Maddie woke, smiling, from a deep sleep. Looking around her, she saw a broad finger of sunlight slanting across the bed. But wait—it wasn't her bed. Why was she in the guest room? Suddenly, she became aware of deep, regular breathing behind her.
She turned her head on the pillow: David. Watching him sleep, she remembered the promise she had made to herself, and to him, the night before.
It had seemed like such a romantic gesture last night, to push her doubts away, to lead with her heart instead of her head. So simple.
Only now her head was back, and it wanted answers. Things looked different in broad daylight: the room, stripped of its dusky glow. David, with a four-day growth of beard and hair sticking straight up. And as for her—well, she didn't want to know what she looked like, after days of incessant worry and little sleep.
She sat up abruptly. The office! It must be nearly noon; Agnes would be worried. What was she doing, lying here pondering?
Carefully, she slid from beneath the covers, trying not to wake David. Who knew where that would lead. As she crept out of the guest room, she glanced back at him. Her heart tightened, and she nearly—but no.
She needed to think.
David yawned and stretched, enjoying the blissful sense of waking up in a bed. His eyes still closed, he rolled over, reaching for her. "Maddie?" he said. No response. Opening one eye, he found himself with an armful of pillow—not quite the soft yielding thing he'd been expecting.
She wasn't there.
Scenes from last night floated through his head. The fireplace, Miss Everett, their kisses in the foyer. And then… he'd been almost asleep, but still, he was sure… he was sure she had slipped into bed with him. He remembered her head warm on his shoulder, and he remembered what she'd said.
It had certainly sounded like a promise at the time. So where was she?
Maybe she had gone down to make breakfast, he thought; knowing her cooking skills, that could be dangerous. He threw off the covers and got up, grimacing at the peach velour pants he was still wearing. With any luck, not for much longer.
Padding into the kitchen, he saw a neatly folded pile of laundry: the sweater, pants, and socks that had gone underground with him. His leather jacket hung over a chair, water-stained but dry. Propped against the clothes was a note: "Didn't want to wake you. Why don't you take the day off? We can catch up later. M."
David studied it for a minute, trying to decode any hidden messages. This was why he never wrote letters—without the all-important tone of voice, too much was left open to interpretation. Case in point: was the note a token of her concern for his exhaustion, a "gift" of a free day off? Or was she merely avoiding him? And what the hell did "catch up" mean? David reviewed a few intriguing possibilities, built on the memory of last night's kisses. And a few humiliating ones, involving a businesslike Maddie telling him it was all a mistake and handing him a stack of case files.
There was only one way to find out. David picked up the phone and called a cab.
Maddie searched for a parking spot in the nearly full garage. She thought she had seen one in that last row, but—damn, the car behind her would beat her to it. Finally pulling into a place in the very corner, she made her way to the elevator bank; it was deserted at this hour, save for a guy in a baseball cap smoking a cigarette. She nodded to him as she stepped into the waiting elevator, where she tried to take a deep breath and focus her mind for the day ahead.
As soon as she walked through Blue Moon's front door, a very concerned Agnes pounced on her. "Miss Hayes! Are you all right? I was so worried!"
"Yes, I'm fine, Agnes. I'm sorry you were worried—it's just…" Maddie suddenly didn't feel like sharing any details about the night before. "I overslept."
"Oh," said Agnes. Her tone of voice suggested she knew there was more to the story. "Have you heard from Mr. Addison? Does he know he can come home now?"
"Well, actually, I did. I mean, he did—come home," Maddie stammered. She thought of the guest room bed and blushed.
"He did?" questioned Agnes.
Maddie tried to rally. "Yep, he did. Safe and sound."
Agnes grinned widely. "Oh, Miss Hayes! That's great news!" She turned to the staff. "Hey, everyone, Mr. Addison's back!"
The staff turned to look at Maddie, making various noises of approval and happiness. Agnes hurried out of her cubicle. "There's so much to do! Jergenson—we need some balloons!"
"Agnes—" broke in Maddie.
Agnes didn't hear her. "O'Neill, make sure there is enough chocolate milk in the fridge!"
"Agnes—" It was like whispering in a storm.
"And Jamie, you and I will go get a cake." The office started to hum excitedly.
