Where there is tabloid journalism, a small percentage of the Libertines, and tropical furniture polish.
*** Ahem. Um. *peers about sheepishly* Hi? We've been gone for a while. Though, can I just say that in the last six months we've shipped across country and globe, found an apartment and employment, and procrastinated like woah? But we're back! And we're working on things, I swear!
PS - This chapter is for tyedyedchicky, since she asked so nicely and all. :)
Rita's book was finished and into the publisher's, and there weren't even that many edits to get through. The fact checkers were working on it now, and in a few more months, it would hit shelves. She was gearing up to start promotion, and living off a stipend from the publishing company until she started getting sales money.
During the day, she still worked on issues of Detail Oriented and was a general woman about town, spending her time shopping, reading, writing, or researching in coffee shops, and, somewhat embarrassingly, keeping track of the current whereabouts of the remaining Hobbled Gordons. Or, more specifically, one particular member. She was quite aware that they were back in London, not that it affected her life at all. Though, she was sure she could make a pretty penny if she sold insider sex secrets of the couple weeks she'd spend fooling around with Ben back in Salcombe.
Still, neither of them had suggested they carry on their little fling past separation, and Rita had no expectations. It had been fun while it lasted, just like all of her other, short-lived sex partners were. For that was what they were. She didn't do relationships.
Nonetheless, she was lounging at home (a chic loft in the city near enough to a tube station) one night wearing a black long t-shirt over a pair of grey and red rose patterned leggings with a chunky grey belt up around her waist--it was comfortable and stylish, because even in the comfort of her own home, Rita didn't really slum it; who knew who was watching--when there was a knock at her door.
The absolute last person she expected was Benjamin Fenwick of the Hobbled Gordons. Therefore, shock was Rita's excuse for the instant smile that brightened her face when she opened the door to find him on the other side of it.
"You're really fucking hard to track down, you know that?" Ben said with a grin, eyeing her up and down appreciatively. He'd missed her. He could admit that. Or he could admit it to himself, anyway. She was still as obnoxious and delicious as she'd been when they'd been fucking around in Salcombe, and now was the first chance he'd gotten to pay her a visit since he, Leroy, Emmeline and Dale had been back in London. "How's it shakin', baby?"
"What the fuck, Fenwick!" Rita exclaimed, her voice coming back to her. She was still smiling, though, and she leaned on the doorframe, just grinning at him as he quite obviously took a moment to appreciate her outstanding physical attributes. "I'm fabulous, of course. But why on earth have been looking for me?"
Ben shrugged and his grin grew wider. "Dunno," he said, faux-casually. "Haven't seen you for what, three months, is it? Thought we might catch up."
"So I suppose you want to come in then, do you?" she asked slyly, only holding the door open enough so that he'd have to slide in past her, nice and close.
"Well I certainly wouldn't turn down an invitation to do so," Ben replied, shimmying between her and where she held the door. He paused when he was right in front of her, licking his lips. Her breasts pressed slightly against his chest through her shirt.
"Are you going to kiss me hello or not, Fenwick? Don't keep a girl waiting," Rita said, leaning in even closer and pushing the door shut behind them all in one go.
Ben didn't need telling twice.
He leaned in eagerly, pressing his lips to hers while simultaneously putting one arm around her neck and the other around her waist, tugging her as close to him as she could get.
Rita laughed into his mouth a little, and returned the kiss. When they broke apart, finally, she smirked up at him as she smoothed her hands up his chest and asked, "Did you miss me, then?"
"Would you take the mickey out of me for the rest of the week if I said yes?" Ben asked, bending to kiss and nuzzle her neck.
"Are you here for a week then?" Rita asked, bypassing the question. His response was answer enough, and if she were honest with herself, she had missed him too. If only because he was marginally better than any of her other flings had been. Besides, he was doing wonderful things to her neck and she was feeling charitable.
