Mark Doyle stretched his arms over his head and then curled his body into a tight ball before he relaxed limply on the tattered couch. He kept his eyes closed as he rolled his head in the direction he knew where Jessica Davis, his partner, was sitting, then took a deep breath before he let it out through puffed cheeks and parted lips.
He opened his eyes and found her, exactly where he had left her, having barely moved a muscle since he crawled over to the couch a few hours ago to take a much needed nap. She was facing away from him, her eyes peeled on a small window through which he knew she could see the street they were staking out.
They had been partnered together for nearly six months, and for five and a half of them he had been trying to keep his hands off her. His eyes however were already trained to hone in on her when she was in his vicinity. They were both working on the Guns & Gangs task force with the NYPD and his CI had shared a possible drop off of a major shipment at this location some time over the weekend.
It had taken some convincing to get her to agree to joining him and even more to get approval from their boss Sgt Burke, albeit with no additional resources they had to cover the whole weekend themselves. Then when she relented he almost felt bad for the state of the stakeout position he had found for them. It was a bedsit studio apartment with a Murphy bed, a tattered couch, a table that was bolted to the wall and two wooden chairs, one of which she was occupying now.
The paint around the room was scuffed, scratched and peeling in high traffic areas like light switches and plugs. The single unadorned bulb hanging from the ceiling barely emitted enough light to brighten the room, but Jess, ever the diligent and prepared officer, had brought a couple of torches which she had set up in various places around the room to be sure she could take notes but not alert anyone interested that there were people in here.
Her strawberry blond hair, which was usually loose about her face, and was cut just above her shoulders, was tied up in a hasty ponytail, and covered with a Yankees cap. His Yankees cap. The one he lent her when they got caught out in the rain a few weeks ago. The one he had asked for her to return but she claimed to keep forgetting to bring it into the station.
They had changed out of their usual work attire into more comfortable jeans and sweaters but that didn’t mean he couldn’t admire her curves, the way the denim hugged her ass, or how the text on her sweater from her alma mater NYU highlighted the swell of her breasts.
On days when they went to court and she wore heels, she just about came up to his chin. When she wore boots, if they were out on a case, she was maybe an inch lower. But today she was wearing sneakers and she was just about at his sternum and he wondered how it would feel when they were lying down, her head on his chest, if her feet would reach his, or would they meet his shins instead.
Doyle took a long breath and released it as he reached for a handful of nuts.
It had been 36 hours since they arrived at the stakeout. His snack supplies, which consisted of a couple of bags of trail mix, and a pack of cookies, were nearing an end, though Jess still had plenty of granola bars and fruit pots. She had agreed to a 48 hour stint staking out the street in the hopes of seeing the dropoff he expected and so far their trip had proven fruitless. But he would hold her to the final 12 hours, if only to see her curl up on the couch to sleep again and hear the soft breathy snores she adamantly denied she made.
He loved those sounds and rarely got to hear them. When she slept in cars or if he caught her in the breakroom catching 40 winks, it was a lighter sleep, fitful and restless. But when she got to be horizontal, no matter the surface, she made those small breathy snores and the odd whimper that made him want to curl up next to her.
“Are you making coffee?” Her voice was low, a whisper in the midnight silence.
Doyle’s eyes shot over to her but she still hadn’t moved.
“You shouldn’t be drinking coffee so late, Jess,” he said as he sat up and pushed himself onto his feet to stretch his whole body out again in a rolling movement that drew her eyes.
“I need the stimulant,” she countered.
“Are you implying this stakeout is boring?” He crossed the room in three steps to the empty chair beside her and lowered himself down with a sigh.
“Implying? No. I’m straight out saying it.”
“I thought I saw a racoon about an hour ago.”
“Oh?” Doyle said, unable to keep the excitement out of his voice as he leaned towards the window to see.
“But I think it was just my imagination willing something to happen.”
Jess sat back and curled her fingers through her hair then pulled her ponytail out and shook her head to loosen the thick locks about her face. She stretched her arms high up in the air and tipped her head back to face the ceiling as she let out a long deep yawn.
