It was the sound of trumpets that brought Elizabeth Mitchell out of her reverie.
She’d been daydreaming, of course, of Peter Burke. These days, the man almost seemed to invade her every thought. As soon as her blue eyes closed at night, his beautiful brown ones were there to meet her in her dreams. Waking brought with it the hope that she would get to see him that day, even if just for a quick cup of coffee.
As an agent who was still rather low on the Bureau totem pole, though, Peter often found himself working overnight surveillance, or wading through a sea of paperwork after the senior agents had gone home for the day. More than a few times, he’d had to postpone or altogether cancel a date or dinner with her. There was always a promise to make it up to her, and he’d actually come through much of the time, even if some of those make-up dates took place during his lunch break.
Elizabeth was certain she was completely in love with Peter, and she could tell that he was smitten with her. He sometimes forgot to come right out and say it, but she still knew. Sometimes she’d be prattling on about something that happened at the gallery that day, and she’d pause a moment to look over at him, only to catch him staring at her like she was the beginning and end of his entire world. It made her heart melt, and she’d usually lose her place mid-sentence.
More often than not, those moments would end in a kiss, long and passionate and earth-shattering. Peter Burke may not have been very skilled in the flirting department, but he was an extraordinary kisser. He had this way of engulfing her in his muscular arms, pulling her close, and kissing her until she could barely remember what day it was.
El’s thoughts strayed to Peter’s lips then; she adored them more than she probably should. One of her favorite guilty pleasures was watching the way his lips formed the syllables when he spoke. He had a habit of softly annunciating the letter L that she found beyond endearing. And oh, what those lips could do to the rest of her body. What he lacked in social graces, he more than made up for in other areas.
Daydreaming about Peter only made her miss him more, especially because it had been six months to the day since they’d started dating. They had planned on at least having dinner, maybe some dancing - at which Peter was improving, with practice and a lot of encouragement – and whatever else might be inspired by holding each other close and swaying in time to the music. El felt a blush rising in her cheeks as her thoughts drifted, once again, into carnal territory.
Unfortunately for her and her musings, she’d gotten a phone call from Peter earlier in the day about how there had been a major breakthrough in the Fitzgerald case and he’d have to work well into the evening to get everything wrapped up to Reese Hughes’ satisfaction. El couldn’t even remember him mentioning that particular case before, but she listened patiently as he told her that he was sorry, and he knew how much it meant to her, and that he’d make it up to her next week for sure.
She’d sighed and swallowed away the tears burning in her throat before forcing optimism into her voice and telling him that she understood. She made it clear, though, that she’d like to see him again as soon as possible. Not surprisingly, he was quick to agree. Before hanging up, he’d said something that had resounded deep in her heart, in a voice that wavered with a kind of intense emotion he’d rarely shown since they’d started dating.
“El, I am so sorry. I promise you, it won’t always be like this. Once I’ve established myself here, with Hughes and the division, I’ll be able to move up. Things will get better. I love you, and I will make this up to you. You have my word.”
After reassuring him yet again, she’d told him she loved him, too. They’d reluctantly ended the call, and El had hugged a throw pillow to her chest, hoping not to cry in front of her roommate, Dana. They’d been friends since their school days, and normally Dana would have been able to tell that there was something wrong with El just by looking. As luck would have it, though, Dana was distracted by a big weekend away with her long-time Marine boyfriend, John. El didn’t want to ruin it for her, especially since Dana seemed to expect John to propose to her any day. Ring or not, Dana wouldn’t be back until at least Sunday afternoon.
No, while Dana and John were out having a wonderful time, she would be strong and spend the evening with a pint of Phish Food, catching up on her tape of the most recent episodes of Friends.
It wasn’t long until she’d stopped paying attention to the television and started daydreaming of Peter – his eyes, his lips, the way his big hands could alternate from rough and manly to impossibly tender and gentle on her body.
That was when she heard the trumpets.
It was unmistakable – jazz trumpets, drifting up to her open back window from her building’s small parking area below. El ran to the window, and as she got closer, she could hear the rest of the horn section in the background, and the steady boom-chick of the trap set keeping them all in step.
As she peered out the window, the vocals started, a familiar low and sultry female voice that floated on the air like a butterfly.
You are the promised kiss of springtime…
That makes the lonely winter seem long.
There. Her eyes focused on the source of the music, and she thought for a moment that she might burst into tears after all – tears of joy.
