The elevator door opened and Calleigh Duquesne stepped out, a stunning sight with her blonde hair flowing loosely around her shoulders and a sapphire blue sweater clinging to her sensuous curves. She wore a pair of white linen slacks and had a soft, white silk scarf tied loosely about her neck. Of course her feet were shod with a pair of her ever-present high heels which added to her diminutive height.
She made her way to the receptionist's desk and spoke brightly. "Any messages for me, Becky?"
"Only one, from Horatio. He says to hold up on those ballistics reports…he needs to talk to you first."
"Well that's a first," Calleigh laughed. "Usually he's riding me like a gulf stream pony to get the results faster."
At that moment there was a soft, "Excuse me, ladies." The voice was hesitant and totally unfamiliar.
Calleigh turned around and found herself looking into a pair of soft brown eyes that belonged to a very attractive and very young Miami-Dade police officer. His obvious uncertainty tagged him as a rookie and Calleigh had to smile, remembering her first days as a newbie. Turning on all her southern charm Calleigh looked him in the eye and spoke with a drawl.
"I know most people around here, but I don't know you, officer. That means two things. You're new, and…you're lost. What can I do to help you?"
"It shows that bad eh?" the young man asked with a sheepish grin.
"Yeah, it does, but it's kinda cute." Calleigh smiled her encouragement.
"Well, I'm actually looking for the …morgue? I'm supposed to ask someone named Dr. Woods about a body that was brought in this morning." The way he said the word 'morgue' turned his statement into a question of sorts.
"You're looking for Alexx, and you are in luck, Officer…" she leaned in closer to read his name, "…Gladin. I'm headed to see Alexx myself. You can walk with me."
She flashed the dazzled young policeman one of her trademark smiles and he was instantly ready to follow her anywhere.
"If I'd known guardian angels were as pretty as you are, I would have tried to get lost a long time ago."
"Aren't you a sweet..." Calleigh started to say, but stopped instantly when she heard a familiar voice give a not so subtle 'ahem' from behind her.
Both she and the officer turned to see Lieutenant Horatio Caine looking on with a displeased look on his face.
"I take it they aren't teaching ethics at the academy any more,"came Horatio's growl.
"Horatio Caine!" Calleigh gasped.
"Yes, Sir. They are, Sir. Got a little bit lost and was just asking for directions, Sir." The young man did an admirable job of not squirming under the intense scrutiny of the ice blue eyes that were boring into him.
Calleigh's eyes snapped green fire at Horatio. Reaching over, she laid a hand on the young officer's shoulder and moved to stand closer to him.
"Lieutenant Caine, this is Officer Gladin and…" Calleigh tone held challenge but she was interrupted by Horatio cutting her off.
"I can read his name, Ms. Duquesne."
At that moment, Eric happened to walk by and Horatio called to him, "Eric, please."
Eric stopped and looked quizzically at Horatio. "What's up, H?"
"I need you to escort this young man to the morgue."
"Um, H we usually send DEAD bodies there, not live ones." Eric had caught the tension crackling in the air between Calleigh and Horatio and was doing his best to lighten the charged atmosphere.
"Eric…the morgue." Horatio's voice was ice cold.
"I'm on it, man." Turning to the baffled and very intimidated young officer, Eric draped a friendly arm around his shoulders and turned him in the direction of the morgue.
Horatio watched stone-faced and silent until Eric and his young charge had disappeared around the corner, then he turned back to Calleigh and fixed her with a fierce glare.
"I don't think I need to tell you how inappropriate that was, Calleigh," Horatio snarled, his voice low and threatening.
"And just what was so inappropriate about it LIEUTENANT?" she hissed back at him. "He was lost and asked for directions to see Alexx. He was a rookie, for heaven's sake. Cut him some slack."
"He is a rookie, and you ACTED like one, calling him 'sweet' and putting your hand on his arm like that."
"I am not going to take this from you, Horatio Caine," Calleigh snapped at him. "I'll be in my lab test firing that SIG 230…" Her unspoken words were very clear. Don't follow me or I might shoot you. And with that she turned on her heel and stormed away from a very angry Horatio Caine.
For the rest of the day, neither Calleigh nor Horatio was good company. They refused to speak to each other. Calleigh glared at anyone who came near her, and Horatio menaced friend and foe alike with his ominous 'man behind the shades' look.
Lunch was a silent, solitary affair for both of them, each choosing to stay hidden away in their respective offices, daring the other to make a move. Neither one was willing to give an inch in what had become a well-publicized battle of iron wills.
Finally the day was over and Calleigh rubbed a hand across her aching neck. She had just turned to place a file in the cabinet when she heard a soft knock on her door. "Horatio Caine, that had better not be you," she muttered before turning around to glare at the door. Her face and entire attitude relaxed when she saw Natalia standing quietly in the doorway waiting for spoken permission to enter Calleigh's domain.
"Hey, Cal," the brunette spoke softly.
"Hey, Nat," Calleigh sighed. "Come on in. Contrary to rumor today, I haven't killed anyone at all." She flashed a miniature version of her normal brilliant smile.
"Yeah, I've heard, Cal. Sounds like the day got off to a rocky start and went downhill from there. Wanna get a drink with me before you head home? It might relax you a bit."
"You know, Nat, that's the best idea I've heard all day. Give me 15 minutes to finish cleaning up in here and I'll meet you in the parking garage."
"Great. I'll wait for you," Natalia said with a smile.
Half an hour later, the two women were walking into one of Miami's nighttime hot spots. The music was loud, the crowd was friendly and the dance floor was alive with movement. Nat and Cal both turned down requests for dances, preferring instead to sit at their table and talk while they enjoyed their mojitos. At some point during their conversation, Calleigh's phone rang and she frowned when she saw the caller ID. With an angry flick of her thumb she turned her phone off and slid it back into her hip pocket.
"You okay, Cal?" Nat asked as she watched the quicksilver flash of anger cross her friend's face.
"Yeah, I'm okay. It was Horatio. Probably upset that I didn't check in with him."
"You know Calleigh, you might be pushing him just a bit hard in this case," Nat said quietly.
"Whose side are you on anyway, Nat? He went way overboard today with that rookie cop. I know he was cute and he was flirting with me, and yes, I flirted back. But Horatio knows I love him. I just wish he'd learn what the word TRUST means. I love Horatio Caine, no one else."
"Did you tell him that or did you just pull a 'Calleigh' and get all huffy with him and storm off to your gun lab?" Natalia asked gently.
"Wow…word really does get around that place doesn't it?" Calleigh smiled ruefully and shook her head. "That is exactly what I did. And you know what, Nat? It felt good."
"Calleigh!" Came Nat's shocked reply. "You don't mean that."
"Yes, I do!" Calleigh noticed the slightly hurt expression on her friend's face and instantly regretted her sharp outburst. "Hey…I'm sorry. I shouldn't be taking this out on you. I should be home hashing it out with Horatio. It's almost 10:15 anyway. I guess I need to run. Thanks for the mojitos, Nat. I'll see you in the morning."
Out in the parking lot, Calleigh sat for a few moments listening to the purring of her car engine and the soft night sounds that surrounded her. Then she opened her eyes, sighed deeply and pulled out into traffic. She knew there would be hell to pay when she got home.