From his seat in the darkest corner of the club, Sam watched the dancers writhe to the beat of the techno music pounding from every speaker. He tried to pick out Lisa's form, but the strobe lights burrowed into his eye sockets, finding and magnifying his lingering headache. He focused with difficulty on the face of his watch and sighed. It was almost three a.m., and he had a client meeting in five hours.

Sam let his gaze settle on the highball glass sitting in a puddle of condensation on the table before him. It contained his one and only drink of the evening, a scotch grown warm and watery from hours of neglect. He stared at it until his vision grew fuzzy and his eyelids drooped. In spite of the tortuous music, the throbbing behind his eyes, and the fact that he was thirty-two years old and wearing leather pants against his will, Sam Seaborn fell asleep.

The respite was short-lived. He jerked awake when a sweaty body plunked down beside him on the upholstered bench. "Isn't this great?" Lisa shouted over the music. She was smiling broadly, energized and hyper. "Come on," she said, jumping to her feet and tugging his arm. "I want you to meet Claire and Peter." Sam stood obediently, swaying a little as the lights shifted and blurred before settling down. Lisa eyed him critically, pushing up the sleeves of his black sweater until they were precise enough to look casual. A quick adjustment to his hair, and she judged him fit to meet her new friends.

He followed her across the club, mindlessly weaving between undulating bodies until they reached the bar. "Peter, Claire, this is the guy I was telling you about." Sam offered his hand to the tall, thin man with Buddy Holly glasses and pointed nose, then to the woman with the beret and hair too blond to be natural. Lisa slipped under his other arm and wrapped her arm around his waist, smiling with that proprietary look that always made his heart sink.

Peter shook his hand and nodded politely. "Nice to meet you. Lisa tells me you're an attorney."

"That's right."

"Tried any interesting cases lately?"

Sam smiled. "Actually, I practice corporate law. I'm not called on to litigate very often."

Peter immediately lost interest. "I see." Lisa stiffened in his embrace, frowning slightly.

Sam cleared his throat. "Actually, I've got an early meeting tomorrow." Lisa's frown deepened, but Sam forged ahead, flashing his best smile. "It was nice meeting you both."

Lisa didn't say a word as he collected their coats and helped her into hers. She remained silent during the short cab ride to the West Side. By the time he unlocked the door he was beginning to feel guilty. "Lis, I'm sorry," he said as he hung up their coats. "But I've been working late nights on this Gruber deal, and I have to get some sleep before tomorrow."

"Fine. As long as it's convenient for you," she snapped, toeing off her shoes and leaving them in the living room. Sam picked them up and followed her into the bedroom. "I'm going to take a shower, if that's all right with you."

The bathroom door slammed behind her. Moving like an old man, Sam placed her shoes in the closet, then took off his boots and put them away, too. He pulled his sweater over his head and dropped it on a chair, then spent several minutes worming his way out of the hated leather pants. He could still hear the water running as he set the alarm clock for six thirty and lay down for his three hours of sleep.

Exhaustion was quick to claim him. His last thought as he tumbled into slumber was that he couldn't do this much longer.

End