The Los Angeles night life was on full swing and the downtown restaurant lounge was full of people, but Miles found Officer Cortez right away. Her profile was just as Ford had described it: a short Hispanic woman with chestnut hair and eyes, a beautiful curve, and a stunning bust. Miles was drawn towards her immediately, finding the mischievous look in her eyes intriguing. She was sitting at the bar when he found her. "You Miles?" she asked promptly with the officer's observance, quickly holding out her hand in a strangely professional manner.
Miles was pleased that she'd recognized him so quickly. (Then again, there weren't a whole lot of short Chinese men milling about.) "You got him," he nodded with a smile. "Ana Lucia, right?" he added as his hand met hers in a strong clasp.
"That's right," said Ana Lucia with a proud nod. "Ana Lucia Guadalupe Cortez."
"Guadalupe?" Miles was impressed. "As in, 'Our Lady of Guadalupe'?"
"That's the one," said Ana Lucia with a shrug. "Guess it's meant to keep me on my toes or something while I run around with a gun on me." At this, she smirked, and Miles chuckled lightly at the joke. "Can I buy you a drink?" Ana Lucia asked then, nodding towards the bar.
Miles noted that she was already well into her drink, something clear and stiff in a short shot glass. "I'll have what you're having," he decided, thinking: After a day like today, to hell with it.
He and Ford hadn't been able to meet with Cassidy, as she was apparently in a coma, and the prospects for recovery didn't look good. It seemed that during their struggle, Ethan had knocked her head into the wall, causing multiple contusions and she had a bleed in her brain. It seemed nobody wanted to tell the girl what was really going on with her mother, as they knew that Clementine had enough on her plate dealing with her own trauma at hand, and Ford had been more pissed off than Miles had ever seen him. In fact, his partner had gotten physically ill once they went outside into broad daylight-somehow managing to vomit directly into the rosebush-and Miles had been shocked, because since when did cases ever have this kind of affect on a guy like James Ford? Ford never let anything get to him...then there had been the case from last week (which was pretty disturbing) and now this-a possible homicide, if Cassidy Philips didn't make it out alive. Yet Miles had never seen Ford react quite like this. His partner had been practically seething, and nothing had ever turned Detective Ford's stomach to the point of no return, not even a crime scene where blood was splattered all over the place. Well, he and James would have to have a little talk, Miles decided, because there was clearly something going on with the man that he wasn't telling. (The whole thing was bizarre, to say the least.)
"Penny for your thoughts?" Miles' vision cleared as his mind returned to the present, finding Ana Lucia looking at him strangely. "You look like you just saw a ghost."
"Long day," Miles shrugged with a laugh, trying to feign indifference. "Forgive me."
Ana Lucia simply smiled an enigmatic smile, and soon his drink was on the bar, and he took a quick sip of it, surprised by its strength. "What is this?" Miles winced.
"Gin and tonic," said Ana Lucia, looking slightly amused, "it's my favorite."
"So how's everything going in Homicide?" asked Miles when the conversation lulled.
"Please," Ana Lucia snorted, "work's the last thing on my mind right now." Shaking her head at him in disgust she added, "don't you guys ever leave your work at the office?"
And then suddenly, as though with a flash of light, he knew she was lying-that she wanted very much to talk about her job, because she had recently gone through something-something horrible-she had shot a man, and she was feeling horrible about it. He had narrowly missed her gut, the bullet only grazing her thigh, and she knew if she'd turned only a couple of inches to the left, he would have shot her directly in the stomach, and it would be over-all over.
Miles blinked, and he found himself suddenly cold in a very warm room, packed with bodies like they were sardines. Why did he just think all that? How would he know such information? He kept sipping the drink, and she had ordered them burgers and fries, and he ate as quick as he could, because he wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. This-this is why he hated blind dates.
They talked about everything except what he knew she was brooding over. They talked about stuff he rarely spoke about with anyone: the news, latest politics, the latest score of the Los Angeles Angels (apparently they both rooted for the same team).
"So-how are you with kids?" she asked him suddenly.
So that was why he kept on picturing a little girl, about three or four or five years old, running down the driveway to meet her mother as she arrived home from work, jet-black hair and stunning brown eyes, the mirror image of her mother in youth.
Miles shook himself and answered (albeit hesitantly) "Kids? Don't really have any history with them, except for my cousin who lives back in Encino."
She was nervous as she announced, "I have a daughter, she's five, her name is Isabella. She's always asking about the other people at Mommy's work. I'd love to introduce her to you sometime," said Ana Lucia carefully, "if you're cool with it." Shit, not only is she looking for a prospective lover, she's also looking for a prospective father. (Time to book it.)
"Uh..." Miles tried to ignore the urgent warning in his gut, shouting at him to leave immediately. "Sure...I guess we could do that." Jesus Christ, Miles, you've only just met this girl...Why are you so hell-bent on meeting her kid?
"Oh hey, look, I don't mean right away," Ana Lucia explained, looking (he knew uncharacteristically) embarrassed. "That's just my way of saying I think we should go on another date. Sorry," she added with a hesitant shrug, "it's become something of a habit. I gotta protect my daughter, ya know?"
"Sure," said Miles again, feeling drained. "I'll call ya."
Wondering if he really would-because something about this chick really gave him the willies.