Eames and I had been undercover for two weeks when we finally got the nod to meet with Marcovic.
"He specializes in cases such as yours where it has been determined that acquiring a child through traditional channels may be a little more…difficult," his secretary explained to me when she called.
Her words translated to mean if you've got the cash, he'll sell you a baby.
And the fact that she was calling me at this time of night also suggested that this was taking place off the books of the regular business.
"That would be great," I told her. "We really appreciate it. When can we meet with him?"
I made the appointment and then hung up the phone and went to find Eames.
And yeah, I still called her Eames in my head, but I was doing pretty good about calling her Alex out loud.
"We're in," I told her as I slipped into the bathroom behind her. "Tomorrow morning at nine."
She was standing at the sink, brushing her teeth, but she'd left the door open which meant that I was welcome.
Over the course of the past two weeks, we'd gradually gotten to the point where the door was open more often than it was closed.
I mean, of course she closed it anytime there was clothing removal involved.
Except for that one time…
"It's about time," she commented, interrupting my favorite pastime of reliving that one specific moment. "I don't know how people do this for real without going insane. All of the questions and the prodding into our personal lives…it's a good thing that we're good at this."
"We are, aren't we?" I said with a smile.
And I had no reason for being in the bathroom other than that's where she was.
I'd already changed clothes into suitable sleeping apparel and I was ready for bed.
It was only ten-thirty, which was early for me, but since Eames had moved in with me, I'd started assimilating to her routine.
And she liked to be in bed by eleven.
I tried not to think about how much I enjoyed sleeping with her.
And I really tried not to think about how hard it would be to go back to sleeping alone once this thing was over.
That first night, she'd been tight as a drum, and so I'd done the only thing I could think of. I'd broken the ice by suggesting that we just go ahead and hold each other.
It had been a scary proposition for me because it had taken a considerable amount of time for my body to settle down after that scorching kiss we'd shared outside of the building.
But the prospect of her not sleeping because she was too afraid to touch me, well…I couldn't deal with that either.
So I'd made the suggestion and then I'd made myself think of other things…other disgusting, nonsexual things…while I put my arm around her and she snuggled up against my side.
I'd touched her more in those first twenty-four hours of the assignment than I had in the past decade and yet all it did was make me want to touch her more.
But that night, my body behaved as my mind displayed a slideshow of old crime scene images.
Until she'd said that she loved me.
And surely she said it for the benefit of others.
But I loved the sound of the words coming from her lips, and the way her hand lightly clenched the fabric of my t-shirt as she said it, and then the soft little sigh that escaped afterwards.
I couldn't resist hugging her tighter against me and kissing the softness of her hair.
I'd replied in kind and without the distraction of gruesome mental images, I was instantly, fully hard.
I fought off a wave of panic that rushed through me at the realization of how close her arm was to that specific region, but then I managed to stay calm.
This was Eames.
She wasn't going to be groping me in the dark.
In fact, it had seemed as though she was very nearly asleep.
So I could just relax, and in the morning, my hard-on would be…well, probably still there, but in any case, I'd just let her get up first and then I could be discreet about it.
Surely she knew the basic physiological make-up of the male body and she wouldn't hold me accountable if she somehow managed to…stumble across my secret.
The first night had gone off without a hitch.
And then the next day was easier.
So was the next night.
She'd been right about that.
After the initial awkwardness was over, it was really kind of nice.
I had my best friend with me all of the time. And she told me that she loved me on a daily basis.
When we were in public, she held my hand. And we did a lot more kissing.
I had no idea if she knew what I was doing when I was alone in the shower, but I couldn't let myself think about that.
I didn't want to know if she'd be upset with the idea that it was her face in my head when I satisfied my most basic needs.
And to be honest, I had to do it a lot more often than I used to because when we weren't working, the stimulus that she was unwittingly providing was keeping me in a near-constant state of arousal.
"Stahl said that if we can get the in with Marcovic, then she wants us to meet with a task force that will be assembled to work on the take-down," she said to me as she put her toothbrush away.
She put her hand on my arm and moved me out of the doorway so that she could close the door.
Then she turned on the water and leaned back against the counter.
We could usually get in a few minutes a day like this, talking where we wouldn't be heard.
