Murder Has Two Faces
by Tonya S. Coley
Disclaimers: This story is mine. The characters are mine. They do not bear a resemblance to a certain duo, who we all know and love. Although Wilmington is a real city, the names and places of certain areas have been changed to protect me from being sued. This is the sequel to Murder by Association.
Language: This story contains a lot of foul language.
Violence: This is a murder mystery, of course there's violence. Some of it is graphic. There are also references to child pornography, child abuse and marital rape, though none of it is graphic.
Angst Warning: Angst rears it's ugly head in this, folks. I am sorry but it is a part of life.
Sex: This story contains details of a loving relationship between two women. Some scenes are very graphic. If this is not your cup of tea, or you are under the age of 18, I suggest you move on to something else.
Editing Credits: This story was edited by Katia N. Ruiz. Thank you for all your help.
Feedback: Please feel free to let me know what you think. Good or bad reviews I can take, but please don't be cruel. My email addy is Tcoley813@aol.com
Special Thanks: For Peaches. You helped me to see beyond myself, and gave me the courage to try something new. Muchos gracias, mi amiga.
For J, I love you.
It was a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon. Johnnie was lying on the floor in front of the wide screen television, while her son was sitting on her back as they watched a DVD of the Teletubbies.
"Teletubbies say hello, uh oh." A very happy three-year-old Phillip sang. "Look mama, Dipsy." He gleefully yelled.
Johnnie looked over her shoulder in admiration of her strong, healthy son. She looked at his curly black hair, mocha skin and big brown eyes that were always full of wonder. She turned her attention back to the television. "Oh no, they're gonna try to make him wear that tutu." She said.
"Ewww, Mama. Dat sucks." He said, scrunching his little face in disgust.
Johnnie quickly looked back at him. "Shh, Champ. You better not let Mami hear you say that. She'll kill me." She said, placing a finger over his lips. Alma got on her continuously for her loose tongue around their son.
They laughed as Dipsy ran around trying to get away from the others. Both became silent as they heard Alma call from another part of the house.
"I'm gonna go and help Mami, Champ. You gonna be ok in here?" Johnnie asked as she lifted the boy off of her.
"Big boy, Mama. I no scared." He told her.
"Ok, Champ. Don't leave this spot." She said, pointing to the floor.
Phillip smiled. "Kay, Mama."
Johnnie walked into the bathroom and saw Alma still lounging in the tub. Alma's breasts were just above the bubbles and Johnnie looked at them hungrily.
"I know what you're thinking, Querida." Alma said. "Put it on the back burner, baby.
Johnnie smirked. "You know me so well."
"Yes, I do." Alma smiled. "Could you scrub my back for me? I can't reach it." She shyly asked.
"Sure baby, anything you want." Johnnie said, leering at her wife.
"Breathe, honey, breathe." Johnnie said as she wiped the sweat from Alma's brow.
"Fuck breathing." Alma growled. "I want someone to get this baby out of me."
Alma's labor had been hard. The hospital gown she wore was drenched with sweat. Her mother had been with her and Johnnie in the early stages, but had to leave because she couldn't bear to see her child in pain. They had been in labor and delivery for almost twenty-four hours before she had dilated enough to give birth.
"This is all your fault. I wouldn't be in this mess if it weren't for you." Alma hissed. "You and your genes. That's why I am carrying Bigfoot instead of a baby."
Johnnie had found out earlier not to argue but agree with whatever Alma said. "Yeah, baby. It's all my fault." She said, and then laughed to herself. 'I didn't do it, though.'
Alma grabbed Johnnie by her collar and pulled her to within inches of her face. "After this is over, if you so much as look at me, I will shoot you. Do you hear me?"
"Yes dear." Johnnie quietly responded.
Another contraction hit Alma, and Johnnie's hand carried the brunt of the force of Alma's death grip. Her hand was already tender, and Johnnie felt that it would be broken before the baby was born.
When the contraction was over, it was like the old Alma had returned. "Te amo, mi amor."
Just as soon as another contraction hit, she became Linda Blair from 'The Exorcist', releasing a slew of expletives that would make a sailor blush. All Johnnie could do was take it.
The nurse softly chuckled and shook her head. She had felt sorry for the tall and stoic detective. When Alma first started berating Johnnie, the nurse pulled Johnnie off to the side and explained that all women in labor speak harshly to their partners. Johnnie then began to relax and take all that Alma was dishing out in stride.
"One, two, three, push." The doctor instructed. Johnnie sat behind Alma, lifting her to aid in her pushing. "Good girl, Alma. A couple more and we'll be done."
