Fairly Legal - Fast learner
Ben was mad at her, because she kept a secret. And Kate Reed never kept a secret.
Hm? Mine? Nope. If it was, I'd continue the TV Series.
Rating T for language and romantic scenes, no smut.
A/N: Sorry for the delay, guys. I'm somewhat intimidated by the great stories written here about FL, that I'm shy to return to my own. I find I enjoy reading more than writing, I guess. :P
I'm sorry if I use incorrect law terms. Please correct me whenever necessary.
Thank you for your reviews, they keep me going.
Side note: End of chapter might turn into M territory. Fair warning, guys.
His first scotch burned all the way down to his stomach. Ben was confident that the ones following this one would be more pleasant, but the first nearly scorched his throat.
His mind was galloping like a horse gone wild. His twisted fantasy provided him with every scenario imaginable featuring Kate and Brandon, one worse than the other. He couldn't stop, so he was set to numb his mind (and his feelings) with alcohol.
He had just poured in his second glass, when a knock on the door interrupted his mind going downhill.
He opened the door without bothering to look through the spy hole. When he stood face to face with Kate, he wished he had.
Before he could say "Shoo!", Kate hurled at him: "There's nothing going on with Brandon McTiernan and me. Nothing romantically, that is.", and whirled like a fragrant tornado past him into his apartment.
When she stood some feet away from his kitchen counter, she turned on her heel, and looked him straight in the eye, challenging him to contradict her statement.
Ben blinked, and looked back her. "No?", his voice full of disbelief.
"Look, Ben", Kate said, changing to a pleading tone, "I – I can't tell you what's going on. It's purely business, I swear."
Ben cocked his head, still looking her in the eyes, his question evident.
"Yes," Kate conceded, "we met over lunch several times, and we talked about a location, and he's a really nice guy - for a rich media mogul, that is. I haven't told anyone, because it's kind of a secret. His business proposal had me intrigued on first sight, and when he presented me with a document to sign, I didn't look closely enough. It included a confidential agreement, not allowing me to talk about it. To anyone. Not even my partners at Reed & Reed."
Kate caught the disbelieving look in Ben's eyes, and said somewhat exasperated:
"Yes, I went to law school, and even if I hadn't, I *know* it's foolish to sign what I haven't read properly. But it's been done, and now I can't talk about it."
"Why have you been embarrassed when I got the news today?" Against his better judgment, he found himself taking an interest in her explanation, 'no romance' being the key words.
Kate blushed furiously and looked at her feet again. "Um."
"Come on Kate, it can't be that bad." Ben chuckled, taking great pleasure in Kate's embarrassment.
"Hmmm…forthemoney." Kate mumbled, her voice extremely low.
"Excuse me, what was that? I didn't quite catch that." Ben put a hand behind his ear, leaning towards her, to better catch what he believed must be the confession of the century.
"I am doing it for the money!" Kate shouted. "There you have it, the pure Kate Reed has descended from her high horse and is lowered to the stage of mere mortals! Now, make fun of me. Go ahead." Arms crossed, Kate looked like a pouting 4 year old. Ben thought she was adorable.
"High horse? So that's how look upon yourself. Holy throne, more like… Have to keep that in mind for future reference." Ben couldn't resist teasing her, but continued requiring answers. "Why is having lunch with this man making any money?" Ben felt his spirits lift. There was an innocent explanation for it all, it seemed. 'But be careful, Ben', he thought. 'Don't get your hopes too high.'
Kate let her arms sink, sighed heavily and braced herself.
"OK, I'll tell you." She pointed a threatening finger at him. "But you'll have to swear to keep it secret! Until Monday, or I'll get into serious trouble. I mean it!" She added, when Ben furrowed his brows and couldn't suppress a disbelieving smile.
"Very well. You have my word." He assured her despite his doubts that the case required this severe approach.
"Don't joke about it. It's about a lot of money. A LOT. And for Reed & Reed, it could mean lawsuit, claim for damages, and all that could cost a whole wagonload of money instead of making it!"
Kate took a deep breath before continuing. She knew she could trust Ben with this secret. He'd never tell.
"So, it is about a merger between two of the major media channels in the US. McTiernan wants to take over his competition. His company being #1, the other #5 on the market. He wants to make it for the employees as smooth as possible, and so he bade me to pre-negotiate the terms. But it's all so super confidential, he's scared stiff that if anything gets to the press, there'd be a huge shitstorm."