It was Peter Burke, and she didn’t know if she’d ever been more happy to see him. He was standing up on the driver’s seat of his old Jeep Wrangler, leaning back against the rollbar and holding a CD boombox high above his head. He was wearing a white dress shirt with the top buttons undone, tucked into his best-fitting pair of jeans, and he looked downright heavenly.
“Peter!” she called out to him as the music continued to play. He was already looking up at the window, and when he saw her, a wide grin spread across his face.
El dashed to the door and ran down the back steps as fast as she dared. By the time she got to the bottom, Peter had jumped down out of the Jeep and put the boombox on the seat. With the top down, the music could still be heard loud and clear.
Some day my happy arms will hold you…
Just as those words emerged from the speakers, El rushed into Peter’s arms, nearly tackling him.
And some day I’ll know that moment divine…
Before he could say a word, her lips were on his, her kiss primal and ravenous. At first, Peter flinched in surprise, but it took only seconds until he responded, wrapping his arms around her and returning the kiss with equal fervor.
When all the things you are, are mine.
Peter moaned from deep in his chest, and everything inside of El that had desperately missed him earlier clenched in delight. She threaded her fingers through his hair and leaned into him hard, sending him back against the fender flare. The music continued to blare from the front seat, but it was sensual and beautiful at any volume, and El didn’t care that the entire block could probably hear it. Nor did she particularly care that all of the neighbors could see what they were doing.
Finally, reluctantly, they had to come up for air. Peter was panting as though he’d just run around the block, and a tremor of pleasure shot through him.
“Fuck,” he gasped, leaning his forehead against hers as he tried to pull his breath back up from the bottom of his stomach.
“Yes, please,” she whispered, “and sooner rather than later.” She arched an eyebrow at him, and his eyes widened.
It was at that particular time that her most vexing neighbor decided to make his presence known. Mr. Marzoni was the downstairs tenant, and he liked things quiet. Not just quaint neighborhood quiet, but mausoleum quiet. In her excitement, she’d forgotten all about him, but she still wasn’t entirely surprised to hear his voice.
“Turn that crap off, now!” He was leaning out of his back door, a particularly malicious scowl on his face. El was pretty sure his face was actually frozen in that expression, possibly from decades of failed marriages, bitter beer, and sour grapes. The particulars didn’t matter to El anyway; he had no way of knowing it, but he couldn’t possibly have picked a worse time to say what he said.
She gave Peter a quick kiss, then turned in his arms and stared at Marzoni.
“Crap?” she yelled indignantly. “That’s not crap, you cultureless moron. That’s Ella Fitzgerald!” Peter’s hands grasped her upper arms firmly, as if to hold her back, but she had no intention of going anywhere. She turned back to focus on him again, having already given Marzoni more of her time than he deserved.
“I don’t care if it’s Lincoln’s goddamn Gettysburg Address. I’ve already called the police! This is a violation of the noise ordinance!” The door slammed shut, sounding almost as harsh as the man behind it.
Peter shrugged and broke into a sly grin, and the sight of it melted any animosity El had been feeling toward her neighbor. He kissed her again and looked at her thoughtfully, murmuring against her lips.
“Well, I guess the Gettysburg Address probably sounded better when he heard it in person.”
El’s eyes widened. “Peter!” She burst into a fit of giggles, burying her face in his chest. He held her close and chuckled softly.
“Do we care if he calls the police?” she asked when she finally caught her breath. “He has them on speed dial.”
“Hmm? If who calls the police?” Peter mouth was on hers again, warm and distracting.
“No idea,” she said, grinning against his lips. “What were we talking about again?”
The song finally ended, and Peter moved to turn the power off, lifting El and shifting her with him just far enough so he could reach the boombox.
“Oh, honey, you have no idea.” El’s emotions finally started to catch up with her, and tears pricked at the corners of her eyes. He ran his hands soothingly over her back, and she couldn’t help smiling as she leaned back to look up at him. “What happened to your case?”
He raised his eyebrows and looked oddly proud of himself. “You mean the Fitzgerald case?” When she nodded, he beamed, trying – but failing – to wait patiently for it to sink in. “I, uh, think we’re wrapping that one up as we speak.”
“But you…oh. Oh!” El swatted at his chest playfully. “Peter Burke!” She ran her hands over his biceps and up to his shoulders. “So, the Ella Fitzgerald case? How does that one end?”
“You tell me.” Peter kissed her once again, this time tenderly. El moved her hands up under his arms and gripped his shoulders from behind, laying her head on his chest. She could hear his heartbeat, steady and strong.
