Rich went to phone headquarters for permission to utilize the SWAT team while Lace knew she had to tell her friends. If only they would listen to her. She decided to start with the easier ones.
"Donna, you're going to have to leave," she said, "There's going to be some police action and I don't want you caught in the middle of it."
Her friend nodded.
"That's great," she said, "Well be sure to keep them on the other side of the room."
Lace felt like throwing up her arms. Donna patted her shoulder.
"Just kidding," she said, "I'll help round up the others and herd them on out."
Ethan looked up.
"I'll handle J.D."
Lace's brow rose.
"Need any help there?"
He shook his hand.
"I can handle it."
He stepped up on the stage and touched her shoulder. She spun around and stared at gun.
He took a deep breath.
"We have to leave now."
She looked at him as if he were crazy.
"Why," she said, "We didn't come together and I'm having a great time with Jack here…"
"Joe," the dancer corrected.
"Whatever...Ethan, why don't you get yourself a drink before heading back home.," she said, "Put it on my tab."
The dancer looked at the both of them.
"Maybe I'd better leave you alone to work this out," he said, "But I get off at 2."
She nodded as he walked off. Then she turned to look at Ethan.
"I was having a good time."
She folded her arms at him.
"So now that you've got my attention," she said, "Where are we going."
"Back to the office or my place.
She smiled then and nodded.
"Okay either will work," she said, "You're kind of cute for an alpha male."
"An alpha what?"
She shook her head impatiently.
"Never mind," she said, "So do you want to dance?"
He felt rest her hands on his shoulders.
She smiled again.
"Come on, let's dance…unless you're too shy or something…"
Damn, the situation was spinning out of control quickly. Here he was trying to get her out of an establishment before it was going to get raided and she had her mind on other things. He couldn't believe that she was coming onto him.
"J.D. we need to get out of here."
"Later…let's do some dancing first, and then I'll leave with you…"
She moved her arms down to his hips and pulled him closer to her. He sighed because he couldn't believe how good it felt for her to be that close to him. Her fingers enticed him, her cologne intoxicated him and…
Her lips brushed against him even before he saw that coming and before he knew it, she had deepened her kiss. And damn, it felt good so before he realized it himself, he had responded, drawing her closer this time.
Gemma rolled her eyes at the sight.
"I guess they've worked it all out."
"Bravo, way to go."
Gemma threw her a pithy glance.
"She won't remember it when she wakes up in the morning with a hangover."
Kylie threw her a face back.
"Gemma, when did you get to be such a wet blanket?"
Gemma just turned and showed her friend her back. Donna walked up to both of them.
"We're going to have to get our butts out of here," she said, "They're bringing in the big guns to clear it out."
Kylie shook her head.
"So that's why that reporter is here right now."
The reporter and the photographer were walking around talking to people but not having much luck. Kylie hoped they wouldn't come near because she felt like clobbering both of them with the camera.
Lace and Rich met up with some other police officers outside the joint. They had decked themselves out in riot gear prepared for the task at hand.
"When do we go in," the squad leader asked.
"When I say you do," Lace said, "I'll call you on the radio."
He nodded and they gathered in formation and headed to the other side of the parking lot.
Rich looked towards the club.
"Kylie's plastered," he said, "I don't want her in the middle of all this."
"We'll do the best we can to get them out of there," she said, "but all bets are off if those bad guys in there start waving their firepower."
Ethan enjoyed the feel of his best friend's body against his own and her mouth on his, drawing him eve closer. But then the more rational side of him spoke up and he realized that he had to exercise some restraint here because for her, it was the liquor speaking. So he did the difficult thing which was to try to extricate himself from her embrace.
"J.D.…I don't think."
"That's great because I'm not thinking right now either."
He sighed, as her fingers ran through his hair sending tingles down his spine. This wasn't proving to be easy not when his own body refused to cooperate.
"We can't do this."
She broke her kiss and looked around her.
"You're right," she said, "Come on; let's go back to your place."
He looked at her, shocked.
"I don't think so."
She frowned at him.
"Why not," she said, "I'm kissing you, you're kissing me and I really want to see what you've been hiding underneath those clothes all these years."
His face flushed as a wave of heat ran through him.
"We need to get you sobered up here," he said, "You don't even know what you're saying."
Irritation prickled through her, joining the more pleasant sensations.
"Of course I do," she said, "You know those times when you were getting dressed and I told you I never watched…you know back in college."
"Yeah I guess I do."
She winked at him.
