Above All, Honor
See part 1 for all disclaimers and copyright information.
"Ah, god Ė I canít," Cam gasped hoarsely, "Iím sorry Ė I just Ė canít."
The blonde raised her head, gazing up the long expanse of Camís torso. "Thatís not what your body is saying." She rested her cheek against Camís thigh, one hand softly stroking between Camís legs. "Besides, I'm not done yet."
Cam gently insinuated her fingers into the hair at the back of her visitor's neck. She tugged softly. "Come up and lie beside me," she whispered.
Claire slipped from between Cam's legs and moved up to recline against Cam's body, resting her head on Cam's shoulder. Her hand lay lightly on Cam's belly.
Cam shifted slightly, brushing a kiss across Claire's forehead. "Let me make love you," she said softly. It was the first time she had ever suggested it.
"That's not what this is about. I don't need you to do that."
"I need to," Cam insisted. "After all this time, I want to give you something back."
Claire nodded, hearing what Cam wasn't saying. She knew that Cam wanted more than to thank her. Cam wanted to say goodbye. Over the years, there had been many goodbyes. This was one that was going to be hard.
"Just hold me," Claire requested. "That's all I need."
Cam was weary, too weary to protest. She cradled the other woman closer, closed her eyes, and tried to empty her mind. She tried not to think about her anger and confusion every time she imagined Blair making love to yet another stranger. She tried to ignore what she knew very well was jealousy. She tried to ignore the simple fact that she wanted it to be her that Blair was caressing.
Claire ran her fingers lightly over Cam's flushed skin, tracing the outline of her ribs and hip, stroking the soft curve of the underside of her breasts, smoothing the flat of her hand over the taut muscles of her stomach. Slowly, Cam relaxed under her touch.
Eventually, Cam's thoughts were eclipsed by an awareness of her bodyís response to Claire's attention. Her skin began to tingle, her leg muscles tightened, and her hips began to rock slightly as her clitoris once again swelled in anticipation. This time, her urgency was gone, and she allowed herself the luxury of simply accepting the pleasure. Her mind collapsed into a single point of sensation, centered within the pulsating pressure between her legs. She groaned, and lifted her pelvis higher, silently urging Claire's hand lower. Her breath escaped on a sigh as two fingers enclosed the shaft of her clitoris, milking it slowly and firmly from the base to the tip. She felt wetness spread along the inside of her thighs, and when one soft stroke brushed the warm moisture over the exposed tip of her clitoris, she moaned again.
"God, that makes me want to come," she murmured breathlessly.
Clara smiled faintly, her fingers slipping inside, then back out and upward, a steady rhythm that matched Cam's unconscious movements. She sensed the building pressure, and felt the tender tissues beneath her fingertips thicken even more, swelling to the point of explosion.
Cam gripped the sheets convulsively in her left hand, her right arm holding Claire tightly. She turned her face into the sweet comfort of Claire's hair, and allowed her body to surrender to the inevitable. As her stomach clenched and a hoarse cry was wrenched from her depths, Blair Powell's face flickered across the inner surface of her eyelids.
300 miles away, Blair stood in a small apartment on the fourth floor of a building in Greenwich Village. She casually studied the clothes hanging on a rack that had been pushed into the corner of a small bedroom, seeming to have forgotten the woman who had brought her there.
"Nice collection of ties you have here," Blair commented as she fingered the lengths of silk and cotton draped over a hanger at the end of the rack. Without looking at the other woman, she continued, "Let's see what kind of use we can put these to. Why don't you take your clothes off and lie face down on the bed."
The young butch stared at her in amazement. Clearly, Blair's shoulder length blonde hair, tight white T-shirt, full breasts and graceful carriage did not necessarily spell 'femme'. As much as she hated to relinquish her butch dominance, she was intrigued and more than a little excited by the commanding town in Blair's voice. Trying to maintain her façade of nonchalance, the dark-haired body builder removed her leather and denim, pulled off her briefs, and shed her boots and socks. Naked, and feeling more than a little uncertain, she lay face down on her own bed, welcoming the pillow that allowed her to hide her face.
Blair crossed to her side, and slipped a loop fashioned from one of the ties around the woman's right wrist. She ran the length of fabric over the mattress and around the bed frame, quickly following suit with the other wrist and both ankles. Once the woman was totally immobilized, she removed the pillow.
