Okay, anybody remember Sophie Morris Bridgewater from Sixty Million Years Off? Well, I recall Lassiter finding her attractive, and Juliet being appalled that he hadn't noticed that she had changed her hair three times in the past week. So this is definitely AU, it could end up Lassiet, it might not. I don't know. I'm just going with an idea that I hope might grow into something.
I also post this while experiencing deep personal guilt, because I can't seem to get a handle on Playbills Can't Pay Bills. I do that. I start a story, and then the muse giggles and leaves me in despair. Hrmph.
Featured song tonight: Midnight Rider, by Willie Nelson (all other versions pale in comparison…just saying)
Spoilerish for S6, but Shules and Carlowe do not exist here. I can't stand writing Shules (besides writing 'What is she doing with that mendacious, thieving, disrespectful, increasingly pudgy buffoon?'), and there's already a growing number of excellent Carlowe fics as it is. So there. :)
Carlton remembered that movie, from a few years ago – Throw Mama From the Train – where the wizened old woman (really, a kind of pre-Gollum) suggested that Billy Crystal start his novel with 'The night was sultry'. Only Anne Ramsey's voice could give that particular line the force it required, and sure enough, Billy's character had snapped and set out to indeed throw her from the train.
He figured this weather could be a good start to a novel or a complete mental snap, as it was also very sultry. Damned hot, in fact, and humid. Chase a piece of ice across the floor, go postal and end up on the roof with a deer rifle, desperately-need-some-freaking-sex hot. It was starting to get to him, even in the air-conditioned comfort of the room, and this stakeout at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History was about to bore him to tears to boot.
So much for the Great American Novel. Nothing had happening, so far, to warrant a novel. Maybe a novella. Perhaps even an operetta. A really bad operetta…but weren't most of them already pretty bad? Something by Wagner, then, since his operas were all lousy with anti-Semitic undertones, but then Wagner's operas lasted six days and ended with everybody wearing a horned hat and dead in a rather emphatically Teutonic matter, the stage littered with swords, shields and brass brassieres.
So…maybe a short opera about a bored, lonely (but not anti-Semitic) man sitting in a dark room watching security camera feeds, drinking coffee and eating his thirteenth oatmeal cookie crème sandwich so far. Okay, so maybe not an opera. Something perhaps featuring the music of Pink Floyd. He snickered. Yes – he was at the point now of being rather comfortably numb. What of it? He had been for years now, after all.
He yawned and stretched, glancing at the video of the long hallway toward the gallery featuring dinosaur bones and other paleontological discoveries, geegaws, whatjamacallems and worthless crap that he had no interest in, mainly because the idea of building a fifty-foot dinosaur from a single tooth and a toenail seemed just a bit…far fetched (if not entirely silly). In that particular gallery was that photograph of Spencer after 'discovering' a dinosaur at some farm a few years ago. The arrogant little prick had been posing as though he was Indiana Jones, trying to look manly and impressive, when in fact he was about as awe-inspiring as a pile of dandruff, and considerably less intelligent.
Lassiter sighed, knowing he was perhaps a little bitter. Spencer got all the press, and pranced around like a show pony on crack, demanding everybody pay attention to him while taking credit for other people's work, stole anything that caught his eye, lied outrageously and successfully hid the fact that he was a con man from almost everybody…and of course the media ate up his schtick. Then again, the media also paid attention to sideshow freaks, politicians and serial killers, and those types also craved constant adulation from everyone around them. He pushed his bitterness aside, yawned again, and resumed watching the screens, sipping chrome-stripper coffee and unwrapping another oatmeal cream cookie.
God, he loved those things. He could eat hundreds of them in one sitting, with O'Hara staring at him in horror. He never failed to snicker at her about his high metabolism, which would get him smacked on the arm and a bunch of huffs and feminine-disgust pouts. As if it was his fault he descended from a long line of skinny, starving Irishmen for whom every meal always seemed like the last.
Movement on one of the screens caught his eye, and the opera finally started getting interesting. He leaned forward, watching in growing amusement as a shadowy figure skulked down the hall toward the Gallery of Ancient Egyptian Art, keeping flush against the wall. The figure was looking from side to side, and gestured toward someone out of camera range, and Carlton's shoulders dropped when he saw a second person trailing behind the first. The two figures kept in the shadows, and were soon inside the gallery.
He rubbed his forehead with the heel of his palm.
