Saturday dawned bright, with temps promising to soar later in the day. Katherine had arranged for the movers to come early, knowing that her daughter and son in law were anxious to be back on the road as soon as possible. They had already left, despite Katherine’s protests, trusting in the firefighters to help load up the truck and get the movers on the road as well in a timely matter.
Casey and Severride had done exactly that, clearing out the apartment in no time. They had also called in their own reinforcements in the form of Cruz and a willing Ritter, with the promise of no bathroom duty for the next two shifts.
Despite her best intentions, it was nearly ten when Brett stepped out onto her new floor, immediately breaking out into helpless giggles at the sight that greeted her.
The building was a former factory that had been converted into large loft apartments, two to a floor, with six floors total. Once you stepped out of the elevator, you could either turn to the left and go to Severride’s apartment, or turn right to Casey’s door. The rest of the area was a wide open space with minimal decoration and access to the stairs on the far wall.
Stella, Emily, and Chloe waved at her cheerfully with matching naughty grins.
“Brett!” Kidd called. “C’mon, pull up a chair. You’re just in time to catch the last of the show.”
Shaking her head, she accepted the lawn chair next to her friend, still snickering. “You are absolutely ridiculous, you know that right?”
“Hey, we needed to send Katherine off in style, and who am I to deny my favorite ladies prime opportunity like this?” The brunette said innocently. “Hey Ritter! Foster’s looking a bit mopey again. I think she needs some distraction.”
Ritter obliged, strutting towards them like he was on a catwalk in Milan, complete with dramatic pauses and extra flair, using the box in his hands as a prop as the women whooped and cheered. Despite her laughing protests, Foster eventually got into it, getting up to join him for an exaggerated bump and grind as Stella tucked Monopoly money into their waistbands.
“Hey! Take it outside, kids.” Cruz mock ordered as he joined them.
“That is the last box anyway.” Ritter replied, twirling Foster in a playful circle and ending with a dramatic dip that had their audience cheering and clapping.
“C’mon Usher,” she replied breathlessly as he raised her back up. “I’ll buy you ice cream for that show.”
“You’re on. That was totally worth at least three scoops.” He said, picking up the box.
“Two, maybe. You need to actually be Usher in order to get any more than that,” she retorted as they stepped into the elevator. The door closed on his protests.
“I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing that,” Brett said into the silence.
“Be glad you only caught the last of it.” Casey replied wryly as he and Severride joined them. “It was worse with Katherine egging them on.” He rolled his eyes at her as she giggled. “Where do you think Kidd got the Monopoly money in the first place?”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Chloe mused, letting her fiancé pull her up out of her chair and smirking up at him. “If this whole firefighter thing doesn’t work out, it’s nice to know that you have other talents to support us.” Her green eyes sparkled mischievously. “What’s your rate for bachelorette parties? I have one coming up soon…” She squealed with laughter as he hoisted her up over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. “Joe Cruz, put me down!”
“Casey, Severride, if we’re all done here, I have another job that just opened up,” Cruz said, ignoring the squirming bundle and hysterical laughter behind him. “Might take the rest of the day, so I’d like to get started as soon as possible.”
Her friends were absolutely ridiculous, Brett decided again, watching the two officers smirk and wave him away. Meanwhile, Chloe had wriggled until she was in a position to plant her elbow in his shoulder enough to prop herself up.
“Bye Chloe!” Stella called cheerfully, blowing exaggerated kisses.
“So if Joe doesn’t show up for shift tomorrow, can someone also call in sick for me at my work?” The redhead called. “Oh, and order us a pizza for delivery? No anchovies or onions!”
The elevator closed – thankfully – before they could witness Cruz’s reply.
“So, has anyone started a betting pool for their first kid yet?” Casey mused. “I’m putting $50 on nine months from today.”
The four remaining friends snickered at each other as Stella stood up.
“I guess that’s our cue too,” she said, stretching up on her toes and smirking to herself as Severride’s eyes followed the movement as her shirt rode up. Sauntering over to the two men, she slid her arm around his waist before turning to Casey. “Thanks for roping him into doing this, Casey. He’s needed something to help him out since he became a white shirt desk jockey over at OFI. Less than a week on the job and he’s really let himself go.”