"I want you to be able to breathe. But keep your eyes closed."
Blair stepped back, lit several candles she had noticed on the windowsill, and placed them on the small bedside table. In the flickering candlelight, she allowed herself to study the woman's body. She was beautiful. Smooth tight skin; muscles rippling under the sweat-slick surface; thick lustrous hair just beginning to curl at the base of her neck. Her face in profile was sharply defined and arrogant even in repose. Altogether she was a fine specimen of young butch sexuality. Still, Blair struggled not to compare her form to the long lean lines of Cam's body. She did not want to remember the alluring maturity etched into Cam's elegant features, or the smoldering sensuality in her dark eyes, or the aching softness of her full lips. Blair had tried to eliminate the memory of Cam's arms around her with hours upon days of work in her secluded loft, and she had failed. The only way she could drive thoughts of Cam from her awareness was to fill her senses with the sight, and sound, and feel of another woman.
Still fully clothed, she climbed onto the bed and stretched out on top of the woman. She ran her fingers over the surface of the bound woman's arms, her lips and tongue tasting the salt at the base of her neck, sucking her ear lobe into her mouth. Dimly, she heard a groan as she captured the soft skin along the jaw between her teeth, tugging lightly, quickly erasing the pinpoints of pain with a kiss. Blair's captive struggled to turn her face, desperately seeking Blair's lips with her own. Blair ignored her, sitting up slightly so that she could trace the muscles of the other woman's shoulders and back and flanks, ending at her well-formed buttocks. Blair moved down the bed, her fingers kneading the thick gluteal muscles, pushing and separating them, exposing the cleft between them to her view. She traced the puckered muscle with a fingertip.
"Oh please," the young stranger moaned, an edge of fear in her voice.
"Quiet," Blair said softly. "I won't hurt you."
She knelt between the strong quivering thighs, lowering her face until she could trace the delicate tissues with her tongue. The tight sphincter spasmed as she pressed inward, her lips softly stroking the outer rim. She sucked lightly, then ran her tongue deeper into the cleft, tasting for the first time the thick heady juices of her young lover's desire. She ran her tongue lightly over the swollen lips, tracing the folds and furrows, circling the thickening clitoris, moving tantalizingly from one spot to the next.
"If --oh god, you make me want to come -- so badly," gasped the young woman.
"Soon," Blair murmured. She was lost in the sensations-- the smell, the incredible softness, the welcoming heat and enticing juices. This was woman, any woman, every woman. As she pressed her face deeper, immersing herself, she felt her lover's impending orgasm begin to build. Blair stretched out full-length on the bed, her arms encircling the woman's waist, her lips and tongue frantically stroking and caressing the engorged tissues. As the body beneath her convulsed, amidst sobs and cries and choked moans, Blair squeezed her eyes tightly closed, wanting to know only this incredible moment of intense connection. Even with the woman climaxing in her mouth, Blair couldn't help but wish that it was Cameron Roberts surrendering to her touch.
Cameron rolled over and fumbled for the phone on the bedside table. The digital clock read 4:45. She was disoriented as to where she was and exactly what time it was. The bed beside her was empty, but there was a lingering warmth that suggested it had recently been occupied. As the phone rang insistently, her eyes adjusted to the dark and she recognized her own bedroom in Washington D.C. As her hand lifted the receiver, her mind registered her recent flight from New York and her frantic attempts to forget Blair Powell in the embrace of another woman.
"Roberts," she growled, trying to ignore her unsettling thoughts.
"It's Mac, Commander. I'm sorry to disturb you, but I thought you would want to know--"
Cameron sat up abruptly in bed, her mind crystal clear, but her heart pounding. "Is it Egret? Is she secure?"
"Yes ma'am," Mac hurried to assure her. "We have her under constant surveillance, and we know exactly where she is. But we did receive another contact from Lover Boy."
That was the name the security team had given the UNSUB who had left the note at Blair's door.
"What is it?" Cam queried as she swung out of bed and began searching the room for her clothing. She noticed a folded sheet of note paper on her dressing table, and slipped it into the pocket of her trousers.
