Hank Bennett tried to keep himself from staring at the beautiful blond sitting across from him, but it was damn
difficult. She was simply... stunning. The black off the shoulder dress fit her like it had been specifically made
for her slender curves, which now that he thought about it wasn't as far fetched as it seemed. She probably knew
tons of famous clothing designers and more than likely the dress she was wearing had been designed for her.
He gave himself a mental shake then reached for his wineglass. He and Gwen came from two totally different worlds
yet somehow they seemed to fit together. When he'd first saw her in that jazz club a few months back, he almost
hadn't approached her. Now he was glad he had. Because those small steps he had taken toward her had irrevocably
changed his life - for the better.
He had never met anyone that could make him laugh more quickly or more easily than Gwen did. And he'd certainly
never met a woman who challenged him or intrigued him more. She was everything he'd ever wanted in a woman and
yet they still remained just friends.
But if they were just friends then why had she leaned across the table at the book cafe today and kissed him? It
had been an unconscious action on her part. He had seen it in her eyes. She had been as shocked by the kiss as
he was and yet neither of them had spoken about it other than to basically shrug it off as no big deal.
No big deal, he thought taking another small sip of his wine then setting it back onto the table. It was a big
deal all right, he just wasn't sure how big of a deal. He'd made some lame comment about it being a kiss among
friends, but he couldn't remember any strictly platonic woman friend ever kissing him on the lips and if they had
it certainly hadn't garnered the reaction that Gwen's kiss today did.
His heart raced just thinking about that kiss she'd given him and it hadn't been anything more than a peck really,
yet it had gotten more of a reaction out of him than any of the passionate kisses he'd shared with the women he'd
dated over the years. Was his reaction caused by the fact that they were friends and he'd begun to think of her
as off-limits? Or was his reaction caused by something deeper?
"Hank?" Gwen said breaking him out of his thoughts. "Is everything okay? You haven't even touched
your lobster and I happen to know you love lobster."
"No I'm fine. I was just thinking about something." He picked up his fork and took a bite of the lobster
the waiter had sat down in front of him a few minutes ago, but he didn't really taste it. He was too busy staring
into Gwen's eyes to even think about how good the lobster was.
"Well?" She asked arching one of those perfectly shaped brows of hers. "Don't you like it?"
"What? Oh. Uh. Yeah." He said shaking his head in confusion. What in the hell was wrong with him all
of the sudden? One look from her and he couldn't form a complete sentence? He was definitely in trouble here.
"Okay." Gwen said leaning back in her chair and crossing her slender arms, a move which pushed her breasts
up higher giving him a birds eye view of the cleavage that he had been trying not to look at all evening. He swallowed
hard. "What is going on with you tonight, Hank? You're not acting like yourself at all."
He raised a finger to the collar of his black shirt then frowned when he realized it wasn't even buttoned up all
the way. He was seriously losing it. What in the hell was wrong with him? It's just Gwen. They'd had dinner together
before, several times in fact. But she never kissed you before, a voice whispered inside his head.
"Are you feeling alright?" Gwen asked putting her hand to his forehead. "You don't feel like you
have a fever."
He caught her hand before she could take it away and the moment his skin touched hers, a jolt of awareness shot
through his body with a force that almost knocked him out of his chair. He glanced at her and caught her staring
at their joined hands. Had she felt it too?
Gwen Hotchkiss wasn't sure why she hadn't picked up on the electricity floating through the air before, but as
she looked at her hand resting so comfortably in Hank's she became increasingly aware of it now. There was that
certain something in the air that she hadn't felt for a very long time. Then again she wasn't sure she had ever
felt what she was feeling right now.
Her stomach was tied in knots and her breathing was becoming more shallow with each second Hank held her hand in
his. She swallowed hard then looked up into his deep brown eyes. As their eyes held, something passed between them
and as it did, she felt their friendship shift to accommodate it.
She licked her lips in anticipation and the movement drew Hank's attention. She watched his eyes darken and as
he leaned in closer to her, she didn't think she had ever wanted anything more than she wanted to feel his lips
against hers right then.
"Is everything all right?" A masculine voice asked causing them both to flush crimson and lean back in
"Everything is fine." She heard Hank answer in a voice that did not sound like his own. But she was grateful
that he answered because she knew she couldn't have voiced anything that would remotely resemble a sentence. Hank
had almost kissed her. Would have had they not been interrupted by the waiter and she would have let him.
"Gwen." Hank said drawing her attention back to him. "About what happened or well what almost happened...
I... damn. Let's just say I lost my head for a second."
"Lost your head." She repeated suddenly feeling sick to her stomach. "Yeah sure. I understand."
She started to get up and just as she got to her feet, Hank got to his. He gently grabbed her by the arm and kept
her from moving past him. "Gwen, let me explain what I meant by that. Don't just assume you know because I'm
pretty sure what you're thinking is NOT what I was going to say."
She stared at him for a second then nodded and sat back down. She waited for him to explain but he simply stared
at her as if he'd never seen her before. "Okay, Hank. Are you going to explain or not? Because if you're not
"I am." He said grabbing her hand and linking their fingers together. "It's just I'm not sure how
to start. You see contrary to popular belief I haven't exactly been in this situation before."
"What situation is that?" She asked hope suddenly springing to her heart.
"Being attracted to someone I consider one of my best friends is a little new to me and I'm kind of having
a hard time dealing with that." He looked at her and tilted his head to the side as if he were studying her.
"Can you blame me?"
"N...no." She said lowering her eyes to the table. "I'm having the same problem you are."
"So you are attracted to me then. I was afraid -"
"What?" She asked raising her head and searching his eyes. "What were you afraid of?"
"That I was in this thing alone."
"You're not alone, Hank." She squeezed his hand then gave him a small smile. "The only question
is do we act on these new feelings or do we ignore them and hope they'll go away?"
"I don't know, Gwen, I honestly just don't know."