Hello. Thank you to everyone who has read this story, and especially everyone who has reviewed. This is the last chapter of the story, hope you enjoy.
Booth stood on the doorstep waiting. The seconds ticked by and he considered ringing the doorbell again. Perhaps she was in a part of the house where you couldn't hear the bell? He was about to press the button , when he heard foot steps coming towards the door. He pulled his jacket straight and ran his fingers distractedly through his hair. Then the door opened and he was confronted with a vision - Temperance, with her hair cascading in waves around her face, wearing a skirt and figure hugging top. She was beautiful, and Booth had to resist the urge to tell her so. He swallowed hesitantly, deciding he needed to get a grip on his feelings and unnerved by the uncertain expression in her green eyes.
For a long moment they stared into each other's eyes, neither saying anything. The silence deepened and Temperance forced herself to take control, "Hi Booth, you made here okay then?" Argh! Was it possible to say anything more inane, she thought?
Booth grinned, relieved that the awkward silence had been broken, "Come on, ever known me to miss an offer of food?"
She rolled her eyes in acknowledgement and smiled back at him.
"So, you going to ask me in? Or are we eating al fresco on the doorstep?"
"Very funny," Temperance stood to one side and waved him in, "as you asked so politely, please come on in!"
Booth stepped into the hallway. It was quite a wide room, but the towering book shelves on either side made the space much narrower. There was little room to swing the door shut with the two of them standing there and as he closed it behind him, he found that they were standing very close together. Booth was acutely aware of her leg brushing against his and he stepped back to stand against the book case. Real smooth he thought, and found himself thrusting the flowers towards her.
Temperance stared at the bouquet and then looked up at him.
"They're flowers," Booth explained earnestly, "For you. To say thanks for dinner and the loan of a book..." He offered the flowers again, as she continued to stare at him intently.
Blinking rapidly Temperance took the flowers from him. She buried her face in the blooms and breathed in the delicate scent of freesias. When she looked up again, Booth was horrified to see that her eyes were bright with unshed tears. Before he could move to comfort her or apologise, she broke into one of the widest smiles he'd ever seen from her and leant forward and kissed him on the cheek.
"Oh Booth, thank you. How did you know these were my favourite? No-one ever thinks to buy me flowers."
Booth shrugged, "Lucky guess..." His cheek still tingling from where her lips had softly brushed the skin.
Temperance was blushing, so she turned away quickly to lead him into the house. Great going so far Tempe, she thought. Let's just list the highlights: stared and forgot to ask him in; nearly cried and then kissed him, oh and then, told him that no-one buys me flowers. Terrific. So much for going with instinct!
Booth trailed behind, offering up a silent prayer of thanks to the lady in the flower shop and still amazed that picking the right bunch of flowers could have quite such a profound effect. As he walked, Booth started to take in his surroundings. He was curious as to what Temperance's home was going to tell him about her. As they walked through a comfortable looking lounge area into the kitchen, Booth was surprised by how much clutter there was. He'd had Temperance down as hyper-organised, hyper-tidy with no room in her life for keepsakes or photos, but actually there were lots of things in each room. He felt a pang at his pre-conceptions, he should have known her better than that by now.
He was deep in thought, so he didn't realise that Temperance had stopped in front of him until he walked into the back of her. He put his hands out to steady himself and they settled comfortably at her waist, her head tucked in underneath his chin. He was shocked by Temperance's sharp intake of breath, until he realised that the chilled bottle of wine he was holding in one hand was pressed against the thin fabric of her top. He let go of her abruptly and stood back.
"Sorry. Wasn't looking were I was going." He apologised, holding the bottle in front of him. "Shall I open this before I do any more damage with it?"
Temperance nodded, not trusting herself to speak. She wanted to feel Booth's hands on her again.
She walked over to the unit next to the sink and pulled out a corkscrew and a pair of scissors. She handed Booth the corkscrew, before picking up a tall, wide-rimmed vase and filling it with water. She deftly untied the raffia and snipped the ends off the stems at an angle before placing them in the vase. She tipped the off cuts into her compost bin and put the tissue paper in the recycling box. She arranged the flowers to her liking and turned to see how Booth was doing with the wine. She felt a jolt of deja vu, Booth was leaning on the table, staring at her, just as she'd imagined when leaving the Jeffersonian earlier. He looked gorgeous, Temperance was stunned by the feelings zapping through her body and she missed what he asked her.
Booth raised an eyebrow quizzically, when Temperance didn't reply to his questions and then said, "Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to swig from the bottle, but I thought maybe you'd like to drink out of a glass?"
Temperance's lips formed an 'O' and she pointed to the dresser behind him. He lifted down two heavy, plain crystal glasses and poured the wine. He handed one over to her, and offered a toast, "To Friday evenings."
Temperance smiled, "To Friday evenings." Their glasses clinked together and they took a drink.
"You do know that we have actually just caused the death a sailor, don't you?" Temperance said matter-of-factly.
