Magnus stood in the doorway and scanned the bar. He had done so a hundred times before, but this time was different. This time would not be a simple relaxing evening with a few pints, waiting for some obliging woman to come up to him and chat him up. They inevitably did, usually the tall, flashy ones who were a little miffed that he had not bothered to approach them. But he knew this game, he was good at it. The same woman who would shoot him down if he approached her first would be all but begging for him to take her home if he ignored her. Sometimes he did, sometimes not; it depended on his mood.
Tonight was different though. Tonight he needed to approach the girl, his protectee, his “babysitting job” as Kurt had scornfully called it. Magnus was torn about how he felt. On the one hand, he was glad to finally be given some responsibility. On the other, being chosen to watch over some ditzy female because she might find him attractive was not exactly the job he had in mind.
Jan’s loud, scolding voice shook him out of his stupor and he crossed to the bar. He was not normally one to drink on the job but, well, this was not your normal case and he had been told to make it look convincing.
Sipping his lager he went back to his perusal of the room. There she was, sitting by herself in a booth at the back of the room. She was not at all the type who he usually met here. She had dark blond hair that she allowed to curl naturally, no blow out or chemicals, and little makeup on her face, just some light eyeliner, mascara and lip gloss. Her face was open and a little anxious. Well, she had just stumbled upon a gruesome crime scene, he supposed. It was only natural she was scared. Glancing over at her again he found himself warming to the idea of being the protector. It appealed to his sense of chivalry, the same instincts that had driven him to become a cop. He was just contemplating how best to approach her when she gave a little shrug of her shoulders, stood up, and walked over to stand next to him at the bar.
Jan grinned at him, clearly assuming she was just the latest young woman to take a crack at the elusive Detective Martinsson. It made him angry, for some reason. Usually he wouldn’t care what his friend thought, if anything he would be feeling smug that once again he was being sought out, but tonight it ate at him. Did everyone see him as nothing more than a fuckboy?
Bringing his mind back to the job at hand, he looked down at the girl standing next to him. Down, it turned out, was the appropriate word. The top of her head didn’t even come up to the bottom of his chin. She was not one of the waify, anorexic looking girls you saw so often these days, but instead looked like an actress out of one of those old movies his mother loved. She was built like a 1940’s bombshell, he found himself thinking. Her legs were long for her short height, and her little plaid skirt and black boots showed them off nicely. She had slim hips, and oh my, those breasts! They were full and round and would fill even his large hands.
Eyes up, detective, he reprimanded himself, he should not be ogling his protectee. Then again, a little voice in his head argued persuasively, he was supposed to be selling a seduction here. Telling himself it was all in the line of duty he let his gaze wander back down to her most noticeable assets.
”Hello darling,” he let his voice drip for the sake of Jan’s listening ears, “it looks like you could use a refill. Let’s see if we can get Jan’s attention. I’m Magnus, by the way.”
”Lanie,” she said, and blushed adorably.
”Jan,” Magnus flagged down his friend, “a glass of wine for the lady. On my tab.”
”Pinot grigio, right?” Jan asked, raising his eyebrows higher than Magnus thought was warrented. “I just need to go in the back and get another case. Mags, watch the bar for me.”
Without waiting for an answer Jan disappeared into the back room. Magnus looked back at Lanie, who was chewing on her lower lip. He was aware of a nagging irritation that she had been the one to initiate their meeting. It felt too much like the usual, rather tawdry way his nights often ended rather than the way to begin an altruistic assignment.
”I believe you were told I was to approach you, Miss Greyson,” he reprimanded her brusquely. “In the future, you'll have to learn to obey commands if this is to be a satisfactory affair.”
As her eyes flew to his face Magnus realized how his words could be interpreted. Good lord, what was wrong with him? This was a traumatized witness he was sent to protect, not some tart he had taken home for the night. Yes, they were about to embark on a sham relationship where certain liberties would have to be taken, but there was no need to bring his own... tendencies into situation.
"And you will have to learn to look at me with something other than reproach, detective, if we want anyone to believe our story," she said it briskly, though she was still blushing.
Magnus realized that he was rather glowering at her. Really, it wasn't her fault he was in this ridiculous position. "You're right, Lanie, forgive me," relaxing, he looked down at her with his most melting smile and was rewarded with her blush deepening. He couldn't help a touch of smugness returning to his smile as he draped his arm along the back of her bar stool.
