New York, NY
November 16, 2001
"Sorry, Lennie," Dr. Katrina Cesarone said, "C.O.D. was a heart attack."
"Pay up," Detective Ed Green grinned, holding out his hand.
"You sure about that, Doc?" Detective Lennie Briscoe asked, reaching for his wallet. "No poison? No suffocation?"
"Heart attack, plain and simple," she shrugged. "Sorry, Lennie."
"Damn," Briscoe said, shaking his head and pulling a twenty from his wallet. He slapped it into Ed's hand. "You always seem to win when she's the ME."
"Yeah, come to think of it, I do," Ed agreed, winking at Katrina. "You're my lucky charm, Doc. I should take you to Atlantic City with me tonight."
"God," she laughed, pulling the sheet over the body. "It's been way too long since I've been to AC."
"You don't impress me as a gambler," Lennie began, studying her. He couldn't see her hunched over a smoky poker table, but then again, he'd learned to expect the unexpected from just about everyone.
"I live in New York, I gamble every day that I walk the streets," she quipped, pulling off her rubber gloves. "Believe it or not, I used to go down there a lot before my daughter was born."
"What's your game?" Ed asked, watching the dark haired doctor as she walked to the sink and washed her hands.
"Poker," she said, scrubbing her hands. "What about you?"
"I've done pretty well at the poker table, myself," he replied, with a smile.
"I don't know about you," she said, reaching past him for the paper towels. Damn, she loved the cologne he wore. "You play poker, you like Elvis Costello, and we're both addicted to Suzy T's buffalo wings. We may just be twin children of different parents."
"And that's why she's helping you win," Lennie teased, nudging Ed's shoulder. He'd noticed the attraction between his partner and the ME a while ago and had teased him about it frequently. Ed never denied it, but from what Lennie could tell, he never acted on it either. Although, Lennie had to admit, Ed was turning it on a bit more today.
"Detective Briscoe," she laughed, "I took an oath when I took this job. I can't falsify results. Besides, he's never once offered to share his winnings with me, so why would I help him?"
"Ouch, you're tough, Doc," Ed laughed.
"Damn, is that all it takes? Toss one my way, I'll share," Lennie added.
"I do have some ethics, Guys. Not a lot, but some."
The double doors flew open and two techs rolled in a new body. Ed watched as Katrina's eyes dimmed. Since the Towers fell, he knew she'd been pretty much living at the morgue and he could see that it was starting to wear on her.
"Got another one for you, Trina," began the taller man.
"Shit," she sighed. "Thanks, Guys." She waited until the techs left the room then closed her eyes and massaged her temples. Since the Towers fell, she'd been helping to catalog and identify the remains that had been pulled from the wreckage. It was the least she could do for the families of those who had died. Hell, it was her duty as a Medical Examiner, and an American. But, it was taking its toll. She was mentally and physically exhausted, having spent entirely too much time in the morgue. If she didn't have her three year old daughter, Ruby, to worry about, she wouldn't have left the morgue at all.
"You okay?" Ed Green's voice asked, pulling her from her thoughts. She opened her eyes and found genuine concern on his features.
"Yeah," she gave him a half-hearted smile, "I'm just exhausted, that's all."
"Hey Doc," Lennie said, patting her arm, "We've gotta roll. You take it easy, okay? Go home and give that little girl a hug."
"I will, thanks, Lennie," she smiled.
"You comin', Ed?" Lennie asked.
"Yeah," Green said, "Go on and start the car, I'll be there in a minute. I gotta get a copy of the lab results for the file."
"Sure," Lennie laughed, seeing through his partner's lie. "I'll be in the car."
Once Lennie was out of the room, he turned to Trina. "Hey, Doc, I had a thought."
"Okay?" she curiously asked, pulling on a pair of fresh gloves.
"Why don't you ride down to AC with me?" he offered.
"Ed…" she blushed.
"Look, you need to get outta here for a night and I could use the company on the ride, I was heading down by myself."
She studied him. His expression was earnest, but she still wasn't ready to trust it. "What? Your boys ditch you tonight?"
"They all wanna hang out up here, head over to Glam," he shrugged. "You ever been?"
She nodded, "Over priced, pretentious, music's too loud, dance floor's too small."
"Yeah, and that's why I'm flying solo tonight," he smiled at her, "Unless you come with me."
"Well," she mulled over the idea. "My daughter is with my ex all weekend."
"Let me guess, you were going to come back in here?"
"Yeah, I was," she sheepishly said.
