The Reef

Part 14

By
Lois Kay

Disclaimer: This part contains some strong language and violence. Itís the last part. Yes I know, it was about time, but I finally did it!

I want to thank my betareader Cyndi, for putting up with me and being patient. You are one of the best friends I have ever had, Cyndi. I love you dearly.

As always this part is dedicated to you, TCB. I know you are my biggest fan <g> and your love and support helped me to through the, sometimes, difficult task of being a bard. You have my heart and I know it is in safe hands. I am looking forward to writing the next story. I know you are as well (LOL)

A big thanks to all of you Ďout thereí for reading my story and giving me feedback. You have no idea how encouraging that is!

Now, buckle up and get ready for the the conclusion on The Reef!


It hadnít taken the local fire department long to put out the fire that was set on the porch. Within fifteen minutes the flames were extinquished and the only reminder of it was the smoke that slowly found itís way into the clear sky and the blackened door and outer wall that bordered the kitchen. There was a lot of damage to the kitchen area, but the rest of the house had been spared, much to everybodyís relief.

Sarah had been nervously looking at the firemen, while they were quickly dousing the flames and smiled a pale, yet grateful smile at one of the fire fighters when he came over to tell her it had been an easy job and the house was rescued.

Sam had been glued to Jodyís side, while a paramedic, from the ambulance that had been dispatched, cleaned up her face and was able to close that little gap in her eyebrow by using a small butterfly.

"I am afraid your face will be sore for a few days, young lady,"the elderly man said. "And youíll sport a nice, big bruise, but I donít think thereís been done any more damage than that."

"Are you sure?"Sam asked, not reassured at all.

"Your friendís nose and cheekbone are not broken,"the paramedic patiently explained. "Of course there can always be a hairlibe fracture, but thereís nothing we can do about that. Something like that should heal by itself. But if youíd like, we can take you back to the hospital with us to take an x-ray."

"No, I am fine, "Jody answered.

She was holding a cold pack, wrapped in a soft piece of fabric against the side of her face.

"Youíll be fine, lass,"the paramedic smiled. "But youíre always welcome to come by the hospital if you think anything is wrong."

"I will. Thanks, "Jody smiled back, which was akward to do because of the quickly darkening bruise at the side of her face.

Sam smiled at her, her blue eyes conveying all she felt for the woman in front of her and not caring about all the onlookers, she wrapped her arms around Jody, enveloping her in a warm hug.

Jody sighed and rested her aching head against Samís shoulder, grateful for the way things had turned out. Revelling in the comfort and love she felt for the tall Dutch woman.

"So, what do we do now, Sam?"Lucyís voice suddenly sounded from behind one of the police cars.

Sam turned her head to face her loverís sister and quirked one eyebrow.

"What do you think? Carol Wong told us to wait here with these police men, while they are busy chasing that idiot. I guess we will do just that."

"I am just dying for a cuppa,"Lucy mumbled. "I am an addict, I can almost smell the coffee."

"Thatís called hallucinating,"Fiona chuckled from inside the police car.

She glanced at one of the other police cars, looking at Fredís bent head. He had been quiet and subdued, when he was handcuffed and put inside the vehicle.

"Is that necessarry?"Joan McDonnel had asked, somehow feeling sorry for the boy, because in her eyes that was all he really was, just a boy.

The police officer had looked at her calmly, but determined.

"We think he was at The Reef when the shooting took place, Mrs. McDonnell. Heís a suspect in a murder attempt."

Fred had cringed when those words were spoken and had bent his head in shame, not daring to look up and meet anyones eyes.

"Is he going to prison?"Fiona softly asked Trishia Waters, who was standing next to the car she, Lucy and her mother were sitting in.

Trishiaís eyes rested on Fionaís worried face and she couldnít help smiling, noticing the remarkable resemblence between the teenager and her older sister.

"He will be held in custody, "she explained. "There are a lot of charges against him and his partner, IÖ"

"His Ďpartnerí was trying to kill him as well,"Fiona snorted, full of disgust. "He was trying to help us, you know. He didnít agree with that other bloke."

"You can tell that story when we go to the police station, Fiona, and make your statement "Trishia answered. "I am sure that will help his case."

"When will we go? Weíve been sitting here waiting for about an hour now."

"When the boss says so,"Trishia patiently answered, her eyes constantly scanning the tree lines. "They are looking for Steven Hayes, who must be around here somewhere. He has a gun and is considered dangerous."

Megan had been a nervous wreck all the the time she was waiting at the police station. She had tried to think positive thoughts, not giving into the temptation of making up her own dramatic scenarios.

When the call came in about the fire, she had almost jumped up and ran out, but was held back by the strong grip of the woman who was keeping her company. It had taken her all her willpower not to slap the woman and make a run for it. So she had stayed. Nervously pacing the room, her heart pounding almost painfully in her chest. Silently praying for the safety of her lover and their friends. All the time the image of the lonely car, with itís two lifeless occupants firmly planted in her mind.

Time had crawled. To Megan the clock at the wall had seemed to move itís hands in slow motion. And it felt like it was trying to make her lose her mind.

Finally, after what had seemed like hours a call had come in informing them that her friends were all safe.

Megan had sunk down in a chair, her hands covering her face, crying some tears out of sheer relief and gratitude.

But then the impatience had taken over and there was only one thing she wanted: going back home and seeing for herself that Sarah was allright. So, after mumbling she was going to use the restroom, she quickly exited the building, jumped in her car and started her short trip home.

Little Steven Hayes stopped for a moment to catch his breath. He had been running for fifteen minutes. Not being used to such an exercise, he felt his lungs burn and his muscles ache. His face and hands were covered with scratches, inflicted when he ran through the dense bushes, trying to stay ahead of the police he knew was chasing him. He had lost all sense of direction and looked around puzzled. All he could see were bushes and the only thing that gave him some idea about where he was heading, was the fact that he was still running downhill. He knew that eventually he would reach a creek, or, even better a road.

Panting and thirsty he pushed away some branches and continued his way down, trying not to make too much noise. But the branches didnít give way easily and he had to use his whole body to push himself through.

He nearly screamed when he walked straight into a huge cobweb, that was ingeniously build between a few bushes and came face to face with a huge huntsman spider, that was residing in the middle, apparently having some sort of breakfast.

Frantically Little Steven started pushing away the sticky but firm substance, that clung to his hands and face. He almost panicked when the spider quickly moved, aggravated by the unexpected and violent intruder.

Little Steven stumbled backwards and nearly fell in his attempt to get away. His eyes, round with panic didnít leave the big spider, that was struggling to escape itself.

Almost hyperventilating Little Steven managed to get his feet under his knees and jump backwards. Without looking back he ran, like he was chased by the devil himself.

Sweat was dripping down his pale face and his broad back, drenching his shirt and make it stick to his body. His mouth was wide open and every breath he took, made a wheezing sound. His body was desperately trying to get the much needed oxygen to keep the bulky body going.

Running downhill again Little Steven suddenly stumbled and lost his balance. With a loud crash he fell on top of a small bush, feeling the branches sticking into his skin. He rolled down and unconsiously shielded his face with his hands. A sharp pain shot through his knee when it was slammed against a rock, but then the surface changed and he came to a stop.

Dizzy from the fall and lack of oxygen Little Steven lifted up his head. Slowly his foggy mind registered the surface he was laying on. Gravel. A road.

Grunting he pushed himself to his feet and stumbled to the side of the road. He sat down heavily and slowly shook his head to get rid of the cobwebs that seemed to have taken over inside his brain. Slowly the blurry vision cleared and with interest Little Steven looked around. His eyes lit up when he realized he was on the road that led to the house he had left before. He recognized the sharp corners and knew he was more than halfway down.

With a lot of effort he had to push himself to his feet again, to continue his walk down. He cocked his head to make sure he heard no sound behind him. Pleased to find out that was not the case, he limped downhill.

Megan squinted her eyes against the bright sunlight, cursing at herself for leaving her sunglasses on the kitchen table. She drove as fast as was responsible up the road to her house, knowing most corners in the road could be really trecherous. The last thing she needed that moment, was to end up in the ditch.

She knew she had to pass the car that had been in the middle of the road before and she braced herself for it.

"Just donít look inside, Megan,"she whispered to herself, knowing how hard that would be. "You are almost halfway up, almost there. Just donít look at it."

Megan put the car back in second gear to steer her car through a sharp bend in the road and suddenly slammed the breaks, coming to a full stop. She didnít realize she was screaming when she saw the sight in front of the car. It was like a scene from a nightmare.

In the middle of the road, facing the car, stood a big, tall man. His clothes torn, his face and hands scraped and bloody. In one trembling hand he held a gun, that was pointed directly at her. But the thing that scared Megan the most, was the look in his eyes. His face was dirty and covered with angry, red scratches. But her gaze was drawn to his eyes, that stared at her with a predatory look, making the cold shivers run down her spine.

He smiled and Megan could feel her stomach clench.

"Sarah, I am so sorry!"

 

 

Joe Michaels paced the tiny room, something he had been doing for an hour. He ignored the nervous man, who was quietly sitting in a corner and looked at his watch for the sixth time in five minutes.

"He should have called by now, "Joe Michaels growled, suddenly wondering if their plan had been a good one. It was simple plan, but he was convinced that the simplicity of it, would be itís strength. He himself didnít believe in complications. That was the reason for his success in business. Or at least, thatís what he liked to believe. He had a Ďtake it, or leave ití mentality he was famous for. Joe Michaels knew that Little Steven and Fred wouldnít screw up their mission this time. Because if they did, he wouldnít hesitate to indeed turn them into shark food. It would be a pity, Little Steven had proved himself a valuable asset to his organisation, but he was dispensible. They all were.

Joe Michael glanced at William Jenkins, who was nervously fidgeting with the gold wedding band around his finger.

"If this goes wrong, youíd better run,"he warned the pale looking man, who suddenly sat up straight and looked at him with fear filled eyes. "After all, if you would have done a better job to start with, we wouldnít be in this mess."

"They will get here, "William answered, with more conviction than he felt.

He looked around the small room and involuntarily shivered. It wasnít a nice place to be. There was a table and one chair and in the corner stood an old, rusty bed, with a thin and lumpy mattress. Filthy and stained by years of abuse and neglect.

The walls were painted dark and the only window was just tiny, covered in cobweb and dirt. So dark, the bright sunlight could hardly peek through it. The only new thing in the room was the lock on the door. A thick cord of steel with a brand new shiny padlock attached to it.

