Chapter 14-True Colors-
`You were right, he never batted. But guess what, Elizabeth Stern, she plays too. It’s actually how they met, isn`t that cute?`
The sarcasm in Kalinda`s voice made Alicia smile.
`Oh, no, you`ve shown me your true colors yesterday, missy. I bet I would find a copy of `eat, pray, love` on your nightstand.`
When Kalinda playfully slapped Alicia`s forearm, the lawyer felt something close to an electrical shock at the touch, hiding her involuntary movement as a quasi-offended gesture. Feeling her heartbeat pick up, she started to consider the thought of an illness. She hated being sick, not wanting to allow something like that to show her weakness, but it would at least be an explanation for all these odd feelings she had been having. If she had the flu, all she had to do was take some paracetamol and wait for it to pass. But if it wasn`t –and she was quite sure it wasn`t- she would have to dig deeper.
There was a time that she had loved that. To dig deeper, to get to the bottom of her feelings. She remember that she used to drive her parents, and even Peter in the beginning of their relationship, crazy with her analysis of their, her own, and other`s feelings. But somewhere along the line, it had just stopped to be fun. Was it because she kept coming to the conclusion that she simply wasn`t happy?
`So, the mother had a bat, and the kid just took it?`
Alicia saw Kalinda look around the empty bar, assuring they couldn`t be overheard.
`We`ll ask her, it still can be a lead. I`ll keep digging.`
Alicia smiled melancholically at her friend’s words, which fitted so well with her earlier thoughts. Playing with the ridge of her shot-glass, Kalinda made the tequila move in circles, mirroring her swirling emotions.
`So… Shots, in the middle of the day`
The question mark at the end of Kalinda`s sentence was missing, but there was no doubt it was indeed a question.
`That bad, huh?`
Alicia felt her shoulders momentarily relax, feeling how the other woman`s understanding made all the tension flow out of her body. But the realization of that fact, unfortunately, immediately redeemed that. She moved her neck, trying to get some relieve and prevent the headache she felt coming on. As Kalinda waved the bartender over, for what Alicia assumed was another round of shots, she almost protested but was prevented to do so by the appearance of the barkeeper. The woman was incredulously beautiful, her long blond locks falling in curls around her face, the toned, bare arms as she dried a glass while smiling at Kalinda. But it was not her beauty that had caught Alicia`s attention. It was the light that had appeared into those perfectly shaped green eyes when she had caught sight of the investigator.
`Hi, another round?`
Putting the cloth and the glass in their place, the woman leaned closer to Kalinda, as if to hear her answer. Morbidly curious how Kalinda would respond to the obvious flirting, she was pleasantly surprised to see her friend just politely smile back.
`No, just a painkiller for my friend, please. And some water?`
The beautiful blonde shrugged, clearly not entirely thrown off by the dismissive answer and produced the requested products.
`So, why don`t you bring your friend home, and come back yourself?`
Annoyed to be talked about as if she wasn`t there, Alicia again found herself interrupted in her will to protest.
The sharp, reprimanding tone of the name surprised her less than the fact that Kalinda actually knew it. She searched for a nametag she knew she wouldn`t find, especially when she heard the mocking answer.
So they DID know each other. The investigator`s eyes seemed to be on fire, as she got off her barstool, making her significantly shorter than the long-legged bartender.
`You`re being rude.`
Suddenly, the blond seemed to give up her act, and as her shoulders dropped, her beauty seemed even more obvious.
`I know I am, but that seems to be the only way to get your attention.`
Glancing from the corner of her eye to Alicia she saw that the lawyer had caught the movement of her eye.
`Hey, never mind me, I`m just the friend you should be getting home…`
The humor and amusement she laid in her voice seemed genuine, but Alicia didn`t feel it. Actually, she felt nothing but numb, right now. She saw how her act fooled Lilian, but Kalinda`s eyes narrowed as she watched her. As the bartender led a distracted Kalinda a few steps away from her, sending her a grateful smile, Alicia felt a heavy emptiness in her chest she couldn`t explain. And, to be honest, she didn’t want to.
While Kalinda calmly tried to remind the bartender she had never made her any promises, and had actually gone out of her way to reach an understanding about commitment –or more, lack thereof- before she had given into the blonde’s flirtation a few months ago, she couldn`t help her eyes to drift to Alicia ever so often. Although Lilian didn`t take the rejection THAT hard, she saw the bartender was disappointed. And, where that a year ago simply would have annoyed her, it now made her feel guilty. This was one of the problems with her attraction to women. They always seemed to expect more from her than she could give.
True, sometimes men were the same. She would have to have a talk like this with Anthony soon, who had recently gotten into the habit of wanting to show her pictures of his son and asking her when she would get a weekend off. Alicia, who was polite enough to seem preoccupied with the bottle of painkillers, looked so far away. She had seemed to want to talk and Kalinda felt, awkward, that this had prevented her from being able to do so. It always surprised her how much insight Alicia had on cases, and how little of that sharpness she used to reflect her own life. It seemed to help if she listened -and occasionally commented- and she was more than willing to do so.
`I wouldn`t have picked her as your type.`
Lilians voice, soft and surprisingly kind, sounded only slightly defeated, and she saw how the blonde had followed her gaze.
