“...and I’m Diana Payne, from all of us here at Eyewitness News, goodnight.” And with that authoritative but predictable sign-off delivered by our two aging news anchors, my workday at Channel 2 grinds to its end. It’s a magic trick how quickly the illusion of tv news fades to black.

From just before sunrise to well after sunset, the newsroom and studio are buzzing at a high-frequency and frenetic pace to meet on-the-hour deadlines. The stories recycled throughout the day get updated (or axed for juicier fresh news) and played on one or several of our newscasts: the Rise & Shine Show at 6 a.m., Ch. 2-News at Noon, Ch. 2-News at Six and then finally, the Ch. 2 10-o’clock News.

The lowly reporters like myself live for our 3 min. and thirty seconds of air time on the TV. We are “paying dues” as we grind our way up the ladder to a market where there are no “slow” news days. At 10:35 pm after the anchors say goodnight to their bedtime audience that has aged with them, the studio and control room quickly empties. Schlubby, hoodie-wearing camera operators roll monitors and thick, black heavy cables off to the studio sidelines. Just beyond the control room, around a corner and then another, tucked into a blackened, chilly room that no one in front of the camera thinks about, lives a wall of 16 video monitors streaming live satellite news stories from all over the world into digital recorders. The lone wolf of the overnight engineering crew, Stanley, makes sure the information lifeblood of our news operation flows without interruption.

The set, which at any station is always smaller in person than it appears to the viewer at home, goes dark. By 10:37 p.m. the reporters with no discernable life outside of work break out of the building with the energy of fifth graders coming down from an Adderall high. Destination: Fitzgerald’s Pub where on Thursday nights, reporters and the cops with whom we’ve cultivated a friendly rapport for story leads, sound bites and “off the record” paper chases, gather for what’s informally referred to as “News and Blues” night.

When you’ve worked the cops and court reporter “beat” long enough you learn to easily spot off-duty patrol officers in a crowd of civilians when they’re in plain clothes. Unless they’re Narcs (undercover cops who look like the street-level dirtbag meth-dealers they’ve infiltrated) off-duty cops carry themselves with a confident and somewhat formal demeanor...about three notches below the formality with which enlisted uniformed military soldiers carry themselves. Cops always have their antennae up, heads on a swivel, eyes roving looking for a glint of potential mayhem. Even when they manage to unwind, they’re still the most present, T-shirt and jeans-wearing people in the room. In my experience, stressed-out cops unwind with their “bros” and a beer-or three.
The city of Rockland’s culture has the vibe of a large college town due to SIX local breweries. This city isn’t the smallest along the Northeast Corridor and it’s certainly not Manhattan. It sits complacent in its offerings as a little big town and the DUI capital of the East Coast.

Although it’s May, the night air is still chilly enough to need a jacket. Even when it’s hot enough to ditch the outerwear you can always spot a news reporter in a crowded room. We’re the ones who never take off our coats inside. It’s a habit from the job that carries over-we have to be ready to exit in an instant to get to that next event, chase that next sound bite, that next “Next.” I approach Fitzgerald’s still wearing my short khaki- colored trench coat cinched at the waist with a buckled belt that didn’t come with the coat, but it looks refined and at age 34, I look powerful and feel sexy and at ease in my sugar- scrubbed brown skin. I’m rocking a body-conscious upscale casual red skirt, deep pink pullover blouse and attractive but comfortable heels. Because it’s the 21st century, black female reporters don’t have to ascribe to the “helmet hair” of the past. Stations are much more embracing of us with kinky-curly hair expressing our blackness (to a point) so tonight, my hair bounces in it’s bigness, curls flying wildly behind me. I got it going on.

As I cross the barrier from the outside chill into the muggy, stale dankness that defines neighborhood pubs, my eyes, like a heat-seeking missile immediately lock onto one man. He’s standing on the opposite side of the crowded, noisy cave. I have sleuthed around this bar almost every ‘Blues and News night since moving to town six years ago and not once have I ever seen that face HERE before.

