Above All, Honor
See part 1 for all disclaimers and copyright information.
Cam stretched out on the couch with a drink and watched the traffic below on Pennsylvania Avenue. From her highrise apartment she could see the White House in the distance. She wondered fleetingly how Blair was faring, then put the thought from her mind. Tonight she did not have to worry about her. She reached for the phone and dialed a number from memory.
"This is number 38913," she said as a female voice answered. "Iíd like to confirm my arrangement for tonight." She waited for a moment as her client ID number was verified. "Yes Ė eleven o-íclock ató" She hesitated as her beeper went off. "Just a second," she added, checking the number. It was the White House. "Iíll have to call back. It may be later. Yes, keep it open Ė Iíll take care of the time. Thank you."
She pushed the other line, keeping the scrambler engaged. "Roberts," she said tersely when the phone was picked up.
"Commander? Itís Mac Ė Iím sorry to bother you, but I thought youíd want a call."
"Mac?" she said in surprise. "What are you doing there? Whatís going on?"
"Iím not supposed to be here. Sheís gone, Commander. They lost her an hour ago. The commander here didnít want anyone to know, so when it started getting late a buddy of mine called me on the sly."
"Goddamn it," she cursed. "Who else knows?"
"Just the inside team here. They havenít a clue where to look."
She understood his message. "Right Ė we canít very well call out our own people. Weíre not even supposed to know about this. There are a few places I can check. Listen Mac, thereís a floating club Ė it travels around from one venue to another all over the city. Very trendy, only people in the know have the address. Find it for me. Iíll call you in an hour."
She interrupted his protests. "I donít know how youíll find it, but Iím sure you will."
Two hours later he called her with the address. Cam arrived at the warehouse close to midnight. She had been to every gay bar she knew of, and several Mac had come up with. It was New Yearís Eve. The bars were packed with exuberant men and women in various stages of intoxication and undress. She hadnít found her. For all she knew, Blair was tucked away in bed somewhere with a girlfriend they didnít know about. Cam hoped so.
It was worse than she expected. Wall to wall people, jostling bodies, smoke hanging in clouds below the dim spotlights, the air heavy with sex and booze. Cam pushed her way into the shadowy depths of the long room, hoping that each blonde she saw would be Blair.
Blair watched her drawing closer. She stood leaning against the wall in the narrow passageway leading to semi-private alcoves and niches which women were using for quick assignations and frantic couplings. She had been watching a young tough in tight black leather pants swagger about at the bar, trying to impress her friends with her bravado. Blair thought she might be fun to toy with. It was always so satisfying to humble the butches, and she made a bet with herself that she could make this one beg. She was about to go over when she caught sight of Cam. Taller by a head than most of the women, she cut a swath through the crowd like a sleek cutter through the sea. In a light windbreaker, dark polo shirt, the signature faded jeans and boots, she should have looked ordinary, but she was easily the sexiest woman in view. She moved with certainty and grace, lithe and powerful, a hunter searching its prey. It was only the darkness in the hall that gave Blair the advantage. As Cam moved closer, Blairís pulse quickened. This time the hunted would have the hunter.
Cam stepped through the archway into the hall just as the countdown to midnight began. People were crushing in around her, searching for that elusive partner to claim at the dawn of a new year. Blair caught her by the arm and spun her against the wall, pressing into her, her hands around Cam's waist. Cam was momentarily stunned. Blairís breasts were soft against her chest, her breath hot on Cam's neck, Blair's thigh tight into her crotch. Cam hadnít been close to a woman this way in a year and her body surged with reawakened sensation. She caught her breath as a stab of desire pierced her. Her clit swelled, hard and ready in an instant.
"Happy New Year, Commander," Blair breathed into her ear, grasping Camís head and pulling her down into a kiss. Cam gasped in surprise as Blair pushed into her, fusing their bodies in the press of the milling crowd.
Can groaned as Blair's searching tongue invaded her mouth, adding heat to the fire that raged through her. Cam kissed Blair back, she couldnít help it. For an instant she forgot who she was, or where she was. All she knew was the pounding in her head, and the ache in her belly, the throbbing in her clit driving her quickly toward climax. Blair pushed her hand between Camís legs.
"Oh Jesus!" Cam gasped, pulling her mouth away so abruptly her head banged against the wall. Her legs were trembling. She grasped Blairís hand, dragging it away from her body. "No, goddamn it! Thatís enough!"