"Not exactely a room fit for one of Stevensí heirs, donít you think? "Joe Michaels grinned. "I bet she canít wait to convince daddy to pay up."

Suddenly he cocked his head and his grin was replaced by a full fledged smile. In the distance he could hear the sound of a car approaching.

"Good on ya, Steve,"he whispered. "Itís showtime! I can almost smell the money."

William Jenkins looked at him while he walked to the door, trying to hide the feeling of disgust he knew was showing in his eyes. He wish he knew a way out, but he was involved too much. He had been going too far, letting his addiction to gamble not only ruin his own life, but that of otherís as well. Innocent people, whose lifes could be changed forever. Because of him.

"Please, let no one get hurt,"he silently prayed, trying to push away his feelings of guilt.

The small police office was buzzing with activity. Several officers were busy taking statements of the women who had been rescued from the burning house on Junction road. Fred had been taken to a seperate interrogation room and was guarded by two policemen, while Carol Wong was talking to the boy.

After a thorough search of the area around Sarahís and Meganís house, the detective and a few officers had taken the women down to the station, while reinforcements continued the search, with the help of a few eagerly sniffing German Shepards. And although the smart canines picked up Little Stevenís trail without a problem, there was no sign of the man himself.

"Apparently they were after Samantha, "Joanne McDonnell told the young police officer who was taking her statement.

She rubbed her face with a tired gesture, pushing away the hair from her forehead. She was exhausted. Her life had always been pretty predictable, but now, within two days, it seemed to have changed forever.

"Did one of the suspects hit you, Mrs. McDonell?"the younger man asked in a gentle tone.

Joan McDonnell looked up and looked at him with confusion.

"That bruise on your face and your split lip, did one of the suspects inflict that upon you?"

"Oh, no. No, they didnít,"she hastily answered, somehow feeling very uncomfortable. ""No, they didnít touch me."

"Can I ask you what happened then?"was the persistent question.

Joan McDonnell cast down her eyes, ashamed of the way she looked and tried to come up with a logical explanation. How could she tell a stranger in a few words what David had done to her? How could she explain her husbandís character and temperament to someone who didnít even know him? What would he think of David? What would he think of her?

"You donít have to defend him, mom,"Fionaís voice suddenly interrupted her thoughts. "He was wrong and you know it."

Joan McDonnell sighed and looked at her youngest daughter who sometimes seemed so incredible mature for her age. Their eyes met and the love and compassion that radiated from the dark green depths suddenly gave her the courage she needed. How could she raise a daughter to be a self respecting human being, if she didnít set the example herself?

"My husband hit me,"she finally answered, avoiding the friendly eyes of the officer and missing the look of understanding and support.

Officer Ryan kept the friendly expression on his face, but inside he could feel the turmoil. Unfortunately it wasnít the first time he had met a battered wife and he suspected it wouldnít be the last time either. But every time he came across a situation like that, he was almost ashamed for being a man. He could not understand why any man could use his physical advantage to hurt a woman.

"You want to tell me about it?"he offered, his voice soft and compassionate.

Joan McDonnell swallowed hard and slowly nodded. It was time to think about herself for a change. David had crossed a line and it was only fair he would meet the consequences. She didnít want her sons to think that hitting a woman was something that would be left unpunished.

Fiona saw the pain in her mothersí eyes and quickly pulled her chair closer, putting her hand on her mothersí arm, she gently squeezed. It was a wordless encouragement and after taking a deep breath, Joan McDonnell told her story.

Sam was leaning against the wall, staring out of the window into the street below. Outwardly she seemed calm, but inside a storm was raging.

Here I am, thinking I flew in to solve some simple, administrative problems. Gods, what a mess. Itís a good thing you donít know half of what is happening here, dad. You would freak out and I donít think that would contribute to your condition. Where did I go wrong? Did I? Could I have prevented all this from happening? Jody, her family and our friends were in danger,because of what? Some money that disappeared? Hell, itís only money! Itís not like we donít have enough of that.

Sam sighed and turned her head so she could look at her lover, who was talking to Trishia Waters and almost seemed to disappear behind the huge desk. Involuntarily she smiled and a warm glow spread through her body. Jody seemed to feel her stare, because she looked up and their eyes met. The rest of the world seemed to disappear, when crystal blue and emerald green met. They didnít need words, their eyes said it all and Trishia Waters,who had looked up when her last question had not been answered, modestly looked away. Looking straight into an inquisitive pair of dark green eyes, that seemed to smile at her. Lucy pulled a face and then winked at her, almost making the police woman chuckle.

Oh, my goodness! That one means trouble!

The skin around Jodyís eyes wrinkled when she answered Samís smile and her heart skipped a beat when she saw the look in her loversí eyes. Even from the distance she could see the change in color. From a clear blue, they had turned into darker shade, like a clear Eastern summer sky, just before sunset. It was the color she had quickly grown familiar with, because it reflected the most hidden part of her loversí soul. A part that was reserved only for her. It had been visible that evening at the parking area of the hospital, when they had shared a passionate kiss. It was there while they were making love. She had seen it in the morning, when she woke up and had caught Sam fully awake, staring at her. Her eyes so full of love and wonder, it had brought tears to Jodyís eyes.

Gods, I love you Sam! I love you so much! You make me complete. I donít know how I managed all those years without you. But you are back and I will never, ever let you go again. Not without me.

Someone modestly cleared a throat and Jody looked up startled, to see Trishia Waters looking at her with an apologetic look in her eyes.

"UmÖyou think we can continue? "she almost stammered, feeling slightly embarassed for interrupting what seemed to be a very private moment.

"Sure, go ahaed,"Jody answered, still smiling and reluctantly breaking eyecontact with her lover.

Sam almost had to laugh and continued to stare out of the window, feeling the happiness bubble up inside of her.

I have her back again, the love of my life. Itís been hard sometimes, but my gosh, Jody, you were so worth waiting for. Once we put this mess behind us, we can start working on our future. Together, my love. You and I.

"Sam? Have you seen Megan anywhere?"Sarahís voice suddenly sounded behind her.

Sam turned around and a frown creased her forehead.

"Didnít Carol Wong say that she was here?"

"Yes, she did,"Sarah answered, looking a little bit worried. "But I have been looking all over the place and I canít find her."

"Did you check to see if the car is still here?"

Sarah swallowed hard and moistened her dry lips.

"I did,"she almost whispered. "The car is not here. IÖI am scared, Sam."

Sam put her hand on Sarahís shoulder and gently steered her towards the door.

"Letís go check it out. You think Megan could have gone back to the house?"

"Sheís stubborn enough,"Sarah aknowledged. "But we didnít see her drive up. Itís not like we could have missed that sorry excuse for a truck,"she attempted a joke, making Sam smile.

"Maybe thereís a logical explanation, "Sam tried to reassure her friend. "Letís go outside and have a look around. Okay? She might have parked alongside the road, at the back."

At that moment the phone on Trishia Watersí desk rang. She apologized to Jody and picked it up. After listening for a few seconds her eyes searched Sam, who was just about to leave the room.

"Miss Stevens,"she called, making Sam stop in mid-motion and turning around. "Thereís a phone call for you."

Her voice held an edge of confusion and worry as she covered the horn with her hand.

Sam could feel everybodyís eyes on her when she walked to the desk and took the phone out of Trishiaís outstretched hand. With a frown she brought the device to her ear and in a very businesslike voice she said : "Stevens."

Jody, who was looking up at her lover from the chair next to the desk, saw the color drain from her face and instinctively she stretched out her hand, it was grabbed in a vice like grip.

Samís eyes, dark with anger, searched Sarahís who immediately felt that the phone call had something to do with Megan. Suddenly feeling weak she stretchted out her hand to find support against the rough surface of the wall. She could feel her knees tremble and it took her a lot of effort to stay upright.

Everybody saw Sam nod a few times, but she didnít say much. Her face had a grim expression and whenever she said anything, it was just a grunt.

After a few minutes she nodded again, followed by a soft Ď okayí and slowly put down the phone. Immediately her eyes were drawn towards Sarah and with a few long strides she walked towards her friend, enveloping her in a big hug.

"I am so sorry, Sarah, "she whispered, tears in her eyes. "I am so, so sorry, but I promise we will get her back. We will."

Sarah hid her face against a broad shoulder and Sam felt the slender body raking with sobs. Gently she stroked the auburn hair, her eyes searching Jodyís, begging for help.

Jody quickly stood up and walked towards her lover. Her worried green eyes never leaving her loversí blue ones.

"What happened?"she softly asked, rubbing Sarahís back.

"They have Megan,"Sam simply answered, her voice void of any emotion. "They want to trade, "she added. "Megan for me."

The atmosphere in the office was tense. Carol Wong had been called from her interrogation session with Fred and as soon as she had stepped inside, the petite Asian woman had taken control of the situation.

"So, tell me Sam, what exactely did they say?"she asked, casually leaning against a desk, but her intelligent eyes shone with alertness.

Samís face was still drawn, but her eyes held a determined glance, which worried Jody, because she could tell her lover had made up her mind about something. And somehow she knew she was not going to like it. At all.

"That Steven person called, "Sam started. "He said: We have your little friend and if you want to see her again, alive, youíd better do as you are told."

"He said Ďweí, huh?"Carol Wong softly repeated. "Go on Sam."

"He told me to go to The Reef. In the front thereís a red Toyota. The door is open and the keys are underneath the seat. In the dashboard compartment there is a cell phone. I have to drive South and wait for instructions. Thatís about it. Oh, and I should come alone, of course. Unwired."

The part when Little Steven had growled he would shoot her in an instant if she had any tracking device on her, she had left out.

Sam felt Jodyís smaller hand crawl inside her larger one and grateful for the warmth and love, she entwined her fingers with her loversí. Holding her tight.

"They didnít say anything about when they would contact you again?"

Sam shook her head, while chewing on her bottom lip. To those who knew her well that was the only sign of nervousness.

The room fell silent for a few seconds and Carol Wong studied Samís tall frame. Her experienced eyes could almost see the tension rolling off her in waves.

"You understand itís my professional duty to tell you not to go,"she stated in a businesslike tone, but not unfriendly.

"Like you understand itís my duty as a human being and as a friend to disagree with you and go anyway,"Sam answered, her clear blue eyes fighting a battle with the dark brown ones in front of her.

