Vendetta

by Talaran

Part 2

Copyright © 2000 by Talaran

(www.talaransrealm.com)

 

Disclaimers: This is my first attempt at fan fiction. It is Uber fiction and it is set in the current time in the fictional city of Larson (think similar to Boston, but a little smaller scale.)

This story depicts a loving between two adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.


Part 2

A perky waitress, dressed in black pants and a white polo shirt, sporting ĎThe Broadway Cafťí logo in bright red, delivered the lunch orders. Nic got her usual bacon cheeseburger and fries, while Carly opted for two chilidogs. "More to drink?" she inquired.

"Yes, please," they answered in unison. The waitress smiled, placed the ketchup and mustard on the table and returned to the kitchen.

Carly immediately took a bite of her dog, relishing the taste. "This is pretty good," she said between chews. "Do you come here often?"

Nic nodded her head as she took a bite of her burger. "Yeah, I like this place. I usually stop by here a couple of times a week."

The waitress returned with their refills. "How is everything, ladies?"

"Very good, thank you," Nic replied, while Carly nodded, too busy with her food for a verbal response.

Carly watched Nic as she devoured her cheeseburger. She noticed the slight bags under her vibrant blue eyes. This morning, when Nic had looked her in the eyes she felt like she was falling. Falling into an endless blue heaven. Nicís eyes had captivated her and she could have stared into them for the rest of the day, hell the rest of her life. Wait a minute. Where did that come from, Carly thought. She shook her head a little to clear her thoughts.

"Whatís the matter?"

"Huh?" Carly realized those blue eyes were boring right into her. "Iím sorry, what did you say?"

Nic gave her a worried look, "I just saw you shaking your head and I asked you what was wrong?"

Carly let out a little giggle, "Oh, nothingÖnothing is wrong. I guess I was just lost in thought, for a second." Way to go, Carly. Now youíre daydreaming about someone you met less than four hours ago. God, I must be tired, Iím really losing it, she thought.

Nic eyed the young woman suspiciously. What was she thinking about, Nic wondered? She shook the thought away. She had enough things to worry about.

*************************

Victor Marcone sat in the library of his Cedar Hills estate sipping his second cup of espresso while he surveyed the morning paper. The headline of the Larson Herald read ĎCop Shot, No Suspectsí. Victor smiled. He was dressed in his usual attire, a three piece Armani suit, this one a navy pinstripe. His morning routine seldom varied. Each and every day he awoke around ten, did one hundred pushups followed by one hundred sit-ups, showered, shaved and was served his breakfast in the library by eleven. Today, however, his routine had varied because in the early morning hours his only nephew had been seriously injured and was now hospitalized. This was very disturbing to Victor. He had promised his sister Theresa on her deathbed that he would look after the boy and now he felt that he had failed her. All because of a pair of overzealous cops and their two-bit snitch. So this morning Victor dispensed with his calisthenics and having little appetite, skipped breakfast as well.

In the middle of the night, when he had received word about foul up at the warehouse he vowed on his sisterís soul that he would get those responsible. That plan was all ready under way and he was now awaiting the arrival of the two men in charge of carrying out his orders. Victor sipped the last drops of espresso and set the porcelain cup down on its saucer. He folded the newspaper neatly and removed a cigar from the humidor. He answered the knock at the door with a gruff, "Come in."

Frank Torelli, a tall, well-built man of forty-five entered the library and took a position by the door allowing Sal and Leo to enter the room. Sal was sweating profusely. Getting called to the Marcone mansion meant you screwed up and Sal knew what happened to people who screwed up. Leo, too stupid to know any better, was marveling at the splendor surrounding them. Leo had never seen so much Mahogany and marble. Frank, Victorís right hand man, closed the library doors behind them. For a moment Victor said nothing. He simply puffed his Cuban cigar and stared at the odd duo. When he spoke Sal almost jumped out of his skin.

"Do one of you boys want to tell me what the hell went wrong this morning?"

Sal patted at his sweaty brow with a handkerchief. Frank had told them in the car that the cop they whacked this morning was alive and at St. Peterís hospital. Sal knew he should have made Leo check the body and now he mentally cursed himself for the mistake. "Iím sorry boss. We popped him twice, but we screwed up. We should have checked him before we left."

