For disclaimers: see part one
The first thing Alex did when she woke the next morning was go down to check on the boat. The storm had only grown fiercer throughout the night until finally dying out in the early hours of the morning. Though the sky was still gray the rain had stopped.
She thought about the previous evening as she trudged across the damp ground and down the cliff to the pier. Her companion's revelations had not been surprising for she had instinctively sensed that was a part of her lover's nature. Sydney was a passionate woman who obvious enjoyed the company of other woman. She hadn't expected her small partner to be chaste and the fact that she had done a lot of sleeping around did not worry her. The only thing that concerned her was the woman's future. A future that she intended for them to share.
That thought brought to mind another memory. The idea of spending Christmas on the island as she had done when she was a child was very appealing and she resolved to propose the idea to her parents as soon as they got back into the city.
A wave of relief flooded her senses as she spied the boat still tied to the pier. A thorough inspection of the hull made her realize how lucky she had been that the craft had not sustained any more damage then a few scratches where the hull had slammed against the dock.
She sat down for a moment on the deck and stared out at the ocean, whose waters were a dark gray and still heaving slightly from the fury of the previous evenings storm. She felt the boat roll beneath her feet, as her thoughts returned to the small woman she had left sleeping in front of the fireplace.
In spite of her words of reassurance she knew that Sydney was still insecure about her past and their future. It was understandable Alex reasoned, the woman hadn't much reason to believe, her past history with family and those who professed to love her had probably done a lot of damage mentally. Damage that she could not hope to repair in a few short months.
She thought again of their conversation. It wasn't so much of what Sydney had said but what she hadn't said. The smaller woman never talked about her mother or her father, who she supposed were both still alive. The only one she had contact with was Anne, her sister in prison and the woman herself wasn't a good example of a loving family.
She squared her shoulders defiantly. Well she wasn't in this relationship for the short term. She was in it for the long haul, the duration of her life and if it took that long to convince the smaller woman she was committed to do that.
She climbed off the boat and checked the moorings one last time before heading back up the cliff towards the house. The minute she stepped into the door she could smell the delicious aroma of frying bacon. A glance in the living room told her that her partner was up and had not only started breakfast but had packed up the bedding She found Sydney in the kitchen.
"Morning love," she greeted stepping up behind her companion and wrapping her arms around the woman's slender waist and embracing her tightly.
"Good morning," Sydney turned her head and their lips met in a loving exchange. "Was the boat okay?"
"Yes, thankfully there are only a few scraps on the hull," Alex replied stepping back to peal off her jacket and drape it over a chair before sitting down at the table where the dishes had been set out. "I'm starved."
"Good, but you might want to send your thanks to the power company because I don't know what I would have made if the electricity hadn't come back on," Sydney admitted honestly, dishing out the food on two plates before joining her partner at the table.
Alex looked greedily at the food on her plate. Besides the bacon there were eggs, hash browns and toast. She dug into the fare enjoying each bite and happy that her companion liked to cook, thinking that it wasn't so long ago that her breakfast consisted of a quick cup of coffee and a warm bagel bought at some fast food restaurant on the way to work.
"This is just what I needed," Alex sighed when her plate was clean. She cast her companion a brilliant smile. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," Sydney responded automatically to the smile. She liked that there was something that she could do for her companion. "I figured after last nights meagre fare you would be hungry."
"Damn straight," the taller woman didn't deny the truth and then glanced at her watch. It was still early but she was eager to get going. She was suddenly filled with the desire to solve this case so that they could get home. She glanced at her partner who was still in her night shirt. "I'll wash up while you get ready."
"Deal," Sydney didn't argue and was out of her chair and out the door before her partner could change her mind, Alex's laugher following close behind. Though the smaller woman laughed to cook she hated to clean up afterwards and the tall woman knew as much. Alex stood up and started gathering the dirty dishes, thinking that it was a fair trade for not having to cook.
Dave Irving wasn't at all pleased to have been dragged out of the city to a place he considered a backwater but George Ford had needed a favour and he knew that he needed to build as many favours as possible what with the City Council ready to review his budget.
Regardless of those thought's it had taken all his resolve to climb into the small four seat Cessna the police department owned to make the journey to the island. The ominous clouds in the western sky had given him cause to worry and thankfully they had arrived just as the first drops of rain began falling.
He stepped out of the quaint Inn that he had been registered in and glanced down the road in the direction of the hospital. He had been met at the local airport by the Sheriff who had introduced himself and then proceeded to give him a brief tour of the island, not that he was able to see much between the blinding curtain of rain and intense flashes of lightening. He had only been to happy when the Sheriff had dropped him at the Inn.
He thought of the local law enforcement official. He knew that the Commissioner Ford and the Sheriff were brothers yet he didn't think he had ever met two more different siblings. Where George Ford was intense and driven, this man seemed laid back and casual, unworried about anything. He wondered how Alex Marshall was fairing working with the local authorities.
He chuckled to himself. He could just imagine the tall dark haired woman working with the sedate Sheriff. Alex had the type of personality that genuinely steamrolled over everyone or thing in her way. She had an abrasive personality that had made her many opponents in the few months that she had thus far been with the Department. But as many opponents as she had, she also had quickly earned a loyal following of individuals who admired and respected her no nonsense style.
He was one of the latter. He chuckled again as he remembered their first meeting. Their personalities had clashed and they had argued heatedly but by the end of the session they had parted with a mutual respect for each other and the jobs they had to do.
Alex only wanted the best and in turn she was willing to help in anyway she could. The difference her support had made to his department had been tremendous and the once tenable existence that had existed between the coroners office and the Homicide Unit was now a solid alliance whereby both sides respected each other. It was because Alex had asked for him that he had come.
He laughed as he stepped off the stairs and started down the sidewalk. Now, months later he couldn't even remember what the argument had been about, though something told him it was something trivial.
He noted that the hospital parking lot was mostly empty though a battered motorcycle was parked arrogantly in a loading zone area and another smile came to his lips as he thought that the vehicle in all likelihood belonged to the tall, raven haired Captain. He was not surprised when he stepped into the entrance and saw the woman and her smaller blond partner standing by the nurses station in the reception area.
Alex and Sydney had only arrived minutes before the thin, balding pathologist ambled into the clinic. They greeted each other with a smile and a firm handshake which he extended to her partner. He smiled inwardly impressed that the tall woman didn't shy away from the fact that her personal life was an open target. It made him respect her all the more.
"I'm glad you could come," Alex was genuinely appreciative.
"You owe me big time for this," the man growled without force, glancing around the spotless and empty reception area. "What have you got that was so important for me to hurry down?"
"A female, early thirties, died of an apparent shotgun wound to the stomach, though we can't be entirely certain as the body was pulled out of the ocean approximately twelve hours after the fact," the Captain briefed him on what they knew. They were able to talk freely as the reception area was empty except for the lone nurse that was manning the front desk.
"Okay," the man nodded his head noticing a young man in a white lab coat walking towards them. He glanced at the Captain raising an eyebrow. "It seems simple enough, I don't see the need for me to come down, surely the local doctor could have cut her."
"The thing is she's a name from Vancouver," Alex supplied. "A six o'clock news anchor. I thought it was a little high profile for the local doctor. I didn't want an amateur on this and I don't think there is time or money to send the body down to Seattle."
"Ahh," the smaller man nodded. Alex Marshall was a consummate professional. She had worked in the business long enough to know how to handle things properly. He knew why he had been called. "Has the press been informed?"
"Not yet. The Sheriff is handling that aspect of the case and I don't think anyone of significance knows yet. We only positively identified her yesterday, so I think right now only her family and co-workers will know, but I figure by tomorrow morning the news hounds will be out in force."
"You're probably right," the man nodded and eyed her closely. "Is there any reason I should think that there might be a hint of scandal behind this."
"Yes," Alex nodded putting her personal feelings aside. "I have it from an unimpeachable source that she was married but also known to have lesbian affairs. We won't know the extent of her life until we have a chance to go north to talk to the husband and the family."
"I can see why you wanted me rather then a local doctor to do the cutting," the pathologist glanced at the man who sidled up to them.
"Alex, Sydney, good morning," Terry Johnston greeted them with a smile, glanced briefly at the smaller man with them. "The room has been set up as requested."
"Perfect," Alex was pleased. "Dr. Terry Johnson, this is Dr. Dave Irving, Chief pathologist for Seattle. Dave, the doctor here will be assisting you."
"Perfect," the smaller man shook the doctors hand and then became very businesslike. "I suggest we get to work. As lovely as this island is I have a stack of work awaiting me back in the city so I would like to finish this up as quickly as possible."
The others nodded and with the doctor leading the way they strolled towards the elevator which took them to the basement. They entered a large room where the body was already laid out on a stainless steel table. A white sheet covered the corpse.
The coroner got immediately down to work changing from his rumpled business suit into scrubs. Alex and Sydney stood back and watched, listening as the man turned on his tape recorder and started to speak. Dr. Johnson was at his side tentatively hanging onto every word and watching with keen eyes as the small man performed his duty. The pathologist was a small man yet in the theatre poised over a dead body he was someone much larger and more imposing.
Sydney watched with fascination as the man dissected the body methodically, verbally recording his findings which would later be transcribed into a written report which they would receive. She had popped in numerous times in the coroners office in Seattle when needing information about a death she was investigating but she had never stayed for the full autopsy and as grisly as it appearance it was even more fascinating.
It was several hours later when the man finally finished his inspection of the body. He snapped the latex gloves off his hands, scooped up the tape recorder and headed out of the room, the small group following in his wake. He glanced at Alex once they were out in the hallway.
"What's your prognois?" the Captain could barely conceal her curiosity. She had been present through the whole affair and had heard the doctor speak his findings but she wanted it now in clear and precise words.
"In my professional opinion it was not merely the shotgun blast to the stomach which killed her. My report will say that though the gunshot wound was serious it was survivable. The fluid in her lungs suggest that she drown, probably rendered incapacitated by the wound to her stomach."
"Were there any other bruises or anything to suggest that she had been involved in a struggle?"
"None," the man shook his head gravely. "There isn't much more I can tell you right now Alex. It will take a few weeks before I get anything back on the toxicology and blood samples I took. Is there anything special you want me to look for?"
"No," the Captain shook her head. "Just do the standard chemical tests to determine if there were any drugs or alcohol in her system. As well, you might want to pay special attention to the vaginal swabs."
"There didn't appear to be any of the usual signs of rape," the pathologist mused. "I will check for any signs of semen but from what I saw it's not a likely possibility."
"Check anyway," Alex prodded.
"Will do," the man nodded. "Now if you don't mind I think I'll change," he glanced at the doctor. "You can tell your people that they can prepare the body for transport."
"I appreciate you coming out," Alex said shaking the coroners hand glancing at her watch. "I know that you are in a rush to leave but how about you joining Sydney and me for lunch?"
"Grand idea, I'll be out in fifteen minutes," the smaller man nodded appreciative, aware that it had been many hours since breakfast, before disappearing into the changeroom.
"What next?" Sydney wanted to know when they were alone again. She had been talking to the younger doctor.
"Lunch," Alex said without hesitation.
"I don't know, you have any suggestions?"
"No," the smaller woman shook her head. "This is so different then in the city, there it seems there is so much to do but here..."
"Yeah, I know what you mean," Alex nodded with a grim smile. "So many times we wish there was only one case to work on, seemingly never having enough time to devote to any one individual case, and now that we have our wish, it seems there is nothing to do, but tomorrow will be better. Once we get to Vancouver there will be a lot of ground to cover. We have to talk to the local authorities and then the husband and family, her co-workers and any friends that she might have. It will be a busy few days."
"We should also visit the club scene," Sydney said hesitantly and by the expression on her face, Alex knew that really wasn't what the woman wanted to do. "I think we might be able to learn a lot more from that then we will from the family."
Alex guessed that her friend was right. If the victims lesbianism was a secret, and she assumed because of her high public profile it was, then there were probably plenty of secrets that the woman was keeping from her family and friends.
"Okay, but now let's get some lunch," the tall woman re-interated as she saw Dave Irving emerge from the locker rooms.
