Michael and Maggie applauded with the rest of the guests following the finale of the reworks display before returning to the table to collect Ben. She shivered a bit as they walked.
“Are you cold?” Michael asked, running a hand down her bare arm. “You are!” When they reached the table he removed his suit coat from the back of the chair where he’d left it and draped it over her shoulders. “Here, that should be better.”
Maggie pulled the coat around herself and as she did, his scent enveloped her. “Thanks! I didn’t realize how chilly it had gotten.”
Ben was conscious and blinking in confusion. “Holy God, I thought we were being invaded,” he said. “Where is everybody?”
Maggie laughed. “Yes, we were invaded by aliens and they beamed up everyone except us. Come on, it’s time to go. We’ve dodged a bullet. Michael has kindly offered for us to ride back to the city with him rather than taking the train.”
Ben cocked his head and looked adoringly at Michael. “Somehow I knew you were my knight in shining armor. What, more wine? Don’t mind if I do,” he cooed, downing a half-full glass that was in front of him.
“Laying it on a little thick there, chief,” Maggie cautioned quietly, but Michael just laughed.
“Enjoy some more wine for a few minutes, I’ll call my driver to come to the front,” he said. He completed his call and poured more wine for himself and Maggie.
They sat chatting about the reworks and the music, leaving out their time on the dance floor. Maggie wasn’t sure how she felt about it. Being in Michael’s arms had been glorious. Wearing his coat, surrounded by his seductive scent, the memory of his voice in her ear... She furtively glanced at him, desire causing her pulse to pound. She knew that she wanted him. She also knew that she was a little tipsy and that she might not be making the best decisions.
“What is your cologne?” she blurted out. Case in point of reckless decisions, she thought.
He grinned in amusement. “It’s Bleu de Chanel.”
“It’s heavenly,” she said before she could stop herself. “It’s just that, well, your jacket smells like you, which is good, really. I mean it’s very nice.”
“You’re drunk, Mags,” he observed quietly.
She made a valiant attempt to look at him squarely. “Maybe just a tiny little bit.”
Michael checked his phone. “The car’s out front. Are we ready?” Between the two of them, they managed to get Ben to his feet and across the expanse of lawn to the driveway where a medium sized stretch limousine waited, driver holding open the back door for them.
Wide-eyed, Maggie looked around Ben to Michael. For his part, Michael looked a little embarrassed. “Jana likes to ride in a limo,” he shrugged.
Ben had fallen asleep again and together they maneuvered him into the car, laying him gently onto the black leather couch that ran down the driver’s side of the passenger compartment before they settled back into the plush leather seat at the rear of the car.
“Traffic is heavier than usual, Mr. Rannigan,” the driver told him. “The drive may take a couple of hours.”
“Thank you, Mason. And thanks for taking care of Ms. Hansen.”
“Of course, Mr. Rannigan. Happy to help,” the man replied before closing the door.
Michael turned to Maggie as the car began moving away from the house. “Hope you don’t mind a bit of a drive. I hadn’t counted on traffic.”
“Please!” Maggie said. “This beats the hell out of public transportation. And traffic or no, we’ll still get back before we would have on the train. Thank you for the ride.”
He smiled. “My pleasure,” he said. And meant it, he was mildly surprised to realize. Impeccable manners had been instilled in him by the aunt with whom he’d lived after his mother had died. At the time, he’d resented it, but they had served him well. On the other hand, he often found himself mouthing words he didn’t mean. Not this time, he thought to himself.
“Can I offer you a drink?” he asked, motioning to the bar that was opposite the couch on which Ben lay snoring. Loudly. “There’s bourbon and pink champagne.” Maggie frowned quizzically. “Pink champagne is Jana’s favorite,” he elaborated somewhat apologetically.
“I’ll take bourbon if it’s all the same to you,” Maggie responded, trying not to smirk and hoping that she was successful. Michael turned over two glasses and began to carefully pour bourbon from a crystal decanter.
“Boy, renting a stretch limo, stocking it with pink champagne,” she muttered to herself. “She must be some kind of lay.” Michael glanced at her, shock registering on his face. “Shit, was that out loud?” she asked.
“It was,” he answered, handing her a glass of bourbon as he settled back into the seat. “And truthfully, she’s not all that.”
It was Maggie’s turn to look shocked. Michael gave her a wry smile and clinked his glass to hers. “To nights that turn out differently from the way you expected.”
They sipped their bourbon wordlessly, occupied with their own thoughts for a few miles.
“I know it’s none of my escort business promoted on devozki,” Maggie began.
“Those words are always followed by a ‘but’,” Michael interjected, shaking his head.
“BUT,” Maggie continued, “I don’t know how you do that.”
“How do you sleep with someone that you don’t even like? I could tell from the moment we sat at the table that you didn’t like that girl.”
“Okay, I don’t want to have in-depth conversations with Jana, but did you see her? Like I said before, it was just the wrong event for her. She’s great at Mets games, music awards, things like that.”
“I just couldn’t sleep with someone that I wasn’t attracted to intellectually, that’s all I’m saying.”
