Shawn entered the spa. The lights were on and the music was playing. Evan lay on the reclining chair, wearing a chemical peel mask. Hearing Shawn's entry, he said, "That was fast."
"Where's Tanya?" Shawn asked.
Evan peeled a slice of cucumber off his eye and turned his head.
"Oh it's you. You literally just missed her. She's getting a special moisturizer for me."
Shawn quickly scanned his eyes over the room. It was deserted, and none of the cupboards looked large enough to conceal a person.
Then he saw something that made him use a stronger swear word. It was a copy of The Courier lying face-down on a stack of magazines by Tanya's chair. Shawn didn't need to open it to know it was the copy with the story of Rodney Gibson's arrest and Lassiter's photo in it. He had his own copy at home. He flashed back to the love letters in Tanya's room. They'd been signed Rod. Tanya had been talking to her boyfriend, Rodney Gibson. This meant that Tanya knew not only that Lassiter was really a cop, but that he was the cop who had put her boyfriend behind bars.
"You might want to rinse that peel off now, Evan," Shawn said, turning for the door. "Tanya's not coming back." He ran out of the spa and down the hall to the reception area. O'Hara and Gus were there.
"Where the hell were you last night?" Gus hissed at him. "And if I already know, then I don't want to know. You know?"
"Forget that. A psychic flashbomb just went off. We're in trouble. Tanya's not at work," he said breathlessly. "And she knows Lassie's a cop."
"I'll warn Lassiter," O'Hara said. She whipped out her cellphone. After a few moments she closed it again. "There's no answer. That's not good."
Just then Tim came staggering in, holding a bloody towel to his head.
"Detective Lassiter…" Tim, obviously in pain, spoke through gritted teeth.
"What's wrong, Timmy?" Shawn asked anxiously. "Is Lassie in trouble?"
Tim fell heavily into an armchair.
"Tanya's got him," he said. "I saw him enter her cabin and thought I ought to be there in case he found anything. She cracked me over the head with something really heavy." He pulled the towel away and looked at it anxiously, as if expecting to see brain. "When I came to, they were both gone." O'Hara took a look at the head wound.
"You'll be okay," she said. "But get to a doctor soon for some stitches and to check for internal bleeding, and in the meantime, don't go to sleep." O'Hara pulled her gun from her shoulder bag. "I'm going to check out the cabin. They might still be around."
"What's the quickest way out of here?" Shawn asked.
"She's got a car," Tim said.
"I'll get the Sheriff's department to set up a roadblock," O'Hara said. She headed out the door.
Shawn was pretty sure that a roadblock was too obvious. He ran his mind back over everything he'd seen since arriving. Then he remembered the boathouse.
"I'm sensing a boathouse," Shawn said for Tim's benefit. "Gus, come with me." Gus and Shawn ran down the terrace to the lake. Raj and a small handful of GORN members were congregated on the dock, holding waterskis and looking bewildered.
"Did Tanya come through here?" Shawn asked.
Raj gestured to the dock. "Yeah. She and Booker just took off with our boat. I was in the middle of a lesson here. What's going on?"
"Tanya's a thief and a murderer, and now she's kidnapped a cop," Gus said. He looked across the lake, where the waves from the speedboat were still visible, rippling over the surface. "Maybe the Sheriff's department can send a boat."
"They'd never get here in time," Shawn said. He turned to Raj. "Is there another speedboat around here?"
"Mine's in the boathouse," Raj said. "It's got three times the horsepower. If you hurry, you might catch up with her."
Gus and Shawn hurried to the boathouse and in moments were following the make of the stolen speedboat.
"Maybe she's just going to confess her feelings for him, like Candace did with Crockett," Shawn yelled over the whine of the engine.
"Another Meatballs reference?" Gus yelled back, "At a time like this? Really Shawn?"
"A time like this?" Shawn protested, "This is an awesome time!"
"Are you out of your mind? The man you're crazy about is being held by someone we know is a cold blooded killer. How is that awesome?"
"Okay, that part's not so awesome. But this! Gus, we're in a high-speed boat chase on the open water."
"Open water refers to the ocean. This is a lake."
"Don't ruin this moment, Gus. We're rocking it Miami Vice style."
"I will not be Tubbs for you, Shawn."
"I thought you wanted to be Philip Michael Thomas."
"Fifth grade was a long time ago."
"How about being Jamie Foxx?"
Gus's brow wrinkled in thought. "Maybe. He was damn good in Ray and in Ali."
"And I always enjoyed his work in Booty Call," Shawn said. He grabbed a pair of binoculars and scanned the lake ahead of them.
