Chapter One

It was late morning when Dr. Spencer Reid strode through the doors of Cesear's Palace in Las Vegas. It was a perfect sunny day in early June and Reid was feeling both elated, guilty, and even a little confused. As much as he loved his hometown, it felt peculiar to wander around a luxery hotel at a time when he was supposed to be at work.

A few weeks ago, Hotchner and Rossi had decided Reid needed to take advantage of his rarely used vacation time and have an actual vacation. Apparently, visiting his mother in the sanitarium and sleeping on the couch in her room didn't meet their definition of a vacation. Consequently, Rossi reserved him a suite at Cesear's, as well a first class ticket to the famous city of sin. With no other option, as well as good-natured ribbing from his colleagues, Reid packed his bags and headed out on his new adventure.

He approached the check in counter, looking casual and comfortable in jeans, t-shirt, wind breaker, and sneakers. His hair was adorably tussled as always and shades concealed his eyes. Sunglasses were a pre-requisite for anyone who wanted spend more than a second in Vegas and were as synonomous with the Sin City as gambling and quicky marriages. He pushed the glasses up over his nose and onto his forehead as the concierge looked up and acknowledged him.

"Goodmorning sir and welcome to Cesear's Palace. Do you already have a reservation?" The concierge was a middle-aged man in his late forties with mousy brown hair and slight build. He stood at about 5'6 and his name tag read "Doug."

"Yes, I do. It's under Reid. Spencer Reid," Reid replied, smiling politely at the man. Despite being on vacation, he couldn't help but profile Doug. His meticulous appearance belayed a man of order and precision and his mannerisms demonstrated someone who utilized his authority at work because he felt no real sense of power or control in his everyday life. He wore a simple gold band on his left ring finger, but the way he twisted it showed he felt awkward and trapped in the marriage, most likely because of his life's controlling ways.

'Stop Reid, stop, you're supposed to be on vacation," he admonished himself. Then he realized he was talking to himself and realized this was probably why he was on an involuntary sabbatical.

Doug typed Spencer's name into the computer and immediately found his information. After looking at his ID, he walked over to the wall that held an array of tiny cubby holdes. He found the desired one, pulled out a room key and walked back to the counter, hanging it to Reid.

"There you are, sir. I hope you're stay with us will be most satisfactory. Are you here for business or pleasure?" Doug asked politely.

"Pleasure I guess. My supervisor decided I needed some time off, so I was sent here for two weeks od R & R."

"How very nice of him," Doug replied. He pressed a button under his desk and within seconds two bellboys appeared at his side.

"Please help Dr. Reid with his luggage," Doug said to the two younger men. They nodded and judging from the look they exchanged, it didn't take a profiler or an IQ of 187 to see that they weren't exactly fond of dear ol' Mr Doug.

The two men took Spencer's bags and he followed them towards the elevator. As he was about to board, something, or rather someone caught his eye. Even after all these years, he would remember that face anywhere, and it wasn't just because of his eidetic memory. She was always on his mind and Spencer had to blink to make certain his mind wasn't playing tricks with him.

"Lila? Lila!" he called out to the woman several feet away from him. She was several yards away from him, walking in the opposite direction. Her head was bowed down and she seemed entranced by the blackberry in her hands.

"Lila!" he called again, his long legs moving towards her. The bellhops entered the elevator with Reid's luggage, business still very much as usual.

"Lila!" he said again, now a mere two or three feet away. Finally breaking free of her technology induced spell, she looked up and turned around. She was still as breathtaking as Spencer remembered. She wore a light green cotton sundress, sandals, and sunglasses perched on her head. Her golden tresses rested gently on her delicate shoulders and a purse dangled on a delicate chain on her arm.

"Spencer? Spencer Reid?" she said, looking as amazed as he was.

"The one and only. Well, not really the one and only because according to baby name websites Spencer is listed at 165 on the list so...."

"Not much has changed I see," Lila said with a laugh. "What brings you to Las Vegas?"

"My boss decided I needed a vacation. What about you?" Spencer asked.

"For work. I shot a commercial and had an interview and photo shoot a few days ago. Now I'm taking a few days of r & r before getting back to work."

"Are you still shooting Emotional Cages?"

"No. I quit two years ago to move back to New York. I'm more of an East coast girl anyway, so it was nice to return to my roots in some way."

"Are you originally from New York?" Spencer asked. Despite the intense attraction he felt for her, he actually knew very little about her.

"Have dinner with me tonight and I'll tell you," Lila said with a smile.

"Umm yeah, sure, I'd love that," he replied, feeling a rush of excitement he hadn't felt in years.

"Excellent. Is seven o'clock okay?" Lila asked.

"Sure. Which room are you staying in?"

"I'm actually in the penthouse, but it would be much easier for me to come to you. Security, you understand."

"Yes, of course," Reid replied.

Spencer and Lila stood staring at each other for a few moments before Reid cleared his throat nervously.

"Well, I better go get settled," he said.

"Alright, sure. I'll see you....oh wait! What's your room number?"

"3745."

"3745," Lila repeated. "I'll see you at seven at 3745."

With a smile on her face, Lila turned and walked off, leaving Reid to shyly wave goodbye. It was incredible that even though he had only been in Las Vegas since this morning and had yet to enter a casino, he already felt as though he had won the jackpot.


Chapter Two

It was later that evening and Lila was putting the finishing touches on her makeup. She was rarely able to do it herself since she was always working and surrounded by makeup artists, so this was a treat for her. She leaned forward in her chair to further inspect her appearance. She had gone with a smoky eye and left the rest of her makeup subtle. Her golden hair was worn long and the only jewely she wore was layers of silver bangles on her left wrist. She looked lovely in a classic black dress and heels.

