Belief by Troubleshooter Copyright 2000 all rights reserved.

Chapter 9

You know that love at first sight thing everybody goes on and on about? I don't know if that really happens. They talk about locking eyes with someone and just knowing. That didn't happen to me with Jules. There was no little voice in my mind whispering, "Woo Hoo! Forever Lover Alert!" or anything like that. If it does happen, I think you have to be susceptible to that kind of thing.

Susceptible. That kind of makes it sound like a disease. It's not. Anyway, it's not something that I was afflicted with.

I really don't know when it was that I came to realize that I was in love with Jules. The lust part was easy to figure out. I couldn't stop hyperventilating or saying and doing incredibly stupid things around her. Hormones have a tendency to short-circuit my brain. It still happens on occasion. I remember one time, I tried to do that suave and debonair thing with Jules when we were first dating. I don't know what came over me. I acted like a deranged Pepé La Pew. She asked me what the hell was wrong with me. Talk about feeling like an idiot.

Jules says that I'm old-fashioned. I have no idea what that means, really. I just do what I do. If it works for her, it works for me.

I think I realized that I loved her when I figured out that all I needed...all that would make me content, was to have her close. To hold her. To be able to see her smile. The sex part of it...well, that's different for me. It's an added bonus. It is a miracle to me to be with her in that way. To be so physically intimate and have it feel so good. But there's nothing on this earth that compares to holding her.

For me, a big part of love is the everyday stuff. It's about respect and courtesy and paying attention and a hundred other things that govern my actions. Just because she loves me doesn't mean that I can treat her any way I feel like. I don't get how people can do that to someone they say they love.

I've got to know things about Jules in order to be respectful and courteous. So I study her. It's not like an obsessive kind of thing. I certainly don't watch her with binoculars or anything like that. But I pay attention to her. To the things that she does. I like knowing little things about her. For example, she has this little thing about the toilet paper roll on the dispenser. The sheets need to come from the top. If they hang down next to the wall, she moves it around.

Me...well, I never realized that there was a right way or a wrong way to put toilet paper on the dispenser. The day I found her changing the roll around, I asked her what she was doing. I was confused because I remembered putting a new roll on just a little while before.

"It's on wrong."

"Oh." I shrugged. "Didn't know there was a right way."

She turned around and gave me one of those knowing looks. "Well, there is."

"Okay. I'll, uh, remember next time."

She looked at me skeptically. I had the distinct feeling that she expected me to forget. I started to think about it. What would be the right way to put those big rolls on like the kind you find in a public bathroom? You know the ones. They're flattened against the wall so that the toilet paper hangs perpendicular. Not at all like the ones at home where I had just learned the correct way to hang the toilet paper. I told you I think about strange things. So I asked Jules what was the right way to hang those big ones. It kind of threw her for a loop. I don't think she had thought about it before. Then, the next thing I knew, Jules was accusing me of making fun of the right way to hang the toilet paper.

I figured out that it's just easier to put the toilet paper on the way she likes it and keep my mouth shut. I am proud to say that I have always put the toilet paper on right. Once I knew there was a right way, that is. It's no big deal, and if it makes her happy to have it on a particular way, then it's the least I can do. Why do people always turn little insignificant things into pissing contests?

I guess the point I was trying to make is that I know her, I think, as well as anybody can know another human being. That's not to say that she still doesn't surprise me, because she does. It's just that there are all these little signs that tell me whether all is right with her or not. And I know that something isn't right.

For the life of me, I can't figure out what's bothering her. She's angry about something. Really angry. I don't think it has anything to do with me. I think. I mean, I've been pretty weird the last week or so, but we did talk yesterday, about a lot of different things. I don't think I've done anything, or if I have, I'm not aware of it. Jules usually makes me aware of it.

I asked her last night what was wrong. She told me that nothing was wrong. I chalked it up to my being tired. But this morning, she still had this little edge about her. When she's angry she's less…delicate, maybe, with things. I don't know if delicate is the right word, but, well, let me give you an example. She put her coffee cup in the sink. There's usually a tiny noise when the porcelain mug meets the bottom of the sink. This morning, it was a not so tiny noise. She didn't put it down hard enough to break it, but it was done with some force.

Then there was her trip to the grocery store. She bought a lot of canned stuff. In dented cans. Weird. We both prefer fresh. She said it was in case of a hurricane. I've never known Jules to be concerned that much about the weather. Whenever hurricanes have headed this way before, we'd just go to the store and get what we thought we needed then.

Well, I would go. As a cop, when there's something going on like a hurricane, I always had to report for duty. We've had a couple of hurricane scares since we've been together. I'd always make sure they had enough food and fresh water for at least a month. I know that seems excessive, but the prediction is that if New Orleans is ever hit by a hurricane just right, that it will take three months to dry the city out. I figure it would take 'em at least a month to re-establish the electricity and water. And I'm sure I'd be working straight through that month. Jules wasn't really scared of the weather, but she wasn't ever too happy that I had to leave.

I didn't like leaving them, either. I went, because sometimes we just have to do things we don't like. It was my job and my responsibility. It always made me feel just a little bit better knowing that they had food and water. I never knew when I'd see them again. Usually, it was just until they knew for sure that the storm wasn't coming here. A couple of years ago, a hurricane was headed straight for the mouth of the river. That's New Orleans' weak spot. I made Jules pack up the car and leave the city with Diego.

She was not very happy about that. But she did it. Like I said, sometimes, we just have to do things we don't want to do. Diego had a great time. He got out of school and had his mami all to himself. I wouldn't have thought it was such a bad deal either, if I was him. I missed them both so much I could hardly stand it. That seems so…trivial compared to how much I miss him now.

