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Katie and Ben: The Park

Ben smiled at Katie, and suddenly she couldn't breathe. The air between them glittered and sparkled as they held eye contact and how could she ever have thought she was over this man?

Memories crashed over her like the sea on an unrelentingly stormy day. The first time he kissed her on his boat off the Sunshine Coast, she tasted salt and beer on his lips and tongue. The night they sat chatting on the beach, tepid water rippling over their toes as a spectacular sunrise set the sky on fire.

The time they woke up in the middle of the night in his camper van. Every time between them had been hot and frantic until then, but that night they reached for each other, still half asleep, and started moving gently, softly, in the darkness. Katie wrapped her legs around his waist, and he stroked her hair, and she was filled with a sense of safety, of being exactly where she was supposed to be. Moonlight streamed into the van, and the way he stared at her, as though he couldn't believe she was real, took my breath away.

Of course, all of that was before he summarily ditched her and broke her heart.

It wasn't as though she'd lived like a nun in the years since travelling Australia. There had been guys over the years. Funny, nerdy, sweet guys, perfectly decent in bed. Guys who had charmed her mum and watched football with her dad, played with her nieces and nephews, thus prompting lots of meaningful won't he be a good dad one day looks and nudges that Katie did her best to politely ignore. Because none of them —

None of them were Ben.

Time stood still as he reached for her, infinitesimally slowly. Her breath caught in her throat as his fingers brushed her cheek, and his face spread into a grin. 'Missed ya, kiddo,' he whispered.

Kiddo. He used to call her that. She'd forgotten. She was a day older than him. Except they were born at almost the same moment, it's just that he was in Australia, so his birthday was the day after hers.

There was so much she needed to say, so much she was afraid to say. All she could do was lose herself in his eyes.

'How about I take you for a drink?'

They walked in silence for the first few blocks. The evening was fading into a warm pink dusk. London was her best self, pavements crammed with chatty drinkers spilling out pubs, joggers, and dog walkers. They turned onto a quiet residential street lined with impossibly grand houses, tall and narrow and white, like wedding cakes in building form.

'Is this where Mary Poppins lived?' Ben blurted.

It wasn't really the first thing he wanted to say to Katie after almost ten years, but now that they were alone, his brain seemed to have chosen this moment to pop off for a mini-break. Katie laughed, and his heart did a flip. She had such a great laugh.

'I think that was South Kensington. This is North Kensington, or Notting Hill. Portobello Road is that way.'

'Also a movie.'

'Yup. We can walk past the bookshop where Hugh Grant's character worked. And the house they lived in — except the front door is no longer blue. Tourists drove the people who lived there at the time mad, so they got a boring black door, and tourists continued to annoy them anyway.'

'Bloody tourists.'

Katie shrugged. 'There are probably worse things to bear than owning a famous, multi-million-pound house in Notting Hill. No doubt they survived. What brought you to London, anyway?'

'A funeral.'

'I am so sorry.'

'It was my great-uncle. I never met him, and he was ninety-seven, so he'd had a decent inning.' Ben shook his head. I'm still in a bit of shock from the meeting with the lawyer. It's been a helluva day, all things told. I wish I'd known him better.'

'I remember you telling me about him. Didn't he and your granddad get those £5 tickets to Australia in the fifties?'

'You've got a good memory. Yeah. Took them six weeks to sail from Liverpool to Sydney. My great-uncle took one look at the place and decided nah. He was back on the boat, waiting for it to depart again within the hour. My grandad was so hopping mad at being abandoned that he didn't speak to him for years, not until my mum was born.

'He never married, and I guess I always thought of him as a bit of a sad old case, stuck in London alone.' Ben grinned. 'The funeral was packed to the rafters with the most incredible array of people you could imagine. A jazz trio played the coffin in, then a choir of Nigerian immigrants sang, and everyone danced — it was phenomenal. The number of handsome guys crying explained why he wasn't married,' he laughed. 'I doubt there will be that many women crying at my funeral.'

