The next morning she was up early, having tossed and turned all through the night. She couldn’t get his words out of her head.
Casey had used her first name twice in that little speech that he had made last night. In the seven years that they had known each other, she could count maybe a dozen times or less that he called her Sylvie instead of Brett. Such a little, insignificant thing, really – they all spent so much time together on and off of shift that it became more about tone of voice than name used in most cases. So she really shouldn’t be reading so much into a casual usage of her first name.
Matt Casey never said or did anything without intent or purpose, and he had been very deliberate in the way he had used her name.
She still couldn’t get in his head, which was frustrating her more and more. Casey the firefighter was easy to read and understand; he was calm, cool, and collected under pressure, and she had grown to listen for and depend on his deep baritone over the radio.
Understanding and interpreting the mind of Matthew Casey the man, however, was proving to be nearly impossible. Like earlier. And yet… There had also been a challenging glint in his dark blue eyes. I’m right here. I dare you. Take what you want.
He was calling her bluff, she realized slowly. Calling her bluff—and calling her out.
Figure out what you want – and take it.
That honestly wasn’t her style though, as she had told him. It wasn’t that she was passive when it came to dating and relationships – her showing up at Antonio’s apartment in an overcoat, bra, and panties was more than proof of that – but she also liked the buildup. The flirty, coy glances, the almost moments and the back and forth between a potential partner and herself. And then once she was in a relationship, she liked the little intimate moments of having a partner; holding hands and snuggling, knowing that there was someone to pair off with for game night (which Kyle had always begged off of, now that she thought about it). The sex had been fun, but nothing really worth pursuing or denying one way or another. Even Antonio, for all his intensity, seemed a bit like he was going through the motions after the first couple of hook ups.
She had a feeling that Casey would be just as through in the bedroom as he was on the job…
Brett blew out a slow breath, finally acknowledging the truth that had been lurking in the back of her mind since before she left for Fowlerton.
She wanted a relationship with Matt Casey.
But how did she entice him into making a move? Because she knew the man. Now that the challenge had been issued, he wouldn’t back down, because he wanted her to make the first move. His reasons why were his own, but after thinking about it, she understand a bit why.
From the stories that Dawson had told her about her and Casey getting together, he had always been a bit more invested in their relationship from the start than she was. That was the core of who the man was, she had admitted; she had never known him to do anything half way – mentally, physically, or emotionally. It was Dawson herself who had been more guarded, unable to fully give up her hard earned independence and the ingrained belief that depending on a partner meant giving up a part of herself. But in protecting herself she had actually harmed them both, putting distance between them every time she chose to go another route besides trusting, investing and believing in her partner and husband.
Knowing all of that, having witnessed some of it first hand, Brett could understand why Casey wanted a sign that she was willing to become as emotionally vulnerable and invested as he would be before he took that same leap. So how could she show him that she wanted him, but still entice him into breaking a bit of that hard control and taking what he wanted, instead?
Needing the movement, she got up to pace in her room, stopping short when she caught a glimpse of her reflection in her mirror.
“Well for one thing, it’s time to bring back my makeup game,” she muttered, aghast. Maybe it was the time spent in lazy Fowlerton, maybe it was just not having the energy or desire to ‘put her face on’, but she had toned down her fashion choices and morning makeup routine since returning to Chicago, often opting to put her hair back in a clip or ponytail, and slicking on a layer of lip gloss more out of necessity and deference to the Windy City than an actual desire to enhance her natural beauty. So there was that. “Maybe a wardrobe boost from the skin up…”
Suddenly inspired and invigorated, she marched to her closet and began pulling out her clothes and dumping them on the bed. Most of the plain, button up plaid shirts and ‘country’ style outfits went into a bag to take to Goodwill. From there she worked steadily through her dresser, all the way to her shoes, discarding anything that had been worn while she was in Indiana.
Finished, she looked around her in pleased satisfaction before picking up her phone.
