The steady rhythm of his breathing keeps her awake. It's been a long time since she's allowed anyone to stay in her bed long enough to get comfortable, let alone fall asleep, and she's not used to it. The heat that emanates from his body warms her though, and the arm that he so casually draped across her chest is heavy and new but somehow soothing. The alcoholic haze of the previous night is starting to lift, and she's almost, but not quite, ready to panic. Because if she remembers the events of the last twelve hours correctly, she is lying beside the man she has just promised to love, honour and cherish 'til death do them part, and she is dimly aware that she's just made the biggest mistake of her life.

It started innocently enough. They'd dropped off a suspect to the LVPD, and since they weren't due to fly out until the next day they'd decided to hit the casinos. An hour or so at the roulette table had made them thirsty, so they'd grabbed a couple of drinks at the bar, which led to a few more drinks, then more drinks still, and by the time they stumbled out they were joking that it was just as well that they couldn't find the car, because neither of them was in a fit state to drive. So they'd decided to walk back to their hotel – they didn't really know where it was, they just picked a direction and started walking – and as they passed a store window depicting a poster of a perfect smiling family in board shorts and tank tops, he'd stopped to look at it and it was a good five or six steps before she realised he was no longer beside her.

"Such a crock," he said, when she called back to him.

"What is?"

"This. Happy families. It's all bullshit."

She walked back to the window and studied the poster. "I don't know; some people seem to manage it."

"Eames, come on. Two thirds of marriages end in divorce. Kids hate their parents, parents resent their kids, and no one talks anymore. They're too busy with their computers and iPods and cell phones and overtime to pay any attention to each other."

She couldn't think of anything to say to that, so she just nodded.

"It's a lonely, lonely life," he finished softly.

"I think you've had too much to drink."

He shook his head ruefully. "You ever get lonely, Eames?"

"I think everyone feels lonely at some point in their life," she answered carefully.

"Yes, but do you?"

"Occasionally," she admitted.

"What do you do to . . . to overcome it?"

"Where is this coming from, Bobby?"

"I'm just curious, that's all."

If her mind hadn't been as clouded as it was then she probably wouldn't have been so candid. But it was, and so she answered him honestly. "Well, I'll call my mother for a chat. Or visit one of the few friends I have left and spend some time catching up. Or invite myself to my sisters for dinner and use any excuse to hug my nephew. Sometimes I'll even go into work on my day off and argue with you." She'd hoped that would force a smile out of him, but it failed.

"So it's all about family?" he pressed.

She thought about it. "Yes. No. Family and friends. Equally."

"What if you don't have any family?"

"You have friends, Bobby," she said softly.

"What if you – if I – didn't want to burden them with my crap in case I scared them away?"

"Then I guess they're not really your friends after all."

"What if –"

"Bobby, would you cut it out with the 'what if's'? It's too late and we're too drunk to be having this conversation."

"Okay, hypothetically then. What if the one person in the world who gave a shit about you stopped caring?"

"You have more people care about you than you know."

"Hypothetical, remember? This isn't about me. But what if this person . . . what if she got fed up with all your crap and gave up? What if you realised that you depended on her for too much of your own happiness, and that it scared the fuck out of you because you know that she'll eventually leave you just like everyone else has?"

"What was the question again?"

"Eames. Please."

She took a deep breath. "Friendship is a two way street. I'm sure this hypothetical person – whoever she is – probably depends on you just as much as you depend on her. She's probably even had cause to wash her hands of you before, am I right?" She didn't wait for his response but barrelled on. "And she's still there. So she obviously sees something of worth there, and she's also obviously not the type to give up on someone easily."

He nodded. "Okay. I can live with that."

"Can we go now? I think I might remember where our hotel is."

"In a minute. I want to . . ."

"What?"

"How drunk are you?"

"Drunk enough."

"You still know who you are?"

"I'm pretty sure I know who I am. Just don't ask me where I am," she joked.

"Good."

She was about to ask him what he was talking about, but before she could his arms encircled her waist and it was another question that needed asking. "Bobby? What are you doing?"

"Something I've run out of excuses not to do," he replied cryptically. And then his lips were on hers, and he was kissing her like there was no tomorrow, and whatever she'd been thinking was gone forever.

"I've wanted to do that for a long time," he said when they pulled apart, a little breathless.

"What?" she asked dumbly.

"To kiss you," he explained, as if talking to a two-year-old, and then he kissed her again.

"Oh," Alex said, because what else could she say? She was standing in the middle of the street kissing her partner, and she didn't care that public displays of affection had never been her thing, or that a cool breeze had sprung up, because he was warm and his lips were warmer and suddenly that was all that mattered.

"You . . . this is bad," she said, when he drew back for a second time. "You shouldn't have done that."

"You did it too."

"And I shouldn't have. We need to . . . need to get back to New York."

Bobby nodded as if he were agreeing with her. "We can't go anywhere tonight though. Our flight's not until the morning. But I know something we can do."

She took one look at him and shook her head. "No. We are not doing that. We're in enough trouble as it is."

He laughed at her. He actually laughed. "No, not that. At least, not yet."

"Goren," she warned.

"Eames, hear me out. Why don't we do what most people do when they come to Vegas? Let's get married."

"What? No. Are you out of your mind?"

"Depends who you talk to. But believe it or not I've never been more sane."

"Quit it. It's not funny."

"I'm not joking."

"Yes you are."

"I'm not, and you know I'm not."

"We can't get married."

"Why not?"

She wanted to list all the reasons why it was impossible, but her brain was foggy and she could really only think of one reason. "Because you haven't asked me yet."

"Do you want me to get down on my knees? Because I'll do it for you. No?" he noted as she shook her head. He took hold of her hands and pressed a kiss in each palm. "Marry me, Alex. I'll make you happy, I promise."

She looked into his eyes and believed him. He was totally, utterly, absolutely serious. And while that scared the hell out of her, it also made her wonder what married life with him would be like.

"We can get married by Elvis," he joked, and then said the thing that tumbled all the defences she'd set up since Joe died. "And I don't want to be lonely anymore."

In the wake of his confession she couldn't think of a single reason why they shouldn't get married. So she said yes. And made the biggest mistake of her life.

TBC