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67 Chapter Sixty Six - The Way To A Woman’s Hear

    A weekly shop for two people was never going to be very large, certainly when such was then to stretch between more than ten people, however a change of flavour, a change of texture, these, even if it was just for a handful of meals was still welcome.  Autumn stirred the contents of the tinned soup in a pan and the air filled with the homely, familiar scent of tomatoes.  In a second pan, cream of mushroom soup had been poured from two tins and was beginning to simmer.  Mouths watered in anticipation.

    As the adults savoured their lunch, the mood was comfortable, despite the discussion at the table; that there was a serious lack of extraneous supplies now lurking in the abandoned villages and towns.  It was to be expected, at the end of the day, food had become the top priority of the survivors after all, to cover them as their first harvests came to fruition and to help them live through their first unknown winter.  Still, some couldn't help but lament.

    "Ah, if it had been like those manga's, where someone was reborn before the apocalypse," Patrick was saying aloud, though the expressions of most of his listeners remained clueless and blank.  "Then we could have gathered up hens or quails or ducks and maybe rabbits..."

    "Patrick," Dexter, the only one to get his point sighed, "let it go."

    "We're luckier than most," Harry pointed out, thinking about the small herd of sheep with the two new additions pottering about in the front garden.  Despite the animals having some control over the wind, as the adults had previously been tamed and used to humans and there was no threat to their lives currently, they didn't use their powers so much. But it didn't mean that they were never used.

    Part of the reason for keeping the three animals alive so long was in order that they reproduce; more animals meant more meat later on, but also meant that there would be milk.  Only, no one knew how to milk an animal and the ram had been less than impressed that the humans were pestering his females.  Strangely, it was Lucy that had calmed the 'white puppy' and allowed the grown ups time to figure out how to steal a bit of the mothers' milk.  The little girl had wrinkled her nose when the accumulation of their first attempt was handed to her to drink.  It did not have the same flavour as cows milk after all.

    Coaxed and cajoled, she'd eventually drank it and the adults were pleased that they could provide their princess with the extra nutrition.  Still, it might be another year or so before they took the life of one of the sheep and sampled the taste of mutton, but at least this plan was on the right track.

    "Would be nice to still have eggs though," Autumn admitted, thinking of all the things she could cook if she just had access to a source of eggs.

    "Didn't Chang Min say that the army base had eggs?" Patrick pointed out, causing all those who hadn't heard about this to sit up and take notice.

    "And how are we supposed to get hold of them?" Tyler slapped him about the head in rebuke.  "It's not like we have anything left to trade with, at least nothing that I can't imagine that they do not already have."

    "Wouldn't hurt to sound them out," Jonah sat back in his chair, after cleaning out his bowl with a piece of bread.  A small cry filled the air and caught his notice.  He glanced at his girl beside him, however, Brooke's head was down and she still had a little soup left in her bowl.  He sighed.  Since the rodent attacks, Brooke had seemed to lose interest in their son once more.  He didn't know what else he could do to stir her feelings towards the baby.  Resigned, he pushed back his chair and gratefully took the bottle that Autumn had already prepared for him, before heading upstairs to see to his son.

    "We'll visit the base when we next go out," Dexter suggested as Jonah returned carrying the small bun in his thick arms.  The little one sucked at the bottle with ease, his bright little eyes starring happily up at his old man, who was watching him in turn with a soft expression.  It caught the imagination of the other man, who surreptitiously glanced up at the bubbly woman grabbing bowls and heading towards the sink.

    One by one, people dispersed, some heading for the garden to help with the weeding, others heading towards the wall to exchange with those who'd remained to patrol while their friends ate lunch.  Autumn was heating yet more tinned soup for Monika, Arthur and Chang Min who were due to come eat.  Dexter moved over to the sink, using the excuse of cleaning dishes to linger longer.  He glanced over his shoulder at the woman standing with her back to him near the range cooker and an uncharacteristic shiver of nerves caused discomfort in his stomach.

    "Lunch was good," he said, aloud, trying to make conversation.

    Autumn felt her lips curve as she mentioned; "Just tinned soup, nothing more than heating required."

    "True, true," he replied.  "But, you made the bread."

    "Yes, I did," Autumn answered.  She looked over with a touch of shyness and a blush blossomed as her eyes met his, which then flickered away first due to his nervousness.

    "There's something I've been meaning to ask you," Dexter scratched his forehead then grimaced as he realised his hands were wet and covered in bubbles.  Autumn turned around to chuckle, quietly, before clearing her throat quietly and saying;

    "Go ahead."

    "You can turn me down," Dexter began to prattle on a bit, as he attempted to steal towards what he was trying to say, "so don't feel like it's a big issue and don't feel like, you know, you have to or anything, just because I asked..." Autumn felt his nervousness within her own belly and remembered the way Monika teased her the other day.  Her heart skipped and her palms began to feel sweaty.  Would he really ask her...?  Her of all people?  Dexter took a deep breath; "Do you wanna... would you... ah..." he grabbed a tea towel, wiping his hands before stepping in front of her.  Perspiration began to bead on his forehead.  "Autumn, I like you.  Would you go out with me?  Damn, that seems a weird thing to ask in the circumstances."

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    "It does," Autumn agreed, shyly, glancing down, suddenly interesting in her feet.

    "Still... would you?" Dexter asked once more, quietly and gently.  Her head rose and her eyes met his... She'd never been asked out before, not seriously anyway and even though it briefly crossed her mind that he was only asking as she was only one of two single women in the house, the thought left as quickly as it came.  There was no desperation of that sort, just honest affection...

    Voices began to echo in the hallway, increasing in volume as they approached the kitchen.  Dexter stepped backwards, reactively, while Autumn spin to stir the soup at that same moment.  Monika glanced over the 'guilty' pair with a grin, before sitting at the table besides Arthur.  Chang Min entered a moment later.  "So...." the woman was tempted to ask just what was happening, but upon seeing Autumn's blushing expression, decided to alter the question; "What's for lunch?"

    "Um, there was only carrot and coriander left," Autumn replied.  "I hope that's okay."  She poured the soup between three bowls.  It was not much, but these tins of soup stretched only so far.  The three offered smiles as they broke the offered bread between their fingers and began to eat.  Autumn took the pan to the sink, where Dexter had continued to wash the remaining bowls.

    The woman glanced over her shoulder to make sure the others were busy with their meal rather than watching what she was doing, before standing on tip toes and whispering "Yes."  Dexter barely paused in his scrubbing, but a large smile nearly split his face in two.
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