Shield Of Justice
WARNING: The stories on this page are about the love between two women and may contain explicit love scenes. If you are not 21, or are offended by this type of love - do not go any further. By continuing you are consenting that you are of legal age to read further.
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Dr. Catherine Rawlings pushed the last patient file aside with a sigh and glanced at the clock. Nine-twenty pm. Her days seemed to be getting longer despite her frequent resolutions to reduce her evening office hours. Since she taught full-time at the medical school, she had limited time for private patients, and yet she constantly found herself making "one more" exception and adding another patient to her already crowded schedule. She ran a slender hand through her shoulder-length auburn hair and tried to shake the fatigue out of her neck and back muscles. She looked forward to a hot bath and a cold drink.
She was half-way to the door when the intercom on her desk buzzed. With a frown of surprise, she turned at the sound. At this time of night, with her office hours over, her secretary, Joyce, rarely put a call through. Puzzled, she leaned across the wide teak desk to push the return button.
"Yes?" Catherine asked.
"There’s a Detective Sergeant Frye here to see you, Doctor," Joyce replied in the voice she reserved for professional exchanges. Catherine noted the serious tone and replied immediately, "Show him in, Joyce."
Catherine sat down behind her desk, wondering what had prompted a visit from the police. She occasionally did consultation work for the police, but it was never on an emergent basis. She looked up as Joyce pushed the heavy mahogany door open. Joyce’s face revealed her curiosity, but she had no time to speak before a figure moved from behind her and strode into the room. Catherine was used to revealing little of her inner feelings by the expressions on her face, and she was glad of that now. For she would not have liked her surprise, and chagrin, to be displayed to the woman who approached her.
Catherine noted the gold shield clipped to the waistband of the detective’s grey gabardine trousers and the tailored fit of her navy-blue blazer. Viking was a term that flashed through Catherine’s mind, and it certainly seemed appropriate. The woman was tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed, and moved with a degree of assuredness that suggested she was rarely intimidated. She was slender, but there was power in the sleek lines of her shoulders and narrow hips. Altogether, Detective Frye presented a most imposing and attractive figure.
Catherine rose to accept the detective’s outstretched hand.
"Dr. Rawlings, I’m Detective Sergeant Rebecca Frye. I’m sorry to disturb you, but I need to ask you a few questions." Her voice was as cool as Catherine expected it to be, totally professional, revealing nothing. Catherine nodded, settling into her high-backed leather chair, waiting expectantly.
Rebecca chose her opening words carefully. She was a relentless interrogator when she needed information, and she desperately needed it now. However, she was also experienced, and this was a situation in which professional issues were cloudy. She studied the psychiatrist seated across from her, trying to get a fix on the best way to proceed.
She saw a woman in her late thirties, classically attractive, composed, not appearing anxious or hostile, regarding her expectantly. Rebecca found her unreadable. She decided on the straight-forward approach. She pulled a small black notebook from the inside of her jacket, flipped it open and glanced at it cursorily. Maybe a little surprise will soften her up.
"Dr. Rawlings, do you have a patient by the name of Janet Ryan?" she asked. Rebecca had hoped to catch her off guard, but the grey-green eyes that regarded her were calm, almost gentle.
"Detective," Catherine said softly, leaning forward over her desk, "surely you know that I can’t answer that question."
Oh, fuck, not this again! Rebecca’s irritation was intense, but she fought to contain it. God, how she hated dealing with these ethically rigorous types, when all she needed was a little assistance. These were the very people who kept saying that the special crimes unit—read sex crimes unit—wasn’t responsive enough to the needs of the community. It was damn hard to be effective when no one wanted to tell you anything, including the victims themselves sometimes. But Rebecca was effective, precisely because she wouldn’t allow the resistance of professionals or the fear of victims to deter her. She could be persistent to the point of belligerence, but she never harassed the victim. With them she was infinitely patient, explaining as many times as necessary how she could help if given the chance. Most of the time her sincerity and compassion won their cooperation, and she was able to bring an offender to trial who might otherwise have gone free. This time the stakes were so high that her usual imperturbation was taxed to the limit.
