Casual Flirting Begins

Flirting. Laney would have never thought she would have been so brazen to flirt openly with Ben, especially since they were both in relationships with other people. And working together. But here she was, calling him for no particular reason. Asking work questions that she clearly knew the answers to already. Anything just to make contact. Hear his voice. Be close to him. This was not Laney. She has always been reserved. Guarded. Even a bit withdrawn. But something was changing within her, and she liked it. A lot. She had no intentions of turning back now.

Of course, it helped that Ben was just as flirtatious toward Laney as she was to him. Truth be told, the way Laney remembers it, Ben started flirting with her years before now. Commenting on her perfume. Noticing the speckles of gold in her green eyes. Insisting that she sit next to him during meetings. And the way he would run one finger down her spine when he walked by her. This was Ben. Flirting. His way. And he may not have been consciously aware of it, but it was flirting nonetheless.

Today was Friday, the end of the work week, and Laney wouldn’t see Ben for two days. She would, however, have to deal with Xander and his increasing demands on her. She was not looking forward to it. In fact, she had come to dread weekends now.

“Hey Laney, so what plans do you have for the weekend? Anything exciting?” Ben asked in passing as he made his way back to his office. Then he continued, saying, “Can’t believe it’s Friday already…I have so much work to do I feel as though I should come in tomorrow just to try and get caught up. Know what I mean?”

“Weekend plans? You’re looking at it. I actually am coming in tomorrow too, maybe the afternoon, to get some of this writing tightened up to the design. Can’t believe how busy we’ve been!” Laney replied. “So that’s my weekend.”

“Well, if you don’t mind, since we both have to work tomorrow, I’ll come in tomorrow afternoon as well. We can work together. What do you say?”

“I think that is a great idea, Ben. Working on the copy with your creative direction on the designs that everyone has submitted will really speed this process up.”

Laney was excited to be able to not only work with Ben on Saturday, but to be alone with him. That never happens. They are always surrounded by team members, or in meetings with other department members. But working alone…never. For a brief second, Laney was worried about what she would say to Xander, but just as quickly she decided she didn’t care. After all, this was her job. He would just have to deal.

Ben on the other hand hadn’t given any thought about what Alessandra would think. As long as he got home in time to take her out, she’d be happy. That’s really all she cared about: spending Ben’s money. It will be nice to spend the afternoon collaborating with Laney. Ben loved the way her mind worked, the way she could craft just the right words to go with the designs his team created. She made his job easier.

“Get out of here Laney. It’s 6:30 on a Friday night. Go home. Relax. Have a drink or something.” But Ben didn’t want Laney to go. He loved being alone with her. She was so easy to be around, and he could relax and just be himself.

“Okay Ben, you’re right. It’s getting late, and I don’t think I have anything else to give tonight. A drink does sound good…haven’t done that in ages! What about you? When are you leaving? Plans for tonight?”

“No, no plans. Just heading home. And I am definitely going to have a drink. It’s been one hell of a long week, don’t you think?”

“Oh God, yes.” Laney replied. And there was something about the way she said it that caused some kind of trigger in Ben. As Laney was gathering up her tings to go home, Ben walked up to her and grabbed her arm, slowly spinning her around.

“Laney, wait. Quick question. Will you be online tonight?”

“Hmmmm. Yea, I think so. I mean, I have some research to do for this ridiculous assignment that my taskmaster of a boss has given me,” Laney said with a sly smile.

And with that, Ben quickly gathered up his work and followed Laney out to her car, watching the way she walked the entire time. And Laney was very aware of this.

Laney and Ben’s Backstory

Like so many affairs before, Laney and Ben started out as friends. They were so comfortable around each other, and Laney just seemed to be one of the guys. Just prettier. Ben and Laney had so much in common, but of everything they shared, it was their wild sense of humor that created such a strong bond between them.

Laney could remember the first time she met Ben. Well, she didn’t actually meet him face-to-face, but spoke with him over the phone. Laney worked as an editorial project manager, and Ben was a freelance designer, the first one Laney ever worked with. His voice. Ben’s voice was almost hypnotic to Laney. She was mesmerized by the sound of it, and looked forward to every call they had. There was a natural ease between them that Laney had never found with anyone else, not even Xander. It’s something that is hard to find. Eventually, Ben came to work at the same company as Laney, and they collaborated on a number of projects, and the more they worked together, the closer they became. As friends.

