The Survivor: part 4
by lynka

 

Please see part 1 for all disclaimers.


"Are you sure about this, Corey? A Hypnotist? On a Sunday?" Rachel let the questions roll off her tongue as she closed the door to the Explorer outside a small, beige house in a nice subdivision.

"Sheís doing this as a personal favor to me." The tall investigator led them to the office door located on the side of the house.

"Iím kinda nervous." Rachel said looking to her friend for support. She received a gentle squeeze on her shoulder as they walked on in. The office was quite plain in terms of the hoopla that usually accompanied such offices. Only a few chairs, a comfortable-looking, fabric couch and a small desk with the usual file cabinet took up space. The pictures on the walls depicting serene nature scenes of the forest and oceans blended nicely with the earth tone browns and greens of the room. The door that led to the house was open.

"Iíll go get her." Corey whispered as she moved for the door.

"No need to, I heard you drive up. Hard to miss you in that dang truck of yours." A short, rounded woman appeared in the door. Never losing a stride she continued towards the investigator. Her hair was graying, with little of the original color showing. The round, gold trimmed glasses matched her equally round face. Her floral print, short sleeve blouse complemented the forest green skirt well. "Itís been a long time, Corey Van. Whatís the matter? Are you too busy chasing bad guys that you canít stop by once in awhile to say hello or have a cup of tea with an old woman?" When she was within striking range of the investigator, she wrapped her arms around her hugging her tightly.

"Something like that," She managed to get out giving the older woman a smile. After being released from the bear hug she added, "Iíll try and make it a point to stop by more often. Beatrice, this is Rachel Woods. Rachel, Beatrice."

Beatrice offered her hand to the woman. "Rachel, so nice to meet you. How are you?"

"Just fine, thanks for asking." She shook the womanís outstretched hand.

"Weíre working very informal these day, arenít we? I thought FBI agents were supposed to dress up for work." Just a hint of disapproval came across in her tone.

"Sometimes, I just like to rough it." Corey knew what the older woman was getting at. Stonewashed jeans, a white turtleneck and a denim long sleeve shirt wasnít exactly the attire of choice when attending church but then she hadnít stepped foot inside the doors of a place of worship since her childhood.

"So, RachelÖ" The gray-haired woman turned to regard her patient, "are you nervous?"

"I didnít think so." She answered suddenly feeling warm in an otherwise cool room. She wondered why she wore her jeans instead of her chino pants, but she was glad she didnít add a turtleneck like Corey. Instead opting for a light purple, long sleeve shirt, which was rolled up on her forearms. "But now Iím not so sure."

"Come on over here," Beatrice said putting a comforting hand on her back and leading her to the couch. "Iíve only been known to have my clients run around clucking like chickens or quacking like ducks on occasion." She winked at Rachel putting her a little more at ease with the situation. "Here sit down on the couch."

Corey moved to a corner chair out of sight of the young woman. Sensing her worry she reassured Rachel. "Iím right here. I might be out of sight but never out of mind." The older woman could hear the meaning behind the words as she exchanged interesting glances with the investigator.

"Now Rachel, Iím going to explain exactly whatís going to happen. If you have any questions, stop me before I go on, okay?" Rachel nodded her understanding. "All Iím going to do is help you relax. Youíll be in what many say is a deep sleep; completely relaxed. When you are in this stage, your mind canít hold onto the defense mechanisms that prohibit it from recalling certain memories. So, by putting aside the mechanisms, youíll be able to recall details you otherwise think youíve forgotten or might not know at all. Then Iíll bring you back a few days and help you describe the incident in more detail. Any questions?"

"No, I know a lot of the theory behind hypnotism but Iím still a little nervous about actually experiencing it first hand."

"Well then letís get started. Corey will you get the lights?" Without saying a word Corey dimmed the lights then returned to her chair. On her way back she gave the blonde haired woman a wink.

"Rachel sit back or lay down, whichever is most comfortable for you." She waited a minute for the woman to make herself a little more comfortable. In a steady, monotone voice she started, "Sit back and watch the end of this pen. Focus all your energy on it. Fill your lungs with your breath and let it out slowlyÖ"

Within minutes Rachel was sitting with her hands in her lap, breathing slow and deep. She was completely relaxed and under Beatriceís skilled guidance. "Rachel, letís go back to the night you were taken against your will. Remember youíre safe and no one canít hurt you here." She paused. "Can you describe the area where you woke up?"