"Believe me, Doctor, I wouldn’t be here if this weren’t serious. I understand that you have to protect your patients’ privacy, but this is official police business."
"I believe you, but police business or not, that does not supersede my responsibility to my patients," Catherine replied quietly, lacing her fingers together. "Perhaps if you could tell me what this is about?"
"I presume you’ve heard of the recent attacks along the River Side Drive?"
Catherine’s face grew tense as she nodded.
Good, that got some reaction!
"We have reason to believe that Janet Ryan witnessed the third attack by the same perpetrator around six o’clock tonight. I need to find out what she saw."
"Why don’t you ask her?"
"Because she’s in the intensive care unit at University Central. She’s got some pretty nasty bruises; she’s nearly incoherent; and the best we’ve been able to ascertain is that she can’t remember anything about what happened. Your business card was in her purse."
Oh, lord, Janet! Catherine stood up and walked to the window that overlooked the downtown skyline. After a moment’s deliberation, she turned her gaze on the detective who sat silently watching her.
"Would you mind stepping into the waiting room for a few moments? I need to make a phone call."
Rebecca rose immediately, sensing that the psychiatrist was
trying to meet her half way. Before she broke eye contact, Rebecca said vehemently,
"I want this bastard, Doctor. I want him off the streets before he touches one
more woman." She thought she saw a flicker of rage that matched her own in the
green eyes that held hers. "Right now, I can use any help you can give me."
As soon as the door closed behind Rebecca, Catherine reached for a file from her bottom drawer. Turning to the personal intake form, she jotted down a number. She dialed quickly, praying she wouldn’t get one of those infernal answering machines. To her relief, a human voice answered after only two rings.
Sensitive to the slightest nuance of tone or expression, Catherine heard the anxiety and fear in the young woman’s voice, and began gently.
"Barbara? This is Dr. Rawlings—"
"It’s Janet, isn’t it?" Barbara interrupted tremulously. "She should have been home hours ago, and she always calls if she’s going to be late. What is it? What’s happened?"
"I don’t know all the details, but I know that Janet is in the hospital. She’s alive and in no immediate danger. Do you understand that, Barbara? Janet is injured, but she was able to speak with the police a little."
"Oh, god! Where is she?"
"University Central. I was afraid you hadn’t been notified." Catherine cursed the system that ignored the most important relationship in a person’s life when it mattered most. "I know you want to be there, Barbara, but there’s something I need to discuss with you first. The police are here at my office. They believe that Janet may have witnessed a crime. They need some information. I’d like to help them as much as I can if you’ll trust me to protect Janet’s confidences." She hated to do this to Barbara now; her anxiety was practically palpable over the phone, but she couldn’t discuss Janet Ryan with the police without the consent of Janet’s designated medical power of attorney. She was stretching the definition as it was, but she knew Janet well, and made the judgement that Janet would have given her permission herself had she been able.
"Yes, of course—we both trust you. Do what you think is best. Please, I need to go now!"
"Do you have someone to drive you there?"
"I’ll call Carol--she’ll go with me. Thank you for calling me--"
Catherine was left with a dial tone sounding in her ear. She replaced the phone gently in its cradle and walked to the door. Pulling it open she found Detective Frye slumped in a chair, her head tilted at an uncomfortable angle. For the first time Catherine noted the deep circles under her eyes and the lines of fatigue that marred her otherwise flawless face. The well-tailored clothes were also rumpled from hours of wear. She looks like she hasn’t been to bed for days.
"Detective," she called softly.
Rebecca Frye jolted upright, her eyes snapping open. She focused instantly on Catherine. "Yes?"
"Come in, please."
When they were once again seated, Catherine spoke. "Janet Ryan is my patient. I’m not sure how I can help you, however."
"I don’t know either," Rebecca responded in obvious frustration. "We need a statement from her as to what happened tonight, but she claims she doesn’t remember anything that happened. Is she likely to lie to us?"
"I doubt it," Catherine answered with certainty, "but it would help if you could tell me what the circumstances are."
"A twenty-year old woman was savagely beaten and sexually assaulted around six pm tonight. We found your patient wandering around not far from the site just before seven pm. The rape victim is in a coma, Dr. Rawlings. She’s one of the lucky ones. The first two victims are dead. We need a break--and your client may be that break."