It’s like I suddenly develop x-ray vision and can see through every broad- shouldered dude in the room. He hasn’t noticed ME yet but my brain processes the following information about him in about a nanosecond: he’s a cop. Even if this wasn’t a room full of off-duty cops, it would still be obvious to me from his posture-shoulders back, pelvis slightly forward-owning his space, his black polo shirt, those “Dad” jeans that are starting to fade and running sneakers. If all that average suburb dad-with-a-hall pass look weren’t enough clues, the biggest “tell” is that I recognize his beautiful, angled and slightly androgynous face as the crime scene investigator at every major traffic accident, drive-by shooting and other bad happening where the victims’ outcomes are unpleasant and final and the details reduced to that night’s lead story.

Although every brunette in this dimly-lit room appears to have black hair, I know for certain his wavy, long-ish for a cop’s hair is black because I’ve seen him in daylight, albeit at a distance. Because he’s the second unit to arrive and collect evidence and photograph what’s left of someone’s worst day, I’ve never had the opportunity to stand in close-proximity to him at a crime scene. He’s always knee deep in the nasty wearing blue latex gloves and yellow hazmat shoe protectors to preserve the evidence.

As I march in his direction, determined to meet him, I realize two things: that the closer I get, the larger he seems to grow; he’s taller than I remember...about 6’3 to my six-feet in high heels. Perfect. (I’m already thinking about how perfectly our bodies would align if he were to spoon and enter me from behind.)

And second, where’s my purse and trench coat? I’m so hyper-focused on this beautiful man’s face that I didn’t notice I had tossed my belongings to Mike the bartender. I’m here so consistently that Mike knows not to engage in friendly banter when I get “that look.” Mike knows when I’m here for business with a police ally and he knows when I’m here for pleasure. I’m guessing my still cherubic face says “business.” But my nipples that have twisted into two hard knots as I approach Officer Beautiful Face announce pleasure-seeking.

I attempt to cut a direct path towards him. The people who see me stomping towards them adjust to let me pass. The obstacles who don’t see me coming get an open palm on the lower back to alert them I’m walking with purpose.

Officer Beautiful Face is standing in a semi-circle of other cops- two of whom I know casually from the field and the other two I’ve only seen here in passing. “Vanessa!” Officer Harold Fields announces me and then roasts me like always. “Channel 2, I Missed It News” using his fake broadcasting voice while holding his beer bottle for a microphone. He spills beer on his chest. “Awe, shit!” Harold is one of those guys with a big mouth, big belly and a bigger heart. I take the jab and let him win this round because I’m too nervous to be clever. Officer Beautiful Face is looking at me. I move closer to stand nearly toe to toe with him now. I don’t wait for an introduction and declare with a sarcastic tone that I did not intend, “You must be a cop.” (Duh, Vanessa).
He’s looking at me more intently now. His eyes are as dark as his hair and shaped like two perfect almonds. Something behind those eyes seems guarded and aloof.

He’s studying me, memorizing my face, analyzing my body language. We stand in charged silence. He’s profiled me in less time than it took to write that last sentence. I can sense that he knows I am full of shit.

“You must be a reporter.” He says, matching my sarcasm with a deep-chested, resonant voice that is so velvety, rich and persuasive I utter a breathless “yes” stopping just short of calling him “daddy.”

I feel my heart rate speed up as a lightening bolt of anticipation shoots deep through my lower pelvis and down into my vagina where my lips start to engorge. As I shift my weight slightly I feel the spot between my upper thighs become warm and slippery.
Because they’re men, it takes a minute for Big Mouth Harold and friends to get hip to the shifted energy in the circle.

“Hey Kale,” screams Harold. “I’m taking off-my wife’s gonna’ pop that baby out any day now.” One of the dudes I don’t know adds “Yeah, Kale I’m jumping in on that dart game. Come join us if you’re not too BUSY later.” He goes in for high-five...and he’s left hanging. “Yeah.” He awkwardly shuffles off, pretending he meant to be left hanging.