"A rock formation was off in the distance. I canít remember anything special about it because it was dark and the rocks were mostly just a silhouette."

"Can you see anything else?"

"Just the fire."

"Okay, Rachel. Concentrate on the woman you saw when you woke up. What was she wearing?"

"Jeans, faded type with holes in the knees. You know, the kind they put there on purpose. And a black tee shirt, nothing on it just plain. She was wearing boots."

"What kind of boots?"

"Black work boots with laces."

"Did she have any jewelry on?"

"No."

"Any other marks or features besides the tattoo?"

"A scar. She had a scar by her right eye. Itís kind of small but runs down her cheek a bit."

"Can you remember when she spoke to you? Do you remember her voice?"

"Yes. She had a slight accent from somewhere but I donít know where. Almost Southern, maybe Texan."

"Youíre doing good, Rachel." Beatrice looked down at the notes Corey had given her. "Now think forward to when you were running. Can you describe the area? Any rocks or landmarks that stick out?"

"There werenít any trees. The rocks were large boulders. Thereís nothing else. Nothing."

"Thatís okay. Now weíre going to talk about when you got to the road. You just reached the road. What happened next?"

"I stopped to catch my breath. There werenít any cars on the road at first. Then two passed by on the opposite side of the road. I couldnít flag them down fast enough and they were gone. I started to walk. I didnít get far when another car came past but it didnít stop either." Beatrice slowly shook her head. She couldnít believe that someone would just drive past a person who obviously needed help. The doctorís eyes met the cool blue ones of the woman sitting in the corner. She knew that look all too well as the stone cold blue showed through. "Then a white car came past. I didnít think it was going to stop but it did. It was her. It was Johna!"

Corey jumped to her feet scribbling a note then handing it to Bea who read it. "Rachel, do you remember Johnaís last name."

"No, I donít think she ever told me." Bea could see a noticeable shiver run over her patient.

"Relax, RachelÖSheís not hereÖYouíre safeÖYou said you saw the car as it passed you. Describe it for me."

"It was a mid-size car. It looked kind of fancy but not really, not like a Lexus or anything but not a family car either. It was a sporty model."

"Any dents or marks on it?"

"No," she paused, "yes!" another pause, "I remember looking at the driverís side. In the front was a long, thin dent about 6 inches. It was blue. And a taillight was out. I think on the same side."

"What about the license plate, Rachel? What do you see when you look at the license plate?"

"The license plate was red. I see a ĎFí or maybe a ĎPí and the numbers 473."

"Look closely, Rachel. See the license plate again. What do you see?"

"I see the numbers 473 for sure. The rest of the plate is dirty."

"Rachel, as you look around for a way to escape, what do you see?"

"A bridge. Thereís a bridge but itís too far."

"Is there any signs on the road?"

"Sycamore Creek."

"Now, I want you to think about the truck. Can you see the truck?"

"Yes."

"Describe it to me."

"It was one of those big ones. I canít tell what color is. All I see are the headlights."

"Is that all you can see?"

"YesÖthat was when I stepped out in front of it."

Beatrice waited a moment for Corey to finish her notes before she mouthed, "Anything else?" Corey shook her head holding up a piece of paper that read, "Ask about the truck driver."

"Rachel, can you see the truck driver?"

"No. All I remember are the sounds of the brakes."

"Thatís okay. I want you to stay relaxedÖBreathe deeplyÖIím going to wake you up now. Youíll feel refreshed and relaxed." The doctor clapped her hands together and watched the blonde lashes flutter open. Beatrice patted the young woman on her knee. "You did just fine, Rachel. I just wish all my patients were like you."

"Thank you." She replied with a large smile on her face. She turned her attention to the pensive investigator in the corner. "Learn anything?"

"OhÖYeah. You remembered quite a bit. How about we stay in town tonight? Iíll need to run by the office. You can either come with me or stay at the condo."

"Iíd rather stay with you."