They choose a nearby restaurant and Sydney only realized then how hungry she was. They chatted casually about the case and about other cases that the Police Department in Seattle was currently investigating. Afterwards they wandered back to the Sheriff's office.
"I'll be in touch," Dave nodded and then followed the Deputy to a patrol car for the ride to the airport where the plane waited to transport him back to the city.
"Well, ladies did you find out anything new?" Luke Ford asked once they were alone.
"Unfortunately we just confirmed what we already thought," Alex supplied. "The blood and chemical tests he preformed will take a few weeks to get back from the lab. Doctor Johnson is preparing the body for transportation now."
"Good," the Sheriff nodded his head. "I received a call from the woman's lawyer asking what was being done with the body. I told him and then promised that we would fly it up there tomorrow. You girl's don't mind sharing the plane with a dead body do you?"
The women shook there heads though it would be a novel experience for the both of them.
"Good," the Sheriff nodded his head appreciatively. "I've arranged for Dave Talberson to fly you up tomorrow. He's the best pilot on the island and owns a reliable cargo plane. It's not a large bird but it will do for our purposes."
"Sounds good, what time does he want to get going?" Alex asked.
"As early as possible," the man replied. "He wants to pick up some cargo and deliver it back tomorrow. When you need a ride back just give me a shout I'll have him come and pick you up."
"I hope it's not costing you too much," the dark haired woman mused and the man smiled.
"Nope, he's doing me this favour," the Sheriff smiled. "He makes the trip almost every other day anyway, bringing tourists or supplies out to the island. Besides he still owes the county money for a fine he incurred. I'll just scratch the fine."
"Okay then, we'll be heading out now," Alex decided. "There isn't anything more we can do here and tomorrow will be a long day. I guess we won't be seeing you then until we get back from Vancouver."
"Have a good trip ladies, and bring me back a murderer," Luke called as they turned and left the station house. The two women returned to the hospital where they retrieved the motorcycle.
"Do you feel like taking a ride around the island?" Alex asked her companion aware that Sydney had been unusually quiet all day. The sky was still gray but the temperature was warm.
"Sounds good," Sydney agreed.
There weren't many places of interest to visit on the island so the two women just took a leisure drive along the coast, stopping occasionally to walk down to the water of a secluded beach. More then once during the ride they passed early season bikers and hikers. They even spotted several kayakers out on the water when they stopped and Sydney insisted to her companion that she had spotted some whales but by the time Alex had pulled the bike over to have a look either woman could find anything of the pod.
"They were there," Sydney insisted vehemently.
"Sure, sure," Alex teased her companion, who punched her in the shoulder in retaliation.
By the time they finally arrived back at the house both women where pleasantly worn out, exhausted by the early morning and the fresh air. They trooped into the kitchen and threw together a simple meal over which they lingered, enjoying the private time they had together. Alex knew she would miss this when they returned to the city and their conflicting schedules where any quality time together was rare.
That evening as they sat in front of the fireplace she put her mind to work once more on the problem. She had told her father earlier that she was thinking of leaving the police force and joining his law firm. She knew she had made that announcement at an emotional time and had since reconsidered, aware that changing her career would do nothing to resolve the situation they found themselves in.
If she wanted to change things she would have to do it while she was in charge of the Homicide Unit. Once she was gone there would be nothing she could do. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine a schedule that would make their life different.
"Alex, you okay?" Sydney's soft voice interrupted her thoughts.
"Yeah, just thinking," the older woman replied.
"Anything you want to share?"
"Nah," the taller woman shook her head, combing her fingers through the smaller woman's silken hair before deftly changing the subject. "So are you going to show me this town of yours tomorrow?"
"It's not my town," Sydney said and then blushed. "Besides I really didn't think we will have any free time. I expect we will be kept pretty busy interviewing everyone."
"Yeah," Alex sighed stretching her legs out on the couch and settling the smaller woman more comfortably against her body. "It's a shame, I've never really been there other then brief stopovers, it seems like a beautiful city."
"It is," the smaller woman conceded. "There is so much to see. You can go skiing or just take a walk around the seawall. There is always something to do, that's why I enjoyed it so much."
"Well, maybe we'll get lucky and get a chance to see something, either way I'm looking forward to it."
"So am I," Sydney sighed. "Any time I get to spend with you I look forward too."
"My sentiments exactly," Alex smiled. "You really for bed?"
"It's still early," Sydney said turning her head to glance at her partner who winked.
"I didn't say we had to go to sleep," the taller woman smirked.
"Okay," the smaller woman jumped off the sofa, grabbing her companions hand and dragging her towards the bedroom.
Neither woman got much sleep that night and next morning they had to drag themselves out of bed. By the time they finally got going they had to rush through their showers and breakfast. As it was the pilot had just finished supervising the loading of his cargo by the time they arrived at the airport.
"We're ready to go," the pilot announced when they walked up to him and introduced themselves. "If you want to stow your bags in that compartment and climb in, we can be on our way."
The plane was an older model cargo craft with plenty of room for freight and three mesh seats slung along each side of the craft. It was similar to the type of craft used for hauling cargo in the military only a smaller scale version. Sydney looked at the arrangements with some trepidation aware that the casket would be in plain view the entire trip. Something of her feelings must have shown itself on her face.
"It's only a short ride," Alex reassured her companion before helping her up into the plane.
She had flown in a similar aircraft many years earlier and the brief chat she had with the pilot during his pre-flight inspection gave her confidence that the man was capable of getting them to their destination without incident.
As it was the flight turned out to be relatively smooth with no air turbulence for which both women were glad for the mesh seats had proven anything but comfortable. Rather then landing in Vancouver itself they set down at a smaller airport some miles east of the city.
A rather dour looking man with a pimply faced companion was standing next to a hearse waiting for their arrival. The pair immediately took charge of the casket, while the women went in search of the rental car that was hired by the Sheriff for their use. They finally found it parked outside one of the airport hangars with a note from the rental agency.
"Do you want to drive?" Sydney asked as they approached the vehicle.
"Nope, this is your town sweetheart," Alex tossed the keys across to her companion.
Alex had only been to this northern city a few times in her life so conceded the driving to her smaller companion who professed an intimate knowledge of the place. She gazed out the window at the scenery. Vancouver was really a beautiful city, almost more beautiful then Seattle she mused, as she took in the lush green mountains that surrounded the flat lands where the city was located.
"Do you know where the Police Headquarters are?" the tall woman asked idly as the traffic around them on the freeway began to thicken. She looked at the huge span bridge they were crossing that took them from the lower mainland to the outskirts of the city.
"Yeah," Sydney said in a voice that made her companion glance at her with a cocked eyebrow.
"I used to date a woman who was with the local police department," the blond admitted with some embarrassment, unable to look across at her companion. "She was based out of their main headquarters."
"Okay," the Captain continued to gaze at her partner who seemed uncomfortable with the truth. "Is it someone whom I should be jealous of?"
"No," Sydney responded automatically caught off guard by the question. She glanced sharly at her companion and saw the hint of a smile trying hard not to crease the corners of her lovers beautiful mouth.
"You brat!" she made her displeasure known and the dark haired woman laughed. "You are so mean."
"I'm sorry," Alex was apologetic, she reached over to place her hand on the smaller woman's thigh and rubbed it gently. "I guess I just don't see the big deal. I mean it would be stupid of me not to think a beautiful woman like you didn't have a past."
"You are such a tart," Sydney admonished and then sighed comforted by the warm touch. "I think the biggest problem about talking about my past is that it reminds me that you also have a past. I think I'm jealous of everyone you've been with."
"There isn't any need for you to be," the Captain said in a husky voice. "They were all merely diversions until you came along. I never loved anyone, not until you."
"What about your fiancee?"
"Not even a little?" the blond persisted.
"I liked his company, he was a good man and a friend," was the truth.
"Then why did you become engaged?" Sydney wanted to know. They had never discussed this topic before even though the smaller woman had been undeniably curious.
"Because I thought that was what was expected of me," Alex said simply gazing out the window. "I was going through a rough time. I had just moved to Chicago and was nervous that my sexual orientation would hamper my career. I wasn't really happy any of the time. Fortunately I realized my mistake."
Sydney was silent. She could not begrudge her partner for the choices she had made for it wasn't that long ago that she had also tried to hide her sexuality. Like her companion she had worried about what it would do to her career or what her sister would think. In the end she had learned she needed to be true to herself.
"So what's on the agenda?" she asked changing the subject.
"First we check in with the local authorities and then play a visit to the grieving widower," Alex said mentally scrolling through the list in her head of things she wanted to accomplish. She turned to look at her partner. "Any thing you want to do?"
"I think we should pay a visit to the club where I met her," the smaller woman said tentatively. "If she was a regular then someone might know something about her affairs."
"Sounds good to me," the Captain nodded her head. "Family today, co-workers tomorrow."
There was silence as they continued to negotiate the traffic until they finally arrived at the downtown headquarters. They parked in the visitor parking and then went in search of someone in charge. It was professional curtesy to check in with the local authorities besides in spite of the fact that they were police officers, they had no official status in what amounted to a foreign country.
Alex thought about that as they mounted the front steps and strolled into the headquarters. As close as their northern neighbours were and as much in common as they had, Canada still was a foreign country with a whole different set of laws. Hell, even if they did manage to identify a prime suspect they would have to apply to the local authorities for arrest warrants and then await extradition hearings to determine whether they could even bring the suspect back to the States for trial.
The whole thing was just one big headache which the Captain privately hoped wouldn't occur. If she was lucky, and she doubted that they would be, the murderer would be an American citizen. But the likelihood of that was slim.
She allowed Sydney to do the initial talking aware that the smaller woman was better at handling the delicate public relations part of their job. After a short wait a young female officer escorted them into the bowels of the building to the area where the Homicide unit was situated. They were ushered into an empty office.
"Lt. Bailey will be in shortly," the woman advised before leaving them on their own.
Sydney sat down in one of the chairs positioned in front of the battered wooden desk that occupied the majority of the space in the tiny office. Alex paced curiously around the room, eyeing the certificates that decorated the wall, in an attempt to gleam some personal information on the individual they would be meeting.
The blond detective could sense the aggressive side of her companion start to emerge and marvelled at the way the taller woman could turn her personalities on and off at will. However, she knew that they could not afford to anatongize this man. She reached over and tugged on her lovers jeans to get her attention.
"Sit down," she said gently and the taller woman smiled sheepishly.
"Am I getting too restless?" Alex asked. She was well acquainted with her aggressive side and appreciated when her partner brought it to her attention. She dropped her lanky firm into the empty chair.
"A little," the blond detective smiled. "You have to remember that you're not the boss here."
"Yeah," the woman flashed a sheepish smile. "It's this infernal thing I have about being in charge."
"I know," Sydney agreed sympathetically. "And it's not a bad thing but remember we are in his jurisdiction now, and Canadian laws are different."
Alex nodded her head and then peered thoughtfully at her smaller companion.
"When you were going out with this police woman did you ever consider moving up here and joining the police?"
"I thought about it," Sydney didn't lie. "Vancouver is a beautiful city, much like Seattle, and the laws are such that it's not as dangerous out in the field. Sherry even talked to her supervisor about it and he said that it wouldn't be a problem, in fact they would probably welcome me given my previous law enforcement experience."
"So why didn't you?"
"Probably because I didn't really like Sherry that much," the blond confessed. "I mean it was fun for awhile but I couldn't see myself transplanting my entire life for her." There was a pause. "In that way you are unlike anyone I have ever dated. If you asked me to move to the North pole I would, just because you asked."
"You know you don't have to flatter me," Alex was immensely touched by her companion's confession. "You've already got me."
"Yeah, and that still amazes me," Sydney confessed.
Alex felt the need to kiss her lover but as she moved towards the smaller woman a heavy set, balding
man swept into the room and plunked himself down in the vacant chair behind the desk. Both women looked at the man's flushed face.
"Sorry for keeping you waiting," the man smiled brightly. "My name is Don Bailey and I'm in charge of this Unit. How can I help you."
"My name's Alex Marshall and this is my partner Sydney Davis, we're with the Seattle Homicide Unit and we're in town today in regards to the investigation into the death of Leanne Meyers."