Bumping into Spencer this morning had been a welcome surprise to her, because she had been thinking of him nonstop ever since they met four years ago. Lila didn't trust many people, so the connection she had felt with him had taken her by surprise. She had meant to call him, but had gotten swept away by show business and all the things she had been conditioned to think she wanted.

After the incident with Maggie, Lila went through the motions of her life and consented to countless media interviews, as well as continuing with Emotional Cages. When her contract was up for renewal, she decided to bow out and take some time to herself. For a year she dropped out of the public eye, choosing instead to safely tuck herself away from prying eyes and give herself some much needed down time. It was during this time she realized she no longer belonged on the West coast and decided to return to her roots.

Lila was a New England girl by birth, but she had actually been born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut, not New York, to whom she felt such affinity. She was the daughter of Harry and Arabella Archer. They separated five years later and divorced when Lila was ten. Harry married his second wife Debra three years later and went on to have three more children. Not to be outdone, Arabella remarried the same year.

Having decided Lila had ruined her once perfectly lithe dancer's body, Arabella spent much of her time trying to restore it. Her devotion to rigorous exercise and willingness to experiment with any and every bizarre, ill effective and downright dangerous diet fad put most Hollywood starlets to shame. And of course, her love of the art of "lip and tuck" had made her cosmetic surgeon a very elated, and wealthy, man. In fact, her patronage had earned her a fruit basket on holidays and a bouquet of roses on her birthday.

Lila studied herself in the mirror and could see much of her mother in herself. Both women were blessed with blonde hair, blue eyes, and the sophisticated beauty of Hollywood legends past. Lila's appearance was still untouched by a surgeon's scalpal, despite her mother's urging of the opposite. There's always room for improvement, Arabella would murmer, her voice well modulated, soft, husky, and clipped in an upper-crust tone.

She lowered her gaze, hoping the disconnect from the glass would snuff out the sound of her mother's voice. Her mother began her ballet career at the age of two at Miss Laci's Dance Academy, the most prestigious dance hall for young ladies on the east coast. Arabella was born and bred in Greenwich, but her dance skills landed her in the School of American Ballet at age six. Upon graduation, she accepted a position with the American Ballet Theatre. Later that year, while performing in Rome, she met Harry Archer.

Six weeks later they were walking down the aisle and Arabella was already pregnant. Lila was born the following spring and her mother continued her career as Prima Ballerina until an injury forced her to retire years later. Arabella had always been rather frosty by nature, but the premature end of her career froze her even more. Lila had always blamed herself for the end of her mother's career and Arabella did precious little to dissuade those fears.

Lila was lost in her thoughts until her gaze happened to land on her clock. With a start she realized it was almost seven o'clock. Not wanting to keep Spencer waiting, she rose from her chair, picked up her purse, and walked to the door. After giving the room a final once-over, she shut it firmly behind her and walked towards the elevator.


Chapter Three

Meanwhile, Spencer was in his room, trying to decide which outfit made him look less nerdy. As he examined his options, he quickly realized he had none. As he frowned thoughtfully over his plight, his cellphone rang. He picked it up, thinking that with his luck Lila was calling to cancel.

"Hello?"

"Hey, playa. How's life in Sin City?" Reid smiled, welcoming the sound of Morgan's voice.

"So far so good. How's life in Quantico. Are you able to get along without me?"

"Just barely. I'm telling ya man, I don't know how I'm going to get along without seeing that pasty white face for the next two weeks."

Reid giggled and continued to look over his attire. Donning only boxers and socks, he realized he better make a decision quickly or risk scaring off his date.

"So what are your plans for tonight man? Reading every book at the local library? Watching a Star Trek marathon?"

"Actually," Reid said, holding up a white dress shirt, "I'm going out tonight."

"Oh yeah? Is it senior appreciation night and you volunteered to hold Dottie's coin cup?"

"Umm *no*. I have a date."

"Now that's what I'm talking about my man! Who is she? It *is* a she right?"

"Alright, I'm hanging up now."

"Sorry, man. You know I'm just messing with you because I can."

"Yes, yes I do."

"What's she like? Anyone I know?"

"As a matter of fact yes. Lila Archer. Remember her?"

There was a long silence before Reid spoke again. "Hey, Morgan, are you still there?"

"Yeah, man, sorry. Lila, hmm? Wow. That's....wow."

"Do you have a problem with that?" Reid put on a pair of dress pants and assessed himself in the mirror, wishing he had an ass to fill them out.

"No, not at all man. I'm just surprised. I thought Lila lived in L.A."

"She did, but now she lives in New York. She's in town on business."

"Oh, okay."

"Listen Morgan, I know you have a problem with this so spit it out."

"I...I just don't want you to get hurt, kid. Long distance relationships are hard enough in and of themselves and celebrity compounds that."

"Who said anything about a relationship? I don't even know if she's going to meet me for dinner."

"Don't sell yourself short, kid. You're a great guy and you deserve to be happy. Just be careful. I know you're crazy about this girl."

"I don't think crazy is the correct term. Craziness, insanity, or madness is a spectrum of behaviors characterized by certain abnormal mental or behavioral patterns. In fact, insanity is derivative of..."

"Hey man, look at the time! I have to umm, there's this thing..."

"Talk to you later," Reid said.

"Yeah you, too. Only next time, speak English."

"Umm, that *was* English. I can't help that your idea of literature is Playboy."

