Audrey hadn't planned on starting her Sunday being thumped awake by Nathan groping for her alarm clock, his head still buried in the pillow. She also hadn't planned on being up at five, or her alarm clock actually being her cell phone.
"It's my phone," she said, half-yawning. "Go back to sleep."
He mumbled something that she didn't catch, which didn't matter because Duke calling this early never meant anything good. The last time had involved a trip overboard and an unhappy, soggy kid who'd just discovered he could turn into a seal.
As soon as she answered, he started talking, slurring his words a little. "I need you to feed my cat."
"Are you drunk?" she asked, followed by, "And when did you get a cat?"
"I'm not drunk," he said, in the same offended tone he'd used the time she called his boat a junk heap. "It's summer; you need to feed my cat."
Audrey took her phone away from her ear for a moment to stare at it. If this was some sort of code she was supposed to understand, like "my boat is burning down and I'm trapped in a secret passage," then he should have told her about it a long time ago.
"Who is it?" Nathan asked, his voice muffled by the pillow.
"Duke," she said. "He says I need to feed his cat, because it's summer."
"It's spring." Nathan paused and turned his head to look at her, making his sleep-mussed hair stick up at odd angles against the pillow. "He hasn't had a cat since his got run over in seventh grade."
"Yeah, well, he disagrees." Audrey could hear Duke's tinny voice coming from the phone, calling Nathan a dirty rotten liar. "He disagrees a lot."
So either it was some kind of code he should have told her about ahead of time, or he was incredibly drunk. Either way, she supposed she needed to get out of bed and go see what was going on.
"Okay, I'll come 'feed your cat,'" she said and hung up after he said goodbye. She bent down and kissed Nathan, then slid out of bed. "I'm going to see what's going on."
"Bring back pancakes," he said.
"Lobster pancakes?" she asked, looking over her shoulder to grin at him.
"Be a shame to ruin a good pancake like that." He sat up enough to grab her gun off her dresser and hand it to her when she reached for it. "Better just get blueberry."
For a moment, when Audrey saw Duke sprawled on his back in the middle of the deck, blood crusted on the side of his face and shirt, she thought there might be a real problem. Then he lifted his head and said, "Took you long enough. How'd the Nathan take you leaving him for another man?" He tried to leer at her, but the affect was ruined by it being Duke and the huge knot (and slightly less huge gash) on his temple.
"So 'feed my cat' means 'I have a concussion?'" Audrey asked.
"I don't have a cat," he said, looking confused.
Audrey reached down and hauled him to his feet, letting him lean on her when he swayed and almost tipped over. "So who finally got sick of you enough to try to cave your head in?"
"I fell on a baseball bat," he said, frowning. "Or, it fell on me. Really hard. When the guy trashing my boat let it go in my general direction."
A goofy pleased smile spread across his face as he said, "But he didn't get what he was looking for! I hid it in a lobster trap out there somewhere." He waved his hand toward the shore, but Audrey was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant the ocean. "But don't tell anyone. Or else they might try to ruin your head, too, and it's too nice for that."
"Mmhmm." She dumped him on the bed -- carefully; she didn't want puke on her shoes -- and sat on the edge. "Do you need Julia?"
"Why?" he asked, blinking at her. "You're here."
She laughed and patted his shoulder. "You're lucky I didn't just go back to sleep. This is my day off."
"Why would you sleep when you could be with me?" he asked, making her laugh again.
"There are a lot of people in Haven with a lot of different answers for that."
He looked up at her, genuinely mystified. "Why would anyone I haven't stuck tacks in not want to hang out with me?"
"There are so many reasons," she said as she pushed herself up off the bed. "I'm going up top to call Nathan. Don't give yourself another concussion until I'm back down here to watch."
Duke lazily gave her the finger, but he was grinning too hard for her to take it seriously.
"A concussion?" Nathan asked again when he was on the deck of Duke's boat.
"From his own baseball bat," Audrey said, nodding. "Which I'm sure he'll have a lot to say about once he's not so loopy anymore."
"Explain to me again why I'm here?" Nathan looked around the boat, then settled his eyes on her again.