"Yeah. Ministry's flying us to the states to do Live Aid," Ben said against her skin, a little annoyed. Not that he really minded--it was his career they were talking about here--but it felt like they hadn't stopped moving since Stubby's funeral. "Bono himself invited us, the fucker. But I'm all yours from now until next Tuesday if you'll have me."
"Well, it's a terrible burden, of course. I'm a busy woman, you know. I suppose I could make a little room for you in my schedule," Rita replied and let her head fall back dramatically to give him better access. "I like sex as much as the next girl, and you weren't totally abysmal in the sack, after all."
"How hospitable of you," Ben said softly as he sucked the skin just under Rita's ear. Sliding a hand under her shirt until he met the skin of her belly, he moved his mouth to her jaw. Christ, it was ridiculous how much he'd missed her. Everything about her, from her smile, to the way she tasted, to the completely insane and slightly frightening way she put her outfits together. Not wanting to get too sappy (neither he nor Rita were really the sort), Ben tugged on the waist of her leggings and said, "I didn't realize the 80s were coming back with such a relish. I think my mum still has a pair of leggings just like these."
"I bet they look better on me than they ever did on her," Rita snickered in response. "Are you picturing her, with your hand up my shirt and designs to get into my knickers? You dirty, dirty boy."
Failing to come up with a sensible, witty comeback, Ben blushed instead before bending and scooping her into his arms. "Fuck this. Where's your bed, woman?"
Rita squeaked a little when he scooped her up, and then laughed as she threw an arm around his neck for balance.
"Up the stairs," she said, gesturing grandly. The loft above only had three walls as the one overlooking the living room area of the apartment was open with a set of stairs against the far wall, but the bed was set far enough back that it gave it a little bit of privacy. "And now you've picked me up, don't you be lazy and put me back down again. You can damn well carry me up the stairs, baby."
"Aye, aye, ma'am," Ben grinned, and did so, stalking across the room and up the stairs with Rita in his arms, somehow managing not to drop her. Once he reached the bed he tossed her on it, and immediately climbed above her, hands moving to pull her shirt above her head and off. "What the fuck is this, a makeshift chastity belt?" Ben asked of the belt Rita was wearing over her shirt. "You're not fooling anyone, sweet cheeks, if that's the case. Your virtue went down the loo eons ago, eh?"
Rita snickered and undid the belt herself, rolling smoothly so she was on top, straddling his hips and cracking the wide belt in her hands. "No, it's to make it easier to truss me up for the kinkier stuff. You interested?"
"Maybe for my birthday," Ben replied with a wry smile, wiggling his hips under her.
Rita grinned, dropped her belt off the edge of the bed, then began to slowly hike up her tight black t-shirt, taking her time inching it up her abdomen, batting his hands away as he tried to reach out and hurry her up. "Oh, hey, no touching. Did I say you could touch? Careful, Fenwick, or I'll truss you up."
"Oh come on, Rita," Ben whined, but he was still smiling. "Three months is a long bloody time to keep it in my trousers!"
Rita's hands halted in their upward movement all together. "You what? You haven't gotten laid in three months? Not on my account, I hope."
Shit. "Er," Ben felt his cheeks burn. "No. No. Just. No time. For shagging." Fuck.
Rita blinked at him, not fooled for one second even though his admission shocked her. She looked away for a second, made a quick decision, and then sighed as she looked back and put a hand on his cheek. "Ben. You adorable boy, you. I'm flattered, but we are so far from exclusive it's laughable. This is just for fun. We're not an item. I've fucked half a dozen men in those three months. Do you get it?"
Half a dozen was really only two, and both were out of boredom more than anything, but he didn't need to know that. It was more the gist that she wanted to get across to him. She wasn't a girlfriend sort of girl. She wouldn't wait around for him. That just wasn't Rita's style.
"Yeah, I get it," Ben said, not particularly surprised that she'd slept with other men while he was gone, but it still felt weird to hear. They hadn't set titles for each other, or expectations, and it was probably better that way, but Ben hadn't abstained from shagging anyone because he wanted to say he was a loyal boyfriend, but because there was just no one but Rita that he wanted to sleep with. Or really be with, for that matter, but this casual shagging thing was better than nothing.
