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And When You Say Jump, I Do The Twist

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1.

The doorbell rings, and she starts the timer on her wristwatch.

"Did somebody call for a plumber?" David waggles his eyebrows at her and grins.

"Hurry up," she says impatiently, and starts to tug him along by the elbow up the stairs. "The bathroom sink in my bedroom is leaking."

He nods, and casually buffs his fingernails on his shoulder, then blows across the back of his fingers like a smoking gun. "And you needed a little manly help," he narrates smugly. "Good thinking."

She grits her teeth. "I can fix the leak, Addison." She tugs the pink rubber gloves she has on up to her elbows again before adding, resentfully, "At least I could if the bolt wasn't rusted shut."

"It's cool, baby," he says. "I get it. You needed some muscle to fix this issue. You rang, I came."

She narrows her eyes at him.

"...Came running to help you. Where's the wrench, wench?"

"Here." She slaps the metal tool down in the palm of his hand a little harder than necessary. "And here's the problem." She crawls underneath the countertop to point at a juncture in the piping where the water flow splits. "And don't call me a wench."

"Easy as one-two-three," David says, and spits on his palm.

She slaps his hand away. "Wash that thing before touching my tools again." As soon as the words are out of her mouth she closes her eyes, because really, she says that to David?

He raises an eyebrow.

"Forget I said that."

"Can't do that," he responds cheerfully. "Be right back, I have to go wash my thing so I can touch your tools again."

She aims a kick at his calf, but he's already out of the bathroom headed for the downstairs sink. By the time she changes out the bucket underneath the leak again he's back upstairs with his shirt sleeves rolled up his forearms.

"You know," he says conversationally as he tries to torque the rusted bolt in the cramped space inside the cabinet, "I'll fix your plumbing anytime you want, anyway. All you need to do is ask. Nicely, that is." He looks up from his work to leer at her a little.

She peels her left glove down and pushes the timer knob on her wristwatch in. "It took you thirteen minutes and twenty four seconds to make that joke."

The shadow of a pout flickers across his lips, but the corner of his eyes wrinkle up like they do when he smiles. "Am I that predictable?"

"Oh, I don't know about that," she says brightly. "I had a bet with myself that you would say it in five."

 

2.

"Maaaaaaddie."

David slumps against the side of her doorframe, dangling an empty bottle of wine from his fingers like a pendulum, with his tie undone and his hair sticking up in the back like a tom cat. He looks like last night's mistake and smirks at her like she's in on the joke.

"David," she says slowly, taking him in, "are you drunk?"

"Only if it's a Tuesday." He squints thoughtfully at the air above her head. "Is it Tuesday?"

"Not since yesterday."

"Then I couldn't possibly be drunk," he says with finality.

"Good Lord," she says, and rolls her eyes, because really.

He pushes his sunglasses down his nose and grins at her, the smile curling at the corner of his lips. "You can call me David."

"And you can take the couch."

He reaches up to wind a curl of her hair around his finger, absentmindedly, and she fights the urge to both slap his hand away and lean into his fingers. He moves in closer to her, so that she can feel his warm breath on her cheek, and whispers, "That's fine. I didn't want to sleep in your bed anyway."

He smells like brandy and the faint musk of cologne that still lingers on his collar, and she holds her breath because it's unfair that David smells that good. She whispers back, "I don't think that was being given as an option here."

He stares at her for a few beats longer, and then huffs a low laugh and his eyes slide past her, drunkenness breaking his concentration.

She sighs and grabs his hand. "Come on. I'll get you some aspirin and a glass of water."

 

3.

David is standing on her doormat wearing a sombrero and what looks like a sizable collection of Mardi Gras beads, holding a dozen balloons and sporting a rather manic grin.

She closes the door.

"Hey!" David's voice is clear but muffled outside her house. "It's not what you think!"

"Oh really?"

"I'm your birthday strip-o-gram!"

...Because that makes everything better.

"Go home, David!"

"OK," he amends judiciously, "birthday kiss-o-gram."

"No!"

"Alright, I see the problem there too. Birthday sex-o-gram?"

"David!"

"What?" he says, and raises his voice again. "I'm the gift that keeps on giving!"

She yanks the door open, glares at him, grabs the sombrero and shoves it on top of her own head, and then slams the door shut again with a resounding bang.

There's a pause, and then she hears, "I want my sombrero back!"

"It's my birthday!"

"Oh, so now it's your birthday?"

"It's been my birthday all day, David!"

"Fine!" There's a rustling noise from behind the door, and then, "You can give it back tomorrow!"

"I will!" she says defiantly.

