We sat in silence for a while, eating our lunches and listening to the splash of the water against
the rocks. When I was finished, I balled up the wax paper my sandwich had been wrapped in and
put it back in the bag. Popping a chip into my mouth, I leaned back on my elbows and closed my
eyes, crunching slowly.
"How was Brazil?" I asked eventually, opening my eyes and sliding them over to her. "You
know they showed you almost as much as Josh?"
She laughed, and leaned back next to me. "Caid, you wouldn't believe it. It was insane. I'd look
across the court during this intense point, and the camera that was supposed to be pointed at the
players was pointing at me. And god, every time we'd go anywhere, this huge cadre of
photographers would follow…"
"That seems to happen to the two of you here in the States, as well."
"To some extent, yes, but nothing like that…Josh loves the attention, though." She shuddered.
"Ugh. I can't stand it."
That surprised me. She seemed very comfortable in the spotlight, as though she liked it.
"Josh played well," I said, after a few more minutes of silence.
"He did, didn't he?" She tipped her head back and closed her eyes, catching a stray bit of
sunshine through the leaves and giving me an excellent view along the smooth, kissable line of
her throat and down to the hint of cleavage where the edge of her shirt dipped lowest. I looked
away and cleared my throat.
"That match against Gruspania…that was a close one."
She smiled, her eyes still closed. "I was afraid he'd be so upset after that one…he's usually such a
baby when he thinks he didn't play as well as he could have. He wasn't, though."
We were both quiet for a few minutes, before Robyn chuckled. "He wants to meet you, actually."
I looked over at her, perplexed. "He does?"
"Oh, he won't admit it, but I remember when I first started getting time on 9th Precinct, and Josh
was all excited that I'd get to work with Caidence Harris, the hottest Balentine Babe ever.
"Oh god," I groaned and closed my eyes. In my beer commercial days, I hawked Balentine
Pilsner, a German-style beer, brewed in America, with an Irish name. It was surprisingly
popular, especially with the college crowd. "You're kidding."
"Nope, his exact words." She was quiet for a few seconds. "I'd like you to."
I opened my eyes and looked over at her. She'd been watching me, but looked away.
"You'd like me to what?"
She looked back. "Meet him. Maybe we could all have dinner sometime. You could bring…a
date, if you want…I mean, if you're seeing anyone…" Her voice was rushed, and then trailed off.
She looked back at the falls.
Wonderful. Girl-talk about my love life with the object of my unrequited affection.
"I'm not," I said with a wry smile. "Frankly, I don't know how you have time for it. I usually fall
into bed as soon as I get home. I can hardly get up the energy to brush my teeth, much less date.
And that would be nice, by the way."
She had been listening intently, and frowned at the last bit. "Pardon?"
"Dinner," I clarified. "Or something, with you and Josh. If it's okay that it's just me, sans-date."
"Just you will do just fine. Tomorrow night?" she asked hopefully.
"Umm…" She'd caught me off-guard. I ran through my schedule for the next day. "We're
shooting in the city tomorrow, so I probably won't be done until eight or so…"
"Come to the house. Josh will grill. He can't boil an egg, but the boy can grill." She touched my
arm briefly. "Unless that's too late?"
Her head was cocked slightly to the side, watching me with those impossibly dark eyes. She'd
left the hat in the car, and whips of dark hair had come loose from the braid and blown across her
I struggled to breathe, overwhelmed by a sudden flood of emotion. Sometimes just looking at her
did that to me. She was so damn beautiful…it made me ache.
"No, it's not too late. I'd love to." I managed.
She smiled brilliantly, our eyes met, and the ache intensified.
I jumped to my feet, brushing the dirt off my jeans and gathering the remains of our lunch. "We'd
better head back."
"Oh…yeah." She sounded disappointed, but slowly climbed to her feet. "I guess so." Her hand
brushed down my back, leaving a trail of delicious tingles in its wake. "Thanks, Caid. This was
really nice. Is this a regular thing for you?"
I looked around for a moment, regaining my equilibrium, and shrugged. "Depends, I guess. I like
to get away from the set when I can, and there are lots of spots in Angeles within a half-hour or
forty-five minute drive…I picked this one because it was close, and I didn't know how far you
wanted to walk in sandals. I usually like to hike a little further."
"I'll leave a pair of hikers in the trailer so next time, I'll be prepared." She was stretching her
arms over her head, leaning one way and then the other to loosen her back, and didn't notice the
huge grin on my face.
Hot damn. I liked the sound of that.
I packed away our trash and unwrapped the brownie, breaking it in half and handing one part to
"Energy," I said, "for the long, brutal hike back."
She eyed the treat before taking it with a sigh of resignation. "If I keep hanging out with you, I'm
going to have to add another mile to my morning run."
I grinned, and took a bite, chewing happily. "You run?"
She nodded, nibbling on her portion daintily. "Yeah, I started in college…just kind of a habit
now. I swim, too, a couple times a week. It was either that, or stop eating, and I love to eat."
That explained the long, sinewy arms and well-muscled shoulders.
"How far do you usually run?"
"Around five miles, I guess."
I nodded. That was about what I did most mornings, too. Casually, I said, "We should go
She smiled. "Sounds like a good idea. It'd be nice to run with someone again…I used to run with
Josh, but he's got this whole, 'I am a professional athlete and must crush you' thing going on."
