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Magnus was not a violent man by nature, but he decided that if the ladies didn't come back from the bathroom soon he would very happily put a dart through Haas' disdainful eye. He was more than ready to believe the man guilty of any crime he could think of. The way he leered at Lanie made Magnus' skin crawl.

"I don't know what you're playing at detective," Haas said to him when they were alone, "but you should know that Lanie is spoken for. You can leave off your attentions now."

"Well I'm playing at darts," Magnus replied with smug grin. "But as for Lanie, she's a grown woman and there's no ring on her finger. If she wants me to leave her alone she can say so. But it seems to me she's enjoying my attentions. As am I."

It was true. He had even forgotten for a few minutes, as he helped her with her shot, that he was on assignment. She had felt so good in his arms, so nice and soft, and her hair smelled delicious, like vanilla and strawberries. It had been the most natural thing in the world to lean down and let his lips graze her neck. That he added his tongue to the caress had surprised even him. He would have to watch himself not to get lost in the part.

"I don't think you realize who I am, Martinsson," Haas said with an unmistakable threat in his voice.

"Oh, I know all about who you are," Magnus told him, not elaborating further. "Another drink?"

"No, thank you," Haas made a face at the drink in his hand.

Magnus sauntered over to the bar and ordered another round for the girls and a beer for himself. Jan looked at him curiously. 

"Never known you to foot the bill, Mags," he said with a laugh. "Of course, I understand wanting to put that smarmy arse in his place. That why you're putting the moves on the little thing? Must say it's strange  to watch"

"What do you mean," Magnus bristled. "It's hardly like she's the first girl you've seen me talk to in here."

"Yeah, but she's not exactly your type, now is she?" Jan asked. 

"What do you mean, she's pretty!" Magnus protested, feeling offended on Lanie's behalf.

"Oh, I know she is," Jan agreed. "In fact, I think she's a big step up from the slags you usually go off with. Bit of something behind her eyes. Still, you can't deny you usually leave with the tall, willowy things, all done up and chic."

"Magnus," he heard Lanie's voice from behind him. He turned around quickly to see her standing there, a strained smile on her face. Damn, how much had she heard? Not that it really mattered, he supposed. After all, the whole relationship was for show. Still, he didn't want her to think he was gossiping about her.

"I was beginning to think you escaped out a window," Magnus said.

"Holly gets chatty when she's had a few," she apologized. "Well, chattier."

"Want to get some air?" he asked, slipping an arm around her shoulders.

"Sure," she said with a small smile. 

"Jan, watch our drinks."

Magnus led Lanie out into the cold night air. He wasn't sure why, but he had needed to get out of that bar. Away from Haas' threats and Jan's questions. He looked down at her and realized that she was shivering. Damn, he didn't know how he had forgotten she was wearing a light weight, scoop necked top when he had been staring down it all night. She really did have extraordinary cleavage. Magnus took his blazer off and draped it over her shoulders.

"I just wanted to apologize, about the way I spoke to you at the beginning of the night," he said. 

"You have nothing to apologize for," she smiled. "I didn't follow instructions. I'm not used to this sort of thing. And I'm sure this isn't how you would prefer to spend your evenings."

"I can think of worse ways," he shrugged, grinning lopsidedly at her. He had maneuvered her in front of the windows. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Haas watching them from inside. It was perfect timing. Leaning in he threaded his fingers through the back of her hair and pulled her up onto her toes to meet his descending lips. Lanie gasped a little in surprise and he seized the opportunity to slide his tongue into her mouth. After a moment of stunned stillness she began responding to his kiss, her arms lifting up to reach around his neck. His free arm pulled her closer and he felt her breasts crush into his chest. It suddenly didn't seem so cold out any more. For a few minutes Magnus let himself get lost in the kiss, tongue mingling with hers as he tasted the tart wine she had been drinking, until a telltale stirring in his jeans brought him abruptly back to his senses. He pulled away and planted one last chaste kiss on her lips, hoping she had missed the swelling in his groin.

"That aught to do it," he murmured, glancing in the window to see Haas fuming and Holly grinning at them. "Shall we go back in?"

"Sure," she replied, and smiled at him again. He wished he felt as composed as she obviously was. It was going to be a long two weeks.


Lanie struggled to keep the calm smile plastered to her face while inside she was a roiling mass of confusion. When she had walked back up to him in the bar, only to hear his buddy describing the chic, willowy girls he normally dated she had felt her heart plummet to her toes. She had been right in the first place. No one would ever believe that someone like him, handsome, confident, quick, would be interested in her. She was artsy and cute, not glamorous or provocative. 

She was intensely grateful when he brought her outside. She didn't think she could face Haas and his wandering hands, or Jan and his confused looks. Then Magnus had kissed her and it was as though she had stepped into the pages of a fairy tale. It was tender and sweet at first, then bold and insistent when he added his tongue, and she had loved every minute, wantonly pressing herself into his muscled chest. It was only when he pulled away that she remembered that the whole evening was an act, a performance meant to convince Haas that they were an item. Of course he would have kissed her right in front of the window where Erik could see. It was all part of the plan.

