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The Five Times She Sneezed and the One Time He Did (Knives Out, Marta and Benoit)


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So, obviously I'm still obsessed with these two cuties. I like the idea of Marta sneezing because she's attracted to Benoit because her body is so strangely reactive to things :laugh:  Eventually he'll figure it out because, poor girl, can't lie. 

1. The first time it happened, she didn't really give it much thought. She had almost just died, after all. Benoit had pulled her up off the floor and was thoroughly fussing over her. Adrenalin was making her body shake uncontrollably and he bundled her up in a quilt then hustled her over to the sofa, kneeling in front of her and rubbing his hands up and down the length of her arms. 

"You're alright now," he said as much to reassure himself as to reassure her. "Good Lord, Marta, I am so sorry. I had no notion that he would do something so rash. I should have though. I'm a damn fool for putting you in such a risky situation." He couldn't seem to stop the nervous stream of words as he checked her over for injuries, probing her head to make sure she hadn't hit it too hard when she landed on the floor. "I'd never forgive myself if he'd hurt you. Your head must be aching something awful." Marta still hadn't gotten a word in edgewise, and that didn't seem likely to change anytime soon. Benoit was flustered; his miscalculation and Marta's brush with death having shaken him. "We got enough evidence to put him away for a long time if that's any consolation," he said. "It'll be a mighty long time before Ransom Drysdale tastes freedom again." Once he seemed satisfied that she wasn’t hurt, he finally paused for a breath. He took Marta's face in his hands. "And you, my dear, brave, brilliant, girl. What do you need at this very moment?"

He wasn’t exactly the traditional knight in shining armor, but she had grown fond of Benoit Blanc over the last few days. He’d looked out for her, defended her from the vultures circling overhead, and now he was knelt in front of her, with such concern in his eyes that it made Marta blush. Sadly, it also made her nose itch. If her stomach rebelled against lying, then her nose rebelled against attraction. People assumed she was always single because she was shy, or focused on her family, or too busy with her nursing career to date, but the truth was that when Marta found herself attracted to a man, she suffered from sneezing fits. All it took was a glance at those intense blue eyes and Marta felt her nose begin to tickle. Her nostrils flared and she quickly raised her hands to keep from sneezing on Benoit.

ahhTshhoo! Ktschhoo!

“God bless you, Marta.” He got a handkerchief from his pants pocket and handed it to her.

ah Ahh…Ahhktshhoo! ahTSHoo!

“Oh, dear girl, I do hope you’re not catching a cold. But you’ve been through such an ordeal these last few weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised.” He put a hand on her forehead, only making her situation worse. Her breath fluttered and Marta held the handkerchief over her nose.

hehahh Ahh ahh ehhAHHktshhhoo!

“Bless you!” Benoit said. He got his feet. “I’m going to make you something warm to drink. Stay put while I show myself to the kitchen.”


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23 hours ago, NickG1998 said:

Please continue this epic story and keep up the amazing work 

Thank you! Glad you're enjoying it.


She’s a nervous wreck, pacing up and down the halls of the courthouse waiting for her turn to give testimony. It wasn’t even the trial, just the grand jury, but she was still terrified. Because the proceedings were sealed, the Thrombey family couldn’t be present, but it also meant Marta couldn’t have anyone in the room for her benefit either.


There was only person who said her name like that. Sure enough, she turned her head and saw Benoit jogging down the hallway.

“Sorry I’m late. I wanted to see you before you went in, but I got stuck in traffic,” he said.

“Benoit, what are you doing here? You’re not testifying today, are you?”

“No. I gave my deposition Monday. I came to support you.”

“But you’re not allowed in the courtroom,” Marta said. Benoit shrugged.

“Doesn’t mean I can’t give you a hug and a little boost of moral support,” he said. “How you feelin’ about today?” he asked a little more seriously.

“I’m so nervous,” she said, wringing her hands. “I’ve never had to do something like this before and I just keep thinking what if I do something that messes everything up and—”

“Shh, Marta, it’s alright. Take a breath.” He put a hand on her shoulder. “I know this is scary, but all you have to do is tell the truth, and you are the best truth-teller I know,” he said with a wink. Marta sniffled and rubbed her nose—that wink was going to cause her trouble. “I’ve given testimony at dozens of grand juries and trials. The prosecutor will guide you through it; just keep your eye on her.”