"Are you crazy?" Blair exclaimed, her voice thick with her own urgent need. "Youíre so hot I can feel you through your jeans! Youíre almost there Ė let me do what I know you want!"
That moment was all Cam needed to find her control. She pushed Blair back a step, breaking their contact.
"I want to get you out of here."
Blairís eyes blazed dangerously. She had come close to humiliating herself. The fire in Camís body had ignited her own, and she had been very close to coming herself. She throbbed still. "Go fuck yourself, Agent Roberts!"
As she tried to walk away, Cam grasped her arm. "Ms. Powell Ė please!"
"Leave me alone. No one knows Iím here."
"Then pretend you donít," Blair snapped, trying to escape into the crowd. She couldnít move very quickly through the mass of revelers, and Cam stayed right beside her.
"I canít," Cam stated with finality.
Blair turned to face her, her body rigid with fury. "Then do your job, but stay out of my way!"
Cam nodded, accepting the slight concession. She let Blair move ahead of her, wishing she could reach Mac for backup. The best she could do was stay close to Blair until she settled for the night, and then call for another team.
Which is how she came to find herself on the phone in the lobby of the Franklin Hotel at two am. "Mac?"
"Yeah, Commander. Tell me you got her Ė please."
"Send two of our people, not the White House detail- to the Franklin Hotel on the parkway. Iíll wait 'til they get here. Sheís in Room 1302, and I think sheíll be here for the night. I need someone in the room across from hers Ė Iíve booked it- and a car downstairs. And Mac, keep this quiet for Godís sake. If the White House press corps catches on to her little foray, theyíll be all over us."
"Any info on who sheís with?" Mac asked hesitantly.
"No," Cam said curtly. Except that she was young, recklessly beautiful in an androgynous way, and had followed Blair without hesitation when Blair walked up to her, kissed her by way of introduction, and said, "Iím leaving. You coming?"
Cam had followed them the few blocks to the hotel at a discrete distance, hanging back in the shadows every time Blair stopped to grope and fondle her leather clad conquest. Blair never looked in Camís direction, but she had to know Cam was there, watching the display. If the seduction was meant to anger Cam, it did, but probably not for the reasons Blair intended. Cam was infuriated at the risk Blair was taking by picking up a stranger and checking into a hotel a few blocks from the White House. It was dangerous on more levels than she could count. Blair Powell was beautiful, bright, and talented. She didnít need to waste herself on one-night stands. It was physically hazardous, politically suicidal, and willfully self-destructive. Cam came close to breaking up their little tryst at one point, but she reminded herself that Blair Powell had every right to do what she was doing, and any effort to intervene would only make her more reckless. The last thing she had seen was Blair backing her girlfriend up against the door to their room as she fumbled to fit her card in the lock behind them, kissing her with an intensity that echoed in Camís body. The door finally swung open and they disappeared breathlessly inside.
"Boss Ėyou still there?" Macís voice interrupted her reminiscences.
"Yes," she retorted, her voice thick with the memory.
"Iíll have someone there in five minutes."
Cam was still seething when she stepped off the elevator into the foyer in front of her apartment. She stopped in surprise when she saw the stately blond put a book aside and smile in her direction.
"My god!" Cam exclaimed. "I didnít mean for you to wait out here in the hallway!"
Her visitor stood, sliding the book into a stylish leather bag. "I know, but my evening was already planned, and itís safe enough. I know Iím presuming, and I can leave if you like. But you did book the whole night."
"No," Cam said as she unlocked her door. "Come in." She hit the dimmer switch inside the door, giving them just enough light to maneuver by. She turned to the woman who stepped inside after her. "Iím sorry-"
"Donít be," the blonde said, touching Camís cheek lightly. She felt the tremor, and the heat. She knew the signs.
"You need some attention," she whispered throatily. Without waiting for an answer, she pushed Cam gently back against the door as she worked loose the buttons on Cam's fly. She heard the swift intake of breath, a wordless assent. She leaned one arm along the wall beside Camís still form and reached into her jeans.
Cam grasped the handle for support, closing her eyes. She was aching, had been since the bar, and her body had never quieted. The first touch was excruciating.
"Oh god," she groaned, praying she could stay standing. The strokes were certain, commanding, relentless, and she heard herself moaning. She pushed back against the wall, rigid with the effort to control the mounting pressure as her hips bucked forward into the waiting hand.