I really can't figure out what's pissed her off. She'll talk to me about it. She always does. She'll work through it in her mind and when she's ready, we'll talk. She avoided answering me last night. She was all over the place, talking about everything under the sun, except, of course, what was bothering her. We're now having a barbecue. This Sunday, I think. And she wants to go to the cemetery.

I told her we could go whenever she wanted to.

I don't want to do that. I'm not sure if I can handle it.

Here in New Orleans, we bury people above ground in tombs. New Orleans is as much as thirteen feet below sea level in some places so that means the water table is really high. If they weren't buried above ground, the caskets would float to the top when we had a good rain. Not exactly the kind of thing you want to have happen to a loved one. So everyone's buried in these tombs or mausoleums. They call the cemeteries the "cities of the dead." Pretty appropriate, I suppose.

There is something absurdly comforting to me about thinking of the cemeteries like that. I don't want Diego to be alone. He was alone far too long in this life. He should never have been.

I was unconscious in the hospital for Diego's funeral. Jules tried to make them wait, but I wasn't waking up. Hell, they didn't even know if I was going to live. I don't know if I could have made it through that. I...that's a lie. I would have, for Jules. I hate that she had to go through that alone. We had a memorial service when I was well enough to move around a little. I hated every second of it. Jules finally got me out of there before I killed somebody. The next person that walked up to me and told me that it was a beautiful service was gonna die.

What the fuck is so beautiful about somebody dying? Is that supposed to make me feel better? Sorry about your kid, D'Avanti, but I gotta tell you, the flowers smelled great and everything looked good? No words could have made me feel better.

And since we raised Diego as a Catholic, there had to be a mass. There are masses for everything. The nuns used to take us to church every Sunday morning for eight o'clock mass. It was never an option. If you lived at the home, you went. When I left St. Vincent's, I never went to church again. Not even on Easter and Christmas.

Why do some people do that? Go to church on those two days only. It's like they think that those are the two big sin days. It's okay if you miss church every other Sunday or holy day, but if you miss Christmas or Easter, you're going to hell. I'm pretty sure that if there is somebody who's responsible for all this, he or she wouldn't fall for the "But I made it on the two big days" argument.

When we got Diego, I started going to church again. So did Jules. She's not Catholic, but we went for him. Mexico is a very Catholic country, and he had already been exposed to it. We thought it was important that he have some kind of continuity. I remember walking back in to church that first time. Jules asked me what I kept looking up for as we were walking in. I told her I was watching for lightening. She thought I was joking. I wasn't.

I haven't been to church since everything happened. Except for that memorial mass. That was absolute torture. I doubt I'll ever go back.


Good Afternoon.

It's funny how things happen. Ironic might be the better word choice. If I were to describe myself, I'd have to say that I was relatively easy-going. I do have a little bit of a temper on occasion, but as fast as I can get angry is as fast as it goes away. Usually.

This thing with Damian's mother has had me unbelievably angry for a couple of days now. I can't understand how Damian handles her anger so well, because this is about to make me nuts. It's a wonder I haven't had to commit her. I'd like a nice stiff drink. Make that nine. I'd like a Valium. It's been a long time, so maybe they've come up with something better than Valium by now. If they have, I want one of those instead.

The only problem with medicating myself is that I know I'd have to keep medicating myself to stop the anger from returning. Then Damian would slap my ass into a treatment center. She doesn't fool around with that.

I've got to figure out how to talk to Damian about this. How do you tell the person who means more to you than life itself that her mother didn't just give her up once? The fucking bitch did it twice. Twice!

I want to kill the bitch, but she's already dead.

From what I could gather from the papers, the bitch initially turned Damian over to St. Vincent's when she was born. Then, when Damian was fourteen months old, she got the idea to sell her child, hence the correspondence from the attorney. So she got Damian out of the orphanage and kept her for a little while. When that didn't work out, it was back to St. Vincent's for Damian.

Reading those papers...why can't I contain my curiosity? I was so damned eager to make her see, make her believe, that her mother did what she had to do, not what she wanted to do. Another lesson in just how wrong I can be.

I don't understand how anybody couldn't have wanted her. She is so...everything that is good. She's absolutely adorable and so incredibly sweet. She'd probably kill me for saying that. She's intelligent, witty, funny, caring and she'd do just about anything not to hurt someone. I'm amazed that her chest can actually contain her heart. She's the kindest person I know. She never makes fun of people or says bad things about them. If there is nothing good to say, then she keeps her mouth shut. The only person she ever disparages is herself. I would have taken one look at those blue eyes and that goofy little lopsided grin and snatched her up in a New York second. I remember the absolute joy I felt when the judge finally signed the
adoption papers for Diego. It was exhilarating. That night, we had a little party, just the three of us. Bologna sandwiches, spicy potato chips and ice cream sandwiches. A smile was permanently plastered on my face. Damian couldn't stop grinning and neither could Diego. We were officially a family, having our first official family meal together. I cried when Diego asked if he could have the papers to show his friends. We gave him a copy. I think he wanted them more for himself.

That night, when Damian and I finally decided to go to bed, we stopped by his room to check on him. He was sleeping with the papers clutched in his hand. My God, that was such a beautiful sight. When we climbed into bed, Damian was quiet for a time. I was writing a little bit and noticed that her book was resting on the bed and she was just staring off into space.

"Angel, everything okay?"

"Um, yeah, Jules, fine...just fine."

I put my pen and paper down and rolled onto my side and looked at her. There was something on her mind. I could tell. I've found that if I look at her for a period of time, she'll sometimes start talking again. I wasn't wrong this time.

"It's...thank you, Jules. I...thank you for everything you've done."

"We did it together, Damian. You and I."

" a chance, Jules. Do you know how important it is to get a chance?" Her voice broke. "He's got a family, now. We're a family."

