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Pizza As An Excuse

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It’s been a long day, the kind where you just want to come home and collapse in an inelegant heap. The last few days have been a blur; your new job, while definitely a step up from the last, has had you out at introductory drinks with assorted people almost every night. There was certainly a buzz, meeting some pretty famous people, but the late nights are catching up and you’ve never been more grateful for a day off in your life. Now you’re finally back to your building, the relaxation can begin. Letting yourself in the still unfamiliar security takes a few moments, and it isn’t until you’re approaching your flat door you realise something is a little off. You stop, listening to the cheerful male voice that appears to be singing off key and loudly from your kitchen. From. Your. Kitchen.

“What the hell?” you think to yourself. A shot of adrenaline sparks your fight-or-flight reflex, but as you turn to leave, something makes you wonder what sort of thief (or worse) would stop for a spot of karaoke whilst lying in wait? You stand in the hallway, keys in hand for an agonising moment before a door opens.

“Mrs. Stubbs!” you gasp in relief. You’ve only lived here a few weeks but she’s the sort of neighbour that invited herself over as you moved in, fussing over you and making sure you know how to work the oven. She’s a bit nosy, but kind, and you have a sneaky suspicion that she spies out her peephole at you to check on you as you come and go.

“That your young man?” she exclaims, managing to look coy and leery at the same time.
“I don’t have a young man.” you reply in shock. Seeing the unease bloom on her face, you realise...

“Mrs. Stubbs, did you let someone into my flat?” The alarm is evident in your voice, though it’s now hushed. She nods hard, eyes wide and apologetic.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. He was so handsome and charming, he said it was a surprise!” she twitters, hands twisting in anguish. 
You fight the annoyance - she was trying to be helpful, after all - and offer her a strained smile. “Well he seems to be making himself at home, whomever he is,” you say.

Mrs. Stubbs frowns a little at this. “Well, of course, he was coming to make you dinner.” she says. You look at her blankly and she hastens to explain. “He had shopping bags of ingredients, that’s why I thought he was genuine, oh I’m so sorry...” she starts again.

“It’s fine, Mrs. S.” you assure her. Glancing at your door, the enthusiastic singing still coming strong, you swallow. “Look, I’m going to check it out. I’ll come and see you in five minutes. If I tell you he’s my brother, call the police, and if I don’t come out at all, call the police.” She nods mutely. Deep breath. Okay, having a plan makes you feel better - even if the plan is to rely on the woman who had let him into your flat in the first place. Flashing Mrs. S a smile designed to reassure both of you, you slide your key in the lock and turn it, the faltering song evidence the loud click had been heard in the flat. You open the door cautiously, but the singing resumes and for some reason that’s almost comforting. Surely nobody with nefarious intentions would keep singing, or start at all for that matter? You drop your bags in the bedroom on your left before venturing down the hallway, past the spare room and bathroom. The hallway opens out into a bright living area and kitchen, overlooking the tiny balcony. You stop dead, eyes fixed on the source of the singing, which stopped the moment you stepped into the room.

“Hi,” Rupert Graves says with a smile.

You blink, and he continues....”What are you doing?” you ask, feeling a bit stupid, but needing to put off the “What the hell are you doing in my flat?” portion of the conversation.

“Making you dinner,” he replied easily. He’s cutting vegetables, you can see, though your brain reminds you that this is hardly a relevant detail right now. Rupert is standing behind the kitchen bench, white shirt open at the neck, handling the knife with confidence. You definitely remember him being at one of the drinks evenings this week, but the conversations mix together in a haze of booze, music and new faces.

“Yes,” you reply belatedly, “but why?”

He grins a lopsided grin, white teeth flashing against tanned skin. “You invited me, darlin’.”  Your face must show your confusion because his smile fades a little and the knife stills. “Tuesday, remember we met at the Green Arms?” You nod. You know you were there, but most of the conversations were lost in the noise, and thereafter your memory. “You don’t remember, do you?” he asks, and you can see the awkward embarrassment flushing over his face.