"Photographs," Mac said grimly. "There's a very good close-up of Egret leaving the apartment building yesterday afternoon."
"Son of a bitch. That means he's been watching the building, from somewhere close by. How did you get them?" Cam was hastily buttoning her shirt and threading a narrow leather belt through the loops of her pants. She had found one shoe and was peering under the bed for the other.
"Stark noticed a manila folder propped up against the mailboxes in the lobby. It had Egret's name on it."
Cam stopped abruptly in the middle of the floor, a shoe in one hand, her portable phone in the other. She felt a brief thrill of elation. "Then we've got him! There are video cameras all over that lobby as well as the entrance. We must have an image of him. I want all of the tapes brought up to the command center for review. Also, run a check on all the license plates of cars parked around the Park Ė then call the cab companies for recent fares to Egret's block. I'll catch the next commuter flight. Assemble the entire team, day and night shifts, at 0700."
"Yes ma'am," Mac snapped.
"And Mac," Cameron continued in a quieter voice. "Get Egret back to her apartment."
There was a beat of silence over the phone line. Mac cleared his throat, choosing his words carefully. He wasn't sure why, but he felt uncomfortable delivering the next information. "Uh, Commander--at the moment, Egret is with an unidentified female, who almost certainly does not know Egret's identity. If we roust her, there is no way we'll be able to guarantee silence regarding her identity."
Cameron flashed back to the young woman Blair had been fondling in the bar. Of course Blair would have gone home with her. And why not? She was just the kind of conquest Blair would thrill to.
"Then I want her in a car the minute she steps out onto the sidewalk. And Mac--if anyone loses her, it's their job."
"I guarantee I will have her back here ASAP." As he hung up the phone, he said a fervent prayer that he could deliver on his promise.
At 06:59, Cam walked into the command center and strode to the head of the table where the other agents were gathered. Despite her lack of sleep, she looked focused and intent. Without preamble, she said, "Let me hear the analysis on the photograph."
Jeremy Finch, a short, mildly overweight, bespectacled agent cleared his throat. He was the resident nerd, the computer genius and technical wizard. "We've analyzed the potential elevation and angle of view by extrapolating from the available shadows and the known time of day. Basically, the photograph was taken from one of the buildings facing Egret's across Gramercy Park." He looked down at the tabletop uncomfortably.
"That leaves us with a lot of potential sites, Agent Finch." Cameron stared at him, biting back another sarcastic remark. It wasn't his fault that he couldn't manufacture evidence.
Finch nodded almost miserably. Like every other agent in the room, he had come to value his position on this team, and felt a sense of loyalty to his intense, demanding Commander. "Yes ma'am, I know that. What it does tell us is that the shooter has a fixed location, rather than a vehicle. Therefore, there is a better chance of finding him, since he may be relatively stationary."
Cameron nodded. "You're right. We need to get a list of every occupant of every building on each side of the Square, not just the street directly across from this building. You'll need to check realtors, building managers, and also any corporations which lease apartments for use by employees. It's possible that this UNSUB is only here intermittently when business demands it."
"We have people assigned to begin the reconnaissance at the opening of business hours," Mac interjected.
They spent a few moments reviewing other methods of narrowing down the list of potential perpetrators who might have access to the surrounding buildings. Finally, Cameron looked around the table, meeting the eyes of each of her agents.
"I'm going to have to report this to the White House. At this point, we must assume that Blair Powell is in imminent danger of either an assassination or abduction attempt. I'm going to recommend that she be secluded for the time being until we can carry out our investigation. It is possible that this investigation will be removed from our jurisdiction--" she held up her hand for silence as the agents shifted in their seats and murmured in protest.
"I know how you feel, and I think that we are the best people to protect her as well as to get to the bottom of this. But situations like this often become political, and it's possible we will have nothing to say about it. If it comes to that, I expect total cooperation with whoever is running the investigation. Remember, the bottom line is Egret's safety. There is no room for ego or personal gain where she is concerned."
Cameron stared, knowing she had everyone's attention. "As soon as Ms. Powell arrives home, inform me. I'll meet with her and let her know the situation. That's all."
