Princess - *Book One*

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A little while later, we’re sitting at my kitchen table, and I study Ben over the rim of my coffee mug. I could stare at him like this all day long, even if it’s just watching him eat pancakes. My gaze falls on his lips, the same lips that did all those incredible things to me last night and this morning. And before I know it, a small sigh escapes me.

Ben lifts his gaze and raises an eyebrow when he catches me staring. “What?”

“Hm, nothing,” I mumble while I keep my eyes on him.

He raises the other eyebrow. “Yes, of course. A woman never says nothing and means it.”

“Okay, you’re right,” I laugh. “I was reminiscing.”

Ben chuckles and finishes the last bites of his breakfast. And while I keep watching him like some hopeless addict, a thought pops up in my head. “Hey, uhm – I was wondering–” I clear my throat. “Did you believe that I would fall for Aaron’s charms?”

Ben lowers his gaze and scratches his head. “I don’t know. When emotions are involved, there is no such thing as rational thinking.” He looks at me again. “I was hoping you wouldn’t succumb to his charms and good looks because I know how charming he can be. And I’ve seen many hearts break.”

I chuckle. “You realize you look very much alike when you talk about his good looks, right?”

Ben grins. “I don’t see it that way. We are such different characters that it doesn’t occur to me to think of it like that.” He leans closer to me. “So that means you didn’t choose me for my good looks?”

I bite my lips to hold in a laugh. “I’m inclined to say I have chosen you in spite of your looks,” I tell him with the straightest face I can manage. “But that would be a lie because you’re fucking hot.”

Ben laughs out loud, and what a beautiful sound it is that raises my already good mood even more.

“But to me, you are much more attractive than your brother,” I continue. “I’m sure that Aaron has no trouble getting any woman he wants, whether she wants it or not. But you – you’re respectful.”

Ben studies me silently for a while. His eyes are gentle, and a delicate smile plays on his lips. “Why do I always have the feeling we’ve known each other for much longer than two weeks?”

I shrug. “We spend a lot of time together at work, much more than other couples that are getting to know each other.”

Again, Ben looks at me without saying anything, and suddenly, I realize what I’ve just said. Did I really call ourselves a couple? I cover my face with my hands to hide the blush that suffuses my cheeks. “Uh, I mean – well–” I stammer.

Ben takes my hands in his. “I know what you mean,” he says in a low voice.

I grimace. “I know you want to take it slow, and honestly, that’s fine with me. I don’t know what you do to me. When I moved to New York, it was the last thing on my mind to let a new man into my life.”

Ben leads one of my hands to his mouth and kisses it gently. “Hey, we have all the time in the world.”

“So that means we don’t have to move in together in two weeks, plan our wedding in a month, and find names for our children by Christmas?”

He grins. “Only if you want to.” He puts his hand on my cheek and leans closer to kiss me tenderly.

“Good to know,” I sigh as I rest my forehead against his. “But for now, I’m more than happy to take one small step at a time.”

Ben smirks. “You have to admit there aren’t many steps left after the hot and wild sex.”

Ben’s words and his matching look make me blush yet again.

“If anyone saw you like that, they’d think you’re shy,” he laughs.

“I am. In a way...”

Ben moves even closer to me and gently kisses my neck which elicits another soft moan from me. I feel Ben’s lips stretch in a smile. “And who was that in your bed last night? Because that was someone who is not shy at all.”

I put my hands around his face and lead his mouth to mine. I breath on his lips, “I hardly recognize myself. You stirred something in me that I didn’t know was there.”

“I like this side of you.” He closes the last inch between us and kisses me, tenderly at first, then he deepens the kiss, seeking my tongue with his. Again, I can’t hold back a moan and a not so quiet one this time because my whole body reacts to his kiss.

Ben pulls me from my chair over to his lap so that my legs are wrapped around his hips as far as the chair allows. Heat rushes through my body that screams for his touch, making me want to rip my clothes off. Or rather, Ben’s clothes.

As if he could read my mind, he puts his hands under my shirt, pushes it up and pulls it over my head. He kisses his way down my neck to my bra. He strokes my already hard nipples through the thin fabric, and I start to grind my hips. I hear a deep hum as he puts his hands on my butt and presses me closer to him. I feel Ben’s arousal, but just as I want to open his pants, his phone rings. I freeze and want to back away, but Ben holds on to me. “Ignore it.” He kisses me again and guides my hands back to his pants. “Keep going.”

I open the belt buckle and try to concentrate on what I’m doing, but Ben’s phone won’t stop ringing. “Don’t you have voicemail?” I groan.

“I do. Just leave it.”

And indeed, the ringing stops, but just as I want to continue, it starts ringing again. I sigh and lean back. “Please, answer it; it must be important.”

I get up and give Ben his phone. He takes it and curses before he answers it. “Yes?” He listens for a while before his eyes darken slightly. “Okay, I’ll be there as fast as I can.”

He hangs up and looks at me apologetically. “I’m sorry, Princess. I have to go. That was Aaron; our dad is in hospital.”

I frown. “Oh no! What happened?”