“Well, I must have missed something at some point,” you say, offering a smile and sitting down, “because I did not expect to find you here.” Clearly he was not here to axe murder you, the least you could do was make him feel more comfortable. You weren’t going to call the...

“Hang on a sec!” you say, bolting up and out. You bang on Mrs. Stubbs’ door and she answers immediately, looking anxious. “Misunderstanding, Mrs S.” you tell her breathlessly. “He is most definitely not my brother.”
A smile breaks over her face and she winks at you.

“Well don’t stand out here talking to me!”  she replies delightedly. “Off you go!”

Rupert is still standing behind the counter when you return, looking half like he’s about to run off, if he doesn’t die of awkward embarrassment first.

“So I’m assuming that I invited you here at some point?” you ask, heart pounding as you open the fridge. He’s added a few things, but you brush past them to grab a beer and a cider. Offering him the beer brings back his smile, and you open both bottles before handing his over.

“There was a big conversation going on about cooking in general and I told you how my pizza is world famous.” Rupert explained, touching his bottle to yours before taking a long pull on it. You lean against the opposite counter, and he does the same, soft-looking denim clinging to narrow hips as he crosses his arms, voice now amused. “You said really, I told you I’d have to come over and cook for you sometime. You said sure, I asked ‘This Friday?” and you said yes.”
Rupert recites their conversation, and you cringe. It sounds like exactly the responses you would have given if the music had been so loud you couldn’t hear him. There was no way you'd ever be so forward, not with Rupert Graves, for goodness sake. Silver fox, all around gorgeous, and yet, here he was standing in your kitchen.

“Well I’d better come clean, then.” you say, making yourself look into his eyes. They’re lighter brown in real life - you can see the nuances of colour. “I couldn’t hear a word you were saying. But I’m glad you’re here,” you rush on, feeling the heat rise in your face. You could still scare him off, after all. He’s returning your gaze, making a decision, so you hold his eyes and allow the silence to stand. As you each drink from your respective bottles, you can see the condensation forming on his bottle, and feel in on yours. It seems to somehow connect you, this little shared experience. Cold drinks and warm hands.

“Well,” he says finally. “You didn’t call the cops on me.”  

“It was a near thing.” you reply wryly, and the tension is broken. “So pizza, then,” you say, ”Can I do anything to help?”

“The oven needs to go on,” he directs you, and you comply.

“Anything else?”

“Nope,” he says. “It wouldn’t be a true experience of my pizza if you helped, would it?”

You grin in reply and resume your seat opposite, watching him work. He’s done with the vegetables now, and cleans the bench before pulling a covered glass bowl towards himself.

“Dough from scratch?” you ask, impressed.

“It’s not as hard as it seems.” he says, peeking under the cloth. Nodding to himself he re-covers it. “Five more minutes.” he mutters. 

“My aunt had a friend,” he begins, unbuttoning the buttons at his wrists. You’re sure he keeps talking, telling you where he learned to make authentic pizza dough, but you’re entranced by the sight of him rolling up his sleeves. With each flick of his wrist, another few centimetres of skin is revealed, a startling contrast to the white shirt. The hair gracing his forearms matches that on his head - silver fox indeed, you think to yourself. Sleeves adjusted now at the elbow, you tune back into him.

“...and I’ve lost you there.” he concludes.

You immediately blush, cheeks hot with embarrassment. “Long day,” you admit, and he raises one eyebrow knowingly.

“Uh huh,” he replies and the scepticism is evident.

“Sorry,” you say quietly, and his hands, which had been sprinkling the bench with flour, still as he looks right at you.

“No problem,” he assures you just as quietly, the smile somehow smaller and more powerful at the same time. Butterflies take flight in your stomach and you smile back. There’s a moment there, definitely a moment, and both of you widen your smiles in response. He felt it too, you think.

