”I don't understand what the big deal is! I have clothes there, and make-up, I have food in the fridge, a key! Look, here it is, on my key chain. See?”
”Yes, alright, I can see that,” Simone said and pulled the half-finished glass of wine out of the way before Beth could knock it over. ”You were happy about that just last week, remember?You said you are officially the girlfriend and that's what you wanted, wasn't it?”
”I thought things would change, you know? That he would let me in, but no! This week it's all his cases, his clients, 'don't ask, Beth, don't come with me, Beth, this is vampire business Beth!' I'm so sick and tired of hearing that all the time! Aren't you?”
”We are different that way, sweetie. You are a reporter; curiosity is part of your trade. In my line of work, curiosity is best kept in check.”
”I'm not a reporter anymore, I'm an investigator. And that's just the thing! We are colleagues now, why won't he share more with me? Have I ever betrayed him? I've always had his back,” Beth complained. “Everything reverted back to what it was before. I don't know what to do.”
”Ah, here is our dinner,” Simone said brightly as she noticed the waiter approaching the table. She collected the wine glasses and handed them quickly to the waiter as he placed the food in front of them. ”Please, take these and bring us more water and two strong coffees, thank you.”
The waiter nodded and threw a disapproving glance at Beth, who didn't notice it. Simone sighed. Beth picked at her food halfheartedly, which was a shame since the sea bass was excellent.
”I have to ask. Does Mick know that you aren't happy the way things are? Have you told him?”
”I don't want to tell him when he is happy how things are. I pretend to be happy, for his benefit.”
”Are you sure he isn't doing the same for you?”
“You fake, he fakes. You complain to us but don't talk to each other?” Simone bit her tongue, but it was too late.
“What did you just say?”
“Try the fish, it's excellent,” Simone tried but Beth ignored her feeble attempt to change the subject.
“Wait, Mick talks with Josef about us? Our relationship?”
“They boys have been friends for a long time. You really didn't expect them not to talk?”
Beth stared at her, genuinely surprised.
”She mentioned that she wants to buy a bed,” Mick said. “She even measured around to see where to put it in my apartment. Can you believe that?”
”I'm astonished. She doesn't want to have sleepovers in a freezer? Kids these days,” Josef said without turning his eyes from the computer where the colored squiggles indicated how much he was just about to win. Or lose. Mick wasn't sure what meant what, but since Josef couldn't stop looking at the moving lines, it had to be about winning.
“She wants to move in, doesn't she? That's what this is about, the bed, the clothes, the food...”
“That is the logical conclusion,” Josef said. “If she buys the bed, she will want to sleep in it. I would go as far as to say she'll ask you to sleep in it with her. That's women for you.”
“You think this is funny, don't you?”
“I think it's hilarious,” Josef said, still staring at the computer screen, “that you keep coming to me for advice about humans.”
“Only because I know Simone tells you things, which means you know more about what Beth thinks than I do!” Mick complained.
“We, and note the plural here, have no interest in being a part of your relationship drama. Actually, we would greatly appreciate it if you two would just get a room and work out your pent-up aggressions with sex, like everyone else,” Josef said, finally turning to look at him. “I leave the decision about the bed to you. There is a lot of fun to have without one.”
Mick rolled his eyes at him. “That's not the advice I needed.”
“That was the best, and only, advice you will get from me. Now scoot. I'm busy.”
“How was Josef? Making money, crushing enemies?” Beth asked from the floor, where she sat surrounded by case files. Mick walked over and sat down next to her. She gave him a quick kiss before turning back to read the coroner's report. She smelled like coffee, with a faint whiff of Simone's perfume mixed into it. There had been hugging. And wine.
Mick looked at the pile of photographs fanned out in front of her. It was the Smith case, still. She refused his help on this one, and Mick had agreed to stay out of it. The case looked like a textbook murder-suicide to him, but Beth thought there was more to it. Mick was sure it was just a waste of time. One of the many little spats they had this week.
“You do know that you can use my desk for this? You don't have to sit on the floor.”
“I like the floor. Lots of space, and it's good for my back,” Beth said. “So? What did Josef say about the bed idea?”
“What? I didn't tell him about it. Why would I? He's not interested in things like that.”
Beth looked at him in the focused and steady way that said that she could see the truth no matter how hard he tried to hide it. She had always been able to do that, even as a little child. It was an unnerving skill, and Mick to avoid her eyes by looking at the crime scene photographs. “Anything new on the case?”
“Don't change the subject. And don't lie to me. Simone told me that you talk with Josef about us. I find it insulting that you won't talk with me, but you have bitch-fests with your best buddy.”
“Well? Did you talk about the bed with him?”
Beth scoffed and turned back to the case file. “You can tell me you are a vampire and you sleep in a freezer, but you can't tell me straight that you don't want a bed in your apartment.”
“How? You feel like I'm intruding in your home? You gave me the key, you know.”
“No, I like having you here. It's just that...”
“I can't sleep in that bed with you. We can't wake up together, and having a bed makes me feel...Lonely. And feeling lonely when I'm with you is too much for me to handle. I don't want to feel like that.”
“And I can't sleep in a freezer with you,” Beth said, leaning against his shoulder. “But you know, we can use the bed for other things besides sleeping.”
“That is exactly what Josef said,” Mick told her and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer. Beth giggled and kissed him, pushing him down on his back. Mick went with the motion, smiling. “Bed could be nice, but floor is good too, for those...other things.”
“Floor isn't good for sleeping though,” Beth muttered against his mouth. Mick pushed her gently away from him, so he could see her eyes.
“This bed thing, it's important to you?”
“Yes,” Beth said. “I'm not sure why exactly, but it is.”
“It's important to you, so let's go shopping for a bed. You know what kind you want? And we need pillows, and sheets probably too, right? Is there a special store you like, or...”
“Simple as that?” Beth asked, frowning. “Don't joke about this, it's mean!”
“I'm not joking! We can't sleep together, but we can sleep near each other. It's better than nothing, isn't it?” Mick asked, pulling her back to a kiss. Beth squirmed away again.
“Mick, be serious. If you don't want a bed in here, just tell me.”
Mick smiled and held her, turning them around with a quick move, pressing Beth against the floor in turn. “Beth, I want you here. If it means buying furniture, then let's do it.”
“The Smith case,” Beth whispered, pushing his coat off while trying to hitch her skirt higher. It took Mick a moment to pay attention to her words.
“The photographs. We shouldn't do this here...” Beth slipped her hands under his shirt and Mick gasped from the sudden heat. “We are right on top of their tragedy. That's...not good.”
“Right, that's not good,” Mick said and got up, pulling Beth with him with practiced ease. She weighted less than a feather to him, and it was no trouble at all to carry her to the sofa. Beth laughed and pulled him down with her. Mick went with it eagerly.
“See what I meant?” Beth pulled his belt away and it clattered on the floor. “A bed will beat floor every time because we will never ran out of crime scenes.”
“I agree, that's an excellent point,” Mick said and kissed her, ending the discussion for the night.