Author's Note: Okay, so this idea is a little . . . out there, but so is Serendipity. Stick with me if you can take it. Please drop me a note, and please don't post without my explict permission.
Pacey Witter looked around the dark restaurant. There wasn't much for him to see; a couple of minimalist paintings on wall to his left, the kitchen to his right, a few people scattered about at the other tables, but not nearly enough to even keep the waiters bustling. A man sat at a black grand piano in the corner playing Gershwin tunes, a proper mood for the dim, upscale restaurant.
He loosened his tie with his left hand, as he took a drink of water with his right, but his eyes finally stopped at the person across from him. Josephine Potter had gone from a beautiful girl to a stunning woman at some point during the years. He had often kicked himself for never noticing when or how the actual transition had taken place. Her hair was swept up in a French roll. She was wearing what she called a "power suit" that was powder blue, the jacket had been discarded nearly an hour ago, now resting on the back of her chair. Her chin rested on her hand as she pushed one of the remaining pieces of chicken around her plate. He could tell something was wrong.
"What's the matter?" he asked her.
Her neck snapped up, and she looked at him for a moment before looking back at her plate. "I'm going to be thirty next week, Pacey," she said.
"We've all got to turn thirty," he said. "It's no big deal."
She sighed, and looked up at him. "I'm nowhere near where I thought I would be."
"Neither am I," he said. "So just stop feeling sorry for yourself."
She cut her eyes at him. "Gee, you really know how to be supportive," she said sarcastically. "I need a drink," she said, beckoning the waiter.
"Dammit, Pacey," she said. "You're going to make me drink alone, aren't you?"
He tilted his head to the side as he looked at her. "You know that I don't drink," he said. "Besides, I thought we were going to have a nice little dinner tonight. My ideal evening doesn't exactly end with you slurring your words, and possibly throwing up on my shoes."
"Strawberry Margarita," she said to the waiter. "On second thought, just bring me the Tequila." The man nodded, and walked to the bar. "I'm not going to get drunk," she told Pacey. "I just need to . . . relax. I lost a huge account this week, I'm turning thirty next week, and I can't even get you to drink with me."
"You know that I--"
"You're off this weekend," she argued. "You shouldn't let your job control your life, Pace," she said, downing her shot not long after it arrived. "Personally, I think you're too uptight. You need to get laid."
He laughed. "How would you know that?" he asked.
She shrugged innocently. "I can just tell. We're friends, right? I can say that?"
"Thanks for the concern, Josephine," he said, greeting her glare with a smile. "You have someone particular in mind?" he asked jokingly.
Me, she thought. "I'm sure we can find you a whore," she offered. "This is Miami."
He nodded, not really paying attention to her comment. She knew better than to suggest that he needed to pay for sex. Two brave women had sent him drinks already tonight, despite the fact that he was there with her. They were brave because Pacey knew that if he were actually Joey's boyfriend, both would've walked out of there with a limp. He laughed at his last thought.
"What?" she asked self-consciously.
Pacey noticed that she had managed to wrangle another shot from the waiter while he was daydreaming. "Nothing," he said. "Let's dance," he offered, nodded to the space near the piano.
"Let me guess. This is your lame attempt to get me to stop drinking," she said, shaking her head in disapproval. "Pacey, if I want to get drunk one night--"
He plastered a grin on his face. "Come on, Jo. Dance with me."
She rolled her eyes. "Don't step on my toes, Witter," she warned, as she stood back from the table.
They stood there for a moment until he settled one hand on her hip, the other in her left hand, as she rested her hand on his shoulder, leaving as much space as their arms would allow. He smiled as they began to sway slowly.
He was tense, though; she could tell. "Relax, Pace," she said, her voice coming out hoarsely. She kept moving her eyes, not sure what would happen if she looked at him. She moved closer, resting her head on his shoulder to solve that problem. He let go of her hand, and rested his other hand on her hip, selfishly pulling her closer.
"You are going to be the most beautiful thirty year old on earth," he whispered. "I'm sure that everything will turn out better than you expect."
She pulled away to look at him. "Ever the optimist," she said, laughing nervously. "I could seriously use another drink."
"Is this making you . . . uncomfortable?" he asked.
"No, no," she said. "I just . . . you know . . ."
He nodded. "I'll see you at the table." She walked up to the bar, glancing back at him over her shoulder. In seconds she had her drink, and was heading back to him. She was beginning to find him very desirable, and wished she could blame that on the alcohol. But she couldn't. She wasn't far from wanting to cross the line--a line she promised herself she'd never cross with Pacey, no matter how many times she had wanted to.
He watched Joey as she downed another shot. "Had enough?"
"Do I still know who I am?" she asked the air. "Why, yes, I do. I guess that means no." She started laughing.
