No storm door here, so she knocked on the jamb and then cupped her hands and leaned in to see through the glass window. The kitchen was a bomb zone, dirty dishes in the sink, empty beer bottles on all the counters, crushed packs of cigarettes lying around randomly like the wrecked cars of a demolition derby.
She knocked again and then tried the knob, expecting it to be locked and for her to be free to go—
The door opened so easily, it was as if the apartment had joined the list of people trying to turn her into a savior. Damn it.
“Danny?” When there was no answer, she stepped over the threshold. “Danny, come on . . . wake up, wouldja?”
The sitting room was through the kitchen and down the hall some, the last space before you got to the block of bedrooms and the pair of baths. And as she walked forward, the flickering light of the TV cast shadows on the floor, and made her think of the guiding beacon of the afterlife.
What if he really was dead?
She paused and called out, “Danny?”
When there was no response, she cursed and kept going. Heart pounding, palm sweating, she halted in the archway of the parlor. The sound of soft snoring made her go weak with relief.
Danny Maguire was alive but seriously out of it, collapsed on the couch with nothing but a pair of black boxer briefs covering him. His head was propped up on the heavy arm he’d cocked over his shoulder, and his hard-muscled body was stretched out in a sprawl that was so sexual she had to look away and catch her breath again.
God, she’d forgotten how many tattoos he had.
Her eyes had to return, and she flushed. His chest was enormous, the pads of his pecs developed and maintained by the demands of his work, and his ribbed stomach was the anti-Moose, all six-pack and then some. Then there were his hip bones and his . . .
Shaking herself, she checked out his tats. The ink he had gotten over the years wasn’t the result of some metrosexual, hipster grand plan. It was a layering of meaningful events, all of them losses: Danny carried the department’s dead all over himself, the birth and death dates, the nicknames, even portraits, on occasion, of those who had been lost forming a map of mourning in his skin that was as beautiful as it was tragic.
Where would you have put me? she wondered.
As he spoke her name, she swung her stare northward, away from the waistband of his black Hanes.
He blinked a couple of times and lifted his head. “Am I dreaming?”
His voice was a husky whisper, and she knew it was hoarse from drinking, from getting into that fight at Timeout with that rich kid, from trading punches with Vic Rizzo. Moose had given her the rundown. And now that Danny was awake and staring at her, she could see the bruising on the side of his face. He was going to have a black eye tomorrow.
“You don’t look so good,” she said. “No offense.”
Danny groaned as he sat up, and she ignored the cracking sound that was either his back or his shoulder. Or maybe both. And then she had to look at the TV as he rubbed his short black hair—because otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to take her eyes off the way his biceps bulged.
When he reached for a pack of Marlboros, she shook her head. “Are you serious?”
“What.” He put one of the cancer sticks between his teeth. “And I suppose you won’t get my lighter for me, will you.”
“I absolutely will not. I’m not your maid, and you were just treated for smoke inhalation, for godsakes.”
“So which one of those little old ladies called you to come over here?”
As he got to his feet, she turned away and needed a place to go, so she wandered down the hall toward the bedrooms. It seemed weird to look into two of the four spaces and see nothing but dust bunnies and forgotten hangers, Moose had moved in with Deandra, Mick was in rehab out of state—the addiction kind, not the physical. The third bedroom, Jack’s, housed little more than a stripped bed and a bureau that looked as if it were throwing up the shirts and pants that were in its drawers. The final crib was Danny’s, and she merely glanced in as she pivoted around for the return trip.
Anne stopped. He was leaning against the hallway wall like James Dean, that cigarette lit between his fingers.
His eyes were hooded as he stared at her, and she wanted to tell him to put some damn clothes on—except that seemed like an admission that she was noticing his body.
“I’ve lost two and a half of my roommates as you can see.” He motioned to the vacant rooms with his free hand. “Moose and Deandra. Then Mick went into that rehab program. Now Jack is worried about that sister of his again and staying with her. They’re dropping like flies, I tell ya.”
“Times change.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “Your face is busted up.”
“Vic needs to lose your number.”