Disclaimer: The characters from the TV series Bones are not my property. All I own of this story is the plot and the original characters. The story is set in a real place, but the characters from that place are not based on real people, and I am not implying that any of the very nice people I had the fortune to meet when in France were murderers!
Just to convince my husband that I'm seriously practising writing, my stated objective for this story is to write a story set in a real place, and to make the setting real to readers, as well as trying to balance the romance and the casefile.
This story is a sequel to A Real Vacation, in that it picks up a couple of days later. However, if you haven't read that story, I'm trying to explain things in this chapter so you don't feel you've missed out on too much. All you need to know is that by the end of that story they were sort of going out, and Brennan invited Booth to go on a booksigning tour in France with her.
Wednesday morning: Last minute nerves
"I can't do it." Dr. Temperance Brennan pushed her chair abruptly away from her desk and looked at her best friend in despair.
"What do you mean, Sweetie?" Angela sat down in the chair opposite and leaned forward on the desk, all sympathy.
"I can't go away for the weekend with Booth. I hardly know him!"
"Don't be silly, you've known him for over a year. You're good friends, remember?"
"Yes, I know, that's the problem. Angela, what if we end up hating each other? What if I really mess things up and we can't work together any more?"
"Bren, you'll be fine, you know you will." Angela gave her a smile, but all Brennan could think about was the idea of spending the coming weekend with Booth. How could she be so stupid? She rested her head on the desk, ignoring the piles of folders lying there awaiting her urgent attention.
"Why don't you give him a call?"
She looked up at Angela. "I can't. I'm far too busy. If I'm going to Europe for the weekend, I have to get all these cases underway first, and make sure Zack can handle them in my absence."
"Goodman doesn't mean you can't take a lunch break," Angela pointed out indignantly.
"No, but I can get a lot more done if I work through lunch. I don't have time to socialize with my boyfriend, Ange." The words seemed uncomfortable in her mouth even as she said them. Was Booth her boyfriend? She supposed so. She had spent the previous weekend helping Booth take care of Parker, and living so close to him had made it impossible to ignore her feelings for the FBI agent. But now she'd had some time away from him it all felt like a dream, and the idea of taking him with her on her book signing tour in France to promote the French translation of her book was starting to feel like a big mistake.
She sighed impatiently and sat up again, moving her chair back under the desk and opening the next folder on the pile. "Forget I said anything," she said. "I'll call him tonight, and tell him it was a big mistake. It was a stupid idea. I'll go to France by myself, and when I get back we'll pick up just where we were before last weekend. It was wrong of me to think we could do anything like this."
"I thought it was him who kissed you first," Angela pointed out, but Brennan kept her head down.
"I'm busy, Ange. Maybe we'll talk later, okay?"
She pretended she was concentrating on the file in front of her, while listening to Angela's footsteps heading towards the door. Part of her wanted Angela to agree with her, while the other part was screaming for Angela to tell her that of course she was wrong, of course she and Booth would have a great time in France. Instead, all Angela said was, "I'll order in some food for us." Then she left.
Brennan worked hard for the rest of the morning, only vaguely aware of her surroundings. It was not until Angela physically removed the papers from her hand and placed them on the desk that she realized her friend had been trying to attract her attention. She looked up. "What?"
"Lunch is here, Bren. Time to eat."
Reluctantly she stood up, giving the papers a last glance over her shoulder as she walked to the door. "If I just..."
Angela placed her hands on her shoulders, reminding Brennan of the times Booth had ushered her out of the office. "Lunch. Now."
It was no use protesting; Angela would not even allow her to take a set of papers to read over lunch. She followed her friend meekly to the other office, where Zack and Hodgins were already eagerly sharing out portions of Chinese food. There was someone else in the corner, someone she hardly noticed until she heard Zack talking to him. "I didn't realize you worked for Woo Fong's, Agent Booth."
She looked up sharply, to see Booth's grinning face. "I don't, Zack, okay? I just thought I'd pick up some food and drop by with it. I know how hard you guys are working this week."
Brennan looked quickly from Booth to Angela and back again, but both their faces were held in a blank expression, of the sort that only served to confirm that this was a set-up. It was the first time she had seen Booth in person since Monday evening, when he had taken her out to dinner to say thank you for caring for Parker for him while he recovered from a bullet in the shoulder, and she found it strangely difficult having him there. She nodded abruptly at Angela, and avoided Booth's eyes as she sat and took some food. Booth sat down beside her. "Are you okay?" he asked.
"No. I can't do it, Booth. I'm going on my own to France, and then we'll go back to how we used to be." But the words would not come. She was suddenly overcome by his closeness. She felt the heat of his body pressing gently against her on the couch, and smelt the familiar aftershave and man-smell that was uniquely his. She felt her body respond eagerly to his presence, and, was forced to admit that the attraction was still there. She wrestled with her thoughts for a moment. To go on or to go back? Could they go on safely? Could they ever go back? Better to go forward and see what happened. That was the logical conclusion.
She looked up at him, to see an concerned smile on his face. "Are you okay?" he asked again, and she realized she had not answered.
"Yes," she said slowly, leaning against him slightly. "Yes, everything's fine."
She felt him relax slightly against her. "So what's the schedule again?"
"I'll pick you up around lunchtime tomorrow. We fly out to Paris tomorrow night. By the time we get there it will be Friday morning local time. I have some interviews to do during the day, and a session signing books in a Paris bookshop. Friday night in a hotel in Paris, travel to Caen up on the north coast Saturday morning, more interviews and book signing there. Then we have Sunday and most of Monday free, and travel to Rennes Monday evening. A couple more interviews Tuesday morning, then fly back Tuesday night. With the time difference, we'll arrive back late Tuesday. Then I guess it's back to work Wednesday morning."
Booth sighed. "Sounds like fun."
She looked at him irritably. "It's to promote my book, Booth. It's not going to be that much fun. It's a working weekend. But we'll have some free time, and we'll be away from work."
"No bodies? No skeletons?" Booth questioned. "Sounds like fun to me. A weekend on the French coast. A few days away from crimefighting, and away from dealing with dead bodies and the criminal fraternity. It sounds like just what I need, a proper weekend break. Then we return to work refreshed and raring to go."
Brennan could not help smiling back. "Yeah, put it like that it does sound like it's going to be fun," she admitted. She chose to ignore Angela's contented smile, as she leaned across and kissed Booth. As she dropped the plate onto the table and wrapped her arms around him, she heard Hodgins in the background saying, "Will you please get a room!"
And so we're off on a new story! Please let me know what you think of it so far. If you haven't read A Real Vacation, could you follow this anyway? All reviews welcome :-)