Beatrice watched the exchange between the two women with growing interest. "Aunt Bea, you really came through for me again. Thanks."

"Aunt Bea!" Rachel stammered hitting Corey on the arm. "Sheís youíre Aunt?"

"Oh yeah. I guess I should have mentioned that."

"Donít worry, child. She forgets to mention that a lot. And Corey Van wait Ďtil you get my bill."

Laughing Corey shook her head. "I canít wait. Iíll call you soon." Corey gave Beatrice a quick hug and headed for the door with Rachel.

"Iíll walk you out, dear."

The three women walked to Coreyís truck. Rachel said her goodbye to the older woman then hopped into the truck. Corey turned to face her Aunt. "Yes?" She raised a brow in question.

"I just wanted to let you know that Iím happy for you." She said in a hushed tone squeezing the investigatorís arm.

"Aunt Bea, itís not like that. We just met."

"I can see it in your eyes, Corey. I can see it in her eyes. Please be careful. This is a very dangerous person youíre dealing with."

"I will. I promise. Iíll call you soon." Corey opened the door and stepped into the Explorer. Beatrice waved as they pulled out of the driveway.

"Sheís really nice, Corey." Rachel said as they pulled out of sight.

"Yes, she is. Sheís helped me out on more than one case."

"Did I remember much?"

"YeahÖyou remembered her first name. You were full of information. You remembered a scar on her face that will help with the identification. You were also able to focus in on a partial license plate number. Once I get some information back, I would like you to take a look at the rear ends of some cars to see if you can recognize any of them. You also remembered crossing a creek. Itíll give us a place to start looking as soon as I can find it. And you remembered a bit about the truck. Feel up to stopping at the office after a bit of lunch?"

"A name." Rachel finally got out, not really hearing the rest the investigator said after that.

Corey could see the visible anxiety of the woman next to her. She pulled into a parking lot and stopped the truck. "HeyÖ" she reached for Rachelís hand. "Iím sorry, Iím not always the most tactful person in the world."

"Whatís her name?" Rachel wanted to know

"Johna"

Rachel turned her head looking out of the passenger side window. "Thatís an unusual name. Why wouldnít I remember that?"

Corey shrugged searching for an answer. "Maybe you're forgetting what all you went through up in the mountains. Itís been my experience that when someone goes through that much they very rarely ever remember anything. You have been exceptional. You remember more then I could of ever hoped for." She gave the smaller hand a squeeze.

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Corey was still fuming over the ineptness of the DMV to complete a simple task in less time then it would take her to catch a killer when she realized that she missed what was said to her. "Iím sorry. What did you say?"

"I asked if we could stop by my apartment on the way to your place so I can pick up some things?" Rachel knew the answer before ever asking her question but decided to give it a try anyway.

Pausing for a moment before replying, Corey shook her head. "Iím sorry. I still think itís way too dangerous. Iíll tell you what though. If you make a list of what you need, Iíll see to it that someone picks them up for you tomorrow. Deal?"

Rachelís smile broadened. "Deal!" She said nodding.

"Letís grab some dinner."

Night had fallen in the city as the two women headed down the walk from the parking lot. It was a small place, only about two dozen condos. Each had a different front. Rachel assumed it was so everybody would feel like they lived in a different dwelling instead of one long apartment like complex. She also assumed all the condos had the same floor plan. The only difference being the way each personalized it by their own choices in furniture and decorations. Corey opened the door to the condo second from the last for Rachel to step inside first. Closing the door she leaned back against it, closed her eyes and took a long, slow breath until she felt a warm body lean against her and a soft voice asking, "You okay?"

Corey opened her eyes, "Yeah. I was just thinking how nice it was not to have to walk in here alone." She sighed, wrapping her arms around the blonde woman. Corey finally relinquished her hold on the smaller woman but not before giving her a soft, gentle kiss on the forehead.

"Iím going to go jump in the shower." The tall woman said heading toward the bedroom.

"YouÖahÖneed any help?" Rachel raised her eyebrows waiting for an answer.

Corey stopped in her tracks, turned and walked back over to where she left Rachel. She bent her head down and kissed her passionately. "Does that answer your question?" She husked.

