I am so humbled by the responses to my little fic so far. I hope you enjoy this part too and especially enjoy reading about Ben and Lily's mating dance as it progresses to its... well, eventful climax! lol
"I wasn't gawking. You know... Just so you know," she said quietly as she climbed into his rusted Jeep and shut the door after herself. She turned to watch him then as he scaled the side of the vehicle instead of climbing in the traditional way and somehow still managed to land on his perfect ass without breaking a sweat.
"Okay you weren't gawking. You would never do something like that, Brenner," he agreed but she was sure she saw a quick, knowing smile pass over his lips before his expression was unreadable once again.
She blushed furiously at his knowing look and borderline teasing words. She tried to hide the heat coloring her face by bending down in the front seat and pretending to be busily tying her shoelaces which she had already - stupidly - double-knotted this morning before she even left the cabin. Ben wasn't stupid though. He no doubt was aware that she was trying to save herself a little face and somehow that made her embarrassment sting even worse.
However, whenever she sat up, she noticed his eyes immediately zip away from her back. She quickly discovered her shirt had ridden up in the back and now she was sure he had been ogling her ass too. She was half-humiliated by the attention and half-ashamed of not being horrified by the attention. A man was checking her out and she didn't feel sick for once just at the mere thought of it. This should have felt wrong to her; she should have been screaming inside how wrong it was for someone to notice her when she was still hurting so much over her lover's death. But she wasn't screaming inside for once. Her heart was hammering in her chest though and that made her wonder what was the matter with her. She couldn't be moving on from her fiancé's already, just because some jungle doctor with great hair looked at her sideways ... Could she? Was she betraying her beloved fiancé's memory just by nurturing this attraction in her heart?
Even after her fiancé's untimely death, men had still come around asking her out. Some even knew she was a virtual widow and that hadn't stopped them from hitting on her. She had come close to losing her temper with them so many times. She had even wanted to hit a few of the really brazen men while screaming at them, "Can't you see I'm grieving for the love of my life here? Go find another skirt to chase, you jerk off!" She had come to this jungle for the most part to get away from all that crap and yet here she was, actually attracted to the local jungle doctor and yet, she was somehow not bothered enough, in her mind, by the idea that he might be slightly attracted to her as well. She didn't understand all of this or what it all meant.
It had been two years since her fiancé went out for that fateful walk to give her space; sent her that text message Ben called "a doctor crutch"; and then was run down by a car as he was crossing the street to come and make peace with Lily. It had been so long since she had even so much as looked twice at another man and yet here she was in the middle of the jungle with this beautiful man sitting beside her and he had captured her attention.
She wanted to blame Mina for putting these crazy, lustful ideas into her head but if she was honest with herself; she had felt something for Ben almost from the moment they had met. These feelings - whatever they met out to - had seemed to only intensify since the night Ben came to her last week and cleaned her anaconda bite so gently while they talked. She had talked about her fiancé and what losing him had felt like, and Ben had seemed to actually understand where she was coming from. Ben truly seemed sincere. Both sincere and gorgeous...
Her lips felt suddenly parched as she noticed Ben watching her out of the corner of his eye. This time she dove for her water bottle and took a long and purposeful sip before setting the now near-empty bottle aside. "Thirsty," she murmured in explanation. "The heat ..."
"I know, Brenner. The heat. Just get used to it. It doesn't get cold around here. Ever."
She nodded. Of course Ben didn't get cold. He was startlingly beautiful. He surely always had someone to keep him and his bed warm. Like that Ryan woman. Lily was curious about that situation but she would never ask. Never. No, definitely not.
He offered her a little smile before turning back to face the road. They were driving through some dense underbrush now and Lily was actively staring at her feet when he suddenly shouted, "Duck!"
"Don't hit it!" Lily immediately cried, sitting up a bit higher in her seat to look for said duck.
Ben snorted and immediately braced his hand on the back of her head, pushing her down in her seat. "I meant duck ... As in, get down!" he said. "There was a very large tree branch staring you down, Brenner. You would have been blind and blind doctors are of no use to me."
