“I can’t believe he didn’t tell me he was dating again.”
“Maybe he wanted to keep it to himself for a little while.”
“Three months is more than a little while.”
“Or he was worried you’d judge him.”
“I’m his best friend. I would never judge him.”
“Then maybe he was worried you’d get too involved.”
“Too involved?” She looked over at her cohort. “When have I ever gotten ‘too involved’?”
“Every day since I met you.” She was about to deny it when he started listing her previous actions. “You got involved with Isabel, with my hobbies, my sergeant’s exam, and my dating life.”
Lucy rolled her eyes as Tim checked off everything. She knew he didn’t mean it any negative way and was actually grateful. “Okay, but those were all good things. I was helping you. Without me, you’d be at the gym working out or sitting at home watching old westerns right now.”
“As oppose to being here with you on this stakeout watching Jackson on a date with his new, secret boyfriend.” Truth was he was having fun hanging out with her. Her plans, crazy as they were, were much more fun than being home alone on a Friday night. But he wasn’t about to admit it.
“You didn’t have to come. I only asked to borrow your truck.” Jackson would have recognized her car, but Tim’s truck was more inconspicuous. Stealth was the name of the game.
“Like I would have let you drive my truck after you rolled our shop.”
“Excuse you, out of the three wrecks we were involved in, you were driving twice.”
“And both those times weren’t my fault. You can’t say the same.”
“Fine. But you can’t complain about being here then.” And he wouldn’t. Not as long as Lucy was sitting this close beside him. The restaurant where Jackson was having his date was across the street facing the driver’s side. So Lucy had lifted the center console to get a better look out of Tim’s window. Meaning she was currently sitting right next to him in the center of the bench seat.
She picked up her binoculars and leaned over him to get a better look, even though she didn’t need to. She didn’t even need the binoculars. Probably using them to make it feel more like a stakeout. But he wasn’t going to complain. The hand that wasn’t currently holding the binoculars to her face was bracing herself on his shoulder. He could smell her shampoo she was so close. A hint of something like honey and a little earthy that she would probably say produced a calming effect on the body.
Though it was having the exact opposite effect on him right now.
“Okay, they are getting up from the table.”
“Not surprised. We’ve been here for almost two hours.”
She lowered the binoculars to look at him. “What happened to not complaining?”
He shrugged. He wasn’t complaining, but his legs might have fallen asleep an hour ago when she refused to let him take a walk in case Jackson saw them. Not even for a bathroom break when she countered with a lesson he taught her that bathroom breaks weren’t allowed on stakeouts. His pride wouldn’t let him admit his training tactics were wrong. And he couldn’t tell her now that bathroom breaks were allowed as long as someone was always on watch.
She turned back to the restaurant. “Wait, I don’t see them.” She shifted a little. “Where are they?” A few seconds later. “Oh no. We’ve been made." And then inexplicably "Kiss me.”
“What?!” He barely had time to confirm anything before Lucy was pulling his face to hers and kissing him. The sudden change in her demeanor confused him, but after a few seconds he went all in for it. Holding her closer to him, increasing the pressure, committing the feel of her in his arms to memory.
Then he registered the sound of incessant knocking on his window. Pulled back to see Lucy embarrassed. Whether at what just happened or if was all an act for Jackson, he didn’t know. Lucy moved back over to her seat, and he had to stop himself from reaching for her. Instead, he turned on the truck so he could roll down the window more.
Jackson wasted no time. “What is going on here? What did I just witness? Are you two together?”
“Uh...” Tim started before Lucy spoke over him. “Yes! You caught us. We’ve been having a secret relationship for months now. Sorry, I didn’t tell you.” That last sentence was a little pointed, but Jackson didn’t seem to realize. If anything, his smile only got bigger.
“That’s great! I’m happy for you. I knew you two would be good together. I saw you flirting at Lopez’s almost wedding.” Tim and Lucy briefly glanced at each other trying not let their embarrassment show. If he noticed, Jackson didn’t say anything instead choosing to introduce his date, “Lucy and Tim, this is Ryan. My boyfriend. I was going to tell you about him tonight, Lucy. I would have said something before but work kind of had us swamped. And my free time was spent with Ryan. You understand, right? Since you probably spent your time with Tim.”
