Everything You Want Ch. 03bynerd4music©
Angie tried to concentrate on her desk, her work, but nothing was registering. Her eyes continued to wander around her office as her mind fuzzed over. She wasn't really sure what was wrong, but she knew that staying at work was out of the question.
She knew if her boss came by and saw her staring blankly into space, he would shoot a critical look her way. But she didn't care. She was in a serious funk.
Looking down at the off-white file folder on her desk, she tried to focus on its contents. It was a grisly murder scene. She should have been used to it, working on the Homicide Unit. But it was always a little rough to take when murders involved children.
Sighing, she shut the folder. There were a lot of things wrong today. She hadn't heard from Connor in over a week, since he spent the night after Roxie's wedding. She had to run an errand that morning and left him a note, saying she'd be right back. When she returned, he was nowhere to be found.
After calling his cell phone and his apartment for three straight days, she gave up. Angie supposed she should have been used to his moods. When his mom was in the hospital for pneumonia four years back, he holed himself up in his apartment for nearly a week before she had to break in and threaten to drag his ass to the hospital. She was used to Connor's brooding ways, but it still annoyed the hell out of her.
Standing up, Angie knew she couldn't stay there any longer. Grabbing her jacket from the chair facing her desk, she left her office quickly. Turning the corner to head for the stairs, she nearly ran into a warm body. She glanced up irritably into the laughing green eyes of her partner, Sean Reilly.
"Angie, you okay?" he asked, steadying her.
"I'm fine, Reilly. Look, can you tell Chief I'm heading out early?" she asked, shrugging on her waist-length black leather jacket.
Sean eyed her. "No prob, partner. You look a little worn. Everything okay?"
"Yeah, I just need to crash."
Sean smiled. "Do that. After all, you're the one supposed to be watching my ass and I want you fresh and spry."
Angie smiled tiredly. "Bite me, Reilly. Oh, I left that Morelli case file on my desk. Have a look-see at it, will you?"
"Will do, Ange. Now go home and get some rest."
Hurriedly leaving the precinct, Angie's breath hung in the chilly December air. Cursing herself silently for not wearing a warmer coat, she shoved her hands into her jacket pocket for the little warmth it would provide.
"Fucking city weather," she muttered aloud. Checking her watch, she realized that it was only 1:30. Deciding that going home to watch soap operas and talk shows would be too lame, she walked into the first coffeehouse she could find.
Angie sighed contentedly as a blast of warm, muffin-scented air greeted her as she bustled into the shop. After ordering a large English toffee cappuccino and an extra-large cranberry muffin, she settled herself at a cozy table by the window to people-watch.
Warming her hands around her cappuccino, she remembered that she and Roxie used to come into the city all the time and people watch. The park or some little window shop was the best place to do it. Roxie used to make up elaborate back stories for everyone they came across: a jilted ballerina dancing for her lost love, a man, once a whiz kid on Wall Street now playing guitar for change after a multi-billion dollar corporation collapsed and lost him millions.
They would buy ice cream and giggle as the world passed them by. And now her baby sister was a married woman and off living life in whirlwind of passion and love from an incredibly wonderful man.
Roxie. She missed her sister. It had been over a week since she heard from her too. Angie brought the large, steaming bowl-shaped mug to her lips and took a generous swig from it, nearly burning her tongue in the process. Connor always joked that she could never wait for anything to cool.
Popping a piece of the muffin into her mouth, she chewed slowly and pondered her situation. Without her sister or her best friend around, everything seemed so gray. Looking out at the overcast sky, Angie sighed when she noticed the little white swirling orbs falling. It was snowing already.
Guess I'll take a cab home, she thought gloomily. She closed her eyes, and pinched the bridge of her nose to try and stave off the coming migraine.
"Playing hooky today, huh Detective Hartley?" a deep voice asked.
Angie's eyes flew open. It took a second for her eyes to focus, but when she did, she couldn't help the goofy smile that spread across her tired face.
"Well, look what the Hudson dragged in," she said, pulling the man into a hug.
Connor took a huge bite of the bacon cheeseburger. Chewing slowly, he sipped the cranberry soda next to his plate. Swallowing, he sighed with relief. It had been a stressful week. Work was hectic. The fall and winter months were quite unpredictable at the firehouse.