"Surely you’ve had the psychiatrist on call see her?"
Rebecca nodded and consulted her notes. "A Dr. Raymond Bauer."
"I know Ray," Catherine remarked. "What did he say?"
"That it could be traumatic amnesia--shock induced by whatever she may have seen."
Catherine nodded in agreement. "Very possibly."
"Is Janet Ryan a stable person?"
"What do you mean?"
Rebecca was too tired to hide her annoyance. Why did these people insist on answering one question with another one? "I mean, Doctor, is Janet Ryan likely to fake this amnesia thing-- for attention, or a thrill, or to fuck with the police?"
Catherine regarded Rebecca silently for a moment. She would have been irritated if she hadn’t recognized the frustration and fatigue in the woman’s face. This case obviously affected her strongly.
"Janet Ryan is a very reliable young woman, and I would be very surprised if she didn’t do everything in her power to assist you."
Rebecca started to point out that people were capable of all types of subterfuge, given the right motivation, but she was interrupted by the sound of her pager. Grimacing at the intrusion, she flicked it off with her thumb and pointed to the phone.
"Of course," Catherine replied. She watched Rebecca as she dialed, appreciating again the tension that radiated from her body. She had leaned one hip against the edge of the desk and was facing toward the windows, her profile to Catherine. If she was aware of Catherine’s scrutiny, she didn’t show it. Her eyes were fixed on the streets below, but Catherine doubted that she actually saw the life passing outside. She seemed impervious to distractions. Catherine wondered what price that kind of focus and control exacted from the self-contained woman before her.
"Frye here," Rebecca said as the dispatcher picked up. She raised an eyebrow as she listened, "When?--Yes, I’m there now--All right, fifteen minutes." She replaced the receiver and turned to Catherine. "Janet Ryan is asking for you."
Catherine rose quickly. "I’ll go now."
Rebecca reached the door first, pulling it open. "I’ll drive you."
Catherine understood that this was not a request, and lengthened
her stride to match that of the taller woman’s beside her. It was clear that
Rebecca Frye was not used to giving up until she got what she wanted.
Jeffrey Cruz found Rebecca in the patient waiting area on the fifth floor of University Central, feeding nickels into the coffee machine. He banged her lightly on the shoulder as he stepped up beside her.
"Hey, Reb--how’s it hanging?"
She looked at her partner, noting the sallow color of his normally tanned skin, and shrugged tiredly. "Better than yours. You get anything?"
"Not much--same perp--blood type O, semen matches, and he did her up the as--uh, sodomy, just like the first two."
Rebecca took a deep swallow of her coffee, wincing at the cardboard aftertaste. "Yeah, well, the rest of it fits, too. A jogger again, same time of day--early evening, not yet dark. No pattern to the location though--nothing suspicious in the area either. There’s miles of park along the river; we can’t possibly cover it all."
Jeff slumped into the plastic seat beside her, shaking his head. "Something’s funny, Reb. The park is always crowded--kids on bikes, runners, not to mention cops--and nobody sees nothing. Nobody notices anyone just hanging around, or in a hurry to get somewhere--he just comes and goes without a trace." He laughed sourly at his own joke.
Rebecca shook her head, as frustrated as her partner. "There’s a lot of brush along those trails, Jeff. Once he grabs someone, he can just pull them off into the scrub. Then they’re invisible." She had been to her Captain twice since the first assault, pleading for extra patrols to stake out the River Drives. His answer had been the same each time--yes, this was a nasty crime; yes, he cared about catching the son of a bitch; and, no, he couldn’t spare the people to beef up surveillance. They had to do the best they could with what they had, and Rebecca was haunted by the knowledge that it wasn’t enough.
"Well, he’s still got to get out," Jeff observed. "He has to leave on foot, or maybe on a bicycle.
"Maybe somebody did see something--maybe Janet Ryan did."
He sighed deeply and closed his eyes. "Maybe."
"There’s something we’re missing, Jeff, I agree with you," Rebecca mused aloud, not even sure if Jeff was awake. "Serial criminals--rapists, murderers--they follow some pattern. At least a pattern that makes sense to them. We just have to find it."
