Bit late but here it is - the final chapter.
Thanks, Em. :)
Ruth propped herself up on one elbow to study the man lying next to her.
"Harry?" There was no response. "Harry? Are you awake?"
"Is that funny ha-ha or funny peculiar?"
"I'm a very nice person."
Harry opened one eye and looked at her as he considered his response. "I'm not sure I would describe you as 'nice'-"
She dug a finger into his ribs.
"Ow! You could at least let me finish what I was saying."
"Go on then."
"You're much more than nice. You're beautiful, intelligent, sexy, gorgeous…" He rolled onto his side and slid his hand over her hip. "And ticklish."
He moved quickly and Ruth was pinned to the mattress as he proved just how ticklish she was.
Breathlessly she begged him to stop. "No more, Harry, please."
He relented and watched her while she got her breath back.
The tenderness in his eyes was overwhelming and she reached up to touch his face. "You've gone all serious on me."
"Love is a very serious business." His fingers were lightly stroking over her stomach. "Especially when it concerns you."
His hand stilled and he kissed her, very gently. She responded by running her tongue over his bottom lip before tugging on it with her teeth. The low growl at the back of his throat encouraged her to repeat the action until he pulled away from her.
"Stop biting me."
She laughed and her fingers twisted into his hair as she pulled him closer, encouraging him to explore her mouth. Her other hand moved slowly down his chest and across his abdomen. She felt him harden at her touch and she got a deep sense of satisfaction at the response she had elicited.
He lost himself in her caresses until she murmured 'I love you' in his ear.
"And I love you, very much." He captured her mouth in a loving kiss before giving in to her whispered desires and fusing their bodies together.
"Seems it's true what they say." Ruth's fingers moved lazily across Harry's skin.
"Hmm?" He was fighting the urge to sleep.
"About men who are good dancers."
"What about them?"
"They're also good in bed."
He laughed softly. "Dancing is supposed to be the vertical expression of a horizontal desire."
"So when you asked me to dance, you were really asking me-"
"No, I just wanted to dance with you."
"Like I said, funny man."
As Ruth walked down the stairs, she smiled at Harry who was talking to the Canadian. He didn't break off his conversation but his eyes briefly glittered with desire as he looked at her. She nodded politely as she passed them and headed towards one of the sofas in the reception area.
She was fully aware that she was just in the periphery of Harry's vision and amused herself by occasionally shooting him flirtatious glances in between assessing his appearance. He looked calm, collected and very business-like. It was difficult to believe that this was the same man who, less than an hour ago, had been in a decidedly tousled and unshaven state when he'd unwillingly left her bed. She had felt bereft when she'd closed the door behind him – a reaction she'd known was irrational but not as irrational as the tears that had flowed as she showered. They had started as she washed the scent of him off her skin. She had quickly realised it was a purely emotional response to everything that had happened between them and the depth of feeling that had finally been revealed.
He finally finished his discussion and walked over to her.
"That was very naughty."
"I don't know what you mean." Her pretence at innocence failed and Harry shook his head at her.
"Yes you do." He glanced around quickly before leaning down to kiss her. "Making come-to-bed eyes at me."
"It's all in your mind."
He was about to disagree with her when his phone rang. He looked at it and sighed. "I'll have to take this. Sorry, I won't be long."
He returned a few minutes later.
"That was the DG. Seems he's quite happy with how his speech went."
"Yes. Because it was well-received, it was his speech. Presumably if it had been a disaster it would have been my speech."
"Don't worry about it." He squeezed her hand. "Come on, let's have some breakfast."
"I suppose there is a bright side." In response to his questioning look she continued: "The DG won't be having your balls."
Harry laughed. "Not this time, no."
"That's good. They are mine now, after all."
After breakfast they had returned to their rooms to collect their luggage. A loud knock interrupted Ruth's last minute check of her belongings. She opened the door.
"Did you want to strip the- oh, I thought you were the chambermaid."