"Iím losing it," she gasped, clenching her jaw until it ached. She cried out as the explosion spread through her, her head rocking from side to side with the pulsations. When it subsided she was amazed she was still upright.
"Oh, Christ," she gasped breathlessly. "I didnít mean for that to happen so fast."
"I donít think it was up to you," her companion laughed softly, moving away discreetly so Cam could regain her composure. The arousal certainly had nothing to do with her, which she suspected was most often the case.
"Will you have that drink now?" Cam asked dryly as she fumbled with the buttons on her jeans. Her hands were trembling.
"I would definitely like that," the blond said with a smile.
Cam moved over to the bar and poured them both a drink, then settled on the sofa in front of the floor to ceiling windows. They sat in silence in the near darkness for a few moments, each privy to her own thoughts.
"Does it bother you?" Cam said at length. "The lack of reciprocation?" When her guest failed to answer, she added quietly, "Iím sorry. That was inappropriate, and none of my business."
"No, itís all right," came the soft reply. "I donít expect any reciprocation, and most of the time I wouldnít want it."
It was Camís turn to be quiet. As many times as they had met, they had never talked of anything personal. She had never wanted to know. She had no idea why she was asking now.
"You should know this is by my choice, and there is absolutely no abuse involved," the woman added.
Cam nodded Ė she knew all the details of the operation, right down to how often all the employees had health exams. What she didnít know was who they were, or what they felt. Both of them kept their identities, and their secrets, hidden. It was a business arrangement, with a veneer of civility, and so far it had worked for both of them.
"So sometimes you would like it to go both ways?" Cam asked.
"I certainly wouldnít throw you out of bed," her companion replied gently, her laughter making light of her statement.
"Iím not asking for that Ė I canít, I havenít-" Cam struggled with the words. How to explain that she didn't feel any desire for women, that the thought of wanting someone terrified her. It was too much, too close Ė and then to lose it. She swallowed the ache, battling the old pain.
The blonde stopped her with a hand on her thigh. "I donít need you to make love to me. If it makes you feel any better, I enjoy what we do. Rather a lot. Exactly as it is."
Cam nodded in acceptance, placing her drink beside her on the table. She stood, reaching out her hand.
"Letís move to the bedroom," she said, hoping eventually to sleep.
Mac looked up as his boss and the First Daughter boarded the plane. The air seemed decidedly chilly. Blair stalked down the aisle and threw herself across the seats at the rear. Cam took the first seat inside the cabin, leaned back, and closed her eyes. Mac figured she hadnít gotten much sleep. None of them had. Between tracking Blair down, then shadowing the hotel the rest of the night, half the team had worked on the one night they all expected to have off. Blair hadnít emerged to return to the White House until eight a.m., and that made it all the harder to get her past the press corps without announcing she had been out all night. She looked exactly like she had been out all night, and up all night screwing.
Cam had been called as soon as Blair stepped out of her hotel room, and she had been waiting for Blair at the side entrance of the White House. She didnít look all that much better than Blair, although her attire was impeccable as usual. Neither of them acknowledged the other as Cam ushered Blair in through the service entrance and down the labyrinth of service halls to the family living quarters. The limo ride to the airport an hour later had been just as frosty.
When the plane landed in New York forty minutes later, Cam escorted Blair to the waiting car and climbed into the back with her. In an hour Blair was due to meet with the Mayor and emcee the New Yearís Day Parade.
"Where to, Ms. Powell?" Cam asked perfunctorily. Since Blairís disappearance the night before and her late arrival this morning, their entire schedule had been changed. Cam had no idea of Blairís plans, and being at such a disadvantage infuriated her.
For once Blair appeared subdued. "I need to go home and change."
Cam nodded, passed the message along to the driver and the car following them, and settled back against the seat. She clamped down on her anger. She wouldnít give Blair the satisfaction of knowing how unsettling the interlude in the bar had been for her. The hours she had spent with Claire satisfying her body had not erased the memory of Blairís mouth on hers, nor the demanding promise of Blairís hands claiming her. It was not a sensation she welcomed, and the faint bruises around Blairís lips only served to remind her that Blair had been up all night satisfying her needs with a stranger. Donít be a fool, she thought in disgust. Anyone will do, as long as sheís in charge. You just happened to be handy!