Lily blushed again as she felt his hand slide away from her scalp, leaving the very roots of her hair tingling and charged with some weird kinetic energy. She took a long moment before she dared to glance up at him again. "Can I sit up now?"
"Be my guest," he said. "Besides, if you crouch like that for too long, your spine will start to curve..."
Lily shook her head and noted the humor lighting up his big, beautiful green eyes. "You're messing with me now," she said knowingly.
"So what if I am?" He asked. "You're a little too stiff."
"Says 'Mr. Ridgity' himself!" Lily couldn't help but snarkily return. "You couldn't cut loose if you tried. I am surprised your own spine hasn't curved from the way you are always looking down on people."
Her hand flew to her mouth. "Ohmigod, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have -" Her voice trailed off as he began to laugh. Laugh loudly. And it was such a rich, melodious sound that it made her scalp tingle again, as well as other ... areas...
"Stop it, Brenner, stop it, alright?" He said with a little smile.
"Stop thinking that I'm some brooding, full of himself guy who can't appreciate a good jab directed at him when it's actually called for."
"I don't think you're full of yourself exactly. But brooding ... Oh yeah. That's totally your shtick."
This time, they both laughed heartily.
Ben may have been joking and even almost to the point of being actually amiable during their drive downstream but once they reached the little village situated along the river's edge, he became all business. He ordered Lily around expertly and they managed to treat even the late-stage malaria patients effectively as was possible distributing copious amounts of Mefloquine. They stayed all day and half of the night in the village, instructing patients on ways to keep their immune systems kicking (well, Ben did most of that since Lily still only knew a little of the language in these parts); they cleared out bucket after bucket and every other kind of receptacle too that contained a large amount of standing water (which was a favorite nesting area for hordes of mosquitoes); they even strung cheap nets around each of the villager's small beds and passed out small bottles of standard, American-imported bug spray.
It was approaching midnight when Ben finally beckoned to Lily. She had been rocking a little girl of three years of age to sleep. The girl's fever had finally broken and Ben looked at Lily - dare she actually think it?- almost fondly. "C'mon, Brenner, give the little one back to her mother so they can get some much needed rest."
Lily nodded and passed the small girl to her grateful mother who murmured weary but tearful repeated "thanks you" in Spanish before taking her child and moving back inside of their little hut.
Ben was already leaning against the Jeep when she turned around. She smiled a little and warily trudged over to the vehicle. She was determined to sleep all the way back to the clinic if she could just ignore the way Ben's watchful, intent gaze was heating up her lower anatomy. She stumbled a bit between watching him and trying to put one foot in front of another in her fatigue.
He was immediately at her side, reaching for her and bolstering her up. She clung to his side for a moment and then whispered, "You really are Superman."
She blushed for the first time in a whole twenty minutes. "Superman can scale tall buildings in a single -" she waved her hand dismissively. "Never mind."
She thought Ben would relinquish his hold on her but for whatever reason he held her to his side for the briefest second before leading her the rest of the way to the Jeep. He braced one hand on the small of her back and she shivered in spite of the heat of the night and the heat of his fingers so close to her bare skin. She looked over at him and he was watching her again; still intently, as if he were trying to figure her out. As if she were a great mystery to him... But she knew was simple to understand. Ben though ... she would never figure him out.
He opened the door of the Jeep and she smiled. "So gentlemanly," she said in a low voice.
He didn't say anything, just helped hoist her tired and worn out body into the Jeep. He then rustled around in the bucket seat behind her, finally extracting a blanket and handing it to her.
"I'm not cold ..."
"You can make it into a pillow. You're tired. Just get some sleep. You did ... Well, good today, Brenner. You deserve a decent rest."
She smiled at him. "Thanks, Dr. Keeton."
"You're welcome, Brenner," he said before tearing his eyes away from hers, shutting her door and hurrying around to his side of the Jeep where once again, he scaled the side of it and still landed on his perfect ass without so much as one perfect strand of hair moving from place.
TBC ... Smut's coming up next. I promise! lol