Washington Avenue
Minneapolis, MN

Whatever had possessed him to agree to returning to this place was beyond him. Maybe it was the fact that she kinda kept stringing him along, kept offering up goods she then wouldn't hand over, that made his brain rot, but he simply could not convince himself to let go of her. She was intriguing and fascinating. And she was all over him in any public setting they'd been in so far. He couldn't even remember when they'd gone from just staring at each other while spouting indifferent nonsense to virtually merging.

And what came next he did attribute to brain-rot, because ... what else could make him say things this idiotic? "Next thing you're gonna tell me you won't do it until we're married or some crap like that." He had said a lot of stupid things in his life and some of them even aimed at the women he had tried to woo, but that had to be the dumbest thing yet. It was like he couldn't stop himself from saying stuff like that to her. The fact alone that she was all over him, her lips pressed hotly against the side of his neck while her fingers were digging into his sides should have indicated something other than what he had just said, but seeing as this was their sixth date and they still hadn't moved beyond first base was a hurdle he had no idea how to overcome. Hence the spouting of stupidity.

She shifted, then pushed back a little and eyed him for a moment. "What are you talking about?" There was no concern or anger or annoyance in her voice, but there was a hint of surprise and more than a little apprehension.

He eyed her back, uncertain of what exactly she was aiming at. Under normal circumstances, he would have been all over her like she was with him and this would have ended with either her taking him home or them splitting up on a friendly basis. Normally, encounters like these were all about sex and nothing more; the mutual understanding that this was all fun and games and if they didn't click, they were free to go out and find someone else to pass the night with. But he didn't want to find someone else. He wanted her. And he wasn't all over her because she was taking the lead and that was an uncommon experience for him. Okay, so it wasn't the first time a woman had taken control of the situation, but usually a bed or the backseat of a car had been involved at this point, not some dingy nightclub with the wrong kind of music, too much light and watered-down drinks.

The padded bench running along the curvy walls of this club offered no privacy and wasn't exactly comfortable, the overhead lights were too bright and too many and the place was just packed with the wrong type of people, just like the first time he had been here. Whether it was the light or the music or the people, he just couldn't stop being a bit nervous and a little anxious and it just plain out sucked, because there was no way in hell that he was going to forget about this and move on. He wouldn't be able to on any level. "I mean ... what ... where is this going?" He couldn't help the snort that escaped him. "Did I just say that?" This was so not going in the right direction.

The smirk that slipped over her lips was both becoming and mocking at the same time. "I think you actually did," she confirmed and settled herself comfortably on his lap, one hand on the back of his neck while she played with the buttons on his shirt with the other. "Where do you want it to go?" Her voice was nothing but a sensual purr right now and it made it incredibly difficult for him to stay in control.

"Well ... if you're half as smart as I think you are, I think you know perfectly well where I want this to go. And it doesn't include this club," he confessed. If he could turn this situation around, he might still gain the upper hand.

She shifted a little, sent a brief glance out over the room, then straddled his thighs and locked her hands behind his neck. "What's wrong with this club?" she whispered, leaned in and nibbled playfully on his ear lope.

For a long, brain-dead moment he just sat there and wondered what exactly would be wrong with this place while lust rippled through him in a dangerously high dosage. But then the noise cut through his red-hot sex-drive. He wrapped his hands around her face and pushed her back a little. "This is so not the place I wanna do this," he said quietly. It was a first for him. For all intents and purposes, he was in the process of turning down sex that was within easy reach and that alone made him wonder if Sam's assumption that the troll's attack had infected him with something might not be true.

Michelle regarded him quietly for a moment and he couldn't stop a shiver rushing through him. The last thing he wanted to do was ruin this right now, but he had to face one sordid little fact about himself that he had never consciously thought about before. No matter how lewd he got, he was not into public sex. Her hand slid up his arms to cover his hands and she almost gently pulled them away from her face, then leaned in, her breath hot on his ear. "Then were would you like to do it?" she whispered in a tone that almost floored him.

The physical response was both to her tone and her closeness and for a few seconds he actually did consider forgetting about their present location and just getting down to business. But as brash as he always was, he still preferred privacy to getting down to business in public. He eyed her, uncertain, a little bit uneasy with just a pinch of discomfort on top. But none of that could outweigh this attraction he felt towards her. "How about we just get out of here, huh?" he countered and had to clear his throat to get rid of a sudden roughness.

