written for MFUWSS Easter Egg Challenge 2014
The Blue Door
Illya pedaled down the narrow lane, jacket unbuttoned and flapping, leaving the coastal village of Grootje behind. The wheels of his borrowed bicycle raised up little clouds of dust in his wake. It felt good to be on the move again.
The afternoon was warm, a benevolence of sunshine and bright blue sky that set the birds to singing in the nearby fields. Honey bees buzzed languidly, a droning counterpoint to the soaring melodies of the sparrows. And as if all that glory were not cause enough for celebration, a veritable rainbow of tulips sprang up on either side of the dirt path, the rows of blossoms extending all the way to the horizon. In the distance, a traditional Dutch windmill could be seen, its wooden blades clacking in the stiff breeze blowing in off the North Sea. Illya could smell the salt in the air, could hear the cries of the gulls.
The plan was to meet up with Napoleon that evening at a bierhuis in Amsterdam, to celebrate the success of their mission before heading back to the States. Knowing Napoleon, the celebration had already started. No doubt, he has found some local beauty to wine and dine, Illya thought idly. Given his partner's rampant sexual proclivities, there would be no need to rush. Napoleon was nothing if not thorough.
His stomach rumbled, reminding him that he had not eaten. Perhaps he would stop in one of the quaint koffiehuises along the way for some of that delicious boterhammen, or perhaps a toasted stroopwafel. He smiled, already tasting the warm crunch of the cookie, the sweet caramel filling oozing from its center.
He tilted his face toward the sun, drinking in the warmth. He felt his weary muscles relax, the tension of the recent mission draining away. It was a beautiful day.
The front wheel of the bike collapsed with a shudder, throwing Illya forward across the handlebars. He rolled to the ground, drawing his weapon, and continued rolling toward the edge of the lane. Within seconds, his body was all but invisible, concealed amid a riot of red and yellow tulips.
Seconds passed. The birds sang on. The bees continued to buzz.
Illya's sharp eyes scoured the surrounding countryside, searching for the location of the sniper, but he saw only endless rows of tulips swaying gently in the breeze. He waited, motionless, patient, alert, sure that THRUSH must eventually show their hand.
Puzzled, he crawled forward on his belly to examine the fallen bike.
A sharp rock had sliced a hole in the balding front tire, rendering it useless. Illya holstered his weapon, relieved that at least he had not stumbled into a THRUSH ambush. Still, there was the problem of where to find a new bicycle tire in the middle of nowhere. He considered using his UNCLE communicator to request roadside assistance, but knew Napoleon would never let him hear the end of it if he did. With a sigh, he seized the bicycle and started walking.
A mile down the road, he came upon one of the quintesssential Dutch windmills, a square, slightly canted structure with a badly weathered roof. As he watched, a young woman emerged from a blue door at the base of the building. She looked to be twenty-five or twenty-six years of age, pretty, with warm, dark eyes. She was carrying a pile of books in her arms.
“Excuse me, Miss.”
She gasped at the sight of him, and dropped the books. “Ach, Godverdomme!”
“Please, I did not mean to startle you. Here. Let me.” Illya bent to retrieve the fallen tomes, and his eyebrows arched in surprise. “You are reading these?”
The woman frowned. “What else would one do with books?”
“But –” He examined the titles with growing interest. “The Speeches of Cicero. Virgil's Aeneid. Tacitus' History of the Punic Wars. The Collected Satires of Juvenal. The Erotic Poems of Catullus. Impressive.”
She held out her arms and, after a brief hesitation, he placed the books into them. “Dank u.”
“Welkom.” He paused. “Not many people venture to read the classics in the original Latin.”
She smiled. “Not many people venture to read them at all.”
“No.” Another pause. “Why do you?”
She shrugged. “I don't know, really. I suppose I like the way it disciplines my mind. Also it passes the time while I wait for the flowers to grow.”
“This farm is yours then?”
“Mijn vader's.” She held out her hand. “Lotte Joosten. And you are –?”
“Pieter Van der Berg,” Illya replied, reciting the cover identity he had adopted for the mission.
“A strange accent for een Nederlander.”
Once again, Illya was surprised by the young woman's perceptiveness. “My family emigrated here after the War,” he lied.
“The War was a long time ago. One would think an accent, like flowers, would fade with time.” She glanced down at Illya's damaged bike. “You have had an accident?”
“Ah, too bad. Well, all is not lost. You can buy a new tire at the fietsenwinkel in Beets. It's the next town over. Three miles, maybe.”
“I'll do that, thank you.” As he turned away, Illya's stomach chose that moment to rumble.
“You are hungry?”
He smiled self-consciously. “What gave me away?”
She returned the smile, peering at him from under impossibly long lashes. “It is a long walk to the next town, de heer Van der Berg. You will need something to keep up your strength, I think. I have beer, of course, and cheese from the Akmaar market – a nice, ripe Gouda. And roggebrood. There is more than enough to share.”
Rye bread, Illya translated silently. His stomach rumbled again. “You are very kind, but I don't wish to interrupt your meal –”
“I don't mind sharing. Really.” She licked her lips, twirled a strand of long, chestnut hair around one slender finger.
Illya was mesmerized by the gesture. The woman really was quite beautiful.
We could discuss Cicero,” she went on, her voice low and sultry. Her fingers reached out to caress the collar of his shirt. “Or if that's too dull for you, we can take turns reading Catullus to one another –”
Illya saw the frank invitation in her eyes. His breath caught.
“Mijn vader will be gone until sundown, de heer Van der Berg. He likes to stop in at the bierhuis for a drink. Several drinks, most evenings. We will be quite undisturbed, I assure you.” Lotte laid the books down beside the fence. She lifted her face, touched her lips to his.
The kiss was gentle at first, a tender exploration of mutual boundaries. Lotte's skin was milk white, silky-soft to his touch, and smelled of lavender soap. She sighed softly, rubbing her body against his, and Illya took it as permission to deepen the kiss. His fingers traced the contours of her face, caressed the slope of her shoulders, brushed the sensitive tips of her breasts. She moaned, pressing them into his hands.
His lips slid down her neck, tasting, and she threw her head back in pleasure. His hands, meanwhile, slipped behind her buttocks, clutching her as they rocked against one another in a tantalizing friction. His eyes closed.
They drew apart, panting. Illya's jacket lay crumpled on the ground, although he couldn't recall taking it off. His shirt hung open; his tie draped loosely about his neck. Lotte's blouse had come undone, and her skirt was bunched about her thighs. She turned toward the windmill's blue door. “We will be more comfortable inside, I think.”
With a final glance at his broken bicycle, Illya followed her into the cool darkness. The blue door closed softly behind them.