Safe Harbor: Part 8

by Radcliffe

 

Chapter Nineteen

Two nights later, Tory returned from the clinic close to eleven p.m. Reeseís Bronco was parked in the drive. Tory stared at it, a mixture of fury and fear warring in her mind. She knew Reese had been fretting with boredom for days, but she still had sutures in, and Tory had told her specifically that she was not ready to drive.

Cath heard the front door slam and steeled herself.

"Whereís Reese?" Tory asked by way of greeting, her voice like flint.

"Uh, upstairs I think," Cath uttered. This is going to be worse than I thought

"Did you get her truck for her?"

"No, Marge did," Reese replied as she walked into the kitchen. She had her badge pinned to the pocket of her denim workshirt, and wore a pair of blue jeans. She was easing into the shoulder strap of her holster as she spoke. She smiled softly at Tory in welcome. "Hi."

Tory ignored the greeting, too angry to acknowledge how much she had missed Reese during the day. "Are you seeing a physician I donít know about?"

"Of course not!" Reese responded in surprise.

"Then who cleared you to work?"

"Iím not working. Iím just going to drive around the dunes for a few hours, unofficially."

"With a gun, in the middle of the night?" Toryís hands were clenched, and she fought down the urge to throw things. Reese just stared at her, clearly astounded by her reaction.

"Did Nelson approve this?" Tory asked harshly.

"No, Iím doing it on my time."

"The hell you are," Tory responded curtly, walking toward the phone. "If you wonít follow my orders as your physician, Iíll have Nelson suspend you. You can see another doctor tomorrow."

"Tory," Reese said gently, halting her with a hand on her arm. "Just hear me out, and then if you donít want me to, I wonít go out."

Tory turned from the phone reluctantly, her jaw clenched. She nodded her head sharply for Reese to go ahead.

"Someone is after kids, Tory - our kids. Bri told me there have been other incidents of gay boys and lesbians being verbally hassled on their way to or from the dunes. Caroline has seen a black pick-up cruising out there, and she thinks once or twice itís followed her home after sheís been with Bri. The kids are in danger, Tory. I just want to be seen out there, and let whoeverís doing this know that I know. Maybe that will be enough to put an end to this before someone gets hurt."

"It doesnít have to be you, Reese," Tory argued, "not now, not when youíre not even healed. Call Nelson. Tell him whatís going on. He can have someone else patrol the dunes."

"I canít, not for a few more days. Bri promised me she would tell Nelson about her and Caroline. I told her Iíd give her a week. Even if Nelson knows, without me and Smith, he doesnít have enough personnel to cover the town and step up patrol in the dunes. Since we donít even have an official complaint, thereís no way heís going to pull someone off the streets now. Neither would I. Thereís no one else to do it. Iíll only be out a few hours." It was so clear to Reese what needed to be done. Surely Tory would see that.

"Damn it, Reese," Tory cried, "youíre not fit for duty. If youíre out there, anything could happen!" She turned away abruptly, not wanting Reese to see the fear in her face. Wordlessly, she walked out onto the deck, leaving Reese staring after her.

Catherine spoke quietly from the corner of the room. "My sister isnít used to talking about her fears. Sheís gotten used to dealing with her terror and her pain alone. First she lost her Olympic career, and she nearly lost her leg. Then she lost the woman she had believed she would spend her life with. She canít take any more loss in her life, Reese. She was watching you through the night glasses the other night. She saw you get shot, she thought you had been killed. Sheís terrified. Sheís terrified of loving you, and sheís terrified of losing you."

"I donít want to hurt her - she doesnít just matter to me, she means more to me than I thought possible." Reese swallowed, forcing herself to say the next words. "Iíll leave her alone if you think I should." Catherine could never know what anguish those words cost her.

Catherine shook her head, laughing softly. "You donít know much about women, do you, Reese?

"I donít know anything about any of this," Reese responded quite seriously. "I only know what I feel for her. And itís everything that I have."

