My first reaction was to hide the infernal gadget but it was far too late for that. Feeling foolish, I asked, “What are you doing here?”
His eyes were now icy. “I came by to get some paperwork done. Saw you were here and thought I’d say hi. I’ve done that now. I’ll let you work.”
I watched as he walked away and into his office, shutting the door. The semi-slam knocked some sense into me. I had no reason to apologize; I hadn’t been doing anything wrong. Mike chose to tape the conversation and he chose to give it to us. It was at my discretion to hear the sordid details if I opted to do so. I was in charge of this case now, and it was my job to make sure we were certain in our prosecution of the right criminal.
You said you weren’t going to listen.
I looked down trying to push what just happened out of my mind, which might have worked for two whole seconds until I realized Mike was bullying me with my own case. I wasn’t going to let him do this, to make me feel this way.
Getting up, I stormed into Mike’s office and enacted my own version of a door slam. He had sat down but stood upon seeing me enter. His glare didn’t intimidate me; he knew damn well I could match it.
“Don’t you get offended by me, Mike! It’s not my fault I was put in a position to verify your story of what Rose-”
“My story?” Mike repeated, walking from behind the desk. “Is that why you listened to it? You think I would lie to cover for her? That I would risk my reputation like that?”
“It was pretty clear, even without the tape that you had strong feelings for her, Mike. I have to question the credibility of everyone, even people I know. YOU taught me that!”
“No, I’ve taught you to work for the victim! To investigate from that angle, not to let…not to let your personal issues with me to color your judgment.”
Now he had stepped over the line. “My personal issues… Mike stop flattering yourself. I’m hardly jealous of you and that evil Stepford wife.”
His face changed, and he walked over, the room suddenly getting much smaller. “Jealous? Who said anything about jealousy? I just thought you always believed the worst of me. You’re jealous?”
Instinctively, I stepped back while folding my arms. “No, I’m not jealous. I couldn’t care less who you choose to associate with, I just…I don’t want you compromising the case. My case.”
“So you don’t care at all she and I used to be together?” He asked softly, while stepping close, much too close. His presence made me avert my eyes and I tried to back up but the damn wall was behind me.
“No. I mean, yes, I don’t care. I just want to make sure we convict the right person.”
“Connie, look at me.” Damn that soft voice.
My eyes met his and everything seemed to stop: the argument, the case, the world. He looked at my lips and by their own free will they opened as he bent down. Upon the first taste of Mike, I felt dizzy and instinctively my arms wrapped around him. He pulled me to him and all thought left as my body responded. At first he was gentle but as I was obviously reacting positively to his touches, he became bolder. He pushed me up against the wall; a groan escaped my lips as I felt the outline of his body against mine. By now my hands were split between being in his hair or around his waist, while my mouth enjoyed everything about his own. A few glorious moments went by and his lips left mine to follow a path to my ear and then down my neck. I was lost in a whole different world, not even aware my own whimpers were rooting Mike forward.
However, it wasn’t long before reality hit. I heard a noise, and another voice, a voice not Mike’s. “Connie? Where’d you go?”
Mike reacted first, and pulled away. It took me a little longer to recover and recognize Jeremy’s voice. I stared at the door, worried he would walk in and know instantly what we were doing. I could imagine how I must look.
“He probably doesn’t know I’m here,” Mike said, his voice sounding husky. “Or that you’re in here with me.”
I remained rooted to the spot where I stood, the wall continuing to give me support like it did while Mike had me pushed against it. I knew I had to get out of there. I nodded, “Well, I better go see what he needs.”
I rushed for the door as I ignored Mike calling my name after me. Walking outside, Jeremy seemed startled at my sudden arrival. “Oh, there you are. I didn’t know Mike was here.”
“He just got here,” I said, relieved my voice was a normal level. “What do you need?”
“I finished the paperwork you asked for on…” Jeremy rambled; my attention barely focused on what he said. Mike stood back from the doorway, out of Jeremy’s sightline but within mine. His hands were in his pockets, his expression was unreadable. Looking at him, I knew I could close my eyes and relive what just happened.
“Jeremy,” I stopped him, “I’m sorry. This all looks good. I think we’re set. I’m going to go now; you’re free for the day. Maybe we can regroup tomorrow.”
He looked surprised but relieved when he realized it meant he had the rest of the day to spend with his family. He wasn’t used to working on Saturday. “Okay, Connie, I think we’re ready and we should be fine on Monday, hopefully.”
“Right,” I nodded, gathering up everything to take with me. I would review it when I got home. I had to get away. I knew Mike would want to talk and I didn’t trust myself, right now, around him.
Grabbing my purse, I looked over at Jeremy and thanked him. Mike stepped out of his office then, calling after me, “Connie.”
“Sorry, Mike,” I said, trying to sound as nonchalant and professional as I possibly could. “I’ve got a ton of work to do. And I’ll talk with you later. When we both are free, I mean…” I blushed at the double meaning. Deciding it was best to just leave, I headed for the elevator. Mike looked like he wanted to go after me, but Jeremy’s presence kept him from pursuing.
I moved through the rest of the day is if in a trance. I threw myself into my work, but Jeremy was right. We were as prepared as we could be and as long as Rosalie remembered our prep work from before, everything was set.
But the work kept me from thinking about the kiss. The kiss that shouldn’t have happened. The kiss I never wanted, or needed. Being intimate was clearly what Mike wanted, but I didn’t. Giving into spontaneous attraction could ruin everything, and my job was too important for that. I had learned the hard way with Woll you shouldn’t get involved with people you work with, and Mike was no exception.
But it never felt like that with Woll.
The voice kept popping in my head but I ignored it. Alcohol could make me forget but I knew that wasn’t a good idea. I tried to watch television but there was nothing interesting on. I attempted to call a few people, to occupy my mind with small talk, but it was Saturday. Everyone was out having personal lives but me.
I ordered in my favorite, Chinese food. After the food arrived and I began eating, memories of how often Mike and I had eaten together flooded my brain. Most of the time we worked but after two years, there were many times where personal discussions had slipped. I could tell him anything about my life. Mike was a good listener and while he occasionally teased me, he never judged me on past behavior or mistakes. The worst he ever did was finding out about Woll and asking me how I could be so dumb. I took great offense to the question at the time but it was more out of embarrassment because I knew he was right. And if he was right about that, then I was right about things now.
Just then, someone buzzed the door to our building, calling for me. Walking over, I asked who it was.
“Connie, it’s me. Please, let me come up so we can talk.”
I stood staring at the speaker, as if I could see Mike’s eyes. I wanted to tell him to go away, that there was nothing to talk about, but that would be a lie. I pressed the entry button and I heard him say, “Thank you.”