She slid off his lap and backed away from him while never letting go of his hands. He followed her up and couldn't stop worrying about why he felt so out of sorts. It was like he had never done this before in his life and it rattled him a little. He'd had to work hard for some one-night stands, some that had taken more than one date to get anywhere with, but usually he found the type of woman who shared his view on sex and was only too willing to go all the way in no time flat. This, however, was different. Michelle was a totally different class of woman and in a way, she reminded him a little of Cassie. And that would abundantly explain both his nervousness and this odd feeling of being out of control.


Michelle's apartment building
Washington Avenue
Minneapolis, MN

This was it. This was the moment he'd waited for ever since laying eyes on Michelle and he felt positively giddy at the idea of getting laid. It did strike him as a bit excessive, of course, but then again ... it had been awhile and this one he hadn't wanted to push. So he hadn't and it had paid off. Or would pay off as it were. At least he hoped it would. With her, there was no telling which way she would turn once they were alone.

And it wasn't like they weren't all over each other all the time. Sure they were. But that was all. First base and that was it. Lots of kissing, lots of fondling, but no green light on anything further. And he couldn't help thinking that it would have been something that would have deterred him from pursuing her if this had happened a year ago. Why it was different now was beyond him. Maybe Sam had a point. Maybe there was something going on here that he didn't want to see.

The elevator came to a stop and they had to pry themselves loose to exit in an even slightly dignified manner. She smiled, backed out of the cabin and pulled him along with her. He subconsciously remembered her door and ended up squashing her against it, his hands all over her, while she struggled to extract the key from one pocket without letting go of him in turn.

The time for talking was over and some part of him understood how something like this could evolve into rape. He was so turned on, it was painful. And even though he could manage situations like this on his own if he had to, it was hard to step back and back down now. Obviously he would respect her right to say no, even at this crucial point, but he wasn't so sure he wouldn't blow a fuse if she did.

She finally managed to wiggle the key into the door and it swung open into her apartment, taking them both with it. She moaned, pushed the door shut with her foot because her hands were busy yanking his t-shirt out of his jeans, and for some reason he had a hard time focusing on, his knees turned weak. He shrugged out of his jacket and let it fall where they stood pressed against the wall, then sent his shirt and t-shirt in the same direction by simply pulling both over his head.

With lips slightly parted, her cheeks an almost hectic red and her eyes sparkling with anticipation, she stared at him for a second, then grabbed the front of her own blouse and tore it open.

"Wow," he muttered.

"Old thing," she countered breathlessly, pushed off the wall and flatted him against the opposite wall, her hands tracing fire over his skin.

He fiddled with her bra for a moment, finally managed to undo the clasps and shoved the straps off her shoulders while she got busy with his belt. And that was the moment that he realized this was moving way too fast. "Ho-wow, stop, ease up," he groaned, not sure he could stop, but knowing he would have to to not embarrass himself.

She pulled back a little, as out of breath as he was. To his immediate surprise, all she did was nod. "Good idea," she whispered and pulled back a step, then slipped her bra off and let it fall to the floor.

He exhaled in a sigh. "Man, you're not making this easy, are you?" He pushed away from the wall and followed her across the hall to the other wall again, braced his hands against the wall on either side of her and just stared at her for a second. "What the hell is it about you?"

She smiled, her lips moist, her cheeks flushed, her eyes ... man, he could lose himself in her eyes. She kept her hands at her sides, just stood there and smiled at him, half naked and so achingly attractive, he could barely breathe.

"Screw this," he muttered and leaned in to kiss her. She responded in kind, hotly, hungrily, her arms slipping around his neck, her breasts pressing against his chest. He wanted her now, right here, and no amount of no would stop this any more. Not that she was putting up a fight or seemed even marginally opposed to the idea either.


The edge of the bed wasn't exactly comfortable. It seemed to be some kind of odd mixture between a futon and a standard bed as in that it was as tall as a normal bed, but had that broad wooden frame going all the way around. But the edge of the bed was not his problem. The fact that he had experienced something like this for the first time was. It was ... embarrassing in want of a better word. It wasn't him at all, wasn't like him in any way. This was what he controlled. This was what he was good at. Sex. When all else failed, he had always known that he could control this. But if this night had proven anything to him, then it was the fact that he had no control over anything. End of story.