"Hey, I'll have you know that Playboy is renound for their insightful, groundbreaking articles."

"I'm sure they are."

"Well, I'm gonna go. Have fun tonight and don't forget to wear a condom."

"Goodbye, Morgan," Reid said, his face burning with mortification.

"Bye man."

After hanging up, Reid set his phone on the bed and continued eyeing his rather pitiful wardrobe. It was at that moment there was a knock at the door.

"Spencer? It's Lila," she called out.

"Oh, okay, hang on," he said, feeling more than a little panicked. He scoured the bed before snatching a dress shirt and jacket from the bed. He threw them on in record time and was tying a knot in his tie as he walked to the door. After smoothing the front of his clothes and taking a deep breath, he opened the door. Whatever composure he had fell by the wayside the moment he saw Lila.

"Finally. For a minute there I thought you were climbing down the balcony," she teased. When Reid didn't answer, Lila raised her eyebrows.

"It was a joke, Spencer," she said.

"Y...yes I know. I just can't get over how beautiful you look," he said.

"Oh...well...thank you," Lila said, her cheeks turning crisom under her pale pink blush. Although she was used to the lewd looks and innuendos of the men in L.A., she had little experience with the sincere admiration projected from Spencer.

As she stood in the doorway, Spencer suddenly remembered sometime. He raced towards his dresser and retrieved the desired item. Earlier that evening, he had taken a cab to a nearby florist and purchased a bouquet of Lavender roses. Although Lila had once stated that Red Anemones were her favorite flower, Reid thought they might bring up negative connotations, due to Maggie. Roses, however, were not only romantic, but they were also the state flower of New York.

Even though he asertained that Lila hadn't been born or raised in the Big Apple, the state still meant a great deal to her. He had decided to go with Lavender over red for a few reasons. The main reason was to avoid associating the red from the roses to the red of the Anemones. Another was that Lavender was one of the rarest hues for the flower and also represented enchantment and love at first sight. Reid wasn't sure if he believed love at first sight was possible, but she definately had an effect on him.

"Umm here, these are for you," Spencer said, looking a tad sheepish as he presented her with the bouquet.

"Oh, Spence, they're beautiful, thank you," Lila said, leaning her nose into them to inhale their intoxicating aroma. "I love roses. Did you know they are the state flower of New York?"

"Yes I did. That's why I chose them," Reid replied, pleasantly surprised she had made the connection.

"I absolutely love flowers. You should see my hotel room and my apartment in New York. I have holticulture and gardening books *everywhere*. People think I'm such a nerd, but I don't care."

"I'm glad to hear that. We'll have to go to a conservatory together sometime. In fact, I know of a couple if you're interested."

"I would like that," Lila said, smiling at him.

"Well, umm, good," Reid replied, shutting the door behind them. Once the door was secured, Spencer and Lila made their way toward the elevator.


Chapter Four

"The Eiffel Tower is one of my favorite restaurants in Vegas," Reid said as he and Lila were seated at their table.

"Do you come to Vegas often?" Lila asked. Before leaving the hotel, Lila asked the bellhop to put her flowers in her room, which he did.

"Actually, I was born and raised here," Spencer replied.

"Well, then I think it's safe to assume the answer is yes," Lila said.

Spencer laughed and a waitor arrived at their table. After reviewing the wine list, Spencer made a selection and sent the man on his way.

"Is your family still in the area?" she asked.

"The only family I have is my mother and yes, she still resides in Las Vegas. I visit her as much as possible, which is still never enough."

"That's sweet," Lila said, a soft smile on her face. "What about your father?"

"There isn't much to tell. He divorced my mother when I was ten and that was that."

Lila nodded understandingly and lowered her gaze to the table.

"When did your parents divorce?" Reid asked.

"That obvious, huh?" Lila asked, a rueful smile on her face. "They divorced when I was ten, but they separated when I was five."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

Lila shrugged and at that moment, the waitor returned to their table.

"Are you ready to order?" he asked. He looked impeccible in his suit and upon inspection, Reid could see an inconspicuous id tag that read Todd. Ever the gentleman, Reid gestured to Lila, letting her order.

"I would like a cheeseburger and fries, please," she said, handing him the menu.

Todd raised an eyebrow, taken aback, but dutifully wrote down the order. "With all the trimmings?" he asked.

"Yes, please. And cooked well if you don't mind."

"Of course, ma'am," he said. He then turned is attention to Reid. "And for you, sir?"

"You know what? I think I'll have the same thing," he said, handing Todd the menu.

"Very good. Your meal will be ready momentarily," Todd replied. He turned to walk away, but Lila made him pause.

"While we're at it, could I...we have some milkshakes?"

"Certainly. What flavor would you like?"

"Half chocolate, half strawberry."

"And I assume the same for you as well, sir?" Todd asked Reid.

"Sure," Reid said and Todd walked off. Once the waitor was out of earshot, Lila flashed her date a sheepish smile.

"I know you were expecting a salad and Evian sort of girl, but if I have to suffer through all that cardio and aerobics I'm going to treat myself."

"I never pegged you as a 'salad and Evian sort of girl,'" Reid said with a laugh.

"Why? Are you saying I'm fat?!" Lila asked, a look of horror on her face.

"What? No, no, oh *God* no! What I mean is..." Reid's face now dyed a deep shade of cranberry.

"Relax, Spence, I was kidding," Lila said, erupting into a fit of giggles. "For someone so intelligent, you certainly are guillible."

"I don't get out much," Reid said with a shrug.

"I find that hard to believe. I would think that working for the FBI you've racked up all kinds of frequent flyer miles."

