"You're cleared for takeoff," Morgan told the little boy, setting aside the measurement stick, and he giggled and raced through the entrance. His father smiled gratefully at her and followed him.
"Barry! Slow down, son!"
"Whoa," Amanda said next to her, and Morgan turned to look at her.
"Hottie," the girl said under her breath. "Heading this way."
Morgan tried to glance surreptitiously, and froze in surprise. "What are you doing here?" she exclaimed, feeling a huge grin break over her face.
Dean stopped before her, a matching grin on his face, his eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses. He was wearing a light grey t-shirt that showed off his physique, and his favorite pair of jeans, which were soft and worn and molded to fit every curve and plane of his body. The sun shone off his dark hair, making it glint with red and gold highlights.
He was definitely a sight to make a crappy morning better.
"I was in the neighborhood. Figured I'd stop by."
She laughed. "Yeah, right!"
"I had the day off, so I thought I'd surprise you."
"You sneak! This is why you asked last night if I was working today."
"You figured me out." He shrugged. "I haven't been here in years. I decided it was time to change that."
"You bought a ticket? Dean! I could have gotten you in -- "
"Ah, but then I wouldn't have been able to see the expression on your face when I surprised you."
"You did surprise me."
"Good." He turned to Amanda, who was monitoring the guests as they entered the ride, giving Dean and Morgan a chance to talk. "Would I get her in trouble if I kissed her?" he asked, glancing at Morgan out of the corner of his eye.
Morgan blinked, surprised. "Yes!" she hissed, thinking, He's in a playful mood today!
Amanda just stared at him and then at Morgan, and Morgan thought she could detect more than a hint of envy in the girl's eyes.
Dean grinned mischievously. "Too bad. You look cute, by the way," he said, tugging on her collar.
"Yep. And it's a good look on you, too."
"I can't believe you're here," she said, smiling.
"I was hoping you'd be where I could see you, and not in the bowels of the building somewhere."
"You're in luck, half an hour earlier and I would have been."
"Lucky me." He winked and then glanced around. "I'd better go -- I really don't want to get you into trouble."
"I'm off in half an hour, are you planning on leaving soon?"
"What'd you have in mind?" he asked with a grin. "Know any good places to make out?"
She was startled, but she did her best to hide it from him, deciding instead to call his bluff. "I know all of them," she told him. His eyes narrowed and darkened, and she wondered, too late, if it had been a good idea.
"In front of the castle in an hour."
Her body warmed at his demanding tone. She knew he was only playing, but it had no less of an effect on her. "An hour and a half," she corrected.
He nodded, conceding. "Can't wait," he said with a wink, sauntering past her through the ride's entrance.
"Me either," she muttered.
"Who was that?" Amanda craned her neck to follow his progress.
Morgan just grinned.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Where to next?" Dean asked her, and she rested her head on his shoulder while she thought about it.
"We've done Tomorrowland."
"And the Matterhorn and Big Thunder," she said, counting off on her fingers.
"You bored?" she asked, and he stopped walking. He glanced down at her.
"No. Why would you ask that?"
Morgan shrugged, looking down. "Don't know." Her friends were used to her affection for Disneyland, and Rob and his friends had tolerated it, but now, with Dean, it seemed a little childish.
He tipped her chin up with his finger, staring into her eyes. His gaze was open and honest -- a little troubled.
"No," he said firmly. "I'm here, with you, and I'm having a good time. Why is that so hard to believe?"
"It's not the most mature entertainment."
"It's fun. And you love it, I can tell. It makes you happy," Dean said earnestly.
She smiled self-consciously. "Yeah. It... I know it's not sophisticated, but it always makes me happy. Even working here, knowing it's people and machines, and not magic and pixie dust, it's just... how could you not be happy here?"
"I don't know -- ask him," Dean said with a wry smile, glancing over at a nearby family. The youngest son, a toddler about two years old, his face sticky with God knew what, was sitting in the stroller, bawling at the top of his lungs.
"He's just had a little too much happiness," she said with a chuckle.
"It's good to see you happy."
Morgan looked into his eyes, smiling. "It's good to be happy."
