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What you earn, and return, when you care for each other

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She'd made a mistake at the outset by telling him Noah was at a sleepover. She's not worried he's going to try something by any means. Just that maybe she wants him to try something.

He'd brought over dinner he picked up from Forlini's, of course. She would have protested - but she was hungry. How he knew she hadn't eaten she doesn't know. Except she never eats.

How he knows what she likes is a different story entirely.

They make conversation over the meal, her fingers clutching the wine bottle a little too tightly. Her eyes focusing a bit too much on the color of the food.

She certainly doesn't think about the way his eyes sparkle at her. Or what it would feel like if she ran her fingers over his jawline.

And when he offers her flourless chocolate torte as if the lack of gluten makes it healthy she can't help her laugh.

He can't help his smile.

She reminds herself there is work to be done and witnesses to be prepped and vetted. There's evidence to be tracked.

That's why he came here in the first place. That's what this is.

When she offers him another scotch and she finds herself cackling over a third glass of wine she's really not sure how much of it has to do with the alcohol. Very little of it has to do with the alcohol.

Somewhere in his ridiculous story about pissing off his torts professor, she leans back against the couch. She assures him she's paying attention. Just needs to rest her eyes.

When she wakes up with her head against his shoulder and her hand wound around his suspenders she knows she's in trouble. She should go to bed. Wake him up. Get him home.

Instead she curls back against him and dozes off.

In the morning she blames it on exhaustion and wine. She offers her profuse apologies for the drool stain over his crisp white shirt.

But when he smiles she can't blame her wants, nor her desires, on alcohol. She can't claim it's his charm when he's being kind of bitchy about her coffee selection.

And it's certainly not his outfit or looks when his hair is sticking out from his head and he looks like he got two whole hours of sleep.

None of that is the reason she wants to kiss him. It certainly doesn't mean she's doing anything about it.

At least, not yet.




The time had gotten away from them. At least, he tells himself that. The Chinese food he'd had delivered was a necessary end.

The scotch they'd shared was a needed detox - a way to unwind. The laughter over her college stories, some perp she'd busted in SoHo in flagrante who'd tried to say it was entrapment. That was all distraction.

All of it is beautiful, gorgeous, lovely. He's only just realized he's really only using those adjectives to describe her.

His sleeves are rolled up, his jacket is on the back of his chair. Hers is on the back of the couch. He can't remember why they started talking or when. He knows getting distracted means more work later but it's worth it to  see her happy. To feel happy for thirty minutes.

He just knows at some point they may have partaken of too much scotch.

At some point he may have given himself that excuse so he could pretend this was more than it was.

Somewhere along the way they got too comfortable and too relaxed. Her head fell against his shoulder as he told her something about Carisi's 32nd sister. He closed his eyes and woke up with her arms clutching his sides. His arms pulling her closer.

He lingers longer than he should, reveling in her being so close. Maybe he allows himself to think for a second this could be what he wants.

No. It’s definitely what he wants. He just can’t allow himself to acknowledge that.

He leans over her head, stopping himself from stealing a kiss, from taking a breath of her hair, then nudges her shoulder gently.

She stirs, and the spell refuses to break. She meets his eyes groggily. Maybe he's imagining her hand along his neck, the tingles it unleashes up his spine.

He has to stop himself from staring, from taking that kiss. He wills his mouth to tell her to go home.

His heart isn't in it. His heart is fully enchanted.

But it's wrong to want this, to jeopardize what they are for what he thinks they could be. Scratch that - what he wishes she wants too. To put a thousand cases in flux because of his desires.

He keeps expecting it to go away. For his better angels to take over and talk himself into not feeling so utterly, irrevocably gobsmacked.

But it never happens.

So he tells her she's missing Noah's bedtime. He toes back on the shoes he hadn't realized he'd taken off. Then throws back on the jacket to assure himself, somehow, that this relationship is still somewhat professional.

He tells her to let him know when she makes it home. As if he cares - because he does. A lot more than he should.

When he feels his whole face light up at the text he gets, telling him he can stop worrying, that's when he knows. It's never ever going away.

The spell never breaks with her. He just pretends it never existed - to varying degrees of success.




“You wanna grab a drink?” He asks, leaning against the door jamb.

“Yeah,” she says idly, tapping away at her phone. He isn't sure he heard her right. Though she'd never just say an affirmative

“Yes?” He tests, creeping into her office. “Noah's …”

He can’t manage to come up with the question, so he trails off.

She doesn’t miss a beat. She never does.

