Country Hospitality

Participants:

dumortier_icon.gif hull_icon.gif

Scene Title Country Hospitality
Synopsis It isn't all work for Clover Hull.
Date February 12, 2020

The old aphorism goes: Speak of the Devil and you’ll invite him into your home.

The knock on the front door of Rene Dumortier’s home just shortly after dawn could well be the devil knocking. But when spied on out a window with a view of the front of the house, the Devil seems to have come in an innocuous shape today. Clover Hull is still a stranger around these parts, at least to most of Providence. The techopath with hair the color of stormy seas has found herself precisely where she wants to be at the moment, carrying a cloth bag in one hand and a backpack over her shoulder. She knocks again, for good measure, before calling out.

Rene!” Hull looks up toward the roof of the house, squinting against the dim light of overcast skies. “If you all greet folks with a shotgun in these parts, please know I’m particularly allergic t’bullets and I come bearing gifts!” She hefts up the cloth bag by the straps.

At least the Devil came bearing gifts. That seems appropriate.


Providence
New Jersey Pine Barrens, New Jersey
February 12th
9:03 am


February's chill hasn't quite left in the short time after sun-up. Anyone who doesn't want to sneak up on the cabin knows to take the path, so at the very least he can tell the knocking is someone who is likely supposed to be here. Or, at least, probably nobody to worry about. Deadbolts slide in response first.

When the door pops open a few inches he keeps the chain there, a slice of him peering out at her. Hull could have announced herself in worse ways.

"It's not bullets you have to worry about with me." One eyebrow lifts with his words, a hand rising to unhook the chain on the door and tip it open further- - enough to be an invitation, shoulder leaning against the wood. Dumortier's long hair is still damp at the ends, tied in a loose knot at his neck. "Are you coming in or do I need to finish getting dressed?"

It's followed by an amused spark in his expression, not at all that toothiness of someone bold and drunk. At least he's already wearing lounge pants. It's his house, love.

Hull stands frozen at the door for a moment, cheeks flushed with a hint of color. Her expression quickly melts into a coy smile and a rise of her brows as she moves the door open the rest of the way with the toe of her sneaker. “Hey, don't get all modest on my account,” she says with a little bit of tightness in her voice.

Slipping through the open door, Hull rather intentionally brushes past Dumortier and takes in a deep breath through her nose as she does. Surprise greets him on the other side when she turns around and comments, “Lilac?” There's a little curl to her smile, like she can't quite place the scent. But judging from the tone of her surprise, she likes it.

The freeze is all he really needed for that leg up; no problem establishing an ability to cause hesitation, which will at least work in his favor. Dumortier welcomes the young woman in with an exaggerated flourish of hand as she brushes past, relocking the door behind her.

Modesty isn't his style, anyway.

"A hundred things. And lavender." Dumortier taps his slipper against the edge of his calico couch as he skirts past it, the apparent culprit of the latter. Those hundred things seem quite literal; there are plants filling the cabin, dried and not. Not overbearing, only more than most might have. Several are blooming, even now.

"Ambiance." Hull gets a crooked little smile in return as Rene leans up against an apparent workbench, arms crossing. "So to what do I owe the pleasure? Your old man let you out of his sight for too long?"

“He’s just an old man, not mine. I mean unless you consider him in my care which might not be far from the truth because he's a stubborn old horse.” Hull practically blurts out as she meanders her way through the cabin, looking around at the vegetation. “I do what I want,” sounds a little more distracted as she makes her way over to that couch, turning to step backwards and regard Rene at his workbench as she does.

Cracking a smile, Hull finds her way down onto the couch and sets the bag in her lap, loosening the drawstring. “I came out here because I wanted to get t’know the local color, and because I don’t flirt without meaning it.” She brushes right past that last part, as if it weren’t relevant to the conversation. “Plus since you offered up that help I thought it’d be rude to not offer a gift.” She slides the fabric of the bag down around the bottle, revealing a glazed clay jug with an amber wax seal around the cork on the top. “Cranberry-sage mead, from back home.”