"Agnes!" shouted Maddie.
Agnes stopped in mid-order. "Yes, Miss Hayes?"
"Um—I don't think Mr. Addison is coming in today. He was very tired…"
"Oh," said Agnes dejectedly. The staff echoed her disappointment.
"Maybe he'll be in tomorrow!" Maddie said brightly.
"Tomorrow?! But what about the party?"
"Party?" echoed Maddie.
"Yeah… the Halloween party! Remember, Miss Hayes, we cancelled it when Mr. Addison had to—go? But now that he's back…" Agnes trailed off hopefully.
Maddie groaned inwardly. She hated Halloween. In her eyes, it was just an excuse for grown men and women to act like irresponsible children behind the cover of a costume.
Naturally, it was David's favorite holiday.
"Wellll…" Maddie drawled, trying to buy some time. Fortunately for her, the phone chose that moment to start ringing merrily, all three lines lighting up. Maddie scurried to her office while Agnes ad-libbed rhyme after rhyme.
She closed the door behind her with a sigh of relief. Good—now she could get some work done with David (hopefully) sleeping off his exhaustion. She would have the whole day to catch up on the backlog created by the Everett case.
And last night? She would deal with last night… later.
She settled in and started working her way through a mountain of paperwork. When she glanced at the clock on her wall, two hours had flown by. A pang in her stomach reminded her of the breakfast she had skipped, in favor of getting out of the house without waking David.
Rising from her desk, she grabbed her purse and coat. A walk to the corner sandwich shop would clear her head and revive her for another few hours of paper chasing. Maddie pulled open her door and stepped out—then stopped abruptly. A very familiar voice was holding court in the middle of the office.
David was back. What was he doing here?
David stepped out of the elevator feeling like a new man. He had stopped at his apartment to shave, shower, and don one of his best suits. After all, it was a big day: he was a free man, and he had a free woman to impress. Well, OK, she wasn't free. Actually, she was pretty damned expensive. Worth every penny, though.
As he rounded the corner, he took off his Ray Bans, polished them on his sleeve, and put them back on. He'd missed these babies while he was on his "adventure." But, hey, a man running for his life couldn't get too attached to accessories.
He started whistling. By the time he got through Blue Moon's front door, he was in full jive mode, belting out "For Once in My Life." As he sang, he executed a complicated knee-hike-twist-and-spin number that landed him in front of Agnes' desk.
The staff looked on in amazement as he announced, "Hey, cats and kittens! Dangerous Dave is back! Get out the limbo stick and crank up the tunes!"
Agnes nearly knocked him down with a full-body hug. "Mr. Addison! We missed you!" She gestured to the staff, who all came up and offered their congratulations on his safe return.
"All right, all right," he said. "Enough with the love-in. We've got work to do, troops!" The staff fell in line, looking at him seriously. "Nah—not that kind of work! C'mon people, have you forgotten that today is the greatest holiday ever invented by pumpkin growers and candy companies? I trust that all of you have your costumes chosen, masks made, and fishnet stockings fished out? Not for you, O'Neill—"
"Um—Mr. Addison?" Agnes broke in.
David put his arm around her. "Now, Miss DiPesto: who will you be impersonating? Let me guess: Agatha Christie, mystery writer? No—Billie Jean King, tennis star?"
"No, Mr. Addison."
"Wait—I've got it—Emily Dickinson, premier poetess!"
"No, Mr. Addison. I won't be dressing up. See, when you had to, um, go away… Miss Hayes cancelled the party."
"Cancelled the party?! Well, un-cancel it! De-cancel it! Cancel the cancellation! I'm back, and we are going to cel-a-brate!"
David continued, "I want to see lights! I want to see streamers! I want apples for bobbing and jacks for lanterning! I want tricks for treating and treats for tricking! Now get busy!"
The staff started to bustle around the office, pulling out boxes of decorations. Agnes, however, stood still. "But Mr. Addison—"
David turned to her. "Yes, Miss DiPesto?"
"What about Miss Hayes?"
"Miss Hayes? Miss Hayes? Don't you worry your curly little head about Miss Hayes," he said confidently. "I'll deal with Miss—"
Just then, Maddie's door opened.