"Well I lied," she said, "But come on, there's only so much a woman can take when a guy's as hot as you…"
He liked the sound of that but clearer heads had to prevail here.
"Okay well that's…okay," he said, "but we'll talk about it back at the hotel."
Now she scrutinized him.
"For a man of action, you sure want to do a lot of talking right now," she said, "Now hush and take me back to that hotel of yours and show me what made you such a stud."
Oh, Ethan's mind told him this wasn't going well but his body…well it didn't exactly agree. He took a deep breath.
"Okay…we can go back to my suite and…talk this over…but we need to get out of here because things might get a little chaotic in here pretty soon."
"Okay because then I can tell you about the time that we were flying to back from Hawaii, you know before we got…interrupted."
Oh, she meant the plane got hijacked by a man who was upset that his frequent flier miles hadn't survived the airline's merger.
"I remember that quite vividly."
"Before we got…diverted by that horrible hijacking, I had plans on well, seducing you at the resort. I mean we really couldn't let our time spent in such a gorgeous romantic spot go to waste."
His eyes widened.
She nodded again.
"So I packed some really sexy lingerie…but it's back home and not here..and not on me."
He didn't know how to respond to that at least not with words. What the hell was she saying, he'd never seen this side of her. It had to be the booze.
"The best laid plans…well anyway we can go back to your place and make up for lost time?"
Ethan decided he had to go along with it…for now because he really had to get her out of this place.
"Come on; let's get off of this stage."
He helped her step down and she wrapped her arm around his waist and they walked back to the others.
"Ready to leave," he asked the others.
Gemma shook her head.
"Kylie's going to kill that reporter for that story on Max," she said, "We got to get out of here before blood is shed or hair's pulled."
J.D. nodded and stroked Ethan's face with her fingers.
"I'm all for that," she said, "Come on cowboy, let's go for a ride…"
Ethan blanched. For being such a player with the women, he felt very much out of his league with this one. Whoever would have guessed?
Gemma looked at the two of them.
"You've got your hands full with her."
Ethan couldn't disagree but when he got J.D. back to the suite, he would make enough coffee to sober her up quickly. Hopefully leaving her with little memory of what was unfolding. J.D. however made it clear that she had other plans.
"I've always wanted to do this," she said, "Remember the day of the rodeo?"
"Yes," Ethan said, weakly.
"You know when you kissed me and then pretended it was because you hit your head too hard falling off the bronco?"
"Well let's just say that if those two rodeo judges hadn't been there," she said, poking him in the chest, "I would have shown you a thing or two."
He didn't doubt that now.
"I mean that Ethan," she said, "Just like the time we were…"
"J.D. I don't think we really need to go there."
She frowned at him.
"But you know how romantic Connecticut is in the Spring," she said, "You know we could have done all those dull seminar classes we needed to graduate from college and then filled the rest of our time there…doing other things much less boring."
Oh boy, J.D. had really gone on a tear here. He felt at a loss for words and truth be told, he had some confessions to make of his own but now wasn't the time or place. He just had to get her out of there.
Lace walked up to all of them.
"Are you ready to leave?"
They all nodded but one of them was missing.
"Where's Kylie," Lace asked.
None of them knew until Gemma looked across the room and saw her squaring off with the reporter.
"Uh oh, there's trouble," Donna said.
"I'll handle it."
She walked off, shaking her head.
J.D. turned back to more important things.
"Ethan, when I got dumped by the quarterback and went to Vegas to recover, why didn't you join me?"
He looked surprised.
"It would have been great if you would have just come with me," she said, "I mean I had a great time but think about what kind of fun we could have had."
He sighed. Gemma shook her head.
"She's going to be so embarrassed in the morning."
Ethan knew that might indeed be the case if she remembered this night at all. Which he really hoped she wouldn't, didn't he? He ran his hand through his hair, wondering what to do or say next. Talk about navigating through a series of minefields here and he had never even seen the ones in front of him coming.
J.D. put her hand on his chest.
"Let's go take this somewhere else."
He nodded, just wanting to get out of there before the police raided and the others seemed willing to leave but not without Kylie. Speaking of which, they all heard a crash and looked over to see Kylie and the reporter pushing and shoving each other with Rich rushing in to break up the fight.
"Oh lord," Donna said, going over to help.
Ethan's attention focused elsewhere when he saw two men clearly packing move towards a man that Ethan presumed managed the club. He looked around the room for Lace but she had seen them too. Rich had been busy pulling off a flailing Kylie off of the reporter and making sure they both moved to their separate corners. J.D. followed Ethan and he turned around to stop her.
"J.D. stay back with the others."
