There was plenty of time for things to happen between him and Angell, Flack reminded himself as he walked with her to her apartment after their latest night out. No need to rush. Absolutely no need to rush.
It didn't matter that she had a mouth made to kiss for hours. He wondered if it was a mistake kissing her that night in the hallway - or if he had made a mistake in stopping. Because every time he looked at her he could imagine, all too clearly, their kiss. He could all but taste it. He knew he had to do that again. Soon. Very soon. But every time he thought about that, the conversation following their first kiss immediately popped into his head.
"I'm interested." He said against her mouth. "Very."
Jennifer nearly collapsed when he took his hands away from her. Excitement pounded through her.When she could see clearly again she said, "Flack" It ended up coming out more as a question than she'd hoped. Angell busied herself with the belt of her coat. "Let's not rush things, okay?"
"Okay." Flack said slowly, trying to process her words through the arousal clouding his mind.
Feeling the need to clarify she continued, '"I'm not interested in a one night stand."
"Me neither. Too messy."
"If we – you and I – start something we should just make sure that it's right. We work together. It could be awkward if…"
Flack saw something flash in her eyes then. He had enough experience interrogating people to read body language and tell-tale signs. He saw the emotion swimming in her eyes thatrevealed how meaningful her words were, emotions that made her frown for just a split second. So he knew he had to be careful. With her, with them.
"I understand." He lowered his lashes, briefly shielding his gaze, and when he lifted them again the heat and unreasonable disappointment in them had been banked. His mouth kicked up at the corners. "But in all fairness right now is not the best time to ask me about my intentions."
Jennifer relaxed at the laughter in his voice, soothing her frazzled nerves. Nerves that were screaming at her to slow down despite everything else in her body asking for more. Nerves that had experienced years of a tense relationship between her cop father and a mother who was in love with a man who was married more to his job than to her. Long shifts, crazy hours, intense pressure – that was the life of a cop, with a cop. She could only imagine what it would be like times two between her and Flack. Why one kiss was conjuring up such memories and thoughts was a mystery to her but for now they would just take it slow
Reaching Jennifer's apartment Flack turned to look at her. He wasn't sure how long he could go on like this – this going slow thing. He'd decided on casual nights out – pressure free, non-committal dinners or jazz clubs or movie festivals - resisting the temptations to touch her and kiss her, afraid of pushing too far and scaring her away. He felt like he was in a race without a finish line. A race, however, he would continue running until he got that signal he was waiting for. Until he learned what had caused that look in her eyes that day in the hallway. Until he didn't see that look again.
He leaned down to give her a quick kiss and her arm a fraternal squeeze. "Good night," he said, leaving reluctantly, as he had after all their dates, knowing that if he stayed he would ask for more.
"Night." Entering her apartment, she leaned against the door and couldn't help a sense of disappointment from following her in. I totally blew it, Angell thought to herself, banging her head lightly against the door in frustration. Did taking things slow suddenly make her less attractive to Flack? Did he somehow decide that being just friends would be better? Because friendly is exactly how he'd been acting – not like someone who'd said he was 'very interested' - barely touching her, their first kiss seemingly a long lost memory. Not that she didn't have a great time when she was with him, but there was slow and then there was non-existent. With each moment spent with him she knew, with more and more certainty, that she wanted to be with him and the idea that Flack might be realizing the opposite made her groan and fall into bed for what she knew would be a fitful night of sleep.
It was the end of a long day and Angell's system was jittery from an intense interrogation, her stomach growling from the lack of a decent meal in over eight hours. So when Lindsay invited her for drinks at Sullivan's she'd eagerly agreed.
"Hey." Lindsay plopped down in the booth across from Angell.
"Hey, Lindsay. How's it going?"
"Good. I spent all day processing evidence from Flack's newsstand case – every sheet of paper had to be examined. It was brutal." Lindsay couldn't help but notice the smile that Angell did her best to fight but still managed to turn the corners of her mouth at the mention of Flack's name. "So…how are you two doing?"
Angell knew that she and Flack were the topic of some locker room gossip, noticing the way conversations abruptly ended whenever she walked into a room or hearing the whispers that carried through the hallways. She didn't mind though, that was life. Plus, she had come to think of Lindsay as a friend and felt comfortable confiding in her about life and work. "Oh fine."
Angell shrugged. "It's just that he sort of treats me…like a sister." There she had said it.
"You are out of your mind."
"He kisses my cheek," Angell muttered, while a frown slowly formed on her brow. "Squeezes my arm. The first time he kissed me, he kissed me senseless, but now it's just an arm squeeze." She grabbed Lindsay's arm to demonstrate. "Sometimes he looks at me and I think, oh boy, here it comes. Then nothing. I don't know." Jennifer threw her hands up helplessly not noticing that Lindsay had burst into laughter.
Baffled, she asked, "What is so funny?"
"Sorry," Lindsay finally managed to gasp out, clutching her stomach. "I know it's not funny to you but I have to laugh. He's terrified of you."
"What? That's ridiculous."
"No," Sympathetic now, Lindsay stopped laughing. "He wouldn't want to push or rush, if that's what you asked for. He'd be afraid of making the wrong move. And you know he's attracted to you, so those brotherly pats and pecks can't be easy on him. He's probably waiting for you to make the next move, for you to be sure it's what you want. The more he cares the more careful he'd be."
Lindsay knew this because she knew Flack. She saw the way he looked at Angell, the way Angell looked at him. She also saw a little bit of her and Danny in them – those moments of hesitation, of spark, when you realize you have a connection with someone, a strong connection that's almost overwhelmingly frightening.
Jennifer stared at Lindsay, blinking as her words sunk into her brain. "Oh."
It was almost ten when Angell walked up to Flacks' apartment. After leaving Sullivan's she walked around a bit - thinking things through, Lindsay's words swimming around her head - until a plan formed and led her there. She wondered if he was he still up or if he would mind that she stopped by unannounced. She drew a calming breath as she knocked. Flack answered in bare feet, jeans and worn NYPD t-shirt. "Hey," he said with surprise in his voice, shocked to see Jennifer at his door. He hadn't planned on seeing her until tomorrow evening when they had dinner plans. As was usually the case whenever she was around, his heart quickened and his body went into sensory overload, taking in the sight, scent and sounds of her all at once. Feel, though, would have to wait. He wondered what brought her to his door. A case? Something else?
"I should have called. But I was at Sullivan's and then walking around." She stopped her explanation there as if it completely justified her visit.
"Come in." He stepped back to let her in, his mind still racing trying to figure out why she was here. "Can I get you something to drink?"
"No, thanks. "She looked around for a moment trying to calm her nerves and drown out her pounding heartbeat. "Flack, are you still interested…in me?"
"I don't mean to put you in an awkward position. If you're not, that's fine. But if you are, and you've just been trying to be considerate because I said I didn't want to rush things then you can stop being considerate. If that's what you're being." She stopped when she ran out of breath and words, otherwise she was sure she would have kept babbling.
Flack's throat went bone dry but a smile was slowly curving his lips as the woman he wanted more than anything was standing in front of him, finally giving him the signal he'd been waiting for.
"You don't want me to be considerate?"
"No. Not really. Not if you still feel, um, interested."
"Thank God." It took him less than a second to cover the distance between them, pulling her to him, his mouth capturing hers in a long, draining kiss that had Jennifer's heart flipping helplessly in her chest.
"Does that answer your question?"
"What question was that?"
"If I'm still interested." His lips skimmed over hers one more time. "Got it now?"
"Yes." She linked her arms around his neck. "I've got it now."
A/N: Thanks to mel60 for the beta and thanks for reading!