"David!" she said, surprised.
God, she looked good. Not as good as she had last night, straps falling and hair tousled. That pink silk dress was a little too buttoned up for his taste, too long on the leg and short on the cleavage. But still… she was gorgeous.
David took a step toward her. Do not kiss her in front of the staff. Do not kiss her in front of the staff, he repeated to himself like a mantra. It was going to be a close call, though—he wasn't sure he could make it until they were behind closed doors.
"Maddie," he said, his eyes twinkling.
Her manner was cool, though her cheeks flushed under his gaze. "I didn't expect you to come in until tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" he echoed. "'Tomorrow' is an interesting concept," he said, taking her elbow and trying to steer her back into her office. "But I always say, never put off 'til tomorrow what you could do today. Or was that 'who'?"
Maddie removed her elbow from his grasp and gave him a dirty look—unfortunately, not the kind of "dirty" he was hoping for. "I was just on my way out to lunch."
"Lunch! A fine idea! A little bistro… bottle of wine… we can 'catch up,'" he said, emphasizing the last words.
Maddie started for the front door. "I was just going to grab a sandwich and come back," she said. She opened the door and was charging down the hall before he could react.
David realized the entire office had been listening intently. "People! Party preparations! Pronto!" he commanded and fled out the door after Maddie.
She was just stepping into the elevator. Putting on a burst of speed, he managed to slip sideways through the doors as they were closing.
Luckily, they were alone. David quickly pulled out the "Emergency Stop" button; the elevator shuddered slightly and was still.
"David! What are you—"
He stopped her perfectly made-up mouth with a kiss. Maddie seemed to forget her cool façade for a moment, twining one hand in his hair and pulling him closer. Then she broke away and hit him on the shoulder with her clutch.
"Ow!" he exclaimed. "What was that for?"
"That was for your Neanderthal behavior," she said, her eyes sparking. "Just because we're—just because we—you can't just attack me in an elevator! I mean, I don't even know—"
David's confusion and frustration broke through. "Attack you? Attack you? That, Blondie, was no attack. That was an honest-to-goodness, give-as-good-as-you-get kiss. You got, and you gave!"
Maddie looked up at him, and he could see the hesitation in her eyes. Was she sorry about last night? I mean, it wasn't like anything really happened. Coupla kisses, night spent sleeping (mostly clothed) in the same bed. So what if he hadn't been able to wipe the grin off his face this morning? So what if when he saw her, it felt like Christmas?
If she was backing off, then so could he. Fine. Fine. Good. Good.
David turned away from her and pressed the "Stop" button in again. The elevator resumed its descent.
Maddie touched his arm. "David, I'm sorry. I wasn't expecting to see you here today. I have a lot on my mind—I just wasn't prepared—"
"Prepared?" he spat out. "Since when do you have to be 'prepared' to talk to me? Or to do anything else with me?"
"It's not that… it's just—I just need a little time. To think," she said softly. "Look, can we meet in your office in an hour?"
The elevator stopped at the lobby. "Fine." David bowed, ushering her out. "Your sandwich awaits." He tried not to say it too sarcastically, as he pressed the button for the 20th floor. He watched her walk across the lobby until the doors closed.
"Thinking!" he muttered to himself. "That's what got us into this mess!"
As Maddie headed to the lobby's revolving door, she glimpsed the man she had seen that morning in the garage. He was leaning against a marble column, smoking another cigarette. Something about the too-casual way he stood, and the sunglasses he wore inside, raised her detective antennae.
She ducked behind another pillar and watched him for a moment. He showed no reaction to her movement, continuing to smoke and glance around the lobby at intervals, as though he were waiting for someone.
Maddie shrugged and headed out into the street. She would have liked to take a deep breath but knew better: no reason to inhale more of the smoggy air than necessary. She walked on to the deli, the man in the baseball cap forgotten as she pondered the situation with David; she realized her reaction in the elevator had hurt his feelings.
She paid for her sandwich, but instead of hurrying back to the office as she'd intended, she found herself sinking down at a tiny table by the window. She thought again of David, the angry hump of his shoulders as he turned away from her. He was upset, and no wonder. She had acted like a Victorian virgin, outraged by his presumption. She had acted, in fact, like last night had never happened.