"Yes, yes, Sheriff Ford from Lopez Island called and filled me in. I was expecting you," the man paused shuffling some papers on his crowded desk, quietly scanning a copy of a hand written report before addressing the women again. "He explained to me the circumstances for your visit and I have notified one of my staff to be on standby to accompany you."
"We appreciate the offer, but there isn't anything right now that we will need assistance with," Alex was quick to reassure the man. She didn't want to bring anyone else into the case until she had spoken to Sheriff Ford, aware that when there were to many independent people working on a case things could get accidentally missed because one party naturally assumed the other had covered that territory. She liked to keep her investigations small, where they were best managed.
"I know you'd probably like to keep the investigation local however as this is considerably out of your jurisdiction and I can't have you go out on your own. The officer will also be able to help you in any capacity needed."
"Okay," Alex agreed because she realized she had no other option. "But we would like to handle the investigation ourselves."
"I can live with that, provided you keep me informed," the man nodded his head, glancing briefly over the pair.
They couldn't know how relieved the Detective was. His own resources were stretched to the limit and he was not anxious to get involved in a high profile case such as the one these two women were handling. He had been in the profession long enough to know the ramifications of what would happen if the murder went unsolved.
"We thought that we would give you an overview of our intentions so you would know what we were doing," Sydney continued the explanation. "We'd like to interview the family, her co-workers and any friends that might know anything."
"Sounds good," Don nodded his head and stood up holding out his hand and effectively terminating the interview. "It's nice to meet you and if you have any questions don't hesitate to knock on my door. I have assigned a Det. Smith to ride along with you, she works in homicide and should be able to help you if needed. Just go down to the third door on the left, she's waiting for you there."
"We appreciate you help," Alex shook the man's hand and headed for the door.
"That went better than I thought," Sydney commented as they made their way down the hallway.
"Don't kid yourself sweetheart there was a reason the man was so nice and helpful," Alex replied quietly and her companion glanced up sharply.
"This is a high profile case, honey," the Captain replied. "Do you remember the pressure from the press on the Tommy Kennedy case?"
"Yeah," the blond woman nodded.
"Well, this is going to be a hundred times worse," the dark haired woman sighed. "Leanne Meyers was a local celebrity. Her husband is a local sports hero. It won't take the papers long to dig up some scandal. Tommy Kennedy was nothing compared to what this will be, and if I'm correct the Lt. was just damn glad it didn't fall on to his plate."
"Oh," the smaller woman suddenly understood. Even though she had been in the profession for a while she still didn't completely understand the politics. "But there is a difference."
"How?" Alex wanted to know.
"He can't be elected out of his position," Sydney explained. "In Canada their law enforcement officials are hired and not elected."
"So he can be fired," the taller woman shrugged, determining that it meant basically the same thing.
Sydney realized that she would never be able to win an argument with her companion, and if she did, it wasn't likely that her lover would admit that she had. She shook her head and led the way into the office where they had been directed.
"We're looking for a Det. Smith," Alex inquired of the first person she met in the busy squad room. There were more then a dozen men and women working in the large and noisy room.
"The red head over there," the man pointed in the direction of a woman seated at a desk across the room.
"Thanks," the tall woman nodded and then started to move in her direction but was abruptly halted by a hand on her arm. She paused to look down at her small companion, noticing the strickened expression on her face. "Are you all right Sydney?"
"No," the blond detective didn't think her life could get any worse. She rubbed the side of her nose in an instinctive gesture casting a fugitive glance in the direction the man had pointed.
"What is it?" Alex prompted feeling a little impatient over her partner's behaviour.
"I know Det. Smith," Sydney admitted unable to meet the intense blue gaze that was directed her way.
The tall woman was immediately alert, her eyes narrowing as she cast a quick glance across the room at the red haired detective before looking once more at her companion. Instinctively she reached for her partner and dragged her back out into the corridor.
"Do you want to tell me about this?" Alex offered quietly when they were alone.
"Smith is such a common name," Sydney was searching for the right words. "And the last time I saw Sherry she was working in the burglary unit."
"So this Det. Smith is, Sherry, your former lover," the Captain astutely put together the pieces. She watched the smaller woman bob her head and then reached out and lifted the smaller woman's chin so that green and blue eyes met. "Are you going to have a problem with this, because if you do I will talk to the Lieutenant and ask for someone else?"
"I can manage..." Sydney was honest and then hesitated. "Will you be okay with it?"
"Honey, the past is the past," Alex repeated an earlier assertion. There was silence as the two women continued to look at each other and the smaller woman quietly nodded her head and uncaring about what anyone thought or saw, Alex leaned forward and kissed her companion.
"Let's go to work sweetheart."
Alex appreciated her companion's concern but figured that she was mature enough to handle any situation that they confronted however she wasn't completely prepared for the unexpected wave of jealousy that surged through her when they approached the unsuspecting Canadian Detective.
Sherry Smith was a young woman, in her early thirties. She was of average height and lean with a curly mop of short red hair and a profusion of freckles across her face that made her appear ten years younger then her actual age. It comforted Alex to know how different she was from her companion's former lover.
"Sherry," the blond detective approached the other woman who glanced up at the two women. Her green eyes widened in surprise as they zeroed in on the smaller of the two women.
"Yeah," the small detective gave the woman a tentative smile. "How are you doing?"
"Great," an easy smile of pleasure crossed the other woman's face as she stood up and Alex was quick to notice that her eyes never left her companion's face. "You're looking good."
"Been working out," Sydney said hesitantly glancing at her tall companion. "I'd like to introduce you to my partner Alexandria Marshall."
The Canadian detective glanced for the first time at the tall raven haired woman. She nodded and extended her hand in greeting, which Alex accepting giving a firmer handshake then was necessary. The red headed woman looked back at the blond detective.
"Lt. Bailey told me to expect two detectives from Seattle, I expect that must be you."
"Yeah," Sydney feeling uncomfortable and wishing she had taken Alex's earlier offer to request another detective's assistance.
"I never knew you were interested in Homicide?" Sherry continued speaking unaware of any tension, and unable to hide the admiration she still felt for the blond woman. It had not been her choice to break off their affair and had often wondered what would have happened if she had been a little more persistent. Perhaps, this is my second chance, she thought privately.
"It was an opportunity I couldn't refuse," the blond detective shrugged and glanced at her companion aware that Alex had been remarkably patient. She couldn't know that her partner was quietly assessing the situation and correctly analyzing what was going on in the other woman's thoughts. "Anyway, we're on a strict schedule here so if we could get going."
"Certainly, we can talk on the way. I suggest we take my car," the woman volunteered snatching the keys off of her desk before leading the way out of the precinct.
"That's all right, we have reliable transportation," Alex replied smoothly breaking her silence for the first time since the introductions and then felt her partners hand on her arm.
"Maybe it would be best to let Detective Smith drive," Sydney said glancing up at the Captain. "I'm certain she knows the city much better then either of us."
Alex had to grudgingly concede that her companion had a point and reluctantly agreed, which made the other woman smile broadly. It didn't surprise the tall woman when she offered Sydney the opportunity to sit up front with her. The blond woman glanced fugitively at her partner who only shrugged before climbing into the backseat.
"Where too?" Sherry asked once they were in the vehicle. She looked sideways at Sydney but it was the woman in the back that answered.
"The Frost home," the Captain said in a businesslike voice that revealed nothing of her thoughts and a brief glance over her shoulder and Sydney knew that her lover was thinking of something. "We would like to speak with Leanne Meyers husband and family. Do you know where they lived?"
"Yeah, Lt. Bailey forewarned me and I figured you might be heading there. I checked out the address before you guys arrived," Sherry responded glancing briefly in the rear view mirror before turning her attention back on the road and Alex had to concede that the woman knew her job.
"I haven't seen you around lately, do you ever come up to Vancouver anymore?" the woman asked
initiating the conversation with the smaller detective who was sitting beside her.
"Not since I started seeing someone from Seattle," Sydney answered feeling a little awkward.
"Oh, and how long have you been seeing this woman?" Sherry wanted to know masking the disappointment that she immediately felt at the revelation.
"Six months," was the solemn reply and the blond detective was aware that Alex was sitting quietly in the back observing the interaction.
"Six months," the answer seemed to surprise the Canadian, who gave an embarrassed laugh to hide the pang of regret and jealousy that she felt towards this unknown woman. "That's a real commitment for you. This woman must be something."
"She is," Sydney replied quietly and felt a comforting hand rest briefly on her right shoulder. It was a gesture that went unnoticed by their companion.
"How about you Det. Marshall, have you been to Vancouver before?"
"Only during brief stopovers," came the casual response.
"Well, then if you get the chance you just must take the time to take a trip up Grouse Mountain," Sherry Smith said and then proceeded to launch into a detailed description of the various activities that were available to them as tourists.
Alex listened briefly and then turned her attention to the passing scenery, not interested in the travelogue, yet unable to relax in spite of her lovers solemn confession. Perhaps, it's the city, she reasoned, perhaps it's because Sydney's past love life is so tied up here. As much as she tried to deny the truth, she did feel a slight jealousy towards this woman and all those other women who had been with her lover. She had told Sydney that her past didn't matter, yet maybe a part of it did. She shook her head in an attempt to dispel the mood that was beginning to descend over her.
God, I'm probably just PMS's, she thought hopefully. She determinedly tried to concentrate on the conversation between the two women in the front seat, waiting until the woman lapsed into silence before speaking.
"What can you tell us about Leanne Meyers husband?" she asked changing the direction of the conversation.
"His name is Stuart Frost. He's a Canadian by birth, however he earned a scholarship to Nebraska State. After graduating he signed with the Minnesota Vikings and was one of their tight ends for three years before being traded to the Los Angeles Rams. He followed that team around with some success until he was finally dropped. He then signed with the BC Lions, our local football team, and played for five more years before retiring."
"Sounds like you know allot about him," she commented dryly and the woman glanced in the rear view mirror at her.
"He's a local hero," the Detective admitted. "Not only did he set numerous team and league records but he has devoted himself to a lot of charity work, especially with sick children. He is a very popular man."
"And his wife?"
"Miss Meyers was also well known for her charity work," the woman said.
"When did they marry?" this question came from Sydney and Alex had an uneasy feeling about why the smaller woman was asking.
"About six years ago," the detective replied. "It was something of a celebrity wedding with a lot of the big folks turning out."
"Did they have a happy marriage?" Alex wanted to know.
"It appeared happy," was the answer and the red headed woman shrugged. "Of course what do any of us know about what goes on behind closed doors. They appeared in public quite a bit and were always smiling and happy."
"Were either of them ever involved in any scandals?" the Captain continued to quiz the detective.
"Not that I remember hearing. As far as every one in this city was concerned they were fine upstanding people and very well liked."
There was silence for a moment as the two American women contemplated what they had learned and both would have been surprised to realized how eerily similar their thoughts were for both were thinking of the double life that the news anchor appeared to be living. Silence filled the vehicle until they finally reached their destination.
The couple lived in a up-scale section of North Vancouver and Alex admired the view as they travelled over Lion's Gate Bridge. The bay was filled with freighters anchored, awaiting for their turn to be pulled into port. Overhead a gleaming white float plane swooped out of the sky to land and down below a hovercraft zipped it's way against the bay taking it's passengers from one side of the city to the other.
It was just after lunchtime when they pulled up to a rather large brick house. The detectives were quick to note that the gated driveway was filled with vehicles ranging in a wide variety of styles from cheap to rather expensive. Alex had hoped to be able to talk to the victims husband alone, but suspected that they would be forced to deal with a whole household of relatives. She did not relish the task.
They allowed the local detective to take the lead, aware that they were just visitors to this country. Their summons was answered by a rather petite woman with shoulder length brown hair, whom they quickly learned was one of the victim's sister-in-laws. After introducing themselves they were escorted through the plushly decorated house to the library. It was distinctive, decorated in brown leather with numerous shelves on the wall. It reminded Alex of her father's study at home only the shelves in his private domain were literally stacked to over flowing and these were practically empty with only a few pictures and delicate ornaments scattered across there domain.