Victor mulled over Salís response. Sal had been in the organization for the past three years and he knew the type of answer Victor wanted. He liked it when people took responsibility for their actions, good or bad. Sal wasnít blaming anyone else for his mistake and that alone saved his life. "Youíre right, Sally," Victor puffed on his cigar, a cloud of white smoke encompassing him. "You should have checked the body." Victor walked over and stood eye to eye with Sal. He patted the manís chubby cheek. "This time Iím gonna give you a break." Sal listened intently, too nervous to move. Leo stood silently by his side. "Nobody hurts a member of my family and gets away with it. So you take care of the situation that you screwed up and you complete the rest of the job by tonight. If you donít, then you better find a hole and crawl inside it because if my boys find you, your lives will reach an abrupt conclusion!"

***********************

Carly sat on the passenger side of the Xterra and admired the view. They were on route to Nicís house in the suburbs. Carly was a little surprised to find out that Nic lived in the burbs. For some reason she expected her to have a loft or something. Apparently Nic was full of surprises. They drove through neighborhoods with several beautiful homes, all with impeccably groomed yards and long driveways leading to two or three car garages. When the occasional car was in the driveway, it was usually a Mercedes, a BMW, or a Lexus. After their satisfying lunch Carly was too happy to sit back and enjoy the ride. Nic had some mellow jazz playing on the CD player, the smooth sounds almost lulling Carly to sleep.

Nic looked over at her companion whose eyes were now starting to droop. She turned the corner onto Kingston Drive. A few seconds later the Xterra was pulling into her driveway. Carlyís eyes fluttered a little as she took in the house and its surrounding yard. The house was a two-story brick with a deck at the rear. White birch trees flanked the back of the yard. Small shrubs and landscaping foliage surrounded the base of the house. A two-car garage sat about fifty feet behind and to the right of the house.

Carly opened her door and jumped out of the car. "Nic, this is your house?"

"Yeah, what do you think?" Nic went to the back of the car to grab Carlyís luggage.

"What do I think? I think this place is awesome!" Carly actually hated that word, but at this moment it was the only one that came to mind. She twirled around and took it all in.

"Yoo hoo, Nicole."

Nic turned around to see Marcy Bartlett strolling up her driveway, waving her gloved hand in the air. Her high heels clicked on the driveway as she approached. If you wanted to know what was transpiring in the neighborhood, Marcy was the one to talk to. "Hi Marcy, what can I do for you?" Nic reached up and closed the back of the car.

"I left a message at the station for you. Did you get it?"

"Yes, I did and I was going to come over and see you in just a few minutes." Nic forced a smile.

"Well I just got back from my lunch appointment and I saw you here in the driveway, so I thought I would just pop over for a second," Marcy said.

Carly came over and stood next to Nic. She smiled at Marcy, who eyed her thoroughly. "Arenít you going to introduce your friend, Nicole."

The dark haired woman rolled her eyes, "Marcy, this is Carly. Carly, Marcy." She gestured as she introduced them.

"Nice to meet you," Carly said.

"Likewise dear. Are you a police officer, too?" Marcy inquired, lifting her eyebrows at the petite blond.

"Oh no. Iím a photographer. My brother is Nicís partner. He was shot last night." Carly all ready disliked this woman. She seemed to be horribly nosy.

Marcy gave a startled gasp. "Oh my! Is he all right." Her eyes darted to Nic. "I had no idea. Was that the shooting they had on the front page of the paper this morning?" She patted her chest rapidly. "Oh my!"

Nicís voice was edged with tension. "Yes, Marcy that was the shooting and yes, my partner will recover. Now I donít mean to be rude, but we are going to have to go back to the hospital soon, soÖ"

Before she could finish Marcy spoke. "Iím sorry. I had no idea you were in such a rush." She straightened the cuffs of her London Fog trench coat. A smirk crossed her lips. "Anyway, there was a rather suspicious car parked across the street this morning. I noticed it when I was waiting for my cab." She pursed her lips, waiting for Nic to ask the obvious question.

"What did the car look like?" Nic asked.

"WellÖit was a dilapidated blue," she brought her forefinger to her lips and looked to the sky in thought. "Ford." She reached into her purse and extracted a piece of paper, which she handed Nic. "Here, I wrote down the license plate number. There were two men in the car, at least that was all I saw."