Last night, she had been so sure that she was ready to take this step, not only to admit her feelings for David, but to act on them. But today, all she could see were their differences. This stupid holiday, for one. She had no doubt that David would resurrect the party plans. She gritted her teeth as she contemplated the inevitable mess, not to mention the loss of productivity (such as it was). She pictured the staff this afternoon, hopped up on decorations and candy, chasing each other around; and she pictured them tomorrow, hungover and moaning about it. No work done—nothing—for two days.
Wait a minute. Was she really the October Scrooge? David had been restored to her. There had been a good chance, she knew, that he might not have been able to come back. What would have happened if she hadn't seen those slippers? She shuddered. Running the office alone, even for three days, hadn't been enjoyable. Now she had her partner back, someone to share the load and to walk her to her car when she worked late… and, she admitted, the possibility of so much more. She should feel like celebrating. And she should feel like keeping her promises.
So, what was stopping her?
Maddie realized she had eaten her lunch without taking any notice of it. Her head was beginning to ache from all this self-examination. And she had told David she would meet him in his office in—she checked her watch—five minutes!
Pushing back her chair, she gathered her things. As she walked to the trash can, she saw something that temporarily drove all thoughts of parties, productivity, and potential lovers from her head.
The man in the baseball cap was standing across the street. He was staring straight at her.
Maddie bolted through the door and ran back up the block toward the office, as fast as her pumps would allow. She didn't look back to see if the strange man was following her; she just assumed he was.
But who was he? And what did he want? He could be anyone, Maddie admitted to herself. Between her modeling career and her detective one, there could be any number of people who wanted to follow her, for any number of reasons. The Tupperman case alone had left several parties disgruntled.
Maddie didn't stop running until she got to Blue Moon. She flew through the front door and over to David's office, barely registering the fact that the reception area was totally transformed. Shutting David's door behind her, she leaned up against it and tried to catch her breath. She just had time to notice that the office was empty before the door heaved open, sending her flying across the room.
David walked down the hallway, a heavy plastic garment bag swinging over his shoulder. He was still brooding on Maddie's reaction in the elevator. Why would she come so willingly into his arms last night, only to freeze him out today? She was a riddle wrapped in an enigma, all right—wrapped in a frustratingly sexy package! Well, he knew what he wanted, but he wasn't going to make an idiot of himself for it. No more than usual, anyway.
As he entered Blue Moon, he momentarily forgot his partner problems. The staff, under Agnes' enthusiastic direction, had outdone themselves. The place was part Vincent Price, part kiddie paradise. There was a macabre mechanical butler by the door, clanking skeletons hung from the ceiling, and there were cobwebs everywhere. But the little trick-or-treaters would love the jolly inflatable pumpkin, fuzzy spiders, and most of all, the massive candy bowl that rested on the reception counter.
David grinned. "Well, ghoulies and ghosties, welcome to the new Blue Moon… I like it!" he said, trying to open his office door. Odd—it wouldn't budge. Hmm… maybe one slam too many, he thought. He pushed against it with his shoulder and the door suddenly burst open.
He heard a muffled shriek and looked in to see Maddie, hair disheveled, and legs splayed over the end of the couch. It would have been a promising position if she didn't look so furious.
"Maddie, Maddie, Maddie…" he shook his head, as he hung the garment bag in the closet. "We really need to get a handle on this hot-and-cold thing you've got going here. I'm so confused!" His tone was teasing, but the words were not.
"David—" Maddie repeated, as she extricated herself from the couch. "I need to talk to you."
David walked up to her and crossed his arms. "I'll say. So, Monty Hall, what's your deal? What happened between last night and today?"
"This isn't about last night, David."
"From where I'm standing, it is."
"David, I'm serious. I think someone is following me."
"Following you? You'll say anything to avoid this conversation, won't you? Well, let me tell you something, sister—avoiding is MY schtick, and you can't have it!" He turned from her and started pacing in front of his desk, talking almost to himself. "Are you in or are you out? If you think I'm gonna torture myself for another year, wondering what you want, I'm not. They can get some other bub to fill in. I hear that Scarecrow guy's contract is running out…"
Meanwhile, Maddie had walked away. She was saying something, but he was really not paying attention. "Avoid this conversation?! When do we ever even HAVE a conversation? No, no, it's all this yelling, and talking at the same time, and slamming doors. So, you miss the really important stuff—like the fact that a man is following me—a LARGE man—a large, STRANGE-looking man!"