It was here that they were left to wait while the woman went in search of her brother. They had called for an appointment before leaving the Police Headquarters so that their journey would not be wasted. They were still standing in silence when the door opened to admit a rather imposing looking man.
Stuart Frost was not an ordinary looking man. Not only was he handsome with classically scuptured features and short dark hair but he was tall, with impressively broad shoulders and a narrow waist. He was a muscular man who had obvious continued to keep up his physical appearance in spite of the fact that he had retired from professional sports. He was accompanied by the another woman of average height with long brown hair and a dour looking tall man in a black suit.
Blue and green eyes automatically searched the younger man's face looking for any evidence of guilt yet all they saw was the genuine grief of someone who had lost a beloved member of their family. This time Alex took charge introducing Sydney and herself before including the red haired detective.
"This is my sister Joanne and my father Greg," the man introduced those with him, his voice betraying the unsteadiness he felt and belying the calm confidence his appearance suggested. "Please sit down."
"You might want to contact your lawyer before we proceed with this conversation," Alex suggested tactfully, wanting to make sure everything was done by the book. A panicked expression crossed the man's face.
"Am I a suspect?" he wanted to know.
"Unfortunately, until proven otherwise, everyone is a suspect," the Captain said quietly understanding his pain. "Do you wish to call your lawyer?"
"No, I have nothing to hide. I didn't kill my wife," he said solemnly.
"Still we would be more comfortable knowing that you had legal representation," Sydney injected quietly.
"My sister is a lawyer," he glanced at the woman standing behind him and the detectives could vaguely see the resemblance. "What would you like to know?"
"Where were you on Saturday April 27th?" Alex asked leading the questioning.
"I was in Toronto the whole of last week. I didn't get back into town until Sunday afternoon," the man responded automatically.
"Have you any witnesses who can support your alibi?"
"Yeah, I was on a golfing trip with three of my old football buddies," Stuart nodded his head.
"We would appreciate if you would give us their names..." before she could finish the man angrily
"Don't you believe me?" the man jumped to his feet and began pacing around the room.
"It's not a matter of believing you, it's a matter of completely eliminating you as a suspect," Sydney said quietly and the man seemed to respond to her subdued tones. He seemed to find in the blond woman a sympathetic individual.
"I'll write out their names and where you can contact them," the ex-football player agreed with a heavy sigh and Alex cast her companion an appreciative glance before asking the next question.
"I need to know Mr. Frost if your marriage was a happy one?"
"I like to think so," the man replied in a sincere voice. "I travelled allot and we had conflicting schedules but we were together as much as possible."
"Then you must know with whom your wife was this weekend?" Alex asked and then watched as the man's face grew pale.
"No," the word was said with a honesty that instantly made both woman realize the truth. "I didn't even know she was going to be gone this weekend. I didn't know until I got home on Sunday night that she had taken two days off work."
Alex and Sydney glanced at each other. Both knew that the man was completely unaware of his wife's extra martial affairs. In all likelihood he was also ignorant of her taste for women. Quietly they debated between themselves what they needed to tell this man even though they both knew that they had to be honest, as much pain as that was going to bring.
"Mr. Frost, perhaps it would be better if we spoke to you in private," Sydney was sensitive enough to suggest but the man rejected the offer, shaking his head vigorously.
"No, anything you have to say can be said in front of my family."
The two detectives looked at each other again and this time Sydney conceded the floor to her lover, aware that she neither had the experience or the know how to proceed with such a delicate matter.
"Mr. Frost we have it from a very reliable source that your wife had at least once engaged in an extra martial affair...." Alex spoke in a such a compassionate voice that she generally reserved for the delivery of sensitive matters.
"What? That's impossible. I know Leanne was beautiful and got hit upon a lot but she never appeared interested in any other man," the man was at first incredulous but then became defiant. "I want to meet this liar and challenge him to tell the truth."
"It wasn't a man," Alex injected quietly aware that her lovers eyes were intently focused on her profile. "The affair was with a woman, and we have reason to believe that it wasn't the only one."
"No," the man shook his head in stunned disbelief, unwilling to accept the truth. "You guys are crazy, my wife wasn't a dyke, she was a beautiful, warm individual."
"Despite common misconceptions Mr. Frost, not all gay women look like men, some are very beautiful," the Captain said softly trying to hide her contempt for the man's attitude and understanding that it was his grief that was speaking. "If your wife was gay it's not impossible to believe because of her beauty that she was very popular."
The man continued to shake his head seemingly unable to comprehend the truth. He slumped into the nearest chair burying his head in his hands for the longest moment. There was silence as the detectives waited for the man to come to terms with the knowledge that had just been imparted on him. The Captain was astute enough to note that the others in the room had no outward reaction to her announcement and that gave her a thought which she neatly tucked into the back of her head.
"She always had a lot of girlfriends, and she would talk about some of the women she knew," he glanced up at them. "Do you think they were her lovers?"
"They could have been," Alex conceded. "Or they could have merely been her friends."
"How could I have not known?" the man asked of no one in particular.
"Very easily," Sydney was the one who answered. "Gay individuals, especially those in high profile positions, where their career can be severely affected by the nature of their sexuality, find ways of hiding their true nature. Sometimes they just deny their true selves while others marry so that their lifestyle would never be questioned."
"You think my wife married me to hide the fact that she was gay?" the man wanted to know.
"We don't know," the blond woman confessed. "Now that she's dead, I don't think anyone will ever know the answers to some of the questions you have, that's why it's important we find out who she was with this last weekend, because once we learn that then we will know who killed her and why."
There was silence as the man contemplated what the smaller detective said and both women could see the wheels turning in his head. He looked up his brown eyes clouded with unshed tears. The detectives felt his pain.
"I'll do anything you ask to help find my wife's killer but as you can see, it's painfully obvious how little I really knew of the woman."
It was more than an hour later when the detectives finally took their leave. They had a whole list of people to see and little time in which to complete their interviews. Leaving the driving to the Vancouver Detective the two women discussed their next moves, directing the driver to their next destination. They had decided to go down the list that the man had given them though both privately wondered if it would do any good.
"How did you know Leanne Meyers was gay?" Sherry hazarded to ask when her companions had finally grown silent. For a moment blue and green eyes met in a silent exchange that this time did not go unnoticed by the other detective.
"We have an unpeachable source that Miss Meyers was a regular on the local club circuit," Alex answered as diplomatically as possible, unwilling to implicate her lover.
"Damn, that's strange, I'm a fairly regular club goer yet I don't ever remember seeing her at any time," the red haired woman shook her head in amazement. She glanced at the dark haired woman sitting in the backseat. "You don't think her husband had anything to do with her murder do you?"
"No," Alex shook her head, instinctively knowing what the other detective was thinking. It would be natural to assume that the man may have found out about the woman's sexual indiscretions and reacted in violence. It had happened before. "He was to upset by the whole thing."
"You don't think he might have been acting," the detective thought she might be able to learn something from her companion's who seemed more confident then she ever imagined being. Certainly, Sydney seemed completely different then the woman she remembered.
"No," Sydney answered this time. "The man wasn't acting. His shock over the realization that his wife was gay was genuine."
"Well, I can't blame him," the woman sighed. "It's kind of a shock to learn that Ms. Meyers was a lesbian."
"It often is," Alex commented and the trio lapsed into silence.
They spent the rest of the afternoon and the early part of the evening going from friend to friend, interviewing them as to the victims' personal habits but it was painfully obvious to them from the beginning that Leanne Meyers had taken great pains to keep her private life, just that. After awhile Alex began to wonder if her companion was not mistaken somehow about the identity of the woman she had shared a tryst with. She waited until they were alone before delicately posing the question.
"Do you think it possible that your affair with this woman might not have been a one time affair for her?" the Captain asked gently.
"No," the blond detective shook her head "She was far too experienced and her style was too smooth. That was one of the reasons I picked her up, I didn't want to be with someone who might expect anything more from me then a one night stand. Besides she seemed familiar with the routine."
Alex nodded. She didn't doubt her companion but she knew they needed to find someone to collaborate her story. So far no one could tell them any more then that she was a wonderful, hardworking woman who was devoted to her husband.
"I don't know," the Captain professed her frustration as they waited for their Canadian counterpart to finish filling the car with gas. She ran a hand through her dark hair, glancing at her watch.
"It would be nice if we could be around for the funeral," Sydney commented and her partner nodded her head in agreement. It would be interesting to know who showed up for the occasion and Alex made a mental reminder to put a call into the Commissioner to see if they could buy a few more days.
"What do you want to do next?" the blond woman asked glancing over the seat at her partner.
"Well, it's getting late and I think we're running in circles here," the tall woman admitted. "I'm thinking that anyone her husband knew was on the level and didn't know about his wife's other side. What do you say to grabbing a bite to eat and than hitting those clubs you mentioned?"
"Sounds like a good idea," the blond woman nodded her head towards the red headed detective who
was making her way back to the car. "Are we going to drag her along with us?"
"I'm afraid we have to," Alex conceded even though she didn't like the idea of spending any more time in the other woman's presence then was necessary.
"Where too now ladies?" Sherry flashed a brilliant grin at the two women and noticed the way the blond casually referred to the dark haired woman in the back seat before speaking.
"We thought that we better prowl through the clubs tonight and see if we can find anyone who might know something about Miss Meyers hidden lifestyle," Sydney answered for them. "We're running up against nothing but brick walls with this list so maybe starting fresh on it tomorrow will help."
"Sounds like a good idea, I could use something to eat," the woman nodded in agreement. "Where would you like to go?"
"Back to headquarters to pick up our car and then over to our hotel," Alex spoke this time. "It's been a long day for us and we could use a bit of freshening up before going out."
"Oh," the red headed woman clearly realized that she was not being invited to join them and was only barely able to hide the disappointment from showing on her face. "That's probably a good idea. Would you like me to pick you up later?"
"I think we could meet someplace," the Captain suggested leaving no room for debate. "Where would you suggest we start?"
"Probably the Pink Rainbow Room," Sherry suggested and Sydney almost winced, recognizing it as one of the places that they had frequented while they were together. It was a place that she didn't really want to visit while in the company of her former and present lover.
"How about nine at the Unisex Club?" she interjected in a seemingly overly cheerful voice that Alex recognized as a plea.
"That sounds good," the Captain announced with a finality that stated there would be no further discussion on the matter. "We'll meet at the Unisex Club at nine."
The red headed woman nodded, trying to mask her disappointment. She had briefly hoped that going back to their old haunt might stir some old memories for her former lover. She glanced nervously at the smaller woman sitting next to her.
"Listen, I know you are here on business but it would be nice if we could get together for coffee and discuss old times, do you think we could go out for a drink before you leave?"
Alex automatically felt her body tense, and barely managed to suppress a tart response. Her lover seemed to sense the shift of her mood for Sydney shifted in her seat, casting a swift cast at her companion in the back. Perhaps if she had been alone she could have been persuaded to join the other woman for a drink, and only a drink, but she would never jeopardize her relationship with the Captain. The other woman, who having witnessed the exchange, was left wondering why the blond woman was looking at her colleague.
"I appreciate the offer but I'm presently involved with someone," the blond woman tried to be tactful.
"It's just a drink," the woman shrugged indifferently, and watched as the smaller woman cast another glance at the woman behind them. It was then that she was struck with a sudden realization and she glanced at the stoic looking dark haired woman in the backseat through the rear veiw mirror. She hoped her cheeks weren't as red as her face felt.
"I know but my partner is the jealous type," Sydney said casting a brief glance at her lover who was struggling not to show any emotion.
"Okay," Sherry flashed a tentative smile, understanding the initial tension that she first felt in meeting the taller woman. She could have slapped herself for not seeing it from the beginning. For a brief moment she considered saying something but another glance at the woman in the backseat and she decided to keep her mouth shut. Less then half an hour later they were back at the headquarters.
"We'll meet at nine," Sydney reminded before they parted ways with the red haired detective who had been unusually quiet since her rejection.
"Are you okay?" the blond detective asked once they were alone in the rental car. She knew her lover had been unusually quiet.
"Yeah," Alex nodded expelling her breath. She flashed a smile at her partner. "There was a moment when I actually considered boxing her in the ears."