“I might just go and get changed, if you don’t mind,” you tell him, finishing the last of your cider. “Allow you to maintain the mystery of the dough.”

“Take your time,” he laughs, and Rupert Graves looks very much at home in your kitchen as he reaches for another beer from the fridge.

+++

You change in record time, knowing that if you let yourself get nervous it will take you hours to select something to wear. In the end, it’s the old favourites - worn in jeans and a plain-ish top in a flattering colour. You check your general appearance without doing anything drastic hair and makeup wise – Rupert’s already seen you home from work, no need to go over the top.

When you return to the kitchen, he’s kneading the dough, exposed forearm muscles taut as he presses the heels of his hands into the dough. It’s mesmerising, and you take your seat quietly, repaying his brief smile as he returns his focus to the work quite literally at hand. It’s oddly comfortable, watching him work, and you can feel yourself relaxing as his strong fingers work the dough, repeating the motion over and over, coaxing it to pliancy.

“Done,” he says, finally, breaking it into two pieces.

He looks at you assessingly, making you ask, “What?”

“Well,” he replied, sounding a little reluctant, “do you want me to show you how to spin the dough? I mean I can’t take responsibility for the pizza at the end, of course, but if you want to have a go...”

“Definitely!” you reply immediately. He watches you move around the bench to stand beside him.
“Clean hands?” he asks in mock severity and you nod obligingly.

“Yes, Mr. Graves.” You chant like a schoolgirl. He offers a wickedly raised eyebrow and you wink back, sending you both into giggles. Rupert drizzles a little oil into the palm of his hand, and then yours, coating his hands all over. You copy self-consciously, hands now slick as you wait for instructions.

 “You need one hand underneath,” he watches as you do it, your own eyes on his hands as he does the same. You watch his hands deftly shift the dough, trying to copy but knowing you lack the easy grace of experience. 
“Oh!” you say, almost dropping the dough. He grins at you and puts his own down, bringing his hands up to guide you with your efforts. 

“That’s right, a little faster. Let it spin up. Go on.” he encourages and you can feel his eyes watching you as you concentrate. His hands are cool after washing before he handled the dough, and the sensation of oiled skin sliding effortlessly against your fingers is undoing most of the effort of your concentration. It takes forever and no time at all before he declares it done, and you lay it carefully on the bench.

“Can I have a go at the other one, or do you want one of your own for comparative purposes?” you ask him, a little tease entering your voice.

“All yours,” he offers, spreading his arm wide. You pick up the ball, concentrating on remembering all the tips you had only just received. Annoyingly, a huge hole rips in it, and you drop it back on the bench, scrunching up your face in disappointment. 

“Damn,” you say, but Rupert has moved before you can say another word. He steps closer, right into your personal space, and you can smell the aftershave and malt from the beer.

“Let’s do it together,” he says quietly in your ear, and you freeze, the trail of air across your skin deliciously light. His fingers graze the backs of your hands as they slide down to pick up the dough, adding to the sensory overload.
You swallow and keep your eyes on your hands as they pick up the dough to try again - this time, with Rupert’s help. Same as last time, it’s far harder to concentrate with his hands and yours sliding against each other. Last time, the oil reduced the friction to almost nothing, the slightest effort shifting your skin against each other, but now, with some of the oil having rubbed off on the dough, you can feel the rough texture of his skin as it slips past your own. It’s an exhilarating variation on your previous experience, and you wonder if Rupert has noticed. Neither of you speak now and the atmosphere is heavy with your concentration and Rupert’s silence. His hands work, guiding you and ensuring the dough remains unbroken. With a final twist, you land the dough on the bench, a long way from circular but at least in one piece.

“Well done,” Rupert says, and there’s genuine pleasure in his voice at the success.

 “Joint effort,” you demur, fiddling with the edges for something to do.

“Good student,” he counters.

Immediately, you reply, “Excellent teacher.”

