She comes to me when I'm feeling down
inspires me without a sound.
She touches me
and I get turned around.- Billy Joel, "She's Got a Way"
Mark rested his head on his hand and gazed blearily out his office window. A glance at his watch told him it was only 12.30, but the cogs and gears of his brain were already beginning to grind to a halt. He regretted, somewhat, turning down Jeremy and Nigel’s invitation to stretch his legs and grab a bite of lunch, but even had he accepted, Mark didn’t think the knots of tension in his stomach would have left room for an appetite. His work, it often seemed, was akin to a professional roller-coaster—a dizzying series of adrenalin rushes followed by the plummet of mind-numbing exhaustion. He loved his work—loved that he could devote his life and his (by his own admission) considerable intellect to preserving justice in an increasingly unjust world, but at times, he felt less like a lawyer than an unarmed knight facing a dragon that refused to be slain.
Today was one such day. Sighing, he rubbed the bridge of his nose and reached absently for the coffee on his desk, wincing as the lukewarm swill assaulted his senses. Well, no matter; he suspected only a dose of caffeine sufficient to awaken a comatose elephant would give him the jolt he needed, unless—yes. He was stretching the boundaries of professional decorum well beyond what his well-bred manners condoned, but desperate times called for desperate measures.
“Hi, sweetie.” The moment she answered his call, Mark’s expression softened. “Is everything okay?”
“Are you sure? I mean, you don’t really ring me up from work for idle chit-chat.”
“I promise, everything’s fine.”
“Are you having a shag flashback?”
“I just needed to hear your voice.”
“That’s sweet, Mark, but I’m not buying it.”
“It’s true,” he insisted, leaning back in his chair and brushing a hand across his eyes.
Bridget sighed. “Fine. How’s your day going?”
“Put it this way,” said Mark. “When you get back to your flat, could you check the whiskey supply?”
“That bad? Right, I’ll take inventory, and your drink will await you.”
“Single malt, if you don’t mind.”
Bridget laughed. “I’ll see what I can do, but I hope you’re planning to tip the bartender.”
“I intend to.”
“You have a running tab, you know,” she teased.
“Keep it open. I plan to pay in installments.”
“Right, well, listen, I only just popped out to grab a sandwich and I’m headed back--”
“Bridget, I need you to do something for me.”
“Mark. . .” Bridget hesitated. “Are you sure nothing’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong. Why?”
“Because you just interrupted me mid-sentence, and I’m pretty sure that defies every rule of your English breeding.”
Mark laughed. “Fair point, but as I was saying, I need you to pop over to chambers for a bit.”
“but it’s in the middle of the work day. I’m only on my lunch break.”
“I’m aware of that, but I also feel obligated to caution you that there are consequences for evading a legal summons.”
“Well. . .” Bridget paused. “When you put it like that, I can’t really argue. Give me fifteen minutes.”
When Bridget arrived, Mark directed his secretary to hold his calls before ushering her into his office. He made certain the door was firmly closed and locked; then walked deliberately over to his desk, leaned against its edge, pulled Bridget roughly into his arms, and kissed her. First surprise, then comprehension flickered in Bridget’s eyes as he slid his hands down her sides.
“Mark, you aren’t seriously thinking of shagging me right here, in your office, in the middle of the day.”
He paused in nuzzling her neck to glance up at her, one brow raised. “You think I wouldn’t?”
“Hmm.” Bridget ran a fingertip along the line of his jaw. “What do you call that, in legal terms?”
“A statement of intent, and one that I plan to carry out very shortly, unless, of course, you object, my lady.”
“Not really. Not if you convince me beyond reasonable doubt, that is.”
“I see.” Fixing her with a smoldering look, Mark slowly and purposefully took her hand and positioned it between his legs. “Fortunately for you, madam, I’m able to present the court with very. . . hard evidence.”
A slow smile curling her lips, Bridget went to work undoing his zip while he slid his hand up her thigh. As he leaned in to kiss her again, his wrist caught on the hem of her skirt, and with his mouth still on hers, he yanked the garment up over her hips; then tugged on her knickers. He slid first one, then two fingers into her, his pulse quickening in time with her breathing. Warm and wet, she twisted against his hand, the rush of her arousal heightening his own. Finally, pressing her back against the wall, he slid his hands down her hips, cupped her backside, and thrust. Fortunately, her cry was muffled against his lips as he locked his mouth on hers. Reflexively, her back arched as he drove himself into her, and she lost her balance, her shoulder knocking into a nearby shelf of reference books which tumbled to the floor with a cladder that must surely have aroused suspicion. Mark didn’t care; he was beyond caring, beyond knowing anything except the feel of Bridget beneath his hands and the steady piston of his hips as he moved inside her, deeper, closer to the center of his world, the only place in a swirl of chaos where he felt stable. In Bridget’s embrace, the universe dissolved. He saw nothing beyond the fire burning in her eyes; heard nothing but her voice in his ear; tasted and smelled nothing but the salt and sweetness of her skin; felt nothing but the beating of her heart against his own.