"I trust you didn't come alone?" he asked. "In order for our deception to work, someone needs to witness it."
"Oh, of course," she stammered. "My friend Holly, from Haas Enterprises," she pointed down the bar, where a tall brunet with a pixie cut was trying to get her attention. He smiled, and then noticed the tall, skinny man standing next to her. "And that's Haas," Lanie added unnecessarily. "He insisted on coming with us."
"So we're off to the races," he remarked, as the two made their way down the bar to where Magnus and Lanie sat.
Eric Haas immediately set Magnus' teeth on edge. Haas was tall, though not, he was please to say, as tall as Magnus himself, and seemed to be all skin and bone. His dark hair was cut in a simple but obviously expensive style, and the same could be said for his suit, far too fancy for a dive bar like the one they were in now. The proprietary look he shot at Lanie told Magnus everything he needed to know about the other man's feelings for his assistant. Shifting subtly, Magnus angled his body so that his feet were on either side of Lanie's bar stool, facing her. While not quite touching her, he was aggressively in her personal space, and used his superior size to stake his claim to her attention. Haas' lip curled as he took in the situation.
"Lanie, why didn't you come join us," Holly asked, looking coyly back and forth from Magnus to her friend, obviously inferring what the answer was.
"I didn't see you down there," Lanie replied, with blatant falsehood.
"Bartender," Haas snapped in an obnoxiously superior tone as Jan returned, setting Lanie's glass of wine, which was a very friendly poor, down in front of her. "Put the lady's wine on my tab."
"Not necessary, chum," Jan smiled back at him. Magnus could tell his friend had the same gut reaction to the man that he did. "Detective Martinsson here has already taken care of it."
"Ooh, detective?" Holly asked, eyes lighting up as she looked at Magnus with renewed interest.
"Magnus," he corrected, extending his hand. She smiled and shook it, glancing at Lanie again with a twinkle in her eye. "I'm Holly," she introduced herself, "and this is Erik Haas. And it seems you already met Lanie."
"Indeed I have," he purred, smiling down again at Lanie. Haas nearly growled in response.
"There is no need for you to waste your hard earned money, detective," Haas sneered at him, "I have more than enough, and told the ladies that I would be covering their bill tonight."
"Ah, but there was need," Magnus said, smiling smugly at his nemesis. "You see," he turned to Holly and winked at her, "I'm bribing the lady."
"Bribing?" Holly asked right on cue. Bless her.
"I needed someone to play darts with," he extemporized on the spot, "and your charming friend agreed to humor me in return for a glass of Jan's finest white."
Jan, behind the bar, scoffed at this. All of his wine was subpar, and he knew it.
"Ooh, I love darts," Holly enthused. "Let's play teams!"
"Fine," Magnus agreed quickly. It was not what he had intended, but it would do. "Lanie, would you do me the honor?"
"Of course," she agreed, smiling up at him with her large, dark blue eyes. God, he thought, were they to ever have a child the poor bastard wouldn't have a chance. Between the curls and the blue eyes they each sported, they would be cursed even worse than Magnus was! And where did that thought come from? he asked himself. Get your head in the game!
This was like one of her worst nightmares come to life, Lanie thought as they made their way over to the side of the room where the dart boards hung on the wall. Well, maybe not one of the worst ones. There were no spiders falling on her head, and she wasn't being told over and over how much of a disappointment she was to her family, but still, it was up there. She had to be one of the most uncoordinated people, at least until she picked up a paint brush. She didn't understand it herself, but when she had a brush in her hand was the only time said hands didn't shake. And now she was expected to throw deadly, pointed objects in a slightly tipsy state - she was on her third glass of wine with no food, and Jan had been filling her glass very kindly. To make matters worse, she would be being watched by her boss, who may or may not be a murderer, but was definitely infatuated with her, and the most ridiculously handsome man she had ever met who was definitely not infatuated with her, but had to somehow believably convince people he was. She would be lucky if she didn't end up blinding someone.