She rolled her eyes.
"I'm just fine Ethan," she said, "and I'm not drunk but I loved the expression on your face back there."
He looked shocked.
"You have your gun with you right?"
He looked at her warily.
"I always carry it," he said, "What about you?"
"In my ankle holster…"
"When I dated a cop a while back, he got it for me retail."
Ethan's stomach flipped and as he looked at her again, she winked.
"Come on," she said, "Lace might need our help."
They walked over to where Lace and Rich had turned over the handling of Kylie to both Donna and Gemma. The sergeant turned to Ethan and J.D.
"You'd better leave," she said, "Things could get rough."
"Do you need our help," Ethan asked.
"No, we're fine," Lace said, "The police can handle it."
Suddenly, some shouts broke through the music and everyone stopped talking and the exotic dancers froze in their positions. The mobster types that had alerted them to their presence earlier began pushing and threatening the manager of the club. One of them had a gun that he held to his side.
"It's all a misunderstanding," the manager said, "Why don't you come back tomorrow and we'll clear this up?"
The mobster men just pressed him further.
"Our boss has given you enough extensions on his generous loan to you," one of them said, "He's ready to get the deed now."
One man jammed a gun in his waist.
"Now, go to the safe and get the deed to this establishment and we'll handle the transaction right now."
The manager in the face of some impressive firepower didn't know what else to do so he obeyed. Lace sighed and got on her radio telling the team to move in.
She and Rich rushed over with their guns on the mobster men and after taking the stance, yelled orders.
"Freeze right now."
Ethan and J.D. looked over at them.
"Where are the rest of the police," she asked.
He didn't know so they kept an eye on what was going on. Donna tried to get Kylie to leave but in true journalistic style, the reporter had taken out her notepad and began taking jotting in it. The cameraman came up to her.
"Go get some front page shots," she barked at him.
He meekly obeyed.
Lace stared dead on at the mobster men.
"There's no other option for you but to surrender," she said, "so drop the weapons."
They just looked at her mutely.
"Right now would work well for me, how about you?"
They looked at each other and one of them began to lower his gun. The other turned and scowled at him.
"Don't be a wimp," he said, "What will your father think?"
The other man turned to him.
"I don't want to go out in a blaze of bullets," he said, "I'll get out of prison eventually."
"Wise choice," she said, "What about you bucko?"
The other man just glared and aimed his gun and took a shot. It went wild and missed everyone. But Ethan took no chances and went to force J.D. on the ground to take cover. But she beat him to it and pushed him down first. The woman always had tripwire reflexes in dangerous situations.
"Hey this is kind of nice," she murmured, as they waited for the man to either surrender or keep firing.
He kept firing and everyone had to duck but he was such a bad shot that Lace and Rich just stood to the side, then Lace aimed her gun and fired once hitting him deftly in the shoulder and he dropped on the ground.
Both J.D. and Ethan looked up from where they lay on the ground with him naturally shielding her body with his own. He looked around as the dust cleared and put his own gun away. Everyone began to get up again and talk excitedly until the doors opened and a flood of armed troops swept through the building and everyone had to lie down on the ground again while they cleared away the dangerous men. Lace handed off the wounded one to them and Rich had handcuffed the other. But everyone remained on the ground until the SWAT team could make sure there were no other mobster men hiding among them.
J.D. looked at Ethan from where they lay.
"We could be here for awhile," she said, "How about a little pillow talk to pass the time?"
"You know, I loved how you looked when I was talking to you back there…"
He appeared skeptical.
"I thought you were saying all that because you're drunk," he said, "but clearly you're not."
She smiled wider.
"You blush nicely when you're bashful."
"I wasn't bashful, I was…"
"Confused," she filled in.
She looked him over.
"Part of me really…appreciated your candor…but I couldn't do what you thought you wanted…"
"But I have a clear head and I know what I want," she said, "and I meant what I said, every word."
Now he blushed again and she stroked his face.
"I did a lot of thinking when I…ran away," she said, "There are so many things I wanted to say for so long…you know I almost did that day years ago."
"J.D., I never meant to shut you out and push you on the edge of my life," he said, "I think I just needed to do some thinking of my own. Then we just went off in two different directions."
They heard some yelling and saw that Kylie had been pulled to her feet to be frisked by the SWAT team before being led outside, but not before she asked the photographer if he got any good shots.
He answered from his position prone on the ground.
"I'll email them to you," he said.
"Later," she said and walked on out of there.
Ethan turned back to J.D.
