by Jennis Slaughter


Standard Disclaimer: The characters in this "Uber" story may physically resemble characters that are owned by Renaissance Pictures. That is where the resemblance ends. These girls for better or worse belong to me and I'll do with them as they tell me.

Violence and Bad Language Disclaimer: Yes, there will be.

Subtext Disclaimer: Consider yourself forewarned that this story contains explicit and graphic sex between two consenting adult females. If you are under the age of 18, please go read the Harry Potter series and come back when you are legal. If this material is illegal in the city, county, state, region, country…you get the picture, please leave or continue at your own risk.

Creative License Disclaimer: Yes, I have taken some. Please overlook. Positive and constructive feedback will be greatly appreciated. I can be reached at Much appreciation goes Niki for beta reading. But my heartfelt thanks and all my love goes to my own AJ Delgado, who stands by me and encourages me to do whatever I dream about. I love you Darlin'.


She woke slowly. Quiet conversations slowly filtered through the fuzziness surrounding her brain. She opened her eyes to find a small overhead lamp shining directly at her. Without thinking, she reached up and switched it off.

Turning her head to look around, she saw that she was seated in an airplane and the way that everyone around her was positioned, they had been flying for quite awhile. From the comfortable seats and the roominess, she knew that she was in the first class section.

She sat back with a start. She had no idea of who she was or how she came to be on the plane. She looked around, noticed a lavatory nearby and stood up. As she was about to step away from her seat, she glanced down at the seat next to her and noticed that there was a purse lying there. She picked it up and took it with her. As she passed a flight attendant on the way, she asked for a glass of orange juice.

She walked inside the lavatory and closed the door. As soon as she locked the door, a bright light came on and she turned to look at herself in the mirror. For almost a full minute she just stared at her reflection, hoping that something would come to mind. Nothing did. Nothing at all looked familiar. Finally she gave herself a mental shake and took stock of what she could see.

Her hair was strawberry blonde and cut short, her eyes were a cool green. She stood maybe 5'6”. The clothes seemed to be tailored made and the shoes were of soft leather. Her fingernails were neatly trimmed and coated with a clear polish. They were obviously well manicured.

She ran her fingers through her hair in frustration. When she did, she gasped in pain. Gingerly she touched the back right side of her head, directly behind the ear and found a large bump. When she pulled her hand away, she saw that there was some dried blood on her fingertips. She turned her head to see if any blood was dripping. Luckily there wasn't.

She picked up the purse that she had laid next to the sink and opened it. Inside were a comb, an airline ticket, and a small piece of paper with the numbers 865 written on it and a locker key with the same numbers stamped on it.

She pulled out the ticket, hoping that it would give her a clue. Disappointment filled her heart as she scanned it. The only information it showed was that it was bought with cash at La Guardia Airport in New York and was headed towards San Francisco.

She returned the ticket to the purse and with this new information racing through her head, she returned to her seat to find a crystal goblet full of freshly squeezed juice waiting. She sipped it slowly as she reached over to push up the window shade. She looked out to see the moon peek through the clouds as they passed by.

A voice came from overhead, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen. We are about twenty minutes out from our final destination, San Francisco. It is a crisp 62 degrees and partly cloudy skies. Please be prepared to bring your seats to a full and upright position and make sure that your carry on baggage is properly stored. An attendant will be around to collect any trash or drinking containers momentarily. Thank you for flying with us today.”

The cabin was then filled with movement and noise as people woke up and began to get ready for landing.

She handed her glass to a passing attendant and turned back to look out the window. Because of the darkness, she could barely make out the spires of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The voice came back, “We are now on final approach and will be landing where it will be 9:45 PST. Please remain in your seats until the plane has reached the gate and the captain has turned off the seatbelt sign. Once again, thank you for flying with us.”

Within minutes the plane had landed. The woman stayed in her seat until she was the last passenger aboard. Slowly she stood up, taking the purse and stepped out of the plane. Her heart was beating so quickly with fear that she was sure that she was going to pass out. What would she find when she reached the terminal? Would there be someone waiting for her?

Cautiously she walked through the terminal door and looked around. There didn't seem to be anyone waiting for her. She looked around, saw an exit sign and headed in the direction indicated. As she passed a skycap, she asked for directions to locker number 865. She was told that it was located near the section of the terminal that the business executives used to hook up their laptops to the Internet while awaiting their planes.

She found the section and the locker quickly. Her hand shook as she inserted the key into the lock. What would she find inside? Would there be anything to help solve her mystery? She turned the key, opened the door and looked inside. A double wide, extra tall briefcase sat there. She thought that it was called a catalog case. How she knew that, she didn't know. She looked at it for a moment before reaching inside to take it out. She grunted with the unexpected weight and took a moment to get used to it before turning towards the exit once again.

As she passed a ladies room, she veered inside and went into one of the stalls. Placing the case on the toilet, she tried to open it. It was locked, which was no great surprise to her by now. As she looked at the numbers of the lock, she decided to try 865. They worked. The latches clicked open and the lid of the case seemed to spring up with a sigh of release.

When she looked down into the case, she almost dropped to her knees and had to grab onto the walls for support. The reason that the lid had opened so quickly was that the case was literally packed with money. All she could see was one hundred and thousand dollar bills. Her mouth hung open as she stared at this astonishing sight.

She jumped nearly a foot when someone pounded on the door. “Hey lady! You gonna take all day or what?”

Quickly she grabbed a couple of one hundred-dollar bills, closed the case and walked out of the stall. Walking past the waiting woman, she went to the nearest pay phone to catch her breath. Should she go to the police? What if she was wanted for something illegal? No, she needed someplace to think things out and to come up with a plan of action. She looked through the yellow pages under the hotels and decided upon one. Quickly she walked outside to find a taxi.

As she was about to open the door to a taxi that had just maneuvered in front of her, a man that could be described as a walking wall barreled out. She quickly took his place and the taxi took off. The man then realized whom he had pushed aside. He looked down at the picture in his hand, looked up and cursed. Damn! He had missed her. There was going to be hell to pay. He quickly jotted down the number, the name of the taxi and headed for a phone.


        After about a half hour ride, the woman was standing in front of the Pan Pacific Hotel. Taking a deep breath, she walked inside and up to the registration desk.

        "Yes, ma'am. May I help you?"

        Clearing her throat, the woman replied, "Yes, I would like to have a room please."

        "Yes ma'am. And what name shall this be under?"

        Quickly the woman came up with the name that she had decided upon in the taxi. "Michelle McManus and I would like to pay cash, if possible."

        The clerk didn't even look up to that statement. "No problem. Do you know how long you will be staying with us?"

        "No, I am unsure of my plans at this moment."

        Handing her a card key, the clerk said, "That's fine. Right now we have plenty of available rooms. Can I get a porter to help you with your luggage?"

        "No thank you. I am traveling light this trip."

        The woman took the key card and headed up to her room. After opening the door, walking inside and closing the door, the woman placed the briefcase atop of the dresser and walked over to the window that over looked the city. She stood there for quite a long time just rubbing her arms, trying to make sense of what had happened to her.

        She walked over to the briefcase and just looked at it. She knew that she should count the money, but was nervous about doing so.

        Turning she walked into the bathroom, switching on the light as she entered. She blinked a few times in the bright light. Once again she was staring into a mirror, looking at a face that she had no memory of. She unbuttoned the jacket and let it fall to the floor, the slacks and underwear soon followed. The body that reflected back at her was obviously in good shape. The arms and legs were very toned and the abdominal muscles were well defined. She turned so that she could see her back to maybe see a mark or anything to suggest to why she had no memory. There was nothing.

        She moved into the shower and turned it on. After getting the water temperature to her liking, she stepped underneath and let it flow down over her head. She stayed in there long enough that when she looked at her hands, she was not surprised to find them pruning up.

        Stepping out, she wrapped herself in one of the luxurious bath sheets and walked back into the bedroom area. Turning on the television, she sat on the bed to dry her hair. The television had turned on to one of the local news stations. She watched without actually registering what she saw. Then the words 'Private Investigator' caught her attention. On the screen, was a tall, dark haired woman walking down some steps in front of an official looking building.

        The voice was saying, "Today wraps up the testimony of AJ Delgado regarding her involvement in the apprehension of the kidnappers of Dawn Kidman. Ms. Delgado was responsible the tracking down the kidnappers after they had picked up the ransom. She has been under fire because of her not listening to the police and F.B.I. orders not to follow the monies. She has maintained that the parents of the victim had given her express orders to do anything to get their daughter back and to deliver the kidnappers into the hands of the police. The Kidman's' have backed Ms. Delgado throughout this trial. We will be here when the final arguments are made and the verdict is rendered. This is..."

        The woman tuned out the rest of the broadcast and smiled as a glimmer of salvation, of hope began to shine through. She got up and found a phone book. Flipping through the yellow pages, she found the advertisement for AJ Delgado. She looked at it for a few moments, and then closed the book and with a smile on her face, she crawled into bed and almost immediately fell asleep.



An email was being read. 'Target seen. Unable to follow at this time. Will update in 24 hours.'

The recipient of the mail picked up a paperweight and threw it across the room, shattering it and a wooden cabinet door. Then taking a deep breath, sent back this reply, '24 hours exactly or you are forfeit.'


        The next morning the woman woke up feeling lost, misplaced and very sad. She had hoped that just maybe her memory would've returned. Slowly she climbed out of bed and walked naked over to the window and threw open the curtain. The sun was shining bright and the Pacific Ocean was a blue as ever. She stood there for a few minutes, straining to remember if she had dreamed, but nothing came to mind.

Slowly she turned, went into the bathroom, splashed water on her face and quickly dressed. She ran her comb through her hair, grabbed the briefcase and walked down to the elevators. She rode in silence, walked through the lobby and walked outside to get a taxi. The doorman hailed her a taxi and as they were waiting for the car to come a complete stop, he asked the address that she wanted to go so that he could tell the driver. Upon hearing the address, his eyebrows rose a bit, as he knew exactly where she was going. Unfortunately a nosy porter, who was standing nearby, overheard where she wanted to go.


After giving a final calming breath, AJ Delgado leaned back on her heels and sprang straight up into the air. Her fingers just grazed the ceiling that was ten feet over head. As she landed with a soft thud, AJ turned and headed for her kitchen. It was teatime, her favorite time of the morning. After a five-mile run and a two-hour session of practicing her kata, now was the time for her to prepare to truly face the day.

As the tea seeped, AJ went into the bathroom and took a quick shower. As she toweled her hair dry, she decided that maybe it was time to change the workout and add something new. Maybe kickboxing would spice it up a bit. She walked into the bedroom, pulled out a change of underwear, slid them over her hips and then grabbed a pair of black dress pants and a white silk shirt. AJ left the shirt untucked and walked barefoot back into the kitchen to pour the Oolong tea into her favorite mug and wandered down stairs to open up shop.

Once again AJ was glad that her loft was above her office. Not only did she make her own hours, but could dress almost anyway that she wanted. She turned on the lights, unlocked the door and settled at her desk to finish up the paperwork on her last case. Reaching behind her, AJ switched on the CD player and Sting's Brand New Day started up.

Booting up her computer, AJ put the finishing touches of the report to her latest client regarding his twenty year-old son. He wasn't going to like the fact the George Jr. was running around town, pretending to be a big shot in his father's company, making all sort of promises to get luxury items and accommodations from different merchants and fine hotels. Daddy was going to end up paying much more than her fee. He was definitely not going to be a happy man. At least this case was well out of the public eye unlike the Kidman case. She was glad that she could put that case behind her.

After sending off the file, AJ had just closed her online connection, when her office door swung open. She looked up to find a woman in the mid-20's, standing in the doorway, looking like a drowned cat. One of San Francisco's morning showers had done their magic and caught another victim.

Quickly she stood up, grabbed a towel that she kept handy for moments just like this and walked over to the woman.

“Please come in and dry off.”

The woman walked in slowly, looking around the office as she did.

Handing the woman the towel, AJ gave a small grin, “Hi, I'm AJ Delgado. Why don't you have a seat? I'm gonna go and get you another towel. When I get back, we'll see what I can do for you.”

With that AJ headed upstairs and the woman walked over to a black leather sofa and had a seat. She began to towel dry her hair and thought about her first impression of meeting AJ in the flesh. 'Wow! She didn't look that tall on the television. She definitely could be quite intimidating when she wants to be, I'm sure. With those blue eyes, coal black hair and smooth stride; AJ Delgado resembles a panther gliding through a jungle. But she certainly is very attentive, and personable. And that smile, I would love to see a full blown one. What an interesting woman.' She didn't understand how she could feel so safe so quickly for the first time since waking up in the plane, but it was what she needed to feel.

AJ walked back in, handed her another towel and placed a mug of tea on the table in front of her. “Thought that you might like something warm to drink. Now how can I help you Miss….”

The woman picked up the mug and took a sip. “Thank you. Mmmm, this is Oolong isn't it?”

AJ nodded her head and waited. The woman continued to sip the tea for several minutes. AJ could tell that it was hard for the woman to admit whatever it was, but she knew that she could help. Finally AJ placed her hand on her thigh. “It's ok. No matter what it is, I'll help you through it.”

The woman gave a small smile before she whispered; “I can't remember my name. Isn't that strange? I know what kind of tea this is, but as for who I am or anything else, there is a complete blank.”

AJ moved from her chair to sit next to her on the sofa. Softly saying, “Just tell me what you do remember.”

“Last night at around 9:15, I woke up on a plane from New York heading here. I didn't know who I was. This purse was lying in the seat next to me.”

She handed the purse to AJ who opened it and looked through it. “Also inside was a locker key, but that will come in a bit. I went inside one of the restrooms and didn't recognize myself in the mirror. I did find this bump though.”

Turning her head, she showed the spot to AJ, who gingerly moved the hair away from the area. AJ apologized if she hurt her and asked her to continue.

“Well, we landed about twenty minutes after that. I went and asked directions to the locker and found that case inside. I went inside a ladies room, opened it and found….”

She motioned to the case. AJ inclined her head to make sure that she had permission to open it.

As soon as she opened it, AJ sat back on the sofa. “Whew! I think that we need to move this little talk upstairs. Let me lock the door and we can head up.”

AJ stood up, closed the case and locked the door. As she walked back to the woman, she noticed that she hadn't any other luggage. “While we are upstairs, you can take a warm shower. I'll give you some sweatpants and a sweatshirt. I'm sure that you must still be a bit cold from the rain.”

The woman nodded her head, “That would be great. Thank you.”

They walked upstairs and AJ offered to give her a nickel tour. The woman was pleasantly surprised by the décor. While the office downstairs was very businesslike and ultra modern with a leather sofa, glass topped desk and file cabinets, the loft was furnished with warm woods, leather and electronics. What she could see of the living room was a big screen television, a tan leather sofa and state of the art entertainment system. One entire wall was covered from floor to ceiling with bookshelves filled with a wide assortment of books.

They passed the dining area that had a simple rectangular table with four chairs and a butcher's rack in one corner. The kitchen was state of the art with a professional sized stove and oven, a stainless steel doublewide refrigerator and gadgets galore.

AJ quickly showed her the master bedroom, which consisted of a king-sized cherry wood sleigh bed, two nightstands with Tiffany style lamps, and an armoire. The biggest surprise was the mirror that hung above the bed.

The guestroom was quite a bit simpler. It had a full size bed, one nightstand with lamp and an armoire. There was also a work out room that had a weight bench, some free weights, and a mat on the floor, a rowing machine and a heavy punching bag hanging near one corner.

They finally made it to the bathroom. AJ pulled out a couple bath sheets and placed them on the counter. “Here ya go. I'll bring you some sweatpants, a shirt and some socks. Take your time and I'll be in the dining room counting the money when you are finished.” And with that, she turned and walked away.

As the woman looked around, she saw an entirely different side of AJ. The room was filled with green plants; ferns, cactus, ivy and even a few herbs. There were also candles placed throughout in little cubbyholes and out of the way places. There was a skylight over head of a whirlpool tub and a walk in shower with dual heads. Double sinks were opposite the tub and a sauna was in the far corner.

This woman AJ loved her toys and definitely loved to be comfortable. The woman kicked off her shoes and placed them neatly on the floor next to the sinks. She unbuttoned the jacket, taking it off and folding it, she placed it next to the towels. The pants soon followed and were placed on top. The underclothes were folded and placed underneath.

She stepped into the shower and turned on the water. Finding a water temperature that she liked, she stepped underneath the cascading water and just let it flow over her.

She enjoyed that sensation for a few minutes until a noise caught her attention. She turned her head to find AJ standing in the doorway, holding some clothes, staring. Neither one looked away. AJ couldn't if her life depended on it and the woman didn't want to. She realized that the expression on AJ's face made her heart beat faster and made her wet and ache in places that were already wet.

AJ caught herself and cleared her throat. “Here are some clothes. They'll be a bit big, but will warm you up. I'm gonna take your suit so that I can hang it to dry.” She quickly put down the new clothes, took the suit and left.

As soon as AJ walked out the door, the woman knew that if she reached down and touched herself between the legs, that she would have an orgasm that would drop her to her knees. 'My god! If AJ can do that to me with a look, what could she do with a kiss or a touch?' She shook her head in amazement. 'Where did that thought come from?'

As AJ closed the door, she leaned against the wall and tried to catch her breath. 'What are you doing Delgado? Get your head out of the shower and get on the case. This woman is not someone that you brought home for the night. She is a client.' She looked down at the suit. Opening the jacket, she looked for the label and found Versace. She shook her head, went and found a couple of hangers and hung it to dry. She then went to the dining room table where she had placed the case and dumped out money. Some of it was already wrapped in bundles and the rest were loose. The loose hundreds were soon in stacks of $10,000 and the thousands were stacked in $100,000.

After about fifteen minutes, the woman had finished her shower and walked into the dining room. As she walked to the table, she gasped as soon she saw the pile of money. “I didn't realize that there was that much inside the case. My god, how much was I carrying around?”

“Before I tell you, I have a question for you. You said that you woke up around 9:15. Where did you go after you left the airport?"

"After I saw what was in the case, I wasn't sure if I should go to the police. I mean, what if I have done something illegal? No one in their right mind would be carrying around this much money. I looked in the phone book, found the Pan Pacific Hotel and went there. I got a room and stayed there all night. In fact, I saw you on the television and that's when I decided to come to you."

"Ok, that clears up that question. Are you ready to hear how much is here?"

The woman nodded and clinched her hands together.

AJ looked down at her figures and said, "Ya might want to sit down before I tell you where I am right now. I haven't quite finished yet, but as of this second, there is roughly $7,848,000 in the stacks. Give me another 10 minutes and I'll have the final total.”

Almost falling into one of the chairs, the woman could only sit there and stare. She watched as AJ finished up. As soon as she had, AJ pushed her chair away from the table and walked into the kitchen. “You want something to drink?”

“Yes, what are you having?”

“Think that I'm gonna have a beer.”

“Oh yeah, I'll take one.”

She could hear AJ open the refrigerator, then the door closing, a couple of bottles being opened and then AJ walked back in, drinking out of her bottle. She handed the other bottle to the woman and sat back down.

The woman took a long draught from her bottle as AJ started to say, “Well, the final count is in and it is quite curious. In the hundred dollar bills the amount….”

“Wait! I know that this is going to sound strange, but for some reason I want to put off knowing the amount for a few more minutes. Why don't we ….ah…. give me a name? You can't go around calling me hey you all the time. I used Michelle McManus at the hotel, but I don't think that I look like a Michelle. Do you? What do you think is a good name? Do you have any favorites?”

“Sam. That is my favorite name. And no, you are right. You don't look like a
Michelle to me. How did you come up with that name?”

She looked at AJ while shrugging. “We passed a Michelle Street and a ways further, a McManus moving truck caused an accident, so they sounded good together at that moment. And you answered that question very quickly. Why Sam?”

AJ hung her head while saying, “My favorite detective is Sam Spade. You asked so I said Sam. At least I didn't say Spade.”

“Yeah, you would have dug yourself in deep with that one.”

AJ's head snapped up. “Oh my god! One-liners! Please tell me that you don't do one liners.”

Sam smiled and drawled, “Well, sweetheart. I don't know if I do and I don't know if I don't. We'll just have to wait and see, now won't we?”

“You remember Bogie. Tea and Bogie. They have nothing in common, but it is a start. Are you ready for the total now?”

Sam nodded her head while sitting her beer on the table.

AJ took a deep breath before saying, “In the hundreds you have $864,600 and in the thousands you have $8,650,000 which makes the grand total to be $9,514,800. That's a nice round sum.”

Letting out a long breath, Sam just stared at the money. AJ picked up her beer and took another swallow. “What I was thinking was that first, I lock the money up here in my safe. I have an excellent alarm system here so it will be safe. Second is that we take you to a doctor that owes me a favor and you get checked out. Maybe we will be able to come up with some explanation for your memory loss. And then we go shopping. You need some clothes other than that suit and you can't walk around wearing my baggy sweats all the time.”

Sam held up her hand, pausing AJ. “You said $864,600 and $8,650,000 right?” AJ nodded. “ Ok, I took $200 from the case at the airport because I didn't have any money in the purse. Then I took another $200 from it again at the hotel to cover the room and the taxis. So that would make the total for the hundreds $865,000. 865 is the number of the combination to the case and also the number on the locker that held it. What do you think that it means?”

Thinking for a moment, AJ finally shook her head, “I don't have any idea right now, but something will come to me. Let's go ahead with my plan and we'll take it one step at a time.”

