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"You can't just kiss me like that. What about what's her name, Melanie?"

Richard shrugs. "Melody. Only saw her twice, had no desire to see more."

"I think if something was going to happen it would have happened by now. I don't want to lose my best friend."

He can understand Janine's reluctance. They do have to work together. "I can't promise perfect happiness but we could work. I've stayed for you and you've stayed for me. There's always been something there. I wouldn't hurt you and you wouldn't lose me. It's not just one-sided, the kisses have been good."

Janine sits behind her desk and he tries to figure out what she's thinking. The office is a rubbish place for this discussion but moments happen where they happen. When he goes to speak Janine holds up her hand.

"I like you, Richard, you know that. I trust you but you dumped that Gaby because she had kids and I've got four."

"Your kids are different. I know them all, they know me and I care about them. I've practically seen Tom grow up and I've known Charlotte since she was two days old. Complete honesty, there was a moment of panic but it was more that she kept them a secret."

"Dating when you have kids isn't easy. I really want to kiss you again."

Richard smiles, "me too."

"Don't you smile at me like that."

"We're going in circles, Janine." He walks around to her side of the desk and sits on it, stretching out his legs. "You're the person I think of calling if I have a problem or get good news. I love being around you and love that you know me so well. Even Shap and Butchers don't know me as well as you do."

"So you haven't given either of them the let's be more than friends talk?"

They both laugh at that.

"No. I haven't kissed either of them either. I'm just saying we could be great together."

"It'll be at least ten or eleven years before Charlotte can stay home alone. You sure you want to get yourself involved with an ageing single mother."

"Quite sure."

Janine moves first, standing up to kiss him and it's good. Slower than before but so good. He wraps his arms round her but she breaks the kiss.

"Not here, Richard. I'll see if Michael can babysit."

"Okay." He lets go with a final quick kiss.


Richard has a moment of nerves when he hears the bell but that disappears when he opens the door to see Janine holding up a condom.

"My eldest has given his blessing and a reminder to be safe. "

"Oh God. I won't be able to face him."

"It's fine, Richard. When I said why I needed him to stay the night he said about time. I'm inclined to agree."

"Come on in. You look lovely. I didn't know you were going to dress up."

"It's been a while. Thought I'd make an effort. Had to shave my legs and all. You'd better be worth it."

Richard kisses her and presses her against the wall. Janine puts her arm round him and squeezes his arse. He laughs and smiles at her.

"I'll do my best, boss."

"Glad to hear it."

Janine sidesteps him, "bedroom then?"

"Did you want a drink or anything?"

She shakes her head. "Maybe next time."

"I'm on a promise already?"

"Pending a satisfactory outcome tonight of course."

He's about to joke that he hasn't had any complaints but instead follows Janine He's not nervous about sex but this is sex with Janine, now that does make him nervous. There's so much at stake here. Richard closes the door softly and leans against it for a moment.

Janine smiles at him and crooks his finger. "Come here and get me out of this dress."

"Happy to help." He pushes himself away from the door and joins Janine on the bed.