• Dana Starr

All in a Day's Work

Updated: Jul 17

Hey gang: it's flash fiction time again. I had 1,000 words to write a romance. The primary setting has to be a rooftop pool. The following object must be mentioned: bug repeller.

My arms slid around his shoulders. This is my job. My chest molded to his back. This is my job. My cheek nestled against his warm sun-soaked skin. This is my job.

My mantra helped me focus on the work and not the feel of his broad shoulders and muscular back. My eyes closed for the length of a sigh. This is my job. My fingers caressed his thick hair.

“Gotcha,” I shouted, pushing his head under the water.

He sank to the bottom of the shallow end of The Ritz-Carlton rooftop pool. I pumped both fists in the air in victory. He shot out of the water and splashed me in the face. I squealed and splashed back.

“You’re going to get it now,” he yelled.

I laughed and tried to swim away. He grabbed me around the waist and pulled me to him. My feet lifted off the cerulean bottom of the pool. I wrapped my arms around his neck. This is my job. I pressed my lips to the shell of his ear and whispered, “Are they watching us?”

He turned his head slightly to the left. “Yes.”

We got out of the water. A woman with a too tight face, sitting by a too tan man on the top step of the pool, made eye contact. “Hello,” I said. She nodded and gave me a too toothy smile.

We settled in lounge chairs near the pair. I draped my wet hair off the back of the chair and stretched out. “Would you like a drink?” he asked.

“Please join us for a drink in our cabana,” said the woman in the water. I watched the man help her out of the pool. “It’s our anniversary.”

“Congratulations,” I said.

She thrust her hand at me. “I’m Joan and this is Richard.”

I shook her hand. “I’m Sarah. This is J.D.” Her fingers felt like sticks in winter—hard, sharp, cold. She didn’t let go, tugging me along behind her. Pushy bitch. The men followed.

We stepped through gauze billowing in the breeze. A ceiling fan moved air around. Lanterns full of fake candles glowed in the shadowy corners. A pitcher of margaritas waited on the travertine table between two overstuffed couches.

“Nice,” J.D. said.

“This hotel is the best. It’s expensive but worth it,” Richard replied. “See that?” He pointed at a box, the size of a deck of cards, plugged into the wall. “That’s an ultrasonic bug repeller.” The device had a depiction of a spider, ant, and roach on it with a red X over each bug.

Joan poured a margarita. “We don’t have to worry about bugs.” She handed me the glass. “But we should worry about hangovers.”

Jose Cuervo tried to punch a hole in my empty stomach after two sips. Yuck. I set the drink down and listened to Joan talk about the size of the bugs in the hotel room they stayed in when they visited Costa Rica.

“It’s such a beautiful country,” she said, “but I can’t handle bugs bigger than my hand.”

I forced myself to take another sip and smile at the monsters sitting across from my partner and me. They didn’t look like monsters. They didn’t look like people capable of gunning down Bill and Kathleen Porter while they slept. They looked like people who played tennis twice a week and sat on the front row in church every Sunday. They didn’t look like suspects being investigated by detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department.

“We own a vacation home in Playa Hermosa,” I said. Thank you, Travel Channel. “The scuba diving is great.”

J.D. chuckled. “Remember that sea turtle that kept following you the last time we went diving?”

“How could I forget?” I touched his arm. “Babe, we need to go and let these nice people enjoy their special day.”

It took another ten minutes to get out of there. We promised to meet them for a drink after dinner. They stayed in the cabana. We walked, rubbing shoulders, back to the pool.

“I didn’t see any weapons,” he said. “Did you?”


We surveyed the area to locate our team members. Lieutenant Davis, dressed like a bartender, stood behind the bar. Detective Romero, a book in his hand, sat on a lounge chair. Three more officers and the head of Electronics stood by in a storage room nearby. We sat on the edge of the pool, facing the row of cabanas, with our feet in the water.

I could see the scar on top of his left foot. I knew he got it in an ice-skating accident when he was nine. I knew he was an only child. I knew he hated his alcoholic father. I knew he wouldn’t eat pickles. I knew all that because he was my best friend—not just my partner.

A week earlier, during a stakeout in an alley at night, he told me he was in love with me. I couldn’t see his eyes, but I heard the vulnerability and honesty when he said the words. I felt his love in his kiss.

Lieutenant Davis approached us with drinks on a tray. “It’s confirmed,” he said. “We have video and audio of Richard and Joan talking about killing you both just like they killed the Porters. They planned to do it in Costa Rica and assume your identities.”

Richard and Joan walked out of the cabana. They waved at us. We waved back. Police officers surrounded them. It was all over in a matter of seconds. The looks on their faces was almost as satisfying as kissing my partner.

We entered the cabana. He unplugged the bug repeller from the wall. “Putting the camera in this was brilliant,” he said.

“What can I say? This is my job. I love it and I love you.”


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