(2018-10-26) Breakfast at Stone's
A breakfast conversation after the suicide bomber incident the night before…

The large screen television above the mantle is depicting breaking news from last night. Apparently, a suicide bomber was apprehended during a Halloween party at the KCC1-TV production office. Several names and faces flash across the screen with an lengthy interview from Calaveras' own regional warden, Julian Walker who is all professional…if not for the stormtrooper uniform he's wearing, which is a little scuffed up from an apparent tussle with the bomber. Unfortunately for Julian, the report goes on to explain many of the more private details of his life, particularly his service in the Marine Corps during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The report distinguishes him as a highly decorated Marine, including the Navy Cross, the US military's second-highest decoration award for valor in combat.
The man of the hour (much to Julian's chagrin), just so happens to step out into the great room in his ranger uniform, his demeanor quiet and solitary… that is, until he looks up at the television and the handful of Katherine's customers watching it. His expression immediately falls and a perpetual grimace seems to find its way across his otherwise clean-shaven appearance. Slowly, quietly, he starts heading toward the exit so as not to attract any attention or disturb anyone.

The Wake Up Calaveras crew has cleared out by now, though they've left the dining room in a disarray. Katherine sees people watching the television, and she quietly pushes the chairs where they're meant to go, straightening out a runner along the center of the table. That done, she moves to retreat into the kitchen to make coffee, but she spots Julian. He steps toward the entrance hall and she follows him, reaching up to tap him gently on the shoulder. "Sneaking out?"

Having checked into the B&B only a couple of days ago, Nina is still very much a stranger in a strange land. She has nonetheless been a model guest, with minimal fuss and requesting very little from the otherwise harried hostess. In fact, she even makes her own bed every morning, all her toiletries are sorted neatly, and her suitcases are perfectly lined up without stray items anywhere. And it's also clear she isn't here as a tourist on a leisurely stay; like this early morning, she comes out of her room in a smart, chic gray business suit, with her long black hair meticulously combed, ready for business.
Making her way downstairs into the great room with unhurried steps, Nina takes her time adjusting the collar and sleeves of her jacket. Perfect timing to catch people beginning to show up. "Good morning." She greets with a sunny smile, along with her noticeable accent. "Miss Stone. And Mister Walker — this is a pleasant surprise."

Julian winces as he is caught in the act of trying to escape, even as the television above the mantle displays his face and interview. He turns, exhaling slowly while throwing his hands out. His eyes briefly flicker up to the television before focusing on Katherine. "That was the idea, Mr. Magoo." He retorts, unable to hide a smart smile. "Thanks for letting me crash, I'm heading out to the canyon today for a-" The sentence is cut off as Nina makes her entrance and greets the both of them. There's a visible tick as his eye blinks when she refers to him as 'Mister'. His thought is left unfinished as he regards her for a moment, eyes peering and head tilting slightly. "Nina. You're staying here?"

"Despite it being a studio for two hours a day, yes, I still have B&B guests." Katherine deadpans to Julian before she turns to beam a smile at Nina. "Good morning, if you're hungry, I have breakfast in the kitchen." She aims a look at Julian as well. "You're welcome to grab something to eat, or grab something to go as well Jules." She smiles to herself, turning to walk back through the great room, toward the kitchen. "There is coffee too!" She calls out behind her.

"I am, until the company helps me find my own place." Nina inclines her head at Julian, while she finishes adjusting the jacket sleeves and giving them a quick shake. There, all perfect. She looks as if to say something else to the ranger, but then her attention turns abruptly to Katherine. "Breakfast sounds great, thank you." Before she heads to the kitchen, Nina gestures at the trail of little messiness left behind by the TV crew that leads to the front door. "Were there people here doing an interview? I overheard a little but I didn't want to interrupt." Reaching up a hand to fuss at the dangly silver earrings, Nina then turns back to Julian. "Given your work, I didn't expect you to be staying here."

"You have -guests-?! Julian quips back in mock surprise, followed quickly by a grin. He starts on for more teasing, but Nina's presence has the man composing himself relatively quick. He clears his throat, straightens, and follows the pair into the kitchen, thought not with one last forlorn glance toward the exit. "Well, I guess we'll be seeing a lot of each other then." He remarks to Nina as he follows behind. A glance is spared to the t.v. that elicits a grimace from Julian, who sighs sharply on his exhale. Clearly not a man who enjoys the spotlight. He finds a stool at his customary place at the island in the kitchen with the comfort and familiarity of someone who has been taking that seat for years. "Kitty is family, so I crash here when I have patrols southbound." He searches around for any food left out on the island and if there is anything, he helps himself to it. "You'd be amazed how many people get lost or nearly die on those trails." Katherine receives an impish wink from Julian as he sweeps his attention to the asian girl. "Nice view, though."

Katherine is pouring coffee in two cups, setting them on the table when they walk in, a smile on her face. "We film Wake up Calaveras here every weekday morning. I'm one of the hosts, and usually it's not very disruptive to the guests, but sometimes…" She trails off, looking amused as she moves to the stove. "Omelets okay with everyone?" She asks, glancing over her shoulder at Julian and Nina, trying not to grin. "Yes, Julian takes advantage of free room and board anytime he can manage it."