Nic eyed it and slipped it into her jacket. "Thanks Marcy. Iíll run it through the DMV and see what I get. Did they look like they were casing the area?"

"They were only here for a few moments. I couldnít really tell what they were looking at. As soon as they saw me looking at them they drove off."

"Well, thanks. Iíll let you know what I find out." Nic picked up Carlyís suitcase just as Carly started reaching for it. Carly pulled her hand back and picked up her backpack, instead.

"All right then. I guess Iíll let you two get inside." She looked at Carly, "It was nice meeting you."

"Yes, you too. Bye" Carly started for the stairs that led to the deck and the rear door of the house.

Nic followed Carly and waved a hand at Marcy who headed back down the driveway. "Bye Marcy, Iíll call you."

****************************

 

Lieutenant Raimes was polishing off a pastrami sandwich in his office at the 21st Precinct when his phone rang. Wiping the mustard from his lips he answered the phone. He hated to be interrupted when he was eating. "Raimes," he growled.

"Harry, itís Walter."

Raimes swallowed what he had been chewing. "Walt, how the hell are you?" Walter Longwell was a Lieutenant with the 23rd precinct and an old friend of Raimes.

"Not bad my friend, not bad. Little more meat around my middle, but other than that I canít complain." Walter leaned back in his chair and looked out the window. "Howís that detective of yours? You know the one who was shot last night."

"Heís hangin in there." Raimes took a sip of his root beer. "You didnít call just to find out about that, did you?"

"No I didnít. This morning two of my officers snagged a floater that someone discovered in the Marina. Looks like it was Geller. I just got the report."

Raimes ran his hand slowly over his forehead. "Great! Fucking great." This was shaping up to be a shitty day. "I donít suppose it was an accident." Raimes knew that there was no doubt Geller had been whacked. Somebody didnít want him talking about anything that went down last night.

Walt laughed a little at Raimesís rhetorical question. "Nice try Harry."

Raimes nodded his head. "I know Walt, I know. Well thanks for the info and say hello to Helen for me."

"You bet, Harry. Hope things get better for ya. Bye."

"Bye Walt." Raimes hung up the phone and decided to finish his lunch before he called Stone. He knew she wouldnít be happy to hear about this.

*************************

Carly sat on the bed in the spare room and began unpacking her things. After Nic gave her a tour of the house she brought her to one of the three bedrooms on the second floor. The master bedroom, which was Nicoleís was quite large, at least fifteen by twenty feet Carly suspected. The other two were a bit smaller, about twelve by twelve feet. Still a nice size, Carly thought. Two of the bedrooms shared a common bathroom with the master bedroom having a lavish private bath, complete with garden tub and glass shower stall. Downstairs there was a family room with a fireplace, a cozy den, where Nic had several bookcases, as well as her computer, a dining room and a large kitchen. She was curious to know how Nic came to live at such a lavish residence, but she didnít feel she should pry. Maybe she could somehow get her to talk about it without seeming obvious. Carly laid back on the bed and thought about it for a moment.

After showing Carly around the house Nic returned to her den to run the plate number Marcy had given her. Her computer was connected to the Police Departmentís LAN. She turned it on and waited for it to connect. Then she went to DMV plate search and entered the number. It would take a few seconds to search the database, so she went out to the kitchen to grab a soda. When she returned the computer was still busy. Sitting down behind her desk she ran her hands over the smooth surface. It was a Chippendale, mahogany desk, with a matching credenza that sat below the window. It had been her fatherís desk and she still remembered how he used to sit her on top of it whenever her mother brought her to his office.

The computer beeped, acknowledging it had completed the search. Nic read the information that appeared on the screen.

ĎBlue 1987 Ford Crown Victoria SedanóPlate Number:46A T82 Owner Name: Jay MacFarlenóResidence: 29 Carmichael Streetí

Nic tapped the keys on the keyboard to bring up the database of cars reported stolen within the last week to see if she would get a hit and she did. The car was reported stolen early this morning by the owner. She swallowed some Pepsi, picked up the phone and dialed the station. The desk Sergeant answered and she was forwarded to the Lieutenantís office upon request. Raimes answered the phone with his usual gruff demeanor.

"Lieutenant, Stone here."

"Yeah, Stone. What is it?"

"I need to have an APB put out on a car. The one that Marcy Bartlett left me a message about this morning. It was reported stolen around seven am this morning."

