A/N: Originally, this was supposed to be a one-shot. But due to the very nice requests, I caved. Thank you for the encouragement to KylieKyotie, Sorella-Aine, Kenzie410, butterfly.
Here you are; sorry for the long wait. I hope you like it!
Characters are slightly OOC, but hey – this is Fanfic. All mistakes are mine.
Chapter 2 – Inner Musings
Kate's lips tingled. She didn't register people walking by, elevators pinging, or anything else beside the warmth all of her body was filled to brim with.
She still couldn't believe what had happened. She had been completely lost in that kiss, forgot who she was and where, or why. It was just important to explore his tongue, lips, and mouth, feel his body close to hers, his hands on her waist, and let her lose herself in his touch. Only him and her. It was scary that only single kiss could do that her.
She barely noticed the amused looks of the many people walking past her, seemingly aware of the situation she was in. She must look a bit flushed (OK, more than a bit), disheveled, and completely flustered.
'Kate, get a grip. It was just a kiss.' She scolded herself.
'Well, it was a hell of a kiss, and the reaction you just displayed for all to see means you'll go to dinner with Ben.', came the response of her subconscious right behind. 'Thank you very much for your support!' she cynically sent to her inner self, which just whistled, looked to other way and tried to hide a smug smile.
Smile? Yes, part of her rejoiced in what had just happened. That part just couldn't wait to see what was underneath that layer of expensive tailored suits, crisp shirts, and perfectly fitting pants. This other half of her, the reckless, feral, one, would have loved to drag Ben into the next available closet ('elevator, empty office… any secluded space would do') and have her wicked way with him. (And she had been damn close to give in to this other half of her.)
Kate sighed at her unfruitful wishes to drag her coworker into a closet to rip his clothes off, and instead checked her watch. "Shit!" She had already been late for her mediation upon her arrival at the Reed & Reed building, but her little episode with Ben had delayed her even further.
Cursing, she headed for the elevator (feet and knees having recovered, finally) and pressed the 'up' button repeatedly with all her might, as if pressing the button often enough would calm her down somehow and shut that damn voice up once and for all.
Ben had arrived in his office without knowing exactly how he got there. His mind was still busy with the memory of kissing Kate. He hadn't even greeted Leo, who had slyly looked at him, but had said nothing. Surely he suspected something to have happened between Kate and him, or he was having one of these moments of wanting to be noticed, but Ben couldn't deal with Leo right now. His mind couldn't let go of Kate.
He had coaxed Kate into dinner with him, and he couldn't help but feeling mightily pleased with himself. Ever since he had met Kate in that bar, he had the feeling that this was a woman worth knowing. She had the look of a forlorn soul, yet passionate and sweet. He couldn't resist the pull he felt towards her, and so he bought himself into the firm, after learning the financial difficulties the two female partners were facing, and turning it to his advantage.
At first, he told himself that his gain had been to be partnered in an established lawyers' firm, and he had believed himself. But after getting to know Kate better, he was more and more intrigued by her. He was drawn to her against his will, but succumbed to her charm inevitably. He knew how immersed she could become with a case, always with the people and their concern in the centre of her attention, whereas the profit the firm could make from it came second, if at all. As a successful lawyer, he didn't approve of next-to nonprofit cases (especially given the precarious financial situation Kate's firm was in still), but seeing how much Kate cared for these strangers, he had to admit that he was touched. He had thought this kind of compassion was dead. He had thought that people, all people, had their own interests at heart, and didn't give a damn about others. In order to get his share of a good life (by which he meant money, since his family hadn't much of it), he had to be as smart, ruthless, and without conscience himself.
He had experienced his fair share of cruelness directed against him in his life, as a child as well as an adult. This was his explanation of his cynicism, which spared him of being disappointed too much in human nature. 'Assume the worst, and you'll never feel let down.' This was the motto by which he had learned to live, and in consequence, he had made himself a success, despite his past.
Until he had met Kate.
He was fascinated by her from the start. She was a ferocious crusader, a voice for the weak, and the truth, ready to fight with anyone crossing her, never giving up. On the other hand, she was one hell of a woman, flirty, playful, and decidedly aware of her own … assets.
Nevertheless, he wasn't blind to her faults. She wasn't a flawless angel, but a gorgeous woman, who showed a cruel streak once in a while. He knew he should be careful around her, and not risk his heart too much.
But he suspected that it was a little late for that.
Kate's mediation was a gift from the gods. The parties, two brothers named Owen and Jonathan Clive, were already very much willing to find a compromise all on their own, therefore Kate didn't have to be an active participant of the discussion all that much.
Which was fortunate indeed, since Kate's thoughts weren't focused on the task at hand, but rather on the occupant of the office next to hers. He was reading a file, seemingly, staring in intervals at the computer screen, his brilliant mind bent on the details of a case and making as much money as possible in consequence. Kate was somehow bothered with the thought that his eyes were fixed on a screen, instead of her face, his delicate fingers tapping along on the keyboard instead of drawing idle patterns on her back …
Kate felt her cheeks burning at her pre-teen thoughts and wished for the umpteenth time to find a switch for her mind, to help her focus.
"Ms Reed?" Kate was brought back to the present and startled out of her thoughts.
"We're finished. Thank you so much for letting us sort it out all by ourselves. We really appreciate your silent support!" Owen was smiling pleasantly at her.
Kate searched for irony in the voice or face of her client. Upon finding none, she smiled in return, reached out a hand, and said while shaking hands: "Always glad to be of service. If all our clients were this cooperative, the world would be a better place."