"That means entrance into the federal building," I stated quietly. "That'll be a good opportunity to make some notes on key players. Is Beemer going to be on the task force?"
"She didn't say, but I bet so. She'll use people in her circle."
"Which means one of them might be our mole."
"Uh huh," she replied with a smile. "Step one, right?"
"Oh, I think we're well past step one. But we definitely need to make this meeting with Marcovic count. I have a feeling that we won't get a second chance."
"It'll work," she said confidently. "And you know, it's probably good that it took two weeks to get the meeting."
"We're a lot more comfortable around each other now," I replied knowingly.
And she was right.
As much as we thought we'd been good before, we'd come a long way.
Now, we were literally like a married couple.
Without the sex.
And really, without the fights. We'd had a few bicker sessions from time to time, but for the most part it had been smooth sailing.
"Ready?" she asked, with her hand on the faucet. I gave her a nod, and so she turned off the water and opened the door.
She was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, which was what she'd deemed as acceptable sleeping attire.
They were just gym shorts and I was sure that she didn't consider them to be sexy, but they fit her perfectly and left a considerable expanse of leg uncovered.
I couldn't help but watch her as she walked away from me and headed for the bed.
And then she turned around and caught me…staring at her ass.
And then I stopped because I couldn't apologize when everything we were saying was being recorded.
She ducked her head quickly, but I saw the smile and the blush.
At least she's not going to kill me, I thought.
Which is what I'd thought that she was going to do that other day.
The time when she'd left the bathroom door open just a little, and so I thought that it meant I was allowed to come in.
But when I opened the door, she'd been bent over, pulling off her pants.
With her back to me, which meant that I had quite the view.
"Alex," I'd begun as I entered the room, and then she'd startled and stood up quickly, whirling around so that then she'd stood in front of me in just a t-shirt and underwear.
And not a long t-shirt. A short, snug-fitting one that stopped right at her waist.
So despite the fact that at that point, I'd been sure that my days were numbered, I'd taken another moment to soak in the sight of her.
And I don't know if it was because she was too shocked to move, or because she couldn't think of what to say that would be acceptable for our eavesdroppers, or what, but she just stood there while my eyes traveled the length of her rather delectable body.
Okay, actually it was three times, but the third time was really quick.
"Did you check in with Stahl today?" I'd finally managed to ask.
And I have no idea where those words came from, but at least it was something viable that we could work with.
"Not yet," she'd told me.
"Okay, well…I'll take care of it."
And then I'd hustled out of the bathroom.
That had been a week ago.
I'd behaved myself since then.
And once we'd left the apartment the next day, I'd properly apologized.
"It was my fault," she'd told me. "I should've closed the door all the way."
"I shouldn't have pushed it open," I'd continued.
"Bobby, it's fine. We're living together. It's going to happen," she'd said. "Besides, it's not like you saw me naked or anything."
And thank you, Eames, for throwing that visual at me.
I'd had to shower twice that day.
And twice the next day, too.
But so now tonight, two weeks in, I was stone cold busted staring at my partner's ass.
"Do you see something you like?" she teased.
See, she liked to do that.
She's always been sarcastic. Her quick, cynical wit is one of the things that I like about her.
Or rather, love about her.
And since she didn't seem to know what to do with the knowledge that I'd been checking her out, she fell back onto her typical response, which was to be a smartass.
For some reason, she seemed to think that her coquetry didn't bother me.
She thought that I wasn't the least bit attracted to her, so her innocent flirtations didn't affect me.
She couldn't be more wrong.
But since she was having fun, playing up to our interlopers, I went along with it.
Besides, so far we hadn't given them any thing good to listen to. And I had to wonder when they might get suspicious about that.
"Yes, I do," I growled, and then I pounced on her.
She let out a squeal of surprise that caught me off guard.
It sounded so feminine and carefree.
But I didn't let my enjoyment at the noise she'd made deter me.
Instead, I pinned her to the bed and tickled her mercilessly.
Her laughter filled the room, and the feeling of her body squirming beneath me, inadvertently rubbing up against mine as she tried to throw me off of her…it was too much.
I stopped tickling and kissed her instead.
A real kiss, not one done for sound effects, because in those minutes I completely forgot about any kind of surveillance.
