The rest of the day was a blur of phones ringing, appointments being booked, and new clients filtering into the office, each wanting the "not guilty PI" to take their cases. At the rate we were signing new clients, I knew I could forget having to fire anyone. In fact, I was going to have to hire more girls. Candy and Apple immediately sprang to mind, and I wondered just what the Spotted Pony paid them.
It wasn't until the sun was setting behind the silhouette of the US Bank Tower in my office window that the phones finally started slowing and I had a moment to catch my breath.
A short moment.
"Line two for you, boss," Maya's voice informed me over the intercom.
I cracked my neck, gearing up for another introductory call, and hit the speaker phone.
"This is Jamie Bond," I answered.
"Jamie," a familiar voice responded, "it's Aiden."
I took a deep breath.
While Aiden and I had spoken several times since I'd shot Veronica Waterston, it had been all business. It was what neither of us had said that had been rolling over in my mind the last two nights. He'd let me escape from the courtroom. Why? What had that meant? And what did it mean now?
"Hi," I said lamely.
"I, ah, hope I'm not interrupting. Maya said you were very busy today-"
"No!" I said, cutting him off. In hindsight, maybe just a little too eagerly. "I mean, yes, we've had a busy day here, but I'm free now."
"Oh. Well, good." He paused. "How about at around nine? Will you still be free then?"
I bit my lip, staring at the speaker phone. "Why do you ask?"
"I just though maybe you'd like to grab a drink."
Honestly? I could totally use a drink. But with our cat-and-mouse game over, there was only one reason that he'd be asking.
"Are you asking me out?" I clarified.
I swear I could almost hear his grin through the phone. "Yes, Jamie. I most definitely am."
I couldn't help giggling at his complete candor for once.
Giggling? Oh, brother. I didn't giggle. This could be a really bad idea.
"Well?" he prompted. "You know, you're gonna break my heart if you shoot me down again."
I took a deep breath. "Okay." Hey, I hadn't had my celebratory lobster and martini dinner yet, and if the ADA wanted to pay for it, who was I to argue?
"Okay?" he asked, a lift to his voice that I had to admit was utterly adorable.
"On one condition," I added.
"Leave the handcuffs at home this time."
He laughed, his voice echoing off my office walls. "Deal." He paused, then his voice took on a wicked tone. "At least this time."
I felt another giggle bubbling up in my throat. Oh, yeah. This was definitely a bad idea.
Luckily, before I could make a complete fool of myself, the door to my office opened and Derek stuck his head in.
"Uh, Aiden, I've got to go. Duty calls."
"No problem. I'll pick you up at nine?"
I nodded at the speaker phone. "I'll be here," I promised, then hung up.
"Who's picking you up?" Derek asked, plopping himself down in one of my client chairs.
"That would be Mr. None-of-Your-Business," I replied.
"Ouch. Come on, kid. I tell you all about my love life."
"Lucky me," I mumbled.
Derek grinned. "Okay, okay. Have your little secrets from the old man. I just came down to see how you're doing."
"Busy. Business is booming. The phone hasn't stopped ringing all day."
He nodded. "Good, but that's not what I meant. How are you doing?"
For the second time that day, emotion snuck up on me. I quickly cleared it from my throat. "I'm good. I'm fine."
Derek gave me a long look. Then, as if satisfied, nodded again. "Good. You're a tough kid, James."
"Well, I learned from the toughest."
Derek pointed at me and winked. "Darn skippy."
The intercom on the phone buzzed. I leaned over and hit the button. "Yes?"
"Sorry for the interruption. It's Sam. Maya's busy on the other line, but there's a call on hold for you. Another new client."
"Thanks." I turned back to Derek.
He stood, taking his cue. "Sam. That's the one with the legs, right?"
I rolled my eyes. "You know, we may have to hire more help. Maya's totally overwhelmed out there, and there's no way Sam, Caleigh, and I can handle all the cases."
"Sure. Hire away," he responded. "I trust you can handle it."
I paused. "Really? No demands to be a part of the interview process? No need to check out the résumés or cup sizes?"
He tapped his temple. "Never mix pleasure with business. Too many complications."
"Since when has that ever stopped you from checking out my girls?"
He held up his hands and wiggled all ten fingers. "Look but don't touch. It's the golden rule."
I couldn't help grinning. "So, this 'trust' thing. Does this mean you'll stop checking up on my every case?"
He furrowed his brows. "Don't get carried away. You still got a lot to learn from the old guy."
I pursed my lips and gave him a dirty look.
"But," he said. Then stepped around the desk and grabbed my shoulders, planting a quick peck on my forehead. "You're one heck of a PI, kid. You make the old guy proud."
I felt that emotion in my throat again, but this time I didn't mind it so much.
He squeezed my shoulder, gave me a smile, then headed for the door.
He stopped and turned around.
"They all have legs," I told him.
He chuckled and walked out, shutting my office door behind him.
I circled to my chair and grabbed a pen and pad of paper. Then picking up the phone receiver, I hit the button next to the green flashing light indicating my waiting call.
"Bond Agency. James Bond speaking."