Raimes straightened some forms he had strewn across his desk. Sliding them into a folder he dropped it into his desk drawer. Then he picked up a pen and grabbed a pad of paper. "Give me the details and Iíll run it right away."

"Itís a blue 87 Ford Crown Sedan. The plate number is four, six, Adam, Thomas, eight, two."

"Got it. Listen, Stone. I got some news this afternoon from Lieutenant Longwell, over at the 23rd."

Nic had a feeling she wasnít going to want to hear this. "What kind of news?"

"A floater showed up this morning in the Marina. It was Geller."

Nic closed her eyes when she heard the name. Damn it, she thought. She propped her elbow up on the desk and stroked her eyebrows with her thumb and forefinger. She was going to look for him tonight in the hopes that he would shed some light on what went wrong Friday night, but now that option was gone.

"Stone, are you there?"

"Yeah, sorry Lou. Did you get the coronerís report yet?"

"No. Walt was going to send me a copy. I should have it later this afternoon."

"All right, Iíll check back with you after I get back to the hospital. Thanks for the info."

"Stone, donít forget what I said earlier. You stay out of this investigation. Youíre only gonna muck things up for Sanders and Mahoney. You got me, Stone?"

She replied through gritted teeth, "Yeah, I got it. Bye," she said, slamming the phone down. She managed to quell the urge to throw something, anything, at the wall. "Shit!" She pounded her fist down on the arm of the chair. Things were going from bad to worse faster than she could even think. The fact was, she was too damn tired to even come up with alternative avenues to find out who shot Jimmy and why. She knew what Raimes had said, but he should know there was no way in hell she wasnít going to be involved in this investigation. It just would be unofficial involvement. Nic crossed the room to where her salt-water fish tank was setup. Several of the brightly colored fish swam to the surface waiting for the forthcoming food. She sprinkled it evenly over the surface and watched them all rush for the offering. She looked at her watch. It was going on twelve thirty. Picking up and finishing the last of her soda she deposited the can in the recycle bin below the sink and headed upstairs to check on Carly.

Peering around the doorway she found the young blond curled up on the bed and fast asleep. Nic couldnít stop the smile that crept across her face. She must be wiped out, Nic thought. She retrieved an afghan from the closet and gently placed it over Carly. Nic stood there for a moment and just watched her sleeping. She looked absolutely angelic. Her hair was as bright as the sun and she had the faintest smile playing across her lips. Nic quietly closed the door as she withdrew from the room. Back in her own bedroom she kicked off her boots and stretched out on the bed. She set the alarm clock for one thirty and within seconds she drifted off to her own version of sleep.

***************************

Sanders and Mahoney returned to the 21st precinct with little in the way of leads about Jimmyís shooting. They were told to report to the lieutenant immediately upon returning. They scowled at this information, but made there way to his office anyway. Raimes pulled the door open just as Sanders went to rap on the door. Raimes was a man of average height, slightly over weight, with graying hair where he wasnít bald. Physically he was not an imposing figure, but as they say ĎAttitude is Everythingí, and Raimes had plenty of attitude. He shot them a scorching look and motioned for them to enter his office. They obliged; sitting in the two chairs that faced his desk.

"Well what have you got for me?" He questioned as he dropped into his swivel chair.

"Not much, boss," Tom Sanders said apologetically. "We couldnít scratch up one stinkin witness, but then Iím not surprised considering what time this went down." He looked over at Paul, who nodded his head in agreement.

Raimes shook his head in disgust. "This case is gonna be a ball breaker. First Jamison gets hit, then Geller turns up dead this morning."

Sanders and Mahoneyís eyebrows shot up in unison, "What did you say?"

"You heard me. Geller is dead. Someone whacked him this morning."

"How?" It was all Sanders could manage to say.

"Havenít gotten the report yet, but he was found in the Marina," Raimes answered. "So boys I think you better start diggin in the area of this whole Gato sting that went south. With Geller dead, itís pointing in that direction."

Paul Mahoney spoke, "That means weíre going to have to talk to Stone, since sheís the only person that we can get our hands on that knows anything about that night."

"Thatís right," Raimes sighed, "but keep her involvement to a minimum. Iíve already warned her that I donít want her screwin this investigation up. Jimmy and her are close and thatís gonna mess up her thinking." He gave the detectives a stern look. "Make sure she stays the hell out of it. Now get outa here and bring me back some good news for a change."

