Authors: Dara Joy
"I'll have the steak bomb."
Tyberius Augustus Evans, renowned theoretical physicist, sat back in his seat with an expression that said his universe was about to display a fascinating exposition on the principle of Chaos.
This expression was directed at the love of his life, Zanita Masterson, with whom he associated the very foundation of modern physics. From his experience in the field of Mastersonmatics, he was positive he was about to witness a wondrous spectacle.
He leaned further back in his seat to patiently observe the "event."
Blithely unaware of her paramour's absorbed visage, Zanita gazed up at the waiter and asked sweetly, "It comes with cheese, onion, peppers, and mushrooms, doesn't it?"
The waiter smiled back, completely unaware of the fate that was about to befall him. The corners of Tyber's sensuous lips curved. We have ignition,
"Yes, ma'am," the young man chirped.
"I don't want any peppers." She smiled up at him.
"All right." The waiter smiled back as he wrote down "no peppers" on the order. Tyber snorted and waited tolerantly. He was not to be disappointed.
"And… instead of regular onions, can I have caramelized ones?"
"Sure." He scratched on his pad and started to turn to Tyber for his order. Tyber did not even glance at his menu. He knew they were not even close to entering a trajectory to planet Zanita. Touchdown was nowhere in sight.
As if on cue, Zanita said, "You know what—I think I'll have mashed potatoes instead of the fries!"
The waiter paused ever so slightly before he began to write. "Uh-huh."
Tyber began his countdown. Ten… nine… eight…
Zanita bit her lip as she scrutinized the menu. "Ummm… put some avocado on that, too."
"Avocado?" The waiter's eyes popped out.
Zanita nodded. He scribbled "avocado." Tyber snorted and continued counting. Three… two… one…
"Oh, and forget the roll."
The waiter stopped and stared at her, dumbstruck. "B-but it—it's a sandwich!"
Lift offffff! Tyber's ice blue eyes flashed in silent appreciation of the fabulous display of entropy. With Zanita, disorder had a certain order to it.
Zanita waved her hand to indicate that such details were unimportant in her scheme of reality. Tyber grinned, displaying two curved dimples, as he turned to the dazed waiter.
"I'll have the chicken salad sandwich."
The waiter swallowed, pen poised over the tablet, ready for the Euclidian translation. "And… ?"
The young man gratefully took their menus and beat a hasty retreat.
"I'm starving." Zanita smiled at Tyber as she ran the toe of her shoe over his jean-clad ankle.
Tyber cocked his eyebrow at her, then picked up a glass of water and slowly sipped it. "And here I thought this was just a ruse to make me leave the symposium."
"God, Tyber, that was so boring."
"Boring. Marcus Schlammerthimmer happens to be one of the foremost minds in nano-technology; he—"
Zanita slipped off her shoe and strummed her foot up the inside seam of his jean-clad leg. "—is boring."
Tyber sucked in his breath and gave her a firm look that said he was not going to be distracted. At least not until they finished lunch. "Okay, I admit he is a bit on the long-winded side but he—"
Zanita wiggled her toes against his muscular thigh. Tyber had spectacular thighs. And that was but one in a line of many spectacular attributes in the extraordinary Evans package.
Zanita's thoughts went to what the man had done to her that morning when she had awakened in his bed, completely tangled up with him. His long chestnut hair, tousled from sleep, had swung forward as he leaned over her. He had used the tips of his hair to torture her mercilessly as he brought her to peak several times.
As usual, he had taken her thoroughly, displaying that innate pirate streak in him. Mischievous devil.
Unlike any other man she had ever met, Tyberius Augustus Evans, renowned eccentric, constantly made her crazy for him. More than once she wondered about the sensational level of excitement in their relationship. The passion didn't seem to be lessening at all. In fact, against all odds, it seemed to be increasing.
After many such incredible mornings with him—as well as afternoons, evenings, and middle of the nights—Zanita had come to the decision that she was not going to do anything to tamper with the status quo of their relationship. She wanted them to stay just as they were—wild for each other.
Why take a chance and mess with perfection? she reasoned.
And it was perfection…
Zanita took a dainty little breath in an attempt to disguise her rapidly escalating pulse.
She suspected her ruse didn't work when those bedroom blue eyes gleamed at her.
She knew positively that it hadn't worked when the "dimple of hidden knowledge" appeared next to the curve of his well-formed lips.