Ben nodded his understanding. So this was what it was about. A confidentiality agreement? If he had been in McTiernan's position, he'd have made Kate sign it with her blood, and even then would not have trusted her to keep it. Everyone who had met Kate would know that.
His insides grew cold.
Yes, everyone knowing Kate would not trust her with a secret. So why did McTiernan?
"Kate, you're aware that McTiernan may well be acquainted with Bob Mahoney? You remember him, the friend of your father's, the very one we pissed off some months ago? You're sure this whole affair isn't just a setup to get back to us? Reed & Reed would be ruined if McTiernan sued us."
Kate blanched shortly at this possibility.
"No." She said slowly. "I don't think it's a ruse to push us into bankruptcy. McTiernan seemed genuine to me, as was his proposal. Business proposal!" She quickly corrected herself, when she noticed Ben's scowl. "He has more to lose if he made his affairs public."
"Only if he does so before the thing goes public anyway." Ben pointed out.
"Well, it's a good thing I'm a better liar than you are." Kate wanted to protest, but he overruled her. "Face it, Kate, you may have spidey senses when it comes to liars, but you yourself are a better listener than you are talker, i.e. liar. So, if it should come to it, and you're asked if you told anyone before you were allowed to, I'll do the talking."
Kate opened her mouth to speak, but no sound came out. No one had ever spoken to her like this before, like she was a child, and she didn't like it one bit.
"Ben, I don't think –" she started to express her anger, but Ben's thoughts were whirling to the next unsolved question.
"And you went along with this blatant threat to a free and independent press because…?" Ben prompted. His composure made it abundantly clear that he wouldn't budge until he got his answers.
Kate was well aware, sighed, and went on to explain. "I have seen the performance of #5. It's going downhill, fast. If they aren't taken over, they'll go down. Many families without income, in an already tough market. It's the lesser of two evils."
"And you're picking out locations to celebrate the death of independent media, or is this unrelated to Brandon saving the day for countless people?" Ben couldn't hide his sarcasm if he tried. He was surprised that Kate would agree to such a plan. Was she really that naïve?
"No, the location is about something completely different. He wants to marry his long term girlfriend, and since I told him I was married, he asked me for advice how to best propose to her. In fact, tomorrow we'll meet to discuss the final details. Oh Ben, you should see him when he's talking about her! His whole face lights up, he is *really* handsome, and it's just so romantic – "
"So, to sum this up." Ben interrupted, not wanting to hear Kate positively swooning over another man, who was to get married, for god's sake, and taking a step towards her. "You met with this guy only to pre-mediate a merger, and to give tips how to get married."
"Yes, that about covers it." Kate said. "So, exactly which part made you uncomfortable and jealous?" She gave him a sly glance, watching him carefully, and with a small smile at the corners of her mouth.
Ben all at once felt awkward. He had acted like a fool, had jumped to conclusions, without having any real information to go by. Hell, he had even shown clearly his annoyance when Kate was talking too fondly of this guy. He was losing his touch, but he couldn't let that happen, so he tried to turn the tables.
"Why were you storming into my apartment to tell me this, by the way?"
Kate looked up to him as if he had gone crazy. "Because you are my friend, you seemed quite upset about the whole affair, and I thought you should know." she deadpanned, but wasn't planning on letting him off the hook that easily." Which part did you feel uncomfortable with, Benedict?", she repeated and took a step closer, leaving only an inch between them. "Jealous, even?"
"The merger part?" She said with a sultry voice, running her hands up and down his chest. It wasn't lost on her that he had relaxed considerably when she had mentioned the pure business relationship with McTiernan. How could Ben believe even for a second that she could be interested in such a man, was beyond her. So she prodded and teased him a bit more. It was just too much fun. He got under her skin often enough, so a chance to retaliate wouldn't go unused by her.
"Or the romance part?" Kate looked up to him, a sweet smile on her face, hand still on his broad chest, which was radiating heat, his face close to hers, with fire in his eyes that went straight to her insides. His scent surrounded her, and with a sudden hitch in her breath, she was aware of his presence, near her own. She had foolishly stepped into his personal space, to tease him. But she had overlooked that he was also in hers.
Suddenly, she felt her face grow warm, and her hands trembled slightly. The look on her face changed from playful to nervous when she saw the look his eyes, which was not embarrassed anymore.
It was predatory.
She felt his heartbeat under her hands, which had increased considerably. She looked down, breaking eye contact and sought for a way to end her own embarrassment.
