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Take a Number
By EponinesGhost

51. As Kelly toyed with the white cardboard number in her hand, she wondered if they started at 1 every morning, or randomly wherever they had left off the night before. For all she knew there had been that many customers in the last hour. The lunch rush was in full swing. She smirked as she heard Tracey's voice in her head, slightly exasperated, informing her that they could get "somebody" to bring lunch in, that she didn't have to go herself. But she had wanted to. She liked the swirling activity of the city, loved to people watch, and more than anything else, she needed the break. The hum of the deli was comforting rather than chaotic to her. As much as she thrived on the intensity and focus of her job, the office could become stifling after awhile. Whenever the vague claustrophobia crept in she seized the opportunity for something as simple as walking a file over to the courthouse or volunteering for the lunch run.

Her eyes slid casually around the restaurant as she waited near the counter, absently alternating her weight from one foot to the other. Many of the faces seemed familiar, but that was hardly unusual. She was only a few blocks from where she spent most of her waking hours. There were cops, court employees, the usual mix of locals ... she blinked as she recognized one of the bailiffs, realizing a second too late that she was staring right at him as she tried to place his name. Leo? He blushed and broke eye contact with her, making her feel weirdly guilty. Should she say something now? Go over and speak? They were hardly acquaintances, but he did seem to always make an effort to be polite to her, hold the door, greet her when they passed in the building. She didn't like to think of herself as the type of person who barely registered the people she interacted with on a daily basis, but dammit if she could recall his name.

Glancing back to the table where he sat, she saw that he was speaking to the guy across from him, his face turned away from her now. Another member of his group, also in some sort of uniform, punched him conspiratorially on the shoulder, and the four of them laughed. Kelly took a few steps in the other direction, pretending to check out the desserts. They must have presumed that she was out of earshot, but she picked up traces of their conversation.

"... way outta your league, Lou." " ... not that you ain't got great taste, I'm just sayin' ..." "Shut up, Stoller, let 'em have his fantasies ..." Punctuated with more laughter.

Lou! That's it. She knew she knew it. She made a mental note to file it away for future use. She pointedly refused to admit that she realized they were teasing him about her.

".... the other one, the brunette ..." "Ky-buh?"

Kelly grinned at the pronunciation. Now THIS was getting interesting.

"... seen her go nuts on some guy once ..."


" ... you ain't lyin' Eddie, tough as nails, that one ..." " ... that chick has one hot mouth on her ..."

You ain't lying. One hot mouth. Sometimes I can't quit staring. Talk about fantasies ...

" .. yeah, but come on! Ya know she's gotta be ..." " ... one helluva ..." " .... in bed ..."

The din was getting louder and Kelly strained to hear now. She was both intrigued and slightly offended, but she didn't want to miss this part.

" ... like you'd know, Davis ..." "... I'm just sayin' ..." " ... nobody's bangin' her ..."


" ... whatta bout Ravell?" "Hell no ... he's after ..."

Ding. Ding. Ding! Ding! Kelly shook her head. The bell was louder than usual. "51! Last call!"

Flustered, she moved toward the counter, extending her number.

Her mind was still wandering around those last comments. It's not that she was surprised that she or Tracey would be the topic of such a conversation. Boys would be boys. Her heart was pounding though. It's just that she was so relieved. Was that it? She had begun listening in amusement. Playing along in her own head with the banter. But the second Ravell's name came up she wished she had never been there. She didn't want to know that ... if it were true. It was one thing to daydream about Tracey, the idea that something might ever happen between them. It was another to know that there was a good reason that it would never happen. A living, breathing, working-right-beside-them reason. The "hell no" response she had overheard had echoed her own silent exclamation. Thank god.

Grabbing her paper sack from the counter, she turned to leave. As she neared the group of guys who had just been the subject of her eavesdropping, they grew noticeably quieter. Flashing her warmest smile, she nodded to one of them. "Lou."

Without stopping to acknowledge the slightly stunned look on his face, she continued toward the door. Just as she pushed through it, another round of teasing laughter reached her ears. Good job, Gaffney. Her mood restored, she started back toward the office. Nice guy, Lou. It was the least she could do to repay the kindness he often showed her. Maybe someday she'd let him and his buddies in on whether or not Ms. Ky-buh was as smokin' hot in bed as they all speculated she was.

She's gotta be. I'm just sayin'.

The End

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