“...being taken to the arcade with his Uncle Sonny.” She finishes, then looks up, “if you don't want to go I am happy to continue arguing with the crime lab.”

Ah, so he would be a distraction from the loneliness, the boredom, the stress from backed up rape kits. He's happy to be there for her. Even if, when he's being honest, he'd rather be anything, everything for her.

“I wouldn't have asked if I didn't want to go Liv,” he smiles, placing his briefcase on the floor and settling into the chair. “I was just surprised.”

He isn’t telling the entire truth here and he suspects she knows. He suspects she understands that he has started asking by way of a greeting - the way you never want to know how someone is really doing when you ask how they are. At least, that’s why he thinks she’s lashing out a bit.

He will always want her to say yes. She will always want to say yes. It just means more to him than it does to her. To her they’re just friends. Good friends. Best friends.

To him, well, there are things that can never be.

“I don't always turn you down,” she defends. As if it matters to her. As if, maybe, when he finally got up the courage to burn his bridges and ask her what he really wants to - she’d say yes.

As if that yes wouldn't just be humoring him. He thinks that would be worse than a no. He doesn’t need the pity.

“Responsibilities,” he smiles, pretending it's fine. “I know.”

“Well, I don’t have as many tonight,” she grins. It’s genuine. He can’t help but match it in spite of himself. “Forlini’s?”

Forlini’s was never the question.

Three drinks in he has the uncontrollable urge to do something stupid.

She's laughing more than he’s ever seen her. And he's the one who makes her laugh.

Her lopsided smile as she pulls a lock of hair behind her ear jump starts that desire to kiss it away. Every time he thinks he’s figured out what it is that makes her smile like that she surprises him. He doesn’t know what he says to get it out of her, but he’ll take it. To think he’s the cause of such beauty is, in a word, mesmerizing. He needs much more than that to describe what she means to him.

She leans her head against his shoulder, settles her fingers over his.

He can't help the sigh. He can't help but wish this was more than only a gesture of trust. That it means more than friendship.

If he was a different man he'd interpret all of this as a signal. Maybe he'd pull his hands behind her head, stare into her eyes, and then kiss her.

But he isn't a different man. They're both a little too drunk. And she definitely wouldn't want him to if they weren't. He’s an asshole, but he’s not that kind of asshole.

Still, he could gather up some Dutch courage and ask her. Maybe she wouldn't even remember. Maybe she'd say yes.

It's not a date, he tells himself, fingers itching to reach over and settle along her back. We can't date.

“I do have a question,” he starts, mouth opening, forming sentences before he can stop. Maybe he doesn't want to stop.

“Yeah,” she looks up. He's imagining the hope in her eyes. He's sure of it.

At least, that's what he tells himself as he chickens out. “You really trust Carisi not to pump Noah full of cotton candy and then drop him off when he gets whiny?”

She laughs. Small victories. “I'm pretty sure he just needed a good excuse to play Galaga.”

“Yeah,” he agrees.

It's not a date, he reminds himself, for what now feels like the 990th time. She'd never date him, even if she wanted to.

She doesn't want to.

She wouldn’t remember a yes, and that’s the entire point, isn’t it?




Sometimes when they go over cases she forgets to keep track of time. There wasn’t any wine this time. There wasn’t any scotch.

There was arguing, and bantering, and an actual fight about the evidence she knew would convict the perp. Rollins fucked up a warrant. She knew it. He knew she knew it.

He also knew she’d argue about it. She thinks he secretly likes getting her worked up. Though maybe that’s her. Him saying shit about the attenuation doctrine should not, under any circumstances, get her all frazzled, but it happens.

He’s a lawyer, he likes arguing. She’s a cop. She hates lawyers.

He can’t use the evidence. It’s tainted. It’s garbage. Amanda had not received the warrant before she entered the room. She didn’t think she had it, she didn’t make sure before she'd gone in. There was no evidence she thought anyone was in danger before she walked in

Fruit of the poisonous tree. If the way you got the evidence was tainted - if the tree is dead - then everything that comes from it is dead too. Every apple, every leaf, every minor found in an alleged pedophile’s apartment, was inadmissible in court.

Amanda fucked up. She knew it. She was pissed about it and so was Rafa.

That's why he came over here haranguing her and not Rollins. She understands him enough to know this is how he's getting out his frustration so he doesn't kick her detective while she's down. She was just counting on him to figure something out. To nail this guy on some kind of technicality.