“Touché.” He finally concedes, and there’s another one of those ‘I’m having a really good time but I don’t want to jinx it by saying anything’ smiles between you, warm and increasingly familiar and comfortable.

“Shall we dress them?” he asks.

“I’ve never heard it referred to that way.”

He shrugs a little self-conscious as he collects items from the fridge. “That’s what Anna called it,” he replies, piling toppings on the bench.

“Please don’t tell me you’re going to put all of that on your pizza,” you tease him, surveying the crowded bench. You can see three kinds of cheese, at least five meat options, plus all the vegetables he has already cut up in preparation. Rupert places the dough on two pizza stones he’s obviously brought with him, since you know for sure they’re not yours.
“Not today,” he teases, “I didn’t know what you like, so...”

“So you brought everything.” you finish for him, “Very thoughtful.” He grins in relief.

“I did notice there’s no pineapple...” you say neutrally, spreading tomato paste on your base.

“No, there’s not.” he replies just as neutrally, sneaking a glance up at you.

“Well,” you ask, “It’s an important question - are you for or against pineapple on pizza?”

“Anna was firmly against,” he replied.

You point a finger challengingly at him. “Anna is not you, my dear Rupert,” you tell him. “Does that mean you bring shame on the family by enjoying pineapple on your pizza?”

Rupert hangs his head in mock shame. “I have been known on occasion,” he admits. “It’s not all the time, I swear,” he puts his hands up as though defending himself against a serious grievance. “Just sometimes, usually when I’m a bit drunk.”
“Don’t worry,” you whisper conspiratorially, “I won't tell Anna. I’ll just look at you disapprovingly from time to time.”
“Does that mean you’re against pineapple?” he asks. You've both stopped adding things to your pizza by now, enjoying the flirty exchange too much. You can see Rupert’s eyes sparkling, the crinkles at the corners of his eyes deepening as his amusement plays over his face. He is, as he has always been, devastatingly attractive, and even more so now that he is actually in your kitchen. In person. Who cares about what goes on your pizza when you can be looking at this instead?
“Maybe,” you reply. You make a point of adding toppings to your pizza now, and he does the same, both of you now concentrating on getting it just right. You’re sneaking little looks at what he’s doing, and from the amused look on his face, you know he’s doing the same. Once or twice you both reach for the same thing, fingers touching. The first time, you start and pull away. Rupert freezes, then silently passes you the bowl, a small smile playing over his lips. The second time, you give way to him, allowing him to add mozzarella to his pizza before you do the same.

“Done,” he declares, looking at his masterpiece. You agree, and both pizzas go into the oven.
“If you tidy up I’ll set the table.” you offer.

“Please do not tell me you are planning on using a knife and fork,” he says, horrified. You raise one eyebrow, holding his gaze challengingly as you open a drawer. A sudden impulse makes you turn your back, shielding the drawer from view as you take something from it, deliberately clanking the cutlery as you go.

“No, no!” he says, and you can’t help giggling at the mock despair in his voice. “Show me.” he mock demands and you dance away, clutching your prize go your chest. Glancing over your shoulder you see him chasing you around the bench, wriggling his fingers threateningly. Giggling uncontrollably you move past the bench to the more open space of the living area, keeping your body between Rupert and what’s in your hand. He makes a semi-threatening growl, eliciting both a new round of giggles and a thrill of excitement in you. Before you can shift, he’s caught you, strong arms wrapping around from behind, though he’s careful not to grab at the bundle in your hands. Instead his arms wrap around your middle, warm bare skin of his forearms sliding against your bent elbows. He is gentle, despite the game, and his breath on your neck tickles.

“Nobody eats my pizza with a knife and fork.” the low voice sounds in your ear, and good grief if it isn’t the sexiest thing you’ve ever heard. You gasp, equal parts breathless from the giggling and the spike of arousal that’s shot through your body. 
“Not a knife,” you gasp, and a half growl of disbelief sounds from his throat. You giggle again and hold up the pile of napkins you’ve been cradling.

