***unedited, subject to change***

He took a sip of his wine and his eyes scanned the room. He hadn't seen her yet, but he could sense her presence.
He stopped in front of Boomer and Silas and fist bumped each of them.
"How was Kyra?" Boomer asked.
Zeke rolled his eyes and shook his head. "A handful."
Silas tipped his wine glass back, and Zeke caught the hint of amusement playing across his lips.
"You son of a bitch," Zeke laughed. "You were originally assigned to Kyra weren't you?"
"Yep," Silas said.
"Did you even really have security work to do?"
Silas shrugged and took another sip of his wine, and Boomer let out a howl of a laugh.
"You owe me, Si," Zeke grumbled.
"Gotdamn," Boomer bellowed.
Zeke looked over his shoulder to see what had elicited such a response from Boomer and his grip tightened around the stem of his wine glass.
Long cocoa legs on sky high stilettos were under a thick set of thighs, which were encased in a body hugging dress. It was black lace, overlaying brown fabric that matched her skin and sent Zeke's mind into hyperdrive with thoughts of what her body would actually look like out of the dress. The front of the dress had a plunging neckline, showing off more of that delectable looking skin.
Her long hair was loose and hung down to her ass, something he'd never seen before. Zeke watched as Laila's luscious looking lips, covered in a brown lipstick, tilted up into a thankful smile as she took a glass of wine from a waiter. She turned her back to him again and headed for one of the balconies that led outside.
"That's Dex's old partner, right?" Silas asked.
"Yeah," Zeke mumbled. "I'll see you guys later."
Zeke made his way through the crowd, until he was standing at the door of the balcony. He leaned against the doorjamb and took her in again from head to toe.
"Are you just gonna stand there gawking, or are you going to speak?"
Zeke smiled as Laila turned to fully face him.
"I don't need to protect my face, do I?"
He looked into her light brown eyes, still as sharp as ever.
"Are you referring to when I kicked your ass when we first met?"
Zeke threw his head back and laughed. "You got in one kick and a head butt. I'd hardly call that kicking my ass."
Laila's eyebrow rose and Zeke shook his head.
"Okay, so it was a good ass kick and head butt. You may have kicked my ass a little."
Laila's lips rose into a smile. "Hello, Ezekiel."
Zeke took a step towards her.
"It's good to see you again, Laila."
"Last time I saw you was in my hospital room."
On the mission, they'd worked together, Laila had gotten into a fight with Dex's ex, Stephanie, and ended up knocked out. Zeke had been the one to get her to the hospital.
"How's the head?" he asked, shoving his hand in his pocket to keep from reaching up to touching her head. He knew if he touched her head, he'd be tempted to burying his fingers in the silky strands of her hair.
"It's good," she said, touching the back of her head.
"What have you been up to since then?"
Laila shrugged. "Just working nonstop. I figured we would have seen each other again before now, since I've been doing some freelance work for Dex."
"Yeah, I heard. I've been working on the East Coast for the last few months."
"That explains it then."
Zeke looked into the ballroom and then back at Laila.
"You here alone?"
Laila nodded and sipped her wine.
"Boyfriend was too busy?"
Not long after Zeke first met Laila, he'd tried to ask her out, but before he got the chance Laila let him know that she was "kind of seeing someone".
"About that boyfriend..." Laila said, biting the corner of her lip. "I have a confession to make."
"A confession?"
"Yeah. I wasn't completely honest with you, when I told you I was seeing someone before. We'd actually been broken up for a while. I just wasn't really in a place where I was ready to date."
Zeke nodded his head.
"I kinda figured that out."
"You did?"
"Why didn't you say anything?" Laila asked.
This time Zeke shrugged.
"I figured you had your reasons for not wanting to date at the time. So I wanted to respect your space."
"That was...very noble of you."
Zeke took a chance and stepped a little closer to Laila, mere inches between their bodies. He was pleased when she didn't back away.
"Are you still in that place you were before? Not ready to date?"
"Depends on who's asking."
Zeke smiled and was just about to open his mouth to speak when Dex's mother's voice came over the speakers.
"If everyone could please find their seats, dinner is about to be served."

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