He knew he had to get her alone. Away from the distractions and most importantly away from her safety net...Justin. If he could just get her to admit her feelings. Hell, if he could just admit his feelings. How did this woman arrest him this way? He had made sure he didn't go down this road, not since the engagement. Was he really prepared to head for heartbreak again? Would things be different with Kate? It was definitely different for him.
He was looking forward to some time away. He had a client meeting in Lake Tahoe that would be a perfect getaway. If only he could get Kate there. If only I could convince her to help me "mediate" this case. It was really just a straight forward issue. They really only need me to come in a assist the city council in deciding jurisdiction over a crime scene. Local politics. Maybe I can get her on board. She definitely owes me a favor since the Lea Farann case.
Not wanting to lose my nerve I walked across the office to see if Kate was around. Passing Leo's desk, I practiced my conversation with her in my head.
"Good morning Leonardo, how does Kate's calendar look for the next few days"?
"If you want to know about Kate's calendar, you'll have to ask her" Leo retorted jokingly.
Was he ever going to get easier to deal with? So much for his mind wipe. He totally ratted me out to Kate, making this situation worse than it already was. "Thanks Leonardo, I think I will do that", I replied flippantly as I head for Kate's office.
Just as I'm opening the door Leo yells, "You better knock first". Too late, I had already headed in. Standing in front of me was a dripping wet Kate Reed, wrapped in nothing but a small towel. Be cool Ben, be cool, I repeat over and over to myself as I stand and stare.
Kate runs behind me to shut the door. "Thanks Leo...you're a big help today", she barks out the door. Then she directs her anger my way, "Can I help you?"
This situation was not going as I planned and was going from bad to worse. Too late now, I was this far. "So, I see you are still relying on the office bathroom for your personal hygiene".
Kate's temper instantly flared and she headed back to her office door, presumably to throw him out. Quickly trying to recover the situation I sat down on the couch and got comfortable. "Kate, I have a case I need your help with". "A friend of mine has a conflict he needs resolved fairly quickly, local politics and jurisdictional issues. Any way that I could cash in a favor and have you assist me on this one. It should only take a couple days?"
Kate still appeared annoyed that I was comfortable hanging around her office while she was very uncomfortable standing around in her towel. God is she beautiful. Anxious to get me to leave, Kate agrees fairly quickly to help me. Now for the tricky part.
"Great, be ready in about an hour. I'll drive us to the airport. They're sending a plane to take us".
"What?", Kate yelled. "A plane? You didn't tell me I would have to go out of town for this. Don't you think that was a little deceptive? Where is this little job you have in mind?"
"Lake Tahoe, and we can get back as soon as the situation is resolved, it could be as soon as tomorrow if you wrap this up quickly. It should be a piece of cake. So, ready in an hour?" I hold my breath waiting for her response.
"Fine, but then we are even. Have Leo clear my schedule for a couple days, and I am going to have to hustle here to get ready, so if you don't mind leaving the office so that I can get dressed, that would be great".
Not wanting to press my luck, I left her office without another word. Practically skipping by Leo's desk, I ask him to clear Kate's schedule for three days. Leo lets out a chuckle and winks as I pass by. He definitely has a better idea of what I am up to than Kate does. Now with just a little luck I can get her on that plane and whisk her away for a few days alone with me.
Two hours later we are sitting facing each other on the small private jet that was sent for us. I begin to explain the details of the case we will be working on.
"The city council has a crime scene and there are some questions over who has jurisdiction. The crime scene is on the border between two towns. They want an independent party to come in and determine who's jurisdiction is going to handle the scene so that there is no accusations of favoritism. It's an election year and nobody wants to make any real decisions that might upset either police union. They assume by bringing us in their hands will be clean. Should be pretty straight forward."
Kate, looking somewhat puzzled, leans forward and smiles at me, "Ben, why did you ask me to help you with this? You seem very capable of handling this without my help."
Flustered and anxious I nervously reply " You know how I have a tendency to make these types of situations worse. I thought it was better to play it safe and bring you and your boundless charm along".
Smirking back at me, Kate appeared to accept my reasoning and put her headphones on and relaxed back in to her seat. Good, let her relax while I try and figure out how I am going to approach this time with her.
Just a short while later the plane landed in the mountains of Lake Tahoe. As we stepped off the plane, a limo was waiting for us. The driver quickly grabbed our bags while I ushered Kate out of the cold and in to the waiting car. As the driver pulled away Kate asked who we would be meeting with first.
"Actually, it's pretty late today and they weren't sure how tired we were going to be from traveling, so there are no meetings set up until tomorrow morning. The driver is just going to take us to where we are staying and we can have some dinner and relax until tomorrow."
Kate squirmed anxiously in her seat. "I guess I can't stand you up for dinner tonight then" she giggled nervously.
Throwing the ball back in her court but still trying to keep it light I retorted "Why don't you want to have dinner with me?"
"I'm no good at this. I'm not the type of person who jumps in to these things lightly. I'm a total mess, why would you even want to start anything with me? Running is what I do best. Ask Justin".
"Well lets keep this simple then. I don't really jump in to things lightly either. I'm way to damaged for that. We have to eat, and we are out of town, so it makes sense that we eat together, right?"
"Right" she said smiling.
It probably wasn't fair that as I was reassuring her, all I was thinking about was that kiss in the elevator. The kiss that had cracked the stone around my heart. The stone I had so carefully placed around my heart to protect myself from loving again. I know that kiss meant something to her too or she wouldn't be running scared. If only I could be sure though. If I could just get another kiss like that this weekend, and get her to be the one to kiss me, then these few days away would be a success. I need to be careful though and go slow or she will take off running.
Pulling up to a gorgeous chalet in the mountains, I watch as Kate glances in awe of where we will be staying. I really do love impressing her.
The driver unloads the bags and carries them up to the porch as we head in behind him. I quickly pull out the keys that my buddy had sent me when I told him I needed to borrow his place in Lake Tahoe. There was no way I was going to risk staying in a hotel where Kate could avoid me for three days. Tipping the driver as he set our bags down in the hall, I was practically giddy at the thought of time alone with Kate.
Heading in to the kitchen, I open the refrigerator expectantly. Inside is a delicious bottle of chilled champagne. Pulling it out and popping the cork, I take out two glasses.
"This is just a way to whisk me away and rob me of my virtue" Kate says.
"You're perfectly safe" I announce. "I'd rather you beg me to take your virtue next time". With that I hand her the glass of champagne and toast "to keeping things simple".
Kate laughs and raises her glass to that.