Sanders and Mahoney exited the office and returned to their desks. As if things werenít bad enough now they were going to have to question Stone and make sure she stayed out of this mess. They slumped into their chairs and started pouring over the wrap sheets for Louis Gato and Marty Geller.

***********************

Sal and Leo pulled their newly heisted car into the hospital parking lot. They had ditched the blue Ford they had used earlier that day for a gold Buick LeSabre. Leo turned the car off and sat quietly behind the wheel. Sal patted his forehead with a handkerchief as he contemplated their next move. Marcone would surely cut his balls off if he didnít take care of this matter, so he had to think carefully about how they were going to accomplish their mission. "Okay, Leo, listen up."

The smaller manís grip tightened on the steering wheel. He blinked rapidly. "Yeah, Sally, go ahead."

The fat man cringed at the nickname, "Donít call me that!"

"All right Sal, sorry." Leo continued blinking rapidly.

"We got ourselves a bad situation here, Leo."

"Howís that Sal?"

"Well, let me lay it out for you. The guy you failed to off last night is probably in ICU, which means itís gonna be hard as hell to get to him. Plus they probably have a guard on him."

"Oh, Jesus Sal, what are we gonna do? I didnít even think of that."

Sal placed his handkerchief in his shirt pocket. "For starters weíre gonna go inside and scope out the area. Then Iíll figure out a plan from there."

"Okay Sal, whatever you say."

"Leo," Sal put his hand on the smaller manís arm to get his attention. Leo turned and looked into the deep-set eyes. "If we canít get to this guy weíre dead. You understand that right?" Leo shook his head like one of those bobbing dogs people used to keep in the back window of their cars. "We gotta get this guy, Leo and we gotta take out his partner, or we might as well just off ourselves, cause if Marcone gets a hold of us weíre gonna pray for death."

********************

The alarm clock went off bringing Nic from her restless sleep back to the reality of the day. She opened a bleary eye and slapped the alarm to quiet the annoying buzzer. She rolled over and found Harley curled up in her usual place between the pillows, snoring softly. She stroked the catís fur, which was as soft as silk. A low purr was her response. Nic rolled her neck back and forth to loosen the tight muscles. She felt like shit and she figured she probably looked like it, too. She rose from the bed and discarded the shirt she had just slept in. No time for a shower, so she rummaged through her closet and put on a purple polo shirt and ran a brush through her raven hair. Not too bad, she thought, after giving herself the once over in the mirror. She scooped up the cat, who was now meowing and winding herself through Nicís legs. Upon entering the hallway she noticed Carlyís door was open so she sauntered by, but found it empty. "Now I wonder where she cold be?" Then she thought about it. "Probably in the kitchen," She mumbled to the cat as she made her way there.

Carly was scribbling a note to Nic when she felt like she was being watched. She turned to find the tall, dark haired woman leaning against the doorframe, her right eyebrow raised in question, and a beautiful black cat held lazily in her arms. Carly let out a nervous giggle. "Hi Nic, sleep well?"

Nic rolled her tongue over her teeth before she spoke "And just what are you doing, if you donít mind my asking?"

Carly crumpled the note and replaced the pen in the holder by the phone. "OhÖI was just leaving you a note."

"A note about what?" Nicís intense blue eyes narrowed and Carly felt a bit uneasy, but she wasnít sure why.

"Well when I woke up, and by the way thanks for the afghan." She smiled sweetly. "Well anyway I went looking for you. I peeked into your room, just to see if you were there." Carly swallowed. Nic hadnít even blinked yet and her eyebrow was still raised. "I didnít have the heart to wake you, so I thought Iíd call a cab and head over to the hospital. I was leaving you a note explaining that."

Nic lowered her eyebrow. She didnít like the idea of Carly going to the hospital without her, but she thought it was sweet that she didnít want to disturb her. She guessed she should lighten up a little. She smiled and Carly let out a sigh of relief. "Well since Iím up I guess I can take you to the hospital, if thatís okay."

"Actually Iím glad youíre up, because, the truth is I didnít want to go by myself."

"And you donít have to. Now let me put some food down for Harley and we can get going." Nic placed the cat on the tile floor. She immediately sauntered over to Carly to check her out.