She shifted behind him and he refused to look back at her, convinced that if he did he would see either disappointment or annoyance in her eyes, that she would have lost what little respect she may have had for him. Other men might apologize, some might get angry. He just sat there and steamed quietly, because he was embarrassed and he was angry and none of it was aimed at her.

"It's really my fault, you know."

He frowned at her words, didn't really know what to do with that, so he refrained from answering her, just sat there and considered his next move. His confidence was shattered, so trying again was out of the question. It was ridiculous, really, because in part, he figured she was right. If she hadn't dragged it out this long, he wouldn't have had any issues. But then again he would never even for a second consider blaming her for it.

"We shouldn't have waited this long," she tried.

He sighed, scrubbed a palm over his lips. "Just tired, I guess." It wasn't an explanation, it wasn't a reason, and it sounded stupid.

Her hand slipped up on his back, warm and soft, and he struggled against himself and his ingrown opinions of his own worth. "Doesn't mean we can't have another go," she whispered and brushed her lips over the small of his back.

He arched away from her, then froze, reminding himself that hurt feelings had no place here. He was so into her that even something like this shouldn't put a damper on his feelings. He realized right there and then that the biggest issue wasn't the deflation of his libido, it was the fear of how she would view him if he couldn't perform. But, judging by her tone and her touch, he figured she didn't care or mind right now. "This is a first, you know," he muttered and eased back a little, hopefully giving her a hint that he wasn't going to get up and walk out on her.

"Doesn't matter," she muttered and almost seemed to climb his back with hands and lips. Her fingers slipped over his shoulders and pulled him backward a little. She slipped her legs around him, pressed her naked body against him and ran her lips over the back of his neck. "The night's still young. There's plenty of time," she added in a hot whisper, then raked her teeth over the nape of his neck.

She might as well have flicked a switch from dead to wide awake. Her hands slid down over his arms, around his chest and traveled down. She took control, took the lead, and this time he let her. This time, he eased back against her, let his head drop back against her shoulder and eased into the mind-boggling experience of being totally out of control.


Comfort Suites
Blaine, MN

It had taken Sam way too long to get back to the motel. Finding a car in working order that wasn't wrapped in security had been almost impossible and the sorry excuse for a transport he had finally managed to kick into gear had only barely gotten him back to the motel. He'd had to leave it at the side of the road half an hour from the motel, not that he mourned it's loss.

Tired and a little annoyed and a lot ticked off, he shoved the door shut behind him, shrugged out of his jacket and begrudgingly reminded himself that he needed to get a hold of something more winter-worthy. Not that it was winter yet, but it was getting there and he was cold. The heater in that sorry excuse for a car had been broken and the half hour walk through the deserted streets – people still didn't really like to venture out in the suburbs after dark – hadn't exactly helped him get warm.

"Next time, I'm taking the Impala and he can walk home," he muttered under his breath and decided to grab a warm shower before turning in. At least that way he might be able to restore some of his body heat. He hated going to bed cold.

Through it all his thoughts circled around one petit female and her pearly laughter. The more he thought about her, the more attractive she appeared and the less he wanted to ever see her again. It was a contradiction in terms, of course, but his danger sense was on high alert right now. The trolls could run out tomorrow, which would leave them with no reason for staying. And if Dean got lucky tonight – and Sam had little doubt that his brother would managed to finally convince Michelle to give in if their clinging to each other this evening had been anything to go by – there were probably no obstacles left.

Wrapped only in a towel, Sam eased down on the edge of his bed and observed that the room was actually warm enough for him to sit like this without the risk of contracting pneumonia. In part he wanted to stay. It would be so damned nice if they could just stay in one place for a few weeks or even months. He was fed up with moving around all the time, going from town to town, taking out critters. Even though the trolls were occasionally hard to kill and did pose a threat in general, they were nothing compared to the opposition they had been used to before and it made the whole thing seem like routine. Well, if they had to do routine work, they might as well have a home base to do it from. And not someone else's home either.

He raked all ten fingers through his hair, pushing excess moisture out of it, which dripped own his bare back, and he jerked involuntarily at the chilly contact. "Shit," he muttered and got up to grab another towel, his boxers, sweats and a t-shirt. Truth be told, everything he'd ever wanted in his life was to be normal and that was the one thing he couldn't have. No matter how attractive Isabel was, no matter how well they'd gotten along and how much he damned well wanted her right now, the risk of her getting hurt if he hooked up with her was too damned big.