The law isn't always about justice, she reminds herself. Though Rafael's version is more about precedent and presumption. He's mad, but he spares her the lecture about police arresting people without the benefit of due process. She knows the system exists to protect people.

Even he would tell her it often protects the wrong people.

She has responsibilities. He has principles. Or is it the other way around?

Eventually they stop arguing. Agree to disagree.

He settles on her couch and they talk about Noah. Then his mother. Then how Rollins is going to avoid the disciplinary board on this. He has some ideas, but she needs to talk to her union rep.

Somewhere along the way she joins him on the couch and her shoes come off. His jacket is thrown on the back of a chair and her head is against his chest.

It's late. No one is here to see them. Not that she would give up her spot for the world.

“They would have found it anyway,” he murmurs into her hair. A gesture so intimate she’s not confident she’s awake.

“Huh?” she grumbles, probably leaving a makeup stain against his shirt. 

“The judge was signing the warrant when Rollins busted the door down,” he smooths his hands over her back. They’re dating, right? This isn’t the behavior of a man who doesn’t want to date you.

At least, he wants to sleep with her. His body does. Dating her may not be in his cards. That would at least explain why he’s never asked. Other than the well-documented problems with a cop dating a lawyer. A Lieutenant sleeping with an ADA.

Olivia Benson actually falling in love is a huge problem and she’s beginning to think she’s going to have to deal with it herself.

“Nix versus Williams,” he continues, citing a court case he surely has memorized. “They would have discovered the pictures when they actually served the warrant.”

“I hate you,” she lies. She’s annoyed he was playing with her. That he came over here and made her stay up past her bedtime to mess with her.

He laughs, making no move to extricate either of them from this situation.

“I know,” he answers.

She should slap him, or yell at him, or bill him for the time he wasted doing this, but he’d like it too much. She wants to - well she’s not going to be doing that.

Instead, she does something much more inane.

She gets up, checks her phone, and tells him to have a good night. It's late and she needs to get home to her son.  Even though she texted Lucy hours ago and Noah has long since fallen asleep.

He knows. He doesn't say it. He's gotten enough over on her tonight.

She should have fucking kissed him. Just to wipe that smirk off of his face.

She wants him so much and she’s only just realizing it has very little to do with her libido. Though that would be nice too. She wants him so badly she would take him up on the offer. He’s just never going to present it as an option.

She actually doesn’t hate him at all. It's quite the opposite really. She's beginning to think he has no idea.

The way she figured out how much she cares about him may be tainted, but she still figured it out. Maybe some of the fruit of this tree isn't poisonous. Maybe she would have figured it out anyway.

Maybe one day one of them will do something about it.




"Lagavulin. Neat."

He tells the waitress as Liv orders a Cabernet.

He should be having fun. She’s in a wonderful mood and it’s contagious. Not contagious enough to give him the courage to tell her what he’s doing. What he did.

It’s the move he has to make if he wants to survive. One day he’s actually going to do something stupid and he can’t have it affecting his professional life. He can’t have it ruining hers.

If he keeps doing this, having her at arm’s length, then he’s eventually going to steal that kiss. He’s actually going to push it way too far. He’s honestly teetering toward professional misconduct as it is.

This way he can stop blurring the lines between work and personal. At least, he can now set up some boundaries when parallels become perpendicular.

He knows she orders Cabernet at restaurants even though she prefers the Shiraz. She orders pens in bulk and leaves them in her drawers at work. When she's extra stressed she forgets to fix the part in her hair. He shouldn't know these things.

Knowing these things means they've become too close. Knowing what her son's favorite book is, her telling him how her mother died, and them sharing meals regularly means they're very close friends.

Wanting to help raise Noah and bring him new books. Being terrified of losing Liv in some way. Wanting to take the time to cook her a nice meal so she'll tell him he’s an idiot and then kiss him senseless. All of that is a bridge too far.

Scylla. Charybdis. The sea monster and the whirlpool.

If he stays he's going to act on these desires. If he tells her she might turn him down. If she doesn't then they're at an ethical dilemma.

The rock.

If he takes this job he's leaving her behind. She's fighting for justice without him. He can't pass up the opportunity.

The hard place.

If he stays he's compromising everything.

“So,” she mutters after swallowing a piece of her pasta primavera. “It’s not everyday you insist on paying. What's the celebration?”

“I’m leaving,” he answers, downing, practically chugging, his scotch.

She laughs. She actually laughs. Then she catches his expression and the whole mood of the room teeters. Shifts.

He can feel tension crackling off of her.

“New York?” she asks. He can tell he’s shocked her.