Carol Wong smiled and slowly nodded.

"I knew you were going to say that,"she answered, a hint of defeat in her voice. "And I do understand, Sam. If I were you I would do the same. So, I canít do or say anything to stop you?"

Sam felt the small hand in hers tremble and suddenly she pulled Jody in her arms, holding her so close her lover could feel the pounding of her heart.

"No, "she whispered. "I am sorry, but I have to do this."

She burried her face in a patch of soft, unruly hair and took a deep breath, smelling the sweet fragrance of her loversí perfume. It was a scent that was distinctively Jodyís and it tugged on her heart, filling her with fear and sadness. Would she ever smell it again?

"I know that, for now, we have to play by their rules,"Carol Wong continued, touched by the display of deep affection in front of her. "But I will do anything to at least try and keep an eye on you, Sam. You canít stop me from doing that."

"I trust you, Carol,"was Samís simple reaction.

"Good. Trishia, I need you to change out of your uniform, wear something casual. You too, Peter. I need the two of you to act like tourists, driving around and enjoying the country side. Youíre going to follow Sam. We know she has to go to The Reef and drive South. Thereís about an hour and a half between Megan leaving here and the phone call. That means they wonít be that far away, but I donít expect them to be in town somewhere. Take one of the unmarked cars and wait about one mile South fromThe Reef. Somewhere along the road they might want Sam to change cars, but I bet it wonít be within a mile."

Trishia looked at her fellow officer and nodded. They quickly rose, knowing that they didnít have much time.

Lucyís face was pale, making her eyes look even darker. She was nervous. Her stomach was churning and her palms were sweaty. Looking at her older sister, Sam and Sarah, she could almost feel their pain. And for some strange reason she didnít like the idea of Trishia being put in harms way.

Her eyes traveled to the police woman, who almost stood ten centimeter taller than she did. They locked gazes for a brief moment and both of them could feel their heart skip a beat. Trishia managed a reassuring smile before she turned around and headed for the door. Confused, Lucy stared at the retreating back.

Damn!

Only when Trishia had left the room, Lucy noticed she had been holding her breath. Slowly she let it go, trying to settle down her racing heart and focusing on the things that were going on around her. Suddenly an idea formed in her head.

"Inspector, wouldnít it be possible for Sam to take her own cell phone as well and leave the line open? I mean, that way we could keep track of her. Right? She only has to talk out loud."

She cast a look at her sisterís tall lover and smiled.

"Iím sure Sam is good at talking to herself,"she faintly joked.

Carol Wong looked at Lucy with nothing less than surprise and admiration in her eyes. She smiled broadly and looked genuinely pleased with the offered idea.

"Excellent thought,"she complimented Lucy. "What do you think, Sam?"

"Itís the best idea I have ever heard her bring up, "Sam gently teased,still holding on to the woman in her arms.

Jody raised her head to look up into Samís face and tried to smile as well. But she failed miserably. Sam could see the pain in her eyes and the quivering bottom lip, announcing the arrival of the tears that were pooling in her eyes.

"It will be okay, honey,"Sam softly spoke, her thumb brushing away a tear. "Megan and I will be back before you know it."

"I canít lose you, Sam,"Jody answered hoarsly, feeling like her throat was being squeezed tight. "Not now that I have found you again. All those years without youÖIÖI have missed you so much. PleaseÖcome back to me. I need you."

"I promise I will,"Sam answered, swallowing hard. "I wonít let anyone or anything come between us. I love you."

"I love you too,"Jody sobbed, pressing her tear stained face against Samís neck. Ignoring the pain of her throbbing head.

Joan McDonnell couldnít stop the tears that were rolling down her cheeks when she looked at Jody and her lover. It was obvious to anyone present, that the two women loved each other deeply.

Please, God. Let Sam and Megan return safely. Just look at them. They simply radiate love for one another. How can anything so pure, so deep, ever be wrong? Please, allow them the chance to build a life together. They have been through so much already, they need each other. Please, God. Please.

Trishia and Peter came walking back into the office, both dressed casually. Involuntarily Trishiaís eyes immediately sought out Lucyís. She hid a smirk when she saw the dark green eyes go wide with surprise.

Lucy had only seen the police woman dressed in a uniform, but the sight in front of her now, was totally different.

Trishia was wearing a pair of dark blue shorts, that stopped just above the knees. Revealing a pair of long, tanned legs. A teal colored tank top emphasized a strong, equally tanned athletic upper body, with some very feminine curves.

Lucy felt her mouth go dry and desperately wondered why her heart was beating like it was going to jump out of her chest. She tried to look away, but Trishiaís eyes held her captive and slowly Lucy felt a warm blush creeping up her face.

Oh, my goodness! This is definitely not good. Is she flirting with me? Is she? Do I mind? Oh, absolutely, positively, definitely NOT! Wow!

With her eyes still captured by Trishiaís gaze, Lucy could feel her hormones jump up, giving her a standing ovation, shouting Ď My turn! My turn. My turn! Ď

A small smile tugged on the corner of Trishiaís mouth when she finally turned to face her boss.

"Weíre ready when you are, inspector."

"Excellent,"Carol answered, having noticed the exchange of looks between Lucy and one of her officers. "Donít use the car radio. Take a cell phone, we will call you as soon as possible and keep the line open. Sam will do the same."She cast a look at the still flustered Lucy and smiled. "Lucyís idea,"she smiled.

"Impressive,"Trishia responded, giving Lucy an almost invisible wink. "Okay, Peter and I will leave now. Do we have a back up?"

"That will be taken care of,"Carol Wong promised. "Iíll fill you in as soon as possible."

"Okay, inspector. "

Trishia turned her attention to Sam and Jody and her expression became very serious.

"Miss McDonnell?"

Jody raised her head from Samís chest and looked at the tall police woman, who radiated strength and confidence.

"We wonít let her go out of our sight,"she solemny promised.

"Thank you,"Jody whispered, managing a watery smile. And Sam nodded in understanding, grateful to know that there would be at least two police officers tailing her car. Even if it would be from a distance.

"Come on, Pete, letís go."

Trishia turned around, casting one last look at Lucy, who mouthed : Ď Good luck.í She smiled and nodded, following her fellow officer out of the room.

"Iíd better go as well,"Sam spoke in general, but her eyes were glued to Jodyís. "The sooner Iíll go, the quicker I will be back."

Sam could feel her loversí hands nervously clenching her shirt and gently she pried them loose, holding them in her own. Not caring they werenít alone, she brought Jodyís hands to her lips and softly kissed the palm of each hand. Her eyes never leaving the green orbs that were so close, she could see the golden specks.

"I will come back to you,"she promised. "There is this very important question I want to ask you. Itís something I once thought I never would ask anyone, ever, until you came back into my life again. And for old times sake, I need a starlit sky to make it all perfect. See? I have every reason to come back."

Jodyís placed her hands on either side of Samís face and lovingly caressed the soft skin.

"I have faith in you, Sam. ButÖ.just be careful, okay? I will hold you to that starlit sky question."

Sam smiled a genuine smile and was struck by the faith her lover had in her and the courage she displayed.

She bent her head and captured Jodyís lips in a kiss that needed no more words. They poured all the love they felt for each other in the soft caress. It had nothing to do with passion, or desire. It was a confirmation of their deepest emotions.

When they separated, they spent another few seconds looking at each other. But then Sam kissed Jodyís forehead, turned around and headed for the door.

Immediately Joan McDonnell was next to her eldest daughter, wrapping her arms around her and holding the trembling body close. Her hand stroked the long, red hair, while she softly whispered words of comfort.

"Have faith, sweetheart,"she softly spoke, hearing the soft sobs that nearly broke her heart. "Have faith. I am sure God will protect her. Protect them."

Jody looked up, her eyes red and puffed up from crying.

"You do? I thought our relationship would be consideredÖ."

"I donít believe that, Jody. Not anymore,"Joan McDonnell interrupted her daughter gently. "God is love. How could he look down at you two and not smile?"

Sam was dropped off by a police car in front of The Reef. Looking around she immediately spotted the red Toyota Little Steven had mentioned. Carefully scanning her surroundings she slowly walked towards the vehicle. The tension in her body made her right leg feel stiff and painful and she sincerely hoped that Carol had been right and she wouldnít have to drive far. Her leg was cramping up already.

When she reached the car she looked around again. She had this eery feeling that somebody was watching her, but she couldnít see anything out of the ordinary. Maybe it was just her imagination. Maybe the stress and nervousness made her feel things that werenít real.

What was real though, was the tight ball that seemed to have settled in the pit of her stomach. No matter how many deep breaths she took, it didnít want to go away. It made her feel nauseous and affected her whole body, making it cold and stiff.

Sam wiped her clammy palms on her slacks and cautiously opened the door of the car, peeking inside. The heat that had been buidling up inside the car, by the hot summer sun almost took her breath away and she quickly stepped back. She decided to roll down the windows and after she had accomplished that task she lowered her tall frame to feel underneath the seat. Her hand closed around the warm metal of a set of keys and her face was grim when she realized she had to get into the car and start the engine.

The car was old and probably not been taking good care off. It took her three attempts to finally start the engine.

"I hope this bummy, old car will bring me where I need to go,"she mumbled, securing the safety belt. "Okay, letís get that phone out."

She opened the dashboard compartment and pulled out the cell phone Little Steven had said would be there. She placed it on the passengerís seat, making sure it was on. After that she pulled her own tiny cell phone from her pocket, making sure that no one watching would be able to see her do so and speeddialed the number that Carol Wong had given her. She could hear the connection and suddenly didnít feel so alone. The phone was placed on her lap and she put the car in gear.

"Okay, I am heading south right now,"she said to the invisble Ďonlookersí she knew were listening intently.

It was hard for Sam to hear anything from the other side of the connection, but Carol Wong had told her that she would put the phone on speaker, so everybody would be able to pick up the sounds easily.

Sam slowly drove in a Southern direction, her heart still pounding in her chest and focusing on the hours ahead.

Where would they take her? Would she see Megan? Was her friend allright? Would they stick to their promise and let her go as soon as Sam arrived? How was Jody holding up? Was she listening on the other side of the connection as well or would the tension be too much?

A slow smile spread across Samís face when she thought about the woman that held her heart from the very first time they had met, years ago. She knew Jody would be there. No one would be able to keep her red haired lover from the close proximity of the phone. At the moment it felt like their life line.