Home territory aside, Dumortier definitely seems the type to flop down anywhere and look like he's always been; it was the same in the bar, too. He waits for her to sit and dig around in her pack, curious but cautious enough to remain a safe space back.

"Local color. Making me sound like a hick." One brow raises, a scolding tease. "I suppose I could be." Rene moves closer and perches on the arm of the couch rather than the seat. Wastes zero time in reaching out to take the jug by its handle. "A drunk hick based on what you've seen of me, hm?" Despite talk of drunkenness he doesn't actually try to open the mead right here, but he does inspect the bottom for a seal in the clay. "I think you picked the good stuff. I've tasted some miraculously terrible attempts. Out here there seems to be an overabundance of moonshine, too."

"Yes, I did offer to help you." Dumortier finally breaks the rest of the ice, having only been chipped at so far. "I remember that part- -" He narrows his eyes and cracks a smirk that turns to a good-natured grimace. "The finer details, not so much."

Hull’s smile turns impish as she reclines back and puts her arms across the back of the couch, crossing one leg over the other. Her foot bobs up and down to a tune only she can hear. “Drunk hicks are cute,” she says with a rise of her brows, “got that country charm. I get that back home, but the boys back there aren’t quite as…” she looks back down to the bottle of mead in Dumortier’s hand, “good.”

The jug in Dumortier’s hands has no seal, no markings. It’s just a plain coat of clear glaze over terra-cotta reddish brown clay. The top is sealed in wax with a cork likely somewhere in the neck. “If you wanna’ inspect the goods, you’re more’n welcome to open it up,” she says with no hint of shame in any double-entendre she might be attempting. At the same time, Hull scoots to the middle of the couch, so that her widespread arms ensure physical contact regardless of the side of her Dumortier chooses to sit on, if he joins her on the couch. It’s strategic.

“Been meaning to ask, too,” Hull says with a look away from Dumortier, “you work for those folks out at the Factory? The ones I hear run this place? Or…” she looks back, intently inspecting the blonde. “Are you an independent contractor?”

"I wasn't always a country boy." Dumortier mutters this mostly to himself as he finishes the quick inspection of the jug, propping the bottom against his thigh. The sheepish look from before dissipates, replaced by a more amused one; rather than settle himself down, Rene slides onto his feet and places the jug on a table nearby. Inspecting those goods will have to wait.

"Work for them? No, I work with them." For him, a marked difference. The blonde's back is to her intent look, one hand freeing the tie from his hair, the other picking briefly over a tray of something he'd been fussing with before. Pieces of something he's torn apart- - meticulously- - in the time before Hull's arrival. Looks like something electronic, at least from where she sits.

"I consider them friends, though, if that matters." A strain seems to linger in his spine, the tattoo across shoulder blades still visibly tense. Insofar as his face and manner is nonchalant, he isn't blithe to the fact she's an unknown guest. Rene angles a look Hull's way as he puts away a fistful of thin tools, making his way back with the interest of a bird to a bead.

"En tout cas…" Said with the sigh of someone moving the conversation to the point, Dumortier slides into the seat beside her with a soft thump, ever the king of his little castle and looking like it. "So how can I help you?"

Hull doesn’t immediately answer, instead she regards Dumortier through the fringe of her lashes in a moment of purposeful silence. Teeth toy at her bottom lip before a smile creeps up to replace that pensive look. “Long term, the old horse I rode in here with is going to need some help. If you’re independent, we could really use some help. Folks around here tell me you’re good with plants, and the old man got that look in his eye when I told him. You know, like he had some sort of plan.” Hull tucks her chin against her shoulder for a moment, glancing down, then back up at Dumortier. “He can pay.”

But then her gaze flits away, attention drifting around the room. “Short term…” Hull’s voice sounds a little more distant, her thoughts less clearly arranged. “I’m here for the time being,” her attention squares back on Dumortier, “looking for a place t’hang my head for the night, because I’m not sleeping in a truck again.” There were, doubtlessly, other options. This is just an excuse. “Plus I figured we could have a drink and,” one hand waves in the air, “see where that goes.” She adds, shamelessly.