"Come with me. I'll even buy you dinner."
"You pick," he coaxed.
Trina laughed, "You're not going to take no for an answer, are you?"
"No," he smiled.
"Okay," she said, making up her mind. "What the hell? I'll go. I'm out of here at 4. I need to go home and get changed."
"I'll meet you at your place at 6?"
"Yeah, that works. Guess you need my address, huh?"
"That would help."
"111 Worth. I'll be waiting in the lobby, okay?"
"See you at 6," he winked, and then walked out of the morgue.
Borgata Hotel and Casino
Atlantic City, NJ
November 16, 2001
Ed Green sat on the barstool, nursing a beer and watching the crowd. A three piece band fronted by a fairly decent female singer was keeping the dance floor busy with their repertoire of dance and pop tunes. He watched while they did a barely recognizable version of Prince's "Doves Cry"
"Please tell me they're not trying to play Doves Cry," Trina Cesarone's voice began, causing him to turn to face her.
He smiled, watching as she sat on the stool next to his. She grimaced and shook her head as the singer tried to hit one of Prince's famous high notes. "They're not that bad."
"Ed, please, they're a lounge band trying to be hip by doing a 15 year old song."
"You always this tough of a critic?"
She shrugged, "I'm just not the schlocky wedding band type of girl."
"You were okay when they were playing Chaka Khan."
"They played "Ain't Nobody" and despite the crappy job they did, they just couldn't kill such a hot song. Besides, you asked me to dance so it made it all worth while.
"So, you enjoyed the dance?"
"I did. But don't get any ideas, I will not dance to this song," she replied, drawing a laugh from him.
"Don't worry. I couldn't dance to this song when it was popular. I'm not going to try it now." Trying to sound casual, he said, "You wanna go back out to the tables?"
"You'd like that wouldn't you?" she asked with a devilish grin. She knew he wanted to get back out onto the casino floor. They'd walked away from the poker table when she was $1500 up and he was $500 down. She could tell he wanted to stay, but deferred to her request to get something to eat.
"I just want a chance to catch up," he shrugged, "After all, this trip was my idea, I'd like to get a little somethin' for my effort."
"Your male pride can't stand to have a woman win more than you?" she teased.
"That's not it at all," he protested, feigning indignance, "I just don't like to go home a loser."
"I wouldn't say you're a loser," she winked. "But, if you want to go try another hand or two, I'm okay with it."
He smiled broadly and stood up. "Come on, let's go."
"Feel better now?" Trina asked, as Ed stepped away from the cashier's window.
"Yeah, I do," he nodded, "Four grand better."
"And now you won more than I did," she teased.
"I'm tellin' you, that was never the reason," he insisted.
"Yeah, well, since my winnings are going to pay for daycare, I think you should buy me breakfast."
"Sounds like a good idea. What time is it?"
Trina checked her watch, "1:45, so much for partying the night away."
"You're the one who said she wanted to see the sunrise." His tone grew challenging. "The night is still young. You mean to tell me you want to head home already?"
"I don't wanna go home," she playfully pouted. "Besides, we're not driving to NYC right now. You do realize we've been drinking since we set foot in this place. I mean, I'm no where near drunk, but there's no way I'd survive a breathalyzer."
"Neither would I," he agreed, then, "So, that makes staying til morning a good idea. Let's see if we can get a room. I'll buy you room service and we'll stay up and watch the sun rise."
She debated it for a moment, then smiled, "Room service, huh?"
"And a sunrise…"
"I like the way you think, come on."
Trina sat in the bubbling Jacuzzi tub, allowing the jets to beat at her sore muscles. It felt good to get out of the city and away from the morgue and she'd really enjoyed spending time with Ed. He was smart, had a wicked sense of humor, could slow dance better than just about any guy she'd ever danced with, was sexy as all hell, and to top it all off, he seemed to be really attracted to her.
The playful flirting they'd normally enjoyed back in NYC had slowly evolved into a serious mating dance since they walked into the casino, so she wasn't totally surprised when he offered to share a room. What did surprise her was the room he managed to score at 2 am on a Friday. The Fiore Suite was about as opulent a room as she'd ever stayed in. It was nearly as big as her entire apartment and the bathroom was done in marble and mirrors with a two person Jacuzzi tub.
It took her all of 2 minutes after discovering the tub to decide to strip off her clothes and get in. Ed was cool about it and encouraged her to relax and enjoy. He said he'd hang out in the room and wait for her to finish before ordering something from room service.
