It was noon. Maddie was, at the moment, finishing up giving a tour to a particularly bratty group of Girl Scouts. Honestly, Maddie had nothing against Girl Scouts, having been one when she was a kid. (Briefly.) These little girls were just very…Manhattan-y. Typical spoiled little rich girls. Maddie wanted to bang her head against a wall, but figured the troop leaders (Tiffany and Muffy) might take that as an insult.
As she was walking them back to the exit, Dr. McPhee was walking by. He gave her a quick smile, hesitated, then mouthed "coffee?" at her. She blushed and nodded quickly, smiling. He winked, nodded to the desks, then to the troop. Maddie gave him a thumbs-up and, restraining a grin, hurried the girls to the door.
Derek watched her go, grinning. He'd done it. He'd successfully asked her out. Wait…had she known what he meant? Did she think he was just being a crazy old man, talking to himself and twitching?
"Is that your boyfriend?" one of the little girls in her tour group piped up as they prepared to leave. Derek grinned, holding in a laugh. Though her back was turned, he could tell Maddie was blushing by how red her ears turned.
"No." she said. "He's not."
"He's cute, though." The same little girl said. Maddie turned and looked at him. He could tell she was trying not to laugh.
He pointed at her, winking and giving her a semi-cocky grin. Maddie stifled a laugh.
"Isn't he, though?" she said to the little girl. "Have a nice day, girls." She ushered the girls and their troop leaders out, then came over to him.
"You think I'm cute." He teased her. She rolled her eyes.
"Don't let it go to your head." She warned. His heart sped up when he realized she hadn't denied it. He smiled.
"So," he said, "Coffee, then?"
"Definitely." He smiled. They both clocked out for lunch. Derek saw Rebecca giving Maddie a look, a mixture of "What-did-I-tell-you" and teasing.
He led her to the Starbucks across the street.
"I'm treating, by the way." He said casually as they crossed.
"Oh, no, you're not." She protested.
"Oh, yes, I am." He countered. "In celebration of your new found singlehood, I am treating you to a cup of coffee. Or tea. Or…whatever." Maddie blushed. "Understood?" She sighed.
"Yes, Dr. McPhee."
"Good." He held the door open for her. "And it's Derek when we're out of the museum, okay?"
"Derek." She repeated, sending a chill up his spine. His name sounded like music on her lips. "Got it." He grinned.
They waited in line, chatting casually. When it was their turn, they ordered their coffees. Derek paid. When the barista asked for the names, Derek glanced at Maddie.
"Santa Claus." She said. Derek rolled his eyes. The barista wrote it down, chuckling, and said it'd be done in a few. They found a table by the window and waited.
They sat kind of awkwardly for a moment, not really looking at each other. However, Derek was the first to break the silence.
"Admit it, you think I'm gorgeous." He teased. Maddie giggled and rolled her eyes.
"Totally. You're a stud." She poked him in the arm playfully. He nodded, feigning boredom.
"I know, I know." He sighed. "It gets a bit old, though, being so good-looking."
"I bet it does." She touched his arm mock-sympathetically. He laughed, patting her hand.
Their eyes locked. His hand froze on hers.
A smile played at her lips as she hesitantly ran her thumb against his. He squeezed her hand, breathless.
Maddie willed her hands to stop shaking as she stared into Dr. McPhee's… Derek's eyes. Her breath caught in her throat as she looked at him, felt his hand on hers.
His eyes bore into hers intensely, hazel into blue. She felt herself being drawn in, only half-realized they were both leaning in, slowly… their lips inches apart…
"Santa Claus!" the barista called. They both jumped back. Maddie started to get up, but Derek gently pushed her back down.
"I've got it." He said softly. Speechless, she nodded. He smiled and walked over to the counter. Maddie struggled to regain her breath. They'd almost kissed! She had almost kissed her boss!
When he brought the coffee back, she'd calmed down enough to breathe semi-normally. He handed her hers, sitting back down.
"Thanks." She murmured. He nodded.
They sipped their coffees, avoiding eye contact for a few minutes. She wanted more than anything to be holding his hand again… But why? Sure, he was good-looking, but he was… a lot older than her. He wasn't interested in a stupid teenager, anyway… was he?
She glanced at him. Their eyes met. He looked away, his cheeks reddening. She looked down at her coffee.
When they'd finished, they threw out their cups and walked back across the street to the museum.
Exchanging an awkward goodbye, Derek headed back up to his office while Maddie sat by Rebecca at the desk.
"Okay, what happened?" Rebecca asked, stopping in the middle of her typing. Her face burning, Maddie explained what had happened in hushed tones. When she'd finished, Rebecca's was grinning.
"What'd I tell you?" Rebecca teased.
By the end of the day, Derek still couldn't get the events of the coffee break out of his mind. They had been so close to kissing… so close…
Derek sat in his office, staring blankly at the email he'd been reading. He had been about to respond to it when he noticed an ad for fabric softener at the top of the screen, causing him to think about Maddie again.
Her lips had been so close to his, less than an inch. Her hand had felt so perfect, like it was made to hold his. God, he was in deep. This just intensified it.
When it was time to leave, he hesitated. How awkward would it be to sit next to her again?
He shook his head and pressed on. He would get through this.
Back down by the desk, he saw Maddie as she was walking out. Rebecca smirked at him. He mentally groaned. Of course Maddie had told her.
"Does she hate me?" he asked. Rebecca's eyes softened.
"Definitely not." She assured him, winking. He smiled, wished her a pleasant evening, and walked out.
He joined Maddie on the bench, sitting next to her at an appropriate distance. She glanced up from her book, smiling at him. He smiled back, swallowing.
"Fun day?" he asked. She laughed.
"No more Girl Scouts." She said. He chuckled.
"Well, that's good." He hesitated. "Look, about…earlier…"
"What about it?" She closed her book, looking at him fully. Her cheeks were bright red.
"If I…If I made you feel uncomfortable or something…" Yeah, that sounded intelligent.
"You didn't." She gave him a small smile. "It was just awkward."
"So, you don't think I'm just some perverted old man?"
"I never said that." He stared at her. She grinned. "But no, I don't."
"No. I think you're sweet."
"And not too bad-looking."
"Yes, I know. We've had this discussion already." Derek smiled. "I'm the most handsome man in the world, pursuing the most beautiful woman in the world." Oh, God. Did he really just say that?
Her cheeks grew even more red.
Throwing all caution to the wind, he gently took her hand. She shifted. At first he thought she was trying to get away, but she was simply repositioning her arm. He laced his fingers with hers.
"You're…really serious?" Derek breathed. Maddie nodded.
Derek filled with light. Was this really happening? Was he really going to end up with his "dream girl"?
He started to lower his lips to hers. Closer…closer…
SQUEEEEEEEAK! There was the bus.
"God damn it!" Derek exclaimed, jumping up. Maddie jumped up, too. She grabbed his shoulder, pulled him lower, and kissed him.
His stomach swooped, his knees shaking. He touched her cheek. She pulled back, grinned, poked him, and ran onto the bus. He ran after her, paying his fare and following her to the back.
They sat together at the very back. They were both grinning. He squeezed her hand, lightly kissing her head. She giggled. He slipped his arm around her, letting her rest her head on his shoulder.
They stayed that way for the ride, not talking for once. Every now and then he'd place a kiss on the top of her head, subtly inhaling the scent of her hair. His fabric softener girl.
When the bus was close to her stop, she took out a pen and quickly scrawled her number on his hand. At her stop, he pulled the cord for her and let her go. She kissed him quickly before hurrying off the bus. Derek smiled to himself for the rest of the way.