David caught the very end of her tirade and raised his eyebrows. "A large, strange-looking man in a baseball cap and leather jacket?"
Maddie grabbed his arms. "Yes! Wait—you saw him?"
"I saw him in the lobby when you went to lunch. I figured he was following somebody—I just didn't know it was you. Do you recognize him?"
"No. I thought maybe he was connected with a case, but he didn't look familiar at all."
David nodded. "And you're sure he was trailing you?"
"David, the man watched me eat my lunch, bite by bite," Maddie said, exasperated. Then she shivered. "I know we've been in a lot of dangerous situations, but this feels different. I don't know who he is, or what he wants—and I don't know how long he's been following me. He was in the parking garage when I got here this morning… what if he followed me from my house?" She turned away from him and said, very softly, "I'm actually a little scared."
This admission did more than any declaration could have to defuse David's anger. Maddie was never scared. He had seen her face circumstances that would make grown men whimper, without so much as fluttering an eyelid.
In a rush of tenderness, he came up behind her. He wanted so badly to take her into his arms and soothe away her fears, but he remembered the elevator. Instead, he contented himself with putting his hands on her shoulders. "It's OK," he whispered into her hair. He thought he felt her lean into him, but he couldn't be sure. He gave her a little squeeze and let her go.
"I'm going down to the lobby to check this out," he said, grabbing his suit jacket.
"What should I do?" she asked.
He smirked. "You can get ready for our little 'spook-a-bration.'"
"Oh, David, do we really have to?" Maddie slumped down on the couch. "Potential stalkers are bad enough."
"Maddie, think of the kids! Jergenson will be crushed if he can't wear his Top Gun flight suit!" That got a chuckle out of her, at least.
As he headed out of the office, he pointed his thumb over his shoulder. "Check out what's in the closet," he urged with a grin.
He heard her groan as he shut the door.
Maddie had been trying to get dressed for twenty minutes.
At first, she had been pleasantly surprised by David's choice of costume. It featured far more fabric than she would have expected, and wasn't humiliating in any obvious way. Actually, it was quite beautiful, a Renaissance-style gown in shades of blue that, amazingly, seemed to fit her.
However, it was proving very difficult to get on. It had overskirts and underskirts, a corset-like bodice, and a row of tiny buttons up the back that would have been far better served by an efficient zipper. And it was terribly itchy.
Maddie was about to break down and ask Agnes for help when David came in. The sounds of a party in nearly full swing drifted in with him.
He stopped short when he saw her. The admiration in his eyes made her smile, in spite of the strain of the day. "Can you help me with these buttons?" she asked him, turning around.
As he moved over to her, he said in a low voice, "Are we buttoning, or—my personal favorite—unbuttoning?"
"David!" she chided, but his tone and his proximity caused a secret thrill to run down her spine, followed by another when she felt his fingers brush the nape of her neck.
"There. Done," he said.
She turned around. They were still standing so close together that if she moved forward slightly, they could be kissing… at the very least. She felt a little dizzy at the prospect—or maybe it was just the tight bodice of her dress.
She tried to take a deep breath, and blurted, "What did you find out?"
David shook his head as if to clear it. "What? Oh—the strange guy—he was gone. I checked all over: the garage, the elevators, the hallway. No trace of him. Maybe he got tired of counting ficus in the lobby."
"Oh," Maddie said, troubled.
"There's nothing more we can do for now," David nodded toward the door. "Let's join the party."
"Oh, no," Maddie shook her head. "I'm not going to be the only one dressed up like this. Your monkey suit is right over there." She pointed to a brown velvet doublet and padded hose hanging on the coatrack. "You go put your codpiece on—I hope, for your sake, it itches less than this dress!" She plopped down on the couch, scratching furiously.
