Sorry for the delay in posting. Life's been really busy and I've been experiencing a bit of writer's block. Anyway, I hope this chapter lives up to your expectations. Thanks for reading!

We arrive at the Octagon just in time for our reservation. It's a swanky place in the Upper East Side, and I immediately feel classless and underdressed. Alex, on the other hand, fits right in.

The hostess leads us to an intimate table next to the window, toward the back of the restaurant. I hold out Alex's chair for her, trying to make up for my earlier mistake, and Alex gives me a smile, her eyes clearly saying, It's forgotten. I'm glad.

I sit down across from her and hold out my hand. She tilts her head to the side, her eyes twinkling, and takes my outstretched hand. "Thank you for taking me out," she says with another smile.

"Am I? I was under the impression you were taking me out."

"Okay. We're taking each other out."

"That sounds good."

A waitress comes over to our table. "My name's Lisa and I'm going to be taking care of you ladies this evening," she says. "Do you want anything to drink?"

"I'll have a strawberry daiquiri," Alex says, raising a suggestive eyebrow at me.

I can't help but grin. "I guess I'll have the same."

The waitress brings our drinks a few moments later, and Alex raises her glass. "Cheers."

I clink mine with hers. "To first dates."

"To the first of many," she says slyly.

And I can't help myself. I lean forward, and before I know it, I'm kissing her, or maybe she's kissing me, or maybe we're just kissing each other. The kiss is almost electric in its passion, and it sends a shiver coursing through my veins. I could kiss Alex forever and never tire of it. It seems as if I've waited forever for this moment.

Finally, we break apart, and I'm almost panting. God, I sound like a dog. I need to calm myself down.

But Alex, for once, isn't perfectly composed either. Her cheeks are flushed and her eyes seem even bluer than usual. She is so beautiful.

"That was . . ." I trail off, unable to think of a word to describe our kiss. I wonder why I've even said anything at all. There are no words for the joy I feel when her lips meet mine, and form a bridge connecting us. We are connected. Physically. Emotionally.

"Exhilarating?" Alex offers with the smirk I've grown so accustomed to seeing her wearing when she looks at me.

"Uh-huh." But even that doesn't seem to describe the beauty of it, the warm, fuzzy feeling enveloping me from the crown of my head to the tips of my toes. "I love you!" I finally blurt out, because it seems like the only thing I can say right now, and because it's true.

Her hand stops in midair, her fingers curled around her strawberry daiquiri. "You say the darndest things," she says mildly, shaking her head in amusement and taking a sip of the cocktail.

I choose to ignore the fact that Alex Cabot has, for the first time since I've known her, used a made up word like darndest. "No, no," I try to say, even though she's grinning at me, and all I can think of is how white her teeth are, how soft her lips are, how sweet they taste. The taste that is uniquely Alex. I could make a cocktail out of her and drink it every day, and never get tired of it.

Alex Cabot provokes the darndest thoughts in me.

"I do love you," I tell her quietly, knowing all at once that the words are true, desperate for her to believe them.

She sighs and puts down her drink. "You don't know me," she says, sounding almost weary.

"No!" I stammer, again. God, I hate what she does to me. "I do. I've worked with you for three years, Alex."

"So you know I have a temper," she says, smiling weakly. "You work for me at my discretion, remember?"

I chuckle uneasily. "Yeah. Well, you were right."

Alex smirks. "As usual." She hesitates. "Why don't we wait until at least date number six for spontaneous declarations of love?"

So she's expecting there to be more dates. And I'm glad. Alex is only more intriguing now that I've glimpsed what lies beneath her stoic exterior, and I'm inexplicably drawn to her. I want so much to get to know her better.

Our waitress' appearance startles me from my thoughts. "Are the two of you ready to order or would you like a few more minutes?" she asks.

Alex glances at me. "I'm ready if you are."

I try not to think of the million ways I could interpret that phrase. "Me, too."

We order, and when our waitress leaves, we lapse into comfortable silence. It doesn't matter if we aren't having some kind of intellectual conversation; I'm perfectly happy just to be here with her, basking in the warmth of her presence. I do love Alex, and I'd spend every minute of every day with her if I could. If she'd let me.

Alex sips her daiquiri. "Have you ever been to Paris?"

I meet her eyes, startled. "Where did that come from?"

She shrugs, blushing a little. Alex Cabot blushing is the most adorable thing in the world, and I can't help but smile.

"Don't laugh at me," she says, pouting, which is even cuter, and sends me into a fit of giggles. I feel like a teenager again, fourteen years old and on my first date, sitting only inches from my crush and too tongue-tied to speak. That was probably the last time I actually giggled.

"No," I say when I've caught my breath. "That was just – random."

Alex smiles. "I was just thinking – you know, the city of romance and all that."

I raise an eyebrow. "Are you inviting me to Paris?"

She laughs. "No. I was just thinking about it. If I could choose anywhere in the world to live, it would probably be there."

I'm lost. "So, you're suggesting we elope there together?"

"No!" Then she smiles slyly. "Not yet, anyway."

"Well, that sounds promising."

"Doesn't it?"

"I'd like to take you there someday," I tell her, firstly because I think it's why she's brought it up in the first place and second of all because I really do.

She chuckles. "Sounds like a plan."

Well, now I feel stupid. That's the general feeling she evokes in me – inadequacy. And I still have no idea what she's talking about.

"We used to spend summers there when I was little," she says suddenly. "My dad had a house there."

"In Paris?"

She nods.

"That sounds . . . lavish?"

She smiles weakly. "It was." Then abruptly she says, "If there was anywhere in the world you could live, where would it be?"

I shrug. "I don't know. I haven't travelled the world like you have."

Alex looks down her nose at me. "You make me sound so spoiled," she says, but she smiles, and I know she's just teasing.

"No, you're not. Just . . . privileged." That's the right word, anyway. "I would live in Paris, with you."

She laughs. "No, really."

"Wherever you are," I say, and mean it.

"Aw, Liv. Really."

"Aw, Liv, really, what?"

She shakes her head at me. "You're so sweet."

"And chivalrous," I say, blushing a bit.

"A perfect combination."

Almost instinctively, I take her hand again, and she lets me. It feels so nice, the way our hands fit perfectly together. Hers is warm and soft, and so fragile that I fear it will break if I hold it too tightly.

Our waitress returns a moment later with our food, and Alex gives me a smile before taking a delicate bite of her pasta. She doesn't release my hand, though, and I'm glad.

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