Sam turned right onto the highway, but there was still no sign from the kidnappers. She passed a few cars that were parked alongside the road and recognized Trishiaís face, which instantly made her feel better. She was not alone.

"Just passed my keepers, "she joked, more to let Jody know she was trying to keep her chin up. She didnít feel all that confident at all.

Sam had been raised in a fairly protected enviroment and never had been involved in a violent situation before. She did know how to defend herself and was glad her parents had encouraged her to join the local school for martial arts. It had not only helped her to find a balance within herself, but it had also contributed to her building up physical strength. An asset she might have to rely on soon.

When Sam was about three kilometers on the Highway the other cell phone rang. Her whole body jerked at the sound and she suddenly felt the adrenaline surge through her body. Quickly she picked it up. Years of boardroom experience had taught her that often the best defense was to attack.

"Yeah? Glad you finally found the time to call me,"she sarcastically spoke. "I was starting to wonder if youíd chickened out."

There was a silence on the other side, shortly followed by a curse.

"Keep your damn wits to yourself, bitch!"Little Steven spat. "And do as I say."

"Sure, Little Steven,"she mocked, mentioning the name to let the police know whom she was talking to. "You are the boss."For now.

"Where are you now?"

Good! He doesnít know. That means thereís no idiot friend of his following me.

"Where am I? Let me see. I just passed that German restaurant and by the looks of it, I am heading towards a golf course."

"When you pass the course, turn into the third road on the right. Follow all the way to the end and wait for instructions."

Sam repeated his message and heard him break the connection. She slightly shifted in her seat, trying to get more comfortable, because her right leg was starting to send some painful cramps into her calf.

"Okay, audience, you heard. I am going pass the golf course and turn right at the third road. Looks like he is sending me into the hills. I donít think I am being followed by one of them, but I donít want to take a risk, so I will leave you all on my lap,"she joked.

Back at the police office, two officers were constantly in contact with Trishia and Peter, while the others were clustered around the phone on Trishiaís desk, intently listening to Samís voice, who sounded calm and even had the spirit to crack a joke now and then.

"Peter, sheís taking the third one right after the golf course,"Shaun Dickson informed his fellow officer. "That would beÖMudgeeraba road."

"What is up there?"Sarah asked Carol Wong in a strained voice.

"Mainly some bush and banana plantations,"Carol explained.

Not very populated. Good area to hide in.

"Wonít it be suspicious when they also spot Trishia and Peter?"Lucy asked, more worried about the police woman than she wanted to admit to herself.

"Possibly,"Carol Wong answered. "But they first have to spot them, wonít they? They will keep their distance, donít worry. Theyíre no rookies. But it appears to me that this kidnapping was a last minute decision. If, and I repeat, if they have a hide out in those hills, thereís no way they will be able to get away. Thereís only a few roads going in there. We would easily spot them."

"But that Steven is a violent one,"Sarah softly spoke. "He already killed two police men."

"And they would have Sam and Megan,"Jody added, grabbing Sarahís hand.

"I agree,"Carol Wong answered. "But knowing where they are, would give us a tremendous headstart."

"I wish I had your confidence,"Jody sighed, her green eyes dull and sad.

Carol Wong put a comforting hand on Jodyís shoulder and softly squeezed.

"Your Sam is a smart cookie. I have complete confidence in her and I have to admit I canít say that about many people."

"Okay, I am turning right now,"Samís voice suddenly sounded through the speaker. "Whoa! Nasty road. I hope this car wonít break in half! Lots of holes everywhere. Donít you Aussies maintain your roads? Itís a disgrace! "

That last remark made everybody smile and silently Carol Wong thanked the Dutch woman for her positive attitude. By keeping her own spirits up, she was helping the others to have a little more faith in the outcome of things. But she knew who was the most important reason for Samís funny remarks. It was the woman who was standing next to her. Looking at the speakers with such an intensity, it was touching. Absorbing every word, every sound that came from her lover.

"Lots of treesÖand treesÖand, hey, bananaís. Thereís a banana plantation to my left. Guess I am halfway up there now. Itís hot in here. Canít wait for a nice, long, cool shower."

"With some red haired company, no doubt,"Lucy responded with a chuckle, disappointed Sam couldnít hear her.

Fiona quickly poked her in the ribs and Lucy rubbed the offended spot with a mock indignant face.

"Come on, girls, Sam is trying to lighten up the mood. Okay? I bet she would be laughing if sheíd heard."

"Youíre probably right,"Jody smiled. "And hey, I am looking forward to that shower as well."

"Okay, people. I am on top of the hill. Waiting for instructions. Thereís a banana plantation to my left and thereís a road going in there. On the right thereís a steep slope with trees, trees and trees. But in the distance I can see the Pacific. Nice view. Guess Iíd better be quiet, in case someone is around here."

Through the connection they could hear the phone ring again and Samís cheerful "Yellow?". Carol Wong knew she did it just to aggravate Little Steven and she sincerely hoped it wouldnít backfire. But Sam was smart, she had noticed that before. She knew Little Steven and his companions needed her in order for them to get what they wanted. She was using that knowledge. Sam knew a lot about business negotiations.

"Wow, thanks mate, "Sam spoke before Little Steven could say a word. "You let me take the scenic route and itís really nice."

"Whatís that? Well, you donít have to be rude! ÖOkay, this little track on the left? I can do thatÖ..Guess I can do that as well."

"Well, people, I am about to leave the car,"Samís voice calmly related. "He wants me to get out, push the car down the slope and walk up that track. They sound like amateurs! I canít take this phone, I am sorry. Itís too risky. They would find out within a minute. Tell my keepers to be careful when they take the track. You canít see ahead much and I donít want them to run into nasty surprises. Okay? Iíd better break the connection nowÖ.."They could hear Sam take a few deep breaths. "Sarah? I will bring Megan back home safe. Jody? I love you, honey. With all my heart. I will see you soon. And if youíre interested, we could take that shower together,"she added with a hint of humor in her voice.

After those words the connection disappeared, leaving nothing but a soft buzzing sound.

Sam slowly got out of the car. It had been a relatively short drive, but her leg was hurting and the prospect of a little walk didnít seem too bad at that moment. She looked down the road, trying to catch a glimpse of the car she knew had been following her from a distance, but she couldnít see anything.

"I guess thatís a good thing,"she mumbled, not too convinced.

Sam stretched, releasing some of the built up tension in her muscles and slowly walked around the car.

"Pushing you down the slope, huh? "she mused. "Well, you know what, car. I donít think so, that would be littering. I think I will just hide you in the bushes somewhere and if they find out about it, I will just make up a brilliant excuse."

She quickly put the car in neutral and started pushing it into the side of the road, where there was a little clearing between the bushes. When she was finished she critically looked at her handywork.

"Not too bad, I guess,"she mumled. "I can still see some red, but most of it is hidden anyway."

The exercise had been pretty straining and she could feel the moisture on her forehead and dripping down her back. She felt dirty and sticky and somehow that didnít enhance the mood she was in.

"Okay, scumbags. Here I come."

"Can you see the car, Trish?"Peter asked for the third time, his eyes nervously scanning the road ahead.

"No, Pete,"Trishia patiently answered. "Iíll let you know when I do. Okay? Just keep driving."

Very slowly he steered the car through the next corner, ready to step on the gas if needed, or quickly back up. The image of his two co workers, shot through the head, was burned into his memory. It made him angry, but also very scared. He had a wife and two children and didnít want to end up dead. Executed, just like that.

"Itís been quite a day already, huh? "he spoke in an attempt to settle his own nerves and make some small talk.

"Yup, it has,"Trishia answered, while the image of a pair of dark green eyes floated through her mind.

Pete cast a look at the woman next to him and smiled. He had been working as Trishiaís partner for three months now and they had developed a very nice working relationship. He trusted her and knew the feeling was mutual, which was very important in their line of work. After trying to set her up with some of his friends, he had discovered she wasnít attracted to any of them and one evening, while they were driving around town and everything was pretty quiet, he had asked her boldly about her preferences. Trishia had been silent for a few minutes and just as Peter thought she would either become angry with him for prying into her private life, or not answering the question at all, she had turned to him and smiled. She was gay, she had confessed. Did he have a problem with that?

Peter, a friendly down to earth man, had shaken his head and smiled back. No, of course he had no problem with it. It would give them the opportunity to check out women together, he had joked.

Ever since that evening, their working relationship had turned into a more solid friendship, which they both enjoyed a lot.

"What about that dark haired girl?"Peter asked, not entirely able to hide the smirk on his face.

"Which one?"Trishia answered with an innocent face. "Let me see, I think there were at least three dark hairedÖ."

"You know the one,"Peter interrupted, not aware of the fact that ever since the connection with Sam had been broken, they had been put on speaker phone.

"Oh, you mean Lucy?"Trishia answered, not aware of the wistful tone in her voice.

"Yup, that one."

"What about her?"

"Thatís what I was asking you, my friend. There seemed to beÖ.something there, between the two of you."

"Youíre seeing things, Pete. I told you not to drink Four X anymore, itís poison. Just drink Fosterís or stick to water,"Trishia laughed.

"Yeah, right,"Peter snorted. "You can deny as much as you like, officer Waters, but I am not blind."

"Just ignorant,"Trishia quipped. "Better shut up now, Pete. I think I see that car. There, hidden in the bushes."

Back in the office a few of the police officers snickered over the conversation between their co workers, but made sure there faces were turned into serious mode, when they felt the piercing glance of their inspector.

Carol Wong glanced at Lucy and saw the blush spreading over her face, after hearing the conversation on the phone.

Damnit, Peter! Stupid idiot!

"Anyone want some coffee?"she asked, avoiding Lucyís eyes.

"Iíll get it,"Lucy volunteered, glad to be able to escape the scrutinizing gaze of her youngest sister and the surprised one of the eldest.

"I will help you, "Jody offered, jumping up from the chair she had been sitting on for the last thirty minutes.

Together they walked towards where Carol had pointed out where the small kitchen would be. As soon as they were in the hallway, Jody put her hand on Lucyís arm, turning her so she had to face her.

"Are you okay?"she asked, the concern evident in her voice.

"Funny, I should ask you that question,"Lucy answered.

Jody smiled and gave her sister a quick hug.

"I will be as soon as Sam is back,"she sighed. "ButÖLucyÖisÖI meanÖArenít you bothered by that conversation? I mean.."

Lucy stared at the blinking lights of a vending machine, deliberately avoiding her sistersí eyes.

