It was around noon and Rory Bentworth was walking and texting, not really looking where he was going. He barely heard the words, “Watch out,” before he glanced up and narrowly missed walking straight into the woman who was carrying some books. A couple of them fell on the ground along with his cell phone.
Apologizing profusely and feeling very embarrassed, he stooped down and picked up the books. “You know you really ought to look where you’re going,” she said.
He looked up and found her standing over him, gazing down at him. She didn’t look angry. In fact, there was a slight smile on her face. She was stunning. The attraction was immediate for him. He stared at her, tongue tied.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Rory.” He didn’t tell her that his last name was Bentworth because the inevitable question would have been, Are you by any chance related to Elizabeth Bentworth? The late Elizabeth Bentworth was the renowned mystery writer whose books were bestsellers, many of which were adapted to film. And being Elizabeth Bentworth’s grandson meant that her only son, Arthur, once reputed to be London’s finest barrister, was his father. He wanted this beautiful woman standing over him to be interested in him, not in his family connections. He was determined to see her again.
“Rory, may I have my books, please?” She held out her hand.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, his face turning beet red, he handed her the books. She took his breath away.
“Thanks. Don’t forget your cell phone.”
He scooped it up and got to his feet. He dropped it in his pocket, his eyes never leaving her face. She was looking at him. “What’s your name?” he asked. His heart was racing.
“Is this where you work?” he asked indicating the building they were standing in front of.
She nodded. “Yes. What about you? Do you work close by?”
He shook his head. “No, I work about twenty minutes from here. I was on my lunch break and heading back to the office when I literally bumped into you.”
“Well, I’d better go.”
“I see that you’re not married. Are you seeing anyone?” He wasn’t usually this forward but he had to know if she was in a relationship.
She laughed. “You’re not shy, are you?” she commented. “No, I’m not seeing anyone.”
“Nor am I. Can I see you again?”
She studied him for a moment and then she said, “Come with me.” She turned and walked towards the steps leading to the building where she worked. He followed her, admiring her slim figure in the navy blue skirt suit and the long shapely calves in the black high heeled shoes. Her hips swayed slightly as she walked. They went through the revolving doors and up to the reception desk. She set the books down on the counter and asked the guard on duty for a pen and paper. When he handed them to her, she scribbled something down, folded the paper and gave it to Rory. She picked up her books and smiled at him. “It was nice meeting you, Rory,” she said. “I’ll see you around.” And then, she walked away.
He stared after her until she disappeared from his view and then, he opened the sheet of paper she had given him. On it she had written her name and number and the words, I’m free for lunch tomorrow at twelve-thirty. I will meet you down here in the lobby. Grinning broadly, he folded it and put it in his wallet. He couldn’t wait for tomorrow to come. On his way back to work, he stopped by a bake shop and bought a funnel cake which he finished eating by the time he reached the office.
The next day, he was in the lobby waiting anxiously for her. He was nervous and excited at the same time. He felt like a lovesick schoolboy. He hoped he looked good in the charcoal grey suit, black shirt and matching tie. When he saw her coming towards him, his heart began to race and his gaze eagerly travelled over her. She was wearing a black skirt suit with a light blue shirt underneath. Her hair was pulled back and she was wearing pearl earrings and a matching necklace. She looked amazing. She smiled at him now. “Hello, Rory,” she said. “You’re very punctual. I like that.” She was standing in front of him now and he towered over her even though she was wearing heels.
“Hello, Kristen.” He wondered what she would say if she knew that all morning he had been looking at his watch, anxious for noon to come so that he could head over here. Last night he thought of nothing else but seeing her again. And here they were standing in the lobby of the building where she worked about to go for lunch. “Where would you like to go for lunch?”
“There’s an Italian restaurant just ten minutes from here. They serve the best pasta dishes.”
He knew the one she meant. He had passed it several times but never went in. “Sounds good.”
“Let’s go,” she said and preceded him to the revolving doors. When they were outside, she put on her sunglasses which made her even more alluring. It was a beautiful summer day. The sun was shining and many people were milling about, simply enjoying the weather. “So, how come a handsome guy like you doesn’t have a girlfriend?” She asked as they walked.
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I haven’t met anyone I liked until now.”
