This story takes place somewhere in Season 2 or 3, when Brenda and Fritz still lived in the bungalow.
Brenda sighed and leaned over her case file, feeling annoyed. She was distracted by the distinct sound of someone searching for something in a closet, without much luck. The sound of items being shifted by impatient hands and things being thrown on the floor in frustration kept interrupting her flow of thought.
She took off her glasses and rubbed her nose. "Fritz, you are raisin' a racket. I'm out here tryin' to get some work done, for Heaven's sake. What exactly are you lookin' for?"
Brenda was at home, the small dining room table filled with crime scene photos and interview notes of the case she had wrapped up earlier that day. Normally she would be in her nice, quiet office, with no disruptions except for Walter the janitor, who would come in to empty her trash and timidly say hello. However, Fritz had recently asked her to come home and do paperwork instead of staying at the office whenever she could, and she agreed. He had confessed to her how much he hated being alone in the house, missing her, and she realized his request was a reasonable one. On other evenings when she dragged a couple of boxes home to do her work, Fritz would make her dinner and then leave her alone. He would watch TV with the sound way down, read quietly in the living room, or sometimes, join her at the table with some of his own work, or to read the sports pages. He took special care not to disturb her, except for a kiss on the head whenever he walked by, or a guilty smile when she caught him staring at her. She had to admit it was nice to have him around when she did her work, and it was clear that it made Fritz very happy. And he really did make an effort to leave her undisturbed, so she got her work done as efficiently at home as she did at the office. Except for tonight.
The banging stopped. Fritz came out of the bathroom, his hair messed up, clearly aggravated. "I'm looking for my shoeshine kit," he said irritably. "I could have sworn I put it in the bathroom closet. Have you seen it?"
"I don't even know what a shoeshine kit is, Fritz. Why would I know where it is?"
"Well, I thought you might have borrowed it or something," he said. "Don't women's shoes ever get scuffed up? I mean, what do you with them?"
"Toss 'em out and buy a new pair," Brenda said casually, as she put her glasses back on and reached for a file on the other side of the table. "Besides, I thought men got their shoes shined at those shoe-shine places. Where you sit up high in those wooden chairs and someone shines your shoes for you."
"That was back in the 30's, Brenda. Nowadays, we men shine our own shoes."
She looked at him over the rim of her glasses. "Not true. They had those shoeshine whatevers all over Georgia."
"I rest my case."
"Never mind. Have you seen my kit? It's about this big— "he held his hands out to make an 8 inch square— "and it's black."
"Why do you need it so urgently on a Friday night when I am tryin' to get some work done?" she asked, exasperation in her voice. "You're makin' enough noise to raise the dead."
"Because, Brenda, we are going to a wedding tomorrow morning, and I need to get my outfit ready tonight. And my dress shoes are a mess. And I don't want to go to Jeff's wedding with scuffed shoes."
"God forbid," she whispered under her breath.
"Speaking of being ready, Brenda, do you know what you are wearing tomorrow? Because the wedding starts at ten, so we have to get up and ready pretty early."
"Who do I have to impress? Jeff is your coworker, not mine. Besides," she said, waiving her hand, not looking at Fritz, "I can just pick a dress out tomorrow mornin'. It will just take me a second." She glared intently at a typo in Provenza's case notes.
Fritz was silent.
"You're rolling your eyes at me," she said, still staring down at the report. "I don't even need to be lookin' at you to know you are rollin' your eyes at me, Fritz Howard." She frowned.
Fritz laughed. "Brenda, you are scary, you know that? Really scary."
"I'm not scary at all," she said with a sniff. "You are just predictable is all." She suppressed a smile, not very successfully.
Fritz came over and put his hand on her shoulders, leaning over to kiss her cheek. "OK, if I'm so predictable, why can't I find where my shoeshine kit is? I've used it since I have lived here, so why isn't it where I thought it would be?"
Brenda turned around and looked at him. "Well, if you were a suspect and I was tryin' to understand your behavior, I would ask you where you used to keep it, in your old place. People tend to be creatures of habit. You might have put it back where you used to keep it, not where you keep it now."
"Good point. Let's see, here I keep it in the bathroom closet, at my condo I kept it in the bedside table."
"Just in case, for those middle of the night shoe-shinin' emergencies?" She smirked at him.
"Very funny, Ms. Interrogator. My bedside table at my condo was really big. I can show it to you, it's out in the garage with all my other stuff." He folded his arms and looked at her.
"And that's why we're lookin' for a bigger place, so you can have all your stuff and you will never have to search for your personal belongin's again." She playfully swatted him on the arm. "So why don't you go look in your tiny little side table in the bedroom and see if you can't find what you're lookin' for, so I can get you out of my hair."
He playfully squeezed her shoulders. "Yes m'aam," he said, and headed off toward the bedroom. Brenda, glad to be rid of Fritz, turned her full attention back to the case notes she was reviewing for her final report.
Ten minutes later, after more shuffling and deep sighs that Brenda tried to ignore, Fritz called out from the bedroom, "honey, I can't find it in my bedside table. Do you mind if I look in yours, just in case I put it in there by accident?"
Brenda only half heard him, engaged in reading the transcript of the defendant's confession. "Sure," she answered back, anything to quiet you down, she thought. She read through a couple of lines of her dialogue. Jeez, I really am kind of scary. The thought made her smile.
A few minutes later, a thump came from the bedroom, as if a large body had collapsed on the floor, followed by raucous laughter. What the hell, she thought.
"Fritz?" she called. "Everything OK in there?" No answer. She grumbled as she pushed her chair back from the table and stood up, knowing she had to investigate. She was going to have to renegotiate this working from home thing, she thought, because it wasn't working out too well at the present moment.