When they pulled up in front of Blairís apartment, Cam sent Mac for coffee, while she waited in the limo. She closed her eyes and thought of nothing. When the door opened, she looked up and then averted her eyes as Blair Powell slid into the rear seat across from her. The woman who sat across from her looked nothing like the woman Cam had followed into a Washington gay bar the night before. That woman had been wild, untamed and untamable. Blair was a predator, all the more deadly because she was irresistible. She was beautiful in the way of the wild animals, and Cam had felt her power even as she tried to deny it. This woman was elegant, refined, and bore no resemblance to the creature she had been the night before, with the one exception being that she was just as unapproachable.
The ferocious hunger in Blair's eyes had been replaced by a glacial stillness. If there were thoughts behind the ice blue wall, they no longer showed. Her tailored coat was open to reveal a fitted suit, the jacket unbuttoned to reveal the flimsy silk camisole beneath. The skirt slid up as she crossed her legs. Cam found her every bit as attractive in this guise as she had been the previous night. She felt no safer, aware of the pounding of her own heart.
In defense, Cam decided to focus on the job at hand. This was one of the most dangerous kind of outings for Blair, with her in the public eye and visible to large crowds. When they arrived at the central viewing area, where the mayor and Blair would be commenting on the passing parade, Cam was greeted by the mayor's chief of security, a serious looking red head in her early 40s.
"I'm Marge Pierce," the red head said, extending her hand while openly appraising Cam.
Cam nodded in response as she returned the firm grip. "Cameron Roberts."
Cam surveyed the podium where Blair would be seated. She frowned slightly, noting that the rear of the platform was open on the side where the trucks and vans carrying the sound equipment and other video paraphernalia were parked. Anyone could approach from that direction and she motioned for Mac to station several of their people behind the stand. Pierce noted the maneuver, and quickly dispatched two of her own staff to join the secret service agents.
Blair watched in amusement as the two security chiefs surreptitiously checked each other out, the way two dogs would while surveying common territory. She was pretty sure that Marge Pierce was a lesbian, and from the way Pierce had looked at Cameron Roberts, Blair was even more convinced. For a brief instant she felt a flair of jealousy. There was no doubt that Roberts was one of the most arresting women she had ever seen, and she didn't doubt that there were plenty of women looking for her attention. The fact that it bothered her even for a second irritated her enormously. She turned her back on their activities, focusing on the mayor and his entourage. She certainly had no intention of allowing Cameron Roberts to occupy anymore of her thoughts than necessary.
She forced herself not to think about the fact that each time she had wrung a cry from her young leather-clad conquest the night before, some part of her wished it were Roberts responding under her hands. She had been keenly aware that the body writhing beneath her was not the lean tight body she had glimpsed at the gym and held against her own for just a fleeting moment in the bar. The desire in Cameron's body when Blair had pressed up against her had been breathtaking. Whether Roberts acknowledged it or not, Blair knew the height of her arousal. Frustratingly, that lightening response was what Blair couldn't put from her mind. That swift intake of breath against her ear as her palm pressed against Cameron's crotch had fired her own excitement in a way that no one had been able to do in longer than she could remember. Even thinking of it now stirred her.
Blair could do this sort of event without conscious thought. Since the time she had been an adolescent, she had been in the public limelight. She smiled at the appropriate times, she made the appropriate complementary remarks about the performers, and she was altogether gracious and presentable. To make things even better, the camera loved her. In any lighting, her face looked as if it had been sculpted on a Grecian coin. Because of her personality and her appearance, she was frequently asked to preside at such events. She did it because she had to, and because she cared about her father's image. Nevertheless, each appearance took its toll. She was aware of the men around her staring at her, and the thinly veiled looks of barely disguised lust. She would not have tolerated it under any other circumstance. Had it happened on the street, where she was not as immediately recognizable, she would have made it very clear she was not interested. As it was, she was the unwilling participant in the charade. It only demeaned her in her own eyes and heightened her anger. She never quite got used to it. Only at night, when she shed her public persona and grasped what little she could of her own life, did she feel genuine. For some strange reason that afternoon, she was acutely aware of Cameron Roberts standing just behind her out of the line of sight of the camera. Cam's presence reminded Blair of who she really was. The knowledge that Cameron knew the truth about her somehow made the entire event more bearable.
Blair didn't relax until they were in the limo again on their way back to her apartment. Cameron sat across from her in silence. However, it was not the heavy awkward silence of the earlier ride from the airport, but rather a comfortable regathering of energy after the stress of the afternoon. Blair had to admit that she had felt safe. Despite all the years of these kinds of experiences, she never quite got over the feeling of being vulnerable. There was something about Cameron Roberts' presence that allowed her to forget for the moment that millions of eyes were upon her. It wasn't that the dozens of others who had preceded Roberts didn't take their job seriously, but Blair had always known it was the job and not her they were working for. What made Cameron Roberts so compelling and at the same time so irritating, was that when she focused on you, you knew you had been seen.
