Lani Price knew she was being ridiculous when she entered the police station at 8 pm with the express purpose of retrieving her favorite pen. The pen was a gift from her mother when she graduated from college and she never lost sight of it until today. She was about to go to bed with her boyfriend, JJ Deveraux and write a little bit in her journal when she noticed it was missing.
"Can't you just use another pen?" JJ asked as he got into bed and turned on the TV.
"Have you ever seen me use another pen when I write in my journal?" Lani responded while she pulled on jeans and a pair of flat slip ons.
"I never knew what kind of pen you used," JJ said. "Do you want me to go with you?"
"Nope," Lani grabbed her keys. "I know you wanted to go to bed early since you have to get up tomorrow at 3 am for the stake out. I'll write in the kitchen when I get back so I don't disturb you."
"You don't have to do that," JJ yawned.
The drive to the station was 25 minutes one way so she knew JJ was going to be fast asleep by the time she got back. She wasn't sleepy at all, but still wanted to get back home to write down her thoughts to clear her head. When she arrived at the station first she sat down at her desk and went through all of the drawers. The pen wasn't there. Her next thought was to check the interrogation room. There was no reason for her to have her favorite pen when questioning perps, but she wanted to make sure she left no stone unturned. She opened the door, turned on the light and almost jumped out of her skin when she saw her friend and partner Eli Grant sitting behind the desk.
"Eli, what are you doing here sitting in the dark?" Lani came into the room. She shut the door behind her through force of habit.
Eli shrugged a big shoulder and adjusted a bit in the chair. "What time is it? It wasn't dark when I first sat down."
"It's 8:30. It was dark at 7, you've been sitting here for that long?"
"Yeah, I guess so." Eli let out a sigh so heavy it seemed like he'd been holding it in for that last hour. Lani's heart went out to him.
"Eli what's wrong, is it Val is she okay?"
"Yeah, she's cool."
"Did something happen with you and Gabi?"
"Okay, fool do I have to keep guessing or would you just tell me already? If it's about Gabi just tell me and I'll trash her like you always trash JJ when I talk to you about him."
A glimmer of a smile appeared on Eli's face and then he was glum again.
"Just tell me," Lani said
"Okay, you're really cruisin for a bruisin." Lani walked toward him pushing up the sleeves of her long sleeved t-shirt as she approached. "If I was a dirty cop, I'd beat a confession out of you. We're in the perfect place." She perched on the corner of the desk and crossed her arms. "Just tell me what's wrong maybe I can help."
"Lani, I appreciate your concern, but I really, really do not want to talk."
"Yeah, I guess that's abundantly obvious or you would be home with Gabi talking to her right now instead of sitting in the dark in the interrogation room. Trouble in paradise?"
Eli fixed her with an evil smirk.
"Did you guys argue and you feel that you can't go home? Look, just say you're sorry and I'm sure whatever it is…"
"Lani, how many times do I have to say I don't want to talk about it?" Eli raised his voice.
Lani rolled her eyes. While others in the office were afraid to cross Eli, she did it all of the time, intentionally getting on his nerves when the mood struck just to get a reaction from him.
"Okay, looks like I'm gonna have to get rough," she said and pushed a finger into his forehead. "Otherwise you'll be still sitting here in the same clothes tomorrow."
A warning flashed in his beautiful eyes. Lani ignored it. Eli was annoyed with her at least twice a week anyway. She was used to it. "Oh I know what happened," she chuckled, "you didn't find a prize in your Wheaties box this morning and now you're pissed."
Without responding to her taunt, Eli stood.
"Yay! You finally moved!" Lani stood as well. "Looks like my work here is done," she caught the lapels of his jacket. "You're lucky mister because you were not going to like what I had in mind next."
"You play too damn much," Eli looked down at her and suddenly Lani became aware of just how close they were standing to each other. She also noticed that although his words were somewhat menacing, there was no anger or frustration in his eyes or his voice. And for some strange reason she continued to hold onto his jacket, tho an alarm bell was ringing loudly in her head telling her to step away from him, turn around and run.
"Eli, you can't expect me to come in here, see that you are obviously miserable and not try to do something about it.
"Yeah, you can be annoying as hell, but you're always looking out for me." Eli pushed several strands of hair out of her face then trailed a finger down the side of her jaw until he reached her chin. Lani shivered. She touched Eli pretty much on the daily basis, grabbing his arm, rubbing his bald head, smacking his thigh when something particularly funny happened, but he never, ever touched her. This was the first time. The alarm bells rang louder when she realized he wasn't stopping there. Tilting her chin toward him, he gazed longingly at her lips. God, was he going to kiss her? Lani's heart felt like it was about to burst from her chest and she held her breath waiting. Then it happened. Eli, her partner, friend and work husband brushed his lips against hers, once, twice before capturing her mouth completely in a deep passionate kiss.