She'd left him sprawled across the king sized bed, channel surfing. She had to admit that he looked pretty damn inviting, lying there, all relaxed. His tie was undone, but still hanging around his neck, his shirt collar unbuttoned. She could have very easily just lain down next to him, but instead, she headed for the bathroom. She silently cursed herself for being such a coward.
Hearing a knock on the door, she called out, "Come in?"
"The hotel sent up some champagne," Ed mused, carrying in a bottle and two flutes, "They said it goes with the suite?" He held out a flute, trying not to stare. Despite the bubbles that topped the tub, he knew she was naked in that water. All night long, he'd been wondering if he'd get a glimpse of the body she tried to conceal under her surgical scrubs. This was his chance, but didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable by walking in and gawking at her. That just wasn't his style.
Trina grinned, "I like champagne." She took the glass from his outstretched hand and took a sip. "This is the good shit, too."
"For what they normally charge for the room, it should be," he laughed, looking at the bottle.
"I still can't believe you scored this room on a Friday night," she shook her head. "You've got all the luck."
"I told you, you're my good luck charm."
"Ed, you can look over here, you know. You've got your eyes trained on everything but the tub," she observed.
"Yeah, well, I didn't think you'd want me walking in here checking you out…"
"It's okay," she shrugged. "You can check me out."
Green laughed, finally allowing himself to look at her. He couldn't see a damn thing through the bubbles. "No fair…you're all covered with bubbles!"
Trina laughed with him. "Sorry, Ed. I couldn't resist. The bubbles make the whole hot tub experience better."
"For you maybe."
"Don't take this the wrong way, but you should really join me."
"An attractive, naked woman invites me to get into the tub with her and I'm not supposed to take it the wrong way?"
Her eyes twinkled. "We're adults; we can be naked in the same tub without it having to be sexual, can't we?"
"Oh sure, I promise, I won't have any physical reaction to being in the water with your naked body at all," he deadpanned.
"I'd be offended if you didn't have a physical reaction," she laughed. "Come on, sit with me. I'll close my eyes while you get in."
"I'm secure with my body," he smartly said, setting the bottle and his glass on the wide ledge of the tub. "Unlike some people who have to cover theirs with bubbles."
"Yeah, well, most guys will strip in a heartbeat if asked," she sniffed.
He raised a brow, but continued to undress. "And how many guys do you ask to strip on a daily basis?"
"Not as many as I'd like. The naked guys I usually see have been stripped by the time I get to them on my table," she returned in kind, watching as he tossed his dress shirt onto the marble vanity top. She smiled.
"It'll be refreshing to see a live naked man for a change. I'm just appreciating the view. And, I must say, it's a very nice view."
"Great," he rolled his eyes, feeling strangely embarrassed. "Didn't you say this didn't have to be sexual?"
"I asked if it had to be," she said, sipping her champagne, "I didn't say whether it had to be or not."
"Smart ass," he laughed.
"That's me. I'm a Smart Ass Italian Girl. You gotta problem with it?"
"Not a one."
"Then stop standing there running your mouth, get naked, and get your ass in the water."
"Yes, Ma'am," he returned, unhooking his belt. "You gonna watch while I do this?"
"Depends, will it make you uncomfortable if I do?"
He unbuttoned his dress pants, then quickly unzipped and dropped them and his underwear to the ground. He stepped out of the pants and stood. "Not in the least."
Trina studied him for a moment. Damn did he have a nice body. She mentally kicked herself again for not making a move when she had the chance. "You gotta lose the socks."
"I planned on it, give me a chance." He pulled off his socks and laid them on top of his pants. "Happy now?"
"Get in the damn tub already?"
He climbed into the large tub and sunk down onto the seat across from her. "You're right. This does feel good."
"Told you," she agreed, then. "Thank you for talking me into this."
"I had an ulterior motive," he admitted, deciding to take a chance and speak his mind.
"You wanted to get me naked in a hot tub?" she teased.
"Well, yeah, but I thought it would be too much to ask," he returned, and then grew serious. "Seriously, I did want to spend some time with you. Away from NYPD, you know, to get to know you better?"
"I thought we said this didn't have to get sexual," she said, sipping her champagne.
"I didn't say I brought you down here to have sex," he dismissed.
"Why did you bring me down here?"
"Besides wanting to have a conversation without having to talk over top of a corpse? To tell you the truth, you looked like you needed to do something get you out of that morgue before you lost your mind."
"I was that obvious, huh?"
