Calamar was a hub of culture
and civilization, and Tycho was impressed. It wasn't as
packed as some of Nal Hutta's bigger cities, or indeed
the great city-moon of Nar Shaddaa. It was, however,
cleaner by far, beautiful and temperate. It was a place
of trade, art, entertainment, and beautiful
surroundings, both in nature and architecture. Even the
local wildlife was something to marvel over. There was
so much to see in the entertainment district that he
didn't think he'd ever get around to it all. As it was,
however, their first stop had been an easy decision.
Both he and El-Nay were hungry. There was no shortage of
places to eat, but he wanted a fine dining
establishment. Frankly, life was about to get even more
dangerous than normal. If death was looming at his
doorstep, he at least wanted a good meal first. He found
a place that specialized in all manner of exotic cuisine
and they were showed to a little table for two, complete
with a lovely crystal candleholder. The hostess lit the
candle, tapped the table to bring up a menu for each of
them, then left them to peruse it while they waited for
their server. "I'm glad we're getting this chance to sit
down to a nice meal," Tycho said. "Our lives have been
hectic lately ... sounds like it's only gonna get worse.
We deserve a break, right?"
As El-Nay stepped forward
into The Calamar House, she began to feel slightly
uncomfortable by how formal the place felt. She froze
briefly as she looked at all of the older, wealthy
individual who had gathered for their dinner. Then there
was her ... a young woman, with visible bruises upon her
body and face, and a wild hairstyle that was anything
but high society. "Tycho..." she whispered quietly,
squeezing his hand as if to ask if they were in the
right place. As they came to the table, she was
surprised as the host pulled out her chair, as she did
not normally eat in the kind of restaurant that did
that. "You sure we're supposed to be here?" she asked
him, as she leaned forward across the table, her gray
eyes darting around at the other diners. She felt like
everyone was staring at them ... they were not of course,
but that was still how she felt.
"We're paying customers, so
yeah," he said, giving a shrug, "I guess we're supposed
to be here. I don't think they care who we are... we came
with money. As long as we don't make a scene we'll be
fine. So ... y'know ... don't make a scene." A smirk touched
Tycho's lips and he glanced over the menu. "They sure
have plenty to choose from here, don't they?" And they
did have quite the diverse menu. Not for the first time
he looked up at her and realized just how lovely she
was. She had irritated him seven ways from Sunday at
times, and they had had their negative moments, but when
he'd seen her in the dress at the clothing store, he'd
decided that he was pleased to be near her, even if just
to look at her. He, himself, made a dashing figure in a
fine, red and black silk suit. His hair had been slicked
back and he had even shaved. He looked quite different.
"What can I order?" El-Nay
asked, as some of the items on the menu seemed quite
extravagant, and she did not want to choose something
too expensive and offend him. She had never been on a
traditional date before, as all of the guys on Corellia
found her too much of a tomboy, and far too physically
conditioned for their tastes. She reached across to take
her glass of water, but as her eyes were not focused on
the glass, she inadvertently tipped it over, spilling it
upon the table. "Eep!" she squealed frantically, before
picking up the glass to prevent what was left in it from
running over the table. Someone from the wait staff
hurried over to clean the mess, as El-Nay brought a hand
to cover her cheeks, which were rapidly flushing red
with embarrassment. "Sorry," she mouthed to Tycho,
hoping she had not just made a scene.
Tycho let out a good-natured
chuckle, amused by her little mishap. The smile that
remained after the laughter faded was a very genuine one
and there was a twinkle in his eyes. He seemed to be
warmer than usual, more lighthearted. It probably made
him much more pleasant to be around. "Don't worry about
it," he said. "You're just nervous. Don't be. And get
whatever you want. We're about to do something stupidly
dangerous, so we should treat ourselves, right?"
"Good evening, honored
sentients," said an attractive Iridonian woman as she
stepped up to the table. "I am Yul-Kari and I'll be your
server today. What can I start you off with?"
Tycho looked over the menu,
letting out a, "Hmm..." He flipped through the drinks.
"I'd like an iced zobah ... and how do the Torta-balls
sound?" He looked to El-Nay as he asked the last. The
Torta-balls were a type of local fish with various
veggies and dough rolled up into a ball and fried, and
came with a dipping sauce. They were known to be a
"Torta-balls? They sound ...
uh ... fine. Wait. They're not too salty are they?"