But just as Laney had someone in her life, she quickly discovered that Ben also had someone in his: Alessandra. And they were engaged to be married. While Laney was getting ready to leave Xander, Ben was just beginning his life with Alessandra, and this bothered Laney. Yet at the time, she had no idea why. After all, Ben was her friend, her co-worker, and nothing more. She should have been happy for him. But she wasn’t.

As Laney’s relationship was falling apart, Ben’s was just beginning, but what Laney didn’t know, couldn’t know, was that his relationship with Alessandra was rocky to start out with, and wasn’t get any better. Alessandra was gorgeous and banked on her looks to get her way. And Ben was growing tired of it. Of her endless shopping. Constant partying. And alienating his friends. Not long after he vowed to ‘love and support her ‘til death do they part,’ he was looking for an exit strategy. The next several years were going to be rough ones for both Laney and Ben in their perspective relationships, but no one would know anything about it. They were both masters at hiding their pain. And they hid it very well from each other.

Fast-forward eight long years, and Laney and Ben found their friendship changing, becoming so much closer, and it happened just when they needed each other most.

Run to Me

So it had begun…Laney was entering dangerous territory, and she was well aware of it. If Xander even suspected that anything was going on between Laney and Ben, he would explode in a fit of rage. But Laney couldn’t think about that right now. She couldn’t think about what Xander might do to her. All she could do is focus on the next time she would see Ben.

Laney knew Ben and Alessandra were going away for the weekend. He had mentioned it in casual conversation around the office, and back then, before their dinner together, before the drinks, before the kiss, she was okay with it. After all, her crush on Ben was her problem to deal with. Not his.

But after that night, everything changed. Now that Laney knew how Ben felt for her, that she wasn’t in this infatuation all by herself, his being away with “her” was almost painful.

So she waited. Friday night. Saturday. Saturday night. Only two days in, but it seemed like forever. Sunday came, and Laney waited for Ben’s call. Before he left he had told her that he needed to see her; they had made plans before he left town.

“I have to go through with this weekend; there’s no getting out of it.” Ben told Laney. “But, as soon as I get back on Sunday, I’ll call you and we can meet. Talk. See each other. And figure out just what this is, ok?”

“Okay, but this is so very hard, so hard now that everything has changed. Before I wouldn’t have given it any thought, but now, knowing you will be with her, it’s painful. I don’t want to think of you with her.”

“I know, Laney. I feel the same way about you. With Xander. Can’t stand the thought of it actually.”

And so Sunday came, and true to his word, Ben called Laney as soon as he was back and made arrangements for them to meet over drinks. Someplace out of the way. Someplace no one would know them.

And Laney ran to him as fast as she could.

A Commentary on…Laney. And Ben

So I’ve taken the liberty of changing format to take a look at where Laney and Ben are right now, and how they got there. So far we know that:

  • they’ve known each other for some time
  • Laney has had a crush on Ben for at least five years
  • Ben is Laney’s boss
  • both Laney and Ben are in bad relationships
  • they embark on an affair

So the question is, why? Why the affair? How did they get there? And what kind of affair is it?

Every affair begins for different reasons, but there are five very broad themes that seem to recur in counselors’ offices the world over. Couples come in saying: “We’re here because he / she is having an affair,” but when they really get into it, talk through it, they find that the affair is usually the last act of the unfolding drama. There’s an entire play going on beforehand that needs to be examined, and that’s where you find the reasons why the affair occurred in the first place, whether consciously or subconsciously.

Five Themes of Affairs

The Protest Affair: If there’s been a lot of unhappiness, a lot of fighting in the relationship, one partner may stray and have an affair not only to hurt other one, but also to say “This is how much you’ve hurt me!” These are attention-seeking affairs: they start off in secret, but are often revealed `accidentally.’ Signs are left as obvious giveaways.

The You-Don’t-Love-Me affair: When one partner feels left out and insecure in the relationship, an affair may be the end result. A husband who feels the children always come first; a wife who feels second to her husband’s job.

The Sexy Affair: Bad sex, or sex where either partner puts the other one down, can make the other partner feel unattractive. Most people need to know that as far as their partners are concerned, they are the sexiest, hottest lover in the world, and ‘sighing about sex not lasting long enough,’ or ‘moaning about him never wanting it,’ can have a devastating effect. Reducing someone sexually is a powerful and destructive act, and men and women who’ve been worn down feel like asexual beings, with the result often being an affair in an effort to regain self-worth.