"There she is!" he pointed to a spot on the lake. With the naked eye the boat could just be seen, but was getting larger with every passing moment as their superior horsepower propelled them forward. Pull alongside her, as close as you can."
"Are you out of your mind?" Gus yelled. "If we hit her at this speed we could lose control and flip."
"Gus, please. She's got Lassie." With the binoculars Shawn could now see Lassiter's limp form crumpled on the deck.
Gus manoeuvred the speedboat as close as he dared. Shawn edged his way onto the gunwale. Lassiter was motionless, but Shawn could see him breathing. Water was spraying across the boat, making it slippery. If he didn't jump soon he knew he might topple into the water. Releasing his grip on the cockpit, Shawn pushed off the gunwale as hard as he could toward the second speedboat, not caring where he landed. He smashed heavily onto the padded side seating of Tanya's craft. He wanted to check on Lassiter, but there was no time. Tanya had already abandoned the wheel and whirled around, pointing Lassiter's gun at him.
Great! Trust Lassie to bring his gun to search a cabin.
She was unsteady on her feet as the boat bucked over the waves. His keen eyes noticed the safety was on. He lunged forward. Shawn grabbed her by the wrist and they struggled for possession of the gun. She was surprisingly strong. They ricocheted off the cabin. He smashed her wrist against the port rail and Lassiter's gun flew off into the lake. Enraged, Tanya kicked him backwards with her legs. His head smashed against something hard and he fell, losing his grip on her. His hair felt wet and blackness began to seep in at the edges of his vision every time he tried to sit up. Tanya grinned and moved toward him, now holding a very sharp boat knife. Shawn's mind panicked. Maybe he could hold her off with his feet once she got close enough, if he could stay conscious.
"Hey!" Shawn saw Lassiter rise up behind Tanya, "You leave my boyfriend the hell alone."
Tanya turned, knife in hand, and was quickly dropped by Lassiter's strong right cross.
"Sweet moves Lassie," Shawn murmured as he collapsed, exhausted, where he lay. "It looks like those cardio boxing classes have paid off too."
Back at the main building, everyone had gathered in the lounge. Tanya Becker, looking surly and bedraggled, was handcuffed and awaiting the arrival of a transport car. Lassiter was holding an icepack to his head and drinking a hot cup of coffee. The members of GORN filled the available plush seating and a few had brought chairs in from the dining room.
"All right, ladies and gentlemen, listen up." Shawn clapped his hands together for attention. "Lassie has an announcement."
"My name," he said, "is Carlton Lassiter, and I'm not a history professor. I'm the head detective for the Santa Barbara police department."
"Hot," Clark said, grinning. "Is he a cop too?" He pointed at Shawn.
"He's a psychic detective," Gus explained, "but we work closely with the Santa Barbara Police Department." He gave Clark a Psych business card. "Here's our card. We do private cases as well."
"I asked them to come here," Tim said, looking malevolently at Tanya and touching his sore head. "Well—I asked the police to come. I didn't ask for a psychic."
"You didn't have to, Timmy," Shawn said. "I picked up on your dilemma psychically. Your aura was projecting so high it was like the bat signal."
"Mr. Rodriguez asked us to look into a series of thefts, the most recent being a Patek Philippe watch. My partner, Detective O'Hara and I arranged to come here undercover and identify the thief."
"Hold the phone, Lassie," Shawn put a hand on his shoulder and let it linger. "You've got great abs, but you suck at this mystery wrap-up thing. You've started waaaay too late in the story. We need to go back to a year ago."
"A year ago?" Lassiter looked at Shawn, then quickly looked away. He was sure everyone would be able to see the familiarity in his gaze.
"Yes. That's when Rebecca Milton went away for six months. She told everyone that she was visiting her sick grandmother, but in reality she was in jail for shoplifting."
"So Rebecca was the thief?" Tim asked.
"Yes and no," Shawn said. "She was a kleptomaniac. That's someone who steals things, not someone who sleeps with everybody. The important thing is, during her six months in county jail, she made a friend."
"Tanya Becker." O'Hara said.
"Exactly. Her cellmate, Tanya, just got out of jail a month ago. She looked up Rebecca and pressured her into getting her a job at the resort."
"I should have known something was up," Tim said. "Rebecca was a little weird about recommending Tanya." The woman in question looked at the floor.
"Is this the part where you remove her rubber mask and reveal her true identity?" Clark asked.
