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Beggars Can't Be Choosers

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 It’s easy to find Linden when he decides that that’s what he wants to do. Puts a few feelers out with the right people and two days later, Holder’s parked outside the small PI firm she’s been working at since quitting the force.  He pulls up to the curb, cuts the engine and stares at the front door trying to will one or both of them through it before turning the key and pulling away. He’s already late getting back and he doesn’t want to jump the gun before she’s ready. Like always, he’ll wait for her to make the first move and he’ll follow her lead. Linden has his number.

 

 

--

 

 

It’s five months later and he’s leaning against the wall, mostly gone off four drinks his sponsor wouldn’t approve of in some shitty club when he spots a familiar face in the crowd. There’s no reason he should recognize her, not with the lights so low, but he couldn’t forget that fall of red hair if he tried. Holder moves closer, pushes through the crush of bodies separating them and stops just short of her field of vision. She’s standing in a dim corner watching the dance floor and wearing a satiny, knee length purple number that would look more at home in one of the upscale bars downtown.

 

 

He watches a guy circle her, gaining courage, before he approaches and leans in close. He only lasts a minute before she’s got him skittering off in the opposite direction, looking back over his shoulder and calling her a bitch. Linden barely reacts to the tirade. Holder laughs at the ass trying to save face and keeps watching her. He’d thought as much before—she’d never been one for the night life—but by the way her eyes keep scanning the crowd, she must be here on business. That’s almost enough to make him turn away before he notices something that can’t be ignored and cautiously sidles up behind her.  She stiffens at his presence but doesn’t move, not until he begins to speak. “Are you for real wearing stockings right now, Linden?”

 

 

It’s barely a reaction to his voice—a slight turn of her head before she resets to nonchalance—but he notices. She doesn’t bother answering and he feels something, something mean and resentful and petty, clench inside his chest. “I heard you been working as a private investigator these days. Is that what you’re doing now? You a sexy decoy or some shit? Where’s the hidden camera? When’s Maury gonna pop out and give me a lie detector test?”

 

 

She puts her mouth on the rim of the plastic cup she’s holding, but doesn’t take a drink. “Go away, Holder.”

 

 

“She speaks!”

 

 

Linden turns her face and looks at him, says lowly, “I’m busy.”

 

 

“Yeah, I bet.” The knowledge that she hasn’t called him once since he let her out of that car after all the shit with Rosie was finally done hangs heavy between them.

 

 

She turns her entire body towards him and if they weren’t so close he wouldn’t be able to make out the low words over the sound of the music. “What do you want?”

 

 

He stares down at her, not quite sure how to answer that or what to say when three shots from somewhere in the club goes off in rapid succession and steals his attention. A tidal wave of screams signals a press of bodies flowing past them toward the entrance.  Clogging the small doorway and ensuring no one will be able to escape.

 

 

He grabs her arm and they run in the opposite direction, toward the toilets and private rooms in the back of the club. He shoulders his way into the men’s room, eyes windows too small to climb through and finds more of the same in the women’s. They go back into the hall, about to make their way out onto the floor and take their chances with the crowd when Linden grabs his shirt hard with both hands, he looks down to find her staring at the end of the hallway and only gets a glimpse of a big man in a purple button down before she’s dragged him into one of the private rooms and shut the door.

 

 

They’re breathing hard, trapped, when he finally asks the question on his mind. “What the fuck is happening here, Linden?”

 

 

“One of our clients gave us a case, something delicate. I was here to check one of the names I came up with out and I think he might know about it…”

 

 

“What was so delicate?” Her flat expression lets him know that she has no intention of answering his question. He’s about to call her on it when another round of bullets goes off just beyond the door and he decides they have more pressing concerns to attend to. He shuts his eyes and he can see his gun in the glove compartment of his car outside, completely useless to him. “You got anything on you? A weapon or something,” he elaborates at the question in her eyes. “No.” She says. “This was just supposed to be information gathering.”

 

 

There’s a loud sound just beyond the door followed by fast talking he can’t make out and they’re stuck. The room is dark, completely windowless and small. Barely big enough for the chair and low end table occupying it but Holder’s got an idea of how they can get out of this forming in the back of his mind. A stupid idea that probably won’t work but it’s worth a shot.

