By Clare Bautista
Rey Curtis wakes up with a start. He abruptly sits, groggy from sleep. He feels a sense of disorientation as he realizes that he isn't in his own room.
For a moment, he struggles to remember....then, a slight movement from his left side distracts him from his thoughts. He looks down and he sees the beautiful woman sleeping peacefully next to him. One look at her brought back all the memories of last night back and fast on its heels, overwhelming feelings of sudden guilt. She was not his wife.
Looking intently at the sleeping woman, he thought, 'what have I done?' Guilt raged within him and he had to fight the urge to just get up and leave.
Rey knew that she didn't deserve that, though. She was having a hard enough time as it is, and he wouldn't add to it. He forced himself to squelch his guilty feelings and he slips under the covers again. He embraces her, wishing that he was his wife and that same time glad, she wasn't. He didn't need to think about anything else right now but being with her. There would be enough time for guilt later. Out in the real world. But for now, he welcomed this hiatus, this reprieve from life. 'For a couple more hours, anyway. ' Rey thought.
And with that, he closed his eyes once more and tightened his embrace of a sleeping Jamie Ross.
Attorney Jamie Ross was about to walk out of the theater when she saw man studying the poster of the movie she had just seen - American Beauty. The man looked so familiar that she backtracked a few steps to catch a glimpse of his face.
A look of surprised pleasure makes her face light up as she recognized him. It had been such a long time since she last him. But despite the couple of years that had passed, though he looked a little bit more mature, Detective. Rey Curtis looked every bit as handsome as he did when she worked with him often during her stint as EADA Jack McCoy's assistant. Without hesitation, she decided, it was good night to reacquaint herself with old friends and made her way to say hello him.
Rey normally didn't study movie posters. As long as he knew the title, he was fine. But he like the stark simplicity of American Beauty's poster. It suited the film. He was busy reading over the credits written on the poster that he wasn't really hearing anything, even someone approaching him. It was only when he heard a voice say, "Hi Rey!" that he jolted out of his reverie.
Rey quickly turned around. He broke into a smile when he saw who it was. "Jamie Ross! Oh, I'm sorry it's something else now isn't it?"
"Well, I am married, but I kept my own last name. So yes, you still have it right..."
"Right....right...so what are you doing here? I mean, how have you been?"
Jamie laughed, her brown eyes, twinkling. "I'm fine, Rey --- just saw American Beauty. How about you?"
"Really, me too." Rey told her.
"How come I didn't see you inside the theater?"
"Well, the theater being dark as it is may have something to do with it...at least that's what I think." Rey's eyes sparkled with mischief.
"Ha-ha-ha....well, so how are you? How's your wife, Debra right? How is she? I heard that she wasn't well, I hope she's okay now." Jamie inquired.
At her question, Rey's brows furrowed and the cheer left his face. "Actually, she's not." he told her, looking down at his toes. "That's how it is with MS, there's no better, there's just worse."
Jamie's expression clouded as she said, "I'm sorry, I didn't know...."
"It's okay." Rey said in a tightly controlled voice. "What can I do? Shit happens, you know?"
Jamie replied, "Yeah."
Rey sighed and then seemed to pull himself together. "Anyway, I'm supposed to take a little break from all of that tonight."
Jamie smiled sympathetically but remained silent. Rey continued, "Debra and her mom insisted I take some time off to myself. I didn't want to, but now I'm glad they convinced me. She's at her mom's right now and I'm not picking her up till tomorrow."
"We all need breaks sometime, Rey. Even with things like that."
"Yeah, we do." Rey agreed. He paused then changed the subject. "What about you? How have you been? And that husband of yours? Dan right? And your daughter? "
"Katie is fine." Jamie told him.
Rey waited for her to continue and say something about her husband.
Jamie saw him gazing at her curiously and she smiled a little sadly. "It's Dave, not Dan and let's just say, I'm on hiatus from life, too."
Understanding dawned on Rey and he didn't pursue subject. "I see."
Jamie, grateful that he hadn't pursued the subject replied wryly, "Well like you said, shit happens..."
They smiled at each other. Two acquaintances from long ago, taking a small measure of comfort in this momentary companionship. Then, Jamie glanced at her watch. Rey saw that she was about to say goodbye and found that he didn't want her to leave. He didn't want to be alone.
Quickly, he spoke up, hoping to forestall her departure. "Hey, Jamie, if you don't have any plans, what do you say we take our hiatus tonight together?"
He could see the interest in her brown eyes, but he could also see a lot of hesitation in them. 'She's going to say no.' he thought glumly. But then, Jamie broke into a smile and said almost flirtatiously, "Well, that depends on what you have in mind, Detective."
Rey chuckled. "You forget, Counselor, that I am no longer a detective. I'm just a cop trapped in a desk job."