She glanced at him when he said that. “And you like me?”
“Even though you hardly know me.”
“You hardly know me but, we are having lunch together.”
“Touché,” she said smiling.
“What about you? How come you’re not in a relationship?”
“My work keeps me busy and the last relationship I had didn’t work out. We wanted different things. Besides, he hadn’t gotten over his ex. The last I heard, they are back together. I wish him well. Here we are,” she added as they approached the restaurant. “It’s not very crowded now.”
He held the door open for her and she went in, removing her sunglasses. They chose a table by the window. It was a nice, pleasant and bustling place. Immediately, a waitress went over to their table with the menus and took their orders for drinks. When she returned they gave her their orders.
“I know it must have been hard for you but I’m glad that things didn’t work out between him and you. We wouldn’t be here together if they did.”
Kristen studied him. He had such a gorgeous face and his hair. It was so thick and unruly. She wanted to reach over and ran her fingers through it. She was extremely attracted to him but he looked young. “How old are you?” she asked.
“I’m older than you,” she informed him. “I’m in my late thirties.”
“I guess this means you’ve never dated a younger man before.”
She shook her head. “The men I’ve dated were either my age or older. I never once considered dated a man younger than me.”
“What about now?” he asked, his expression serious as he looked at her. “Would you consider it now?”
This guy didn’t waste any time going after what he wanted. She found that very exhilarating. “I might,” she said. It flattered her that someone his age wanted to go out with her. Their orders came then and they ate. They talked about other things. Thankfully, she didn’t ask him about his family and they didn’t talk about work. There were other, more interesting topics they discussed and the time went so quickly—too quickly. It was time to leave. Reluctantly, they paid the bill and walked out into the sunshine.
“Have dinner with me tonight, Kristen,” he asked as they were standing in the lobby fifteen minutes later.
“I’m sorry but I can’t have dinner with you tonight,” she said. “I have to work late but how about tomorrow night?”
“Yes, tomorrow night is fine. I’ll pick you up at seven.” He wanted so much to hold her hand but he didn’t want to rush things.
She wrote her address on the back of her business card and put it in the breast pocket of his jacket. Their eyes met and held for several minutes before she said goodbye. She turned and walked away. Before she rounded the corner, she glanced back to find him still standing there, watching her. She turned away, smiling.
Rory hurried from the building, excited. When he got back to the office, he saw that his mother had called. He dialed her number and he was connected to her right away. “Hello, Mother. You called?”
“Yes, I called to let you know I have a speaking engagement this evening, so I wouldn’t be able to have you over for dinner tonight.”
He had completely forgotten that he was supposed to have dinner with her tonight. He would have gone to dinner with Kristen if she hadn’t other plans and wouldn’t have remembered to call his mother to cancel his plans with her. “We can do it another time,” he said.
“What about tomorrow night?”
“Sorry, Mother, but I have plans.” He hoped she wouldn’t ask any questions.
“Well, if there are with Isabella, I have no objections. I will call you on Sunday. Goodbye.” She rung off and he hung up the phone.
Why was she always pushing Isabella Stanton on him? Isabella was a nice girl, smart, easy going, not at all snobbish like her parents and older sister but he wasn’t attracted to her. Why his mother would assume that his plans were with Isabella, he had no clue. He had never given her any indication that he was the least bit interested in her friend’s daughter. He wonder what his mother would do if she knew that Isabella was in love with a law clerk? He knew exactly how she would react if she knew about his attraction for Kristen. She would have a fit. Kristen was older than him and of a lower social status. She was a far cry from Isabella Stanton.
Yet, it was Kristen who stirred in him feelings he had never experienced before in his life. She filled his thoughts and aroused fierce desires in him, making him yearn for her. Whenever they were apart it was torture for him because the hours seemed to drag. And when they were together the time went by so quickly. And it seemed like he was waiting for weeks instead of hours for Saturday evening to come. And when it finally did, he was standing outside of her flat at promptly seven.
He was dressed in a black suit, black shirt and no tie. His hair which had a proclivity to be tousled in a very disarming way was slicked back, giving it a sleek look. His brown eyes complimented his olive complexion. Kristen couldn’t stop staring at him. Her heart was racing, especially when she saw the way he was looking at her. There was admiration in the depths of his eyes and something else. It was the something else which made her senses tingle in excitement. She was wearing a black figure hugging black dress with a V-neckline. Her hair was swept back in an up hairdo.