“Ok by me. Do we take some of the money or how do we do this?”

AJ stood up, placing the money back inside the case. “Well, we should discuss business first. Yes, I'll take your case if you still want me to.” Sam nodded her head and AJ continued. “My fee is $2000 a week. We'll use some of this money to buy you clothes and essentials right now. Of course, keeping all the receipts for the records. The rest of the money, I'll lock away.”

After locking away the money, AJ went into her bedroom and quickly put on a pair of black boots and a long black coat. She then went into the workout room and was in there for several moments. Sam was very curious to what she was doing, but wasn't sure if she should walk in there. When AJ walked out, she was carrying a cane. Sam just raised an eyebrow at the cane, but didn't say anything.

Sam went and put on her shoes and they walked down a back staircase to the garage. Inside was a 1967 Ford Mustang Convertible. It was painted the exact color of AJ eyes, Ice Blue. Sam walked around the car, her hand trailing along on the car.

“This is beautiful.”

AJ smiled her first genuine smile and Sam swore to herself that she would do whatever she had to do to make her do that often. That smile was awesome.

“Yeah, this is my baby. It has a 429 Interceptor Engine, Latham Supercharger, and nitrous oxide fogger kit, a Doug Nash competition 5-speed transmission with a zoom racing clutch & a full interior roll cage. The seats have a 5-point crash harness. I also have a police band scanner with multiple frequency lock, a police band connected to scanner with a hot key jam & a full scan radar detector with an auto jam feature. My Argo here can kick ass and take names when I need her to.”

Sam cocked her head to the side, “Argo?”

AJ grinned, “Yeah, you always name your horses, don't ya?”

Sam just smiled and got inside. AJ climbed in and using the garage door opener, they were soon on the road.


AJ was maneuvering expertly through traffic while Sam watched the scenery go by when she turned to AJ. “Where are we going exactly?”

“I'm sorry. I thought that I told you. We're going to see a friend of mine who is a doctor. We do each other favors from time to time. I'm hoping that we'll find a clue to why you lost your memory. You'll like Jack. The nicest person that you'll ever meet.”

Turning to face AJ, Sam asked, “How long have you known him?”

An eyebrow was slightly raised before she answered, grinning slightly, “We met while we were both sophomores at college. I was going through a really rough time then and Jack calmed me down. Taught me how to focus my energies to what I wanted. We were very close for a while, but it didn't work out. We decided that we would make better friends than lovers.”

“OK, one more question. What does AJ stand for?”

The eyebrow almost hit the hairline. “That is top secret information. I don't tell anyone that. How do I know that I can trust you?”

Sam batted her eyes while trying to look innocent.

“Yeah right, that works. OK, I'll tell ya what the A stands for, but that is it. I hate my middle name. And it doesn't go out to the public. I have a reputation to protect.”

Sam started laughing, “All right. I cross my heart and hope to die. I won't tell a soul. Now come on, it can't be that bad. What is it?”

        “Andrea. That's what the A stands for. You can call me Andi, but not Andrea. I hate that. And remember not in public. You call me AJ or Del. One of the two.”

Holding up her hand again like a pledge, Sam said, “I promise.”

The both laughed and AJ quickly pulled into an available parking space in front of an older three-story home. “Well, today must be my lucky day. I usually have to park blocks away. You must be my lucky charm. Let's go in and see what we can find out.”

They got out, walked up the stairs and went inside a simply decorated office. Oriental music was faintly heard in the background while the walls were adorned with Oriental prints done in black and white.

AJ walked up to the receptionist window and lightly tapped. It was quickly slid open and a young woman face appeared. “Del! It's good to see you. What can we do for you today?”

“Hiya Ling. I've got someone here I'd like Jack to take a look at. Got time for us today?”

        “Yes, go on back to room four and the Doctor will be there in about five minutes or so.”
AJ thanked her and escorted Sam to the appropriate room. After closing the door, AJ jumped up upon the examining table. Sam laughed, “I thought that I was supposed to sit on that.”

        “Yeah, ok. Besides I hear Jack's voice and I want to go over a few things first, so I'll be back in a few.”

With that she jumped down, opened the door and went into the hallway, closing the door after her. Sam shook her head and gave a small laugh. AJ was a character. She knew that she felt an attraction towards AJ, but now wasn't sure if the feelings could or would be returned. AJ had evidently had a relationship with this Doctor Jack and that they were still very good friends.

Just then the door opened and in walked a beautiful Asian woman, probably in her mid 30's, with long black hair and standing almost six feet tall.

“Hi, I'm Dr. Kim. AJ tells me that you have a memory loss. I'm going to examine you so I need you to change into this lovely gown.”

        Sam stood up with a puzzled look on her face; “You're Jack? I thought that you were a ….”

        “A man. She did it again. Del does that all the time. Let me start over. Hi, I'm Dr. Jacqueline Kim. I hear that you are having a problem with your memory. Why don't you change while I go and have a little talk with someone? Be right back.”

        Sam changed; Jacq returned and began the examination. She paid special attention to the bump on Sam's head. She noted that had been some bleeding, but that it had stopped and didn't appear to be too serious.

        “What was Andi…AJ like in college?” Sam quietly asked. “She said that you helped her through a rough period.”

        Taking a step back, Jacq cocked her head to one side and took a different, more intense look at Sam. After a moment she whispered to herself, 'You're the one.' And smiled knowingly. Jacq began to write on her chart. “We met right before her younger brother was killed. He was trying to clean up an old building and the neighborhood drug dealers didn't want that particular building cleaned up so they shot him. In fact, it's the same building that she lives in now.”

        Picking up a retina scope, Jacq walked over and peered into Sam's eyes. “She almost went over the edge and truly lost it. Del single handily cleaned up a three-block area of drug dealers, pushers and prostitutes. More than fifty arrests were made from the information that she uncovered. That woman literally kicked butts and took names.”

        “AJ did all that on her own? Did she get hurt or anything?”

        Jacq picked up the chart once more. “She was more mentally and emotionally exhausted than anything else. While all that was going on, AJ was also carrying a full load at college. OK now. I would like to do a C.A.T. scan and we have a machine here so why don't we head on over.”

        They walked out into the hallway and found AJ leaning against the receptionist desk talking to Ling. When she looked up and saw Sam, one of the awesome smiles burst forth. Sam couldn't help, but smile in response.

        “We're going to do a C.A.T. scan. I want to make sure that there aren't any fractures for us to worry about. You can come with us if you promise to keep your hands off the controls.” Jacq asked, passing by AJ.

        AJ quickly fell in step with Sam. “Who me? I never touch things I'm not supposed to. Don't say it Jacq. Now I get to see what makes you tick. Hey! This would be a good time for me to say, 'Here's looking into you kid'.” in her best Bogart impersonation.

        “Del! Please tell me that you didn't give this poor girl Sam Spade's name?”

        Holding up her hand in mock defense, AJ replied, “Hey! She looks like a Sam to me. What do you think that we should call her, hmmm? You know that I hate the name Jane and she doesn't look like a Doe.”

        Both Jacq and Sam laughed. Leaning close to Sam, Jacq whispered, “Sometimes she is so easy to get to. Remember that and you'll have a lot of laughter for the rest of your lives.”

        Sam turned and stared at Jacq with a puzzled look upon her face, while Jacq just walked away with a smile.

        By that time, they were at the scan machine. Sam lay down on the table and Jacq positioned her correctly.

        “We're gonna be right over there.” Pointing to a control panel positioned behind a glass partition. “I'll be able to monitor your heart rate and blood pressure from there. I'll also be able to talk to and hear you. I need for you to lie as still as you can.” She strapped Sam's head to the apparatus and walked over to the controls.

        Almost immediately Sam began to feel confined and when the table began to move backward into the enclosed area, the feelings became more intense. She closed her eyes, then closed her fist and squeezed as hard as she could.

        AJ was watching in the control room. When she saw Sam's hand clinch and her heart rate increase, she moved without thinking and before Jacq could stop her, she went around the partition and up to the table. “Sam, it's ok. I'm gonna be right here beside you. I'll hold your hand and talk you through this whole rigmarole. Don't worry. We'll get through this together.”

        During the entire procedure, AJ talked to Sam about herself. She mentioned her brother's death. How her father had been a detective in the San Francisco Police Department and her mother had been from one of the old Napa Valley families. They had been married for twenty-four years when they were killed coming home from her brother's funeral.

        Sam squeezed her hand in sympathy and AJ shook herself mentally to get out of the funk that she was going in. “Hey! I don't know about you, but I am starving. How about this for a plan? As soon as we finish here, we go to the Embarcadero Shopping Center, grab a bite to eat and then get down to some serious shopping. I personally can't wait until I get my own private fashion show.”

        Thinking to herself, Sam smiled, 'you want me to model for you. All righty then, but you better learn to be careful what you ask for.'

        In the control room, Jacq saw Sam's heart rate and blood pressure decrease as soon as Del touched her. She smiled as she listen to Del talk about her parents and said to herself, 'Oh yeah. She's the one that you have been waiting for Del. But it isn't going to be easy. Sam has some big problems and is going to need for you to be strong and to stand by her when no one else will. But in the end, it will be worth it.'

        The scan was then finished and the table began to retreat from the enclosure. As soon as it cleared, AJ leaned over Sam, who still had her head strapped down. With a slight leer on her face, she said, “Well now my pretty. I have you right where I want you. What do you think that I should do to you?”

        “What do you want to do to me?” was the quiet reply.

        That one question caused a multitude of images to race through both women's minds. Staring into each other's eyes, they could both see the desire boiling just beneath the surface. The temptation of many sweaty, sleepless nights, afternoons and early mornings. Or was it the promise of fulfillment? Neither one cared at that moment. Just the thought was enough right then.

        AJ leaned even closer and when her lips were about to touch Sam's, she instead whispered in her ear, “Ask me that question later and I'll show you.” With that she unstrapped Sam's head, then turned and walked away, taking large gulps of air.

        Sam sat up and watched the retreating back, feeling quite flushed herself.

        Jacq's voice came from the control room, “You can go and get dressed. As soon as you are changed, you can meet us in my office at the end of the hall.”

        As Sam changed back into the sweats, she thought about what was beginning to happen. It was so confusing because just the thought of her having no memory was as terrifying as the possibilities of this relationship. It was a good terrifying feeling, almost exhilarating. But was it because she was faced with the unknown or was this true attraction?

        While she was changing, AJ and Jacq were talking in Jacq's office. AJ was standing at the window with her arms crossed just staring out.

        “What are you feeling Del? Don't stand there all defensive. Tell me, what does this woman do to you?”

        AJ turned to face Jacq, who was sitting at her desk with her hands folded in front of her. “Don't give me that. You know exactly what she does to me. No, you first tell me what you see. Everything Jacq. Don't hold anything back.”

        Leaning back in her chair, Jacq voiced softly, “She is the one that I told you about years ago. Her life threads are intermingled with yours. Even now at the beginning of this relationship, you are almost in unison. But she is going to need you to do more than just find out who she is. She is going to need your protection and your many skills to get to the bottom of her mystery. This is not something that she can do on her own. It is too risky on too many fronts.”

        AJ hung her head, “I know. I knew that she was the one the second that she opened the office door. I just don't want to be hurt and left alone. I can't take that. Not again”

        Jacq stood up, walked over to AJ and lifted her head so that she could see her eyes, “You are gonna get hurt again, Andrea Janae Delgado. And you are going to hurt her, but in the end the rewards will outweigh the pain, so deal with it. You two will be stronger together until it is time for each of you to stand alone. And another thing, if you don't want people to know your full name, don't pass out on your dorm floor with your wallet in plain view.”

        “You've known my name for over ten years and you choose now to use it. I always thought that you believed that knowing a person's full name gave you power over then. Why now?”

        Jacq returned to her desk and sat down, “It does. Remember that later on. I just needed to get my point across. Come on in Sam.”

        The door opened and Sam walked in. “Am I interrupting anything important?”

        “Nope, have a seat. We were just talking about college days.”

        A she took a seat; Jacq opened her chart while AJ leaned against the wall, just looking at Sam. “Well you are in excellent condition. It is evident that you workout regularly. I could find no others cuts or abrasions other than the one behind your ear. From what I could tell from the cut and the position was that you might have been hit or have fallen. Either way, it was a glancing blow, no fractures or concussions. And I don't believe that it is the reason for your memory loss.”

        She leaned forward to make look Sam directly in the eyes. “I believe that you saw or heard something that was so shocking that you decided to block it out. But in doing so, you blocked everything out instead. Whatever it was must be connected with your everyday life, because only an emotional or psychological event could possibly cause this to happen. Your memory may return tomorrow, next week or maybe never.”

        Sam looked lost as she asked, “So what do I do now?”

        AJ came around, knelt in front of her and took one of Sam hands into hers, holding it gently. “You let me do what I do best. I'll find out who you are and why this happened. Please trust me to get to the bottom of this.”

        Sam placed her free hand on the side of AJ's face and lightly caressed it. “I trust you.”

        “Ok you two. You need to get out of here so that I can see my other patients.” Jacq stated while holding her office door open. “Stay in touch and let me know how things are progressing. That goes for the both of you.”

        They said their good-byes and headed out.


        At that same time across town, a taxi driver was having an intense discussion with a miniature King Kong and it was not going very well. The driver's lip was split and bleeding. “For the last time little man, where did you drop this lady off?” Kong held up a picture of Sam. “Her father doesn't like her running away from her fiancé. He's afraid that she will get caught up with the wrong crowd.”

        The driver tried to push Kong away from him. “Ok, ok. Give me a minute to think. You said last night around 10, right? Oh yeah! The blond! I took her to the Pan Pacific Hotel.”

        Kong pushed back hard, “Are you sure? You wouldn't be lying to me, you little worm, would you?”
        Coughing the driver answered, “No, that's where I let her out at. I swear.”

        Throwing a couple of twenty's in the driver's direction, Kong got into his car and screeched off. The man picked up the bills and got into his taxi. "Man! I wouldn't want to be that lady when he finds her." Gingerly touching his lip, he slowly drove off.


        After parking the car and walking inside the Embarcadero, AJ turned to Sam. “What would you say to having Greek for lunch?”

        With a straight face Sam replied, “It's all Greek to me.” And kept on walking.
        “I left that one wide opened, didn't I?”

        “Yup, and I walked in and made myself at home. Greek sounds good to me. You'll have to do the ordering though. And you might want to order a lot because I'm starving and I know that it isn't funny, but I can't remember the last time that I ate.”

        “Not to worry. We'll order enough food to last you until this evening.”

        “Cool.” Stopping to open the door to a restaurant named 'Lavash'. They were seated and began to look over the menu. Sam closed hers and placed it on the table. She looked over to AJ and began to scan her face. 'She is beautiful. Why do I feel so at ease with her? I feel so protected and safe.'

        The server arrived to take their order. AJ handed him the menus. “We'll start off with a bottle of the Amrthysotos white. Then we'll have a double order of Hummus with the raspberry vinaigrette, two salads with extra olives, a double order of Dolmades and four Gyros. For dessert we'll have the Baklava.”

         “Excellent choices, ma'am. I'll be right back with your wine.”

        After he walked away, Sam leaned forward to place her elbows on the table. “Ok, I have a question for you. I notice that you don't have a limp and you don't seem to have any trouble walking, so why do you carry that cane?”

        “Well, I don't like to use a gun unless I have to. Prefer to use the cane for up close and personal confrontations.”

        “Really? How can you use it for protection?”

        The wine and the Hummus were placed in front of them. AJ took a sip of wine before replying. “You can hook an ankle, an arm or even around a neck. You can block punches, baseball bats or even use it like a bat.”

        Sam munched on a piece of pita bread heaped with Hummus. “How come you don't use a gun? Isn't that rather strange for a private investigator not to?”

        “I have used a gun upon occasion and I am very good with it. And I am quite sure that there will come a time where I will have to use another. I just prefer not to. I am quite good with throwing knives and cards. In fact, I have used some pretty strange things as weapons. When we get back to my place, I'll show ya.”

        Their food then began to arrive so the conversation dwindled down to 'pass the pepper' and 'Mmmm, This is so good'. AJ was amazed with the amount of food that Sam put away. She ate most of the Hummus, all of her salad and three of the Gyros. The only thing that was left was the Baklava and she was just about to start on that.

        Sam picked up a piece of the sweet dessert with her fingers and took a bite. She closed her eyes and moaned in appreciation. “God, this is so good.”

        AJ watched as she took another bite. She smiled as Sam's eyes closed once more, but when Sam licked her the honey off her lips, she felt a different type of hunger. She wanted to crawl across the table and taste those lips. To delve into that sweet mouth and explore it depths. Her face must have had a look of want on it because Sam offered her the final bite by holding it out and asking, “Want some?”

        “Yes” was the whispered reply.

        They both leaned forward. AJ opened her mouth while Sam placed the delicacy inside. Before Sam could remove her fingers, AJ grasped her wrist and held it in place. She then proceeded to suck the remaining honey from Sam's fingers. This time they both felt stirrings. Sam's nipples tightened as if they were the ones being sucked and AJ felt herself getting moist.
        AJ never broke eye contact as she sucked and licked. She watched as the tip of Sam's tongue peeked out and moistened her upper lip. Sam's breathing was getting a bit deeper also. She gave a final soft suck and let Sam's wrist go. “Wanted to savor the last drop. Thank you. That was a perfect way to end lunch.”

        Sam continued sitting with her arm extended for a moment before she realized how ridiculous she looked. She quickly picked up her wineglass, took a gulp and then coughed when it went down wrong.

        “Are you ok?”

        Clearing her throat, she answered. “Yeah, uh. I'm fine. Thank you.”

        “Did you get enough?”

        Sam's head snapped up. “What? Excuse me, but what did you say?”

        AJ smiled. “I asked if you got enough to eat.”

        “Uh, plenty. Thank you. It was very nice.”

        Standing AJ placed some money on the table to cover the meal and the tip. She looked directly at Sam while saying, “Yes, it was very nice and I enjoyed it very much. Are you ready to go shopping?”

        Sam wiped her mouth one final time, stood up and looked at AJ. “Yup. I need some clothes. Let's go play.”

        They walked out of the restaurant and looked at the nearby stores. Sam sighed, “Well, I guess that we can start at the skin and work our way out. So…. How about Victoria's Secret?”

        AJ turned in the direction of the store. “Okie Dokie! Let's get this show on the road.”

        They walked into the store and began to look around. Sam went and picked out bra and panties that looked to be the right size, while AJ went over to the lotions and body scrubs to smell the different fragrances. She was testing one of the lotions when she was tapped on the shoulder.
        Turning she found Sam standing in front of her, wrapped in a white terry cloth robe. “I want to know what you thought about this.” And opened the robe. AJ's mouth dropped open and her eyes went wide.

        Sam was wearing a black matching bra and panty set. The panties were French cut so they showed plenty of leg and hip. The bra was cut low and had lace scallops around the edges while exposing an expanse of creamy flesh.

        AJ caught herself instinctively reaching out to touch what was before her. Blue eyes sparkled like fire as they traveled past the luscious breasts, down further to a flat stomach with its well-defined abs and then lower still to….

        “Well, what do you think?”

        “Uh…. What do I think? Uh…. Perfect. Absolutely perfect.”

        Sam smiled, closed the robe and walked back to the changing room. That was the reaction that she had thought that she would get. She changed into another set and put the robe on once again.

        After Sam walked away, AJ removed her coat and slung it over a nearby chair. Raking her hands through her hair, she wondered why this woman was getting to her. Why she felt the need to protect her from the moment that she walked in her door? And why she was letting Sam affect her libido so quickly? The thoughts that were racing through her head were enough to make anyone blush.

        As soon as she opened the door, Sam saw that AJ had removed her coat and was leaning forward with her arms braced against a counter. She looked as if she had raked her hands through her hair.

        AJ had heard the changing room door open so she turned her head in that direction. She straightened as soon as she saw Sam and began to walk towards her.

        Sam met her half way. “Are you ready for this?”

        Taking a deep breath, AJ looked her directly in her eyes. “Yes.” And reached forward for the tie to the robe. Untying it, AJ grasped the lapels and slowly opened it. Gradually she let her gaze travel the same path as before. This time Sam was wearing a pale green strapless bra with matching panties.

        AJ was breathing deeply as she dragged her eyes back to Sam's face. “What are you trying to do to me? Give me a heart attack?”

        Sam gazed up into her face, noticing a light sheen of sweat on AJ's brow. “No, I'm just giving you what you asked for?”

        AJ looked at her incredulously. “I asked you to do this?”

        “You asked for your own fashion show.”

        Turning back to the changing room, Sam let the robe slid from her shoulders to show that the panties that she was wearing were T-backs. Sam heard a soft moan come from behind her. As she turned to close the door, Sam saw that AJ was still standing where she had left her, but she was clinching and unclenching her hands, staring directly at Sam.

        Sam mouthed, “I'm so sorry.” And closed the door, leaning her head against it as she did. She had wanted to get a reaction, but had honestly thought that it wouldn't be anything like this. She had thought that maybe AJ would make jokes or be embarrassed about it. She had never thought that she see the desire that she saw in AJ's eyes. Or had she? Sam felt a heat spread throughout her nether regions. And why was she doing this? Was she a tease? Did she do this all the time and it was just coming out naturally? Why did she want this woman desire her? She knew that she had better stop before things got out of hand.

        She quickly dressed in the sweats and went out to pay for the items. As she placed them next to the register, she told the sales girls that she needed an assortment of color in those sizes and also asked where her friend went. She was told that AJ had arranged for the store to hold her items until they had finished shopping and was waiting for her in front of the store.