Tears were suddenly streaming down her face. I wanted to cry myself. My angel. She never got the chance, but she made damn sure he got it. That moment was so bittersweet for me. She would never know what it was like to have a family as a child. How painful that must be. But in spite of that, or maybe because of that, she would know what it was like to be a family as an adult. If there is ever anything on this earth that I am proud of, it's that I'm a part of the reason she got to experience that.

Maybe that's one of the reasons why I'm so angry with her mother. I see the pain, the scars. There are some things that you can never make better. You just learn to live with them, recognize them for what they are, and make your choice to either let it drown you or make you a better person. I'm so fortunate that Damian chose to let it make her a better person. There's a bit of fight in her. That's probably the understatement of the century. She's got a quiet, indomitable spirit. I say quiet because she's never once uttered a single excuse for what she perceives as her shortcomings and she's never once blamed the way she grew up for anything that's wrong in her life. She doesn't moan and groan about the lot dealt to her in life. She just quietly makes her way. I think I would be screaming bloody murder all the way.

I need to talk to her about it. We'll deal with it. We've already dealt with so much. She told me this morning at breakfast that she'd like to talk some more this evening. That's good. She's still having a lot of trouble putting those walls up. I know she feels so vulnerable without them. She does look better, though. She's been having some really bad nightmares again. I've almost gotten tossed out of bed on a couple of occasions. She settles down when I wake her. It's not that she really wakes up, though. She'll just reach for me and settle down.

How the hell am I going to tell her about the papers?


Good morning.

Yesterday and last night were very enlightening, as only living life can be.

This morning is beautiful. I'm sitting on the balcony of our apartment in the Quarter with my laptop. Damian's gone off to get us some coffee and some of these croissants from this great little bakery down here. We both love the ones that are stuffed with cream cheese and blueberries. I can't believe I'm hungry after everything we ate last night, but I'll give it a shot.

I feel some measure of peace. We've gotten some things settled. It feels good to have done that. It's not that I think things will be perfect now. We still have a lot ahead of us to deal with. I feel better because some of my fears were brought out and we talked about them.

Sometimes, I have to sit back and almost laugh at the way things work out. I get so...anxious about things sometimes and work these little scenarios out in my head about what I'll say and then what she'll say and then what I'll respond, ad infinitum. Or maybe that should be ad nauseam, because they never end up being the way I had worked them out.

When something rattles Damian, her mind can take off faster than a speeding bullet. She doesn't do it very often, but when she does, it's easier to stop a freight train. She's different from me, though, in that she doesn't do the little scenarios. Her mind immediately goes to the worst thing that can happen and dwells on it. I like to consider all the various outcomes when I'm obsessing about something.

The first time we went to visit my parents and the rest of the family in Virginia, I thought I was going to have to get one of those big game darts and tranquilize her. We had decided to take two weeks off and fly up to Virginia. Damian wanted to drive. She hadn't really traveled at all, so it was a great opportunity for she and Diego to see some of the United States.

If you want to know whether you're compatible with someone, take a trip with them. One that involves driving and the need for directions. With a child. To the in-laws. That's how you'll know how strong your love is.

The couple of weeks leading up to the trip had been very, very hectic. Hell, we were still packing at two in the morning the night before we were leaving. I had missed the little signs that all was not right with Damian.

For someone with Damian's energy, it's never good to confine her to small spaces, like the inside of an Explorer, for long periods of time. That's just asking for trouble. And Damian's energy seemed to always bleed over and infect Diego. We won't even discuss the effect of all the stops on the road for that crap they sell at those damn gas station stores. How many of those pecan logs can one person eat? Damian doesn't like sweets, but for some reason on this trip, it was almost like a compulsion for her. We had to stop at every little store along the way and buy a pecan log. Of course, Diego ate them, too.

The first fight, and I use that term loosely, because Damian just shut up and didn't say a word for a hundred fifty miles, came right after our first stop on the second day. She made a comment about the pecan log she was currently eating being infinitely better than the pecan log from the fifth stop yesterday. For some reason, that comment made me crazy, particularly since it was the same brand of pecan log that had been sold at every store. I pointed out that little fact. Not very nicely.

Between the pecan logs and what seemed to me to be the interminable amount of time it was taking us to cover the distance, I was in the mood to kill her. She'd pull off on the side of the road and she and Diego would stop and stare at things. Like trees. A stream in the mountains. It was making me crazy.

She had been weird since we left. It was this really strange mixture of excitement and nervousness. She's usually so controlled that if you didn't know her, you'd think nothing was wrong. If the truth be told, both of them were acting weird. Diego was very intuitive when it came to picking up on things that bothered either Damian or I. It was very unsettling for him when either of us was upset.

We had talked to Scott about that during several of our appointments. It had to do with the fact that Diego had been abandoned. and his little mind interpreted any deviation from the norm as our being upset with him. Damian, of course, exhibited that same behavior and I recall sitting in Scott's office when it seemed like the room was suddenly brighter. That was realization dawning for me as I started to understand some of their actions now that I knew the reasons behind both of their behaviors.

We finally got everything settled the second night on the road. Diego was sleeping in the other bed and we had this really intense, whispered discussion. I was...jaded is not exactly the right word. It's more like I took a lot for granted. I climbed into that Explorer when we left and didn't even think about the fact that neither one of them had been on a trip like this. I didn't think about the fact that neither of them had been raised with parents and siblings. I didn't think about the fact that neither of them had a clue about what to expect, either during the trip or when we arrived at my parents. I had been all caught up in everything else going on around me, except for the two most important people in my life. I forget, sometimes, that what may be run of the mill for me is not for them. For her.

The rest of the trip was pure joy for me. We all relaxed and had a great time. It's been a tremendous pleasure for me to see things through her eyes. There are so many things that I'd seen that she hadn't. It was that way for me with Diego as well. I rediscovered so much about life.