"You like me, don't you?" Rita asked, eyes narrowing a little. "Don't lie. I'm a shrewd reporter type. I'm good at reading people. Is it going to fuck you up if we sleep together now? Or, will it fuck you up to a degree that I'll feel bad? Because I'm pretty cold about stuff like that, and if it only fucks you up a little, I won't mind. It's just, now that you're here, I'm really juiced for it. Sex! Goodie! You still in?"
"Liking you doesn't mean I can't separate fucking around from an actual relationship," Ben said, speaking more to reassure himself than her.. "Besides, it's not as though I'm going to be around much anyway, right? On the road and shit. No point getting attached."
"You don't know how glad I am to hear that," Rita replied, and pulled her shirt off. Two mediocre fucks in three months after a couple of weeks of great sex with Ben had definitely not satisfied her voracious sexual appetite. She was really looking forward to the upcoming week.
Having disposed of her shirt rather quickly, Rita left her lacy black bra on and began fiddling with his belt. He was a fit bloke, quite muscular from all the drumming, and Rita tossed her long hair over her shoulder, looking up at him as she undid his trousers. "Shirt off now, drummer boy."
Ben obeyed, pulling his shirt up and off and tossing who knew where. Once Rita had gotten his trousers off and he was lying there in nothing but his pants with her above him, he pulled her down to his level, hands rushing to touch every inch of her naked flesh.
Rita giggled and leaned in to bite his lip quickly before pulling away. "I told you no touching."
She rolled away from him then, stripped off her leggings, and bent to tug his boxers off. They were leopard print, and Rita couldn't help but smile. Ben was such a silly man. She didn't know anyone else who could actually wear leopard print underwear and pull it off. She decided than one way or another, she was going to keep those boxers as a souvenir.
She shimmied out of her knickers and dropped them onto the floor with his before she returned to his side, still smiling. "Okay, you can touch now."
Ben wasn't sure he'd ever quite get over the shock of her being completely hairless downstairs, and couldn't help himself from smoothing a trail over her breasts, down her stomach, onto her thigh and then wetness between her legs. He couldn't help but groan, and turned on his side so his erection pressed into her as he sucked a nipple delicately and continued to play with her sex.
Rita ran a hand through his hair, then down over his chest, stomach, and hips, sliding it around to his arse and squeezing.
This was going to be fun.
The next morning, after getting only a few hours sleep in after hours and hours of shagging, Rita sat up, stretched, and pulled on Ben's leopard print boxers to go downstairs and make coffee. She didn't bother with a shirt, and her bra had gotten discarded that night as well, but she didn't much care. The neighbours could get an eyeful if they felt like it.
"I'm making coffee. Want me to make you some too?" Rita called up. "Fenwick? Hey, drummer boy! Rise and shine, baby. You want coffee?"
Ben came to groggily. "Wassit?" he asked, looking around in confusion for a few moments as he tried to place where he was, and whose voice he was hearing. Rita. Right. Rita's place in London. And what was she babbling about? He sat up, rubbing at his eyes and tried to make sense of what she was asking. Coffee? Fucking yes, coffee! "Yes, please," he croaked, and put his feet on the floor, looking around for his underwear, which he couldn't find.
He stumbled downstairs naked instead, and slunk his arms around Rita from behind when he found her in the kitchen. "Morning, sexy," he said, still sounding half-asleep and kissing her shoulder.
Rita smiled and finished with the coffee quickly before turning her head and catching his mouth in an awkwardly angled kiss. Just as she was about to turn around, she saw movement out of the corner of her eye, and once she figured out what it was, she couldn't help but laugh.
"Oh, Ben, paparazzi must've recognized your car, because we just got snapped," she said, and waved at the man standing outside her front window. From the angle he was at, he could see her boobs, Ben's face over her shoulder, his arms around her, and depending how far he could crane his neck, possibly the fact that Ben was naked as well, even if his bits were hidden behind her.