From little old ladies leaving their decorative lights on too long, or kids getting stupid with too many candles for a Halloween séance, it seemed like the lunacy would never end.
He was taking a well-deserved break in the kitchen of the firehouse, enjoying his meal when Luca Branzo walked in. Luca was a decent guy and one hell of a firefighter. Tilting his chin in greeting, Connor continued to plow his way through his extra large burger and side of fries.
"Gavin, jeez. Here's hoping you don't choke." Luca opened the fridge and helped himself to bottled water.
Connor swallowed the lump of food. "Bite me, Branzo."
Luca took a large swig of water. "I would, but I'm afraid I'd never see my hand again. What's up, Gavin? Tapeworm getting you down?"
Connor gulped down the rest of his soda. "Nah. I don't know. Just been too busy for food. Now I'm not."
Luca sat down at the table. Swiping a fry from Connor's plate, he crunched down heartily. "Uh huh. So what's up man? You seem kind of pissy lately. What's wrong, hand not enough for you these days?"
"Shut the fuck up Branzo," Connor said, laughing. "We all know you hold the jack off record in the house."
Luca laughed. "Hey, man I gotta do something. Ever since my wife's been pregnant the shop's been closed. I've been going fucking stir-crazy, man. Three more months, dude."
"You realize that you can have sex with a woman when she's pregnant, right?"
"Yeah, I know. But damn it just freaks me out. I don't say no to a blowjob." Luca chuckled. "So, what's up with you? The boys and I have a bet going on. We're trying to see how long it's going to take for you to get laid. The pool's at about 250 dollars."
"Well, I'd hate to disappoint you guys. Come back to me when it gets up to 500."
"You're ridiculous, Gavin. You need to find yourself a girl and quick."
"Thanks mom," Connor retorted, polishing off the rest of his burger. "I'm serious, dick." Luca replied. "Whatever happened to that one chick you're always hanging out with? The black chick with the nice ass. She's fucking smokin' dude."
Connor let his mind wander. Angie. He was avoiding her, he knew it. But he wasn't sure he could face her after what happened the night of Roxie's wedding. That dream was so real; he could almost taste her sweetness on his lips.
Coughing, he brought himself back to reality. "Uh, we're just friends," he said.
Luca gave him a look that clearly said 'yeah right'. "Uh huh. That's why when I just described her you had a look on your face like you just came in your pants." He gave his comrade a good-natured slap on the back. "Dude, you need to be hitting that. Hardcore."
Connor tried to shake those thoughts. "What? No, man. Angie and I are friends. I've known that girl since grade school."
"Even better. She knows all the dumb shit about you and still wants to be around you. You've got a nice set up." Luca rose from the table and headed for the door. "Think about it," he added, tossing his bottle in the trash and heading out into the hallway.
Connor needed some air. Grabbing his black parka, he headed out into the snowy world of the city.
He felt like such an ass. He ignored Angie's calls because he didn't know what to say.
Cursing himself silently, he pulled his black and grey cable knit cap from his pocket and jammed it on his head.
He found himself walking the eight blocks to the precinct where Angie worked. It was now or never. He had to tell her how he felt.
His hands felt the icy pins and needles pricks as he walked into the heated building. Looking around, he was slightly overwhelmed. The place was buzzing with ringing telephones and the hum of voices from various desks all over.
Walking over to the large front desk, he was flashed a brilliant smile by the pretty blonde officer seated behind the desk. "How can I help you?" she asked in a breathy voice, sitting up a bit taller now.
"Hey there. I'm looking for Angela Hartley."
"Oh," sighed the girl, feigning a look of interest. "Angie left for the day, something about not feeling well. You can leave a message if you want, or you can just take it to her yourself. I'm sure she'd love to get something from her boyfriend."
Connor had to laugh at the woman's not-so-subtle way of trying to see whether he was Angie's boy or not.
"Thanks, doll. But I'm not her boyfriend, just her best friend. I'll try and stop by her place; you know bring her some soup and all."
He gave her a friendly smile and turned to head back out into the cold. Flipping out his cell phone, he dialed her house. There was no answer. He tried her cell, but it was the same thing.
Putting the phone back into his coat pocket, he began to walk again, careful not to step in the slick patches of ice. It was unusual for it to be this snowy, especially so early in November.
