Christopher LaSalle was mentally drained. He was angry, sad, mad and hurt all at one time. He wasn’t sure what the hell Tammy was thinking by insisting that he meet her at Louis Armstrong Park right now. “Meet me at the bridge” she said. Where the hell is she he wondered stewing that she was late?
“Hello Country Mouse”.
Chis turned with a start. “Sonja? What are you doing here?”
“How could I not come? You held me at arms-length the last time you had a loss like this. I wasn’t going to let you go through this without knowing that I am here for you. I have a mission in two days but I knew I had to come.”
“Thank you. Thank you” was all that Chris could say through his tears. She walked within a breath of him and he reached out to pull her as close as he could.
“Look Christopher. I’m staying right across the street at the ‘Mansion’. I already bought your favorite beer so let’s go.”
“I can’t thank you enough Sonja.”
“You already said that Chris. Pride already filled me in on what has happened up to this point. I want to give you a diversion for a few hours. Don’t look at me like that. Yes, he knows I’m here and he and Tammy knew that I was the only one who could get you to stand down for a little while.”
Sonja knew that Chris was tired. She could see it in his face and hear it in his voice. She had spent most of her flight back to ‘Nola talking to both Pride and Tammy about his mental health as well. Alabama was on TV in a few hours and she had a few other ideas to distract him.
He had quickly downed a beer. Then there was a knock at the door with the food that they had ordered when they walked through the lobby. Sonja had to coerce Chris into eating at least something. He finally had to smile at the fact that his plate was filled with food while Sonja’s was peppered with unidentifiable offerings among the huge salad she had ordered. He finally realized he had to eat something if only to pacify his grown ass baby sitter.
They moved to the sofa after eating. Sonja was talking, talking, then talking and then realized that she was talking to herself. As she had hoped, Chris had fallen asleep.
“Yeah, Pride, he’s asleep” she tells him from the bedroom.
“I knew Tammy was right as soon as she said it. I’m glad you were able to come Sonja. He’s been through so much.”
Sonja went to find a blanket and as she tried to place it gently on to LaSalle, he grabs her arm. “Come on baby, get on here with me. Sonja was shocked but then realized that he was sleep talking. She allowed herself to be pulled down and suddenly found herself all wrapped up in his arms. “Oh what the hell” she thought and dozed off too.
It was dark inside the hotel room when she heard Christopher say her name. Once she was fully awake he asked exactly how she got there while only barely relaxing his grip on her.
Satisfied with her answer, he quietly told her while he didn’t want to move from this place that he need to check in with Cade’s girlfriend.
Sonja was happy to hear him laugh out loud. When he turned around he had a smile on his face. “So just how many people know that you are here? Kelly told me they were just fine and to stay with my friends. So how did she know I was with some friends and not at work?”
Sonja smiled back. “We all love you Christopher.”
“Love me like a son, a brother, like a friend” he asked quietly?
“Well mostly but some of us just love you” she replied.
While it was the response that he was trying to elicit from her lips, the words still caught him off guard. He wasn’t sure if this was the time that he wanted to confront this part of his life. He knew that he was wrong not to have asked Sonja to stay all those months ago when she decided to leave New Orleans. He was disappointed when she got up and walked into the bedroom. “Hey, the kitchenette is around the corner and the bathroom is over there” she spoke over her shoulder. He went to the fridge to retrieve another beer after hitting the head. Sonja was standing in the bedroom door and summoned him with her index finger. “Why don’t you take your shoes off and lie down”.
Chris lost track of the time as they laughed and talked and missed the re-run of the football game. He finally told her “you were all right. I need this and I needed you!” Then he started crying again. Softly at first, then the full blown snotting and sobbing.
“Sonja I think I’m done” he meekly says. Can you move closer? As she started to scooch over he pulled her close to him. Can you sing ‘I Won’t Grow Up’ from Peter Pan” for me? Cade laughed at me because that was my favorite movie when I was a kid but he knew every word of the song and could act the scene out.”
“That was so sweet Sonja. Sonja, thank you again for coming. I’m so tired. I don’t know how momma is going to get through this.”
Sonja turned to face him. Placing her hand on his cheek she told him “just take it one day at a time Country Mouse and know that we’ll all be here for you”. They talked a little more before both of them drifted off to sleep for good.
Sonja tried to quietly get out of the bed the next morning. “I’m a detective you know” Chris says to her. “I heard your breathing change”.
Chris was on his phone when she came back into the room. “Well City Mouse, it appears that my schedule for today has opened up. King just told that he was awaiting contact from the CIA. So do you have any more tricks up your sleeve?”
“Well a few that I can think of. We could go to the range, miniature golfing or take the boat ride that you promised me.”
Chris looked at Sonja with shock. “A boat ride?”
“I guess your boss set it up. He texted me that your fishing gear is already on the watercraft. Why don’t we go there and then get cleaned up after we are done fishing. You do know that this is a big deal for City Mouse, right? My hair will frizz all up after being out there with the humidity.
It didn’t take long for them to arrive at Elite Fishing. As Sonja had indicated, his favorite pole and a case of lures were on the deck. There was also a big straw hat for Percy as well as a cooler filled with his beer and a Keto collection 8 pack for her.
