Chapter 2

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The smell of blueberries tickled Dani's nose as she entered the kitchen of King's Diner.

"Hey Dani," Donovan, the newest cook at King's Diner, greeted her as he flipped a pancake in the air, the dimples of his smile in full effect. 

"Aren't you full of tricks," Dani held up a ticket for an order she had placed ten minutes ago. "Donovan, you're cute but I have two hungry detectives out there wanting to know where their breakfast platters are and if they decide to come after you, guns drawn...I will look the other way."

Donovan flipped the pancakes onto a plate next to some eggs and bacon, "Perfection takes time Dani. Besides, shouldn't you side with your co-worker over some customers?"

She couldn't help but smile in reaction to seeing Donovan's dimples. He was new to King's Diner. Oliver Lee, the owner, hired him when the last cook quit without notice. Donovan had shared with Dani that he had dreams of working as a fancy chef of French cuisine. Reality had him working at the diner while he put himself through culinary school. She took the two plates he offered and grinned back at him, "I side with whoever tips me. Slow food means low tips. Remember that Donovan...and we'll get along fine."

Dani tried walking away while still looking at the young cook but lost her footing. Donovan reached forward but Dani quickly rushed out of his reach, "I'm good. Hands to yourself pancake boy."

"Pancake boy? Don't you mean pancake man?"

Dani rolled her eyes and walked out the kitchen towards Jax and his partner Roberto, "Sorry for the wait. We have a new cook and he likes to take his time."

"No worries, Dani," Roberto assured her as he popped a slice of bacon into his mouth. "As long as the food is good, so are we."

"Thanks, Panda Eyes," Jax leaned back into the red pleather booth and gave a lazy smile. His smile grew when he saw Dani look away, flustered. "You alright, Panda Eyes?"

"I don't know why you call her that. It's not very nice," Roberto chastised. "Haven't you heard that saying not to mistreat the people that handle your food."

Jax shrugged, "I trust Dani with my life. What's a few pancakes? Besides, it's my nickname for her. I'm not trying to be mean."

"It's okay Detective Montoya. I have a nickname for him too," Dani said.

"You do? What is it?" Roberto looked at Jax whose eyes had widened.

"Dani, don't you dare," Jax warned.

Dani lifted her chin and answered Roberto's question, "Jaxass."

Jax gave a sigh of relief that she hadn't answered Apple Jax. After Dani had walked away, Roberto leaned in towards his partner, "Are you two dating?"

Jax gave a slight shake of his head, "No."

"Why not? Is it because of Vivian?"

Jax unconsciously patted his chest. Underneath his blue button-down shirt was an engagement ring he always wore attached to a chain around his neck. It had once belonged to his fiancée before she was killed.  Jax felt his chest tighten as he thought of Vivian suffering at the hands of her murderer who happened to be Jax's brother. 

"Hey partner, you okay?" Roberto asked. "You look a million miles away."

"Huh?" Jax looked up at his partner, "What is it?"

"Are you okay?" Roberto asked again.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I'm fine," Jax glanced at Dani who was laughing with an older waitress named Dolores. "We're not dating because we're just friends."

"Riiight," Roberto nodded, not believing his partner. 

"It's true."

"She doesn't want to date you? That's too bad partner. Too bad. She probably found out what a ladies man you were. Not every woman want to flirt with the possibility of catching Hep C."

"What the hell are you talking about? I don't have Hep C," Jax whispered loudly. "I'm clean. Besides...it's not because she doesn't want to. It's because I don't. I'm not ready to date anyone seriously just yet."

Roberto snorted at that explanation.

Jax didn't bother arguing with him as his eyes followed Dani around the green and pink restaurant. Weeks prior, he had saved Dani from a crazed serial killer known as The Maestro. They had grown closer but asking her out still wasn't an option.

Dani had a unique ability to see the nightmares of anyone that physically touched her. Because of this, she had kept physical contact to a minimum. It was a secret she had shared with Jax which brought them together but ironically still kept them apart. 

Dani strolled by their booth, "You two doing alright?"

"We're doing just fine Dani. Just fine," Jax answered. He glanced at Roberto who was wriggling his eyebrows at him. "Say Dani, what are you doing later tonight?" He already knew the answer. She'd be at home...doing nothing.

Dani looked up and tapped her chin, "Hmmm...I don't know. I was thinking of flying to Paris. Maybe Italy to try some pasta."

"I know  you don't have a passport, Panda Eyes," Jax said. "How about you and me watch a movie tonight?"

Dani's mouth opened in surprise.

"I know it's probably a shock to be asked out by someone as handsome as me but-" Jax was interrupted by Roberto who began choking on his food. "Chew, Montoya. Chew. Then swallow."

"Dani, say no. He's too arrogant for his own good," Roberto coughed.

"I...I have other customers. Don't forget to leave a big tip Apple Jax," Dani said before quickly walking away.

"Was that a no?" Jax wondered aloud.

"Did it sound like a yes?" Roberto asked.

"No, but I've never been rejected so I wasn't sure."

Roberto chuckled, "You've been a womanizer for too long, partner. You need to learn how to treat a woman if you want her to-"

"Whoa there Montoya. I think between the two of us, I know a little bit more about women than you do." 

"If you're talking about sleeping with them I agree. I won't deny that. If you're talking about making them fall in love with you...marry you. I have you beat there. My wife Gladys adores me."

Jax shook his head, "No offense Montoya, but I'm not looking to be shackled like you. I thought about it once but never again. That lifestyle is for suckers."

Roberto laughed and leaned forward, "For some reason I think you're going to change your mind. And when  you do...I hope that waitress brings you to your knees...Apple Jax."

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