"Fucking stalkers," Ben mumbled against her neck, not really giving a shit what they took pictures of. He slid his hands upward to cover her breasts in a sleep-foggy attempt to preserve her modesty, and then asked, "Are you wearing my shorts?"
Rita ignored the photographer and smiled happily as he attempted to preserve her dignity even though she didn't even care enough to reach out and close the kitchen blinds. That photographer would certainly make a pretty penny off of the shots, and the thoughts of her and Benjy in the tabloids only served to amuse her more.
"Yes, sir, I am," She answered, lazily curling an arm up to run her fingertips through Ben's hair, idly thinking that they must make an awfully pretty picture how they were. "I'm keeping them in exchange for your coffee."
"At least they'll have a good home," Ben said. "And I can visit them whenever I come over. Mmm, you're soft. Why are we awake again?"
"Because I wanted coffee," Rita replied, turning around to face him, and pressing a proper kiss to his lips. "And because I'm a self-centred brat who figures that if I'm up, you ought to be up too. But we can have sex in the shower, if you want. Do you have anywhere to be today?"
"No. Off for the week, told you," Ben answered, kissing her lips indecently before moving to her jaw, her neck, her shoulder.
Rita couldn't help but roll her head back and moan a little. "Nothing at all for the whole week? My, we're going to have fun. I, unfortunately, do have a few things to do," Rita replied. "Tomorrow, for example, we're going to go out in the morning and buy a bunch of copies of whatever rag publishes our voyeur. Then Friday, I have a big meeting with my editor that's probably going to take the better part of the afternoon. But everything else I can put off. You really should give a girl more notice, though. Oh, that's a good spot, by the way. Do it harder."
Ben did so. "Well if your number weren't unlisted and your publishing agent would've given it to me, I would've called you fucking ages ago," he said, bending as be moved his kisses down her body.
"If you wanted my number, you should've asked for it three months ago," Rita replied, and wondered exactly what photos would make it into the paper. The thought put a smile on her face. "And for the record, I didn't know you were such a bloody exhibitionist, Fenwick."
"Mmm, s'your body," he replied, kissing between her breasts and around the nipples. "Can't help myself."
"I wonder what this'll do to my book," Rita mused, voice breathy as she braced herself on the counter behind her. "Getting published fooling around with the drummer of the Hobbled Gordons as my book, with a big chunk on Stubby, is in the queue for publication. They say there's no such thing as bad publicity, right? I think you're going to get more shit for this than I am."
"Should I care? Can't be any more shit than what came flying at us when Stubby died," Ben said, bending lower and wrapping his arms around her lower body and grabbing her ass as he kissed her stomach. "Besides, we're just being naughty in the kitchen."
Rita locked the door behind them the next morning--11:45 was still morning!--and as she and Ben made their way down the single flight of stairs that took them to the street, she took his hand without a thought, pulling him along after her.
"So after we find the pictures, we can go to Hyde Park for a couple hours. I go there a couple of times a week and sort of stalk this woman who jogs there in the afternoons. It's kind of like a hobby or research or whatever. Just to see if she notices," Rita rambled, blonde hair pulled back in a messy side bun with a bright yellow beret on her head. Her skinny jeans were in the same family of yellow, and she wore a long tanktop with pastel blue and green paisley patterns on it underneath a green cardigan that was baggy at the top, tight around her waist, hung artfully off one shoulder, and was pulled mdway up to her elbows on the sleeves. It had yellow detailing on it, and that paired with her long blue scarf and adorable blue ankle boots pulled the whole outfit together. Rita had more clothes than anyone she knew, and in more colours than she knew what to do with, and she always prided herself on looking original.
Though her outfits were always stylish (or style according to Rita, anyway), they were very rarely practically, and though it was April already and the sun was shining, there was a bit of a breeze and it was liable to rain. In Rita's opinion, however, practicality was never an excuse to ruin a good outfit.