It really has been an interesting day and a half. When I woke up yesterday morning, I just couldn't stand it anymore. I had to talk to her about those papers.

She knew something was wrong with me. I could tell by the way she looked at me. It was this really intense look, as if she was trying to see inside me. I felt guilty. If only I hadn't read those damn papers, but I had, and now I was going to inflict pain on her. I had planned to do it after breakfast and a little writing where I would let my anger out on paper, then talk to her after I had calmed down. Her words during breakfast caused me to change my plans.

We were up early and were sitting outside eating omelets. I suppose I wasn't really eating mine. There was a bite I was balancing on my fork that was halfway to my mouth and I was staring absently at some birds splashing around in the bird bath.




I looked over to her. "Uh, yeah?" She looked concerned.

"What's wrong?"


She took her napkin from her lap, dabbed at her mouth, dropped it in the plate, which I noticed was empty, and pushed it away from her before staring intently at me. I looked down at my plate and I had taken perhaps three bites of my omelet. When I looked back up, she raised an eyebrow at me in question.

"I...." I had no idea where to start. To my credit, I didn't blurt out something stupid like your mother's a fucking bitch and if she were alive, I'd remedy that situation in about a minute. "I read the papers St. Vincent's sent."

She nodded her head.

"And I got...." What did I get? Angry? Enraged would be the better word. Why did I get enraged? "I love you more than anything. I never want anything to hurt you."

This little loving smile made its way onto her face. "My protector."

The words seemed almost ludicrous. Sitting across from me was this strong, capable woman who was very capable of using deadly force to protect herself and others. Yet, she was calling me her protector. I imagine in certain ways that I am, at least emotionally. I felt the anger drain away. "Always."

"Didn't like what you read?"

Damian has a unique ability to make understatements. Massive understatements. "No."

"Things like that, Jules, when they come in the mail, it's never good." I don't agree with that one hundred percent, but I allowed that this time, it wasn't. "You gonna tell me what's in them or do you want me to read them?"

She was giving me an out. "I...the papers upset me, Damian." I had to talk about this. She needed to know what it was that had upset me. So I took the out she had offered. I can be such a coward sometimes. "If you read the papers, I really want us to talk about them. Will you promise me that?"

"I'll read them and we'll talk. Where are they?"

"In the sunroom on the little table in the corner."

"I'll read 'em this morning and we can talk when you get back. Now finish your breakfast, Jules. The omelet was great, by the way. Thank you."

Get back? Oh, right, I had an appointment to get my hair cut. "You're welcome." I finally took a bite. This time, I paid attention to what I was eating. It was good. Very good. I impress myself, sometimes. "What are you going to do this morning?"

She shrugged a little. "Read the papers, then finish the roof on the gazebo. Maybe start painting it if I have time."

I felt better. She would read the papers. We would talk. We'd work through it. How bad could it be?

When I returned from getting my hair cut, I found out just how bad it could be. Actually, what I found out was just how bad I could make it in my mind.

I walked into the house, not really expecting Damian to be inside. She would be on top of the gazebo, doing something with shingles. I almost passed out when I saw the blood all over the kitchen sink and her ring sitting next to it. Not her ring. The ring. One of a matched set. The set of rings that we had gotten for each other. The ones that symbolized everything worth anything in my life.

My mind went to warp ten and my first thought was that the papers had upset her so badly that she had killed herself. I can't even tell you the other thoughts that were racing through my head as I started screaming her name and running through the house looking for her. I frantically searched the house and couldn't find her. I went running through the back door. I just knew she had gone out into the woods to die. I really do shock myself at how fast I can go absolutely crazy. I found her sitting by the pool, her legs dangling in the water, as she petted Maya with her right hand. The other was bandaged. Rather poorly, I might add.

She was alive. I started crying and screaming at her at the same time. My poor angel. She had no idea what was going on...what had been running through my mind in the two minutes it had taken me to find her. The next thing I knew, she was standing there, with her arms around me, whispering to me and holding me tightly.

"Sweetheart, what's the matter? What's wrong?"

I stopped screaming. I didn't stop crying as a wave of relief swept through me. She held me for a long time as I cried. I finally managed to get out a few words. Not very eloquently, either. "Blood...ring...thought you...." I stopped as I realized that I had really thought she had committed suicide.

My mother and I had talked about that - my fear that the anger would overwhelm her and that she'd end up hurting herself. I thought I had dealt with that. It seems I hadn't.

"You thought someone hurt me?"

I wanted so badly to say yes. To deny what my fear had been. But I needed to deal with that fear, and part of dealing with it meant we had to talk about it. It struck me that she hadn't seemed upset, at least not until I acted like a lunatic. Maybe she hadn't read the papers yet. "No. Did you read the papers?"

"Well, yeah, but what does that have to do with...." She stopped and I felt her tighten her hold on me. "You.... Oh."

"Can we go inside and talk about all this?" It was hot and my back was starting to itch from the hair that had fallen down there during my haircut. Those robe things they make you wear never work right. Damian was alive and well, except for her hand, that is. "What happened to your hand?"

"Nail from the nail gun went through it."

I felt myself shudder. "Ow! Is it okay? Let me see." I reached for her bandaged hand.

"Let's get inside, Jules."

"Can I look at your hand, take a shower and then we can talk?"

"Sure, baby." Her hand lightly scratched my back as we walked inside. "Hair itching you?"

"Yeah, a little." My hand reached up to scratch my own back. Talking about it was making it worse.

Damian can be so much more rational than I can be about certain things. I looked at her hand. The nail had caught the fleshy part of her palm between her thumb and her index finger. It was a nice clean hole, all the way through. Not a very easy place to bandage. She patiently withstood my examination and questions.

"Honey, how did this happen?" Damian isn't careless with power tools.