“New York County DA’s Office,” he sighs. “I’m going to work for Mayra Holbeck.”

The recently appointed US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. One of the most powerful positions in the nation. She's tough on crime and tougher on criminals.

It's a job he's always wanted, working for the country, making a name for himself. Doing good work.

At least the job he always wanted before he moved to Manhattan. Before life and Liv got in the way. Before they changed everything he wanted. For the better.

“The Feds?” she practically chokes. She knows exactly who Holbeck is. He wouldn't expect anything less. “You’re going to work for the Feds?”

“Let’s just say they gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

He tells her how he can help all sorts of people this way. Having the full force of the law behind him can change the world.

Even though he’s only pursuing federal drug crime at the moment, he can help all sorts of people this way - going after the cartels. Protecting their myriad victims in myriad ways.

She isn’t listening. She’d call him out on how well pursuing organized crime went for him last time. Ask him why he wanted death threats.

The look she gives him, well, he didn’t expect her to be sad. She’s supposed to be angry, to scream at him. She’s supposed to be mad he didn’t give her the chance to talk him out of it. She would have talked him out of it if he’d given her the opportunity.

He never could handle her crying.

“I thought,” she sniffles, shaking her head as he offers her a handkerchief. “It doesn’t matter what I thought.”

For a minute, for a fleeting moment. He thought she’d be happy for him. Maybe she is, but the thing about moving on, moving forward, is you have to rip at least one cord. He never wanted it to be her.

Maybe the stupid thing he did was letting himself get so attached.




Six weeks. Six weeks ago her heart left her body and saddled her with a baseball player masquerading as a prosecutor.

Okay. She does not hate Peter Stone.  He's fine.

He's inoffensive and probably charming if you're into that sort of thing. He's polite and he listens and honestly he tries. He's just--

Not Rafael.

He's not the man she allowed herself to fall for even though of course there was no way he would ever ask the question. She allows herself, on bad days when she's feeling self-indulgent, to believe he quit his job so he could feel better about asking her out.

But that's presumptuous and weird and he isn't going to allow himself to like her. Not like that. Not, at least, enough to do anything about it.

Even though she wants him to.

She knows all of this. She reminds herself she is not the one you stay for. That she is the one who gets left behind.

It still doesn't stop the thin sliver of hope when he comes smiling into her office one day.

“Hi,” he settles into her chair. The one he always sat in. Might as well be his seat. Carisi even calls it Mr. Barba’s Chair.

“Hi,” she smiles back. Only he could pull off a shirt the color of Gatorade and not look like he's trying to direct traffic.

“The reason I came down here is that we have to take over the Mendoza case.”

“Oh,” her face falls, she was hoping for- well she doesn't know what she was hoping for. “Can I ask why?”

“The short answer is money.” He isn’t here to mince words. Nor to do what she was secretly wishing. “The shorter answer is drugs.”

Of course there’s a bigger fish than prosecuting a known drug trafficker for sexual assault. It makes sense.

“You're hoping you can get Carolina to turn State’s evidence against Miguel?”

She phrases it as a question even though she is almost 85% sure that’s what he’s doing.

“That would be a longer answer,” he smiles. That’s exactly why he’s here and he's almost… almost… sad about it.

“Okay,” she shrugs. She doesn’t know why he’s telling her about it. This sounds like a legal matter between lawyers. Though she does have a good relationship with the poor woman.

“Do you need me to talk her into something or?”

“No,” he cuts her off. “I can handle that part.”

Charm her, make her feel safe. Set her up with the Witness Protection Program. Buy her a new life. Hell, no one even needs her to translate. Who needs Olivia Benson now?

“Then I guess I'm not sure why you came all the way down here,” she manages, fiddling with her pen and staring down at whatever she was working on before he walked in. She doesn’t really remember any more and the words are kind of blurry.

It only has a little to do with not having her reading glasses on.

He’s definitely sad now.

“I was expecting more of a fight with you.”

“Oh,” she frowns. She guesses he has a point. It's really quite frustrating that Carplina won't get to pursue her own case because the Feds have decided drugs trump all. But -

“Well I'm not exactly excited about it but I have faith you'll do the right thing.”

“Olivia Benson trusting the government to be responsible?” he laughs. It hurts. Laughs aren’t supposed to hurt. “Are you feeling alright?”

“I said you.” she ekes out. Choking slightly on what she's really saying. My faith is in you. Even if you don't want it. “I can trust the Feds if the Feds are you.”