"You stalk her just to see if she notices?" Ben asked, falling into comfortable step with Rita and counting beats in his head out of habit. He was just in his usual jeans and t-shirt--both ratty with holes, and worn by wash over the years; the Grateful Dead t-shirt he was wearing he'd had since he was 15--sticks in his pocket, of course, and he ran his loose hand through his messy hair. Making a mental note to get a haircut, he added, "And why aren't we taking a car again? I've been known to be prone to mobs."
"She hasn't yet, and I've been doing it for over a month now. It's a social experiment. And we're not taking a car because I don't trust you not to kill us both driving, and I don't drive in the city. It's ridiculous. I never do it unless it's with someone properly trained. A limo or a chauffeur, or a black cab if need be. Not one of those awful minicab drivers. They don't know where they're going half the time. It's ridiculous," Rita replied. "And if we get mobbed, we'll deal with it then."
"You're a brave woman, Rita Skeeter," Ben grinned appreciatively, looking forward to showing her off downtown. They were sure that the tabloids had had a field day with their little show the previous morning, and Ben himself was anxious to see what sorts of shots they'd actually published. They had gotten rather carried away.
"Do you think people will still be able to tell what great boobs I have even when they're blurred out?" Rita asked curiously as they headed towards the nearest tube station, which was just around the corner.
Before the tube station, however, was a newspaper stand, and before they even got close enough to look, the man behind the counter leaned forward and called, "Rita! You're on the front page!"
"You don't say. Good morning, Boris!" Rita replied, grinning proudly and, as they got closer, taking the paper he held out to her. She bought the newspaper there, whether it be the tabloids or the actual newspaper, at least four or five times a week, and within a few weeks of moving to London, Boris and her had gotten on a first name basis.
She held the paper up so both she and Ben could see and took a good look. The photo was probably from just before she'd noticed the photographer, as she was facing him and Benjy was kissing her shoulder from behind, his arms wrapped around. The headline cleverly covered her boobs, and she couldn't help but grin.
"Well? What do you think?" she asked Ben. "Can you still tell what great boobs I have?"
"I know what great boobs you have," Ben answered. "Everyone else doesn't need to. And you can't quite tell I'm naked, eh? Shitty photography. Are there more inside?"
Rita flicked to the page indicated and burst out laughing. After a moment, she snickered, "You can tell you're naked in that one, that's for sure."
The biggest one on that page was a partial profile of Rita with her head back and Ben with his mouth attached to her nipple, and because of the way his legs were positioned, it was more than obvious that he was naked.
"Well, now the whole world knows exactly how hung you are. Good thing you've got nothing to be ashamed of, big boy," Rita giggled. "Oh, look! They commented on the boxes. 'Above: Mystery Girl wearing Fenwick's wild pants.'" Next to the caption was an insert of Ben in concert with the very same boxers sticking out of his jeans.
"Charming," Ben grinned. "At least now if reporters ask me questions I don't want to answer I can say 'the whole United Kingdom's seen my cock, so what more do you need to know?' It's got so much more zest and punch to it than 'No Comment'."
Eyes scanning over the page, Ben pointed out one that he really liked. He was half on the ground, kissing her stomach at the hem of the shorts, one hand inside of them obviously squeezing the flesh of her arse. "We'd do a good porno."
"Oh, Ben! Oh yes, yes!" Rita moaned jokingly, running her hand over her chest and across her stomach as she faked porno sounds.
"Very good! Very good, Rita!" Boris said, and Rita laughed. Boris was Slovakian or Turkish or something, she'd never asked, but his English wasn't very good, at any rate, and half the time she couldn't understand what he said for his accent. He'd always gone out of his way to be nice to her despite that, and Rita had figured it was because he thought she was gorgeous. The look he was giving her now confirmed that in her mind, and she winked at him before turning her attention back to Ben and the article.
"Oh, look! 'The sexy couple were gentle and comfortable with each other. 'It's obvious they're very much in love,' said a close friend of Ben's, who declined to give the Mystery Girl's name.' What bollocks. And Mystery Girl, honestly. My name is on my mailbox."
