Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
"Good evening, my name is Kirk. Welcome to The Continental. And the name the reservation is under?"
Frank shook his head. "We don't have a reservation," he said.
Kirk's eyebrows shot up. "Reservations only, sir," he said.
Nancy peered over Kirk's shoulder. There was the man they were trailing and he was talking to somebody, but she couldn't see who. Figures-the place is practically empty, but the suspect sits at the one table blocked by a half-wall.
Frank blinked. "There's almost no one here."
"It's policy, sir," Kirk explained loftily.
"Couldn't you make an exception?" Frank asked.
Kirk drew himself up. "You and your girlfriend should plan better next time."
"That's what I said," Nancy cut in. "I told him we couldn't just show up." She looked at Frank and shook her head. "But he forgot it was our anniversary today until this morning. And, well, this is where we had our first date. So, please, Kirk, isn't there any way we can get a table? Please?"
Kirk looked down at the book. "Well. I suppose. Follow me, please."
Nancy smiled at him. "Thank you, Kirk. And, I hate to ask, but we sat over there last time." She gestured to the section where the suspect sat. "Would it be possible...?"
"It would mean a lot to us," Frank added.
Kirk heaved a sigh. "All right."
"Thank you so much."
Frank pulled out her chair for her when they got to the table. "Laying it on a little thick, aren't you?" he asked softly.
Nancy grinned. "Hey, it worked."
Frank parked in front of a pawn shop. "Let's go."
"You really think the thief would pawn any of the jewelry?" Nancy asked skeptically.
"It can't hurt to check," Frank pointed out. "We don't know why the jewelry was stolen-maybe he just needed some cash."
The woman behind the counter looked up as they walked in. "Can I help you find something?" she asked flatly.
"Rings," Frank announced. "All the rings you have." He leaned over. "We're engaged," he confided.
The woman looked unimpressed. "Mazel tov."
Frank took Nancy's hand and held it up. Her ringless left hand. "But she didn't like the ring I picked out."
Nancy got into the spirit of it. "Hey, if I'm going to wear it for the next fifty years, I'm going to have some say in it."
Frank beamed. "That's why I love her!"
The woman was grinning now. "Fair enough," she said. "Only diamonds?"
Nancy shook her head. "No, other stones are okay."
None of the rings were from the stolen set. Nancy shook her head. "Sorry. None of these are jumping out at me."
The woman nodded. "I understand. Give me your number. If I get anything else, I'll call."
"Thanks," Frank said.
"Have a nice day."
"All right, that was a good idea," Nancy admitted as they pulled out of the parking lot.
"Thanks. Well done, yourself, saying you'd look at other rings. There was a ruby ring stolen, too, right?"
Nancy nodded. "The woman was helpful. I almost feel like we should have bought one."
Frank winced. "I'm afraid our budget doesn't quite extend to jewels." He glanced down. "I'm going to get some gas."
He went inside to pay and when he got back to the car, he tossed Nancy a small bag.
She opened it and burst out laughing. "A Ring-Pop?"
"We can afford juicy jewels of flavor."
Nancy laughed, slid it on, and took a lick. "Ooh, strawberry."
"He came through the surgery fine," the doctor said. "He should make a full recovery."
The doctor kept talking, but Nancy didn't hear her. Frank would be okay. She felt like she could breathe again.
A nurse came up next. "He's awake now. Family can visit him briefly. The rest of you can come back during visiting hours."
"I'm his brother," Joe said immediately.
"And I'm his fiance," Nancy said.
George made a sudden, startled noise, but covered it decently by coughing. "Sorry," she said.
"Let's get you some water," Bess said, and led her away.
"One at a time," the nurse said.
Nancy and Joe looked at each other. "You first," Nancy said.
Joe nodded and followed the nurse.
Bess and George came back over. "We're going to grill you about this, you know," Bess said. "But not tonight, so relax."
Nancy actually smiled. "Thanks."
