Secret Admirer

by Jenn

Author's Note: I’ve been wanting to do a Buck/Inez romance and finally did. I hope you all like it. Thanks to everyone for the feedback, and to Lacey and Tammy for the support.

Chapter 1: Inez
Inez looked up expecting to see another customer, so she was surprised to see a delivery man with a dozen beautiful, long stemmed red roses. "May I help you?"

"If you're Inez Rosell . . ." He trailed off, having trouble with the pronunciation.

She took pity on the man and answered, "Yes, I am Inez."

He smiled in relief as he set the vase of flowers on the bar. "Then could you sign here please?" he requested, holding out the clipboard.

Inez signed the paper and then nodded absently to the man as he left. She quickly picked up the card nestled in the flowers, anxious to know who'd sent them.

Hoping these flowers might return the smile to your face.

She sighed in frustration at the lack of signature as she picked up the flowers to move them to a safe place in her office. She had been feeling down the last few days and not smiling much, she admitted to herself. Then she thought back and realized that wasn't entirely true. She had been smiling at the customers as always, it was part of the job, but they had only been smiles in form, not emotion. Apparently someone was observant and could tell the difference.

When she returned to the main room she saw the members of Team 7 walking in. As her eyes lit on the tall Lady's Man they narrowed in suspicion. She knew he was interested in her, he made that very clear every chance he got. Had he sent them? No, she thought, he would have used his name, to try and win points with her. Then she shifted her gaze to Vin. He was observant, and might have noticed the false quality of her smiles. By that reasoning Ezra could also be the sender, she realized. Either of the two was also more likely to keep themselves anonymous. Before she had time to think more about it they arrived at the bar and were asking for drinks.

Later, as she watched them sitting and talking at their table she considered. Vin, she decided was more likely to send wild flowers or something unusual, not roses, and he hadn't been around for a few days. Ezra, she thought, would send something more ornate or exotic, but the classic nature of a dozen roses might appeal to him . . . She shook her head in frustration. It was probably none of the 7.

That thought did not last the night. As she was cleaning up she found a box of chocolates on her desk. She felt sure only one of the famed Team 7 could have snuck back there without her noticing. The note on the box read To sweeten your dreams. She again drew the same three suspects. Buck, of course, but even his lines weren't usually that cheesy. Though the silliness had made her smile. She thought that the line did not seem like something Ezra would write, but that might be done to throw her off track, if it was him. He was skilled in misdirection. He or Vin would have the training and ability to sneak into her locked office undetected; but, she knew Buck could have as well.

Chapter 2: Chris

Chris Larabee was curious. He had just watched Vin pick up a plain brown bag then disappear into the back of the bar and reappear moments later without the bag. Since he knew the only room back there was Inez office Vin had obviously left the bag, and it's contents, there. But what would Vin be leaving Inez? If it had been Buck he'd have figured it was yet another attempt to romance the beautiful bar owner, but Vin? Was Vin interested in her but to shy to be direct about it? Or maybe worried about Buck's reaction?

As Vin returned to the table Chris saw the two exchange a look of understanding and smile. That meant the second idea was out. Had Buck given up and was now giving Vin pointers? He almost laughed aloud at that idea. When Buck looked at him he raised a questioning eyebrow. Buck just gave him an all-to-innocent smile, the one Chris knew, from long experience, meant he was up to something.

Chris then tried questioning Vin, capturing the blue eyes in his.

What's going on?

Nothing you need to worry about.

You and Inez?


Buck and Inez?

Not really. Just Inez.

She OK?

She will be. Trust us.

Trust you two? Scheming together?

Who says it's just us two?

Vin smirked as he broke the eye contact to answer something JD had asked him. Chris gave him the visual equivalent of a smack upside the head, which Vin saw but ignored, as Chris poured himself another shot of whiskey.

Chapter 3: Ezra

Even though he'd rather have still been in bed asleep Ezra was up looking through his books. Specifically his books of poetry. As he yawned and reached for another book laying nearby he thought back to the day before.

He and Vin had been in the office finishing different tasks. Buck had appeared and smiled his trademark grin. "Just the two men I was wanting to see."

"NO! We will not help you pull a practical joke on young JD, or worse yet, Mr. Larabee."

"It's nothing like that, Ez. You noticed that Inez was not looking real happy last night?"


"What do ya mean?" asked Vin.

Buck had turned to the younger man. "That's right. You weren't there. Inez was smiling, but, well, she was faking it. She wasn't happy."

"I would have to agree with that assessment." Had been Ezra's reluctant admission.