"Good with plants. That's me…" At least he knows his own reputation in town. It only sounds bland. Still, it makes him smile, the corner of his mouth lifting back. It remains with the addition of payment, even if Bennet's means are suspect to him. If he had much to start with, they came all the way here- - so where's he keeping it?

The young woman sounds less sure of herself as she goes on; Dumortier listens attentively, the crystal blue of his eyes set with the same level of focus on her. He makes absolutely no effort to hide his wandering gaze.

"Nothing wrong with trucks, chere." Hull earns a renewed little smile from Rene, showing even in the narrow of his eyes, voice tinged with a soft drawl. "Your execution of softening someone up could use a little more finesse…" Brows lift with a soft laugh, playful rather than scornful.

"The candor is painfully cute, though." Now that he's listened to at least a bit of her pitches and put idle thoughts of Noah shoveling up mystery money aside- - Dumortier slinks back to his feet to fetch a pair of lacquered wooden cups from the pantry. "If the old man can pay, I'll play."

“S’at what it takes?” Hull says with an impish smile, not giving Dumortier too long to think about the implication. “Bennet can pay. He’d do anything for his kid.” Her eyes downcast at that, a hint of something akin to jealousy but nothing quite so bitter. Maybe envy.

But then Hull looks back up with a smile. “I’m not good with subtle, or finesse. I’m what you might call blunt force trauma,” she notes with a crooked smile. “But I’ll take painfully cute, might be the best compliment I’ve gotten in a long while.” Dark eyes assess Dumortier for a moment, then the bottle of mead, then back to the agrokinetic again. “An’ there might not be nothing wrong with trucks, but you sleep in the bed of one for a week straight and you’d sleep on rocks just t’have something nice to lay on.” She slouches to the side, watching Dumortier heading to the pantry.

"Oh, putting your head down can get so much worse. Lucky when you've got a pillow under it…" He sets them up, the implications. She just pins the tail on. Tone still light, manner still loose, Rene casts a small look over her face for those seconds her other nature tickles at her eyes. Hull's smile to chase it away colors her explanation of her brand of bold.

"Well, I did say painfully, Ms. Blunt Force Trauma." Dumortier adds, soft laughter in his chest when he pauses to pull a different bottle from another shelf. Glass over clay, dark wine roughly half-gone, and the label looks like it doesn't quite belong here in the country. "I've been working on this one, if you'd prefer something richer." The base sets down on the low table in front of Hull, and the two cups next to the mead already there.

Rather than sitting back down, Rene offers a flourish of hands to the table, a more comical stab at hosting. "Ladies choice."

Hull looks up, one brow raised inquisitively. A smile creeps up as she leans forward and takes one of the cups, proffering it up to Dumortier. “I’ll try a lil’ of what you’ve got,” she says with not even an attempt to veil her humor. She almost laughs at her own joke, but manages to stifle that self-interest enough to waggle the cup around back and forth in front of Dumortier like an impatient patron at a country restaurant.

“I mean,” Hull drags her teeth over her bottom lip, “you know, we could sample a little of each other’s home-brew,” she adds with a toothy grin. At this point she’s earning the moniker of Ms. Blunt Force Trauma in entirely proverbial ways.

"Just a little?" Dumortier's brows lift, slight, his eyes hooded back to her. What he lacks in stature he makes up for in presence; the careful curve of his smile, shoulders back, posture perfect, hip cocked. Strands of still-drying blonde at his collarbone. Blue eyes like chips of aquamarine. A lift of chin before he moves to take up his own offered bottle, turning the neck over in hand.

"We'll see how mine fares, first, hmm?" The stopper pops out with a twist of his hand. Rene's laugh this time is an even softer one, hanging on his breath while he pours out for the pair of them. "No reason to keep it all to myself."

One of Hull’s brows rises slowly as she slouches down on the couch, teeth toying with her bottom lip as she watches her cup slowly fill. She brings the glass to cradle below her nose, breathing in as she regards Dumortier over the rim.

“Only seems fair,” Hull says before taking a sip.

Only seems fair.


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