Beverly Hills, 1991

Maddie Hayes opened her menu and glanced at the salads. She didn't really need to read the descriptions; the menu hadn't changed since yesterday. Chinese chicken, Shrimp Caesar, Cobb...

She closed her menu and the young waiter was beside her table a moment later.

"Let me guess," he said, closing his eyes and touching his forehead in mock-concentration. "Sparkling water, no fruit, no ice, a Cobb salad, no green onions, dressing on the side with lemons..." He opened his eyes and grinned. "How'd I do?"

Maddie smiled. "Wow. That's it exactly. Either you're very observant, or I'm in a rut..."

"Well, I waited on you on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I sort of noticed that you ordered the same thing yesterday when I brought bread to your table..."

"I am in a rut..." she said flatly.

"No..." the waiter looked worried that he had offended her. "Lots of people order the same thing every day. The cobb is my favorite too... And you... Well, it's hard not to notice you. I mean, you're so... like, you must be a model or something. Or an actress?" The boy was blushing to the roots of his hair and Maddie couldn't help but feel flattered. He was practically young enough to be her son.

"I was a model." Before you were born...she thought, and smiled, trying to relieve his discomfort, but it just seemed to make him melt a little more.

He cleared his throat. "I'm sorry. Geez, you're probably like, 'dude, just get me my lunch!' So, um..." he cleared his throat. "I'll just go get that sparkling water."

"Thanks." Maddie handed him her menu and he started to walk away. "Actually, I changed my mind...I think I would like to order one more thing..."

"Sure!" he said, turning back to her table eagerly.

"I'll have a glass of Chardonnay...why don't you pick it out for me?"

The waiter looked shocked that she would bestow him with such an honor. "I think I know just the one," he said, and hurried away toward the kitchen.

Wine with lunch? Well, it was Friday and routine, while comforting, sometimes needed a little shaking up.

She pulled out her leather organizer and looked over the next week. She had interviews with two prospective detectives, neither of whom seemed very promising. The problem was that she couldn't offer enough of a salary for anyone really qualified. She was going to have to take her chance on someone young and green.

She shook her head and wondered, as she did almost hourly, why she had decided to reopen the agency. Sometimes she had an answer, sometimes not. Today, she couldn't imagine why she had decided to put herself through all this.

She flipped the pages back and frowned as her eyes fell on the entry for seven o' clock tonight. Olmstead House Benefit. She had agreed weeks ago to accompany her friend Hank to this dinner, but now she was regretting it. She wanted nothing more than to go home early and slide into a bubble bath, but she couldn't cancel on Hank, not on such late notice. He was the senior vice president of ABC's drama television department and an old friend. Lately, he was making it increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that he had more than friendship on his mind. Maddie liked Hank. Everybody liked Hank. He was handsome, successful, He even had a good sense of humor.

And yet she didn't want their relationship to go any further.

Suddenly the opening bass line of "My Girl" came through the restaurant speakers and she felt that jolt, that searing shock that ran through her body whenever something happened to remind her of him. She slammed her planner shut and looked up gratefully to see the waiter returning with her wine, distracting her temporarily from the ghost of the past that always seemed to hang over her shoulder.

David unlocked the front door with a feeling of dread. Carly's car was parked out front and he was exhausted. She had dragged him out to a club last night, and even though he'd poured her into a cab by midnight, he was still suffering. His agency was tanking and required one hundred and ten percent of his attention and energy right now. And Carly seemed to think all of it should be focused on her. He couldn't go on like this.

"Yo...Carly...Where you at?" he called, his voice echoing weakly off the empty walls.

He listened as he made his way towards the bedroom. Silence. And then, the loud crack of a whip reverberated through the apartment.

He turned the corner to find the twenty-five year old beauty prone on the bed, dressed in a leather corset, black mask and cat ears. "Meow..." she purred. Well, this one was easy. But was he supposed to be Batman or The Joker?

Carly stretched her flawless body across the bed.

He tried to capture his next thought before it could develop fully. But it was too late—unbidden and unwanted, the memory rose of climbing into a different bed, her bed, both of them exhausted after a stake-out. He had looked over at her, soft and beautiful in her blue silk nightgown, pulled her against him and sighed into her hair.

Carly pushed herself onto her hands and knees, long, platinum hair spilling over slender, tanned shoulders, and crawled over to the edge of the bed. "Meow," she purred again, unbuttoning his shirt.

David closed his eyes and tried to surrender to her seduction act. But he just couldn't do it today. One damn image of Maddie lying against him all those years ago still had the power to undo him.

"Hey, Carly, sweetheart, I'm sorry but I'm shattered." He moved his mouth into the shape of a smile but it felt hollow. "You're wearing me out Catwoman," he said and took her hands gently off his shirt.

Carly sat back on the bed with a pout. "But I went to all this trouble just for you," she said, folding her arms. This girl was not accustomed to rejection.

"I just can't right now. I'm beat." He was going to add a flattering remark about how tempting she was, or say something about a raincheck, but the truth of the matter was that he couldn't find the will or the energy to fake it. Honestly, he was too worn out to fake it at all with Carly anymore. Their month long "relationship" was empty and shallow, and while the sex was fantastic athletically, it somehow left him feeling worse thirty seconds after they had untangled from one another. He needed to end this.

But he couldn't do it today. As a supporting actress in a new drama for ABC, Carly was required to go to some network shindig tonight and he'd already agreed to be her escort. He could only imagine the histrionics he would have to endure if he cancelled on her at the last minute. One last date, and then he'd take her out to coffee tomorrow and call off this charade.

When had he stopped enjoying great sex with no strings attached? If he was honest with himself he knew that he had longed for much more than this for a very long time, but like the old song said, 'If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with." He had never expected to be a guy who would turn down meaningless sex. His age must finally be catching up with him. As unpalatable as that idea was, it was easier than facing the truth: empty encounters just couldn't compare to the real thing once you'd had it.

He fell onto his bed for a nap, a catnap he cracked to himself, and wished Carly would just go home. But she crawled in and pressed herself against his back. His last thought was that hard curves and leather could never measure up to the softness of a blue, silk nightgown.