Zanita was very familiar with the dimple of hidden knowledge. After all, the man was not simply a genius. He was an aware genius.
Which made it very difficult for her to get away with anything.
She frowned in annoyance. The sexy scientist was too sharp for his own good! Or rather, her own good. "You should be thanking me for rescuing us."
Tyber's eyebrows arched in amusement. "Really."
She nodded. "Instead of hearing about poly-wogs and nurks, you get to enjoy a simple lunch and an afternoon of shopping."
"That's polygons and nurbs." His lips twitched.
"Whatever. This is so much more relaxing."
Behind Zanita's back, the door to the kitchen suddenly banged open. An irate chef stood in the doorway, hands on hips, white hat crushed in one fist. He glared at the waiter beside him, who sheepishly pointed in Zanita's direction.
Tyber had no trouble reading his lips. "I might have known it was her!" He rolled his eyes and stormed back into his culinary sanctuary.
Tyber noted the observation with his customary enjoyment. Simple lunch? With Zanita? Like a guided missile, his unforgettable "Curls" struck fast and without warning. Often the exact target was a total enigma to all except she who controlled the inertial guidance system.
Once, she had rewritten the recipe for chicken
and had ended up with a whole new color combination for food. The striped effect was still a mystery to him.
There were all kinds of things flying around Zanita's head. Sometimes they landed. Tyber adored her.
Oblivious to the scene that had just taken place behind her, Zanita continued on with what she considered to be excellent plans for their afternoon in the city. While
had its academic interests, it also had some very unique shops. "… so I thought we could check out that new boutique that specializes in porcelain…"
Boutique? Tyber sat still in his seat. Where had that topic come from? "Baby, there is a lecture on hybrid radiosity at
that I want to—"
"… dragons," she finished.
Tyber hesitated a beat. "Dragons?"
"Uh-huh." She took a sip of her coffee. "All the stuff you like, too, from what I hear. When I called for directions, they told me they just got a shipment in from
; you know, that artist you love?"
Zanita smiled prettily at him.
Tyber narrowed his eyes. "And just when did you call for directions?"
"About ten minutes after the lecture started. Remember when I went to the restroom?"
Tyber watched her with guarded fascination, saying nothing.
"Well, as soon as Schlimmerdimmer opened his mouth, I could tell this was going to be a real waste of time, so I decided to change our plans." She took another sip of coffee.
He couldn't suppress the smile that curved his mouth. "The man's name is Schlammerhimmer… I think."
Zanita waved her hand, erasing the man's name from their frame of reality, not to mention the rest of their afternoon. The memory of the lecture gave her a twinge of pain. The man barely spoke above a whisper, only used the obscure terms spoken behind locked labs, and, worse, had the annoying habit of making weird honking noises in his throat whenever he paused in his speech. Which was every three minutes.
"Tell the truth, Tyber, you'd much rather go to that shop than listen to him get lost in his own importance. Besides, who knew what he was talking about?"
Tyber gave her a look. "You know, I am a theoretical physicist, sweetheart. Occasionally we like to indulge our wild side and listen to such lectures."
Zanita popped a piece of buttered roll into her mouth. "Speaking of wild side, Tyber, when are we going to investigate that ghost sighting you told me about at that tavern on
The ghost sighting on Martha's Vineyard… he had told her about that when he had been trying to come up with something—anything—that would make her stay with him after they had finished their first investigation of the phony psychic healer, Xavier LaLeche. The two of them had joined forces and hearts on that case.
Initially, Tyber had simply agreed to help her investigation as a way of starting up a relationship with her—when she wasn't looking. Zanita had been opposed to any kind of relationship, so he had to tread very carefully, letting her think that he was not her boyfriend. While all the time, he was exactly that.
It had been a brilliant plan. If a bit bizarre.
But then he was known for his brilliance.
He was also known for his unique solutions. Pirate solutions.
This solution, however, was about to jump back and bite him on his parameter ram, so to speak. It appeared his Curls was not going to forget about the next investigation.
Not that he'd thought for one minute she would.
Zanita was a reporter with their small-town newspaper, The Patriot Sun. She was also a woman who liked to explore the unknown. Hell, she was with him, which was the "unknown" at its finest!
Tyber was very aware that he was considered an eccentric. He was also aware that his lady love was just enough of an oddball to make what they had together perfect. Or nearly perfect.
The waiter arrived with their plates, placing Tyber's in front of him. "A chicken salad sandwich," he announced loudly.