"It's considered bad luck in maritime circles to clink glasses, each echo is the sound of a sailor drowning."
Booth pinched the bridge of this nose and then smiled, "Only you could possibly know something like that. And bring it up after a toast."
"It's true, you know!" She said, putting one hand on her hip.
"I don't doubt it. It's just... well, never mind."
"It's just what?" Temperance demanded.
"Well, it's just... very you." Booth had a hopeful expression on his face, although he doubted that he'd get away with that as an answer.
Temperance's face fell, "What it has some reference to death, therefore 'it's very me'. Bones, the expert on dead people. Not so good with the living!"
Booth was taken aback by her vehemence, but he didn't miss the brittle edge to her tone. He'd hurt her, and in that moment he hated himself.
"No, that's not what I meant. It's just an example of how unique you are. Most women, hell most people, would just toast and maybe comment about Fridays being their favourite day. But you've always got a different angle, something new to say, something interesting. It's one of the things I love about you."
At his last sentence, Temperance's looked across at him wide eyed, her lips parted in shock. Booth felt as if all the air had been sucked out of his lungs. He opened he mouth to speak, when a loud beeping noise made them both jump.
"Time to put the potatoes on," Temperance said quietly after taking a ragged breath. She could see Booth fiddling nervously with his wine glass as she switched on the ring.
She moved to the fridge and lifted out the plates of olives and cheese, "Shall we take these through to the other room? The main course'll be about half an hour."
Booth nodded and took the two plates off her, Temperance stopped to pick up the loaf of bread and an solid wooden board. They walked into the living area and put the places down on a low, heavy slate coffee table. The sun was starting to set and the room was alight with its golden glow. Temperance winced as she pulled a couple of heavy floor cushions towards the table and stretched her arm awkwardly.
"What's the matter?" Booth voice came from just behind her. She could swear she could feel the heat radiating from his body, even through she knew he wasn't touching her.
"I've got a crick in my neck from hunching over my keyboard for all day. I've tried all sorts of stretches, but it won't ease off." She sat down on the cushion and heard a chair being moved behind her. Suddenly she tensed, as she felt Booth's hands rest gently on her shoulders. His hands started to circle slowly, applying gentle pressure. She thought that she should protest, or to move away, but it felt too good. Her eyes drifted shut and she leant back against his knees, as Booth continued to gently massage her shoulders.
His voice whispered from somewhere behind her, "Wow, you've got some knots in these muscles. There may be a bit of discomfort, but it'll be better afterwards, I promise."
"'It's okay. Feels nice." Temperance murmured, conscious only of relaxation and Booth's warm hands.
He gently gathered her red gold hair in his hands, enjoying its weight and silky texture, and lifted it clear of her face so it wouldn't get snagged. Then he cupped the side of her neck and pressed a bit harder with the ball of his thumb.
Temperance winced slightly, and he whispered, "Sorry."
He tried again more gently this time, and gradually worked to relax the muscle and ease out the knot. He felt her relax and was touched that she trusted him enough to let him get this close. He wasn't going to do anything to jeopardise that trust, but the whole time he was aware that his heart was thumping in his chest and that his body was stirring in reaction to their proximity. He kept his hands strictly on her shoulders and fought the urge to kiss the expanse of pale skin revealed by lifting her hair. He slowly eased off the massage until his hands were resting lightly on her shoulders again, waiting for her to move away, but wanting nothing more than to hold onto her forever.
Temperance realised that Booth had stopped, but she didn't want to move. For the first time in as long as she could remember she felt at peace. This was where she was supposed to be. In Booth's arms.
Neither spoke and neither moved. Not for the longest time. Then slowly Temperance reached up with her right hand and linked her fingers through those on Booth's left hand. His right hand slid down her arm and came to rest at her waist. He kissed the top of her head, breathing in the fresh floral scent of her shampoo, entranced by the golden highlights the dying sun was lighting in her hair.
Suddenly Temperance needed to see his face. She needed to look into those brown eyes and confront whatever truth they held. She turned in his embrace and knelt up on the cushion, elbows resting on his knees. Her heart racing, she looked into his eyes and was astonished by what she saw.
Booth could only feel two emotions as Temperance turned and gazed into his soul. One was the depth of the love he felt for her, something he hadn't even realised himself until today; and the other was an almost paralysing fear that she didn't feel the same. She saw all this in an instant and felt the tears spilling down her cheeks as she finally acknowledged how much she loved him.
Then he was kissing her tears away and they were touching each other's faces in wonder. Each whispering to the other the truth that they had just acknowledged.
Booth pulled Temperance onto his lap and they kissed as the sun slowly sank below the horizon and the room gradually darkened.
(Fade to black and close.)
Hope you enjoyed. Sorry they didn't get to have dinner, but I'm afraid my hopeless romantic of a muse got in the way! Still I quite like it. Reviews and comments always welcome. (Time to start a new story I guess.)