TRYING SOMETHING NEW
Benny and Ray have arranged to go on holiday together and Benny persuades Ray to try something new. But it doesn't quite go according to plan.
A first time story.
Written: November 2010. Word count: 1,800.
"Kayaking?" My voice rises and I see a couple of heads swivel round and look at me. I hurry across my office and close the door. "Kayaking?" I repeat a little more quietly.
Benny is smiling at me. "Yes, Ray," he says. "Kayaking. It's a water sport. It's rather like canoeing, but the difference is the position in which the kayaker sites and the number of blades on the paddle. It's -"
"I know what it is, Benny," I snarl. Okay, so I hadn't known exactly, not the stuff about the number of blades on the paddle, etc. But I know enough to know no one, not even Benny, is going to get me into a kayak!
Benny beams at me. "Oh, I am glad to hear that, Ray," he says.
I glare at him, trying to work out if he is being facetious, but of course he isn't. Benny never is. I go back to my chair and sink down. "You want to go kayaking?"
Benny shakes his head. "Not alone, Ray, no. I want us to go together. You'll enjoy it."
"Yeah, like I enjoyed our trip to Canada when we ended up with a hijacked plane, crashing in the middle of nowhere and you ended up concussed. I really enjoyed that." As soon as I say the words, I feel guilty. It isn't that Benny shows how disappointed he is or how much my words have upset them, maybe they hadn't really registered with him - he does take people at face value - but I know I'd been harsh. "Ah, Benny," I say, changing my tone. "I didn't . . . You know." I'm not sure he does, but he gives me a half nod.
"Understood, Ray," he says.
I sigh and grab my coffee as I look at him, my once again 'unofficial' partner and I think of everything that has led up to me sitting behind the Lieutenant's desk in the same station I'd worked as a detective and Benny taking over from Inspector Thatcher as head of liaison between Canada and the US in Chicago.
I remember the arguments Stella and I had from pretty much the moment we'd set up the bowling alley.
I remember walking out one evening, signing everything over to her and catching the first flight to Canada.
I remember arriving at his dad's cabin to find him alone - Kowalski had returned to the US months before.
I remember suggesting to him we went home. I remember waiting for Benny to tell me he was home.
I remember his smile, the way he pulled me into his cabin and started to warm me up; I hadn't realized how cold I'd gotten, how blue I'd turned.
I remember him saying 'yes'.
I remember us coming back to Chicago and -
Benny clearing his throat pulls me out of my reverie. Where was I? Oh, yeah, about to tell him I am not going kayaking, not with him, not with anyone. It is our first holiday together since coming back over a year ago and I don't want to spend it in freezing cold water, because let's be honest, Benny will spend all his time in the canoe, kayak, whatever it's called whereas I'll spend most of mine in the water. No, I am not going kayaking and that is final.
"Benny," I say, preparing to be firm.
"Yes, Ray?" He looks so hopeful and so happy.
But I am not going to give in. I resolve myself to saying 'no'. "Benny -" Oh, what the heck. "Okay, Benny, we'll go kayaking - but," I add quickly, as he begins to smile broadly, "just for a week, okay. A week kayaking and a week doing something else. Okay?"
He beams. "Yes, Ray," he says. His happiness rubs off on me and I find myself actually looking forward to it.
THREE WEEKS LATER
Well, Benny is right about one thing, it is a beautiful place and what's more we managed to get here without any hitches. The weather's perfect, not so hot all you want to do is laze about, but just warm enough you don't mind if you get a bit wet. I reckon this kayaking could be fun. Benny's getting the kayaks sorted; checking them over inch by inch to make sure everything is okay. He's told me some basic stuff and it sounds easy enough really and Benny will be there to make sure all's well.
Suddenly I remember something I meant to ask him. "Hey, Benny, I -"
The next thing I know I'm lying on the ground, soaking wet and bruised, wondering what happened. I can hear Benny. "Ray, oh, Ray, oh, Ray," he's saying over and over again. His voice is broken, shaky and his hands are moving over me, loosing my collar, checking my arms, my legs, my head. "Oh, Ray, oh, Ray."
Benny sounds so upset I force myself to open my eyes, blinking against the sunlight as I look up at him. "What -" The next second I'm forced into silence as Benny kisses me.
Just for a minute I think it must be because he hasn't realized I'm alive and he's being a good Mountie and giving me the kiss of life. But I know that's not true. Benny would never make that kind of mistake. Benny would know I am breathing, he must have seen my eyes open. So why is he kissing me?
