CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE


"I'm somewhere on a beach, sippin' something strong. Got a new girl, she got it going on. […] I'm getting sun, getting some and I ain't slept in a week. Yeah, I'm somewhere on a beach." – Dierks Bentley, 'Somewhere on a Beach'


DONNA

There were ribbons and balloons of all various colors and sizes filling the conference room on the partner's floor of PSL, making every passing lawyer and associate stop in confusion. Donna, though, could firmly say that this was some of her best work yet. There was enough gifts and food for twice the number of guests and a ballad of calm but joyous music filled the room from the record player she had snatched from Harvey's office. She'd have to make sure she returned that before he noticed.

"Donna, I can't thank you enough for agreeing to help throw this party for Louis and I," Tara said for the umpteenth time that afternoon.

Donna smiled kindly and passed her another gift bag to place at the table settings for the guests.

"It's my pleasure, really. You don't need to thank me. In fact," Donna said, turning to take one last inventory of the room. "I should really be thanking you."

"Thanking me? For what?" Tara asked curiously.

"For giving me something to do that hasn't been work related. These last few months have been crazy at the firm and I was able to release most of my energy into this party. So, thank you. Really."

Tara smiled and reached over to give Donna's arm a gentle squeeze. She turned then and started to help with the arrangement of the appetizers, leaving Donna to finish the gift bags. Donna was just reaching for the last bag when Louis arrived. A grin split his face from ear to ear when he took in the room and he clapped excitedly.

"Donna, you are, without question, a goddess," Louis said with excitement. "Who knew that we'd be able to turn one of the drabbest conference rooms in PSL into party central! I mean, it's like the Breakfast Club in here!"

Donna rolled her eyes and didn't miss the mirroring action from Tara across the room. She then straightened and glanced quickly towards Tara before turning back towards Louis.

"Louis, not to be rude or anything, but… baby showers are usually reserved for the women," Donna slowly said. She watched Louis' shoulders fall slightly and she quickly made to soften her blow. "I mean, men are more than welcome to join but… you might be the only guy here."

Louis shook his head. "That's fine! I'm happy to be here, I want to be here! Really, Donna, that is- if Tara will let me stay?"

Donna glanced back at Tara who seemed to pause for a moment. She then smiled kindly at Louis and walked over to hand him a tray of cheese and crackers.

"I'd love it if you stayed, Louis. In fact, you're officially in charge of the food!"

Louis clapped his hands once more and took the tray without complaining. "Just call me Chef LeLitt! Or Chef BoyarLitt! Or…"

Donna sighed. This was going to be a long afternoon.


"Are you sure that we can't kick him out?" Rachel whispered towards Donna what felt like hours later.

Donna sighed and reached up with the arm not folded across her midsection to rub tiredly at her temple. Both watched exasperated as Louis clucked around the room, acting out (in the most ridiculous manner) what they assumed was a chicken for the ongoing game of Pictionary. Donna's idea of a short get-together, complete with a small lunch and gift opening, had somehow morphed into family game night. Glancing around the room, she noted how everyone, including Tara, seemed bored out of their minds. Most were clock watching, waiting for the perfect opportunity to leave. Donna made a quick decision and pushed to her feet.

"Alright, I think we officially have a winner," Donna called out, clapping her hands and winding her way to the front of the room.

Louis spun towards her. "What? No, we just-"

"Congratulations, Louis!" Donna shouted, drowning out his protests. She reached his side and reached for the clipboard that he'd stolen from her.

"After the first round, I don't think anyone's going to top your performance of Hamlet. It's probably best to move on at this point," Donna whispered to him, hoping to put an end to this silly game.

Louis grinned and nodded. "As always, you're probably right." He clapped again with excitement. "Ok, how about we-"

"Louis," Donna snapped, cutting him off. She turned towards him and made to continue when the site of Harvey passing by in the hallway caught her attention. A thought popped into her head and she quickly changed direction, wrapping an arm around Louis's shoulders and walking him towards the door. "I actually have a surprise for you, a gift of sorts, to help you relax before becoming a father."

Everyone watched curiously as Donna and Louis headed for the exit. Making eye contact with Rachel, Donna motioned for her to take over for a moment and Rachel jumped into action, steering the party to the final opening of the gifts.