Johnnie's brown eyes widened in anticipation. A son, their son, would soon be here. She took a cool rag and dabbed the sweat from Alma's face neck and chest. "You're doing fine, baby. Just a little longer."
Alma was spent and her voice was hoarse. "I'm so tired, Querida. So tired."
Johnnie kissed Alma's forehead. "I know, baby."
"One more big push should do it, Alma." The doctor said. "Alright, let's go."
Johnnie lifted Alma forward and she pushed, groaning and straining with everything she had. Johnnie whispered words of encouragement in Alma's ear. Alma held Johnnie's hand and squeezed, hoping to draw strength from her.
Before the baby was completely free of his mother, he began to wail. "Do you hear that, Alma?" Johnnie excitedly asked. "That's our baby boy."
Holding up the baby who was covered in blood and gunk, the doctor announced, "Ladies, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to..." The doctor looked at them expectantly.
An exhausted Alma whispered, "Charles Phillip Green Martinez."
"Honey, are you listening to me?" Alma asked.
Johnnie, returning from her revelry, shook her head. "I'm sorry baby. I was thinking about something else. What were you saying?"
"I asked if you had tenderized the steaks yet. Pizo and Diana will be here soon." She said. Alma began to giggle when Johnnie began perusing Alma's neck with her tongue. "If you don't stop it, I'll never get out of this tub."
"You never should have asked me in here." Johnnie responded. "You know how I get when you're naked and wet." She added, her hands dipping down to cup Alma's ample breasts.
Alma's nether regions sparked like a gas furnace. She leaned her head back in order to give Johnnie access to her lips. Johnnie ran her tongue across them, tracing their outline. After one flick across Alma's lips, her tongue was greeted by Alma's. Johnnie's hand traveled down Alma's belly, reaching dark curls. Alma moaned into Johnnie's mouth when fingers fondled her swollen clit.
"Mama, come back." Phillip yelled. "You missin' it."
Johnnie reluctantly pulled her mouth from Alma's and her hand from between Alma's legs. Luckily she was wearing a tank top, so there were no wet sleeves to deal with. "Okay Champ." Johnnie answered, her voice trembling. "I'll be right there." She looked to her wife, giving her a chaste kiss. "Duty calls." She said, sighing as she stood up to get a towel.
"Like you aren't happy to go watch television with your son." Alma said, smirking. "What are you guys watching? Teletubbies or something on Cartoon Network?"
Johnnie turned to her as she wiped her arms dry. "I have to watch what Champ wants to watch."
Alma laughed. "Querida, you were watching that stuff way before Phil was even born. Let's not go there, ok?"
"That was for research purposes only." Johnnie adamantly said. "I just wanted to know what kids were into now."
"Yeah, sure, right." Alma teasingly responded. "So which one is your favorite? That Tinky Winky one?"
"No, Dipsy is my...I mean Champ's favorite." Johnnie sputtered.
Alma cast her a knowing look. "Yeah, Phil's favorite."
Johnnie playfully growled. "Oh, you." Then she threw the towel at Alma and walked out. Alma's laughter followed her down the hall.
Johnnie had retired from the police force immediately after Phillip's birth. She obtained a private investigator's license, and started her own firm. At first it was just her and her high school friend Laura Rogers. In three years it had grown into one of the most successful firms in the southeast.
She still remained close with her former partner, Pizo. She still trusted him with her life, and the life of her son. She and Alma asked him to be Phillip's godfather, and in the event that anything happened to them he would look out for Phillip's interests. He proudly accepted his role.
Alma had just put Phillip down for his nap. She walked into the bedroom in time to see Johnnie pulling up her Teletubbies boxers. Alma stood silently at the door as she watched Johnnie pull them up over her firm muscular buttocks, trying to withhold the snicker that was about to escape because of Johnnie's choice of underwear. She looks as good if not better than the day we met. She silently mused. She leered at Johnnie's muscular back and strong shoulders, and could feel moisture form between her thighs.
"Are you just gonna stand there peeking at me, or are you gonna come over here and give me some sugar?" Johnnie asked as she adjusted her breasts in her sports bra.
Alma was caught off guard. She didn't know that Johnnie was aware of her presence. "I... Um... How did you know that I was here?"
Johnnie chuckled. "I was a cop for a long time, baby. Tools of the trade." She turned to face her wife. "C'mere love." She said softly, with open arms.
Alma slowly and seductively walked over to Johnnie. She sighed softly when she felt Johnnie's long, well-developed arms encompass her. She felt safe when Johnnie held her. It had taken her a while to get over what Javier had done. Alma felt responsible for the women he murdered. The entire family was at a loss. No one saw how sick Javier was. Then after he killed himself, she became despondent. She and Javier were extremely close growing up. She blamed herself for not seeing that he was mentally ill. It was Johnnie and the love of her family that brought her through it.