With a grumble, he switched the tv-set on and listened to the late night news for a bit. There were still trolls around, it seemed. A couple had been hunted by something big outside the selfsame cemetery where they had so far killed six trolls and he couldn't help wondering if this was one or two troll families. Of course, Bobby had said that nobody had really seen any trolls for a good long while and that information on them was sketchy at best. So maybe instead of living in groups of up to four, it meant forty instead?

"That would just be our luck. We'll be spending the next ten years rooting out trolls in Minneapolis," he muttered, switched the tv off again and dropped into bed. It took him longer than normal to fall asleep. In part because his mind was bustling along, throwing up scenarios left and right, but also because the soothing presence of his brother was missing. "I hope you're having fun, jerk," he muttered, rolled over on his stomach and burrowed into the pillow in the vain hope of getting in a restful night.

But, as it turned out, his night was anything but restful. Only two hours after falling asleep he woke up again. It just wasn't so much a waking up as a jerking upright and nearly falling out of bed experience.

Gasping for the breath the nightmare had stolen, he reached clumsily for the lamp and nearly managed to knock it off the nightstand before he managed to switch it on. His heart was hammering away in his chest and he felt sticky with sweat and fear. He rubbed his left wrist repeatedly, his mind skirting along the banished yet still present memories of his crucifixion, while he scanned the room visually. Despite the lack of physical evidence – all of which had been removed by Gaia – the mental trauma was still very much present and at times he had bouts of insomnia or depleting nightmares that made it hard for him to even consider going back to sleep.

With all the crap he'd been through in his life, he figured he should be used to and able to handle things like this, but the thing that got him every time he even allowed himself to think of it was the memory of those spikes breaking his skin. The sound of the hammer hitting the metal, the breathtaking pain that had exploded up through his arm, the smell of blood. It all contributed. But the worst, as ludicrous as it sounded, had been the eerie silence of his tormentors, the fact that not even one of them had regarded him as human or worth paying attention to.

With a poorly repressed groan, he pulled his legs over the edge of the bed and planted his feet on the floor while running a hand through his hair. The nightmares seemed to hit him only when he was alone. He didn't wake up like this if Dean was around. Sure, the memory was still there and it still caused him problems even with his brother close by, but there was something about knowing that Dean was close that made all of it seem less threatening. And it bothered him that he was this attached to his big brother again. The thought of going it alone had never been far from his mind throughout his adult life. Not that he didn't want Dean around, but he wanted his own space sometimes, wanted to be his own man, wanted to do things his own way without having to discuss it to death and then be overruled because Dean didn't think it was the right path for whatever reason.

In sudden need of noise, he grabbed the remote and flicked the tv on, well aware that he wasn't going to get much more rest tonight. He shifted, arched his back, and for a brief moment felt the ghostly echos of the lacerations there. Much could be said for Gaia's ability to restore him to full health, but obviously deities didn't take the mental aspect into consideration.

He rubbed the back of one hand over the small of his back and sighed. "Crap," he muttered, then looked up at the tv to hopefully distract his thoughts away from what was roaming through his mind right now.


Bobby's place
Forte Pierre, ND

It wasn't for lack of trying, but Grace seemed to have developed a form of on-off insomnia lately that made her wonder what was going on.

Bobby had no trouble sleeping, but then he had no trouble staying awake either. The first few times she had gotten up in the middle of the night and had been unable to go back to sleep, he had kept her company. But after the third time, she had told him not to bother and he had agreed with her by staying in bed.

Pierre was slowly regaining a population. Fort Pierre wasn't. Technically speaking, they were pretty much on their own on this side of the river and Grace was of the opinion that Bobby didn't mind. She wasn't entirely sure of how to feel about it. It reminded her a little of the month she had spent alone in her home in St. John after the demons had eradicated everybody in town, and she had been scared of the night, terrified of what might have happened to her nephews.

Right now, though, the insomnia was more brought on by some sort of unrest that made her pace around the downstairs of the house in a vain attempt at finding something that might calm her down enough for her to actually get some decent rest.

More times than not, she ended up in the kitchen in front of the array of phones on the wall and she eyed them for a moment, reading the labels for the umpteenth time, before she returned to wandering aimlessly around the rooms. At least until she turned a corner and nearly ran into Bobby.

"Jesus, Bobby. Don't do that!" she snapped. "You scared the crap out of me."