"Come upstairs, Agent Roberts," she said as the limo glided to a stop in front of the brown stone. "We can go over the schedule for the rest of the week."
Cameron hid her surprise at the invitation. "All right," she said as she pushed open the door and stepped out. She glanced quickly up and down the street as she extended her hand to Blair. It was an automatic gesture, and she did it without thought. Blair hesitated for just a second and then took the offered hand in hers. The grip was firm and cool. Blair ignored the tingling in her fingers.
The other members of the team escorted them to the private elevator to Blair's penthouse, departing to take the second elevator to the control room one floor below. As the elevator door opened on the upper-most floor, Cam stepped out first and automatically glanced toward Blair's door. In one swift moment her gun was drawn. She turned abruptly toward Blair who had stepped out of the elevator after her. Cam grasped her around the waist, and pushed her forcefully back into the elevator.
"Stay behind me," she ordered as she slapped the lobby button. "Mac!" She said urgently into her microphone. "Seal the building. Have team one meet us at the elevator. We need to evacuate Egret."
"What's going on?" Blair demanded anxiously.
Cam held up one hand to silence her, still speaking to her chief assistant. "There's a package outside Egret's apartment door. Call the bomb squad."
The elevator door slid open and four other agents surrounded them. Cam led the way directly in front of Blair as the group hustled the startled woman across the lobby floor and into a waiting car. Within seconds they were hurrying through the late New Year's Day traffic.
"Clear the civilians from the building," Cam said as she listened to what was happening in the command room on her radio. "Keep them altogether for questioning. I want a list of every person who was in the building within the last week. I'll advise you when we reach the safe house."
The safe house turned out to be a large suite on a top floor of one of the more exclusive hotels in New York City. As soon as they entered, Cam was in communication with Mac once again. Meanwhile, Blair was left to pace in silence in the sitting room. The instant Cam hung up the phone, Blair confronted her.
"Do you mind telling me what the hell is going on?"
"Someone left you a present. Until we find out what, and who, you are not safe at home."
"And I suppose you think I'm going to stay here?" Blair asked incredulously.
"I don't have time to argue with you. Your safety, not your comfort, is what matters at the moment. Once I have some idea of what was in the box, and how someone was able to gain access to the penthouse without our video surveillance cameras picking them up, I can give you some idea of when you can return. The entire security system will need to be revamped, and your apartment needs to be swept."
"What about my work?" Blair asked intently. She couldn't quite keep the tremors from her voice. "All of my work is in my loft. It's protected from fire, but not from a horde of careless Secret Service agents tramping through my apartment."
Cam recalled the stacks of canvases and works in progress that filled over half of Blair's loft space. She realized that the work was irreplaceable, and quite possibly priceless. What she saw in Blair's eyes however was not concern for the material loss, but for the loss of her creations. For an artist to lose their work was the equivalent of anyone else losing a body part.
Cam nodded. "I understand. I'll talk to Mac and make sure that everyone is aware of what's in your apartment. We have to look at everything. There could be almost anything hidden almost anywhere. If someone was able to penetrate our security to leave something outside your door, we have to assume they had access to your apartment as well. I'm sorry. It's the best I can do."
Blair searched Cam's eyes, and found sincerity as well as empathy in the depths of her dark gray eyes. "Thank you," she whispered softly.
"As soon as we have things under control, I'll have someone bring your clothes. Is there anything else you want?"
Blair laughed sarcastically. "A different face? Can you have someone bring me one day of anonymity?"
"How about pizza and a six pack of Corona?"
Blair laughed in spite of herself. "If that's the best you can do Agent Roberts, you are a lousy date. However, considering the limited resources at hand, I'll take it."
As it turned out, it was six hours before Cam was satisfied that there was no immediate danger at the apartment building. The plain brown package left in front of Blair's door did not contain a bomb. The dogs sent in to investigate were completely uninterested, and there wasn't anything to excite them in Blair's apartment either. A half a dozen agents had scoured the loft and found no evidence of tampering.
