It was dark, but the streets were so aglow with traffic and tourists that it seemed night had not yet fallen. The city that never slept filled her ears, her lungs, her soul as she quickened her step, her hand slipping into his. It was late in the year and the few trees that dotted the more suburban areas of the bustling metropolis were beginning to turn. Claire tucked a strand of dark hair behind her ear as it escaped the stylish gathering at the back of her neck, leaning slightly into him as she avoided a father attempting to keep his rambunctious children in line. He sent an apologetic glance her way before snatching one child by the back of the shirt and issuing a sharp command. She looked up at Jack and saw he wore a slight smile, amusement playing in the depths of his dark eyes.
They bought a pretzel and stood in the nearby table café eating. It was relieving after the stress of a long day at work to have some peace, amidst the charge of city life. Claire loved New York and its energy; it rushed in the tunnels beneath their feet, flowed through every face that hurried past, bound for some unknown destination. She believed he appreciated it as much as she did, that it was what had lured him here. It was not so much to escape his father, whom Jack rarely spoke of, but she could see the hurt in his countenance, in the weariness of his voice whenever his father chanced to surface in conversation. He had lived and worked in Chicago, and been buried there shortly after his eldest son graduated from law school.
Conversation was slight and non ambitious, avoiding the topic of work and the stress of a morning court trial. She knew he was concerned about its outcome, the fact that they had very little evidence; that it hung on the reliability of a single witness. Jack had put on a brave face throughout, but she knew his frustration. She again tucked the hair back from her face, slightly aggravated that it was just short enough to slip free of its restraints. His hand lifted without thought and halted hers, his thumb lightly caressing her lip as he brushed away a grain of salt. It lingered a moment longer than necessary and his eyes met hers, searching for indications of resistance. He found none.
Her heart pounded on the ride home, her hand finding its way into his. She didn't have to ask him if he wanted to come in, although he hesitated a moment on the threshold, as if making a decision. The door closed behind him and he placed his law case beside hers on the side table, as she dropped her keys into the glass dish and shrugged off her jacket. She had turned on only one light, and it glowed faintly in the corner of the room. There was something relentless in his gaze as she stepped closer to him, lifting her face toward his. Jack studied her a moment and then touched his lips to hers. They parted without resistance, allowing him to taste the salt from her pretzel. He felt her fingers on the back of his neck and responded to the impulse, drawing her into his arms as the kiss deepened.
Fingers fell to his collar and slid beneath the lapels of his jacket, pushing it off his shoulders. He let it fall to the floor. She felt so secure in his arms, so trusting and confident, although it was new to her. There were so many times when they had come near this point, when he had caught her eye across the office and held her gaze, when his heart had quickened as her hand brushed his, handing him a stack of documents. She was drawing him across the room, slowly walking backwards without allowing him to release her. One of the bedroom windows was open to the street, letting in the light from the buildings below. It shone faintly across them as she fell against the pillows. Her eyes closed and he felt her surrender, warmth radiating from her slender form, pounding through her veins. He kissed her for a time, before gradually allowing it to develop into something more. It was never hurried, but slow and deliberate.
The sounds of traffic faded, the world beyond the window absolved in the fascination that overcame them. The frustrations of the office were forgotten in the quickening of their breath, the feel of the satin sheets beneath them, the sensation of their souls blending into one. Then came the utter silence of the flat, the gradual sounds of traffic in the twinkling darkness beyond the window. There was just enough light for her to look at him, breathing in the scent of his cologne, reaching up to caress the side of his face. His expression was unreadable but his touch tender as he rested his head against hers. It was something the office would frown on, a secret to be kept, something that would make facing him in court the following morning all the more difficult. It was dangerous and formed of sheer impulse, but she trusted it. That was all that truly mattered.