Holly, it turned out, might love darts but was easily just as bad as Lanie. She was also, Lanie realized, quite a bit more drunk. She had been downing vodka cranberries two for every one of Lanie's drinks, so this was not really a surprise. It made Lanie feel a bit better, though, when Holly's dart did not even hit the board, but bounced off the wall a foot away.
"Whoops!" Holly grinned, "Sorry boss!"
Erik rolled his eyes, clearly annoyed to be playing this game. But, since the alternative was to let Magnus and Lanie play by themselves he was deigning to lower himself. It turned out he was quite good. His first dart hit just to the outside of center. His smile was superior and Lanie found herself actually hoping that he had been the one to slit Micah's throat, so that she would have the satisfaction of sending him to jail. As good as Erik was, however, Magnus was better. He barely even looked at the board before sending the dart dead center into the bull's eye.
"Well damn!" Holly laughed as Magnus grinned at her. "Someone's a dart hustler!"
"Why don't you just play for both of us?" Lanie suggested, dreading the moment, now arrived, where she would have to display her inadequacy.
"Have you played before?" Magnus asked, walking over to her.
"A couple times in our garage," Lanie shrugged. "Never well."
"It's really just a matter of centering yourself," he told her, coming to stand behind her. He reached down around her and lifted her right arm, pulling her back into his body. His left arm curled around her waist, holding her hips steady against him while he guided her throwing arm back and forth, his big hand closed over her much smaller one. His body was bent over her, his mouth talking in her ear as he moved her like a doll. "Look at the board over the top of the dart. Take a deep breath. When you get to here," he moved her hand forward a bit, rocking into her, "release."
Letting him guide her, trying to ignore the warmth that was gathering in her core, Lanie threw the dart and was rewarded when it stuck into the board, not in the center but only two rings from it.
"See," Magnus smiled, and before she knew what was happening, he planted a small kiss on the side of her neck, his glancing tongue sending shivers through her whole body, "it's not so hard."
"Now that's a shame," Holly quipped, and giggled, earning glares from Lanie and Haas.
Lanie quickly stepped away from Magnus, blushing furiously. This was an act. She knew this was an act. She had to keep reminding herself of it, though, because the dampness pooling between her legs seemed to have other ideas.
"I'll be right back," she excused herself. "Ladies' room."
"Me too!" Holly echoed, and grabbed Lanie's arm to whisk her off.
"What the ever-loving HELL Lanie!" Holly screeched once they got into the ladies'. "He is SO HOT!!!!"
"Magnus?" Lanie asked, as if she didn't know.
"Yes Magnus!" Holly squealed. "How did miss never talk to anyone ever get the nerve up to randomly strike up a conversation with tall blond hottie of a cop?!? One, I might add, who is totally into you!"
"You think?" Lanie asked, feeling her blush deepen. It's an act! She told herself. He doesn't even really want to be here. At least not with me.
"Um, obviously!" Holly gushed. "Oh man, you have all the luck! First Haas is all taken with you, then Mr. Detective practically humps you in the middle of the bar! That's it. I'm getting a boob job!"
"Holly!" Lanie laughed. "You do not need a boob job! And trust me, these are more trouble than they're worth!"
"Tell that to the manly policeman who can't stop staring down your top," Holly chuckled.
"Really?" Lanie couldn't help asking.
"Um, yes really!" Holly rolled her eyes. "He's been undressing you with his eyes for the last half hour. Definitely a boob man. I swear, Lanie, if you don't jump on that I will kidnap him with his own gun and handcuff him to his bed until I am completely satisfied!"
Holly's words brought back Lanie's own thoughts from earlier in the evening. When Magnus had spoken of Lanie "obeying commands" she had found her brain jumping to a very vivid image of her lying naked on a bed, handcuffed to the headboard, while Magnus stood over her ordering her to spread her legs. She could feel her cheeks turn scarlet as she played the image again.
"Oh my god, you really like him! Mr. Detective Magnus with the pretty blond curls," Holly laughed.
Lanie started to deny it, then remembered that the whole point of this evening was to establish the two of them as enamored with each other. Magnus had been doing his part, convincing Holly at least that he was smitten with her. The least Lanie could do was not deny the attraction.
"Yeah, I think I really do," she confessed, wishing it was as much of a lie as it was supposed to be. "Now let me pee, and let's get back out there before he and Haas kill each other."