Jamie waved her hand dismissively and remarked, "Technicalities."
Rey chuckled again and continued, "Well, then for starters, how about dinner, Counselor? Frankly, I am starved. After that, let's play it by ear."
They gazed at each other again, both awaiting Jamie's response. Jamie's mind was screaming 'Yes!' yet she still hesitated. Finally she thought, 'What the hell? I really need a night off from all of my problems!"
Decided now, Jamie smiled. "Sure, that would great!"
"Yes!" Rey exclaimed making Jamie grinned at his boyish enthusiasm. "You like Italian food?"
"I love Italian Food!"
"Good, then Italian food it is...I know this great place called The Italian Village..."
"That was excellent, Rey. Thank you for bringing me here." Jamie said. "Katie also loves Italian food, I'm going to have to bring her hear sometime."
Rey and Jamie sat at corner table in the restaurant. They had stuffed themselves full of pasta and foccacia bread. Now they, were just sipping a glass of red wine as they let the food settle.
As she quietly sipped her wine, Jamie looked around the restaurant. At a booth directly in her line of sight, she saw a couple seated next to each other in one of the small restaurant's two booths. They were playing footsie underneath the table. A wistful look crossed her face and she sighed, "This is a great place for a date...I wish..." Her voice trailed off.
Rey looked at her then but didn't speak.
Jamie saw the look he was giving her and said, "What, Rey? Just spit it out?"
Rey sipped his wine and then asked, "Jamie, you don't have to answer if you don't want to...but what happened to you and Dave?"
Jamie looked at him and then said, "There's really nothing much to tell. It's very simple really. Dave wants a wife who isn't polygamous --- he tells me that I'm not only married to him, but I'm married to my career as well. He hates the fact that I'm a career woman. He resents the long hours I put in at work. He wants me to stay at home and just take care of him, Katie and the house. He says that's what a true wife does."
Jamie paused and Rey waited patiently for her to continue at her own pace.
"But I can't do that, Rey. I love what I've accomplished for myself. More importantly, I love the law. I loved it when I was working with Jack and I love it even more now working on the other side." Jamie confided. "Because of my refusal to give up my career, he's gone out and found another woman. A woman who he says is willing to stay at home and do what a wife should be doing."
"Jamie, if he loves you, he'll accept all of you....including Jamie the lawyer." Rey told her. "If he doesn't, if that's the way he thinks, then he's only thinking of himself and you deserve better than that."
Jamie smiled bitterly and continued, "And you know what the worst thing is, Rey? The bitch of it is that he says he does love me, and that he'll take me back and leave the woman, if I give up my practice - but only if!"
"That's bullshit, Jamie and you know it. Love is not a plea bargain. Love isn't supposed to have any conditions to it. Come on, he doesn't deserve a woman like you..."
"Or maybe, I don't deserve a man as good as him..." Jamie's voice broke a little and she quickly took a sip of her wine and swallowed hard before continuing, "But no, I know deep down that it IS bullshit...but don't you notice, the bad things are always easier to believe than the good ones?"
"Yeah." Rey paused for a moment and then said, "One more question and just tell me if I'm being completely out of line already, okay?"
"What about Katie, does she ever complain that Mommy works too hard? That Mommy is never home, etc, etc."
"Once in a while..."
"But that's normal, that's just how kids are." Rey said. "I should know, I have three of them."
"I know. No, Katie doesn't complain. In fact, she's fascinated with my job. She tells me she's gonna be like Mommy when she grows up...that she wants to be a lawyer."
"Smart kid, eh?" Rey remarked.
"Very smart." Jamie confirmed with pride.
"Too bad Davey isn't half as smart." Rey commented, arching one eyebrow.
Jamie chuckled then, "Yeah, too bad."
"So where is your daughter right now?"
"She's with my ex. Neil. His 1 month with her every summer. I miss her terribly, but in a way I'm glad she's with Neil. This way I can think about this thing with Dave without distractions."
Rey nodded. "But what's there to think about Jamie? The guy clearly doesn't deserve you!"
"Maybe." Jamie allowed. "But Katie deserves to grow up having a father."
"Maybe." Rey replied. "But she also deserves to be happy. And I have a feeling if you're not happy, neither will Katie."
"I know. That's why I'm glad I have a whole month --- well another two weeks to think about it without distraction."
"I know you'll make the right decision not only for Katie, but for yourself too." Rey told her, patting her hand briefly.
"I hope so."
The two of them fall silent and then Jamie laughs, surprising Rey. "Hey! Wasn't this supposed to be a break from reality?"
Rey smiled sheepishly. "Sorry." He shrugged his slender shoulders helplessly.
"Okay, I have a solution to keep us talking further about these dreary lives of ours."
"And what is that, may I ask?"
"Never mind what, let's just pay the check and then let me lead the way." Jamie told him, grinning.
