Burn Notice: I don't own it, I just like to play with it!
This takes place in Season 5.
Just One Look
"I need your help, Sam."
Sam heard Michael's voice over the line. He was tense. Who wasn't, after everything that had been going on lately? But Michael seemed over the top agitated. Something was wrong. Knowing he might regret it later, Sam asked, "What do you need?"
"Backup at this fundraiser ball that Fi and I are going to tonight."
"Yeah, I know about that. Remember, you're supposed to be watching for our guy, not foxtrotting and tangoing the night away."
A snort came out of Michael. "Try telling Fi that. You know how she's going to be. If I had an extra pair of eyes on the scene, maybe I can accommodate her a little?"
"What about Jesse?" Sam tried his best. He wasn't in the mood to go out and do anything. If he'd been a woman, he would probably sit down in front of the TV in flannel pajamas and eat a pint of Ben & Jerry's while weeping at corny romantic black and white movies.
"Jesse can't do it. He has a date."
"Great. So why doesn't he take his date?"
"He had other plans."
Of course. Everyone he knew was coupled up. Even Maddie was seeing someone. Sam was the constant fifth wheel, and even worse, he hadn't had a woman in several months. Something was wrong with the Sam Axe mojo.
"Sam." Michael's voice pleaded. "Sulking isn't going to do you any good."
"Ha, this coming from a man who has Velcro Girl for a lover. You just can't relate, pal."
"I'm sorry. I know this is asking a lot of you, but could you please do this?"
Sam let out a shuddering sigh. "I'll probably be the only one there without a date. I'll stick out like a sore thumb!"
"You can just pretend your date is in the bathroom," Michael countered. "If you mingle enough, which you'll need to do anyway, no one will know. Really!"
There was no getting away from Michael's request. Bottom line, his friend needed his help. "Okay. I'll get the tux out of the mothballs."
"You really put your tux in mothballs?" Michael asked with a nasally tone.
Sam imagined him wrinkling his nose up in disgust. "It's just a figure of speech, Mikey. I'll get cleaned up, put on the old monkey suit, and meet you there in about a half hour or so. Happy?"
"Thank you, Sam! You're a lifesaver!"
"Well, if we find our guy, we'll be saving a few lives. See you soon, Mike."
Sam hung up the phone and let out a long groan. Why did he let himself get caught up in this? It was going to be a miserable night, and he couldn't even wear normal clothes. He'd have to shave too, which he hated. Better off to just bite the bullet and get it done. He went into the tiny bathroom in his tiny apartment, temporary digs until he found himself a new rich woman to take him under her wing and invite him into her home. He could afford better, but he was saving his money for... he wasn't sure what. He just knew there was something better out there than this dank little apartment and being alone.
After a shower, he shaved. Since he'd lost some weight, he discovered that he liked the angles of his face that were much more pronounced when he kept clean shaven. It was just a task that he preferred not to do every day. It cut into his hanging out at Carlito's drinking mojitos and watching the girls go by time. Besides, it seemed that scruff attracted more women, so he rarely shaved unless the whiskers got too out of control or he had a job to do, like tonight.
Splashing on some aftershave, the alcohol stung a little. The scent was one that brought back a memory of a lady friend from two years ago. Sad that he couldn't even remember her name. He hated being alone, and working with Michael didn't help the situation. There weren't as many lady friends these days, and the ones he had stuck around for awhile until they decided that his crazy lifestyle of chasing down bad guys was more than they could handle.
"They want James Bond, but when they get a real life taste, it's not all they thought it would be," he muttered as he combed through his damp hair. He picked up a few strands and noticed the gray was coming through at the roots. He'd have to do something about that. He'd also have to find a cheaper way of going about it, instead of visiting a hair stylist. Women colored their hair at home all the time. Why not guys? Sam finished getting ready, his hair forgotten for now.
Sam stepped out of the cab that dropped him off in front of the Eden Roc Hotel and eyed the couples in evening wear striding up the steps to the entrance. He followed them inside. Upbeat band music played and leaked out into the lobby. Sam stood debating whether to get himself a beer or a mojito at the bar to his right in order to bolster up his courage to go inside solo. He didn't have to worry, because he saw Michael and Fiona enter the lobby.
Michael caught Sam's eye and steered Fiona over to him. "Hey, Charles! Looking good!" He opted to use Sam's alias in case anyone was listening.
"Nice to see you, Steve." He knew Michael dusted off an old alias, Steve Remington, for the evening. He wasn't sure what Fiona was using, so he simply nodded to her.
"Oh, this is my lady friend, Rhianna Desmond. Rhi, this is my old friend Chuck Finley."
Fiona put on a smile as if she was thrilled to meet him. "Charmed, Mr. Finley."
