Spoilers: Maybe a small one for "Hollywood Brass"
Rating: Maybe PG-13 for a mention of a couple of body parts
A/N: My thanks to inamberclad for the beta, even though as usual, I added in more stuff after I sent it off to her. All goofs are mine and I'm not sharing.
Sunlight lasered through the crack in the curtains, hitting him directly in the right eye and forcing him to peel open one eyelid, intensifying the pounding in his head from a dull throb to something akin to a Keith Moon drum thrashing. Yet even through the haze and malaise, Jim Brass still managed to realize something was off.
Usually the sun hit him in the left eye, usually he slept on the other side of the bed, and, as the strawberry blonde next to him sighed in her sleep, usually he woke up in his own bedroom—alone.
Lifting up the lavender satin sheets, Brass did a brief physical assessment, only slightly alarmed to find himself divested of all his clothes save his boxers. At least he’d managed to keep some part of his dignity. Letting his gaze linger over his scantily clad companion, he let out a deep breath and swore a silent oath as he lowered the sheet.
This was definitely the last time he’d ever drink tequila.
Generally speaking, Jim Brass did not drink margaritas. In his mind a margarita just wasn’t something any self respecting ex-Jersey cop would ever drink. But Catherine had insisted on the realmente grande pitcher and although Brass’s poison of choice was usually Scotch neat or maybe a beer, he’d agreed. Now, as the taste of tequila lingered on his breath, he regretted ever agreeing to go out with Catherine Willows. And given that he was now lying beside her in her bed that was saying a lot.
Opening both eyes, feeling the pounding in his head intensify, he realized he hadn’t been this hung-over since the time he’d busted Mike O’Toole’s crew back in Jersey. After it had all been over, he’d gone to Martinelli’s place over on 7th, got a table in a dark corner and drank himself into a blind stupor. Old Man Martinelli had been nice enough to pour him into a cab later and send him on his way home. Unfortunately, Nancy got wind of what happened with Mikey and locked Jim out of the house. He’d spent the entire night passed out in a lawn chair on the back patio and in the morning, he’d been awakened by Nancy slowly pouring lukewarm coffee on him and then throwing the cup at him.
No wonder he stopped drinking. Well, almost.
Jim shifted onto his back, aware that Catherine’s rather shapely backside was now pressing against his hip and grateful that his little head was presently feeling the same ache as his big head.
Closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose, Jim knew he had no one to blame but himself. Catherine was looking for someone to go out with and for whatever reason, he had said yes.
No, he knew the reason.
Brass hated cases with young girls. He knew it was a fatal mistake, for a cop to transfer his personal emotions to a case but when it was a young girl, he couldn’t help but think about Ellie. He knew it wasn’t a stretch either, not after what he saw in L.A. It was only a matter of when. And last night it could have easily been Ellie.
She was a brunette, like Ellie had been when he’d last seen her, and thin, with track marks covering both arms and a rap sheet that included a long history of prostitution. Seeing her lying amongst the weeds, tossed away like somebody’s garbage, Brass had nearly been sick.
Coffee hadn’t been nearly enough to purge the images of Ellie lying by the side of the road from his mind. He needed something stronger. Unfortunately, the usual remedy for cases such as this, the bottle of Scotch kept tucked away in his desk, was empty. Leaning back in his chair and staring up at the ceiling, he’d welcomed Catherine’s intrusion on his thoughts. He also welcomed her invitation to go drinking. Jim could only assume Catherine didn’t expect their little outing to end up this way. He sure as hell didn’t.
Trying to gently extricate himself from the bed without waking her, he twisted around and sat up slowly, setting both feet on the floor then pausing as the motion sent his head into another pulse-pounding triple-beat. Licking dry lips and swallowing back the cotton mouth, he flinched as a cool hand touched his back.
“Hey, where do you think you’re going?”
Narrowing his eyes, mostly from the headache but also because he didn’t quite understand the question, he measured his options then went with the obvious. “Home?”
“You don’t have to leave.” Her fingers were on his side now, urging him to lie back down and feeling the way he did, he wasn’t going to argue. Besides, he was more than a little surprised that she actually wanted him to stick around and wasn’t ready to kick him to the curb. Apparently, he hadn’t done anything stupid, like make some pathetic attempt to have sex.
“How’s the head?” She’d waited until he settled and then began lightly stroking his forehead.