Rey grinned when he saw where Jamie had taken them. "Samba?" Rey said. "I didn't know you liked Latin music, Jamie."
"Yeah, I bet you didn't." She grinned. "Well, this is where my girlfriends and I go sometimes for a girls' night out."
"Nice." He said, still grinning. "Well then, what are we standing out here for? Let's go in!"
Jamie giggled and then led the way in.
The place was still quite full for a weeknight. Though you didn't have to make like a straw to go through the crowd, there were still a lot of people there.
Rey and Jamie made their way to the bar and ordered Margarita's --- frozen strawberry for Jamie and regular for Rey. Jamie was about to pay for her drink when Rey put his hand over hers and said, "No, I got it." He then handed a twenty to the bartender to cover both their drinks. Rey then says, "Come on, let's get a table." He got her drink and started to walk to an empty bar table he saw at the corner before she could protest about him paying for her drink.
After they were both seated, Jamie told him, "Rey, you didn't have to do that. Let me pay you."
"Nope. Sorry, Jamie."
"Well, then I'll get the next round."
Rey just shrugs and takes a sip of his margarita. Jamie does the same. They take in the frenetic atmosphere and feel themselves getting sucked into it. "The band is great, huh?" Jamie remarks.
Rey nods and comments, "Yeah, they do pretty good covers. They do justice to their name, Caliente."
"What does 'Caliente' mean anyhow?"
Jamie smiles. "Yeah, that they are."
Under his breath, Rey mutters a response to her remark, "They're not the only ones."
Jamie overhears him, but couldn't make out his words. So she asks, "What did you say?"
Rey looks at her, arches one eyebrow and replies innocently, "Nothing. I didn't say anything."
Jamie rolls her eyes and just sips her drink. After she puts her drink down again, Rey asks, "So, Jamie, do you dance or do you just sit?"
Another moment of silence and then Rey asks her, "So Jamie, do you dance or do just sit?"
Jamie laughs. "Is that a dare, Detective?"
"That it is, Counselor!" Ray confirmed.
"Well, then," Jamie told him, getting down from her bar stool, "let it never be known that Jamie Ross ever backed down from a dare."
With that, she puts down her drink on the table and sashays to the dance floor. Laughing, Rey follows suit.
The band begins to play a salsa number and the two immediately get into it. As they salsad, Rey shouts over the din of the music, "Where'd you learn to salsa?"
Rey chuckles. "For a white girl, you ain't bad at all."
Jamie grins back, saying, "Speak for yourself."
Rey chuckles again and Jamie tells him, "Oh, will you just shut up and dance?"
Rey needed no further urging.
Rey and Jamie danced up a storm. They only took breaks from dancing when the band took breaks. And during those breaks, they shared small talk and drank great margaritas. They were having such a great time that before they knew it, they were all sweaty from dancing and the band was down to their last song.
Before playing their last song, the lead singer of Caliente spoke, while the dancers including Rey and Jamie stood waiting on the dance floor. "Ladies and gents, we have a special treat for you tonight. Before we do our last song, our good friend, Kurt Evans has accepted our invitation to sing with the band. So, people, give it up for Kurt Evans."
The dancers and the rest of the patrons in Samba clapped politely as a tall and slender black man bounded up the stage. He flashed a smile to the audience as he got the mike from the lead singer of Caliente. "Thanks, folks. Before my good friend here give you a muy caliente final song, permit me to slow things down a bit."
Kurt nodded to the lead singer then, who signaled to the rest band. The members see his signal and begin to play the opening chords to Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing".
The couples on the dance floor fall into each other's arms and begin to slow dance. Rey faces Jamie, smiling gently and asks, "May I have this dance?" He holds out his left hand to Jamie.
Smiling, Jamie takes Rey's hand and they begin to dance. At first Jamie, was stiff, but after a few moments, she began to relax and she puts her arms around Rey's neck. Rey follows her lead and encircles her waist with his arms. Jamie lets out what almost sounds like a sigh of relief and rests her cheek on Rey's shoulder. They continued their slow dance.
Rey could feel Jamie tremble slightly in his arms. He could feel her heart beating fast, almost as fast as his was. It felt so good to hold a woman in his arms again this way...it's been so long. He could smell the sweetness of her perfume as he held her close and he tightened his arms around her waist. Jamie did not resist.
Suddenly, it was if it was just the two of them there. The rest of the people on the dance floor faded. It was just them dancing to the sensual melody of Marvin Gaye. They couldn't tell who pulled away first or who stopped dancing first. But suddenly, they were standing still, face to face, on the dance floor. The sweet rhythms of Marvin Gaye swelled around them. Slowly, Jamie took a step towards Rey and suddenly, Rey was kissing Jamie. It was a sweet kiss. It was a kiss fueled by their desire for other people. It was kiss full of longing for other people as well as for each other.