"Um, Maya...well, she was in the...pool." The way she said it, I suspect that's not the first time the dog's been swimming in the pool. "I was yelling at her to get out and she wasn't listening. I put the nail gun down and the damn thing just went off."

"Ow," I murmured and kissed her re-bandaged hand.

She gave me on of those shy, goofy, lop-sided grins. "Feels better already. Thanks."

"I love you, you know."

"I know."

We jumped into the shower together and she scrubbed my back. Then we threw on some t-shirts and boxers and settled on the couch to talk. She actually started first, which surprised me.

"I read the papers, Jules. Why did they upset you so much?"

"I...she...." I tried to keep the anger out of my voice. "'s not right."

"It just is what it is, Jules."

"I don't like it," I said stubbornly. "I was...disappointed."

Her hand squeezed mine. "You always like happy endings."

"Yeah, I do."

"Jules...." She paused and tilted her head a little. "Compared to everything else...I don't have the energy to get that angry about it. My mother...she...she's no one I ever knew, Jules. She had a lot of problems, and I was one of those. She solved it. I know that you wanted things to have been different for me. I...sometimes, I wish it had been different, but that's a fantasy. Things just are what they are. What happened is what made me who I am, and you love me for who I am. So, it does have a happy ending in my mind." She lifted my hand and kissed it.

What do you say to that? I wouldn't have wanted a different ending. I can't imagine not knowing her, not being with her. If it had been different, we may not have ever met. "You are my happy ending."

She gave me another one of those shy, lopsided grins as those blue eyes peeked out from under her dark lashes. She really is so adorable.

I practically crawled into her lap. I needed to be close to her. If I could have crawled inside her skin, I would have. I started kissing her. Slow, sweet kisses. The kind where your lips meet in easy familiarity and the touch is nothing but love. I hadn't intended for the kisses to start anything. But they did.

Damian's arms tightened around my waist, her hands pressed against my back as she pulled me even closer and I could hear her breathing quicken as her breasts pressed into me. I was reminded of all those times we had kissed before we ever made love. I have no idea how I had managed to be so patient and not just rip her clothes off and take her.

My hands tangled in her hair and I deepened the kiss, my tongue brushing against her lips and finally exploring her mouth. A soft moan escaped from her as our tongues met. I could feel my passion for her rising ever so slowly. I would be patient and enjoy every second, I told myself. So that's exactly what I did. We kissed for forever and spoke soft words of love and desire.

I asked her for permission to make love to her. It may seem strange to you that I asked first. If you knew Damian, it wouldn't seem strange at all. She almost always puts my pleasure before hers and will often make me come several times before she achieves orgasm. I needed to make love to her. To have her be first. I don't know if that makes any sense to you, but it does to me. There have been very few times in her life where she has ever been first for anything. She is first for me. I needed to show her that. To tell her that. I needed to give and not take.

I was on my knees, between her legs, licking her softly. I could feel her body getting so tense. My eyes lifted and were captured by intense blue eyes, brimming with tears. Her emotions seemed to swirl in the blue pools. Her right hand moved behind my head and she pressed down softly, increasing the pressure. I don't know how long we stared into each other's eyes. A quick gasp escaped her and I could feel her start to explode in my mouth. I didn't stop what I was doing until she begged me to through her tears that she had released as well.

I crawled back on top of her and we lay quietly on the couch until she had regained control of her breathing. She reached for me, but I stopped her. She looked at me questioningly. "That was just for you, angel. Later...later," I whispered. I was glad when she stopped and wrapped her arms around me.

Damian really isn't used to having anyone do anything for her. Even after our being together this long, it still comes as kind of a surprise. I need to surprise her more often. I remember the first time I did something along these lines, she was...really confused.

She had called me and said she was on her way over. I had asked how her day was. She said it was okay, but her tone was so weary. I decided to make her a bubble bath. It would be great, my mind reasoned. I'd pamper her a little bit. She could climb into the bath and soak and relax. I'd give her a glass of wine. I'd finish dinner and then we could relax together with a good meal and the rest of the bottle of wine.

She came in and I proudly led her into the bathroom, where a nice tub full of steaming water and bubbles awaited her.

"What's this?"

"A bubble bath."

"You gonna take a bath?"

"No, it's for you." Obviously, my little surprise wasn't as self-evident as I thought it would be.

"Oh." She leaned down and poked at the bubbles.

"Let me go get you a glass of wine."

I retrieved the wine and came back. I expected her to be undressed and in the tub. She was still fully clothed and staring at the bubbles. "You gonna climb in?"

"Um, yeah." She seemed unsure and a little suspicious.

"Need some help undressing?"

"Uh, no." She took a big sip of the wine I handed her. "A bubble bath." She took another sip of wine. "Huh."

I still hadn't figured out a lot of things about Damian yet. "Yes, a bubble bath."


Why? Wasn't it obvious? "On the phone, you sounded like you had a hard day. I just thought it would be nice for you to soak a little and relax before dinner."


She still hadn't made a move to take any of her clothes off, so I bent down and started untying her shoelaces.


At the genuine distress in her voice, I stopped and stood. "What's the matter?"

"I never had a bubble bath before," she mumbled. "No did this for me?"

Ah, I see what the problem is now, I thought. "Yes, sweetheart, I did. Just for you. Now get undressed and climb in before the water gets cold and all the bubbles go away. I'm going to finish dinner."

I went back and checked on her a couple of times. The second time, I caught her building little bubble mountains. She is so adorable.

We talked about a lot of other things as we lay on the couch yesterday. We talked about my fear that the anger inside her would win. We talked about her job and her going back to it if they'll let her. We talked about where we'd been and where we're going. We covered quite a lot of ground before we finally got up and decided to drive into the city for dinner.