"Yes but that's for work," Spencer replied. At that moment, Todd arrived with their milkshakes and set them on the table.

"Your dinner will be here shortly," he said to Lila, with a look of clear appreciation on his face.

"Thank you," she replied and he walked off.

"Are you done distracting me so you can tell me more about yourself?" he asked with a smile.

"There's not much to tell," Lila said with a shrug. "Both mom and dad remarried three years after the divorce. Dad and Debra have been married for fifteen years and have three kids. Mom's second husband died five years ago and she remarried a year later."

Reid raised an eyebrow, so Lila quickly added, "No she didn't kill him. He was hit head on by a drunk driver."

"I didn't say anything," Reid said.

At that moment, Todd returned with their meals. He set their plates in front of them and quietly departed. Lila lifted her hamburger with her hands and raised an eyebrow as Spencer picked up a knife and fork.

"Speaking of the salad and Evian type," Lila said.

"I just don't like getting my hands dirty," Reid said, looking a little sheepish.

"Too bad," Lila murmured before sinking her teeth into a small mountain of beef, cheese, and other amazing things.

Spencer and Lila slipped into a comfortable silence as they tucked into their meals. Spencer took a sip of his milkshake, surprised to discover he actually liked the chocolate/strawberry combo. As he looked around the restaurant, he noticed a group of plainly dressed, yet totally conspicuous men tolding very expensive cameras in their hands. Spencer was taken aback by the flash, feeling blinded by a million different beams of light. He looked over at Lila, who was directing her focus on her meal, despite the tight purse of her lips.

"Do you want to get out of here?" he asked.

"No, it's okay, really," Lila said.

"Are you sure? Because I don't want you to feel uncomfortable..."

"Spence, listen to me," Lila said, setting her cheeseburger down and taking his hand in hers. "The paparazzi have been apart of my life for more years than I care to think of. I refuse to let them take anymore of my life than they already have. Now let's tune them out and enjoy our dinner."

"Yes ma'am," Spencer said, smiling at her.

"Good," Lila said and the twosome resumed their meal.


Chapter Five

It was later that evening when Spencer and Lila were in the elevator riding up to Lila's penthouse. Also along for the ride was George, the bellhop, and Jude, her ever-discrite bodyguard of nearly five years. After dinner, Spencer and Lila went for a walk in the beautiful gardens of the hotel, but had to cut it short when the paparazzi became too much to handle. So instead, Lila suggested they go up to her penthouse and Spencer readily agreed. Lila looked over at Spencer and gave him a sheepish smile.

"I'm sorry about tonight," she said.

"What do you mean? I'm baraged by paparazzi on a regular basis. The only difference is you can't see them."

Lila laughed and Spencer felt happy and relieved he could soothe her anxiety. "It's so nice to be with someone with a sense of humor. The people I come in contact with usually fall into two distinct catagories: the ones totally creeped out by the paparazzi and the ones who *use* me to get to the paparazzi."

"And then there's me," Spencer replied, taking her soft, delicate hand in his. "the one who falls into the 'bemused, yet too enthralled with his date to care' catagory."

Lila gave his hand a gentle squeeze, which Spencer returned. They held each other's gaze in contented silence until the elevator stopped.

"We've arrived at your penthouse, Miss Archer," Jude replied, maintaining a respectful distance from her and Spencer.

"Hmm? Oh, okay," Lila said, forcing herself to tear her gaze away from Spencer. As they stepped off the elevator, George looked nervously at her.

"Have a good evening Miss Archer," he replied, obviously star-struck by the beautiful young starlet.

"You too, George, and thank you for taking such good care of me during my stay here," Lila replied. George's face turned beat red and Lila discretely placed a folded bill in his hand.

Spencer and Lila walked to the door of the penthouse with Jude trailing mere feet away. Lila slide her key throw the lock and the threesome entered the room. As Jude walked around to assure their safety, Spencer quietly scanned their surroundings. The penthouse was large and spacious, decorated primarily in white. As Spencer looked around, he realized most of the rooms color originated from the bouquets of flowers neatly arranged throughout the space.

A bookshelf opposite the flatscreen television caught his eye, so he mosied over to take a look. Not at all to his surprise he discovered most of the books were gardening and horticulture related. As he plucked one from the shelf, Lila was already by his side.

"There are eight areas of study in the horticulture industry," she replied, standing on her tiptoes so she could read over Spencer's shoulder. "They are grouped into two broad sections."

"Ornamentals and edibles," Spencer replied, leafing through a book relating to arborculture, which is the cultivation, management, and the study of individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants.

Lila smiled up at him, impressed, yet really not surprised he knew that. "When I told one of my co-stars I was reading about Roman viticulture, she asked if Flinstone Vitamins were made in Rome. When I told her viticulture is the study of grapes and that the word viticulture stems from the Latin word vine, she said: 'I didn't know Flinstones grew on vines.'"

Lila and Spencer both laughed over her costar's stupidity and she watched in amazement at the speed in which he turned the pages.

"If I didn't know any better, I would swear you were actually reading that book," she replied.

"That's because I am," Spencer replied casually. "I can read 20,000 words a minute."

"How is that possible?" Lila asked in amazement. "Isn't that faster than a computer?"

Spencer shrugged and resumed his reading. "Your love of all things plantlike started as a child," Spencer said matter-of-factly.

"What gave it away? The wear and tear of the books or the scribbles of crayon on the first few pages?" Lila asked.

"Umm, both, actually," Spencer replied.