Harvey having seen Donna notice his passing, had come to a stop outside of the board room, one eyebrow raised in question as Donna and Louis approached.

"Ladies," Harvey greeted sarcastically.

Louis chose to ignore his greeting and smiled broadly at Donna, awaiting her 'gift'. "Donna here was just about to give me a baby shower gift! Let me guess, is it… a baby monitor? Or how about a rocker? Or-"

"Actually, Louis," Donna said, once again cutting him off. "Harvey has agreed… to take you mudding!"

"What?!"

"What!"

Harvey and Louis's words echoed off of each other, both surprised to different degrees at the announcement. Donna, feeling Harvey's eyes shooting daggers through her, chose not to glance his way. Instead she grinned broadly at Louis and nodded excitedly.

"That's right! How about that! It's just for one evening, though, and he promised to have you home by dinner so…" she glanced at her watch. "You both better get going!"

She quickly hugged Louis who looked like he was about to lose it.

"Oh, I can't believe this!" He shouted. He turned to Harvey and pulled him into an unexpected, but quick, embrace before releasing him and quickly turning on his heel to head towards his office. "I've got to get my favorite pair of mudding shades! I'll meet you at your office in ten minutes, Harvey!"

Donna watched Louis run off before quickly turning back towards the board room, hoping to escape Harvey's wrath. She wasn't quick enough, though, as his hand snaked out and caught her wrist before she was able to push into the room.

"Mudding? With Louis?" Harvey hissed, eyes narrowed and breath short with tense anger. Donna, however, knew he wasn't completely irate, there was that softness to his features that contradicted his sharp words. "Are you kidding me?"

Donna sighed and took a step closer, again refusing to meet his gaze. She reached for his tie, straightening it slightly, before pressing the palms of her hands down the lapels of his coat to iron out the non-existent wrinkles.

"Harvey… please? I don't ask you for much but- I need Louis to leave or everyone at this baby shower is going to end up requiring your services for manslaughter… including me," Donna replied. She finally glanced up, smiling tightly. "You could make Mike join you if that'd make it easier? It'll only be for an hour or so, I promise."

Harvey sighed. He reached up and rubbed at his neck. "Fine," he finally agreed. He took a small step towards her then, aware that they were in full view of the room full of women but not caring. He smiled wickedly and pulled her towards him before pressing his lips quickly to hers. Pulling away, he whispered, "but you're going to owe me- big time."

Donna felt her heart pick up at his words and her palms grew slightly damp. Two could play this game, she thought. Still pressed against him, she leaned forward, her lips ever so slightly brushing his ear as she spoke. "You do this- and I'm all yours this weekend," She purred, pressing her mouth softly to his ear.

She felt, more then heard, Harvey's response as his hands tightened their grip on her hips and his breath drew in shallow and quick. Before things could get out of hand, before she totally lost control, Donna pulled back. She shot him a quick grin, enjoying the dazed look on his face and turned back for the party. Perhaps letting Louis attend hadn't turned out so poorly after all.

HARVEY

"Oh, you are totally letting me drive the Aston Martin after this," Mike snapped as he clinched the belt of his robe tighter. He slammed the door to his locker closed and turned towards Harvey who was rolling his eyes.

"Yeah, right," Harvey scoffed, closing his own locker and grabbing a towel before turning for the exit. "If you're lucky, I might let you ride shot gun. There is no way in hell, though, that I'd ever let you behind the wheel. Sorry, James Dean."

Mike continued his whining as he followed Harvey out into the hallway and down towards the mudding room. Harvey simply drowned him out, a practice he had become accustomed to by now. The moment the smell of fresh earth hit his nose, Harvey stopped dead in his tracks. His stomach turned at the thought of what they were about to do, about who they were about to do it with, and he just about turned back for the locker room when an image of Donna popped into his mind. The image, to keep it PG, put all the reels he'd used as a hormonal teenager to shame and instantly ebbed his desire to run for the hills… a little. Harvey straightened and continued into the room, certain Mike was smirking behind him.

"About time!" Louis greeted as they entered. He was already submerged in his own bath, completely naked, from what Harvey could tell, but not giving a damn in the least. Harvey groaned internally, he knew someone else that he'd much rather see naked right now, and it wasn't Louis.

Shedding his robe and towel, Harvey flicked off his sandals and approached his own bath. Mike let out a sigh and mirrored his actions.