Mac was on his way over with the package and supplies for a few days stay. Cam estimated it would take that long to change all of the locks on the building, recheck all the security clearances of the cleaning crews, maintenance men, and inhabitants of the other apartments, and to review all of the transient visitors to the building for the last week. She hadn't told Blair of the timetable yet, and wasn't looking forward to doing it. Until they had a better idea of exactly what had happened, she couldn't let Blair leave the safe house. Cam already had Mac arranging around the clock coverage. She intended to stay on site for at least the next several days. The suite had two bedrooms, a large sitting area, a bar, and wide screen TV. They would be cramped, but they would all have to manage.
A knock at the door brought her to attention. She crossed the width of the room quickly, reaching into her jacket to release the snap on her shoulder holster. She relaxed as Mac announced his arrival.
"What have you got for me?" she asked immediately.
Mac hefted a shoe-box sized parcel in his hands. "I've got this. Bomb boys and evidence techs are done with it."
"Excellent." She indicated that he join her at the table in the sitting area. Blair appeared at the door of the master bedroom just as Cam was reaching for the parcel. Cam looked over her at her and their eyes met. She read the question that Blair could not bring herself to ask.
"Join us, please," Cam said quietly.
Mac looked at her quickly in surprise. Cam met his gaze steadily
but said nothing. Once Blair took the seat to Cam's right, Cam carefully examined
the exterior of the package. The only address was Blairís name written in block
letters with black magic marker. The paper appeared to be ordinary packing paper
sealed with scotch tape. A slight residue of fingerprint powder adhered to everything,
inside and out. Cam carefully lifted the tape and removed the paper to reveal
a cardboard box. She unfolded the flaps and lifted out a single sheet of paper.
She looked at it for a second, then placed it flat on the tabletop so Blair
and Mac could read the words printed there.
You are so beautiful.
Why do you waste yourself on those who do not appreciate you?
I know how rare and precious you are.
I can forgive your sins.
I am watching.
I am waiting for your sign.
"Oh Christ," Blair breathed.
"Have Taylor return this to the lab for handwriting analysis and a read out on the paper," Cam said quietly. "We need photo surveillance of the street in front of the apartment building. I want to see any repeaters, any loiterers, and anyone who seems the slightest bit out of place."
"It's a stalker, isn't it?" Blair questioned, hoping there might be another answer.
"I'm afraid so," Cam responded. This was the worst possible news. Stalkers were unpredictable, difficult to identify, and frequently did not have a previous police record. Everywhere Blair Powell went, she would be in potential danger. Camís job had just gotten ten times harder, and considering the difficulties they already had in keeping track of a reluctant subject, the work ahead looked dismal.
"When can I go home?"
"It will be at least a week," Cam said honestly.
"You've got to be kidding," Blair said incredulously.
Cam laughed humorlessly. "I really wish I were."
"Should I get the chief of staff on the line, Commander?" Mac questioned.
Cam sighed. "I'm getting to it. I just wanted to go over the tapes from the video cameras first. Have you got them?"
"Please don't do that," Blair said urgently.
"I have to. You must know that," Cam responded.
"Can't you wait? If you inform the White House, this will be all over the news tomorrow. I'll never have another moments peace."
Cam looked at her across the table. There was something close to pleading in her eyes. She looked over to Mac.
"Could give us a minute here?" Cam asked.
Mac looked as if he wanted to protest, but after a second he stepped out into the hall.
"This is serious. I can't keep something like this from my superiors."
Blair laughed in disbelief. "Don't tell me you're worried about being reprimanded."
"That's not the issue. If this escalates, I may need more help. I'm not willing to jeopardize your safety to protect your privacy."
"We're not talking about my privacy. We're talking about my private life, and that's what I don't want on the 6 o'clock news."
"Is it really the news you're worried about?"
"Perhaps it isn't. But in the end it's all the same."
Cam shook her head. "Even if I thought it was possible, I wouldn't do it. You haven't exactly made it easy for us to protect you. I simply can't trust you."
"And if you could? If I promised to follow the letter of the law? Would that buy me a few days?"
Cam walked to the windows overlooking Central Park. The decision should have been simple. Protocol demanded that at the first sign of any threat she intensify the security measures around the subject. Not notifying her superiors would certainly place her own position in jeopardy. On the other hand, this was the first time she had even the hint of cooperation from Blair Powell. She would need that corporation if she were to have any chance at all of containing the situation. That made tactical sense, and at least for the moment she had plenty of manpower to stay within the margin of safety. From 20 stories up she watched the horse and buggies winding their way through the lamplit streets of the park. Across the room Blair remained silent, but Cam could feel her gaze on her back. More than that, she could remember the look in her eyes. Blair had been vulnerable, and for a moment, afraid. Cam tried to pretend that didn't affect her decision.
