**Dear USA legal representatives: No copyright or content infringement is intended, nor am I benefiting monetarily in any way from writing this story-it is purely to fill the void until Season 3 begins. Please don't sue me for having an overly active imagination and too much free time!** :)
"…I saw you shivering and I didn't want you catching cold in the spring night air…besides, I have all of these menus for you to choose from, so what do you say? Will you let me in?"
Kate noted the arch in his eyebrow as he mentioned her 'shivering…' He knew what he was doing to her—of that much she was certain. It was just a matter of how long she could put off the inevitable.
She looks him hard in the eye and deadpans "Let me guess. You're not going to stop ringing my door bell until I let you in."
"Something like that…or, I could sing '99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall' at the top of my lungs. You know, whatever gets the quicker result." He says casually leaning against her door frame, smiling and winking at her.
Kate grips the antiqued brass doorknob a little harder than necessary, and can't help but smile at his goofiness. Taking a step back and gluing her eyes on her navy blue boat shoes, she opens the door as wide as the hinges allow, and says, "Fine, but you're buying."
Ben steps over the threshold; celebrating, internally, at his first little victory as he glances over at Kate and says "My pleasure M'lady."
Kate closes the door, turns around and leans against it, taking a steadying breath and counts to five.
He continues on into the room to survey her move-in job so far. He notes a lack of seating, or really any kind of furniture, 'aside from a scary-looking giant red hand,' and wonders if the sparseness filters over into every room. 'Hmm...'
"Nice…hand?" He quirks his eyebrow while commenting on the relic.
The ancient-looking record player clicks over to play the same tune Ben heard Kate playing earlier when she walked out onto the terrace. He was too distracted by her presence to take notice of it earlier, and finally recognizes what song is coming from the equally antiquated speakers.
"Norah Jones…yeah I like that song too." He turns around, grinning, to find her standing plastered against the door—with a befuddled look and a frown creasing her perfectly manicured eyebrows. "What? I'm not allowed to like girly music?"
'Wow. There's no way he can see the record label from there.' Pushing off from the safety of the door, she joins the conversation, and him, in the middle of her empty living room.
"I just didn't take you for a bluesy music kind of guy…"
Taking a swig from the scotch glass still in his hand from the balcony he swallows, enjoying the burn and says, "I think there are a lot of things about myself that would surprise you."
Kate, not sure where this is going, finishes her wine and swallows audibly. After sitting her glass down by the record player she starts nervously playing with the rings adorning her slender fingers. 'I really shouldn't bite my nails—I need a manicure in a serious way.'
Sensing her unease, Ben decides to play nice, for now, and give her a break, extending a worn menu in her direction. "For instance, did you know I have a secret fetish for Thai food? This is the best place on Earth and bonus—they deliver to our building."
Shaking her head at his boyish excitement, she smiles sweetly at him and reaches to share the menu, and his personal space, as her small hand innocently grazes his.
"You know, I've heard of a lot of different fetishes, but never over a type of food before…you're special Benny." The last of which is whispered in his ear, due to the close proximity required to share the take out menu.
The hairs on the back of his neck stand at attention as he wills his body to stay under control. 'God, she's trying to kill me...nothing like voluntary torture.'
He decides to turn the tables a bit by turning his head slightly to his left to taunt her—conveniently, right into her ear. "Hey, if you want to trade personal kink Katie, I'm all for it, but I was honestly just talking about food…"
Taken completely off guard, she gasps and shivers—his breath leaving a fire burning in its wake. She clears her throat to try and disguise her reaction.
This time he IS close enough to notice the effect his words have on her, as she involuntarily shivers, again, at his use of her pet name. Intrigued by this discovery, he decides to test a theory out—maybe after dinner, 'and a couple more glasses of wine.'
"So, what does the lady desire?"
'Wow. Now there's a loaded question…and oh, the possibilities. No Kate—you can not think naughty thoughts about him when he's sharing the same air as you.'
Blushing from her internal monologue, Kate answers, "Uh…whatever you normally order is fine with me."
"You sure, 'cause you look like you were having an internal debate…" He smiles, hoping it looks more innocent than he feels at the moment. 'Come on man, be cool—she just broke up with Justin…last thing she's going to want is another overbearing guy crowding her.'