"I can see how much you care. She needs you, Reese. Just go to her. Follow your instincts. Theyíve been right so far."

Reese smiled her thanks, turning toward the woman highlighted in moonlight on the deck. "Tory," she said, slipping her arms around the still figure from behind, cradling Toryís body gently against her. "Iím sorry I didnít talk to you first. I need a little practice at this. Forgive me?"

Tory grasped the hands that circled her waist, stroking the tender flesh of Reeseís palms. "This is so damn typical of you. I know you believe you have to do this. I keep trying to tell myself youíre right -"

"But?" Reese questioned, pressing her cheek to Toryís hair, sliding a kiss against the soft skin at her temple.

Tory shivered at the touch. "But my heart keeps saying it doesnít have to be you. Let someone else do it. Let someone elseís lover be the one in danger. Let someone else get hurt." Her voice trailed off in a nearly inaudible sob.

Reese tightened her hold until there was nothing between them but the night. "It has to be me because thatís what I do - thatís who I am," she whispered with absolute certainty.

Tory nodded imperceptibly, not wanting to disturb their union. "I know that - itís one of the reasons I -" She stopped before she gave voice to feelings whose consequences she wasnít ready to accept. "I donít think Iím strong enough for this, Reese," she finished miserably, starting to move away. Reese tightened her hold.

"I canít promise you I wonít get hurt, Tory," Reese continued, unwilling to let Tory withdraw from her. "But I can promise you that I will never put myself in a situation Iím not trained for, and I can promise you that every day of my life, Iíll be here for you, if you let me."

Tory turned in Reeseís arms, reaching behind her to clasp her close. She pressed her forehead into Reeseís hard chest, clamping down on the desire that flooded her as she felt Reese along the length of her.

"God, I could get used to that idea," she admitted reluctantly.

"Good," Reese said, lifting Toryís face to kiss her.

**********

"Canít sleep?" Cath asked when she joined Tory on the deck. It was two in the morning.

"Not while sheís out there," Tory responded, tipping the glass to finish her drink.

"Youíll have to learn to, you know," Cath said, lighting a cigarette, offering the pack to Tory.

Tory accepted wordlessly, smoking in silence as the stars revolved overhead. "I know Iím overreacting," she said at length.

"Probably," Cath agreed. "But itís been a hellacious few days, and youíve been through as much as she has, maybe more. Give yourself some time."

"Iím not used to being so emotional," Tory confided. "Iím not proud of myself."

"Oh, god, Tor!" Cath exclaimed. "If it were me, thereíd be more screaming than you can imagine. Sometimes I think I might scream for you! Iíve never met anyone quite like her - sheís so goddamned logical, and right, that itís hard to argue with her. If I didnít know her I wouldnít believe it. But she loves you, Tor - I can see it when she looks at you."

"God, I hope so," Tory whispered fervently. "Because sheís inside of me now."

Reese found them both dozing in deck chairs when she returned a little after three a.m. She bent to kiss Tory softly on the cheek, murmuring her name. Tory reached for her sleepily, circling her arms around Reeseís neck.

"Anything?" Tory asked.

"No," Reese replied, lifting Tory up into an embrace. She kissed her again, more thoroughly, until she had her gasping, then held her wordlessly, simply enjoying the feel of her. Tory rested against her, relishing the slow swell of desire.

"I think Iíll just toddle off to bed," Cath remarked, casting a glance at the two figures outlined in the dim light of the stars. She brushed her hand fondly across her sisterís back as she passed.

"Sheís a good woman," Reese remarked.

"Yes," Tory agreed dreamily. "Are you ready to take me to bed?"

Reese laughed. "More than ready, although I had something in mind other than sleep."

"Thatís what I was hoping."

**********

Reese led her upstairs, urging her gently toward the bed. With infinite care she removed each article of clothing, stopping to explore the enticing landscape of Toryís body with her lips and hands, captivated by her delicate strength.