I wonder what's taking her so long. Not that it's a surprise. She knows a lot of the people down here and probably has been doing a little mini-inspection and checking on them.


Jules is taking a nap. I can't believe she fell asleep on a full stomach. We've been down here at our apartment in the Quarter. We came into the city last night to have dinner and decided to stay over. It's been a while since we've done that. We ate raw oysters and barbecued shrimp last night. Then for breakfast, we had these blueberry cream cheese croissants. And for lunch, we had muffalettas.

Jules has this thing for food. I've eaten so many different kinds of food since we've been together. Not that I hadn't eaten some stuff before, but mostly it was Louisiana food. Things you can't really get anywhere else. Grilled alligator is great. The fried tends to be a little tough. I've had nutria, or what some people call swamp rat. Tasted like chicken. Jules wouldn't try it. Seems like she had a bad experience when she used to travel around with rats being served as appetizer, main course and dessert. I don't remember where. There's a guy around here who makes emu jerky. It's not bad. Not that emu is native to Louisiana, but he grows them on his farm with ostriches and he makes this really good ostrich stew that's really spicy.

The oysters last night were great. Very salty. The shrimp were really good, too. I have no idea why they call them barbecued, because they don't get near a pit and they don't have barbecue sauce on them. But my favorite's the muffaletta. It's a sandwich. A big sandwich, made on this special round Italian bread. They layer ham, provolone and Genoa salami on the bread and spoon on this olive salad mix that's been soaking in olive oil. If there is a god out there, then he made this sandwich. Some places serve it hot and some serve it cold. It's all in the olive salad. You screw up the olive salad and it's all over with. I remember the first time I took Jules to eat one at this little place by the lake. They serve the best hot one in the city, in my opinion. Jules moaned so much while she was eating it, I thought the guy at the table next to us was going to fall out of his chair trying to see if Jules was having an orgasm. I think she might have. The sandwiches are that good. Food in New Orleans runs a close second to sex.

I feel...good today. Better than I have in a while. Jules and I talked again yesterday, for a really long time. I go to places in conversations with her that I never want to go to. Somehow, she always manages to get me to those places and then back again, relatively intact.

It all started when I scared the shit out of her yesterday. I didn't mean to, but that's what happened. I stuck a nail in my hand. It was bleeding pretty profusely, so I went into the kitchen. That was the closest sink to the back door. It's a good thing I didn't venture farther into the house, because I got blood all over the kitchen. God only knows what would have happened if Jules had found blood somewhere else. I washed my hand pretty good and had taken my ring off to clean it and left it to dry because it was full of blood. Jules saw the blood and ring and lost it.

I was sitting outside, playing with the dog. All of a sudden, Jules was crying and screaming at me. I had no idea what was wrong. She saw the blood and the ring, thought about the papers from St. Vincent's, put two and two together and came up with seventeen. She thought I had killed myself. That was kind of a shock. I guess the papers had upset me a little, but if I hadn't killed myself over what happened with Diego, I certainly wasn't going to give my mother the satisfaction of reaching out from the grave and stealing one more thing from me. I may be crazy, but I'm not that crazy.

After I read the papers, I had thought about it. What was the difference, really? My mother just had done it sooner than I thought she had. The end result was still the same - I was raised in an orphanage. Things could have been a lot worse. They weren't. All in all, I was pretty lucky. I'm not saying that it wouldn't have been nice to have been raised like most other kids. Just that, given my alternatives, I didn't make out so bad.

There are questions that I'll never know the answers to. The stuff with my mother, why she did it...I'm not going to waste my time on that. Those fall under the category of answers I'll never get. I know now, thanks to Jules, that what I experienced affected the way that I look at things. That I need to be on guard against certain tendencies that I have, and that I need to remember that there are other ways to look at things. What good is knowing anything else gonna do?

Those papers made Jules really angry. She is so protective of me. It's very sweet and I love her even more for that. I've never had anyone that wanted to protect me before. I think she finally understands now that she can't do anything to change what happened.

She forgets, though, that she's done so much to make things better for me. She's so patient with me, and she makes such an effort to understand me, even when I'm not sure what the hell is going on with me. The few people I went out with before, well, it just never worked out. She's so different. She's a woman, for one thing. But that's not really what it is. I know that I'm different with her. Better. I'm a better person with Jules in my life.

We talked about some other things besides the papers. I scared her. Really badly. She...the suicide thing. I was surprised, at first, that she thought that. But then when I thought about it, I guess I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that she must have known that I had thought about it. But I hadn't thought about it in a while, so I guess my surprise was that it was still a concern for her. I know that I had a really difficult time a week or so ago.

"You...really worry that I'm gonna, you know...kill myself?"

She took a deep breath. Whenever Jules takes a deep breath, I know she's been thinking a lot about something. "I...yes, I've been concerned that it's a possibility. I mean, it's always a possiblity. There are lots of things that are possibilities. We could die in a car accident tomorrow." She was holding my hand in both of hers and squeezing really tight. Her eyes never left my hand. "You are very...angry. And there hasn't been any outlet for your anger. Anger can turn into depression, and I think you've been depressed."

I listened quietly. I didn't like what she was saying, but the fear I had seen in her eyes this had to do with this and I don't ever want to see that fear in her eyes again. I didn't interrupt. I would let her finish.

"We've both...been through a lot. But you...and you've been so strong, Damian, so strong for me while I fell apart. You're...human. I forget that sometimes, then I look at you and see one of your scars, and I'm reminded of how human you are. I worry that all of this will take its toll on you. That the anger will kill you, one way or another. I thought that I had gotten over the fear, but then today, it...caught me by surprise. I guess I just want to know that what's happened isn't going to result in another...casualty." She looked up into my eyes. "I get scared that I'm going to miss some sign that tells me that you're in trouble and that you'll drown in all that anger. That I won't be able to help you. I can't lose you."