Someone had been stealing small but significant treasures from the Egyptian exhibit, and the museum director had requested a stakeout, as they suspected it was a museum employee doing the stealing – a classic inside job. Carlton had agreed to do it, and hadn't minded very much at all when Vick had assigned him to it as a solo job, as O'Hara was on vacation, visiting her mother in Miami, and the Village Idiot and his hapless friend were off doing some kind of nitwit male bonding thing up north and had been uninterested in the case anyway, since it had no chance of getting said Village Idiot on the evening news. Though, frankly, Carlton was half expecting it to be Spencer stealing the artifacts, since the smarmy little twerp wasn't above filching a few items from crime scenes when he thought no one was looking.
It was a pretty relaxed case, all around, or at least relaxing. The burglars were apparently very harmless, having never hurt anyone in their nicking of solid gold artifacts, and they hadn't actually ever broken a lock or smashed glass in the display cases, which was another indication of an inside job. Carlton switched on the camera to the Egyptian gallery, and watched as the two figures, one tall and lean, the other rather pudgy and short – a larcenous Laurel and Hardy – went to one of the display cases. The taller of the two thieves produced a key and unlocked it, sliding the door open.
That was enough for prosecution. Carlton got up and casually strolled out of the room, ambling easily down the hallway toward the Egyptian exhibit room. He unholstered his Glock out as he entered the room, and whistled at the two thieves, who were so startled the taller man dropped his key, which clattered on the floor.
"Hey, how ya doin'?" Carlton asked in an icily friendly voice, nub of his Glock pointed at the space between the tall guy's eyes.
"He made me do it!" the pudgy one said, pointing at his companion, who looked exasperated and thumped him on the top of his head.
"I'm sure he did," Carlton nodded, taking his cuffs out. "I've always enjoyed arresting people who have no ability to think for themselves. Makes my job so much easier. Now…move over there, hands against the wall. No use smudging the glass." He quickly frisked both men, then began reading them their rights. "You have the right to remain silent…"
The museum director, a grim-looking Rottweiler of a man who reminded Carlton of a white Ving Rames, regarded the two thieves impassively and finally turned back to the detective. "Yes, they're both employees at the museum. I'm appalled they would do this. They were good workers."
The two thieves – Randall Tompkins and Billy Oliver – worked as movers for the museum, carrying boxes, paintings, and whatnot, unloading crates from trucks and helping to set up displays. The two men, roommates, had fessed up and called their lawyers, hoping to negotiate light sentences, since neither had prior records. Carlton had taken McNab with him to search their apartment and had found most of the stolen artifacts, while those that were missing were in the process of being traced, starting with pawn shops. McNab was on that job at the moment.
"Well, I'm glad it all turned out so well, Mr Price," Carlton nodded. "I suspect we'll recover most of the stolen items, too."
"Excellent work, detective. We appreciate your help," Price said, clapping him on the arm, which made Carlton flinch a little. The man had no notion of his own strength. Still, he nodded politely and glanced at the two thieves, who were seated together in the interrogation room, looking put out. They had confessed easily enough (how could they not?), and the case was wrapped up in a matter of just two nights of drinking too much coffee and not sleeping at all. Carlton was looking forward to a day off, which was rare enough, but damn it, he was forty-three and tired and coming down from a caffeine high.
"We really do appreciate your work, Detective," the museum's curator, Sophie Morris Bridgewater said, smiling at Carlton, and she tucked a lock of golden hair behind her ear, looking strangely jittery, which made Carlton pause for just a moment to study her – had she gotten into that coffee, too? Maybe that was why she looked a little flushed, he decided. When she smiled at him, however, he decided it was the coffee and nodded, pushing away the notion of asking if she was okay.
"It wasn't a problem. My…uh…pleasure."
"Still…thank you," she said, smiling at him again. "It was really nice to see you again, Detective."
"Oh. Right…um…yes. Thanks." He stared at her for a moment, uncertain – had she put an emphasis on 'really' or was that just his imagination? Probably the latter, he figured. She was acting strange, but this case was wrapped up with a nice pretty bow and if he was lucky he could get out of the building soon. He gave her a polite smile and left, heading upstairs, pausing only to sign something Miller shoved at him, and made tracks for the doors, hoping to get past Vick without being noticed.
"Detective Lassiter, a moment please?"