“I think we should go inside. I told you that Dana’s gone for the whole weekend, right?”
“Hmm.” The low hum reverberated against El’s cheek, and she smiled. “I didn’t forget. First things first, though.” A bit reluctantly, he pulled away from her and went around to the back of the Jeep. “The CD that was playing is for you. And these, too.” He lifted the top on the cargo box and pulled out a bouquet of lavender roses with white lilies.
“Oh, Peter,” El gasped. “Thank you. These are beautiful!”
“And this,” he said, closing the cargo box and pulling a cooler out from behind it, “is dinner. It’s a surprise, but I think you’ll like it.”
El’s eyes were wide. “Peter, I….wow.”
“Mmm-hmm.” He nodded. “Took care of everything. We even have reservations for tomorrow evening at Angelo’s. Also, no bureau for the whole weekend. I’m officially incommunicado.”
“That’s not important. You are important.” He nodded matter-of-factly and kissed her, noting with some satisfaction that he’d rendered her speechless. “I love you, Elizabeth Mitchell.”
“I love you, too,” El managed, hugging him fiercely.
As fate has a way of sometimes interrupting the most romantic of moments, so came the quick blip of a siren from the alley next to the parking area. Both of them turned to watch as the patrol car pulled into the space opposite Peter’s Jeep. It was one of the newer white Crown Vics, El noted, and not one of those hideous blue Caprices. The local precinct must have been doing something right lately. The patrol car’s push bumper came to a stop uncomfortably close to the tube bumper on the front of the Jeep, and Peter bristled slightly as he backed out of Elizabeth’s arms.
“You have got to be kidding me,” he murmured so only she could hear, watching through the windshield as the officer in the passenger seat recited Peter’s tag number to dispatch. El put a comforting hand near the small of his back, but she wasn’t sure if he was even feeling it by that point.
As the officer in the driver’s seat started to get out of the car, Peter stepped forward, hands open and slightly away from his sides, still calm but with a hint of domination in his stance. His shoulders were squared, his jaw clenched, and he didn’t take his eyes off of the other man. Elizabeth had never seen him quite like this, and it happened so suddenly that she was caught off-guard. She’d seen him in work mode – it was how they’d met – but there had been nothing particularly tense about that situation.
“Officer.” Peter nodded at the other man, a firm but reassuring note to the word. He obviously knew why the officer was there, but he still started with the basics. “How can we help you today?”
Oh, nice, El thought, her eyes going back and forth between the two men. It wasn’t a challenge or an admission, but Peter’s tone and body language had already made it clear that he wasn’t about to start playing games. If the officer had been on the job long enough, it was likely he could already tell that Peter worked in law enforcement.
“Sir, we’ve had a report that you were in violation of the city noise ordinance.” It wasn’t a question. The officer, whose nameplate read Mulvahill, looked Peter up and down. He was slim but muscular, a few inches taller than Peter, with the brim of his 8-point hat riding low over his bright blue eyes. “Do you have some I.D. on you?”
El wondered briefly if Peter would pull out his driver’s license or his badge. He reached slowly for his back pocket, keeping his other hand out away from his body, and retrieved his wallet. He extracted his license and gave it to the officer, who rattled off the information into his handheld radio.
Peter glanced at El, his expression neutral but composed. As the officer waited for dispatch to respond he turned most of his attention back to Peter.
“I won’t bother being deliberately obtuse, sir. If you have any other identification I should see, now would be a good time.”
Peter nodded and pulled his cred case from his other back pocket, opening it in a practiced move before handing it over. El could feel his muscles relaxing under her hand, and his lips actually twitched in a hint of a smile that was gone as quickly as it arrived. Officer Mulvahill scrutinized his credentials briefly before handing them back.
“You have a service weapon on your person, Agent Burke?”
“I don’t – it’s in the locked drawer under the passenger seat.”
“That’s right. I’ll take it with me when we go inside.”
Mulvahill walked to the other side of the Jeep and pulled on the handle of the drawer. Satisfied that it was properly secured, he came back around to stand before Peter again.
“Thank you, Agent Burke. Now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to hear your side of the story.”