Johnnie snuggled into Alma's hair. She loved the way it always smelled of coconut. She tightened her grip when she felt Alma brush her cheek against a hardening nipple. "I love you, Alma." She whispered.
"I love you too, Johnnie. With all my heart." She responded. She pulled her head back, and her mouth met warm lips and tongue.
Their kiss deepened, as tongues battled for control. Johnnie's large hands wandered to Alma's buttocks. She cupped them and pulled her closer. Alma's hands roamed Johnnie's shoulders and back. She loved the feel of them as they shifted with Johnnie's every movement.
At the very moment Johnnie was about to slide her hand between Alma's thighs, the doorbell rang. Their mouths separated, and Johnnie quietly cursed. "Damn it, Pizo has the lousiest timing."
Alma laughed, and placed a soft kiss on Johnnie's chin. "That is your friend." She yelped when Johnnie slapped her on her behind.
Johnnie released Alma so she could answer the door.
Alma greeted both Pizo and Diana as they came inside. Pizo noticed Alma's face was a little flushed. He was beginning to think that Alma may be getting sick, until he noticed the glare he received from Johnnie as she walked into the living room. He chuckled to himself.
"Guess my timing is as impeccable as usual." He said with a Cheshire grin on his face.
"That is so not funny, asshole." Johnnie playfully growled. "You do this every time."
"Well if you could keep that raging libido in check, there would be nothing for me to interrupt." He responded as he laughed at her. "Lucky for Alma you aren't a man. You guys would have five or six kids by now."
"Fuck you, Pizo." Johnnie said. She flipped her middle finger out, placed it under her eye and gently pulled at the skin there. "Look into my eye, asshole."
"Cut it out, you two." Diana told them. She rubbed her slightly protruding belly. "The baby is getting hungry."
"Come with me." Alma said, pulling Diana toward the kitchen. "I have some snacks for you and the little one."
Alma turned around to see Johnnie and Pizo shoving each other like little kids. "Stop it." She admonished them both. "Get that grill started and the meat on it, now. Diana and the baby are hungry, and Phil will be ready to eat when he wakes up." She looked over at Johnnie. "If you two brats don't play nice, you will be sleeping in Phil's room tonight, Querida."
Johnnie, looking like a properly chastised child, swallowed audibly. "Yes, dear."
"Pussy whipped." Pizo muttered, and laughed out loud at his choice of words.
Diana's voice came from the kitchen. "The same goes for you, bucko."
Horror flashed quickly on Pizo's face. He knew that Diana always meant what she said. "Okay, baby, whatever you say."
Johnnie smirked. "Wimp."
They both fell into a fit of laughter as they walked through the kitchen toward the backyard.
"So, pal o mine, how goes it with that partner of yours?" Johnnie asked as she sipped her beer.
Pizo shrugged. "He's ok, a damn fine cop. I just don't think we have anything in common outside of the job."
Johnnie nodded her head in agreement. "I know he hates my ass." She flatly told him. "There's something about him that gives me the creeps."
"Aww J, he doesn't hate you." Pizo said. "He just hates being in your shadow."
Johnnie chuckled. "In my shadow? What in the hell does that mean?"
"It means, Detective, that he knows he'll never be the cop that you were, and he won't be that partner to me that you were." Pizo revealed. "He is trying to live up to your rep."
"The boy has taste." Johnnie quipped.
"Yeah, well, don't know how long that will last." Pizo almost inaudibly said.
"What does that mean, Pizo?" Johnnie asked.
Pizo shifted nervously in his seat as he silently cursed his partner's excellent hearing. "Oh nothing, J. Forget I said anything."
Johnnie stood up, towering over Pizo. "If there is a problem buddy, you know I got your back."
"The problem is not mine, J." He paused, looking up at her. "But it could mean trouble for you."
Johnnie was confused. "What in the hell are you talking about?"
Pizo nervously took a gulp of beer. "There's talk of an investigation, J." He paused. "You know how it is in the squad room. That place is a rumor mill."
"An investigation of whom?" Johnnie carefully asked.
"You." Pizo said.
"Me?" Johnnie incredulously asked. "What the fuck for?"
"The money, J. Your money." He said. "They are wondering where you got all your money. They know that because you retired early you didn't get your full pension."
"Well that is none of their goddamned business." She growled.