“Your name is Kale” I say intentionally flat. “Like, the leafy green vegetable.”

“It’s actually Kaleho. Three syllables is two too many for those shitheads to sound out. I’m sorry, I have better manners than that.”

“If you had better manners, you wouldn’t be offending my eyes with those baggy Dad jeans.” I’ve got my wits again. The slight vertical creases between his eyebrows- probably worry lines, soften as he smiles at me. God, even his teeth are perfect.

“How else would my kid find me in a crowd if I don’t wear the right pants?”

I scan his left hand for a ring. Nada. But that means nothing. A lot of cops I’ve known aren’t exactly the most faithful partners.

“Ka-le-ho” I sound out. “That’s...”

“Hawaiian. My Mother’s Blasian- that’s Black and Asian...”

“Yes, I get it.” Ugh, Mansplaining.

“..and my father’s Australian”

I feel my nostrils flare as his deep voice penetrates the noise from raised conversations competing with Stevie Wonder’s harmonica blasting from the jukebox. His pheromones might actually be a tangible aroma and I feel the impulse to lean in and tell him a secret just so I can smell his neck and hair.

“So, Officer Kaleho....” I wait for his last name.

“Leuitenant Stephen Kaleho.”

Damn, my walls throbbed when he said that. ‘Leuitanant Stephen Kaleho.’ Sexy as fuck. My pussy is dripping wet. Can he feel the chemistry as well or is it one-sided? I want him to fill me with anything on his body; his strong, well-shaped masculine fingers, or his healthy-looking pinkish, red tongue that just extended to meet the head of that nearly-full beer bottle for a polite swig. My eyes dip down to his crotch to calculate a budge. I look up and catch his eyes darting away from mine. He’s stifling a smile. Is he BLUSHING? It’s hard to tell in this clash of faded old neon signs and a dozen other ambient light sources. Yeah, he caught me staring. I caught him catch me staring.

“What should I call you?” I say to distract myself from his zipper and my panties that are so wet now I wish I’d worn a panty liner.

“You can call me cap-tivated.”

“That’s funny, I thought you were going to say ‘call me Cap-tain Kaleho’ like a super hero.”

I hear myself. I lose my wits again. This is the most beautiful man I’ve seen in person. Get it together, Vanessa.

“So, you ARE a dad?” Shit, boner-killing question.

“Four year-old girl.”

“Wow, is she your designated driver?”

He chuckles. “She’s with her grandparents for the long weekend.”

Dad does have a hall pass. “That’s right, it’s a four-day weekend, for regular people.” I pry further. I have to know, I’m a journalist that’s what I do, I ask questions, and, I’m just inherently nosey. Tread lightly. “Is Mom in the picture?” I ask tentatively.
He sighs deeply and uncomfortably, looks past me and gulps his beer this time. Shit, I shouldn’t have gone there...but HE brought up the kid so...

“Long story short,” he interrupts my inner dialogue, “...her mother and I are separated. She went back to school for a law degree, works full-time. A husband and kid don’t fit into her plans right now so...”

“You’re a single dad.”

“Yeah, basically.”

I change the subject before his mood is too far gone. “That jukebox’s a relic-actual CDs. I don’t suppose you have a dollar on you?”

“Lucky for you, I’m a relic. I still carry cash.”

His mood is lifting. I didn’t fuck this up...yet. He reaches into his left back pocket with his free hand and presents the beer bottle to me with the other. “Hold this?”

As I accept the bottle I intentionally/accidentally put my hand around his. His eyes lock on mine. Electricity. I slide my hand above his on the neck. He turns his attention to his wallet. It’s black. Not a fussy fat wallet overstuffed with receipts and random shit. It’s streamlined and deliberate. He unfolds it. I see the tips of two Amex Cards: Platinum and EveryDay Preferred. Hmm, good credit. I see his driver’s license in the windowed slot.

“Let me see that mug shot” I say.

“It’s been a long time since anyone’s asked to see MY license.”

