“How do you deal with that?”
“Mostly ignoring. Sometimes sex can distract them, but not always. I’d invite you to join us but I suspect you are too busy for that.”
“I’m right here,” I interject, feeling as if I’ve lost control—not only over the conversation, but the whole situation. We were here because MJ wouldn’t answer my damn text.
“We know. You’re six feet, four inches tall. We’d be blind not to know you were here,” Tony drawls. “Everyone in this restaurant knows you’re here.”
I look around and see that there are a large number of eyeballs staring in our direction. I drop into the wooden chair.
“Was there something you wanted? Something wrong with your food?” MJ asks with saccharine sweetness. Her eyes spark, telling me that if I say one bad thing about her food, she’s going to take her chef’s knife to me.
“No. The food’s fine.”
“Fine?” Her eyebrow goes up and so does the tone of her voice.
“Great,” I hastily revise. “The food is fucking awesome. Best I’ve ever had.”
“Wonderful. Thanks for your patronage. I hope you visit again.” With those emotionless words, MJ spins on her heel and stalks back to the kitchen.
“Thanks for nothing, Tony.”
My partner whistles tunelessly and flaps her napkin in the air before repositioning the white cloth on her lap. “How do you plan to make up for your mistake?”
“How is it a mistake to want her to text me back? She was moaning, for Christ’s sake, when some dude’s hand was near her mouth.”
“He was probably her sous chef. Eat your scallops. They’re getting cold.” Tony pops one of the buttered delicacies in her mouth and groans. “Fuck. These are better than sex. No wonder she was moaning. Just a sec.” She hands me her phone. “Okay, take a video of this so I can send it to Donya.”
“The things I do for you,” I grumble. I hold the phone up and tap the record button. Tony goes through an elaborate and not very believable enactment of her eating the scallop. When she’s done, I slide the phone over to her.
Tony checks my work. “Hmmm,” she says. “Maybe I won’t send this. Donya may wonder who I’m with and get jealous.”
“You’re with me.” I frown. “Donya fucking loves me.”
“Well, who knows?” My partner shrugs and returns her phone to the table. “I don’t want to risk it. After all, look at how you responded.”
As I once said to MJ, I’m not a detective for nothing. “I get your point,” I snap. Maybe I shouldn’t have flown off the handle and texted MJ a half-dozen times and called her. She was busy. I wouldn’t have answered the phone if I was in the middle of running down a criminal. Plus, MJ’s not on the same wavelength as I am. I’m ready for a double wedding on Saturday and she’s wondering when is a good time to kick my ass out.
“So you’re saying I need to dial back the jealousy?”
“A little,” Tony says. “Not too much, because being jealous isn’t a bad thing. It’s when it’s overwhelming and makes her afraid or interferes with work and shit that it’s a problem.”
I scowl. “How am I supposed to know what the line is? I want to brand her ass with my name. In a perfect world, she should be wearing one of those bachelorette headbands that lights up and says, ‘I’m taken.’”
“And those are so meaningful?” Tony raises an eyebrow. “Because half the time we’ve seen those light-up headbands, they are on drunk women who we are hauling off a stripper they hired to have one last fling.”
“You’re so romantic, Tony. How does Donya cope with all that sentimental nonsense?” I say, my voice laden with sarcasm.
Tony is unperturbed. “Because I’m awesome, of course. Whew, that was good,” she adds after finishing the last of her dish. “What’re we having for dessert?”
Tony eats two servings of a flaming baked Alaska while I finish the scallops. They’ve gotten cold because I spent more time arguing with Tony than eating, but even cold they were delicious. MJ’s a genius in the kitchen.
After dinner is over, I walk Tony to her car.
“All jokes aside, I like MJ, despite the fact she’s straight.”
“You barely met her.”
Tony shakes her head. “I’m a detective. I’m supposed to size people up in a second. She’s obviously very talented. She’s successful. She doesn’t need a man so you’re going to have to prove you’re necessary for her to live.”
“How the hell do I do that?”
Tony gives a tiny shrug of her shoulders. “Don’t know, Castile. I ask myself every day why Donya chose me instead of all the other women out there that are dying to climb into her bed.”
“And?” Donya’s a supermodel so I bet the line outside her door is long.
“She says it’s because I love her, so love your girl and hope it turns out for the best.” Tony winks at that last bit of unhelpful advice, slams the door shut and speeds off, undoubtedly to go home and be with her girl.