Tory quivered as insistent fingers traced her skin from her breasts down her legs and back up. Reese's teasing lips pressed fleeting kisses everywhere, coaxing Tory's body to ever higher peaks of sensation. As her muscles clenched with the effort of containing her desire, she moaned Reeseís name. She grasped Reeseís shoulders, her legs tightening around Reeseís thigh.

"Iím close," Tory whispered raggedly. "Touch me, Reese, please. I need to come so much."

Reese groaned, inflamed by the wet heat of Toryís need against her skin. She wanted her so much she didnít think. When she found Tory, swollen with urgency, open and ready, she was driven by some deeply primal instinct to claim her. As if she had been born knowing how, she pushed into her Ė hard. In a single motion Reese's fingers entered her fully, igniting a chain reaction. Immediately the velvet muscles spasmed around her hand. Reese's thumb rode against Tory's clit at the same time.

"Oh, god!" Tory screamed, her body heaving, her mind melting with the instant orgasm.

Reese pressed deeper as the cataclysmic spasms gave way to small internal contractions. Reese was so consumed by the wonder of it, she was barely breathing. Slowly she became aware of sobs.

"Tory!" Reese gasped in panic, slipping from her, her withdrawal eliciting another sob. "Oh Jesus, did I hurt you?"

"No," Tory whispered, her face pressed against Reeseís shoulder, her body still shuddering.

"Are you sure?" Reese persisted fearfully. "I didnít mean to be so rough - god, I donít know what happened! I just wanted you so much!"

She tilted Toryís chin, searching her face anxiously. Tory shook her head no, but her cheeks were streaked with tears. Something twisted in Reeseís chest, catching at her heart.

"Tory," she choked. "Tory - I swear to you I never meant to hurt you -"

"You didn't hurt me, Reese," Tory managed, drawing a shaky breath. She had never been possessed like that before. She felt like she had been devoured. But what frightened her was not Reeseís passion, but how much she had wanted Reese to take her. If Reese hadnít claimed her when she did, Tory knew she would have begged her. What Reese was capable of stirring in her made her a stranger to herself. "You make me so damn helpless, I want you so bad. What you do to me - " What it will do to me now if you leave me -

Reese held her as Tory gentled in her arms, hearing in the silence what Tory had not said. She remembered Catherine speaking of what Tory had lost, understanding the enormity of that pain as she contemplated a life without Tory.

"Tory," she said, her voice soft but crystal clear.

"Yes," Tory questioned as she lay listening to the strong, steady heartbeat beneath her cheek.

"I love you."

Tory was silent a long moment, hearing the words, wondering if she dared allow them inside her. Reese had never held another woman, never made love to another woman - how could she be sure now?

Reese had not expected an answer. Instinctively she knew that it wouldnít be her words, but her constancy, that would eventually convince Tory of the truth of her love. She had spoken because she needed to, and as she said the words, something shifted inside of her. She felt peaceful in a way she never had before. She settled Tory even closer into the curves of her body, her hands gliding the length of Toryís back to her buttocks.

"Reese, youíre not going to get any sleep tonight if you keep touching me like that," Tory murmured, wanting nothing more at that moment than their closeness.

"Thatís okay," Reese laughed contentedly, continuing her caresses. "I donít have to work tomorrow."
 
 

Chapter Twenty


Tory reconciled herself to Reeseís nightly sojourns through the dunes. She even managed some restless sleep waiting for her to slip into bed beside her in the dark. Reese wasnít due to return to work for a few more days, so she had simply stayed on at Toryís. Neither of them discussed exactly what that meant.

Reese had only been back an hour one night when they were awakened by the phone. Tory reached for it with a sigh, thinking how much harder it was going to be to leave her bed with Reese asleep beside her. She didnít want to think about what it would be like when Reese returned to her own home. Reese had fast become a part of her life.

"Dr. King," she answered.

