It had been a week since Ben had slept overnight in his own bed. Most nights he camped out at the hospital waiting for Serena, the victim the junkie had helped, to wake up. Her family welcomed his presence. Stephen Duke was still missing, Ben knew he would turn up eventually. The entire CPD was looking for him.
The DNA that was found on the scene wasn’t a match to anything they had on the record, nor was it a match in the national database. They were trying to follow up on the leads with the car. They were also checking traffic cameras for the car as well. Frustrations were at an all-time high, every solid lead ended with nothing tangible, and did not further their search for the killer.
Ben sat in the hallway outside Serena’s room when his phone buzzed. He looked down, seeing it was Marty.
“We found the car. It is a white Ford Focus without plates, it was abandoned. We are running the VIN right now. It was parked at a rest stop off of the Skyway. He left the car back on the Southside. CSI says the car is pretty clean at first glance though. We can at least try to piece together the route from Serena’s to here hopefully, and get something from the footage.”
“All we need is one print, to connect the car to this. There are cameras all over the city, he had to drive across it to get the car down there, someone had to see something.”
“We’re on it. How is Serena?”
“She opened her eyes this evening. The Doctor said it was involuntary. So I don’t know.”
“When was the last time you didn’t sleep at the hospital?”
“I want to be here if she wakes up.”
“You mean when the wakes, not if right?”
“I don’t know.”
“You need some real sleep. I will come and sit with her tonight.”
“No, it’s okay I want to be here.”
“Have you called Rachel at all this week?”
“You can’t not call her man, and still expect to have any sort of relationship with this woman.”
Marty was right and Ben knew it. It was just that he had been so busy, the only times when he was still enough to call was too late to call her. He wanted to talk to her. He missed her. He wanted to go home to her, but they weren’t at that point in their relationship yet.
“Ben? Are you there?”
“Yeah, sorry. I was distracted.”
“I will come to sit with her tonight. I will be there by 9 okay. If she wakes, I will call you. Let me take a shift. It’s only fair.”
Ben was quiet.
“Go see Rachel.”
“Yeah, okay. Thanks.”
“I promise I will call if she wakes.”
Ben pulled into his driveway as the last light of dusk turned into night. The light from the open tailgate Rachel’s minivan caught his eye. The trunk was full of groceries. He felt terrible that he had not called her since their date almost a week ago, he had been so wrapped up in the case. He walked across the street as Rachel came out to grab more bags. Tommy her eldest followed her.
“How many more do I have to get, I want to go back in and play my game!” He whined.
“Thomas Andrew Lawson, you will be a gentleman and help your mother with these bags!”
Ben stopped just short of crossing the street, he didn’t want to intrude.
“Don’t but mom, me, Mister! Get hauling.”
“This isn’t fair! This is Dad’s job, not mine!”
Ben watched the words hit Rachel like a punch to the gut.
“Tommy, it is not too much to ask you to help me just bring them in. Be a gentleman.”
Tommy knew he had hurt his mother but he stood his ground. Ben crossed the street and walked right up to the van without saying anything. He grabbed as many of the brown paper bags as he could. Before Rachel could say anything and started for the kitchen door.
“You coming man? I will only help if you are going to help your mom.” Ben turned back at Tommy said before he walked inside.
Rachel stood there silent, not believing what was happening. Tommy grabbed up three bags and followed Ben into the kitchen. Ben set the bags on the kitchen table and went back out for more. Rachel still stood at the tailgate.
“Ben you don’t have to.”
Ben grabbed the last few bags making sure to leave one behind for Tommy. He passed him on the way back into the kitchen.
“The last trip is your man.”
Tommy trudged up and grabbed the last of the grocery bags as Rachel carried in the milk and fabric softener. Ben put the bags next to the previous ones he had brought in. Tommy came in and followed suit. Rachel followed them and set the jugs of milk and fabric softener on the counter.
“Tommy you can go upstairs and play your game again. Twenty minutes then light’s off. It is getting late. Please don’t wake your brothers.”
“Okay, can I have a snack?”
Rachel dug into one of the bags as Tommy did the same. She pulled out an apple and Tommy pulled out a box of Swiss cake rolls. He held it up, silently asking his mother if he could have one. She shrugged her shoulders.
“Fine, but after you finish one of those, I want you to brush your teeth and go straight to bed, got it?”
“Sweet! Okay, mom.”
Tommy took off towards the stairs, his socks slipping on the floor purposely. Rachel turned back towards Ben as Tommy climbed the stairs.