"She doesn't know about us," the blond detective defended the departed woman, though she felt an unexpected pleasure at the realization that her lover had been jealous.
"Right," Alex rolled her eyes not really accepting that response but deciding to drop the subject. It was an uncomfortable situation for them all, and it didn't need to be discussed at any length. She was secure enough in their relationship not to press the issue.
"Do you want to stop for something to eat before heading out or do you just want to grab something while we're out?" Sydney asked, glad that her lover was willing to let the issue slide.
"Are you kidding?" the Captain asked incredulously. "I need real food not some of the grease coated crap they call finger food in those joints. I suggest we check into the hotel and then go in search of some real food. We can leave the car at the hotel and take a taxi where we need to go."
Sydney nodded. They followed that plan and after checking into their hotel room, they showered and changed into fresh clothing. After a decent meal at a nearby restaurant they were on their way. By nine o'clock they hit the first of the clubs they intended on visiting.
"Is this the place where you met her?" Alex asked as they came up to a place from which loud music was emancipating out the open door. She astutely guessed this was the reason her companion had suggested this establishment.
"Yeah," Sydney nodded aware that her partner was referring to the anchor woman and not the other police detective. She paused, turning and glancing fugitively at her partner. "Alex, I just wanted to warn you that...well we might..."
"Run into some more of your old lovers?" Alex said the words her companion was unable to voice. When the smaller woman looked down and nodded her head, the tall woman reached out and lifted her chin so that green and blue eyes could meet. "Good, it will be nice to know that I was the one who was able to land you when they couldn't."
Sydney felt a wave of relief flood through her body and impulsively she leaned in and embraced her lover, squeezing her tightly. She had been afraid of an entirely different reaction, thinking of how she would have behaved.
"I love you Alex."
"I know sweetheart."
The two women wandered into the club, nodding briefly at the doorwoman before pausing to take a
thorough glance around the room. The Unisex Club was almost exclusively a woman's club, though there was the odd male scattered around the half full room. The music was blaring but there were only a few couples on the dance floor.
Sherry glanced up from where she was sitting at the far end of the bar. She had come early, anxious to have a couple of drinks before her stateside colleagues arrived. She knew she needed to fortify herself for the rest of the evening, realizing that she still felt a residue of emotion for the small blond woman. By chance she happened to look up the very moment they stepped into the club. Her breath seeping from her lungs
They made a strikingly beautiful couple, their difference in height and colouring complementing each other. There was an invisible aura that surrounded them that did not go unnoticed and she was quick to realize that they had attracted the attention of most of the other patrons. Besides they were new and all new girls got a thorough look over by the regulars.
It was obvious to the red headed detective that they had not yet noticed her and for a moment she hesitated announcing her presence. There was a curious part of herself that wanted to watch their interaction, aware that they had probably been on their best behaviour earlier during the day. She swallowed the last of her drink and then moved out of the shadows to join them.
"You're early," she commented in greeting as she moved up beside them. Both women turned in unison.
"My fault," Alex drawled casually. "I'm the impatient type."
I'll bet you are, Sherry thought but wisely kept the comment to herself. She looked at the smaller woman. Despite the obvious physical attraction she couldn't help wondering what Sydney found so interesting in the taller woman. She dismissed her thoughts and concentrated on the task at hand.
"What's the plan?"
"Let's separate and circulate and see what we can find out," Alex suggested and the three women did just that, but they were quick to learn that they would have no luck at this establishment. After canvassing the patrons and workers they compared notes before heading on to the next stop on their list. It was midnight before they reached their last stop, the Pink Rainbow Room.
Like the Unisex Club, this establishment was exclusively a lesbian club. Though it was the middle of the week it was surprisingly full and Alex was astute enough to realize that unlike the other places they had visited, this was the one where all the action happened. Because this was Sydney's old territory the tall woman let the smaller woman take the lead. After an initial look they headed across towards the bar.
"Hey, Cammy," Sydney smiled a greeting at the dark curly haired woman pouring drinks behind the bar. She was glad that she recognized at least one familiar face, hoping for some luck after a rather fruitless evening. The woman glanced up.
"Hey Seattle," the woman returned the smile, not hiding her surprise or pleasure. "Where you been hiding, haven't seen you in months?"
"Been keeping a low profile," the blond detective replied glancing at her tall partner. "The truth is that it's business that brings me back here. This is my partner Alex Marshall and we're down here investigating Leanne Meyers murder. This is Det. Sherry Smith of the Vancouver Police Department."
"Bummer, I heard about that," the bartender nodded, pouring several drinks for the waitress before turning her attention back to the three women. "What can I get you?"
"Some information," Alex spoke for the first time, her pale eyes darting around the room, her senses absorbing the atmosphere. "We need to know if she was a regular here?"
"You might say that," Cammy nodded, taking a moment before forming her response. "She came here often enough. Left with a lot of different women. Weren't you with her one weekend?"
"Yeah," Sydney was embarrassed that the other woman remembered that night.
"She was pretty promiscuous then?" Alex interjected without pausing, trying to take the focus off her companion.
"Yeah but the truth is that I think she was just looking for someone special," the bartender said. "She used to come in here after work, sit at the bar and just talk. I got the feeling that she was lonely."
"Did she ever tell anyone she was married?"
"I think everyone just knew, she was so well known in the city it would have been odd for someone not to know her unless they were from out of town," Cammy shrugged and Alex was quick to notice her companion glance down at her feet. She sensed that Sydney felt some shame.
"Did she ever talk to you about her husband?" the Captain said hastily in attempt to shake her lover out of her thoughts.
"Yeah," the bartender nodded. "I asked her once why she got married and she told me it was to protect her job."
"Did her husband know about her interest in women?"
"I don't know," Cammy was honest. "I mean she didn't seem to hide the fact that she was into women but then again we're a pretty tight community. We generally don't spread around what goes on in our little circles. It's hard to say."
"Do you know if she was seeing anyone on a regular basis, in the last few months?" Sydney wondered.
"I couldn't tell you," the dark haired woman shook her head causing the curly locks on her head to quiver. "She only always just came in here alone. But come to think about it, she really hasn't been in here for about a month. Usually that signals she's found someone."
"Did she hang out with anyone in particular when she was here?" Alex wanted to know.
"Not that I can think of," the woman replied before heading to the other end of the bar where one of the patrons was needing a drink.
The two women looked at each other, sorting through what they had been told. They had their confirmation that the victim indeed was at least bi-sexual gay, yet they were no closer to discovering with who, she was involved. They were so absorbed in each other that they had momentarily forgotten they weren't alone.
"Did you learn anything new?" Sherry spoke out interrupting their quiet conversation. Both women turned in her direction.
"Just confirmed what we already knew," Sydney was the one who answered.
"So, what do you think?" the Canadian detective was curious.
"Don't know what to think yet," the dark haired woman announced glancing at her watch thinking that the anchor woman had led a double life.
"I guess you're ready to go," the smaller woman said trying to hide her disappointment. It had been months since she had last been in a dance club and even though she loved spending time with Alex, she missed it.
"Actually, I was thinking it was time to take ourselves off the clock," the tall woman said. "You want to stay for a couple of drinks?"
"Really?" Sydney couldn't hide her surprise and wasn't entirely certain her partner wasn't teasing her. In the whole time they had known each other they had been to a club only once and that was the night they had finally gotten together. "I didn't think you liked clubs?"
"Generally no," Alex was honest as she glanced down at her partner. "But you do, so why don't we stay for awhile."
"Are you sure?"
"Yep," Alex nodded with a smile aware of the light that crossed her companions features. The Captain turned to the Canadian Detective whom they had all but ignored throughout their exchange. "It looks like you can head home if you like. We're finished for tonight."
"Great," Sherry knew that she was being dismissed. She would have liked to join them but it was clearly obvious that the two women wanted to be alone. She put on a false smile. "I'll see you tomorrow at Headquarters."
"You're welcome to stay and join us for a drink," Sydney offered but the other woman shook her head, giving the blond detective a false smile.
"Thanks but I have some things I have to do tonight yet. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Tomorrow," Alex agreed, barely able to contain her relief. She had been half afraid that the woman would agree to stay and she wanted to be alone with her lover.
"Bye," Sydney called at the retreating back of the other woman. In spite of her desire to spend time with her partner she felt sorry for the way they had brushed the other woman off. She tried to ignore her thoughts by focusing on something else. "Will you dance with me?"
"Only if you promise to go home with me tonight," was the impish reply.
"I promise," the blond detective grinned and watched as the taller woman turned and motioned to the bartender to bring them a couple of drinks.
They stood at the bar listening to the music and content to enjoy each others company. It was obvious to Sydney that they were together but that didn't stop several of the clubs patrons from wandering by to check out her beautiful companion. More than one were actually bold enough to ask Alex to dance and Sydney was more than a little relieved when her lover turned them all down.
She was still insecure about their relationship though there was no obvious reason for that. Alex had been very honest and loving and there wasn't one reason why she should worry, but she did and she realized she probably always would. Besides she had forgotten how aggressive the women here were.
Alex pretended to be oblivious to her partners discomfort yet she was keenly aware of the way her
companion would tense every time someone approached. She was learning that Sydney was the jealous type though the smaller woman had no reason to worry. She was completely in love with her and oblivious to everyone else. Yet when she rejected the third offer to dance she knew she had to do something. It was a pleasure to be noticed but it made her annoyed that Sydney was unhappy.
"I remember you saying something about dancing," Alex suggested putting her beer on the bar and reaching for the smaller woman's hand.
"But you don't like to dance?" Sydney said with surprise.
"No, but it will give me an excuse to hold you in my arms," the tall woman grinned giving her companion only enough time to put down her drink before dragging her out onto the dance floor.
It was a lively number and though the dark haired woman professed a displeasure in the activity, she could move her body to the rhythm in a way that set her younger companion's blood racing. They moved in sync as partners often do, seemingly oblivious to the attention they were receiving from the other patrons and more than once Sydney noticed the aggressive moves as someone tried to cut in between them which made her upset. Alex knew she had to do something fast and was grateful when the next song was a slow dance.
She drew Sydney into her arms and wrapped her body around the smaller woman, gently playing with the blond strands of hair on the head that was tucked into her shoulder. She knew this song and that a particular romantic part was coming up, but even the tight embrace wasn't enough to prevent someone from trying to cut in. Sydney wasn't able to mask her frustration and in a desperate attempt to warn others off, she grabbed her companions neck and pulled her mouth down for a deep throated kiss.
"Are you getting a tad jealous love?" Alex chuckled aware that her companion was attempting to mark her territory. The blond blushed.
"They won't leave you alone," she mumbled unable to look at her companion.
"Ah," Alex now understood. She stopped dancing and cupped her companions face. "Well, then if we're going to mark territory let's do it right."
She bent her head and captured her companions mouth in a kiss that was so searing in it's intensity that Sydney felt her knees go weak and had to cling to her companion for support, but still Alex didn't stop. Her tongue forced her companions mouth open and then darted into the depths to probe its sweetness.
Sydney felt a wave of heat flood her body as her nether regions grew moist. She wanted this taller woman so badly that when Alex lifted her up, her legs automatically wrapped themselves around her companion. Alex finally ended the kiss and Sydney was barely able to realize that the music had changed.
"Oh God," she buried her head in the taller woman's shoulder. "You make me so hot."
Alex chuckled with a twinge of nervousness, aware that her own body had grown incredibly warm. She had almost been unable to stop the embrace.
"Did I do okay?" she asked with a devilish grin as their forehead's met.
"I love you," was all Sydney could say and Alex chuckled again before carrying her off the dance floor.
"I kinda like you too," Alex grinned, happy that she had pleased her lover.
"I have to go to the bathroom," Sydney pleaded not certain her wobbly legs would hold her up.
"Do you want me to come with?" Alex asked wagging her eyebrows suggestively.
"As tempting as the offer is at this minute I do have my standards," Sydney grinned with a goofy smile, "and one of them is certainly not to make love in the bathroom of a dance club."
Alex chuckled and then watched as her blond companion staggered towards the back of the club towards the washrooms. She turned and motioned for the bartender to bring another round of drinks. The display effectively served it's purpose and they weren't bothered again.