"Doctor," an unfamiliar male voice said apologetically, "this is Officer Jeff Lyons. Sorry to bother you, maíam, but Iím trying to locate Sheriff Conlon. Iíve got a girl on the other line - sheís hysterical, and she says she wonít talk to anyone except Reese."

"Of course," Tory replied with concern, "sheís right here."

"Conlon," Reese said tersely. As she listened to the call patched through to her, her body tensed. "Where are you now? .....Where were you supposed to meet?.....Go home. Iíll call you as soon as I find her. I will - I promise you."

Reese replaced the receiver as she climbed out of bed. It was two in the morning.

"What is it?" Tory asked anxiously as Reese began to pull on her uniform, her face tight.

"Briannaís missing," Reese said as she checked her revolver. "She and Caroline had a date to meet in the dunes. Brianna didnít show. That was two hours ago. ...What are you doing?"

As Reese spoke, Tory had started hastily dressing. "Iím going with you. Weíll find her faster with two of us looking. And if sheís hurt, youíre going to need me."

"Right," Reese replied, formulating plans. "Get your Jeep, your medical equipment, and your portable phone. Weíll keep in touch that way. If we havenít found her in an hour, Iím going to have to call Nelson. Iím hoping it doesnít come to that."

"Where should I look?"

"Iím going out to Herring Cove where they were supposed to meet. Why donít you drive down Commercial, then out 6A and circle back to the beach on 6. Look for her motorbike. Maybe she was just late, missed Caroline, and sheís hanging out somewhere in town."

Tory could tell by the set of her jaw that Reese did not believe that. "Reese, promise me if thereís trouble that youíll call for back-up. Your wound isnít healed yet. Your reaction time will be slowed. I canít worry about both of you."

To Toryís relief, Reese nodded agreement. "I will. Call me every five minutes with your location." Then, unexpectedly, Reese grasped her shoulders and kissed her with bruising intensity. "Be careful. I donít want you hurt."

As Tory followed Reese downstairs, she knew from the rigid set of her lover's back and the tight expression on her face that Reese was more than a little worried. Reese's attention was already elsewhere as she focused completely on her mission. Tory knew with utter certainty that this single-minded determination was the essence of the woman she loved. To love Reese Conlon meant she must accept what that dedication demanded of Reese, emotionally and physically. Tory doubted she would ever grow accustomed to the danger, but she knew she would have to live with it - because she knew it was no longer possible to stop loving Reese.

Tory drove the length of Commercial Street, slowly canvassing the narrow lanes and alleys intersecting it. Several times she stopped to glance into the few bars and late night hangouts still open. Bri was no where to be found. She circled around past the jetty to Long Point, remembering her own perilous journey out onto the rocks, and the way Reese had suddenly appeared at her side- offering assistance and security as only Reese could. She remembered how great her pain was that night, and the sight of Reese bending over her, administering to her bruised and swollen leg. That was the night she had fallen in love with Reese Conlon.

She was nearing the Provincetown limits when her portable phone rang. "King," she responded tersely.

"Itís Reese. Take six west toward Herring Cove. Look for my cruiser on the side of the road. Iím about a hundred yards in along the dune trail."

"Have you got her?" Tory asked, thinking that Reeseís voice seemed strangely hollow.

"Yes - on the double, Tory."

Reese was waiting at the roadside, hastily stringing yellow tape across the mouth of a narrow path in the sand. Briannaís motorbike lay on its side in the scrub by the side of the road. The front was twisted and dented. Toryís stomach clenched when she saw it, and what Reese was doing.

"My god, Reese - is she alive?" Tory called as she approached.

"Yes, for now," Reese replied grimly, as she helped Tory slide the portable stretcher from the back of her Jeep. "Follow me - keep to the trail. I donít want to contaminate the scene any more than we have to."

Tory stared at her in astonishment. This is Bri for Godís sake! Doesnít she have any feelings!