“Hi.” Ben said, he wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to say or not.
“Hi. Thank you for your help.”
She began to unpack the groceries.
“I am sorry I didn’t call.”
“Ben you don’t owe me an explanation.”
“No, I do. I am really sorry Rachel. We had a big break in a case and I have been sitting at the hospital waiting for a victim to wake up. I know that’s not an excuse not to call. I am sorry. The woman has been in a coma for a week.”
Rachel turned around from the pantry.
“That’s awful.” Ben could see the sadness in her face as she picked up a box of macaroni and a can of green beans out of the bag in front of him. She turned back towards the pantry. She put the macaroni on the shelf and Ben watched her shoulders slump. He walked up behind her and put his arms around her. He wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do or not. Her body was tense.
“I’m sorry I didn’t call.” He said softly.
She put the can of green beans on the shelf and reached up taking his hands into hers. She turned to face him, he could tell she was not angry, but hurt. She pulled away and turned around to face him.
“I thought it was your way of telling me that you didn’t want to do this. You know, just passive.”
“No, I want to get to know you more. I didn’t want this woman to wake in the hospital without her to know that someone was there to protect her. I have questions for her too, but most of all I wanted her to feel safe.”
Ben could see tears welling in Rachel’s eyes. She leant up and kissed him as she wrapped her arms around his neck. He pulled her into his embrace. She tasted like heaven, her tongue, and that mouth. He wanted to be inside of her but knew he had no right after disappearing for the past week. Rachel walked two steps backwards until they were fully in the pantry, kissing Ben as she moved. Her kisses were intense, his cock felt incredibly cramped in his pants. He wanted to make love to her so badly but he had to remind himself not to push, to go slow.
Rachel pulled away first.
“Sorry. I have wanted to do that since our last date.”
“Never apologize for that. Me too. Rachel, I missed you.”
“I missed you too. Ben, I want to sleep with you.”
Her directness surprised him and aroused him at the same time. He wanted to take her right there up against the wall in the pantry, but he remembered her children were upstairs. He had to go slow, she needed him to. He had not opened the report Marty had given him yet and looked into her story. He had been tempted on several occasions, but just too busy to actually do it.
“What about the boys upstairs?”
“They should be asleep soon. Will that bother you?”
“No, as long as it doesn’t bother you.”
“They’re sound sleepers. Have you had any dinner?”
Rachel pulled away, Ben moved out of the way realizing he had trapped her in the pantry. She walked back towards the groceries.
“I had a vending machine dinner.”
“Let me cook you something.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
“When my parents died, I ate out of the vending machine for like a week before they passed. That is not great nutrition, let me fix you something. I haven’t had dinner yet myself. The sitter already fed the boys.”
“Only if you are already eating.”
“I am. What do you have a taste for? I have everything.” She gestured around the kitchen.
“Something easy. How about I cook for you instead?”
His proposal piqued her interest.
“You finish putting your groceries away and I will cook dinner. How does that sound?”
“Okay, only if you are sure though?”
He walked over to the pantry not sure what he was going to cook. He did okay in the kitchen as far as cooking went, but now that his skills were on the line, he grew nervous.
“How about instead, neither of us cooks, and we order takeout?”
Rachel laughed a true and genuine laugh.
“I can cook.”
“So can I.” Ben said with a smile on his face, ”but instead why don’t I put the groceries away while we wait for takeout? You can sit and tell me where things go with a nice glass of wine while you instruct?”
Rachel giggled again.
“Okay we can order takeout but I am helping put my groceries away. You have had a very long week too.”
“Yeah. Raising three boys isn’t easy either though.”
“I love raising my boys.”
“I wouldn’t think otherwise. I am just saying it can’t be easy, that’s all.”
“Well, you are right about that.”
“That sounds perfect.”
Rachel ordered the pizza as they put the last of the groceries away. She folded the last paper bag and set in in the recycling bin in the corner of the kitchen. Ben came up and put his arms around her. She laid her head on his chest. They stood there in their embrace. He kissed the top of her head. She looked up at him.
“Are you okay?” He asked.
“Yes. I want to just make sure the boys are asleep. You can open a bottle of wine if you want. I will be right back. I just want to make sure they are asleep.”
He watched her walk out of the kitchen. He wanted to sleep with her so badly. His body craved hers. He wanted to run his fingers from her shoulders down past her hip, his fingertips on her soft skin. He reminded himself that he was going to have to pay attention to her cues, clearly, there was trauma there. He was going to have to pay attention to her body, it would give away any discomfort before she would verbally.