And when I realized what I was doing, holding her down while I kissed her, I abruptly stopped and released her hands from where I'd had them pinned over her head.
"Shut up," she replied as she grabbed my face in her hands and kissed me again.
My brain shut down as my body took over.
She kept one hand along the side of my face, but she ran the other one down my back, pulling me tighter up against her.
I had no doubt that she could feel my erection pressing into her but there wasn't anything that I could do about it.
And it didn't seem to bother her, so I tried to ignore it while at the same time I found myself pushing against her in a gentle rhythm in an effort to ease my intense need for her.
I tore my mouth away from hers but continued to kiss her, only now it was along her neck, her jaw, her ear…anywhere, everywhere…
"Bobby," she said on a breathy sigh.
"I know, I know," I murmured.
Who knew that this would feel so good?
Okay, I did.
But who knew that she'd let me do this?
And that thought caused my movements to falter.
Was she doing this because she wanted to?
Or because she'd realized the same thing as me, and had decided that we were being entirely too chaste for two people in love?
I had to stop.
I didn't want to.
I really didn't want to, but I couldn't keep pushing her forward.
I mean, how could she protest when we were being overheard?
My lips were still at her ear, so I whispered softly into it.
"I'm sorry. I got carried away," I confessed.
I listened to her take in several deep breaths before she responded.
And her words told me everything that I needed to know.
"It's okay," she said, her breath tickling my ear. "I'm sure it sounded good, right?"
"Right," I replied lamely. I rolled off of her, over onto my back and let out a heavy sigh.
"Hey," she said questioningly as she turned onto her side and ran her hand over my chest.
And yes, I had on a shirt, and yes, she did that a lot since we'd started sleeping together, but still…at the moment the contact was torture.
Her fingers blazed a scorching trail that I could feel as though she was touching my skin directly.
I had an uncontrollable, raging hard-on that I wasn't sure what to do with, and I realized that I was desperately in love with this woman who was simply here out of duty and commitment.
"Are you okay?" she asked when I wouldn't look at her.
And then I realized how much we were screwing up.
What would this sound like if someone happened to be listening right now?
I mean, surely they didn't monitor us twenty-four seven, but who knew when they did?
And we'd gone from making out to her asking me if I was okay.
Great, it was going to sound like I was suffering from erectile dysfunction.
And believe me, there was nothing malfunctioning in that department at the moment, unless you counted the fact that I wasn't sure how to get it to go away.
But so yeah, this was going to sound bad.
This was the kind of thing that messed up undercover operations.
When real feelings got in the way.
"I'm sorry," I mumbled as I got up from the bed. "I'm not feeling well. I'll be right back."
I hustled into the bathroom and closed the door.
And then locked it.
I had to get my head in the game or I was going to blow this whole operation.
I turned on the water and washed my face. And then I heard the soft knock on the door.
"Let me in," she said.
I unlocked the door, and she came in and closed it behind her. Then she turned on the faucet.
"I am really sorry," she said.
"You're sorry? For what?"
"I shouldn't have teased you like that. I mean, here you are, stuck with me in this fallacy and you can't…you're not able to…" she broke off and looked down at the floor, suddenly uncomfortable.
But since I wasn't entirely sure where she was going, I just waited until she came up with the right words.
"If you need to…you know, um…break surveillance for…you know…so that you can find you someone who will…"
And then I finally had it.
"Are you talking about sex?"
"Well, I mean…it's just that…"
She was completely flustered and it was so unlike her that I had to laugh.
"Bobby, I'm serious," she said. "It's nothing to be embarrassed about. I mean, it's been two weeks…at least two weeks, and you're stuck here with me, so it's only natural that…you know."
"Eames, trust me. I have gone much longer than two weeks without sex," I told her.
"Oh, well…okay, I just thought that I'd offer. I mean, it may come up at some point because we're really just getting started with this, and I didn't want you to think that you couldn't talk to me about it. We can work something out."
And then another thought hit me.
"Do you need to?" I asked her.
"Me? No," she said, and now she started chuckling. "No, I'm fine."