Rachel tried to focus. "Yeah." She mumbled as the temperature of her body rose to a slow boil. Corey smiled as she took Rachelís hand and led her into the bedroom. "Here, let me do that." Corey gladly took over the slow unbuttoning of the purple blouse that stood between her and the flesh she wanted to touch. As the last button came open she pulled Rachel to her, kissing her neck as the shirt was removed then the braís clasp was twisted in the front. Corey watched the cups fall apart, her eyes darkening as her own passions began to rise. She licked her lips unconsciously as the nipples hardened under her stare. She didnít remember how or when her clothes ended up in the pile on the floor only that they had. The water was warm flowing over them as they slowly washed each other. Not forgetting any area. Some areas even got washed more then once. Finally Coreyís passions took over and she pressed the smaller woman to the warm shower wall all the while kissing her neck as her hands roamed over the soft skin only to settle between the blonde headed womanís legs where she gently but firmly rubbed the already swollen nub. Rachel groaned as she searched for Coreyís mouth. She wanted nothing more then to cover her lips with her lover's. Willing lips met hers and she moaned at the contact of Coreyís tongue touching her own. That was all it took and Rachel was holding on for dear life as her world spun for an endless moment before finally going limp. She was grateful of the strength Corey possessed to hold her up. If not she just knew she would melt and slide right on down the drain.

"Hey," Corey cooed in one ear, "you okay?" It amazed her how responsive the younger woman was to her touch. HellÖ it amazed her how responsive she was to Rachelís touch. Never before has she ever felt like this.

"Yeah." Rachel breathed still trying to catch her breath. However she was easing up on the strangle hold she had on Corey.

"Good," Corey smiled as she rubbed Rachelís cheek. "letís get outta here before the water turns cold." She opened the shower door after turning the water off and helped the smaller woman step over the edge.

"OhhÖ" Rachel said stopping just outside the shower. "My legs still arenít under me."

"Take your time." Corey said still holding onto her waist. "Iíve got you."

Taking a long slow deep breath Rachel backed up into the arms that held her "I know." She whispered. A moment later, reluctant to move butÖ"Iím okay now." She moved a step forward glad her legs finally decided to obey.

Corey reached for the two towels that hung near by on the hooks only to have them taken from her. Rachel hung one of them back up then led the investigator into the bedroom. Turning her around so the back of her legs touched the bed. "NowÖ" Rachel licked the chest in front of her "It's my turn. Iím going to lick you dry." She demonstrated by licking around the breast in front of her. "Then," lickÖ.lickÖ. "Iím going to make love to you." lickÖlickÖ

Corey just groaned.

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Rachel stretched her hand across the sheets expecting to feel the soft skin of her newfound lover, but instead all her hand found was the cotton material. She craned her neck so she could peer over the pillow. The clockís large, bright digits beamed boldly across the empty bed, almost laughing at her Ė Eleven a.m. gods, no wonder she left me here. Rachel dragged herself out of bed throwing on the deep purple robe Corey left at the foot of the bed for her.

Rachel staggered down the hall tousling her fingers through her hair in a vain attempt to create some order to her sleep trodden hair. She made her way to the kitchen where the bright yellow paper sticking to the black coffee maker begged to be noticed. Rachel smiled as she read the note:

 

Morning Sleepy Head,
Didnít have the heart to wake you. You looked so peaceful.
Coffee is ready to go, just turn it on.
Will call early afternoon.
Got your list and will take care of it.
-C

 

She put the note down on the counter then flipped the switch to the 'on' position. Satisfied that the gurgling noise meant that the machine was brewing a cup of her favorite morning beverage, Rachel headed for the shower.

She found shorts and a t-shirt stacked neatly on top of the wood shelf in the bathroom next to the large, soft, plush towel she wrapped around her wet body. The loud ring of the telephone startled her as she was patting her hair dry. She walked to the phone hesitating slightly before picking up the receiver. "Hello."

"Hey, it's me," Corey said. "I was just starting to worry about you."

"I wasnít sure I should answer it."

"Didnít you get my note?"

"Yes, but you said you would call in the afternoon and itís only 11:30. I wasnít expecting your call just now."