“Oh… yeah, I have. We’ve been going on hikes with Kojo. And out to the shooting range. Paintball. Caught a Dodgers game once. I even made him go with me to the farmer’s market.” None of which was actually a lie. They had done all those things in the spare time they had. Now she felt really bad about spying on Jackson when he clearly wanted to tell her about Ryan, but hadn’t had the opportunity. Her mind stubbornly chose to ignore the fact that she had been basically dating Tim these past few months. Without the added benefits of dating.
“Right. I planned on introducing you two next weekend.” Jackson continued. Ryan jumped in, “Yeah, my brother owns a restaurant that just opened up so we can always get a table. We can make it a double date if you want.”
Tim looked to Lucy to see what she wanted to do. She got them into this. It was her operation. “We’d love that,” Lucy answered, and so Tim nodded in agreement.
“Great! So, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow at home,” Jackson didn’t bother with subtleties as he winked at her. “We have a lot to talk about.” And with that, Jackson and Ryan walked away leaving Tim and Lucy to sit silently for a moment.
Finally, Tim spoke. “You know he’s probably texting Angela about us right now.”
Lucy hung her head. “I know.”
“And she’ll tell Harper.”
“Grey will most likely know by morning. And we both know what a gossip Smitty is.”
“I get it, Tim. I screwed up. But what was I supposed to do? I couldn’t let Jackson know we were spying on him.”
“And telling him we were secretly dating was your only option?”
“Well, it seemed to fit best after I panicked and kissed you.”
“Yeah, about that...” Tim was very interested in hearing her opinions on the matter. Discussing if it was something she wanted to happen again.
“He wasn’t supposed to investigate! He was supposed to think we were random strangers making out in a truck.”
“He probably thought we were about to commit indecent exposure.”
“Damn him for being such a good cop. This is all his fault when you think about it.”
“Okay, it’s my fault. But it’s going to be fine. I’ll tell him the truth.”
Since she was reluctantly resigned to do so, he wondered if this could be the right time to float an idea.“If he’ll even believe you now.”
“What do you mean?”
“He might think you made it up because we got caught, and now we’re worried about what everyone will think.”
“Are you saying it’s more believable that we’re dating than it is that we were spying on Jackson?”
“Are you saying it’s not?”
The more she thought about it, dating Tim was much more plausible than watching a friend on a stake out. Even though she’d done that twice. Once with Jackson. Yet she’d never dated Tim before. Jackson probably would believe her if she admitted the truth. But she liked the lie more. “Fine. I’ll tell Jackson we broke up.”
“This quickly? After we just admitted that we were dating. And the split was so amicable that there would be absolutely zero repercussions and no awkwardness at work?” He spent an entire shift listening to Lucy talk about her break up with Emmett. No way Lucy could keep all her feelings inside if they broke up. Not that he likes the idea of them breaking up. Even a fake break up for a fake relationship.
“Well, what do you want to do? Pretend to date for a while and then break up?”
That would result in a lot of complications for something that wouldn’t go anywhere. “We’d still have to fill out the paperwork, and either way Grey wouldn’t let us work together anymore.”
“So what are you saying?”
“If we’re going to go through the effort and give up working together, maybe we should date for real.”
There he done it. Put his heart on the line. He hadn’t been this nervous since he asked her to save him a dance at Angela’s almost wedding.
When it came down to it, Lucy didn’t have to think too hard about whether she wanted to date Tim. He was right. They were in this now and would have to deal with the consequences anyway. If you’re gonna do the time, might as well do the crime. And Tim was worth everything they’d have to face. “I’d like that,” she smiled. “But I don’t want our first date to be a double with Jackson and his new boyfriend.”
His own smile was possibly the biggest one she’d ever seen from him. “How about I take you out tomorrow night?”
“Perfect, but I also want to finish what we started earlier.” Maybe she could have figured out a different tactic when she first realized they’d been caught, but kissing Tim had been her first thought. And honestly, she didn’t want to imagine any other scenario.
“Absolutely.” He leaned over to kiss her with passion that promised more to come before driving them home.
Some relationships don’t happen conventionally. Some don’t even start when everyone thinks they do. Some are hidden. And some need the strangest of circumstances before anyone will admit what they want.
In the following years, everyone will think they knew when Tim and Lucy’s relationship began.
But the two of them will always have this secret.