El-Nay, asked, switching her gaze from Tycho to Yul-Kari.
She was glad to be here ... away from the hardships of
life, but she knew that all of this was just a temporary
diversion, and that at any moment it could be shattered
by the Empire, the Black Sun, or any number of enemies
that they were rapidly accumulating. "I need a drink,"
she said, glumly, as she instructed Yul-Kari to bring
her not one, but two Corellian ales.
"Oh no," Yul-Kari assured
her, "they're not that salty. It's a fairly bland fish
with local seasonings and vegetables, breaded and fried.
Sort of a meatball. So, we've got a Torta-ball appetizer
dish, iced zobah and two Corellian ales. I'll be right
back with your drinks."
Tycho grinned to himself and
said, "Now all we have to do is make it through the rest
of dinner without spilling any Corellian ale." The
bounty hunter gave her a wink and went on. "I was
thinking we should go do something after this. Take the
rest of the evening off and just enjoy some time... um...
the entertainment district has a whole lot to do,
according to the hotel brochure. We can find something
interesting while we're waiting." He tapped the table a
few times and brought up a listing of various
entertainment venues and activities so they could look
at their leisure.
"Oh don't worry, Tycho,"
El-Nay began, as she reached to grab her first Corellian
ale, heartily drinking the cold brew more rapidly than
she should. "If I spill any of it I'll just lick it,"
she said, grinning across the table towards him, before
knocking back the rest of the first glance. "Can I ask
you something?" she asked, but did not give him a chance
to reply before just going ahead and asking anyway. "Why
are you being so nice?" she asked, before sticking her
fork into one of the torta-balls. She stared at it for a
moment, before bringing it up to her mouth to gently run
her tongue over the ball to taste it. "Mmm," she moaned,
slightly obnoxious as she had no social graces, before
she sucked the entirety of the ball into her mouth. In
one bite she swallowed it whole, before bringing the
napkin up to her mouth to wipe the traces of the juice
from the ball off her lips.
Something about the way she
ate the Torta-ball seemed suggestive, but he said
nothing about it. He skewered one of the balls and
dipped it in the thick, white sauce, then munched it
down. It was crisp and juicy and not at all greasy like
one would expect. "Mm ... these are even better than I
thought they'd be. Good pick, me." He swallowed and gave
her a cocky smirk. "Why do I have to have an excuse to
be nice to you? I'm not a nice guy, but I'm trying to
have a good time with someone I like. I don't like a lot
of people and it takes some time and effort to warm up
to someone. Besides, haven't you had enough of me being
mean?" He scrolled to a holotheatre, drug that off to
the side, then scrolled to the park and arboretum,
dragging that off to the side, then finally to a concert
hall. The three info sites were displayed off to one
side on the tabletop. "Go on and look those over ... see
what you want to do after dinner. Maybe there's even a
good place to go gambling here. If that's your thing."
"It's just ... usually when
some is nice to me it's because they want something,"
El-Nay said, breaking eye contact, her voice trailing
forth as she played with the remaining balls on her
plate. "You like me? You really like me, Tycho? You're
not just saying that?" she asked, unable to look at him
as she spoke the words, her mind still unable to get
over the manipulative nature of the last bounty hunter
she got close to. She began to look over the events he
had selected, but none of them really suited her. They
were all too high class for her, and she simply shrugged
her shoulders towards him. "I wish there was a
shockboxing match or something..." she said idly, as she
moved her hand back to her food. She did not know what
to make of the man sitting in front of her. There were
moments when he was incredibly sweet to her, but he was
a little too quick with his hands ... and that scared her.
There was no doubt that
Tycho had a volatile temper sometimes, and often a hard,
cold exterior. He was tough on her and even laid his
hands on her, to try to toughen her up, to make her
stronger and break her of bad habits. Unfortunately, it
wasn't really the right move, it was just difficult for
him to find other ways of dealing with problems. Guile
and persuasion he could do, not diplomacy. He was making
a real effort, though, because he truly did like the
girl. He even felt responsible for her somehow. "If I
didn't like you, I wouldn't still be here," he said
succinctly. He drug the three locales off the table to
clear them from the list, then started punching up some
other things from the list. "There's a gambling den and
an arena. sabaac, pazaak, et cetera. The arena doesn't
have a shock boxing match tonight ... droid gladiator
tournament." He glanced across the table at her,
"I used to shockbox," El-Nay
revealed, looking up to him as a twinkle came to her
eyes that normally had not been there as she reflected
on a happier time of her life. "Against the guys.