The courtroom door opened, and an officer called out her name. Benoit squeezed her shoulders and kissed her on the forehead.

“Go get ‘em, Watson.”

She smiled and walked towards the courtroom. As the door closed behind her, she pinched her nose and stifled four quick sneezes.

Marta was on the stand for six grueling hours reliving some of the worst days of her life. She did her best not to cry, but it was hard for her to talk about Harlan. Her head was throbbing and she couldn’t wait to get home and take a bath. When court adjourned, the prosecutor assured her that she had done a good job and Marta shuffled out into the hall. Her eyes filled with tears when she saw Benoit sitting on the bench outside the courtroom, reading a newspaper. He stood and gave her a little smile—she looked about as bad as he’d expected, and Marta didn’t hesitate to accept the hug he offered.

“Y’alright?” he asked quietly. She nodded but didn’t lift her head off his shoulder. She could smell the hint of cigar smoke on his jacket and Marta wondered at what point she’d decided that was a comforting scent.

“Did you sit out here all day?” she asked.


Marta’s nose itched and she reluctantly broke off their hug so she could rub a finger underneath her nostrils.

“Dear girl, you must be exhausted.”

ahhNKTshhoo! Ktschhoo!

“Oh! God bless you, Marta,” he said, surprised by the sudden sneeze.


“Not to worry. You hungry?” He put a hand on her back and steered her towards the exit.

hah ahh Ahh…AhhKtschh! Ktschoo!

“Bless you.” Since lying and saying she wasn’t hungry wouldn’t work, Marta settled on a more complete version of the truth.

“Thank you. I am hungry, but I also have a bad headache and could really use to go home,” she said, typing in an Uber request. He held the door open for her and Marta fought back another sneeze. The nicer Benoit was to her, the worse her nose itched.

“Of course,” Benoit said. They stood on the sidewalk and waited for her car. “I don’t mean to be a bother, but would you mind sending me a message when you get settled back at the house? Been a long day and I’d like to make sure you’re back in that big old country mansion safe and sound.” She turned away quickly and sneezed into her arm.

AhhKTshhoo! KTschhoo!

“Bless you. Something in the air bothering you?” he asked with a frown. Thankfully, she could answer that one.

“No. I’m alright.” Her car pulled up. “Do you need a ride?” she asked.

“My car’s parked ‘round the corner.”

“Thank you for spending your whole day waiting around for me,” she said, getting into the back of the car. He put his hand on the roof and leaned down.

“Anything for my favorite partner,” he said with a wink before closing the door. Marta pinched her nose.

ahhNktshh! Ktshh! Ktschh!

Yes, that wink was definitely going to cause her problems.

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On 2/26/2020 at 6:33 PM, matilda3948 said:

“God bless you, Marta.” He got a handkerchief from his pants pocket and handed it to her.

ah Ahh…Ahhktshhoo! ahTSHoo!

“Oh, dear girl, I do hope you’re not catching a cold. But you’ve been through such an ordeal these last few weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised.” He put a hand on her forehead, only making her situation worse. Her breath fluttered and Marta held the handkerchief over her nose.

I LOVE the concept of this episodic fic, and how sweet and caring Benoit is. You write them so well! But this part especially just had me on dangerously high levels of swoon. My word... 😍

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On 2/29/2020 at 12:49 AM, Oolia said:

I LOVE the concept of this episodic fic, and how sweet and caring Benoit is. You write them so well! But this part especially just had me on dangerously high levels of swoon. My word... 😍

Thank you!! I just adore their chemistry in this movie. He is so wonderfully over-the-top. 


The third time she actually was a little under the weather, so that would provide her a little plausible cover. She’d been hoping that her crush on Benoit would ease as the months progressed—just something born from the intense emotional experience surrounding the murder investigation, but it hadn’t lessened much at all.