"My grandmother was the one who encouraged my love of nature," Lila said. "I used to help her in her garden all the time when I wasn't in school. She has three acres of property on her estate, so her home is like a floral playground for me. While most children went to the park or played sports, I busied myself pulling weeds and pruning. Grammy gave me a weedwhacker one year for Christmas and one would think it was a dollhouse or Barbie Jeep the way I reacted."

"Her death was recent?" Spencer asked.

"H...how did you know that?" Lila asked.

"By the way you referred to her in both the past and present tense. When someone loses someone they love recently, it's often difficult to come to terms with that, so they refer to the person in present tense in order to escape the reality of the person no longer being with them."

"She passed away a year ago, from a heart attack," Lila said.

"I'm sorry," Reid said, placing the book back on the shelf and resting a hand on her shoulder.

"Would you like a grand tour?" Lila asked, abruptly changing the subject. Spencer nodded and she walked him around the place.

"It was your manager's idea to leave the room white," Spencer replied. "As a way to try to provide calm and peace in your life. He knows you're under a lot of stress and wants to try to diminish that."

"White also represents death in Chinese culture," Lila replied. "So I guess he wants me totally at ease before he causes my demise?"

"White also represents cleanliness, so at least your death won't be too gruesome," Spencer said, enjoying the reproitre.

Lila and Spencer both laughed. "You are right though, about the decor of this room. I know Ron means well, but honestly, I feel like I'm in an institution."

"I see you more as pink person," Spencer said, not wanting to think of institutions.

"Did you know that until the 1940s, pink was considered a masculine color because of its relation to red? Before then, blue was considered a feminine color because of its relation to the Virgin Mary, as well as its perceived delicacy and daintiness."

"Do you still love red?" Spencer asked, trying not to bring up unpleasant memories, but wanting to make certain she had come to terms with what had happened.

"It takes more than a deranged stalker to ruin my favorite color," she replied. "I'm guessing blue is your color."

"Is that because I'm delicate and dainty?" Spencer teased.

"Well that," Lila said with a laugh. "and its association with trust, dependability, and commitment. That has you written all over it."

"All I need to do now is learn to catch a frisbe and I can moonlight as a Golden Retreiver," Spencer replied.

Lila laughed and Spencer walked over to look at some photos hanging on the wall, as well as ones displayed on the fireplace mantal. There weren't many photos hanging up and none of them were of Lila's life in L.A. Instead, they appeared to be family photos. One that caught his eye was of Lila posing with a middle aged couple with two young boys and a girl who appeared to be in her early twenties. There was another picture of Lila with the girl, their arms wrapped around each other, their body language relaxed.

The two women were a study in opposites. While Lila was tall, blonde, and petitely built, the girl was of short stature with an hourglass figure, dark brown hair and eyes. Although the two women seemingly had nothing in common physically, upon closer inspection Spencer immediately zoomed in on their high cheek bones, thin pink lips, and the mischevious glimmer in their eyes.

"How old is your sister?" he asked.

"Twenty-three on Halloween. Despite the four and a half year age gap, she's my closest friend."

"What's her name?"

"Ashley. Ashley Nicole. She lives in New York as well."

"It must be such a comfort to have her closeby again," Spencer stated more than asked.

Lila nodded in agreement. "She was one of the many attractions that led me back to the Big Apple."

Spencer inspected the photograph further and took note of Ashley's attire. In contrast to Lila, who wore skinny jeans and a simple pink sweater, Ashley wore a colorful shirtdress, leggings, and heels. The outfit was fashion forward, yet professional.

"Is she a fashion designer or interior decorator?" he asked.

Lila nodded. "She works for KMV Designs, which is an interior design firm in Manhattan. She interned there during her final year of college and was hired immediately after graduation."

"It's so cool her birthday is on Halloween," Spencer replied. "That's my favorite holiday."

"Mine, too!" Lila exclaimed. "I brainstorm costume ideas all year and count down the days until I can start decorating!"

"How early do you start?"

"Sometime after Labor Day," Lila admitted, her cheeks turning a bit rosey.

"There's no shame in meticulous planning," Spencer said. He took note of the other photograph, the one with the middle aged couple and two boys. He looked over at Lila.

"Your father, stepmother, and brothers I assume," he said.

Lila nodded. "My dad, Harry, is an attorney and my stepmother, Debra, was a paralegal in his firm when they first met. She later became his office manager, but quit after Ashley was born."

"How long have they been married?"

"Fifteen years."

Spencer merely nodded and Lila pointed to the tallest of the two boys. He had Lila's slight build and Rachel and Debra's dark good looks. "That's Cooper. He's thirteen." Lila then pointed to the other boy, who was only inches shorter than Cooper, but had sandy blonde hair and baby blue eyes. "And that's Conner. He's almost ten."

"And that must be your mother," Spencer replied, gesturing towards a framed photo that was slightly tucked behind the others. There was no denying the woman's maternal claim towards Lila because they looked almost identical to each other.

Lila nodded. "Her name is Arabella. She was a prima ballerina when I was little, but retired many years ago."

As Spencer looked at the photographs, certain things stuck out in his mind. The first was that Rachel was the most prominent person on display, giving credance to Lila's claims of closeness. The second was the positioning of Arabella's photograph. The displaying of the picture suggested loyalty on Lila's part, but the hidden aspect suggested a rift of some sort and Lila's discomfort over having to display a reminder of her. The fact that there were no photographs of the two women together did not escape Reid's trained profiler eye.