Ben laughed. "That was probably Dale being a complete jackass," he said, the words 'they're very much in love' starting to churn over and over in his brain. Was that what it was? Ben didn't want to think about it, because it wouldn't make a difference, because Rita didn't do relationships, and if he wanted to keep spending time with her he had to keep his mouth shut.
"I can't believe they didn't print my name," Rita said, a little annoyed. "Seriously. They were at my house. How hard would it have been to just figure out?" Rita paused and then turned to Ben, rubbing her nose against his as she asked, voice manipulative and sweet, "Fenwick, baby, mention me in an interview sometime?"
"Sure," Ben answered, smirking at her slightly. "How should I bring you up? In conversation? 'Good question, Chuck. Rita Skeeter and I were having a lovely fuck over her kitchen table the other day, and that very issue came to light!'"
"If you can't think of anything less retarded, then yes," Rita said, rolling her eyes. "Ooh, I'll give you a sexy picture of me to put in your wallet. It'll serve a dual purpose of wanking material and 'Good question, Chuck. In fact, the inspiration for that song was this woman right here, the delectable, delightful, deliciously dirty Rita Skeeter!' material."
"I did write one about you, actually," Ben said quietly.
Rita frowned and leaned away from him a little. "Ben..."
"I know where you're going with that and don't bother," Ben said, looking up from the newspaper and directly at her. "Liking you, or shagging you, or whatever we do, I'm allowed to be inspired by you. You're amazing like that."
"Whatever. What song then? How does it go?" she demanded, her unfailing nosiness rearing it's giant, nosy head as she tried not to seem too pleased by his statement. (He thought she was amazing. She inspired him. He'd written a song about her!)
"It's not released yet. Did the singing myself. Not amazing or anything," Ben explained. "It's going to be on the tribute album. We added it with the last few songs. Emmeline made me."
"Is it sappy? Because if it's sappy, I don't think I'll be able to stand it," Rita said, wrinkling her nose at the thought. She was so not a sappy music kind of girl, and she really hoped Ben knew that. "Tell me it isn't sappy."
"It's not sappy, promise. It's upbeat. Roy came up with this fucking awesome baseline," Ben said. "I think you'll like it. I hope you will, anyway."
"Did you write a song for her, is that what you just said? Oh, Jess, he wrote a song for her!" came a high pitched voice. "That's so cute!"
"It's not cute. Why should she get a song? She just told him she didn't want it if it was sappy. That's a horrible thing to say," another similarly high pitched voice replied.
"Jess! Be nice! Can we have your autographs? Please? I just love you, Ben. You're like, my favourite member. Or, well, after Stubby, God bless his soul, but now that he's dead and I'm finished my mourning, you're totally my favourite member..."
"Okay, stop talking," Rita cut off the girl, sneering a little, but she seemed amused rather than malicious. "God, how old are you? Are you even old enough to go to rock concerts? Fenwick, tell me this isn't the average age of your fans."
Ben shrugged at Rita and then and smiled at the girl who wasn't Jess, taking the CD inserts and sharpie she handed him. "What's your name, then?"
"Clarissa! Ooh, this is so exciting! And you're Mystery Girl!" she said to Rita, grinning widely. "Look Jess! We saw you in the paper this morning! You're a very lucky woman to be in love with such a... man."
"She can't be too in love if she doesn't want a sappy song," Jess said, handing Ben her CD jacket when he gave back Clarissa's. "Are you really in love with her, Benjy?"
Ben shook his head, smiling slightly, but his ears burned a barely noticeable pink.
Rita couldn't help but snicker. "We're just lovers. Do you know what that is, children?"
"You're not very nice. We're not twelve," Jess replied sourly. "I don't like you."
"Oh, what, fourteen then? My bad. And I'm emotionally eviscerated. I don't know how I'll go on when a random teenage girl doesn't like me because I get to fuck Benjy Fenwick," Rita said, rolling her eyes.
Jess blushed a little and said, "Whatever. Can you just sign this too? Not because I like you. Just because you're Mystery Girl and he wrote a song about you."
