Red let Lizzie rest for as long as possible against his shoulder without waking her. He knew this entire song and dance by heart. She needed the rest to reset her mind and give her an opportunity to adjust. She was a strong woman, she could absolutely do this. He had no doubt that with time and experience, she would be far more adept and shrewd then even he was.
“Lizzie” he nudged her but shrugging his shoulder slightly.
Her eyes opened and her head came up with a snap. “Where are we?”
“Safe. For now at least. It’s time to change vehicles and clothes though. Alright?”
He reached to the seat in front of them and handed her a duffel bag. “Now, I know that you might have some…reservations about this, but it is our best option at this point. It will provide us with the protection that we need while we are without any other help save for each other.”
She opened up the bag to examine the contents. Laughter bubbled up from inside of her, she couldn’t help it. When he looked at her like he was worried about her sanity, she laughed harder. In between her guffaws, she said “Cops. I was so worried you’d dress me like a hooker or something as equally garish. Being completely dressed with a gun on my hip and a bullet proof vest on is probably the safest I’ve been in years.”
Bemused, his smile was all teeth and crinkled eyes as he looked at her. “You thought I’d dress you as a scantily-clad hooker in the middle of the day? Clearly you watch too many movies.”
She shrugged “So I don’t keep up with lady of the night couture, sue me. How long do we have?”
Red was already out of his jacket and working the buttons of his vest and shirt-front, revealing his snow white undershirt.
She had to shake herself to snap out of her ridiculous staring. They were on the run. From every single governmental agency. A certain amount of expediency was required. Her making eyes at Reddington was helping no one.
As she shed her jacket and her shirt she decided to make things less awkward by talking. “So what’s your disguise?”
“A sergeant, of course.” He said and looked up with a grin, only to freeze in place when he realized that she was shirtless. He looked away quickly, continuing on his own costume change. But not before she saw the tell-tale flaring of his nostrils.
She wished she could see his eyes, but those damned sunglasses of his blocked out most of her view of them.
He had his bullet proof vest and shirt on before she even had her vest on.
Her range of motion was hindered by the tiny space in the back seat of the van. She couldn’t quite get the side strap closest to Red tight enough and was struggling when finally, he sighed and knocked her hands away.
“Didn’t they train you how to put on Kevlar in the FBI?”
His fingers brushed underneath the vest on her bare skin and she gasped. She didn’t want him to know that his touch affected her, so she covered it up with “Not so tight, I need to breathe, right?”
His mouth quirked up on one side, his intense gaze letting her know that he knew just what her problem was “If you actually get hit with a bullet and you’ll think that it’s not tight enough no matter how much you’re left gasping from the…impact.”
She knew better than to enter a verbal sparring match with him. Jesus, that man had a quip for everything. She hated it, but she loved it too.
They both shimmied their pants down at the same time, but she knew better than to say a single word. Just kept her eyes averted from his surprisingly strong-looking legs, the muscles in his thigh were well defined, the sparse hair made her want to reach her hand out and-
“Lizzie, I assure you that my leg is quite real. There’s no need for you to reach out and touch it to make sure.”
Horrified, she snatched her hand back. She hadn’t even realized that she had moved. She wanted to smack her head against the back of her seat and groan. But instead she said “I was actually going to point out that although you’re still wearing grandpa socks, I’m proud of you for forgoing the sock garters.”
His eyes narrowed and he looked like he was mad, but he just stared at her and then scared the crap out of her by throwing his head back and laughing uproariously.
She knew he was laughing at her, so she moved back to put on the rest of the horrible regulation beat cop uniform. She hoped that wherever they were going, they wouldn’t have to stay in the uniforms long.
Red was near finished as well. She was a little miffed that he was completely unaffected by having her change right in front of him. She had begun to think that maybe he was attracted to her.
Maybe as much as she was attracted to him.
To put her utility belt on she thrust her hips up into the air, and purely by accident, at the same exact time that Red was leaning over to grab his standard issue Glock, mace, and flashlight to weave on to his belt. Which of course caused his nose to nearly collide with her hips.
He reared his head back quickly. He’d have her believe him cool, unaffected. But he licked his lips and closed his eyes briefly. She wanted to be immature and do a fist pump of triumph into the air, but she restrained herself, barely.
She did however put her hat on and turned to look at him sternly. She said “Sir, I’m going to need to ask you for some identification, please.” In her sternest, most authoritative voice.
She thought he might be praying, but he just opened his eyes, no hint of arousal, and said “Thank you for reminding me, Lizzie.”
He rummaged around in the bottom of his bag and came up with two official police badges with their identification marking them as ‘Aurora Hershey’ and she peered over at his to see his name was ‘Anthony Hamilton’.
“Why do you get a normal name and I get one that sounds like a badge bunny?”
He snorted “Badge bunny? I am sure that I can figure out your meaning, but please elaborate to make sure we’re on the same page.”
She blushed, not wanting to explain and cursing her big fat mouth “Badge bunnies are chick that hang out in places where law enforcement officers gather after hours like a bar or tavern. They single out the police officers to sleep with.”
He grinned. He knew she didn’t mean to share that much. Bastard. She wanted to smack that grin off of his face, or kiss it off. Either one would work for her. But she didn’t get a chance before Red said “gather your things and put them in the duffel, we’re at our next vehicle. Leave nothing behind.”
He helped her out of the van, and escorted her around the far side of an abandoned industrial building. It didn’t look familiar. They’d been in the van for hours, so honestly they could be anywhere on the eastern seaboard.
She came to a quick halt and laughed at the vehicle awaiting them. An actual police cruiser. Peering in the windows, she saw that it was outfitted with all the bells and whistles that all cruisers had. She knew that Red would never put them in a vehicle that could be tracked, so the technology must be masked somehow, untraceable by GPS locators.
Would she ever not be surprised at the vastness of his resources?
They placed their bags in the trunk and she moved towards the driver’s side, but Red was already there, blocking her way. “I’ll drive, Lizzie.”
“I don’t want to die. Are you sure you remember how to drive?”
He stiffened, offended. “I’m the superior officer. Of course I know how to drive. Now, are you going to ride in the front as my partner, or in the back as my badge bunny?”
He was mad, his voice was low and gravelly. She’d heard it many times before. But this time made her hot and cold at the same time. She flushed and walked around to the front seat.
Once inside and Red started the engine she asked “So what’s the plan? What are we going to do next?”
His smile was small, but she was relieved that he seemed to have forgiven her. “Well, I have an associate to meet in a few hours or so. Then we’re going to break into a home and we’re going to utilize your exemplary sticky fingers to acquire something that we’ll need to continue our journey. I’m hoping you’re not too rusty with safes, because there is this charming little pub that I am dying to take you to.”
She was incredulous “You want to rob someone and then catch a quick bite to eat?” She couldn’t even fathom how his mind worked.
He just blinked a few times and said “Technically we will be burglarizing them, as the dwelling will be empty. Robbery is when people are involved. How do you not know that? And as for the pub, Molly’s has the most exquisite Crab Cakes I’ve ever tasted. And they give a law enforcement twenty percent discount so the timing is beyond perfect.”
At that moment, she was only sure of one thing; she was going crazy and Raymond Reddington was driving her there.