"IÖI donít know,"she finally confessed. "Listen, sis, this is a very strange place and situation to discuss a thing like this. Okay? I meanÖGod! Yes, there is something happening here, inside, whenever she looks at me. I donít understand it either. Maybe itís the situation weíre in today. You know, how people always say that whenever youíre in a dangerous situation funny relationships might develop. Look at that movie, Speed. They werenít together for the sequal, now, were they?"

In spite of the situation Jody had to laugh about that comment. She took Lucyís hand and pulled her towards the kitchen area.

"Itís just a surprise to me, Luce,"she admitted. "the fact that you are obviously attracted to a woman. Thatís all."

"Hey,"Lucy objected, a mock scowl on her face. "Have you really looked at the woman? I mean, really looked?"

"No, I am sorry. I have only eyes for Sam,"Jody answered, her eyes suddenly full of pain and fear.

"Címere, sis,"Lucy whispered, pulling her sister into a big hug. "Itís going to be allright. Okay? Just wait and see. Before you know it they are all back here; Sam, MeganÖ.Trishia. And when they do, dinner is on me. Okay?"

"I will hold you to that, "Jody sniffed.

"Please, do "Lucy answered. "Please, do."

While the sun was relentlessly scorching her head, Sam tried not to think about how thirsty she was. The walk had taken her longer than she had anticipated and instead of being a good exercise, the walk had been proven difficult and painful. The surface of the track was uneven and Sam had to really watch where to put her feet. She had accidentely stepped into a few holes, which had send a burning pain through her overly tired leg. She was limping, trying to forget the pain, heat and thirst. Swatting at the persistent, annoying flies, that seemed to be everywhere.

Finally, after what had seemed to be a marathon, but was not more than five hundred meters a gruff voice suddenly called out to her.

"Stay where you are! Put your hands behind your neck and spread your legs."

"That should have been my line,"Sam mumbled, knowing it was better to obey.

"Any devices on ya?"

"Define Ďdevicesí "Sam sharply answered. "I have an iron plate in my leg. Does that count?"

"You know what I mean, any bugs? Tracking devices? "

"The only tracking devices on me are my sneekers,"Sam snorted, pointing at her comfortable New Balance shoes.

Suddenly she was pushed from behind and almost lost her balance.

"Stop being a smart ass,"Little Steven growled. "You are not in a position to be witty."

"Sorry. Guess itís a birth defect,"Sam answered, knowing full well she was aggravating the big man, and enjoying every second of it. "You know how we Dutch are. We are very opinionated."

Another push.

"Keep walking. And do yourself a favour, shut up!"

Sam was herded through a hardly visible track and suddenly stood in front of a little shed, in the middle of a banana plantation.

"Welcome to your hotel,"Little Steven grinned, pushing her through the door, inside the shed.

Sam stumbled and would have fallen, but was grabbed by a pair of strong hands. She looked up in a face she only recognized from pictures.

"Jenkins,"she breathed. "Nice to meet you in person. Now, whereís Megan?"

"Right here, Sam,"her friends distressed voice sounded.

Sam turned around and while her eyes were trying to get used to the darkness inside, she was able to see the tear stained face of her friend.

Two long strides brought her to the bed in the corner and while she knelt down, she enveloped Megan in a big hug.

"Are you okay? Did they hurt you?"

"No, they didnít,"Megan answered with a shaky voice. "But I am scared Sam. Howís Sarah? They said the house burnt down andÖ"

"It didnít,"Sam quickly interrupted. "Sarah is fine, Meg. They all are."

"Thank God,"

"Just hold on a little longer, okay? Iíll get you out of here."

Sam got back on her feet and slowly turned around, giving the three men that were standing near the door an icy stare.

"Now, gentlemen. How can I help you?"

"Looks like she walked down this little track, inspector,"Trishia Waters spoke into the phone, closely examening the path that lead straight through the banana trees. "There are fresh marks here."

"How do you know?"Peter asked, looking to the marks Trishia was staring at. "This ground is so dry you could run a truck over it and not seeing any marks."

"See those blades of grass? They have been stepped on recently. They are still green and a bit moist. The sun will dry them out in less than an hour. Sheís been through here allright,"Trishia patiently explained.

"My God, woman, how do you know this stuff? "Peter sighed, but his eyes were twinkling. "And donít tell me you used to be a girl scout!"

"I was,"Trishia deadpanned. "But I grew up in Darwin and spent a lot of time with my best friend, who happened to be an Aboriginal. His granddad taught us how to track."

"Inspector? Do you want us to follow Miss Stevens?"

"Yes, I do,"Carol Wongís voice sounded in Trishiaís ear. "But make sure you stay out of sight, at leat until we have a clear understanding about what is going on there. There are reinforcements on the way and Trishia? For Godís sake, donít try to be a hero. We are dealing with cop killers here."

"Weíll be careful, "Trishia promised. "Donít worry."

Trishia put the cell phone in her pocket and looked at her partner.

"Come on, Pete. Letís go get those suckers."

Joe Michaels looked at the tall woman who was standing in front of him. Her steel blue glare was slightly unnerving. Pulling back his shoulders, he tried to look at least as tall as she was, determined not to let her win the psychological war she had started.

"Better behave, Stevens,"he growled. "You are not the one calling the shots here."

"Talking about Ďshotsí,"Sam began, the anger that rolled off her tall frame almost palpable. "You really blew it when you decided to kill those cops, mate. Your ass is toast!"

Joe Michaels looked at Sam through squinted eyes. His face was red and big drops of perspiration had formed on his forehead.

"What the hell are you talking about?"he asked, not pleased with the way his hostage managed to take control of the situation. She made him look like an amateur.

"Those two policemen, up the road to Meganís house, were shot in the head. From behind,"Sam spat. "Donít pretend you had nothing to do with that, mister Ď I- want- to- be- a- big- boy-criminal,- but- all- I- do- is- screw- upí "

"You are lying!"Joe Michaels hissed, seeing William Jenkins jump up and look at Sam in shock.

He turned to Little Steven and when he saw the look on his face, he felt his whole body go numb.

"Why?"he croaked. "Steve!?íí

Little Steven shrugged his shoulders and cast his boss a look that made the shivers run down his spine.

"They were in the way,"he simply explained, as if he wasnít talking about human lifes.

"They were cops! You good for nothing, fucking idiot!"

Little Steven clenched his fist and took a step closer to his boss. The veins on his forhead were bulging and everybody could see the anger in his eyes.

"You wanted me to do your dirty work for you. And I did. I have been chasing this bitch for weeks now. You wanted her. You got her! Donít start complaining now! And I had to do it all by myself. That little weasel you saddled me up with was no good to start with. Should have wasted him when I had the chance. Weíre in this together, Joe! You are the boss, you called the shots. Your hands are as dirty as mine."

After Sam had mentioned the death of the two policemen, William Jenkins felt sick to his stomach, wondering how he could have ever been so stupid as to get involved with Joe Michaels. He should have seeked help when he had the chance. Not try and solve it all by himself. He should have contacted his boss, Richard Stevens and explained the mistakes heíd made. Arranged something to pay back the money he had taken from the company to pay the debts he had accumulated while gambling. But now it was too late. There was no way back. Theft, arson, kidnapping and now murder.

William Jenkins looked from the two men who were still argueing, to Sam, who was standing next to Megan, her hand on the smaller womanís shoulder as a silent display of support. Sam caught his glance and raised one eyebrow. She saw the former manager of The Reef was up to something and she hoped he wouldnít do anything stupid and get them all killed.

Sam squeezed the shoulder her hand was resting on and shifted her body, so it was in between her friend and the still fighting men. From the corner of her eye, she tried to see what William Jenkins was up to, while at the same time she focused on Joe Michaels and Little Steven, desperately wishing she was closer to the door.

All of a sudden she saw a movement to her right. William Jenkins had moved towards the only door and had yanked it open. Without even looking back he bolted outside and started to run. He didnít get far. Two long strides took Little Steven outside the shed. Sam saw him his raise the gun and the scream that left her lips, was silenced by the sound of the gun, that was fired twice.

With horror Sam saw William Jenkins fall, face down. His legs twitched for a few seconds and then he was still. Dead still.

His face a cold mask, Joe Michaels turned to Sam, who was still staring at the unmoving body of William Jenkins.

"This is what I want you to do,"he spoke, his voice slightly trembling. "You will contact your family and have them pay two million Australian dollars. Pronto. If the money is not here by tomorrow evening, you will be tossed over the steepest cliff I can find. Got it?"

Sam swallowed and slowly tore her gaze away from the man who was laying outside. She could see the blood mix with the dust on the ground and the sight made her slightly nauseous.

"You made it very clear,"she answered, trying not to show her fear. "But how do I contact my family? I donít see a phone here, or a computer. Besides, you said you would let Megan go. So, I think that before I make any call or whatsoever, I want my friend to be released."

"Plans have changed,"Joe Michaels answered, his eyes cold and full of anger. "Sheís staying."

Sam felt the anger rise up inside and gave the man in front of her a menacing look. Her eyes were cold chips of ice and involuntarily Joe Michaels took a step back.

"I guess I just changed my plans as well, then,"she growled. "No phone calls, no money. And you know you need the money to get out of here, donít you? I donít think the police will give up on cop killers. They will hunt your sorry ass down and make sure you will rot in jail for the rest of your life, being some grizzlyís playmate. And you know what? I really hope it will be a very long life."

"Let me knock some sense into her, Joe,"Little Steven mumbled, stepping back inside.

"No, Steve. Donít. I have some other plans. This operation has been bad from the start and right now itís a real mess. We fucked up, mate. But I am not letting her win, sheís made my life way too miserable lately. Letís get the car and load them up. Weíll find a place to dump their bodies, no one will ever be able to find them. Then we will get the hell out of the country. I got some friends in Indonesia that will put us up until all of this blows over."

"You want me to waste them here?"Little Steven casually asked.

"No, weíll make it look like an accident."

Sam heard a sob behind her and when she turned around she saw Meganís eyes, full of fear, looking up at her. Without saying a word, Sam knelt down and pulled the frightened woman into her arms. Her brain was frantically working to come up with a plan and she knew they were running out of time. She had to do something and she had to do it quick. She knew Trishia and Peter would be around somewhere. That, and the fact she had promised her lover to come back, settled her racing heart and suddenly made her able to think clearly.