"Sorry. Couldnít wait any longer." Coreyís voice softened "I wanted to hear your voice. How late did you sleep, anyway?"

"I donít suppose you would believe me if I told you I got up right after you left, would you?"

Corey chuckled. "No I wouldnít. Donít forget Iím a professional investigator. Not much gets by me." She joked with the blonde woman.

"Oh well, it was worth a try. Howís eleven sound?"

"Yep sounds right. Did you find everything all right?" She questioned.

"Yeah, in fact I just got out of the shower. Parts of me are still wet."

"Do I get to guess which parts?" Corey asked mischievously.

"If you come home now, Iíll show you which parts," Rachel responded sitting down on the bed.

"I would love nothing better but Iíve got work to do. Found the matches on the license plate partial you remembered. Thereís only about a hundred or so of them. I have a team working on it now. Oh yeah, I have Karen and Mike over at your place right now getting what you wanted."

Karen. Should I know a Karen? Oh right, the rookie or as she likes to be called, Ďthe intern investigator.í "Thanks. By the way, the coffee was a nice touch. What time do you think youíll be home?" Home? Did I really say that?

"HmmÖ I donít know. Somewhere between six and seven I guess. "Home? That certainly has a strange ring to it. No one ever cared what time I did anything before, not evenÖ "Why?" Curiosity finally got the better of her and she had to ask.

"I just thought I would fix us some dinner. If thatís okay with you?" Suddenly she wasnít sure.

"Yeah, that sounds great. Iíll bring dessert. What do you like?"

"Donít care, you choose." She liked anything sweet but was still trying to find out what Corey liked.

"HmmÖ that opens a world of possibilities." Corey laughed picturing herself with her nose pressed up against the window at the French pastry store near the condo. She shook off the childish daydream. "Tell you what, Iíll be home at six. Okay?"

"See you then. Donít be late or youíll miss my dessert."

"Wouldnít dream of it. Remember, donít go out and donít answer the door."

"Gotcha."

"Iím serious, Rachel."

"I know you are. I promise."

"Good. Iíll see you later."

ĎTill then." Rachel pressed the disconnect button on the phone. Every time I think about her my knees go weak. And when I talk to her I stumble over words like a child. And when I touch herÖ Rachel shook her head. I donít think I want to go there. At least not now.

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"Oh stop grumbling," Karen told the older man with her. "Corey said to do this so weíre going to." She finished as they pulled the blue Ford Taurus into the apartment parking lot. "Letís seeÖ219." She said looking around at the signs. It was a small complex on 34th Street and McDowell consisting of two rows of apartments facing each other and a smaller row in the back creating a horseshoe design. "Here it is." She pointed to the '219' painted on the parking spot. She parked then stepped out of the car.

She was tall, almost as tall as Corey with short, dark hair and dark brown eyes. While still at the academy, she managed to catch the eye of Special Agent Van who was on a consulting trip at the time. After graduation she was assigned to the Phoenix office per their request. She considered Corey her mentor and attempted to emulate the older womanís style. Karenís movements were fluid as she approached the stairs.

In sharp contrast to Karen was Mike. He was a young twenty-one when he entered the academy after his discharge from the army. Now pushing sixty-two his thoughts were on his retirement in six months and moving out of the hot desert climate to a cooler, more comfortable one. Shorter than his partner, his once thick, black hair showed only a hint of the color through the gray that had taken over. His wifeís cooking and his lack of ambition to exercise showed on his waist. He had to climb out of the car and straighten out his trousers before following his younger partner towards the stairs.

"How about you go get the princessí things and Iíll stand guard here." He said sarcastically. "Wouldnít want anyone to sneak up on us, now would we?"

Karen shook her head almost pathetically. She didnít understand Mikeís attitude most of the time but she chalked that up to their difference in years. She headed off to the managerís office to pick up the key. As she passed the older agent on the stairs she whispered, "Now, remember. Youíre not allowed to move, smile or anything. Youíre guarding the palace."

"Ha. Ha."

Karen slowly opened the door to the apartment. God. And I thought I was a messy housekeeper. She stepped just inside the door surveying the room. Things were thrown about, the couch cushions were torn on the floor, and pictures were either broken or cut. Suddenly Karenís heart started pounding a little faster and that familiar feeling appeared in her gut. Karen stepped back out of the door and called to her reluctant partner, "Mike, I think you better get up here and take a look at this."