Johnnie was worth a little over two million dollars now from the land and other holdings that were left to her by her father and her successful business. She didn't reveal that fact to anyone but Pizo and Alma. Her lifestyle was kept in the confines of her own salary. She allowed all the monies that she received from her private holdings to roll over, never taking any money from them. When she started her investigation firm, she only took start up money. Once it became successful, she returned the money that she had used.
"I know that, J. It's the powers that be that are stirring up trouble." Pizo calmly said, placing his hand on her shoulder.
"What have I done that is so different, Pizo?" She asked. "I live in the same house. Is it the fact that I bought myself a Navigator and a Lexus for Alma? I can't buy anything new for my wife or me?" Johnnie became angrier by the minute. "Where in the hell is this coming from? She angrily demanded.
"City Hall, the mayor's office." He told her.
"Ballantine? I should have known. That scum sucking son of a bitch." She shouted as she hurled her beer bottle across the lawn. It shattered against the fence.
"He's been after you for years. Now that you are off the force and successful, he's insinuating that you were on the take." He said.
"Mother fucking piece of shit." She roared as she lifted one of Alma's flowerpots.
"Whoa!" Pizo shouted, grabbing Johnnie's arm. He knew that she was pissed and was gonna throw things. "Slow your roll, Johnnie. Someone is coming."
Suddenly the patio door slid open and a three-year-old ball of energy flew out into the back yard.
"Pido!" Phillip exclaimed as he ran toward his godfather.
Pizo squatted in order to catch the boy, but was knocked over by him.
"Philly Phil!" A bowled over Pizo yelled. "How's my boy?"
"I fine, Pido." He said. "When you baby gonna come?"
Pizo sat up, settling the boy on his lap. "We have almost four more months to go, kiddo. Then you will have a baby god brother or god sister to play with."
"Yay!" Phillip yelled. "We can watch Teletubbies."
Pizo ruffled Phillip's hair. "You sure can, buddy."
"Mama, can Pido's baby watch Teletubbies with us?" He asked expectantly.
Hearing her son's voice helped Johnnie regain control of her temper. "Sure, Champ. Anything you want." She paused. "Go tell Mami to bring out the steaks and hamburgers."
"Kay, Mama." He said as he got off Pizo's lap.
Once Phillip was inside, Johnnie turned to Pizo. "We will finish this after dinner."
Pizo nodded his head in agreement.
"This is delicious, baby." Alma said to Johnnie as she ate her steak.
"You outdid yourself, Johnnie." Diana added as she happily ate.
Johnnie, still thinking about what Pizo had told her, did not hear the compliments.
Alma looked at Johnnie, and saw that something was bothering her. Not knowing if she should bring it up in front of their friends, she reached over and placed her hand over Johnnie's. Johnnie looked up and gave her a weak smile. Alma returned the smile and then looked to Pizo, questioning him with her eyes. He shrugged slightly and returned to his meal. Diana was oblivious to what was going on as she devoured her food.
"Juice, Mama." Phillip requested, holding up his cup.
Johnnie took his cup, filled it with juice and gave it back to him. "Hey, I'm going downstairs for a bit." She announced.
Pizo wiped his mouth and placed his napkin on the table. "I'll come with you."
Johnnie walked over to the bar and fixed a drink. "You want one, Pizo?" She asked. He declined. She sat at the bar and motioned for him to come over. "Now tell me exactly what is going on."
"It an election year, J. Ballantine is down in the polls. His performance as mayor this term has been less than spectacular. So, he's working a new angle about fighting corruption in city government. He has targeted a couple of people, but he is beginning to focus his attacks on you." Pizo revealed.
"He has been after me since he found out that I was a lesbian and could find nothing." Johnnie said. "Why is he fucking with me now?"
"You are a successful businesswoman. Hell, you've only been in this business for three years and have made it into the most prominent investigation firm in the southeast." He said. "You, my friend, are his white whale. He's coming after you Johnnie with everything he has."
"What is the little weasel up to?" Johnnie inquired.
"He's planting seeds of doubt on the force. I hate to tell you, but it's spreading like wildfire." He said softly. "He may soon have internal affairs go back over your record."
Johnnie could feel the anger rising in her. All she had done for the city and the force. Nearly losing her life in the line of duty, and now she's being fed to the wolves.
"This is going to ruin my credibility to my clients." Johnnie hissed.
"J, he has nothing. He's on a wild goose chase. You are clean." Pizo told her.
"I know that, but my clients don't. That asshole could ruin me." Johnnie angrily spat.
Before Pizo could respond, Alma was coming down the stairs.
"Excuse me, but Diana said that she was ready to go home." Alma softly said.
"Ok, Alma. Tell her I'll be up in a minute." Pizo acknowledged.
"Um, Johnnie?" Alma hesitantly asked. "Is everything ok?"