They were meeting for an early dinner in the city after Marta’s meeting at Blood Like Wine, a tradition they’d started recently when she had to visit the publishing house in person. Her car pulled up in front of an unassuming looking Italian restaurant, and when she stepped inside she saw he was already seated at a table. Benoit stood as she came closer.

“Well, you’re a sight for sore eyes,” he said. She smiled but held up a hand to keep him from hugging her.

“Don’t hug me—I’m getting over a cold.”

Benoit acquiesced, but moved to hold her chair out for her.

“You sure you’re up for dinner?” he asked, sitting back down.

“Absolutely. I’m nearly over it.” Marta put her napkin in her lap and Benoit poured them each a glass of water. “Have you been here before?” she asked, glancing over the menu.

“Many times. Never had anything less than outstanding,” he said. The restaurant was sparsely populated since it was still early, and Marta was hyper-aware of how quiet the space was, though Benoit seemed perfectly at ease. After the waiter came over and took their orders, Benoit settled back in his chair and sighed happily. “How are things at the publishing house?”

“Really well actually,” she said. “The new editor-in-chief was a great choice. She’s been so understanding about respecting Harlan’s wishes and taking things in the direction he would have wanted.” Talking about Blood Like Wine was a safe topic, less likely that Benoit would inadvertently do something that would cause her to sneeze. “She’s cleaned house and replaced over half the staff to make sure we have the right people in place to move forward.” Benoit hummed appreciatively.

“Too many Walt disciples were running around that place,” he said. “Was gonna take a firm hand to either bring them to heel or get them out the door.”

“She’s tough but fair,” Marta said. “I could have never accomplished what she has.”

“Nonsense! You’re a wonder, Marta Cabrera.”

She quickly grabbed her napkin off her lap and turned her head.

 ah ahh Ahh…AhhKtschhoo!

“God bless you.”

Marta waved a hand to indicate she wasn’t finished. Her breath came in little airy hitches and she tilted her head towards the ceiling.


“Bless you again,” Benoit said, a touch of concern in his eyes. Marta dabbed her nose and took a tentative breath to make sure she was done.

“Excuse me. Anyway, things at the publishing house are going great.” She was eager to get back onto a topic that would get that look off Benoit’s face—there was something about his “mother hen” mode that was nearly as bad as when he winked at her. “How are things with you?” she asked.

“Oh, no complaints. Mostly small cases without much mystery, but one never knows when a seemingly simple case will take a turn towards the inexplicable. Gave a talk at an NYU criminal justice class last week.”

“I bet that was fun,” Marta said.

“I think they might have been disappointed—most of good detective work is just good research. They tend to think it’s a bit more Dashiell Hammet than it actually is.”

The waiter brought their food and conversation lagged a little as they both enjoyed their meal. Marta relaxed; going to the publishing house still made her nervous, but it was getting better each time she went. She glanced up and found Benoit observing her with a little smile on his face. She sniffled and rubbed her nose.

“How’s your mama doing?” he asked.

“She’s good—splitting her time between the here and the Dominican Republic now that her citizenship is straightened out. There’s so much family there she hadn’t been able to see in over ten years. I think she’s making up for lost time.”

“And Alice?”

“Enjoying college. She likes California.” Marta left off the implied “but I miss her,” but Benoit understood, and it caused him to circle back to one of the things he always worried about most with her.

“You doing okay in that big house all by yourself?”

She nodded and pressed a finger to the underneath side of her nose—the itch starting almost instantaneously with his last question. Marta turned her head away from the table and sniffled. Benoit got a handkerchief out of his pocket and tapped her other hand to get her attention. She nodded her thanks and brought the cloth to her nose.

ahh Ahh…AhhKSHHoo!

“Bless you.”

“Sorry,” Marta said, pressing the handkerchief to her nose.

“No apology necessary. You sure you’re feeling okay?”


Benoit tutted as he watched Marta hover on the verge of another sneeze. After several seconds, the sensation died down and Marta took a deep breath.

“As much as I love your company, are you sure you shouldn’t be in bed nursing that cold instead of having pasta with me?” he asked.

Her reaction was spontaneous and immediate:

Ktshhoo! Ahhtshoo! ahTSHHoo!