'I'm sure there will be a few,' Katie said quietly.

'Are you married?'

Katie laughed, as though the question had taken her by surprise. 'No, I'm not. Are you?'

'Who'd marry a loser like me?' Ben grinned. Katie smiled sadly, and his heart fell. I'm mucking this up. I hurt her, and I'm making stupid jokes. Get it together, Ben.

'Do you still live in that van?'

'Nah. Dunno if you remember, but the handbrake was a bit crook.'

'I remember.'

'Well, one night I came home, and she'd rolled into the sea.'

Katie burst out laughing. 'Why would you park a van that didn't have a handbrake on a hill?'

'That is an excellent question,' Ben nodded solemnly. 'You always were the brains of the outfit.'

'We weren't that much of an outfit, I suppose. More like a — a beach coverup.'

'We were like a guy wearing a T-shirt, sandals, and nothing else.'

'What, with his willy flapping in the breeze?'

'Yup,. And getting sunburned.'

Katie mock-cringed with a giggle. 'If I had to be someone's relationship equivalent of a sunburned willy, I'm glad I'm yours,' she said. 'It's nice to see you again, Ben.'

She paused by a black, wrought-iron gate that appeared to lead to an impossibly lush secret garden. Not entirely secret, given it was right there in the middle of the street, but it had a definite secret garden vibe.

That air-crackly thing was happening again. Their hair should be standing on end as if from static electricity. Katie suddenly giggled. Not exactly romantic.

Ben couldn't take his eyes off the smattering of light freckles above her top lip. He remembered lying on the beach with her, tracing his finger over those freckles and telling her he thought they were like a constellation that ancient pagans would pray to. She laughed so hard she got a stitch in her side, which he kissed better. Then he moved lower, and — oh god, the taste of her.

He felt himself twitch and harden in his sweatpants. All the words, everything he needed to say to beg her to forgive him jammed up in his throat. She didn't seem angry with him — but what if this was just a nostalgia catch-up?

We weren't that much of an outfit.

What did that mean? They were like a top hat and tails with a cravat and a rose in the lapel. At least, they were to him. But maybe he was just this random dude she rooted a few times while travelling.

Ben's heart fell to his toes, and a cold feeling shuddered through him. For a horrible second, he thought he might actually cry. Might fall to his knees, howling like a baby, wrap himself around her thigh and beg her to love him. He was that cool.

But just as he was about to turn away before making a complete arse of himself, they were suddenly kissing.

The lock on the gate was a bit of a bugger, and for an awful second, Katie worried they'd lost the moment. The second she finally unclicked it and the gate clanged shut behind them, he reached for her ravenously. One arm on her lower back held her tightly. The other was entwined in her hair.

For the longest time, they just kissed. Ben cupped her face with strong, warm hands as his lips and tongue entwined with hers, probing, exploring. It was mesmerising. She felt almost light-headed as she clutched his shirt to steady herself, and oh God. It was familiar and new simultaneously, and she had missed the feel of him so much.

What am I doing? She didn't mean to do this. She was just going to catch up with him to get some closure. A pleasant, nostalgia-filled stroll on a summer's evening. Then she caught his expression and suddenly nothing mattered except touching him.

He moved forward a few steps, and Katie was forced back against a tree, pinned against the hard bark and his body. The air was filled with the scent of wisteria and roses. They laughed softly as they realised they were sprinkled with lilac-coloured petals. Katie ran her hands under his T-shirt, gasping as her fingers made contact with warm skin stretched taut over rock-hard muscles.

She pulled his T-shirt up, and he obediently lifted his arms. The moon bathed his sculpted abs in silver, highlighting the inviting treasure trail of russet hair leading to somewhere so achingly familiar a lump sprang to Katie's throat. He stood back a moment, watching her, a touch of anxiousness tingling in his expression as though waiting for — her approval? Her permission?