Johnnie offered a reassuring smile. "Yeah baby, I'm fine."
Alma gave her a doubtful look, but accepted what she said. She nodded and went back upstairs.
Pizo stood up. "Johnnie, I'm gonna keep my ears open, and if anything else happens, I'll let you know."
Johnnie stood and patted his shoulder. "Thanks, Pizo." She gave him a halfhearted smile. "C'mon, before your wife looses her temper. I wouldn't want you sleeping in your car tonight."
"I'm touched." He said sarcastically.
After tucking Phillip into bed, Johnnie entered their bedroom. She saw Alma sitting at their dresser, brushing her hair. Alma noticed Johnnie as she came in.
Alma turned to face her. "Querida, I want to know what was going on with you at dinner."
Johnnie sighed heavily and sat on the bed. "Old business, Alma. I really don't want to talk about it."
Alma carefully chose her battles. If not now, then soon my love. I know something is troubling you, and you will tell me. "Alright, my love." She walked over to Johnnie, wearing nothing but her sleep shirt. She straddled Johnnie's thighs and kissed her neck. She's been drinking. It must be a biggie. She silently mused. Alma could tell by Johnnie's breathing that she was becoming aroused. That's it, Querida. Let me take your mind off of your troubles.
"Mmm, baby. You really smell good." Johnnie told her as she ran her face against her neck, taking in her fragrance.
Alma arched herself against Johnnie, causing the fabric of her shirt to brush against her painfully erect nipples. She hissed as Johnnie removed the offending garment, and then took a nipple into her mouth. She pulled Johnnie's head closer to her bosom as she rocked against her body. Alma knew that Johnnie was in need, and she gave herself willingly. The emotional state Johnnie was in let Alma know that she would be in for a long night.
After hours of intense lovemaking, Alma had finally calmed Johnnie enough so she would sleep.
"Good morning, Laura. Any calls?" Johnnie asked as she entered her suite of offices.
"Good morning, Johnnie." Laura answered. She looked at her friend and could tell that something was bothering her. "Um, are you ok?"
Johnnie was distracted as she looked over her mail. "Yeah, I'm fine. Didn't sleep much last night." She replied. "Any calls?"
"Yeah, sure." Laura said as she handed her a stack of phone messages. She has known her friend since high school and could tell that Johnnie was keeping something from her. As Johnnie looked over her messages, Laura took a bottle of Tylenol from her drawer and then turned to the small fridge behind her and pulled out a bottle of water.
Johnnie began to pinch the bridge of her nose. She felt a headache coming and it was going to be a big one. "Laura, do you have..."
Before she could finish her question, Laura handed her the bottle of Tylenol and water. "Here ya go, Johnnie."
Johnnie smiled. "You know me so well."
Laura snickered. "That's why you pay me the big bucks."
"Remind me to give you a raise." Johnnie said as she took the pills.
"Oh, I will do just that." Laura replied.
Johnnie's services had been retained by some of the most prestigious law firms and private citizens in the southeast. She had to hire three more investigators to help her. Michael Caruthers, Glenda Washington, and Tracy Kenon were all very well experienced in criminal justice and investigations. With all their contacts, they were able to handle any need that was placed before them.
"Guess I'll return some of these calls." She said, giving Laura a weak smile.
"Alright, Johnnie." Laura said as she watched her friend enter her office.
Johnnie made phone calls to the various law firms, informing them of their cases. Between phone calls, her mind drifted to the matter at hand. She was under investigation by the mayor's office. Johnnie was still in disbelief as to how they could put her record under scrutiny for alleged wrongdoing. I dedicated almost half of my life to those sorry ingrates. How could they even give credibility to that asshole Ballantine's accusation? She thought.
Laura pulled her from her musing via the intercom. "Johnnie, you have a call on line two. It's Victoria Krisp."
Victoria became Johnnie and Alma's financial consultant after Alma had returned from a business trip. She met Victoria and her wife Cecilia, when she was sent by her company to help get a project's books in order.
"Thanks, Laura." She said, and then answered the line. "Hey, Tori. What's up? It's not time for our annual visit is it?" She distractedly asked.
"Hi, Johnnie." Tori said. She paused for a second. "I was wondering if you could come up here. Today if that's possible."
"Can't we do this over the phone, Tori? Just tell me how much money I've lost." Johnnie stated flatly.
Tori took on a more stern tone. "Johnnie, this is serious. I don't want to get into this over the phone."
Johnnie conceded. "Alright, Tori, you win. I'll be there in a couple of hours."
Johnnie picked up her jacket and briefcase, and walked out of the office. "Laura, please clear my schedule. I have to go to Virginia."