Carly cooed, "Oooh! Sheís so pretty." Reaching down, Carly picked up the feline and cuddled it. "I love cats. Theyíre great companions. Jimmy and I had two when we were growing up." Carlyís face saddened. "I miss them."

Nic poured some Purina Chicken and Rice dry food into the catís bowl. "What did your cats look like?"

"Salty was black and white, and Amber was orange and white. They were both females. I like them better than males because they donít get so big." She continued to pet the cat, getting a needing pair of paws on her forearm. She watched Nic fill the water bowl and place the dry food next to it.

"I bet they were beautiful," Nic said.

"Yes, they were. They lived a pretty long time, too. Salty was fifteen when she passed and Amber sixteen." Carly put the cat down next to her bowls and gave her one last stroke.

"Ready to go?" Nic asked, grabbing her car keys from the counter.

"Iím right behind you," Carly answered slipping into her barn coat as she followed Nic out the door.

It took them about half an hour to get to the hospital from Nicís place. They arrived at two fifteen and were walking into the ICU by two twenty. Several nurses, dressed in pristine white uniforms, hustled about, ducking in and out of rooms, attending to the patients with precision. The nurse at the station recognized them and smiled as they approached.

"Mr. Jamison is in room 402 and he is doing fine. Heíll probably sleep the rest of the day though."

Carly let out her breath, which she inadvertently had been holding since the elevator doors closed. "That sounds like good news to me." She looked up at Nic who also looked relieved. She hadnít even realized Nicís hand was resting on her shoulder. She felt comforted by it and she didnít want her to remove it. "Can we see him?"

"Are you family?" The nurse asked, peering over her glasses, which hung down her nose.

"Yes we are," Carly said, "Weíre his sisters." Nic remained silent, her hand still resting on Carlyís shoulder. She looked over at Room 402 and saw Jimmy surrounded by several monitors, and IV drip and a nurse who was jotting something down on a clipboard, which she re-attached to the foot of his bed. She was pissed that she didnít see a uniform guarding the doorway.

The nurse looked first at Carly, then at Nic. She didnít quite believe the young woman, but being a lie detector wasnít part of her job description. "Okay, you can see him one at time, and no more thank five minutes each." She gave them both a stern look.

Nic returned the look. "Did you see a police officer here at all today? Jimmy is suppose to have a guard at all times."

"Yes, there was an officer here before Mr. Jamison was brought up. He probably went to the cafeteria. Iím sure heíll be back any minute."

He better, Nic thought, or Iíll have his hide on my wall. Carly and Nic thanked the nurse. Nic reluctantly removed her hand as they proceeded to Jimmyís room. She whispered to Carly, "Thanks for the sister thing back there."

Carly looked up into the sincere eyes, which were now a pale blue. "No problem. Besides I know Jimmy considers you a part of his family, even if he has never told you so."

Carly gasped when she stepped into the room and saw Jimmy lying in the bed, a white blanket tucked neatly around him. Wires were attached to his chest and tubes were coming from his nose. She felt her knees start to give. Suddenly a strong pair of hands steadied her and she felt Nicís breath brush her right ear. "Are you okay?"

Carly felt like her mouth was full of cotton. She struggled to find her voice. "YesÖIím okay. IÖI just didnít expect him to look like that."

Nic squeezed her shoulders, "Itíll be alright. I know itís scary, but Iím right here if you need me."

Carly felt those words wrap around her like a warm blanket. She leaned back against Nic for a moment, garnering strength from their closeness. Taking a deep breath she continues into the room. Nic watched her go in, then turned and spotted a young patrolman exiting the elevator with a magazine tucked under his arm. He was thin with a boyish face. Nic wondered if he was old enough to shave let alone carry a gun. She met him a couple of doors down from Jimmyís room. She looked at his uniform. The nametag read "Smullen". Nic attempted to curb her anger before she spoke.

"Officer Smullen, where have you been?"

Removing his hat, the young officer cleared his throat and looked up. "Maíam?"

Nic slipped her badge from her jacket and showed it Smullen. His eyes widened. "Iím Detective Stone with the 21st. Now, I asked you where you have been?"

"I was down in the gift shop. I thought Iíd grab a magazine," he pulled it out from under his arm and showed it to her, "to pass the time." Her gaze held him in place and he suddenly felt like he was going to lose his lunch.