“Hmm,” he considers, though his arms do not release you. They do relax, though, turning the capture into an embrace. Your arms relax too, settling over his as they sit across your abdomen.

”Hmm?” you ask, heart pounding. There was definitely some flirting going on here, and the chasey was a classic ‘let me wrap my arms around you, I need an excuse’ manoeuvre. The knowledge that Rupert is flirting back emboldens you and you add, “Would you consider napkins an acceptable accessory to pizza consumption?”

“I’m considering it,” he replied, lips brushing your ear as he speaks. 

‘Consider away,’ you think, relishing the strong arms, warm front pressed to your back. Without warning, Rupert presses his lips to the skin behind your ear, inhaling sharply and holy moly, is he breathing in your scent because that is hot as f...

The alarm on your oven is always pretty loud, but never has its obnoxious braying made two people jump so high.
“Pizza done already?” you ask redundantly, a little regretful to lose the warmth and comfort. Before he lets go, Rupert gives a little squeeze, pressing his face into the crook of your neck for a beat.

“Right,” he murmurs, “Pizza.” before allowing his arms to slide away from your body, fingers trailing along your arms. He raises the fine hairs with his touch. You can’t keep the smile from your face now that you know that you are both on the same page. The pizza was the excuse, and you’ve both taken the opportunities it’s offered for flirting and the little touches that signal mutual interest. It’s acted as a prelude to something...else...

Rupert takes the pizzas from the oven, pizza stones still hot as he sits them onto the cooktop. He cuts them swiftly into pieces with the pizza cutter that must also have come along with him before serving it onto the plates you took from the cupboard. Rupert sets the plates down as you add the napkins. “I brought a bottle of wine.” he says, surveying the table. “Unless you’d like another cider.”

“Wine sounds good,” you reply, taking glasses from the top of the fridge, silently thanking your sister for buying them as a flat warming gift. Rupert pours the wine, both of you watching the golden colour as it flows into the glasses.
“Cheers.” he says, tilting his glass to softly touch the edge of yours.

“And to you,” you reply, sipping at the liquid. It’s cold and crisp, a perfect foil for the hot pizza. You’re sitting at right angles, each choosing a seat to be as close as possible while still able to easily converse. You look at your pizza, which looks, “Amazing.” you say out loud. The crust is bubbly and light and completely tempting.

“Looks excellent,” you add, smiling up. Rupert makes a go ahead motion, and you realise he’s waiting for you to try it first. “No pressure, right,” you say, and he only grins, sipping at his wine as you take the first tentative mouthful. The flavours mingle on your tongue, comforting and familiar, underpinned by the fluffy texture of the dough.
“Well it’s not terrible,” you begin, but a tell-tale grin spreads before you can even get the words out.
“Oi!” he says indignantly.

 “It’s really good,” you go on sincerely. “I haven’t tasted every pizza in the world for comparison but it’s certainly up there.” He doesn’t look convinced. “I’m pretty sure you said best in the world,” you add, making a rocking motion with your hand. “It’s the sous chef,” he shoots back, straight faced. “Never gets it right.”

“Fair call,” you reply thoughtfully as you both start in on your pizza.

“With a little more practice though,” Rupert says, when you’ve both eaten a good amount, “She might just get the hang of it.”

“Oh, might she,” you say, raising an eyebrow. The pizza is excellent but you can't eat another bite, finishing off your wine and sitting back.

“The best bit about pizza for dinner is the leftover pizza for breakfast,” he says, ignoring your indignation. You both take your plates back to the bench, the wine slowing and smoothing out the world a little. You stop short when you see the mess still on the bench - how had you missed it before? - and you cross your arms mock-sternly.

“I’m not sure you’re keeping up your end of the bargain here, Mister Graves,” you say. “I believe the table setting was my job and the kitchen was yours.”