Couldn't find any other girls who did it..." she said,
nodding her head proudly, as her hand instinctively
formed a fist and punched into the palm of her other
hand. "Wish I could find a fight. Blow off some steam.
Kick some ass," she said, her voice growing loud with
enthusiasm, causing some of the other patrons to take a
quick glance towards them. "What are you into? Like
gardens and shit?" she asked, as she looked back down at
the arboretum he selected, trying to understand why
anyone would go to look at nature.
Tycho chuckled. "Can't
imagine a girl wanting to tangle with you," he said,
earnestly. He hadn't seen her perform all that well so
far, but that was in comparison to a professional,
seasoned bounty hunter. As far as fighting ... well, she
was certainly a scrapper. Being so hard-headed helped
too, of course. Half of fighting was not giving up. "Me?
Well ... I mostly like gambling, drinking and fighting,
not necessarily in that order. I do appreciate a good
symphony, though. It's relaxing or sometimes inspiring
or sad. I guess there's a tiny spot in me that enjoys
things that provoke the emotion. Or ... maybe I just like
music. Either way, there you have it. Is fighting your
only passion in life?"
"There've been one or two,"
El-Nay said, referencing the women she had encountered
during her travels as a bounty hunter ... the foremost of
which was Kerrie. "I find my center in fighting. There
is no confusion to it. You have an opponent, and you
have an objective..." she said, before moving to the next
glass of Corellian ale, savoring the cold, frothy
beverage as it went down. "The noise of life escapes my
head and out my fists. They say violence doesn't solve
anything, but for me ... it solves everything," she said,
before taking another large, obnoxious gulp. Her wrist
then moved to her face to wipe the suds off, as she
became slightly intoxicated, and her table manners went
even further downhill. "Do you like the Max Rebo Band?"
she asked, before leaning back in the chair, her cheeks
starting to become a bit more rosy as the alcohol hit
her. Beneath the table her foot moved towards his shin,
rubbing against it playfully, whether she was aware she
was doing it or not.
Tycho chuckled at her
response. She was still young and brash, and violence
solved everything in her mind. It was likely the only
way she knew how to respond to situations. "Spoken like
a true Mandalorian," he said, smiling. It was far from
an insult or a joke, as he knew that combat was integral
to the Mandalorian culture. Whatever else they were,
they were first and foremost warriors. He had only ever
known one Mandalorian before her and he hadn't been
taught a whole lot about the culture. He was already
learning more just being around her, observing her,
feeling her. "I've heard of them, but never listened to
their stuff." His eyebrows lifted as he felt her foot on
his shin. Footsy, huh? He slowly moved his leg to rub
his shin against hers, a light grin touching his lips.
El-Nay sat there quietly as
their under the table play continued, and she brought
her left hand up to rub the back of her neck. It was
suddenly getting hot in the restaurant, and she switched
her focus from the Corellian ale back to the water in
the hope it might cool her. "How old did you say you
were?" she asked, after clearing her throat. The
appetizer was cleared and soon their main course was
brought to the table. The man who sat in front of her
was a contradiction who went from beating her one moment
to flirting with her the next. Suddenly she was not
feeling very hungry as a range of emotions came over
her. She was suddenly feeling very unsure of herself,
and was worried that she might be making another bad
decision. All of the Corellian ale she was drinking was
not helping either. Could she trust him? She wondered,
looking at him more carefully with each passing moment.
"Thirty-seven," he said,
succinctly answering that particular question. Maybe it
was cheating, but he could sense bits of emotion from
her, and he reached out to feel more. He felt a longing
in her, rising to the surface, an attraction, and a
great deal of anxiety and confusion. He could understand
all those emotions. The majority of the time he hadn't
been all that nice to her. He'd beaten her up, then
later smacked her on more than one occasion. He had,
however, gone out of his way to protect her and be there
for her when she needed it. Tycho was getting better
with emotions the more he got used to sensing them, but
he was still socially stunted in a way. He swallowed
back a bit of nervousness he felt, thanks to her. "I'm
not going to take advantage of you," he said. "I'm not
going to feed you lies to try to get you in bed. I know
you're afraid I'll be like him, but I won't. I like you,
El-Nay. I don't ... y'know ... love you, and I'm not gonna
tell you that to screw you. But I do really like you."