Connor tried to think of places that Angie would go. Knowing her, she'd probably be holed up in some random coffee shop.
Turning around, he headed in the opposite direction. He knew where she would be. There was a little spot two or three blocks from the precinct. A yoga instructor he hooked up with had a studio around the corner from the station. While he waited for her to finish her classes, he would stop in there for a quick cup of coffee and a bagel. It was nice, not too big but big enough for anonymity.
The shop was in his line of vision. Connor knew he had to apologize big time for being a dick but mostly, he needed to get his feelings off his chest. Angie was his best friend, the one person with whom the bullshit didn't matter. Tell her how you feel, his brain screamed. If at worst, she doesn't feel the same way and the friendship becomes a little awkward.
Connor entered The Coffee Cup. It was warm and smelled like fresh muffins. The shop was a little busy, the air buzzing with the voices of pleasant conversation. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Angie sitting at a table right in front of the large window, the corners covered with the hint of frost.
Taking off his hat, he walked over to where she was sitting. She looked good, a little tired. She was wearing a grey cable knit sweater that clung to her curvy waist, a French blue button down collared shirt underneath. Her grey wide-leg tailored trousers were pressed neatly and her pointy-toed heels completed her sleek look.
Angie was busy sipping her drink out of her large bowl-like mug so she wasn't going to see him saunter over to the table. Walking up, he cleared his throat.
"How'd I know you'd be here?" he asked, smiling.
"Maybe it's because you just left the table two minutes ago," she replied still looking down at the newspaper in front of her. Raising her head, her grin faltered slightly. "Conny? I didn't know it was you."
"Oh, were you expecting someone else?" Connor noticed a jacket hanging on the chair opposite her.
Angie sipped her cappuccino. "Actually I was. He just went to the bathroom."
Connor felt a twinge of jealousy. Who the fuck is he, he fumed silently. "He?" he asked. "He who?"
"He me," a deep voice replied.
Connor turned to the direction of the voice and his face fell.
"Hey there, Gavin. Long time no see," the man said, extending his hand.
Feeling his throat going dry, Connor swallowed. His hand instinctively went out to grasp the man's outstretched palm.
To say that Angie was surprised to see Charlie was an understatement. After he helped her out with a favor for Dex and Roxie, the most contact she had with him was a couple of infrequent phone calls.
She definitely was shocked to see him standing there at her table.
"Charlie Mercado, it's been awhile."
"Yeah it has," he said, taking the seat opposite her. She studied his face. He was still very attractive. A product of a Puerto Rican mother and Italian father, he was blessed with golden looks. Skin the color of warm caramel, wavy black hair, and thoughtful gray eyes, Charles Diego Mercado was the object of many a girls' desire back in high school.
Unfortunately for them, he only had eyes for Angie. They dated between their sophomore and senior years until Charlie left halfway through senior year to move across the country to live with his relatives in Echo Park, California.
They had parted amicably, whispering teenage promises to call and write each other often. She talked to him once in awhile during college and when she discovered that they both went to work for respective police departments, they maintained an online friendship. Although they talked on the phone and through email she hadn't seen him since the day he left New York over eight years ago.
And now he was here for reasons unknown.
Angie glanced up at the two men, who seemed to be sizing each other up. Connor's usually twinkling blue eyes were now a stormy midnight color. Charlie looked pensive yet amused. Things were always strained between the two men since high school. Angie decided to deflect the situation before they started pulling down their pants and playing the "Who's Got the Bigger Dick" game.
"So, Connor what's up?" Angie asked.
Connor turned to look at her. "Uh, nothing." He glanced back at Charlie who seemed to be studying him with a small smile. "Can I talk with you for a moment? Outside?"
He gave Charlie a terse nod before turning to walk towards the door. Angie stared at his retreating figure before rising and putting on her coat. "I'll be right back," she said to Charlie.
Sitting down, he flashed a grin. "Sure. He okay?" he asked, jamming his thumb in the direction of Connor who was outside pretending not to glare at them.
Angie smirked. "Who knows with him? Guy acts like he's on his period 24/7." She left the warmth of the coffee shop, shivering slightly when the icy blast of December slapped her in the face.
Rubbing her hands together, she eyed Connor beadily. "Okay, Carla you wanna tell me what your issues are?"