"And you would be out of a job." Jonathan shrewdly pointed out, a smile flashing on his face, to smoothen the sting of his words.
"Yeah, probably, but I'd find something to keep me occupied anyway, no worries!" Kate didn't take offense easily, especially when her capabilities weren't necessary, but still paid for.
"All right gentlemen, thank you for settling this so quickly and efficiently. It's been a pleasure, and that's rare in my business!" Kate led the two brothers out, and returned to her office to drop the files on her desk.
Her gaze strayed to Ben's office. She could see him sitting at his desk, just as absorbed in something on his screen as she had pictured him. She was studying his features intensely, lost in thoughts about this obnoxious man who seemed to know her so well, but, to her, was still India. The unknown subcontinent.
Kate wondered if he even was aware of how much he tipped her off balance? - She would bet anything that yes, he was. And that he was enjoying every minute of it. And she began to enjoy it, too.
'Yes, he can make a bet like this with me anytime.' Kate blushed again at her far from decent thoughts towards her co-worker. The attraction she felt for him could not be denied, and the strength of it scared her more than a little. How had he gotten under her skin that easily (and fast, by the way)?
Heart pounding, head swirling, she knew a headache was coming. There still was some unfinished paperwork to do, but with this distracted mind, she wouldn't be finishing anything anyway. She needed some fresh air. Yes! Fresh air sounded nice. But where to get it?
Her window? – No, not enough peace and solitude.
The street? – No, too busy. And 'fresh air'? Disputable.
Roof? – Quiet, plenty of fresh air, easy access – perfect.
Kate seldom had been on the roof of the Reed & Reed building. In fact it was Ben who kind of showed her the place, after having closed a case once.
They had talked then, shortly. Ben had told her about his fiancée, that she had cheated on him, like Justin did to Kate. "Watching you, it was like looking into a mirror", Ben had said.
But his reactions were entirely different to hers. Kate had withdrawn and licked her wounds, whereas Ben had retaliated mercilessly. Kate remembered clearly the shiver that story had sent through her. It had frightened and repulsed her. Yet she had had to fight the urge to hug him, to comfort him.
The roof though was as peaceful as she remembered it. The surroundings weren't very fancy, but all she craved for was a bit of fresh air to clear her head. Only ten minutes, and then she'd go back.
Standing at the wall on the one end facing the city, Kate inhaled deeply. She already felt calmer.
She wished her mom was here. Kate missed her, being able to talk to her about anything. Boy trouble wasn't that much of a topic when her mom had died, but Kate was sure that she would have been great to talk to about that, too. Kate felt her eyes water at the thought that she would have liked to gossip about boys with her mom.
She was deeply immersed in her memories and didn't realize someone had joined her on the roof until he was standing right behind her.
"Is the prospect of spending the evening with me this disturbing that you're going to jump off the roof?" Ben drawled with a definite sarcastic tone to his voice.
Kate nearly jumped over the wall when she heard Ben speak up.
"Ben! You almost gave me a heart attack!" She slung her arms around herself and stepped aside, retreating to the other end of the terrace.
"You're cold." Ben stated and took off his suit coat, followed her and put it gently around her shoulders. He let his hands rest on her shoulders a moment longer than necessary, but upon sensing her whole body tense to his touch, he let her go and lowered his hands to his side. He missed her warmth instantly.
"I'm afraid, too, Katie." Ben whispered softly. "It's OK to feel insecure and confused. You're not alone in that."
"Oh, am I not?" Kate draped his suit coat tighter around herself, breathing in his scent and cologne clinging to his clothing, yet afraid that he'd move closer.
"What do you know about how I feel, anyway?"
"I just know, Katie." he sighed.
Kate turned to face him and gave him a searching look. Who was this man? What did he want? And why was he so eager to pursue her? She didn't get it.
"Ben, what do you want?" she whispered.
At this precise moment, she locked eyes with him and saw the answer. He looked at her with the same longing and desire that surged through her. She was at once reminded of their kiss earlier that day, and the combination of that look in his eyes, his scent, by which she was surrounded by his suit coat and Ben himself, the body heat she could feel in waves coming towards her form his body so close to her, caused a sensory overload.
Something inside her snapped. Her own feelings ran away with her, and this time, it was her who initiated the kiss.
She grabbed his shirt and pulled him towards her, lips already parted, craving his touch.
He responded eagerly, wasting no time in invading her mouth with his tongue, and sliding his hands around her tiny frame, pressing her flush against his body.
Their tongues met, dancing around each other, teasing, tasting, flirting with the wet, hot muscle, angling their heads to get better access. While their kiss this morning was tentative and exploring, this one was plundering and ravishing, letting both their passion run wild.
Kate mussed up his hair, and rejoiced in the feel of his firm hands around her body. She gripped his chin with one hand, cupping it gently, and slid her hand further up his face to his neck to bring him even closer to her.
Their mouths fused, tongues battling, blotting everything else out, until breathing became a necessity which could not be ignored any longer.
They slowly, reluctantly let go and looked at each other.
"We seem to do that a lot lately. Better to move that to the appropriate location, instead of a draughty roof. Seven be more convenient to you?" Ben asked, still slightly dazed.
Kate nodded in response. There was no way that she could talk right now.
A/N 2: I'm not that happy about this chapter, particularly about the middle part. I lost the flow somehow, and I hope I got it back sufficiently for the story to remain interesting for you.
I hope you like it anyway.