Rita's eyebrows shot up and she accepted the girl's CD booklet and marker. The shock wore off and she smirked as she scrawled, 'To Jess. He's even better than your naughtiest dreams. Rita Skeeter'
"Mine too! Please?" Clarissa asked, bouncing on her toes.
"Why the hell not," Rita said, shooting Ben a weird look. A could people came out of the Starbucks on the corner and watched for a second before disappearing back inside. As Rita handed back the now signed CD booklet, she noticed a group of five people come out of Starbucks and start heading towards them. "More fans, Fenwick. And they're real people this time."
"Told you," Ben said to her as he smiled as more people started crowding around, asking for autographs, handing out napkins, pieces of paper, iPods and breasts. A lot of them realized that Rita was Mystery Girl and bombarded the two of them with questions about their sex life, how in love they were, were they planning on getting married? Ben ignored most of those questions, instead asking people if they were going to buy the tribute album, if they'd be watching Live Aid the following week, what their favourite song was--simple things. Things that temporairily satisfied most of them. They got their autographs and thier handshakes and their pictures and their hugs, and went on their way.
Many, upon recognizing Rita, asked for her autograph like Jess and Clarissa had done, and many asked for picture with Ben and Rita together.
Rita, for her part, even offered to show people her boobs, and winked outlandishly as she grabbed a young man's arse for a photo.
More and more people kept coming, however, and so eventually they had to extricate themselves and hail a black cab. Once they were safely inside the cab and driving away from the group that had gathered, Rita grinned at Ben. "That was really fun. And at least three of those guys wanted in my pants just because you've been there. Is it weird to have people worship you? I think I'd like it."
"It's pretty sweet most of the time. It can get really frustrating though. And you always get the crazies," Ben said. "Where we going, sweet cheeks? Hyde Park still, or someplace else?"
"We missed the jogging window. That took too long, and she won't be there," Rita said and began rooting through her purse for her lipgloss. "Where do you want to go? I didn't have anything else planned. We could just go back to my place and have some more sex."
The driver coughed, and Rita looked up and grinned.
"You're going to drain me before the week's out, Rita," Ben said, mirroing her grin. "How about dinner or something? I'm fucking starved."
"Good call. I always forget to eat," Rita said flippantly, and then her expression turned wily. With the help of the rich and the famous, anything was at her fingertips, and she planned to take advantage. "Think you can get us in to Gordon Ramsay at 68 Royal Hospital Road without a reservation? I've always wanted to go there. God, you know, for a journalist, dating a celebrity is pretty much striking gold. For you, though, it must be considered a treason to the trade."
"Oh, are we dating then?" Ben asked, leaning back in the seat and arching an eyebrow at her with a big of a smug smirk on his face, even though his heart was beating a million miles an hour. Shit. Was that a slip of the tongue or just a thoughtless statement?
"No. Kind of. Casually. Whatever, it's just an expression," Rita replied. There was no point getting embarrassed. She of all people knew how important it was to choose your words carefully, and she'd walked into that one, so really, she deserved whatever he said about it. Though, considering he had the hots for her, she really ought to have thought about that one before letting it slip out. Not that she cared much about being thoughtful, but she didn't want to be responsible for breaking him, either. She'd broken men before. "Look. We can casually, non-exclusively, no-strings attached date. Low maintenance and low responsibility. And you didn't answer the question. So? Gordon Ramsay? Yes, no?"
"Yeah, shouldn't be a problem," Ben said dismissively, trying not to look too pleased with himself. They were sort-of dating. Sort-of. "You heard the lady, 68 Royal Hospital, mate."
He turned his attention back to Rita and watched her, another song already forming in his head. It scared him how easily he could get used to looking at her like this.
"You know, I've heard that when you get up to go to the bathroom at Gordon Ramsay's, someone will always beat you there to open the door for you. No matter how fast you walk. Serious. And then when you get back to your seat, they've refolded the napkin and refilled your drink and are waiting to pull out your chair. It's totally fucking high class. It's pretty much on any top three restaurant list every compiled for London," Rita rambled. "I hooked up with a guy that worked there once. He made enough in tips alone in one night to pay my rent every month. I think he still works there, actually. Maybe he'll be there."