“Bless you! Oh, dear girl, come on now—time for you to get home.” He opened his wallet and left money on the table, then helped a sniffling Marta up from her chair and steering her towards the door with a hand on the small of her back. She got her phone and requested an Uber, still teetering on the brink of another sneeze with Benoit still hovering so near to her.

“I didn’t mean to ruin our dinner,” she said quietly.

“Oh, you did nothin’ of the sort.” He stepped in front of her and pressed his palm to her forehead. “Hm. No fever—that’s good.”


“Bless you. Your poor nose seems mighty unhappy though.”

“It certainly is,” she agreed. The car pulled up and he opened the door for her.

“You take care of yourself, Marta, and feel better soon.” He placed a chaste kiss on her forehead before she got in the car.

“Thanks for dinner, Benoit.”

“I loved every minute of it.”


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  • 4 weeks later...
On 3/5/2020 at 10:33 PM, sprinkles287 said:

Oh my... I was nearly holding my breath throughout. This was wonderful.

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it.

On 4/3/2020 at 10:05 AM, CeruleanBlue said:

Aww this is so cute! Looking forward to the rest :D

Thanks! This pairing was made for cuteness and fluff. 


Part 4. 

The fourth time was an unexpected affair. Benoit had been at home enjoying a good cigar and a mediocre book when his phone rang. The ID told him it was Lieutenant Elliot, and he frowned, pressing the button.


“Hey, Benny. Look, it’s nothing serious, but I thought you’d want to know. We just picked up Richard Drysdale lurking outside Marta’s house.” Blanc was on his feet and going for his car keys before Elliot had even finished his sentence.

“Did he threaten her? Is he being charged with anything?”

“No to both. He stayed just off the edge of the property line so he wasn’t technically trespassing, but he tried to flag Marta down when she came back to the house tonight after running some errands.”

“And she called you?”

“Of course not,” Elliot said. “But the security guard did when Richard still hadn’t left an hour later.”

Benoit huffed; he’d have to speak to Marta about not immediately calling the police when she saw Richard.

“Richard was actually in a bit of a pathetic state,” Elliot said. “I guess his divorce went through and he’s broke. I think he was hoping to convince Marta to take pity on him and give him money. They held him at the station until he sobered up and then made sure he understood that if it happens again he’ll be charged.”

“How’s Marta?”

“I didn’t talk to her, but the officer that took her report said she seemed shaken up about it.” There was a pregnant pause. “That’s why I thought I’d call you,” he said.

“Thanks, Elliot.”

“You’re already in your car, aren’t you?”

“I plead the 5th.”

“Let her know I don’t think it’ll happen again—we did our best to put a good scare into him.”

“I’ll do that.”

“Bye, Benny.”

It took a few hours to make the drive from New York to Boston, but the traffic was reasonable. He waited to call Marta until he was about ten minutes from the house to avoid giving her an excuse to turn him away. When he dialed her number, it rang several times before going to voicemail.

“Well hello, Miss Cabrera. I happen to be in the neighborhood and thought I might call on you if you’re at home. Let me know.” A few minutes later, she called him back.

“In the neighborhood?”

“Nearly to your street,” he said with a smile in his voice. She sighed and the thought occurred to him that maybe his presence wasn’t welcome. “Of course, I don’t need to drop by if you’re not in the mood for company.”

“It’s not that,” she said quietly. “I’m just…I’m not—I’ve had a bad day.”

“Well, we’re all entitled to those, aren’t we?”

“I guess. See you in a few minutes.”

Marta immediately flipped all the locks back in place after letting Benoit slip inside the house and didn’t linger in the foyer to greet him, instead she quickly walked towards the living room at the back of the house. All the drapes were pulled shut, the television played a nature documentary quietly in the background, and there was a pile of blankets on the sofa. She locked that door as well before turning to Benoit. Marta fiddled with the hem of her sweatshirt, not able to look him in the eyes.

“I take it the police called you,” she said quietly.

“Lieutenant Elliot rang this evening.”

“M’sorry. I didn’t mean for you to get pulled in,” she said.

“Why ever not?”

