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Linden tries to get him to leave after his first sip of tea, but Holder’s having none of it. 

 

He’d suspected she’d react like this as soon as he started asking her about her old case.  She’d gone from all mini-vans and teapots and smiles to all official-looking envelopes and sixth-sense- faraway-eyed…she’d gone all…Linden on him.  She’s rattled.  Tells him she has ‘to go.’

 

Holder tilts backward on the dining room chair.  He’s rattled too, bordering on pissed, actually, even though he knows he’s got absolutely no right.  It’s not about her being untruthful about those old files. He knows that will get sorted out in time, knows her well enough for that.  And it’s not about her giving him the bum’s rush because she doesn’t want to even listen to his theory, much less discuss it with him.  He knows she’ll end up helping him, she won’t be able to resist. He just has to let her think on it awhile, is all.

 

But the boyfriend? That… child?  Cody?  WTF?

 

Even though the kid had clued in right away and slunk out with his tail between his legs Holder can’t let it go. He badly wants to point out the fact that she’s got a boy doing a man’s job.  He wants even worse to ask Linden if she’ll ever wake up and smell the coffee.  Holder wants to say a few more clever things too but instead ends up saying something stupid, something potentially fatal, as a matter of fact.

 

“So d’you sleep with everybody you work with or what?” he asks her, jokingly, but also not, then regrets it immediately. Fuck.

 

He’s opening his mouth to apologize when he sees the gleam in her eyes, and the challenge already on her lips.

 

Linden freezes where she stands, her cup of tea in her hands.

 

“I don’t.  And you know it.   What gives – you never did that Holder?  Never slept with…your…co-worker?”

 

He pretends to consider this for a moment, then shakes his head slowly, before answering, “Sleep?  Nope.  Don’t recall…ever sleepin’…with…”

 

A full smile now, she takes a step toward him, raises the mug as if she’s about to brain him with it, then sets it down on the table.

 

“Oh so you just forgot that night, did you?  Or the other time? In the car?”

 

Holder grins like a champion, a pervy one, unable to believe his good luck.  She’s not pissed.  She digs this.  “C’mon. I’ll never forget.   But I never ever slept with you. Not yet, anyway.  Nobody slept.  Linden.”

 

“Oh my God.” She shakes her head now, a blush creeping to her cheeks.  “You are something else.  Still something else.” 

 

“Yeah.  I know.”  Holder leans back even further.  Cracks his knuckles.  “That’s kinda sorta what you kept sayin’.  Over and over. Remember?”

 

“No.  Remind me, Holder, go ahead. Really. I’d like to hear your take on it.”  Linden steps toward the staircase, one hand on her hip. “C’mon.  I know you’re a legend in your own mind.”

 

 Holder turns his chair to the side, his eyes locked on her, still leaning back.  His smile couldn’t be any bigger.  He knows he’s in trouble of the finest kind.

 

“Well I seem to remember, it was more or less like this:  Damn, that was great.  I think I’m going to go to sleep now, off to REM with a face full of Linden’s outstanding hair, oh what, she’s startin’ it up again?  Fine with me. OK, that was great too, but I’m getting’ tired now.  I want to fall asleep with that Linden-blanket all over me, all around me, like I wanted to since the first day I ever saw her, oh what?  She still hasn’t had enough? Ok, I got a coupla moves left.  Let’s see if she likes them and maybe then we can get some shut-eye – oh, it’s still not enough for this gal?  Well lucky for her I got the stamina of a teenager…what?  It’s getting light out?   We been at it all night?  Its morning and we have to go to work already?  Damn.  No sleep.” He shrugs, holds out his hands, “That’s pretty much what I remember.”

 

He stands up and moves towards her.  And oh he looks good in that suit.  He’s been working out too.  She’s at the bottom of the stairs, one hand on the banister, the other pulls out her hair tie.  She’d put it up after he’d arrived, for some reason.  She laughs at herself a little now.  Who’d she been trying to kid?

 

“You tired Holder?  Need some sleep?” She asks him gently, as if speaking to a child, but her eyes are like daggers, a smile curves her lips, and it’s the real one, her big beautiful smile, so rare.  “You got time?” She asks him, takes one step up the stairs.

 

Holder pretends to check a nonexistent watch.  He’s a foot away from her.

 

“Yeah. And yeah.”  He’s even closer now.  He reaches for her wrist, his fingers circling it, loose, above where she’s holding onto the banister, strokes up, then down, up, and down again. They’re both watching, voyeurs.

 

“I just need a little siesta with my best girl,” His lips are by her ear, almost in her ear, “A little cat-nap with this smokin’ hot ex-po-lice that I know…d’ya get what I’m sayin’ Linden?”  His mouth moves to her neck, soft on soft, he pulls his lips across her collarbone, she can smell his hair now.  “Just a little some-some… just a little… sleepy-bye…”

 

“I kind of have a boyfriend Holder,” she’s almost laughing though, pulling his shirt out of his pants, another step up the stairs and she’s going for his belt, her knuckles pressing into his skin.  He’s packing heat.

 

It’s blowing his mind, his legs want to shake, but he’s fine, he’s not letting on.

 

I know that.  I just saw the boy, remember?  And me too.   Girlfriend I mean.  Who cares?  This is us Linden.  Got nothin’ to do with anybody else.”

 

She wets her lips, grabs his jaw, rubs her cheek against his and the beard-stubble scrape against her skin feels like a magic trick.  And she suspects that he’s right, no one can touch this.

 

“I’m going to kill you Holder,” she warns him, two more steps up,  she’s still got hold of his belt,  pulling him with her.

 

“Yeah, whatever Linden,” his voice is soft, though, his eyes as well.  “I’m willin’ to die for love.”

 

Sudden hot tears sting her eyes, she blinks them back, surprised.  Her throat aches, she has to swallow and it hurts.  She closes her eyes and it takes her a minute.  It’s all coming back.  She’d tried, she really had.

 

“I missed you,” It slips out unbidden, just a breath, a wish. 

It’s not really what she means to say, but she knows its close, sort of.  She doesn’t know the words for this strange feeling.

 

“Yeah?” Holder’s voice breaks, and he wonders if maybe, just maybe...

 

He can only whisper now, too, and it’s muffled, his face in her neck, “Well that’s good.”