She said the last with an Arnold Schwarzenegger accent. "I finally told him to go try to crush
someone else. Now he pays someone to get crushed."
I laughed, and stuffed the last bit of brownie into my mouth before leading the way back to the
trail, and we started back walking side by side.
"I promise not to crush you. In fact, with those endless legs of yours, I imagine you'll be the one
doing the crushing."
Jesus. Did I just say that?
Robyn shot me a curious look, but didn't comment. "It's a deal."
We walked quietly for a few more minutes, Robyn dropping back behind me when came up on a
group of three chatty, middle-aged women going towards the falls. The woman at the head of the
group blinked at me in recognition.
"Hi," I said, and smiled when her eyes widened in surprise.
"Hello, ladies." Robyn's throaty voice drew the woman's attention away from me, and her eyes
widened further, to near saucer size. She slowed as we passed, watching us open-mouthed. The
two women behind her, absorbed in conversation, bumped into her back with squawks of
surprise. Robyn and I walked on, smiling slightly at the furious whispering behind us.
Robyn took two long strides and was beside me again, looking around at the canyon walls with a
contented smile. She looked at ease, comfortable in this kind of activity.
"I don't suppose you mountain bike, do you?" I asked suddenly.
"I haven't before." She looked over at me and smiled. "But I've been wanting to try."
I pulled Twila into her parking space thirty minutes later, laughing when Robyn patted her gently
on the dash and whispered, "thank you".
"Maybe you should get your own, Robyn." I got out, grabbed my duffel from the back and slung
it over my shoulder.
She fell into step beside me. "Don't need to now - I'll just have you chauffeur me around."
I think she expected a comeback, but I had absolutely no problem with it, so I just smiled.
We walked to the trailer, and I entered first, stopping abruptly when I saw a haggard looking Liz
on my couch.
"Caid…" She made as if to rise, then sank back down when she spotted Robyn behind me. She
looked from me to Robyn, frowning.
Robyn stepped slightly in front of me, her stance relaxed but perceptively aggressive. I looked
over at her in surprise.
Robyn, defending me? The thought made me ridiculously happy, regardless of whether it was
true or not.
I put my hand on her arm gently and stepped back in front of her. "Liz…I'm glad you're here…"
Liz's eyes darted to each of our faces, then down to where my hand was still on Robyn's arm. Her
frown deepened. She stared for a moment, then shook her head slightly and stood.
"Hi Robyn," she flicked a glance at the dark-haired woman, and then settled her eyes back on
me. "Do you mind if I talk to Caid a minute?"
Robyn gave me a searching look, and I smiled, assuring her that it was okay. She looked back at
Liz. "Sure, Liz. I need to get back to ITD anyway." She placed a light hand on my shoulder and
squeezed gently. "Thanks for lunch, Caid. It was the nicest lunch I've had in quite a while. I'll
call you about tomorrow?"
I nodded, smiling. Robyn threw with one final glance at Liz, then left.
Liz frowned after her as the door closed. "What's up with her?"
I shrugged and watched her, trying to gauge her mood. I was hoping she was here to talk things
out, but it was just as likely that she was here to yell at me…maybe I shouldn't have sent Robyn
off, after all.
She turned to me abruptly, and pulled me into brief but forceful hug. Liz wasn't normally very
touchy, and I was surprised into stillness. Before I could respond, she stepped back, looking
"Here." She thrust something at me, and I automatically opened my hand to receive it. "I'm sorry
I was such a bitch, Caid. I never wanted to be that way with you."
I looked at the objects in my hand. Three miniature Cookies 'N Cream candy bars.
"Paula said that maybe I should get you flowers or something, but I know you hate crap like that,
since they just die and stink up your trailer, and hell, everyone always sends flowers to suck up,
and I know you're a freak for these stupid chocolate things…" Liz rattled on, and I just watched
her, smiling slightly.
I was a freak for these stupid little candy bars. Maybe four people in the world knew that about
me. Liz had remembered, and without Paula's help.
I loved it when people surprised me in a good way.
"…I was just so goddamn mad at Grant for blindsiding me like that…"
"Liz, it's okay."
She paused. "Really?"
I nodded. "Really."
Her whole body slumped in relief, and she sank down on the couch. "Thank god."
"But for the record," I added, "Charming Liz is still my favorite."
She bit her lip. "I'm really sorry, Caid."
"I know you are, hon." I unwrapped one of the candy bars and offered it to her. "Want one?"
She grimaced. "God no. Those things are disgusting. I don't know how you eat them. They look
like squares of lard with ants in them."
The candy paused on its way to my mouth. I looked at it - really looked at it - and saw that she
"When in your entire life have you seen a square of lard, woman?" I popped the candy into my
mouth, trying not to think of lard and ants.
She sniffed. "I know what lard looks like."
"Because you cook with it so often."
"Hey, I watch Iron Chef…those guys are big on lard." Her eyes widened. "Holy shit, the other
night I saw them do this thing with some fucked up kind of melon and a part of a shark that
should never be shown on television…."
My loud laugh echoed off the walls of the trailer. I loved this woman, and it was nice to be
She stopped mid-sentence and frowned. "What?"
"Liz, don't ever change."
She smiled beautifully. "Well of course not, Sugar. Why mess with perfection?"
Why not indeed.
I laughed again and sat down on the couch next to her.
"So we're okay?" she asked again.
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