Casey’s shoulders were shaking silently at her sheer audacity as his friend slowly lifted his shirt and glanced down, prompting an obliging wolf whistle from Brett.
“Hey, I can always come up with some inventive ways to burn some calories,” he said with a leer as she smirked back at him. “I’m not the one who needs to work on their endurance.”
Casey snorted and shoved them both away. “Get a room, you two. In fact, get an entire apartment, as in the one not ten feet away.” He signaled to Brett and she darted around the still bickering couple, following him safely into their new place.
She sighed, leaning against the door, still bubbling with laughter. “Our friends are ridiculous.”
“Yeah they are.” He agreed with a fond grin. “We’re going to have to do something big as an actual thank you once we’re settled in. They really showed up for us today.”
She nodded, grimacing at the amount of boxes that were lined up in the living room. “Absolutely. So, how do you want to do this? Bedrooms and bathrooms first, and then come back out here to tackle the living room and kitchen?”
Casey shrugged. “Works for me. See you in a couple of hours!”
It was late when they finished, looking around at their new home in satisfaction.
“We could still use some more small decorations – maybe a couple more rugs, some plants near the windows – but overall, I think we did a fantastic job.” She said proudly, holding her fist up. “Nice job, roomie.”
He bumped her fist, still looking around in awe. “I can’t take any credit for this. You are absolutely amazing.”
She beamed at him, tucking her hair behind her ears. “Thanks. I’d like to say that I made Joanna Gaines proud today,” she grinned, flopping down on the couch with a sigh.
Casey grinned, having quickly learned who the design mogul and her carpenter husband were from Brett’s animated and enthusiastic descriptions and stories. “I am happy to play the Chip to your JoJo any day,” he teased, striding over to the fridge. “And thank you for confining the shiplap to your bedroom.”
“It is a gorgeous feature wall though,” she replied, accepting the bottle of her preferred hard lemonade and following him over to the living room area as he claimed one of the squishy armchairs.
Watching him flex and sweat while installing it had been an even better sight than the finished product. A Matt Casey completely in his element, comfortable and relaxed, was one she was becoming a bit addicted to spending time with, and it was only day one of their being semi roommates.
He sent her a quick smile as he stretched his arms lazily over his head, arching his back and pointing his toes. Her mouth watered slightly as his t-shirt rode up, revealing tanned skin and a hint of rock hard stomach. Coming out of the stretch, he rolled his head from side to side, groaning in relief as his neck popped and muscles loosened.
“So I was originally thinking of dragging you out to Molly’s to celebrate, but right now all I want is deep dish and a night in.”
Brett blinked, her gaze refocusing. “Sounds good to me.”
Casey stifled an inward grin. “Split a large? Half red, half white sauce, spinach on your half and bacon, sausage and mushrooms all over?” He let the grin show at her surprised expression. “I told you – I pay attention to the details.”
“Learning new things about you every day, Matt Casey,” she murmured.
He winked at her as he pulled out his cell phone. “I’m an onion.”
Pizza ordered, Brett watched lazily while he puttered around, finishing the last little touches and clearing out the last of the debris that came with moving. By the time the pizza came, she was fast asleep.
Casey quietly paid the delivery guy, making sure to pocket the receipt so Brett wouldn’t see the total. She was still insistent about splitting everything 50/50, so he cheerfully defied her where and when he could. Partly because he had money to spare, but mostly because he enjoyed how riled up she got. Dawson had never had a problem going toe to toe with him, but he and Brett had mostly shared similar opinions over the years, so his silent rebellion made him feel a bit like a kid in school, teasing and tugging the pigtails of the girl he liked for attention, but he would take what he could get.
Padding silently over to the couch, he gazed down at the picture she made, fast asleep. Her hair was tousled and loose, her cheeks lightly flushed. Unable to resist, he drew a finger gently down her cheek, watching those impossibly long lashes slowly lift, revealing hazy, soft, cornflower blue pupils.
“Hey Sleeping Beauty,” he murmured. “Pizza’s about here. You still hungry, or are you gonna move to your bed so you don’t screw up your back?”