"Yeah. Oh yeah…I'm good. So…uh, tell you what. Why don't you do your ordering magic while I refresh my glass here." Walking over to the record player to pick up her discarded wine glass she looks at his near-empty scotch glass and asks, "Do you want me to grab you a glass as well?"
He looks up in the middle of pressing speed dial on his iPhone and answers her without skipping a beat. "Sure. That'd be great." Bringing his attention back to the call he just made he proceeds to order enough food to feed the entire staff of Reed & Reed, pays by credit card and hangs up.
"Wow. I didn't realize you'd be ordering the entire menu—I really don't eat that much at one time these days. Thanks to Lauren's health food craze, I've learned to pretty much live off of bagels, coffee and jelly beans."
"Sounds like the breakfast of champions to me. No wonder you're always hyper." He chuckles at the face she makes in response.
"Hey mister, I don't see you or Leo complaining when you raid my candy stash every day." She smiles as she brings both glasses of wine around her kitchen counter, handing one to him and taking a seat on the hardwood floor, using the wall as a back rest.
Ben follows suit and sits down, close enough to be friendly, but not too close to suffocate her.
"Yeah, well why would we ever need to hit the vending machines on the first floor when you have Jelly Belly's ripe for the taking?"
She laughs at this and says, "Oh, I don't know…maybe 'cause I like them?"
"Nope…huh-uh…no way. It's a fact that people who offer food items in their personal working space are subconsciously asking for attention and want people to like them." He scoots a little closer to her, proud of his ability to retain even the minutest detail from discarded medical journals in waiting rooms during his ambulance-chasing days.
Kate shakes her head spiritedly while finishing her sip of wine, half turns and scooches closer to him. "What? You're saying that I'm trying to get you to like me, simply because I happen to have candy on my desk, which I eat? No…I disagree counselor."
He takes a drink from his glass, arches his left eyebrow and replies, "Hey, it came from a medical journal I read about workplace behavior, so it's scientific fact, not something I made up. Maybe you don't even know why you do it."
"So, subconsciously, I'm trying to lure you into liking me with lemon-flavored sugar? Sounds pretty lame to me." She looks stumped...still trying to mentally argue the merits of her case, if only to herself.
"You never needed the lure Katie…" His eyes search for something and lock with hers.
Kate's still deep in thought when she looks up and her heart goes into her throat when she sees the way he's looking at her. Her eyes lock with his and she can't bring herself to say anything to distract him from his train of thought, nor can she look away. Her mind instantly replays their kiss from the elevator a couple weeks ago—it had come out of nowhere and he had looked at her the exact same way then too.
Ben leans achingly closer to her, radiating heat and a slightly sweet masculine aftershave, giving her plenty of time to object before he gently swipes a stray curl over her right ear and leans in to kiss her.
His soft breath tickles as he kisses his way up her neck, to her jaw, and hesitates when he reaches her mouth. Her brain, almost on sensory overload at this point, realizes he wants her to kiss him back. 'I should have kissed him in Tahoe…not going to make that same mistake again…'
With new resolve, Kate finally makes a decision she can't run from and closes her eyes, and the gap between her and Ben. Their mouths collide in a hungry exploration. 'His lips taste sweet, like the grapes from the wine, with a hint of something…mint?'
As if finally sensing his new-found freedom, Ben brings his hand up to cradle her neck and play with the loose strands of hair, pulling her closer to his chest, causing her to shiver. 'I could do this all night, but I'm going to have a stroke if we don't breathe soon.'
He pulls away, breathlessly resting his forehead on hers while he smiles, trailing where his lips were with his index finger and says "I'd rather have that any day than a bowl full of sweets…"
Kate, breathing too hard to answer, just closes her eyes and enjoys the tingly sensation his touch elicits.
Meanwhile, the doorbell chimes 'Ding Dong,' once again interrupting Kate Reed's thoughts and effectively breaking the intimate moment they were sharing on her floor.
Thanks so much for all of the kind reviews! I didn't realize how many Fairly Legal fans there are out there. *Crossing fingers for season 3 to be renewed* Please keep the reviews coming and let me know what you think! :)