“I’m not sure. He fell down the stairs. Aaron found him and took him to the hospital. He’s being examined.” He gets up and gathers his things while I get dressed again. Before he leaves, he comes over and kisses me hard and passionately. My knees are wobbly, and I cling to him so I don’t collapse. “Don’t forget where we were,” he says hoarsely. “We’ll continue that soon.”

I nod and mouth “Okay” before Ben disappears.

Once he’s gone, I drop down on my sofa and let out a long breath. Wow, what an awesome night this has been! For the rest of the day, I try not to think about Ben too much, but I fail miserably.

I receive a text from him in the late afternoon, saying that his dad was doing well considering the circumstances. He wasn’t injured too badly, just a few bruises. But the reason for his fall was probably his heart. And he is still struggling with diabetes that he was diagnosed with not too long ago. They need to examine him some more, and his medication probably needs to be adjusted. Ben and Aaron are still with him, so I’ll see Ben at work tomorrow.

It’s a little stupid how I miss him. Now that I’ve had a taste of him, I can’t get enough. I try to make sense of this whole thing between us because I have no idea what has gotten into me. After everything I’ve been through with the last man in my life, I should be a little more cautious. But when it comes to Ben, everything shuts off in my brain.

And what did Ben mean, this happened to him before? What exactly?

But my biggest problem is my past. I tried to put everything behind me, and because I’m still working on that, I feel like I’m hiding something from Ben. I should have told him about it right away because now I feel like it might come between us at some point. But I’m not ready yet, and the thought of telling him the truth scares the shit out of me.

I mull over this for the rest of the evening, but when I finally lie down in bed and close my eyes, all I can think of is seeing Ben again soon.

The next morning, I arrive at the Wilson & Partner building a solid hour early. As I pass the reception desk, I suddenly remember that I forgot to call Lauren back. She’s not here yet, so I’ll text her as soon as I’m at my desk.

Some employees are already at work, but they are all from other departments, so when I enter my floor, I see no one around. But when I turn the corner, I stop in my tracks. Only one person is sitting at his desk and working – Ben. I grin and try to keep my heartbeat and breathing under control. Impossible.

As if he also noticed the sudden rise in temperature, he lifts his head. The surprise on his face gives way to a grin that must be very similar to mine. “What are you doing here?” he asks.

I walk up to him and stop next to his desk. “I could ask you the same thing.”

He chuckles. “I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I might as well come here.”

I have to grin even wider. “Same here.”

Ben gets up and stands in front of me. He takes my hands, intertwines our fingers, and looks around. “This does have one advantage,” he whispers even though we’re alone. “There is no one here who could see us.”

“See us doing what?”

He pulls me close to him with a smile. “This.” He puts his lips on mine for a soft and gentle kiss, and I run my fingers through his hair. He pulls me even closer and deepens the kiss.

Much too soon for my liking, he takes a step back. “Good morning, Princess. I missed you.”

“Good Morning. I missed you too.”

He gives me another quick kiss and sits back down at his desk.

I sit down too. “How’s your dad?”

“He’s okay. He’s still a bit off track, but he’ll be fine once they get his medication in order.”

“That’s good.”

“Yes. You can’t knock him down that easily.”

I think about what it must have been like to take care of Ben and Aaron. I know that the three of them are not very close after what the boys did during their teenage years, but Ben said his dad is the only family he and his brother have, so they always stick together somehow.

“Okay,” Ben interrupts my thoughts, “shall we just pretend we’re working?”

I laugh. “Good idea, because there’s Luke.”

Ben turns his head and sees our stunned boss approaching.

“Good morning, you two,” Luke says as he comes to a stop next to our desks. “Why are you in so early? Don’t you have anything better to do than to be at work at this time?” He laughs and winks at me.

I feel the blush rise in my face. “Uh, yeah – I mean – Ben and I have to leave a little earlier today; we have plans – well, he has plans, and I have different plans,” I ramble.

Luke looks at me for a moment as if I’ve lost my mind.

Ben tries to save me from the embarrassing situation. “What Amy wants to say is I have to go visit my dad; he’s in the hospital. And Amy–”

“I have a dentist’s appointment,” I interrupt and hold my cheek theatrically.

Luke looks back and forth between Ben and me. “Okay, well, if that’s the case, I don’t want to keep you from working any longer.” He leaves towards his office with one last glance at us.

When he is gone, I exhale with relief. Ben laughs. “Princess, you have to work on your facial color when you’re lying.”

I put my hands around my face. “Did I blush that bad?”

“You look like a tomato. But don’t worry; thanks to you, we can leave earlier today,” he says with a wink.

I chuckle. “Yeah. So are you really going to visit your dad?”

“Yes, I wanted to stop by the hospital before my class tonight.”

I suddenly feel a slight sting in the pit of my stomach. Disappointment? Did I hope that we would spend the evening together? Obviously.

Ben seems to notice that. “Hey, don’t frown. I’ll invite you to some ice cream in Central Park after work, okay?”

I smile at him. “Sure, right after my dentist’s appointment.”

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