Lanie let Magnus drape his arm around her again and lead her back inside, his blazer still wrapped around her, hanging down ridiculously past her knees, longer than her skirt. She must look like a child, she thought. By silent agreement they abandoned the dart game and went back to the booth. She supposed Magnus had already achieved the double purpose of proving the superiority of his aim and using it as an excuse for physical contact with her. Against her will she found herself wondering how many other woman he had used that technique on, curling his long body around them under the guise of teaching them the skills of the game. Holly was now dozing in the corner of the booth and Erik was looking through his emails on his phone. Magnus grabbed their drinks and steered them back to the table, pulling her down on his lap when he sat. She wondered if he was feeling the alcohol. She thought he was only on his second beer, but he seemed to be swaying a bit. Erik looked up and glared at them as Magnus ran the fingers of one hand in little patterns over Lanie's knee while he sipped his beer.

"It seems Holly is a little worse for wear," Erik grumbled, pushing her off of his shoulder. "Detective, I don't suppose you would mind taking her home? As part of your civic duty to protect, of course. I can see to it that Lanie makes it back to her apartment, she's on my way home."

Lanie knew for a fact that she lived in the opposite direction as Haas, and was fairly certain he knew this as well. She was about to protest, but Magnus just smiled.

"I'm off duty, Haas," he smiled. "But we can make sure Holly gets safely into a cab, if you're okay with that, Lanie."

"That should be fine," Lanie agreed. "I don't think she's really that drunk, just sleepy. Right Holly?" Lanie threw a napkin at her friend who opened her eyes, nodded, and closed them again. "She gets like this whenever she drinks."

"Fine," Erik huffed. "But that still leaves you. I can see you home."

"There's only one problem with that, Haas," Magnus smiled.

"And what would that be?" Erik asked bitingly.

"Lanie's not going home," Magnus said with a grin, sliding his hand up Lanie's leg under her skirt. She shrieked and knew she blushed but Lanie kept herself from removing his hand. A wave of heat was flowing from it up her thigh and right to her sex, causing her already damp underwear to become positively soaked. Good lord, she didn't know how much more of this she could take.

"Is that so?" Erik asked, looking at Lanie. "I think I would like to hear the lady speak for herself."

"It's true," Lanie said, blushing and burying her head in Magnus' shoulder. "I just don't want to be alone right now. After last night. I didn't get much sleep at all, just a few hours in the station. And Magnus makes me feel safe. He's a cop, you know," she giggled, playing more tipsy than she actually was.

"Lanie, are you sure you can trust him?" Haas asked. "No offense to you, Martinsson, but you know nothing about the man. If you don't want to be alone tonight, I would be more than happy to take you home with me."

I just bet you would, she thought, hiding a shudder.

"Oh, but I do know about him!" Lanie smiled. She had planned this out with Anne. "My friend Anne, Anne-Britt she goes by now, works with him. I texted her from the bathroom and got the lowdown on him."

"No you didn't," Holly mumbled with her eyes closed. 

Lanie hurried on, hoping nobody had heard her friend but her.

"She says that he's very trustworthy, and dependable, and perfect gentleman," she punctuated each descriptive word with a little kiss on his cheek, "and all around a lovely guy to be around, as long as you don't tease him about his hair."

Lanie giggled as Magnus choked on his beer and glared.

"There's nothing to tease me about," he grumbled.

"If you say so," she giggled again, pulling on a ringlet. "So you see, Erik, I am perfectly safe going home with him. If he misbehaves, I'll have him brought before the commissioner."

"Is that so?" he asked, tickling her side. Lanie laughed and squirmed on his lap. He let go of her abruptly and stood up, depositing her on the floor.

"Well, I think it's time to go darling," he said. "Come on Holly, up you get. Jan," he yelled over to the bar, "okay if I settle up tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow, next year, whenever brother, just go have fun" Jan waved at them with a smirk, causing Lanie to blush again. She really hated her pale skin sometimes.

"Erik, thank you so much for a lovely evening," she said, giving her boss a quick hug. "I'll see you on Monday."

"Be safe," he said, frowning at Magnus.

Lanie and Magnus half walked half carried Holly out and put her in a cab. Magnus paid the cabbie in advance, giving him Holly's address and making sure that his badge showed clearly when he took the money out of his wallet.

"My car's around the corner," he told her, taking her hand and pulling her that direction. Since leaving the bar he seemed remarkably uninebriated. 

"Okay," she smiled. "I live on Oakland and 1st, if you wouldn't mind dropping me off."

"I'm not dropping you anywhere," he told her, looking at her with surprise. "You're coming home with me."