Kensi, dressed in black Ralph Lauren and shoes which cost more than three month's salary, allowed Deeks to help her step out of the limo. He was wearing grey Christian Dior with a white shirt from Savile Row, London. She had to admit that he cleaned up well and looked almost as handsome as he thought he was. The only flaw was the swelling and bruises around his right eye. She turned toward him and saw that he was poking at the skin around his eyes.
"Stop that," she hissed. "You're only making it worse."
"He did it on purpose," Deeks whined.
"It was your own fault. The only person I know who can take Callen in a fight is Sam and that's only if he cheats."
They reached the front desk. Kensi pinched Deeks on the arm before producing her most facile smile.
"We have a reservation for Neal," Deeks said through gritted teeth.
The headwaiter consulted his list. "Yes, Mr. Neal. I believe you are an acquaintance of Miss Lange. I have had the privilege of serving her many times over the years. I hope she is well."
"Ah, yes, dear old Aunt Hetty," Deeks said. "Tough as old shoe leather and likely to outlast us all."
Hetty's voice sounded in his ear. "I heard that, Mr. Deeks."
He suppressed a yelp and concentrated on looking rich and self-assured.
"Please come this way, Sir and Madam."
They were led to a table on the far side of the room and handed menus. Kensi touched her earpiece. "We're in," she said. "Any sign of Callen?"
"Mr. Callen should arrive within the next ten minutes," Hetty said.
"What kind of mood is he in?" Deeks asked while pretending to study the menu.
"Monosyllabic," Hetty answered. "Things are not going well so far. Is Mr. Hanna in position?"
Kensi looked around, finally spotting Sam carrying plates from the kitchen. "Yes."
Further conversation was interrupted by the arrival of their waiter. They had just finished placing their order when Callen arrived accompanied by their target. Jenny Porter almost matched him in height thanks to the three inch heels on her stilettos. The dark blue dress she was wearing would have cost only a fraction of the price of Kensi's dress but it fitted in all the right places. Her blonde hair framed a face that was striking although not conventionally beautiful. She did not look as if she was enjoying herself.
"What is it?" Deeks asked. With his back to the door he couldn't see people arriving but he could see the look on his partner's face.
"Callen's here. Do you remember that look he had on his face just before he shot Janvier?"
"The 'I'm about to do something monumentally stupid and don't care if the whole world is watching' look?"
She nodded. "He's doing it again."
Deeks groaned. "This is going to be a disaster." He gulped down a mouthful of the champagne they had ordered and smiled distractedly at their waiter who was delivering their food.
Kensi nibbled at her salad while watching Callen order drinks and exchange a few words with his companion before Sam approached their table to take their order. She was too far away to hear what was being said and Callen's comlink was only being routed to Ops. She was surprised to see that Sam appeared to be arguing with him, and that Callen's smirk was out in full force.
Sam stalked over. "He's just ordered the most expensive bottle of wine on the menu," he said, while taking his time removing their appetizer plates. "Hetty's going to kill him."
"If he doesn't start trying to impress Ms. Porter with more than his money we are going to be so screwed," Deeks said. "She looks ready to walk out on him."
"I'll get her out of the way for a few minutes," Kensi offered. "Sam, you had better talk some sense into him."
She stood up and began to weave her way unsteadily toward the powder room. Her path took her past Callen's table and she staggered, falling against Jenny who was just lifting a martini glass to her mouth. Liquid sloshed over the rim and onto Jenny's dress.
"Oh my god, I am so sorry," Kensi said. "I must have had too much champagne. Let me help you wipe that up."
"I'm fine, really," Jenny said, dabbing her dress with her napkin.
"I insist. Please. And I will pay the dry cleaning bill."
"Alright. Excuse me Marcus. I won't be long."
"Take your time," Callen said, scowling impartially at Kensi and his date.
Sam stalked over to the table to deliver the wine. He removed the cork and poured a small amount into Callen's glass. "If you ruin this operation I can see Hetty coming after you herself with a knife."
Callen choked on his wine. He'd pushed his disobedience as far as he could but his professionalism prevented him from staging an outright rebellion. Besides, Hetty scared him. "Alright, Sam. You don't have to threaten me."
"I'll do more than threaten you if this falls apart. She's coming back," Sam warned. He finished pouring the wine before backing away to give Callen some privacy.
Jenny stood by the table. "I'm sorry, Marcus. I think this was a mistake."
Callen stood up and took her hand. "I'm the one who owes you an apology. Please sit down and let me explain." He gazed earnestly into her eyes.
With a tentative smile she sat, her hands clasped in her lap. "I'm listening."
"Before I left my apartment I received a call from one of my clients. I can't go into the detail but two of their employees who were working in a very unstable area of the world have gone missing. They're expecting a ransom demand, which is where my particular skills come into play. I have been waiting to hear from them."
"That's awful," Jenny said, reaching over to lay a hand on his arm. "Will you be able to help them?"
"I'll do my best." Callen sat back, satisfied that she had taken the bait. "I hope you can forgive me for being so distracted."
"Those poor men are relying on you to help them," she said. "Of course I forgive you."
Callen smiled at her. "I know just how to make up for this evening. I have a private plane and a suite at the Bellagio. Will you join me for the weekend?" He heard a choking noise coming through his earpiece. Seconds later his phone rang. "Dwyer."
"I want to see you in my office first thing in the morning, Mr. Callen."