“So you are still alive!”
I flinch at the irritated voice that came out of nowhere. I was so engrossed in sorting out Luke’s schedule for this afternoon that I didn’t notice how Lauren showed up next to my desk. I look up into her angry face. She glares at Ben and me, arms crossed in front of her chest, tapping her foot.
I gasp, “Damn, Lauren! I’m sorry. I totally forgot to call you. Can you forgive me?”
Lauren shakes her head and takes a deep breath. But then the corners of her lips lift a tiny bit. “Ugh, I can’t be mad at you for long, but I still want an explanation.” She points a finger at Ben and then at me. “And you!” she growls as she smacks Ben’s head. “Don’t you dare hang up on me ever again.”
Ben suppresses a grin. “Sorry, no offense meant.”
Lauren snorts theatrically. “Yes, blah blah. So, what is this here?”
My eyes meet Ben’s. We can’t hide from Lauren what happened. At least not everything.
Ben smirks at Lauren and clears his throat. “Uhm – we like each other.”
Lauren stares at him for a moment before she bursts out laughing. “Oh, thank the heavens! I have to say, I’m relieved. All this sexual tension was getting unbearable.”
Of course, I blush scarlet while Ben laughs. Idiot!
Lauren turns and makes her way back to the elevator. “Okay, kids, I have to get to work. Behave!” She raises her finger before she disappears again.
Ben looks at me with wide eyes. “Wow, I thought she’d ask more questions.”
I scratch my head. “Hm, maybe she doesn’t have any and just accepts the facts.”
As soon as I’ve said that, my phone vibrates, and I have to laugh when I read Lauren’s text: “I want all the details! Lunch later?"
“It seems the interrogation begins at noon,” I sigh.
And that’s precisely what happens. Before I can even take the first bite of my sandwich, Lauren bombards me with questions. “How on earth did this happen? Wasn’t he telling you that he needed more time? And what happened after you were gone? How many times?”
I almost choke on my food and look at her wide-eyed. “You’re not expecting me to tell you that, are you?”
Lauren crosses her arms and glares at me. “Of course. I expected to hear from you yesterday. You left me hanging, and now I need answers.” She glares at me some more, but then her features soften, and she actually smiles. “Ah damn, I still can’t be mad at you.” She excitedly claps her hands. “I’m so happy for you two. Please give me some juicy details.”
Images of Ben and me together flash through my mind, and I have to cough nervously, and of course, I blush. “He came after me when I left the club, and I kinda yelled at him and told him to leave me alone.”
Lauren grins. “But he didn’t? He followed you to your place?”
She sighs dreamily and puts her hand on her chest over her heart. “Aw, that’s so sweet. Him going after you, probably realizing that he was gonna lose you if he didn’t act...”
I laugh. “That’s not really how it went.”
She looks at me with raised eyebrows. “Then how?”
“At first, he apologized and told me again he didn’t want to rush things, and he didn’t want to lose me as a friend. I told him I didn’t want to be friends, that I wanted more. And then I kissed him.”
Lauren’s eyes widen. “You kissed him first? Wow, I didn’t think you had it in you.” She laughs and winks at me.
I look at her with a frown. “Hey! I can be audacious.”
Lauren laughs harder. “Obviously. So, after he decided it was okay to rush into things after all, you got down to business?”
“Well, yeah.” A shy smile spreads across my face, and I avert my eyes.
“Aw, look at you. You’re one smitten kitten. How I wish I would meet a guy who can bring a smile like that to my face.”
Smitten kitten? I want to protest, but at the same time, I know she’s right. I’m so infatuated with Ben and the things he makes me feel just by looking at me. The passion and the burning intensity when he touches me make me lose my mind, and the way my whole body tingles by just hearing him whisper my name drives me just as insane. A part of me is craving for more of that. And that part is much louder right now than the part that is screaming at me to fucking take it slow.
One hour earlier than usual, Ben and I finish work. As promised, we take a stroll through Central Park.