“It’s not your job to come rushing over every time something goes wrong,” she said, sinking down onto the sofa. Benoit stayed standing and frowned. She was well and truly spooked, withdrawing to the deepest part of the house like she was hiding. An unsettling thought occurred to him.

“Today wasn’t the first time you saw Richard outside the house, was it?” he asked.


He was going to need to let Elliot know about this new development, but now wasn’t the time. Benoit sat down next to Marta and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, giving her a little squeeze.

“Don’t go letting that good heart of yours overlook your personal safety,” he said.

“I don’t think he’s dangerous, just a mess,” Marta said.

He hummed thoughtfully, not entirely sure he agreed, but willing to let it rest for the moment. Marta wiped a couple tears from her eyes and leaned over to the side table to snag a couple tissues from the box resting next to her coffee mug. She sniffled and wiped her nose and eyes. Benoit tsk’d and turned to face her head-on.

“Dear girl,” he sighed. “C’mere.” She leaned into him for a proper hug, and Benoit spoke quietly in her ear. “Shh…now it’s not good for you to keep trying to shoulder all this on your own. Not when you’ve got a friend uniquely qualified to help.” She gave a watery laugh and sat back, cleaning her face up a bit.

“Thank you for coming,” she said. “I thought about calling you but…I guess I didn’t want to bother you.”

“It’s literally impossible for you to bother me, Marta.”

Her breath hitched sharply, and she turned her head towards the crumpled wad of tissues in her left hand.

Ahh! AHHKtshhoo!

“God bless you.”

Ktshoo! ah ahh Ahhktshoo! ahTSHHoo!

“Goodness! Bless you again,” he said, leaning around her to grab the box of tissues off the table. He put the box in her lap and then laid the back of his hand against her cheek. She didn’t have a fever, but maybe the paleness he’d ascribed to her being scared was actually a sign she was sick. “You under the weather?”

“No.” She sniffled and pinched her nose in a tissue. “Just a tickle.” She’d been fighting it off for several minutes—damn him and his thoughtfulness and deep voice and worried eyes. Even now, he was concentrating on her face like he was trying to puzzle something together, his brow creased in concern, but his lips quirked like he found something amusing. Marta kept her nose pinched and stifled five quick sneezes nearly silently—just a bob of her head and a quiet, tight noise in the back of her throat. She sucked in a deep breath when she was done.

“Bless you, Marta. Serious tickle, hm?”

She nodded and blew her nose.

“Think I’m over it,” she said with a light sniff.

“I guess we’ll see.” It was a slightly odd response, but he was a slightly odd man. “What are you watching?” he asked, switching gears and turning his attention to the television.

“Blue Planet,” she said, settling back into her nest of blankets and picking up the remote. “I think coral reefs are up next.”

“Mind if I stay for a bit?”

“Like you’re going anywhere before you talk to Lieutenant Elliot tomorrow morning,” she said.

He laughed and slipped his shoes off, settling in for a relaxing evening. The rough outline of a theory about Marta was beginning to form in the back of his mind—a pattern his subconscious was trying to drag to the surface but couldn’t quite manage yet. No matter: he was used to waiting for the arch to reveal itself. He just needed to be patient and wait for Gravity’s Rainbow.

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WooHoo quarantine boredom! This is sugary and over-the-top and I think we all need that right now :lol:  The tables get turned in the last part.


5.  The fifth time was when he finally figured it out. Benoit was getting ready to head to Marta’s house for a large Christmas party she was hosting for all her family. He reached for his bottle of cologne and froze. He’d been curious about Marta’s propensity to sneeze when she was near him. It seemed like, no matter the circumstance, she always sneezed when they were together; and not just an occasional sneeze, but a veritable fit that always left him a little worried she was ill. The last time he’d been about to joke that she was allergic to him, but that had been that awful sleepless night when they’d sat up watching television after Richard had been caught near the property. She hadn’t really seemed in the mood for jokes and Benoit Blanc was a man who always knew his audience. She must be sensitive to his cologne and too polite to see anything—seemed in step with everything he knew about Marta. He let the amber bottle on the bathroom shelf and left feeling pleased with himself for having figured out the pattern.