"You’re probably right," Jeff answered, his eyes still closed. "But whatever it is, it isn’t simple. Different days of the week, no set time interval, no physical resemblance between the victims, and nothing symbolic left behind. Did you get anything out of the shrink?"
"Still waiting. She’s in there with the witness now."
"Who’s the other one?" Jeff asked, craning his neck to see through the small windows in the double doors marked "Hospital Personnel Only". "Blond, early twenties, nice body?"
"The roommate, I think. I haven’t had a chance to talk with her yet." Rebecca didn’t add that she hadn’t had the heart to question the girl earlier. The young woman with Janet Ryan was clearly distraught and probably didn’t know anything anyway. There’d be time enough to talk to her once she’d had a chance to see her girlfriend.
Jeff looked at his watch and groaned. "Shit, it’s almost eleven. Shelley’s gonna have my balls if I don’t get home before midnight again tonight."
Rebecca stood and stretched. "Why don’t you go ahead. I want to see what the shrink gets anyhow. You can write up what we’ve got so far in the morning--deal?"
Jeff grinned happily, all vestiges of fatigue gone. He rose beside her, wishing for the thousandth time that he was as tall as his good looking partner. He didn’t let on that it bothered him that she was half a head taller, but he couldn’t help noticing the admiring glances she got, from men and women. She never seemed to notice, though. Oh, well, his wife thought his body was spectacular, so what the hell. He thumped her affectionately on the arm and sprinted for the elevator.
"I got the best part of this deal!" he called over his shoulder.
Rebecca didn’t doubt it. There was no one waiting for her at
home, and there hadn’t been for a long time. She had forgotten what it felt
like to open her door on anything other than the cold emptiness of her apartment,
and she didn’t want to remember now. She closed her eyes on the thought, adjusting
her long frame into a more comfortable position for the wait ahead of her.
Catherine wearily pushed the doors of the intensive care unit open and stepped out into the quiet corridor. It took her a moment to adjust to the dimness after the bright lights inside, and when she could see again, she noted Rebecca asleep down the hall. Even in repose, she didn’t appear relaxed. Her right hand twitched slightly as it rested against her thigh. Her jacket lay abandoned on the chair beside her, and the silk shirt she wore stretched over the tight muscles of her arms and outlined her firm breasts. Catherine’s pulse quickened as her eyes wandered from Rebecca’s face down the sensuous planes of her body. She smiled slightly at the unbidden response and reminded herself why they were both there.
"Detective," she called gently as she approached.
Rebecca sat up immediately, rubbing her face briskly with both hands. She looked up at the psychiatrist who somehow managed to look fresh despite the hour. Rebecca grinned a little sheepishly, taken off guard by the welcoming softness in Catherine’s eyes.
"Sorry," Rebecca said, "I tend to fall asleep wherever I can."
Catherine laughed. "I know what you mean. When I was a resident, we had a saying—`See a chair, sit in it; see a bed, lie in it; see food, eat it!’"
Rebecca stood, stretching to her full six feet. "I’m sorry," she said, "I have to talk with you. I know it’s late. If there’s someone you need to call—"
"No, there isn’t," Catherine replied. "But I have no intention of saying one more word to you unless I’m fed first. Can you wait that long?"
Rebecca regarded the elegant, composed woman before her, sensing the smile in her voice, and felt suddenly energized.
"I’m on my own time now, anyhow," Rebecca offered. "There’s a diner up the street—"
"Arnie’s? Not at this hour! My digestive system would never survive," Catherine exclaimed in mock horror. "My apartment isn’t far. Could we finish up there? It will just take me a minute to fix something."
Rebecca was momentarily surprised, and then realized she would like nothing better than to have a late dinner with Catherine Rawlings.
"Sounds fine. I can’t take one more burger anyhow."