As they entered the party, David surveyed the room with a sense of satisfaction. It looked like Agnes had invited the entire floor: people were everywhere, sipping orange punch, flirting, and telling raucous jokes; bodies had spilled over into the hallway. A troupe of small princesses, fairies, cowboys, and pirates wove through the adults' legs, playing what looked like a complicated game of tag, with the candy bowl as base. And the desks had been pushed flat against the wall to make room for a small dance floor, where a crush of costumed revelers was doing the "Monster Mash."
There were some creative get-ups: a Boy George, a Crocodile Dundee, several gowned women who might have been characters from Dynasty. Predictably, there were a few Ronald Reagans, and one extremely authentic-looking Gorbachev. "Great mask," Maddie remarked.
When they noticed David and Maddie, the crowd applauded. Wolf whistles and shouts of "Great costume!" followed them through the room.
"Who are we supposed to be, anyway?" Maddie whispered to David.
"I dunno… some Renaissance mucky-mucks, I guess," David answered. "They were the best things I could find in the costume department."
"Ooh! Do you think they're planning a Shakespeare episode? I hope they do Merchant of Venice—I've always thought I'd make a good Portia," Maddie mused.
David looked at her appraisingly. "Fast and low to the ground? That gets my vote!" Maddie rolled her eyes.
A small space opened up on the makeshift dance floor, and David swung her onto it. "Thriller" was playing, and he made Maddie laugh with his Michael Jackson imitation. Next came a slow song, and David took her in his arms. Their costumes made it impossible to get very close, which might have been a good thing; he didn't want to spoil their tentative truce by slavering over her.
As the song ended, Agnes approached them. She was dressed in a flowing, peasant-style gown with her hair streaming around her. David looked at her, puzzled. "Agnes… I thought Emily Dickinson was all buttoned up."
"I'm Christina Rosetti, Mr. Addison. Emily Dickinson never left her house."
Maddie laughed at his bemused look and headed off to talk to some of the other staff members. David got busy with hosting duties: he led an impromptu limbo contest with a broom borrowed from Jamie, who was dressed as a sexy witch. He made a small wager with O'Neill that Jamie would not go home with Jergenson, who had borrowed Maverick's confident swagger along with his aviator glasses.
Later, David saw Maddie helping Agnes distribute the rest of the candy. Agnes held the bowl as children crowded around, stuffing their little sacks with as much booty as they could grab. David watched a tiny fairy on the outskirts of the circle try to get close to the treats, to no avail. Maddie noticed the little girl and picked her up; the child reached into the bowl and took a lollipop. Waving her prize delightedly, she settled on Maddie's hip. Maddie looked up and her eyes met David's.
A completely unexpected feeling swooped through his stomach as he watched her laughing and bouncing the child. She looked radiant; her golden hair against the blue of her gown reminded him of the Madonna painting outside the principal's office at St. Philomena's. Get ahold of yourself, Dave, he told himself firmly. Even his thoughts were starting to run on like an airport novel.
David threw himself back into the party. With the younger set leaving, he personally supervised the spiking of the punch, and started a conga line that wove out of the office and down the hall. When he came back into the Blue Moon reception area, Maddie was nowhere to be seen. Maybe she had gone into her office to scratch in peace… maybe she was trying to get out of the itchy gown. Maybe if he hurried, he could help her.
As he reached for her doorknob, he heard her scream.
To her surprise, Maddie found she was enjoying herself. She had met a few nice people from the other offices on their floor; the children were adorable, running around, and none of them had thrown up on the carpet. But most of all, it was nice to be chatting and joking with her staff, instead of reprimanding them for making personal phone calls or playing poker on company time.
Watching David was fun, too. She had to admit, he possessed quite a talent for giving people a good time. She was so impressed that she let herself be drawn into the limbo contest, knowing that it would make him laugh to see her in an undignified position; she knew he had dreamed of this moment ever since losing their bet. Her bodice was so stiff that she didn't make it very far before collapsing into a pile of skirts, but the pride on his face as he looked at her was priceless.
Now the party was winding down. The children had gone, and the adults were conga-ing down the hall. The reception area was empty.
Maddie decided to take the opportunity to rest on the couch for a minute; she had been wearing her pumps all day and her feet were protesting. She tried to open her door, but it was locked. Had she locked it when she left? Possibly, though she didn't have her key. Or—she grew angry at the thought—maybe some inebriated partygoers were using her office for a tryst.