Joe came back. "He's still kind of out of it," he told her. "It's pretty funny, actually."
"We'll get the car and meet you in the lobby, okay?" George asked.
"All right. See you in a bit."
"Hi," Frank said when she walked into the room. "Wait a minute, I thought only family could visit me." He was slurring his words a bit.
Nancy sat next to the bed and took in his appearance. The wounds on his face were the only visible damage. "I'll have to apologize to Callie-I said I was your fiance."
Frank laughed. "Nah, don't worry about it. No more me and Callie. But you explain to Ned before he comes after me. I don't have the best track record of defending myself right now." He had lifted his arm to point to her, and it just kind of hovered in midair.
Nancy had to touch him, feel that he was all right. So she took his hand between her two. "Don't joke about it. How many guys beat you up? The police said they found a baseball bat next to you..." Her voice broke.
"It's okay, Nancy." His voice sounded a little stronger. "Really. The doctor told me I'd be fine. I feel fine. And I was kidding, I know Ned wouldn't beat me up-"
"He wouldn't, but also...we broke up."
They sat in silence for a moment.
The nurse tapped on the door.
"I have to go, but we'll come back tomorrow," Nancy said. She squeezed his hand before releasing it.
"All right. And Nancy?"
"I know we're supposed to pick it out together, but I'm sort of laid up here, so tomorrow, you go to the grocery store, and you get any Ring-Pop you want, okay?"
Nancy rolled her eyes. "Good night, Frank."
There was no way to get by the security guard. "If we can't get out, we'll have to get caught," Nancy said.
Frank stared at her. "What?"
"Can't you think of any reason why a guy and a girl would sneak away from a party?"
Frank blinked. "Oh. Well. Sure."
Nancy was pretty sure she'd be able to listen for the security guard while kissing Frank. She'd kissed him before, after all.
But she'd forgotten one thing. Those had been guilty kisses, kisses she regretted, kisses she wanted to forget about.
But now, with no Callie and no Ned, the part of her that had always kept her from really enjoying the kisses was no more.
And Frank was good at kissing. Or good at fake making out. Whatever it was they were doing.
So Nancy's brain turned off.
He had one hand in her hair and the other at the small of her back, pressing her against him. Although she was already pretty close, what with him pushing her against the wall and all.
He pulled away and Nancy almost protested, but he started nibbling his way down her neck, and she was pretty sure she moaned then. His hand started moving up her back-
The security guard.
"You aren't allowed back here," he said.
"I'm sorry," Nancy said, more than slightly out-of-breath. "We were just-"
"I saw what you were just. Get outta here."
"Yes, sir," they muttered.
"I got a little carried away," Frank said when they were alone. "I didn't think he'd take so long to get there."
Nancy grinned. "That's all right. That was kind of fun."
Frank smiled back. "Yeah, it was, wasn't it?"
They looked at each other.
"We have to meet Joe," Frank said, but it was more like a question.
Nancy took a deep breath. "Right. Back to work."
"Thanks for all your help, Nancy," Joe said.
Nancy grinned. "Oh, it was a pleasure. I don't think I know how to take a vacation without trying to solve a mystery, so thank you."
"Hey, there's our boss, I'm going to introduce you," Joe said. "Be right back."
Frank turned and took Nancy's hand. "So, I was thinking that instead of as my girlfriend, I'd introduce you to our boss as my fiance."
Nancy looked over at him. "Why would you do that?" she asked, puzzled.
"Well, because I was hoping that you would be."
Nancy stared. "What?"
Frank took a deep breath. "I love you, Nancy. I wasn't planning this, I don't have a ring, but will you marry me?"
Nancy forced herself to look thoughtful. "You know, I've pretended to be your fiance a couple of times, but I don't know if I played it with true authenticity. I think I have to try being the real thing."
A huge grin split Frank's face. "Yeah?"
Nancy grinned back. "Yeah."
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