He stopped, shoulders sagging, exhaling wearily, before turning around to face Chief Vick, who only shook her head, looking amused.
"Don't worry. I'm not going to make you stay. I want you to take the rest of the week off, okay…plus the weekend. You look…burned out. And stay out of the coffee, if you can."
It was Tuesday. She was giving him the rest of the week off. No work. No papers. No stupid cat burglars, no mendacious thieving fake psychics, no murderers or rapists. Just a Clint Eastwood marathon on TV and maybe he would sleep late (all the way to six thirty!) and sit around and read or listen to his collection of increasingly odd music – O'Hara had been bewildered, once, to find his CD of 'Mischief With Mozart' ('A comical combat with the classical'), then had borrowed it and came to work the next day humming Peer Gynt Panther. Add that to Led Zeppelin, ELO, Johnny Cash, and Frank Sinatra and it was no wonder his neighbors were giving him a colder shoulder than normal.
They simply had no taste. Particularly the Farrows and their creepy little kid, who seemed to watch a lot of Elmo's World. Carlton's only appreciation of that particular show was a song parody thereof, by Weird Al Yankovic, called Elmo's Got a Gun. He had played it for O'Hara one day, during a stakeout, and she had nearly wet her pants.
"Okay," he finally said, trying to look disgruntled, because he didn't want Vick to think he was losing his edge. "Fine. I'll do that. A week. Off."
"Right. See you next Monday."
"Yep." He nodded and left before she could get a chance to change her mind. Rushing down the steps, he almost collided with Spencer and Guster, both of whom grinned at him in their empty-headed puppy dog please-look-at-us way.
"Lassie! Where ya headed? Can we come? Can we, can we, can we?" Spencer asked, bouncing up and down.
"Not unless you want your bodies to be found in an aquifer," Lassiter answered, and headed to his car.
He was bored.
It was Wednesday morning. He had nothing to do. The kitchen counters were so clean one could perform surgery on them. The refrigerator had been meticulously cleansed of any demonic creatures that had been born of Chinese takeout and old leftovers. Anything outdated had been thrown away. Some pizza rolls that were a day past their sell-by had been consumed last night because he had, indeed, been feeling lucky. He had scrubbed the bathtub and the showers, done the laundry, contemplated planting something in the windowboxes on the balcony railings, and had watched High Noon at three in the morning.
Time management was not one of Carlton's strengths. He tended to want to do everything as soon as possible, because God only knew when that bullet with his name on it could…
No, wait. Stop that. That sweater vest-wearing therapist (who looked too much like Hank Azaria for comfort, really) of his had told him to stop thinking in such morbid/paranoid terms. To give time management a try and try to space things out a little, to rest, to relax, to watch a freaking cartoon sometimes if that would help. A cartoon. Like what, Penguins of Madagascar? The therapist had looked amused and suggested he give that one a try. It had a good mixture of comedy and violence, after all.
Carlton Lassiter would never admit to sitting down on Saturday mornings and watching DVR'ed episodes of that series. He definitely could identify with Skipper, who he had to admit was a bit Lassiterish in his paranoia, determination and impatience, and like Skipper, Carlton would never admit to an injury of any kind, to the point of claiming he was double jointed while a broken limb squeaked. King Julien was definitely Spencer, which he supposed meant that Maurice was Guster, or perhaps Mort when the poor schmuck was trying to flirt with girls (and usually just creeping them out). O'Hara was Marlene, or possibly Private, and so who was Kowalski? Henry? He didn't even know where to start in comparing Rico to anybody he knew, except maybe the Cajun assistant coach in The Waterboy.
So he liked that show. So what? It was rather amusing. Occupying. Or something. He turned the television on, found How It's Made and learned how dollhouse furniture was made.
He would never have thought it involved that much glue.
Obviously, he knew he needed a woman. Particularly at three in the morning, when he couldn't sleep and just wanted to hear another heartbeat in the house and a warm, soft body beside him in bed. It wasn't just sex…though God knew it was a big part of it. It was companionship. Someone to talk to, to listen to, to think about, to come home to. To make meals for, to lie down next to, to laugh with…hell, even to argue with. Just to be with. To belong to. He didn't belong to anybody. Never had, really, not even when he had been married and wanted to belong and tried to make himself belong, and he had never felt as though he had ever really belonged to anyone, though that was clearly an incorrect term, but what other term was there to convey the idea? If he could belong to someone, wouldn't they also belong to him, so long as it was by mutual consent? It wasn't as though he had any inclination toward tying someone up and keeping them in the basement, after all, and he certainly wouldn't want a woman who felt obligated to stay.