"Because if I'm awake this early, you have to be too," she said. "And playing cards against myself while I wait to wake him up again isn't as fun as kicking your ass is."
"Not much is," he said, nodding at her and sitting down on a crate. "Even if I let you win."
She snorted and pulled a deck of Duke's cards out. "Whatever helps you sleep at night."
They barely got through one game before Duke burst through the door and announced, "The sun is up, so it's time for breakfast."
Audrey glanced to the East, where the very top of the sun was just beginning to show over the horizon, while Nathan said, "Think you're jumping the gun a bit there."
"You need to eat," Duke said, frowning at them. "You're both too damn skinny."
"Have you seen you?" Audrey asked. He stared at her like he wasn't quite sure why that meant anything. "Never mind, Grandma," she said, patting the seat next to her. "Come play a round so I can win breakfast money off you."
"You wish," Duke said, but he sat down anyway, the side of his leg brushing hers. She could feel the heat of him along her side in the chill spring air.
Nathan was watching them, giving her a look that she supposed meant she should be elbowing Duke to get more room. She screwed her face up and gave him a look back that meant, "He has a concussion and it's chilly out here and since when have you been possessive around anyone, never mind Duke?"
He abruptly turned his attention to the deck of cards he had started shuffling, concentrating intently on it so they didn't slip out of his fingers. Which was good, because if he hadn't got it, Audrey wasn't sure how to express it more clearly.
If Audrey had known this was what happened when Duke was concussed, she would've got Nathan to cold-cock him with his gun a long time ago.
"What about him?" she asked, pointing across the street to a man just going into the hardware store. She thought she recognized him, and maybe his name was Paul. Or Peter.
"Diiiick," Duke said, drawing it out, long and low. "He never says hi back. Ever."
"Never ever?" Nathan asked from the other side of the bench, smirking. Duke had his arms slung across the back of the bench on either side, one brushing Audrey's back, and one brushing Nathan's whenever he sat back, like he did then.
"Even you say something back," he said.
"Can't have anyone thinking I'm playing least favorites," Nathan said.
"Exactly." Duke nodded firmly, and then turned slightly green.
"Please," Audrey said, putting a hand on his back, ready to aim him towards the ground (or Nathan) if he barfed, "everyone already knows you play favorites, and Duke's your second most favorite."
Before Nathan could deny it, Duke pointed at another person down at the end of the street and said, "And I hate her. Tell her that. Tell her she sucks."
"Of course." Audrey bit back a laugh and rubbed his shoulder, while Nathan leaned forward to get a better look at who Duke was talking about.
"Rosemary?" Nathan asked, leaning back against the bench again.
"She always gives me the smallest danish." Duke frowned. "They're really good."
"Yes, they are," Audrey said. She waited for someone else to come out of a shop, then pointed. "Say something else, Duke. What do you think of him?"
"Diiiick." He glared at the guy. Since it was Haven, Audrey was worried for a moment about him setting the guy's hair on fire. "He stiffed the restaurant on a two dollar check. Two dollars! If he'd asked, I would have given it to him."
"That's criminal," Nathan said dryly.
"It is," Duke said, turning to him. "You should arrest him. If it had been me, you would've arrested me."
"You're a special case," Nathan said, smirking.
"Did you just admit to police harassment?" Duke asked, turning to Audrey like he thought he must have heard wrong. "You heard him say that, right?"
"I never said that," Nathan said, still smirking. "Did you hear me say anything like that, Agent Parker?"
"Nope," she said, grinning at the Duke's face went from being full of triumph to utterly betrayed in a split second. "Can't say I did, Officer Wuornos."
"I'm going back to my boat now," Duke said, making as if to stand up before Audrey pressed him back against the bench. He went willingly, which she took to mean that he hadn't actually planned on leaving, not that he was still too loopy to resist her.
"Don't worry," she said, patting his shoulder. "I won't let the big bad cop be mean to you anymore when you don't deserve it."
"That's not actually reassuring," Duke said, his mouth turned down like a five-year-old getting ready for a big sulk.
"What about him?" she asked, pointing to a guy just turning out of a side street. It distracted Duke from his sulking perfectly.