"Jesus, woman. Canít you just get the girlís stuff?" He huffed as he climbed the stairs.

"Just look." Karen pointed to the scene inside the doorway.

"Holy shit!" He gasped. "I wonder if Corey knows what sheís gotten into here? Iíll call it in." He started towards the phone resting on a small table.

"What are you doing? Donít touch that!" She yelled when his hand was only an inch or so from the receiver. He froze. His eyes went from his partner back to the phone and pulled back. "All right. Why donít we go back to the car and call it in?"

"You go ahead and call it in on the radio. Iím going to start looking around. Bring the gloves back up with you so we can move some of this stuff."

"Look. I really think we should just back out and wait Ďtil help arrives."

"Help, for what? Whoever did this is long gone. You go ahead and Iíll look around."

"Fine. Just be careful."

"Patch me through to Corey Van." Mike told the dispatcher. He leaned on the edge of the open door while he waited for Corey to pick up. "Corey, Mike here. Weíre at the apartment. Itís been trashed."

"Trashed?" Corey took in a breath.

"Yea, trashed. Looks like someone went through everything. Cut up pictures, the couchÖ"

"Okay, donít touch anything. Iím on my way and Iíll bringÖ"

"Jesus Christ!"

"Mike? Mike, whatís going on?"

Mike tossed the radio on the seat and ran up the stairs mentally cursing himself for not staying in better shape. At the top of the stairs he drew his gun while catching his breath for a moment. He approached the door apprehensively. "Karen?" He called out in a normal manner, listening for any response or noise. He stepped into the apartment slowly making his way across the living room each step a deliberate movement. His eyes glanced quickly inside the bathroom door on the left as he approached. He could hear movements coming from the bedroom just to his right. He turned to face the half-closed bedroom door when suddenly a sharp pain invaded his lower back. His gun hit the floor at the same time his body slumped against the wall and he could feel the warm fluid slide down his back just before he lost consciousness.

"Come on. Come on." Corey tapped her thigh as the car made its way through the rush hour traffic with lights flashing and sirens blaring. The downtown office wasnít that far away but at this time of the day it might as well have been on the other side of the city.

"Almost there." The captain said as he made a right hand turn on McDowell Road. He could see the flashing of lights coming from the area to the left.

"Over there." Corey pointed to the car that still had the passenger side door standing open and the Phoenix police cruiser behind it. Another cruiser must have pulled in just before them as she could see another officer getting out of his car, drawing his weapon and moving to the first officer. Before the car had completely stopped, Corey jumped out drawing her weapon with the captain only two steps behind her. Two more squad cars joined the crowd as Corey and the Captain reached the officers.

"Anybody up there?"

"No maíam. I arrived and waited for backup before proceeding. He just arrived."

"Okay. You two take that staircase to the left. Weíll take this one." Corey led the way taking two steps at a time as she climbed the stairwell.

"Wait for the old man, Corey."

"John, stay here until itís clear, okay?"

"Excuse me, Agent Van?" The captain answered in an authoritative tone.

"John." Corey looked at her boss and friend with concern. Reluctantly, he nodded his head motioning for one of the officers to take his place behind Corey.

Corey motioned to the officer on the opposite side of the door that she would cross high and he was to cross low. She gave a quick nod then quickly stepped into position in the doorway then clearing the doorway so the other officers could fan the room. The three officers and Corey moved across the living room methodically until they reached the hallway. Corey was the in the far right position getting ready to move down the hallway when the look on the front manís face told her she wasnít going to like what she saw.

She moved so she could survey the hallway. As Corey stared at the slumped figure of the agent, she tightened her grip on her gun. She led the way moving cautiously down the hall. Stepping over the motionless body, she proceeded to the closed door on the left at the end of the hall. When the two officers joined her by the door, Corey took a deep breath then kicked the door open. After fanning the room with her gun and finding nothing moving, the cold, blue eyes of the tall agent settled on the body lying in a pool of blood on the bed. It was Karen. Corey couldnít swallow the lump in her throat; resting in the center of the rookie agentís chest was a small, gold band.