        Sam walked out of the store looking for AJ. She found her looking in a nearby jewelry store display window. She walked over to her and touched her on the arm.

        As AJ turned to face her, Sam said, “I'm sorry about that. I didn't think that it would get that intense.”

        AJ brought up a hand to gently cup Sam's face. “It's alright. I didn't think that it would either. I still want a fashion show, just not so provocative. OK? Now let's go get some clothes to cover up all that silk and lace.”

        They walk through the crowded mall with AJ's hand resting in the small of Sam's back, deftly guiding her between the people. She directed them into the GAP, where Sam picked out several pairs of pants, oxford shirts, polo shirts and sweaters. AJ discovered that she like imagining what was underneath the loose sweater and form fitting jeans.

        Their next stop was at Georgio's to pick out something dressy. AJ once again enjoyed the fashion show immensely. The skirts showed Sam's toned legs while the camisoles and halter-tops accentuated her other assets. Coordinating jackets were picked out for any chance that Sam would need to conduct business.

        They went to a couple of shoe stores to buy sneakers and dress shoes to go with all the outfits, before they went to their last stop at Bed and Bath. Sam wanted to pick out some lotion, body & facial scrubs and shampoo. She couldn't decide on which aroma she like the best, so she put a dab of peach and a dab on tangerine on the inside of each of her arms, near the elbow. Then holding them out to AJ saying, “Which do you like the best?”

AJ's left eyebrow rose almost to her hairline as she stepped between the offered arms. She gently took hold of one and brought her head down to the silky skin to smell. “Mmmmmm! Tangerine. Reminds me of sunshine and lazy days.” She released that and turned to take the other, her breasts brushing up against Sam's as she did. Taking the arm, she inhaled, “Ah, Peach! I can eat a peach for hours.” With that, she gave a gentle lick to the area. “Yup! Very tasty.”

        Sam shivered and swallowed visibly. “Uh, yeah…ok. I'll take them both.” And quickly gathered up her choices, heading towards a register,

        AJ smiled as she leaned up against a counter to wait.


        Kong confidently strode into the lobby and made his way up to the registration desk. "Excuse me. I need to know if you have someone registered here. I am unsure of what name she may be under, but this is what she looks like."

        The front desk clerk didn't even look at the picture. "I'm sorry sir. We don't give out information about our guests. I can't even confirm if she is registered at all."

        "Listen, I do not want her room number, I just want to know if she is here."

        The clerk straightened up and repeated, "I'm sorry. We do not give out any information. There is nothing that I can tell you."

        Kong reached to the inside pocket of his jacket and drew out a wallet. Opening it up, he pulled out a fifty-dollar bill. "I am sure that no one would need to know if you let something slip."

        Politely the clerk said, "Thank you sir for the offer, but we have policy here. There is nothing that I can do to help."

        Disgustedly Kong walked away from the desk. He knew that someone there would tell him what he wanted to know for the right price. Thinking that if the woman was indeed there or had been, that she would have had to leave by taxi. He walked outside and over to one of the doormen. "Hey, buddy! I am looking for someone. Can you help me? Have you seen this lady before?" And showed him the picture.

        "I'm sorry sir. We don't give out information about our guests."

        Kong almost stomped his foot in disgust. “What is it about you people? All I want is to know if she is here."

        A porter walked past him and happens to glance down at the picture. "Hey, that lady was here this morning."

        "Shut up Michael."

        Placing an arm around Michael's shoulders, Kong led him away from the doorman. "Where did you see her at?"

        Nodding his head towards the disapproving doorman, "Benny got her a taxi this morning."

        "Did you hear where she was headed?"

        "I think that I heard her say Jessie Street, but I can't be sure. Sorry."

        Kong gave his the same fifty-dollar bill that he had offered the desk clerk. "Thanks man." And walked to a waiting car.

        Michael walked back over to Benny the doorman. "See Benny. I made a little extra money and no one is the wiser."

        A voice behind him said, "You definitely did not learn from your last warning Mr. O'Brien. You were told what would happen if you gave out information on our guests again."

        The concierge stood sternly with his arms crossed. "Myra at the front desk called and alerted me to the gentleman that was asking about someone. I should have known that you would smell him out. Please pick up your final check and leave your uniform. Security will escort you."

        With that Michael was escorted off, the concierge walked back inside and Benny made a quick call.


        Sam & AJ were soon retracing their footsteps to the Mustang, picking up packages all along the way and before long were on their way back to AJ's place. About a quarter of the way there, AJ felt Sam's hand on her thigh. She turned her head to see Sam fast asleep. She placed her hand atop Sam's and drove the rest of the way home smiling.

        After closing the garage door and turning off the car, AJ turned towards Sam with the intention of waking her. Instead found her staring at her.

        “How long have you been awake?”

        “Not long. Sorry that I drifted off.”

        AJ got out of the car and began pulling out packages. “It's ok. I know that today has been a long one for you. Why don't we go inside, put away your clothes and you can take a nice, relaxing bath while I fix us something to eat?”

        Sam got out and helped her. “That sounds great.”

        AJ handed Sam the cane, picked up all the packages and headed upstairs. Sam was left to follow and to admire the sway of the hips in front of her and also the way that AJ's muscles bunched and moved underneath her silk shirt.

        They walked into the loft, proceeding directly to the guestroom. AJ placed the packages on the bed.

        “There are plenty of hangers in the closer, so help yourself. Oh, I forgot to tell you. There is an extra toothbrush in the drawer next to the sink in the bathroom that you can use. I'm gonna leave this to you, I need to check my messages and then I'll start dinner.”

        “Okie doke. I'll be fine here. As soon as I'm done, I'll be in to help.”

        AJ stopped at the door. “That's ok. You just do what you have to do and I'll worry about dinner. Besides you know the saying, 'Too many cooks spoil the pot' or something like that. I'll be fine.” And then headed toward her bedroom to change into something more comfortable.

        She hit the play button on the answering machine and she began unbuttoning her shirt. She stopped in her tracks with her shirt hanging open and she listened to Benny's message. Quickly turning, picking up the phone, AJ called his number.

        “Yo Benny! It's AJ. What's up?”

        “Girl! You sure took your own sweet time in calling me back. Listen; did a shorthaired blonde woman make it to your office this morning? She was dressed very nicely and carrying one of those huge briefcases.”

        AJ sat down on her bed. “Yeah, she made it. Why?” She could hear him through the phone, moving around and picking up papers.

        “Because about three hours after she left the Pan Pacific, some huge walking wall showed up looking for her. He was flashing money all over the place.”

        “What did he want to know?”

        “He wanted to know if the lady was staying there and where she went. A jerk of a porter told him that he overheard her saying that she wanted to go to Jessie Street. Thank god he didn't hear the full address or you might have company now. Something about this guy gave me the creeps.”

        AJ stood up and began pacing. “Benny, what did he look like? Can you describe him?”

        “Del, I am crushed. You should know better than that. I sketched him.”

        Slapping her hand against her forehead. “I'm sorry Benny. How could I be so stupid? Of course, you sketched him. Why don't you come over in a few hours? Say around 9:30-10 o'clock?”

        “Sure, I can be there then. Come to the side door?”

        “Yeah, ring the bell and I'll buzz ya in. See you then.”

        AJ hung up the phone and resumed changing her clothes. She put on a white T-shirt and black shorts, thinking the entire time. 'Hmmm, she already has someone looking for her. Are they looking for her or for the money…. or both? Next question is how did they find out about the Pan Pacific? Maybe they were at the airport, saw the taxi that she got into and tracked down it down. Ok, why didn't they grab here there? Maybe they lost her in a crowd and just caught a glimpse of her or something. Or maybe they were to follow her someplace where she was to deliver the money and they lost her in the traffic? Or maybe she was to buy something?” Taking a huge breath, she ran her hands through her hair. 'There are too many possibilities, so let's just wait and see what Benny has when he gets here.'

        AJ headed towards the kitchen, stopping by Sam's room along the way. “How are things going in here?”

        Sam was standing at the armoire with her back to the door. “Fine, I didn't realize that we had bought this much.”

        “Yeah, but we sure had fun doing it. I'll be in the kitchen if ya need anything. Ok?”


        After she walked in to the kitchen, AJ opened the refrigerator and then looked into the pantry to double-check on what food she had on hand. After perusing the items, she decided on Portobello Mushroom Soup, Caesar Salad and Spaghetti Carbonara with a nice bottle of red wine. Then remembering Sam's appetite, added sliced fruit to the list.

        After about fifteen minutes or so, Sam's voice came from the doorway. “All finished in there. I'm gonna take that shower now.”

        Turning around to answer her, AJ found that she had already left. 'She really must have wanted that shower.' And went back to preparing the salad.

        AJ finished with the salad, turned the soup down to simmer and then put water on to boil for the pasta when she noticed that Sam hadn't come out of the bathroom. Looking at the clock near the sink, she saw that almost twenty minutes had past since Sam went in.

        Concerned she went to the bathroom door and rapped softly. “Sam, are you alright in there?”

        Getting no answer, AJ cracked open the door and peered in warily. She didn't want a repeat performance of that morning.

        What she saw chilled her to the bone and she rushed to the shower. Sam was huddled on the floor next to the wall, rocking back and forth. AJ opened the shower door, went inside and knelt down next her, talking gently the entire time.

        “Hey Sam. It's ok. What's wrong? You can tell me. It's ok. Did you slip or something?”

        Sam shook her head no and continued to rock.

        AJ sat down on the tile and gathered Sam into her arms. She positioned her head so that she could look Sam in the face. “Come on, sweetheart. Tell me what is wrong. You don't want to scare me, do ya?”

        Sam brought her head up. “Like you could really be scared.”

        Smiling AJ answered. “There have been plenty of times when I have been scared. But that's not the subject right now. Tell me what's wrong.”

        “It just hit me. I was in the bedroom, putting away all the clothes when it hit me.”

        AJ moved Sam's hair off of her face. “What hit you?”

        Looking AJ directly in the face with green eyes rimmed in red from crying. “That I don't know who I am. I have no memory at all. Everything that I am, we went and bought today. I don't remember anything about myself, where I am from, what I am doing with all of this money. I don't know anything at all. Nothing.” She leaned her head against AJ's shoulder.

        AJ rubbed her back while saying, “Sweetheart, those clothes don't make you who you are. You are more than that. You are funny, quick witted and smart. Just right now you are really confused and afraid. And that is normal. Most people would have fallen to pieces way before this, but you just took it in stride. That tells me that you are used to being in control. But I promise you that we will get to the bottom of this. We will find out who you are and what happened to cause this. All right?”

        Sam nodded her head and looked back up at AJ. She smiled and then realized where she was. “I'm so sorry. I got you all wet.”

        AJ released her, stood up and pushed her hair away from her face before she reached over to turn off the shower. “Uh…that's ok. I needed to take a bath anyway. Uh, I…ah think that I need to go check …ah dinner. Think that I hear the salad burning.”

        AJ quickly grabbed a towel and ran to her room as she came aware that Sam was standing within arms reach wearing nothing, but a smile. As soon as she closed her door, she leaned up against it and took a deep, calming breath. 'Whew! That was close. The temptation almost got you. Remember that she is a client, Del. As much as you want to be with her, you must remember that.”

        She pulled off the T-shirt and threw it in the corner and the shorts soon followed. Toweling off, she went and found some black sweatpants and a lavender sleeveless T-shirt and put them on. Quickly she brushed out her hair, opened her door and walked towards the kitchen. As she passed the quest room, she saw that the door was open and the room was empty.

        As she walked into the dining area, AJ found Sam about to lay down place mats and silverware on the table. She looked up, “Thought that since you were fixing dinner that I would help out and set the table. Or do you want to eat in the kitchen? I see that we're having red wine, so where do you keep the wineglasses?”

        “Let's eat in the kitchen, if you don't mind. And the glasses are in the cupboard next to the sink. You wanna a glass now?”

        Sam followed AJ into the kitchen, found the glasses and poured the wine. As she handed one to AJ, she asked, “You need help with anything?”

        “Nope.” AJ checked the soup, opened the refrigerator, took out the sliced fruit and placed it on the counter. Motioning to one of the stools set off to the side, “Here's something for you to munch on until the rest is ready.”

        Sam brought over a stool, sat down and picked up a slice of kiwi. She looked at it a moment before turning a questioning gaze at AJ.

        AJ smiled and picked up a slice. “It's a kiwi. Kind of tart and has small seeds like a strawberry. I think that you'll like it.” And with that she popped her slice into her mouth.

        Taking a tentative bite, Sam's eyes went wide, as the flavor seemed to explode on her tongue. “Ooh, I like this. And what is this?” pointing to a different shaped fruit.

        “That's a Carambola or some people call it the Star Fruit. I think that you'll like that also.”

        AJ laughed, grabbed another slice of kiwi and then began mixing up the Caesar Salad. The egg, Parmesan cheese and oil were soon coating torn pieces of romaine lettuce. She placed equal portions on two salad plates and set one in front of Sam.

        “Would you like some fresh cracked pepper on top?”

        “No thanks. This is fine for me.”

        AJ grabbed the pepper mill and gave quite a few twists over her own plate. “Me, now I love pepper. Can't get enough sometimes. Eat up. The soup will be ready by the time that we get finished with this.”

        She poured herself another glass of wine and offered Sam some more. They quickly finished off the salad; AJ picked up the plates and put them into the sink. Reaching inside the cabinet, she took out a couple of soup bowls and ladled the soup into then.

        Once again she placed a serving in front of Sam. “Enjoy!”

        Sam took a small taste. “What kind of soup is this?”

        “Portobello Mushroom Soup.”

        After taking another mouthful, Sam stated, “This is really good. It has a rather smoky flavor. I like it a lot. Where did you learn to cook?”

        AJ was quiet for a few minutes. Sam could see that she was somewhere in her mind, reliving the past.

        Quietly AJ said, “When I was small, I used to spend afternoons in the kitchen with my mom and brother TJ. Mom was adamant that we both know how our way around the kitchen. I guess that after they died, I felt like I was near them whenever I was cooking, so I got really good at it.”

        Sam reached over and took AJ hand in hers. “I didn't mean to bring back bad memories.”

        AJ's eyes were bright with memories. “You didn't bring back one single bad memory. Every one of them were happy and I am very glad that I was able to share them with you and in this room.”
        The soup was soon gone and the Spaghetti Carbonara soon followed.

        AJ started clearing off the counter and filling up the sink with soapy water. “Why don't you head into the living room? This won't take me long.”

        Sam paused grabbing a drying towel. “Are you sure that you don't want some help?”
        “Nope, I got this covered. Besides you are a guest and since this is your first night in my home, you get to take it easy. Now tomorrow is a whole different story. Go ahead and find us something good to watch on the TV.”

        After reluctantly leaving the kitchen, Sam wandered into the living room and spent the next several minutes learning how to turn on the TV and selecting the channels. She finally decided upon the discovery channel and a program on bees. She plopped down on the sofa and settled down to watch.

        AJ made quick work on the dishes and cleaning up. She gave the counter one final swipe before tossing the towel into the dirty hamper and walked to the living room. As soon as she turned the corner, she saw Sam asleep on the sofa. Quietly she picked up a handmade afghan and gently covered her. Without stopping to think, AJ leaned down and placed a soft kiss atop Sam's head. “Don't worry sweetheart. I will get to the bottom of this mystery. This I swear.”

        Slowly AJ stood up, walked over to her recliner and sat down with her feet up on the footrest. She found the remote to the TV, turned it off and found that she was very content to just stare at Sam.

        After about a half-hour, AJ was startled by a low-pitched buzz. She quickly and quietly stood up and walked over to a side door. After looking at a nearby monitor, she pressed the release button and waited beside the door until she heard a soft knock.

        Opening the door, she stood aside as Benny walked in. It had been quite awhile since they had seen each other, but Benny hadn't changed very much. He was still slim, had his haircut close to his head and wore tie-dye t-shirt with ragged jeans.

        Giving him a hug, AJ said, "Man, it's been awhile. How have you been?"

        "Not too shabby. Seen you a lot in the news."

        AJ looked embarrassed. "Yeah, wish that I could keep a low profile, but it never seems to work. You bring the picture?”

        They walked into the living room where Benny spotted Sam sleeping. “Yup! That's the lady from this morning. I'm glad that she found you.”

        He handed her the picture. It was just of a man's face and was drawn on an 8x12 piece of paper.

        “Let's go into the kitchen where we can talk a bit. You wanna beer or something?”

        “Yeah, and if I know you, and I do very well, you'll have a Fosters in there.”

        AJ smiled, reached inside the fridge and brought out two large cans of the Australian beer. She handed one to Benny, opened hers and sat down to look at the drawing. The man's face was so well defined that it almost looked sculptured. The eyes were set just the right distance apart and were a startling bright blue. The white blond hair was trimmed like a high crew cut and he had a deeply dimpled chin.

        “Ok, tell me what this guy was like. How did he carry himself and what was he wearing?”

        Benny popped the top to the beer and took a long swig. “Well, either the wall lifts weights, takes steroids or he comes from a very big family. He didn't lumber like a lot of big guys. He walked very smoothly. I would say that he had some martial art training. He has a really deep voice and I want to say that he had an accent, but I couldn't tell you what it was.”

        AJ leaned forward. “Was it a soft accent like Spanish or a hard one sort of like German?”

        “It was hard like German. Slavic maybe. Anyway, he was dressed in a dark gray, double-breasted suit. Silk I think. A gold Figaro chain around his neck and a gold pinkie ring on his right hand. His shoes were definitely hand sewn. The watch was different though; it looked like it was a stainless steel divers watch. You know the kind that has all of the dials and buttons.”

        Grinning broadly, AJ reached over and thumped Benny on the back. “Geez Benny. You should've been a cop. I don't know anyone who would have noticed all those details. You did good.”

        Benny grinned back and took another pull off of the beer. “Yeah, well I didn't spend all that time around you and your dad for nuthin'.”

        “And I just thought that you were there for mom's food. Ok, I need to wake Sam up and have her look at this, but I need to fill you in a bit first. She can't remember anything about herself, but I am hoping that maybe this pic will jog her memory somehow.”

        As they stood up to leave the kitchen, Benny paused. “Del, please tell me that you didn't give this poor girl Sam Spades name.”

        “What is it about me that everyone thinks that I gave her Sam Spades name?”

        Benny put his hands on his hips and waited.

        “Ok, ok I did. But I just hate the fact that I am so predictable.”

        AJ walked over to the sofa and knelt down beside Sam's head. She gently touched her on the shoulder and gave her a slight shake. “Sam, I need you to wake up. There is someone here that I want you to meet.”

        Without opening her eyes, Sam reached up and tried to pull AJ down to lie next to her. “Lay here with me for one minute and then I will get up. I promise.”

        AJ glanced up at Benny with an embarrassing look. “Not now sweetheart. Maybe later. Right now you need to get up and meet my friend. Ok?”

        Benny watched this interaction with a very satisfied look upon his face. 'There are hearts breaking all over this town tonight, because if I am seeing this the way that I think that I am, AJ has just come off the most eligible list. And it is about damn time.'

        Sam opened her eyes, pushed off the afghan and gave a long stretch until she heard her joints give a loud pop. She sat up and found that she was sitting eye to eye with AJ. “How long was I asleep?”

        “About forty-five minutes.” AJ stood and motioned to Benny to come around and stand next to her. “I want you to meet a friend of mine. Sam, this is Benny.”

        Benny reached forward to shake her hand as Sam automatically stood to shake his. They stood there shaking hands as Sam stared at him and frowned. “You look very familiar to me. Ok, I remember. You are from the hotel this morning.”

        “That's right. I'm glad that you found AJ without any problems.”

        AJ gestured that they should all sit down. When they were seated, she handed Sam the drawing. “Do you recognize this man?”

        Taking the drawing, Sam gazed at it for a few moments before saying, “No, I don't know who this man is. Why?”

        AJ carefully watched Sam's face as she looked at the drawing and saw no emotions or any type of reaction. “This man tracked you down to the hotel and showed Benny a picture of you.”

        Sam's head jerked up from the picture. “How did he do that?”

        “I don't know. Maybe he somehow found the taxi you took from the airport.”

        Benny nodded his head. “All he had to do was to call the dispatchers with the number of the taxi and they would put him in touch with the driver.”

        Touching Sam on the arm to get her attention, AJ said, “Benny thinks that he spoke with an accent. Sind Sie sicher, daß Sie nie diesen Mann vorher gesehen haben?”

        “The same to you. What did you just say?”

        Leaning back, AJ rubbed her face; “I asked if you were sure that you have never seen that man before in German. I thought that maybe if you heard the language unexpectedly that you might automatically respond.”

        Sam shook her head. “Sorry, it didn't ring any bells. How many languages do you know anyway?”

        “Right at this moment I know six. Greek, Italian, German, Chinese, Spanish and of course, English. Gaelic is my next challenge.”

        Benny gave a snort type laugh, “You should have heard her in the neighborhood. We never knew what she was saying, but it always sounded awfully pretty.”

        One of Sam's eyebrows did an excellent imitation of AJ's and reached the hairline. “Wow! A multitalented woman. What else can you do?”

        “I have many skills.”

        “I bet.” Sam gave her head a slight shake. “Ok, back to business. Benny you said that this guy showed you a picture of me. What was I doing in this picture?”

        Benny smiled, “I was waiting for AJ to ask me about that. Good job for beating her to the punch.”