"I found out her birthday is in a few days. I think that's what has her down; so I want to do something to cheer her up. But if I try anything, she'll think I'm just after her."

"Aren't you?" Vin asked.

"Not this time. I just want to cheer her up. Get her feeling better."

Seeing the genuine feeling behind Buck's words Vin relented. He knew Buck wanted Inez, but he also knew Buck had a generous nature and hating seeing anyone one he cared for unhappy. "And you want our help?"

"I can't do my plan alone. I want to "give" her a secret admirer. I already called for flowers to be delivered later. I also bought a box of chocolates. Vin, I was hoping you would sneak the chocolates into her office while we're there tonight. If she saw me anywhere near the office the game would be up, and you can about disappear when you want to. Besides, with three of us involved it will be impossible for her to pin down who it is. We'll all have alibi's for at least one of the things I plan."

"All right. I'll sneak the chocolates into her office, but if she catches me. . . "

This statement was met with snorts of disbelief by the other two. The very idea of Vin being caught when he didn’t want to be seen was totally ridiculous, and they knew it.

"So where do I come in?"

"I want to send her a poem. Something appropriate, that'll remind her she's still young and beautiful. I figured you'd know one, or have one in your collection. I was thinking I'd find a way to sneak it to her tomorrow. Or maybe the next day, since that's her actual birthday."

"Very well. I will find you a poem."

Ezra pulled his mind back to the present. He had woken early to give himself time to find the poem, but so far had found nothing that seemed right and was beginning to get frustrated. A song he'd heard the week before, at Inez bar in fact, came to his mind. He had always thought lyrics, if well done, could be considered poetry, so this would work.

He logged onto his computer and quickly found a web site that listed the lyrics to the song he had in mind. Gathering some elegant stationary and fountain pen he began to write, being careful to use the "disguised" handwriting he used when undercover. He didn't want to risk Inez recognizing his normal writing. Once finished he read over the paper to make sure it looked right. Satisfied he logged off his computer and hurried to get ready for work.

Chapter 4: Inez

The white envelope with only her name on the front immediately caught Inez attention as she looked through the mail. It had no stamp or address, meaning someone had placed it in the mailbox them selves instead of mailing it.

It was still early, only just after lunchtime really, and very few patrons were in the bar; Ezra, Buck and JD among them. Seeing that, she sat down at one of the tables to read it instead of going back to her office. Opening the envelope she pulled out the single piece of paper and read. . .

She says don’t stare at me
She’s afraid that I might see
Those 5 extra pounds she talks about
I don’t know what she’s talking about
She looks through magazines
With every page she dreams of
Looking like somebody else
I wish she wasn’t so hard on herself
Then she falls asleep with just my t-shirt on
But even when her hair’s messed up and her make-up’s gone
You can’t hide beautiful
You can’t hide wonderful
There’s nothing that she has to do
It just comes natural
She makes it look easy
I love what she does to me
No way to disguise
The way that she shines
You can’t hide beautiful
She can take a simple dress
Put it on and turn some heads
Everytime she moves she gets me
She doesn’t even know she’s sexy
And the way she thinks sometimes
Out of nowhere blows my mind
She makes me laugh and makes me dream
I love the way she looks at things
A little piece of heaven God gave to this world
She might think she’s just an ordinary girl
You can’t hide beautiful
You can’t hide wonderful
There’s nothing that she has to do
It just comes natural
She makes it look easy
I love what she does to me
No way to disguise
The way that she shines
You can’t hide beautiful

You Can’t Hide Beautiful
- Aaron Lines

Inez easily recognized the lyrics, having heard the song on the radio several times; but she'd never considered that the words might be applied to her. The truth was that she did consider herself "an ordinary girl", that someone would see in her the things in this song was a bit of a surprise to her. She thought it incredibly romantic.

"What you reading so intently, Inez?"

She was startled to hear Bucks familiar voice so close, not having heard him approach. JD and Ezra were behind him and also looked interested. "None of your business, Buck."

Buck didn't give up. "Inquiring minds wanna know."

"Inquiring minds are going to get slapped upside the head," she warned.

"Well it looks like a poem or something. Maybe a love letter? Are you trying to make me jealous? If so, it's working. Let me see that."

Seeing him reach toward the paper she quickly held it out of his reach. "No, I will not let you see it. Behave or I'll throw you out."

"She is quite correct Mr. Wilmington. If you want to read the paper you would do better to ask her politely instead of grabbing for it."

"Ah, I'm sorry, Inez. Guess the green-eyed monster reared its head. Forgive me?"