The Romantic Affair: When the initial heat has worn off and relationship settles down, some people have affairs because they miss and crave the initial romance they once had. Believing that romance equals love and finding they can’t rekindle it with their partner, they look for it with someone else.

The Escape Route Affair: When one partner feels trapped in a bad relationship and that there’s no way out of it except to get a divorce, he/she may use an affair as an excuse. It’s easier to escape with someone else than discuss separation.

So with this information in hand, what type of affair do you think Laney and Ben find themselves in? Or do you see a couple of different themes in theirs?

Slow, Deep, Wet…

As Laney and Ben settled back and started to relax, they looked over their menus, and each other, until their waitress made her way over to their table and took their drink order. Laney ordered a vodka cranberry. Ben, Makers on the rocks. After several rounds, inhibitions were lowered and the two got into each other’s business.

“So Laney, tell me…why are you still involved with, what’s your boyfriend’s name? Xander?” Ben asked pointedly catching Laney off guard.

“Wow Ben, you just get straight to the heart of the matter.” Laney said, taking another sip of her drink. “Well, I don’t know. I guess I would have to say because we’ve been together for a while, and every time I break up with him, he begs me to come back. And I do. It’s stupid, I know. And I want out once and for all, but…” then Laney abruptly stopped. In reality, she had never really thought about why she was still with Xander. She just…was. “I just haven’t found a way to get away from him and keep him away from me. Safely. Let’s just leave it at that. And what about you? What about you and Alessandra? What’s that all about?” Laney figured she already knew the answer to this: Alessandra was drop dead gorgeous and was probably beyond good in bed.

“Alessandra and I have a complicated relationship, if you can even call it a relationship. We don’t get along; haven’t for a while. And she is very demanding. Uses her looks to get what she wants. Sex as a weapon. She’s hard to be around.” Ben said, being more than candid about Alessandra with Laney. The fact was Ben was tired of Alessandra and all of her drama. It exhausted him just to be near her. She was toxic and he knew it.

Laney and Ben kept up this line of questioning, getting more emotionally intimate than ever before. The drinks kept coming, and they were both getting more than a little drunk: It was time to order some dinner. After a couple more hours of this, it was time to go. It was getting late, and they each had someone waiting at home. But the fact was, neither wanted the night to end. Neither wanted to let the other one go, not yet. Talking like this, sharing so much about each other’s relationships and how eager both were to end them, brought them together. Closer.

Ben paid the bill and grabbed Laney’s hand to lead her out of the restaurant and to his car. The cool night air smacked them in their faces, sobering them up quickly. Ben opened the door for Laney and watched her closely as she slid into her seat. Then he walked around the front of the car, got in, and put the key in the ignition. But he couldn’t turn it, couldn’t bring himself to start the car. Not quite yet.

“What’s wrong?” Laney asked.

“Nothing. I just…I just don’t want this night to end, Laney”

“Ben..” Laney murmured. “I love it when you say my name. And I don’t want it to end either.” She’d been waiting for this moment for such a long time. And here it was. It was happening.

And without giving it a second thought, Ben placed his right hand on the nape of Laney’s neck, gently grabbed her right arm with his other hand, and pulled her towards him. Laney melted under his touch and leaned in toward him. And just like that, just that easily, Ben started kissing her. Slow, deep, wet kisses. His tongue dancing with hers. And Laney responded, matching his every move.

No one was going anywhere any time soon.

Ben’s Dilemma

All during the ride to the restaurant, Ben’s mind ran wild with thoughts of Laney. He still couldn’t believe she agreed to a late meeting, and it gave him shivers just thinking about.

“This is happening. This is really happening.” he thought. Ben has known Laney for such a long time. He has always felt close to her, but lately he has been drawn to her in a way he can’t explain. There was a chemistry between them that couldn’t be denied, and when he finally got up the nerve to suggest this late work meeting he wasn’t sure she would go for it. But she did. And now here she was, in his car, next to him, holding his hand. Her eyes closed. “God, what I wouldn’t give to know what she is thinking right now.

As the car cut through the night, with the only light coming from the headlights that shone on the dark road and the soft glow from the dash, Ben started stealing glances of Laney. Her long golden brown hair blowing in the wind. Her red silk blouse ever so slightly moving against her body with the breeze. And those legs. It was hard to take his eyes of of her long, lean legs peaking out beneath her black skirt. “I don’t even think she knows how sexy she is.”