`Oh… No. It`s not like that. She is just a…`
Laying her slender finger against Kalinda`s lips, the bartender's smile was knowing and forgiving.
`Please Kalinda, don`t. You haven`t lied to me yet. Don`t start now.’
Alicia almost crushed the plastic bottle in her hand as she saw the slender blonde softly kiss the investigators cheek while sliding her hand down her arm. The image, that she just caught out of the corner of her eye, immediately was engraved into her memory. The headache she had foreseen hit her full-force, but she would rather bite her tongue of than take one of the pills the blonde had given her. Noticing how the hands of the two women connected before the barkeeper walked away, Alicia felt the sharp pain in her chest coincide with a vibrating sensation in her pocket. Answering her cell phone, the ringtone her daughter had installed made sure she didn’t even have to glance at the screen to see who was calling, the lawyer took an impulsive decision.
`Yes, Eli, I`ll do it.`
`So you`re saying there wasn`t anything in his blood?`
Bill looked at her admiringly, and she felt his hand slide against hers as he handed her the paper.
`Well, they were pretty late doing the tox-screen, as you can see. They said there was something wrong with the first sample that was taken.`
Kalinda looked up and smiled, seeing how Bill`s eyes fixated on her lips.
Her question confused him, as if he hadn`t thought about the possibility of the information not being true. Knowing him, he hadn`t.
`I guess so, I mean, if they say so.`
Looking at the paper more closely, the investigator noticed the small numbers in the right upper quadrant, indicating the paper Bill had just given her was the second of a set of two. She smiled as she remembered what caused her always to look at those little numbers. How Alicia`s wit, in her first case, had won her the trial and a shot of tequila. Kalinda still couldn`t figure out what had made her ask the lawyer to come to the bar with her, or, even less so, what had caused Alicia to say yes.
`And the first paper?`
He clumsily reached into his backpack, mumbling something about it not being interesting as he fished out a paper with some general information about Martin Flagg. Letting her eyes quickly swift over the words, she took in his date of birth and his blood-type before her eyes rested on his allergies.
`Is that very common? An allergy for oranges?`
She wasn`t entirely sure why that didn`t sit right with her yet, but she knew it would come to her soon enough.
As Bill went on and on about allergies for fruits, she studied the young paramedic. He was handsome, but his geeky self-awareness made it hard for him to approach a girl. She saw however how a woman, a few stools down, seemed to be intrigued by his monologue about strawberries. Dropping a blank paper, making sure it landed close to the interested woman, Kalinda was pleased that her assessment of Bill had been correct. He rushed to retrieve her the lost page as the redheaded woman moved towards it also. As she saw the two young people blush and get into a shy conversation, she inwardly raised her eyes to the sky. She was turning into a meddling romantic. Soon she would have to purchase that copy of `Eat, Pray, Love` she and Alicia always so sarcastically joked about.
It wasn`t until she had made an excuse to leave Bill with his new found love interest and she made her way outside that she heard someone order a cocktail, which almost made her stop in her tracks. Smiling about the links she was making to the case, she made her way outside, ready for a new round of questioning.
`I am merely asking if you saw the whole house as part of your crime-scene, or if you limited yourself to the living room, that`s all.`
`What do you want, Kalinda?`
Antony Burton`s voice sounded annoyed, but she knew him well enough to conclude this mood wouldn`t last long if she played her cards right.
`I WANT to solve this case, Tony, what do you want?`
He sighed and reluctantly gave in.
`What have you got?`
Contemplating her next move, she shortly stared at the man in front of her. He was not as handsome as the paramedic, but his sure movements and his confidence gave him an edge in being found attractive. She liked him and she didn`t mind the occasional roll-in-the-hay, although she had never stayed for breakfast. Then again, she never did.
He was… Harmless. That was it.
He was a rare gentlemen in a world full of testosterone-induced cockiness. He didn`t look the part, but before he had kissed her the first time he had actually asked her permission. They had met when she was working for Peter and they had gotten used to sharing information and working off of each other. He was one of the few male detectives on the force that had not felt threatened by her or ridiculed her. And when she had been fired and started working for the opposition, their relationship had only slightly changed. She had made it clear from the beginning that she had no intention of ever becoming serious, but lately she felt like Antony had forgotten that statement. She trusted him, but most of all, she trusted herself around him. He didn`t confuse her, he didn`t make her slip things she would never say to someone else. She always could reason around him, never got distracted by emotions. He wasn`t a threat to her because he simply didn`t matter. As a friend, of course. She would help and protect him if he was in trouble. Yes, she cared for him, but he couldn`t hurt her, maybe because she simply didn’t care enough.
`I`m looking for the source of the GHB, the last glass my client has used. She says she remembers being in the kitchen and in her bedroom. Found anything?`
He nodded, thinking about her request. As he got up she expected a brush-off and was surprised when his voice sounded in friendly reply.
`The mother hasn`t returned to the house, so actually our crime-scene is still intact. Let’s go find you your glass.`
As he threw her jacket towards her, she caught both the garment and his eyes. The smile they exchanged was one of comfort and as she sat down in the car next to him, enjoying their moments of silence and occasional banter, she wondered why she couldn`t simply fall in love with him. Why she couldn`t simply commit. Why she couldn`t simply be happy.
TO BE CONTINUED