Chapter 3

Robin woke up the next morning to find a snoring Strike lying next to her and had a split second panic of "oh God, what have we done" before remembering that he had come to her rescue in the night and she had asked him to stay. She took the opportunity to look at him like she had not allowed herself to do before. She wondered about the tiny scratch scars by his chin and the longer scars on his arms. She could not see however, the one that John Bristow, their first joint client, had given him on his upper arm. She smiled at the hairy belly that she could see creeping out from below his tshirt. She suddenly imagined him opening his eyes and seeing her staring at him so looked away and put on a jumper and tracky bottoms over her shorts pyjamas. She went into the bathroom and when she came out she saw Strike sat on the opposite edge of the bed. She walked back in and said

"Morning" in a 'wakey-wakey' type voice. He turned around, ran his hand through his messier-than-usual hair and replied 'Mornin" in a very gruff voice. As he shuffled around the bed to the side facing the door she realised he did not have his prosthesis. It occurred to her that she had never seen Strikes stump, he had always had the prosthesis or long trousers over it and she obviously had never seen him in shorts, or until this morning, his boxers.

Blushing slightly but determined to 'play it cool' she headed towards him offering a hand to help him get up and then a shoulder to help him across the landing to the bathroom. She offered to go down and get his prosthesis but he said he can't just put it straight on and so asked her to wait for him.

She sat herself on the top step and listened downstairs. She could hear Nick and Ilsa bustling about in the kitchen and the radio quite accurately playing 'Easy like Sunday Morning'. She then felt her cheeks blush again. They would have come downstairs that morning expecting to find Strike asleep on the Sofa. Now she and Strike were going to walk down together and they would think something had happened between them. Strike had clearly been thinking the same thing because when he came out of the bathroom and grabbed hold of Robins shoulder again he whispered

"do you want to tell them about the nightmare or would you rather we came up with something else."

She found it very touching that she might not want to spread the news of another nightmare and panic but thought it would probably be easier to tell the truth rather than coming up with some bullshit story they are not likely to believe anyway. Nick and Ilsa had not really bothered to hide their wish for Strike and Robin to get together.

"I don't mind telling them" she replied, and gave him a 'thanks for asking' type smile. So they made their way down the stairs, one at a time with Strike holding onto the rail one side and Robin the other. She lead him over to the sofa where his pillow and blankets had been tidied slightly by Nick. She leaned over to get his prosthesis and got the chance to look at his stump a little closer.

"Oh, that looks sore" She said before really thinking. She regretted it immediately knowing that Strike despised pity and others telling him how he should look after himself or his stump but to her surprise he responded "Yeh, I need to put some more cream on it when I get back." not seeming to mind the comment at all.

"Well I've got some moisturiser upstairs if that will ease it a bit in the meantime?" she offered, deciding again to try and play it cool.

He grinned but said "Thanks, but I'll be alright once it's wrapped up again."

She responded with a smile and a nod and said "Coffee?"

"Yes Please"

Robin walked into the kitchen area and said "morning" to the couple who were both clearly trying to hide smirks.

"Sleep well?" said Nick with a grin before Ilsa smacked him across the chest with a tea towel.

"Ignore him Robin, pour yourself some coffee"

As she did that Nick headed over to the sofas, no doubt to tease Strike. Robin, blushing somewhat whispered to Ilsa;

"Nothing happened before you jump to conclusions. I had a nightmare and mini panic attack, I'm fine" she added quickly seeing the concern on Ilsa's face, "Cormoran heard me, came up to check I was ok and I just wanted someone to stay with me, so he did."

Ilsa, clearly embarrassed by her assumption said "Robin, I'm sorry, we didn't know what to think after such a good evening and you and him getting on so well, we had no idea ...but you're sure you're ok now?"

Robin smiled and said "yeh I'm fine, just in desperate need of coffee" and she walked into the living room with the 2 mugs.

