Bound by Blue_Robin

“Oh, it’s lovely Corm. It really is. She’ll love it.” Cormoran smiled at Ilsa Herbert as he reached for the package she was handing back to him. “When are you going to give it to her?”

And there it was, the thing he’d been wrestling with since he’d seen the thing online and images of Robin using it had popped into his head. How to give it to her?!

Her birthday wasn’t near.

Christmas wasn’t for months.

They weren’t a couple, so Valentines Day wasn’t a reason. His brain grumbled at him for this reflection.

There was no real reason for him to have bought her such a meaningful gift.

He has nothing to hide behind as an excuse when he gives it to her. Nothing to use as a shield. Not like the Cavalli dress, when he’d been thanking her for helping him solve the Landry case.

Nor was it like the hotel room he’d booked her when her world had toppled, and he had been the only person she could lean on. Deep in his heart, though he’d called that a “wedding cancellation present”, he’d never once thought of that as a gift. He’d never have been able to live with himself if he hadn’t booked that room for her. Not when it had become very clear that evening that he was the only friend she’d had in London.

There’d been birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, the bottle of champagne at the race track when she’d told him she’d left Matthew, and then a magnum of it the day she’d told him her divorce from the git was final.

He was familiar with giving his partner gifts. She’d certainly given him plenty as well.

Why was giving this one so hard?

He looked back up at Ilsa, standing on the other side of his desk, looking at him expectantly.

He shrugged, looked down, scratched the back of his neck, “I don’t know really. I don’t have a reason to give it to her yet. Maybe I’ll wait until Christmas…” His voice pitched higher at the end as he trailed off, turning the statement into a question.

“You don’t need a reason. Why would you need a reason?” Ilsa’s hands were on her hips now and she was looking at him with an expression of frustrated disbelief.

“Well I can’t just go around giving my business partner random gifts, now can I?” He stood now, leaving the opened package on his desk as he rounded the edge to make for the door.

“Well why not?” She’d followed him to the kitchen and was leaning against the edge of Robin’s desk.

He flicked the switch on the kettle and took down his favored mug from the shelf Robin kept it on, then turned and with a raised eyebrow indicated the kettle, asking silently if Ilsa was going to have a cup.

She waved him off, “No. I have to get going. But seriously, Corm? Why can’t you just give it to her?” She studiously ignored his frustrated growl at her hounding. “You simply hand it to her and say, ‘It made me think of you and I thought you’d like it.’ How is that hard?”

Before he realized what was happening he’d twisted the upper half of his body around to pin Ilsa with a glare of mingled anger and torment. “Because I shouldn’t be thinking of her at all should I? She’s just divorced. She’s my business partner. I shouldn’t be thinking of her when we aren’t working together. It’s not right,” he mumbled as he turned back to the kettle, which had finished its chuntering and was waiting to be poured.

He’d just laid his hand on the handle when he felt Ilsa against his side. She reached up to his face and taking his cheek in her palm, as only she and two other women in his life had ever done, she turned his face toward hers.

He took in the earnestness of her brown eyed gaze as she said, “Corm,” She waited until he met her eyes.  “Just give it to her. Tell her it made you think of her when you saw it and that you wanted her to have it.” Her thumb stroked just above the line of his beard. “Then wait.”

He closed his eyes and drew Ilsa closer with an arm around her shoulders. She moved easily into his one-armed embrace and continued, “She’ll understand. I promise.”

He sighed. Nodded. He knew Ilsa harbored hoped that he and Robin would eventually become a couple. He could hardly chastise her for wanting the same thing he did. With a soft squeeze and a quick kiss on the top of her head he released her and watched as she picked up her briefcase and headed toward the door, glancing back over her shoulder, “Dinner tonight? Curry?”

At his nod she added, “Robin’s welcome as well.”

“I’ll let her know.” He turned, mug in hand and took a sip as he watched her slip out the door.

He listened to the rapid clip of her sensible heels on the treads of the stairs as she made her way to the ground floor and sipped his tea as he ambled back into the interior office.

He sat down at his desk and contemplated the opened package in front of him.

