Chapter Nineteen

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Em stared down the hall. Joe was in his office-his door had been closed when she'd arrived this morning, and it was only ever closed when he was in there. She'd been at her post for almost three hours, and he hadn't come out yet.

Yesterday he'd kissed her.

He'd kissed her.

The phones rang and she picked up the handset blindly. "Orson & Tomlin. How can I direct your call?"

"Yes, can I have-"

The door to his office opened.

Putting the caller on hold, she sat up, but it was only Joe's assistant who walked out.

Shaking her head, she slumped in her chair. That one kiss had done something to her. She'd been so sure about her course of action, but that kiss had her questioning everything she wanted. She felt like she was spiraling down a path that she didn't want to follow.

She'd had wanton thoughts because of that kiss last night.

She'd tried everything she could to dislodge it from rooting in her head. She'd opened the book she was reading on the history of salt, but she hadn't been able to concentrate. She'd made tea but hadn't been able to drink it because its blandness hadn't suited her tastes. She'd even taken a cold shower, but her nipples had puckered hard, the way she'd imagine they would if Joe licked them, because he'd take his time and be thorough, slow rasping laps of his tongue, teasing each peak until she was squirming for more.

She'd had mad thoughts because of that kiss.

Thoughts that involved poufy white dresses and forever. Daydreams of being curled up with Joe on their couch, him rubbing her feet as she told him how their children had driven her insane that day.

This was not good, and she didn't know what to do about it. She nervously strummed her fingers on the desk, staring down the hall.

The phone rang again and she picked it up. "Orson & Tomlin. How can I direct your call?"

"I've been on hold forever! I want billing."

"Oh. Sorry." She winced and transferred the person, paying attention so she wouldn't accidentally drop the call. The line lit up again immediately, and she sighed. "Orson & Tomlin. How can I direct your call?"

There was a pause, and she was about to snap at the person on the other line to speak up when a hesitant voice asked, "May I speak to Em Shepherd?"

"This is Em. Who is this?"

"It's Ben."

"Ben?" She wrinkled her nose. "Why are you calling here? Do you need a lawyer?"

"No, I'm calling for you."

She frowned at his tentative tone. "You don't sound sure of that."

"No. I mean, yes, I'm sure."

She almost asked if he was certain he was sure. She smiled at one of the legal aides who walked past her desk as she waited for him to say what he wanted. When he didn't say anything, she finally asked, "Well?"

"Oh, right." He took a deep breath. "I was wondering if you'd like to have lunch with me sometime. Or dinner. Either."

Her frown deepened. Was this because of Joe?

Of course it was. She drummed her fingers, not sure how to feel. Glad that Joe showing interest woke Ben up, or annoyed that Ben was interested now, proving Joe right? At this moment it was mostly the latter.

She mentally cursed Ben. Then she mentally cursed Joe for spoiling this moment for her.

Someone came to stand next to her. The way her nipples perked up told her it was Joe. She looked up and glared at him.

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