Close Quarters

Chapter One

April 2010

If Penelope wasn't so tired when she got to her hotel room in Indiana she would have flirted with Derek as she watched him slip his key card in the door next to hers.

Instead all she managed was a "Good night, handsome," muttered while walking into her room.

She could feel his eyes on her, as she disappeared inside, and heard a "Night, babe," fall quietly from his lips. He was just as exhausted as her and just as inside his own head over the case they started today.

The unsub was luring women via an online dating site and convincing them he cared for them before he would break in and kidnap them. Every two weeks this happened and now three women were dead. The latest turned up yesterday. He held the women for thirteen days.

Penelope had come along to go through their computers. She spent all day working on the last victim's desktop, having to sit in her bedroom, surrounded by a dead woman's things. It took a toll on her. The team had worked with the local cops all day but got no where yet.

They had all flown out in the middle of the night before and hadn't been to the hotel till right this moment. Penelope was too wiped out to care that the accommodations were stark and very far from the five stars they enjoyed in New York a few years back.

She just flipped on the bedside light, opened up her suitcase to take out a nightgown, pulled off her clothes and on the gown and then fell into the double bed. It had been over twenty four hours since she had sleep and in only six hours they were supposed to be up and at it again.

Already she hated this case. It reminded her all too much of Jason Clark Battle aka James Colby Baylor. Another man who used the offer of love as a ruse to attack a woman. Only that time the woman had been her.

Men truly suck.


Derek's body wanted sleep but his mind wouldn't shut off. He lay in the bed, in just his boxers, with his hands crossed behind his head and thought about the woman in the room next door.

Penelope seemed down lately. He couldn't put his finger on what was bothering her and he didn't want to bug her about it- since she usually only got upset over Kevin and Kevin was a subject Derek never wanted to discuss with her. That was her business.

His jaw tensed. He let out a long breath.

Who was he kidding? He wasn't staying up tonight cause Penelope was having boyfriend troubles. He was up because he was having dirty thoughts about her. And all that separated them was one thin wall and the fact she was committed to someone else.

It was enough to keep Derek from moving an inch. But not enough to keep him from thinking about moving an inch.


Penelope groaned when the phone rang the next morning. It was her wake up call. She grabbed it and mumbled into the phone "Thank you," before getting out of bed and wandering to the bathroom.

When she came out of there she saw a door that she hadn't noticed the night before. Then it hit her. This was an adjoining room.

Adjoining to her gorgeous dark skinned best friend who just happened to also be her biggest crush ever.

She flipped the lock and opened the door, to find another door, and then she put her ear against it. Just then that door opened and she fell inside, right against the wall of Derek's bare chest. His arms came up to grab her.

Breathlessly she cried "Sorry!"

"No, I'm sorry," he whispered, in this low and intense tone.

She gulped as her eyes moved down and saw that he was only in boxers. Good God! This was unfair. She would never get this image out of her head now. Penelope stumbled backwards.

Derek went on, as his eyes raked over her body with a lustful gaze, "I was only checking to see that this door led to your room and not a closet. I didn't expect your door to be open." He pulled his eyes away and nobly avoided staring at her silk clad body.

She hurried into her room, grabbed a blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders, trying to hide how her nipples had pebbled. Her nightgown wasn't exactly sheer but it certainly had let him see more than he ever saw before, including a nearly indecent amount of cleavage.

Though Penelope was embarrassed she couldn't help but like the fact that he did, in fact, seem pretty turned on. If the way his eyes went dark and primal was any indication.

He didn't follow her into the room and Penelope wondered if that was because his physical reaction to her would be evident or if she was going overboard in thinking that. She called out "No big deal, Hot Stuff. Just don't think I'm showing you a good morning today cause I'm way too tired still for any slap and tickle right now."

"Maybe tomorrow," he called back, in a teasing tone.

She laughed and rummaged through her suitcase for clothes. Then she went to the bathroom to shower and change. As she passed the door she briefly thought of shutting it but decided not to.

Penelope liked her view. If Derek didn't like his then he could shut the door. She would soon be fully clothed and if he came around half naked she certainly would not complain. After all it had been years since she saw him peel his shirt off, and she'd never seen him in swim trunks, because she refused to go near a beach or pool with him.

This hotel had an indoor pool and a hot tub. But they were here to work, not play. Right?


Oh fuck! Derek thought as got in the shower, his hard on raging like he was back in high school.

She had looked like a vision out of his friggin fantasies in that nightgown. Damn! How he had resisted grabbing her and kissing her he did not know.

Silently chanting "Lynch. Lynch. Lynch," was all that held him back.

Fuck you, Kevin Lynch! Derek screamed in his head as he let the water run over him. You don't fucking deserve her. No one deserves her but me.

Derek knew he was being a territorial, possessive, horny, out of line, lecherous asshole but there wasn't much he could do about it. The memory of feeling Penelope in his arms, wearing that silky nighty with her hair all mussed from sleep, was wrecking his equilibrium and making being rational impossible.

This wasn't back in the old days, the first few years they knew each other, when he thought that he could have her with just one kiss and that made him feel powerful and safe all at once. No, this was the present, where he couldn't have her if he got down on his knees and begged.

Or if he said "Silly girl, I love you..... You're my God given solace.... You're the light of my life.... Never stop talking to me." He had said all that but nothing he said mattered. It was ironic. He used to be afraid to get real, in his words, with her because he thought she would expect too much out of him. More than he had to give. Now he could be real with her and he wanted to give her the whole package: white picket fence house, gold wedding band, a better and safer car with car seats in the backseat.

And now she didn't want any of it. Which made him wonder if she ever had. Maybe he was just someone to lust after for her.

God, he was lusting after her right back on this morning. Hard core. His hand was his only option though and that sucked big time. Not realizing how loud he was speaking he said "Ohhhhh, fuck, yeah, just like that, baby girl."


Penelope froze, just outside Derek's bathroom door. She had been about to knock and tell him that Hotch called. They needed to get to the SUV in ten minutes.

And then she heard what sounded like moaning and then his voice, clear as day, urging a fantasy lover on and then saying a nickname.

Her nickname.

Wetness pooled in her panties. Her eyes fluttered close. A hand pressed against her heart. This case was going to try her in every way, wasn't it?