“Of course, Officer Mulvahill. I won’t deny that I was playing that -” he gestured at the boombox, “- a little too loudly. This is my girlfriend, Elizabeth, and it’s our six-month anniversary. I just wanted to do something nice for her. I can assure you, we weren’t intentionally trying to cause trouble. It was one song, a little over three minutes long, and then I turned it off. We were just about to go inside when you showed up.” He offered a bit of a sheepish shrug, although it was still clear that he wasn’t backing down or trying to use his position with the FBI to get out of the situation.
The officer nodded and opened his mouth to speak, but something on the radio caught his attention. “1830, go ahead.”
“1830, vehicle is 10-17, registered to your 10-50 suspect. Suspect is 10-19, suspensions and revocations negative.”
El’s mind boggled as she tried to decipher what she was hearing, but Peter seemed pleased. He actually allowed the barely-there smile to stay this time, though there was still an obvious charge in the air, hanging precariously between the two men.
Thankfully, Mulvahill didn’t seem to be eager to challenge Peter to a pissing contest. Instead, he handed Peter’s license back and showed a half-smile of his own.
“Manhattan or Newark, Agent Burke?”
“Manhattan, White Collar.”
“Ah, good stuff.” Mulvahill nodded. “Is that still Kyle Bancroft’s outfit?”
“It is, but he was promoted to division chief. Reese Hughes took his place.”
“No kidding…huh. Heard of him, haven’t met him yet. I know Bancroft, though. Easily one of the best Manhattan’s got.”
It was Peter’s turn to nod, but he still stood his ground, his expression unchanged. The officer was sharp enough to catch on quickly, and he dropped the small talk.
“Look, Agent Burke, this particular complainant has a history of making unnecessary calls, but as you know, we have to follow up on them. Now, you’ve admitted that you likely violated the city noise ordinance, but since it seems to be an isolated incident and you weren’t blasting something like DMX when we drove up, I’m not going to cite you this time.”
“DMX?” Peter frowned, and El felt him tense beneath her hand again. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath as the officer watched him closely. “It was Ella Fitzgerald.”
Officer Mulvahill’s jaw dropped and he cocked his head at Peter. “You’re kidding.”
“I’m not. I’ll prove it.” Now that he’d shown he wasn’t a threat, Peter moved freely over to the boombox and removed the CD, holding it out carefully so that Mulvahill could read it.
The officer shook his head slowly. “Oh, for God’s sake. And just one song?”
“The way he talked, one would’ve thought you had a block party going on out here. This is ridiculous.” He held out his hand. “I’m sorry for the trouble, Agent Burke.”
Peter shook the proffered hand and finally broke into a grin. “You’re just doing your job. I appreciate the leniency, and I can assure you that we’ll be spending the rest of the evening inside.” He winked at El, wrapping an arm around her shoulder.
“Well, I won’t waste any more of your evening. Thank you for being honest with me, and I guess technically, I should advise you to be more considerate with the volume in the future. Have a good weekend, and happy anniversary.” Mulvahill looked to El and touched his fingers to the brim of his hat. “Ma’am.” With that, he walked back to his patrol car, saying something into the radio as he went.
As they waited for him to pull away, Peter put the CD back in the player. “Well, that was interesting,” he said after the patrol car disappeared down the alley. When he turned back to El, she was eyeing him appreciatively.
“I’ve…never seen you quite like that.” When Peter looked at her questioningly, she laughed and grasped his upper arms. “Could you actually feel the testosterone oozing out of your pores, or was I just imagining it?”
“Oh.” He gave her a modest grin. “A little of both, I think. Did it bother you?”
“Bother me? No!” She leaned in close, standing up on her toes to whisper in his ear. “Actually, it was kind of hot.”
Peter put his arms around her, and a deep red blush crept up his neck toward his ears. “Really?”
“Mmm-hmm. Really.” Her breath tickled his ear, something she knew turned him on considerably. “Really hot.” Peter’s own breathing quickened, and his hand went to her lower back, pulling her to him. As he rocked against her, there was no mistaking that the combination of her words and the whispering was already starting to have the desired effect. She nipped playfully at his earlobe before tracing a line of kisses from his ear down his jawline. When she reached his lips, he was ready for her, kissing her firmly.
Finally, Peter pulled back just slightly, his eyes echoing the desire she was sure was visible in her own. He groaned and shook his head.
“We should really go inside before I end up doing something that’ll get the police back out here in a hurry.”
“Planning on causing another disturbance, Agent Burke?” El teased, running a finger over his chin. “What did you have in mind? Something a little more exciting than a noise ordinance violation?”