 

 

He turns and steps toward her quickly, bends his knees, grabs her by the back of the thighs and sits her down on the table in one swift movement, ignoring her shocked face. “Holder!”

 

 

“Linden,” he whispers against her ear, nudging his hips between her thighs and pulling one leg around his waist. “It works in the movies.” Then he kisses her. Tugs the dress up around her waist and levers his chest against hers to throw her off balance and take the lead for once. She’s leaning back on her palms, trying to keep herself upright, but the position also offers him her tits on a platter and he takes the unintentional bait. Slides a hand up and underneath the halter as she gasps. He slips his tongue in, past lips she’s glossed with something that tastes like cherry and when she moans he pulls her in closer.

 

 

A part of him was expecting her to reject him. To knee him in the balls, push him away and take her chances with the gun wielding maniac in the hall. That sound—the moan almost too low to hear—spurs him forward. She wants this. Even if she pushes him away later, even if she never calls him again or says she hated it, he’ll always have that catch in the back of her throat to think on when he’s jerking off all by himself.  She hooks her feet at the small of his back and pulls him forward. He wants more.

 

 

Holder’s imagined this happening a million different ways—in the back of the Lincoln on some side street in the middle of a shift, spreading her out on the top of their desk at the precinct late one night— but this was never one of the scenarios.  He’s not excited about the danger just beyond the door or the time constraints it puts on them but beggars can’t be choosers.

 

 

He lets the hand at her knee move up her leg and he’s almost got it between them, he’s almost touching that damp heat he’s been dreaming about for longer than he’d like to admit, when he realizes someone’s standing in the door. She’s noticed too, the soft line of her body is now pulled tight but they don’t move away from one another just yet. He rubs the outside of her thigh, trying to comfort her—relax, he hopes the touch says. We’re in this together. Holder’s breathing hard, barely drags his gaze away from hers to address the asshole in the doorway. “You mind, man?”

 

 

He’s surprised there isn’t a fat dude with an automatic pointed at him. This one is average height, wiry build with greying hair and a mustache. He’s also got on a security guard uniform. “There were shots fired in the club and—“ The man is distracted by the expanse of Linden’s thigh when Holder clears his throat. “Right,” he mutters, like he just surfaced for air. “Stay in here until further notice. It’s safer.”

 

 

“No problem.”

 

 

He raises an eyebrow before closing the door behind himself and the room is so quiet he swears he can hear her heart beating. They should stop now. He should back up, let her slip down and they should get as far away from this shit hole as fast as they can but he doesn’t move. Holder looks at her as he smooths his hand back under her dress. “Thigh highs, huh?” He asks, snapping the elastic band against her leg and thumbing the red mark it leaves behind. “Hoping to get lucky tonight?” He wants to ask her if she felt sexy sliding them on. If she got wet thinking about someone slipping their hand underneath her dress and discovering her secret. If she ever thought, in her wildest dreams, that lucky dude would be him but they’re not at that point in their… whatever this is. Not yet, so he dips his head and kisses her again without waiting for a response.

 

 

Where she was subdued earlier, Linden pulls at his shirt now, rolls her hips against his, chases his mouth when he pulls back to breathe. She’s needful, moaning and begging without words for what he’s more than willing to give. Her thighs are already slick with it when he slips his hand back between them and it must have been a while since she had any. He’d be more surprised if she had gotten some dick since Sonoma cut out and he’ll give it to her if that’s what she wants. The same way he’s given her everything else. I almost died for you, he thinks. I killed for you. This is the least I could do.

 

 

Holder pulls the straps of Linden’s gauzy, black panties from her hips and tries not to thrust against her hand as she unzips and tugs him free.  He’s close, so close he can feel her against him and Holder can barely catch a breath as he pushes inside the wet, tight, heat of her without a condom numbing the sensation and it’s so stupid and it feels so good he can’t let himself think about it too much or he’ll come right fucking now. The security guard will be back any minute and he can’t stop. Not until they’re finished and he has a nagging feeling they never will be. She’s got a hold on him that he can’t shake. One he finally admits to himself he doesn’t want to.