Reese saw the question in her eyes, and read the silent criticism. It hurt, but she didnít have the time or the inclination to explain. "You tend to her body, Doctor, thatís your job. Mine is to catch the bastard that did this to her," Reese stated flatly, a dangerous fire in her eyes.

Tory nodded, "Of course - lead the way."

Brianna was lying unconscious in a shallow cleft between two brush covered dunes. When Tory lifted the blanket Reese had laid over her, she recoiled from the sight of the torn shirt and the jeans yanked down around Bri's ankles. For an agonizing moment, all she could imagine was Bri's terror. A soft touch on Tory's shoulder jerked her back to the present, and her responsibility.

"Tory - we need to move her. Is her spine secure?" Reese asked evenly.

Tory knelt, making a quick assessment of Bri's vital signs. Her airway was clear, and her pulse strong and steady. Her face was badly battered, both eyes discolored. There was a stream of blood from her left nostril, and a hematoma forming over the right side of her jaw. Even in the dim light from Reeseís flashlight she could make out bruises on her throat. Blood crusted in patches over her neck and chest.

"She fought hard," Tory murmured, barely aware of speaking aloud as she continued her assessment of the battered girl.

"Yes. She would."

Tory glanced up at Reese, who stood staring down at Briannaís violated body, her eyes so cold that Tory shivered. Tory slipped a soft restraining collar behind Bri's neck, immobilizing her cervical spine. She ran her hands over Briís extremities, noting no obvious deformities. The rest of the exam would have to wait until they moved her.

"Sheís okay to transport. Just get your forearms behind her neck and under her shoulders when we lift. Keep her head midline and donít flex it," Tory ordered, her mind already busy planning what else needed to be done.

"Have you notified Nelson?" Tory asked as they maneuvered slowly through the sand.

"Lyons is on his way here to secure the scene," Reese replied. "Iíll radio the Chief on route to your place. I didnít want him to see her like this."

Tory nodded, wondering how she could have questioned Reeseís sensitivity, regretting her initial reaction. Reese was only doing what she was trained and sworn to do. "Reese, Iím sorry about earlier. I didnít think about what you needed to do out there-"

"Itís okay - why should you," Reese responded evenly.

"No, itís not okay." Because I know you better than that, and because I love you

Tory needed to tell her that, but now was not the time. Instead, she followed the flashing lights of Reeseís patrol car as they led her through the dark.

**********

"What the hell is going on, Conlon?" Nelson Parker demanded as he shoved through the door of Toryís clinic. "I heard on the scanner that you ordered Lyons and Jameson to block off a section of six. Youíre not even on duty!" He got a good look at his Deputy Chiefís face and he stopped short, his stomach churning. There was something deadly in her eyes, and something so gentle in her hand on his arm that he was suddenly afraid. Heíd seen that look in copsí eyes before, when it was something bad. He steeled himself to hear it.

"Tell me," he said softly.

"Itís Bri - sheís alive, but sheís seriously hurt. Tory is with her now."

Nelson steadied himself with a hand against the wall. There seemed to be something wrong with his vision - he could hardly see her face. He heard his words, but didn't feel himself speak. "Did she crash her motorbike?"

"Someone beat her, Nelson."

He felt like he was gut shot. "I donít understand - why? How did you find her?"

"Caroline Clark called me. She told me Bri was missing and I went to look for her. I found her in the dunes."

Nelson looked at her in confusion. "Caroline? Why did she call you? Whatís going on?"

Reese returned his questioning gaze steadily. "Bri and Caroline are lovers. Theyíve been trysting in the dunes. My guess is that someone followed Bri, forced her off the road, and dragged her up into the scrub."

Nelson rocked back as if she had struck him. Then he leveled angry eyes on her. "You knew about them? Thatís why Caroline called you?"