After throwing him an arch look she replied. "This time. But in the future my mail is my affair." As soon as she said the words she realized her mistake.

Ezra raised an eyebrow. JD looked at the ground.

"Affair? So it is a love letter! I knew it. So I guess this means you won't let me take you out to dinner for your birthday tomorrow? "

Inez replied in a saccharine sweet tone. "No, I'm afraid I won't. But don't worry, it's not because of this." Having said that she turned and went behind the bar to cash register.

"Score one for the lady," drawled Ezra, as they followed her to the register to pay.

As Buck paid a paper fell out of his wallet without his noticing. Inez didn't think anything of it until they were walking out the door and she looked back down at the bar and saw the white paper. She remembered seeing it fall from Buck's wallet, but had been paying attention to the money he handed her.

When she looked at it she saw that it was a receipt from a nearby flower shop. Her temper began to flare. She was upset that he was acting interested in her while buying another woman flowers. Then she saw the date and time on the receipt. It was from the day before; when she had gotten the flowers. It was also the shop that her flowers had been from. She returned to the thought that he might be the secret admirer. His little jealousy fit moments ago had finally convinced her there was no way it could be him; but that could have been an act. She quickly moved to follow the men. As Inez opened the door she heard them talking, so she froze in place before stepping out and therefore remained hidden from the men as she listened.

"Thanks again for finding that poem for me, Ez."

"I am pleased to be of assistance. Your plan to give Inez a secret admirer seems to have cheered her up somewhat. If nothing else it seems to have her distracted enough not to lament her birthday tomorrow. And you have done most of the work. Come, my friends, we can finish this conversation in a better place than standing outside," suggested Ezra.

Inez listened to the men walk away then turned back inside to think. Buck had been the one to send her flowers, chocolates, and poem. To cheer her up. He'd even found out about her birthday being tomorrow. And since he wasn't taking the credit, it couldn't be him trying to seduce her; he really was just being sweet and trying to make her feel better. Thoughts spun through her head until a customer needed her attention.

Chapter 5: Buck

Buck watched Inez walk toward their table with a tray of drinks. She hadn't even bothered coming over to ask what they wanted, since she already knew their usual drinks. He was fairly sure the jealousy fit he'd faked at lunch had put to rest any lingering suspicions she might have had about him being the secret admirer, but figured a small encore wouldn't hurt. Besides, he knew if he didn't stick to his usual flirting she might suspect something from that.

"Inez, are you sure you won't let me take you to dinner for your birthday tomorrow? I promise I'll be on my best behavior."

She paused and looked at him as she set his drink down. "Very well, I'll go to dinner with you tomorrow. But you had better keep that promise. I'll be free any time after 6:00."

All 7 men had stunned looks on their faces, but none more so than Buck. After so many rejections he hadn't expected her to say yes. He heard her chuckle as she set down the last of the drinks and went to answer the call of another customer.

"That was most surprising," noted Ezra.

"I don't believe it," declared JD. "She's letting you take her out not just on a date but on her birthday."

Vin was next to comment. "I think she did it just to see that look on Buck's face, and the rest of us."

"You might be right, Vin," agreed Josiah.

Buck finally found his voice. "No. It's just that my animal magnetism is finally getting to her."

"More like she finally decided to take pity on you." Chris teased his best friend, with his usual half smile on his lips.

"Now comes the hard part."

Buck took the bait. "What's that, Nate?"

"Keeping your promise to behave yourself."

Buck threw him a mock glare and picked up his glass. He hadn't expected Inez to say yes so he hadn't made any plans. Now he needed to. He wanted to be sure her birthday was special, especially since it would be their first date.

Chapter 6: Inez

As Inez sat at her vanity combing out her still wet hair she thought back over the evening. When Buck had shown up he'd brought a single perfect pink rose. She'd noticed from the wrapping that it was from a different flower shop than the one's he'd sent as her secret admirer had been from. He really was clever and careful, she had to admit. She also had to admit, to herself, that he'd looked very nice dressed up for the evening. The dark blue dress shirt he'd worn had made his eyes look even more blue and intense than usual.

Dinner had been delicious and the conversation interesting. For a man who liked to talk Buck had proven himself to be an amazingly good listener. He'd seemed interested in everything she had to say and made very insightful comments. She had been the sole focus of his attention and found that flattering, if slightly unnerving. He'd done his share of talking, of course. He'd related the story of how he met Chris and some stories from his childhood. She'd found herself enjoying learning more about him and his past.