"Clark, please." Shawn said. "This is my wrap-up. I make the jokes." He walked over and put a hand on Tanya's shoulder. She glared at him and he quickly pulled it away. "Becker was a great manicurist," he continued, "but a terrible esthetician. It may take weeks for my pores to recover. And that unattended peel could have cooked poor Evan's face off like a raspberry-scented wildfire."
A butch woman near the fireplace raised her hand.
"Yes, you in the crewcut. You have a question?"
"Why did Tanya want to work at a gay resort in the middle of nowhere? I mean, no offense to Mr. Rodriguez, it's a great getaway. But why did she want to be here? She wasn't a lesbian—I can tell—and it's not like she was hiding from the police."
"She wanted a place for her and her boyfriend, Gibson, to lie low after their jewel heist," Lassiter said.
"But then Detective Lassiter arrested Rodney Gibson," O'Hara said.
"That's right," Shawn slapped a hand to his ear, as if using a ghostly cellphone. "If you check her cellphone records I think you'll find out that Rebecca Martin was the one who told you where Gibson was going to strike. Rebecca didn't like confrontation. So she called in an anonymous tip. No robbery, no need for Gibson to come to the resort."
"She was protecting the resort," Tim said, smiling. "That's so her."
"Gibson needed $50,000 to make his bond, " Shawn continued, "I can see her now, with my psychic wayback vision." He stumbled, as if the vision was overpowering. "Tanya started stealing, trying to build up the needed cash. She figured that even if anybody did notice she could pin it all on Rebecca and her sticky fingers." He fell to his knees in front of Lassiter who looked around helplessly. "Once expensive stuff started to go missing Tim got suspicious and called in Lassie here." He stared up at Lassiter and ran a hand up his leg. Lassiter stepped back and crossed his arms, trying to look serious and professional, and not at all like someone who had slept with Shawn the night before.
"My open smash and grab case," O'Hara said, "happened just down the street from the nail salon where Becker used to work. I bet we can match the blood found at the scene with hers."
"Oh, she's got bigger worries than being booked for a smash and grab," Lassiter said. "How about murder, assaulting an officer, aggravated assault, kidnapping, and grand theft. Oh, and taking an officer's weapon." Lassiter had to admit that he was more upset about losing his favourite Glock than he was about being blindsided with a piece of Inuit sculpture the second he walked into Becker's cabin.
"Since she hit me over the head and stole from my guests," Tim said, "am I legally obliged to pay her for this week?"
Gus looked apologetically at Tim. "Probably."
"Why did she kill Rebecca?" Clark asked. "I thought they were friends."
"People like Becker don't have friends," Lassiter said. "They just have people they can use. Becker figured out we were on to her and planted one of the stolen items in her room. Maybe Rebecca caught her. Tanya killed her and tried to pass it off as suicide."
"That's not true," Tanya said, visibly upset now." "We were friends." She looked at Lassiter though teary eyes—real or fake he couldn't tell. "She was the one who brought me that newspaper with your picture in it. She was going to rat on me if I didn't return the watch."
"So you killed her," Lassiter said grimly. "Nice friendship." He waked over to Shawn, still sitting on the floor, and reached out a hand. "Get up, Spencer."
Tanya Becker had been taken away in a squad car, Tim Rodriguez had been driven to the hospital for a CAT scan, and the majority of the GORN members had gone into the dining room for lunch. Lassiter sat in a wicker chair contemplating whether he could squeeze any more fishing in before driving back to Santa Barbara. Clark wandered over to him, looking slightly sheepish.
"Hey," Clark said, removing a hand from his pocket and pushing his glasses back into position on his nose.
"Hey," Lassiter responded warily. One could never tell how people would react after an undercover assignment. Some got really angry when they found out they'd been deceived. Bonnie, a former co-worker at Mrs. Fields, still wouldn't speak to him when he went to the mall.
"I just wanted to say goodbye to Booker," Clark said. "I realize he's a fictional character, but I felt like I got to know him a little this weekend." He laughed. "It figures that the guy I have the most in common with on this trip was just pretending to be gay."
"Well," Lassiter took a deep breath and spoke in a low voice. "I was pretending to be a history professor but the rest of it was pretty much real."
"So our conversation on the dock. You weren't just making all that up? The divorce and the boyfriend? That wasn't just 'mirroring the suspect' or whatever you call it?"
"Then you really are gay?"
"Gayish." Lassiter glanced over at Shawn then back to Clark. Shawn caught the look and came over.
Clark smiled at Shawn as he approached. "So I'm guessing you're the consultant he's dating?"
"You're telling people?" Shawn looked at Lassiter with astonishment. "I didn't think we were at the telling people stage. Wow. At this rate I'll forget our anniversary and you'll have dumped me before we get our bags in the car. Who else knows?"
