The threat of oversexed high school jocks may have been neutralized, but Kensi glimpsed a more insidious one on the other side of the food court. Deeks protected her earlier; now she would return the favor. That’s what partners did.
Partners or jealous pseudo-girlfriends? That nagging little voice in her head was relentless. She was doing this for his own good. Really.
The average person would not view a woman in yoga clothes as anything unusual. Kensi knew better. Just thinking about the woman’s silly, high-pitched giggle grated on her nerves. The way she flipped her long blonde hair over her shoulder brought to mind the vapid cheerleaders Kensi despised in high school.
“Wanna catch a movie?” asked Deeks. He started naming the various selections from his phone movie app.
To get to the theatres we have to go right by her. Not gonna happen.
“Nothing sounds interesting,” said Kensi.
Deeks frowned. “Yeah, we’ve seen most of them and the others sound lame.”
What to do, what to do? she wondered.
“Oh, I know. One of my favorite stores is having a sale. This way.”
She marched him down the mall and around the corner, stopping in front of Victoria’s Secret.
Deeks stood with his hands jammed in his front pockets and eyes wide. “Seriously, Kens?”
She gave him a sweet smile. “Seriously. I need new bras. Do you mind?”
His cavalier attitude was noticeably absent and Deeks seemed flustered by the idea of being seen in a lingerie store. It was cute.
“Other guys come here with their, uh, ladies,” she pointed out.
“By ‘ladies’ you must mean wives or girlfriends. I’m not sure that includes work partners. What would Hetty make of this?”
Kensi hiked her purse up higher on her shoulder. How does he always manage to trap me in these word games? Oh yeah, he’s a lawyer. Duh.
His ocean-blue eyes bored into her. “You’re not my wife, so you must be, I don’t know, maybe my girlfriend.” Then he grinned. She sucked in a breath. She wanted to grab his face and kiss him right there in the mall.
Instead, she chewed her bottom lip. “Come on, we’re wasting time.” She latched onto his upper arm and dragged him inside.
Fortunately, the bras were at the back of the store. Deeks breathed a sigh of relief. He could stand behind a column and not feel like some weirdo. Plus, most of the shopping activity was concentrated at the front.
There was a veritable rainbow of colors and styles from which to choose. Kensi began sifting through the racks to find the right size. “Hm, not my usual brand. I’ll have to try these on,” she mumbled.
“And what size do you wear?” asked Deeks as easily as if inquiring about the weather.
She looked up sharply. “You don’t need to know that.”
“A good boyfriend knows everything about his lady.”
She waved a hand. “Whatever.”
“How about this one?” Deeks pulled a black-and-ecru lace one off the rack. “I like this combination. It looks like you – sassy and classy.”
“Fine.” She snatched it from him and added it to the pink, red, yellow, lavender, turquoise, and ivory ones in her hand. She tried to hide her smile at his comment.
Are you kidding me? Over Deeks’ shoulder she saw the yoga bunny enter the store. Did she see us in the food court? Is she stalking him?
“I need to try these on,” she said hurriedly.
“Am I allowed in here?” asked Deeks as they entered the dressing room area. Kensi turned the corner and zeroed in on the last cubicle at the back.
“When has that ever stopped you from doing something?”
“Touché, Kensalina,” he chuckled.
She was trapped. Maybe if she delayed long enough the woman would leave. She could hope anyway.
Deeks leaned nonchalantly against the wall outside Kensi’s dressing room and checked his e-mail.
“If you need any help in there, Kens, I’m right here.”
“I know you’re there because I hear your incessant babble.”
Ignoring the jab, Deeks continued. “This must be a gender-neutral dressing room.”
“Why would you say that?” asked Kensi.
“Because no over-zealous saleslady has tried to evict me. Which is good because the genders should be equal, don’t you think? Except there seems to be a definite inequality in donut consumption. Women eat more donuts than men.”
“I thought cops ate more than anyone,” said Kensi with a loud, unladylike snort of laughter.
“I take offense at that statement since I am one of LAPD’s finest.”
“LAPD, yes. Finest, well that’s debatable,” said Kensi.
“Not to mention, I rarely ate donuts before I hooked up with you.”
“We did not ‘hook up.’ We were thrown together by Hetty.”
