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Love The One You're With...Unless?

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Feeling lonely, despairing over Reade's announced engagement (it's been THREE
MONTHS NOW, Tasha!), and HORNY, on top of it all, Tasha Zapata sends a text
one Thursday evening to 'flame-throwing' New York Mets Pitcher Ricaro Muñiz, the staff
Ace (16-8 W/L record, league-leading strike-out leader.) If HE'S in New York, and neither is
otherwise occupied, they have a standing "hook-up" arrangement-usually at this smae hotel (he
returns to his home country in the offseason, and doesn't bother with a permanent residence.

The Team has suites on the Renassaince Hotel's 14th Floor; in suite 1433, the handsome Venezuelan
has made quite a bit of headway with the buttons of Zapata's blouse; he has them nearly all undone when
the sexy FBI Agent's iPhone signals a text recieved. Muñiz urges her to ignore it; she advises him that should
a Federal Agent disregard a text, and should that text later be found to be one of high importance (such as pending/
actual terrorist threat,for example) that Agent's Ass, no matter how, big, round, and delisciously firm it is, will
almost certainly be tried under every statute available for such an offense. Ricaro relents:

EReade19: Whereyaat?

TZ00Z: Out-'Sup?

ER19: Meg 💨...no return ETA...she's gone for good

TZ00Z: I'm coming by-20 mikes (minutes)

ER19: Negative-do ur thing

TZ00Z: 20 mikes, Reade-wait for me

ER19: NEGATIVO. Me acuesto 😴

TZ00Z: 👍

Ricky starts to slide her blouse off of her shoulders; she starts to let him, then changes her mind:
"No puedo, Ricky-ese texto se trata de una emergencia; tengo que irme." (I can't-that text was for an
emergency ...I have to go.)

"¿Vas a regresar?" (You're coming back?)

"No estoy segura. Te llamo en un rato." (I'm not sure. I'll call you later.)

A quick peck on the lips, and she's out the door. Twenty-two minutes later, Edgar gets a text:
"Estoy aqui-abre la PUERTA, Güey!" (I'm here-open the door, Dude!)

Reade shakes his head in wonder (although this response is not unexpected-it is, after allZAPATA...
He leaves the condo door cracked and gets a beer from the refrigerator, popping the cap just as she walks in. All
in one continuous motion, she sheds her jacket, takes a drink of the beer he handed her, and seats herself in 'her chair'
(she confiscated a particular easy chair a year or two ago, which only SHE is permitted to sit in, whether she's present
or not.)

Neither of them speaks, until Tasha asks, "Are you okay?"

"You shouldn't have ended your...date; I'm a big boy...I'm good." She doesn't register
the odd timbre in his voice: Ricaro Muñiz is 'warming up in the bullpen', and should be ready to pitch a full
'nine innings' in about an hour...(hint hint!)

"Oooooo; CELOS! (Jealous!), Zapata teases, then immediately regrets it: the stricken look, an expression of pure
sorrow on Reade's face, his beautiful brown eyes that now appear BLASTED..."Don't mind me, Ed...I'm a jackass...Sorry...
REALLY..."

Reade sighs: "It's just as well-I was asking for the ring back tonight."

Tasha, confused, blurts "HUH!!? WHY?

Reade says nothing: lets her come to it on her own..."ME?!"

"YOU-I've told you that how many times? Meg knows, I'm pretty sure, which is why SHE LEFT
rather than me leaving her."

"For real?"

"I can't explain it, it's just what I believe."

Tasha murmurs, musingly: ME...because of ME...
now what?

"We take the step; WE TRY US...we MAKE it work."

"US." It's as if she's tasting the words..."I want that; I do...I wish that I could tell you HOW MUCH
I want it-I'm just...SCARED, Reade. If I hurt you, even without meaning to-it would END ME, for real...
END...ME...Dare I risk it?...I HAVE TO-I'm ended if I DON'T TRY...we have to TRY, Reade...don't
we?" This last almost in a whisper.

Zapata's mobile phone announces a text ("Amor A La Mexicana " by Thalia is the designated ring tone for text
messages)...it's Patterson:

PepmntPatty: 'Sup? Come have a 🍸!!

TZ00Z: Negative-I'm at Reade's

PepmntPatty: ??MEG??

TZ00Z: 💨 burned-to India...no return ETA

PepmntPatty: O, 🤞 (SNAP!)

TZ00Z: I'm posting up here, thanks, tho

PepmntPatty: You mean READE is/will be "posting up"! 😉

TZ00Z: Good 1...not bad...hey, gotta go: Peace

PepmntPatty: Peace

She puts the handset away, faces Reade. "Am I staying? I'd like to stay."

"That would be good...yeah."

"I have a "go bag" in my trunk. Back in ten?"

"Ten."