Hank opened the car door for Gwen then held out his hand to help her out. The moment she laid her hand in his he
knew he'd made a mistake. They hadn't discussed what they were going to do about the sudden attraction buzzing
between them and touching her only made it ten times worse.
"You want to come in?" Gwen asked as she turned to face him. He could see the nervousness in her eyes
and he was glad he wasn't the only one that felt that way. This was definitely new territory for him and he had
no earthly idea on how to deal with it.
"I'm not sure my coming in is such a good idea." He saw the hurt expression that passed across her features
but she masked it quickly. Still he saw it. "Gwen, we need to think about this thing that's happening before
we act on it. Our friendship means a lot to me and I don't want to rush into anything that might jeopardize that.
"No." She whispered lowering her head to look at the ground. "It's just..."
She broke off and he placed his hand under her chin then gently raised her head so that he could meet her eyes.
"It's just what?"
"It's just we've gone out before and you've always come in. It was never a big deal before." She closed
her eyes for a brief second and when she opened them again, he could see the uncertainty in her eyes. "And
now all of the sudden it seems like a very big deal, but I don't know, Hank. Maybe it seems like a bigger deal
because we're making it that way."
He thought about that for a second and realized she had a point. But could he go inside that house with her feeling
the way he felt right now and not try to kiss her the way he'd wanted to in that restaurant tonight? He didn't
know, but one look into Gwen's beautiful brown eyes and he knew he was going to find out.
Gwen flipped on the lights then led Hank into the living room. She was aware of the electric charge emancipating
throughout the room almost as much as she was the light that illuminated it. Things between her and Hank had changed
tonight. Perhaps they had changed before tonight and neither one of them had noticed. They both noticed now though
and that was their entire problem. They were both aware of the change in their friendship and neither one of them
knew how to address it.
"So Hank what would you like to drink? I have beer, wine, and brandy." She turned to face him and tried
to hide her nervousness by plastering a smile on her face.
"A beer would be fine." He said shedding his black bomber jacket and laying it over the arm of the couch
then lowering himself down onto one of the dark blue cushions.
Gwen stared at him for a second loving the way his hair fell across his forehead then finally managed to get her
feet to move so that she could walk into the kitchen. She grabbed two beers out of the fridge and as she popped
the tops of them, she remembered the first time Hank had talked her into drinking a beer with him.
"Hank, are you sure I'm going to like this stuff?"
She asked arching a brow at him. She knew he had been right about the other things he'd gotten her to try like
playing him a game of basketball, but drinking a beer? That might be a little too much to expect from her.
"Just try it." Hank said waving the beer in front of her face until she finally raised her hand to take
it from him. "I know your tastes for expensive stuff may not include drinking a beer, but hey you never know
until you try right? And that is what we said we would do, isn't it? Try to find new things? Well, you already
found basketball and you dragged me to the stinking opera so -"
"Hey you said you liked that opera!" She eyed him for a second then when she realized he was just trying
to rile her she smacked him on the shoulder, "That was not nice, but you're right. It's my turn to try something
new so if you want me to try this beer I will, but if I don't like it I don't want to hear any lectures on the
reasons beer is so good. Deal?"
"Deal." He said holding out a hand and
taking hers into it. "Now drink up, Hotchkiss! You know how impatient I can get."
"Yes I am well aware of that, Mr. Bennett." She took a small sip at first then grimaced at the after
taste. "This is not good Hank. I don't think I can drink any more of this."
"You barely tried it!." He said exasperated. "Take a bigger drink than that! If you still don't
like it then I'll shut up and you won't here me ask you to drink a beer with me ever again."
"Okay." She said licking her lips then raising the bottle and taking another sip, this one bigger than
the last. She swallowed and this time didn't grimace as much as she had the first time. It would take some getting
used to, but she supposed it wasn't as bad as she originally thought it would be. "So this gets better with
each drink? Is that right?"
"Yes." He said laughing. "But that might be because the more you drink the less you actually taste
She laughed the swatted him on the arm again. "So what? You plan to get me drunk just so I'll like drinking
"No, that wasn't the plan, but I'm game if you are. What do you say? Wanna see who gets drunk first?"
He asked raising a brow and giving her that boyish up-to-no-good grin of his.
"No I do not!" She said laughing. "Besides,
I already know I'd win."
"Oh is that right?" Hank asked sitting up and smiling at her in amusement. "Well how about a little
wager then Ms. Hotchkiss? If I outlast you then you have to go with me the next time I go see a football game,
but if you outlast me then... I'll do whatever you want."
"Whatever I want." She repeated loving the way he wiggled his brows as she said that. "Are you sure
you want to let that go unnamed?"
"Yep." He said nodding. "I trust
you to make things fair. Besides, I don't think you'll win so there's really nothing to worry about."
"Well sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Bennett, but I always win. In fact, I've never lost at anything. I always
get what I want and right now I want to beat the pants off you."
"There's a first time for everything." Hank said smiling as he leaned in toward her. She caught the devilish
twinkle in his eyes and held her breath as he spoke. "Now do you mean the rest of that literally or figuratively?
I mean, is that what you want me to do if you win, take my pants off? Because if it is then I'm pretty sure I'd
be willing to forfeit the bet right now."
Gwen swallowed hard then forced herself to ignore the suggestion burning its way through her brain. Hank was a
friend and the thoughts his suggestion was causing her was not something you should be thinking about a friend.
"There will be no forfeiting of the bet. If I win I want to win fair and square."
"Good because so do I. But you know the offer still stands. Anytime you want me to take my pants off you just
say the word." He laughed as she picked up a pillow and hit him in the side of the head. "What? What
did I say?"
Gwen took a deep breath as the memory faded then shook
her head. Hank was right when he'd told her that there was a first time for everything. She had lost that night,
but she'd had so much fun doing it that it hadn't really felt like losing and the football game he'd dragged her
to a few weeks later had been a lot more fun than she thought it would be.
But then she always had fun with Hank though. He was the only person she knew that could make her laugh so hard
she cried. He made her take herself less seriously and she'd never be able to repay him for that. She'd had more
fun with him the last few months than she had in her whole life. There was just something about him, she thought
pushing open the door and walking back into the living room, something that she couldn't turn away from even if
she wanted to.
"Here's your beer." She said handing him one of the dark brown bottles in her hand. Their fingers brushed
as he took the bottle from her and as his eyes met hers she knew ignoring what was happening between them, if that's
what they decided to do, was not going to be an easy thing for them to do. In fact, it was going to be almost impossible.
"Gwen," He said setting his beer down on the coffee table in front of him then grabbing her hand and
pulling her down onto the couch beside him. "We need to talk about this... this thing that we got going on
between us. We need to talk about it and make a decision on which way we want to take it because as it stands right
now? The only thing I want to do is kiss you and -"
"Then do it." Gwen said never taking her eyes off his as she sat her own beer on the coffee table. "Kiss
She held her breath and waited for his response. She was surprised at how much she really wanted him to kiss her
right now and she could only hope he wanted it just as much. But with their friendship on the line she wasn't at
all sure them kissing was such a good idea. Then again, as his head slowly started to move toward hers, Hank kissing
her suddenly seemed like the best idea she'd had in a very, very long time.