“You look amazing,” he told her, his face riveted to her face as she gazed up at him. He wanted to kiss her so badly.
“Shall we go?” she said, sounding a little breathless. She knew that if they stayed there any longer, they would probably end up going inside her flat instead of going out for dinner. No, she had to keep a cool head.
“Yes,” he muttered and stepped aside so that she would precede him to the lift. How on earth was he going to get through dinner when all he wanted to do was take her in his arms and…? He had to keep a cool head. This evening was another opportunity for them to get to know each other better and depending on how it went Kristen would determine whether or not she wanted to have a relationship with him. He couldn’t afford to allow anything to ruin his chances with her. He had to take it slow.
They went to a Cajun/Creaole restaurant where the food was excellent. The atmosphere was warm and friendly. Over tasty and spice dishes and mocktails, they laughed and talked. She never had so much fun and she was still laughing when they walked through the lobby of her building. “I had a really great time tonight,” she said as they stood in front her flat. “Thank you.”
“I had a great time tonight too,” he said, his expression tense as he met her gaze. He didn’t want to leave.
Kristen saw the look on his face and her heart ached. He looked so forlorn. She would be a fool to send him away now, especially when she desperately wanted him to stay. She pushed open the door and grabbing his hand she pulled him inside the flat. After slamming the door and locking it, she turned towards him. Their eyes locked for several palpable minutes and then they came together like two magnets, drawn together by a force they were powerless to resist. All of her reservations went out of the window as she gave into the passions that raged inside her. As they exchanged feverish kisses, he removed his jacket. In a matter of minutes, their clothes were strewn on the floor and they were on the rug in front of the sofa, making love.
After that night, they became involved. It was his first serious relationship. And he hoped, his last. He knew without a doubt that Kristen was the one. He fell in love with her that day when he ran into her. Meeting her that day had turned his world upside down. He couldn’t imagine his life without her. It seemed to him that he had been waiting for her all of his life. He knew his mother would have a problem with his relationship with Kristen but he had to follow his heart. Right now, he was blissfully happy, lying on his back on the sofa with his head on her lap, his eyes closed as she played with his hair.
“You’re Amanda Bentworth’s son, aren’t you?” the question jolted him and he sat up, swinging so that his feet were on the rug so that he could face her. She was watching him curiously.
“How long have you known?” he asked warily.
“Since this morning. Heather, a co-worker, mentioned that she had gone to a luncheon where the guest speaker was Philanthropist and Women’s Rights advocate, Amanda Bentworth. She showed me the brochure and said that it was a very well attended affair and that Mrs. Bentworth was a great speaker. Then, Heather asked me if I had ever seen Mrs. Bentworth’s gorgeous son, Rory? I didn’t recall ever seeing him so she brought up an image of your mother and you at your father’s funeral. Why didn’t you tell me that you’re a Bentworth?”
“I wanted you to be interested in me not in my family name. And I was afraid that if you knew who I was you wouldn’t want to see me.”
“I admit that finding out that you are from a famous family floored me but it doesn’t change anything. To me, you’re simply Rory.”
He took her hands in his, his eyes searching her face. “How do you feel about marrying a Bentworth?” he asked huskily.
She swallowed. “No way in particular,” she said quietly. “I’d marry you no matter what your name was.”
He raised his hands to cup her face between them, his eyes darkening on her face. “I love you,” he muttered thickly.
She placed her hands on his thighs. “I love you too.”
He reached over and kissed her. “Marry me,” he murmured against her lips.
“Yes,” she whispered and then they were kissing.
They got married the following year in the spring. At first, his mother was determined not to attend the wedding because she was still upset with him for falling in love with another woman when she had her heart set on him marrying Isabella. However, when she learned of Isabella’s engagement to a law clerk, she decided that she would not have been a suitable match for Rory, after all. And when she attended the wedding and saw how happy he was as he danced with his bride, her resentment gave way maternal pride when it dawned on her that Rory was the first Bentworth who had married for love.