The officers double-checked the nooks and crannies of the bedroom opening every closet door and checking every hidden space while the agent stood quietly staring at the young woman who placed so much faith in her ability to survive any situation. "Itís all clear Agent Van." The Sergeant announced then waited for further instructions.

"Call in the forensic team. I donít want anything else touched." Then she added, "Iíll be waiting outside." She passed the Captain in the hall as long legs took her toward the door of the apartment. Anger slowly built in the agent until it exploded as she slammed the door open then sent her fist into it as itís spring bounced it back into her. "God damn it!" She yelled at no one in particular although every person within earshot turned to look at her as if the statement was meant directly for them. No matter how many crime scenes sheíd seen, it never got any easier. And this oneÖ This one she was responsible for. I sent them into this. I should have known sheíd be here. Why the hell didnít they back out when they first saw the scene? Jesus, Mike, what the hell happened in there? How could you let this happen to her? How could I have let this happened? I underestimated you, Johna, but it wonít happen again.

Corey leaned on the railing looking over the parking lot as the lights started to cut through the darkness settling over the city. She felt a hand on her shoulder. "Why couldnít they have been more careful, John?"

"Iím not sure weíll ever find out exactly what happened in there, Corey. We canít find Mike or Karenís gun, badge or I.D. We have to assume she has them. She also now knows for sure that weíre involved. Did you notice the gold band on Karenís chest?"

"Yeah. She wants us to know it was her and not some random act. So she left her calling card." The tall woman commented.

"But, itís clear she was after Ms. Woods, Corey and sheís still loose out there somewhere."

"Rachel!" Her thoughts immediately thought of the young woman waiting for her to come home with a sweet dessert in her hands. She glanced at her watch that beamed 7:30 at her, "John, I told her Iíd been home by now."

"Take the car. Make sure sheís all right." He tossed her the keys. "Iíll finish up here," John offered.

"Iíll call you. Thanks, John." Corey reached for her slim Nokia cell phone then dialed her number.

"Hello?" Came a hesitant voice.

"Rachel, itís me. Sorry Iím lateÖ Something came up." She finally managed to get out. She started the car and headed out into traffic.

"Are you okay? You sound, different." She couldnít think of another word that would describe the eerie feeling she was getting in her stomach.

ĎYeah, Iím all right. Iíll explain when I get home. But in the mean time, I need you to promise me you wonít answer the door for anyone but me. Okay?" Her voice took on a more serious tone.

"Okay." The voice on the other side agreed.

"NoÖ Rachel this is serious. Promise me!" Corey insisted.

Surprised at the forcefulness of Coreyís voice Rachel said reassuringly, "I promise."

"Good. Now stay on the line with me. Iím about fifteen minutes away." Her blue eyes darted constantly at the rearview mirror memorizing the cars in back of her, looking for any one of them that stayed with her as she took a long way home. "Sorry about dinner."

"Iím not sure that dinner is exactly the worst of whatís happening. Whatís going on?" Rachel asked nervously.

"Not on the phone. Iíll be home soon and I promise Iíll explain everything then." The investigator insisted.

"Itís got something to do with me doesnít it?" The blonde persisted.

Defeated Corey just said, "Yeah."

"Iím keeping dinner for you." Rachel tried to change the subject as the feeling in her stomach took a turn for the worse.

"Thanks," Corey said. Convinced that no one had followed her, she pulled into the parking lot of the condo. "Okay, Iím in the parking lot. Iíll be in a minute." Hanging up she stood in the parking lot scanning for anything unusual, anything she thought was out of the ordinary. Finally, feeling a sense of relief, she went to the condoís walkway.

When she arrived at her door, she put her key into the lock but was prevented from opening it by the chain lock. "Rachel!" She called. "Itís me."

Rachel jumped to her feet still holding the phone in her hand. It was odd but even after Corey hung up she felt a certain comfort in holding it. She opened the door and fell into the waiting arms that tightened around her immediately. Closing the door with her foot Corey comfortably said, "Thanks, I needed that."