        “Hey, I was getting to it.”

        Laughing Benny continued, “Yeah right. You were standing in front of a stadium. You were wearing a blue and white jersey, black shorts, black shoes and white socks. It looked like that you were just about to play soccer or something.”

        “Did she have shin guards on?”

        “No, I think that she was carrying them.”

AJ frowned before asking, “Was there a banner, a sign or something that would show where she was?”

        Benny thought a moment with his eyes closed. Opening them quickly. “Yeah! Off to one side there was a huge banner. Couldn't tell what it said, but I did see an 'F'. And I think that it was a gold one.”

        AJ leaned back to think. “An 'F'. Hmmm, a stadium. You could be going to play rugby or soccer. Sounds like a sports uniform to me.”

        Benny looked astonished, “Boy! You are good. But she wasn't smiling. In fact Sam, you looked quite sad.”

        Sam put down the drawing and leaned back. “Great. Now all we know is that I may play soccer or rugby. I don't know German, but I do know what Oolong tea taste like.”

        Reaching over to take Sam's hand into her, AJ quietly said, “It's ok. It is a start. We aren't going to find out everything at once. This is like putting together a puzzle. First we have to find all the pieces and then we have to put them in the right place for us to see the whole picture. We will get through this, it will just take some time.”

        Sam looked at AJ with tears bright in her eyes, and then turned to Benny, “I'm sorry. It's just….”

        “You don't have to explain girl. I understand. Now you go splash some water on your face and when you come back, I tell you stories about AJ when she was a teenager.”

        “Oh, I'll be back for that.” And Sam then excused herself and headed off.

        AJ reached over and thumped Benny on the back. “Thanks man. Listen can you get a copy of this to all of the drivers that you know and maybe to some doormen? We need to know if this guy is still out there asking questions.”

        Looking very proud of himself, Benny leaned back in his chair. “Already done. They've had it since about four-thirty this afternoon. They'll give you a call if they spot him.”

        “Good job. Are you gonna stay at work because this guy might come back and he might not be polite this time?”

        “Yeah, I have no reason to leave. The jerk that told him about Jessie Street was fired, which was about time, so the wall won't be able to get any more information.

        Sam walked back in with her face still damp. She sat down and leaned forward. “Ok, spill it. Tell me all about AJ.”

        AJ's eyebrow rose to the hairline as Benny leaned back with a grin. “Well, let's see. I could tell her about the time that she painted half of the kids on the neighborhood with black and white stripes.”

        “We were playing cops and robbers and they were the bad guys.”

        “Or how about the time you switched everyone's mail?”

“Hey! Everyone had fun getting to know each other and they weren't too upset.”

Benny laughed, “That's true, but you were grounded for a month after that. Actually Sam, AJ was the one kid that all the parents trusted watching over the others. And the reason that she speaks all those languages is that one time or another, AJ worked for every business in a three block area.”

Turning to AJ, Sam asked, “Just how many places did you work?”

Counting off on her fingers, AJ replied, “Lee's Laundry, Lotus Court and Wong Way Insurance is where I learned Chinese. Max's Deli and Berlin Bakery supplied the German. Spiro's Fish Market was an experience in Greek. Antonio's tailor shop and Mom taught me Italian and Pop was in charge of the Spanish.”

“Yeah, and when there was a neighborhood meeting, AJ was in charge of the translating. She made enough extra money to buy her Mustang and fix it up.”

“Wow! I'm impressed.”

Snorting back a laugh, “Quit, I just did what any kid would do when they want to buy a car. That's enough about me. Ok?”

“Aw, please? I want to hear more.”

Standing AJ finished her beer and walked into the kitchen. Benny reached over to pat Sam's hand. “Don't worry. She just gets embarrassed easy. I'll tell you all you want to know another time.”

“I heard that.” Came from the doorway. “You had better watch it or I'll tell stories about you. And you know that you have much more to be embarrassed about than I do.”

“Okie doke. I'm out of here.” Standing Benny reached for Sam's hand. “It was really nice meeting you formally. I know that AJ will get to the bottom of this mystery.”

Pushing aside the hand, Sam instead hugged him. “Thank you so much for the drawing and for telling me stories about her. We will have to get together again sometime.”

AJ walked Benny to the door. “Thanks again man. You be careful. Here's my cell phone number and I'll make sure that the regular number is forwarded in case the others try to call.”

“I'll make sure that I have my number forwarded also. You call me if you need anything at all.”

“Thanks Benny. You take care o' you.”

And with that, Benny left out the same door that he had entered in.

AJ turned and began to walk back to Sam. She went to the living room, but Sam wasn't there so she started towards the bedrooms when she heard noises coming from the kitchen. She walked in to find Sam putting away the dishes.

“Thought that I would make myself useful while you were finishing up with Benny. I like him. He seems like a great friend.”

AJ leaned against the door jam. “Yeah, he is. Sam, I have a question for you. Why me? I mean, what made you pick me out of all the other private investigators?”

Sam was quiet for a few moments as she continued to put away the dishes. Softly she said, “I saw you on the television, but mainly it was your ad. It said, 'Have you lost something or someone important to you? I can find them. Let me help you.' I just liked the way that it was worded. God knows I've lost something important.”

“Oh ok. I will help you find it. You do know that, don't you?”

Sam turned and walked until she was standing directly in front of AJ. “I know that. I have faith in you.”


Laying her hand on AJ's forearm, Sam bowed her head, carefully choosing her words. “I've met and talked with a couple of your friends. I've seen how they are and how they react around you. They hold you in very high esteem. I can't really put into words how you make me feel other than to say, I feel safe with you. I know that you will do what you say if there is any possible way for you to do it.”

AJ reached out a finger and placed it under Sam chin to raise her face. Once again unshed tears glistened in Sam's eyes. “I think that we've had enough excitement for the day and before we turn in, I don't know about you, but I could use a hug.” And AJ opened her arms wide and Sam walked into her embrace.

They stood that way for quite a few minutes. Neither moving and both just enjoying the closeness and the possibility of a relationship that was teaming underneath the surface.

Slowly Sam pulled away. “I think that I need to get some sleep. Thank you so much for today and for being here.” With that she stood on her tiptoes and gave a quick kiss on AJ's lips and then walked to the guestroom.

        AJ stood there for a moment. She was so tempted to follow her, but knew that she couldn't. That she shouldn't. Instead she left a quick note saying that she would be downstairs and headed on down to her office.

        As she walked in, AJ reached for the light switch, but stopped herself from turning it on. She instead walked over to her desk and sat down. She turned so that she could look out over the city and took a few minutes to get her thoughts in order. Once she had done that, AJ turned on her computer and opened a new file that she named 'SAM'.

        For the next hour she entered in all the information that they had at that moment. Nothing was too small not to be included. AJ tried to keep her descriptions of Sam as professional and businesslike as she could and for the most part, she succeeded.

        She saved the file, turned off the computer and was once again, sitting in the dark looking out over the city. AJ sat there looking out and planning their next moves. The most logical move was to go the airport the next day and see if they could talk to the flight attendants. Maybe they would be able to give them additional information. What they would do after that would depend entirely on all the information they would have up to that point. They may stay in this area trying to figure out why Sam came here or maybe they would start backtracking to where she had started.

        Taking a deep breath, AJ held it for a count of ten and then released it. She repeated it once more, and then she stood up to go back upstairs and go to bed. As she reached the top of the stairs, she set the alarm and headed to finally take her shower.

        As she passed Sam's room, she noticed that the door was ajar so she peeked in. Sam was sleeping peacefully on her stomach. The sheet was down around her waist. AJ once more was tempted to go in and cover her up, but she resisted and headed into the bathroom.

        She stripped off her clothes, put them in the hamper and walked into the shower. Turning on the water, she took a few moments to adjust the temperature to her liking before she stepped underneath the pulsating water. She let the water cascade down, dropping her head forward to let it the back of her neck and shoulders. AJ used this technique nightly to clear her mind and to get ready for bed. She mentally went through the day and filed away any loose thoughts that were tumbling around.

        Soon she had a clear mind.... well almost clear. There was one distinct image that refused to leave. Sam's green eyes shined brightly in AJ's minds eye. Her supple body moved sensuously up against AJ's in the fantasy. Sam glided up to her and began to kiss her neck, then slowly moved to her collarbone. Sam's hands were busy caressing and kneading AJ's breasts. Slowly her lips moved lower until they were surrounding an areola. She flicked the nipple with her tongue and gently began to suck. One of her hands moved past AJ's stomach, going lower until her fingers gently brushed against....

        AJ's eyes snapped open as she emitted a low groan. 'Do not got there Del.', She admonished herself. Shaking her head, she reached over and turned off the hot water. She gasped as the ice cold water hit her overheated body. Quickly she lathered up a washrag and cleaned herself, carefully avoiding the area the ached to be touched. Rinsing off, she turned off the water and stepped out. After drying off and brushing out her hair, she put on a pair of black silk boxers and an old, soft white t-shirt.

        She walked towards the kitchen, intent on getting a glass of milk to drink. As she passed Sam's room, she thought that she heard a noise. Pausing she listened closely, but didn't hear anything else. She continued to the kitchen, poured herself a glass of milk and leaned against the counter as she drank it. Rinsing the glass out, she placed it in the sink and turned out the kitchen light. Once more she walked through the living room, making sure that the rest of the lights were out and then headed towards her room.

        This time as she came approached Sam's room, she could hear Sam moaning and thrashing about. She slowly opened the door and looked in. She could see Sam moving her head back and forth while her hands clinched the sheets repeatedly. AJ walked to the bed and saw a light film of sweat on her forehead. Sam's eyes her moving underneath her eyelids like she was searching for something..... Or someone.

"Papa!" was whispered frantically over and over again.

AJ knelt down and gently tried to unclench her right hand while softly talking to her. "Sam, it's ok. You need to wake up. Come on sweetheart, open your eyes for me."

One of Sam's hands let go of the sheet and swung wildly in the air. AJ quickly grabbed it and brought it back down to the bed. It was obvious to her that Sam was having a nightmare and AJ became unsure on whether or not to wake her. Maybe Sam would remember something in the dream, but she could also hurt herself if she continued to thrash about.

"Papa, where are you?" Sam nearly shouted.

AJ stood while still holding onto Sam's hand and with one high step, got into the bed behind Sam. Lying down, she wrapped her arms around the sweaty body and pulled her close. "Shhhh, it's ok. I'm right here. We'll find your Papa. Shhhh."

Sam continued to thrash around for a few more minutes, but as AJ continued to whisper to her, the movements became less and less until it stopped completely. They stayed that way for so long that AJ thought that Sam had gotten over the nightmare. Slowly she began to let go of the slumbering form when Sam turned in her arms.

"Please don't go. Stay with me. I don't want to be alone. Please stay." was whispered. Her green eyes looked beseechingly into AJ's concerned blue eyes.

AJ knew that she should leave. That her body would somehow betray her during the night while she slept, but her heart knew that she couldn't leave this bed at that moment for anything. That the woman that was in her arms needed her to keep her safe, even if it meant just keeping her safe from her nightmares.

Sighing deeply, AJ rolled onto her back, pulling Sam with her. "I'll stay. You won't be alone, I promise."

Sam smiled and brought the sheet up to cover them both. She laid her head on AJ's shoulder and placed her right arm across her stomach. "Thank you."

Sam fell asleep almost at once while AJ stayed awake for a while longer. She listened to Sam's breathing become slowly and deeper. Without her realizing, AJ was softly rubbing Sam's back and maybe it was that action that finally lulled her into a deep sleep also because they both slept the rest of the night peacefully.


         It was 3 p.m. in the offices of van Steen Diamond Exchange where the Second Vice President stood looking out over the city of Rotterdam and watched the people below hurriedly walk or ride their bicycles to work.

Turning away from the window and making his way over to his desk, Nik van Steen sat down in his red leather executive chair and began to look through the papers on his desk.

The room was sparsely, but elegantly furnished with stainless steel, glass and leather. The desk was of stainless steel painted red with a glass top. There was a red leather sofa and two matching chairs also in the room. A desktop water fountain was place on a table at one end of the sofa, while an array of liquor bottles were perched on a small bar in the opposing corner.

The man who sat at the desk was dressed in subdued colors with the exception of a red tie. His dark hair was cut in the latest fashion and his clothes were straight from a designer's showroom. His green eyes coolly looked at the contracts before him.

The phone chirped and Nik pressed the speaker button. "Goedemiddag Nik van Steen."

A deep voice came over the speaker, " Goedemiddag. I have an update on your target."

Nik leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. "Continue."

"Target was spotted leaving the airport, but was not followed. We were able to track her to a hotel the next day, but we missed her again. However we do know the general vicinity where to look."

"Who was responsible for missing the target at the airport?"

The voice coughed, "That was Tristan. He said that the traffic delayed his timely arrival at the airport."

Nik opened his eyes and leaned forward, staring intently at the phone. "Do you believe him?"

"No meneer, I do not. I believe that he was otherwise occupied and lost track of the time."

"Fine, deal with him. Make him an example to others to show what happens to those who do not act responsibly. Use additional personnel to locate target. Do whatever you have to do, just find her."

With that, he punched the button to hang up and leaned back again in the chair. The situation was getting out of hand and measures would have to be taken to bring about a favorable outcome. He had not expended great time and effort for it to not come out in his favor.

He leaned forward and punched the speaker button again, this time he also punched an oversea telephone number and sat waiting someone to answer.

It rang a number of times before a voice came on, "van Steen Diamond Exchange. How may I help you?"

"Yes, this is Nik van Steen calling from Rotterdam. May I please speak with Bert van Steen?"

"Yes sir, right away."

Muzak came over the speaker for a few minutes before a voice spoke. "Goedemorgen Nik. What is the update on the situation?"

"She is being tracked as we speak. They lost her at the airport, but do have an idea of where she may be located. We will find her Uncle. You have my word."

The sound of paper rustling came through, "You had better. I have spread the word that she and Laurel have decided to go down to Florida to do some sightseeing, so that give us two weeks before the audit. We either need to get that money back or come up with quite a story as to why she would have taken it."

"Do not worry Uncle. I'll come up with a story just in case that we need it. What did you do with the body?"

"I tossed it into the East River after I took you to the airport. The currents should wash her out to sea and she should never be found. I am sorry that Laurel could not understand what had happened and agreed to help us."

Nik shook his head, "Neither one of them were ever going to help us. They were too much like my father. Anyway, I will keep you up to date on the search. I may need to come over and take charge of the situation myself though. The fools in San Francisco need someone to show them how to get results. I will let you know when I plan to leave. tot dan Uncle."

"dag Nik. Stay in touch."

Nik punched the button once again and the room was filled with silence. He got out of the chair and walked back over to the window. Yes, going to San Francisco sounded like a good idea, but he would have to wait a day or so that he could make an appearance at the club. He had to be there tonight or there would be hell to pay.

He stood at the window for quite awhile before finally turning back to his desk and getting to work.


        Sam woke as the pillow beneath her shifted and sighed. Slowly she opened her eyes and found that she was mere inches away from AJ's lips. She had one arm around AJ's waist and was resting her head on her shoulder, while AJ had both arms wrapped around her. Raising her head slightly, Sam drew back so that she could see AJ's entire face.

        AJ's full lips were parted and Sam was tempted to lean forward to gently suck on the bottom one. She restrained herself with some effort. Her eyes traveled past the finely sculpted nose to come to rest on the luscious eyelashes. AJ's face was completely relaxed in sleep and once again Sam was struck on how utterly beautiful this woman was.

        Sam knew that she should move, should gently escape the gentle constraints of AJ's arms, but she was too comfortable and felt so content that she laid her head back down and drifted back off to sleep.

        An hour or so later Sam awoke to find herself alone in the bed and thumping noises coming in from the hallway. She sat up in bed, wiped the sleep from her eyes and ran her fingers through her hair to attempt to straighten it. Climbing from the bed, she went to the bathroom to take care of business and to wash her face.

As she came out, Sam then went in search of the strange noises. They sounded like they were coming from the workout room. Peeking past the doorframe, Sam's eyes went wide at the sight in front of her. AJ was standing in a fighter's stance, hands and feet were wrapped in what looked like ace bandages and had a blue bandana about her head as a sweatband. She was wearing black shorts and a gray sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off. She was also covered in sweat and was breathing hard.

Sam watched as AJ punched, kicked and generally beat the stuffing out of the heavy bag. That went on for another ten minutes until AJ finally noticed her out of the corner of her eye.

"How long have you been standing there?"

"Uh," Sam couldn't think of what to say to cover up the fact that she had been staring. "Not long. Wow! I'm impressed. That's quite a workout. Do you do that every morning?"

AJ began to unwrap her hands, "Nope, most mornings I run five miles and then meditate, but this morning I had a lot of excess energy so I decided to take it out on the bag." She finished the hands and then went to work on her feet. As soon as she finished, she squatted down, placed her hands flat on the floor and slowly straightened her legs until she had them fully extended. AJ then grabbed her ankles and pulled her body even closer to her legs.

Sam's mouth dropped open as she watched AJ slowly straighten up and then lean over backwards to do a walkover. "Uh, I'm gonna fix some breakfast. Is there anything special that you want?"

AJ turned, "Nope, anything that you fix will be fine. I'm gonna take a shower, clean up and then I'll be in to help."

"No, that's fine. I've got it." Sam said quickly and rushed off.

AJ smiled because she knew how Sam was feeling at that moment. It was probably the same way that she had felt when she had woken up and found Sam lying almost completely on top of her. She had wanted to wake her with gentle kisses and caresses, but knew that it was way too soon. If it was going to happen, and she thought that it would, it would have to be at a later time. So AJ had carefully extracted herself from Sam's embrace and almost immediately came into the workout room to work off the need that she felt.

Walking into the bathroom, AJ removed her sweaty clothes, threw them into the hamper and stepped into the shower. Turning on the water, she found a comfortable temperature and got underneath. Quickly she rinsed off, then poured a generous amount of shampoo into the palm of her hand and began to wash her hair. Following that was cream rinse, which stayed on while she lathered up a washcloth and cleaned her body. After finally washing out the rinse and making sure that all the soap was off, she turned that water to as cold as she could stand it. AJ knew that today would be just as frustrating as the previous day had been.

After standing under the water until her teeth were chattering, AJ finally turned it off and got out. She grabbed a bath sheet and briskly toweled herself dry until her skin was a rosy hue. She wrapped the towel around her and walked out of the bathroom, heading towards her bedroom.

        Sam happen to glance down the hallway as AJ was walking into her room. “Lord, give me strength and please let there be plenty of cold water in the shower later. That woman is down right beautiful.'

        Sam turned back to the stove and to the breakfast that she was making. She had found asparagus, eggs, mushrooms, cheese and potatoes in the refrigerator, so she had thought that an omelet with home fries had sounded perfect. And she definitely needed something to keep her mind off the woman that was just a few feet away.

        She had just finished squeezing the orange juice and had turned around to call AJ when she slammed into a very soft body.

“Hey! Are you all right?”

AJ's arms were wrapped around her to keep her from falling. Sam's face was gently pressed against AJ's breasts.

A muffled, “I'm fine.” drifted up to bring a smile to AJ's face.

Taking a step back, AJ gently pushed Sam away from her. “Didn't mean to startle you.”

Sam smiled and looked up into AJ's face. “It's ok. I didn't hear you come in. Breakfast is ready.”

“I can see that, this all looks great. You didn't have to go to all this trouble.”

“I know that I didn't. I just feel like I am taking advantage of your hospitality and I wanted to do something to earn my keep”

AJ leaned against the counter and crossed her arms. “You don't have to earn you keep. I consider you a friend and all of my friends are welcome here. Now let's quit talkin' and get to eatin'. I'm starved.”

During breakfast, AJ purposely kept the conversation light and easy. She didn't want to push Sam into talking about the nightmare until she was ready. AJ's thinking was that maybe Sam would remember something in her dreams when she was relaxed and that the memories would come easier if she wasn't pushed too much.

Swallowing the last bit of omelet, AJ wiped her mouth and pushed her plate away from her. “That was the best breakfast that I've had in a very long time. Thank you.”

“I'm glad that you like it. So what's on the agenda for today?”

Picking up the now empty plates and glasses, AJ stood and walked over to the sink where she put them down. Turning back to Sam, she sat back down and leaned her elbows on the table. I called a friend of mine earlier this morning that works for the airline that you flew on. He found out the name of a flight attendant that was on your flight and had her call me. She is expecting us to meet her at her house in about an hour. I thought that we would go talk with her, find out what she remembers and then we can decide what to do next.”

“What did your friend tell her about my memory loss?”

AJ shook her head. “I told him that I just needed to talk to her about a case that I am working on. I've known him quite awhile so he assured her that I was on the up and up.”

Sam bowed her head, looking at her clasped hands. “Do you really think that she knows something that could help me?”

AJ reached over and gently tipped her head back so that she could see Sam's eyes. “I honestly don't know, but any information we get, no matter how small or trivial it may seem, will fit somewhere in this puzzle. We just have to find all the pieces. Now why don't you go take a shower while I clean this up.”

Sam pushed her chair back, stood up and walked over to stand beside AJ. “You always seem to know what to say. Thank you.” And with that, she leaned over and kissed her.

AJ's hands quickly grabbed the edge of the table in an effort not to grasp her around the waist and pull her onto her lap. Her knuckles turned white as she tightened her grip as Sam gently began to suck on her bottom lip.