The next second my thought is 'why has he stopped kissing me'? "Benny?" I manage, my voice sounds hoarse.
He cups my face and leans a little nearer to me. "Oh, Ray," he says, his voice soft. "I thought . . . I saw you . . . Oh, Ray, Ray."
"That's me," I quip.
He continues to gaze at me, his fingers brushing my cheek, his gaze never leaving my face, his eyes seem bluer than they normally are. As he looks at me I see what I've never seen before: I see love; an over-whelming, all consuming love and it's directed at me. Benny loves me. He doesn't have to tell me in words, I can see it; I know it.
I swallow hard; I've never been the recipient of so much love before. I'm not sure any single person is worthy of what he's offering me. "Benny?" I whisper.
But I can't find the words, so instead I reach behind his head and pull it down so that I can kiss him. I keep it brief; well I am cold and wet and the ground is starting to feel really hard. "Let's go back to the hotel," I say simply, when Benny lifts his head from mine.
He instantly stands up and helps me to my feet. "Of course, Ray, what am I thinking? We should get you out of those wet clothes as soon as possible. Here," he tugs off my jacket and starts to unbutton my shirt.
"Benny!" I exclaim, taking a step back.
He frowns. "What is it, Ray? I was merely going to give you my own jacket, which is dry." He holds it out.
"Yeah, well, thanks," I say, taking it from him. "It's just . . ." I trail off, unable to finish the sentence and finish taking my shirt and undershirt off. I put his jacket on, it's warm and smells of Benny; clean and fresh. Suddenly I see he's eying my trousers. That's going too far! "Er, no, Benny," I say, taking a step back from him. "Hotel," I repeat. "Hot shower. And then . . ." I trail off; again I can't quite say the words, but I look him up and down, hoping it looks as sensual to him as I mean it to be. Hoping he gets the hint.
When I look back at his face I see his pale cheeks are slightly flushed, sweat is lingering above his top lip, his pupils are just a bit larger than they normally are and he's swallowing hard. Good. He got the message.
Then he says. "Although maybe we should go to the hospital just to -"
"No." I say firmly.
"But you may have hit your head, Ray."
I shake my head. "I didn't," I say. "Really, Benny, I didn't. I'm fine. Just a bit cold and wet, that's all. Let's go back to the hotel so I can warm up."
He looks at me and for a moment I think he's going to argue. But then he smiles. "Very well, Ray, but I am going to keep my eye on you."
"Sounds good to me, Benny." I grin.
"Indeed, I think it would be sensible if you did not shower alone," he says, not quite meeting my eyes. "Just in case you . . ."
"Feel dizzy?" I ask my tone solemn. He nods. "That's a good idea, Benny. A very good idea."
SEVERAL HOURS LATER
I'm comfortable and dry and warm and happy and very well-loved. My Benny is quite the dark horse. Beneath his choir boy looks and his perfect manners is a sensual man; a very sensual one.
I never thought the day would come when I'd be in bed with another man, especially a naked one, but I am and I intend to be so again. "Benny?" I say, as I feel his fingers begin to caress my chest again.
He pushes himself up on one arm and gazes down at me. "Yes, Ray?"
"I was thinking, when we get back to Chicago . . ." I trail off. What if I've got it wrong and this was just a one off for Benny?
"Yes, Ray?" Benny's tone is polite and his hand has stilled on my chest.
I swallow. "The things is, Benny . . . Well, I was telling Ma the other week that . . . With Tony and Maria and the kids gone and Frannie getting married next month, well . . . And Ma said the house will be too big for her. So . . . What do you think?" I finally ask and hold my breath.
Benny frowns slightly and then to my surprise, puts his hand on my forehead and the other on my wrist. "Are you feeling all right, Ray?" he asks, his voice laced with concern.
"I'm fine, Benny. Why?"
"Well, Ray, please don't be offended but, I'm afraid I did not understand what you were saying."
I frown. It was perfectly clear! Wasn't it? Maybe not. Oh, well, there was nothing for it. I swallow hard and mentally cross my fingers. "I was wondering if you wanted to find an apartment with me," I say. "Share it with me," I add, just to make sure he really understands.
I wait a bit longer.
I wait even longer.
Just as I am about to say something, anything, Benny smiles. "Thank you kindly, Ray. I would like that very much," he says, his tone now formal.
I grin. "Good," I say and kiss him.
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