“Now tell me how your lunch with Lauren went.” Ben grins at me as we sit down on a bench.
“Do you think that’s funny?” I glare at him.
Ben takes my hand and tenderly kisses my palm. “A little bit; I know Lauren.”
I chuckle. “She was pissed. To appease her, I had to give her all the details.”
Ben looks at me with a raised eyebrow. “All the details?”
Now I smile at him. “You mean, I shouldn’t have told her how horrible you are in bed?”
Ben opens and closes his mouth a few times, probably looking for a witty comeback. I’m already waiting for his stupid comment when he suddenly puts his hand around my face and pulls me toward him to kiss me passionately.
I hear a moan and realize that it was me. Luckily, I’m sitting. Otherwise, I would probably melt into a puddle on the ground.
Ben pulls back an inch and breathes in my ear, “I remember you begging for more in that bed. And in the shower, and–”
I push Ben away, or at least I try, but of course, he doesn’t budge. “Ben! I don’t beg.”
“Oh, you don’t? I’d like to prove otherwise.”
My phone interrupts our conversation, and I need a moment to collect myself. The memory of our night together makes my heart race and my body temperature rise.
I look at my phone and answer with a heavy sigh. “Hey, Aaron!” I don’t really want to talk to him now.
“Amy, hey! Am I interrupting anything?”
I look at Ben, who has moved away from me somewhat annoyed. “Well, I’m on the go.”
“I just wanted to hear if you’re okay. You never called me back.”
“Yeah, sorry, I was – uhm – busy. But I’m fine.”
“Are you sure? You were pretty down on Saturday, and I can’t help but feel like that’s because of my brother.”
I sigh. “Thanks for your concern, but it’s all good. Your brother is sitting next to me.”
Silence. I wonder if Aaron is still on the line when he speaks again. “Okay, that’s surprising. Does that mean he wasn’t his usual self and threw himself at you?”
“No, I did the throwing.”
Aaron laughs out loud. “Ah, you’re something else, Amy! Should my brother screw it up, please, call me.”
“Don’t wait for it, Aaron. Go and have fun; woo someone else.”
“I’m having a great time. And I’m patient.”
“All right. Aaron, I have to go.”
“Break up with my brother?”
I gasp. “Seriously? I’m hanging up.” And that’s what I do. I throw my phone into my bag and turn to Ben. “Your brother is unbelievable.”
Ben sighs and puts his arm around my shoulder. “I told you, you have awakened his hunting instinct.”
“And he doesn’t care at all that I’m interested in someone else, who also happens to be his brother?”
“Oh no. Maybe that even spurs him on.” Ben looks at me for a moment with a smile and puts a strand of hair behind my ear. It only takes this gentle touch to awaken the butterflies in my stomach. I close my eyes and lean my head on his shoulder.
Ben chuckles as he presses me closer to him. “So you’re interested in me? Even though I’m so bad in bed?”
I lift my head and look at him. “Sex isn’t everything. Besides, you can still practice.”
He nods. “Ah, yes.” He lowers his head so his mouth can reach my neck where he presses a soft kiss to that spot just below my ear. I directly melt away and snuggle up to him, moaning softly.
Ben chuckles. “It’s funny how the words from your sweet mouth don’t match your body language.”
I sigh. “Hm, yeah, funny. My body obviously has a different opinion of your skills. But maybe I’m just trying to talk some sense into me because you’re so ... addictive. I don’t know what it is that you’re doing to me.”
“At least the feeling is mutual.” Ben smiles at me before his lips find mine again.
I feel like I have to pinch myself to see if I’m awake at all because this still seems like a dream. The thought that Ben is just as into me as I am into him seems totally surreal. And even though I was sure I didn’t need a man anymore to make me feel happy, I am just that.
After a while, we get up from the bench and stroll through Central Park some more before Ben has to go visit his dad.
When Ben takes my hand and laces his fingers with mine, I think again that it feels like I’ve known him for much longer than just two weeks, and I already can’t wait until I have him all to myself again.