Best-Laid Plans

“Hello, Callen.”

“Detective, how are you?”

Gemma laughed. “I get it. Your people are right there, aren’t they?”

“Something like that.” Callen smiled to himself and moved away from Eric and Nell. Hopefully, they were engrossed in their work and not paying attention to his conversation.

“Listen, I’m sorry to call you at work, but Charlie stepped on my cell phone. I didn’t know how else to reach you.”

“Did he eat your homework, too?”

“Ha, ha. You’re a comedian. I’m in town; I had an interview.”

“About your case?”

“No, we caught that guy. He was hiding out in his cousin’s basement and the cousin was only too glad to be rid of him.” She paused. “This was a job interview.”

“Job interview? Where?”

“DEA. I might be relocating to L. A.”

“Really? That would be a great step for you.”

“I think so. If you’re free tonight, I’ll buy dinner and tell you more.”

“How could a guy refuse an offer like that?”

“A smart guy couldn’t,” laughed Gemma.

“Hetty likes to say that most of the time I’m too smart for my own good.”

“Hetty is a sharp woman. Her sister, too,” said Gemma. “So, where’s a good place to eat in this town?”

They settled on a location and time and Callen rang off.

“Everything okay, Callen?” asked Nell.

“What? Yeah, everything’s great.”

He headed for the stairs and Nell and Eric exchanged a look. “Something’s going on,” whispered Eric.

“Something not work-related,” agreed Nell.

“This detective . . . did she sound young and flirty?”

Nell thought about it. “Young, professional, and competent.”

Eric slowly nodded. “Sounds exactly like Callen’s type. I bet she has dark hair.”

“Dark hair? Are you a relationship expert now?” wondered Nell.

Eric chuckled. “Maybe.”

Nell nudged his shoulder. “Get back to work, Beale.”

Kensi closed the cold case file she was reviewing. Unfortunately, nothing new jumped out at her. She put it in the pile she’d designated as “dead.” The only thing left to do with those cases was to re-interview the people involved to see if they remembered anything new or suddenly decided to confess. When Deeks returned, they’d start tackling those, if they didn’t get a new case.

Please let a new case come in. I hate dredging up the past.

Sam had left half an hour earlier. His daughter was in a ballet recital tonight. Kensi reached for her phone to text Deeks, but decided he probably had it switched off in the courtroom.

Okay, yoga class, then attempt lasagna. Good plan. I’ll touch base with Deeks later.

She gathered her stuff and went to the locker room to change into her yoga clothes. Twenty minutes later, she was at the yoga studio. A “Grand Opening” banner festooned a storefront two doors down. She was early for class and decided to check out the new store.

She hesitated for a moment. It was the kind she usually avoided: Kids’ clothes and toys. But something in the window display caught her eye and made her go in. She wasn’t into cutesy things, but this reminded her of herself and Deeks.

She pointed it out to the clerk. “I love this,” the woman gushed as she retrieved it. “Is this for your little girl?”

“Little girl,” stammered Kensi. “Uh, no, it’s for a friend.” I couldn’t very well say it was for a grown man who carries a weapon.

“Oh, I’m sure she’ll love it,” said the clerk, assuming it was for a girl. She wrapped it in tissue paper and dropped it into a pink bag.

After yoga, Kensi went home and showered. Instead of trying Nell’s lasagna recipe, she flopped on the couch and turned on the TV.

What the heck? Lasagna can wait for another night.

Kensi was nuking a hot dog when Deeks finally called. “Thought I’d report on today’s courthouse adventure. Deputies let some low-level drug dealer go to the bathroom and the dude managed to cram a whole roll of paper towels in the toilet. Ten minutes later, whoosh! It was like a tsunami on our floor. Women were screaming about their ruined heels . . .”

“We do have our priorities,” interrupted Kensi.

Deeks laughed. “If they wore boots to work, like you, they wouldn’t have this problem. Anyway, that caused yet another delay while the bailiff located another courtroom for my case.”

“You’re having bad courthouse karma,” said Kensi. “You’re a disaster magnet.”

“Tell me about it. I thought that only happened when I’m with you.”

“Funny. Too bad you didn’t have your surfboard with you. You could have ridden it down the hall.”

“Now who’s being funny?” laughed Deeks. “Is it a full moon or something?”

“Want to come over for a hot dog? I was just nuking one for myself.”

“Love to, but I have to go down to the precinct and check in with Lt. Bates. But this case should wrap up tomorrow and maybe we could reschedule our taco dinner at the beach.”

“Sure. I’m all over it,” said Kensi.

“Great! See you tomorrow.”

Deeks was heading for the metal detectors at the courthouse exit when a woman called to him. “Detective, can I buy you a drink?”

He turned and saw Assistant District Attorney Alison Hanes striding toward him, Gucci purse on one shoulder and briefcase in the other hand. The woman was attractive, but up close she wore way too much makeup. Not to mention her perfume was overpowering.

Seriously? This woman is hitting on me?

In the not too distant past, Deeks would have eagerly taken her up on the offer. But these days there was only one woman with whom he wanted to spend quality time.

“Thanks, but I was just discussing dinner plans with my girlfriend.”

Actually saying the word aloud thrilled him. And he could do that since Kensi wasn’t around to assault him for it.

Alison sighed and looked disappointed. “Lucky girl.” She pulled a business card out of her jacket pocket and handed it to him. “If you change your mind.”

“Sure,” he said.

Alison turned and tottered away in her stilettos. Deeks hung back until she was out the doors. He glanced at the card and smiled. Then he walked to a nearby trash can and dropped it in.

Sorry, Alison. Kensi’s the only girl for me.

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