“Hey, Emily,” she began when her friend answered. “I need your help…”
Two hours later, Brett paced nervously back and forth in her room, nibbling on her lip. “I changed my mind,” she announced, whirling around. “I’m just going to text and ask him if he wants to go out to dinner. Nice and simple and easy! Right?”
Foster and Kidd exchanged a look. “Sure,” Kidd shrugged, deliberately nonchalant. “And you and Casey will go out a few times, and it’ll be another nice and sweet and slow relationship because he’ll be following your lead, and before you know it you’ll be right back to the way you were stuck in the mud with Chaplin Kyle-“
“Hey!” Foster protested half-heartedly. “Kyle is still a great guy. He just wasn’t the one for Sylvie.”
“No, he wasn’t,” Kidd agreed, watching the blonde resume pacing. “And do you want to know why? The real reason it didn’t work out?” She smirked when they both stopped to stare at her. “It’s because our little Sylvie Brett is a smoke eater and an adrenaline junkie just as much as the rest of us, and Kyle, and Ryan, and even Cruz, they were all boring and nice and safe. Face it, Brett. You’re one of us. You’re just more subtle about it than most. Like Casey is.”
“I am not!” Sylvie protested, pausing. “Well, maybe on the job okay, but not in my love life! No way! I like stability and security and having a partner I can count on.” She frowned. “And I’m not saying that Casey isn’t any of those things, but I’m not –“
“Sylvie Brett. Admit it. You like the thrill of the chase just as much as the actual relationship part,” Stella scolded, laughing. “I know this because you and I are a lot more alike than you think. Don’t get me wrong, we are fierce, independent, strong women, but there’s something to be said for that shiver that skitters up your spine in knowing that a sexy, confident man is interested in you!”
“Mmm, yeah. She’s got a major point there,” Foster nodded, falling back on Brett’s bed.
“So this whole plan that you have? I say go for it. Casey and Severride are cut from the same cloth, believe me. This will work, in spades.” The brunette caught her friend by the hand, stopping her movement. “Neither one of you are going to be truly happy with nice or safe. That’s just not in your DNA. Casey said it himself – passively waiting for the right person to come along isn’t living.”
Brett groaned, finally joining her friends on her bed. “I’ll tell you the same thing that I told him – that’s not my style. I’m more of a guppy than a piranha in the dating pool.”
“And no one is saying that you have to change who you are,” Foster soothed. “But this is Matt Casey we’re talking about. That man has more control than anyone I have ever met in my life. He’s not going to make a single move until he has a clear sign that you’re willing to play.” Her dark eyes danced with amusement. “So let’s make the game enticing enough to call the lion to hunt, shall we?”
A few hours later, however, Foster threw her hands up in frustration. “Okay, enough. Stop. Sylvie, Stella, just stop,” she said, grabbing Brett by the hands and pulling her down to sit on the bed. “I changed my mind. Sylvie, you don’t need a grand plan! Casey is interested in you, because you’re genuine and sweet and funny and gorgeous. And because you don’t play games.” She glanced at Kidd, who grimaced. “We’re going about this all wrong. Playing games, trying to manipulate him in any way is probably only going to drive him away, rather than entice him closer.”
Brett looked at Kidd, who nodded vigorously. “I agree. After the emotional rollercoaster that Dawson put him through, simple and easy may be exactly what you both need.” She said firmly. “But you were also right in that making the first move is not your style. So how do we get you two into a one on one situation so you can just let nature take its course?”
The two medics watched curiously as she began pacing, nibbling on a thumbnail as she muttered to herself under her breath. “I’ve got it!” She exclaimed, clapping her hands in glee and making Brett jump. “You, don’t do anything else except be your beautiful self.” She ordered her friend. “I’ve got a perfect in, and Casey will never suspect a thing.” She smirked triumphantly when they looked confused. “I’ll put Kelly on the case.”