He drew her closer in the middle of the walkway, ignoring the people that streamed around them. He was about to kiss her, and she was about to let him, and then she stopped and stepped away from him, looking around. "What?" he asked, glancing around as well.
She took three steps to the left. "Right here."
"What? Buried treasure? Secret underground tunnels?"
Smiling, Morgan hit him in the arm. "No, dope. I was right here when that guy hit me."
She watched as his face darkened, his fists clenching for a moment. "Bastard," he growled, and she was amused when a nearby woman threw him a dirty look and pushed her kid forward and away from Dean.
"Language, Dean," she scolded him, laughing.
He glared at her and then drew her closer to him, kissing the temple where the injury had been. "You ever see him again, you point him out. I'll kick his ass."
Morgan laughed. "I think that's pretty unlikely. But thank you."
"You never know. You could run into him when you're walking Chaos or something. So, where to next?"
"Haunted Mansion?" she suggested.
"That's a dark one, isn't it?" he asked with a wicked grin.
"There are cameras everywhere," she warned him.
"Don't care," he said, wrapping an arm around her shoulder and pulling her into his side.
"Dean!" she laughed, steering them in the correct direction.
"What? Wouldn't be the first time they got a show, I'm sure."
"I have to work here. I may have to work with one of these people!"
"Don't worry," he whispered into her ear. "They'll never see your face."
She shoved him away in mock outrage, her face burning. He chuckled and grabbed her hand, keeping her near to him as they wandered through the empty queuing area towards the front of the old, Victorian looking house.
"It's not all that crowded today, is it?" he observed.
"It's Monday," she said in explanation, and then she stopped as the realization hit. He stopped with her, and the teenagers behind them squawked in protest. She stepped to the side, tugging him a bit closer so the kids could get by. "You just happened to have a Monday off?" she asked him in disbelief.
Dean shrugged. "I had a day off coming."
"So you took it to come to Disneyland?"
"No, I took it to be with you. You just happened to be at Disneyland."
Morgan studied his face, and she couldn't help but remember when Rob's brother Jamie had gotten married, and Rob had spent the first half of the flight up north to Washington grumbling about having to take the time off from work.
She'd finally snapped, "For God's sake, Rob, it's your brother's wedding!" He'd stopped whining, but he'd glared at her and stayed annoyed the whole flight, shifting and fidgeting in his seat.
Shaking herself out of the reverie, she smiled. "I'm very glad you did."
"Me too," he said with a grin. "I wanted to spend some time with you -- we only see each other for dinner or for a few moments when one of us is either leaving or getting home."
"I'm sorry, my schedule -- "
"It's not your fault, Morgan. It's just the way things are, but I decided it was time to figure out a way around it. Now come on," he said, "A very dark ride awaits us."
"Dean!" she protested, but she laughed as he dragged her towards the entrance.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Morgan smiled at him as they climbed into their Doom Buggy, gently shoving him away as he leaned closer and leered playfully at her.
"Behave," she whispered.
She laughed. "You don't believe me that there's cameras everywhere."
"And you don't believe me that I don't care." He wrapped his arm around her and pulled her closer. "You're the one that brought me on the dark ride, knowing my nefarious intentions. C'mon, don't you wanna act like a teenager?"
Morgan laughed again, and he stayed close but behaved as the ride started. She leaned into his shoulder, enjoying both Dean's company and the simple amusement of the ride.
Dean began planting light, soft kisses along her neck and cheek, and she chuckled.
"Dean," she warned.
"Hmm?" he murmured, nuzzling the skin just behind her ear. She shivered, and her objections melted away as he nipped at her. Finally turning her head to find his lips with hers, she felt him grin with satisfaction and triumph.
She shifted as much as she could in the tight confines of the ride as Dean cradled her head with his hand. The ride -- and the world -- faded away as she lost herself in him. He nibbled and lapped at her, tasting and teasing her as his fingers stroked the underside of her breast through her shirt.
Her hand rested on the soft material of his shirt, over his chest, and she could feel his heart racing. Dean shifted towards her, making a frustrated noise as the safety bar over his lap kept him trapped where he was.