I wanted to get up and move around, but I couldn't. She was holding my hand like a vise. I thought about what she said. Have I been angry? Oh, yeah. No denying that. Had I been depressed? I...I...yes. "But I feel better now."

"That's...good. I...remember when we went through that whole thing with Diego...talking about wanting to do it right? Making sure that we gave him every opportunity to be happy and well-adjusted?"

I nodded my head. How could I forget?

"I want to make sure that we give ourselves every opportunity to grieve and to heal. I...the thing I want...need most in this world is you. I don't want to be half of anything for you. I...have no experience with this, Damian. Just like I had no experience when it came to some of the things we needed to do to ensure Diego's happiness and well-being. We both did everything that we could to make sure that we did it as right as it could be done.'re worth no less of a chance."

She took another deep breath. She must have really been thinking about this. "I...I've been thinking about going to talk to someone...a therapist...about what's happened."

"That's good."

"I want you to come with me."

"I don't want to do that. I...only talk to you."

She took another deep breath, and I knew I was in trouble. Jules knew what my answer would be and she had already marshaled her arguments. "Angel, one of the true joys in my life has been the trust that you place in me. I...couldn't even begin to tell you what that means to me. But this, Damian, I...I do want to be the one that you talk to.'s not that I don't. I..I'm not..shit! Please don't take this the wrong way. I'm not qualified to deal with some of this stuff. place so much faith in me. What if I handled something wrong? If I lost you because of that...I'd never be able to live with myself. You're way too important to me to take chances on."

I don't now why I fought her for so long on it. I...I ended up making a promise to her that I'll do whatever it takes. I hate fucking promises. But I had to. The fear I saw in her eyes...I won't let my anger win. I can't. So I promised her that I would do it. She said that she thinks it will help us both a lot. I really don't want to go. How many times do we have to relive this? I want it to go away, but it doesn't seem like it will.

I got her to laugh, though. I love it when she laughs. I told her that I'd talk about anything but our sex life. Those discussions are reserved for her and her alone. She's the only person I've ever had those discussions with. Well, Jules and Diego. I actually didn't really talk in the main discussion that we had with Diego about sex. Jules and I were both there, but Jules did most of the talking. I concentrated on looking relaxed and at ease with the discussion. I nodded my head a lot. It was important for him to know that sex is something that's natural and nothing to be ashamed of. No one ever told me that. Until Jules, that is.

Jules has this way of making me feel comfortable about things. I wondered if some of the things I thought about were normal, healthy. Sometimes, we kind of stumbled onto the questions I had. Like the talk we had about masturbation. It's not that I had a whole lot of reason to masturbate. Jules and I were making love frequently. We weren't living together yet, but we spent almost every night that we could together.

One night, I was really exhausted. She insisted that I come over after work. I promptly fell asleep on the couch. I can be such an exciting date. I must have sleepwalked to the bed, because I didn't remember getting in it. The next thing I knew, I was wide awake and I could feel movement in the bed. I had no idea what in the hell was going on.

"Juliana?" I whispered.

The movement stopped. "Um, yeah?" She whispered back.

I whispered, "Is everything okay?" It sounded like she was out of breath.

She rolled onto her side and slung her leg over mine. Her lips found my neck. "You're awake...mmmm."

"Uh huh." I wondered why we were still whispering. As far as I knew, we were the only two in the apartment, and we both seemed to be awake.

She arched her body into mine. "Feels so good."

"You, couldn't sleep?"

I heard a wicked little laugh. "Oh, I was sleeping all right. I was having this great dream about you." Her voice was this kind of growling purr. It sent shivers through me. "I'll have to tell you about it sometime. Or better yet, show you." One of her hands slid up my body and started kneading my breast. "I woke up and I was so excited, but...I know how tired you were." She started moving her hips and I could feel how wet she was. "I didn't want to wake you." She moaned. "So I decided to take the matter into my own hands."

I stopped whispering. "What?"

She bit down on my neck. "But you're awake now. You wanna give a poor, horny girl a hand?"


"Baby, I need you to fuck me. Now...please." Jules can be...well, straight-forward. And single-minded. She talks about me being the quiet Catholic girl you have to watch out for. She forgets that I learned everything I know from her. I imagine I'll learn a lot more by the time she's through with me.

She really didn't wait for my answer as she kissed me passionately. Not that I would have said no. That must have been some dream. Between the kiss and her body on top of mine and thinking about her touching herself, there was no way I was going to say no.

Afterwards, when we were lying there, I asked her about it. "Jules?"

"Hmmm?" she murmured sleepily.

"Before I woke up...what..well, what would have happened if I hadn't woken up?"

"You'd have slept."

"I know that. I mean, with you."

"I imagine I'd have had an orgasm and then curled up next to you and gone back to sleep."

"You can do that?"

"I'm multi-talented, sweetheart. I can have an orgasm and go to sleep." She chuckled. "I probably have had orgasms in my sleep. That is talent." Another chuckle, but this one had that wicked tone to it.

"So you were, um, uh...I...I...." I thought that if you were with someone, then you didn't masturbate. Naive, I know, but there you have it. It's what I thought. Everybody thinks that because I'm a cop and have seen a lot of shit, that I know things. How in the hell would I know anything about this? It's not like I'm going to arrest someone for burglary and say, "Hey, by the way, what are your views on masturbation? Do you do it when you're in a relationship?" And I sure as hell wasn't about to ask any of the guys in the squad room. "Say, Theo, does your wife masturbate when you're not around?" That would go over well.

My stuttering must have fully awakened her because she lifted up on her elbows. I could barely make her face out in the dark. "Damian, did it bother you that I was masturbating when you woke up? I much prefer your touch, but you were so tired and I didn't want to wake you up and frankly, I just needed some relief from that damn dream."

