He enters her office with his usual drama, swinging the door open and glancing behind him as if he is ensuring he has lost some stalker - probably Jonathan. Once he is convinced he is safe, he closes the door and looks at her with the face that makes her want to hide under her desk because it means he has an idea. And that usually means she’ll end up getting attacked.
“Lemon, I’ve been thinking…”
Yes, it’s definitely not looking good for her.
“Hi, Jack,” she says, her lack of enthusiasm for hearing his thoughts evident in her over-enthusiastic tone.
He ignores her response and continues, “… we need to practise a kiss in case we’re ever in that soap opera position again - ”
Her eyes widen and with absolute disbelief she insists, “That is so unlikely to happen!”
“Lemon,” he says, seriously, placing both hands on her desk and leaning ominously forward, “what would you have said if, two weeks ago, I had told you we’d have to pretend to be lovers to stop me doing it with Kathy Geiss to get my job back?”
She opens her mouth to answer the question, but then hesitates as her response runs through her mind before she speaks.
But of course he knows exactly what her answer would be.
“Lemon,” he warns.
She rolls her eyes and feels the inevitable moment when she has to comply with Jack’s wishes drawing closer. “That is so unlikely to happen,” she tells him.
“Exactly,” he says, standing back up, and clicking his fingers. “We need to be prepared next time. Kathy let it go, but the next person might not be such a fan of unresolved sexual tension.”
She watches him closely, scared that he actually looks serious; that he actually seems to be considering what might need to be done to convince ‘the next person’; that he actually seems to believe that there will be a next person. She’s not sure whether she’s scared more of the fact that she knows Jack isn’t going to let this go easily, or of the idea that there is another Kathy Geiss out there. But, regardless of the root of her fear, Jack is muttering something about believable kisses and he’s looking at her with that look he gets a lot lately - the look she hasn’t yet learned to interpret. His eyes link directly with hers and there’s a whisper of a smile on his lips, and every single time he looks at her that way, her heart rate increases and her cheeks feel flushed. She checked once, and the flush isn’t actually visible - thank goodness - but the feeling is there nevertheless, and she isn’t quite sure what that means.
Damn, he noticed her distraction.
“Sorry, Jack. I was just thinking about… pizza.” She knows he’ll believe that.
“How can you think about pizza at a time like this, Lemon?”
“Jack, this is hardly a major crisis. In the unlikely event that the ‘next person’ comes along, and we need to be soap opera lovers again, we’ll just improvise. I really don’t think it’s necessary to rehearse for something that is not likely to happen.”
“Then why is Jenna rehearsing for the Sheinhardt Pig Wig sketch?”
“Because that is a good sketch,” she says, getting to her feet because this is a cause she is passionate about, “and one day you’ll come round!”
He laughs that laugh that she is sure is borne of sympathy for her lack of worldly wisdom. “Ah, Lemon, I can assure you there is more chance of us needing to pretend to be soap opera style lovers again than there is of me allowing that sketch.”
She narrows her eyes at him, both for that comment and because she’s sure he’s using the word lovers intentionally now because he knows she doesn’t like it. She looks down to her desk, beginning to gather papers together so she can form a pretence for escape. “If we’re done here, I have work to do,” she says, picking up the pile of papers and making a break for the door.
“Lemon, if you believe that I’m going to allow the Pig Wig sketch then you have to believe that the time will come when you have to kiss me.”
She opens the door, praying he’ll stop this line of conversation once others are in earshot. “I’ll cross that bridge when - ”
The door slams shut in front of her, and she finds herself spun round to face Jack. His hand rests just above her head, his forearm leaning on the door, bringing his upper body closer to her, pinning her between him and her only escape route.
His voice is low and husky when he speaks. “I can’t let you walk away from me again, Elizabeth.”
She lets out a heavy sigh. “Jack - ”
“In character, Lemon,” he instructs as himself before slipping back to the soap opera melodrama. His other hand rises and he trails a finger slowly along her jaw line. “I can’t bear to be apart from you any longer.”
She inexplicably wants to shiver but she can’t allow that. “Jack, I’m not doing this.” She is surprised by how soft her voice is as her words come out. She sounds like she is doing this, and it’s soon apparent that Jack interprets it that way.
“Don’t fight this,” he whispers, his hand slipping to the back of her neck and encouraging her head forwards.
And, strangely, she finds she doesn’t want to fight it. His lips are getting closer to hers and she isn’t backing away. In fact her heart is racing; her tongue flits out to moisten her lips and she takes a breath to support herself during the kiss. This isn’t like her, she needs to fight it, and she needs to remember that this isn’t real or it is going to end in disaster. But she finds she has little control over her body right now and is doing nothing to stop this from happening.
“It’s pretend. It’s pretend. It’s pretend,” she starts to repeat to herself as he draws even closer and her eyes flick down to watch his lips approach.
And then he suddenly pulls her head towards him and his lips cover hers. She didn’t see that coming, and as such is still halfway through her anticipation when she finds herself in the middle of the kiss.
His lips are soft and cool, and, combined with the scent of ‘Jack’ that surrounds her, she finds herself longing to get lost here.
Her determination to fight it – ‘It’s pretend’ still repeating in her head – succeeds in keeping her hands by her side, though they itch to wrap around him, and for a few seconds she is able to stop herself from responding to the kiss. But then even that control is relinquished and she finds her own lips reacting as his lips move over them.
He tastes of coffee and ‘man’, and as she feels her knees weakening, Liz ponders that it is no wonder so many powerful women have fallen for Jack. Her hands are pressed into her hips now, the last little restraint she is able to cling to. ‘It’s pretend’ she repeats. This is not a real kiss – though it is certainly a rather long pretend one…
Just as Liz is considering the possible implications of that, Jack breaks the kiss. But he doesn’t move away. Liz looks up, expecting to see his ‘soap opera’ eyes looking down at her, and waiting for a typically overly-soppy declaration of love. Instead, she finds him looking confused, and perhaps a little hurt. His brow is creased, and he appears to be deep in thought as he studies her.
Frowning herself, Liz questions, “Jack?” to see if he is all right.
“That was good, Lemon. I think that would be convincing,” he says quietly.
“Ah good.” She forces a smile because there seems to be a tension settling over them that won’t allow a genuine one. Because the kiss stirred feelings in her that she had never admitted were there, even after the ‘almost kiss’ in Kathy’s office, and now she doesn’t know what happens next. Because they are still staring at each other; she is still pressed against the door, his body strong and warm in front of hers; and she can still taste him on her lips.
Her mind, she notices, is no longer chanting ‘It’s pretend’ and when Jack whispers “Lemon…” she knows it is because it has realised that it isn’t pretend anymore.
They move simultaneously, their lips crashing together as her arms wrap around his back. One of his hands plays in her hair while the other holds her against him. It is a frantic fight to touch, to taste, to get closer and closer, even though they are already as close as two clothed people can be. They gasp for air between heated kisses, and Liz gasps with surprise when her back comes into contact with the door again.
Jack takes advantage of her brief surrender of his lips and trails them along her jaw and down her neck, sending shivers through her body and eliciting all kinds of contented sigh.
It flits through her mind that the writers are on the other side of the door, but Jack’s lips have reached her collar bone, and his fingers have snuck beneath her shirt at the base of her back, and it becomes impossible for her to think – or care – about anything else.
Seconds later, though, as Jack’s right hand starts to move higher, she does take a brief moment to hope that they don’t find themselves in ‘that soap opera position’ again. Because it is fast becoming apparent that their ‘kiss’ wouldn’t be suitable for daytime television.