She nipped at him and pulled away, laughing. "Told you it was a bad idea," she said breathlessly.
"Oh no," he said, just as breathlessly. "It was an excellent idea."
She smiled and snuggled into him. When she felt his lips on her cheek, she smiled.
"The ride's almost over," Morgan cautioned him.
"I know," he whispered against her skin, and she shivered. "Too bad."
Morgan kept her head down as she exited the ride, feeling her cheeks flush hot with embarrassment, trying not to look at any of the cast members manning the ride. Dean laughed and wrapped his arm around her, keeping her close to his body.
"Are you hungry?" she asked him as they emerged from the ride out into the evening air, and he glanced down at her questioningly. "Well, I was expecting a dinner cooked by you. I suppose I'll have to settle for something lesser," she said with a pout, and he grinned.
Dean glanced at his watch. "Isn't it just about time for the parade?" he asked, and she stared at him.
"Yeah, why?" she asked warily. Please, God, not the damn parade! Not again! She was still reeling from her black-eye induced parade shift binge.
Shrugging nonchalantly, he said, "I dunno, I thought maybe we could watch it. It's been a long time since I saw a parade."
"Oh. Okay, sure," she said, hoping there was some enthusiasm in her voice. He'd willingly gone along with everything she'd suggested -- if he wanted to see the parade, she'd suffer through it. But only because it was Dean. If it had been Cassidy or Jeremy, they'd be out of luck. Not that they'd want to see the parade anyway. She tried to stifle her sigh, and she was afraid she wasn't completely successful.
Dean's lips twitched until he couldn't hold his straight face anymore, and he laughed. "I'm kidding, Morgan. I know you never want to see the parade again. You should see the look on your face -- it looks like I asked you to face a firing squad!"
She punched him the arm. "Don't scare me like that!"
He laughed again. "So, what would you like to eat?"
"You like clam chowder?" she asked.
She pointed into New Orleans Square. "That place has fantastic clam chowder. Ooh! A table. I'll get it!"
"Morgan!" he called, laughing as she darted through the crowd. He followed her, making his way a bit more slowly. He suppressed a grin as she slammed her backpack onto the table and slid into the seat, smiling up at the annoyed woman by her side, who'd been a hair too slow in reaching the open table.
She was reaching into her backpack for her wallet when he finally got to the table and caught her arm.
"Don't even think about it," he said sternly.
"Thanks," she said with a smile.
After dinner, they wandered around New Orleans Square, looking in the shop windows and observing all the guests. She pointed out Club 33 and various other hidden features, and showed him the way down to the cast member cafeteria.
Night fell around them as the lights came on, and the area began to fill with guests waiting for Fantasmic!. They decided to watch the later show and headed in the direction of Fantasyland.
He watched curiously as kids dragged their parents towards one vendor in particular. "What's all that stuff?"
"All the light-up, glowy stuff. Kids love it. They have whirly bird things and the glow necklaces, and that's supposed to be the rose from Beauty & the Beast."
He looked back and forth between her face and the bright objects. "Didn't you say Beauty & the Beast is your favorite Disney movie?"
She smiled, touched that he remembered -- she didn't even remember when she'd told him that. "Maybe..."
Five minutes later, the vendor turned on one of the roses so that a soft light emanated from the fabric petals, and then handed it to Dean. He handed it to Morgan with a smile.
She reached up and gave him a soft kiss. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," he said. He laughed, looking a little embarrassed. "I feel kinda cheap -- it's not a dozen roses or anything -- "
"This one's perfect," she said firmly. She thought briefly of the one hidden away in her box of mementos. She'd bought it for herself the last time she and Rob had come to the park -- she'd bought everything for herself whenever she and Rob had gone anywhere. And I've gotta stop doing that, she thought. He's not Rob. Definitely not Rob. "It's perfect," she repeated. "Thank you."
"So, you wanna ride the teacups?" he asked eagerly, a gleam in his eyes.
"Uh oh," she said.
"C'mon, it'll be fun!"
"Sure," she said with a laugh. There was barely a line, and they were able to get on in no time.