He smiles, nods, and leans back in the chair.

She isn't sure what he's waiting for now.

In another life she’d ask him herself. Six weeks ago, before he threw her in a garbage can and trained his stupid replacement. His stupid, nice, clear shower curtain of a replacement. She thought he was going to ask her. She wanted him to.

She’s not sure what he wants any more. She isn’t going to wait for forever. Maybe she’s waiting for the wrong thing.

“Would you have time to go to Forlini’s this week?” he asks, face full of something she isn’t quite sure how to articulate. Maybe it’s because her heart stopped beating at the thought of why he could be asking her.

“You’re not moving to DC or something are you?”

“Gross,” he laughs as her heart resumes normal function. “No. I’m staying here. I just wanted to - well, Liv - it’s not - I’m not asking as a friend.”

It can’t be. It’s not. He isn’t. Not now.

“We're not friends?”

“What?” He stammers. He’s uncharacteristically nervous. He’s - he’s actually trying to ask her. “Yes. Yeah we’re friends. I just - was hoping we could go somewhere together. As … more.”

“Rafael,” he flinches at the use of his full name. So much he doesn’t catch how much she’s beaming at him. “Are you asking me out?

“Yes,” he says, almost as if it’s causing him physical pain.

Her face must only show the shock she feels. Because the next sentence out of his mouth is - confusing as hell.

“Okay. You’re right. I'm sorry for asking. I'll have Dennis take over the Mendoza case.”

She doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Why would he be sorry for asking? Why is he having Douchebag Dennis take over this case? Douchebag Dennis who wanted to prosecute a mother for kidnapping because she wanted to get away from her abusive husband. Everyone hates Dennis. He’s only still employed because he’s a great lawyer. Even if he is, well, a giant asshole.

“Aren't cases like this why you went to the Feds?” she’s only partially riling him up. She’s only partially trying to get out of talking to Dennis. She’s mostly still in shock. “To have the full weight of the US government behind you to protect as many people as possible?”

The fake smile drops from his face and he furrows an eyebrow. “So you were listening when I said that?”

“I always listen to you. Even when you're right.” he looks pained. None of what she’s trying to do is working. Then it hits her. He isn’t actually coming out and asking it because he’s trying to spare her from having to say no.


“Rafa can you look at me?”

He turns back to her and meets her eyes. His brain has gone a mile a minute and she’d laugh if he didn't seem so hurt by it. “My answer to the question you didn't manage to ask is yes. Noah has a sleepover Thursday, but if you wanted to go now I could see if Lucy can stay.”

It takes him a few seconds to find his words. He’s as surprised she’s saying yes as she is that he’s actually trying to ask it. “You’d go on a date with me now?”

“I’ve been waiting for you to ask me on a date for forever.”

It’s a testament to his seriousness about the question and his shock over her answer that he doesn’t correct her exaggeration. Forever as a measurement of time would never hold up in court. It just feels like forever.


She laughs too much. He smiles too much. If they were other people they’d be annoyed with each other. If this were a blind date she’d be mad at whoever set her up with him.

But he’s him and she’s her and she’s waited so long, wanted this so much, she’s breaking all of her rules. She’s thinking of bringing him home on the first date. Of letting him put Noah to bed. Of taking him to hers.

When you’re in love with your best friend and he’s in love with you small talk seems stupid.

She doesn’t explicitly know he’s in love with her, really, but it sure feels like it.

It doesn’t seem that different than all of the other times. Not really. Except this time she’s not that drunk and he’s not that tired and she definitely doesn’t feel guilty about the desire to kiss him.

Well, she does, but only because it would wipe the smile off of his face. And, God, she loves that smile. Especially on his face.


“Liv,” he grins, leaning against the wall of the restaurant as they think about calling a cab. “Can I kiss you?”

“Out here with all these people?” she asks, gesturing toward a jogging woman with headphones and two cars parked on the dead end street.

Still. She’d kiss him at the NBA Finals on the floor of Madison Square Garden.

“Yeah,” he goads, reaching a hand forward and tucking a piece of her hair behind her ear. “Unless you wanna go our separate ways?”

“Fuck that,” she groans as she pulls him to her and kisses him. Maybe she should have waited until he walked her home. Or at least until they decided to order an Uber instead. She doesn’t care.

Instead he walks her home. It takes forever because they keep ducking into alcoves to kiss some more. She feels so happy she almost forgets he stole a case from her this afternoon and when they get home Noah will probably be too excited to see him to go to sleep.

Maybe neither of these things are bad things.

