet from his trouser pocket. "Now, I'll… "  

I went very still, and when I spoke, I knew there were icicles dripping from my words. "If you're about to give me money in order to buy your sister dinner, you can consider this whole mission scrubbed."  


"You heard me. I'll tell your sister something's come up and I can't make dinner, and in the morning I'll be back at Langley . I don't bluff, Sebring." Not in my personal life.  

He shoved his wallet back in his pocket, looking almost resentful. "I was just trying to… "  

"I know what you were trying to do, Sebring – put me in my place, make sure I know I'm no better than a gigolo."  

He turned red. "That wasn't… "  

"Wasn't it? Listen to me. You did what your father wanted, got us together. Whether we stay together, whether anything comes of this, is up to Porter now. Stay. Out. Of. It." I grabbed my suit jacket, turned on my heel, and walked out.  

Porter was just locking the door to her office as I approached. "I'm glad I didn't keep you waiting." Her hand went to the back of her head, making sure each strand of hair was tucked neatly in place.  

"It would have been worth it. You're lovely." Was her hair as soft as it looked? I took her elbow and escorted her to the elevator.  

"I just… I didn't do more than freshen my lipstick."  

A shame. I was tempted to kiss it off. I didn't tell her that, of course. "What kind of food are you in the mood for?"  


"Sounds good. I know a little place in Baltimore, Casa del Vitello. They make an excellent Veal Saltimbocca." We exited the building and walked toward my car, a Cadillac supplied by the Company. "It's a lovely night for a drive."  

It could have been raining and I still would have thought it a lovely night.  

I opened the door, handed her into the front seat, then closed the door and took my time going around to the driver's side, hoping she hadn't noticed my erection.  

Dinner could have been sawdust for all I cared. I couldn't take my eyes off the woman who sat across the table from me.  

"You're right, Neville. This veal is very good." She ate with dainty bites but with enthusiasm.  

"I'm glad you're enjoying it." I touched my napkin to my lips. "I understand you were in London a year or so ago. What did you think of it?"  

The rest of the meal was spent in exchanging experiences on the Continent, although mine were carefully expurgated. Not that I was afraid I would shock her. However, even though she had a very high security clearance, there were some things no one except my immediate superior needed to know.   

I ordered tiramisu and espresso for dessert.  

"*Very* good." She smiled.  

"Perhaps… perhaps you'd like to return sometime?"  

"Yes, I would."  

"With me?" I wanted to bang my head with my hand. Talk about gauche.  

"With you, Neville. I'm so glad Tony suggested we go out to dinner."  

"So am I."  

"Would you have asked me otherwise? I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked that." She took a last sip of her espresso, the tiny cup concealing her face.  

"You have a formidable reputation and formidable brothers."  

"I see." Her face became blank, and she set the cup down.  

"You don't see." I reached across the table and touched her hand. "Neither would have stopped me from asking you out."  

She looked… happy. Because I wasn't intimidated by her or her family? I brought her hand to my mouth, turned it over, and kissed her palm.  

"Would you like to go dancing, Porter?" I didn't want the night to end.  

"I'd love to go dancing, Neville."  

"There's a club, The Green Door. It's just down the street. They have a trio – piano, bass, and sax, and they're very good, I understand."  

"You understand?"  

"I… I don't usually go dancing in the middle of the week." Actually, not at all. I knew how to dance – my mother had insisted I learn – but there was rarely a call for it in my profession.  

"I don't either. Let's go see how good they are."  

Because The Green Door was so close, I left the car parked where it was, near the Casa del Vitello. Porter tucked her hand in the crook of my arm, and with her on the inside, away from the curb, we strolled down the street.  

It wasn't quite midnight , the air was cool, and a full moon lit the sky.  

"What a lovely evening." She sighed happily.  


Since it was the middle of the week, the club wasn't very crowded. We found a table, and the waiter came to us.  

"What would you like, Porter?"  

"A Manhattan , please?"  

"Two Manhattans."  

The trio was just coming back from a break. "This is our last set, folks."  

"Dance with me?"  

Porter put her hand in mine, and I led her to the dance floor. She rested her other hand on my shoulder, while I placed mine on her waist. The trio began to play 'It Had to Be You,' and we moved across the floor.  

The song ended, and the band began to play a Samba. By mutual accord, we returned to our table.  

"You dance very well."  

"Thank you. So do you."  

We both flushed and reached for our drinks.  

After the Samba came a Merengue, and then another Fox Trot. I preferred the slow dances with her close in my arms. Our drinks grew warm, but it didn't matter; we went on dancing.  

Dancing with Porter was effortless, like dancing on clouds. Her hair was soft against my cheek, and she fit so perfectly in my arms.  

I barely realized that although the band was now playing a Cha-Cha, we were waltzing.  