Louis lifted one side of his eye shades and glanced at the men stepping into their tubs. "I'm not even going to say anything about the bathing suits. That's how happy I am that you two are even doing this with me."

"Good," Harvey snapped, cringing as the mud slurped around his legs and oozed into his shorts. He took a deep breath before deciding to go for it and he plopped down into the murky earth. "Oh, my God, I think I might actually die."

Louis scoffed and replaced the eye mask. "This is good for you Harvey, it'll release some of those toxic compounds your body has been harvesting for so long."

"You better not release anything into your bath," Harvey replied. "If I even so much as notice a trace of anything resembling the time you-"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Louis snapped. He adjusted in the bath and let out a sigh. "And I wouldn't dare disgrace the holy sanctity that is the sauna of the Gods- again."

Harvey again cringed but chose not to comment. He glanced at Mike who was staring pointedly across the room, probably counting down the minutes until he could escape. Harvey couldn't blame him, Donna was going to owe him a lot after this. Reaching for his phone that was just hanging out of the pocket of his discarded robe, he fired up his music app and quickly pressed play. The sound of John Coltrane rocketed off the cement walls and Harvey instantly felt just a little better.

Louis snapped up straight in his bath at the music and pushed his mask high onto his forehead. "Harvey! Mudding is supposed to be a time of quiet tranquility! You can't play music!"

"The hell I can't," Harvey scoffed, leaning back into his bath and smirking. "You wanted me here, I'm here, Louis. Now leave me to my bath."

Louis huffed but didn't further comment, instead folding his arms across his chest and snapping his eye mask back down over his face.

'One Mississippi… Two Mississippi…' Harvey thought, counting the minutes. He could do this.

A few moments went by and without fail, Louis's soft snores resonated around the room. Harvey sighed, at least he was finally leaving him alone. Mike shifted beside him, drawing Harvey's concentration.

"So… how are you and Donna?" Mike started slowly, a grin creeping onto his face.

"We're fine," Harvey responded pointedly, narrowing his gaze at the young lawyer. "Is this what men do in here? Gossip about girls? If so, I'm good, thanks."

Mike shrugged. "I don't know, I've only been here once. But I am honestly interested in how you two are doing, Harvey. I can't care?"

"Sure, just- keep your caring to a minimal. People will think I'm going soft."

"They already do," Mike joked, a twinkle in his eye.

Harvey sat up straighter. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"I'm joking… kind of," Mike responded, shooting a look Harvey's way. "It's nothing bad. It's just- you know, since you and Donna started seeing each other, you've been less… touchy? You don't jump to bite people's heads off as much."

Harvey rolled his eyes and leaned back into his tub, staring up at the ceiling.

"It's a good thing, trust me," Mike replied, mirroring Harvey's pose. "She's good for you. And you're, as much as I hate to admit it, honestly good for her."

Harvey couldn't help the small smile that crept onto his face. "Yeah?"

Mike nodded and silence once again filled the room and for once, it started to finally relax him. A few more moments went by, the only sound coming from the snores Louis was letting out and the soft jazz playing from his phone. Staring up a the pattern of the ceiling above them, Harvey let his thoughts turn, as the often did these days, to the redhead who would be all his this upcoming weekend. Harvey again let out a soft sigh.

"I'm keeping the house in Maine," he finally spoke up, jolting Mike from his thoughts. The kid turned towards him.

"Have you told Donna that?" He asked.

Harvey shook his head. "Not yet. I don't think she'll have an issue with it, though. She loved that place while we were there."

Mike chuckled. "I don't think it was so much the house that she loved, Harvey."

"You really are a girl," Harvey said, rolling his eyes. He continued. "Anyway, I thought about selling it. About putting my dad's stuff in storage or something but… I think the place means something to me now. It's where we started- God, you really are rubbing off on me."

It was Mike's turn to roll his eyes. "Actually, you two started over twelve years ago. It just took you guys forever to actually admit it."

Harvey didn't disagree. They'd sure taken their time getting to where they should have ended up a long time ago. He wouldn't trade those years for anything, though. Thinking back, he may have changed a few things, but ultimately, she was all that mattered. The music faded as the latest song finished playing and a more upbeat, tango like number rocketed out. Harvey decided he'd had enough of the touchy feely.

"Alright, how do you get a drink in this place?"