"Megan, as soon as I say Ďruní, go for it,"she whispered into a shapely ear. "Donít look back, donít worry about me, just go. Donít use the track, but go for the banana trees. Try to disappear and go downhill. Head for the road, there are police officers down there."

"Letís go,"she heard Joe Michaels say, while Little Steven grabbed her arm and pulled her to her feet.

Sam looked at Megan and the expression on her face told her she had understood the instructions.

That was the easy part. Now I have to come up with a plan. Damnit! Keep your eyes open, Stevens and as soon as you see a chance, go for it.

Little Steven pushed Sam outside the door and towards the back of the shed where a Landrover was parked. Joe Michaels and Megan were right behind them.

When the door was opened and she was pushed inside the car, Sam saw Little Steven turn around to look at his boss.

My chance!

Sam grabbed the handle of the door and with a strength she didnít know she possessed, she slammed the door into Little Stevenís body, making him double over in pain. The surprise attack had made Joe Michaels loosen the grip on Meganís arm and when she heard Sam yell Ďruní, she pulled free and dashed for the banana trees.

Sam had jumped out of the car and slammed the door against Little Stevenís head, who was trying to get back on his feet. He fell backwards and she heard him grunt when he hit the ground with an audible thump. Without thinking twice, Sam jumped in front of Joe Michaels, who was still recovering from the shock and before he realized what was going on, she had floored him with a vicious roundhouse kick. Wincing in pain when her right leg connected with the side of his head. Immediately she ran in the direction Megan had disappeared in. Silently praying that Little Steven would be down a bit longer and cursing herself for not taking the gun, before she ran off.

Samís long legs took her to the banana trees in no time and relieved she felt the big leaves surrounding her tall frame.

Okay, maybe we have a chance now. Forget about the pain, Sam. Just keep running. Think about Jody and that shower you will take together. Letís head for that little car. Damn! I should have told Megan about that.

Sam kept running, making sure she was going downhill all the time, keeping her ears and eyes open for her friend, hoping she would make it to the road.

"Inspector? There were two gunshots!"Peterís worried voice sounded trough the speakers. "You want us to go in?"

"Damn!"Carol Wong muttered under her breath, seeing Jody and Sarah turning pale. "Close in and tell me what you see. Reinforcements should be there any minute now, theyíre coming up the road. Can you see them?"

"No, chief, not yet. But we do have a visual on the shed though. Thereís a car, a Land Rover. Two men. One body on the ground, inspector,"Peter informed her with a tense voice.

"ID?"

"Canít see yet. One men jumped in the car, heís taking off. The other one just ran into the plantation. Itís a man on the ground, "Peterís voice sounded a little relieved. "The door of the shed is open, I donít think thereís anyone inside. My guess is the girls took a run for it, inspector. "

"The reinforcements have been informed. They will pick up the Land Rover. Go after the one whoís on foot. Leave this connection open."

"Weíre on our way, inspector."

Jody had grabbed Sarahís hand and felt sick to her stomach. Peterís report had been very clear and even though there was no sign of Sam and Megan, she just knew they were in danger. Although the fact that they apparently managed to escape, had given her hope.

Jody felt an arm around her shoulder and she was pulled into Lucyís body.

"Itís gonna be okay, Pea."She whispered. "I am sure they will be fine."

Jody nodded and wished she had her sisterís confidence.

"You okay, Sez?"she asked Sarah, who was visibly shaking with tension.

A pair of anxious gray eyes looked at her from close distance and Jody could see the pain and fear inside.

"They will be fine,"she repeated Lucyís words, trying to ignore the knot of tension that had taken up residence inside her stomach.

Sam panted and and could barely avoid the trunk of a tree when she lost her balance and nearly collided with the hard, dusty ground of the hill. The insistent throbbing in her leg became more persistent with every step she took. The sun was scorching her unprotected head and she could feel thick drops of perspiration slide down her face, the salt stinging her eyes and making her vision blurry. Impatiently she wiped her forehead, wishing she would have some water to quench her thirst. Her lips were cracked and her mouth was dry, making her tongue feel like a piece of dry leather.

"I should be there soon,"she whispered to herself. "Gotta find Megan and get to that car. Where the heck are Trishia and Peter?"

Sam decided to stand still for a few seconds and listen to the surrounding noises. In the distance she could hear the sound of a car coming up the hill and she hoped it would be a police car. The banana trees blocked her vision though and frustrated she realized she wasnít able to determine whether it would be help on the way, or disaster.

The sound of rustling leaves made Sam cock her head and listen carefully. It came from her right and it sounded like somebody was heading down the hill, like she was. Cautiously Sam continued her way, following the sound, hoping it would be her friend, but realizing it could also be Little Steven, or Joe Michaels coming after them.

After a few minutes Samís eyes caught the slender form of her friend and a huge smile crossed her face.

"Megan!"she whispered.

Megan quickly turned around and when she saw Sam she ran towards her tall friend and jumped into her arms.

"O, God! Sam!"she sobbed. "I am so glad to see you. Iíve been so scared! Where are they?"

"I donít know, Meg,"Sam whispered back. "I knocked them down, but I am afraid they will try and come after us anyway. The good news is that there is supposed to be some police around here, although I havenít seen them yet. But as long as I donít hear a friendly voice calling out my name, I will stay out of sight. Are you okay?"

"I am now,"Megan answered. "I was packing it, Sam. While they were waiting for you to come they were talking and I just knew they would never let me go."

"Yeah, somehow that didnít surprise me,"Sam sighed. "Letís see if we can get down this hill, Megan. I stashed away a little car there somewhere. Maybe we will be able to use it and get the hell out of here."

"I wouldnít count on it,"a chuckling voice behind them suddenly spoke and Sam froze. Without turning around, she knew who it was. She swallowed hard and moistened her dry lips.

"Howís the knees? "she asked, turning around and tucking Megan behind her back.

She looked into the blood stained face of Little Steven, who glanced at her with a murderous expression in his eyes. It was a scary sight. The tall, bulky man was covered in blood, that was dripping form a gash in his forehead. His face was dirty, his clothes torn and he looked like a vision out of a horror movie.

"This is as far as you will get, Stevens. I should have killed you before, when I had the chance."

"Whereís the fun in that?"Sam answered, her heart pounding in her chest. "I thought a person like you would like a challenge."

Samís hands were behind her back and she gently pushed Megan further away from her body, hoping she would be able to make a run for it and get to safety.

"No use. I will shoot her like I will you, like the dog you are!"

One chance. One. I have to jump and grab his arm and kick between his legs at the same time. Damn! I need to get closer!

"I thought you were more interested in my money,"Sam answered, desperately trying to buy some time.

"Not any more,"Little Steven growled. "All I want now is to get rid of you, Stevens. "

Little Steven raised his hand with the gun and aimed it at Samís chest.

"Say your prayers, Dutchie."

All of a sudden things happened so quick, it was a blur. Sam pushed away Megan, shouting : ĎRuní and dived towards Little Steven, when the sound of a gunshot pierced the air.

They tumbled to the ground together and rolled down the hill for a few meters, until they were stopped by the trunk of a banana tree.

"Strange. It doesnít even hurt,"Sam thought, her eyes following a fluffy, white cloud in the sky above. She felt the pressure of something heavy on her legs and when she lifted her head, she saw the still figure of little Steven laying across her legs. Blood seeped from a tiny hole in his temple and slowly Sam realized what had happened.

"Megan!"she shouted, suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of panick.

"Sam,"was the sobbed answer and suddenly her friend knelt down beside her.

"Are you okay?"

"Yes. Are you?"

Sam pulled away from Little Stevenís body and slowly tried to get on her feet. Her right leg was protesting and she winced when a painful cramp shot through her calf. She sat down heavily and looked around, still amazed by the fact that she was alive. Only then she noticed the two police officers standing close.

Peter was checking Little Steven for a pulse and slowly shook his head, his face pale and withdrawn.

Sam saw Trishia swallow hard, while the police woman handed over her gun to her fellow officer.

"You had no choice, Trish,"Peter softly spoke, putting a hand on her shoulder. "He was about to shoot Miss Stevens."

"Thereís another guy around here somewhere,"Megan informed the two police officers, her voice strained with emotion.

"Donít worry about him, miss,"Peter smiled. "Heís been caught down the road and has a lot of explaining to do."

Carol Wong tried to control her nerves. After they had heard the clear sound of a gunshot, the whole office went silent. All eyes were fixed on the desk where the speaker was softly making a buzzing noise. They could vaguely hear some sounds, but it was hard to determine who was speaking and what was being said.

A few moments before, the announcement had come in that one of the criminals, Joe Michaels had been arrested and was being transported to the police office immediately.

Jody was the only one who was staring at her nervously twitching hands. Her heart was hammering in her chest, making it hard to breathe. The palms of her hands were sweaty and her mouth was dry. There was just one word that was floating through her mind: Sam.

She didnít have to close her eyes to remember her loverís clear blue eyes, that could look at her full of love and passion, but just as often twinkled when she was in a teasing mood.

I need to see that twinkle again, Sam. Oh, God. If you are listening, please protect Sam for me. Please keep her safe. I need her so.

"Trishia. Peter, "Carol Wong spoke for the third time, not being able to hide her nervousness anymore. "Would any of you please pick up that damn phone and give us an answer!"

The sound of a phone being picked up suddenly filled the room and a second later Peterís voice was heard.

"Sorry, inspector,"he apologized. "We had a situation here, but everything is under control."

"What the fÖheck happened?"Carol Wong hissed, just in time remembering her manners.

"We had to take down that Little Steven bloke, inspector. Iím sorry, but we had no choice."

"How bad is it?"Carol Wong anxiously asked.

"UmÖheís pretty dead, inspector. But everyone else is all right."

"Are you okay?"Carol Wong asked, closing her eyes and sending a silent thank you prayer to whoever was listening.

"It was Trish who shot him, boss. He was about to take down Miss Stevens."

Jody suddenly sat up straight and looked at Carol Wong. Her eyes wide with shock and fear.

"Is Miss Stevens all right?"she quickly asked.

"Yes, she is. A bit shaken up, but thatís understandable. Iíll wrap things up here and wait for the coroner. I will send Trish back with the two ladies. If thatís okay with you, inspector. "

"Thatís fine, Peter. Thank you."

"No worries. Everythingís peachy now, boss. The girls will be back within thirty minutes or so. Better get some drinks ready, they look thirsty."