Bridget wound her arms around his back, matching him thrust for thrust, their bodies locked together in a rhythm both familiar and exhilarating. “I think,” she gasped, “next time you. . . want a . . . sex sandwich. . . tell me to take. . . a longer lunch.”
For answer, Mark took hold of her hips and yanked her more securely against him. “I love you, Bridget Jones,” he growled, “I utterly. . .” he nibbled the tip of her earlobe, “completely. . .” he trailed his lips over the hollow of her throat, “fucking love you. . .” he caught her face between his hands, “and love fucking you.” As he kissed her, she shuddered, emitted a faint sigh, and went limp in his arms, her head dropping onto his shoulder as she collapsed against his chest. Equally spent, Mark sank into the chair behind his desk, still cradling Bridget against him. For several minutes, he simply held her in the crook of his arm, letting her slow, sleepy breathing lull him into a contented doze. Eventually, however, he roused himself and leaned down to press a kiss to her temple. Her eyes fluttered open, and she sat up, pushing her hair out of her face.
“I should probably go,” she murmured.
Mark responded by curling his arm more tightly around her. “Not just yet.”
“I really should. I need to go looking for my boyfriend.”
“I beg your pardon?” Mark arched a brow.
“Yes, I have grave concerns about your identity.”
“Yes, you see, you’ve just shagged me in your office, on my lunch break.”
“Well, that can’t be the same man who folds his underpants.”
Mark’s lips twitched. “Am I to understand that I haven’t managed to convince you beyond reasonable doubt? Because if you need more persuading, that could be easily arranged.”
Bridget smiled. “Rain-check me,” she said, leaning in to peck him on the lips. “Right now, we both need to get back to work.”
“If you insist.”
After doing their best to make themselves appear presentable, they stepped into the apparently deserted hall.
“Mark, there you are.” Bridget gave a surprised squeak which she managed with some dignity to turn into a cough as Jeremy strode toward them. “Did you manage to finish looking over those documents?” A flicker of amusement lit his eyes as he noticed Bridget. “Evidently not.”
“Jeremy, um, hi.” Bridget offered him a shaky smile while attempting to smooth down the wrinkles in her skirt. “I was, uh, just leaving.”
“Right. Well, nice to see you, Bridget.” Barely concealing a smirk, Jeremy stepped aside to let her pass.
“I’ll see you out,” Mark offered, pointedly not meeting Jeremy’s gaze.
“Oh, no, no, that’s okay,” Bridget gabbled. “I know you’re very busy and important. I’ll be fine, really.”
“Right, right.” Mark hesitated briefly; then bent and gave her a swift kiss on the cheek. “I’ll just see you tonight, then.”
As Bridget disappeared, Jeremy turned to Mark. “Lunch at your desk, eh?” He waggled his brows. Mark moved past his friend and rested his back against his office door, arms folded. “Is there a problem?”
“On the contrary, it’s about bloody time. Well played, Darcy. Well played indeed.” Mark couldn’t help himself; he grinned. “Honestly, I never would have expected it of you,” said Jeremy.
“I’ve heard that several times today, thanks. Love apparently makes one capable of feats of surprising daring.”
The teasing glint in Jeremy’s eye softened. “You really love her, don’t you?”
Mark nodded. He understood, for the first time in his life, why people referred to that dizzying, stomach-swooping sensation as ‘falling in love’. Mark Darcy had always walked through life with unwavering, sure-footed confidence, always knowing where he was and how he wanted to get there, but all of that had changed the moment he’d stepped off a plane in New York and realized that the place he was supposed to be was the one he’d just left. For the first time, he’d cut his ties to security and jumped without looking back, falling into the arms of a woman who at once steadied him and pushed him beyond the limits of possibility. This was the beautiful, unfathomable paradox of Bridget Jones. She had a way of spinning his life completely off-course and convincing him, even as he hung on the edge of the world, that he was where he belonged. He didn’t know why; he didn’t know how, but he knew he couldn’t live without her.