Friday took forever to come. Doug's patience flew out the window. He wanted to spend time with Judy but Fuller assigned her to a case. Ioki was slated to be her partner, but he came down with the flu. Hanson replaced him and now, Doug was without his girl and his best buddy. Thursday evening after work, he stopped by Harry's with a few cans of chicken noodle soup and a gallon of orange juice.
"Thanks, man." Wrapped head to toe in a blanket, Harry trudged back to the sofa.
Doug closed the door behind him. His jaw dropped at the state of Harry's apartment. The place was all industrial grays and no nonsense blacks. And always, always immaculate. Well, usually. Today, Doug had to step over shoes and newspapers and facial tissues to reach the kitchen counter where he dumped his grocery bag and its contents.
"Do you want some of this now?" Doug didn't wait for an answer. He started hunting for a can opener.
"I'm not hungry," Harry mumbled.
"You gotta eat. It keeps your strength up." Doug poured the soup into a microwave safe bowl, set the timer and waited. Five minutes later, he set the bowl, crackers and juice on the coffee table. "Sit up and eat."
"What are you? My mom?"
Doug laughed. If Harry was throwing wisecracks, the flu wasn't winning. "Just eat."
Harry grabbed the bowl and slurped what he could. When he finished, Doug took the bowl to the kitchen and added more orange juice to the glass.
"So what's the big surprise tomorrow night?" Harry called out.
A frown marked Doug's brow as he returned to the living room. "How did you know?"
"Jude checked on me this morning."
"Sure. She brought me oranges. They're in the fridge."
Doug hadn't seen her much since the new assignment. He was surprised that she found time to see Harry. But she was a caring woman. That was one of the many things he liked about her.
"Well?" Harry said, his voice drooping. "I can keep a secret."
"You're tired. We can talk about it later."
Harry shook his head. "I wanna talk about it now. Give me a hint. I gotta live vicariously through you. Tell me, do you want to make this thing with Judy work?"
"I don't know," he said, shrugging. "How did you know about that?"
"She's my partner and my friend. There's not much I don't know."
Interest piqued, Doug cocked an eyebrow. "Oh, yeah? Tell me more."
A shit-eating grin crossed Harry's flushed face. "You tell me what the surprise is and I'll think about it."
"The new guy is kinda cute." Trish, a senior with her eye on every guy in a pair of jeans, nudged Judy's shoulder. "He was checking you out."
Judy frowned, trying her best not to glance in Tom's direction. "No way. Look at that hair and those clothes. We're from two different planets."
"But look at those eyes and that butt. Whatever planet he's from, they produce good stock."
Judy couldn't help but laugh. "Good stock? You sound like you're breeding cattle."
Trish shrugged. "Once a Texan, always a Texan. Don't look now, but he's coming this way. I lay odds two to one that he's headed for you, pard'ner."
Finally, a gambling analogy. Trying to uncover the movers and shakers at the school's gambling ring had been like looking for a needle in a haystack. These kids' mouths were glued shut. They didn't take to strangers.
"What's up?" Tom leaned casually against the brick wall. His gaze roamed lazily over the mob of girls before going back and forth between Trish and Judy. In the end, his stare remained on Judy.
Her mouth went dry. Remembering they were on the job became difficult. Trish nudged her and muffled a giggle.
"What's up with you?" Trish asked. "What's your name?"
"Trish, but I'm not why you came over here." She linked her arm through Judy's. "This is Judy. She's new, too, but she's cool."
"Yeah, I can see that. Hi, Jude. Mind if I call you that?"
It was a fine time for him to ask. He was the first to call her that at Jump Street. "No problem, Tommy."
His mouth quirked. Chocolate brown eyes danced, but that was all. Considering she knew for a fact he hated that version of his name, she expected a bigger reaction.
The end of lunch came with the loud, dull tone of the school bell. Trish and the other girls took off. Tom fell into step beside Judy.
"You laid it on a little think, didn't ya?" she questioned. "What gives?"
"Trish is dating Owen Daniels. He had a little meeting in the boys room this morning. When I tried to get in on it, he shut me down."
"So you figured to get to him through Trish."
He fixed her with one of those smiles that made her heart skip a beat. "Not exactly."
A dangerous ripple of excitement went through her. "We have to be careful. No crossing the line between work and…well, you know."
"Of course not, Jude. I wouldn't think of it."
For the first time since she met him, Judy didn't believe him.
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