"I donít ever want to come here and not see you or some other officer sitting in a chair or standing outside that room," she pointed to 402. "Do you understand me?"

"Yes, Maíam. Iím sorry." He dropped his eyes to the floor.

"Listen, Smullen, thatís my partner in there and as far as these nurses are concerned, my brother." Smullen looked up confused. "No one but family is allowed in ICU, so he is me brother, get it?" She raised her brows and flicked her thumb toward the nursesís station.

Smullen shook his in acknowledgement.

"Good, now, if anything, and I do mean anything, happens to him I will hold whoever is on guard personally responsible. So trust me, you donít want anything to happen to him." Smullen shuffled his feet. He believed her with all his heart. She stood at least two inches taller than he was and she looked like she was quite capable of wiping up the floor with him. "Now take your post and if you see anything out of the ordinary here is my pager number." He took the card she offered and assumed his position at room 402.

Nic followed him with her eyes. Carly emerged just as Smullen reached the room. She was dabbing her moist eyes with a tissue. At that moment Nic had the oddest sensation. It was almost like a giant magnet was pulling her in Carlyís direction. Without hesitation she responded and with a few strides of her long legs she was by Carlyís side. Grabbing Carlyís elbow she asked, "Is everything alright?"

Carly reached over an patted Nicís arm, "Yes, everything is fine. Iím just a little unnerved thatís all. Jimmyís fine, though. The nurse said he is resting comfortably."

"Great, I am so relieved to hear that." Nic squeezed Carlyís elbow. "See, everything is gonna be fine."

Carlyís face beamed, "I am so glad that you were right, Nic. Now go on in and see Jimmy. Iíll be in the lounge."

Before Carly retreated Nic introduced her to Officer Smullen, who politely stood and shook her hand. This earned him a couple of points with Nic. Maybe the kid wasnít that bad, she thought. Nic entered Jimmyís room alone. The nurse was gone and all that could be heard was the beepÖbeepÖbeep from the heart monitor. She touched Jimmyís foot through the blanket and gave it a gentle squeeze. Sheíd seen cops that had looked worse. Right now Nic was just grateful that Jimmy was alive and that he was going to make it. She walked up to the head of the bed and leaned down, "Jimmy, I donít know if you can hear me, but if you can I want you to know that weíre gonna get the bastard that did this to you. Thatís a promise partner." A single tear slid down her cheek.

************************

Dressed in an orderlyís uniform, Leo Tolstrom watched the tall, dark haired woman as she comforted a smaller blond who appeared to be crying. They were standing outside the room that he needed to get into. He had been checking the area out from a distance for the past hour. Sal was right. The place was crawling with people. Heíd never get near that cop without being questioned by someone. Hell, he didnít know anything about hospitals, let alone their procedures. Maybe orderlies werenít even allowed in ICU. He ducked back into the closet that was located at the end of the hallway leading to ICU. He checked his watch. Shit, he thought. He was supposed to report to Sal on the second floor in five minutes. He opened the closet door slowly and peered out. The blond was gone and the other woman was in with the cop. Leo slipped out of the room and headed for the stairs.

Sal was sitting in the second floor waiting room. Appropriate, he thought, since he was, in fact, waiting for Leo. Sal looked at his watch for the hundredth time. He was getting hungry and this waiting game was starting to grate on his nerves. He hated to wait. Just like his Daddy, Salvatore Linetti had no patience. He knew it would probably kill him one day, either from a heart attack or from a hasty decision, but either way, his lack of patience would do him in.

A young girl in a pretty blue flowered dress skipped into the waiting room and plopped into the chair next to Sal. Her brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail with a bright, pink ribbon. She looked at him and smiled. He returned the smile. He looked at his watch again.

"Are you here visiting someone, Mister?" The little girl asked, swinging her legs back and forth.

Sal was a startled by the sudden conversation. "YesÖyes Iím here visiting a sick friend." His eyes softened as he spoke. She was a cute kid, he thought.

"Well Iím here visiting my grandma, cause sheís sick, too."

Sal noticed Leo motioning to him from the stairwell. He frowned as he hoisted himself off the sofa. He looked down at the child, "Oh, Iím sorry to here that. I hope your grandma gets better."

An attractive woman entered the room. She gave Sal an inquisitive look as she walked over to the child, grabbing her hand. "Come on Lindsay, it is time to leave."