"Would you like for me to call Alma?" Laura asked.
"No, I'll take care of it. Let the others know that I will be back tomorrow." She said.
"Mama!" Phillip eagerly yelled. "You come play with me? I building a house."
Johnnie leaned over to kiss her son on his head. "Sorry Champ, no can do. Mama has to go out of town for a bit."
"Out of town? Where and for how long?" Alma asked as she entered the living room. Alma now contracted accounts from their home. She and Johnnie made the decision that she could just do important accounts for Wilmington Steel and then make her own contracts for other accounts. She wanted to be home with Phillip at least until he was old enough to attend school.
Johnnie straightened herself, walked over to Alma and kissed the top of her head. "I got a call from Tori and she wants me to come up there."
"Why? Is there something wrong?" Alma inquired. "Do we have a problem financially?"
"No, nothing like that." Johnnie answered. "I don't know exactly what it is, but she was adamant about me getting up there." She took Alma's hand and led her to their bedroom. She noticed that Alma was walking gingerly. Guilt washed over her immediately. "Baby, I'm sorry about last night. I didn't mean to push you past your limit."
"Shh, baby. It's ok. I know you were upset and needy last night." Alma stated in a soothing voice. She cupped Johnnie's face. "It wasn't like it wasn't pleasurable." She gave her a wink.
It eased Johnnie's conscience. Alma had begged her to stop; that she couldn't take anymore. Johnnie was hot for her and couldn't control herself.
"Ok baby." Johnnie smiled. "I'm gonna change and then head out." She looked at her watch. "It's almost ten. I should be back by six."
"Alright." Alma said. "I'm almost done with breakfast. I'll have it and some coffee waiting for you."
Johnnie kissed Alma's nose. "That'll work."
After Johnnie changed into a pair of faded Levi's and t-shirt, she grabbed a quick bite with the family and then left for Virginia. She was pushing ninety-mph until she reached the Virginia border. Once there, she had to turn off her radar detector. "This is so stupid." She grumbled about the Virginia law. "Well, at least it's only forty-five more minutes left on this fucking road trip."
When she arrived at Tori's office, Sheila, the receptionist, asked her to wait. Johnnie could tell that she was being checked out. It made her a little uncomfortable, the scrutiny that she was under. She looked at Sheila and cordially smiled. A lustful gaze was returned. Johnnie leaned forward; resting elbows on her knees, and made a show of twirling her wedding band between her fingers. Sheila caught the hint, and knew that Johnnie was not available.
The door to Tori's office opened and Cecilia walked out followed by Tori. Johnnie looked up and saw Cecilia's brilliant smile.
"Johnnie!" She exclaimed as she was scooped up into large arms. "How are you?"
"I'm fine, Ceecee." Johnnie said, as she twirled the little woman around. "How have you been?"
"Just great." She said as Johnnie put her down. Ceecee was about 5'2" tall. Her long black hair was pulled up into a French Roll, accentuating her slender neck. Her teeth were pearly white and straight, and her dark skin was smooth as silk. "How are Alma and the baby?"
Johnnie laughed. Alma is just fine, but you can hardly call Phillip a baby." With pride in her eyes she added, "Champ is growing like a weed and getting into everything."
"Well, be sure to give both of them a big kiss for me." She said, and then turned back to Tori. "Don't forget about the track meet this afternoon. It's All-State finals. The boys will be expecting you."
Tori leaned in for a kiss. "I'll be there with bells on." She proudly said. "I'll be on my best behavior and try not to embarrass them."
"Good." Ceecee said flatly. "They are just now getting over what you did at the regionals.
"Give me a break. I wasn't that bad, was I?" Tori asked.
"Oh, please. We won't go there." Ceecee laughed. "I have to go. Johnnie, take care and give the family my love."
"Will do." Johnnie said as she kissed Ceecee's cheek.
"Now I can say hello." Tori said as she extended her hand. "How are you, Johnnie?"
"I'm doing ok, and you? Johnnie asked as she accepted the greeting.
"Sheila, please hold all my calls." She said to the receptionist as she and Johnnie went into her office.
"Ceecee looks well." Johnnie said sitting across from Tori's desk. "How has she adjusted?"
"It was rough going at first." Tori sadly said as she leaned back in her chair. "Since September 11th, she has been treated badly. She was forced out of a job she loved by ignorant assholes."
Ceecee's complexion made her look as if she were of Arab descent. It seemed that everyone had forgotten that the area that she came from had people of that skin tone. They were not Middle Eastern, but African American.