He gave her a somewhat crooked grin. "Then maybe you shouldn't be up, walking around at this hour. What is it now?" he countered.

Grace sighed deeply. "I don't know. I wish I did, but I don't. I'm ... I can't sit still. I just feel like I have to keep moving, have to keep walking. It's frustrating."

"You're worried," he claimed, took a gentle hold of her arm and dragged her with him to the kitchen, where he pushed her into a chair, dug out a bottle of whiskey and poured them both a shot. "I know you don't like it, but there ain't nothing that calms you down better."

She eyed the glass for a moment. "True, but I can't go back to bed before I know what's going on. Why am I worried? What am I worried about?"

"The boys?" Bobby asked and eyed her closely.

She pursed her lips and regarded the glass for a moment longer, then picked it up and took a sip. "I really don't like whiskey," she proclaimed and not for the first time. "And why should I be worried about the boys? Last time I talked to them, they were fine."

"Yeah, and you know as well as I do how fast their lifestyle can get them in trouble. So quit your bellyaching and call them already. Try Sam. He's more likely to be awake at this ungodly hour," Bobby shot back and gave her a saying look.

"You know me too well already. This does not bode well," she said with a crooked smile, picked up her cell phone and speed-dialed the number. "They'll think I'm overprotective or nuts or something," she added.

"I'd bet on both," Bobby said and gave her a smirk when she glared at him.

It rang twice before Sam picked up. "Grace?"

"You sound awful awake for this hour," she said. "Why are you not sleeping?"

This was answered by a brief pause. "Why are you calling me this late? Or early, as it were?" he finally countered.

"Because I'm like Spiderman. I've got spidy-senses. Something up?" She shrugged lightly in reply to Bobby's eyeroll.

"No. Not really. We're still on troll-duty. We've wasted six so far and I just saw a news report about a couple being stalked by something big near the cemetery where they hang out, so I kinda get the feeling we're not done yet," Sam replied.

The tenseness she had picked up on in his voice began to seep out and Grace couldn't help wonder what was going on. "Well, it's a steady job," she said with slight sarcasm lacing her tone. "Sam, are you okay?"

He hesitated, the line sparked with low-key static and Grace had the odd feeling that he was trying to decide on what to tell her. "Not really, no," he finally admitted and sighed heavily.

"Something you want to talk about?" She knew prodding was the only way to get him to talk. Sam liked to talk, but the serious stuff was something she had to drag out of him.

"Yeah," he muttered.

"So, I take it Dean's not there?" If Sam agreed to talk about serious matters, it usually meant Dean wasn't around.

"Nope, he's out with this woman he met. The nurse. Michelle," he said and managed to sound despondent about it.

"And you're not happy about that?" she asked, a little confused.

"No, it's fine. He can go out with whomever he wants to go out with. Not my business to tell him what he can and can't do anyway. I'm just ..." He broke off with a sigh. "This is stupid."

"Maybe so, but why don't you tell me anyway?" Yup, prodding was part of the agenda right now.

He hesitated and she imagined him sitting on a bed in some nondescript motel room somewhere on the outskirts of Minneapolis, unhappy about something, and she just wanted to reach out and hug him. "I ..." He sighed again, heavily. "I have nightmares. About ... you know."

She nodded. "I'd be surprised if you didn't, really," she admitted. "You wanna tell me what it was about?"

"Just ... reliving it. And feeling it. It actually hurt a bit when I woke up. Like it had ..." He paused again. "But the nightmares aren't that bad. I mean, it wasn't the best thing I've ever tried, but ... it's over and I have no scars and ... I can't sleep when Dean's not here and I hate that."

"You have nightmares when he's not there?" she asked, hoping he would clarify.

"Yeah. I don't really have them that much when he's here and ... I don't know ... I woke up and I was scared and ... I felt like I was five again, scared of the dark, and Dean wasn't there. And it's stupid, because ... I'm not scared of the dark any more. I mean, I know what's out there, but ..."

"Sam, it's a psychological response to what you've been through. I can only guess, of course, but I think this is a connection that goes as far back as you can remember. That Dean's always been there when you needed him, but he wasn't there when this happened. That's the association. It's not that you blame him, it's that his presence is a comfort, because you feel that it wouldn't have happened if he had been there."