Corey told her the whole story. Then put her arms around the woman looking at her for answers she added "It's okayÖ Iím here now and Iím not leaving you alone again until this is all over."

"Promise?" Rachel asked knowing that word meant something to her companion.

The taller woman simply whispered into her ear. "Promise."

"IÖIÖfeel so responsible." Rachel said as she looked up at the woman holding her through tearing eyes.

Both brows raised. "YouÖWhy?"

"Donít you seeÖif I didnít want my things two people would be aliveÖTwo people going home to their families, their husbands, wives, ohhÖchildren." She started to cry.

"Hey," Corey said lifting her chin, "this is not your fault."

"Then whose fault is it.?" She asked sniffing.

"If anyoneísÖmine." The taller woman took a long deep breath releasing Rachel.

"Oh noÖnoÖnoÖnoÖ" the smaller woman said cupping both of Coreyís cheeks making her look at her, "none of this is your fault."

"You donít understand. I told them to go. I was running late and didnít think I had time because I wanted to get back here to you." Corey confessed looking away from the green orbs that kept a steady gaze on her.

"Did you think this would happen?" The blonde questioned.

"Of course not." Countered Corey.

"Did you tell them to be careful?"

A nod of the head she still held in her hands. "Then how are you to blame?"

"I just feel totally responsible. Karenís career was just beginning and MikeÖwell he was going to retire in a few months and he and his wife were going to move to Florida. Thatís all he ever talked about." A long sigh followed.

"Would you feel better if you talked to their families?"

"I donít know." She said extending her arms as Rachel more then willingly fell into them. "Didnít you say something about dinner?" Corey tried to change the subject.

"Yeah, it will only take a few minutes. How about you go get comfortable and Iíll get it heated up."

The shower felt good. Corey thought she understood now how Rachel had felt that first night. Wanting to wash off all that had happened to her.

They both poked at their dinner. Each lost in their thoughts. They just sat for some time until Rachel finally stood and began removing the now cold plates. "Guess neither of us was very hungry."

"Iím sorry," Corey said looking at her lover. "what I did eat was good though. Thanks"

"Come on. Letís go sit in the living room and Iíll make us some hot chocolate for desert."

Looking up at the beautiful woman standing before her Corey said. "Sorry, I forgot."

Smiling Rachel jumped to her feet. "No problemÖ.Weíll improvise"

Cory stood and engulfed Rachel in a long, tight hug. Pulling back just far enough for her to look into the green orbs she was becoming used to seeing she lowered her lips to the waiting pair below her. The contact went way past the point it was intended to be. Breathlessly they pulled apart sensing a need in both of them Cory led her lover to the bedroom.

At a snails pace they undressed each other kissing, nibbling and sucking on every inch of exposed flesh. "This feels soÖ" Rachel started to say but Cory finished the sentence, "right." She picked up the smaller woman and laid her down on the bed. Covering the smaller woman with her own body Cory balanced herself on her elbows so she wouldnít crush her. She laid herself between the blonde's willingly parted legs. She sucked on an earlobe, something she found to be quite a sensitive area on the younger woman. Quickly moving to her neck sucking and kissing every inch she could find. Her thumbs slowly moved back and forth over the taut nipples. Rachel reached up and cupped the investigator's breasts. Kneading them which elicited a series of moans from her lover.

Rachel whispered into a nearby ear. "Come over me."

At the first touch Cory moaned falling forward to a waiting Rachel. Tonight wasnít about loving each other; it was about need and both women understood that.

Cory backed off slightly waiting for her own body to catch up. She wanted them to come together. Her thighs began to shake and she dived into the blonde once more. She felt the impending climax of her lover as her thighs tightened together. A muffled scream by the woman below her brought about her own need to climax. Finally collapsing on her lover Cory waited until she was able to suck in a breath and she turned around grabbing the woman who had just made love to her and kissing her. The kiss was quickly turning into passion. "I canít seem to get enough of you." Cory whispered.

Breathing deeply Cory moved off her lover to curl up on her side. She pulled the smaller woman into her, feeling her breathing calm. "IÖah." Cory tried to speak.

Rachel rubbed her cheek. "Sleep my love." Was all she said. Cory closed her eyes and welcomed the night.

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Part 5

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