Sam slowly pulled back, her eyes wide and breathing rapidly. She only had to wait a moment before AJ opened her eyes and they stared at each other. Sam noticed that AJ's breathing matched her own.

“I've wanted to do that since I woke up. It was as nice as I imagined it would be. Uh… I think that I should go take that shower now.”

Almost reluctantly she walked out of the kitchen, turning once to glance back at AJ.

As soon as Sam turned the corner and disappeared out of sight, AJ bowed her head and concentrated on her fingers, willing them to release their grip on the table. Slowly and painfully they did. As she was shaking her hands to restore the circulation, she was muttering, 'Cold showers, snow, ice, Alaska, Swiss Alps, Arctic Ocean, mud…. Wonder what she would look like mud wrestling. No! Damn it! Now you have to start over. Um…. Jesse Helms, Archie Bunker, Ronald Regan, Dr. Laura, Pat Robertson…”

The same train of thoughts was going through Sam's head at the exact moment, but she was aided by the cold shower. She hadn't even touched the hot water knob. She had just walked into the bathroom, stripped off her clothes, stepped into the shower and immediately turned on the cold water. 'Why did I do that? Why do I feel the need to tempt her so? Do I do this normally or is it a by-product of the amnesia? Am I a tease? No, I'm not. I can't feel this way about just anyone. AJ makes me feel safe and protected, and then after she comforts me, all I want to do is to taste her lips and other plac… Don't go there.' Turning the water even colder, it was quite a few minutes before Sam got out of the shower, somewhat in control of her libido.

        Sam quickly dried off, wrapped the towel around her body and hurriedly scampered to her room, where she dressed. Fawn colored slacks, tan boots, a green turtleneck and a cream-colored cable knit sweater completed the ensemble. After brushing her hair, Sam walked out of her room in search of AJ.

        Walking into the kitchen, Sam saw that the clean dishes in the rack were dry so she started to put them away. As she was putting the forks in the drawer, one slipped from her fingers and tumbled to the floor. Stooping to pick it up, a pair of black boots came into her line of vision. Slowly her eyes traveled up past jean encased, long, well-formed legs, stopping briefly at a silver and turquoise belt buckle before continuing. A gray suede shirt slowed her travels momentarily before she finally reached a pair of sparkling, amused blue eyes.

        “Are you having problems with that fork?”

        Glancing down, Sam found that her hand was wandering all around the fork. Grasping it finally, She stood up so rapidly that her head swam for a moment.

        Gentle fingers steadied her. “Are you alright?”

        “Yeah, I just stood up too fast. You look nice.” It was that that Sam noticed that AJ had braided her hair back with a leather thong.

        “Thank you, so do you. Are you ready to go?”

Nodded her head and grabbed a light jacket while AJ put on her black coat. They walked downstairs, got into the Mustang and were soon on their way.

It took them about twenty minutes to get to the attendants apartment. During that time, AJ told Sam that she wanted to stick as close to the truth as she could. “Telling too many lies can catch up with us and do more harm than they can help.”

“Are you sure that you want to tell her that I woke up on her flight without a memory? Wouldn't that open up the airline to a lawsuit?”

AJ sighed. “Yeah, but we will have to make it clear that we have no intentions to bring a suit against them. Just follow my lead and we'll get through this just fine.”

They drove into an apartment complex and found the correct apartment. After knocking and waiting a few seconds, a strikingly beautiful red headed woman opened the door.

“Miss New? I'm AJ Delgado. I spoke with you earlier this morning.”

“Yes, please come on in.”

AJ stepped aside and allowed Sam to go in first.

“Won't you please have a seat?”

As she sat, Sam stared at the woman. “I remember you. You're the one that asked me if I wanted something to eat because I had slept through dinner.”

“That's right. Would someone please tell me what is going on?”
        AJ cleared her throat. “Miss New.”

        “Call me Debbie, please.”

“Ok Debbie. Ah…. Here's the problem. When she woke up on your flight, she had no memory and we were hoping that you could tell us everything that you could remember about her and what she did on the flight.”

Debbie looked shocked. “You're kidding, right?”

Sam shook her head. “No ma'am. I don't remember a thing before the flight. I don't even know how I got on the plane.”

“Why didn't you tell someone?”

Standing, Sam began to pace. “What was I supposed to say? 'Excuse me, but could you tell me who I am'? Yeah, that would have gone over real well. I was scared. I didn't know who I was, if I had done something illegal or what. You tell me what you would have done in my situation. Tell me!”

Debbie looked over to AJ. “I'm sorry. I don't know what to say.”

“It's ok. Just tell us what you remember about her.”

“Well, she was the last one to board. We were just about to close the door when she ran up, handed me her boarding pass and I directed her to her seat.”

Sam interrupted. “Did you notice my name on the pass?”

“No ma'am, I didn't. But there is no way you would have been allowed on the flight without some form of identification.”

AJ leaned forward. “That's right. Geez, I'm so stupid sometimes. These days everyone is asked to show a driver license or passport before they get on, even if they pay cash at the counter. That means that you have to have an ID somewhere.”

“But where? We both went through the purse and it wasn't there.”

AJ stood and walked over to a window. “We'll just have to look through everything again.” Turning back to Debbie. “Is there anything else that you can tell us?”

Debbie leaned back in her chair, closed her eyes and thought for a moment. “Yeah, you were very fidgety when you first came on, but as soon as the door was closed and we were in the air, you were out like a light. Didn't wake up until you remember. That's it.”

Standing AJ went over and shook Debbie's hand. “Thank you for your help and for taking the time to see us.”

Sam went and did the same. “Yes, thank you so much. We'll keep in touch.”

“You are welcome and don't worry. I won't tell anyone about this. Our mutual friend Mike says that you're good people and that's good enough for me.”

After thanking her again, AJ & Sam walked out of the apartment and to the car. Looking over the roof of the car, AJ saw that Sam was almost in tears.

“Hey, how would you like to go to a Japanese tea garden? I haven't done that in awhile and I miss it.”

Sam gave a small smile. “Yeah, that would be nice.”

They got into the car and headed towards Golden Gate Park. The drive was made in relative silence, each with their own thoughts. About halfway there, Sam hesitantly laid her hand on AJ's thigh. AJ looked over to Sam, gave her a stunning smile and entwined their fingers.

AJ parked the car near the Eighth Street entrance; they got out and entered the park. They walked in companionable silence with AJ occasionally pointing out things of interest.

They passed elderly Chinese men and women practicing Tai Chi and then rounded a corner, coming upon a Japanese pagoda. Sam could see waitresses scurrying about in traditional kimonos and tabi shoes. They found themselves a table and soon were sipping on Jasmine tea and nibbling on cookies.

After a few moments, Sam finally broke the silence. “So what happens if we can't find an ID? Where do we go from there?”

Sitting down her cup, AJ replied. “Well, I think that we will have to start backtracking and go to New York. That is the next logical step.”

“Won't we have a hard time getting me on another plane without an ID?”

Giving Sam a grin. “Nope, I have a couple of friends that owe me favors who can help us. Now are you ready to walk through a Japanese garden?”

Sam nodded her readiness as they stood and they strolled past the ponds of colorful Koi fish and crossed over the Moon Bridge. The borders of the paths were awash with purple irises while bamboo gracefully arched over the pathways.

They had just walked over the bridge when AJ's cell phone chirped. “Hello.... Hey Benny. What's up?…. Really? Hmmm…. Was it the same guy that you saw? …. Yeah, ok. Thanks…. Yeah, I'll tell her. Let me know if you hear anything else…. Ok, bye.”

She turned off the phone, slid it back into her coat pocket and turned to Sam. “That was Benny. He says hi. Said that a taxi driver contacted him regarding the flyer that he had sent out. The driver said that a man matching the description had pushed him around yesterday, asking about a fare that he had picked up from the airport.”

“I'm the fare, right?”

“Yeah, he was shown the same picture that Benny saw. He told the guy that he had dropped you off at the Pan Pacific. That's how he tracked you down.”

Sam turned and walked a bit away. AJ wanted to go to her and wrap her arms around her, but knew that she needed to gather her thoughts for a minute.

“Was the driver hurt?”

AJ came to stand beside her. “I think that he had a split lip, but was ok other than that.”

Turning to face AJ, Sam stated. “I don't want anyone getting hurt because of me. I don't think that I can handle that. I especially don't want you hurt.”

AJ reached out and pulled Sam into her embrace. “I can't promise you that no one is gonna get hurt. All I can promise is that I will protect you the best that I can and that we will find out what happened to you.”

Sam leaned back so that she could gaze into AJ's eyes. “I have faith in you. I know that you'll do your best.”

They remained in each other's embrace for quite a few moments, each fighting their own urge to kiss. Voices from approaching tourists broke the spell.

Reluctantly AJ took a step back. “I guess that we had better head on home and go through that purse again.”

The walk back to the car was just as quiet as the first, but this time for a different reason. They got into the car and had just pulled into traffic when AJ's phone chirped again. “Hello…. Yes sir…. That's right…. Where was this?…. Thank you very much.”

Disconnecting the call, AJ checked the traffic and made a quick right turn down an alley. “That was a taxi driver. Apparently the Mystery Man had just gotten into his car when three guys dragged him out and went into an alley. It happened only about five blocks from here.”

AJ reached down and flipped a switch near the floorboard and the windows darkened lightly. “Now no one can see in. Now I want you to listen to me carefully. When we get there, I want you to stay in the car with the doors locked. No matter what happens, you stay in the car, ok?”

“I promise. You just be careful.”

They turned another corner into a dirty alleyway and saw three men walking away from a pile of cardboard boxes. AJ pulled the car slowly into the alley until they were about two hundred feet away.

“Remember, stay in the car and keep the doors locked.”

Sam grabbed AJ's forearm. “You remember to be careful.”

AJ gave almost a feral smile. “I'm just gonna see what's in the boxes.” Reaching behind the front seat, she pulled out her cane and closed the door.

Leaning slightly on the cane, AJ made her way towards the boxes. The men had stopped at the far end of the alley and were now just watching her.

As she drew even with the boxes, AJ saw a body that may have once resembled the Mystery Man, but now the face was broken and bleeding and AJ could see that his left knee was smashed. Kneeling down next to the body, AJ felt for a pulse, but didn't find one. The man had been beaten to death.

AJ could hear the men coming back up the alley towards her so she quickly went through the pockets, looking for any type of ID. She found a passport and had just enough time to open it to see that he was from the Netherlands, and then it was snatched out of her hands.

Using the cane to help her stand, AJ turned to face the men. “Gentlemen! What can I do for you today?”

The other two men flanked the man who had snatched the passport. They were all wearing dark, double-breasted silk suits, shirts and ties.

“Making a fashion statement I see.”

“What are you doing here?”

Smiling AJ replied. “Just a concerned citizen passing by. And you gentlemen would be?”

The man standing in the back on the right barked. “We are the ones asking the questions, hoer!”

AJ took a couple of steps away from the body so that she was in the middle of the alley. “Now I'm not sure, but I think that you just called me a bitch. That wasn't very nice. Don't do it again.” She growled.

The man reached inside his jacket and pulled out a gun.

AJ recognized it as a Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum. “Such a big gun for a little man. You really don't want to use that. It'll make too much noise and attract too much attention.”

The man in front, who seemed to be in charge, reached out and grabbed the other by the arm. “Put the gun away. She is just a girl and is using a cane. She will be easy to question. Go get her.”

The man put the gun away and he and the other one rushed at AJ. She smoothly sidestepped one, tripping him with the cane as he went by and whirled around, whipping the other across the eyes with her braid.”

“I'm not just a girl. I'm the woman who's gonna kick your ass.”

The man on the ground quickly jumped up and took a swing at AJ's head. She blocked it with her left forearm and hit him in the solar plexus with the cane. He dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes, gasping for air.

The impetuous one that had drawn his gun now reached inside his pant pocket and pulled out a butterfly knife. Flicking it open, he lunged at AJ. She grabbed his wrist and bent it painfully back and took the knife from him. Flicking it closed, she slapped the man and threw it back to him. “Nice try, you wanna give it another shot?”

Catching it, he again flicked open the knife and this time he swung at her mid-section. She grabbed his wrist as it went past her and snatched the knife from him again. As the man attempted to grab it back, AJ slapped him hard, twice, one forehand and one backhand.

“Little men shouldn't play with sharp pointy objects. They might get hurt.” With that said, AJ threw the knife at his foot. It went through his shoe, his foot and imbedded itself into the ground. “Nailed ya. Now stay there.”

The man howled with pain as he collapsed to the ground, trying to remove the knife.

The head guy now reached behind him to the small of his back and brought out a set of nun chucks. He shouted. “Peter! Get to the car and see who is in it.”

The man on the ground had finally caught his breath and now scrambled towards the Mustang.

AJ hooked one of his ankles with the crook of the cane, dragging him back a few feet before turning to face the flashing nun chucks. “Peter, stay away from my car. I don't like it to get dirty.”

She blocked a number of quick strikes with the cane before she could turn back to Peter. When she did, she saw that he was at the car and was reaching for the door.

Quickly AJ reached into a hidden compartment of her coat and drew out a throwing star. With a flick of her wrist, AJ sent it flying into Peter's wrist. He screamed in pain and dropped to one knee.

“This has gone on long enough.” AJ turned back to the nun chucks, swiftly snatching them out of the man's hands and began hitting him about the shoulders, chest and arms. He finally crouched on the ground, pleading and begging her to stop.

AJ had the chucks raised, preparing to strike another blow when she threw them away with a disgusted huff.

She turned to find Peter reaching for the door again with his other hand. Another throwing star seemed to sprout of his wrist and he collapsed to the ground.

AJ strode purposefully to the car and when she got next to Peter, She backhanded him, sending him flying into a wall. “I told you to stay away from my car.”

She turned and walked back to the man who was still cowering on the ground. Grabbing him by the throat, she pulled him up until they were eye to eye. “Why did you kill that man?”

He clawed at her hand and AJ released some of the pressure. “He failed at his job. He was made an example of.”

AJ squeezed harder once more. “You killed a man just because he didn't do his job right? What was he supposed to do and who do you work for?”

        The man shook his head and gasped. “He was supposed to pick up someone at the airport and he missed her. I can't tell you who we work for. They will kill me.”

        Suddenly a horn sounded behind her causing AJ to glance back to find that the impetuous one had finally removed the knife from his foot and was directly behind her with it raised over his head.

        AJ turned sideways to give him a sidekick to the chest that sent him crashing into an open trash dumpster. “I can't believe that you missed the point. I told you to stay put. Well, I guess that it's time to clean up the streets.” And she calmly pitched the man that she was holding into the same container.

        She then picked up the butterfly knife, wiped it clean on a stray piece of paper and put it in her pockets. It was quickly followed by the nun chucks. Walking over to Peter, AJ saw that he was unconscious so she removed the stars from his wrist and wiped them clean on his jacket, placing them back into her coat. She removed Peter's tie and bound his wrists together, effectively slowly the bleeding.

        Picking up Peter like he was a baby, AJ walked over and dropped him into the dumpster, slamming down the lid just as the head guy stood up.

Quickly scanning the alley, AJ didn't see anything that could be connected to her. She walked back to the car, unlocked the door and climbed in. Starting the car, AJ looked over to see Sam was staring at her. She reached over and placed her hand on Sam's arm. “Are you ok?”

Sam swallowed. “Yeah, I'm fine. I should be asking you that question. I've never seen anyone move like that before. You weren't hurt, were you?”

AJ pulled the car out of the alley and merged with traffic. “No, I'm not hurt. We need to make a quick stop though before we go home.”

AJ could tell that Sam really didn't want to talk about what had happened so she kept quiet. She also noticed that Sam occasionally reached over to touch her. Like she was assuring herself that AJ was all right. She wondered if Sam knew she was doing that.

About eight blocks away from the alley, AJ pulled over next to a pay phone. “I'll be right back.” She got out and made a quick call. She unobtrusively wiped the phone clean and started back to the car. On the way, she slipped the butterfly knife and the nun chucks into a nearby trashcan. Each wiped clean.

As she got back to the car, AJ gave a sigh. “I don't know about you, but I could use a bath. All that trash made me feel dirty?”

Turning to check the upcoming traffic, AJ had to smile as she barely heard. “Yeah, a nice cold shower would be really nice about now.” And they headed towards AJ's loft.


        About a third of the world away, Nik van Steen was walking into the Holland Casino. He was once again dressed in dark colors with the exception of a gray tie and kerchief peeking out of his breast coat pocket.

        As he walked in, Nik nodded his head to acknowledge the greetings that he was receiving all around. He slowly walked up the curved stairway to the second floor which held most of the gambling, especially the Baccarat tables. He almost felt a physical ache to walk over to the tables, but knew that he didn't need any more trouble.

        As if on cue, two men appeared on either side of him. “Madame Krystyn wants to see you in her office now.”

        “Well, let us not keep the lady waiting boys.”

        They all turned and walked towards a private elevator whose doors opened as they neared. The ride to the top floor was made in silence. As the doors opened upon reaching their destination, Nik stepped out alone and almost immediately a voice called out from across the room. “Nik, it is so nice for you to grace us with your presence. Can Werner get you a drink? I have found a Remy Martin Louis XIII that is pure ambrosia. You must try it.”
        Nik knew that if he turned his head a fraction to his right, he would find Werner standing there, awaiting his decision. “Yes, that would be nice. Get me one Werner.”

        Instantly an arm was wrapped around his throat while one of his own arms was twisted painfully behind his back.

        “Tsk, tsk, tsk. Nik, you should know by now that you may ask for something here, not order it. You are not in charge here. I am.”

        A shapely blonde woman sauntered into view. Her almost white, blonde hair hung past her shoulders and was held away from her face by two gold and diamond combs. A gold chain with a three-carat diamond draped elegantly from her shoulders. Her dress, which was molded to her body like a second skin was a strapless, black silk sheath. It was accented by another gold chain and diamond around her waist. With her four inch black stiletto heels, Krystyn stood almost six feet tall.

        Nik audibly swallowed as she came closer. He again felt a physical urge, but this one was more primal in nature. He also realized that he feared this woman, for as much as Krystyn enjoyed the finer things in life, she was an expert in inflicting pain and she took much pleasure out of it.

        “Where is my money Nik? It was supposed to be at my other club two days ago. And you know that I hate to wait. It makes me very irritable.”

        She reached down and grabbed him hard between the legs.

        Nik gave a squeak. “You will have the money within two weeks. I cannot get it to you any quicker. The company has scheduled an audit and I have postponed it too many times. I cannot put it off any again without arising suspicions. Just …. Just give me two weeks and you will have it. I promise.”

        Krystyn gave a final squeeze that took Nik to his knees. “You had better deliver Nik, because you know that I can make people disappear or even worse. I can make them wish that they were dead.” She turned and walked away. “Get him out of my sight, but before you throw him out with the trash, show him what we do to people that make me wait. Just don't hurt his pretty face…. too much. tot ziens Nik.”

        Nik struggled briefly and whimpered as he was physically dragged to a back elevator and out into the night. He knew what was coming.


        The ride back to the loft had been quiet. After many reassuring touches from Sam, AJ finally captured her hand and held it against her thigh until they got home. After parking the car and going inside, Sam followed AJ into the workout room. After AJ hung up her cane and was about to take off her leather coat, Sam posed a question. “Where do you keep the throwing stars?”

        AJ paused and shouldered the coat back on. Gripping the seam of the left sleeve near the forearm, she pulled and the ripping sound of Velcro releasing its hold filled the room, revealing three throwing stars. She repeated the procedure to the right sleeve to expose six mini throwing knives.

        Sam's eyes went wide. “Wow! …Ok, do you always carry this much?”

        AJ shrugged out of the coat and removed the two stars that she had used, placing them into a tray and pouring alcohol over them.

        “Well, the cane does have a short sword in it. I also had additional modifications done to the coat so that I can carry more knives on either side in the front and so I can carry a sword in the back.”

        “What other things or shouldn't I ask?”

        Giving her a wry smile, AJ started opening cabinet doors to reveal to Sam's utter amazement, a vast assortment of throwing knives. Some resembled a royal flush in cards, others were of different denomination dollar bills, throwing stars and there were a few throwing axes.

        Sam walked down the cabinets and saw a couple of pairs of Sais, Bo staffs, assorted swords and then something really caught her attention. It looked like someone had hollowed out a metal pie pan and had put an edge on it.

“What is that thing called?”

“Well, it's a Hindu throwing disc, but they were also used in ancient Greece and called a Chakram. I haven't quite got the hang of it yet though. You're supposed to be able to throw it, hit your target and after it has bounced off a few objects, it's supposed to come back to you, like a boomerang. But I just keep imbedding it into trees.”

        “All righty then.” Was Sam's response.

“Listen, I'm gonna take a shower and change. Make yourself at home, watch TV, put in a movie or listen to the stereo. I'll be out in a few, ok?”


AJ walked out and left Sam standing there, gawking at everything. Sam gingerly touched a few of the knives and finally left the room shaking her head. 'AJ is a woman of many talents.'

Walking in her room, Sam changed into a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and then wandered into the kitchen to find something to munch on.

After leaving the workout room, AJ had briefly stopped in her bedroom to grab a pair of comfortable sweat pants and a muscle shirt. She then went into the bathroom, closed the door and leaned against it, sighing. She placed the change of clothes on the counter, pulled off her boots and began jumping in place.

Ever since the scuffle in the alley, AJ had been overflowing with excess energy and she now felt like she was going to explode. She quit jumping and started shadow boxing. Usually when she was experiencing something like this she would do one of two things. The first being was to go into the workout room and beat the shit out of the punching bag until she was exhausted. She didn't want to frighten Sam so that one was out.