Neither did the photograph of the little blonde girl, which was tucked behind the photograph of Lila with Harry, Debra, and their children. The little girl appeared to be about four years old and Reid immediately recognized the golden haired, liquidy blue good looks. The child was dressed in ballet apparel and her tresses were scooped into an elegant bun, with her hair parting towards the right. Beside the photograph were three small, pale pink and white candles decorated in pale gray ribbon.

Lila watched as Spencer's brown eyes burned into the framed imagine. "Would you like to go swimming?" she asked.

"I didn't realize you had a pool," he replied, turning his attention to her.

"It's just put there," Lila said, nodding towards large windowed doors on the opposite side of the room. Spencer noticed that they opened right up to an inground pool with a hot tub close by.

"There's extra suits in the master bathroom," Lila quickly added.

"Are pool parties a common occurance around here?" Spencer asked, trying to remain light hearted in spite of the fact the prospect of being so exposed around such a beautiful girl scared him to death. A beautiful girl that he was crazy about and that could have any man she wanted. Spencer was well aware of the fact that he didn't measure up to most women's ideal of the ideal male specimen.

"They were the hotel's idea. They like to go out of their way to accomodate their 'special guests'," she replied, thinking of how when Ron and the hotel manager said those exact words, it took all the willpower in the world to keep from rolling her eyes. Now, she was giving them both a mental high-five, because their excellent planning meant she finally got to see her sexy FBI agent in practically nothing. Not only did both men get an imaginary high five, gift baskets and a bonus were also in their future.

Lila could see Spencer's hesitation, so she gave him a reassuring smile. "Don't worry Spencer, it's just us. There's a 'do not disturb' sign on the door and Jude will keep a respectful distance."

After thinking about it for a few minutes, Spencer finally spoke. "You're not going to make me wear a speedo are you?"

"Not this time," Lila said with a giggle, although the image of Spencer is such apparel almost made her drown in a puddle of drool.

"Then in that case, I guess I should suit up. Although I must warn you, I don't exactly resemble the type of men to which you are acostomed."

"Good," Lila replied. Spencer gave her a surprised look before they separate to ready themselves for some wet, liquidy fun.


Chapter Six

It was a few minutes later and Spencer was sitting on the edge of the tub, his stomach knotted with nerves. In compliance with Lila's wishes, he was now donning a pair of navy blue swim trunks. However, in line with his own insecurities, he felt he had been bolted to the tub and couldn't get up. He had never been a beach or pool person, mostly because of his body image issues. He put his head in his hands, feeling nauseous from nerves. He was contemplating making a run for it when there was a knock on the door.

"Hey, Spence, are you finding everything okay?" Lila asked.

"Hmm? Oh yeah, sure," Spencer replied, looking up. He looked around the bathroom and quickly came to the conclusion that there was no way but out. With no other options before him, he rose to his feet and walked towards the door. Before turning the knob he spotted a robe, which he immediately threw on. Once it was securely tied, he opened the door and his jaw dropped when he saw Lila. She was wearing a pink bikini that accentuated every curve of her body but didn't go overboard.

"Are you ready?" she asked.

Spencer nodded and followed her towards the pool. "You didn't get into the pool yet," he remarked, noting how dry she looked.

"I wanted to wait for you," she said. "Oh, and nice robe by the way," she teased.

"Yeah, I think so. I guess they really do want nothing but the best for penthouse guests around here," Spencer replied, running his hand along the soft white cashmere. His hotel robe was nice too, but not this nice.

"Yes, yes they do," Lila agreed patiently as she opened the doors leading towards the pool area. "but they didn't provide that robe. I brought it with me from home."

Spencer's face turned beat red and Lila giggled. "I would have thought the LGA monogram on the back would have been a dead give-away."

"I didn't really notice that," Spencer said, trying to think of a way to save face.

"For what it's worth, it really does suit you," Lila said. They walked towards the pool and Lila noticed Spencer's hesitation when his hands rested on the robe's belt.

"Spence, why are you acting so self conscious? I think you look fine," she said.

"I've just never been a fan of the whole swim trunks look. I feel like I'm a little too exposed in them," he replied.

"Well, I wouldn't mind letting you swim with the robe on, but I'm afraid all that heavy cashmere might weigh you down. I wouldn't want to kill you on our first date. On our second or third one maybe, but I need to get to know a person first before I come to such a decision."

Spencer laughed, but Lila could tell he still felt self conscious. "Alright, I'll tell you what, Spence. I'll get in the pool first, turn around, and close my eyes while you get situated. How does that sound?"

"Good except for one thing."

"Which is?"

"You're not going to pull me in like last time are you?"

"Maybe, maybe not," Lila replied, giggling mischieviously. Spencer simply shook his head as Lila dove into the pool. The water was permanently set at sixty-five degrees and felt amazing. When she came to the surface, she leaned back, allowing her golden tresses to fan out under the warm liquid. After a moment, she lifted her head and smoothed her hair back with her hands.

"How does it feel?" Spencer asked.

"Amazing," Lila sighed contently. "Hurry up and join me!"

"Yes ma'am," Spencer said, mesmerized by her beauty. As per their agreement, Lila turned her back towards him and closed her eyes. With her gaze securely off of him, Spencer slowly removed the robe and gently laid it across a nearby chair. He walked over to the stairs and gingerly tested the water with his foot. Deeming it satisfactory, Spencer walked down the stairs and once emersed in the water, glided towards Lila.

"May I turn around now?" she asked.

"If you must," Spencer replied, trying to sound pained by the notion. Lila turned to face him and once again his heart pitter-pattered as he lost himself in her eyes.

"Isn't this better than being pulled in against your will?" she teased, swimming around him, resembling an overactive fish.

"Considerably," Spencer said.