He thinks about it then turns it around. I quickly eyeball the other contents: Police I.D. wallet-sized badge, Conceal and Carry firearm license. I turn my attention back to his drivers license. He’s 39, an Aries, his photo on his license looks different than on his cop I.D. His face in his police I.D. is fresh and optimistic with eyes hinting at mischief. His drivers license literally looks a mug shot. The photos are about 15 years-apart. The Job has not stolen his looks...in fact, he’s better looking now than in his fresh-faced photo. He’s more fit now, face more settled, hair not going gray yet and not police academy buzzed cut. He looks like a MAN. But perhaps with each promotion came a spiritual sacrifice. I’m close enough to his job to know it’s soul-killing to deal in death. For him it’s nearly every day. Photographing a human’s last moments in this world, collecting what’s left of them, bagging it up and figuring it out like some macabre math equation. Or maybe it was his personal life that robbed the purpose and mischief from his eyes. The loss of an idealized life with a woman he once loved? She chose career over him. There must be something really fucked up about him because, otherwise, who would leave THAT. If it were me, I would never leave all that golden macadamia, Enter The Dragon, Bruce Leroy, Crouching Tiger Hidden Hawaiian deliciousness. Hell. No. He hands me a five-dollar bill. I only asked for one. Nice. He retrieves his beer bottle from my hand. “What are you drinking?”

“Glenfiddich. Neat.”

He turns and walks away without another word and heads to the bar. I walk the opposite direction to the jukebox. I’m still a little nervous but feeling confident I can have him tonight if I want him. And I do. Cops are a different breed of dog and you have to guard your heart to be with one. Depending on their age, they tend to run in packs. They encourage each other to sow as much of their seed as possible before finding a nice nurse with whom to settle down. Nurses and cops seem to end up together, a lot. Occasionally they’ll find a lawyer who will put up with them, but typically only after they’ve advanced past street or patrol division. Only on rare occasions have I seen a cop and a news reporter go the distance. Typically, reporters don’t stay in town long enough to nurture a long—term anything with anybody. So, cops tend to be the warm body in the bed with benefits: a good lead, a good story, a good time if you don’t get attached.

I’m posing against the jukebox, conscious of how my legs and ass look from behind. Big Mouth Harold returns like a fruit fly you can’t kill.

“You and Kale hookin’ up?”

“Whoa! That’s an inappropriate question! You don’t know me like that.” “Sheeeeit, girl. I got eyes. Just looking out for my old partner...I don’t mean to be inappropriate...but you know, you’re not bad-looking.”

“Harold, how’d you manage to knock up your wife with that big-ass bowling ball in your way.?” “Karma...Sutra”

“Weren’t you leaving?”

“He’s coming. I’m not interrupting your flow. Later. ‘I-missed-it-news’”

He lets out an annoying, aging frat boy laugh and disappears much more nimbly than a man that size should. I resume my pose as I flip through the selection: Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley. The current song on the box is not a mood-setter for me. I feel the top half of his body lean in on me from behind. He reaches around with his left hand to present my drink. I take it and take a big sip to relax. With his right hand he covers mine and guides it under the curve of the wood on the jukebox. He gently wraps his hand around my index finger and leads it into a hole where there’s a button. I’m holding my breath. He pushes on my finger which pushes the button. The song suddenly skips to the next one...the one I selected.

“How do you know about this?!” I asked, intrigued and excited at my new magic trick that no one else seems to know about or else songs would be skipping forward all night.

“I’m putting my engineering degree to good use, finally.”

We stay in that position for too long, but not long enough, pretending to look through the massive song collection. I arch my back slightly. I can feel his bulge against the top part of the apple of my ass. He leans in slightly, I feel him more prominently now.

Then I feel his breath in my right ear.

“You’re more beautiful in person than you are on the news.”

“So you’ve seen me before.”

“You’re hard to miss”

I arch my back more and feel that his bulge has gotten rock hard. It’s stabbing me now through his jeans below the small of my back. My skirt is just thin enough to almost feel the outline of its dimensions. I am so hungry for him to lift my skirt and slide inside me right now.

