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Cinco De Mayo
Stupid scavenger hunt. That's what it had turned into anyway. Bouncing from one lead to another with the barest bones of a clue, a series of wild goose chases, and finally an anticlimactic discovery. Kelly Gaffney glanced down at the tattered box she carried. THIS was all they had to show for a long day's work and an enormous investment of effort. She angled her neck sharply as she walked, satisfied and somewhat horrified at the loud cracking noise she elicited by the motion. She glanced sideways at Chris to see if her snapping bones had alarmed him or even attracted his notice. He looked as exhausted as she felt. And lost in his own world. She wished now that she had taken him up on his offer to lug the box back to the office himself. She flexed her strained fingers against the weathered cardboard. That's what you get for trying not to be "the girl." A few more yards down the hallway and she could drop the dingy thing on a desk, shake the stinging needles from her hands and hopefully, with any luck, stretch out the knot that was burning between her shoulder blades. God she wanted this day to be over.
Before they had even rounded the corner, the scratchy sounds of instrumental music filled the corridor. It was festive and fuzzy at the same time, and it dawned on her that someone had tuned the radio to the local Spanish music station, bad reception and all. The hell?! On top of that, she could pick up voices and the general sounds of activity that she normally associated with ... a party? The place was usually empty at this hour. She tossed a questioning look at Chris, vaguely worried that she could be imagining things. His expression proved that she was sane, at least for the moment.
"Somebody's Cinco de Mayo sounds a helluva lot more fun than ours ..."
Kelly didn't answer, letting her scowl do all the talking. If the cleaning crew wanted to blow off some steam, she couldn't say that she blamed them, but the last thing she needed to be reminded of was that her own life was so focused on work that she often forgot what day it was. Muchas gracias, New York legal system. Then she was astounded to hear the loud yet lyrical laughter she knew could only belong to one person. Tracey was still here? Her mind couldn't even begin to process the connection before Chris had pushed open the door to the bullpen, shouldering the double door wide as well so they could both pass through.
Tired as she was, Kelly had no doubt that the sight before them was not a hallucination. Tracey and Hector were dancing between the desks. Some kind of salsa number, she guessed, her mind frozen and tilting at the same time. Tracey's head was thrown back, her splendid mane of hair swaying. Her hips were ... God ... magical as she channeled the music. Equally astonishing was how graceful Hector moved with her, against her. Kelly's numbed perception finally took in the proximity of their bodies, Hector's hand pressed flat and low against Tracey's ass, his thigh wedged between Tracey's ... it was sensational and sensual and practically obscene. Stunning and magnetic and provocative and SO DAMN WRONG. A wave of nausea and heat washed over Kelly in an instant.
The racket of the box slamming to the floor broke the spell. Chris jerked his head away from the dancing couple toward the noise, but caught only a glimpse of Kelly's coat as she fled down the hallway. Still holding the door open with one hand, he swiveled back to face the revelers. They were laughing again, like kids who had just gotten off a roller coaster. Slightly winded and still flush with the experience. He couldn't tell just yet if the flush was totally from the cavorting or the open bottle of tequila he spied on Hector's desk. He was sure he had a goofy look on his own face because he was just too startled to hide it. He wiggled his fingers. "Hola."
Hector wiped his hand across his brow as he backed up and switched off the radio. Grinning at Chris and nodding his head toward the overturned box on the floor, he exhaled deeply. "Drop something, amigo?"
Tracey was smoothing her hands along her hips, puffing a loose strand of hair away from her face with her bottom lip. Neither of them looked the least bit caught or embarrassed. "You almost missed the party. Hector was teaching me a few steps ..."
"I could see that." He didn't know what else to say. Kibre was just full of surprises. He bent to scoop up what was left of the box plus it's contents. "This was all Gaffney and I could come up with ..."
"Just put it over there next to the case files. Nobody's going to do anything with it tonight." She offered the tequila bottle to him. "Hector was the only one still around when I came across this. I figured the day wasn't over yet ..." She shrugged. Her face was still glowing.
Chris decided that he kinda liked this side of her. "No thanks. I might take you up on a dance, though ... if that offer is open." He winked at Hector.
Tracey rolled her eyes as she capped the bottle. "Sorry, cowboy. Salazar over there is the instructor, not me. Besides, I've fraternized enough for one evening." She smiled as she reached for her briefcase. "Did Kelly come up with you?"
Looking down at the carton of stuff she had hauled all the way to the office, it dawned on Chris how upset Kelly had to have been to ditch it so unceremoniously. He didn't want to embarrass her any further. He thought he understood. "Yeah, but she was really beat. I think she headed on home."
Tracey nodded as she threw her coat over her arm. "I'll see you gentlemen in the morning. Bright and early." She waltzed from the room as if she were dismissing a witness.
Chris shoved the container against the wall, not caring that one side now collapsed onto the table. Shaking his head, he asked Hector over his shoulder, "How do you say 'you dog' in Espanol?"
Raising both hands, palms out, Hector laughed. "What?! We were just dancing. No big deal. A little celebration. That's all." He grabbed his jacket.
Chris continued to shake his head slowly, smiling. He hoped Hector knew what he was doing. It was dangerous to play both sides of this fence. Gaffney was clearly hung up on him and here he was dirty dancing with the boss. Chris killed the lights and followed Hector out.
Maybe he should take another Spanish class.
Sequel Nobody Puts Kelly In A Corner
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