Okay. So it was Wednesday, and he had nothing to do but wallow in maudlin self-pity and loneliness, which was nonproductive at best. Finally, overcome with boredom and the loneliness he usually just felt ashamed of, he dug through his CDs and albums until he found Willie Nelson's version of Midnight Rider, with its stirring opening guitar and deep, resonating thuds, and sat back, relaxing tensely.
I've got to run to keep from hiding. I'm bound to keep on ridin'. And I've got one more silver dollar. I ain't gonna let 'em catch me, no. I ain't gonna let 'em catch the midnight rider…
"Yeah, well, you didn't have me after you, now did you, Willie?" he asked the hi-fi as he dozed off in spite of his clenched fists. Tension could be so tiring.
"Oh my…look at that!" Shawn nudged Gus as they watched the statuesque blonde glide into the station. She was wearing a simple blue speckledy summer dress, a pair of expensive sunglasses and a purse that probably cost as much as it would take to feed a village in Africa.
"That's…hey, that's that woman from the museum…Sophie something…" Gus said, looking delighted. The two young men, lounging around at Juliet's and Henry's desks, respectively, got up and ambled over to greet her. "Miss Bridgewell!" Gus called, and Shawn waved at her as he bounced over.
She looked them over for a moment, and Shawn wondered if she remembered them at all. Finally, she nodded politely and held her purse in front, expression partially hidden by her Calvin Klein shades. She pulled them off. "Mr Spencer, Mr Guster…it's been a while. I haven't seen you since the fine arts section of the museum blew up a few weeks ago."
She had gloriously aquamarine eyes, and both young men paused for a moment to stare in rapt appreciation. Add that to silky blonde hair, honey-touched skin and a healthy, elegant figure, and she was definitely way beyond revenue.
"Oh…heh…right," Shawn nodded at last.
"I believe you were instrumental in helping someone steal a few valuable paintings at the time?" she said, raising one smooth blonde eyebrow.
"Uh…well, no, that…that wasn't really our fault, exactly…we didn't actually help. We just…failed to…uh…hinder."
"Never mind. I was looking for someone."
Shawn grinned. "Well, lucky you, then! You've found him!"
"Um, no. I haven't. I was looking one of the detectives."
"I am a detective," Shawn said, trying again, turning on his most charming mudshark smile.
"Detective isn't a word I would use to describe you, Mr Spencer. Thank you anyway."
She peered around Shawn and spotted Juliet dropping into her seat, wincing a little because of her sunburned backside. "Detective O'Hara?" Sophie sidestepped Shawn and moved past them. Juliet turned in her chair and looked at the museum curator, who smiled broadly at her. "I'm not sure you remember me, but I was hoping you could…er…help me out a bit."
"Oh?" Juliet shoved her bag of orange candy slices into her drawer and locked it, hoping Shawn hadn't seen them.
"Yes. I was…er…looking for your partner."
"Detective Lassiter? Oh…he's off for the rest of the week."
"He is? Oh. Well…damn…"
"Do you need help with an investigation? A theft? A murder? Did you lose any articles of clothing?" Shawn asked, sidling up to Sophie again, grinning hopefully at her. She looked down at him from her slightly superior height and Juliet couldn't help but note a degree of disgust on the other woman's face. As if she had found some small, repulsive creature on the bottom of her shoe.
"Shawn, why are you here? There's no investigations going on and there's no news film crews around. Go home," Juliet interjected, but the fake psychic ignored her and continued stand there, staring goggle-eyed at Sophie.
"None of the above, thank you, Mr Spencer. Can you tell me when he'll be back?" Sophie asked, looking at Juliet again and trying to politely put some distance between herself and Shawn, whom she thought smelled like Cheetos.
"He'll be back…right now…" Juliet said, bending to the side a little when she saw Carlton striding into the station, dressed in jeans, a plaid shirt and scuffed old boots. He removed his sunglasses and looked toward the front desk, where Gloria was giving him a stink eye. Undeterred, he stalked to her and prepared for battle.
"Just picking up some documents, Gloria," he said in only a very slightly tight voice.
The solid, hard-looking woman behind the desk nodded, then handed him a stack of messages. "The DA called this morning. Plus you left all these notes for me to try and decipher. Care to interpret?"