"That guy," he said, leaning forward and glaring. "That guy kicked my boat the other day."
She paused. That wasn't something someone would do without realizing it, like not saying hi or giving someone a small danish. He had to've done something to deserve that, and she really wanted to know what it was, but wasn't sure she wanted to know right that second, not with Nathan sitting right on the other side of Duke.
Thankfully, Nathan took the decision out of her hands, asking, "Why would he do that to such a well-kept boat?"
"Oh, I laughed at him when his girlfriend dumped him on the docks for the guy in the boat next to me. Which he shouldn't hold against me; Larry's got to be at least ninety."
"He's fifty-two," Nathan told Audrey, making her laugh a little.
"Still," Duke said, "my boat didn't deserve that. He needs to learn to respect other people's property."
"That's rich, coming from a smuggler," Nathan muttered.
"Hey," Duke said, pointing a finger at Nathan. "Everything I import is paid for. I think."
They could argue over whether Duke was a thief or not any day. She guessed that had about another three hours before the fun part of Duke's concussion wore off, so she said, "Tell me more about the people, Duke."
He turned to her, a softer smile on his face. "You look really, really nice right now."
That wasn't interesting or funny, that was just a fact. "No, that's boring, I don't care about that," she told him, but he'd already turned to Nathan.
"And you," he paused to look up and down Nathan. "You got a real purty mouth," he finished, then burst into laughter, bending over and clutching his stomach, he was laughing so hard.
"You will never-" Nathan said slowly, his eyes glaring but the corners of his mouth still tilted up a little "-make me squeal like a pig."
He went to push Duke off the bench with one hand, but Audrey caught his hand before he could do it. He looked over at her and shrugged a little -- What else did you expect me to do?. When his fingers curled around hers, she hooked her elbow over the back of the bench, letting their joined hands rest on the top, right behind Duke.
When Duke's laughter finally tapered off, he sat up, his back just touching their hands. Audrey expected Nathan to pull away like he usually did, like being able to feel someone else because she was a conduit was the same as cheating on her. Instead, he just stayed there, head tilted just enough to meet her eyes behind Duke's back, that goofy little smile still on his face and his thumb absently rubbing back and forth on the back of her hand.
This was totally how hunters felt when they stepped into a clearing and a buck froze there and just stared, giving them the lineup for a perfect shot, Audrey was sure.
Then Duke suddenly pointed at a guy walking past them and said, "And him. Don't even get me started on-"
Audrey clapped her free hand over his mouth before he could finish whatever he was about to say. The man had kept walking, but was turning his head back to watch them, so Audrey yelled out, "Concussion!" to him, and he nodded and walked away.
"Stop ruining the fun," Nathan said, picking her hand off Duke's mouth -- Duke looked mildly put out at that -- and letting it fall.
"It's not fun if everyone in town knows that he hates them," Audrey pointed out. She wasn't losing her only other friend because he got run out of town.
"Except you guys," Duke said, his face earnest as he looked back and forth between them, as if they could ever doubt that he liked them. "I love you guys. You're my best friends." Then he paused and raised his eyebrows hopefully, adding, "And maybe more?"
Audrey started to laugh while Nathan's face fell into a slightly uncomfortable neutral. She knew that face, that was the face that meant "I can't believe you just said that out loud and now I'm going to do anything I have to do to make you shut up." He shook his head at her, like she'd ever listened when he did that.
Oh, she was definitely bringing this up again when Duke was actually capable of giving consent and Nathan had time to get used to the idea that she had been right and he owed her five bucks. And that maybe he shouldn't have told her that he had a little crush on Duke when they were in high school.
"No," he said out loud this time, shaking his head again. She gave him a "Who, me?" look and turned her attention back to Duke, who was still looking at her, all smiles and hopeful eyebrows.
He started explaining before she could ask him to tell her more. "You're hot together. It's like-" he waved his hand between them "-twins. Except you don't look alike. And you're not related, so it's not creepy."
"Oh god, stop talking," Nathan groaned, slapping a hand over Duke's mouth, then drawing it away fast with a look of disgust and wiped it on his pants. "Did you just lick me? What are you, five?"