"I'm not telling people," Lassiter said defensively. "I just told Clark. It was part of my cover."
"Sleeping with me or telling people about it?"
"I said you were my boyfriend. You're the one telling people about the…other thing."
"Well it's nice to meet you, Shawn," Clark said. "Meet you again, I guess. Booker—Detective Lassiter—was right when he said you were good-looking."
"You said I was good looking?" Shawn smiled at Lassiter.
"And brilliant," Clark added. Lassiter's face flushed. "Well, I'll let you get back to work." He pulled out a business card and passed it to Lassiter. "I appreciated you listening to my problems this weekend. If you ever need to talk more about yours just give me a call."
"You know he's flirting with you, right?" Shawn asked, watching Clark's retreating back.
"He's seeing someone," Lassiter said. And so am I, I guess.
Shawn looked at Lassiter, a wide grin plastered across his face. "You called me your boyfriend," he said. "On the boat, and just now, to Clark."
"The thing on the boat was just me making a point. I mean, I thought we were dating now, but I don't mean to imply it's a unilateral decision."
"Sexy. You make dating sound like trade negotiations with Red China. No wonder you're single."
"Am I single?"
"I'll let you know after we've had sex a few more times." The glimmer in Shawn's eyes suggested he was joking, but with Shawn it was hard to tell.
"That's not how I work, Spencer," Lassiter said flatly. If there was anything he disliked, it was ambiguity about his romantic relationships. "I will not audition for you. I told you, I don't do one night stands. As far as I'm concerned, we're dating now. Deal with it or dump me."
"I love this forceful thing you've got going, Lassie. It's very virile." He ran a hand along Lassiter's cheek. "You are so not a sno cone machine."
"That's… good to know."
"So, now that it's official, I'm planning on telling Gus. You should probably tell Jules because it'll spoil his chances with her if he knows something this huge and she doesn't."
"Chances with her?" Lassiter looked across at where Gus and O'Hara were engrossed in conversation with one another. So that's how it is with those two. That explains a lot, actually.
Shawn had planned to tell Gus about his new romance on the way back to Santa Barbara, but had gotten sidetracked into a discussion about which mechanical devices, apart from the Pontiac Trans Am, could be improved by adding a computer that spoke in the voice of William Daniels. Once back in the Psych office, Shawn could hold off no longer.
"I slept with Lassie," he said.
"I see." Gus opened his laptop and became immersed in computer work.
When Gus didn't respond further Shawn added, "Seriously. We're officially dating. A month from now this will be our one month anniversary and I'll need your help picking out an appropriate gift. I'm thinking gun oil."
"Uh huh." Gus's gaze remained transfixed on his computer screen.
"What, that's it? No big explosion of disbelief? No rants about how it's all a bad idea that'll end in tears? I at least expected you to stick your fingers in your ears and go 'la-la la-la Shawn is still talking but I am not listening to him.'"
"I can't discuss this with you right now, Shawn. I'm busy."
"What's more important than this astounding development? I'm kind of up for a little round of 'I told you so.' Because I did."
"I'm shopping for apartments in other cities," Gus said, looking at Shawn with cold accusation in his eyes. "Obviously Santa Barbara is no longer a safe place to live. Lassiter has a gun. Admittedly, one less since you threw his Glock into the lake, but still. The man has a lot of guns."
"Don't be ridikulos!" Shawn said in his best Mypos accent. "Lassie's not going to hurt you."
"Not now. But he might once you tear out his heart leave it to melt in the sun like an abandoned sno cone."
"Gus, buddy. Why are you hating on my hot manlove?"
"Really, Shawn. I'd love to see you date someone—anyone—for more than a few weeks. But you've chosen the one man who can put us out of business, arrest us for fraud, and kill us. And not necessarily in that order."
"I know. Doesn't that just make it twice as hot? And I haven't even told you about the handcuffs yet."
Gus held up a hand "If this is really happening, we need to establish some ground rules, Shawn. One: No telling me any details that evoke any images of Lassiter doing anything sexual. Two: No doing anything sexual with him here in the office, whether I'm here or not. Three: No making…"
"You're pretty fast with this list, dude. How long have you been working on it?"
Gus's brow furrowed slightly. "I have a printed copy if you prefer."
Lassiter looked along the street toward the finish line of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, an annual fundraiser for the Special Olympics. He wasn't at all sorry to be nearing the end of it. He'd been up late with Shawn the night before and running ten kilometres with the Flying Pigs was the last thing he felt like doing on four hours of sleep. O'Hara and McNab made it feel worse with their knowing smiles and early-morning enthusiasm. He crossed the finish line with a feeling of relief rather than elation, despite having improved on last year's time. He walked to a picnic table and collapsed heavily onto the bench.