She walked into the bedroom and saw Fritz sitting on the floor, his back leaning against the bed. He was next to her bedside table, and all the drawers were open. He was laughing so hard that his whole body was shaking, and he had to gasp for breath.
"Oh Brenda," he said, fighting for control, "this is just rich. You, the quintessential Southern Bell, to polite to even use swear words," he had to stop for a minute to wipe tears from his eyes. "Your momma would have a meltdown if she saw this!" he burst into laughter again when he saw her puzzled expression.
She put her hands on her hips. "Fritz, I have no idea what you are goin' on about, but I have a report due on Monday summarizin' a five-day manhunt, and I don't need your shenanigans gettin' in the way of me…" She stopped suddenly when Fritz held something out for her to see. It was about eight inches long and was covered in a loud Hawaiian pattern.
It was her vibrator.
She felt the heat rise from her stomach up to her crown, and she knew she was turning bright red. Her mouth got dry, and her pulse started racing. She had completely forgotten what she kept in her bottom drawer.
With a thick tongue, she croaked the first lie that came to mind. "It's not mine."
This started a fresh wave of laughter-induced tears flowing down Fritz's cheeks. "Oh it's not, huh? Are you holding on to someone else's vibrator? Honey, isn't that what kids say when they are caught with a joint in their pocket? I know you can come up with a much better excuse than that." He was clearly enjoying her obvious embarrassment.
"And tell me," he went on, holding the vibrator and turning it on, so a soft hum filled the room, "what's up with the pattern? I haven't seen a lot of these, I have to admit, but I had always thought that they would be, well, a little more, shall we say, realistic looking. Unless women get more turned on by tacky flowered pattern. But now I know all this, I am going to start coming to bed with a lei around my neck. Um, no pun intended." His own face was growing red from laughing so hard.
Brenda thought she was going to faint. Please, let a giant hole open my up and swallow me, she thought. She wondered if it was possible to die from embarrassment. She had to say something, or he would continue to torture her. "Fritz, I, I was a single woman for a long time, you know, and women have needs, and…" she gave up talking, because she was just making Fritz laugh harder.
"Oh promise me Brenda, we can play with this in bed someday. It would just be so fun to see what this, um, Hawaiian toy does to you." Brenda felt herself go crimson. "And yes, women certainly do have needs! Come see what else I found in the drawer!" Fritz was enjoying himself immensely. "Let me turn it off, because I would hate to run down the batteries." He set the vibrator down and turned back toward the bedside table, reached into the bottom drawer, and pulled out several books. "Look what we have here!" Fritz grinned, turning back to Brenda.
Let me die, let me die, let me die, she chanted in her head.
"A little light bedtime reading, I see, Ms. Johnson. Best Women's Erotic Stories 2002, Best Women's Erotic Stories 2003, Best Women's Erotic Stories 2004…oh, I'm so glad I don't see 2005 in here, since that's the year we started dating. I'll take that as a complement," he winked at Brenda, relishing her mortification. "Oh, and I like this one…The Big Book of Women's Fantasies. Now what do you women fantasize about?" he said, opening the book.
"Fritz," Brenda forced out, "just stop it, OK?"
"Honey, stop what? I am simply being a good partner and trying to figure out what turns you on. I'm sure you didn't buy these books, or your little Hawaiian friend here, if you weren't looking for ways to fulfill those needs of yours." His eyes twinkled. "So let me check this out. Hmm, here's a story about a threesome….you, me, and Harrison Ford perhaps? Oh, and this story is about girl on girl action. Funny, I always thought that was just a guy's thing. But if you have anyone in mind, Brenda, I'm all for it, as long as you let me watch! And this one is about bondage…no, I don't quite think that's your scene, unless there is something you haven't told me?" he looked at her, trying to quash his smile, raising both eyebrows suggestively. Brenda resisted the urge to smack him.
He went on, reading the topics of various stories, even quoting some of the text. "This is great! 'My biggest fantasy is to go shoe shopping, wearing my miniskirt and no underwear, and watch the men's faces when they helped me try on shoes.' Oh, that's a good one. Is that one of your fantasies, Brenda? Because you do have a lot of shoes, and that little black skirt of yours…whoa!" He pretended to wipe sweat off his forehead.
Enough, Brenda thought. I am standing here and blushing like a teenager, and Fritz is enjoying it. So what if I have a vibrator and some erotica? Lots of women do, and I am way too old to be embarrassed by my sexuality. This little scene is gonna stop right now.
Using the technique that allowed Brenda to slip in and out of character depending in who she was interrogating, she took a deep breath and transformed from embarrassed child to sexy woman. She surreptitiously unbuttoned two buttons on her blouse, so the lace of her black bra was clearly visible. She stood up straight, and willed her blushing to stop. She took a few steps toward Fritz, swinging her hips. Fritz looked up at her and immediately stopped reading out loud, noticing the difference in her affect.
In her best honeyed Southern drawl, she said throatily, "you know what, Fritz, we should bring my vibrator to bed." She paused for effect, and Fritz's smile faded a bit. She leaned over a bit, to make sure he could see her cleavage.
"It could teach you a thing or two about pleasurin' a woman." She smiled at him, and then slowly turned and walked out of the room, swinging her hips seductively as she went. As soon as she was back at the dining room table, she sat down and smiled smugly, pretty sure she just wiped the grin off of Fritz Howard's face.
A few moments of complete silence in the bedroom passed, and then she heard the sound of objects being placed back in a drawer, and the drawer being firmly shut.
Is Fritz gonna take that? See Chapter 2 to find out!