"I'll keep it quiet for now, assuming there are no further threats. At the next sign of contact, I'll have to advise the chief of staff."
Blair relaxed perceptibly. "You've got a deal. Thank you."
Cam turned from the window, her hands deep in her pockets. She leaned one shoulder against the wall, watching Blair intently. She'd been up all night the previous evening, chasing Blair and then chasing away Blair's ghost with sex. She was weary, and she still had hours of work to do.
"You have any idea who might be doing this?" she asked Blair.
"Why should I?" Blair responded, surprised and defensive.
"Someone who might have approached you - at the gym, the gallery, maybe in a bar?"
"No, no one."
"Someone you spent the night with?"
Blair returned Cam's gaze steadily, her face expressionless. "Most of the women I go home with have no idea who I am. If they know anything at all, they know me by Allison."
"Your mother's maiden name," Cam observed. "And what about their names? Can you give me any kind of list, any addresses?"
"Not unless you think the names 'baby, honey, and sweetheart' will do you any good," Blair responded acerbically.
"What about someone you've seen more regularly?"
"There hasn't been anyone," Blair stated flatly.
Cam ran a hand through her hair and sighed involuntarily. She hoped there might be a lead among Blair's sexual liaisons. If the stalker were indeed completely anonymous, unknown to Blair in any capacity, it would only be through luck that they would catch him, or her.
"All right then, when Mac gets back, I'll need you to look at the security tapes with us. Perhaps you'll recognize someone going in or out of the building."
Blair nodded assent. She felt like she'd been up for 48 hours, and looking at Cameron, she could tell that she was exhausted, too. Cam's usually pristine suit was rumpled, and she had dark circles under her eyes. Blair had a sudden urge to brush the tousled hair back from her forehead. She had an even more disturbing desire to slip the suit jacket off Cam's shoulders and guide her toward the couch. The next moment she saw herself unbuttoning Cam's shirt. She stood abruptly, forcing the images from her mind.
"I'm going to take a nap if you're going to have me up the rest of the night," Blair said curtly.
Cam glanced at her stiff back as Blair crossed the room and slammed the bedroom door behind her. She slumped down on the couch tiredly, allowing herself a few moments of rest before the long night began. The next thing she knew there was a knock at the door, and movement in the room. She opened her eyes to see Blair about to open the door.
Cam was across the room before Blair could turn the knob. Grasping her forearm, Cam said sharply, "Let me do that."
Blair looked at Cam in surprise. The security chief had her gun drawn, and the look on her face was intent. For the first time, Blair appreciated the severity of the situation. She also understood that Cameron Roberts was completely serious about protecting her. She remembered the angry red scar on Cameron's thigh, a lingering testimony to the woman's willingness to put herself in danger to protect another. Her stomach churned at the image of Cameron lying wounded on the ground, and for a second she hesitated.
"Step behind me, please," Cam ordered steadily. Turning to the door, her gun now at shoulder level, she said, "Who's there?"
"Stark and Mac," Mac replied.
Cam opened the door to the length of the security chain and peered out into the lighted hallway. Mac and the young female agent stood outlined in the doorway. She lowered her gun and opened the door to admit them. As they passed her, she briefly checked the hallway beyond, then reholstered her service revolver and secured the door.
"Have you got the tapes?"
"The tapes and dinner," Mac responded, unpacking several bags. He looked at his boss, knowing that she must be tired and hungry. The President's daughter was watching the commander as well. He couldn't quite describe the look on her face, but it seemed to be a mixture of fascination and uncertainty. There was something else there as well, something that reminded him of the way men looked at women. It was the first time he had ever seen anything so blatantly sexual between women. He wondered for a moment if the Commander was aware of it, or even if Blair Powell was.
"Right," Cameron responded. "Everybody grab whatever you want to eat and let's start looking at these tapes. Ms. Powell, I'm afraid I'm going to a have to ask you to sit through this with us. It will be tedious, but you may recognize someone."
"Of course," Blair said in a strangely subdued tone of voice. "Didn't someone promise me a Corona?"
Cam of looked at Mac with a raised eyebrow. "Mac?"
"Coming up," he said as he reached for the phone to call room service.