Lucy can tell immediately that something's different. She doesn’t say anything about it. She makes a mental note to give her a raise for her discretion. Maybe she should give her a raise for all the other times she’s pulled a last minute request for an extended stay. Even though this is the first time it’s selfish.

Noah wants to play robots and legos and maybe lego robots. Rafa talks him into taking a bath with the legos.

Maybe they make out against the counter a little while he’s in the tub. Maybe she makes Rafa fish out the blocks when she's helping Noah dry his hair and put on his pajamas. Thank God she talked him into the big blocks or they’d be calling the super. She suspects legos down the drain isn’t exactly covered by her renters insurance.

Noah is tucked in bed and she’s thinking about unclasping Rafa’s suspenders when he actually, finally asks her. For real this time. At least, he tries to ask her out for real this time.  

“Next Thursday can I take you somewhere nice?” he pulls away, holding her hands in his, staring her in the eyes.

She grabs his face, runs a thumb over his cheek bone. “This was pretty nice.”

He chuckles lightly. “I mean like, nicer.”

“If you’re trying to ask me out again my answer is yes until you piss me off.”

He rolls his eyes before leaning forward and kissing her again. This time long and deep and so passionate she’s a little peeved when he pulls away and tries to leave the couch.

“Rafa,” she starts, holding onto his arm, “You weren’t planning to go anywhere tonight were you?”

He narrows his eyes. “Other than home, no.”

“So you'd be okay with spending the night,” her fingers dance up his forearm. She doesn’t want there to be any confusion so she adds, “In my bed?”

He smirks. Damn him.

“It's certainly more comfortable than your couch.”

“That's not what I -”

He cuts her off with another kiss and she drags him to the bedroom. When her legs are wrapped around his waist and his mouth is at her jawline and he’s deep inside of her she’s torn between being grateful and pissed off.

Grateful that she gets to feel like this and pissed off that they let themselves wait so long to get this point. Then he hits the right spot, moves his head to capture her lips and pushes her past her breaking point as she digs her nails into his back.

She forgets what her point was...


He’s lying beside her, in her bed, and she can’t believe it. Well, she can believe it, but it’s very nice and she will be pissed at him if he tries to leave. But he doesn’t. Instead he gathers her in his arms and nuzzles into her neck.

Her hands are in his hair. “Since you still work for the government don't we still need to disclose?”

That gets his attention, but he doesn’t move. “Mixed opinions on that one. Why?”

“I'm gonna need to do that many,” she emphasizes her statement by attempting to wrap her legs around his waist. “Many more times, and I don’t want any appearance of impropriety or whatever.”

He moves his head and looks up at her. “I believe the appropriate term is misconduct, but impropriety works. Especially if we’re in a Jane Austen novel now.”

She’s too blissful to roll her eyes at him, even though they both know she would like nothing better. Well. Almost nothing better.

“So we’ll fill these things out tomorrow so you don't have to feel guilty for coming to see me?” she smiles as his hands splay across her bare back. She has no plans to get out of bed until the morning.

“Okay,” he answers, pulling her legs tighter around his waist. “Counteroffer. What about filling them out so we don’t feel guilty about having sex in your office?”

“Deal,” she pushes him so he’s lying on his back. “Though I’d settle for sex right now.”

“I do have to tell you something first.” Her legs are on either side of him and he’s rock hard against her center, but he’s wanting to chit chat? He’s lucky she’s in love with him. “I’ve been wanting to kiss you since that night I accidentally stayed over and you ruined my favorite shirt.”

He wanted to kiss her before that. She knows because she wanted to kiss him before that. It was not his favorite shirt. She knows because his favorite is a red and blue checked print Noah picked out for his birthday last year. He doesn’t wear it very much because he wants to keep it nice. That’s what he told Noah and he doesn’t lie to Noah.

She also didn’t ruin that white shirt because he’s worn it again. She only noticed because she notices all of his shirts. He’s only lying to her now because she knows it’s a lie.

It’s a weird game but she enjoys it.  

“Then I have a confession to make,” she arches against him, fingers running through his chest hair as he enters her again. “I drooled on purpose.”

The sound he makes, a deep, full-throated laugh edging toward a giggle, she hadn’t realized he was capable of. He’s happy. She makes him happy.

He wants her and she wants him back and the only reason she isn’t shouting it to the world right now is because people are trying to sleep. The reason she’s in love with him has very little to do with his charm or his brains or his looks and everything to do with him just being him.

She thinks he finally knows that now.