A little later Ilsa brought over a plate full of bacon rolls and they all lounged about chatting and watching Sunday morning TV. Robin went to get herself showered and when she came down Strike was getting ready to head back to Denmark Street. She felt her stomach twist; she didn't want him to go. In that moment Robin was sure beyond doubt that what she had pondered on that long ago beach was true, it was real; she had fallen in love with her boss. The private detective who had nearly accidentally thrown her down the stairs almost 3 years ago was now the person she felt she could trust most with feelings, anxiety, gut instincts and stupid theories. The fact that they had slept in the same bad and nothing happened was that final proof of trust and respect she needed. Most especially when you consider on any other occasion she may well have wanted something to happen. After such an amazing evening and how close her and Strike were getting both physically and in terms of bringing down barriers, it would not have been a surprise if Strike had thought he was 'in with a shot there' but he came upstairs out of concern and stayed with her without the slightest crossing of any lines. As little as she ever wants to dwell on what happened to her at Uni and as much as she wanted to deny that it has changed her, she cannot deny that she would always be a little on edge when alone with a man. This was certainly not the case with Strike whom she had always felt safe around ironically despite the fact that she had been attacked on several occasions since knowing him.

Robin had considered in the bathroom that morning that his actions last night might just prove he is not interested in her like that and she didn't consider herself anywhere close in looks to the beautiful women he has been with previously. However, now, she was past caring about that, she realised in that moment of his going to leave, that she wanted to go with him. Exactly like that moment at her wedding. The Hug. The last time she thought to herself, if he asks, I'm going to go with him whether I should or not.

Strike was now putting on his coat, shouted "see ya" to the girls and was heading into the hallway. Nick was showing him out as Robin found herself walking quickly into the hallway.

"Corm" she said as she pushed her way past Nick who turned away, seemed to analyse the paintwork on the dining room doorframe for a bit and then skulk away. Strike was standing in the doorway, almost filling it, looking down at her with those hazel eyes and soft smile. He looked a mess but she didn't seem to notice that anymore.

She whispered "thanks, for last night" and then after a second grabbed the lapels of his big coat, lifted herself onto her toes and kissed him gently full on the lips. It was only when she had grounded herself, opened her eyes and looked up to see to look of shock on Strike's face that she began to worry this had been a very bad move. He was going to get rid of her now, it will be far too awkward to work together, and she had misunderstood. What an idiot!

And then just as suddenly as the worry kicked in she felt herself being pulled towards him again and his mouth on hers. He had wrapped his arms around her. One of his hands was on the base of her back, the other at the top of her neck. She wrapped her arms and held him just as tightly, her fingers running through his dark curly hair. He was kissing her back with such as passion. She could not remember the last time she had been kissed like this. He smelt and tasted of cigarettes, coffee and booze but she wouldn't have it any other way. That was Strike, her private detective.

As they finally came apart to take a breath Strike realised he never wanted to let her go. He looked into her eyes and saw she was getting emotional and so briefly kissed her again on each eye. Something movement in the background caught his eye and he looked over Robin's head to see Nick silently jumping around waving his arms mouthing "I TOLD YOU! I TOLD YOU!" whilst pointing at him and Robin. Ilsa was also stood there crying slightly with a massive grin on her face. Strike appreciated how pleased they were to see him happy. They had been there for him through so much and he considered them family. He held Robin's head against his chest, her arms now wrapped around his waist beneath his coat. He kissed the top of her head.

"Well that's complicated things a bit" he laughed and was relieved to feel Robin laughing as well. She looked up at him again and they kissed again, this time slowly as if taking in and remembering every second.

He dropped his arms and Robin brought hers back around and played with one of his shirt buttons for a second. He said against his own will "I've got to head off" and then just to Robin "I'll message you later though and see you in the morning. I have a feeling we might be a bit busy again this week. Will probably need us both in the office so we can draw up a plan of action." He said this whilst simultaneously wondering how the hell he was ever going to concentrate in that office again. He thought to himself there will probably have to be a plan regarding this new situation as well.

Robin gave a resigned sigh, squeezed his hands and said "Yeh you're right, I'll speak to you later then."

He backed out of the door down the first 2 steps then ran back up kissed her again before walking back down again hearing her giggle. He walked down the street feeling like a teenage boy; Joyous, confused, excited and little anxious. Robin had seen the worst of his grumpy moods, had seen him brutally respond to attack and drunk off his face and yet she was brave enough to make the move he had only dreamed of making for 3 years.