"Which is stupid," Sam muttered. "If he had been there ... well, maybe it wouldn't have happened. Maybe I wouldn't have gone at all if he'd been around. Moira wouldn't have given me the information if Dean had been around and ... so, in the end it means I can't function without him then?"

"No, Sam, that's not what this means. That's what you feel. But of course you can function without him. Your dynamic, from what I've seen, has always been that you're the little brother and he's the big brother and he's the one who has to look out for you. Even though you don't like the idea, it's still there. Turn it around. If Dean had been there and Moira had given you the information, luring both of you into that trap, the risk exists that not only would they have done to you what they did, they would have killed Dean for being in the way. Fact remains that it happened, that Dean found you in time and that – with a bit of divine intervention – you're back to normal. But the mental aspect still remains because, even if you don't have the physical scars, the psychological ones still linger. It's a matter of giving it time and rationalizing it." She couldn't help a faint smile at the rapt attention Bobby was displaying right now. "And I'm only a phone call away, Sam. If you need to talk, you know where to find me."

"Right," he muttered.

"And don't even for one moment think that I'd think less of you for confessing that you have fears. You're human. We all have fears. And sometimes we just need to talk about them. Simple as that." There were parts of their upbringing that she would have loved to smack John for, no doubt about it. That whole 'hide your feelings' gig was really getting on her nerves. "Do you hear me?" she prodded.

"Yeah, I hear you. Thanks, Grace," came the muttered reply.

"Good," she said. "Now, tell me about Minneapolis. And what's this about that nurse? What nurse?"

Sam snorted and she felt like she'd done a good thing, calling him at this hour. "She's nice, I guess. Don't know her that much. But ... Dean's all over her and he won't admit it. I think he's ..."

"Really?" she asked, well aware what he had been about to say.

"Yeah, really. And it's so weird. Because ... that's so not Dean."

"Oh, you think so, do you?" Grace asked with a smirk. "From where I'm standing, that is so Dean, but it is a part of him that he probably doesn't know how to acknowledge. If he's anything like your dad, there's no doubt in my mind that he's falling for her. Fast and hard." Bobby frowned at her and she made a face in reply. "What about you? Have you ... met anyone?"

The hesitation said he had. "No. Well ... yes, but no. It's a waste of time and it'd only hurt her feelings and ... no ... it's best not to get involved. The next troll could be the last and then we move on and ..."

"And what? If she's okay with it, is there anything wrong with having a little fun?" Grace asked.

"God, you sound like Dean right now," Sam groaned. "I don't wanna have fun. I ... well, I do, but ... it just gets too complicated. To be honest, I've never understood how he does it. I'm just not partial to this love'em and leave'em approach he has."

Although there was nothing more natural in the world, it still stumped her a little how different they were, these two brothers. "Well, it's up to you, of course. Nobody should push you to do something you don't feel comfortable with. But nobody says you have to jump head over heels into a relationship. How about dinner? A night on the town? You can actually have fun without getting intimate."

"I'm goin' to bed," Bobby announced, got up and left the kitchen without another look back.

Grace watched him go and couldn't help a smirk. He wasn't partial to her 'Dr. Ruth'-approach, as he called it.

"Was that Bobby?" Sam suddenly sounded worried.

"Yes, and no, he didn't hear any of what you said," Grace said. "Besides, you really think he'd think any less of you if he had?"

"Just don't think he's a touchy-feely-kinda guy," Sam muttered.

Grace chuckled. "No, that he isn't," she agreed. "Just think about it, Sam. Nobody says it has to go all the way. That's just Dean's approach to everything and you don't need to copy him on everything."

"I don't copy him ..." He huffed. "Okay, maybe I do, but not on that. And it's none of his business anyway. He's too involved with Michelle to even notice me right now, so ..." Again he sighed. "Listen, Grace, I'm gonna try and get a little more sleep. Thanks for calling."

"You're welcome. And don't forget my number, okay? If you need to talk, I'm here," she said and knew she would be able to sleep now too.

"I won't. Thanks for listening. Sorry for the ranting. It's ..."

"Something you need from time to time. And that's what I'm here for, among other things. Okay?" she cut him off.

"Okay," he agreed, his tone rueful. "Night, Grace."

"Sweet dreams, honey," she countered and hung up. For a moment she just sat there and eyed her phone, then she got up and left the kitchen to follow Bobby to bed. The man might not have much in ways of manner, but he was smarter than most people she had ever known.