Rupert puts his plate down right on the mess and takes yours too, adding it haphazardly to the mess.
“I believe,” he says in amusement, pinning his eyes on you, “that I had to ensue no sacrilege was being perpetrated by you while doing your job.”

When did his eyes darken, you wonder absently, but somehow needing to know. They were not such a deep rich brown earlier. Those same eyes were moving closer, as Rupert sauntered around the bench. He moved fluidly, with grace and intent, and it is this intent that catches your breath in your throat. The silence is heavier now, the jesting of earlier no longer lightening the mood. You have both shown your hand, made your interest in the other clear, negating the need for games any longer. Standing frozen as Rupert moves closer, you make an effort at speaking.

“I’d say you abandoned your post, actually,” you murmur, and the lower pitch of your voice is evidence of your arousal even to your own ears. Rupert notices, of course he does, and the smirk he’s been wearing deepens. Once he is within touching distance, he stops, close enough that his slightly ragged breathing is audible even over your own.
“Abandoned with good intentions,” he says, slowly taking one step forward, close enough now that you are most decidedly looking up in to those eyes, when you’re not catching glances at his mouth, those lips, parted and stretched into a grin. The grin slackens a little as he too drops his eyes to your mouth, eyes intensifying. You feel your breathing become more ragged, heart pounding and lungs burning as your physical self tries to keep up with the hormonal reaction to such close proximity. 

“You know what they say about good intentions.” you can’t help saying, knowing your reactions must be clear. You can hear Rupert’s irregular breathing, see the intense gaze. His eyes are fixed on yours, the pupils dilated, and you’d bet money his heart was pounding to match yours.

On a whim you raise your hand and place it on his chest, over his heart. Sure enough the thumping that reverberates through your palm is accelerated. You smile. “Matches mine.” you murmur, the action bringing you in closer. As Rupert shifts his own weight your lips finally meet, pressing together. It’s a relief after the build-up of the evening, even having seen the signs that Rupert was also attracted to you, the fact that he has actually kissed - is kissing! - you has removed that last niggling doubt. His lips are warm, and he tastes of pizza and wine, probably the same things he can taste on you. He kisses wonderfully, lips sliding across yours as he explores, and your respond with exploration of your own. The smooth cotton under your fingers means your hands must be holding him, somehow; a quick check reveals that yes, both hands have slid up around his neck, one hand against a cotton shirt and the other buried in silver hair. You can feel his hands around your waist once again, though this time it’s more possessive, holding your body to his as if you might be torn from his embrace.

Something triggers a moan from you, though you don’t know what exactly. Possibly this whole experience, which has culminated with you standing in your kitchen snogging Rupert Graves. He grips you tighter, a gasp from his own throat in response to your sound. You could live on that noise forever, power small countries with the heat it just generated in your body, and you immediately attempt to make it happen again. With little hesitation you run your tongue over his bottom lip – just the tip. The resultant noise, along with the appearance of his own tongue and instantly parted lips, makes you feel like a goddess. You’ve wrought that sound from his mouth, and with not too much effort – imagine what you’ll be able to do with a little time and...Before your planning can get too out of control, it seems that Rupert has some plans of his own. His tongue, previously absent, now gently strokes your own, sending shivers that you know he can feel down your back. You allow the moan that builds to escape – if you love his noises surely he’ll appreciate the same. Before long, you’re both clutching, grabbing, and holding as your tongues tangle and dance, breaking and reuniting as you both gasp for breath. The sounds that fill the air are lost, indistinguishable, moans and groans, sighs of yes and names whisper against lips.

Just when you think you’re about to explode, he stills, not pulling away from you, but gently ending the tussle. You’re breathing hard, hot air steamy on faces in the small space between you. Your eyes are closed, and you wonder if his are too. Opening them seems to tempt fate to break the spell over your both. As your tandem breathing slows, his hands come up to your face, cradling it as though it is the most fragile item in the world. His lips move over your face, bestowing tiny kisses across cheekbones and eyelids, along the ridge of your brow and down your temple. As he reaches your jaw, you breathe his name. He hums in response, acknowledging without pausing, until he once again reaches your mouth.

