It is barely seconds but he finds himself thinking how stupid she was; how he hates Jack Reese; how lost he would be without her and how crazy it is to have the inauguration when it’s freezing. Other thoughts include how useful it is to have this occur when it’s freezing, or else there wouldn’t have been snow to throw at her window; how differently this could have turned out if they’d had to throw stones; how scared he had been that she would have to leave him and how cold she must be, standing in front of him in a ballgown, with just his jacket draped over her shoulders.
And it’s that thought that stops the onslaught. He has no idea what he has said while his mind was lost in the whirlwind of thought, but he really looks at her for the first time now.
“You look amazing,” he tells her suddenly, surprising even himself with the softness of his compliment.
A gentle smile curves her lips, and another assault of thoughts occurs: She truly is amazing; he would be lost, both professionally and personally, without her and putting Donna in this position is not the main reason he hates Jack Reese. He also remembers, however, that it’s freezing, and they’re supposed to be at several balls right now.
So rather than share his latest thoughts with Donna, he ushers her away to their waiting cab; smiling as she makes small talk with his team of bad cops. She didn’t seem at all surprised that he hadn’t come alone. Maybe she’s known him long enough to expect that he’d need them for moral support. Or maybe she understands that they need a chaperone. Or four.
She turns to face him; apologising again, and he could so easily lean forward and show her that she’s forgiven. But they do have four chaperones (and a cab driver) so now’s not really the right time. So instead he tells her, “You’re gonna have to sit on someone’s lap.”
But when she’s pressed up next to him in the cab, which really wasn’t built for so many people, she looks at him and smiles; and when she smiles like that he thinks it would be easy to ignore the presence of seventy chaperones (and a cab driver). But she’s his assistant, so now really isn’t the right time.
By the end of the journey he’s desperately wishing that she would stop smiling at him; and as she takes his offered hand to step out of the car, he briefly loses his restraint, leans forward and places a soft kiss to her cheek. And it’s only to her cheek because she tilts her head. Because she’s always been the sensible one.
She squeezes his hand and offers him a reassuring smile and he knows then that, one day, it will be the right time. One day, there won’t be any chaperones. And, hopefully, there won’t be any cab drivers either.