"I definitely don't want you on the fringes of my life," he said, "I want you as my partner…in every sense of the word…so we can push this business forward in a better direction."
Her heart jumped at that but she remained calm.
"Okay, I think I can work with that," she said, "if I move to L.A."
Ethan hoped that she would rethink her decision not to go back home and he would do anything necessary to persuade her that her home remained in L.A. with him. And he had quite an arsenal to work with, he thought with a smile.
The SWAT men grabbed them to be frisked and they stood still, allowing them to do that eager to be out of the club and on their way. Finally they walked out into the darkness of the parking lot which was crowded with confused and more than a few intoxicated people milling around. Some nuns had shown up with plenty of hot coffee, warm food and some coats for the exotic dancers.
Ethan got some coffee and handed a cup to J.D.
"What a night," he said.
She winked at him.
"It's still young and I still haven't seen the inside of your suite."
Excitement filled him but he kept it in check. He rubbed her arms, looking at her.
"Okay we'll go back there…but only to talk," he said, "It's been a long day."
Donna wondered over.
"Well Gemma's filling Kylie up with coffee until Rich gets off and can take her home," she said, "I like to say it's been nice but I think I'll just say never a dull moment in San Fran."
"I can see that."
Lace walked up to them.
"The place has been cleared out, the perps taken to jail and…I probably will not have a job tomorrow."
J.D. folded her arms.
"They can't do that," she said, "You just did your job."
Lace eyed her critically.
"You sure sobered up quickly."
Ethan and J.D. just looked at each other and smiled.
"We'll get out of your hair now," he said.
"Yeah we got other things to do," she said, smiling, "Other sights to see."
"His car broke down," Lace said, "I gave him a lift over here."
"I'll give him a ride back to his place."
Ethan looked over at J.D.
J.D. just threw her hands up in the air.
"See, he always wants to take control," she said, "Do all the driving and…"
They both walked to the car and she handed him the keys quietly as they both got inside the car and drove away from the club.
They headed back to the office and after getting off at the top floor, stopped in front of the business suite. And indeed when J.D. saw the inside of it, she believed it to be as impressive as she had remembered from the morning At that point however, she was only interested in one room of it. Rumor was he had socked away an impressive place for guests…
She looped her arm in his and started leading him towards the main bedroom.
"Come on," she said, "Show me those fabulous moves of yours…"
"J.D. I don't think…"
"Relax, I'm just kidding," she said, "When did you get so uptight anyway?"
That left him speechless. She headed to the generous couch and sat on it, patting the spot next to her.
"Come here," she said, "So we can have this discussion you wanted."
He sat down on the couch and she sidled on closer, not that he minded.
"So what did you have to say?"
"Well, you look very beautiful…"
She smiled at that.
"Thanks, that's very sweet," she said, "You always look great."
He sighed, feeling suddenly flustered.
"I meant what I said," he said, "I want you in my life. I want to work with you like we used to do and then…"
"You want us to have fun in other ways?"
She began stroking his hand in ways that heated his blood. But he really had to control himself here because after all, this wasn't one of his casual flings here; this was the woman that meant more to him than anyone ever had. And somewhere along the way, he had realized that.
"Well, I want to do what do they call it?"
He looked at her and he'd been sorely tempted but he didn't want to mess up their friendship now that it might get back on track.
Her fingers moved to his chest. He didn't know whether it was here or the liquor making her behave this way so he had to slow things down before his libido kicked into gear and did what it had wanted to do for so long.
"I want to start off slowly with this…"
She looked at him incredulous.
"Why," she asked, "I mean you…you're L.A.'s biggest stud…well one of the biggest…And I've seen you, you're like a runaway locomotive."
This time he touched her, gently brushing the hair off of her face with his fingers. She closed her eyes in response.
"J.D. I don't think I can do that," he said, "We've been good friends and we'll be even better business partners but…I think we should just stick to that."
She felt as if her face had been splashed with ice water but she recovered quickly enough.
"You mean but…"
"I know…but that's how I feel about you," he admitted, "I really want to enjoy the whole experience of well…moving our friendship to the next level meaning being business partners."
That sobered her up at first and then she realized he was probably right…at least for now. One step at a time and they'd just taken a major one if she agreed to his job offer.
"Oh…okay well I was thinking that L.A. might not be a bad place to live…and work."
He smiled back and they sealed the deal with a handshake. He lingered, not willing to let go of the contact. He'd pushed back an impulse to take her face gently in his hands and worship her gorgeous lips with his own mouth and some tongue before…
But he shook it off and went to pour themselves some champagne to celebrate.