A sigh of contentment escapes you as his lips meet yours once again, and you know it is a regretful ending, hopefully just for the moment. Your eyes are still closed, so it’s not until Rupert murmurs your name that you open them. Holding onto the magic for as long as possible.

“Hi,” he says, smiling into to your eyes. Well that’s a good sign, you think to yourself.

“Hi,” you respond. You have no idea where he stands on this – was this a quick snog? Or is he hoping for a shag, or even something more... You have no idea but there’s no way you’re going to be the first to bare your soul on this particular matter. Fools rush in and all that.

“Kitchen’s still a mess.” Rupert says making you smile. His reply smile tells you that’s exactly what he was angling for. He’s at least a little unsure too. Oh, this could be fun, you think wryly. Fun like a pair of fifteen-year-olds negotiating second base. So actually, excruciating because nobody wants to be bold.

“It is.” you reply. Taking your courage in both hands you add, “Better help me clean up if you’re angling for another date.”
“Always.” he replied, dropping a quick kiss on your mouth and this time the smiles are goofy and disproportionally happy on both sides. Thank goodness.

When the kitchen is tidy, you both stand awkwardly, leaning against the benches. A second glass of wine is already half-finished, sipped at as you’d worked. As the moments slipped past, there had been a shift. Something indefinable that made it clear that you both know you’re interested in more than a quick snog, but nobody wants to talk about it. Hence the wine, you think to yourself taking a fortifying gulp.

“So, this is awkward, then,” Rupert starts conversationally.

“I don’t know, the first five minutes were pretty uncomfortable.” you say, hoping to diffuse some of the tension.
“True.” he replies.

“Does this have to be more difficult than that? I mean it could go either way. We could make it more awkward if you want but I don’t think it has to be. The bar’s set pretty high.” You add.

He grins and you hope he’s relaxing a bit, as you are. Nothing like slightly weird jokes to deflect the massively awkward situation, you think to yourself.

“You’re right, that will be hard to beat,” Rupert says, and you flush under the somehow compliment.
“So,” he repeats himself, but the tension is somehow gone. You wait for him to continue.

“I’d like to see you again,” he says, lopsided grin appearing. You’re learning that it’s the ‘I’m a bit unsure’ grin, designed to put people at ease. It’s sure as hell working, you think.

“Me too,” you reply in private relief.

“I had a good time tonight,” he adds, draining his glass and placing it on the bench.
“Me too.” you confirm. This will be much easier if he says the difficult stuff and I just have to agree, you think to yourself. You know your heart is pounding again. You wait for the next statement – hopefully something about kissing again – but he remains quiet, arms folded, eyebrows raised, that damn smirk on his face again. 

“You’re going to make me say it, aren’t you.” you complain, though you can feel the smile on your face.
“Yep, he confirms smugly.

You sigh, feeling your face redden.  Then take a deep breath and close your eyes. “I’d like to see you again too, I wish I’d heard you in that bar so I could have actually replied to you but if I had heard you it’s unlikely I would have invited you over anyway so it’s probably better. I’m sorry this evening started out so weird but I’m very glad it’s ended like this.” The words tumble over each other as you blurt them out as quickly as possible. You stubbornly avoid his eyes while you speak, feeling your soul curl up and die of embarrassment, but determined to call his bluff. After a moment of silence, you risk opening your eyes. You can see the surprise on Rupert’s face as he processes your words, then your demenour. He considers for a moment before replying.

”It doesn’t have to be over.”

Of all the things he might have said, that was not one you would have picked. “I beg your pardon?” you ask. Was he after just a shag after all, or did he think you might...

“No no, I just meant we could put on a movie or something.” he said hastily. As you relax, he adds with a cheeky grin, “Though I don’t suppose another snog is out of the question?”