Jody didnít realize tears were rolling down her cheeks, until her mother knelt in front of her and gently wiped them away, pulling her daughter in a comforting hug.

"Itís okay now, honey,"she softly spoke, feeling her daughterís body tremble. "Sheís on her way back and she is okay, thank God."

"Oh, mom, I have been so scared,"Jody sniffed. "I feel like throwing up."

"Not on me, you donít,"Joan McDonnell gently joked, making Jody smile through her tears.

"Thanks for your support, mom."

"Donít thank me for that, love. I have been letting you down too often and too long. I should have stood up to your father years ago. I am so sorry I didnít have the courage to do that."

Jody put her head on her motherís shoulder and sighed contentedly. Soon they would leave all the misery behind and Sam and she could focus on their future, together. Enjoying each other and celebrating their love.

"Donít apologize, Mom. We both know what kind of person Dad is. I am just glad you managed to start thinking for yourself."

Twenty minutes later a police car pulled up outside and Fiona, who had been standing guard at the window, jumped up and ran towards the door, disappearing out of sight.

"I guess they are back,"Lucy grinned, casting a look at Jody and Sarah who both had looked better. Their eyes were red and puffed up from crying, but when the car stopped, they both sported huge smiles, which changed their faces in an instant.

Before Sam and Megan could step inside the building the door was yanked open and a slender teenager threw herself in Samís arms, clutching to her like she would never let her go again.

Sam held Fiona close and felt the teenagerís body rack with sobs. Tears welled in her eyes when she stroked the dark hair and whispered words of comfort.

"Ssh, Fi, itís okay, "she said, her voice husky with emotion and thirst. "I am back now, everything is over. Weí re safe."

"We heard the shots through the speaker phone, Sam,"Fiona sniffed, wiping her tears away with the back of her hand. "We were so scared! I though thatÖ."

"I know, "Sam interrupted the young girl. "And I am sorry you had to go through all of that, but itís over now, Fi. Itís all over. Come on, letís go inside. I want to see my honey."

Fiona smiled through her tears and let go of Sam, turning to Megan to give her a quick hug.

As soon as the Sam and Megan stepped inside the office, two women launched themselves in their arms, holding on like their lifes depended on it.

As soon as Sam felt Jodyís familiar body against her own, the tension finally broke and she let her tears flow freely.

"Oh, God, baby! Itís over. Itís finally over. IÖheÖtried to shoot me, and."

"Itís okay, honey,"Jody felt the tall body tremble and slowly let her hands rub circles across her loverís back. "Youíre back, everythingís okay. Letís get you a chair, so you can sit down."

Immediately a chair was pushed right behind Sam and gently Jody guided her to sit down. She wanted to kneel in front of her, but Sam wrapped her arms around Jodyís waist and pulled her in her lap, burrying her face against her chest. It slowly sank in that the whole situation was done and over with. And they were unharmed. Safe. Now they could try and leave it all behind them and continue to plan their lives, together.

Carol Wong looked at the two reunited couples and realized they had all been extremely lucky with the way things had worked out.

She glanced at Trishia who was sitting on the edge of a desk. Her face was pale and withdrawn and she was staring in the distance, apparently not aware of the things going on around her. Her hands were clenched into fists and her normally relaxed composure, had turned into a very tense one. Carol Wong new there would be an internal investigation about the shooting, but she also knew that Trishia would come out clean. From the little bits and pieces she had heard about what had happened, she knew the police woman only did what she had to do. Luckily she was an excellent marksman. Carol had briefly spoken with Peter, on the phone and he had told her that Trishia had only had once chance to safe Samís life. Apparently Little Steven was about to pull the trigger, when Trishiaís shot had taken him down. He had been dead before he hit the ground.

Carol Wong sighed and realized there were stacks of paper to fill out, but looking at the distressed women in the office, she knew it would be better for everybody to send them on their way and let them come back in the next day. The reports could wait. She and her staff had to deal with the death of two fellow policemen and that was hard enough already.

Carol Wong rubbed her forehead and suddenly felt all the responsibility she had weigh heavy on her shoulders. A hand touched her arm and she looked up in the face of Joan McDonnell.

"Thank you very much, inspector Wong, "Joan McDonnell spoke. "You and your menÖ.and woman,"she added with a smile, glancing at Trishia. "came through for us today. I will be grateful forever."

"Thank you, Mrs. McDonnell,"Carol Wong answered. "I canít tell you how happy I am that your friends are safe. "

"I know your job is not finished yet. Thereís all the paperwork and I realize your department suffered a huge loss with those two young men beingÖkilled. We are all willing to cooperate during the investigation, inspector. I know I am speaking for all of us."

"Thank you, Mrs McDonnell. I appreciate that,"Carol Wong smiled. "But why donít you take your friends and family with you? Seems like you could all do with some rest. Be back tomorrow at noon for the statements and paperwork and you wonít hear me complain."

"Iíll round them up,"Joan McDonnell smiled.

She wanted to turn around, but a hand on her shoulder stopped her.

"Ryan told me about the abuse. It always pains me to see anyone go through something like that. I want you to know, that if you will ever feel threatened, you can call us and we will be right there. You are a courageous woman, Mrs. McDonnell. I see where your daughters get their strength from."

"Thank you,"Joan McDonnell whispered, deeply touched by Carol Wongs words.

She turned around and walked towards Jody and Sam, kneeling down beside the chair.

"Are you two ready to get out of here? The inspector says that the paperwork can wait until tomorrow. I think we all need a rest and a good meal."

"And I know the right place for that,"Sam smiled weakly. "I need a phone."

She didnít have to get up to get one, because Fiona, who was acting like her shadow ever since she set foot inside the building, immediately reached out and handed her the requested piece of technology. Inspite of her distress, Sam chuckled.

"Thanks, Fi! Okay, letís seeÖ"

Samís long fingers quickly dialed a number and Jody, who was watching her closely, smiled contendly.

"This is Samantha Stevens. Is everything under control? No problems? Good, excellent Maria. Have you heard anything from Brian today? Oh, thatís good news! I am happy to hear that. Listen, Maria. I need rooms and food for, letís seeÖ.seven people, including me. I would really appreciate it if you could get someone to get the executive wing ready. Three rooms would be enoughÖ"Sam looked up into Lucyís eyes, seeing the interest and immediately the old Sam surfaced. "Maria? Make that four rooms."

Lucy quickly turned around to hide her face, but Sam had seen the blush and she grinned mischieveously.

"Okay, girls, letís get out of here,"Jody sighed, happy to be able to leave, but reluctant to give up her snuggly spot.

Lucy was the last one to walk out the door. She looked back to Trishia and hesitated. A pair of tired green blue eyes looked at her and quickly she turned around and walked back inside the office.

"Thank you for keeping Sam and Megan safe,"she softly spoke, putting her hand on a muscular arm.

Trishia managed a smile and slowly shook her head.

"Itís part of the job,"she answered.

"You saved their lifes. Thereís nothing we can do to ever repay that."

Trishia covered the hand on her arm with one of her own and softly squeezed.

"Donít worry about it."

"Will you be okay? I meanÖ"Lucy swallowed and felt the insecurity creeping up on her. "Is thereÖ anyoneÖyou can stay with ? It must be hard to go through all of this alone. Donít get me wrong, butÖ"

"Itís just me,"Trishia answered, her eyes searching Lucyís face, an unspoken question in them.

"If you would like to come over later, after youíre done here, you are very welcome to."

They looked at each other, their eyes locked and slowly a smile broke through on both their faces.

"Iíd love to. Thanks."

"Good,"Lucy answered, visibly relieved. "I will see you later then."

"Defenitely,"Trishia whispered.

It was hours later. The sun had lost itís sting for that day and was about to set, coloring the sky a bright orange. The Pacific displayed itís neverending motion, with white crowned waves, crashing on the beach and then slowly retreating, an eternal, powerful movement.

Sam and Jody were standing on the balcony of the executives room, their arms wrapped around each other, bodies pressed close, enjoying the beautiful scenery and revelling in each otherís presence.

"Howís the leg now, Sam?"Jody lazily asked, snuggling even closer to the warm body of her lover.

"Not too bad,"Sam answered, equally lazy, her blue eyes never leaving the ocean that was stretched out in front of them. "Howís your face, sweetie?"

"Not too bad,"Jody mimicked, chuckling when she heard Sam growl. "Tough chick!"

"MmmÖletís see."

Sam turned around so she could face her smaller companion. She put her hand under Jodyís chin and lifted up her face.

"Maybe I should try and kiss it better."

Without waiting for an answer, Sam bent her head and softly pressed her lips against the bruise on the side of Jodyís face.

"Does that hurt?"she whispered against the discolored skin.

"No, it doesnít,"Jody breathed, her whole body suddenly tingling.

"Good!"

Samís lips travelled down a silky cheek, kissing Jodyís nose and finally landing on a pair of soft lips, who immediately responded to the intimate caress. Sam was very gentle, afraid to hurt her loverís face, but Jody didnít want any of that. She wrapped her arms around Samís neck and pulled her even closer. She sucked Samís lower lip, making the tall woman moan soflty. Her tongue sought entry, sensually dancing around Samís, while her hips suddenly started a life of their own, grinding into Samís thigh, pressing even closer.

When they had to come up for air, Sam pressed her forehead against Jodyís and looked in a pair of eyes that were darkened with desire.

"Jody, honey. I am about to have a melt down,"she spoke in a husky voice, while her hands that were on her loversí hips started to squeeze the firm flesh underneath.

"Keep this up and I will spontaneously combust,"Jody answered. "I love you, Sam. I want to show you just how much."

She pulled Sam in for another passion filled kiss, nibbling her way down to her colarbone, while her fingers expertly unbuttoned the cotton shirt Sam was wearing. Cool wind touched her skin, when Jodyís hand slid the fabric off her shoulders.

A pair of soft lips left a moist track when they travelled down to the soft swell of firm breasts and Samís breathing became shallow and erratic.

"Honey, "she moaned, feeling like her knees were turned into jelly, ready to give way. "I really need to lay downÖ.soon."A teasing tug on one of her nipples. "Now."

Jody chuckled and pulled her totally aroused partner towards the huge bed in the middle of the room. She playfully pushed Sam down on the firm mattrass and crawled up the tall body, straddling her hips. Her oceangreen eyes were dark with desire and Sam realized that, despite the dark bruises on her cheek, Jody never had looked more beautiful.

