A Glimpse of Larry

A Glimpse of Larry

“I’ll give you thirty minutes to stop doing that, and not a second more,” Jenna mumbled.

Larry kept rubbing her heel while suppressing a smile. Even tousled after a long day of wedding, feasting, and kid-sitting, she still looked amazing. He rubbed his thumbs deep into her instep, eliciting the kind of sound that men can feel in their brain stem. She was reclining on the sofa with her feet in his lap. The satin heels that matched her cream bridesmaid dress had tumbled on the floor. He still wore his suit pants, but the coat was wadded up to pillow her head against the armrest of the leather couch.

He’d met Jenna Banks when she came to interview his security client and best friend, Alex Thompson, for a San Antonio television station. Despite her polished charm, she didn’t win Larry’s trust until things had gone wrong, and after he’d been shot and was in the hospital with a concussion. With Alex near death because of Larry’s failure, Jenna had been a rock for him. For all of them, really.

“It was a lovely wedding, don’t you think?” she sighed. “And I love how they’ve turned Molly’s old family home into a bed and breakfast. This place is gorgeous.”

“No,” Larry rumbled. “This place has a certain rustic charm. You’re gorgeous.” He lifted her foot and kissed the tips of her red-painted toes.

“You clean up pretty good yourself, soldier,” she chuckled as she wiggled her toes at him. “Molly and Alex looked perfect together. And the kids! Oh, my God, too cute for words.”

Will, Molly’s six-year-old son, and Alex’s now six-year-old twins, Manny and Hannah, had been the groomsmen and flower girl. Larry, as Alex’s best man, had struggled spending the whole week working with Molly’s maid of honor. In the end it was the wedding itself that seemed to soften Jenna enough to let Larry get close again. They’d been good for a while, but then life had pulled them apart.

“They make a good family.” Larry tried to keep the wistful tone from his comment, but Jenna cracked an eye at him.

“Did you ever want a family?” she asked with a carefully neutral tone.

Larry heard her reporter voice asking the question and considered dodging the truth for a moment. He gave up the idea because Jenna could sniff a lie at a hundred meters. “I was married once. It didn’t work out.”

“She didn’t want kids?”

“You know what my job is like. You’ve got the same kind of unpredictable schedule. In the end, she told me if she wanted to be alone she wouldn’t have gotten married.”

“Ouch,” Jenna whispered.

“She got married again,” Larry said, trying to keep his tone neutral. “From the pictures on the internet, it looks like she has a nice life.” Larry pushed the regret away. The past is past.

“I’m happy just being Aunt Jenna. Women in the news don’t always have a long shelf life, so I have to work fast.” She sang that song every single time the future came up between them.

“You’re barely thirty,” Larry chuckled. He knew bringing up her age tweaked her and had done it on purpose, so he ignored the glare.

“The reporter they hired to replace me in San Antonio is twenty-two. None of the field reporters at the network are older than thirty-five. And how many middle-aged, national news anchors do you see with boobs?”

The pain in her voice made him regret the dig. “I guess I never thought about it that way.”

“If I take off a year or two to get married and have kids, my career is over.”

Her comment cooled Larry like she probably intended. The two of them had played house for a couple of weeks after he’d gotten out of the hospital in June, albeit secretly. Their personal and sexual chemistry was off the charts, but then Jenna had moved to New York for her new network job without any obvious regrets. That was the same time Larry had been cleared by the doctors to go back to work in Houston. It hadn’t even taken a day back home for him to realize how far Jenna had gotten under his skin.

Despite feeling like an idiot for falling for her, he had really been looking forward to seeing her again. Spending Thanksgiving and the wedding at Alex and Molly’s new bed and breakfast with her had stirred those deep longings he thought he’d gotten past. Alex’s kids had grown up calling him Uncle Larry, but it hadn’t taken Will long to wiggle his way into Larry’s heart along with Manny and Hannah. Now he wanted more. He wanted his own.

Larry shook the thoughts out of his head silently. He understood exactly how Jenna felt about age determining the length of her career. He’d spent eight years in the Marines, then joined Context Security to use his skills as a customer liaison for five more. He was feeling his age, and his mistakes had nearly cost Alex his life and those wonderful kids their father. He loved security field work, but his own sell-by date felt like it was coming quicker than he wanted to admit.

“Where’d you go?” Jenna asked, interrupting his thoughts.