Joey didn't usually get like this, Pacey noted. In the past eighteen months that she had lived in Miami, he had never seen her want to get drunk. Really, he didn't know what was wrong with her. He knew that she'd had trouble this past week at work, basically pissing an important client off, and causing her firm to lose the account. Evidently, the client had presented an idea for an ad campaign that Joey termed "blatantly racist and offensive to anything with a clitoris." Needless to say, it wasn't well-received. She was a successful member of the advertising world, preceded only by her reputation: She could cleverly make the sales, but she didn't take any shit.
Then, of course, she was turning thirty. Hell, that hadn't been easy for Pacey either. And maybe her life was just like his--no one could tell that it was in shambles.
"What's wrong, Jo?" he asked, watching her down another shot.
She laughed. "My life sucks, Pacey!" she said. "I'm almost thirty years old, can't advance in my career because people say I'm a bitch, got no kids, no husband, no adventure, no nuthin'."
"Come on, Jo. Let's get out of here," he said, an attempt to keep her from the Tequila.
She easily stood up, and purposefully positioned herself very close to him. She could feel his warm breath on her face. "Friends don't let friends drink and drive," she said.
"Aww, I love this house," she gushed, as Pacey pulled into his driveway. She looked at him playfully. "Dr. Witter, how do you afford this little piece of heaven? Selling Valium prescriptions on the side," she joked.
"Funny, Josephine," he said. "Come on." She got out of the car, and instantly inhaled the salt air. She envied Pacey. While she was crammed into a one bedroom apartment in the city, he was living at a gorgeous beach house with three bedrooms, and a wall of glass windows overlooking the sand from his living room. If she had been a little more bold, she would've asked to move in with him the instant she saw it. Hell, he had the room. On most occasions, he tried to keep her away from there, though.
She trudged up the steps behind him. "You can stay in the guest room," he told her, as he led the way. She plopped down on the bed in the airy room. "You'll be okay?" he asked.
"Come here," she said to him. He sat next to her on the bed. She sighed, not sure where to begin. She looked at him, meeting an intense gaze. "Never mind," she whispered. Instinctively, she placed her hand behind his neck, pulled him to her, and kissed him.
He could still taste the Tequila, but at that moment he didn't care. He thought about what it would be like to kiss her often, and now he had it. He could have it and pass it off as a fleeting moment of drunkenness when she was down on herself. It wouldn't change anything.
But it could. Now he was lying on top of her, a hand placed firmly on her thigh, his lips moving fervently to her neck. As the beep from his pager filled his room, he stopped cold, meditating for a second.
He moved from her, and sat at the edge of the bed. He picked up the phone at the bedside, and dialed the number from the pager. "This is Pacey," he said on the phone, standing up. Joey didn't hear anything else until, "I'll be right there."
"Duty calls, Dr. Witter," she said, saving him the trouble of explaining.
"I'm sorry, Jo," he said. "I think it was a wake-up call anyway." She sighed as she curled up into a ball on the bed. "I've gotta go," he added. "Make yourself at home."
She watched him walk out of the room. "Could my life be any worse?"
Pacey got out of his Explorer, a gym bag in hand, and approached a large, isolated brick house. He knocked on the door, and was greeted by a tall, muscular man. "Dr. Witter!" he said, seemingly happy to see him. "We're glad that you could make it so quick. Will's upstairs in the bedroom."
Pacey nodded. "Thanks, Emilio," he said, ascending the stairs. The scene didn't surprise Pacey; it was one he had seen several times before. Several rather large, intimidating men were gathered around the bed where William Morez lay. This time the blood was coming from his leg, the upper right thigh. Pacey stood beside him.
"Pacey," he said. "I'm so glad that you're here."
"You're awfully cheerful for a guy who's been shot," Pacey said, trying to get a look at the damage. "How bad is it?"
"I think it's stuck in the muscle. You know, I'm not supposed to take hits like this," he said, only half-joking.
Pacey methodically began laying things taken from his bag around. He laid a surgical drape with a hole in it around the wound, covered it in betadine, and rinsed a pair of tweezers off with some alcohol, before putting rubber gloves on. "This might hurt," Pacey warned.
Will laughed. "I'm tough."
"So, how did this happen?" Pacey asked. He was trying to distract Will, but he wouldn't allow his attention to divert from the wound.
"You know the competition of the business," Will began. "We had a shipment coming in tonight. It was a big one, and I wanted to make sure everything went smoothly." Will stopped speaking to wince. "It didn't go as planned."
"Demetrius' boys?" Pacey asked, as he pulled the bullet fragment from the wound. He tossed it into the trash can.
Will nodded, seemingly relieved.
Pacey looked at him, concern showing on his face. "It's getting dangerous, isn't it?"
"There's nothing to worry about, Pacey," Will assured. "We take care of our own."
Pacey nodded, and turned back to the wound. This was a normal activity for him. Next came the stitches, then the bandage. Ironically, it was all in a night's work. The only problem was that things seemed to be heating up. He was patching people up more often, and he was unsure of exactly where it would leave him in the aftermath.
To Be Continued . . .
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