"I take it when Sydney said you were her partner, she really meant you were her partner," Cammy said and Alex grinned cockily.
"What give it away?" she asked saucily and the other woman smirked.
"I don't know, maybe your performance on the dance floor."
"Yeah, well we were both getting a little annoyed at the other patrons for trying to cut in."
"I don't think you have to worry about that now," the bartender chuckled and then grew serious. "How long you been seeing Syd?"
"About six months," Alex was honest.
"Six months," the woman seemed surprised. "It sounds serious."
"It is," the Captain confirmed.
"Well, I'm glad, it's nice to see Sydney happy."
There was a moment of silence as the bartender poured drinks for the waitress before coming back to the tall woman.
"You sound like you know Sydney?"
"Yeah, she used to be a regular," the woman said and smiled. "Haven't seen her in six months though, I guess that's when you guys must have started dating."
"Well, treat her nice," Cammy noticing the blond woman emerge from the washroom. "She likes to
pretend to be tough but she's really just a softly inside. She came here and picked up women but I think she was looking for someone special."
It was almost three in the morning before the women finally left the bar and made their way back towards the hotel. It was at Alex's suggestion that they walk rather then call a taxi. They were only staying ten or so blocks away and the Captain needed the walk to clear her head.
"Sweetheart, I know you pride yourself in being able to handle all situations but do you think walking is wise?" Sydney questioned her lover.
"Why not?" the taller woman raised her eyebrows questioningly.
"Well, it is dangerous, even if we're in Canada which is allot safer than home," the smaller woman said realistically. "And we both have had to much too drink."
"You had to much to drink," Alex said pointedly. "I'm feeling fine."
"Yeah, right," Sydney snorted in disbelief and then moved closer to her formible companion as a group of scruffy looking young men hurried passed.
"Are you nervous?" the Captain asked with amusement.
"Yes," the blond detective was honest and her response drew a chuckle from her companion. "What are you laughing about?"
"Well, I seem to remember a dinner date about seven months ago when I thought the streets might be to dark to walk to a restaurant and you gallantly said you would protect me. Was that all just hot air?"
Sydney blushed, refusing to look at her companion. "I was trying to show off, I wanted to impress you."
"I kind of figured as much," Alex chuckled and draped her arm around her companion drawing her closer against her lanky body.
"You knew?" the smaller woman looked up seemingly surprised.
"Oh yeah," the dark haired woman chuckled again.
Alex had noticed them from the moment they had stepped out of the bar and had been keeping a wary eye on them, hoping veinly that they wouldn't be as stupid as they looked, but it seemed that it was not to be. They were only two blocks from their hotel when they were accosted by a half dozen unruly looking youths.
"You're dykes aren't you?" the leader of the group jeered at them as the group surrounded the women. Alex released Sydney's hand as the boy grabbed his crotch. "I think you just need a real man to show you how to enjoy it?"
"You don't want to do this boys?" she warned softly, her body stiffening as her senses tensed.
"Because you don't want the trouble that you will get if you persist in harassing us."
"You talk awfully big lady," one of the boys jeered.
"Yeah, well believe me son, I can back up my words," Alex said in a terse voice. "We can do this one of two ways. You can let us pass and leave us alone or you can get the crap kicked out of you and then go to jail. You look smart enough to make the right decision."
The boy laughed arrogantly, glancing over his shoulder at his companions before nodding towards one of the larger boys. It was the signal to attack. However, the two women were ready and prepared for the assault, working in tandem to dispatch their attackers.
The first one to hit the ground was a heavy set boy who Alex surmised was the initial enforcer of the group. She stepped back from his swing and then moved forward in a flurry of motion that landed him on the ground clutching his nose from which blood was pouring out.
Meanwhile Sydney was dealing with a tall lanky youth who seemed to think that his size would intimate the smaller woman. He lunged forward but was caught square in the chest by a foot that knocked him backwards onto his ass. The leader of the group, and the instigator of this attack grew angry.
"Get them," he shouted encouraging the rest of his gang to attack in unison.
Once again the women were prepared, fending off each assault with several deft moves. Quick kicks and punches scored direct hits on their attackers but they did not remain unscathed as a few punches landed on their own bodies. One fist got through Alex's defences and hit her squarely in the eye. For an instant her vision blurred but the action only served to incite her mood.
Before the young man knew what was happening he was on the ground clutching his broken arm in agony. In the next instant the two boys on either side of him were also on the cement groaning in agony as they clutched their injured limbs. The other boys in the group seemed reluctant to attack, afraid that they would receive similar injuries.
Sydney was just barely keeping her own as well and was the recipient of several well placed kicks and
punches. But instinct for survival was paramount and she retaliated by knocking her opponents in the groin and sending them to the ground.
Briefly she glanced out of the corner of her eye to watch as her companion easily dispatched another one of their attackers, a smile coming to her face as she noticed that the tall woman was bouncing on the balls of her feet, her hands positioned in front of her body as if ready for another attack. She had been used to street fighting but she had never seen anyone move as quickly as she had just seen her companion move.
Too late she noticed the boy coming out from the corner of her eye. Unable to move fast enough she felt herself being knocked to the ground, her body reacting painfully to the force as she hit the cement. Aware of his advantage the boy straddle the small woman and plummeted her with several well placed punches.
Sydney was about to fend off the attack when her green eyes caught a glint of steel in the light of the street lamp. She froze, her mind seizing on a memory of the past when another flash caught her attention. The world around her suddenly shifted into slow motion, to another time and place.
In her mind she was back again in that dimly apartment. She saw the dark figure moving out of the shadows and the glint of steel as the barrel of his gun collided with a shaft of light from the street lamp that had been streaming in through the open hallway window. She saw again the explosion of colourful light as the weapon was discharged. She watched motionlessly as she was rendered helpless and incapacitated.
Something suddenly clicked in her head. She had been a victim once but she would not let that happen again. As quickly as it happened, her mind snapped again and she was back in the present staring up into the face of her new attacker.
As if sensing her companion's distress, Alex turned in time to see the attacker on top of her lover raise his hand. She saw the small steel pipe in his fist and swung her leg. The kick connected with the side of his head, knocking the boy onto the ground where he remained motionless. The tall woman returned her gaze to the boys who were struggling to their feet.
"Do you want to play some more?" she asked with a deliberate sneer, the blood coursing through her veins. She was ready to continue the fight, eager to inflict more pain on their attackers.
The boys eyed her for a moment, seeing the feral look in the transparent blue eyes and wisely decided to cut their losses and run, not bothering to gather up their companions who were laying unconscious on the ground. Only when they were a safe distance did the tall woman begin to relax. Alex looked down at the smaller woman who still sitting on the ground.
"You okay?" the Captain asked not masking her worry and aware that her companion's features were unusually pale. She reached out to help her lover back onto her feet.
"Yeah," the blond detective nodded feeling aches in every part of her body.
"Do you want to do the paperwork?" Alex asked. There were still three of their attackers lying on the ground and both women knew they could just walk away but their sense of duty had a stronger pull.
"No," the smaller woman sighed, trying to hide the fact that her limbs were beginning to quiver. The incident had done more to shake her up then she wanted to admit. She realized they couldn't do what most of the public did. Walk away. "But we should."
Though she was more concerned about her companion, Alex deferred to the smaller woman's decision by pulling out a cell phone from her pocket and dialling a local number. Both women thought about the long night that was still ahead. Fortunately their call had a quick response and a pair of police cruisers pulled up just as the three remaining thugs were regaining consciousness. They were quickly handcuffed and put in the back of two police vehicles.
"If it's all right, we'll come by tomorrow and file our statements," Alex said passing the officer in charge her business card when he came to interview her about the incident. She was anxious to get Sydney back to the hotel and examine the smaller woman for any unseen injuries. The patrolman glanced at the card, noting the official letterhead and the title ascribed to the woman in front of him.
"Where are you staying?" the man wanted to know.
"Just up the street."
"Sorry, that your vacation has been ruined," the man was apologetic.
"We're here on official business," the tall woman replied glancing at her smaller companion who was tenderly touching various areas of her face. She turned back to the patrol office. "We're up from Washington State investigating Ms. Leanne Meyers murder. You can check with Lt. Don Bailey of the Homicide Unit if you have any questions."
"Oh," the officer was momentarily caught off guard by the announcement. "Well then I guess it wouldn't be a problem if you came down tomorrow morning to fill out the necessary paperwork."
"We appreciate it," the Captain was genuinely thankful.
"No problem," he smiled and nodded, attaching the card to his note book. He looked critically at the two women noticing for the first time the bruises that marked their features. "Would you like me to call an ambulance?"
"No," Alex shook her head glancing down at her companion for confirmation. Sydney shook her head in agreement having no desire to go to any hospital and further extend their evening. The Captain turned back to the patrolman and shrugged.
"I don't think either of us need anything other then some ice," she said and the man nodded uncertainly.
"Can we at least offer you a ride to your hotel?"
"No, I think we'll be all right now," the tall woman motioned to the people who had gathered across the street and who had witnessed the altercation. "I think we'll be left alone. Besides our hotel is only a few blocks away."
"All right, if you are sure," the man commented uncertainly, glancing over them for one last time before shrugging his shoulders and retreating to his patrol car.
"Thanks," she called and watched as the police cruisers drove off before turning her attention back to her small companion. "You okay?"
"Yeah," Sydney nodded aware of the taller woman's concern. She changed the subject in an attempt to divert her attention. "What was that?"
"What?" Alex was purposefully obtuse when they started walking again. She knew that her partner wasn't willing to talk about her momentary lapse in concentration.
"That punch, punch, kick, kick, you did," Sydney said waving her arms in demonstration. "Is that some form of martial arts?"
"Yeah, it's Tae Kwon Do," the taller woman answered it. "I started when I first joined the force. I knew that I would need more protection then a badge. You weren't any slouch yourself, what martial art were you using, it looked familiar?"
"It's kickboxing," the younger woman said sheepishly.
"Kickboxing?" Alex said with a curl of her lips. "You couldn't learn any of the regular martial arts?"
"Did you ever see that movie called BloodSport?" the blond asked and then continued when her companion nodded. "Well, growing up on the street, even though I was part of a gang I was still the smallest one of the group and as a result I got kicked around allot. Anyway I saw this movie and thought it was cool and I figured with my lifestyle I needed some protection. I kind of fell in love with the sport. It's more aggressive then most of the other forms of martial arts."
"Smart idea," Alex said with a slight smile. "I guess you could protect me, hey?"
"Yeah," the blond forced herself to grin, aware that she was still unsettled by what had happened. "But after watching you I know there's no need for any protection. I always thought that there is something you weren't telling me."
"Me, nope, I don't have any secrets," the dark haired woman shook her head innocently and then glanced at their surroundings. "However, I do think I've had more than my share of excitement for tonight. Let's get back to the hotel."
"Couldn't agree with you more," Sydney agreed shaking her hand.
"Are you hurt?"
"More likely out of shape," the blond remarked. "I hit him the wrong way, I'll have a few bruises tomorrow."
"I think we both will," Alex complained. They reached the hotel without further incident and stopped at the reception desk to request that a large bucket of ice be brought up to their room. If the night clerk thought anything a miss he was too professional to say, acting on their request without a word.
"Phew, am I glad to see this," Sydney announced emphatically allowing herself to fall back onto the bed and then wincing when her body reacted negatively to the action. "Ouch."
"What hurts?" Alex asked quietly moving across the room and settling down on the bed next to her companion.
"Everything," the smaller woman snorted.
"Perhaps a hot bath would help," Alex suggested and her companion nodded wordless before closing her eyes.
The Captain glanced across at her partner seeing the fatigue on the small woman's face and feeling her heart clench in agony as the first faint traces of a bruise began to appear on the cheek of her young lover's face. She felt a wave of anger at the realization of what had happened to them that evening and why.
She wasn't certain that they had been attacked solely for the reason that they were gay, thinking that perhaps the gang had merely been looking for victims of any sort. In that way she was relieved that they had been accosted and not someone unable to defend themselves. She struggled back to a sitting position aware how easy it would be to simply close her eyes and go to sleep.