“Is that what’s wrong with Dan?” he probed, happy to be talking about someone besides Jana.
“He’s a nice guy. He’s smart and articulate, and not bad looking,” Maggie conceded. “I just don’t feel that...spark, that’s all. If I went out with him it wouldn’t be genuine.”
“You’re picky,” Michael concluded, shaking his head. “I deserve to be,” she said quietly. “You do too.” They passed another few miles in silence.
“You know,” Maggie said, “I hear Disney’s coming out with a new princess movie soon. And you could take her out for ice cream after.” She gave Michael a mischievous look.
Michael gave a reluctant grin and his eyes sparkled in the lights of passing cars. “You, Mary Margaret Flynn, are a smart ass. It’s kind of endearing.”
She grinned at him. “You’re welcome!” she teased.
He poured them both more bourbon. “In a pain-in-the-ass sort of way.” They both laughed.
“Mags,” she heard out of the shifting fog. “We’re back in town. I need you to tell us where to go.”
She opened her eyes and realized that she’d been sleeping with her head on Michael’s shoulder. “Oh, God, I’m so sorry.” She sat up abruptly. “I didn’t realize... I wish you’d awakened me.”
“No worries. But we need to know exactly where to take Ben and where your place is.”
Maggie could see the driver watching her in the rearview mirror. “My place. Right.” She gave the address and the driver thanked her, the partition whooshing back into place. “Ben can sleep it off on my couch. It won’t be the first time.”
The car came to a stop in front of Maggie’s apartment. “Nice building, Mags. Is the whole thing yours?”
She fairly snorted. “In my dreams! One day when I’m rich and famous, I’ll have my own brownstone. For now I’m happy with a tiny part of the second floor.” She smiled gratefully. “Thanks again for the ride. You are a lifesaver.” She moved to open the door but the driver was there first.
“Let me help you get him inside,” Michael offered. They both glanced at Ben, who hadn’t so much as shifted during the entire ride.
She looked back at Michael. “Probably a good idea. I won’t be able to get him up the stairs by myself.” They succeeded in rousing Ben enough for him to put his arms around their shoulders and they moved him to the sidewalk.
Michael spoke quietly to the driver, who nodded before returning to the driver’s seat and slowly driving away. Maggie looked at him questioningly. “I told him to and a place to park. I’ll call him after we get your date settled.”
They managed the stairs and Michael leaned Ben between himself and the wall as Maggie unlocked the door and let them into her apartment. “Let’s just lay him on the couch,” she said, cocking her head in the direction of a large grey velvet sofa with navy blue accent pillows.
They worked together to get the unconscious and snoring Ben safely onto the couch, Michael studiously ignoring the way his jacket gapped open, inviting views of Maggie’s breasts as she leaned over to place a pillow under Ben’s head.
“Thank you so much, Michael,” she said as she removed his jacket and held it uncertainly. “Can I o er you a beer or coffee or something? Or do you need to go?”
“Coffee sounds good,” he answered.
Maggie smiled brightly as she gently placed his jacket over the back of a kitchen chair and set about making coffee. Michael wandered around the living room area to the bay window and looked out over the street. He turned back around to take in the view of the room. It was small, of course, but nice in a quirky sort of way. She’d left on a dim lamp near the window that gave enough light to the space without being intrusive. “This is a nice place,” he commented.
She smiled at him from the kitchen counter. “Thanks. And again, I really appreciate your giving us a ride.”
“Mags, you’ve thanked me about a thousand times,” he said gently.
She blushed slightly. “Well, I didn’t want to forget,” she said sheepishly. He watched her as she worked in the kitchen, measuring out coffee into a French press, putting a kettle of water on the stove, little mundane domestic tasks. His mind skipped to ashes of her from throughout the night. Slowly it dawned on him what it was about Maggie that made him uncomfortable.
She’s real. She has no hidden agenda. She isn’t playing some game, she doesn’t want anything from me. He sighed deeply. She’s the kind of girl who could make you forget your own rules.
Michael slowly crossed the room and stood by the kitchen counter. “Can I help with something?”
“No, it’s all done. We’re just waiting for the water to boil.” She leaned back resting her hand on the counter.
He gently placed his hand on hers. “You...are very dangerous,” he whispered, lifting her hand to his lips and kissing it softly, his deep brown eyes peering into hers. Her brow furrowed, perplexed.
Gently, he tilted up her chin with his fingers and leaned down, meeting her lips with his own, lightly at first, and then more urgently. He ran his other hand down the smooth fabric of the back of her dress coming to rest on her rm ass as he probed her mouth with his tongue, seeking hers.
Maggie responded, matching the heat of his kiss, reaching up, tangling her fingers in the hair behind his ear, giving herself over to his embrace. Michael’s hand left her ass and smoothed its way back up to her side, her ribs, stopping just under her breast. Reluctantly he pulled himself away.
Maggie breathlessly gazed up at him. He smiled gently. “We’re both a little drunk,” he said. “Which is why I’d better go.” Tenderly, he kissed her once again and walked out the door.