"Yes. Bri told me she was going to tell -"

 All of his terror was transformed into anger. This was Reeseís fault! If she had told him, he would have put a stop to this nonsense before Brianna got hurt! Nelson moved so unexpectedly Reese didnít have time to counter, had she been inclined to. He grabbed her with both hands and slammed her into the wall. "You son of a bitch! You knew my daughter was fooling around with some girl and you didnít tell me?!!" he roared. He punctuated his fury by pounding his forearm into her body. "You let it go on?!!"

Fire tore through her side. Reese never lifted a hand, though she was well equipped to defend herself. "Nelson--" she gasped.

When Tory came around the corner, she saw the pain in Reeseís face. Nelson stood, one fist poised to strike, the other hand twisted in Reeseís shirt front, pinning her to the wall. He was momentarily stunned as Toryís cane cracked down on his forearm, the curved handle catching around his wrist, preventing him from swinging into Reeseís unprotected face.

"Let go of her, Nelson," Tory said in a deadly tone. "Now."

Reese sagged slightly in Nelson's grasp as he turned to Tory in confusion. Reese coughed, one hand pressed to her side, trying to catch her breath. Every inhalation felt like a knife stab.

Toryís eyes never left Nelsonís face as she shifted her weight, ready for the next strike. "Do it Nelson, or Iíll break your arm."

"Itís okay, Tory," Reese gasped.

"Heíd better pray to God he didnít hurt you," was all Tory said. When Nelson finally dropped his hands to his sides, Tory relaxed slightly, but she kept her eyes on him. "The evac team is on their way. Sheís stable, and intermittently conscious. Sheís asking for you, Reese."

"You stay away from her," Nelson seethed. "If you werenít queer yourself this never would have happened."

"I need a statement from her," Reese stated. And I need to see that sheís all right

"Forget about a statement - youíre fired."

Reese shrugged. "You can fire me tomorrow. Tonight Iím going to catch whoever has been terrorizing the kids in this town. Tory - call Caroline, will you? I promised her -"

"Go ahead, Reese, Iíll take care of it. Then I need to look at you." Tory said these last words with a glare toward the Chief.

Reese, smiling gently, brushed her fingers over the hand Tory clenched around the head of her cane. She drew as deep a breath as she could, determined not to reveal how much it hurt.

"Iím really okay."

**********

Reese pushed open the door to the procedure room. Nelson followed, halting just inside the door. He was paralyzed by the sight of his daughter. She lay naked under a thin sheet, nearly unrecognizable from her bruises, hooked up to two iv bags. He saw a clear plastic evidence bag filled with bloodied clothes on the counter, with an open rape kit beside it. He fought the sudden urge to vomit. He looked again at the stretcher, expecting to see his little girl, and he saw a battered woman, someone he didnít know. He was afraid to go near her.

Reese pulled up a stool, taking Briannaís hand in hers. She pressed the torn and bloodied fingers to her cheek. She was aware of Nelson coming to stand behind her.

"Itís Reese, Bri," she said gently. "Youíre all right now. Youíre safe."

Briís eyelids fluttered, then opened. She tried to focus on Reeseís face. Her throat was so dry, it was hard to form words. She found the blue eyes, and let herself be held by the tenderness in them. "Caroline?" she managed at last. "Is she -?"

"Sheís fine, Bri. Sheís on her way."

"Donít let her see me like this -please," Bri said with a struggle.

Reese smiled in understanding, brushing a lock of hair out of Briís eyes. "Sheíll need to see you, Bri. Sheíll be more scared if she doesnít." She waited for a second, then continued with what she knew must be done. "Can you tell me who did this, Bri?"

Bri tried to turn away as tears leaked from the corner of her eyes. Reese caught them on the backs of her fingers.

"Did he rape me?" Bri asked.

Nelson choked back a groan.

Tory moved from where she had been standing in the doorway. "I donít think so, honey," she said softly. "I still have a few tests to run."