"I'll see you at work, then!"

"Yes!"

"OK!" he yells back. "Have a good birthday!"

"Good night!" she says forcefully.

When she opens the door five minutes later, the birthday balloons are tied down to a rock on top of her welcome mat, and there's a note scribbled on the back of a fast food receipt tied to the ribbon that says "Happy birthday, birthday girl. Love, David."

 

4.

David breezes past her, snapping his fingers and muttering under his breath.

"By all means," she says, still standing by the open door and holding the knob, "come on in."

"Don't mind if I do." He spins around suddenly to face her, his eyes intent, and launches into it just like that, like they're just continuing a conversation from earlier. "...I think we've missed an important fact in this case."

"Oh?"

"Think about it, Maddie." He starts to pace, restlessness radiating through the lines of his body. "Mrs. Mitchell said she was at the salon getting her nails done on the morning of the murder, right?"

"Yes, and..."

"Did you look at her hands?" He flashes his own up in demonstration. "No polish."

She frowns. "But why would she lie about something like that? Her husband wasn't murdered until the evening, so she didn't need an alibi for that time."

"Unless..."

"...Unless," she adds, slowly picking up on his intensity, "she did need an alibi for that time."

"Exactly." David starts to pace again and she follows suit, tracking his movements across the floor.

"We never did figure out when Mr. Mitchell had the time to take his car in to be serviced before he died. What if..."

"...Mrs. Mitchell took care of the car that morning..."

"...And rigged it so the brakes would fail..."

"...And that took care of Mr. Mitchell," he finishes triumphantly.

She grins at him, delighted. "David, you're a genius."

"Noted." His gaze shifts downward from her eyes a little, and she realizes that they've ended up practically nose-to-nose in their excitement. He licks his lips and adds, more softly, "Mind if I get that in writing?"

She steps away and goes to grab her coat and purse, fussing with the folds a little longer than necessary, and says briskly, "No, but I'll let you drive."

"Aww, really Ma?" David clasps his hands in front of his heart. "I can take the old rust bucket out for a spin?"

She tosses him the keys and starts to breath a little easier at his casual tone. "Not if you keep calling it an old rust bucket."

He salutes. "Yes, ma'am."

 

5.

"Maddie!"

She screams and whirls around, brandishing the corkscrew in her hand like a rapier, and David jumps back with his hands in the air.

"David!" She gulps in a large breath of air and lowers the corkscrew. "You scared me half to death!"

"The half of you that's still alive looks pretty lively."

She shifts her shoulders and knots her dressing gown more securely around her waist. "Seriously, David."

He shrugs. "Your front door was open."

"Open?"

"Open. Unlocked. Maddie, I'm shocked. A smart, modern woman like you should know better. You never know who's out there."

"Evidently I do," she says drily. "Wine?"

"I prefer to think of myself as a winner, and sure, I'll have a glass."

She pours two glasses while David flips absentmindedly through a photo album of her old modeling head shots. He pauses partway through the album and stares, his finger tapping slowly by the side of the binding.

She walks over to stand next to him and hands him the wine glass, silently. A younger, dark-eyed version of herself stares at her from the photograph, all strategically-mussed hair and mascara smudges and parted lips, desperate to be a model and too young to have defined herself as a clean-cut all-American girl yet.

He clears his throat, and she would have missed the way his finger slides over the edge of the photo before he snaps the album shut if she hadn't been watching closely.

"So," she says, and tucks her bare feet up underneath her on the couch and lets her head rest back comfortably, "tell me about your day."

 

6.

He opens the door after her third knock. His shirt is unbuttoned and he is rubbing his eyes in the artificial light of his apartment building's hallway, but he smiles when he sees her, and she feels a little less awkward standing in front of his door, clutching her purse in front of her like a shield. She isn't used to this yet.

"Hey, beautiful." His voice is raspy and soft from sleep.

She shifts her bag nervously in front of her. "Oh, I didn't know you were sleeping. I'm sorry if I woke you up. I'll just..." She trails, off, uncertainly, as David keeps staring at her, his gaze unexpectedly steady and his head cocked a bit to one side.

He shrugs then. "I like it when you wake me up. You can wake me up anytime you want to." His eyes skate down over her figure. "You look nice."

She smiles, because. Well. He can still be so David sometimes.

"You don't look half bad yourself." The disheveled look suits him, with his hair sticking up at the back and his eyes dark in the shadows. There's a shadow of a beard around his jawline and when he looks at her, she feels her pulse catch and her toes curl a little in her shoes.

"Come on in," he says, and opens the door a little wider.

She does.