Lindsay dropped her feet to the floor and looked back at Sal as she was led from the room toward the elevators. She waved her little hand and Sal, not even realizing that Leo was still watching, waved back. Sal watched the pair get on the elevator before he walked over to the stairwell. Leo was stifling a giggle when Sal shoved him back against the wall and closed the door.

"Hey, watch it Sal! You coulda knocked me down the stairs." Leo rubbed his shoulder where it had made contact with the wall.

"Listen, Leo, just fill me in about what you found out upstairs and can any comments about the kid, okay," Sal stated through clenched teeth.

"Alright, alright. Take it easy, will ya Sal," Leo continued to rub his shoulder, "Itís just like you said. The whole damn place is crawling with people. I couldnít get within twenty feet of that room without someone asking me who I was and what I was doin there."

Sal rubbed his forehead. "Jesus, Leo, what the hell did you tell them."

"I told them that I was new and I gave them a phony name, Tom Jones."

Sal rolled his eyes. He had an insatiable urge to backhand Leo into next week. "You idiot! Tom Jones! What the fuck would you use that name for?"

Leo blinked several times and squinted, anticipating a smack from one of Salís hefty mits. "Sal, donít worry about it. The only people that asked me were too young to even know who Tom Jones is." Leo waited a second to see if the blow was coming.

Sal clenched and unclenched his fists, but he kept them at his sides. "Is there a guard on duty?"

"Yeah, thereís one right outside his room, just like you said."

Salís eyes narrowed, "Is there anything else?"

Leo thought about it for a moment. "There were a couple of broads visiting him, but thatís it."

"Broads? What did they look like?"

"They were both lookers, Sal, if you know what I mean." Leo whistled and Sal smacked him hard across the mouth, knocking spittle all over the wall. Dazed, Leo shook his head and rubbed his now, sore jaw.

"Leo, donít be whistling in here. It echoes like crazy. Now continue."

Leo was afraid to say anything else, so he spoke very carefully. "Well, like I said, theyíre both good looking. One was a small blond, real pretty. The other one was a lot taller with dark hair. She was in with the cop when I left."

Sal stroked his chin and thought. Frank Torelli had showed them a picture this morning of the other cop that they had to take care of. She was a looker, too, and she had dark hair. "Leo, did she look like the woman Frank showed us the picture of this morning?"

Leo let his minds eye recall the photo. He nodded his head, "Yeah, now that you mention it, she does."

"So who the hell is the blond?"

Leo offered, "Jamisonís old lady, maybe?"

"Maybe," Sal answered. A plan was forming in his mind. They had to solve this problem tonight, there was no doubt about that, but the order in which they solved it was up to them. Sal grabbed the smaller manís shoulder and gave him a wide, toothy grin. "Come on Leo, letís get something to eat and Iíll fill you in on my plan."

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Carly was leafing through a Ladies Home Journal when Nic entered the ICU lounge. Nic took a seat next to her and slumped back into the soft leather of the sofa. She let out a huge, cleansing breath. Turning her head she was captured by a dazzling pair of green eyes.

"Well, you look better, or should I say relieved?"

The corners of Nicís mouth curled up, ever so slightly. "Iíd say both."

Carly placed her hand on Nicís thigh, "Iím glad, because I am, too." She smiled and her radiated a warmth that Nic found enticing. She broke the eye contact.

"I talked to the nurse. She said that Dr. Austin will be doing his rounds in another twenty minutes and heíd stop by to talk to us."

"Great," Carly replied. She removed her hand from Nicís leg. She could have sworn she heard Nic let out a small groan. She started turning the pages of the magazine; idly looking at the scrumptious recipes they had in there, complete with photographs of the finished products. "Listen, after we talk to the Doctor, why donít you let me cook you dinner?"

"You donít have to do that. Besides, you must be beat."

"Nic, I didnít say I had to do it, did I?" Carly gave her a serious look. "I would like to cook you dinner, if you donít mind my using your kitchen?"

Nic raised her brow, "Are you kidding? Help yourself. Iíll even take you to the market after we leave here."

Carly smiled, clearly satisfied with her victory. She knew just what she was going to prepare, too. After dinner and a good nightís sleep they would both feel a lot better, she was sure of it.

Continue to Part 3

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