The Challenge

“You didn’t answer the question,” said Deeks after the waitress moved away.

Kensi frowned. “Yes, I did. I said I wanted the Number 4 Combo.”

“Not that question.”

“Oh, regular Coke or Diet? Yep, answered that one, too. Was there another one?” Kensi knew what he was talking about, but played clueless.

He leaned across the small table. “Are you wearing anything under that adorable little sundress?”

Kensi shrugged lightly. “Maybe, maybe not. What makes you think that’s any of your business, partner?”

Deeks flashed his killer grin. “After that red-hot lip lock, I’d say I’m entitled to know.”

“Entitled? What planet are you from?” Almost unconsciously, Kensi touched her lower lip. It was still tingling. Deeks was spot-on about the kiss. When she realized he was staring, she quickly dropped her hand.

“Mars and you’re from Venus. Didn’t you read the book?”

Kensi did an exaggerated eye roll. “Really? I thought you . . .”

The mini-argument was set aside temporarily when the waitress appeared with their steaming hot noodle bowls. They fell on them greedily and forgot about everything else. When they finished, they sat back and sighed in contentment.

“Outstanding,” said Deeks. “Best noodle bowl I’ve ever had.”

“If memory serves, you said the same thing the last time we ate here.”

Deeks laughed. He was ready to resume their previous discussion when something on the other side of the deck caught his attention. His whole expression changed. Kensi immediately noticed.


“Is Callen working on a case we don’t know about?”

“What are you talking about? There’s no case.”

“Then who’s that woman he’s having dinner with?”

Kensi started to turn her head.

Deeks grabbed her hand. “Don’t look! They might see us.”

“How do you know they haven’t already? And how can I possibly identify her if I don’t look?”

“Okay, but make it quick.”

Kensi ever so slowly turned her head for a peek. “Never saw her before.”

Deeks continued to watch them.

“What are they doing?” asked Kensi.

“Same as us – eating, talking, laughing.”


Deeks gave her an indulgent look. “No arguing. Besides, nobody does all those things better than us.” Deeks rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “You know, I think Callen’s on a date. Good for him. It’s about time he found a good woman.”

“Like you did?” ventured Kensi.

Deeks pretended to be shocked. “What? Did I give any indication that I have? The field’s wide open. There are lots of hot babes in Los Angeles dying to meet Marty Deeks.”

That elicited a sigh from Kensi and a kick under the table.

“News flash ‘hot babes in Los Angeles’ – Marty Deeks is off the market.”

“He is? Did I receive that update? Because I check my phone constantly.”

“Shut up. Your phone wouldn’t have told you that.”

There was a moment of expectant silence as they both processed Kensi’s statement. Deeks grinned like an idiot.

Kensi nervously cleared her throat. “Tomorrow night, eight o’clock, my place.”

Deeks wasn’t sure where this was going. “Why? Does your mattress need flipping? Or I could flip you onto it.”

“I’m cooking dinner. Remember my plan to upgrade my cooking skills?” When Deeks didn’t respond, she continued. “What? Afraid I might poison you in retaliation for the toupee incident?”

“That had crossed my mind. But . . . I accept the challenge of partaking of your cooking.”

“Challenge? Ha! You’ll be surprised.” She reached over and took Deeks’ after-dinner mint and popped it in her mouth.

“Oh, I hope so.” He took her hand. “Let’s walk on the beach.”

“Sure. But I need to go to the bathroom first.”

Fortunately, Kensi did not have to pass Callen’s table to reach the bathroom. As she was washing her hands, the door opened and in walked Gemma. “Hello,” nodded Gemma. She did not let on that she knew who Kensi was.


“This is my first time eating here and I really like it,” said Gemma in a conversational tone.

Kensi was just freshening up her lip gloss in anticipation of another mind-blowing kiss. “Oh yeah, my, uh, boyfriend and I come here often. We love it.”

“I’m sure I’ll be back,” said Gemma with a smile.

Maybe we could double-date, thought Kensi flippantly. She closed her small clutch. “Well, you have a nice evening.”

“Thanks. You, too.”

With pride, and a tinge of jealousy, Deeks watched as every guy on the deck tracked Kensi’s return from the bathroom. He imagined a collective sigh of disappointment when she slid into the chair across from him.

That’s right, losers. She’s with me.

It was fun playing a couple for undercover gigs, but it was way cooler being a couple in real life.

“Guess who came in the bathroom?”

Deeks nodded. “I saw her get up right after you left. Did she say anything?”

“Only that this was her first time here and she liked it.”

“What does it all mean?” wondered Deeks

“Seems pretty obvious. She’s dating Callen.”

“Why haven’t we heard about this before? Maybe he’s pumping her for information.”

“Callen’s a very private person. He doesn’t go around blabbing about everything like you do.”

“But that’s one of the many things you love about me,” said Deeks.

In spite of herself, Kensi laughed. “Come on. The beach is calling.”

“I ran into Kensi in the bathroom,” announced Gemma as she sat down.

“What? You didn’t say anything, did you?”

“Of course not. But she did refer to Deeks as her boyfriend.”

Callen shrugged. “Sam thinks we should let it unfold naturally.”

“I absolutely agree.”

Callen looked at Gemma closely. “Are you some kind of closet romantic?”

“I think under this tough exterior, I really am. Anything wrong with that, Agent Callen?”

Callen laughed. “I suppose not as long as you don’t drag me to a bunch of chick flicks.”

“Good. Now that we’ve settled that, how about a walk on the beach?”

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