With that said, he went to digging into his food, not
sure what else to do.
El-Nay was surprised when
she heard the man's age ... he was old enough to be her
father. She listened to what he had to say, and she
wanted to much to believe him. "If you want to keep
hitting me, you're going to have to give me a chance to
hit back," she said, looking at him from across the
table, before finally taking a bite of her entree. She
looked at that scarred face of his and all she could
think about was punching him. He had hit her so many
times without giving her the chance to fight back, and
while she was not sure she could beat him ... all she
wanted was a chance. "You wanna get out of here?" she
asked, playfully biting at her lower lip, before putting
her silverware down. Suddenly she wasn't hungry for
food, but rather something else.
Tycho tilted his head to the
side as he watched her and searched her feelings.
"You're a very interesting young woman, you know that?"
He said, smiling faintly. "We'll be scrapping a lot in
the future, considering I'll be training you. You'll
learn like I did. Full impact. I suspect you'll enjoy
swinging back." He tapped a button on the table and
after a moment their server materialized there...
figuratively, of course. "We need our food to go," he
said. Yul-Kari nodded and took their plates to pack the
food. Tycho just shrugged and looked at El-Nay. "No
sense in wasting food. I'm sure we'll need it to build
up our energy again later." He might have meant
fighting, for that might have been what was on her mind;
it was hard to tell. However, when he said it, he let
his foot wander up her leg, but didn't quite go all the
way to her thigh.
"I don't like it when you
talk like that, Tycho," El-Nay said, as a shiver ran up
her thigh from the movement of his foot, causing an
involuntary moan to softly escape her lips. "Do you know
how many Black Sun thugs had their guns drawn down on
me? And you had a vibroblade that was about to pop my
knee cap off..." she explained to him, making excuses
before rising from her chair. "I'm not a child. I can
handle myself in a *fair* fight," she insisted, as she
waited for him to lead her from the restaurant. She did
not think she needed training, and if she was going to
see him as a lover, then she would need to feel he saw
her as an equal.
Tycho stood and took the bag
of packaged food when the server returned with it. He
produced several hundred credits in chits and left the
extra over the price of the meal as a tip. He led her
along to the door and out of the restaurant. "You need
to understand, the Black Sun are dangerous," he said. "I
know you know that, but if I hadn't been the one to
punish you, you'd probably be dead. I know that probably
doesn't make you feel better, but you also need to know
something. When I was sixteen, I was taken on by a
bounty hunter for training. He was a Mandalorian and the
most skilled fighter I've ever seen. He never taught me
anything about the culture, but he taught me everything
else I know ... save some experience I've picked up along
the way. His teaching methods were brutal. If I made
stupid mistakes, he punished me. When we trained, it was
full impact, getting beat up by him over and over until
I was a match for him and he decided my training was
done. My methods ... all of them ... I got from him." He
paused and looked at her, frowning. "Maybe those methods
are wrong, but it's what I know. I'm sorry."
As they walked from the
restaurant into the streets of Calamar, she let out a
huff as he continued to talk about the incident. "Look,
Tycho. I get that you had to do it, but just because you
did it doesn't mean you got over on me," she said to
him, turning around to face him. "What I'm saying is ...
try that shit when there aren't a bunch of guns on me,
and you don't have a blade on me," she said, bringing
her fisted hand up to pound her chest again. She brought
both of her hands up, balling them into fists, and
parting her legs in a defensive stance. "Hit me now!"
she yelled at him, as she began to bob and weave, in
preparation for his strike. She felt like she had to
prove herself to him somehow, or else he would never
stop talking to her like a child. "C'mon. Hit me!" she
screamed, before moving her right fist forward in a
quick jab at his jaw, trying to motivate him.
Tycho's eyebrows raised as
she got more and more pumped, amping up for a fight.
"Right here, on the street?" He asked, surprise in his
tone. It really wasn't fair. Before the punch came, he
*felt* it coming, *sensed* the danger. He reacted by
instinct honed by years of fighting and training. He
bobbed his head and upper body to the left so that the
blow sailed past harmlessly. At the same time he brought
up his left fist in a sharp hook for her right ribs.