She enjoyed doing this to Lassiter. When he was at his most stressed, Gloria the Desk Nazi would haul out a stack of hand-written notes and hold them out to him, face completely deadpan, often saying – while he was on the phone with some enraged falsely accused suspect (enraged because Spencer had accused him of a crime and proceeded to eat everything in his refrigerator) or when he was trying to work through a complicated lead – "What about this?" with a triumphant gleam in her eyes.
So far, the head detective had maintained his cool in spite of Gloria's little ambushes, but Juliet suspected that one day he would lose his temper and those notes, and maybe even Gloria, would be reduced to confetti.
He snatched the stack out of her hand. "Oh, darn! I was purposefully writing in Tamil again! Naughty me. I'll just take these all home and do translations!" He shuffled the papers irritably and turned toward the file cabinets.
Sophie stepped a little closer to Carlton, who didn't see her at all until he almost bumped into her. "Oh. Uh…Miss…Miss…Bridgewater?" He still looked annoyed, but at his least his expression softened a little. A little.
"Bridgewell," she said. "I was wondering if I could speak with you, Detective."
"Oh, God, please don't tell me there's been another heist," he said, looking weary.
"Um…no. It's more of a…uh…private matter. Is there a place where we could speak alone?"
He eyed her suspiciously, but finally nodded and gestured toward one of the conference rooms. Sophie smiled and went in ahead of him, and he followed, pulling the door closed behind him. Shawn immediately went to the door and pressed his ear against it.
"So, uh…what's this about, Miss Bridgewell?" He settled back against the conference table, watching her as she pushed her hair back in a completely female 'I've got it all under control' way.
"Sophie. You can call me Sophie."
"Um…okay. What can I do for you?"
"Well, see, the museum is opening a new exhibition on ancient weaponry, and I understand you're something of an expert on the subject and I thought perhaps you would be interested in…in…" She took a deep breath. "See, we're having kind of an opening shindig type of thing. A party not just for the exhibit, but also for the entire museum. To raise some money for the general upkeep thereof, as well as raising some money for the Annetta C. Turnipseed Fund."
"What the hell is that?" he asked, looking appalled.
"I have no idea," she said, shrugging. "The museum director is in charge of that part of the event."
"Maybe she's trying to raise money to pay for a name change."
Sophie actually laughed. Laughed.
That made something twist in Lassiter's stomach. He swallowed nervously. He didn't make women laugh, unless they were laughing at him. But her laugh had been genuine. His hackles went up immediately – she had an angle. She wanted something of him. Probably some part of his soul, he thought bitterly. His eyes narrowed slightly.
"So what does this have to do with me?"
"Well, I understand you're an expert on early-to-mid nineteenth century firearms."
"I have a more than passing interest, that's all. I'm not an expert." He crossed his arms, defenses safely up, archers in the battlements, waiting for orders to fire and send her reeling back, quitting the field in terror.
"Oh. Anyway. I was wondering if perhaps you would like to come to the opening."
His eyes narrowed even more.
"Why?" he asked. The arrows were pointed directly at her forehead. Catapults were being dragged out and prepared, ready to start a fast, hard offense until she cut her losses and ran, like all the others.
"Why? As my…escort."
He stared at her, momentarily caught off guard, the archers falling back, unprepared for such an opening assault. He regrouped quickly and fixed her with a cold glare, allowing his natural inclination toward anger come up front (a big, badly wounded but vicious straight-shooting, sarcastic and bitter archer, with a lot of scars). "What is this, some kind of joke? O'Hara put you up to this? Or Spencer? Is that it? A joke, at Lassie's expense?"
"Wh-what? No, this isn't a joke. No one put me up to anything. I'm asking you to be my date Friday night for the museum's exhibit opening. End of story." She stared at him, confusion and no small amount of hurt on her pretty face. "And…Lassie? Isn't your name Lassiter?"
Carlton frowned at her, having seen that artfully devised expression before, on other women, and he wasn't buying it.
"So I'm supposed to believe you're asking me out? On a date?"
"Yes. I am," she ground out, starting to get annoyed, but apparently undeterred by his defenses.
Carlton glanced at the door and stepped around her, grabbing the handle and shoving the door out, hard, and feeling gratified when he heard the thump and Spencer yowl "Ouchkabibble! My nose!" He turned back to Sophie. "When is this shindig supposed to be again?"