Did he really have to say 'lady friend'? Sam shook off the annoyance and spoke. "Ms. Desmond." Sam was unable to keep his eyes off Fiona when he got a good look at her. He took her hand and couldn't help himself. He bent and kissed her fingers. In the ornate ivory dress with an empire waist sheathed in ecru lace, she looked... "gorgeous."
"I beg your pardon?" She stared at him with wide eyes.
Sam straightened and smiled warmly at her. "I said, you look gorgeous, Ms. Desmond. I hope you and Steve enjoy the evening. I suspect a lot of men will be stepping on their partner's toes when they get a good look at you."
Fiona's cheeks warmed when she realized that Sam wasn't just being flirtatious per his character. He really meant what he said. "Thank you."
"Rhi, let's go dance," Michael said, feeling hot around his collar. He gave Sam a glance, silently asking him what he was up to.
Sam only shrugged. He lifted his hand and waved to them, then turned to a different entrance to the ballroom. While he exchanged pleasantries with Michael and Fiona, he thought he saw someone he recognized, the man they were seeking. He entered the large room and realized that it would take a lot of mingling to even hope to run into the guy. Colorful gowns swirled around the dance floor and the tables set up on the perimeter, contrasted by black tuxes and ties. A few dared to match their date's dresses with their ties and cummerbunds. Most men opted for all black. Since he didn't have a date, and he wouldn't dare to match one if he did, Sam followed the crowd.
He walked the outer rim of the ballroom keeping a discreet eye on the men while sending appreciative glances toward the women. A few flirted back with their eyes and smiles. Okay, so maybe I haven't lost it. So then why am I without a date tonight?
A female gasped just before he collided with another body. Shoulder to shoulder, he bounced back and steadied himself as he turned to the person he ran into. "Oh, I'm sorry."
"It's okay, I wasn't watching where I was going." She wasn't looking at him. Instead, she worked her right arm under her shawl, a lacy, slippery thing that dribbled off her shoulder and attempted to fall to the floor.
Without thinking, Sam reached around her and snagged it before it flowed to the carpet. He held it in his hand and worked his fingers around the finely woven silk. It was the softest thing he'd ever felt, next to a woman's skin, that is.
"Um, my wrap?"
"Yeah," he chuckled and hoped that his face didn't show his embarrassment. Then he looked down into her eyes, and he got lost in their depths. "Uh, yeah, here you go." He held up the shawl and she took it from him. Her oval face had been made up by a professional. He'd been around enough rich women to know that. The makeup still couldn't hide the few wrinkles that appeared around her eyes, especially when she smiled at him. Her dark chestnut hair flowed in a soft frame around her face and cascaded over her bare shoulders in waves. He was close enough to know that it smelled like lavender and some other flower he couldn't place. Sam didn't care, because he was too enrapt in her eyes, and her lips which were full and looked thoroughly kissable. When she spoke, their movement made his pulse beat faster.
"Thank you Mr..."
"Uh, Axe. Sam Axe." He was so enthralled he forgot to use his alias. He wanted to kiss her hand, if not her lips, but the opportunity came and went in a moment.
A male hand clamped around her elbow. "Come along, dear. Our party is waiting."
As quickly as she appeared, she was gone. Sam turned and saw her backside sashay away in the royal blue dress with crystals all over it. It was sleeveless with a sweetheart neckline, the bodice encrusted with crystals. He knew that dress had to have cost a fortune, not that many rich women actually bought those frocks. From past relationships, he knew the women borrowed them for an evening and name dropped the designer all night long in exchange for the free use of the gown.
Damn, I don't even know her name! He watched her stop at a table with three other couples already seated. He knew some of the faces. They were attached to big money in Miami, and not all of them came by it honestly.
"Sam, how's it going," Michael muttered as he passed Sam from behind.
He ground his teeth in frustration over a lost opportunity. "It's going great. Just great."
Michael stopped. "I can tell by that tone that it's not going great. What's wrong?"
"See that woman over there? The one in the dark blue dress being seated at the table?" Sam locked his eyes on her again and it was obvious that he was hopelessly attracted to her.
"Yes," Michael answered as he followed his gaze, then looked at Sam. "She's with our man?"
"No! Mike, we bumped into each other."
Michael waited a beat.
"I know this is going to sound crazy," Sam said with a soft breath as if he'd just run ten miles. "But I think I'm in lo... like. I mean, she's really hot. Don't you think?" He tore his eyes away to meet his friend's amused expression.
He chuckled at Sam's breathless admission. His friend seemed to be attracted to a new woman once a week, at least one that caused him to speak with such emotion in his voice. "Did you get her name?"
"No!" He looked at his friend with a wounded expression. "And she's taken, so I doubt I'll get the chance."
"Maybe you'll get lucky and run into her again." Michael smiled. "Just keep an eye out for our guy."
"You got it." Sam mumbled and walked away, resigning himself to fantasizing about what might have been.