"Yeah, I figured if it's bad enough for me and Lennie to pick up on it, it had to be pretty bad."
She studied her empty glass. Looking up at him, she asked, "And you figured this would be a good time to get me away and spend some time with me?"
"I was right, wasn't I?"
"You were. Tonight was a lot of fun. You do know how to show a girl a good time, Detective Green."
"I try," he said, picking up the bottle and refilling their glasses.
"Well, you done good," she concluded, holding up her glass in mock toast. "I guess I owe you one now."
He shook his head, "You don't owe me anything. Like I said, I had my own motives for bringing you."
She studied him for a moment. Wondering what the hell attracted him to her? After all, whenever he saw her, she'd been in scrubs, with no make up and her hair pulled up. How attractive could she be? "You really find me attractive?"
"Why do you sound so surprised?"
"Cuz I think tonight was the first time you actually saw me in something other than scrubs. Oh, and wearing make up, too."
"I won't lie; the scrubs do nothing for you. I always thought you had to have a killer body underneath. After seeing you in that skirt tonight? I know I was right."
Trina laughed, "Killer body? Me?"
"Yeah, you," he returned.
"You need to get your eyes checked," she sniffed. "I've had a kid, Ed. And it shows."
"Yeah, and it looks damn good on you, too," he continued. "What'd you think I'd find attractive? Skinny models who are built like 12 year old boys?"
"I could see you with a model type," she agreed. "Probably more than I could see you with someone like me."
"Someone like you? Want to explain that one?"
"Yeah, someone with…curves. Someone who really only wears make up when she's dressing up and spends all of 15 minutes on her hair."
"You're beautiful," he said, realizing how lame it sounded. Sensing her protest he kept speaking. "I've done the whole high maintenance model type thing. And, yeah, they look real good on your arm, but that's about all they do."
"Wow," she mulled over his comment. "So you're telling me, you'd rather spend time with someone who's got a few curves and messy hair?"
He nodded, taking a sip of champagne. "I like a woman who knows how to relax and enjoy herself. Not one who's always worried about how she looks."
Trina laughed, "You are not at all what I imagined you'd be."
"And what did you imagine?"
"A player," she admitted.
"Oh, come on, Ed, you're a charmer. I just figured you'd be a normal guy and use your power for evil instead of good."
Green laughed. "I may have been a player in the past…"
"See!" she laughed with him. "I knew it!"
"In the past," he repeated. "But the older I get, the less I want to live like that."
"So, you want a woman who's low maintenance so you can let yourself go?" she teased.
"Damn, you're a ball buster, aren't you?"
"You act like you're surprised by that," she returned. "What? Your other girlfriends didn't bust them for you?"
"Not so much," he laughed. "But then again, you're not like most of the women I've ever dated."
"And, since we took it there…" she said, but he cut her off.
"Yeah, I've dated white women before," he said, having anticipated her question, "What about you?"
"I've never dated a white woman," she returned, causing him to roll his eyes. "Okay, okay, no. I've never dated a black guy before. But, what difference does it make? Do black guys do things differently than white guys?"
"God, I hope so," he dryly laughed.
"Very funny," she smartly said.
"Well, you tell me, do we do things differently?"
"I don't know. I just said I haven't dated a black guy before." she returned.
"I don't know about that. We had dinner, went dancing, and ended up naked. Sounds like a damn fine date to me."
"Okay, then, it was a date," she agreed. "And to tell you the truth, until this conversation, I never thought of you in terms of skin color." Seeing his dubious expression, she explained. "I mean, I don't think of you as "Ed Green, Black Man." I think of you as Ed Green, the attractive detective with a good sense of humor who actually knows as many obscure Elvis Costello songs as I do." She studied him for a moment, "And you're right, this was a damn fine date. And if the first date is this good, I can't wait to see the second."
"The second? Are you asking me out on a date?"
"Yeah, I think I am. What do you say?"
"I'm in," he smiled broadly. "Name the time and place."
"Tomorrow night? My place?"
"Your place? What do you have in mind?"
"Dinner," she returned. "I'm a damn good cook and I wanna show off. What happens after dinner is your choice."
Ed nodded, allowing an appreciative smile. "My choice, huh?"
"Yeah, why? What did you have in mind?" she asked, hoping, it sounded seductive.
"Maybe I'll get to see what's beneath the bubbles."
Okay, she thought, this is the time to be daring. "You don't have to wait that long," she said. "You can see that tonight."
"You aren't going to make me close my eyes when you get out of the tub?"