And just like that, Ben’s body responded to Laney in one hot, hard way. The smell of her perfume in the cold air wasn’t helping matters. If they didn’t arrive at the restaurant soon, he may not be able to control himself. He has never wanted anyone like he wanted her. She was completely perfect for him, and he knew it was crazy, but he had to admit, he was crushing on her. Hard.

Five minutes later, Ben pulled up to the restaurant and turned off the car. “Hey, Laney. We’re here, ” he said quietly, slowly. He didn’t want this moment to pass. But Laney opened her eyes, gave Ben a lazy, sexy smile, and said “Alright. Let’s go. I’m starving, and want a drink before we get down to business.”

Ben got out of the car and walked around to Laney’s side to get the door for her. “A gentleman,” Laney thought. Ben took her hand and helped her out of her seat, then they both grabbed their work files and Ben took Laney’s hand and lead her into the restaurant.

Ben was right: the place was empty. Other than the wait staff, they were all alone. They were seated in the back, a nice dark corner, where they wouldn’t be disturbed. Or noticed.

Laney was elated. Ben, excited. Dinner, drinks, and whatever comes their way. They were both more than ready for each other…this was their beginning, and Ben’s dilemma: what to do about Alessandra. And how to get Xander out of Laney’s life once and for all. No matter…whatever he had to do would be worth it. For her. For Laney.

Inside Laney

Riding in the car next to Ben, his hand holding tightly onto hers, fingers entwined, was more than Laney could have hoped for of tonight. She slid a little lower in her seat, completely relaxed and at ease, closed her eyes, and let the night air wrap around her body and caress her skin. She smiled to herself knowingly, and let her imagination run wild…

Ben. Ben has been all Laney could think about for the past couple of months. She had been able to control her crush for years, but now, now that they were working so closely together every single day, her feelings for him grew stronger. And while she may have felt a little badly about Xander because she was technically still involved with him, she was surprised that what she didn’t feel was guilt. Not even a little. Her feelings for Ben consumed her now; there was no turning back. And there was nothing left for Xander. Ben. Ben had her heart and he didn’t even know it yet.

Laney started to imagine what it would be like the first time she and Ben kissed. Hips lips brushing gently against hers at first, like the flutter of butterfly wings, then slowly growing in intensity. His tongue in her mouth dancing with hers in time, making tiny, sensual circles around the inside of her mouth. It was exquisite. It would be exquisite. Laney knew. She just knew Ben would be divine. And that was just the kissing.

As Laney’s mind continued to fantasize about what being with Ben would be like, she suddenly grew a little apprehensive. It has been years since she and Xander were…intimate: their relationship slowly became that of roommates, one she felt trapped in with no way out. What if the first time she and Ben were sexual, she found herself unable to please him. Or what if he ended up thinking she was so inexperienced that he wouldn’t walk, but run, back to his girlfriend.

His girlfriend. She could barely bring herself to say her name: Alessandra. Just the sound of her name evoked images of pure sophistication and ecstasy. Alessandra, Alessandra, Alessandra. And while she had never seen her before, she imagined that Alessandra was tall, built with the perfect body: beautiful large breasts, curvaceous hips, and long athletic legs. Perfectly straight to-die-for blond hair that just skimmed her tiny waist. And of course, her eyes: piercing blue. Like ice. A Nordic goddess.

In reality, she couldn’t have been further from the truth. Yes, Alessandra was, is, a sensual name, but she looked, well, she looked any other America woman. Not too tall, but not too short. A firm body, but a little boyish. And she didn’t have gorgeous long blond hair as Laney had imagined, but rather short brown hair, a bob cut to her chin, and dark brown eyes. Definitely not a Nordic goddess. But cute.

This is what went on inside Laney as she anticipated kissing Ben. Just kissing him for the first time. If she was this worked up over kissing, what would happen when they finally were completely alone, touching, caressing, exploring each other’s bodies. It was just too much to even think about.

So for the moment, Laney pulled herself back to reality, back in that seat next to Ben. Holding his hands. Fingers interlaced.

And she looked forward to an evening out with just Ben, even if it were for work. At least for tonight, Ben was all hers. And she would focus all of her attention on that and not wonder about all the ‘what ifs’.

Because right here, right now, in this moment, all Laney could think about anymore was Ben.