The second possibility wasn't even an option because what she would usually do was to go out, find an old flame and have a different type of workout. A sexual workout that would have gone on for hours and left her just as spent if she had been punching the bag.

So since both of her options were out, AJ finally settled down, took off her clothes and stepped into the shower. After turning the water to as hot as she could stand it, AJ turned so that the force of the water was pounding the back of her neck. She rolled her head around, feeling her neck and shoulders pop. Slowly leaning forward, she let the water pelt her back; hearing and feeling the vertebrates pop as she neared the floor.

After standing back up, AJ poured some shampoo into her hand and began to wash her hair. The aroma of kiwi and strawberry filled the air. As she lathered and massaged her head, AJ imagined that Sam was doing it instead. AJ stopped her movements and her thought. 'Don't even go there Andrea. Don't start imagining how her hands would slide over your breasts, squeezing them gently…STOP IT!'

Reaching behind her, AJ turned off the hot water and finished the shower under a very cold spray.

Sam took another sip of wine and surveyed the tray in front of her. Slices of kiwi, strawberries, bananas, carambolas and oranges were arranged atop with an assortment of cheeses and crackers. She was quite satisfied with her handiwork.

After making sure that there was another bottle of white wine chilling in the fridge, Sam gathered up the tray, her glass of wine and headed to the living room. Placing the tray down on an end table, she went and retrieved a glass for AJ and the half full bottle of wine she had already sampled.

Placing AJ's glass next to the tray, Sam poured herself some more wine and then strolled over to the stereo, sipping from her glass as she went. 'Now where is the damn power button? Ok, here it is.' Strains of Jim Brickman's Destiny floated out of the speakers. 'Nope, that just won't do. Let's see what she has in her CD collection here. The Bangles, no. Carpenters, uh nope. The Three Tenors, not the mood that I was looking for. Ahhh, this is it.' After a few seconds, Carlos Santana's Supernatural began to entice Sam to sway around the room.

AJ walked out of the bathroom to hear Rob Thomas moan out Smooth. She walked to the corner of the living room and peeked around it to see Sam swaying to the beat. Her hips were gently moving sensuously back and forth as her eyes were closed and she was getting into the song. AJ unconsciously licked her lips as her eyes traveled past Sam's face, stopping briefly at the curves that the white t-shirt were accentuating before continuing down to her tan, shapely legs. Yes, they were so very smooth and AJ could imagine what they would feel like wrapped around her. 'Damn, I'm gonna need another shower.' Sam turned so that AJ was watching her bottom dance away from her.

Sam turned back around and opened her eyes to see AJ standing there. She didn't miss a beat as she walked towards her, swaying enticingly. Stopping directly in front of her, Sam draped an arm around her neck. “Dance with me.”

AJ began to move with the music. Taking the glass from Sam's hand, she took a sip while placing her other hand gently on her waist. They moved around the room with the beat, each lightly brushing against the other. Each in tune with the other.

The song ended and the next one started. AJ looked down into sparking green eyes and couldn't resist lowering her head until their lips touched. Sam's hand, which had been caressing the back of AJ's neck now cupped the back of her head making sure that AJ didn't break the kiss until she was good and ready for it to end.

Sam was the one that pulled away first. “That was nice. Thank you, I've wanted to do that since the Japanese Gardens.”

“You're welcome. It was definitely my pleasure.”

Sam stepped over to the tray and poured another glass of wine. “Actually, I think that it was both our pleasure.”

Grinning broadly, AJ snagged a slice of orange. “Yeah, that's true. This looks great. You didn't have to go to all this trouble.”

Sam plopped down on the sofa and put her feet up on the coffee table. “Well, you did say to make myself at home and we really didn't eat lunch so I decided that we could nibble on other things until dinner time.”

AJ's imagination went into overdrive over the word nibble and she had to turn away before her facial expressions got her into trouble. Walking over to the stereo, she picked out a few more CD's and placed them into the changer. By the time she turned back around, she had gotten everything under control…. Somewhat.

“So what would you like to do now?”

Sam raised an eyebrow. “Boy, that is a loaded question if I've ever heard one, but I'm gonna let it pass this time. How about playing a game? Do you have any board games?”

“Yeah, hold on.”

Walking over to a closet that was nearby, AJ opened the door to stare at about twenty different games. She thought about picking Trivial Pursuit because it might spark Sam's memory. She also knew that she should tell Sam that the dead man had been from the Netherlands, but there was a very large part of her that wanted to enjoy one more day with this woman before they really got to work on her predicament. AJ wanted one more day to remember later on in life.

“Hey, are you gonna hide in there because you don't want to get beat or are you gonna decide on what to lose at?” Startled AJ out of the musings.

“Yeah, yeah. I'm gonna make you eat those words.” AJ exclaimed as she closed the door and walked back carrying a Monopoly game.

Four hours and another bottle of wine later, Sam was doing just that. All of her property was mortgaged to the bank; she only had two hundred and ninety-five dollars and had just landed on Boardwalk, which had a hotel on it.

“Ok, I give up. You win.”

AJ cupped her hand to her ear. “What was that? I couldn't hear you.”

Giving AJ a playful punch on the shoulder, Sam laughed. “You won. Now what do you want to do?”

Looking at the clock on the VCR, AJ said. “Well, we finished the fruit off hours ago so how about we order some food to be delivered and maybe watch a movie?”

“That sounds great. What do you want to eat?”

“How about Chinese?”

Sam licked her lips and AJ's eyes followed the tip of her tongue as it caressed Sam's upper lip.

“Mmmm, that works for me. I didn't realize how hungry I am.” Her stomach chose that moment to make its presence known with a low rumble.

“Yeah, we had better feed that monster before it really gets upset.”

AJ leaped over the back of the couch, went into the kitchen and came back out with a handful of take out menus.

“Now we just have to decide what we want and where we want it from.”

AJ handed Sam some of the menus as she climbed back over the back of the sofa to take a seat on the opposite end. They spent the next few minutes tossing around ideas when AJ picked up a menu from a Japanese restaurant.

“Hey, how about sushi? Do you like that?”

Sam leaned back and thought for a moment. “Well, my stomach isn't queasy so I must. Just don't order something really yucky and I think that I'll be ok.”

“Great, I love bait. I usually order a lot so there will be plenty for you to pick and choose.”

Sam grimaced. “You call it bait! Now that could turn me off of it completely if I heard that very often.”

“Sorry, won't do it again. How hungry are you and do you trust me to do the ordering?”

Sam's stomach rumbled again before she could answer.

“Ok, you're very hungry right?”

“Yeah, and I trust you to do the ordering.”

AJ reached for the phone, punched in the number and waited for someone to order. “I'd like a delivery please. Is Hiro working this evening? Great, tell him that this is for AJ Delgado. He knows where I live. Ok, you ready for this? It's gonna be a big one. We'll take two sunomonos, one shrimp and the other octopus, an order of yakitori & one kushiyaki. For the sushi, we'll have the maki sushi rolls and we'll take maguro, sake, ebi, tako, anago kani, smoked salmon, masago, hotate and quail egg. Also send temakis' with asparagus roll, salmon skin roll, spicy tuna roll, rainbow roll and a tuna roll. Send three bottles of Takara plum wine, a six-pack of Kirin beer and 4 bottles of sake…. Yeah, that should do it…. Ok, how long did you say… Yeah, Hiro knows. Thank you.”

After hanging up the phone, AJ glanced over to see a look of disbelief on Sam's face.

“What did you do, order the entire menu? You asked for enough food to feed an army. And what exactly did you order anyway?”

Laughing, AJ glanced back down to the menu and read back everything. “Ok, the sunomonos are cucumbers, sliced paper thin with a soy vinegar dressing and I order one with shrimp and the other with pieces of octopus. Then I ordered chicken and beef teriyaki in case you wanted something cooked. Then I ordered tuna, salmon, shrimp, octopus, sea eel, crab, smoked salmon, smelt egg, scallop and quail egg cut rolls. They come with eight pieces. Then I ordered hand rolls, which are much larger and I asked for an asparagus, salmon skin, spicy tuna, a rainbow roll which has an assortment of fish and then just a plain tuna roll. Something to drink and that's it.”

“Uh huh, ok. I'll just take your word for it. I'm looking forward to trying all of this. How long did they say it would be?”

“About a half hour. It's only about five blocks away and the delivery guy knows me really well.”

Sam stood up and stretched, showing a wide expanse of skin as her shirt rose up. “If you order like that every time, I can understand. I guess that I have enough time to take a quick shower before he gets here then.”

“Oh yeah, you've got plenty of time, go ahead. I need to do a few things anyhow.”

“Ok, I'll be out in a few.”

Sam walked into the bathroom, closed the door and got undressed. She was about to get into the shower when she changed her mind and decided to soak in the tub instead. She turned the water to her liking, closed off the drain and then sat on the side of the tub, waiting for it to be filled.

After the water reached a good level, Sam slid into the inviting water, sighing as its warmth surrounded her. The tub continued to fill until the water almost reached the top and Sam finally turned it off.

Sam leaned back and rested her head against a towel she had folded up like a pillow and placed against the back of the tub. She closed her eyes and tried to relax, but images of AJ watching her dance pushed all other thoughts aside. The look of need on AJ's face when Sam had turned and caught her watching made Sam feel a need of her own. Sam moved her hands from her sides to her breasts and began to squeeze gently. Then images of AJ dodging and defending herself in the alley came to mind. Sam thought back to how she had felt as she watched AJ fight. She had been terrified, but yet exhilarated watching the action taking place only a few feet away.

Sam's right hand moved from her breast and with deliberate slowness, glided down her stomach, past her abdomen until it cupped her warm sex. Her fingers quickly found the little bump that was throbbing for attention. With the heat of the water, the movement of her fingers and the images of AJ flashing in her mind's eye, Sam found herself arching her back and gasping for air as an orgasm rolled through her body. Water spilled over the edge of the tub and gushed onto the floor in waves. Sam's left arm tightly grasped the side of the tub as Sam remembered how it felt to hold AJ as they danced and how AJ's lips tasted when they kissed. They were so warm, so soft and so very sweet with the aftertaste of the wine.

Sam let out a soft moan and arched her back again as she inserted two fingers into her now hot center. The waves of water once again cascaded onto the floor.

Gradually Sam withdrew her fingers and slowly immersed herself underneath the remaining, now tepid water. After holding her breath for a few moments, she sat up and took a deep breath. After letting out the water, she quickly refilled the tub and washed herself.

After Sam had gone to the bathroom, AJ had taken her time putting away the game and then carried the now empty tray and wine glasses into the kitchen. After putting them into the dishwasher, she grabbed a couple of plates, two sets of chopsticks, a couple of clean wine glasses and some napkins. Taking all of this, she walked out to the dining room with the intentions of setting up the table, but changed her mind and decided to set up the coffee table in the living room instead. They could eat while sitting on the floor, sorta like eating at a Japanese restaurant. She placed the dinnerware on the table and then grabbed some pillows off the sofa, tossing them onto the floor.

AJ walked back in to the kitchen and found a couple of small dishes to hold the soy sauce and then on her way out, she grabbed a fork just in case Sam didn't know how to use chopsticks. Walking over to the stereo, AJ picked out a few more CD's and exchanged them with the ones in the changer. Marc Anthony was soon crooning, 'You sang to me' as AJ set up the table for the soon to be arriving food.

A noise from the hall caused AJ to look up and see Sam walking down the hall. Her hair was slicked back due to her bath and since her face was a bit flushed, AJ assumed that she had taken a very warm bath. But it was the look that Sam gave her that caused AJ to feel a bit flushed herself.

Clearing her throat, AJ said, “Um, the food should be here any minute. Did you have a nice shower?”

“Decided to soak in the tub instead. I just leaned back, relaxed and enjoyed myself.”

As she passed by, AJ noticed the smell of peaches and then the words that she had spoken the day before came back to haunt her. 'I can eat a peach for hours.' She closed her eyes and moaned softly to herself. 'It's gonna be a long night.'

“AJ, this looks nice.”

Turning to see Sam standing by the set coffee table, AJ replied, “Thanks, I thought that we could eat Japanese style. Thought that it might be fun.”

Sam picked up the dish that would be used for the soy sauce. “This looks like an ashtray. Are we going to be smoking something?”

“Uh, I guess that it does look like an ashtray, but it's not. You put soy sauce in there and dip the sushi in it.”

Right at that moment the side doorbell rang. AJ went, checked the monitor and buzzed it open. A few seconds passed and then there was a soft knock at the door. AJ opened it and let in a young oriental looking man. “Hiro-san, konnichi wa.”

“Konnichi wa AJ-san. How are you this evening?”

“I'm fine, how about you?”

Hiro walked over to the dining room table and put down the numerous bags he was carrying. “I am well. Grandfather sends you his best and told me to tell you to come by for some tea.”

AJ began to peer into the bags. “Tell him that I will very soon. Hey, did you reme…”

“Yes, I remembered the extra wasabi and ginger.”

Hiro turned around and noticed Sam.

I'm sorry; I should've introduced you. Sam, this is Hiro, the best deliveryman in San Francisco. He remembers everything that you've ever ordered. Hiro, this is Sam, a friend visiting from out of town.”

“Nice to meet you Hiro. Tell me, does she always order this much or is the something unusual?”

“Yeah, this is about right. I've seen this woman sit down at our sushi bar and stay there for at least three hours. I don't know where she puts it though, must go into those long legs of hers. Well, it was nice meeting you. I need to be going.”

Hiro turned back to AJ, who was waiting to hand him the money for the delivery.

“Thanks Hiro. You drive careful tonight.”

“Sure will. See ya.”

Hiro left as AJ began to tear into the bags to expose the containers of food. Sam went into the kitchen and soon returned with two large platters. Together they removed all the rolls from the take out boxes and placed it all on the platters. The sunomonos were emptied into bowls and everything was carried over to the coffee table.

“Do you want plum wine, beer or sake?”

Sam was already looking at the sake bottle. “I think that I had better stick with the wine for now. Maybe I'll try some of this later.”

“Okie doke, let's dig in then.”

AJ reached for the sunomonos with the octopus, leaving Sam the one with the shrimp. Sam watched with great interest as AJ picked up the chopsticks and began to eat. Sam picked up the pair that was lying next to her plate and fumbled with them for few moments as AJ watched with amusement.

“Wait a minute. Hold on.”

AJ got up and came around to where Sam was sitting. She lowered herself until she was sitting directly behind her, straddling Sam with her legs on either side of her. AJ put her arms around her and began to show her how to use the sticks.

“The bottom one never moves really. You hold it sorta like a pencil. Hold it steady against the fourth finger and the base of your thumb. Yeah…. Like that. Ok, now the top one, you need to use the tip of your thumb and the first two fingers since this is the one that moves.”

Sam was having a very hard time concentrating on what AJ was saying. With AJ's arms surrounding her along with her legs nestled closely to her thighs, Sam slowly leaned back until she was leaning against AJ. She turned her head slightly and faintly smelled a strawberry scent.

“Think that you can do it now?”

“Uh, yeah. I've got it.”

To prove it, Sam reached down and picked up a piece of shrimp and popped it into her mouth.


AJ pulled herself up and went back to her seat, muttering. 'Damn Peaches.'

They quickly finished their cucumbers salads and set the dishes aside. Sam then watched as AJ poured soy sauce into the small dish and then added a small lump of something green into it and mix it up.

AJ saw the puzzled expression. “The green stuff is called wasabi and it's a Japanese horseradish. I like my sushi with a little of spice, but I think that you should start off with plain soy sauce at first. Try that piece first, it's a California roll and it has cucumber, avocado and crab in it.”

Sam tried a piece, decided that she liked it and then finished off the entire roll.

As she reached for a piece of the Salmon roll, AJ stopped her. “Now what you are supposed to do is before you eat a different type of sushi, you eat a small piece of pickled ginger. It cleans the palate so that you aren't tasting two different types of seafood.”

Sam picked up a piece of the ginger and smelled it. “It's very perfumey smelling. Is that a word, perfumey?” She stuck her tongue out and placed the ginger on it. Closing her mouth, she began to chew. After she swallowed, she stated, “It's like a tangy flavor. I can't describe it, but I like it.”

The rest of the meal was like that. AJ explaining what each roll was called and what was in them. There were some that Sam didn't like and others that she loved.

Sam finally did try some of AJ's concoction of soy and wasabi. She picked up a piece of Asparagus roll and dipped into AJ's dish, making sure that the bottom was well coated. She put the piece into her mouth and began to chew. AJ was watching for a reaction and she wasn't disappointed. Sam's eyes went wide and began to water. She started to fan her face with both hands as she chewed quicker. As soon as she swallowed, Sam gulped down the entire glass of wine and when she had finished that, she reached for the bottle sitting in the middle of the table.

“Hold on, hold on. Here…. Have a piece of ginger. It'll help. I told you that I like mine with a little spice.”

Sam finished the ginger and gasped out, “How can you eat that? There is no way on earth that that can be considered a bit of spice. My eyes are watering and my nose is runny. Whew! That stuff is strong.”

AJ was grinning broadly. “I just do. To me, the flavors seem to explode in my mouth and I enjoy them and the textures more that when I use just plain soy sauce.”

Taking a deep breath, Sam said, “Well, I would like to try it again, but do you think that you could mix up some that isn't so strong?”

AJ agreed and did so. Sam tried it another piece and this time found it to her liking and told AJ that she now understood about the explosion of flavors and textures.

They finally finished every piece of off on the table and both leaned back with a sigh of contentment.

As AJ sipped the last of her wine, she looked over to Sam and saw that she was leaning back against the sofa with her eyes closed. AJ let her eyes caress the finely sculptured face and then move down to the throat where AJ could see the gentle beating of a pulse point.

All AJ wanted to do was to get up, walk over to where Sam sat and pull her into her arms. To sit on the floor and while Sam straddled her hips; AJ would then gently draw Sam's head down until she was able to brush her lips against Sam's. Sam would deepen the kiss while AJ brought her hands down to the hem of Sam's t-shirt and pull it over her head, exposing Sam's breasts to her hungry eyes. AJ's hands would gently cup each breast and her thumbs would begin to stroke the already hardening tips. Sam would reluctantly break off the kiss, as AJ would bend her head so that she could take a breast into her mouth and begin to tug and pull as much as she could into her mouth. Sam would then arch her back, pushing against the gentle assault on her breasts. Then pushing AJ roughly to the floor so that she was laying flat on her back, Sam would then rearrange her position slightly until she was straddling one of AJ's thighs. AJ would understand what she wanted so she would raise up that thigh and Sam would begin to move against the raised upraised limb. AJ would pull Sam's upper body down until she could continue the gentle assault on her breasts.

AJ was so lost in the fantasy that she didn't even notice that Sam had opened her eyes and was now watching her. Watching as AJ's breathing became more rapid and her face began to flush, Sam had a very good idea what AJ was thinking about and knew that AJ would be very embarrassed if she came to her senses and found her watching, so Sam quietly stood up and began to gather up the dishes.

Sam waited until she was in the kitchen before she called out. “Hey! Do you want these dishes in the dishwasher or do you want to wash them by hand?”

AJ jerked back to reality and found herself alone in the living room. She quickly got to her feet and began to collect the remaining dishes and headed towards the kitchen. She paused outside the kitchen to calm her breathing and her emotions. She walked in and said, “Why don't we just rinse them off and put them into the washer? That way we can watch a movie while they clean. Sorry about zoning out there for a moment. Don't know what happened.”

Sam stood with her back to AJ, placing the dishes into the washer. “It's ok. We had just finished a very filling meal and even I spaced out for a minute or two. What movie are we going to watch?”

AJ poured the soap into the proper slot, closed the door and started the washer. “I was thinking that we could watch a comedy. There is one called 'George of the Jungle' that I think is cute and I think you might like and besides, I really like Brendan Frasier.”

“Sounds good to me.”

Before Sam could walk out of the kitchen, AJ grasped her by her arm and turned her back to face her. “About that kiss earlier. Just wanted to let you know that I really liked it and hope that we can do it again sometime. I just feel that we need to move slowly and get to know each other better.”

“I can understand that and I agree. We can take it slow.”

AJ bent her head and brushed her lips tenderly against Sam's. “Thanks.”

They walked back into the living room and as AJ put in the movie, Sam got comfortable on the sofa. AJ sat down in the easy chair at the opposite end of the sofa and put her feet up.

About thirty minutes into the movie, AJ glanced over to Sam to find her sound asleep. AJ slowly turned down the volume until she could barely hear the movie. Not that it really mattered because she just sat there watching Sam sleep way past the end of the movie.

AJ was startled out of her observation by the change of lighting as the TV screen showed the color band as the station went off the air. Quietly AJ got up, went to the hall closet and got down a light blanket. Coming back to Sam, AJ gently covered her and then turned out all the lights with the exception for one in the kitchen. She didn't want Sam to awake and not be able to see where she was. Before she went to her bedroom, AJ placed a soft kiss atop Sam's head. “Sleep sweet darlin'.”

Hours later Sam woke up and looked around, momentarily unsure where she was. As soon as she got her bearings, she sat up and tried to remember what had woken her. She vaguely remembered arguing with two men, but couldn't remember what they were arguing about or what the men looked like.

Standing Sam wrapped the blanket around herself and padded down the hall to AJ's room. As she neared the doorway, she saw that the door was ajar so she quietly peered in and saw AJ sprawled on her back with the sheet bunched about her waist. One leg wasn't covered and Sam hungrily and slowly journeyed from the tip of the toes, past the beautifully shaped calf, skimming over the very toned thigh and imagined what was secreted under the white sheet.