"OK then. See you tomorrow for dinner? You remember, curry chicken?" Her tone was light, and she let her hands sink to her side. 'This is dangerous.' Kate thought. Better run off home, to safety. Her own heart at begun beating faster, and her head began to whirl. Perhaps it was her foggy mind which let her do the next thing.
She stood on tiptoe and kissed him on the cheek.
"Good night Ben."
Her intention was to withdraw, and make a graceful exit. She stepped around him, and headed for the door, sure to have him confused enough to slip out quickly.
Ben had other plans. The second she was close to him, he wanted her even closer. Her playful smile, her hands on his chest, and the look in her eyes showed him what he wanted. He wanted her.
And that kiss was the final straw.
"Did nobody teach you a proper good night kiss?" he whispered, and his hand tugged on hers, bringing her back to him in one fluid motion. Both were at once reminded of the other occasion at the elevator he had tugged at her hand to bring her back to him, and Ben fully intended to have his lips on hers again. It had been too long, anyway.
So he tugged, until he had her securely in his arms, and this time, she didn't bend back, but looked at him with doe-like eyes and slightly parted lips.
"Look here." He breathed, and took her mouth in a searing, passionate kiss. He immediately let his tongue slip out to coax her to open her mouth for him, and she complied instantly. Her hands circled his neck, whereas his hands went around her to pull her closer. They met in a tight embrace, lips locked, tongues playing, dancing around each other.
Ben tilted his head to gain even better access to the silken interior of her mouth, and deepened the kiss. Both moaned at the intimate contact and the heavenly sensation of having the other close, touching with bodies, lips and tongues, surrounded by tender arms which served to locking them together in a perfect fit.
His hands roamed her body, a mirror image of what she had done to him, only less playful, but much more insistent, letting her know that he was in no mood to let go anytime soon.
When breathing finally became a necessity, they parted slowly, reluctantly, and only for mere inches. Both were gasping for air.
"Well," Kate murmured, still hazed from the passion she felt in Ben's arms. "So that's what you call a good night kiss."
"Yeah." Ben smiled, happy beyond measure that she didn't immediately pull away.
"Let's see if I learned my lesson well." Kate purred, and brought their heads together again, her eyes focused on his lips.
This time, it was her who invaded his mouth, so he grew bolder. His hand glided to the hem of her shirt and started to caress the bare skin of her back. She shivered under his touch, and intensified her pull on him. She raked her fingers through his hair, pressed her chest with hardened nipples against his and relished in the hard evidence of his desire for her.
They kissed hungrily, tasting the other deeply, hands frantically exploring their bodies, both in a haze to feel as much as possible.
"Kate." He breathed against her lips, trailing his mouth to her collarbone, her neck, her shoulders and back up again. "I want you." He whispered in her ear, his hand drawing tender patterns on her back. Her shirt was halfway up by now, he wanted it off, wanted to see her in all her glory, beneath or on top of him, he didn't care. She was driving him crazy. He needed her in his bed, now.
Ben's kiss at the elevator had been nothing compared to the sensual onslaught Kate was experiencing now. Everywhere he touched her, her skin tingled wonderfully, and she wanted to have this delicious sensation everywhere on her body. She whimpered in protest when he backed off a bit, to look into her eyes.
"Kate." He repeated, waiting for her answer.
Kate leaned towards him, craving more contact, completely overwhelmed by her desire for him. She pressed her abdomen against his, rolling her hips into his, and took his face into both of her hands.
Kissing, him she forgot everything else around them, only remotely aware that Ben picked her up and carried her to his bedroom.
He kicked the door shut with his foot and laid Kate gently on the soft covers.
The next morning, Ben woke up to a smiling Kate.
"Hey." He blinked at her. Was this real, or was he still dreaming?, he wondered idly.
"Hey yourself." Kate reached out to trace his lips with her fingers.
He reached up, and put a hand behind her head to pull her down for a quick kiss.
"Hm. Seems to me I have to teach you a proper good morning kiss." Kate said softly.
"What about morning breath?" Ben joked, but only half.
"I don't mind." Kate murmured. "And now shut up and pay attention."
"Oh, I assure you, I'm a fast learner, too." Ben smiled, encircling her in his arms and prepared to get the most enjoyable lesson of his life.
The term "fragrant tornado" taken from Rita Mae Brown's "Six of One", meant as a humble homage.
That's it, guys! Hope you liked it.