"Ignorance is everywhere, Tori. Just don't let her get down about it." Johnnie advised. She studied her friend, and could see the anger chiseled on her face; how her skin turned darker the angrier she got. She and Johnnie hit it off perfectly, both being what they called mutts. Tori was of African American and Italian descent. Sensing Tori's frustration, she leaned over and whispered, "That goes for you, too."
Tori ran her fingers through her black, wavy locks. "I hear you." She settled in her chair. "You didn't drive all this way to hear of our problems."
"Tell me, what is so important that I had to make this trip?" Johnnie asked.
Tori looked pensive for a moment as she twirled her pencil in her hand. "I don't know why, Johnnie, but someone has taken great interest in your finances. Everything has been gone through with a fine toothed comb."
Johnnie could not believe her ears. Her privacy and the privacy of her family had been invaded. "You have got to be shitting me!" She exclaimed; her voice lowered an octave.
"Everything Johnnie, even Phillip's trust account. Nothing was left unturned." Tori told her.
Johnnie bolted from her chair, and immediately pushed her hands in her pockets to keep from smashing Tori's possessions. "Fucking Ballantine and his cronies." She paused. "That son of a bitch wants a fight. Well, goddamn it, he'll get one."
"What are you talking about? Do you know what's going on?" Tori asked.
"The asshole mayor is gunning for me." She revealed. "He has been after me for a long time, and now he thinks he has me."
Tori stood and walked over to Johnnie. "What in the hell are you talking about?"
"Ballantine is accusing me of being a dirty cop. He's trying to find out where I got all my money. Thinking that I was on the take." She said. "Now is his chance to ruin me."
"I take it your net worth is not common knowledge." Tori said.
"Nope. No one but Pizo and Alma knew I had money." Johnnie impassively said.
"Oh I get it. Now that you are successful, he's trying to make it look like you got mafia money." Tori realized.
"Bingo." She responded. "I was a good cop, Tori. I went by the book."
Tori grasped Johnnie shoulder. "I know you were, buddy." She paused. "What's this guy's name again?" She asked as she moved over to her desk.
"Alexander Ballantine. Why?" Johnnie gave her a puzzled look.
"I have some cousins in New York. Maybe they know something." Tori distractedly said.
"New York? How would they know anything?" Johnnie asked.
Tori gave her a predatory grin. "You'd be surprised at what people know, no matter where they are." She paused. "Are you going back home now?"
Johnnie sighed heavily. "Yeah, I need to get home. I need my family."
Tori could see the frustration and sadness wash across Johnnie's strong features. "I'll call you if anything turns up. You keep your head up."
"Yeah, thanks, Tori." She dejectedly said.
After seeing Johnnie out, Tori quickly returned to her office and made a phone call.
"Hello, Bobby? This is Tori. I need a favor, cousin." Tori said.
"Hey Tori, what's up?" Bobby asked.
"I have a friend in need. She's having a little trouble with a public official." She said. "I want you to see what you can dig up on and Alexander Ballantine. He's the mayor of Wilmington."
"Delaware?" He asked.
"No, cuz, North Carolina. You think you can handle that?" She inquired.
He wrote the name down. "I'm on it, Tori. Gimme a couple of days."
"Thanks, Bobby." She said.
Mayor Ballantine, a hard line opponent to gay and lesbian rights, was talking to Police Commissioner Daniel Whitley.
"Is there anything on Green yet?" Ballantine demanded.
"There is nothing on Green. I have already told you she is as clean as they come." Whitley said.
"Where in the hell did she get that money from?" He barked. "Cop's pensions aren't a lot of money, and she didn't even receive full pension. That filthy dyke was on the take and you assholes let her get away with it."
Whitley was getting pissed off and Ballantine's accusations. "Now look, Alex..."
"No, you look." Ballantine interrupted. "That bitch has money that she hasn't given an account for. She was on the take and you know it."
"She was a good cop. She nearly died in the line of duty, Alex. No one is going to believe what you are saying." Whitley countered.
"She's a pervert. A filthy, disgusting homosexual. She would take dirty money. As for nearly dying, she was shot by someone who went nuts because of all the dirty lesbians." He spat.
"The murderer was crazy. It was as simple as that." Whitley said, disgusted by the conversation. "If there is nothing else, I'm leaving. I have a job to do." He stood and walked toward the door.
"Your job, Whitley, is to find out what that dyke was up to." He snidely remarked. "If you can't do it, then perhaps I can find someone else who can."
He turned and glared at him. "Is that a threat, Ballantine?"
Pulling on the facade of calmness, he responded. "No, certainly not. Just making an observation."