He had thought immediately of Robin as he’d seen it. He’d thought of how useful it would be to her, how classy it was. He’d hardly registered clicking the buttons he’d needed to click to order it, sending it to the Herbert’s house, just in case Robin picked it up here at the office before him. Since she was the one who usually got their mail.

He fingered the paper surrounding it and imagined handing it to Robin as she sat at her desk, with a simple, “I saw it and thought you’d like it.” It still didn’t sound right in his head. But he also knew it was just better to bite the bullet and give it to her.

His phone chirped with an incoming message and he glanced at it to see one word from Robin,

Robin: Coffee?

He replied in the affirmative and then set about cleaning up the wrapping from the package, sliding the item into his top drawer and opening the file for the current case they were working.

And he waited.


“Hiya!” Robin called out as she opened the door to the office. He could see her in his mind, scooting through the door, carrying a cardboard tray with two paper cups of coffee and the mail she’d gathered from their mail basket at the door below. He heard her toss the mail on her desk and walk back across the room and knew she was hanging her jacket up. He could almost see her fluffing her hair and straightening her blouse, smoothing it back into place as she picked up their coffee and turned toward his office.

And then there she was, her sunny hair gleaming in the scant sunlight filtering through his office windows. Her full lips were curved in a slight smile as she reached his desk and set his cup of coffee beside the file he’d been pretending to review. “What’s up?”

“Just reviewing the notes on Jungle Jim.”

She snorted out a laugh and shook her head. “What a git.”

He chided her in his most pedantic tone, “Now Robin, it’s not his fault that he enjoys dressing like a lion and romping through the parks at night with his ‘pride’” The effect was ruined as he caught her eye and they collapsed into gales of laughter at the shared memory of the mark they’d followed three days earlier.

He’d been dressed in an elaborate lion costume and had spent the entire evening literally growling and roaring at five other people, also dressed in lion costumes, as they’d cavorted through Regents Park.

Robin wiped the tears from her cheeks as her laughter subsided into giggles, then took a tentative sip of her coffee. “If I never see something like that again…”

“Too right,” he chuckled. “I’m really looking forward to seeing the look on his partner’s face when we show him the pictures we’ve got.”

Robin gave an exaggerated shudder, “And on that note, I’m heading back out to type up the rest of the notes for the Simmons case.” She turned and headed to the door.

Cormoran bolted to his feet, “Oh. Wait a second. I have something for you.” He pulled open the drawer he’d shoved the item into and quietly took a deep breath as he watched her turn back to him.

“Oh? A case?”

“No. But it may help with them.”

He rounded the corner of his desk again, stopping to lean back on the edge, feigning casualness, as he handed her a leather-bound book and watched, barely breathing, with his hands buried in his pockets as she set her coffee cup down and opened it.

Inside was a small Moleskine notebook, one of the pens he knew she favored stuck through two loops of leather that would allow the pen to form the spine of the book, and two pockets, one already had a couple of her business cards tucked into it, a touch he’d thought of while waiting for her to arrive.

She closed the book again and turned it over in her hand, her fingers smoothing over the distressed brown cover. And then, he heard a small, quiet, intake of breath as her thumb brushed across the robin he’d asked to have engraved into right corner of the cover.

She was silent.

And then her eyes met his.

“I was doing some research, and this popped up in an ad on the sidebar of one of the articles I was reading. I have a similar one and I thought you might like it.” He was appalled at the way the words rushed out of his mouth. Especially since she just stood there, eyes back on the leather, thumb brushing across the engraved robin.

He was smart enough to realize she was using his own tactic against him, but he was just on edge enough not to care. He watched that thumb stroke that robin the way he wished it would stroke his face and blurted, “I didn’t want there to be anything to identify you on it, like your name or anything, and when I saw the robin as an option I had to do that.”

He stopped, took a breath, and waited for her to meet his eyes. “I hope you like it.”

And still she said nothing. He could see a light shimmer of tears gathering in the smoky depths as she once again met his gaze. He watched as her arm curled around the book, bringing it to rest against her chest, hugging it to her as she took three steps toward him and tilted her face up to his.

