Diamonds In Her Eyes

Chapter One

It was a dark and stormy night… Okay, well it was actually morning but it was still sort of dark outside and the stormy part was more like a hazy rain. Still, it felt stormy. There was a tension in the air that I didn't like. Not amongst the people who gathered around me or anything like that. No, this tension was in the air. And it was something I knew I wasn't going to like.

Sipping from my cup of coffee, I glanced around the table at my friends and coworkers. They didn't seem aware of the change in energy around them. They just continued to chat away and sip their own coffee as we all waited for the last of us to arrive; the one who'd called us all together before work because she had something so important she needed to say but it couldn't wait until we'd all assembled in the bullpen.

"Okay, so where is she?" Myles asked as he checked his watch for the third time in fifteen minutes. "I forwent my usual breakfast this morning because of this."

"Have some toast," Lucy offered him from the complimentary basket laid out from their table with a roll of her eyes. "That should tide you over until she gets here. She's probably just running a little late this morning."

"Did she tell either of you what this was all about?" I asked Lucy and Sue, sipping from my mug, careful not to burn my tongue.

Sue shook her head. "All she said in her text was that she had some really big news that she had to tell all of us."

"And that it was super important that we all be here." Lucy shrugged a purple-covered shoulder and picked up her glass of orange juice.

"Well, I hope she gets here soon. I have a meeting at nine this morning," Dimitrius chimed in, smearing some jelly upon the slice of toast he'd taken from the basket when Myles refused to do so.

"New case?" Jack asked while unwrapping the napkin from around his silverware.

D shrugged while he chewed the strawberry-smothered bite he'd just taken. "Probably."

"I'm here! I'm here!" We all heard Tara call. She hustled through the front door and tripped over a chair that someone had neglected to push back under their table. "Oof!" She stumbled and almost tumbled to the ground. I was instantly there to catch her so she wouldn't do a face plant to the tile floor in the middle of the dining room with all the other patrons watching. She crashed against me, my chest absorbing most of the shock her tiny frame and oh so soft curves created.

"Easy there, luv," I chuckled as I continued to hold onto her. I didn't want to let her go just yet. She felt just too darn good.

A tinge of pink graced her porcelain white cheeks when she finally managed to pry herself out of my arms. "Thanks," she mumbled as she straightened the wrinkles down the front of her blouse and ran a hand self-consciously over her hair.

I could feel heat creep up around the shells of my own ears. My gaze couldn't resist following the trail her nimble fingers had traveled. Mouth instantly dry, a large lump formed in my throat. "No worries," I croaked.

None at all. In fact, it had felt like heaven to have her pressed up against me. It reminded me of the kiss we'd shared barely three months before. Who was I kidding? Anything she did reminded me of that night. The kiss itself had barely been anything, but there was just something about it that had clutched at my heart and punched me in the stomach at the same time. I couldn't find any way to explain it, but I knew I wanted to experience it again.

Taking a step away from her, I could still smell her scent; peaches. It clung to my shirt now and I knew that every time I caught a whiff, I would be thinking about her and our little encounter all throughout the rest of the day.

Someone cleared their throat—probably Myles—successfully breaking the connection between me and the endless depths of Tara's gorgeous gray eyes. I was actually thankful, because when I looked into them, I couldn't think, I couldn't feel, I couldn't speak. There was just me and her and nothing else. It was a dangerous combination. Especially for a public place.

Taking in a deep breath, I smiled my hundred-watt smile at her as I held out her chair for her and pushed it in when she was seated. Settling back into my chair, I gulped at the glass of ice water sitting by my coffee.

"Sorry I'm late. There's just so much going on right now that I lost track of time." Her eyes were bright with excitement, but she also looked a little frazzled. I couldn't help but wonder why.

Speaking for the rest of us, Lucy merely shrugged. "Not a problem, we all know how that can be. So, what do you have to tell us?" The best rotor in the entire Bureau practically bounced in her seat as if she knew whatever Tara had to say was going to be juicy. I still felt like it was going to be disastrous.

"Um, why don't we let Tara catch her breath and order before we delve into all this?" Jack suggested when he noticed how she tried to unwrap her napkin and her silverware tumbled all over her place at the table. She smiled gratefully at him and also at me when I helped right her utensils.

Myles signaled for the waitress and in a few minutes, we'd all given our orders and Tara had calmed down enough to sit still. Or at least as still as Tara could sit. She was now leaning upon the table on one elbow, her fingers twirling around a tendril of hair that hung beside her ear.