The next two hours were a compete blur. Lani remembered some details of what happened in the interrogation room, then they were in Eli's truck, then in his bed and he was inside of her filling her, stimulating pleasure points on her body she didn't even know existed. After two back to back orgasms she came crashing back down to earth and fell asleep for about twenty minutes. She awoke with a start. "Oh my God, Eli what have we done?"
"We had sex," he said groggily.
"That much is obvious," she said sprinting from the bed to gather her clothes. "What are we going to do? Oh my god. What am I going to tell JJ?"
"Don't tell him anything. We used protection."
"So that makes it all right?"
"No," Eli sat up in bed a sheet barely covering his nudity. He was so beautiful Lani had to avert her eyes. Eli was the perfect male specimen which is probably why she temporarily took leave of her senses. "But we're consenting adults and neither of us is married or even close to being married."
"That still doesn't make it Okay."
"I didn't say it was Okay. What I'm saying is I don't want this to mess up what you have with JJ."
"And what about you and Gabi?"
"What she doesn't know won't hurt her."
"Eli, I thought you were far different than this."
He smirked. "Same here. I'm surprised at you. I thought you had JJ's name stamped on your ass. Glad to see you don't."
"You know what. I am leaving. I'll think of what to say to JJ, but I hope I never see you again."
"Oh my god, why does this keep happening!?" Lani wailed out to the empty room. She was in Eli's bed for the fourth time in the last ten days. It was the same pattern over and over again. After the first night, she chalked it all up to PMS hormones and insecurity about her relationship with JJ. The next day was her day off so she went to confession and swore to herself she'd never, ever do anything so hurtful again. She called Eli so they could discuss the situation. They talked for about five minutes before they wound up in bed. The following day they worked together, maintained professional communication, but the day after that it was on again. Eli never tried to cajole or coerce her to continue on with their tawdry affair. But if they were not on duty and no one was around, they were kissing. The kissing led to sex. Sex like Lani never before experienced in her life.
"You say something?" Eli stuck his head out of the bathroom door before he emerged wearing nothing but a towel. Lani covered her face with her hands. Never did she consider herself to be a shallow person, but she was not quite sure if it was Eli's body she was after most of all. And she was willing to throw away her full time relationship with JJ, to have sex with Eli part time.
"I said we have to stop this. It's not fair."
"Lani, we talked about this. We'll stop. Let today be the last day."
"But we said that the last time and the time before that."
"Okay, we'll try harder."
"I think we should confess to Gabi and JJ."
"I don't think that's a good idea. I'm sure this will run its course and be over at some point."
"I'm so glad you think so highly of me, Eli." Lani stood and walked naked to the bathroom and slammed the door calling him a pig under her breath. On the one hand she wanted to create a distance between herself and Eli, still she was offended when he was cavalier about what was happening between them. She had no right to feel this way, but it hurt when Eli would say their relationship was probably "just something we need to get out of our system." That's all she was to him-like the flu. And as for JJ, she really just wished he would disappear on his own. At the same time the thought scared her. If she did not have JJ, all she'd have was illicit sex with Eli winch would definitely dry up one day when he decided to marry Gabi.
When she was not at work she was miserable, except of course when she and Eli managed to get together about every other day.
She took a shower and came out of the bathroom filled with resolve. "Eli,' she said lotioning her skin. She now made sure she always kept a gym bag filled with toiletries in her car due to her new extra curricular activity. "I don't think this will stop until we confess. I'll do it by myself if I have to. I'll tell Gabi and JJ what's been going on behind their backs. They have a right to know."
"Do what you feel you need to do. I can't stop you." Eli put on his watch. He seemed unbothered to the point Lani wondered if he was counting on her to do the dirty work.
"You know if you were less of a punk, your attractive factor would go up about a hundred points."
"Lani, if you want to confess. Confess." He bent down and kissed her forehead, her cheek then her lips. She noticed he didn't take her jibes to heart now that they were intimately involved. She didn't mean half of what she said anyway. Truth was she admired Eli more now than ever. "As I've said a hundred times. I think it's a bad idea and will hurt alot of people unnecessarily," he said.
"I'm not confessing alone. I wasn't exactly doing this by myself. You're going to be there when I throw myself on my sword. You're going to have a matching sword right next to me."
"Okay, I'm tired of arguing about this. I'll go along with it. I hope you won't regret blowing up your relationship with JJ."
"Why don't you say what you mean. It's your ass you're worried about. You don't want to lose Gabi."
"Look let's just do it," Eli said putting on his jacket. "Stay here as long as you want to, there's some left over pizza in the fridge."
"What, you have food here?" Lani was surprised.
"Yeah, I've been staying here alot more lately. Pretty much this last week."