Connor stared at her, her dark face shaped lovingly by her feathered brown bob cut just a few inches below chin length in that choppy way. She wore a little styling product it in, giving her cute punky layers all over. He couldn't be mad at her when she looked that way.
"What's he doing here?" he grumbled. He was being a complete ass, and he knew it. But it didn't exactly stop him from running his mouth.
"Dunno. He came in for a visit. Stopped in to see me. Why?'
"Dunno. Just asking. I just think it's highly coincidental that he stopped in here like he knew exactly where you were going to be."
Angie scoffed. "Connor, this shop is like three blocks from the precinct. Charlie went there looking for me, and they told him I left early. Sean must have told him that I usually stop in here. No big deal. Besides," she eyed him suspiciously. "Why do you even care? I haven't seen you in like a week."
Connor shrugged his shoulders. "I've just been busy. Things at the station have been a little crazy. You know how it gets close to the holidays."
"Whatever Gavin, that is bullshit and you know it. You're never too busy for a phone call so I'm not buying that."
Connor heard the disappointment in her voice. "Dammit, Ange I'm sorry. I've been a real tool lately, but I've been going through some major shit. I don't mean to take it out on you."
"Connor you know if you have a problem you can tell me. We don't keep secrets from each other."
If you only knew how much I want to say this to you, he thought. "I know, hellcat. And I promise, when it's the right time I'll clue you in. But this one's gotta stay locked up for a while. In the meantime," he said, opening his arms. "Will you accept an 'I'm-sorry-for-being-an-asshole' hug from your best friend?"
Angie grinned. He looked like a hulking puppy dog, standing in the middle of a semi-crowded New York sidewalk with his arms open wide. Faking a dramatic sigh, she shrugged her shoulders. "I suppose. But if you're ever an ass like that again, I get to kick you in the face. For serious."
Connor laughed and reveled in the feeling of having her in his arms. He knew that she really wasn't big on hugs, so it was a good sign that he was forgiven. I could get used to this, he thought happily.
"Got it, threat duly noted" he said.
"Good. Now, do you want to come back inside and join us? It's pretty freaking cold out here."
He was reluctant to leave her, but he knew that being in Charlie's presence at this time was a bad idea. He didn't mind the guy, but he couldn't shake the feeling that he dangled over his head the fact that he had Angie and Connor didn't. Had, his brain reminded him. He doesn't have her now.
"Nah, I've got some things to take care of at the apartment. But give me a call later tonight. We need to hang out."
Angie studied him. There was definitely something he wasn't telling, but she wasn't going to pry. "Okay Conny. I'll see you later." She turned and headed back to the warmth of the coffee shop. He watched her sit down at the table, the way she greeted Charlie, the way he smiled at her, and the way his hand slid across the table to gently brush her arm.
Connor watched it all, and felt the encompassing feeling of loneliness wash over him.
He realized that he was losing her.
Angie smiled as Charlie finished his joke. He always had a way of making her laugh. Sipping her now third cup of cappuccino she grinned at him. "So, Charles you never told me why you're in town."
Charlie's grey eyes met hers. "Well, I was planning to visit my grandmother. I haven't seen her in such a long time."
Angie eyed him. "You came all the way from California to see your grandma? Bullshit."
He laughed, and it warmed Angie's cheeks. She remembered his laughter, melodious and crisp, like rain on pavement.
"Alright, you caught me. I never could get anything past you, Ange." He drank the last bit of his coffee. "I wanted to see you. It's been so long, and I had some vacation time so I took a trip. Seeing my grandmother is just a bonus."
She smiled. "Ah, you know just what to say to make a girl feel all special inside."
He grinned. "Now, who's bullshitting whom? I recognize that 'Yeah, Right' Angie grin from a mile away."
They both laughed. Wow, I miss this Angie thought. It had been so long since high school, but Charlie was still the same: handsome, funny, and thoughtful.
"So how's the little sister? Still doing her grown and sexy thing?"
"Yeah, she's due back from Australia any day now."
Charlie whistled lowly. "Man, must be nice. I can't believe Roxy's the first one outta all of us to get married."
"Yeah, but she snagged a good guy. She had to act fast before Hollywood caught up with him and turned him into a world-class ass, although I can hardly see that happening to Dex."