Lila was continuing to swimming around him, humming a song he had never heard before. He just stood there watching her, his eyebrow raised.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Oh come on, Spencer. Don't you recognize the Jaws attack song when you hear it?" Lila teased.

"What's 'Jaws'?" Spencer asked, looking puzzled.

"Only one of the most successful films in cinemic history. It's regarded as a watershed film in motion pictuire history. It's considered one of the first 'high concept films'," she said.

"I take it you're a fan."

"You could say that."

Spencer continued to watch Lila, who would dart closer to Spencer, then pull back again, swimming all around him. He just watched her, bewildered but amused.

"Just what in the world are you doing?" Spencer asked.

"I'm deciding when to go in for the kill," Lila said, trying to put on her best killer-shark face.

"Ohh, I'm shaking," Spencer said, holding up his hands and quivering in a playful fashion.

"Oh yeah? Am I making the big bad FBI agent quiver in his borrowed swim trunks?"

"Oh definately,"

"Well then, come and get me and teach me a lesson."

Before Spencer could react, Lila darted off towards the other end of the pool. Her motions with quick and effortless, almost unworldly. Not wanting to be outdone, Spencer took off in hot pursuite. Within moments, he was within inches of her. He reached out and grabbed Lila by the waist, pulling her close.

Shrieking with laughter, Lila tried to swim away, but Spencer wouldn't let go. Turning to face him, Lila splashed a wave of water in his direction before taking off. After sputtering and wiping the water from his face, he followed after her, splashing as well. The fun continued for a while until they had to stop and catch their breath, as well as wipe the water out of their eyes.

"I was wondering if you were going to be able to catch me," Lila teased, slicking her hair back.

"Me not able to catch you?" feigning astonishment at the very notion. "How in the world could that be possible? I am an FBI agent afterall."

"Yes you are," Lila replied, moving close to him. She reached up and gently smoothed his hair away from his face.

"I'm feeling an incredible sense of de ja vu," she murmured, looking into his eyes.

"As am I," Spencer replied, holding her face in his face. They gazed into each other's eyes and it wasn't long until their lips found each other. The kiss started out tentatively at first, each one afraid the other would pull away. Once they discovered that wasn't going to happen anytime soon, the kiss deepened.

Their lips blended into one pale pink, hungered mold, with neither one knowing where the first one started and the other began. Lila ran her fingers through Spencer's drenched, matted down locks and pulled him closer to her, insatiable for his touch. In turn, Spencer held her neck with one hand and placed the other on the small of her back, pulling her body closer to his. Lila felt his arousal against her bare leg and it sent a shiver down her spine.

Spencer was overcome with desire, craving more and more of Lila with each passing second. He slowly slid part of his tongue into her mouth, testing her reaction. Lila responded by opening her mouth wider and allowing the rest of it to enter. Their tongues were now engaged in the same erotic, hungry dance as their lips and their bodies ached to join the fun. Lila let out a soft moan, relishing the taste of him.

She lowered one of her hands and brushed it gently against his chest. She allowed her fingernails to barely graze his erect nipples and their kissing grew more intense. She ran her hand up and down his dampened flesh, loving the feeling. Although Spencer was tall and lanky, he still had some muscle to him. He reminded her of the male runway models she met in New York, only much, much hotter.

Spencer griped the back of her neck while gently caressing her buttocks. Although Lila was slender, she had some shape and roundness in that area. He gave her bum a gentle squeeze, loving the feel of her flesh in his hands. Lila arched her pelvis towards him and he rewarded her by slipping his hand inside her bikini bottoms. He ran his hand along her bare buttocks and Lila almost fainted from the sheer ecstasy.

Lila could feel the hot tension brimming between her legs and she knew her wetness had nothing to do with the pool. She wrapped a leg around Spencer's waist and pulled him close. All that separated them now was two thin pieces of material, and their bodies seemed to be willing them away. She moved her hand lower and traced the band of his swim trunks with her finger tips. Spencer moaned into her mouth and Lila's hand disappeared into his trunks.

Her hand ached to touch him and was quickly rewarded when it found Spencer's throbbing member. It was thick, rock hard, and to her delight, quite long. She started to wrap her hand around it, but Spencer reached down and gave her wrist a little squeeze.

"Lila..." he choked out, his voice thick with arousal.

"Why did you stop me?" she asked, kissing him again.

"It wasn't from a lack of interest," Spencer said with a slight chuckle. "It's just that...I'm an old fashioned kind of guy and it isn't my policy to make love on the first date. I would like to take things slow, if that's alright with you."

Lila's heart melted when he uttered the phrase 'make love' because it wasn't one she often heard from the men she dated. The look in his eyes was one of longing and ernestness, but not for the reasons to which she was accustomed.

"I would love that," she replied, removing her hand from his shorts. He removed his from her bikini bottoms and they both looked at each other, rosey cheeked.

"You started it," she teased.

"Me?! You kissed me first!"

"But you put your hand in my bikini bottoms first, tease!"

"I am not a tease," Spencer replied in mock offense.

"Oh yeah? Well, try to catch me and say that to my face!"

Before Spencer could react, Lila splashed him and took off swimming. After blinking away the tidal wave, he turned around and was right after her.


Chapter Seven

It was early the next morning when Lila arose from her slumber. She looked over at her alarm clock and saw that it was just after seven o'clock. After giving herself a moment, she sat up and stretched. Years of working in the entertainment industry had accustomed her to waking at early hours and she honestly couldn't remember a time where she had been able to sleep in. After one last longing look at her mattress, she climbed out of bed to begin her day.