At desert she'd discovered he called the restaurant for more than reservations. The waiter had brought out a small cake just the right side for two people. On top of the cake were the words "Happy Birthday Inez". After eating they'd danced on the small dance floor. She hadn't been at all surprised to find him a skilled dancer. What had surprised her was how right, how natural, it had felt to be in his arms.

After leaving the restaurant they'd walked over to he park across the street. Neither had said much, but it had been a comfortable silence. She'd been a bit surprised by it since Buck often seemed to like the sound of his own voice.

Yes, she thought. She had learned a great deal about Buck this evening. Seen a different side of him. She was almost scared at how much she liked it. At how much she wanted to see it again.

She put down her comb and finished getting ready for bed. She had the feeling that she would probably dream about him that night and wasn’t sure whether she thought that was a good thing or a bad thing.

Chapter 7: Buck

Buck turned off the ignition and opened his car door. He was almost sad to be home. No, thought, he wasn’t sorry to be home, he was sorry his evening with Inez was over. He’d been waiting a long time, but decided it had been more than worth the wait. He smiled slightly to himself remembering an "incident" at the restaurant. He’d been leading Inez to the dance floor when he’d noticed another man obviously eyeing Inez. When the man had looked at him he’d smirked back; knowing that Inez was there with him and would be dancing with him. He knew she probably wouldn’t have much appreciated the thought, but it had sent a surge of happiness through him. He knew he’d been the envy of every man in the place and couldn’t help but revel in it a bit.

She’d looked more beautiful than ever in the elegant gold dress she’d worn; and that was something he hadn’t thought possible. Of course, in his opinion, she looked amazing in anything. Or better yet, nothing. He quickly, but reluctantly, pushed the thought from his mind before it could go to far, knowing that if he really wanted to win Inez heart he’d have to go slowly. And he honestly had no desire to rush her into something she didn’t want.

He thought back to the walk in the park and smiled slightly to himself. It had been perfect. Moonlight, a warm breeze, trees, grass, the fountain and Inez. They'd held hands and he'd enjoyed the small contact. Her tiny hand in his had reminded him just how small and delicate she was, at least physically. She was a strong woman and her spirit was one of the things that most attracted him to her. She was one of the few women he knew he'd never get bored with, who would keep him on his toes.

He’d truely enjoyed the chance to get to know her better; to hear her talk and make her smile. She’d seemed happy tonight, not worried or unhappy about it being her birthday and that had been his goal from the beginning. To let her happy, and forget about getting older.

As he opened the door to his home he felt a surge of relief that she hadn’t learned he was her secret admirer. He figured that was something she never needed to know. His next thought caused him to sigh. As soon as he stepped into the office tomorrow his friends would grill him about the date. The thought that he’d be lucky to escape ending up in one of the interrogation rooms caused a slight grimace to twist his handsome features. He decided that would only happen if he refused to talk. He’d give them a few crumbs and hope they’d let it be. Or maybe he’d get lucky and a big case that had to be handled immediately would be waiting for them. . . No, he knew he wouldn’t get that lucky.

Chapter 8: Josiah

As Josiah sipped his beer he watched Buck watch Inez. That was nothing new. Buck had been watching Inez since the day he met her. What was new was her watching Buck, when she wasn’t busy. It had been a month since their first date and they’d gone out 4 times since then.

Josiah couldn’t help but wonder what had caused the change in the relationship. He decided that particular curiosity was an occupational hazard of being a profiler, and their friend. It had begun with her birthday. They had questioned Buck the next day but he’d refused to give details. Ezra had backed him up agreeing that a gentleman would never share details about time spent with a lady. Eventually the others had given up in frustration.

Since then Buck and Inez hadn’t been any more willing to share details of their later dates. Josiah was fairly sure the two were falling in love. Buck had been interested in, and even infatuated with, Inez all along, but his feelings seemed to have grown deeper and more serious. He was also sure that Inez would not continue to see Buck if she didn’t have some kind of feelings for him.

They had all continued to tease Buck, in a good-natured way, but Josiah knew the others where as happy for the couple as he was. Chris especially had seemed pleased that his best friend finally seemed to be settling down some. None of them had seen Buck out with another lady since his second date with Inez. This hadn’t surprised Josiah, he’d always known Buck could give up his wandering ways and be faithful if he found the right woman. That wasn’t to say Buck never flirted anymore, but it was obvious that harmless flirting is all it was and Josiah thought that was as much out of habit as anything.

Yes, he thought, it will be interesting to see what happens with that relationship. . .


Follow up story: Rescue Me