'I wonder if she would wake up if I crawled into bed with her?' Sam pondered to herself.

“Come to bed Sam.” Broke the silence. AJ opened her eyes and leaned up on her elbows. “I heard you get up from the sofa, so come to bed and let's get some sleep.”

Sam padded over to the far side of the bed, dropped the blanket & lifted up the sheets, crawling in.

AJ beckoned her over to lay her head on her shoulder. She did and when she closed her eyes with a sigh of contentment, she missed seeing AJ expression as she stared up at the mirrored ceiling. A look of awe came over AJ's face as she viewed their reflection.

More than a half hour passed with AJ just laying there, staring at the mirrors and softly rubbing Sam back. She loved the way that they contrasted each other; Sam with her blond hair, fair skin and slender body while AJ had black hair, tanned skin and a more muscular form. But even as they contradicted each other, they fit together perfectly.

Soon AJ felt her eyelids grow heavy. She gently kissed the golden head that was softly snoring on her left shoulder and briefly tightened her arms around the slumbering form before she too joined her in the realm of Morpheus.

        Sam once again awoke first, but this time she was looking into her own eyes. She smiled at her reflection as she saw that AJ had one arm thrown across Sam's midriff and one leg between hers. AJ's luxurious hair was draped across Sam's right shoulder and Sam could feel her gentle breath against her neck. This felt so right. She knew that she was falling in love with this amazing woman. Sam laid her hand on top of the arm that was wrapped around her and drifted off back to sleep.

        It had been a very long time since AJ had awakened with a woman in her bed. It was a strange feeling, but it felt good knowing that it was Sam. She could get used to this very quickly. She opened her eyes to see Sam's profile and let her eyes trace down from the forehead, past the cute nose to the full lips. As she stared at the lips, she remembered how soft they had felt and how Sam had opened her mouth and allowed AJ admission to the warmth inside. AJ closed her eyes and held back a moan.

        Gingerly AJ moved away from Sam and got out of bed. Silently she went into the bathroom and took care of her needs. As she tied back her hair, AJ mentally reviewed all the facts of the case so far. The money, no ID, designer clothes, the dead man from the Netherlands and the picture that Benny had described. Something about the picture and the man reminded her of something, but she couldn't put her finger on it. She decided to do a computer search after her workout.

        AJ walked into the workout room, opened the blinds a bit to let in some light and began to stretch. She emptied her mind of all thoughts and concentrated on the feel of her muscles and ligaments stretching and constricting. After she had warmed up properly, she wrapped her hands and feet in ace like bandages and stepped over to the punching bag. AJ bounced lightly on the balls of her feet and delivered a series of lightening fast blows that moved the bag back almost a foot. A spinning back kick sent it even farther. The room was soon filled with the sounds of punches, kicks and AJ grunting.

        It was to those noises that Sam woke up to. Smiling, she stretched and watched her reflection do the same. She climbed out of bed and quickly made it. After she straightened the last throw pillow, she went to the bathroom to wash the sleep from her eyes and took care of business. She then walked down the hall to the workout room.

        The noises had quieted down and when Sam looked in, she saw AJ doing fingertip push-ups. After doing that for a few minutes, she turned over and started doing sit-ups and didn't stop until Sam had counted five hundred.

        As she did the last one, AJ rested her forearms on top of her knees and her head atop her arms. Concentrating on her breathing and her rapidly beating heart, she willed them both to calm down. She had been aware when Sam started watching from the doorway, but blocked her from her thoughts. AJ stretched her legs out to either side and laid her torso down flat on the hardwood floor. Slowly she brought her legs behind her and pressed herself up. Standing, she turned to face Sam.

Sam was barely able to hide the look of raw hunger and need from her face before AJ saw it. Just watching this woman made Sam's pulse race.

“Did you sleep well?”

Taking a deep breath and unconsciously licking her lips, Sam answered. “Uh, yes. Very well and you?”

AJ was unwrapping her hands. “Slept like a baby. I had better go and take a shower before I start stinking the place up.”

“Yeah, ok. Uh…. I'll…. Um…. Start breakfast. You must've worked up an appetite.”

“Ok, I'll be out in a few minutes.” And AJ walked into the bathroom, leaving Sam watching her retreating figure.

“Whew! Nice Bum!” With that, Sam headed into the kitchen and opened the fridge, taking out eggs, cheese, mushrooms and a tomato. After placing everything on the counter and closing the door, Sam just stared out the kitchen window, not really seeing anything.

' Do you really want to fix breakfast? No! What do you want to do? I want to go into that bathroom and make love to that woman. Then why are you standing in this kitchen? I'm not.' Sam asked and answered herself and found that it was true. She was now standing in front of the bathroom door with her hand on the doorknob. Sam opened the door and stepped inside.

Sam gasped as she saw the nude body standing under the falling water. Her imagination hadn't even come close to the perfection that was standing in front of her. Without another thought, Sam pushed off her shorts and underwear and then pulled the t-shirt over her head.

As Sam opened the shower door, AJ turned around. “Wha…?”

Reaching up to pull the dark head down so that she could capture her lips, Sam stated. “Breakfast is going to be very late.”

AJ's hands went to Sam's waist and pulled her close with a moan. They stumbled back a step or two until AJ's backside was against the wall. AJ opened her mouth and Sam's tongue delved inside to explore the warmth.

Sam slid her hands from the dark head, past the long, elegant throat, stopping briefly to gently squeeze the breasts that seemed to beg for attention before she reached down to grasp AJ's hands and press them to the wall on either side of her body.

Tearing her mouth from AJ's, Sam growled out. “Keep them there.”

Instead of returning to the kiss, Sam pressed her lips against a pulse point that she could see beating wildly and sucked gently. Her right hand went back to AJ's left breast and began to roll the now protruding tip between her thumb and forefinger.

AJ's eyes were tightly closed, but she would swear that she was seeing fireworks. She rolled her head forward and open them in time to see Sam take her left breast in the palm of her hand and peeked her tongue out to flick the tip. AJ moaned and Sam looked directly up into her eyes as her mouth began to suck and pull upon the breast.

This went on for a few minutes until Sam switched breasts and AJ was about to scream out in frustration. AJ took her hands from the wall and placed them on Sam's shoulders, pressing down firmly. Sam stopped what she was doing.

“Put them back.”

Swallowing hard, AJ slowly put them back against the wall. She was used to being the one in charge, but the look on Sam's face promised that she would not regret letting go of her control.

Knowing how hard it was getting for AJ, Sam's hands began to glide down the silky sides of the body that she was worshipping. Out of the corner of her eye, Sam saw something that made her smile. With her left hand, she lifted AJ's right leg and placed it on the bench that they were standing next to.

“Oh God Sam.” AJ ground out as Sam's hand reached the juncture of her thighs, but didn't go any further. Instead, it just placed feathery caresses all around the dark curls.

Kneeling down, Sam playfully nipped at the sensitive skin at the juncture and immediately kissed and sucked it. AJ began to tremble as she gently blew on her hot center.

“Sam! Please!”

“Please what AJ? Please touch you? Like this?”

With that, Sam slipped a finger between the satiny folds of AJ's center and pressed against her clit.

“Or maybe you would prefer this?” And Sam slid in two fingers and was immediately surrounded by throbbing warmth. Slowly Sam moved her fingers in and out while gently massaging her thumb against the clit.

“Yes! That's it Sam! Yes!”

“Are you sure?”

AJ's head was moving back and forth, with her eyes closed. She was glad that she was standing near enough to a corner so that she could brace herself because she wasn't sure how much longer she could stand up.

Sam repeated the question. “Are you sure that this is what you want or is it this?”

Pulling her fingers out, Sam then used both hands to gently part the moist folds, leaned forward and replaced her fingers with her tongue and lips. 'Oh, AJ tastes so sweet'.

AJ began to tremble in earnest. Yes, that is what she wanted. Sam felt so good as she thrust her tongue deep inside. AJ's hips were moving in time with the thrusts.

“Get on the bench AJ. Please.”

Gratefully AJ sank down on the bench and instantly Sam was there, gently parting her legs and resuming the sensual torture. Sam placed AJ's legs over her shoulders and AJ had to grasp the sides of the bench to hold on for dear life as the first wave of an orgasm began to swell. Her moans and sighs reverberated off the bathroom tile and seemed to fill her senses.

Sam was aware that AJ was quickly arriving to the point of release and began to hum. The vibrations sent a shockwave through AJ that had her teetering on the edge of a beautiful fall.

Reaching up with one hand, Sam gently tweaked one of AJ's breasts. AJ's head popped up and wildly flashing electric blue eyes stared into intense green. AJ's eyes went even wider as Sam slid in two fingers and was again surrounded by throbbing warmth.

AJ dropped her head back down on the bench, gasping for air as her hips bucked wildly.

As soon as AJ lowered her head, Sam realized that she needed to be able to watch her face. Giving the throbbing nest one final kiss, she repositioned herself by AJ's side while still moving her fingers about.

“AJ…. AJ. Look at me. Come on babe. Let me see those beautiful blue eyes.”

        AJ opened them and saw Sam leaning over her. She reached up and pulled her down for a soul-searing kiss. Oh, and what a kiss it was, both tongues warring for dominance and both were moaning loudly. AJ reveled in tasting herself on Sam's tongue.

Snaking her left hand between their bodies, Sam found AJ's right breast and began to roll the tip around with her thumb and forefinger while adding a third digit deep inside.

AJ's body began to spasm and she reached down to hold on tightly to the bench.

Sam changed the rhythm of her thrust and AJ arched her back and screamed out Sam's name. She reached down with her right and unerringly found Sam's very wet nest and slid two fingers inside.

As Sam gasped, AJ growled out. “Come with me darlin'. Come with me.”

Sam almost fell on AJ's chest, but caught herself by bracing an arm against the bench.

AJ matched Sam's thrusts and soon both women were moaning out each other's name. Slowly their movements stilled and reluctantly each removed their fingers from the other.

Sam collapsed onto the floor, but kept an arm around AJ. She wasn't ready to relinquish contact just yet. She loved the way that this woman felt, inside and out. She loved the way that AJ moved, loved her voice, and loved everything about her. Sam's head snapped up with the realization that she was in love with AJ.

As she turned to look at AJ, Sam found that she was being stared at.

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

AJ reached down and pulled Sam up until they were face to face, only a breath space apart.

“For making the first move. I didn't have the guts.”

Sam placed a gentle kiss on AJ's lips. “You do too have the guts. You're just too honorable and wouldn't because I'm your client.”

Sitting up, AJ pulled Sam onto her lap and gave her a kiss that left them both breathless.

“You think that you know me huh?”

Framing AJ's face with her hands, Sam simply stated. “I know all I need to know.”

AJ stood and picked Sam up as she did. She motioned for the woman to turn off the water. “Thank God that I have a large hot water heater.”

They walked out the shower and AJ gently set Sam on her feet, grabbed a towel and began to dry her off. Sam started to protest, but the protest turned into a moan when AJ brushed against her still throbbing clit.

“You did that on purpose.”

“Yes ma'am I did. And I plan to do it again very shortly.”

'You do?”

AJ quickly dried herself off and threw the towel aside. Sam then jumped up, wrapping her arms around AJ's neck and her legs about her waist, pressing her moist center against AJ's stomach, making both women gasp.

Leaning in to lick her lips, Sam whispered. “Well, if you're gonna do it, let's do it.” And then she moved her mouth to the side of AJ's throat and began to suck.

The next thing Sam knew was that she was flat on her back in the middle of AJ's bed and AJ was above her with a wicked gleam in her eyes.

With Sam's legs still on either side of her, AJ moved her hips forward until she was pressed full against Sam's nest and began to rock slightly.

“Remember when you teased me the other day with your fashion show? Well, it's payback time.”

Looking up to a grinning face that was framed by long, damp hair, Sam remembered the look of need that once showed on it and moaned.

AJ rearranged her position until she was on her knees between Sam's legs. She reached down, grasped Sam's hands and placed them on the headboard.

“Don't let go.”

With that said, AJ began to rain down soft kisses on her face. Her eyelids, the tip of her cute nose, even corners of her mouth. Nothing was overlooked, but AJ wouldn't kiss her full on the lips, no matter how Sam begged.


        Moving slowly down to Sam throat, AJ found a tender spot right below her ear and began to suck. When she was finished, Sam was marked and AJ felt a perverse pleasure knowing that she had done it.

Kissing down Sam's collarbone, AJ then claimed her breasts and began to knead them. Taking the left one between her lips and flicking it with the tip of her tongue, she then began to suck and pull as much as she could into her mouth.

The word 'harder' was hoarsely heard and AJ sucked with renewed vigor and Sam's hips surged up.

Sam squirmed and moaned. “Please AJ. Please touch me.”

AJ raised her head from her pleasure, said “No.” and then switched breasts. This was kept up for what seemed like a lifetime to Sam, but was only for a few minutes.

Finally AJ moved down Sam's taut, quivering stomach, placing kisses all over. As she came to the extremely sensitive skin at the top of Sam's thighs, she once again began to suck.

Sam's body began to shudder and she brought her hands down and treaded her fingers through AJ's hair.

AJ's head snapped up. “Put them back on the headboard or I'll stop.”

“You wouldn't dare.”

After AJ made a slight movement back, Sam's hands slapped back so hard that the headboard hit the wall.

AJ went back to what she had been doing and Sam's body again began to shudder in earnest. It felt like AJ's kisses were bolts of electricity and Sam could feel them all the way down to her toes. She wasn't sure how long she could take this feeling.

        Sam's arousal filled AJ's senses and made her wonder just who was she was teasing, Sam or herself. With Sam's hips moving wildly, her moans filling the air and AJ's own excitement building, AJ decided to change tactics. She shifted over and gently parted the moist folds and began to nuzzle and lick Sam's clit.

        Arching her back and digging her nails into the headboard, Sam let out a low moan that seemed to come from the bottom of her soul. Looking up to the reflection, Sam could see AJ's dark hair mingling with her own golden curls. The sensations that AJ was creating began to build up in a huge wave.

        Twisting her tongue until it was almost vertical, AJ plunged deep inside of Sam and groaned with the sweet nectar that it found there. Plunging in again and again, AJ held down Sam's hips as they bucked wildly. Giving one final thrust with her tongue, AJ moved back far enough to slide in two fingers and curled them up to rub against soft ridges.

        “Andrea! Oh God! Please don't stop!”

        Sam's head was tossing wildly back and forth, and her body as covered with a sheen of sweat. AJ knew that she had never seen anything so beautiful and perfect before. She repositioned herself so that she was straddling Sam's right leg and was able to lean down to take Sam's right breast into her mouth.

        The conflicting sensations of the sucking on her breast and of the now three digits, plunging and twisting inside of her, propelled Sam off the edge and she began the sweet fall. She brought down her arms to rake her nails down AJ's back.

        AJ raised her head to look down upon Sam's face. As soon as Sam saw her watching, she reached up and pulled AJ's head down for a deep, long kiss and brought up the leg that AJ was straddling. The both moaned as it came into contact with AJ's wet nest.

        Bracing herself by her free arm, AJ slid her hips to the apex of Sam's bent knee and ground herself down while continuing to thrust in and out. She rubbed her callused thumb against Sam's now swollen clit, inducing a low moan from Sam. Once again her nails raked up and down AJ's back causing her to respond with a moan of her own.

        Moving her hips in time with her thrusts, AJ soon felt the building of her own orgasm. Her hair was hanging limply about her face and shoulders, but when Sam looked up at AJ, she whispered. “Andrea, you are beautiful.”

        “Say it again.”

        “You're beautiful.”

        Leaning down, AJ tenderly captured Sam's lips in a sweet kiss. “No, not that. Say my name again. Please.”

        Reaching up to gently frame AJ's face with her hands, Sam brought it down to hers until they were mere inches apart. She gazed into shining blue eyes. “Andrea.” And then kissed her. Sam repeated. “Andrea.” And kissed her more deeply this time while tightening up the muscles in the leg nestled in between AJ's legs.

        Just that little movement sent waves upon waves of a shattering orgasm coursing through AJ. Her head reared back with her eyes closed and her jaw clinched. She rode Sam's leg, her hips moving wildly.

        Sam reached down and gently removed AJ's fingers from inside of herself a scant seconds before AJ collapsed, almost completely covering Sam with her body. Reaching out with her free arm, Sam pulled the comforter up and covered both of their bodies.

        AJ slid off of Sam, but kept one arm and a leg wrapped around her. Pulling Sam close, she placed a soft kiss on her damp forehead before laying down her head and closing her eyes.

        Turning her head slightly, Sam returned the kiss and closed her own eyes. She was almost asleep when she heard AJ whisper, “Tu tienes mi corazon, mi amor.” Sam kept her breathing steady until she heard the rhythm of AJ's sleeping breaths. Slowly she turned her head until she could see AJ's face. She gazed at her for a long time before closing her eyes and whispered back, “You have my heart also, my love.” Soon gentle snores filled the room.


        Something soft tickled AJ's nose and she batted it away, but moments later, it was back. She batted at it again and turned her head to the side. Then something began to trace the outline of her lips. Swiftly her hand darted up to clasp around another hand. Opening her eyes, she found herself looking into pair of very amused, sparkling green eyes.

        “Just what exactly are you doing?”

        Placing a quick kiss on AJ's lips. “I couldn't wait for you to wake up so I decided to speed things up.”

        “And the reason that you wanted me awake is?”

        A rumbling growl and vibration erupted from AJ's stomach. “That's the reason. Mine woke me up.”

        Sitting up and trying to put some distance between Sam and herself, AJ stated. “Sam, we need to….”

        “You're fired.”

        “What? What do you mean that I'm fired?”

        Sam just looked at her a moment. “You were about to say what we did was a mistake and we shouldn't continue with this because I'm your client. Well, we both wanted it and now you're feeling guilty.” Sam held up a hand when AJ started to say something. “Let me finish. We'll hire someone else to solve my mystery, but I'm not giving up what I've found. I'm not giving up you. So just deal with it.”

        AJ crossed her arms. “You want to fire me?”

        “No, I don't want to, but I don't want to give this up.” Sam motioned to the two of them. “I still think that you're the best person for the job and I trust you to find out who I am and why I have all this money. Can you say that you won't do a good job? That you won't try your best, just because we have made love? Give me one good reason and I'll admit that you're right. Give me one good reason why you shouldn't continue as my investigator.”

        “What if I told you that I had withheld some information that I found?”

        “Is it something that we could have acted on immediately or could it have waited?”

        AJ bowed her head. “It wasn't something that had to be done. The man that was dead in the alley had a Dutch passport. There's something about that fact and the picture that Benny described reminds me of something else, but I can't remember what. I'm planning on running a computer search later on today. But the point is that I should've told you about it and we could've done it yesterday.”

        Moving so that she was sitting in between AJ's legs, Sam placed her hands on AJ's thighs. “Why didn't you tell me?”

        Quietly. “I wanted one more day of just being with you. Getting to know you.”

        Sam leaned in and gave AJ a kiss that left them both a bit breathless. Moving so that their faces were inches apart. “Ok, here it is. From now on if you find out something, anything you tell me about it. No matter what it is. Deal?”

        “Deal. Now what do you wanna do?”

        Right on cue, both stomachs growled.

        “I think that food would be a good thing right about now. Meet ya in the kitchen?”

        AJ stood up, totally at ease with her nudity, but Sam still gasped. “You're beautiful!”

        Reaching for an oxford shirt, AJ blushed. “Thank you. Now get up and get dressed. I'll meet you in a few minutes.”

        Sam wrapped herself in the comforter and climbed off the bed, heading towards her room. As she passed AJ, she grabbed the comforter off of Sam.

        “You were covering up my view and I was really enjoying it.”

        “You were huh? Well, it won't happen again.” And she walked away with an extremely sexy walk. As she came to the doorway to her room, Sam turned to see AJ standing at her doorway with her mouth open. “Like the view huh? Well, I'm gonna get dressed now. You might want to try to rebutton your shirt. You missed a few.” And with that, she went inside.

        AJ looked down to see that she had indeed misbuttoned quite a few. She unbuttoned and started again, but with Sam's image playing in her mind, she goofed up again. “'Come on AJ. You can do this. I know you can.' She muttered to herself.

        After Sam walked into her room and closed the door, she sat down on the bed. 'I know that I should've told her that I understand Spanish, but it would probably embarrass her. Maybe there will be another time that I can work it in.'

        She then got up and started to dress. She slipped on her underwear, a pair of jeans and was reaching for a sweatshirt when she glanced into the mirror and saw the mark on her throat. She gingerly touched it and smiled. 'I like it. Don't know why, but I do.' So she pulled on a grey turtleneck and started for the kitchen. Before she even made it out of her room, she quickly turned, reached inside the closet and brought out her purse. Then she headed towards the kitchen.

        When she walked into the kitchen, Sam found AJ putting away the food that Sam had left out hours earlier.
        “How does Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, left over mushroom soup and beer sound to you?”

        “Sounds great. How about I fix it, that way you can go do the computer search and look though this?” Handing AJ the purse.

        Taking the purse. “Sounds like a plan to me. What say, I'll be back up here in about a half hour?”

        Sam walked over to take the ham out of AJ's hand. “Okie Doke, now get out of here and get to work.”