I turn around, not noticing that a couple of his buddies are pretending not to see us. I take a last gulp of my whiskey and a swig of his beer.

“Meet me in the beer garden.” I dare him.

I walk away, dripping with anticipation. I do not turn around. I can feel his eyes burn in the back of my neck.

Outside in the back of Fitzgerald’s is a raised beer garden. The elevation of the city stair-steps down from the now Gentrified Industrial Arts District where Fitzgerald’s is perched. The night view is spectacular and lit up from below. The bar is so high above the main streets the sound of traffic is muffled. All one can really is hear is the equally muffled noise from the bar...and the sound of the creaky screen door that will alert us if anyone should almost catch us. Luckily it is too cool for everyone but us to stand out here and drink. I’m like a furnace from the inside out now. I feel two hands eagerly grab me by the hips from behind. It’s Lt. Stephen Kaleho. He squeezes me and pulls me against his extremely fit body...damn, the rest of him is just slightly less hard than his dick.

He kisses my right earlobe from behind and then begins suckling it. His tongue twirls around my lobe then under as he traces a slow, deliberate line up the back of my ear. I don’t remember ever feeling on the threshold of orgasm from having a tongue on my ear.

I spin around and take in his face. His eyes are no longer dead. They’re lusty, focused and pulling me into the vortex. He holds my face in both of his large, warm palms and stares at me like a cherished picture in a frame. He leans in and gently touches and nuzzles the tip of my nose with his. Flesh-wise the tip of his nose feels like the aching bead of flesh that is my clitoris. His nose moves past mine. I close my eyes and feel the softness of his lips cover the softness of mine. His thick black hair tickles my forehead. We kiss without tongues for a greedy moment but are too hungry to resist tasting each other any longer. I part my lips more and feel him slide his tongue between them to find mine. My heart is pulsing in my throat now as our tongues are swimming together, around and around each other like two dolphins playing in an ocean seduction dance. He sucks on my bottom lip, I trace his front teeth and gums with mine. The pressure increases between our mouths, our tongues darting at each now and I slide my hand down the fabric of his polo shirt to the small of his strong back. I bet he does Crossfit. I long to feel his bare skin under my hands.

I drop the palms of my hands a couple of inches lower to find the hard muscles on his glutes. I caress his ass through his jeans first, then I take a handful of flesh through his pants and squeeze. I feel him flex and I imagine the power of those flexing muscles, skin exposed, as he pushes himself into me, and pulls out and pushes in with an urgent force that causes me to cry out in a mixture of pleasure and pain from the bulge that has gotten so rigid I can feel the outline of his cock grinding against the crease where my hipbone meets my leg. I worry I may not be able to accommodate all that’s under these jeans.

I spin around again and he cups my now-swollen right breast with his left hand, squeezing my full cup and tickling my nipple through the outside of my blouse.

Because of our proportions to each other, his strong, right forearm wraps comfortably and easily around my waist. I can feel his heart pounding behind my head as he slides his hand slowly between the lycra band on my skirt and the silk on my blouse. Yes, lycra and silk, so what? He finds his way to my aching mound. He cups me through the outside of my panties and squeezes me holding me there gently until I feel my knees buckle slightly. His left arm tightens its grip to steady my balance while his right hand, palm flat against my lower stomach slides into my bikini panties.

I’m waxed smooth down there except for a small triangle strip pointing to my clit. I feel his fingers trace their way there bypassing my clit and going straight for my pussy for a dip. He curls his fingers upwards and slips one, now two fingers up and into me and pulls out my clear, slippery, stringy juices and covers my clit with one wet finger. With gentle pressure he swipes his finger across my bud like a frenzied metronome. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.