Apparently, when Marta said “her family” was coming, that meant every aunt, uncle, second cousin, step-child’s best friend’s sister—because that was the only way he could account for the sheer number of people in the house. There was food all homemade (and incredible), and Benoit doubted that house had every been full of such laughter and joy as it was that night. He slipped out onto the side patio and took a deep breath; it was maybe a little noisy for his taste. He lit a cigar and sat on the edge of one of the brick garden walls. It was chilly but not uncomfortably cold for being December. He blew a stream of smoke up into the sky and smiled at the muted sound of Christmas music from inside the house. It briefly increased in volume as the door opened and Marta stepped outside. Blanc’s Spanish was rusty at best, but he was pretty sure Marta yelled something to the effect of “Because I said so, Alice!” She shut the door and turned to Benoit with a huff.

“If I ever say something about hosting all my family in a single place again, please remind me of this moment,” she said. He raised an eyebrow and she came to sit next to him. “I love them, but they are so loud and so pushy.” He chuckled and she laughed as well, letting go of whatever annoying thing Alice had done to push her over the edge. “You know, I’m contractually obligated to point out those are bad for you,” she said, nodding towards his cigar.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I’ll put it out.”

“No—leave it. I just think someone pops out of the bushes and revokes my license if I don’t offer at least token resistance. Truth be told, the smell is something I’ve come to associate with you…I kind of like it.”

“Oh, Marta, you’re even kind about my vices,” he said. “This is quite the shindig you’ve thrown tonight.”

“I had an enthusiastic guest list,” she said. Her smile faded and her eyes took on a faraway look. “I think this would have made Harlan happy—proud. All he ever wanted was to fill this house with joy.”

“Not a lot of chance with that crew,” Blanc said.

“I still miss him,” she said. He hummed quietly and slid a little closer to her.

“You always will, but I’m sure this is what he had in mind when he gave you this house. He’d be happy your have this life, Marta. You’re doing a beautiful job.”

“Thank you.”

“Speaking of beautiful,” he said, “Have I mentioned how lovely you look this evening? You are an absolute picture of Christmas cheer.”

Marta smiled, but felt a little flutter of nerves—any more flattery from Benoit and she’s end up humiliating herself. She sniffled and rubbed her nose.

“Thank you. You clean up pretty well yourself.”

“Well, I rarely get invited to such swanky affairs,” he said with a wink.

It was the wink that did it. That ridiculous, sexy wink.


“Bless you!” He reached in his jacket pocket and got her a handkerchief. She quickly took it and muffled the fit into the fabric.

ahhKtschhoo! Ktischhoo! Ahhktschhoo!

Benoit frowned—so not his cologne then. What else could it be?

“Is it my cigar?” he asked, quickly stubbing it out. Marta shook her head, but couldn’t answer as her breath was already hitching in preparation for another sneeze.

ah ahh Ah hahKITSHHooo!

“Goodness! Bless you, Marta,” he said. “Should I be taking this personally?” He was teasing, but there was clearly a hole in the center of his theory. Marta sniffled and paused with the handkerchief over her nose, waiting to see if she was finished.

“Sorry,” she said.

“I thought for sure it was my cologne—didn’t wear a drop of it tonight.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked, a knot forming in her stomach.

“You always sneeze when you’re around me. Figured it was my cologne, but that’s not it.” He got up and started pacing in front of her. “It’s been puzzling me for a while now and I watched you tonight: not a single sneeze. Five minutes with me and you sound like you’re having an allergy attack.”

So he had noticed. Marta really hoped he hadn’t, but he did make a living by being observant after all. He was pacing and trying to piece information together like she was a case.

“It’s not what you think,” she said.

“But it is me, isn’t it?” She nodded. “Just tell me what I need to change—soap, fabric softener, what?”

Dios mio, this is a nightmare,” she mumbled, covering her face with her hands. Blanc sighed and sat back down next to her, putting a hand on her back.

“I’m not trying to embarrass you, Marta. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just tell me and I’ll change it.”

“It’s not something you can change, Benoit.” She was embarrassed and close to tears.

“Oh, c’mon. Not much I wouldn’t do for you. I thought you knew that.”

Ktischhoo! ahhKtschhoo! Ahhktschhoo!