Bother me? Let's see. It confused me. It excited me. It definitely didn't bother me. At least not in the bother way that I thought Jules meant. "Not...exactly." Wow, she prefers my touch. That made me feel good. Then I started to wonder if it was normal that her touching herself aroused me. Why couldn't I have just kept my mouth shut? Jules was probably going to think I was some sick pervert. She'd kick me out of her bed and her life. She'd tell family services. I wouldn't be able to adopt Diego. God, how could I have fucked up so badly? "I need to go." I blurted it out.

Jules was really awake now. "Where are you going? It's...." She twisted her head and looked at the alarm clock. "Almost four o'clock."

"I...." My mind couldn't come up with anything plausible.

"Damian, what's the matter?" My muscles ached. I had gotten so tense. "Please tell me what's bothering you. I can tell something is."

I wanted to scream, "I'm a pervert and you're going to leave me." I told you that I can get carried away sometimes.

"Is this about what happened? Sweetheart? I'm sorry, I...didn't even give you a chance to say no. I...that was selfish of me. You were just so warm and felt so good and that dream...I'm so sorry. Can you forgive me?"

"It's...not that, Juliana. That was...fine. I...never mind. I'll go back to sleep." That last statement, well, that was wishful thinking on my part. I had been with Jules long enough to know that there would be no sleep for me until we had talked about this. I briefly thought about praying that she would fall asleep. Then I realized that God probably doesn't answer a pervert's prayers, so I discarded that idea. Maybe that's why praying had never worked before. I just hadn't realized I was a pervert.

"What did you mean by 'not exactly,' Damian?"

My mind groaned. She was now sitting up and reaching for the light. Could this get any worse? "It didn't bother me. That's what I meant." The light was now on and she was staring at me intently. Yes, it could get worse, I decided. I could feel myself starting to blush. Oh, yeah, this could get a lot worse.

Jules did that little thing she does when she's thinking, tilting her head slightly to the left. Her brow furrowed a little and there was a definite crinkle around her eyes. I started to squirm. Then, there was that little, almost imperceptible nod. I was in for it. "Do you masturbate?"

I know I turned beet red. I got indignant. "Of course, I did. I'm not a virgin!" The fact that masturbation and virginity had nothing to do with each other didn't concern me. It sounded good at the time. Of course, I totally missed that I said the word, "did."

"You did, but you haven't since...."

"No. I...I...why would I want to?"

"Well, lots of reasons. Take my dream, for example. Do you want to know what I was dreaming about?" I nodded mutely, and so my education continued. "Well, it involved you and me and self-stimulation." I gulped. But it was a relieved gulp. It was possible that I wasn't a pervert.

We've actually lived Jules' dream. Repeatedly. It's high on the top ten list of erotic experiences for me. I think for Jules, too.

There's so much that Jules does that is consistent. That's so important to me.'s sort of like history for me. I really don't have any. When I was little, kids in school would talk about their families. In history class, we were asked if any of our relatives had fought in any of the wars. One kid raised her hand and said that her great, great grandfather had. That was over a hundred years ago when I was in sixth grade. I only had twelve years of history. And it was all mine. I suppose I could have made something up, but what was the point? I learned early on in the orphanage that lying never did you any good. Somehow, those nuns found out about everything. They may be nuns, but that didn't mean they were stupid.

We tried to be really consistent with Diego. I think we were. We had talked to him about going back to Mexico, all three of us, as a family. It was important to me that he know where he came from. We never got the chance to do that. We never got the chance to do so much.

I...for a long while, I didn't want the chance to do anything else. I fucked up royally, and the only way I know how to pay for my mistakes that would make things even is to die. But then Jules would have to pay for my mistakes doubly. She's already paid once. I can't do that to her again.

I don't know what I'm gonna do about going back to the job. Of course, it might not even be an issue. I haven't heard anything yet from the department psychs. I have a hell of a lot of leave and sick time accumulated, and I'm on disability leave right now. They could hang me out until I hit twenty years of service if they wanted to and then force me to retire. The pay sucks, but the benefits are great.

It's not about the money. Jules' dad made sure that we bought all the right insurances. We've got more money than a human being should be allowed to have. I hate the fucking money. I'd rather work for sixteen hours a day for the rest of my life than have this money.

I have other options if I want to continue police work. I found out yesterday that Jules isn't too thrilled with that idea. That was another surprise. She never had a problem with it before. She must have talked to her mother about it. That's why Marilyn was asking me those questions when she and Ed were here visiting.

I need to think about what it is that I want some more. I don't know how to do anything else. I...don't like that the decision is being taken away from me by the department. When I walk away, I want it to be on my terms, not theirs. And then there's the Jules factor. That's the most important one of all. This is going to take some serious thinking.

Belief 10

Feedback can be directed to troubleshooter

Back to Main Page

Problems, questions, etc., please contact the webmistress.



Copyright © 2000 Interactive Fiction, Inc. All rights reserved.


All original fiction and poetry are the property of the authors and are subject to copyright laws, as well as other laws, including, but not limited to, other applicable state, federal, territorial and international laws and treaties.  You are granted permission to print these pages or save to a file on your computer for personal use only.  No other use is permissible, except where otherwise specified in writing or where the author's prior express written consent has been obtained.  Any other use of the materials, including, but not limited to, distribution, modification, reproduction, publication, transmission, participation in the transfer of or sale of, performance, creation of derivative works, or in any other way, the use of which results in the exploitation of any of the materials, in whole or in part, for uses other than those expressly permitted herein, is strictly forbidden.  The characters of Xena: Warrior Princess are the property of Renaissance Pictures, Universal MCA, and who knows who else.  Any use by an author herein is not intended to infringe on the copyright holders of the characters.

  Revised: March 1, 2001