Harry backed her into the room, kicking the door shut with his foot.
"Do I look like the chambermaid?"
She opened her mouth to reply but found herself up against the wardrobe, being kissed passionately. His lips moved to her neck and she tried to assemble her thoughts into some sort of coherent order.
"Harry, I…please…oh God."
His hands had moved under her top and his fingers were gently stroking up and down her back.
"Did you say something about stripping?" he whispered hotly in her ear.
"Harry! I love you dearly, I really do but I do not want to get caught in flagrante by the hotel staff."
"I can always lock the door."
"Dreadful man." She let him draw her into another lingering kiss before pulling away from him. "We really should go."
"I suppose so. You're coming back to London with me, aren't you?"
"Well, I do have a train ticket-"
She smiled at him. "Of course I'm coming back with you."
"Glad to hear it."
She had relaxed in his arms and he took advantage, leaning in and covering her lips with his own.
"I thought we were going," she mumbled against his mouth.
"Mmm, we've got time for this though."
She didn't argue.
"Aren't we going straight back to London?"
They were settled in the back of the car and had been enjoying a companionable silence.
"I thought we could go via Stratford. Have a walk round, stop for a coffee or something. That's OK isn't it?"
"Yes, of course."
By the time they had got to Stratford, the sun had broken through the clouds and the early chill had gone. They walked by the river, amusing themselves by listening to groups of tourists excitedly relaying confused information about the history of the town and its residents to each other. Harry had to stop Ruth intervening in one particularly befuddled exchange between two elderly Americans who had managed to combine Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Oscar Wilde into one bizarre, literary amalgam.
"Come on," he tugged at her hand. "I'll buy you a coffee."
"And a cake."
She gave him a look that was a mixture of amusement and indignation. "A cake?"
"Yes. A cream cake."
They found a small, friendly teashop and settled themselves into a table by the window. His comment of 'we can do some people watching' was met with a smile and a squeeze of his hand.
Ruth raised her eyebrows as a plate containing slices of gateaux was placed on the table in front of them.
"I am a man of my word."
"Please don't say anything about calories or cholesterol."
She pursed her lips at him and then smiled wickedly. "Too many slices of this and I won't fit into my bikini any more."
A variety of thoughts rushed through his mind in response to her comment.
"You do realise that I haven't actually seen you in your bikini." His tone was conversational but his eyes shone with mischief.
"Would you like to?"
"What do you think?"
"Then you'd better behave yourself."
He laughed and reached across the table to take her hand in his. "I promise. I'll be very good."
They slowly walked back to the car, neither of them wanting to face the reality that the weekend was drawing to a close.
"Everything will be alright, won't it?"
"Yes, Ruth." Harry could see her insecurities starting to surface again. "I'll still love you when we're back in London and back on the Grid."
"I know that." Her hands rested on his chest as he slid his arms round her. "It's just…"
"You're still worried about people knowing, aren't you?"
Her eyes dropped from his and she hesitantly nodded.
"Nobody needs to know anything about us. It's up to you. We can either be open about it or totally discreet." He kissed the top of her head. "Alternatively, if anyone asks, we could just tell them to mind their own bloody business."
She considered his suggestions for a while before she spoke.
"Do you know Zaf is running a book on us?"
There was a short silence before he replied. "Don't worry, it's being taken care of."
She narrowed her eyes at him. "What do you mean 'it's being taken care of'? What have you done?"
"I haven't done anything."
"Adam's running a book on him and Jo. Very appropriate, I think."
She stared at him. "You're not serious?"
"I am. The odds are still quite good at the moment but you might want to get in quick, given what Adam told me the other day."
"Harry!" She was trying to look shocked but her curiosity was clearly getting the better of her. "So what did Adam say?"
"I can't tell you. It would give you an unfair advantage."
Her arms slipped round his neck and she reached up to kiss him. "Then I'll just have to extract the information from you."
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