The address Catherine directed her to was in an old brownstone, recently renovated, in a gentrified part of the city that bordered the sprawling university area. Catherine’s was a large ground floor apartment that opened onto a private rear garden. Rebecca couldn’t see much of the patio through the sliding glass kitchen doors, but the rest of the apartment was decorated in warm earth tones that Rebecca found soothing. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, and Rebecca finally began to unwind. She decided she liked the doctor’s style. She wandered into the large living room and perused the titles on the floor-to-ceiling bookcases that lined one wall. Many of the titles were recent novels and biographies. Rebecca noted several she had been meaning to read but kept putting off. Something usually came up at the station that devoured what little spare time she had. She reminded herself she still had work to do as Catherine came through the archway from the kitchen with a bottle in one hand.
"Glass of wine?" she asked.
"Just seltzer and lime, if you have it," Rebecca replied.
Catherine had changed into a loose white cotton blouse over black brushed silk trousers. Rebecca was suddenly aware of what a beautiful woman she was. Her angular face, framed by wavy, richly highlighted auburn hair and accentuated by prominent cheekbones, was just short of perfect. Her wide-set green eyes and generous mouth bestowed a human quality to her beauty that made her even more attractive. Rebecca found herself really appreciating another woman for the first time in months. She realized she was staring when Catherine’s full lips parted in a soft playful smile.
"No drinking on duty?"
"No drinking for me any time--at least not for the last four years," Rebecca said evenly. Four years, three months, and two days.
Catherine heard the tension in her voice and asked, "Will it bother you if I drink?"
Rebecca smiled then herself. "Most of the world still drinks--and honestly, it rarely bothers me now. It would be harder if you didn’t drink because of me."
"Well, then, come into the dining room so I can feed you," Catherine said.
Rebecca pushed back her chair with a sigh. She had forgotten how pleasant it was to sit down at a table and enjoy a meal. And to enjoy the company of a warm, intelligent woman.
"Thank you," she said, "it was wonderful."
Catherine smiled at her, unaccountably pleased by the compliment. She felt almost rewarded by Rebecca’s pleasure.
"I take it you don’t cook much."
Rebecca shrugged ruefully. "Never did. It’s worse when you live alone. I just don’t think about eating as something to enjoy any more." She stopped, suddenly embarrassed. Christ, Frye, why don’t you tell her all your problems! "At any rate, it was great."
Catherine sensed Rebecca’s discomfort. It was apparent that her charming guest felt awkward discussing herself. Catherine was not surprised. She found people in Rebecca’s line of work reluctant to reveal intimate details and slow to trust. She wasn’t sure if it was the work that made them that way, or if those pre-existing traits were what made them so good at their jobs. It was something that suddenly interested her very much. Rebecca interested her. Catherine wondered what lay beneath that cool, controlled exterior—for she was certain that there were depths to Rebecca that the woman herself was unaware of. She remembered the barely contained rage in Rebecca’s voice when she described the rapist’s last attack and her passionate declaration to stop him. Oh, yes, there was much more to this woman than she revealed to the world.
Catherine knew intuitively that Rebecca would not confide anything easily, and she sensitively changed the subject. "What do you need to know, Detective?" she asked. She poured the last of the wine into her glass and leaned back, waiting.
"Probably more than you can tell me. Does Janet Ryan have any memory for the last eight hours?"
"Not much. She remembers pulling into a drive-off on the River Drive about five forty-five. There was a regatta and she stopped to watch. She left her car and headed toward the water. The next thing she remembers is waking up in the ICU."
Rebecca frowned. "Does she recall any one else around? Anything out of the ordinary?"
"I don’t know. I didn’t specifically ask her. She was pretty disoriented, and frightened. I was trying to establish the extent of her amnesia and get her calmed down."
"Of course," Rebecca said tersely. She couldn’t expect a psychiatrist to think like a cop. She’d planned to interview the girl in the morning anyhow. "Anything else? Anything at all?"
"I’m sorry--her amnesia is total for the time in question."
"And you have no doubt that she’s telling the truth?"
"None at all."
"How long will it last?"
"I don’t know," Catherine said regretfully. "I wish I did."
Rebecca stood up, her jaw set with determination. "I can’t wait for her to remember. The time between attacks is getting shorter. I’ve got to find some other way to get to him." She thanked Catherine absently, her mind already planning her next move.
Catherine watched her as she walked to the door, thinking it would be a long time before Rebecca Frye let herself rest again.
Continue on to Part 2
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