"I hope not," Duke said, looking down at his body as if to check. "Getting old was bad enough; I'm not going through high school again."
"Don't worry," Audrey said. Nathan had let go of her hand and drawn back, so she was free to pat Duke's back reassuringly. "You're just as grownup now as you were ten minutes ago."
He blinked at her and said, "Wow. You're really bad at the whole reassuring thing."
"Thanks a lot," she said, trying to force her face into something that looked at least a little upset.
He leaned forward again, distracted by a woman coming out of the bait shop and saying, "She stole a fish I'd been trying to catch all day once." Audrey met Nathan's eyes once more. He shook his head again, but she could tell he didn't really mean it as a hard no.
"It would be-"
Audrey sat back on her heels, no longer hovering over Nathan. This was not going to be as easy as she had planned, which was completely unfair. By any reasonable person's standards, all the ingredients were there. They had the mutual attraction, and they'd both had the occasional threesome before, so it wasn't like either of them objected to sharing. Duke clearly didn't.
Nathan was just being stubborn. She could deal with that.
"Oh well," she said. "I can sleep with Duke without you."
"What?" Nathan pushed himself up on his elbows, his forehead crinkling like he couldn't figure out how the whole conversation had happened.
"It's okay that you don't want to fuck Duke," she said, patting his hip. "I'm sure he won't mind it only be the two of us."
"You wouldn't," Nathan said, but she didn't think he looked as sure as he sounded.
"You should have thought of this before agreeing to the Duke Clause." She started to lean forward again, like the conversation was over and she was dropping the subject.
"I thought you were kidding!" He caught her shoulder before she could kiss him, so she sat back again. She had been, at the time, but he didn't need to know that.
"You think I'm hot," she said, and Nathan nodded, even though it hadn't been a question. "And you think Duke's hot. And you think Duke and me would be hot, and the three of us would definitely be hot."
"This is going to blow up in our faces," Nathan said.
She shrugged. "It's Haven. Everything blows up. Then we pick up the pieces, glue them back together, and keep going."
Nathan started to grin, and she knew she'd won. "Who are you, and what did you do with my Audrey Parker?"
"Shut up," she said, moving forward and sinking down onto him. He lifted his hips to meet hers, and groaned into her mouth when she bent down and kissed him. The conversation hadn't exactly waned his interest, the opposite, if anything. She'd known it was a great idea not to let him pretend it was just Duke's concussion talking.
She hadn't counted on having to do the same to Duke in the morning. She left Nathan leaning against the truck's bumper, in view of the boat, and waited on the deck for Duke to stop grumbling about being woken up and start coming up.
"It's not that early," she pointed out when he shot her a glare as soon as he saw her.
"I have a concussion," he said, dropping into his chair.
"Or you're just lazy." She sat across from him.
"The Buddha says lazy is just a word for people who don't know how to meditate." He leaned back and closed his eyes, so she jostled him with her foot. He cracked an eye at her, then closed it again.
"So," she said. This was harder than she'd thought it would have been the night before. "Remember yesterday-"
"No," Duke said, sitting up and opening his eyes. He looked way too honest to be telling the truth when he said, "I don't remember any of yesterday."
"You said you wanted a threesome," she reminded him, then paused before she added, "or you wanted to date us. You weren't really clear on that part. So. Still want one?"
Duke had started talking before she finished. "I didn't say anything. I had a concussion, so you can't hold it against me. It doesn't count."
"Are you even listening to me?" she asked, sitting back in the chair and raising an eyebrow at him.
"I- What?" He stopped, his face blank.
"Threesome," she said slowly, tilting her head toward where Nathan was leaning against the bumper of the truck. "Sometime soon. You're the only one giving me trouble, so make it happen."
He looked toward Nathan, who raised his head in acknowledgment, then jerked it toward the truck. Duke turned back to Audrey, a grin spreading across his face.
"Bet you're glad you let a guy hit you with your own bat," Audrey said, turning to head back to the truck. He'd follow, she knew he would.
"I didn't let him." She could feel him at her back, dogging her heels. "But if this is what concussions get me, I'll book him to come knock me out once a week."
She laughed, and caught his hand as they headed over to meet Nathan by the truck.