"Mmm, that'll be exciting," Ben said and he started tapping on the seat and window simultaneously with his fingers. "Never been myself. Been to a lot of swanky places, I suppose. Hey, Rita, when's your book tour supposed to be done?"
"End of August. Or early September if it does really well and we add a week or two of talk shows and whatnot on. Cross your fingers for me. Why?" Rita asked.
"Me, Dale, Leroy and Em were talking about taking a trip for a couple of months. Australia, maybe. Get a place in Sydney, learn to surf, all that shit," Ben said, slowly, considering his words carefully. "October to Christmas maybe. Take some time to decide if we're going to stick together or go off and do our own thing. Thought, um. Thought you might like to come to."
At first, Rita was really flattered at the offer, that he'd want her around like that. But that was right after her book tour. That was right when it would be best for her to capitalize on the press and get some articles published. She couldn't leave. She didn't want to. "I'm not really the sort of girl who enjoys communing with nature, Ben. Kind of goes along with the sappy song thing. Besides, I'll have stuff going on. With my book recently published, it's really not the ideal time to go disappearing for months. And think of Dale. He'd be the only one not getting laid regularly, and you know he'd be a little bitch about it."
Ben nodded. "Yeah. Well I mean, we're there for while. If you change your mind it's not like you have to come right away or anything." He tried to shrug non-chalantly. He'd expected her to say no. Actually, he would've been completely shocked if she'd have said yes. It wasn't a big deal. Not really.
"What's my song about?" Rita asked suddenly, sensing the awkwardness and wanting to be rid of it. Why did he put himself in such vulnerable positions? Rita had been turned down plenty of times for interviews or publication or whatever, but she rarely seriously invested herself in anything--or anyone--if she wan't pretty completely certain it was a sure thing. Not like Ben. Stupid emotional musicians. "Let me guess. How fabulous I dress? Or my aforementioned great boobs?"
"Remember that morning the alarm went off and 'Walking in Memphis' was playing on the radio and I told you you were singing in your sleep?" Ben asked, unintentionally terse. "That's what it's about."
"Okay, relax," she replied, voice sharp in response to his terseness. "What the shit was that about? It looked like it physically hurt you to answer what was really a very simple question."
"Sorry," he mumbled in apology. "I don't mean anything by it, really. Just not a fan of the word no. Don't take it personally."
"Well come on. Did you honestly expect me to say, 'Oh yes, please Benjy! Whisk me away to your tropical paradise and feed me tropical drinks while we spend our days on the beach and our nights making sweet, sweet love in a hammock tied between two palm trees.' Honestly," Rita said, giggling through the last few words. She knew she was pushing her luck, but she just couldn't help it. He was fooling himself if he thought she was a run-of-the-mill nice girl. "I tell people a lot, Fenwick. I'm probably the most headstrong, independent girl you'll ever meet, and you're daft if you don't realize that. I wouldn't even enjoy three months in Australia. I'd get bored."
"I didn't expect you to say yes," Ben answered, rolling his eyes. "Just thought I'd ask since I'll be gone for three months, and you'll be busy with your book tour until September, and we probably won't see each other a lot under next year, if then. So. There's that."
"Yeah, there's that," Rita said, and then immediately put it out of her mind. It didn't matter. They weren't anything anyway, they'd just see each other when they saw each other and that was all. "So I'll bet we'll be in the tabloids again before the week is out. If you're seen with me once, I'm a flash story. But two or three times? Goodness, so far as the papers are concerned, I'm your girlfriend."
"Yeah, I suppose so," Ben agreed and smiled slightly. Maybe they should've just gone back to her place and had sex. They could've drank Baileys and ate peanut butter sandwiches. "Maybe we should give them another show later, just for the hell of it."
Onward to Part B!