She reached for him, and he gathered her in his arms with a guttural grunt. His hands explored every inch of her over the thin fabric of her yoga clothes, slipping beneath her top. A rollercoaster of delicious sensations cascaded over her as he tugged gently at her waistband, teasing her. He lifted her onto a branch, and she wrapped her legs around his waist. He continued to fondle her bum, alternating firm squeezes with light brushes between her legs that had her gasping and moaning against his neck.

His skin tasted sweet with a hint of salt, just as it always had. She nibbled and licked her way over his jaw, his ears, and lips. She clutched his back, murmuring animalistic, incoherent sounds as his hand finally slipped below her waistband. The tight yoga leggings trapped his fingers, slick and warm, as he found his way into her panties.

His hand cupped her with a firm, masterful pressure that brought a moan of urgent anticipation. He rubbed, rhythmically, alternating firm and gentle, dizzying circles, over the top, dipping a finger inside and then back out to circle some more. Sparkles showered through her as the pressure built, but she needed more.

She plunged her hands into his sweatpants, wrapping both hands tightly around his velvety hardness. He growled against her neck and slipped a second finger inside her. She shoved his sweatpants down, and he helped her wriggle out of her leggings. She was so frantic and clumsy with need she couldn't quite get them low enough to open her legs, so she hopped off the branch and turned around.

He bent her over the branch then she heard the crackle of the condom wrapper. She was already soft and open and ready from his fingering, so he plunged in her with one, commanding stroke —

'Shhh,' he muttered with a soft chuckle, holding her hips firmly as he got into his rhythm, every stroke filling her, pushing her closer and closer to the edge —

'Everything alright there?' a man's voice, posh and imperious, demanded.

They froze. Katie had slightly forgotten the small matter of them being technically in public, albeit hidden by thick wisteria branches. Ben was deep inside her, and even frozen still, delicious sensations continued to dance through her.

'Yes, absolutely fine, thank you so much!' she managed, her voice sounding tight and shrill and utterly deranged.

Ben sniggered under his breath, and even that small movement pushed her closer. Any second now, she would come like a steam train and possibly traumatise this nice man for life.

'Do you need any help?' he enquired, and Katie felt a bit hysterical.

No, we're managing just fine on our own, thank you…

'No, thank you, I just -- felt a little unwell, and my friend is helping me. Just the heat, you know. I'll be right as rain in a moment!'

'Yes, this summer has been rather glorious, hasn't it? But we're not really built for it, as a people. Well, do hope you feel better soon!'

'Thank you!'

Finally, he was gone, and the night was silent but for the throb of insects. Ben didn't move, and Katie wiggled her hips impatiently. He pulled back, slowly — no, no, no, wrong bloody way! — then thrust in again, still slowly, as though his movements were coated in treacle. It was maddening, but oh God, so incredibly hot. Katie whimpered, and he leaned over her, his breath hot on her ear.

'Oh, you want more, do you?' he whispered, his voice hoarse and ragged. She knew he needed release as much as she did.

'Yes, yes, yes, please —' she panted.

Mercifully he acquiesced, driving deeper and deeper and faster and faster. The world became a blur as Katie braced herself against the branch, the cool breeze soothing her tingling skin, and there was nothing but Ben and their connection —

He reached around until his finger found her clitoris and rubbed in time with his cock. Her teeth were practically chattering with the pressure until finally —

White-hot fireworks exploded through her as he stiffened and roared. They staggered and collapsed in a heaving, sweaty, spent mess on the grass below. She was quivering and shuddering, the aftershocks of an almighty orgasm rippling through her.

He gathered her in his arms, staring at her in wonder as though she were the only person in the entire world. The breeze turned chilly, but it was almost a relief on their glowing, aching bodies. He tilted her chin and planted the softest kiss on her lips.

‘Ahh Katie-girl,’ he murmured. 'I didn't just come to London for the funeral. I came to find you.'

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