The waiter came and tapped me on the shoulder. "I'm sorry, sir, we'll be closing soon."  

"Oh!" Porter looked at the elegant little watch on her wrist. "I didn't realize the time! Just let me freshen up."  

"Sure, miss."  

She hurried to the ladies' room. I went to the band leader and handed him a bill. "The lady was really enjoying herself. Will this be enough to keep you playing a little longer?"  

He looked at the fifty in his palm. "You bet. An hour?" I nodded. "Any requests?"  

"Play 'It Had to Be You.'"  

"Anything else?"  

"No. Just that."  

He grinned at me and turned to talk to the men who played bass and sax.  

"The bartender can't serve any more drinks," the waiter said.  

"That's okay." I handed him a bill. "We just want to dance."  

"Suit yourself." He grinned and removed his apron, and walked to the bar.  

Porter returned, and the trio started playing. "Neville?"  

"The band has agreed to play a while longer. Dance with me, darling." I bit my lip. The endearment had slipped out.  

Her face lit up. "I'd love to." She nestled in my arms and hummed along with the music.    


We were at a stop light, waiting for it to change. On the radio, Dean Martin was singing something lush and romantic in Italian.  

I glanced across at Porter. Her head rested against the back of the seat, and her eyes were closed, the lashes fanning out against her soft cheek.  


"I'm not sleeping." She smiled and turned her head toward me.  

"Porter." I'd never felt like this before. I stepped down on the clutch and threw the stick shift into neutral, then reached for her and covered her lips with mine. I couldn't stop myself from ravaging her mouth.  

Vaguely I was aware that the stop light changed – the light against my eyelids changed – once, twice, three times. I sighed and brushed my lips over her cheek to her ear, nuzzling aside the French twist she wore.  

"I have to stop," I murmured into her hair.  

"Do you?"  

"The light's changed three times already."  

"Has it?" I could hear the smile in her voice. "It's a good thing it's so late. So early. What time is it, anyway?"  

I turned my wrist so a street light would illuminate my watch. "2:30. Sebring… Tony is going to be unhappy with me."  

"Will it matter? *I'm* very happy with you."  

"Then no, darling. It won't matter at all." I licked my lips. "But if I want to see you again, I'd better get you home now." I eased her out of my arms and put the car in drive.  

It didn't take too long to get to her apartment house. I parked the car, ran around to open the door for her, and took her elbow.  

The elevator operator was drowsing as we got into the elevator. "Morning, folks," he mumbled. "Floor? Oh, it's you, Miss Sebring."  

"Good morning, Joe."  

"Another late night at work?" He looked at me with sleepy curiosity, then must have assumed I was simply a colleague.  

"Mmm." She didn't correct his mistaken assumption.  

The car rose smoothly, to come to a halt on Porter's floor.  

"You don't need to walk me to the door, Neville." She smiled at me, knowing if the man hadn't been there I'd have kissed her the entire ride up.  

I watched as she walked down the hallway. Sebring wasn't going to be pleased. Her hair was in disarray and her blouse was only partly tucked into her skirt. There was a run in her hose where the catch on my watch had snagged it.  

Fuck Sebring.  

Porter stood at the door, fumbling in her purse for her key. She glanced over her shoulder at me and smiled.  

And suddenly I couldn't catch my breath. Was this how it happened?  

"Dammit," I muttered to myself, and, "Wait here," I told the operator. I stalked toward her, pulled her into my arms, and kissed her. Her lips were soft and pliant under mine. Her purse fell to the floor, and her fingers threaded through my hair, stroked the hollow at the base of my skull, and I growled and deepened the kiss.  

Finally I let her go, running my fingertips over her cheeks. "God, you're beautiful!"  

Her eyes were heavy-lidded and dark, her breath coming in little pants. She touched her lips… her swollen lips, but before I could apologize for bruising them, she brought her fingertips to mine. "Neville… " Her sigh was voluptuous. "No one's ever kissed me like that."  

"Like how?"  

"Like he was a starving man."  

"I am, Porter. I've been starving for you my whole life, and I never even knew it."  

"Oh, Neville!"  

I pressed her palm to my mouth and kissed it. "Keep tomorrow night available for me."  


"Goodnight, darling. Sleep well, and dream of me."  

"Darling." She picked up her purse. Fortunately it had been closed, and so nothing had spilled out of it. She let herself into the apartment she was sharing with her oldest brother.  

//Only you, Porter Sebring.// I smoothed my hair down and went back to the elevator. The operator was studiously examining the design in the carpeting.  

"Thanks for waiting."  

"You're welcome, sir. Nice to see Miss Sebring having a life outside work."  


The doors slid shut, and the elevator descended.  

I got out on the ground floor. "Goodnight, Joe."  

"'Night, sir."  

I took my car keys from my pocket, tossed them in the air and caught them, and began whistling softly as I walked to my car.