"So, Tara luv, what's gotten you in such a tizzy this morning?" The last time I'd seen her like this, we'd just shared one of the best kisses of my adult life. I raised my coffee mug to my lips to hide my smile that appeared at the mere thought of the memory. She looked absolutely beautiful this morning. Her hair was nicely styled and her makeup had been done to perfection. She wore a light blue button up blouse that suited her slightly curvy figure quite well and seemed to accent her… womanly features just enough to turn up the heat in the room for me. Setting down my mug, I picked up my water glass again. The cold infiltrated the heat of my palm and all I wanted to do was run it across my forehead without being too obvious. Instead—ignoring the glare Lucy shot me—I borrowed her juice and took a drink from it.

"Well, I wanted to wait until everyone had eaten, but I'm just too excited to keep it to myself anymore."

"What is it?" Sue asked while chuckling at her friend's eagerness. None of us had ever seen Tara this perky before. It was like she'd just won the lottery or something.

She bounced in her seat and promptly stuck out her left hand. Something sparkled and glittered upon her finger. My heart immediately plummeted into my stomach. How had I missed that before? "I'm getting married!"

The juice got caught in my throat at her words. Coughing, I sputtered orange juice all down my nice clean shirt. Had Tara just said what I thought she'd said? "What?" My question was drowned out by Sue and Lucy converging on their friend, trying to get as many details as they could out of her.

My heart remained lodged in my stomach. When I'd heard Tara's cheerful voice as my morning wakeup call, I'd expected the news to be something else entirely. A new kitten or perhaps a new laptop… We all knew how she considered every single piece of technology she acquired like a new child. But this?

I didn't even know she'd been dating anyone.

"When did this happen?" Lucy asked.

"What's his name? What's he like?" Sue added in.

"Is he handsome?"

"Is he nice?"

"Does he have money?"

"Lucy! That's not important as long as Tara is happy. You are happy, aren't you Tara?"

Staring down at her left hand, my favorite blond computer expert nodded until a full-fledged grin—one that could always take my breath away—curved at her lips. "I am. And I promise to give you all the details."

"You'd better," Lucy scolded as the waitress approached the table, her arms laden with a large heavy tray of food.

Each plate was distributed around the table, everyone digging into the plentiful feast laid out before us. All except for me. My appetite had mysteriously vanished, so all I could do was push my eggs around the plate with my fork.

Conversation had returned to normal. Or at least as normal as it could be considering Lucy, Tara and Sue were now discussing wedding plans: Dresses, flowers, the reception—things that all caused my heart to hurt like it had just been stabbed with an ice pick.

Tara shook her head in awe. "I didn't realize just how much there is to do before Sunday."

To make it look like this wasn't affecting me as much as it was, I'd taken a bite of my scrambled eggs, but they'd gotten caught in my throat just like Lucy's juice had.

"Easy there, big guy," Lucy mumbled as she patted my back and handing over my cup of coffee.

"Sunday?" I coughed after I took a drink.

"Isn't that a bit soon?" D asked, sharing a glance with a confused Jack. At least the two of them seemed to be on my side.

She shrugged as she bit into a piece of whole wheat toast. "Maybe. But we just want to get started on our life together."

"But Sunday… that's less than a week to get everything together." Sue took her lower lip between her teeth and lightly gnawed on it. Tara wasn't really one to jump into the pool without checking to see if there was water in it, so getting married in six days was very unlike her.

"It won't be a big ceremony or anything. We're going to have a civil service by a judge. Jack, do you think you could pull some strings and see if you can get Judge K to do the honors?"

Jack nodded, though his gaze was wary. Good ol' Sparky. "I'll see what I can do."

"How long have you known this guy?"

The entire table fell silent at my question. I'd just asked the one that had been on the tip of everyone's tongues but were afraid to ask, so why were they all staring at me like I'd just grown a second head?

"Long enough," she countered rather hotly. The question had offended her. "He at least knows a good thing when he sees one." That last barb was directed squarely at me. The fire in her eyes as she glared at me was proof enough of that.

I know I'd hurt her when I told her that the kiss we'd shared made me realize that I was in love with Darcy. I'd hurt myself with my very own words because I hadn't meant them. I'd only thought I had. My girlfriend was leaving me and I was having an amazing evening with an amazing woman whose kiss knocked me for a crazy loop. I'd felt guilty and the only way to make it go away to convince myself that I was in love with Darcy when, in reality, I had just fallen in love with Tara.

And now she would never know.