She was so close he could see each individual lash framing her eyes, how the tears were just beginning to dampen them before they’d spill over to her cheeks. He could see the curve of her lips, the dip of her top lip, the fullness of the lower one creating a shadow between it and her chin.

In a voice so quiet it surprised him he said, “I think about you all the time. I can’t seem to stop.”

He watched his own hand lift to smooth a strand of her bronzed hair from her face, tucking it behind her ear. His fingers slid along the shell of her ear slowly, ending in a caress of her earlobe. Just as he was about to lower his hand she tilted her head slightly toward it so that her cheek was cradled in his palm.

He felt her body sway toward his as his fingertips got lost in her hair, while his thumb stroked the fullness of her bottom lip the way he’d watched hers stroke the leather cover of his gift.

“I’ve tried for so long to not feel this for you,” he whispered.

Her lips pursed into a soft kiss against his thumb before she finally spoke softly, “Why?”

“You were engaged.” A pause.

“Then married.” He felt his brows lower into a glower. “Then divorced.”

“I’ve been divorced for three months, Cormoran.” Her eyes were still damp, but he could see sparks starting to sizzle in their depths.

“I’m too old for you.” He grasped for any excuse now.

“Oh, Bollocks. You’re ten years older. That’s nothing.” The sparks were beginning to fan themselves into flames. Her gaze burning away all his excuses.

“I’m not your type…at all.” There…That was true. She couldn’t refute it. Matthew had been lean and blonde and athletic. Cormoran was well aware that he could hardly compare to the physical specimen that Matthew had been.

“You’re an idiot is what you are.” She said the words bluntly. Baldly.

“How could you know you aren’t ‘my type’ when I have no bloody idea what my ‘type’ even is?” She emitted a frustrated groan. “I’ve been with Matthew since I was sixteen. He’s all I’ve ever known. Whereas you,” she shoved him in the chest with the tips of her fingers. “You’ve been with socialites, radio presenters, burlesque dancers and a freaking supermodel…all since I met you.”

She spun away from him and tossed the book on his desk and she started to pace in her agitation. “I think it’s pretty well established that there’s no way in hell I’d be your type.”

She stalked right up to him, her toes just inches from the toes of his boots, face turned up to his in challenge. “You, sir, are exactly my type.”

He scoffed, “Oh, yeah?”

“You honestly have no idea, do you?” She reached up and wound her arms around his neck as she pulled his face down to hers. “You’ve spent the last three years teaching me to realize a dream I’d thought was taken away from me. Supporting me. Guiding me. Helping me.”

Her hands tangled into his hair, stroking his scalp so softly he wanted to purr as she continued, “You are the kindest, most gentlemanly and caring man I’ve ever met. You’ve never asked me to be anything other than who I’ve been since you met me. You held your tongue when I know it must have been hard to be silent about Matthew. But you supported me even despite that.”

His forehead was pressed to hers now, his eyes closed because the intensity of her gaze as she spoke her heart threatened to incinerate him.

“I wouldn’t be who I am today without you. I wouldn’t be as confident. I wouldn’t be as happy. I certainly wouldn’t be as fulfilled.”

She tugged on his curls, “You’ve given me so many things Cormoran. Time. Laughter. A gorgeous dress, education, friends, and so much more…How could you not be my type? How could I not think you are exactly my type?” She asked in a whisper as she arched onto her toes to fit her mouth against his.

He groaned and slanted his lips over hers almost immediately, his hands catching her face and angling it so that he could seal his lips to hers more firmly. He kissed her like a starving man eats. Gulping her flavor, drinking her in. And all the while her body pressed flush to his own, her breasts tight to his chest, her legs almost entwining with his.

He broke away abruptly to pull her more firmly against him, cradling her head on his shoulder and tangling his fingers into her long hair. His voice betrayed his confusion as he said, “I don’t know what comes next. What do we do next?”

He felt the laughter ripple through her entire body, pressed as she was against him.

“We could start with dinner?” she suggested.

“That would mean letting go of you. I’m not sure I can just yet.”

Another slight giggle, “Well, you have plenty of time. It’s only ten in the morning.”


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