Bri closed her eyes with a sigh. Reese waited patiently, her entire being focused on the young woman before her. She gently stroked her hair. Tory watched her lover, knowing that at this moment, Bri was the most important thing in Reeseís life. How had she ever been naÔve enough to think this was just a job for Reese?

"Help me, Bri," Reese whispered.

"It was the black truck thatís been following us. I donít know him, but I - I think I broke his nose. I punched him, when he was on top of me -" Bri lapsed into silence, shaking, overcome by the events too fresh yet to be memories.

"Oh, Jesus -" Nelson moaned.

"Give me something more, Bri -" Reese pushed. Bri gasped for breath as she tried to put words to her terror.

"Reese," Tory warned.

Reese ignored her. "Tell me, Bri. Help me get him."

Tory bit her lip, vowing she would stop this if Reese didnít.

"He hit my bike - I think it smashed his headlight," Bri said with a struggle.

"Good girl," Reese said.

Bri, fighting to remain conscious, looked up at her father. "Iím sorry, dad. I wanted to tell you. I was scared. " Her voice trailed off as exhaustion claimed her.

Reese moved aside so Nelson could sit with her. She needed to get back to the field. She needed to check the motorbike for evidence, and start looking for the perpetrator. Very likely he would be seeking medical attention himself if Bri had really broken his nose. As she pulled the door closed, she saw Tory forcefully interrupt Carolineís headlong dash down the hall.

"Wait a minute," Tory soothed, holding the struggling young woman. "It might be better if you see her tomorrow, Caroline. Itíll be hard to see her like this -"

Caroline fixed Tory with a contemptuous glare. "Youíre just like all the rest. You think just because weíre young that our feelings donít matter. Last night right about now she was making love to me. Do you think that doesnít matter either?"

"Thatís not what I meant, Caroline. I know you care about her."

"_Care_ about her?" she said coldly. "What if it were Reese in there, Tory? Just how long would you wait out here?"

Tory stared at her, knowing that it could easily be Reese under other circumstances. Just the thought made her ill.

"Youíre right. Iím sorry," Tory said softly. "Nothing on earth would keep me away."

She watched the pretty young blond, who now seemed so much older than her years, resolutely push through the doors to her lover. She turned to her own lover, who was issuing orders into the phone.

"Call me with anything," Reese said. "Iím heading out now."

"Not until I take a look at you," Tory said as Reese hung up the phone.

"Five minutes," Reese conceded.

"In here," Tory said, motioning to an empty exam room. "And Iíll take as long as I need. Take off your shirt."

Reese complied with a sigh, trying to hide the pain that pierced her side as she shrugged out of her clothes. Tory bent to examine the stitches.

"Why didnít you stop him?" Tory asked as she cleaned the healing incision with peroxide. "You could have."

"He didnít know what he was doing," Reese grunted as Tory probed a tender spot along her rib cage. "Besides, heís my commanding officer."

"Iím going to pretend I didnít hear that, Reese. Because as much as I respect and admire your pigheaded dedication to your job, I cannot believe you would let him do that to you." There was a faint sensation of movement under her fingertips, and she felt Reese withdraw from the pressure.

"He would have come to his senses in a minute. If he had really endangered me, I would have stopped him."

Tory stepped back, her face furious. "Well, he broke your rib. Now give me your goddamned gun. Youíre not working tonight."

Reese took Tory by surprise when she caught both her hands, pulling Tory against her body. Iím going to frighten her again, Reese thought. How many times can I do this to her before itís too much?

"Tory, I love you with everything in me! But I canít do what you want. Please donít ask me to."

Reeseís embrace was so tight it was almost painful. Tory pushed back in her grasp, searching the blue eyes that searched her own. There was honesty there, and shockingly, fear. Sheís afraid Iíll leave her!

"Youíll need them taped," Tory stated, feeling the tension in Reeseís body ease. "And I want your word of honor that you wonít take any chances. Not one. If you love me, you owe me that, Reese."

Reese kissed her softly, "I promise - and thank you."

 

Part 9

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