"Hey, I'll run the bath while you start getting undressed," she said patting her companion's thigh before standing up and moving across the room towards the bathroom.
"Do I have too?" the blond detective complained loudly.
"Yes," came the tart response. "I'm not sleeping with you looking like that."
Those words penetrated the blonde's foggy brain and with a sigh she struggled to sit up and then slowly removed her clothes. By the time she was undressed and reached her partner in the bathroom, the tub was filled and Alex was already lying in the warm water. She stepped into the bath nudging her partners legs apart so that she could settle between them. She lay back against the taller woman and closed her eyes as a comforting arm circled her own chest.
"This feels good," Sydney commented.
"I know," Alex murmured contented by the heat of the water and the weight of her companion as they lay together soaking away the aches and pains they felt.
"You know that we are going to feel completely miserable tomorrow?" the blond detective said idly closing her eyes contentedly.
"Yeah," the tall woman nodded her head sleepily. The younger woman sensed their predicament and
though she was loathe to do anything she struggled into a sitting position.
"What are you doing?" the older woman complained feeling bereft of the weight of her lover.
"Washing so that we can get into a proper bed," Sydney said patting her companions thigh. "Come on love, the sooner we are finished the sooner we can be in bed."
Alex thought about that for a moment and then struggled into a sitting position, accepting the bar of soap that her partner handed back towards her. Less then half an hour later they were lying naked in bed, their arms wrapped tightly around each other. Forgotten, on the table at the far end of the room in a bucket was the ice they had ordered, and which had been brought discreetly to their room while they had been in the bathroom.
It was the insistent ringing of the phone that summoned them from their sleep. A bleary blue eye opened and studied the offending instrument for a long moment before a long arm extended itself from beneath the blankets and snagged it out of it's cradle.
"Good morning, this is your six o'clock wake up call," a chipper voice came over the line and Alex had the irrational urge to ask the caller what was so good about it. But she restrained her natural instinct.
"Thanks," she mumbled before slamming the receiver back down.
She lay her head back down and closed her eyes again but the damage had been done. Once awakened she would find it impossible to fall back asleep. Instead she lay quietly for a long moment savouring the warmth of the body that was cradled in her arms. She was never more content when she woke up with Sydney snuggled in her embrace.
A pair of brilliant blue eyes opened and for a long moment she stared at the sleeping face that was turned towards her. Sydney looked so innocent in her slumber and her heart clenched painfully at the sight. This was one of the things she liked about waking before her partner, the opportunity to savour the closeness and the love she felt for the smaller woman.
Gently she disengaged one of her hands and reached out to stroke the side of her companions face, lightly brushing the strands of blond hair away from her face. She felt a wave of anger and shame flood through her body as she remembered what had transpired the previous evening.
She knew that she had been to blame for putting them in danger. She had been the one too insist that they walk back to the hotel, thinking they were relatively safe. She knew she was capable of defending herself and had felt the same about her companion, but there was a brief moment in the midst of the fight when her partner had frozen.
Gently she reached out and traced the discoloured marks on the cheek and chin that marred her lovers beauty, a frown settling over her own blemished features. It was obvious that her partner had been rendered helpless by something that had snapped through her mind. It was a reaction and astutely she guessed it was probably another effect of the shooting. She cursed under her breath, despising herself for putting her lover in danger and resolving never to let it happen again.
She sighed. There in lay the problem. She wouldn't always be there at her partners side. She knew that she could not protect Sydney twenty four hours a day. The smaller woman would have to work through the problem on her own and she hoped until that happened she would be there if anything cropped up.
She took a deep breath and expelled it slowly, releasing the emotion that threatened to engulf her senses. She was determined not to dwell on the past. With that thought in mind she remembered, regretfully why they were there.
"Hey, sweetheart, it's time to wake up," she gently called to her still sleeping lover, bending her lips to
nuzzle the other woman on the forehead. The action only illicited a slight stirring and a mumbled reply that the older woman couldn't understand. She repeated her action. "Honey it's time to wake up."
This time her action got a firmer reaction and one green eye popped open, wearily surveying their surroundings and blinking rapidly at the sight of the bright stream of light that was filtering through the partially open windows.
"No," she protested and then closed her eyes in an attempted to snuggle deeper into her companion's embrace.
"Yes," Alex smiled affectionately. "Come on sweetheart, Det. Smith will be waiting for us and do we really want too explain why we are late?"
"No," came the sigh in reply and reluctantly the smaller woman rolled over and out of her companion's arms. The tall woman propped her head up with one hand as her eyes continued to track the smaller woman who was still partially comatose. A indulgent smile was on her lips but it disappeared as she watched the younger woman touch her tender jaw.
"How you feeling?" Alex was serious, her blue eyes narrowing.
"Sore," Sydney confessed honestly, as she turned her head sideways to scrutinize her companion's features. For the first time she noticed the discoloured bruises on the tall woman's face. Gently she reached out and stroked the ugly looking bruise that encompassed one eye. "Does it hurt?"
"It aches, but nothing's broken," the Captain confided savouring the tender touch of her lover.
"We must look a sight," the smaller woman commented bringing a chuckle to the older woman's lips.
"Well, we certainly have had better days," the Captain conceded and then grew solemn. Gently she tapped the other woman's forehead with an index finger. "How are you doing up here?"
"Okay," the smaller woman replied evasively unable to look her companion in the eye. The last thing she wanted to do right now was think about what happened. "So what's first on the agenda?"
Alex instinctively knew that her companion was attempting to change the subject. Inwardly she sighed but decided to let the issue drop. There was no sense in pursuing something that would undoubtably make her partner upset.
"Breakfast. Do you want to grab something here at the hotel or wait until later?"
"Does it make a difference?" Sydney asked glancing over at her companion and watching as a seductive smile broke over her lover's face.
"It could," Alex said coyly and then reached across the bed to stroke her partners smooth cheek. "If we wait until later we can spend a little more time in bed."
"Oh," the blond detective contemplated that for a moment closing her eyes and then suddenly they popped open again, a grin etching it's way across her face, a gleam finding it's way into her emerald eyes, as realization dawned. "Oohhh!"
Her response got an immediate reaction as the taller woman slithered across the bed, closing the distance that separated them.
They entered the Police Headquarters almost a half hour late, and though both were sporting matching bruises, the pain was subdued by the happiness at the love that they had shared that morning. Det. Sherry Smith eyed them critically. She had begun to worry, glancing repeatedly at the clock over her desk. She took one look at both women and her eyes widened in surprise as she jumped to her feet and crossed the room to greet them.
"What happened?" her concern was genuine and Alex was quick to notice that most of her attention was focused on Sydney.
"Ran into a little trouble last night," Alex explained briefly. "But it wasn't anything that we couldn't handle."
"So we heard," a deep voice boomed and the two women turned in unison to see Don Bailey stroll in through the squad room door. "I received a report on my desk this morning."
"It wasn't anything important," Alex brushed the incident aside.
"I hope it wasn't related to the reason you're up here?"
"Nope," the tall woman responded with a shake of her head. "Just a couple of thugs who thought they could take advantage of a few innocent women."
Her comment brought a snort from the local cop who privately thought that neither of these women looked like anyone would be able to take advantage of them. Especially the tall woman who exuded a confidence that warned everyone to tread lightly in her presence.
"The Sergeant just wanted me to make certain that you didn't forget to stop by his desk and write out your complaints," the man continued and both women nodded.
"We were just going to check in and then head down that way," Alex concluded and glanced briefly at her partner before turning her attention to the red headed detective who was quietly waiting further instructions. "While we are doing that do you think you could arrange for us to get into the television studios to interview Miss Meyers colleagues?"
"Sure," the young woman was eager to assist and though she glanced at Sydney hesitantly for a moment before turning and hurrying back to her desk to do her bidding.
"Are you having any luck?" the head cop was curious, interested in the progress of the case and worried how it might affect his department.
"We haven't found anything definitive," Alex wasn't ready to share the information that was circulating in her brain. She wasn't certain anything needed to be divulged until they had finished their investigation. "That's why we need to speak with her colleagues."
"I think you will find them pretty cooperative, though don't be surprised if they don't try and ask you a bunch of questions," the man advised.
"Don't worry, I have dealt with the press before," the tall dark haired woman assured the man and then glanced around the room before turning her attention back to the man. "Now where do we go to file our report?"
An hour later the necessary paperwork was done and they were finally on their way to the news station that was located in the southern part of the city. Det Smith got them past the security guard at the gate and into the building where they were greeted by a small brunette who introduced herself as a member of the stations public relations team.
"We have set up a room for your use and advised the staff that you may want to question them," Mary Touts said briskly as she led the trio down a empty corridor. In the distance the women could see the hustle and bustle of the newsroom. "But first our station manager Angus Wharton would like to speak with you."
They were led up a flight of stairs and through a luxurious reception area and into a large office where a slender man with a full beard and salt and peper hair sat waiting their arrival behind a large desk. He rose when they entered, sitting down only once all the formal introductions were made. Alex was quick to notice that the PR woman remained in the room behind them by the door, where only the manager could see her.
Rather then taking a seat she moved to a position near a window beside the man, a position where she had a complete view of the room. She noticed the brief glance the manager cast in the woman's direction and felt her police instincts kick in.
"How might I help you?" the man asked having to twist in his seat to see everyone at once.
"We were wondering what you could tell us about Ms. Meyers?" Sydney opened the questioning. They had talked about it on the way over to the station and decided that the younger woman would do most of the interviewing.
"What would you like to know?" the man answered vaguely. "She had been with the station for seven years, was a good reporter and loved by the staff and crew."
"What about her personal life?"
"As far as anyone knows she was happily married to Stuart Frost," the station manager answered though Alex was sharp enough to see the brief glance he cast at the PR woman. He smiled. "The man played football for our local team."
"So then in your opinion there was no one who may have wanted Ms. Meyers killed?" Sydney continued going through her list of questions.
"No," the man shook his head.
"I'm sure you have already heard that Mr. Frost was unaware of his wife's whereabouts this last weekend," the blond detective stared intently at the station manager. "Was she working on a story for the station?"
"Not as far as I know," Angus shook his head. "And we would have known. Besides recently Leanne
had curtailed her activities to strictly sitting in front of the camera and reading the news. She was hoping to pull in better ratings to earn a shot at a national news desk."
"How about in the past?"
"Not that I can recall," the man shook his head again. "Leanne was well liked by everyone she knew and it's been at least a year since she did any indepth interviews or investigations. She wasn't someone who offended people easily, that's why the fact that she was murdered came as such a shock to everyone who knew her. As far as I know she didn't have any enemies."
"There were no professional jealousies, no on set romances, nothing that could stir up gossip?" the small detective pressed and Alex noticed again that the station manager glanced briefly at the PR woman before shaking his head.
"Her character was above reproach."
The rest of the interviews they conducted amongst the staff followed similar lines. The three Detectives split up and individually interviewed staff members hoping to cover more territory, not even bothering to stop for the lunch hour. It was mid afternoon when the two Seattle detectives decided to call it a day.
"Nothing," Sydney lamented with a hint of frustration as they followed the local detective out to the car park where their vehicle was stowed.
"No, but I have the distinct feeling that they weren't being entirely honest," Alex admitted lagging a bit behind so that the local detective wouldn't hear their conversation. Sydney glanced sharply up at her companion.
"I got that feeling too," the smaller woman admitted. "But I couldn't nail anyone down to anything in particular."
"No," the Captain shook her head. "I think they were warned not to say anything, no doubt the station wants to keep it's reputation in tack."
"Do you have any ideas why?"
"No," Alex sighed releasing some of the tension that had been building inside her throughout the day.
"So what do we do?" Sydney wanted to know.
"I think we go back and talk to the husband," the taller woman decided. "Besides your friend at the bar, he seems to be the only one who has been completely honest with us."
The smaller detective nodded and walked quietly next to her partner. "Do you think the station knew that she was gay, and just want to protect her image?"
"Could be," Alex wasn't certain that was the reason, though she hoped it was and that there was not some more sinister plot.
Fortunately Stuart Frost was home, having just returned from completing arrangements for his wife's funeral. Both detectives noticed that the man looked haggard with red eyes and features so pale they were afraid that he might faint. Neither wished to prolong his agony with more questions but they knew it was necessary.