“Mmm. How about disorderly conduct?” When she nodded enthusiastically, he raised his eyebrows and gave her a salacious grin. “Indecent exposure? Public lewdness?”
“Oh, now you’re talking!”
Still grinning, Peter tried to gather his thoughts. “Uh, ok. You take the flowers and the music, I’ll get the cooler and my sidearm.” They finally pulled away from each other, although El couldn’t resist running a finger quickly from his chest all the way down to the button on his jeans. He smirked and gave her an admonishing look before glancing around as if he expected to get caught. El smiled and went to gather the flowers and boombox, and she couldn’t help laughing as Peter followed her, holding the strategically-placed cooler in front of him.
Elizabeth snuggled up against Peter in her bed, listening to his slow and steady breathing as he slept. She rested a hand on his chest and smiled, sated and unbelievably happy.
They hadn’t even made it to the bedroom after coming inside, instead opting for sex on the sofa. Well, mostly on the sofa. It was rough and reckless, a tangle of fevered bodies and passionate souls. Though it was uncharacteristic for him, Peter called out so loudly when he came that El wondered if the police would get a second call from her downstairs neighbor.
They’d eventually come back down to earth enough to realize that they hadn’t yet eaten, and Peter revealed the contents of the cooler – chicken marsala and rice, which he warmed up with a little help from El. It was far too delicious to have been made by Peter; he could cook after too many years of being a bachelor, but even his famed pot roast didn’t come close to this. It took quite a bit of cajoling before he finally revealed that Reese Hughes’ wife had made it. El was touched that he’d put so much forethought into this day, and secretly thrilled that Peter had revealed the seriousness of their relationship to his superior.
Peter had also managed to fit a bottle of Riesling in the cooler. His preference was beer, but for their anniversary, he’d sprung for something more to El’s liking. Though he didn’t get drunk – El had never seen Peter drunk – he got tipsy enough to consent to some slow dancing afterward. They started with a few of the songs from her new CD and then moved on to some of the others in her collection. Fittingly, the final dance of the night was set to Etta James’ “At Last.” She didn’t know if it was the song, or the wine, or something from deep in Peter’s soul, but as the final notes faded, he led her to the bedroom without a word.
They’d made love then, so unlike earlier in the evening. This time, it was tender and idyllic, and Peter was more gentle with her than he’d ever been. That’s not to say that it still wasn’t intense; he brought her to the brink a few times before finally coaxing her over the edge with him. He barely made a sound, but the beauty of the moment was breathtaking. Though she was overwhelmed with sensation, El forced herself to keep her eyes open and watch her lover as he tensed, his back arched and mouth open, tongue curled in silent ecstasy.
When it was over, El was so wrecked that she was nearly in tears. Peter was incoherent, the occasional guttural moan escaping from behind his still-curled tongue, his muscular chest rising and falling rapidly. She brushed his hair back away from his forehead, and he managed a slight smile.
It hadn’t taken long for him to fall into a contented slumber, but El held out a bit longer, watching and listening as he slept. In a brief moment of perfect emotional clarity, it hit her all at once – she was certain that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with this man.
She’d been seeing the signs for months, but they’d all finally converged in the span of one evening. He’d shown her that he would love her, provide for her, protect and take care of her. He’d remembered the little details about her that others often overlooked, and though the day belonged to both of them, he’d made it all about her.
She knew then that no matter how much of his time was consumed by his job, he’d still somehow manage to put her first in his life. If he could do that, then she’d find a way to handle the long hours, the not knowing, and the risks he’d have to take. Wherever life took Peter Burke, she truly hoped that he’d want to bring her with him on that journey.
El pushed herself up on her arm to give Peter a quick kiss at the corner of his mouth. He stirred and mumbled something unintelligible. His eyes fluttered open, and he saw El leaning over him.
“I love you,” El whispered.
A sleepy smile crossed his face. “Love you, too.”
“Go back to sleep.”
Peter sighed and pulled her close. “Only if I can take you with me.” When El’s eyes widened at the statement, Peter’s brow furrowed, and his own heavy-lidded eyes tried to focus on her. “What?”
Had he read her mind? El shook her head at him and smiled. “Nothing…and you can take me with you everywhere. Now go back to sleep.”
“Mmm.” Peter kissed her again before sinking back into the pillow, a vague smile on his face. He drifted off almost immediately, and as promised, took her with him. As she slipped into slumber, the most fitting lyrics of Peter’s chosen song danced through her mind…
And some day I’ll know that moment divine, when all the things you are, are mine.