Three hours later the pizza boxes were empty, a six pack of Corona was gone, and daybreak was not far away. They had watched tapes from the previous three days and had found nothing out of the ordinary. It was unlikely that anything would turn up in surveillance from earlier in the week. Beginning with the morning shift, the agents would have to begin the labor-intensive job of interviewing all of the building's employees as well as everyone known to have made deliveries.
"Let's take a break everybody," Cam said with a sigh. "Mac, Stark-brief the others on what we need from the interviews. I'll stay here with Ms. Powell. Let's plan on another update at noon."
When the two agents left, Cam turned to Blair. "You should get some rest. This evening, I want to go over anything you can remember from the past few weeks that might have been unusual."
Blair stopped at the door to the master suite, turning to look at Cam. "You should get some rest too," she said quietly.
Cam smiled slightly. "My thoughts exactly." She gave Blair an oddly gentle look. "I know this is hard for you. Just bear with me for a few days, and hopefully we can get back to normal."
"Normal?" Blair said with a tinge of sadness. "Commander, I wouldn't recognize it."
Cam stared thoughtfully after her as Blair closed the door between them. She could feel the loneliness penetrating the air, surprisingly so much like her own. She pushed the thought away, and stretched out on the couch, finally giving in to her fatigue.
When she awoke sometime later, she found a light cover had been placed over her. She was momentarily disoriented. The curtains were drawn, and the room was in near darkness. There was the sound of quiet breathing in the still room. After a moment, she could discern the shape of someone sitting nearby.
"Couldn't sleep?" Cam said into the darkness.
"No, I always have difficulty falling asleep anywhere other than my own bed." A hint of sarcastic laughter followed. "That's probably why I never spend the night with anyone."
"Leave the door open, and try again," Cam suggested. "Sometimes the sound of another's breathing is all we need to hear."
Blair was stunned. She hadnít meant to say anything, and the gentle response caught her off-guard. She couldn't remember the last time she had allowed anyone this close. It frightened her, and she resorted automatically to her long practiced defenses. "I think it might be better if you joined me in the bedroom. I can guarantee you at least one of us would sleep eventually."
Cam shifted to a sitting position, spreading her arms out along the back of the sofa. She looked towards Blair's face in the shadows. "I'm not available."
The words came quietly, and in a tone that might have suggested regret. Nevertheless, the rebuke stung. Blair knew that in her heart her offer had been serious.
"You certainly seemed available last night," Blair said sarcastically.
"That was just biology," Cam said gently.
"Biology!" Blair snorted. "Is that what we're calling it now? You were hot, and you were ready. Deny it if it makes you feel any better, but I know what I felt."
"I'm not denying anything. What I am saying is that nothing can happen between us."
Blair eased herself out of the chair and approached the sofa. She leaned down, placing an arm on either side of Cam's body. Their faces were only inches apart. "Relax, Commander. I'm not asking for a lifetime commitment. Why pretend you don't want me to touch you?"
Cam remained motionless. The air around her was charged with sexuality. Heat radiated from Blair's body, and the faint scent of excitement caused her own blood to surge. She was quite sure that Blair knew she was aroused. She couldn't alter the pounding of her heart or the quickening of her breath.
"Ms. Powell, I do not want you to touch me."
"I can assure you," Blair whispered as she leaned yet closer, "I am just as accomplished as any professional you might procure to take care of your needs."
"All I need from you is your cooperation for a few days," Cam said in an even voice. She was surprised at the rapidity and accuracy of Blair's information gathering. She was far from embarrassed however. There was very little difference between the casual sex that Blair enjoyed and what she herself sought in anonymity and privacy.
Blair heard the finality in her voice. She had been rejected before, but never by anyone she wanted quite this much. What angered her the most was that she sensed Cam's desire. Cameron Roberts represented everything she could not have in her own life - independence, self-determination, and freedom. Knowing this fueled her urge to strip the self-contained agent of her will. For just those fleeting moments at the pinnacle of release, she wanted to hold Cam's self-restraint in her hands. Slowly she straightened.
"If you keep me cooped up in this place for very long, I won't be responsible for my actions."
Cam recognized the concession in her voice. She laughed softly. "I promise to make this as short and painless as possible. I'm sure you can be trusted, no matter how long it takes."
Don't be so sure, Blair thought to herself. If I have to be this close to you 24 hours a day, I'm not sure I can trust myself.
Continue on to Part 5
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