“I give her the only honest and true answer I have.
"You're where I want to be.”
― Simone Elkeles, Leaving Paradise
Andy was in a fantastic mood. The temperatures had dipped a little over the last week, making the days almost bearable, their case seemed to be easy enough, the fact that the suspect’s wife irritated the hell out of Provenza an amusing bonus, and he was still on an emotional high from his last date with Sharon. Maybe it was his own elation that made him slow to realize that Sharon didn’t seem to share his high spirits, but it was early afternoon before he picked up on her increasingly sour disposition, leaving him puzzled as to its cause.
As he guided the suspect’s scantily clad wife back to the interview room for another round of questions, smiling and nodding at her incessant chatter without bothering to listen, he replayed his interactions with Sharon in his mind. They had shared coffee in her office in the morning, before the others showed up, and as far as he remembered, Sharon had been fine then. She had smiled that beautiful, bright smile that lit up her eyes the way he loved, and they had flirted rather shamelessly. Their early lunch had been unremarkable as well. The entire team had sat around a couple of pizza boxes and chatted amicably. He clearly remembered Sharon laughing and winking at him after she landed a particularly fierce comeback to one of Provenza’s remarks, leaving the old man gaping at her in shock. Sometime after that, things had changed. She tended to keep her bad moods to herself as much as possible, but whenever she spoke to him now, she was short, even a little snappish, and if he wasn’t mistaken, she had started avoiding being in the same room with him about an hour earlier.
Andy still wore a puzzled frown when he guided Mrs. Thompson around the corner, one hand subconsciously hovering over the small of her back. They almost ran into Sharon, Sykes, and Sanchez, who stood in front of the interview room, discussing their strategy. When she saw him approach, Sharon narrowed her eyes and pressed her lips into a thin, hard line before she gave the younger detectives a curt nod and stalked past him towards the electronics room. Andy handed their witness off to Julio and turned around, hurrying after his girlfriend. He caught up with her before she entered electronics, his hand on her arm stopping her in her tracks and making her whirl around with a glare. He snatched his hand away and raised both arms in a gesture of surrender.
“Hey, what’s going on?”
His soft voice did nothing to soften her scowl, and her tone held a clear warning when she replied.
“Nothing is going on, except for the interview of a witness I am going to miss if you keep holding me up.”
There had been something about her behavior in front of the interview room that had started to make him wonder, but the way she said witness, as if the word itself tasted bad, finally made all the pieces fall into place.
“Wait a minute. Are you jealous?” he asked, trying to decide if he found the idea more amusing or surprising.
Sharon’s eyes narrowed, and she shook her head, frowning at him. “Of course not. That is ridiculous.”
She refused to meet his eyes, and her voice had that high pitch to it that he had last heard when Rusty had almost caught them making out in the foyer of her condo, and she had denied what all three of them knew had happened.
Closing the short distance between them, Andy took hold of her hands and stared down at her until she lifted her gaze. “You’re right. It is ridiculous. You have nothing to worry about, babe. I mean, did I notice she’s attractive? Of course. It’s kind of hard to miss the way she’s flaunting those assets. But it’s not her I want.” He gently tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, caressing her cheek with his thumb as he smiled at her. “It’s you. It will always be you, no matter how many pretty, half-dressed women I come across. They may be nice to look at, and I can’t promise you not to notice them, but you are so much more to me than that.” Andy paused briefly, swallowing words that he knew were too much for where they were, both in terms of location and in terms of their relationship. “You are the only woman I’m interested in, Sharon, and you always will be, for as long as you can stand to have me around.”
He felt a slight shiver run through her as he gently pulled her into his arms, his lips brushing against her temple. Technically, he was violating one of her rules about flaunting their relationship at work, but he figured that the situation warranted it. Andy had a suspicion about the source of her uncharacteristic insecurity, and he could kick himself for not paying more attention to his own behavior. Gossip about her ex-husband’s extramarital escapades had made the rounds at Parker Center repeatedly over the years, as the man had never been particularly discrete. Even though she had never shown it, he knew that she had been hurt and embarrassed by Jack’s actions, and he would be damned if he ever made her go through something like that again.
“She flirted with you, and you smiled at her.”
Andy almost didn’t hear the words she mumbled into his chest, but he could swear that they sounded a little petulant. Suppressing his grin with some difficulty, he kissed his way down to her ear, making her shiver again as he hit a particularly sensitive spot.
“She did?” he asked, a little surprised at the idea. “I didn’t notice. I guess I was too busy thinking about our date last night. And about saying goodbye to you in the garage. And at the elevator. And at your door.” He punctuated every sentence with a kiss to that same spot, smiling against her skin when the action earned him a low hum. “And maybe I was trying to figure out my chances of getting you to go out with me again tonight.”
Stepping back a little, Andy reestablished a more appropriate distance between them, his hands still lingering on her upper arms and hers resting against his chest as he studied her for a reaction to his thinly veiled question.
“Is that so?” she asked, a small smile tugging at her lips, chasing away the shadows that had lingered in her eyes.
He nodded, allowing one of his hands to settle against the side of her neck, his thumb drawing small circles against her thundering pulse, eliciting another hum and a slight tilt of her head to give him better access.
“I’m sorry for making you doubt how important you are to me.”
Sharon peered up at him through lowered lashes, briefly drawing her bottom lip between her teeth before she pursed her lips to counter the habit. “I’m sorry for being silly.”
Shaking his head, Andy squeezed her arm reassuringly. “It’s not silly to be afraid of losing someone you care about. I’ll try to do better, but next time I’m being an insensitive idiot, talk to me, okay? The last thing I want is hurt you.”
“You’re not an idiot, Andy,” she objected, frowning at him as she tugged on his tie, straightening the perfectly neat knot. Then she smiled up at him again with her usual confidence, her eyes twinkling dangerously.
“And if you want to take me out tonight, we should go and listen to that interview now, so we can wrap up our case in time.”
She patted his chest lightly to signal the end of their intimate moment. Andy decided to push his luck by placing a quick kiss against her lips before he stepped away and gestured towards the Electronics Room, waiting for Sharon to precede him. As he followed her into the room, he wondered if he might get a table at her favorite rooftop restaurant, and if they would be done in time to admire the sun setting over Los Angeles. He hoped so because he wanted their date to be especially romantic. It was the least he could do after acting like a fool earlier. He would make sure she wouldn’t have any reason to doubt his feelings again.