She grabbed the extra key from its hiding place, taped under a pile of rhyming dictionaries in Agnes' desk drawer.
"Whoever you are, I want you OUT!" she said firmly, as she opened the door and reached for the light switch.
Before she could flip it, however, the door slammed shut and a hand covered her mouth. Maddie quickly elbowed her assailant in the ribs and stomped on his foot, hard. A man's voice groaned in pain, and he released her long enough for her to spin around and clock him. She screamed as her fist connected with a rubbery substance—his mask, she realized—and she heard a sickening thud as his head hit her desk.
David burst into the room. "Maddie?! Are you all right?" he yelled into the darkness.
"I'm OK. Get the light, will you?"
David flipped the switch and they stood looking down at Maddie's quarry: the man in the Gorbachev mask.
Maddie's desk was a mess. There were files open all over it, and a pocket-sized camera lay on the ground next to a flashlight. The man on the floor groaned again and moved his head a little. David grabbed his belt from the coatrack. "Oh, no, you don't," he said, flipping the man over and binding his wrists. When he was finished, David sat on the man's back. "OK, pal, looks like your trick-or-treating is over." He pulled off the Gorbachev mask.
"Strange-looking guy!" Maddie said with satisfaction.
"Yep," replied David. To the man, he said, "Would you care to tell us why you've been following my partner and why you're in her office? Or…" he threatened, brandishing the flashlight, "would you prefer the Maglite treatment?"
The man tried to shake his head, then thought better of it. "Work for Lou LaSalle," he croaked.
"Lou LaSalle?" Maddie and David exclaimed.
"Yeah… he said you were getting too much business… wanted me to follow her, see who she met with… take some files…"
"So he could solve the cases himself, out from under us?" Maddie was outraged. "I'm calling the police!"
"Wait a minute, Maddie," David interjected. "Maybe there's another solution." He said to the guy, "Your boss have one of those new cell phones?" The man nodded slightly. "Give me the number."
The man recited several digits. "You getting this, Maddie?" She nodded. David said, "I need to make a call. Maddie, you wanna supervise our guest, here?"
Maddie took over David's position. The man tried to turn his head enough to look at her. "Don't even think about it," she warned, waving the flashlight.
She watched as David, reclining in her chair, dialed Lou LaSalle's number. "Lou!" he said cheerfully. "One of your boys came to our little Halloween shindig over here. Had a blast, but we caught him trying to take some candy that wasn't his… Yep… So, Lou, we were thinking that the police and the licensing board might be real interested in this… Mmm-hmm… Unless you'd like to, let's say, tell your three biggest clients that you can no longer accommodate them, and recommend that they switch their business over to Blue Moon?... Great… Why don't you send me a fax with your signature on that… Yeah, we'll wait for it—me, Maddie, and Gorbachev."
David hung up and looked at Maddie. "Hey—maybe now we can afford another company car!"
Later, they sat in the BMW, parked in front of Maddie's house. "You were great tonight," Maddie said. "I wish I could've seen the expression on Lou's face!" She laughed.
"You were great," he replied. "You KO'd that guy with one punch!"
"I had a little help from the desk." Maddie glanced over at David; he looked ridiculously handsome in that velvet doublet. She sighed. Once again, they had proven what a great team they were; once again, she was reminded that she never had so much fun with anyone else. She knew what she wanted. But what, after all she had put him through today, would he want?
There was only one way to find out.
"David," she started nervously. "I'm sorry about today—the elevator, the mixed messages...I do want to try… this"—she gestured from herself to him—"but I'm just not ready to… jump in with both feet—know what I mean?"
"What—no skinny dipping?" he smirked.
Flustered by his knowing grin, Maddie looked away; she felt like a teenager, all racing heart and dry mouth. When she looked back at David, though, his expression had softened. In his eyes was a tenderness she had never seen before, and it gave her courage.
"Would you be willing to… wait a little?"
"Wait for you, Blondie?" Leaning toward her, David picked up her hand and pressed it to his cheek. Very softly, he said, "Do bears bear? Do bees be?"
"Just kiss me, Addison," she whispered.
And he did.