"Do you know if your wife had any enemies?" Alex asked taking the lead.
"No," the man shook his head, settling into a large cushioned chair in the living room. The taller woman glanced about noticing the mirage of pictures and photographs that decorated the walls of this family room. "Everyone liked Leanne."
"Was she involved with any story at the station where she worked?" the Captain wanted to know. "Was she chasing anyone who might have been nervous about an investigation?"
"No, she hasn't.... hadn't done any investigative reporting in a long while," Stuart sighed. "We were hoping she would land a anchor job at a station back East. She was out there for an interview not more then a month ago. She wasn't interested in making news, she was only interested in reporting it."
"Do you own a boat Mr Frost?" Sydney spoke for the first time.
"Yeah," the man nodded looking at her with an distracted expression. "It's a small cabin cruiser that we used to take across to Vancouver Island. It isn't the kind of boat you would go on a long haul with not like the boat my sister owns, but then sailing is a passion for her."
The women posed a few more questions which the man tried to answer but in the end they had learned nothing more then they already knew. Reluctantly they got ready to leave, but as they reached the door Alex turned and faced the man.
"Would you mind if I borrowed a family photograph, a spare picture, one with your wife in it?" the tall woman asked.
Sydney looked at her companion curiously but knew better, waiting until later to ask about the special request. The man nodded and disappeared for a few minutes, returning with the requested photograph.
"Thank you," the Captain said glancing briefly at the pictured ensemble. "We will return it."
The man nodded and both women had the distinct impression that he didn't care if they did. Sydney waited until the women were alone before pressing her companion for an explanation.
"Just a feeling," the older woman said unable to explain the reason for her request. It had come almost naturally on instinct.
"What next?" Sydney wanted to know.
"Dinner and then I would like to go back to one of the clubs we were at last night," Alex said.
"You have an idea don't you?" the blond detective prodded sensing that her companion was on to something.
"No," the Captain shook her head. She was honest. She had no idea what she was doing but somehow it seemed right. Besides she had thought of something that they had completely ignored since coming to the city. She glanced to where the local officer was waiting for them by the car. "Det. Smith, I was wondering if you could do us a favour?"
"Sure," the woman agreed instantly straightened.
"Would it be possible for you to search through a list of people we have interviewed and find out who owns a boat and who might have been out on it this weekend?"
"Sure thing," the detective nodded happy to be able to contribute to the investigation in a capacity that was more then just as a taxi driver.
"If we could have it by tomorrow morning," Alex continued. "So that we could go over it."
"But we already asked everyone if they were out this last weekend," Sydney reminded.
"Who says they didn't lie to us?" the Captain wanted to know and Sydney nodded her head silently. They returned to the hotel to change before going out for that evening.
"You know Alex, I was hoping she had been working on an investigative reporting case," Sydney lamented as she flopped on the bed. "And that she had made some enemies."
"That would have been too easy," Alex replied laconically stretching her tall lanky frame out beside her companion. They were both tired and frustrated by the lack of progress and neither of them had any illusions about how things were going,in a direction neither of them liked.
"Are you ready to go hit the clubs?" the blond asked rolling over and curling herself up against her companion. The taller woman's arms automatically went around the smaller woman, drawing her closer.
"Nah, not really but I guess we have too," the Captain sighed. "I was going to call Sheriff Ford and tell him we're ready to come back, unless you can think of any other avenue we haven't covered."
"No," the blond shook her head snuggling against her lover. "But to bad we can't stay a few days longer. It has been nice being with you."
"Yeah," Alex seconded the claim running her fingers through silken blond hair. "Vancouver is a lovely city, we'll have to come back for a long weekend."
"That would be nice," Sydney mumbled into her companion's shirt as a hand idly played with one of the woman's breasts.
"Which reminds me have you decided where you'd like to go on holiday?"
Sydney blushed. "To be honest I haven't really thought about it since we last talked, so much has been going on."
"Yeah, but I want you to seriously think about it," the older woman gently rapped her knuckles against the smaller woman's head. "Because you might not like where I take you."
"Where would that be?" the younger detective asked cocking a blonde eyebrow as she glanced up at her lover certain that no matter where they went, as long as they were together, it would be a great time.
"Camping?" Alex shrugged.
"Owww," was the immediately response as the smaller woman scrunched up her nose. "Alex have I
forgotten to mention I really, really, really, hate camping."
"What, you don't like the outdoors?" the taller woman seemed surprised.
"Oh, I love the outdoors, fishing, hiking, you name it," the blond replied. "It's just that at the end of the day I want to return to a comfortable bed in a place with a hot shower and well sheltered from the cold and the rain, which it always seems to do when a person goes camping..." there was a pause and then a hesitant question. "I didn't know you liked camping?"
"I don't," Alex chuckled, "but I didn't know if you did or not."
"Well, I don't," the smaller woman announced firmly, aware there were still many things they didn't know about each other, even though they had discussed the important things.
"That's nice to know," the Captain chuckled. "Now I can threaten you with it."
"You would, wouldn't you?" the smaller detective scowled for a minute and then brightened. "Well, at least I would be happy knowing you were just as miserable."
Alex laughed and embraced her lover, holding on tightly to the younger woman.
"Do you think we will be able to solve this case?"
"I'd like to hope so," the Captain sighed, honestly calculating the odds. "But it doesn't look good. The woman led a double life and it's apparent that she kept one side very well hidden from everyone."
"Yeah," the blond bobbed her head and then added thoughtfully. "It was interesting that Frost's sister owns a boat."
"Sweetheart, it's a port city," Alex was amused. "A lot of people have boats. We have a boat."
"Yeah, I know," there was a slight pause as the small blonde woman contemplated something that had been nagging at her brain from the first day they had met the family. She had not mentioned anything to her companion but thought now was probably the time to speak. "Alex what do you think of Joanne Frost?"
"I don't know," the taller woman shrugged. "Why?"
"Well, I know it may sound weird but I got the impression when we met Miss Frost that she was a part of the family."
"It's not so weird," Alex sighed relieved that her companion had brought up the subject having considered the notion herself. "I got the same impression." Her body suddenly tensed as she gazed at her companion. "Are you trying to get at something honey?"
"Well," the smaller woman seemed hesitant to speak but then knew that none of her theories would be dismissed. If there was one thing she appreciated about Alex was her willingness to consider all possibilities. "I know this may be far fetched, but what are the odds that both women were gay and didn't know that about each other, especially if they frequented the same clubs."
"Are you coming to a point?"
"Yes," the blond slapped her companion's stomach. "What if the two women knew about each other?"
"And?" the older woman prompted.
"I know this sounds like a soap opera but what if they had an affair?"
Alex was silent as she contemplated the idea. During their interview the sister-in-law had said nothing about knowing of the victims sexual preferences when in all likelihood she would have known. In fact the woman had been strangely passive not volunteering any information. She had chocked that up to being a lawyer but now maybe it was for another reason. She sat up dragging her lover with her.
"Damn it Sydney, you just might have come up with something."
"Okay, but what do we do about it?"
"We go back to the club tonight and talk to your bartender friend, maybe we're not ready to go home yet."
"But Alex we have to be back at work on Monday," Sydney reminded. "I have other cases waiting my attention."
"Do you want to go back?" the dark haired woman asked seriously.
"I miss home," Sydney admitted truthfully, "but the thought of spending a few more days in your company is terribly appealing."
"Good, if you want to take a shower, I'll ring Sheriff Ford."
It was amazing how within half an hour their plans had changed. Alex watched as her lover headed for the shower before picking up the phone. The smaller woman paused at the door and her lover looked up.
"You realize we will be missing the Sonic's last home game?"
"Yeah," Alex nodded. "You think I should call Andrew and tell him to pick up the tickets?"
"It would be the nice thing to do," the blond nodded and then frowned. "How will he get into the condo?"
"Mom's got an extra key, he can pick it up from her," the tall woman said and then noticed the almost strickened look on her companion's face. "What's the matter?"
"I don't know if I like the idea of your mom having a key to our place," the smaller woman confessed.
"Why, have you got a secret lover you aren't telling me about?" Alex asked raising both eyebrows for affect.
"No, but the thought that your mother might accidentally walk in on us..." the blond left the rest unsaid and Alex laughed overcome with the image that her companion's words left in her head.
"Sweetheart, that is the very last thing you have to worry about," the taller woman was barely able to get out as she clutched her side in myrth. "I think my mother lives in dread of the same thing so she won't be walking in unannounced at anytime."
"Oh,.. okay," the relief on the smaller woman's face was evident. "I'm glad because I like it when you get spontaneous and take me in the living room."
With that the blond disappeared into the bathroom but the grin remained etched on the taller woman's face. Take you, Alex thought with some amusement, knowing that it was exactly the opposite. She reached for the phone and dialled a number that was beginning to seem familiar, waiting for it to be picked up. It was the fourth ring when the line was answered.
"Yeah," came the gruff reply.
"Alex Marshall here."
"Ah, Alex, how's everything going? Are you spending the taxpayers money wisely?"
"Yes," the Captain replied with a smirk and then launched into a detailed explanation of how the investigation was progressing. The Sheriff listened intently. There was a silence when she finished speaking.
"Sounds like you need a few more days up there," the Sheriff mused.
"Frankly, Sheriff, we need a few more days period."
"Well, let me see what I can do with George and I'll get back to you."
"You have my cell number?"
"Okay, we'll wait to hear from you," Alex said.
"By the way you were right."
"About what?" the Captain was puzzled.
"No sooner had you guys taken off when a plane load of reporters landed on the Island, asking a bunch of damn fool questions and being a real pain in the butt, " Luke muttered and Alex could imagine the scowl on his weathered face. "Doc Johnson said they have been showing some of them clips they been shooting on the nightly news up there."
Alex didn't say anything listening to the man finish his tirade before ringing off. She thought about the man's words and doubted that the Sheriff would have much luck convincing his brother George of letting them stay longer then they originally negotiated. But then the two brothers relationship was odd sometimes. She cocked her ear and listened to the shower running as she dialled another number, this time it was answered almost immediately.
"Hello Kim, how are you?"
"Good Auntie Alex, where are you? I called you yesterday but you didn't answer," the child said.
"Auntie Sydney and I are in Vancouver."
"Are you on holiday?"
"No we're working sweetheart. Is your dad there?"
"Yep," came the brief response and seconds later a deep male voice came on the line.
"Andy, this is Alex, Syd and I can't make it to the game tomorrow so we figured you might as well use the tickets."
"Gee thanks," the man replied with a hint of sarcasm. They had started out as his tickets but he had lost them to the women in a basketball match.
"Now don't be a sore loser," the woman chuckled. "Mom has a key to my place and you'll find the tickets lying on the table."
"Geez, don't you know better then to just leave those tickets lying out on the table like that," there was a certain amount of disgust in his voice and Alex laughed as she remembered her brother had once done the same. That was until they disappeared only to turn up as place markers in his daughters books and as cards for a game his sons had made up.
"Andy, you seem to have forgotten that Syd and I don't have children."
"Oh yah," the man said sheepishly. "By the way how is the Kindergarten Cop?"
"Good, she's in the shower right now, and I want to join her so I'm cutting this call short."
"Two women in a shower," the man moaned. "God what an image to leave with a man."
"Andy, I'm your sister!"
"I wasn't thinking about you," the man groaned. "But your partner is another thing."
"I'm hanging up now," Alex growled and did just that shaking her head in mild disgust. She knew her
brother wasn't serious. He loved to tease her. She heard the shower running and started towards the bathroom, pealing off clothes as she went.
"Are you intending on going some place soon?" Alex asked stepping into the shower.
"Actually, I was waiting for you," Sydney admitted with a grin. "I was beginning to wonder what was keeping you. I'm starting to look like a prune."
"You look like something honey, but it's definitely not a prune," came the smooth reply as the taller woman moved closer.
Sydney eagerly surrendered to the delicate yet firm touch of her lover. She leaned back against the taller woman's naked body, closing her eyes as two soapy hands reached around her waist and gently started caressing her moist flesh.
continued in part four
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