“Sorry, work stuff.” Larry looked down and rubbed her other foot. “Did I mention we’re in the running for the security contract at your network?”

“Really?” Jenna sounded more excited than he expected. “We got a memo about adding extra security just before I left, thank God.”

Something about her tone piqued Larry’s curiosity and made him stop moving. “Is something going on that you’re worried about?”

“It’s probably nothing.” Jenna put her arm over her eyes. “Keep rubbing.”

“Tell me.” He resumed the foot massage, but kept his attention on her body language.

“I’m sure I’m imagining it, but I keep seeing this same older guy everywhere I go up in the northeast.”

Larry felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. “What’s he doing when you see him?”

“Nothing. He just watches me with this funny look on his face. I’ve even seen him in the crowd shots on some of our b-rolls, but my producer, Bernie, blew me off by saying he’s just a news groupie.”

Larry knew the psychology of surveillance and counterintelligence. If Jenna was noticing the guy, then he was around far more often than she was seeing. He didn’t want to alarm her, but he wanted to know more.

“Would you do me a favor?” Larry asked keeping the tension out of his voice. “Send me the best picture you can of the guy when you get back. And text me if you see him again.”

“I don’t want to waste your time.” Jenna moved her arm to spear Larry with a look. “I’m sure it’s nothing.”

“Humor me,” Larry said with a wry smile to cover his unease. “So, what are your plans for the holidays?”

“I’ve got a story about the plight of those refugees from the Middle East that made it here to the states. There’s a chemical plant being closed in Georgia that’s basically turning the lights off on a whole town the week before Christmas. Then I’ve got my first time on the news desk the Sunday before Christmas while everyone is at the network holiday party.”

Larry fixed her with a blank look. He knew Jenna wasn’t especially close to her mother and stepfather, but he couldn’t let her play him with that non-answer.

“Oh, you mean like family and stuff? Mom and Karl are in Europe visiting his relatives in Germany until after the new year.” A bit of tension showed on her face, then she switched on her reporter’s smile. “I’m gonna be in Times Square to help with the New Year’s coverage. It’s a big deal because I don’t have seniority yet.”

“If you need a pair of lips on New Year’s Eve, I know a guy,” he whispered.

He’d just broken their mutual agreement to never talk about their future. Her eyebrows dropped as her careful mask slipped a little. He’d rolled the dice on purpose and planned to wait her out, but the near panic he saw in her eyes made him relent.

“Hey, forget I said anything.” Larry controlled his face to avoid making things awkward. “It’s been a long day. I’m gonna turn in.”

She moved her feet off his lap and stood without looking him in the eye while she shook out his suit jacket. “Goodnight,” she whispered, then bent to pick up her shoes.

And that was that. The hope that Jenna might be interested in rekindling their brief affair was gone. Larry gave her a peck on the cheek when he took his jacket from her hands, then headed up the stairs alone.

He didn’t regret trying. They lived the same kind of stressful lives. He understood her drive and ambition because he shared it in his career. Maintaining some kind of connection to the most amazing, vibrant woman he’d ever met had seemed worth the risk. At least that’s what he told himself as he went into his guest room alone.

He shut the door, intending to review his next assignment to keep from thinking about Jenna anymore. A prominent Houston doctor had been treating a patient who died suddenly from an unexpected brain aneurysm. The family of the teenager was enraged that the hospital and insurance company found no fault with the treatment. Aneurysms are hard to detect in the best of circumstances and can be impossible to treat even if discovered. Death threats followed the investigation and Context Security had been brought in to protect the doctor and his family.

Larry was sitting in his boxer-briefs still reviewing the latest updates on his tablet when there was a quiet tap on his door.


The door opened and Jenna stood there in a soft pink robe, her legs bare from her knees to her familiar fluffy slippers. She didn’t say anything; she just toyed with the tie around her slender waist as she stared at the floor.

Larry felt his heart thud as he watched her there. He hesitated to do anything to encourage her. Her nerves wound up as the seconds ticked by. She obviously wasn’t sure this was a good idea after the way their conversation had just ended. Larry was thinking the same thing, but couldn’t deny feeling their old attraction ignite.

Jenna bit her lip and shifted her weight from one foot to another, making him smile at her obvious tension. He made up his mind. As soon as he stood up, tossing his tablet on the nightstand, Jenna’s face flooded with relief. She stepped inside as she closed the door softly. Without a word, Larry crossed the room and drew her into his arms while her robe pooled on the floor.