The strawberry girl was sitting on the window seat, reading a book. She stifled a yawn, blinking her eyes sleepily. Her head nodded off to the side, but she caught herself in time and returned her focus on the page.
“What are you reading, my strawberry girl?” The inventor’s shadow loomed over her. She looked up and smiled at him sleepily, and he sat down beside her, pulling her close and letting her lean on his chest.
“Lost Souls,” she yawned. “It’s a book by Poppy Z. Brite and it’s my favourite.”
The inventor squinted at the page she was reading, gave a shocked gasp, and pulled the book out of her hands. “What the fuck are you reading?” he asked disbelievingly.
She looked at him innocently. “I just told you.”
“But this is…this is…” he shut his eyes and sighed, then closed the book and set it on the floor carefully. He shook his head, then looked at the girl. “I’m sorry, strawberry. I wasn’t expecting that.”
She pouted. “I’ve read it anyway.”
“And do you like…that sort of thing?”
The strawberry girl smirked. “It’s nice to think about, sometimes.”
He returned the smirk, putting his hands on her waist and squeezing softly. “I’ll give you something else to think about.”
She looked at him suspiciously. “Why do you have that smile on your face?”
“Because I enjoy having you around.” The inventor lifted her off the window seat and set her on his desk.
The strawberry girl squeezed his cheeks and smiled. “It’s nice being around you.”
“Mphfmffmm.” He gripped her by the wrists and pulled her hands off his face. “I mean, yes it is.”
The girl leaned in and kissed his cheek. “So why am I on your desk, anyway? Are you making new internal organs for me again?”
He tilted her head up and moved her hair away from her face. “No, I’ll just examine you today. Just think of it as regular maintenance.”
She looked at him obliquely, her eyes questioning. “It…it won’t hurt, would it?”
“It might, a little.” He skimmed her neck with his lips, gently, then bit her hard. “But I know you can handle it.”
She sighed, a small smile playing on her lips. “I like this examination.”
“We’ll have them daily to make sure your heart is in good condition.” The inventor pulled her closer.
“That sounds reasonable…” The strawberry girl began biting and nibbling his ear softly while sliding her hands inside his shirt.
“If something goes wrong, I’ll fix it right away.” He drew her in even closer, wrapping an arm around her waist and holding the back of her head with his other hand. He lowered his face to meet hers and kissed her. “I think we need a thorough examination, strawberry girl.”
She kissed him back, relaxing against the wall and letting his full weight sink on her. Her eyes were half closed, one hand in his hair and playing idly with its strands. “My heart may be malfunctioning,” she said between kisses. “It’s beating very fast.”
“It’s all right.” The inventor smiled at her, placing her hand right over his heart. “See? It’s just like mine.”
She kissed the palm of his hand. “Then I have nothing to worry about.” He cupped her cheek and she stared up at him intently. After a minute, her cheeks grew red and she looked away.
“What’s wrong, my strawberry?”
She muttered something he couldn’t understand.
“What was that?”
She shook her head in embarrassment, then buried her face in his chest, refusing to look up at him again.
He laughed, poking her cheek. “You’re my favorite.”
Her face was pressed to his chest so tightly that he could feel her lips move when she smiled. “I said,” she said in a small voice, after a while, “I said I don’t hate you.”
He laughed again.
“It sounded like something else,” he teased.
She gave a small grumpy sound.
“It’s all right, honey bunny.” He petted her head slowly, feeling her relax bit by bit. “I know.”
She was saying something else, but her voice was so faint that he had to tilt his head closer. But her voice trailed off and she stopped talking all of a sudden.
“Strawberry?” He looked down at the girl, who had her eyes closed and was sleeping peacefully on his chest. She murmured something in her sleep, and he reached down to caress her cheek. After a few minutes, after making sure she was fast asleep, he whispered something into her ear.
“I don’t hate you either.”
She was sleeping, but she smiled.