Disclaimer: I own nothing. These lovely ladies and their friends belong to James Patterson and ABC.

Spoilers: None, really. Just some vague references to "To Drag and To Hold."

A/N: Thanks once again to Zigpal and Ivy for making this all possible.

A/N2: This was intended to be a New Years PWP, but I never got around to really doing the celebration up right.

Feedback: You bet. The muse loves all comments.

Archiving: By permission only.

"You in?" The words were garbled by the hors d'oeuvre Claire had just eaten.

Jacobi glanced at her, frowning. "In what?"

"The pool," she said impatiently. "I've got twenty on tonight. Jill thinks tomorrow."

Laughing, he shook his head. "You know, if Lindsay ever finds out about this, you'll be on your own autopsy table – with your replacement holding the bone saw."

"She has to find out first," Claire answered with a wink. "And I don't plan on telling her."

Jacobi reached into his pocket, pulling out neatly folded bills held together with a gleaming clip. "I'll put twenty on tonight, too. What are the odds?"

Claire grabbed the money before he could change his mind. "No odds. Just a simple little wager. You pick a day, you pay your money. If you choose correctly, you get the entire pool."

"Ties?" he asked, eyes restlessly scanning the room.

"If we have one, you split the pot with the other winners." Claire opened her purse, removing an envelope stuffed with money. Taking out a pen, she wrote Jacobi's name and New Years Eve on an empty space. "So far, we have a pot of over eight hundred dollars. You were the last detective from the bull pen to join in. Most of the ADAs are on board – even Denise. Tom's missing, though, unless he used a proxy."

"That's a lot of cash. How are we doing so far?" He winked. "I noticed they've been close all night."

About that time, a voice from across the room rose above the general chatter. "You did what?"

"I'd say we're well on the way to winning." They shared a chuckle. "Lindsay used to use that tone with Tom when he'd done something dangerous." Claire pointed out their tall, elegantly dressed friend. "See how she's glaring at Cindy? Dead give away."

Jacobi studied the couple in question. "She looks like that all the time. It's her 'I give the orders here' look."

"Yeah, but…does she usually put her hands on the other detectives like that?" Claire watched as Lindsay pressed her right hand onto Cindy's shoulder, almost gripping it.

"Ah, no." Jacobi smirked. "If she did that to Fong, he'd need an oxygen mask." He watched the scene for a few minutes, too – until his date came back. "Keep me posted, will you?" He disappeared onto the dance floor.

"How are we doing?" the words barely penetrated the normal party din.

An impish grin answered the husky question. "Well, the last time I checked, we were the only ones betting on Valentine's Day. Most of the betters are going for sooner, rather than later.

Lindsay's lips twitched and she fought to keep the fake scowl in place. "Tonight?"

"Leads the list by a mile. I counted at least twenty names – including your partner's." Cindy crossed her arms, forcing her lips into a flat line. "They don't have a clue."

"Are you sure you want to do it this way?" This time, Lindsay's frown was real. "I don't mind if we tell them. I'm not some rookie beat cop afraid my backup won't get there on time."

"No!" Heads turned in their direction at the loud response. An apologetic, almost puppy dog look, replaced Cindy's fake frown. "No, Linds, really. I'm fine with this." She winked. "In fact, I promise to take you to that spa Jill and Claire set up for Tom's wedding with our spoils."

"Can't you just buy me a new gun and some ammo?" Lindsay pleaded. Then she saw Cindy's expression. "OK. Fine. The Spa." She kept her eyes unfocused as she looked around the room, not wanting her friends to know she was checking them out. Yep, they were all watching. "I still say we won't get to Valentine's Day before they figure out we're dating."

Lindsay yelped when Cindy smacked her arm.

Hands planted on her hips, Cindy said, "Even if they figure that part out, the pool is for us sleeping together. I'm holding out, Linds. No matter what you say, we're making it until Valentine's Day. I don't like being the object of your friends' wagers. We're going to beat the odds, even if I have to use your own handcuffs to keep those hands off my ass."

There were several smiles of anticipation and lots of mental counting of possible cash prizes when Lindsay's delighted laugh rang through the room.