I suggested coffee and moving to the living room. Martinez must have had similar thoughts to mine because he agreed with alacrity. I went into the kitchen to brew the coffee, insisting that he leave the dishes for later. I’d make Matt do them when he got home if I had to, but I wasn’t going to waste a minute more than I had to in the meantime. I waited for the coffee to perk, using the time to center my thoughts. My hormones were raging out of control, and I didn’t want to come across as a slut. Oh, I was one, but I didn’t want it to appear that I was too easy. As soon as the coffee was ready, I brought it to the living room, where Martinez sprang up from the futon upon my entry.
I could tell by the expression on his face that he was as tentative as I. That made me feel marginally better, that he wasn’t just on the prowl. We did a bit more talking about previous relationship-. He had been engaged to a fellow officer a few years ago before they realized that they couldn’t handle being together both at the job and in their personal lives. The split was mutual, and she eventually transferred to Miami to be closer to her family. She was a Latina, one of two in the whole department. It was difficult being a person of color in Minnesota—let alone a woman of color in the Minneapolis Police Department. Martinez didn’t blame her for returning to Miami, but he had no desire to go with her or to return to Philly.
I told him about the man I thought I was in love with—until I realized he was dogging me from day one. I made light of it, but it had hurt at the time. Matt had warned me at the time about this guy’s reputation—I met him through Matt. He was a friend of a friend of Matt’s—but I hadn’t listened. I was sure I was in love and that I knew what I was doing. Besides, he was Asian to boot. That was a definite plus in my book, something that Matt couldn’t understand. He didn’t know what it was like to grow up a minority in a state like Minnesota.
Martinez and I were sitting side by side on the futon, our thighs touching. I was aware of the heat rising from between us and by discreetly glancing at his lap, I knew that he was as aroused as I was. We were talking about politics, but our eyes were talking about something else. I wondered if I should make the first move or if I should wait for him. Though I was a modern woman, I knew that Latinos tended to have extra doses of machismo. I didn’t know how someone of his culture would take it if I kissed him instead of waiting. After ten minutes of idle chatter, however, I no longer cared. My heart racing, I leaned forward and kissed him in the middle of him expounding on Bush’s foibles.
“Sorry to interrupt,” I said breathlessly after pulling back.
“I’m not,” Martinez retorted, reaching for me again. I pressed my body against his, slipping my arms around the back of his neck. He had one hand on my back and the other was moving down to my ass. He was lowering me onto the futon when his cell phone rang.
“God,” I groaned, pulling him closer for a second. Then, before he had to ask, I let him go. He sent me an apologetic look as he fished his phone out of his pocket. I knew he had to go in tonight, but I was hoping it’d be later rather than sooner.
“Martinez,” he barked, sounding disgruntled. I sat up, watching as his face changed from lust to officious in a blink of the eye. “No. No. Fuck no. Shit. Ok. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“You have to go,” I said, resigned. I stood up and held my hand out to him.
“Daily found out who the dead woman was,” Martinez said, grasping my hand to pull himself up. “I have to go with her to tell the parents.”
“You must hate that part of the job,” I said sympathetically, trying to get my hormones under control. I couldn’t imagine having to tell parents that their beloved daughter was dead. That had to be one of the worst things in the world.
“I hate a lot about my job,” Martinez said, his eyes darkening for a minute. He shook his head slightly before smiling down at me. “Not the least when it interrupts me from spending time with you.” I was grateful that he hadn’t said anything more gushy than that. Still holding his hand, I walked him to the door.
“Well,” I said, watching him put on his shoes. I didn’t know quite what to say after coitus interruptus.
“We’ll definitely have to do this another time,” Martinez said emphatically, pulling me to him for a long kiss which left me weakened when it was done
“Be careful,” I said, wishing I could take it back the minute I said it. I didn’t want to be one of those overprotective women who whimpered every time their man stepped out of the door. Martinez looked pleased, however, that I cared. After a final kiss, he left and I shut the door. I tried to rid the heavy feeling in my heart, reminding myself that this was how it’d be if I got serious with Martinez. I fished out my cell phone to call Matt to tell him he could come home. Glancing at my watch, I saw it was after eleven. Poor baby.
“It’s about time,” Matt said snidely, his words the slightest bit slurred. “Did you get a piece?”
“No, I did not,” I said, neglecting to mention that I most likely would have if Daily hadn’t interrupted us. “You can come home now.”
“Thank you, Great Mistress,” Matt said before clicking off his phone. I hoped he’d drive safely as he tended to get more aggressive after a few beers.
I went back into the living room, flicking on the television. I wanted to catch the scores for the day, and I wanted to talk to Matt when he came home. I had forgotten to mention my mother’s tomorrow, but I had little doubt he’d go. He loved my mother almost as much as he loved me, and she adored him. I tried to watch the update, but my mind kept flitting back to Martinez. Our first date had been about as perfect as I could have hoped, except for him having to leave early, of course. I was wary, however, that I was making more of it than I should. I had felt instantly at home with him which was a rare feeling for me, but could it be I wanted to be with someone so badly, I was fabricating a feeling that wasn’t there?
“Hey, I’m home,” Matt said, dropping a kiss on the top of my head. I was startled by his show of affection, but I wondered if he were doing it to stake his claim, so to speak. “You look nice.” Matt leered at me as he dropped in the seat next to me. I could tell he’d been drinking because he had that amorous look in his eyes. I hoped he wasn’t going to make a move.