Then, he danced back and took up one of the forms of a
Mandalorian fighting style.
El-Nay's eyes went wide in
shock as her punch missed, having never failed to land a
blow at the close of range before. But before she could
give it another thought his fist connected with her ribs
and briefly knocked the air out of her. She screamed at
the top of her lungs in a combination of frustration and
anger, as she was not sure what to do about this guy.
"I've never seen anyone that fast before," she muttered,
more to herself, than him, before spitting down onto the
ground in front of her. It was only then she noticed his
stance, which only served to further irritate her. "Are
you mocking me? Who taught you that?" she asked,
recognizing it as one of the exercises she had done with
her parents in childhood.
"Of course I'm not mocking
you," he said. "This is me taking you seriously. This is
the best fighting stance I know, taught to me by Odell
Darr. Like I said, best fighter I've ever met." He
frowned, thinking that perhaps the fight was over, but
he kept his guard up just the same. "He was one hell of
a taskmaster, but it was worth it ... now I can teach that
all to you. I know you're proud, and you should be ...
that doesn't mean you don't have anything to learn." His
voice was an appeal, as if he felt it important that she
should learn more, be able to defend herself better. She
wasn't weak or useless. She could fight. She just needed
to know how to fight *better*.
When she heard the name he
spoke it shattered her, and almost immediately changed
the way that she viewed him. "No!" she screamed, both in
anger, and the deep desire to deny what he described had
happened. She had met people who had encountered her
father and been trained, but he never wanted her to
learn. Furious, she began to run towards him, and would
attempt to tackle him to the ground. Her emotions had
overcome her and she was acting with a blind rage with
Tycho saw it coming from a
mile away, without any need of the Force. She had thrown
caution to the wind and simply charged head-on. When she
slammed into him, he stumbled back a few steps, then
used her own momentum and the proper leverage to swing
her around and pin her against the wall of the building.
The way he was holding her there left his face entirely
open for her to rain down any blows she wished. But,
hoping to disarm her, knowing how confused her feelings
for him were, he surged in to press a deep kiss to her
"Oh come on!" El-Nay
screamed in dismay, as she was pinned to the wall. He
had an answer for every action that she tried, but she
was not willing to give up. Just as she was planning
another attack in came something unexpected ... a kiss.
Her eyes closed instinctively as his lips connected with
hers and in that heat of the moment she saw an opening.
She pressed her face closer towards hers, meeting that
kiss with her own intensity, and offering a teasing
motion of her tongue in an attempt to distract him. A
moment later her knee came up, backed by the full force
of her body, on a direct course towards the man's
testicles. She had been a street fighter on the streets
of Doaba Guerfel ... and a dirty one at that.
The kiss had been to disarm
her, to stop her in her tracks, and it seemed very much
like it was working. What was more, he was falling into
the moment, enjoying it thoroughly. He tasted her tongue
against his lips and opened his mouth, ready to tilt his
head and deepen that kiss. Then, a horrible pain struck
him and he let out something that sounded very much like
a quiet squeal. He backed away several paces, his hands
on his crotch. There was a look of horrible betrayal on
his face when he collapsed to his knees and began to
groan in agony.
Finally, she thought to
herself as she watched him stagger, and an excited look
came over her face. She did not bother wasting time
taunting him, nor did she celebrate her brief, minor
victory. She surged forward as he collapsed, and grabbed
the sides of his head, holding it in place while raising
her right knee into his nose. She felt as she was
redeeming herself, and there was no anger or hatred
towards the man as she struck. Her motivation was
nothing more than honor and the unwavering desire to
prove herself. "I got this far on my own. Why can't you
respect me?" she demanded of him, but decided not to
strike again, having felt that she had proved her point.
He cried out, his head
knocked back hard. On his knees as he was, he didn't
fall back, instead rebounding forward. His head hung as
copious amounts of blood ran from his nose and the split
in his lip. He coughed, one hand planted on the ground
while the other held his face. There was a rage building
inside of him that seemed to give him strength and push
away the pain. She stood over him, speaking, but he
could barely focus on her words. "I do respect you," he
snarled, his words barely intelligible. "Otherwise..." He
suddenly sent a sharp uppercut between her legs,
slamming his fist as hard as he could into her crotch.