Cameron walked through the command center to the elevators and left the building without speaking to anyone. She crossed the square to her own apartment and shed her clothes immediately upon entering. She went to the bathroom and into the shower. She turned the cold water on full and let it blast the fatigue from her body and her mind. She was furious. Furious that someone dare threaten Blair Powell for no other reason than the position she represented. She was furious at herself for allowing her feelings for Blair to interfere with her duty. She was furious that the thought of any harm coming to Blair terrified her.
When the phone rang two hours later informing her that Blair had returned to her penthouse apartment, she was seated in front of her large bay windows, dressed in a starched white shirt, black silk trousers, and a charcoal gray silk jacket. She had been waiting for the call, her mind uncommonly still. She felt sure of herself for the first time in weeks.
"What's the emergency?" Blair asked more abruptly than she had intended. She stood across the room from Cam, having barely gotten out of the shower when she had been informed that her security chief was on her way up. "This isn't a very good time. Can't we do this later?"
She had not seen Cameron in the ten days since they had returned from the ski resort. She had worked feverishly, spending hours applying paint to canvas -- sweeping abstract vistas of anger and longing and frustrated desire. When finally her emotions had run dry, she looked up from her easel and felt the walls of her loft closing in on her. Cameron's unbidden image still haunted her. The comfort of Cam's embrace on the airplane had been harder to forget than the sexual desire she had felt previously. Lust was something she could control, ignoring it if necessary. What she felt for Cameron Roberts was something she hadn't experienced since she had been innocent enough to believe in love. More than anything else, it frightened her.
She thought her normally imperturbable security chief looked tense, and Cam's eyes showed a hint of shadow that spoke of fatigue. Blair's stomach tightened.
"What is it?" she asked quietly.
"There's been further contact from the stalker," Cam said flatly. "A photograph was left -- a photograph that makes it clear that he's been watching you. It may be nothing more than his way of letting us know that he's around Ė empty posturing. But it may also be an indication that he's escalating. I have to assume that to be true."
Blair took a deep breath. "What do you intend to do about it?"
"I thought it only right to inform you first that I am flying to Washington later this morning to conference with the Chief of Staff and my bosses. I would anticipate that a task force will be formed to investigate and apprehend this individual."
Blair said nothing, turning to look out her windows into the park below. She thought she knew how a caged animal felt. "What will that mean for me?"
Cameron saw the rigid set of her back, and heard the slight tremor in Blair's voice which she tried to hide. For an instant, Cam wanted to take Blair into her arms and comfort her. Instead, she forced herself to say, "I would imagine you'll be moved out of the city until he's apprehended."
Blair spun around, her blue eyes nearly purple with fury. "You mean they'll close me up in some compound with guards 24 hours a day, as if my life were so insignificant I could walk away and leave everything behind."
"No! As if your life were too important to risk for single moment!"
"Bullshit!" Blair spat. "The only thing you people care about is protecting the reputation of the United States government and the people who run it."
Blair turned on her heel and stalked to the opposite side of the room, stepping behind a half-wall partition that enclosed her sleeping area. After a moment, Cameron followed. Blair was hastily throwing clothes into a suitcase.
"Exactly what do you think you're doing?" Cameron said, a deadly seriousness in her tone.
Blair didn't bother to look up. She threw jeans and underwear into the bag, searching on the dresser for her wallet and keys.
"I'm getting out of here. I wouldn't suggest you try to stop me. I don't think my father would be pleased if I were man-handled by one of his Secret Service agents." Then she reached for her bag and was stunned when Cameron grasped her forcibly by the shoulders, stopping her in her tracks.
"You listen to me! I don't give a fuck what your father thinks! I don't even give a fuck what you think! You're not leaving this apartment."
For a brief second, Cameron became every person who had ever conspired to keep Blair a captive in a life she had never chosen. A life she had been forced to live by virtue of her father's ambition. She swung her hand at Cameron's face, lashing out not at the woman who had done nothing more than attempt to protect her, but at the faceless many who had carried out their orders despite her wishes.
Cameron intercepted the blow with her left arm, angry not at Blair for attempting to strike her, but at Blair's stubborn refusal to accept that she was in danger. Cameron's fear surfaced on a wave of uncontrollable desire. She pulled Blair into her arms and covered Blair's lips with her own. She kissed her roughly, her hands pinning Blair's arms to her sides as she pressed her body hard against Blair's. For a moment Blair was too stunned to react, but there was never an instant of resistance. When she felt Cameron's mouth on hers, she kissed her back, her tongue pressing urgently to join Cameron's, her arms clutching Cameron's waist, her legs straddling Cameron's thigh tightly.