"Okay, good. So we're both fine," I said, and I finally trusted myself to reach out and touch her again. I put my hand under her chin and tipped her face up so that she was looking at me. "I'm sorry for earlier. I was trying to have some fun, and then it got…"
"Yeah," she agreed, even though I didn't really elaborate. "So, we're okay?"
We left the bathroom together and got into the bed.
We'd already established who slept on which side and which position was the most comfortable for both of us…like I said, we're a married couple without the sex.
So despite the frenzied make-out session from earlier, we both settled under the covers and drifted off to sleep.
I don't know what time it was when I awoke to the sound of her voice.
And the feel of her body.
Because although we'd started out innocently enough, with her on her side next to me, our positions had evolved.
She now had one leg thrown across me, up high so that her thigh was rubbing up against my renewed erection. Her hand was under my shirt, her nails skimming across my chest.
"Bobby," she murmured.
Reflexively, I tightened my grip on her.
I wasn't sure what to do, because I had a feeling that she was dreaming.
And then I wondered if maybe I was the one who was dreaming.
"Bobby," she said again, and this time her hand slid downwards until it reached the waistband of my shorts.
I had to stop her.
As desperately as I wanted to feel her touch, I still had to stop her.
I grabbed onto her hand to still the motion, and I squeezed her to me again.
I knew the exact moment that she became aware of our situation.
She stiffened and sucked in a breath and I just knew that an apology was going to come rushing from her lips, so I kissed her.
"Go back to sleep," I whispered. "It was just a dream."
The next morning, Eames came into the bathroom while I was shaving. She closed the door behind her and then went and sat on the edge of the tub.
"I'm really sorry about last night."
"You remember that?"
"Yeah, I…wow. I guess we started talking about it and then went to straight to bed, and…"
"It was only natural that it was on your mind," I assured her. "And hey, aren't you the one who said no apologies?"
"You're right," she said with a nod.
"Exactly," I assured her. "You know, when I first realized that we were going to be living together, I was afraid that we'd end up fighting a lot. It didn't occur to me that…well, you know."
"That I'd end up groping you while you slept?" she said on a chuckle. And I was glad to see that at least she had a sense of humor about it. "I guess you were right that first day. I did try to jump you while you slept."
"Well, try a little harder next time, will you?" I joked.
She smiled and shook her head and then nudged me out of the way so that she could use the mirror to put on her make-up.
"So. Marcovic today," she stated. "We need to be suitably desperate, right?"
"Inquisitive without being too nosy. Interested without being too obvious."
"I'm betting they'll get someone to check us out after today. If he likes us, I mean."
"He'll like us. And yeah, they'll have to make sure that we're on the up and up."
"Which, of course, we are," she said with a smile. "And then we can meet with that task force. My money's on Beemer."
"Normally, I would agree with you, but…I don't know. He kind of seems like the obvious choice, doesn't he?"
She caught my eye in the mirror as we both went about our tasks, and something about the whole scenario created a warm feeling in my stomach.
"Sometimes obvious is accurate," she said simply.
I couldn't argue with that.
Because wasn't it obvious that I was in love with her?
"We should probably check in with Maas some time today, too," she continued, oblivious to my thoughts.
"Good idea. We'll blow the feds after the meeting with Marcovic and meet Maas somewhere in Jersey for lunch."
"Yeah, well just remember that you can't kiss me in front of Maas," she teased, turning around so that now she was between me and the counter.
"Says who?" I replied, leaning down so that our lips were only inches apart.
"Says the NYPD," she remarked, although she didn't sound very convincing to me.
Besides, what we did on our own time was our business, right? Weren't we sort of, technically, no longer working for the department?
"I'm not afraid of Maas," I said, moving in even closer.
I hesitated briefly, just to see if she'd move away, and when she didn't, I kissed her.
Lightly at first, and then I set my razor down on the counter and put my arms around her, pulling her closer and deepening the kiss.
I stopped before I could get too carried away, and then I reached for the towel so that I could wipe off the shaving cream that had found its way onto her face.
"I'll be ready in ten minutes," I told her as I gently removed the shaving cream.
"Okay. Me, too."
Then she slipped out of the bathroom, leaving me alone to finish my task.
And that was when it hit me.
We'd been in the bathroom with the door closed.
No one was listening and no one was watching.
I'd kissed her.
And she'd let me.