Knowing that Johnnie was as clean as they come, Whitley made a decision. "I'll get Internal Affairs to go over her record." You will hang yourself on this Ballantine, you arrogant asshole.
"Good job, Commissioner. I knew that I could count on you." Ballantine condescendingly said.
The closer Johnnie got to Wilmington, the angrier she became. Instead of going home she drove to the police station. As she walked through, she was greeted by some, and shunned by others. She made her way to Captain Hill's office. She chose not to knock, but stormed right in.
"Would you tell me what the fuck is going on around here?" She demanded. "Why am I being investigated? I didn't do anything wrong."
Hill sat at his desk, stunned at the intrusion. "Calm down, Green. I know you didn't. I don't understand it either." He paused. "I just got a call that the IAD has been called in on this."
Pizo was enjoying a snack that Diana had prepared for him, when Smitty ran up.
"Petrillo, you better get your ass up to the squad room." He said nearly out of breath. "Green is up there going the fuck off on the captain."
"Oh shit." He said as he threw down his sandwich and ran upstairs.
"This is bullshit, Captain. They know that I'm clean. That fucking Ballantine is behind this. Somebody had better get that bastard off my back before I fuck his shit up." Johnnie ranted.
Hill stood up. "Get a handle on that temper, Green." He knew what Johnnie was capable of doing when she lost control. "Don't go off and do something stupid. Do you hear me, Green?"
Pizo ran in. "What's going on in here? Is everything ok?
"Everything is just fine, Pizo." Johnnie said through clenched teeth. She walked out of the office, and into the squad room. "If there is anybody who wants to know if I was dirty, ask me. I'm right here." She yelled. "Anybody want to know how much money I have or where I got it? Just ask me." She paused, waiting for a response. "No one? It makes for good conversation when I'm not around. Instead of wondering and whispering, get it from the horse's mouth."
The officers looked at her, no one saying a word. Pizo's partner, Drew Best, looked at her in total disbelief.
"Fucking cowards." Johnnie spat as she stormed out.
"J, wait." Pizo called after her.
"Let her go, Petrillo." Best said. "She's not worth it."
Pizo walked over to him and leaned down until their faces were inches apart. "Watch that mouth, Best." He warned. "You are no Johnetta Green, and never will be as good a cop as she was."
"I hope that I don't wind up like she is." Best spat. He, like Ballantine and a lot of people, was disgusted by homosexuals.
"That's enough." Hill ordered. "Petrillo, get her wife on the phone and see if she can talk some sense into her."
Alma was preparing some plantains when the phone rang. "Hello."
"Alma, this is Pizo." He said.
"Hi, Pizo. Is everything alright?" She asked, thinking that it was a problem with Diana and the baby.
"We have a problem. Johnnie is on the warpath. You need to call her and convince her to come home." Pizo said.
"Johnnie is in Virginia." She assumed.
"Not anymore. She just left from here and she is pissed off." He said.
"Okay, I'll handle it." She told him. She hung up and without delay dialed Johnnie's cell phone.
"What?" Johnnie snarled.
"Querida, it's me. Where are you?" Alma asked.
"I'm on my way to see our esteemed mayor." She angrily said.
"Johnnie, I want you to come home. You don't sound like you are in any shape to talk to anybody." Alma calmly said.
"Too late. I'm in front of his office. I love you." She ended that call, and ran toward the building.
"Johnnie?" Alma yelled, and realized that Johnnie had hung up. What in the world is going on?
"You can't go in there." Ballantine's secretary yelled as Johnnie pushed past her.
Johnnie threw the doors to his office open and walked in, interrupting a meeting. "What is your problem with me, Ballantine?"
Ballantine stood. "Come in. Detective Green isn't it?
"Cut the bullshit. You know exactly who I am, you son of a bitch." She spat. "I want to know what it is that makes you think I was a dirty cop."
"What a mouth you have on you, young lady." He said in a patronizing tone. "I have no intention of revealing my sources or what we have on you."
She became enraged and charged toward him.
"Not one more step, Green." He ordered. "If I were you, I'd leave. You don't have that nice and shiny gold shield to hide behind anymore. How the mighty have fallen."
Johnnie moved closer to him, but her efforts were halted as someone slowly stood in front of her. Through her rage, she remembered him from her Medal of Valor ceremony. He motioned with his eyes for her to control herself.
She composed herself, and looked at Ballantine. "Digging into people's personal lives is a door that swings both ways, Ballantine. It's what I do for a living now." She said. "Guess what? Like I was at being a cop, I'm really good at this, too." She flashed him a menacing smile, and then walked out.
"Disgusting homosexual." He spat.
To be continued in part 2
fiction index | xena
homepage | what's new |