“I don’t think we have met Agent LaSalle? I’m glad we had some time available to get you out on the water. I owe the ‘King’ big time and it’s a pleasure to be able help you both out. You fishing too little lady?”
Oh shit, LaSalle thought. He has no idea who he is talking to. “No, that’s not my thing” Sonja responded calmly to LaSalle’s surprise. He was waiting for an explosion. Men still had challenges accepting her as an agent and he had witness several interactions just like this one which had gone ‘south’ real fast.
Sonja settled in on a deck chair while LaSalle opened his box of lures. He had taken his shirt off for a while and she was surprised at how the muscles in his back shined with perspiration beads popping out. He had a new scar on his back and she wondered about the story behind it but thought better about asking about it given how focused he was on his fishing.
She had just finally torn her eyes away from the muscled bound back when Chris called out to her. “Hey City Mouse, do you mind spreading some of this suntan lotion on my back. This sun is like a razor. Thanks.” Humm the pleasure is all mine she thought at she took her time spreading the lotion stopping to outline the new scar.
“You don’t burn” Chris asked?
“Sure I do but why do you think they make deck clothes. Long pants and a shirt LaSalle. Thank goodness someone left me a hat. Chris, where did this scar come from? I don’t remember it.”
“You know our business. Something always coming up but if you want to know it’s from when we rescued King last year.”
“You know you would fit into a chaise lounge chair at Miss Rose’s pool just perfectly. Look, City Mouse, when we finally close this case, I’m going to head down to the ranch for a few days. Why don’t you meet me there? I would guess that you need some time off as well.”
“That sounds like something that I would consider but just know that you are always welcomed to come to D.C. I have an extra bedroom and I still have a lot of sight seeing that I want to do.”
LaSalle noticed that Sonja was extremely quiet as they headed back toward the marina. “You’re awfully quiet City Mouse. Did you finally run out of things to say?”
“No Chris, I was just thinking about what I am facing on Monday’s mission. I have never felt as safe as I did when you had my back. Then I really don’t want to leave you as you face this horrible situation either.”
“Hey why don’t I go back to the house and catch a quick shower and come back and pick you up about 5 p.m.”
Christopher was surprised when he returned to Sonja’s hotel room to find her in a dress and heels. He had forgotten exactly how beautiful that she actually was. They had decided on a restaurant right around the corner. Sonja was glad they were so close to the hotel because Christopher decided to sooth his broken heart with way too much booze. She snatched his keys from his hands leaving him no choice but to come back to her hotel suite. She had not seen him this drunk for a long time. Usually he got mean, but she could only conclude since it was her, that he was transformed into the lovey-dovey, friendly drunk tonight. She made him down two aspirin before he dramatically disrobed and fell out asleep in the bed.
Sonja texted Pride “He’s wasted and will be unable to respond to anything tonight”
“Ding. “Thanks for the update”
Sonja put her PJ’s on and made up a place on the love seat to sack out. She was rudely awakened early in the morning with LaSalle’s best “Stella” impression. “City Mouse where are you?”
“I’m right here Chris. Why are you yelling?”
“Am I loud? I’m sorry. Come here. I want you here with me.”
“Chris, you’re drunk, go back to sleep”
“No Sonja, I need you here”
“If I get in there with you, will you go back to sleep?”
“Sure City Mouse. Whatever you want.”
True to his word he rolled over and went back to sleep.
Sonja crawled out of the bed to get the coffee started. Chris looked at her rather sheepishly when he walked over to the counter a half hour later.
“Yes Country Mouse.”
“Can you talk quieter please?”
Sonja walked over to him and put her arms around his shoulder and whispered in his ear “yes Country Mouse”
“Hey Sonja, I have a change of clothes in the truck. Do you mind if I take a shower here? I just want to be ready if King calls the team in.”
While LaSalle looked just fine, he had a hangover that was just killing him.
“Hey, can we watch an NFL game without you yelling? I can’t believe that I am starved. What time is check out time?”
“Well I got it extended to 5 p.m. The guy on the front desk remembered me from a Red Dress Run. Said I had nice legs.”
“Remind me what time your flight leaves.”
“Well, I got a text a little while ago. They moved my departure time to 2100.”
They decided to eat breakfast in. Sonja submitted the order then ducked into the bathroom for a quick shower. “Here’s the tip Chris incase I don’t get out in time.”
LaSalle took a deep breath as Sonja walked by him. “Now what was that look for?”
“I had forgotten how much that I missed your perfume.”
She rolls her eyes as she turns to answer the door. “Just push it over there. Thank you” she says as she hands the server the tip.
Chris managed to eat not quite knowing if the food was going to stay down. The afternoon passed by quickly as they laughed and talked during the breaks in the action on the field and timeouts in the Saints football game. Check out went quickly. Sonja left a larger than normal tip in the room for the maid knowing that she would be expected to expedite the cleaning of the suite.
Sonja wasn’t really hungry so LaSalle got a burger at the ice cream store. Chris had tried out Sonja’s dairy free deserts once before and decided that whatever it was would never pass his lips again. They stopped at her favorite hangout and listened to the band. She never mentioned going to Pride’s and he had thought he had had enough of their hovering and pampering for a while and chose to stay away. 7:30 p.m. came soon and the two set out for the run to Belle Chasse.