“What head?” Although he enjoyed all the attention Catherine was presently giving him, he couldn’t help but feel like he was trapped in some sort of surreal dream and any moment he’d wake up and stumble into the bathroom.
“That’s what I thought. A couple of hours in and you told the waiter to hold the triple sec.”
“Tequila shots? That explains a lot.” Her hand was on his chest now, her fingers raking through the coarse hair. Closing his eyes, enjoying the way her nails felt on his skin, he was certain this had to be one of his X-rated Catherine dreams, like that one where she…
Opening his eyes in surprise, he nearly choked as her hand slid along the inside of his thigh then cupped his balls.
Jesus, Mary and Wayne Gretzky, she never did that in any of his dreams! Now he wondered which head she’d been referring to earlier.
“Catherine,” he said, trying to diffuse the situation with a laugh while gently moving her hand away, “as much as I’d love to oblige, Junior down there isn’t feeling up to it right now.” He knew he’d probably just worn out his welcome and once again started to get up. This time it was her hand on his shoulder that caused him to pause.
“I’m sorry. I should have known. Please, stay?”
Taking in the outline of her breasts under the flimsy silk fabric, Jim sighed, heavily. Then he mentally cursed at himself yet again for drinking so much. It wasn’t every day—hell, it wasn’t any day—that he woke up next to Catherine Willows, much less got groped by her. With his miserable luck he’d probably just blown his chances of it ever happening again.
While he brooded, Catherine quietly slipped from the bed, disappearing down the hall and returning a minute later with a large bottle of cold water and two Rapid-Release Tylenol. “Take these,” she said, holding both out for him.
He swallowed the caplets and washed them down with one long gulp of water, trying hard not to stare at the way the light material clung to her body, as he drank. Lowering the bottle, he squinted up at her. “So how come you look so chipper?”
“I only had a couple of drinks.” Motioning for him to move over, she slid into the bed next to him. “Look, if it makes you feel any better, it was my idea to bring you back here. Of course, you were pretty agreeable, even when I got you undressed.”
His head came around far too fast. “You got me undressed?”
“I didn’t peek, I swear.” Catherine rolled her eyes and smiled. “Okay, maybe just a little. You have nice legs. Anyway, I had to get you undressed. You smelled like a distillery.”
“There was a little mishap and the waiter accidentally spilled a couple of drinks on the back of your jacket. It soaked through to your shirt. They gave you a voucher for the dry-cleaning, by the way.”
“So why didn’t you just put me in a taxi and send me home?”
“Jim, I’ve been around you long enough to know that you have a two drink limit but it was pretty obvious you were on a mission to get drunk last night. If something was bothering you that much, you didn’t need to be alone.”
He raised his eyebrows, impressed at how well she’d paid attention over the years.
“It was the Sweeney case, wasn’t it?”
He nodded. “God, she looked so much like her. I couldn’t get the images out of my head.”
Catherine propped herself up on one elbow. “There was a hit and run a couple of years ago: a little girl about Lindsey’s age. I was determined not to let it get to me but it did. I reacted so badly, I grounded Lindsey for a week because I didn’t want her out of my sight.” She shook her head at the memory. “So apart from the hang-over, do you feel any better?”
“Not really. Didn’t make me forget; just rearranged things I guess.” Realizing the conversation had gotten far too serious, he rolled onto his side and propped himself up on one elbow. “Now I just have to deal with the trauma of being abducted and nearly taken advantage of by a co-worker.”
“Brass, I don’t believe you have ever been taken advantage of by anyone.”
Granted, Brass definitely felt like his perception was more than slightly off but there could be no mistaking Catherine’s intentions. She was leaning forward, inviting him to kiss her, and even though his head still felt fuzzy and his mouth felt dry, he wasn’t about to turn down an invitation. Besides, the Tylenol had started to kick in and Junior was feeling much better.
“Hey, there’s always a first time.”
At the point where their lips touched and the heat intensified, at the point where her hands wrapped around his hips and urged him to move, Brass realized what a strange turn his life had taken in the last twelve hours. He’d gotten himself piss-ass drunk on margaritas and tequila shots; now he was in bed with Catherine Willows and she didn’t want him to leave.
Okay, so maybe he was too quick to swear off tequila entirely. Maybe he’d just swear off tequila shots. But next time he’d have that margarita on the rocks instead of frozen.
Somehow that way just seemed more appropriate for a Vegas cop.