“Your lucky day, princess. And you have to admit, sometimes one leads to the other,” said Deeks.
“Or not,” answered Kensi in a sassy tone.
“I’m sensing a negative aura. Those bad vibes can’t be good for healing your foot.”
In the fraction of a second that Deeks paused to draw breath, Kensi heard female voices enter the dressing room. And one of them sounded distinctly like her.
“Uh Deeks, I do need you.”
“Yeah?” He grinned and pushed off the wall. “A second opinion?” he asked hopefully.
The dressing room door flew open. Kensi grabbed the front of Deeks’ shirt and jerked him inside. She shoved him against the door where the lock jabbed his lower back.
The only way to silence him was a drastic one. She pulled his head down and kissed him.
He’d been waiting for this like . . . forever! At least since their house-sitting gig in the suburbs as Justin and Melissa. His arms wound around her waist and he drew her flush against him.
The kiss was frantic and hot. He could not imagine what came over Kensi. But he didn’t care. He was going to roll with it.
“Whoa, Kensi! I know you want me, but seriously, here?” he gasped when they broke apart. “Although I’m willing if you are. I’ve never done it in a dressing room. My bed would be more comfortable or even yours. Of course, we’d have to move an Everest-sized stack of stuff off it first.”
Kensi stood there in the black-and-ecru lace bra. Her lips were parted, her breathing was erratic, and pink tinged her cheeks.
“Marty? Marty Deeks?”
Deeks gave an I don’t know who this is shrug. “Uh, hello?”
“It’s Misty. FBI, Las Vegas. From the joint training exercise. Remember?” She giggled in that annoying way. Kensi found herself clenching her fists.
Deeks watched as the expression on Kensi’s face changed from passion to homicidal fury. Her eyes narrowed and anger compressed her lips. It was the same look she sometimes used in the boat shed on suspects. They always gave up the goods when she did that.
“Oh yeah . . .Misty. How are you? What are you doing here?”
“I’m buying a strapless bra, of course. Great price on them.”
Deeks ran a hand into his messy locks. Just when I was getting somewhere with Kensi and this bimbo shows up.
“Uh no, I mean what are you doing in L.A.?”
“Oh! My cousin Miranda’s getting married Saturday and I’m a bridesmaid,” she giggled. “Would you like to come with me? It’s at a big country club. We could have a lot of fun.”
“That’s nice,” he answered flatly.
The light finally came on in Misty’s brain. “Marty, what are you doing in Victoria’s Secret?”
Deeks looked at Kensi and smirked. “Well, I’m uh . . . you know, offering my opinion to my uh, girlfriend concerning some . . . some undergarments she’s thinking about buying. I’m a really supportive kind of guy, like said undergarments, if you get my drift.”
Kensi shook her head and whispered, “How typical.”
Deeks’ eyes darkened as they roamed appreciatively over her chest. Kensi grabbed her tee shirt and held it in front of her.
The door opposite opened. “Girlfriend? I thought you were single,” whined Misty.
Enough of this. Kensi elbowed Deeks out of the way and opened the door.
“Hi,” said Kensi and pasted a big fake smile on her face.
Misty’s face fell. “Oh, it’s you. You’re his partner, right? The one who – her eyes slid downward – broke her foot.”
“Yep, that’s me. We’re partners on and off the job.”
“Oh,” said Misty in a tiny voice.
“You know, breaking my foot was a good thing in one way. It’s brought us closer together. You cannot imagine how helpful Marty has been through all this. I don’t know how I would have managed.”
Misty pointed to her boot. “But you’re still able to walk.”
Kensi made a big show of checking her watch, then looking at Deeks. “Would you look at the time? Hon, we need to get home and walk Monty. I don’t want him having an accident – again – in the middle of the living room.” She rolled her eyes.
Deeks glanced down at his shoes and tried not to laugh. It was like someone flipped a switch and Kensi was hamming it up on an undercover op. That’s my Wonder Woman.
Misty departed the dressing room, dateless. Deeks pulled Kensi toward him. Her tee shirt fell away, but she didn’t care.
“Who are you and what have you done with my Kensi?” he laughed. “You saw her and tried to distract me with that kiss, which was incendiary, by the way.”