I’m panting now, my eyes are squeezed shut, my eyebrows furrowed. My face probably looks like I’m in agony...but my body is writhing under his touch with pleasure. I feel and hear him breathing hard, too. He seems to be getting an immense amount of pleasure from pleasing me! This is rare. The waves of near-orgasm are starting to wash across my body and ripple close to the edge. I am no longer in control of my reflexes. I’ve lost the ability to support myself on my feet and am being held upright by his strength as he as rocks me back slightly to rest against his steady body.

His fingers are inside me now, penetrating my most private tunnel where an earthquake of climax is about to pulsate around his fingers. I feel him lift my weight up slightly and his fingers are up inside me deep again. I experience what seems like him snapping his fingers inside me? What is that? Has he hit my alleged G-spot? Wow. It happens three more times and each time I let out a guttural cry. I’m almost writhing away from him from sensory overload when he pulls his fingers out and massages my clit again with the intensity of a caveman discovering fire with two sticks. My feet are back on the ground now but my legs are too weak to hold me up. My right arm is raised and draped around his neck to help him support my weight. In all honesty he doesn’t need my help, he’s got me secure like safety bar on a rollercoaster. I’m tall enough so that our lips meet while he’s stroking me. I clench a fistful of his shaggy, wavy hair as if my life is depending on it. As gently as I can I bite his bottem lip. I stop for fear my entire body will spasm and injure that beautiful mouth. I’m so close! I’m trying to distract my attention to make this unbelievably insane nearly-public exhibition last longer but it’s the most intense, outrageous buildup I’ve ever felt. I am too present right now under his touch anf I am exactly where I want to be...in that chasm between ectasy and release. I feel him pull his fingers out of my panties. I open my eyes and see him stick his fingers, wet with my juices in his mouth. I am out of my mind now and I suck me right out of his mouth with a deep kiss. His fingers are back on my clit now.

“Don’t stop!” I mumble, mouth still on his.

The heatwave rushes and rolls across my body...up to my scalp where it tingles and dances, then down to my uterus, it rushes back upstream to my ovaries where they scream in joy, up to my breasts where I feel both nipples tighten and tingle, and up, up to the top of my ears...it pauses and rushes back down again to my knees. I am destroyed. My heart is pounding so loud I hear it in my ears. I have no strength. I feel him pull me closer to him and onto his lap as he sits down in a patio chair that I hadn’t noticed until now. I lean back against his still-pounding chest wondering what kind of amazing man forfeits his own orgasm to please a woman.

“It makes me so happy to see you come like that.” He purrs deep from his chest.

I’m too out of breath to say anything so I just smile. My face is a little dewey in this chilly air from the internal combustion. We hear the creak of the screen door stop shy of opening.

“Who locked this door?!”

We giggle at our mutual affinity for finger fucking in abandoned public places. I sit up quickly and adjust my skirt. If I jump up too quickly it’ll look like I’m guilty of something, so I stay put. I had already texted Mike the bartender who sent his bar back to open the door right about...now. Mike’s one cool dude.

The door creaks open and it’s a couple of reporters from Channel 4 eyeing me like I’m a minx who just let a cop finger bang me for a story. I’m the minx who just let my husband, Lt. Stephen Kaleho finger bang me for our occasional “Role Play” night. So fuck y’all. Tonight we pretended we were meeting for the first time. Funny, there wasn’t much “pretend” because this is basically how me met. We nasty.

“What time will you be home?” I ask my partner of six years,

“I’m right behind you. This was waaay hotter than that first night I met you. I know what you like now.”

I look at him with a full heart and still hungry eyes. Even on our worst days, and there can a few when you work full-time, attend law school while raising a young daughter and have a husband with a career that’s inherently dangerous, I thank God I stayed in this town long enough to find this man who matches my intellect, reciprocates the crazy physical chemistry I have with him and who has the EQ to take care of his mental health for our family.

“Let’s leave Chloe with your mom tonight.” I suggest. “Role Play night’s not over. I’ve still got a ‘job’ to do on you.”

Stephen arches one eyebrow. He knows it drives me wild when he does that. “Happy Anniversary. “

“Happy Anniversary”