        Giving Sam a mock salute, AJ turned to walk downstairs. She had just reached the stairs when she turned around and marched back in to the kitchen. She found Sam bending over, getting the cheese from the bottom shelf of the fridge. AJ walked up behind her, placing her hands on Sam's hips.

        Standing up quickly, Sam turned, but before she had a chance to say anything, AJ was kissing her. This kiss was slow and so very tender.

        “Pulling back a bit, AJ whispered. “I forgot to tell you bye.”

        Sam brushed her hand up against AJ's face, caressing her cheek. “Mmmm, bye Darlin'. Can't wait to see how you say hello.”

        Giving her another quick kiss, AJ ran downstairs to her office.

        About a half hour later, Sam quietly walked down the stairs and peeked around the corner to see AJ sitting at her desk, looking at the computer screen. Sam walked up behind her, placing her hands on AJ's shoulders.

        “Lunch is ready.”

        AJ leaned back as Sam wrapped her arms about her. “Do you recognize this place?” Motioning to the screen.

        The image was of a large, white building that obviously was a sports stadium. To Sam, it resembled an antique washtub and she told AJ that.

        Turning so that she faced Sam, AJ stated. “That's funny because the actual translation of the name “De Kuip” is The Tub and it's located in Rotterdam, Holland. And it's the home stadium of soccer club Feyenoord. I take it that it's not familiar to you, nor it's name.”

        Sam stared at it a few seconds more, then shook her head. “No, it doesn't. Not at all. I'm sorry.”

        “There's nothing for you to be sorry for. You'll remember things when you are supposed to. This is not something that can be forced.”

        Bending down to kiss AJ softly, Sam whispered. “Thank you.”

        “You're welcome. Now let's go eat, I'm starving.”

        Sam took a step back, holding out her hand to pull AJ from her chair. “Now I get it. Food comes before me.”

        Grinning wickedly, AJ drawled. “Actually Darlin', you came before the food. A number of times.” With that said, AJ gave her a quick kiss and took off running upstairs.

        “I'll get you for that.” Sam called up after her.


        AJ pushed back her plate and covered it with her napkin. “That was great. Thank you.”

        “I've got a question for you. Why do you cover your plate? I've noticed it before.”

        Smiling AJ replied. “I've always done that. I just hate to sit staring at dirty dishes.”

        “Well, that makes sense.” And Sam did the same with her own napkin. “What's on the agenda for the rest of the afternoon?”

        Before AJ could answer, the side door buzzer sounded. AJ got up and walked over to the monitor as Sam cleared the table, taking the dishes into the kitchen and placed them in the sink.

        Looking at the monitor, AJ muttered. “Shit, what is she doing here?” Pressing the intercom button, AJ growled. “What do you want Katherine?”

        A voice came through the speaker. “I need to see you AJ.”

        “I don't want to see you. I thought that I made that perfectly clear.”

        “This is official business AJ. Now you can let me up or I'll come back with a warrant. Which way do you want to play this?”

        Leaning her head against the wall, AJ sighed and then turned to Sam who had just walked over to her. “I would like for you to go into my bedroom and stay out of sight. This is someone from my past…. A cop and I don't trust her as far as I can throw her. I'll explain it all to you later ok? Just trust me.”

        Sam placed her hand on AJ's arm. “If you feel it is the right thing to do, then no, I don't mind at all. Just be careful.” She stood on her tiptoes, gave AJ a quick kiss and then walked down the hall towards the bedroom.

        AJ waited until Sam was out of sight before she buzzed downstairs to allow Katherine inside. A soft knock sounded at the door, AJ opened it and stepped aside.

        Katherine O'Neal walked in and looked around. She stood about five foot eight inches tall, had auburn hair and hazel eyes. Her suit was tailor made to hide the gun that she carried under her left arm.

        “What took you so long to let me up AJ? Scared of me?”

        A cold, blue stare turned her way. “Yeah, right. The day that I am scared of you is the day that hell freezes over.”

        Walking around AJ, Katherine appraised the woman standing defiantly in front of her. “Looking good AJ. Of course, you always did. Maybe I shouldn't have let you go. You're doing very well these days.”

        “You didn't let me go. We were never together. You were just using me. Remember? Listen, this isn't old home week. What do you want?”

        “Now AJ, let's not get hostile. But I will get to the point. It has come to my attention that you've been looking for a man matching the description of a body found in an alley yesterday afternoon.”

        Walking over to the recliner, AJ sat down and put her feet up. “What makes you think that I was looking for this man?”

        Katherine walked over and stood near. “One of my snitches said that there was a flyer going around. Why were you looking for this man AJ?”

        “I thought that he could help me with one of my cases, but I turned out to be wrong. Didn't need him at all. Did you find out who killed this mystery man?”

        “No, we didn't. What case were you working on?”

        AJ crossed her arms. “Now Katherine, you know that I can't tell you that. Client privilege and all.”

        “Bullshit AJ. You just won't tell me.” Katherine lifted her right leg and stepped down hard on the footrest, sending AJ up into a sitting position. “You still hold the past against me.”

        Literally springing out of the chair. “Damn straight I still hold the past against you. You cost me my family. Now get out Katherine before I throw you out.”

        Katherine didn't even flinch. “Where were you yesterday afternoon around 2:30?”

        “Unless you're going to charge me, none of your damn business.”

        “Hey Andi, I thought that you were going to come and scrub my back. What happened?”

        Both women turned to see Sam standing in the entrance of the living room, wrapped in a towel and wearing a shoulder length, wet, red wig.

        “Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know that you had a visitor.”

        Katherine took a step back. “That's quite alright ma'am. I didn't know that AJ had company either. I'm Sergeant O'Neal with San Francisco Police Department and I just stopped by to ask her a few questions.”

        Sam looked aghast while AJ was attempting to get her temper under control. “Andi's not in any trouble is she, because I can vouch for her whereabouts for the past two days. She's been showing me the sights of your lovely city.”

        “I bet that's not all that she's been showing you.” Katherine muttered beneath her breath.

        AJ took a step towards Katherine. “That's enough. You have the answer to your question; now get out. I have nothing more to say to you.”

        “Uh…. Yes, well thank you for your time and it was nice meeting you…. I'm sorry, but I didn't get your name.”

        Sam walked over to AJ, who placed an arm about her waist. “No, you didn't.” And just smiled.

        There were a few moments of silence until Katherine realized the neither one of them were going to be forthcoming with that information.

        “Well, I should be going then.”

        AJ walked over and opened the door. As Katherine passed her, AJ coldly stated. “Don't ever come back here again unless you DO have a warrant. I mean it.” And then she slammed the door shut and watched the monitor until she saw Katherine exit the building.

        Turning around, AJ saw that Sam had removed the wig and was standing, waiting to see what she was going to do.

        “Uh…. Thanks. Why don't you go get dressed and meet me back here? I'll try to explain everything then. OK?”

        “Sure, just give me a few minutes and I'll be right back.”

        Sam went to change clothes while AJ walked over to a bookshelf and pulled down a photo album. Slowly she walked over to the dining table and sat down. Leaning her elbows on the table, she then placed her head into her hands. That was the way that Sam found her when she walked in a few minutes later.

        Walking up beside her, Sam placed her hand on AJ's back and began to rub.

        “You don't have to explain if you don't want to.”

        AJ raised her head, turning it so that she could look at Sam.

        “I know. It's just that Katherine brought back a lot of very bad memories. But I do want to tell you so please, have a seat.”

        Pulling out a chair, Sam brought it next to AJ and sat down.

        AJ opened the photo album to show a family portrait. “This was taken three days before Alex died and then four days after that, my parents died. I was in my last year of college at the time. I was studying criminal law and had planned on joining the F.B.I.”

        Sam noticed that AJ was caressing the photos with her fingertips and was almost speaking in a monotone so she didn't interrupt. She almost didn't dare to move because she was afraid that the movement would break AJ's train of thought.

        “I had recently started seeing someone new that I had met in the University library. She was interesting, funny, smart and fun to be with. And yes, her name was Katherine O'Neal.”

        “Anyway, Alex had always wanted to be an architect, but he wanted to design neighborhoods. He felt that he could design a city from the inside out. So he decided to start with this neighborhood. He bought this building, started to clean it up and remodel it. He had plans for a three-block area surrounding it. He was planning on cleaning up this area and making it a better place for families to live. Now there was a drug dealer that didn't take to kindly to having someone come in and tell him that he will soon be out of business and he came here a few times to try and talk Alex out of his plan. But we Delgado's don't scare very easily. Besides Dad always had a couple of cops keeping an eye out for him…. Or so he thought.”

        “Katherine had recently joined the force and had been assigned to the Narcotic Division. Keeping watch of a Captain's son was not what she had in mind to do. She wanted to collar big time drug dealers and get her name in the papers, but then she saw me visit Alex a couple of times and she came up with a plan. Katherine would keep watch over Alex until she could arrest the dealer and she started a relationship with me so that she could keep tabs on Alex and on what my Dad thought about her. She thought that it would be an easy way to climb up the career ladder. Now I still had no idea what her real job was. She had told me that she worked in an uptown jewelry store.”

        “Now the night that Alex was murdered, Katherine was supposed to be on duty here with her partner, but talked him into letting her go home to sleep. So he was here alone and when he witnessed a car accident down the street, he went and investigated, leaving Alex. That was when the dealer went in and beat and stabbed Alex to death.”

        “I had taken a break from studying for my mid terms and had decided that I would surprise Katherine at her work. Imagine my own surprise when I was told that no one by that name had ever worked there. I was so upset that I decided that I would come here and help Alex for a while. Knocking down walls and stuff. As I drove up, I actually saw the dealer walking from the building. I had no idea who he was though because I had never seen him before. So I calmly walked in here, just taking my time, until I got up here and saw Alex's body. He was barely alive, but I picked him up and started yelling for help. I carried him all the way to the street when the cop ran up and called for an ambulance.”

        “Alex died in my arms before the ambulance arrived. He knew that he was going to die and he was so brave about it. He told me to tell our parents that he loved them and that he loved me very much. Right before he left, he said that he would be my guardian angel from then on.”

        AJ had long stopped looking at the album and her mind was lost in the past, so Sam tenderly laid her hand atop AJ's and gently squeezed.

        “I don't remember the next couple of days very well. People came over with food, preparing for the funeral…. You know how it gets. My mom took it really hard. She was the artist of the family and Alex had been very close to her. My dad was livid. He didn't so much blame the cop that was here as much as he blamed Katherine. He wanted her badge and if he didn't get it, he was gonna make her life hell.”

        “Now I still didn't know that Katherine was a cop. I didn't find that out until the funeral when she showed up in uniform. Dad had her come up to Mom and me and tell us why she hadn't been there that night. Mom just stood there, staring at her, not saying a word and then she just turned and walked away. I wasn't quite so adult about it, I'm afraid. I spit in her face and told her to stay away from me and my family.”

        “The doctors told me that Dad had a heart attack while driving back home from the funeral and lost control of the car. Mom died when they ran head-on into a tree. For the next six months, I just concentrated on two things; finishing school and completing what Alex had started here. If I wasn't in school, I was here working on the building or getting information on the drug dealer and his crew so that they could be arrested.”

        “Katherine continued to come by, even though I told her that I didn't want to see her. She said that she wanted to help me, but I know that she just wanted to take credit for the arrests that were going on. I made sure that she was nowhere near this place. But the people that did help me, I made sure that their captains knew that they had helped.”

        “I know that I should let the past go, but I can't. I lost my family within a week and I think that the problem that I have is that Katherine has never said that she was sorry. Even at Alex's funeral when she told mom and I that she was responsible for Alex's death, she never once said the words 'I'm sorry'. I know that if it hadn't been for Jacq, I would have gone off the deep end.”

        Sam finally interrupted her. “No, you wouldn't. You are too strong of a person for that. The love that you have for your family wouldn't let you give into self pity.”

        Tears were falling on both of their faces as Sam leaned over and tenderly kissed both of AJ's eyes. Then she stood, pulling AJ with her and walked into her bedroom. She tossed back the comforter and laid down, tugging AJ with her. Wrapping her arms around AJ, Sam whispered. “You can let go of the past. You lost your family in the physical sense, but you carry them always in your heart and in your memories. Katherine can never take them completely away from you. You said that you have great memories of your mom and brother in the kitchen. Just know that the dead can hear our thoughts and they can still share your life with you in a very special way.”

        AJ smiled and wiped the tears from her eyes, then leaned forward to place a soft kiss on Sam's lips. “Thank you. Thank you for listening and for being here.”

        “You're welcome. Now close your eyes and rest. I know that telling me everything took a lot out of you and we did have a rather exciting morning so I need a nap too.”

        “You're good for me. Yeah, I am rather worn out. That's strange, isn't it? Telling someone about bad times in your life really wears you out. OK, let's take a nap and then we'll search for more information on women's soccer team in Holland.”

        Sam smiled. “Deal, now let's get some sleep. You wore me out woman.”

        They closed their eyes and soon drifted off into an easy sleep.


        It was early evening when AJ woke up; the room was dim and the ceiling fan softly whispered gentle breezes down upon the bed. Turning her head, AJ gazed at the slumbering face next to hers and resisted leaning over to give the soft lips a kiss. Slowly she scooted off the bed and made her way into the kitchen, stopping in the living room to turn on the television.

        Walking into the kitchen, AJ opened the fridge and pulled out a can of Coke. Leaning back against the counter, she popped the top and took a long swallow. She was surprised to feel better after talking to Sam about her family. She felt ….lighter.

        Taking another sip of the soda, AJ turned, pulled open a nearby drawer and took out a pad of paper and a pencil and began making a list of things that to be done. The next logical step for them to do would be heading for New York and start backtracking. Since Sam had no ID, AJ decided to call in a favor owed her and arrange for a private plane. And that way, AJ wouldn't have to worry about getting her weapons through airport security. She also made notes to check out the weather in New York and to find her luggage.

        AJ tore off her notes, folded them and slid them into the breast pocket of her shirt. As she brought her hand out of the pocket, a thought crossed her mind and she began to smile.

        Pushing away from the counter, AJ quickly walked into the laundry room where she had left Sam's suit hanging days before. She checked for a breast pocket on the left hand side, but there was none. However when she looked at the right hand side, she saw a barely discernable difference in the material. Running her hand against the cloth, AJ felt the shape of something that was a bit smaller than a playing card. Nudging up of the bottom of the object, AJ soon saw an edge of what looked like a drivers license slide out of the fabric.

        Slowly AJ pulled it out and saw that it was indeed a New York driver's license, but the picture was not of Sam. There was a resemblance, but this woman's age stated on the license would have made her Sam's mother. But AJ could see how someone in a hurry could mistake Sam for her. The name on the license was Laurel J. van Steen so at least AJ had a place to start.

        Slipping the license into her pocket, AJ walked to her bedroom and peeked inside. Sam was still asleep, snoring softly. Leaning over AJ placed a gentle kiss atop the golden hair and quietly left a note stating that she would be downstairs in her office. As she walked out of the room, AJ turned back to glance at Sam.

        Shaking her head, AJ made her way down to her office and sat at her desk. She booted up her computer and while waiting made a couple of phone calls. The first was to arrange for the use of a plane.

        “Hey Io! How are ya? It's AJ…. Yeah, I'm good. Listen, I need to call in that favor. I need a plane for a week or so…. No, I'll take care of the fuel and everything else. All I need is a pilot and the plane…. Not before then? …. OK, the day after tomorrow will be fine. Will 8 A.M. be ok with you? …. Good…. What? …. Now Ignacious Octavian you know better than to ask that! You have to find your own women and with that tongue, I have no idea why you have such a hard time….. Yeah, yeah…. I feel real sorry for ya. OK, I'll see you Wednesday morning at 8 o'clock…. Take care…. Bye.”

        Hanging up the phone, AJ shook her head and let out a small laugh. That man was a character. Reaching for the phone once more, this time AJ called a friend of hers in New York City. Patrick Mulder was also a private investigator and they helped each other out whenever they could. They had met in college and had stayed in touch ever since. If anyone could find out the hard to get information, it would be him.

        AJ called his private number and while she waited for him to answer, she pulled out the license and took a good look at it. She could definitely see the family resemblance and knew that she was probably looking at Sam's mother.

        “This had better be good. You're interrupting a great movie.”

        AJ smiled to herself as she replied, “Knowing you Patrick, you've seen that movie over a hundred times and can quote the entire dialogue by heart.”

        “Hey AJ! That's not the point. I just like to watch their expressions. How ya doin' girl? Staying out of trouble or is that a stupid question?”

        “I'm doin' ok. And I try to stay out of trouble, but it always seems to find me.”

        AJ could hear a snort and a chuckle. “Yeah right. What can I do you for?”

        “I need you to find out some information on someone who maybe connected to a case that I'm working on. I need to know anything and everything that you can find out about them. Especially about their family.”

        “OK, that shouldn't be a problem. Who is it you wanna know about?”

        Reading off the license, “Laurel J. van Steen.” And then she read off the address and driver license number. “I'm gonna go online and see if I can find anything just to have some basic background info, but I really need for you to go in-depth for me.”

        “van Steen? That sounds familiar. Any connection to the van Steen Diamond Exchange?”

        AJ sat back and pondered that question for a few seconds before she answered. “Patrick, I honestly don't know, but it would make sense. Can you get as much as you can by tomorrow sometime? We'll be in New York City Wednesday afternoon and I'd like to be prepared when we get there.”

        “No problem, you still at the same number as before?”

        “Yeah, same number. Hey, could you also arrange for a car to pick us up at the airport? I'll give you our arrival time when you call me with the info.”

        AJ could hear rustling of paper through the phone. “Do you want me to call you with the info or e-mail it to you?”

        “Both. That way I can talk things over with you while I look at it. My e-mail address is still the same.”

        “Sure, no problem. I'll get right on it and send you something about 3 o'clock your time tomorrow. Anything else?

        “Nope, thanks a lot Patrick. I'll talk with you tomorrow then. Bye.”

        “OK, you too. Bye.”
        After hanging up the phone, AJ leaned back and looked out over the city. If Sam was connected with the diamond exchange that would explain the amount of money, but not why she had it.

        'Now what do I do? Do I tell Sam about the license and what I think that we've found or do I wait until Patrick gets back to me with more details? I promised her that I would tell her everything, but I'm not sure about this.'

        She turned to get online, but stopped herself.

        'No. If I don't look up anything, then I won't be lying to Sam if I don't tell her. Damn it AJ, you've lost all objectivity to this case. You're not thinking with your head any more. Are you sure that you even know what you're doing?'

AJ stood up and walked over to the window overlooking the city. She stood there for quite awhile, just thinking as the evening skies turned dark as night approached.


        Sam awoke as the sun was setting over the Pacific Ocean. She reached out to find AJ, but instead her hand encountered a note lying atop the pillow. Picking to up, she read in the waning light, “Hi gorgeous! Hope that you slept well. I'm downstairs checking on some info. Thanks for listening. Your AJ.”

“My AJ huh? I like the sound of that.”

        Raising her arms above her head, Sam lazily stretched out, arching her back and pointing her toes until she felt her joints pop. Slowly she sat up and got off the bed. Guessing by the lengthening shadows on the wall, she guessed that it was early evening and her stomach growled out its agreement.

        She padded down the hall towards the kitchen, noticing by the silence that AJ must still be downstairs. Quickly Sam detoured into the living room, turning on the stereo, found a soft rock station and finally walked into the kitchen.

        Deciding that some comfort food might be in order, she peered into the fridge to take stock of things on hand. Spying some proscuitto, provolone cheese and sour dough bread; grilled ham and cheese sandwiches immediately came to mind. And then looking into the freezer brought a smile to her face and she added chocolate milk shakes to the menu. Sam didn't know about AJ, but chocolate always made her feel better. Or at least she thought that it did.

        In no time at all, the sandwiches and shakes were ready so Sam went to find AJ. As she turned the corner that led to the stairs, Sam searched briefly for the light switch and then flicked it on. Slowly she descended the stairs and walked into the darkened office. It took her eyes a moment to adjust before she found AJ standing before the front window with her hands stuffed inside her pockets.

        “Hey, are you ready for something to eat?”


        “AJ, are you ok?”

        AJ seemed to jump a bit when she heard her name and she gazed at Sam's reflection in the window. She had spent the last hour just standing there looking out over the city, thinking about Sam. Of how she made AJ feel, how she made her react. As AJ looked at the woman standing behind her, she became conscious of the fact that she was in love with Sam.

        Slowly she turned to face Sam. “I'm ok. Was just lost in thought there for a moment. Didn't mean to scare you.”

        Sam took a step forward. “It's ok. I guess that you didn't hear me come down. Dinner is ready.”

        “I'll be right up. Just let me turn off the computer.”

        “O.K. See ya in a few.”

        After Sam walked back up stairs, AJ went over to the desk and started the shut down procedure. As she waited for the prompts, she thought to herself. 'Now what do you do? You've fallen in love with a client and it's a client that has no memory. You know that she can't stay a part of your life. What if she has someone waiting for her?'

That thought drove a shaft of pain through AJ's soul. She didn't know if she could bear the thought of someone else touching and loving this woman. She knew that she didn't have any right to feel this way, but she couldn't stop the feelings no more than she could stop the path of a raging flood.

        'Just take the time that you have now and make the most of it. Protect her and find out the solution to her puzzle. Do your job, find out who she is and then just see what happens. Jacq said that we'd be stronger together. I have to believe in that. I'll deal with the consequences of loving her afterwards.'

        Turning off the computer monitor, AJ made her way upstairs to the woman who had stolen her heart.


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