“It was only a kiss,” protested Kensi.
“Oh no, princess. That was THE KISS.” Deeks looked at her like he could see into her very soul. “Where do we go from here?”
“It’s getting late. We really should check on Monty.”
“Not yet.” Deeks pulled her closer. “What’s on your mind?”
Who am I kidding? Deeks won’t wait forever even though he has the patience of a saint with me. Women are always throwing themselves at him. Like this chick.
Her brow furrowed and she bit her bottom lip again. Finally, she met his eyes. “I’m ready to upgrade more than just my cooking skills. And I want to do it tonight.”
He smiled slowly while his pulse went into overdrive. He didn’t want to mess this up. He wouldn’t say anything stupid or mock her for taking her time. Kensi did not trust easily and he had fought long and hard to reach this point.
He leaned in to kiss her. “Your place or mine?” he teased.
Kensi laughed. “Oh, shut up and kiss me.”
Their lips had barely touched when both their cell phones buzzed. Deeks rested his forehead against hers. “Really? Now?”
When both phones buzzed at the same time, they knew it was the same message.
Deeks pulled his from his pocket and read the text: 2 sailors arrested in botched ATM theft. Meet Sam at boat shed. Kensi can help Eric in Ops.
Deeks sighed. “They couldn’t have used a debit card instead?” He looked at Kensi. She was as disappointed as he was.
“Rain check, partner?” he asked.
“Definite rain check. The sooner the better.”
Hetty and her younger-by-two-minutes twin sister, Marguerite, sat on the patio of Marguerite’s home in San Diego. They sipped Earl Grey tea and munched almond biscuits.
“I was thinking about your team,” said Marguerite, who since childhood had been called Migs by the family.
Hetty was surprised. “What exactly were you thinking?”
“About how everyone is paired up nicely, except Mr. Callen.” Migs had never met any of the team, but she felt she knew them from listening to Hetty.
“You’re right. Sam has his tough and lovely wife, Michelle; Kensi and Deeks are getting closer every day; Nell and Eric aren’t as far along the partnership road as Kensi and Deeks, but in time they will be. Even young Mr. Everett and Ms. Tran are dancing around the idea. And yes, that leaves Mr. Callen.” Hetty sighed. “I’m afraid he’s a much harder case.”
Migs took another sip of tea. “I may be able to help.”
Hetty turned to face her sister. “How? Do you want to marry him?” Migs was a widow of many years.
“Good heavens, no!” chortled Migs with laughter. “Although he is a cutie. Actually, I have someone a bit younger in mind for him.”
“Do tell,” said Hetty. She set her teacup down and reached for another biscuit.
Migs pointed to the house next door. “She just drove up. Gemma Ryan-Davies of the San Diego PD. Delightful girl. Her father is a professor at Oxford. I secretly think he recruits for MI-6, but that’s another story. Anyway, she made detective 8 months ago, around the same time she finally ditched that scoundrel of a boyfriend.”
“I see where this is going,” said Hetty. “The agent and the detective.”
Migs’ shoulders lifted in a gentle shrug. “You said yourself Mr. Deeks and Ms. Blye are one of your best matches.”
“And there’s more. She’s an only child and a polyglot. Russian is one of her languages. Her late mother danced with the Bolshoi.”
“International intrigue,” said Hetty, warming to the idea.
“But I’ll let you judge for yourself.”
“I would appreciate that since it is my agent we’re talking about.”
Migs waved and called to the thirty-something young woman as she exited her SUV. “Gemma, dear. Won’t you join us?”
“You can thank me later,” Migs whispered in an aside to Hetty.
Hetty’s eyebrows rose. It wasn’t often her younger sister bested her.
After half an hour, Gemma received a call about a homicide and had to leave.
As they watched her drive away, Migs asked, “Your thoughts, Hetty?”
“I’m imagining them side-by-side on the shooting range, each one trying to outdo the other.”
“Like Kensi and Deeks?”
“Like Kensi and Deeks,” agreed Hetty.
The front doorbell chimed. “I believe your physical terrorist is here,” said Migs with a touch of amusement.
Hetty’s eyes narrowed. “Oh goody.” She claimed the last biscuit before Migs could swipe it.