"I'll spin," Dean said, and she laughed and said, "I figured you would."
A few minutes of giddy whirling and they emerged from the ride breathless, dizzy, and laughing.
"Told you it'd be fun," he said, hanging on to her for balance.
"I think I'm gonna be sick," she said with a grin. "And the Haunted Mansion was more fun."
He laughed. "Yes. Yes, it was. Let's go do it again!"
"What time is it?" Morgan grabbed his wrist, turning it so she could read his watch. "Oh, come on!"
Grabbing him by the hand, she dragged him towards Main Street, trying to maneuver them close to the front of the castle.
"Where are we going?" he asked, dodging a stroller.
"Fireworks!" she exclaimed.
"Don't you get to see them every night?"
"Yep. That's the best part of my job!" she said, plopping down on a curb and pulling him down with her.
"I take it you like the fireworks?"
"I love fireworks. And if you're a guest, this is one of the best places in the park to watch them. There's better places backstage, though."
He moved nearer, drawing her close to his side. "I think this is the best place right here."
Morgan unconsciously grinned as the music started, quickly losing herself in the show. She tried not to hum along to the music, not wanting Dean to think she was a complete child, but it was hard.
After a while, she glanced over at him, smiling shyly when she found him watching her. He was smiling too, a soft, gentle smile she'd never seen before.
"You're not watching," she said.
"I am too," he argued with a grin. "It's a beautiful sight."
Morgan blushed, and he laughed and kissed her.
I always thought there should be fireworks when we kiss, she thought hazily.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
At the end of the night, when they were walking towards the gates, Dean asked, "So where's your car?"
"Cast member lot," she said, pointing in the vague direction of it.
"Is it somewhere I can get to? If it is, I'll take you there."
"You don't have to do that, there's a shuttle -- "
"I want to -- I already feel kinda strange not taking you home after a date, even if it's always been just a walk next door."
Her heart did that fluttery thing when he called it a date -- he also vaguely alluded that their dinners were sort of dates too, and that made it flutter even more. "Thanks, that's sweet of you. And yeah, you can get there -- you could drop me off at the entrance -- they won't let you go any farther in." Something occurred to her. "You have your truck?"
"Nope," Dean said with a grin.
"Your bike?" she asked eagerly.
She laughed. "Well, let's go then!"
The short ride from the park's parking structure to the entrance of the cast member lot wasn't exactly a joyride -- the traffic was bad, and there were too many traffic lights -- but Morgan still fell in love with Dean's motorcycle. Being behind him, with her arms around his chest and her body up snug against his -- her body tingled with desire and excitement, and she sighed in disappointment when they pulled up to the lot's entrance.
He angled his bike off to the side of the entry lane, so that cars could get by them.
"You gonna be okay from here?" he asked as they both dismounted.
She nodded as she handed him the helmet she'd been using. After he secured it, she leaned forward to give him a quick kiss. The area was busy with cast members leaving and arriving, and security was already eyeing them, so she was uncomfortable with the thought of a more elaborate public display of affection.
He went to put his helmet back on, and she stopped him. "Dean... I... I've been to the park a lot, and I've always loved it, but it's been a long time since I've just come to have a good time. I think this is the most fun I've ever had, and I just wanted to say thank you."
Dean gazed at her, his eyes soft and warm like melted chocolate. "I'm glad. I was a little nervous at the idea -- I didn't know if you'd like me just showing up; it's your job, after all. I was hoping to spend some time with you in the park, but I didn't know -- I wasn't sure if you'd still have fun."
"I had an amazing time."
He leaned closer and gave her another kiss, this one a little longer and more involved than the last. When he pulled away, she was breathless -- again -- and slightly dazed. She blinked a few times as she gathered herself, and he gifted her with one of his amazing smiles.
"Drive careful, and I'll see you at home."
"You and Adam coming over tomorrow night?"
"We'll be there."
He tugged his helmet back on and roared out of the parking lot. She flashed her cast member ID at the security guard as she passed the guardhouse on the way to her car. The guard, an older guy named Albert who was always very friendly, gave her a knowing smile, and she couldn't help but smile back.
On to Chapter 8