“Bless you. Dear girl, this cannot continue.”

She blew her nose and sighed. She was probably lucky she’d made it this long without having to tell him. Marta stared at her feet and took a deep breath.

“You know what happens when I lie?”

“Not an easy thing to forget,” he said.

“Well, it’s not the only…odd thing that my body does.”

“I see.”

“So it’s not soap, or cologne, or cigar smoke.”

“Then what is it?” he asked.

Well, there is was: a direct question she couldn’t avoid. Marta hid behind her hands.

“I sneeze when…when I’m attracted to someone.”

It was silent for what seemed like ages, but Marta couldn’t bring herself to look up. For his part, Benoit was stunned by this revelation.

“That’s why you’re always single,” he said quietly.

“It’s involuntary. Like blushing, but much more humiliating,” she whispered. After another moment of silence, Benoit laughed and rested a hand between her shoulder blades.

“That may be the most adorable thing I’ve ever heard,” he said.

“It is not!”

“It really is,” he said, tugging her hands away from her face. “And if I understand the implications of this unusual…expression of your internal emotions…then that means—”

“Oh, please stop!”

“Marta Cabrera, are you sweet on old Benoit Blanc?” There was a spark in his eye, and he was smiling at her. Marta gasped and nearly doubled over.


“Bless you, darlin'. Oh, I must say, you could do so much better than yours truly.”

ahhKtschoo! Ktishhooo!

His amusement evaporated and he took his hand off her back. Poor girl was embarrassed enough as it was.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t tease.”

She blew her nose and that’s when he saw she had tears in her eyes as well. A tearful Marta was unacceptable.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I never meant for you to find out.”

“Well, I’m glad your nose outed you,” he said, sliding closer to her.

“Really?” It was the first glimmer of hope that she had that this might be anything other than disastrous. “But I’m so—”

“You’re the most remarkable woman I’ve ever met,” he said firmly.

She felt his hands caress the sides of her neck and thumbs trace light circles along her jaw line. Marta felt like a swarm of bees had invaded her nose, the prickling sensation needling all the way from her sinuses to the edge of her nostrils. The last thing she saw before her eyes fluttered shut was Benoit looking at her with such tenderness that she—

Ahh Hahh AHHKTISHHOOO! he ahh—

Marta froze when she felt Benoit’s warm lips cover hers. For a few seconds, she was terrified that she was going to sneeze again, but the sensation faded away as she was distracted by a much better feeling. When they finally parted, Benoit kept a hand on either side of her face, and then kissed her forehead.

“Better than in my dreams,” he said quietly, brushing a thumb over her bottom lip. “We’ll figure it out,” he said in answer to her unasked question. “Like blushing, it is utterly endearing to know a beautiful, brilliant woman is attracted to you—no matter how unconventional the reaction.” He watched as her nostrils twitched and she wrinkled her nose in an impossibly adorable manner. He leaned down and kissed her again, deeper and with purpose. When he drew back, they were both smiling.

“Wow,” she said, a bit breathlessly.

“Indeed. And how’s this doing?” he asked, tapping the side of his own nose.

“Okay, I think.”

Benoit stood and held out his hand to help her up. He put a hand on the small of her back and they slowly walked back towards the house. He tilted his head and spoke quietly in her ear.

“After all this family of yours departs, I would love to take you out on a proper date, Miss Cabrera.”

She shivered at the feeling of his warm breath on her neck and she turned her head away from him, pinching her nose.

ahhNGKTshh! NGKtshh! Ktshh!

“Bless you, darlin’.”

“Okay, it may never totally go away,” she said. He checked to make sure they were still out of view from the party, then tilted his head and gave her a tender kiss.

“I sorta hope it doesn’t—let’s me know how I’m doing.”

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Oh. My. Goodness. This was a perfect ending to a perfect series of wonderful vignettes. Thank you so much for sharing 🥰 I just can't get over how sweet and caring Benoit is and how adorable Marta acts around him. A much needed touch of sweetness in the current situation. THANK YOU!

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This was a fantastic read. It hit me in all the feels. I love the concept and I love the way both characters were true. Thank you!

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