"Good run time this year."
Lassiter looked up, shielding his eyes. Although the speaker was just a dark shape against the sun he recognized it at once. In the three weeks since they returned from Cachuma Lake he'd gotten to know Shawn's body well in a variety of lighting conditions.
"I didn't think you'd be up for another couple of hours." When he'd left for the run Shawn had been fast asleep, drooling into his pillow.
"Au contraire, Care Bear. I made you something." Shawn handed him a small shiny package.
"What's this?" The last time he'd held a foil package this small it had turned out to contain $50,000 worth of heroin. He'd gotten his picture in The Courier that time, too.
"It's for you, Lassipants. Happy anniversary." Lassiter unwrapped the foil, revealing six dark chocolate brownies.
"Is this your idea of a joke, Spencer?"
"No, it's my idea of a dessert. Isn't it weird how dessert and desert are such similar words? I'm thinking of making something out of brownies, fruit and vanilla ice cream and calling it a dessert island. What do you think?"
"Isn't that what a sundae is?"
"A sundae also has peanuts. My dessert can be enjoyed by the anaphylactic deathly-allergic-to-peanuts kids. Why do you never support my inventions?"
"What exactly is in these brownies?" Lassiter asked, sniffing at them suspiciously.
"I'm glad you asked. It's got sugar, wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin…"
"—do they contain a controlled substance?" he cut in.
"Definitely no. Psychic Scout's honour. They contain only chocolatey goodness. And love, cooked at 100 watts for forty minutes." Shawn sat next to him and leaned his head against the detective's sweaty shoulder.
"Thanks." Lassiter set the foil on the bench and stretched an arm along the picnic table behind Shawn. It was as close as he could bring himself to hug in public. "Why did you wish me happy anniversary? Our anniversary isn't for another two weeks." Having been married, Lassiter didn't see much point in celebrating a one month anniversary. It made him feel like he was in junior high. But it was important to Shawn, in part because his relationships didn't usually make it as far as a second date, so he was willing to play along.
"I've decided to count our anniversary from the brownie incident," Shawn said. "That was the day of our first kiss, so this present is in honour of that. I have a non edible present for you at my place. Here's a hint: it's liquid and you rub it on something."
"Is it used in foreplay?" Lassiter asked, thinking of massage lotion.
"If it is then I'd need to be wearing a bulletproof vest for the sex part. We could negotiate that later if you think it sounds hot."
"Gun oil?" Lassiter's eyes brightened. That was much better than massage lotion.
"You'll have to wait until you unwrap it to know for sure."
"Fair enough." he said. "Listen, Shawn, the SBPD runners and I—"
"—you mean The Flying Pigs?" Shawn interjected.
"I mean the other officers in the Torch Run."
"—whose group name is The Flying Pigs."
"Are you going to let me get this out?" Lassiter narrowed his eyes at Shawn, an expression that wasn't really as effective behind sunglasses.
"Shoot," Shawn said. Then as if he had read Lassiter's mind he added, "In a purely metaphorical sense of course."
"We're going to Willie's Crab Shack for food and drinks. Did you want to join us? Guster too, if you like."
"Buzz and Jules already invited us. But now that you've asked me that makes it a date, right?"
"Yes. Provided you abide by the date rules. No touching under the table. No referring to anything we do in bed. No using the fork to—"
"Why does everyone in my life now have a list of rules for me?" Shawn bemoaned. He stood and crossed his arms, pouting down at Lassiter.
"Maybe it's because you can be so annoying." Lassiter stood, grabbed his brownies, and began to walk to his car.
"Annoyingly sexy?" Shawn called, tailing along after him.
"You know what you do that I find really sexy?" Lassiter stopped, turned, and looked at him, a slight smile on his lips.
"What?" Shawn asked suspiciously.
"Staying silent." Lassiter thought back to Shawn's visit to his room at Casa de Orgullo. "That was hot." He resumed walking to the car.
"Maybe you can read me my rights tonight and I'll think about it." Shawn caught up and fell into step beside him.
"Fine. But I have to make a stop on the way home." Lassiter thought about Shawn's one month anniversary present, hidden at Gus' apartment. It had cost him fifteen dollars at Toys R Us and it promised to make delicious iced confections. He wondered if he should have bought the ball gag that he'd seen online instead. No rush, he reasoned. Besides, there was always next month's anniversary.