Turnabout is fair play, isn't it? When she dropped, he
unceremoniously followed through with a headbutt
straight to the nose, returning that favor as well.
"Otherwise ... I'd have left you ... behind ... instead of..."
He huffed, trying to breathe straight with his nose
broken and filling with blood that ran down his throat.
He gave up on talking and rolled away from her, then
held himself up on all fours. Blood dripped to the
pavement, pooling under him, as he watched her closely
for another attack. His anger was simmering, but not
El-Nay's eyes rolled back in
her head as the man's fist connected unexpectedly with
her vagina, sending waves of pain that flowed outward
and soon enveloped her body, momentarily crippling her.
Before she could respond his head came to her nose,
shattering it instantly, and causing a massive gush of
blood. With that complete, she fell face forward onto
the ground, her body spasming, barely remaining
conscious. She began to cough, practically choking, as
the blood began to run down her throat. "I-I..." she
tried to speak, but she could barely utter even a single
syllable. "I fucking had you!" she screamed, after
clearing some of the blood from her throat. She should
have finished him when she had the chance. He was
teaching her a valuable lesson in terms of not letting
her guard down and always pushing through to the bitter
"Yeah," he began, then
coughed and spat blood, though it still ran from his
nostrils and clogged up his poor, smashed nose. "Yeah
... *cough* ...y-ya did. Do I look like ... I won..?" He
reached down and cradled his genitals with one hand,
moaning again as another wave of pain ran through him.
It was a constant, horrible ache, but over and over
waves of even worse pain coursed through him as it
throbbed and *throbbed*. She might have been down for
the count, but so was he. The two hits together had
robbed him of strength and the will to fight. Even his
anger was subsiding in the face of the pain and
weariness. He coughed again, then reached up to hold his
hand over his face, trying futilely to stem the tide of
blood. It hurt. Bad. "Okay... you've proved..." He coughed
and groaned. Even coughing sent spikes of pain through
his head. "...oh stars ... hurts ... you proved ... yourself.
Are we d-done?"
El-Nay was motionless on the
ground for a good, long while, even as he tried to speak
to her. She pressed her hands to the ground, in an
attempt to raise herself from the pavement, but after
getting a few inches off the ground she collapsed back
down. The best she could manage was rolling her body so
that she could wind up at her back. She brought her hand
up to examine what was left of her nose, when the blood
started rolling down into her throat causing her to
violent choke. She did her best to sit up, resting on
her elbows, before turning her head to look at him with
her bloody, battered face. "No. We're just getting
started," she said, before offering him a smile,
flashing her blood stained teeth to him.
Tycho looked at her in a
whole new light. There was surprise on his features, and
then a hint of admiration. This girl had spirit! Even
after the beating they'd both taken, she was still
willing to keep going. He found that he could summon the
strength as well, unwilling to give in if she wouldn't.
He began to push himself to his feet with great
difficulty, stumbling like a drunkard once he did find
his feet. He planted himself, unfairly drawing on the
Force to steady himself, to rejuvenate himself. He
reached up and wiped a streak of blood from his face,
then laughed. His laughing was interrupted by a few
coughs, but he didn't care. He wasn't sure what was
funny, but he couldn't help himself. "Need a hand up, or
you got it?"
"Fuck you!" El-Nay said to
his offer of help, before pressing down on her hands to
get back up onto her feet. Unfortunately, she had gotten
up too fast, and had lost so much blood from her nose
that was unable to maintain the kind of balance he was.
She shook her head like an animal, trying to focus
herself, which caused a flurry of blood droplets to fly
in every direction. It was then that the sound of sirens
began to fill the night skies of Calamar, indicating the
Ringali Shell Security Force was on the way. Locals who
had observed the fight on the streets were concerned
that the man was trying to kill the girl and they had
notified the proper authorities. "Shit!" she grunted,
feeling as if the fight had not been fairly decided. "I
don't want to spend the night in an Esselian jail," she
told him, before hurriedly moving down the street,
wobbling with each step, as consciousness began
something she had to fight for.
"That makes two of us," he
groaned, hurrying along with her as well as he could,
all things considered. He knew his testicles were
swelling already. He could feel it and knew that he
wouldn't be doing much moving for a while. They both
needed medical treatment. The whole thing had been
stupid, yet he had to admit to himself ... it had been
fun. He coughed out a single laugh. "You sure know how
to show a guy a good time."