Julian's response brings a second look from Nina, a look that is now extended to Katherine then back to the ranger. "Oh, I didn't realize you two are related." She muses, now making her way into the kitchen and specifically the dining table. The mess left behind by the TV crew on the table top is peered at, but not touched. Oh no, she still needs to get those earrings /just right/ before she'll touch anything… or even take a seat. "Omelet sounds lovely. And I also didn't realize I am in the company of local celebrities. Both of you are on television, that's quite impressive." The smile she now wears is politely, but there is a hint of feline mischief that dances across her dark eyes.

Julian doesn't seem to mind the mess and, if anything, he works around it, stealing bread which he casually munches on. Katherine's words have Julian snapping a glance at her and throwing a small, rolled up piece of bread her way. To Nina, he shakes his head. "As close as you can get. We grew up together." He explains, his eyes shifting to girl's earrings. "I think they're still just a little tilted." He observes, though it's clear from his bitten back smile that he's not serious. It doesn't last long though because mentioning the television has Julian pulling a 180' and grimacing. "I hate television." He does have a bit of an old man crank side.

Katherine shakes her head from the stove, her back still to the two at the table. "Related in spirit." She responds, adding spinach and tomato into the omelet. The bread hits her in the back of the head and she mutters under her breath, turning to pick up the bread and throw it away. "It has its uses, with the money I'm making from the morning show, I can take a vacation this weekend." She slides some bread into the toaster and pushes it down. She walks some salt and pepper to the table, setting it down. "Breakfast ready in five." She isn't exaggerating, within five minutes she manages to serve up two omelets, a few slices of turkey bacon and a small side bowl of grits. "Enjoy."

The Chinese girl's dark eyes widen just a tick in response to Julian's helpful advice, making her take a few more seconds to nudge her earrings back and forth. Turning her head from side to side while keeping her hair lifted away from her ears, Nina asks of Julian: "Are they better now?"
Of course, that's when the piece of bread bounces off the back of Katherine's head, which brings a slight furrow to Nina's brows. "I can see you are close. -That- does remind me of how my own brothers used to act." She deadpans. With the promise of breakfast in five, Nina moves to take a seat at the end of the dining table, where she smooths out her skirt before producing an iPhone. "I hope you don't mind if I take a few minutes to check my mail. I like to be prepared before I go to the office." She explains and promptly taps at the phone. Who in this day and age apologize for looking at their phones? Apparently, this girl does.

Julian blinks once, then again, as Nina fiddles with her earrings. He starts to say something, but can not help but stop himself and watch with amusement. He doesn't have to lean too closely to get a good look at the earrings since she's seated behind him at the dining room table. "Looks good. Earrings too." The deadpan is met with a grin the likes of which are only really ever seen in teenage boys. He is quite a different person in this atmosphere versus the bar, it's kind of contrastingly odd. As Nina produces her phone and begins to apologize, Julian glances at Katherine with a silent, questioning look. The thought on his mind is pretty clear. 'Who apologizes for using their phone?' But the man shrugs without waiting for any kind of acknowledgement as his own omelette is placed down in front of him and he proceeds to scarf it down. "I should probably get going soon, it's still a bit of a haul to the canyon."

As promised, Nina quickly and efficiently scans her mails on the phone. When Katherine delivers the omelette, the phone is promptly put down, as if it's some crime that she's not paying full attention to the breakfast being delivered. "Thank you! This looks delicious." Picking up her utensils, Nina carefully cuts up the omelette into neat bite-sized squares; each one is forked up and demurely chewed on — there no talking until she's swallowed each mouthful. She only looks up when Julian announces he's going to go, bringing a polite smile to Nina's lips. "I would suggest not eating your breakfast so quickly. It's not good for your digestion, especially after a night of excitement. After all, good start in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day."

Julian's mouth is obnoxiously bulging, particularly his cheeks, as he climbs down from the stool and starts straightening his uniform. He offers up Katherine a quick hug and "Mmmf." Which most likely translates to have a good day or some such. By the time he's turning to face Nina, the ranger has managed to swallow it all down. He considers her words for a moment as he maintains eye contact. "I did have a good start." Pause. "Now." The smile he offers up shows off his pearly whites as he starts for the door, only to turn back around to Nina one last time. "Check that earring again, it looks crooked." Following it up with a sly smile as he places his cowboy hat on his head, throws his oakleys over his eyes and spins on his heel for his final exit.

Does Nina look surprised at that last comment? The quirk of a delicate brow would suggest so, yes. She can't help but reach up to touch one earring, checking to see if it is indeed crooked. Since it is not so, Nina shakes her head slowly at Julian, smiling serenely without a single shred of disapproval for his tease. "I'm glad to hear. Do have a good day, Mister Walker. And come here to have dinner with Miss Stone, instead of drinking alone at the bar." She'll even put down her fork for just a second, to wiggle her fingers at the departing ranger.

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