Cam's breath rasped in her chest as reason threatened to desert her. She wanted Blair so badly, and her body was racing beyond her control. She groaned, moving her head enough to bury her face against Blair's neck. Blair arched her pelvis into Cam and tilted her head back, exposing her neck as if for sacrifice.
"Oh oh god, Cameron god please -- touch me," she managed to gasp.
The sound of Blair's voice sliced through Cam's consciousness, paralyzing her as awareness crashed upon her.
My god, what am I doing!
Cam halted her feverish caresses, but did not let go of the woman in her arms. Instead, she cradled her closer, pressing her lips to Blair's ear.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Forgive me," Cam whispered urgently, her body shuddering with arousal.
"No!" Blair choked. "Don't stop. God, don't stop."
"I have to," Cameron murmured in anguish. "I have to." She couldn't do this, not again. She couldn't feel this much, she couldn't want this much, she couldn't be this vulnerable. She had not touched another woman with passion since the morning she had last made love to Janet. Six hours later she had held her lover as she lay dying. She had vowed never to feel the longing, nor the loss, again.
Blair pushed away from her unsteadily, running her trembling hands through her hair. Her eyes were bruised, from passion and from the pain of Cam's rejection.
"No, of course you can't. It's not in your job description, is it, Commander? You can't feel anything for me because it would interfere with your duty. Isn't that right?"
Cam willed her voice to be steady. "When I meet with the others in Washington later today, I'm going to resign from this position. Whatever you may think of me, I will not jeopardize your safety by remaining. I can't do my duty, simply because I can't think of you as just another assignment."
Cam turned to leave.
"Wait!" Blair called.
Something nearly helpless in her voice caused Cam to stop.
"I have to attend the opening of the new children's wing at the city hospital this afternoon at three. Can't this wait until after that? It's been arranged for months, and there are children who might not Ė be there - later."
Cam nodded slowly. "I'll leave for Washington right after that."
At two thirty Cam stood outside Blairís door, dressed much the same as she had been that morning. She had changed shirts, substituting a pale gray silk for the white. Blair opened her apartment door, her eyes meeting Camís.
"Will you come in with me?" Blair asked in an unusual display of vulnerability.
"Every step," Cam said quietly.
Blair wore a simple black sheath, a string of gray pearls at her neck. Her low heels brought her to exactly Camís height. Together they were a striking couple. As Blair stepped to Camís side, Cam touched her hand softly.
"It will be all right."
Three other agents joined them as they exited the elevator and moved toward the lobby doors. Mac had the limo waiting at the curb, the rear door open. The bright afternoon sunlight outside the large glass doors cast a blinding glare directly into their faces. Stark and Johnson exited first, followed by Cam and another agent - Blair between them. Automatically, Cam looked up, squinting into the sun, scanning the buildings across the small square. She sensed rather than saw movement flickering somewhere in the haze that silhouetted the ornate cornices along the rooftops.
Cameron Roberts' instincts were her guiding force Ė the one thing in her life she neither questioned nor doubted. She stepped quickly in front of Blair, pushing her backwards into the shelter of the entrance. Blair looked more confused than frightened.
Cam must have tripped, because the next thing she knew, she was kneeling on the sidewalk, trying to catch her breath. A cacophony of cries filled her head as agents screamed into their mikes.
Code red, code red. ÖOh fuckfuckfuck!Ö.
"Get her inside," Cam ordered, but her voice came out a whisper on a plume of red mist. She had her gun in her right hand, but it was very difficult to raise her arm. She turned her head with effort, her vision oddly blurred.
Blair was surrounded by secret service agents who were half carrying her back into the building. Blair appeared to be struggling, screaming something, her hand outstretched toward Cam.
Camís mind was quite clear, and she relaxed, accepting the strange lassitude that suffused her. She rolled slowly onto her back, opening her hand, letting her gun rest gently on the sidewalk. She stared up into the bluest sky she could ever recall, then peacefully closed her eyes as her heart stopped beating.
Continue on to Part 8
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