“I invited us over to my mother’s tomorrow at six. Banana will be with us.” I decided to start a conversation to head off a pass at the, well, pass.
“Sounds good,” Matt said, leaning over to nuzzle my neck. Despite my resolve, I felt myself weaken. I was horny as hell, and Matt looked awfully good. I knew, however, that I was not a woman who could involve myself with two men simultaneously, except for casual one-night stands. Even though Matt and I were just friends, I loved him deeply in a way I’d never loved anybody. I knew that sleeping with him while dating Martinez would only mess with my head.
“Matt, no,” I said, pushing him away. I stood up so I’d be out of his reach.
“Oh, I forgot. You had a date with the detective. How did it go?” Matt stood up as well, standing close to me.
“It was very nice,” I said, swallowing hard. “I like him, Matt.” Although I didn’t mean it to, it came out as half-warning, half-plea. “I like him a lot.” Even as I said this, I leaned towards Matt, not entirely out of my own volition.
“You like him a lot,” Matt murmured, running his fingers through my hair. Once he was done with that, he gently touched my earlobe with his forefinger. He knew my weaknesses, and he was not above exploiting them. “That’s good, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” I said. With a supreme amount of effort, I stepped away from him. “I don’t want to fuck it up, Matt.” I felt a slight twinge of guilt in pulling away, but he’d done the same thing to me when he met Kayla. “Matt, I really like him.” Matt looked at me for a few minutes without saying anything.
“Ok, Scar,” he finally said. “If that’s what you want.” He paused as if giving me a chance to answer. When I didn’t say anything, he added, “I’m going to check my email.” He strode to his room. I wanted to call him back, but what could I say? I sagged onto the futon, relieved that I’d found the strength to push him away. At the same time, I felt sad that we couldn’t go on as we did before. However, we both knew the rules of our friendship. If either of us was dating someone, then we didn’t get physical with each other. Sometimes, it was hard to remember that rule.
I turned back to the television, not wanting to dwell on what had just happened with Matt. I didn’t want to think about our relationship changing or if we needed to stop sleeping together completely. I didn’t want to think of the complications of dating a cop—nor of the heartache. All I wanted was to see if my beloved Twins had won and if the hated Yankees had lost. Unfortunately, neither of these events had occurred, which put me in a worse mood than before. I had just decided to turn off the television and try to do some work when Matt came racing back into the room, no trace of lust on his face. In fact, there was a mixture of rage, fear, and disgust at the same time.
“Scar, you have to come see this email,” he gasped, grabbing at my arm. “Come on.”
I tried to get him to tell me what the email said, but he refused. He said it’s be better if I read it myself so I wouldn’t have any preconceived notions. Even though it wasn’t far to his room, I felt as if time was slowing down. I wanted to tell him to stop this nonsense. I wanted to back out of this case because no good could come out of it. Sure, I met Martinez through it, but….Ok, that’s one good thing. I had a horrible feeling that we weren’t done with the killings yet. I didn’t know whom was going to be killed or who was going to do the killing, but we were far from over. My concern was Matt. If he were the one killed, well, I was afraid I’d end up doing some of the killing as well.
“Look.” Matt pushed me into his chair and pointed at his flat-screen monitor. For a moment, I allowed myself to consider buying one of those bad boys, but then I focused on the issue at hand.
Your girlfriend read the subject line. The sender’s name was blank, so I scrolled down to the e-mail. Dear Mr. Reynolds. Before your girlfriend, one Miss Kayla Richardson, died, we were able to convince her to give us your email address. She informed us that you had what we needed—something that she’d taken from us. I give you three days to return it, or we will come after your roommate next. We will be in touch to let you know where to leave it. You have seen what we can do—do not think we will hesitate to go further.
“Shit, what the fuck?” I stared at the monitor in consternation, as if by staring I could make it reveal its esoteric secrets to me. “What is it talking about?”
“Haven’t a clue,” Matt said, his voice taut. He was leaning over my shoulder and re-reading the e-mail, his face blank. “Seems like Kayla told this guy what he wanted to hear. The problem is, it could be any one of the people Kayla fucked around.”
“Except the father of the girl she hit,” I replied. “I don’t see how you could give him anything, unless it’s money.”
“Nah, then he would have just said so.”
“This is the guy who killed that other woman,” I said, suddenly chilled. “He doesn’t know that we know.” Something struck me, and I read the email again. “Matt, there’s no mention of Danny. Do you think….” I didn’t finish my thought, but Matt caught on immediately.
“This is a new player,” he said, his voice grim. “This isn’t the guy who kidnapped Danny, is it?”
“We have to tell Martinez,” I said, my voice urgent. Without waiting for a response, I held out my hand. He gave me his cell phone without protest or without a snide remark.
“Martinez,” Martinez said, his voice weary. With a twinge of guilt, I remembered that he’d had the onerous task of telling a dead woman’s parents what happened to her. I pushed that aside so I could do my civic duty.
“It’s me, Scar,” I said, keeping my voice level. “Matt, my roommate, received an email from the person who took Kayla. We don’t think it’s the same person who kidnapped Danny.” To his credit, Martinez didn’t so much as snort. He just told us to stay put and that he’d be there in ten minutes. I hung up the phone and handed it back to Matt.
“Shit,” Matt said, tossing the phone onto his bed. “I don’t understand what the fuck is going on.”