The song was drawing to a close and finally, they broke apart. Jamie was flushed and so was Rey. Rey looks apprehensive then, afraid that he had done something wrong. But Jamie's next words, put his worries to rest. "I don't want to be alone tonight." she whispered, looking up into his eyes.
"Neither do I." Rey replied just as softly.
The song was over now and still looking into his deep dark eyes, Jamie spoke again. "Stay with me tonight, Rey." It was a statement not a question and they both knew it. Both knew what it meant, too.
Rey gazed at her then he took her hand, leading her out of the dance floor. Away from the dance floor's frenetic activity, he faced her - searching her face for a sign that she was hesitant or that she was just forcing herself to do this. He didn't see any. He only saw that she needed him as much as he needed her tonight. He kissed her again and this time, his kiss was urgent and fiery. Then just as quickly as he began it, he ended their kiss. Breathing hard, he takes her hand and says, "Let's get our of here."
Taking a cab, they were at Jamie's several minutes later. They go in and Jamie locks the door after them. As she was doing this, Rey embraces her from behind. Jamie chuckles and turns around, kissing him.
They kissed all the way to Jamie's bedroom, taking as many items of clothing off as they could.
When they realized that they were in the bedroom, they pulled apart. Then Jamie begins to take the rest of her clothes off, slowly, until she was completely naked.
Rey looks at her, enflamed with desire and breathes, "You are so damn beautiful!"
Jamie smiles gently and walks up to him. Then, never tearing her gaze from him for more than a few seconds, she starts to undress him until he was completely naked, too.
For a moment, they just took in the sight of each other. Then, Jamie takes Rey's hand and leads him to her bed. As they fall into it, Jamie whispers, "Make love to me, Rey, make love to me."
Needing no further invitation, Rey began to kiss Jamie and do as she had asked.
A loud thud from the apartment next door wakes Jamie up. She glances at her clock on her nightstand -- 11 AM! It was almost noon!
She feels a movement on her right side and she smiles as remembers last night and at the peace she saw in Rey's face as he slept. But then, she belatedly realizes that unlike her, Rey probably wasn't on vacation from the precinct and so she begins to gently shake him awake. 'He's so handsome. And he looks like he doesn't have any worries in the world, sleeping.' Jamie thought. She was a little sorry that they were going to say goodbye soon but she wasn't sorry about what happened. But it was time to get back to reality. Their break from it was over.
Jamie felt Rey begin to stir and shook him a little bit harder. "Rey. Wake up. You're late for work." Jamie told him.
Rey groaned and murmured, eyes still closed. "Hmmm, I can't be late for work, it's still night time."
Jamie laughed softly and said, "No, it isn't...it's 11 am...we've overslept!"
"11 a.m.!" Rey sat up immediately.
"Yup. You're late for work."
"So are you."
"No, I'm not. I don't think I mentioned it to you last night, but Katie's not the only one on vacation, so am I." Jamie said.
"No, you didn't....oh, man I have to go! The lieutenant is gonna have a cow!" Rey got out of bed and began dressing up.
Jamie is silent as he finishes getting dressed. When he was done, he sat back down on the bed and said, "Well, I guess this is it."
Jamie smiled sadly knowing that their short hiatus was over. "Yeah, I guess so."
They stared at each other and then Rey pulls Jamie to him and kisses her. It was the gentlest kiss Jamie had ever received. She never wanted it to end.
Finally, however, Jamie broke the kiss. She knew if they were going to stop, they would have to stop now. She put one hand on his cheek and told him softly, "Thank you for last night. You were wonderful."
Rey smiled at her tenderly and he took her hand from his cheek. He held it in his and interlaced his fingers with hers. "Thank you, too. It was wonderful, wasn't it?"
"Yes, it was." Jamie told him, softly.
There was a moment's pause, then Rey forced himself to stand up. "Well, I better be going. Take care, Jamie. Whatever you decide --- I hope things work out for you. If you ever need me, you know where to call."
Knowing that she would never call him, Jamie just smiled and returned, "I will. Take care of Debra...she's lucky to have you."
Rey grinned. "Thanks."
"Let me show you to the door." Jamie offered, starting to get up.
Rey, stopped her however. "No, Jamie, don't. Let's not make this any harder."
Jamie sat back down, nodding. He was right. Both of them had lives to go back to now. It was better to say a simple goodbye.
Rey gave Jamie one last kiss. As he pulled away, he gazed into those beautiful brown eyes of hers once more and said, "Bye, Jamie."
And with that he walked away. He looked back once as he closed the door behind him and Jamie whispered, "Bye, Rey."
Rey's footsteps got softer and softer. When she heard her front door close, Jamie got up from bed. It was time to begin another day.