"Keep it up and I will," was her smart reply. "But, you seem to think I have a "killer body." Maybe I need to prove to you that you're way off base with that assumption."
"We're going to go there again, aren't we?"
"Yeah, we are," she finished her glass of champagne and set it on the ledge of the tub. "And I think it's time to go there now. Be prepared to be disappointed." She took a moment to summon her courage and slowly stood up.
Ed watched her stand, the water and bubbles running down along her pale skin. Despite her warnings, he was not disappointed. She had curves, for sure, but she wasn't any where near over weight. He put her at a full c cup and from what he could see; she was natural, not surgically enhanced. Her hips were full and her thighs and legs were firm. He couldn't imagine why she would be embarrassed by her body.
"I'm not disappointed," he said, with a sloe smile. "As a matter of fact, it's better than I imagined."
She felt herself blushing. "I told you, you need to get your eyes checked."
He watched as she stepped out of the tub. She walked to the door and took one of the white terrycloth robes that hung there. After wrapping herself in it, she grabbed the other robe. Turning to face him, she held it out to him. "Come 'ere."
"I gotta warn you…I've got that physical reaction thing going on," he said, standing up.
"Do you now?" she asked, watching as he stood and got out of the tub. She felt her breath quicken and her body respond to the site of him, wet and turned on. All doubts that they'd end up in bed left her mind. She just couldn't figure out if she should make the first move or wait for him to do it.
He resolved that issue when he reached out and took her hand, pulling her into his arms. He kissed her, softly at first, giving her a chance to pull away. She didn't. Instead, she wrapped her arms around him and returned the kiss.
"Damn, I've been wanting to do that all night," he smiled, pulling back slightly.
"Why didn't you?"
"I wasn't sure how you'd react," he honestly said.
"Now you know," she said, kissing him softly. "So, what else have you been wanting to do?"
"You sure you want to take this there?" he asked, studying her eyes.
"I'm not sure of anything any more, Ed," she quietly said, "Except that life's too damn short for all the "what ifs". I just need you to know, I don't do one night stands."
"We already agreed to a second date. I don't go back on my word." He kissed her again, untying the belt and allowing the robe to fall open. He slipped his hands beneath the terrycloth and onto her warm, damp skin, then pulled back to study her face again. "If you tell me to, I'll step off and call it a night."
Without another thought, Trina pulled him close and kissed him deeply. "Stop being such a goddamned gentleman and take me to bed."
Ed woke slowly, knowing, before he opened his eyes, that he wasn't in his own bed. The pillows were too fluffy, the mattress much harder, and the sheets did not have the familiar fabric softener smell. No, from the smell alone, he knew he was in a hotel. He wasn't alone, either.
Opening his eyes, he took in his surroundings and looked down to find Trina, sleeping peacefully, her arm draped across his chest. Recalling the previous night, he allowed a smile to form.
Trina opened her eyes and looked up at him. "Do you always smile in the morning?"
"Only if the night before was as good as last night," he returned, kissing her forehead. "How are ya?"
She moved so that they were face to face, "Pretty damn good, how bout you?"
"Can't complain." He tucked a stray lock of hair back behind her ear. "Guess I owe you breakfast, don't I?"
She smiled at him, "I don't want to get out of bed. I like laying here with you."
"Yeah, I like it too," he agreed, holding her tight. He kissed her softly.
"Of course, I liked last night, a lot better," she slyly said.
"Last night was…" he searched for the right word. "Amazing."
"I like amazing, that fits. Damn, if I'd have known it would've been that good, we could've skipped the gambling part of the evening and gone straight to bed."
Ed laughed. "Darlin', I don't know if I could've kept that pace up all night."
"You have a point there," she agreed. "Although, I have to admit, I don't think I've slept this well in a while."
"If we didn't have to check out at eleven, I'd be tryin' to tire you out again," he said, his voice taking on a sexy growl that sent a chill through Trina.
"God, I love that voice," she said, pressing her body against his, "You have no idea what it does to me when you talk like that."
"I figured it out last night and I've stored it away for future use."
"Future use, huh? Are you presuming you'll have the opportunity for future use?"
"You said you're not the one night stand kinda girl," he began, kissing her softly.
"I'm not. Besides, I'm a big believer in the theory that the sex can only get better over time."
"True," he agreed. "Then I guess we need to give this some time, don't we?"
"Yeah, I guess we do," she kissed him. "Think you can find the time?"
"For you, I've got all the time in the world."