"Now, where was I?"Jody whispered, running the flat of her palms over Samís already highly sensitized skin, sliding underneath Samís back and skillfully unclasping the lacey bra.

Jody moaned in pleasure whith the easy access to her loverís firm, but soft breasts. Her hands cupped both mounds, while her thumbs teased already hardened nipples.

Sam arched her back into the touch, silently begging for more, but Jody was relentless.

"Tell me what you want, baby,"she whispered, teasingly biting a soft earlobe.

"IÖwantÖyour mouth, whereÖyour fingersÖare,"Sam gasped, very aware of the warmth that was spreading through the lower part of her body.

From a close distance her clear blue eyes looked into a pair of green ones, that had taken on the color of a stormy ocean. They stared in each others eyes for a long moment. Suddenly the skin around Jodyís eyes wrinkled and a huge smile creased her face.

"Anything for you, my love,"she whispered, blinking back some happy tears.

She tore her eyes away from Samís and without looking at her lover she knew Sam had closed her eyes the moment Jodyís warm, moist lips covered one of her nipples.

The only sound in the room was the distant breaking of the waves on the beach, soft moans and softly whispered words. Two bodies moved against each other on the big bed, slick with perspiration and the effects of their lovemaking. Totally engrossed in each other, not aware of the world around them. Celebrating life and their love for one another.

Hours later, tired but happy and satiated after numerous sessions of lovemaking, Sam and Jody were back on the balcony, once again wrapped in each other arms, a bottle of chilled, white wine on the table. Jody was leaning against Samís chest, her loverís arm protectively around her, pulling her close.

"I wish this moment would last forever,"Jody sighed, stroking the skin of Samís hand with her fingers. "I donít think I have ever been happier in my life."

Sam kissed the top of the redhaired head against her chest and tightened her grip on the slender body in her arms.

"MmmÖI am so relaxed I donít think I can stand up,"Sam smiled. "And I think I will have a funny walk tomorrow morning, after the way you ravished me."

Sam felt Jodyís body shake with silent laughter.

"And I am not even finished yet, baby,"Jody answered. "Weíre just having a break here."

"Oh, my God,"Sam gasped. "You are wicked!"

"Isnít that why you love me so much?"Jody teased.

"Well,"Sam drawled. "That and a few other things."

She shifted her body, making Jody yelp, because without her loverís quick reflexes, she would have ended up on the ground. Sam laughed out loud when she saw Jodyís indignant face and quickly kissed her.

"Sorry, honey, but I just needed to see your face."

"Why? Bruises turn you on?"Jody quipped.

"Not exactly,"Sam answered, her face suddenly very serious. "But I need to ask you something."

Jody looked up into eyes that almost looked silver in the light of the moon. She reached out and cupped Samís face, placing a soft kiss on her lips.

"What is it?"

"Lots of things happened these last few weeks and because of that we didnít really have much time together. ButÖI canít imagine my life without you, not anymore. IÖIÖif I have to go back to Holland, IÖ"

Jodyís body jerked and she suddenly looked at Sam with an expression that was close to panic.

"Youíre leaving?"

"I have to go back, honey, but I want you to come with me,"Sam quickly answered. "I want you to meet my parents andÖandÖJody?"

Jodyís eyes had never left Samís and her shocked expression had been replaced by a bright smile. Her expressive eyes were sparkling.

"Honey? Will you marry me?"

Jody stared at Sam, suddenly sitting stock still, her eyes wide, filled with disbelief.

"Breathe, baby,"Sam joked, pushing back a strand of long, reddish hair from Jodyís forehead.

"IÖyou want to me marry me? Sam? God! Yes! Of course. Oh, baby, yes, I will marry you."

Jody threw her arms around Samís neck in a crashing hug. Tears flowed from her eyes, while she claimed Samís lips in scorching kiss.

"I love you, Jody,"Sam finally managed to croak, feeling the happiness bubble up inside her heart. "In Holland we can get married, like anyone else. I want the whole world to know, that you and I belong together. I donít ever want to leave you behind again, ever."

In the next room, Megan was wrapped in Sarahís arms, her head resting on her partnerís shoulder, while a strong hand slowly threaded through her unruly hair. Two pair of eyes looked at the ceiling, sprinkled with moon cast shadows. Their evening had been quiet, filled with closeness. They were content to just lay there in each others arms, feeling alive and content. Happy to be together.

"Sam was great,"Megan told her lover. "You should have seen her, Sarah. I was scared out of my wits, but she tried to bluff her way out of it the whole time. I even think they were impressed. She constantly tried to protect me, you know."

"I know, you told me,"Sarah smiled, kissing Meganís cheek. "I will be forever in her debt."

"I guess we have to postpone our anniversary party, "Megan sighed. "The house will be a mess, with the kitchen damaged by the fire."

"Thatís no problem, sweetheart. All it takes is a few phone calls. Our friends and family will understand."

"Yeah, they will,"Megan sleepily answered, snuggling closer. She needed to feel her lover as close as she could. To her it was the most important cure for the demons that were lurking in the back of her mind.

"Go to sleep, love,"Sarah whispered, pressing another kiss on the smooth skin beneath her chin. "I will be here, holding you. Youíre safe now."

"I love you, Sarah."

"I love you too, baby,"Sarah smiled, feeling love and tenderness flow through her body. "Rest now."

Within a few minutes Meganís breathing had become deep and even and Sarah knew her lover was asleep. Finally. She stared at the ceiling, thinking back on all the events that had transpired that day. She felt a shiver run up and down her spine, when she realized she could have easily lost the woman, who was now sleeping in her arms.

"Thank you, God, "she whispered.

Outside, Lucy and Trishia were sitting on the beach, just out of the reach of the waves. They had talked for hours, while casually strolling down the beach. Walking close together, but never touching.

"Thanks for listening, Lucy,"Trishia said, drawing pictures in the sand. "I know it wasnít a pleasant story to listen to."

Every time Trishia closed her eyes, she heard the echo of her gun, seeing the body of Little Steven fall to the ground. Knowing she was responsible for taking a life.

"No worries, Trishia, "Lucy answered. "I understand. If you ever need to talk, you know where to find me. I hate to think of you not being able to talk to anyone about this."

"Well, thereís always the police shrink,"Trishia joked.

"Thatís different,"Lucy immediately answered. "Isnít it?"

Trishia looked at the woman who was sitting next to her. Her long, dark hair pulled back in a braid, her flawless skin a creamy white in the light of the moon. She swallowed hard and tried to come up with a reason for the closeness she felt to a person she had just met that same day.

"Very different,"she finally answered, staring at her bare toes, that had dug a little hole in the cool sand.

"Trishia?"

"Mmm?"

"I like you,"Lucy confessed, suddenly feeling shy, an emotion that was usually alien to her.

"I like you too,"Trishia smiled.

Lucy shifted so she could look Trishia in the eye and suddenly felt nervous.

"I mean, I donít know whatís happening here. But I really like you and thatís so weird, because yesterday I didnít even know you existed. And IÖit.s confusing."

"Why?"

"BecauseÖthis is me weíre talking about,"Lucy answered, a hint of a laugh in her voice. "I always have an answer to everything, much to my famillies frustration. I am the big mouth of the McDonnells, but right now, I have no words."

"Try just to feel,"Trishia replied, moving so she and Lucy were facing each other.

An invisible force slowly drew their faces closer and Trishia could see Lucy swallow hard. The expression on her face was one of wonder and Trishia could hear a soft intake of breath.

"I have never kissed a woman before, "she quickly stated, seeing Trishiaís lips come closer.

"But do you want to?"

"O, yes,"were Lucyís last words for a while, because their lips met in a tentative kiss, that slowly increased in passion and intensity. Trishia took her time, letting Lucy set the pace and she was anything but disappointed, when a pair of arms gently pushed her down in the sand, and a slender body covered her own. She wrapped her arms around Lucy and pulled her close. Her world started spinning and she forgot everything, except the woman in her arms and the lips that somehow managed to turn her into a puddle.

Epilogue

Carol Wong closed the door behind her, feeling the effect of a very long day. All reports were written and Joe Michaels had been officially accused of extortion, murder, kidnapping, laundrying money and a few more criminal offenses. He was facing at least a life time in prison.

Fred had spilled his guts and even though Carol Wong had not showed any signs of pity, she felt for the young boy, who obviously had been in the wrong place, at the wrong time. His coorperation had been appreciated and his sentence would translate that.

William Jenkins was dead. When the police arrived at the scene where he had been shot, it was clear that he had died as soon as the bullet hit his chest. It ploughed through his coronary artery, making sure the life had drained quickly from his battered body. They had found evidence in William Jenkinsí house that proved that he had huge debts, due to gambling. Joe Michaels had offered him a way out, giving him money to pay his debts, but demanding coorperation in draining money from The Reefís extensive bank account. He had gone so far, as to hire illegal immigrants,who Joe Michaels had also used for drug trafficing between Australia and Indonesia.

Little Steven had died as soon as the bullet that Trishia had fired sunk into the soft tissue of his brain. Ballistic reports showed that he had been the one, who killed the two police men that had been assigned the task of protecting Sam Stevens and Jody McDonnell.

Carol Wong smiled when she remembered the look on Joan McDonnells face, when Sam had offered her a job at The Reef. They needed someone at the front desk and Sam said she was convinced her mother in law would do a great job. Joan McDonnell had shed a few happy tears, especially since she had decided not to go back to her husband. Her two sons, who still lived at home had showed their support and Fiona and her mother would be living in Jodyís appartment, since she didnít seem to need it anymore.

Her smile grew even bigger when she remembered the happy faces of the two young women, after announcing their plans to get married and take over the management of The Reef for the time being.

The puppy dog look on the face of one of her best police officers, when looking at a certain dark haired, green eyed woman, had made her chuckle. Trishia had fallen head over heels and it was clear that Lucy had wrapped Trishia around her little finger.

Carol Wong opened the door of her car and out of habit she looked at the beach, situated behind the police station. Her eyes grew warm when she saw two familiar figures slowly walk down the beach, their arms wrapped around each otherís waist.

Sam tilted her head and bent down to kiss the woman next to her. They stopped dead in their tracks and Carol Wong averted her eyes when she saw the intensity of the embrace deepen. Carol Wong smiled and got in her car. When she pulled out she saw The Reef in all itís glory. Bathing in the light of the setting sun, the Pacific at the background, while two very happy people slowly continued their walk.

The End

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