Doyle checked his watch. It was 3.45am. He had been asleep for just over two hours. It was definitely her turn.
“Go get some rest, I’ll take over.”
“Twelve more hours,” He said as he shifted his chair over to get a better position for the window. “Then I’ll take you out for real food.”
“Speaking of which, try eating some fruit. I’m afraid you’ll come down with scurvy.”
Doyle chuckled and pushed her arm to encourage her to move off the chair and over to the couch.
“Go, rest. I warmed the couch up for you.”
Jess hummed and looked at the couch as she approached. It was fabric and she dreaded the thought of what she might be actually lying on. But her body was bone weary and frankly she knew she had likely slept on worse. Also the thought that Doyle had just been lying there, and remnants of his body heat was waiting to welcome her was enough to chase the other thoughts away.
“Wake me if anything interesting happens,” she muttered as she lay onto the couch and rolled to face the back and tucked her hands under her cheek.
“Define interesting…” Doyle said.
“Anything that you think is worth waking me for…but also worth my response.”
“Vague guidelines, Jess. Maybe Sgt Burke should have sent us to that communication seminar last month.”
“That would have certainly been a better use of our time.”
“You mean you didn’t enjoy our trip out to Queens?”
“Enjoy?” Jess looked over her shoulder and rolled back a little to see him more clearly only to see him watching her with a crooked smile that made her insides churn. “I didn’t enjoy tossing out another suit. Or having to buy new clothing to replace it, or having to defend the expense of my underwear to the cretins in finance.”
Doyle chuckled, then looked back out the window and Jess resumed her position on the couch in the hopes of getting some shut eye. She was all too aware of his presence in the room. His low humming when he was distracted, his rhythmic breathing and soft scratch of his pencil on his notepad as he took random notes.
His black hair was wavy and unruly no matter how many times he tried to comb it back. His habit of running his fingers through it has the dual result of messing it up, and making her jealous. She wanted to run her fingers through his hair, feel the thick locks dislodge, and turn his head with a fistful of it so she could bite down on that muscle…
Jess screwed her eyes tightly shut and fought back those thoughts and tried to get some sleep. She dozed in and out of sleep but couldn’t quite tip over the edge into a restful slumber. After an hour or so of trying she gave up. She rolled over onto her back and sighed at the ceiling as she admitted defeat.
“Can’t sleep?” he asked without looking over.
“I think I’ve gone so far into exhaustion that I’ve come through the other side with a second wind.”
Doyle glanced at her and chuckled then turned his attention back to the window. “Make yourself useful then, and make some coffee.”
Jess harrumphed then sat up. She combed her hair out again and tied it back into a ponytail as she stood and walked over to the hot plate they had been using to boil water. He had brought a jar of instant coffee and two mugs and while she made fun of his paltry supplies she was ever grateful for the coffee when it was made.
She stared into space as she waited for the water to boil and let her eyes wander around the room without really looking at anything. She spooned heaping piles of coffee into the mugs, deciding strong coffee was key to survival for the next ten hours and as she replaced the lid on the jar and put it back on the counter, a bright red book spine on a high shelf caught her attention.
She looked at the water to see it was only simmering then reached up to grab the book. This wasn’t the place she expected to see any reading material. She was pretty sure this bedsit was a crack den in a former life and didn’t think people who frequented them were literary types.
Her fingers brushed the book but she couldn’t quite reach. She thought of asking Doyle to get it for her but instead leveraged one hand flat on the counter to lift herself up then curled her finger tip around the edge of the book until it moved enough for her to grab it.
“Two sugars for me!” Doyle called out as she lowered herself onto her feet again.
She focused on making his coffee when the water was boiled and carried his mug over to him. Then came back to the counter and picked up the book. The front and back covers had been torn off but the title of the book on the spine made her smile. “Easy Plays and Hard Lays”.
It wasn’t the sort of title she usually read but she had a good guess as to the content of this book. She flipped through it and saw a couple of dog eared pages which opened from overuse and a creased spine.
Yep, this was exactly the kind of book she would expect to have that kind of title. Jess smiled and focused on making her own coffee then carried the book and the mug back to the couch and curled up on the end.