"You didn't tell me that," Lani said as she stood and went to Eli to embrace him. If he was spending most of his time in his room, that meant things were most likely strained with Gabi. Eli would never tell her tho. She talked to him about JJ, but he did not divulge anything that transpired between himself and Gabi. "Eli, I am so sorry."
"It's not your fault," he said holding her. "So when do you want to do this confession?"
After work one day Lani and Eli sat together in a booth at a pub where many of the cops congregated. They sat side by side all of the time so anyone who spotted them would not have thought anything was amiss. But Lani was so nervous her palms were sweating as she wiped them on her jeans.
Today was the day she and Eli would come clean to Gabi and JJ about their two month long sexual relationship. Once Eli decided to get on board with the confession, Lani kept finding reasons to postpone it-for weeks and weeks. Until it was apparent that they were both basically living at Eli's. Lani only outright lied to JJ one time, otherwise it was lies of omission. JJ assumed when she was not at his place she was at her apartment or at her dads. Surprisingly he didn't seem at all bothered by her absence which only heightened her insecurity in regards to his feelings for her. Didn't matter anyhow since she'd screwed the relationship up irreparably.
At the appointed time Gabi and JJ walked in together and Lani's instincts buzzed. Why were they together and looking so serious? Something was off. She nudged Eli and shook her head. They wouldn't have to confess, somehow JJ and Gabi already knew. When they reached the table JJ offered a chair to Gabi who sat down without looking at Eli or Lani. She gave a tiny grateful smile to JJ instead. Then JJ sat down directly opposite Eli while Gabi faced Lani.
JJ cleared his throat. "I'm glad we're all together. There is something we need to get out into the open." He glanced at Gabi. Lani braced herself for hurled accusations and she figured she'd get cursed out in two different langua ges and she might even have a fight on her hands. Gabi was small but she was scrappy.
"Look, I'm just going to say it and let the chips fall where they may." JJ took a deep breath. "Gabi and I have decided to get back together."
"What?!" Lani and Eli said at the same time.
"We don't know how it happened," Gabi said gazing lovingly at JJ, "a few months ago things just changed between the two of us."
Lani was about to stammer out of question to the both of them, when Eli let out several explicatives, grabbed the table and turned it over, sending the two beers they had in front of them flying. Then before she could do anything, Eli, as quick as a panther, had one hand wrapped around JJ's neck. JJ's feet left the floor when Eli slammed him into a wall. Gabi screamed and tried to pry Eli off of the smaller man. Lani decided on another tactic. She took out her gun and cocked it. "Put him down Eli and I mean it." At her command Eli released JJ and he fell to the floor grabbing his throat.
"We didn't do anything man," JJ's words were strangled, but Lani could make out what he was saying. She stepped in front of Eli.
Gabi was hovering over JJ. "He's telling the truth," she said tears running down her face. "We never even kissed. We almost did a few weeks ago and decided to tell you guys before we did something we'd regret. I know you're upset with both of us but…"
"Gabi, just take JJ and go," Lani ordered firmly.
"You all can go," the proprietor of the bar came over drying his hands on an apron. "And don't think I'm not going to send the bill for any damages over to the stations. Cops start more fights than anybody."
Lani continued to stand in front of Eli until Gabi and JJ left the premises. She could literally feel him humming with anger behind her. They left five minutes later. Eli walked down the street looking like he was ready to commit murder. "Where are you going?" Lani jogged to keep up with him.
"Don't worry about it," Eli responded then turned into another bar. Lani followed tho she really wanted to be alone to figure out what just happened. Gabi and JJ? What the hell? She wanted to scream or cry or do something, but for right now her job was to make sure Eli didn't go after JJ again. For the entire night Eli ordered shot after shot of hard liquor. She sat next to him not saying a word. She would have loved to tease him about the irony of the situation, the perfect symmetry, but she wasn't exactly in a witty mood, nor did she think he would take well to sarcasm no matter how fitting it was to the situation. So she just watched him drink and drink and drink until at the end of the night she had to practically carry him to his room, which was no easy feat considering the size of this man.
When she finally got him into bed, Eli started snoring right away. She was taking off his boots when the tears began to fall. JJ was gone and off somewhere with Gabi and she hadn't seen it happening or even a whiff of a clue that her boyfriend was falling for someone else because she herself was completely preoccupied in an illicit relationship with her coworker and friend, who was also JJ's friend. And Gabi's boyfriend. Oh what a tangled web she'd woven for herself.
Lani covered Eli with a blanket and sat on the edge of the bed watching him sleep. Eli was very passionate in the moment. So she knew there'd be no danger of him going after JJ once he had a good night's sleep. Plus he was going to have one hell of a hangover. She stood to leave. While Eli's response was to get drunk, she wanted to crawl under the covers in her own apartment and have a really good cry-cuddled up with a pint of cookies and cream of course.
Before she could step away from the bed, Eli reached out to grab her hand.
She looked at him confused.
"Stay," he said and pulled her down next to him.