"Friday night. Unless, of course, you're still thinking I've got some kind of ulterior motive…"
"Everybody does," he said, defiant but bewildered. The archers were utterly confused and not sure what to do.
"Not everybody, Detective. You just seem like a nice man and I figured you would be interested in the exhibition, as it's about a subject you know a lot about."
A nice man? He looked around the room. No one ever called him nice. The defenders were standing around the battlements, mumbling amongst themselves, in complete disarray. What kind of assault was this? What next? Flowers and perfume? Where were the damned flaming arrows? Carlton studied her, eyes narrowing again. "So…this isn't a joke?"
"No. It's not a joke!" she said. "Listen, I've always thought you were rather…nice. And…well, when we first met, a few years ago, I was involved with someone else but that's been over a while and I've already done the rebound thing and did a bit of therapy, too, because the jackass I was dating cheated on me and I kept making excuses for his assitude, like it was my fault he was stupid and thought scruples was Russian money and morals were things you painted on walls, and slept with my freaking sister…"
"Catch your breath. You look like you're about to faint. And…nice?" he squawked. "Nice?"
"Yes! I always thought you were nice, and then when I saw you again yesterday, I kind of recalled that you seemed…well…anyway, I just thought the exhibit would be neutral ground for…a date," she said, exasperated. "What, you're not nice?"
"I'm the devil's spawn," he said, his defenses scrambling for one last show of strength. "At least nineteen people that I know of would love to kill me. Including my ex-father-in-law."
"What a bunch of blarney!" she laughed. She had pretty little freckles across her nose. Long, graceful neck. Lovely skin. Slender, toned body. Why, again, was he putting up the defenses and being all Snappy McParanoid?
"I…uh…well, I did kiss the Blarney Stone when I was nineteen," he said, shrugging, mesmerized by those freckles and her aquamarine eyes. The archers were scrabbling around now, shrieking for orders and getting nothing. He didn't care any more. One of them was flipping him the bird as he ran away, defeated.
"Don't you have to practically hang upside down to do that?"
"Is there any other way?" he asked, raising one dark eyebrow. "And I admit, I was drunk at the time."
She smiled, amused. "So…is it a date, Detective?"
"Uh…" He scratched the back of his ear, totally flummoxed. He was the last man any woman asked out. He wasn't charming, he wasn't nice, he wasn't even good-looking. There had to be an angle here. There had to be…but he was also so damned tired of being lonely, and eating expensive food off silver trays and drinking champagne for one night, while in the company of an attractive woman, couldn't be that bad. "O-okay," he finally said. "Yes."
"Good. You can pick me up at six o'clock. We'll have dinner before the opening. It's just pate and foie gras and other rather icky nibbly stuff, with champagne to keep everything interesting, but the exhibits are also locked up in bullet proof glass cases, so there'll be no drunken attempts at firing the thirteenth century iron crossbow, but then it weighs two hundred pounds and must have been used by some demented descendant of Goliath," she said, handing him a card. "That's my address and phone number, and my e-mail, too." She looked up at him, and he drew in his breath, still mesmerized by her unusually-colored eyes. "It's black tie, by the way. Do you have a tuxedo?"
"Dear Lord, no," he said, shaking his head and clutching her card. This had to be some kind of bizarre dream. "Are you…I mean…are you sure about this? I mean…I…I don't have any socia-…"
"I know we'll have a very good time," she said firmly. "You can tell me all about catapults and ancient germ warfare."
"They're kind of lethal," he said, nodding. "Crossbows, I mean. And awkward to handle. More people died from accidents trying to handle them than from actually shooting them." Suddenly, terror gripped him and he had to swallow the cold lump of fear caught in his throat. "I won't be charming, you know," he said at last. "I lack charm. I have none whatsoever. I'll offend half the people there, and terrify the rest."
"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain," she said tartly. "That's from the Bible. Means that most cute, charming people are generally vapid and egotistical and frankly ought to be shot…and really, cute lasts about five minutes anyway. Then cute just becomes annoying."
"Tell me about it," he muttered, looking down at her card.
"Exactly. I will see you at six o'clock on Friday, Detective," she said. She looked him up and down, her eyes matching her smile in warmth. "I suspect you'll fill out a tuxedo very…nicely."
When she had gone, he ran a hand through his hair and needed to sit down, he was so confused. "What the hell?"