She walked into the restroom to brush her teeth and take a quick shower. As she turned on the water, images from the previous evening flashed through her mind. Being with Spencer again was a magical experience, something she had wanted for a long time. That said, she couldn't help but feel twinges of anxiety and regret. She had felt so alive with him last night, but hoped her boldness hadn't scared him off.

After brushing her teeth, Lila turned on the shower and stepped into the steaming water. Most people needed time to adjust their body's to heated water, but Lila stepped in full force. She thought that maybe it was her way of cleansing herself of her misdeads. And she certainly knew a thing or two about making decisions that caused others grief and pain. She wasn't just thinking about Spencer of course, but last night's actions were certainly her most recent blunders.

All her life Lila had sworn she wouldn't turn into her mother. Even though she loved her as children are dutifully expected to love their mothers, those feelings were mixed with those of pain, anger, resentment, and even contempt. She understand how a woman with Arabella's atributes could turn her back on those in favor of using cunning, guile, and physicality to get what she wanted. Somehow, groping a man whom she hadn't seen in years seemed like something Arabella would do.

Minutes later, clean though not totally absolved, Lila stepped out of the shower and wrapped a white linen towel around her head. She grabbed another one and rubbed her body vigorously before wrapping it around her slender frame. She walked out of the bathroom and towards her dresser, looking for something to wear. Her closet was full of more formal attire, but today she felt like being casual. Her outfit of choice was white capris and a pink floral, silk, off-the-shoulder top.

She had just put on her undergarments when she heard her cellphone ring. Her stomach coiled into a tight, melancoly knot as the identity of the caller became crystal clear to her. Even if it wasn't for the personalized ring tone, she would know who it is. Only one person in the world would call her at time of day. After taking a deep, shaking breath, she reached over and answered the phone.

"Hello Mother," she said, trying to keep her tone steady.

"Tell me this, Lila, are you trying to destroy the remnents of your pathetic career or are you really this dense?" Arabella's tone was as harsh and well modulated as always.

"It's nice to see you haven't lost your charm," Lila replied.

"Don't get fresh with me young lady, just answer the damn question. Are you trying to destroy your career and reputation?"

"So now I've ruined my reputation as well. And to think I thought my face was obscured in that sex tape...."

"LILA!"

"Will you please stop 'Lila'ing me and just tell me what the hell you're talking about?"

"I'm talking about reports of you neglecting your responsibilites in favor of socializing with some anoynamous government employee."

Suddenly her mother's rantings began to make sense. She knew the paparazzi had been taking photos of her and Spencer the other night, so she should have realized they be front page news by now. Even after all this time, the level of intrusion never ceased to amaze her. After the Maggie Incident, the amount of press coverage thrust upon her made Princess Diana seem anynomous by comparison. She couldn't even walk from her front door to her car without being hounded. Even after taking a hiatus, it hadn't relented.

"LILA! For God's sake Lila you could at least *pretend* to have the mental capacity to follow this relatively simple conversation."

"Yes, mother, you're right. I'm sorry," Lila replied. She was trying to uphold the shield she had put up, but could feel it tumbling around her.

"Of course you are. Now will you please tell me about your companion or do I have to find another way to obtain information?"

The last thing Lila wanted was for her mother to start snooping into her personal life, so she look a deep breath and answered.

"His name is Dr. Spencer Reid. He works for the FBI and was the detective who saved my life."

"Yes I am aware of his name and occupation. What I want to assertain is the nature of your rekindled relationship."

"What relationship, mother? Yesterday was the first time either one of us had seen or spoken to each other in years. That hardly adds up to love and marriage."

As soon as the words exited her lips, she felt a hollowness deep inside her. Lila had never truly felt loved by anyone and couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to be loved by someone like Spencer Reid. She quickly abolished the idea, knowing he would never give someone like her a chance. Even if he had considered it, she was sure her provokative behavior the night before had enialated that.

"Good. Keep it that way. I have done some research on your little friend and I find him most unsavory. I think your best option is to align yourself with a professional superior. You need someone to take care of you and guide you since Heaven knows you can't do that yourself."

"I can take care of myself," Lila protested meekly, regretting the words as soon as they came out. Trying to get through to Arabella was about as effective as trying to teach sharks the salsa. Actually, Lila thought the latter was far more realistic than the former. She was about to go hunting for her dance shoes when her mother's voice shrieked her back into reality.

"Lila Grace Archer you cannot be this delusional. The pinnacle of your career, if you can it that, was that pathetically forgetable beach show....and you were foolish enough to quit! Someone of your limited abilities should just take what is offered."

Lila could feel that familiar sick feeling in the pit of her stomach and knew she had to get off the phone now.

"I have to go, mother."

"Don't use that tone of voice with me young lady. I am simply trying to give you the help you so desparately, and obviously need."

"What I *need* is to get off the phone."

"Why you insufferable little..."

"*I'm* insufferable?! For God's sake Arabella are you even listening to yourself?!"

"How dare you show me such disrespect! After everything that I have done for you!"

"'Everything you have done for me'?! All you've ever done is blame me for not being...."

It was at that moment that there was a knock at the door.

"I have to go. Goodbye."

Before Arabella could respond, Lila hung up and immediately shut off her phone. After throwing on her clothes in record timing, she raced to the door, pausing a moment to take a breath and settle the sickness brewing in her abdomen. Once she had collected herself, she looked through the peephole and couldn't believe what, or rather who, she was seeing. Feeling a cross between a psych patient and a young child on Christmas Day, she opened her door.

"Spencer! What are you doing here?"