Chapter 3

Good morning.

Well, actually, it started out horrible, but it's getting better. I woke up to an empty bed at five this morning. I absolutely hate that now. I've gotten pretty spoiled waking up with her every morning. After the task force had disbanded, she went back to working in a district, the First District. I hated when she worked nights. Then, after everything happened and she was in the hospital, and I wasn't sure if....

No! I need to stop that. I make myself crazy thinking about it. No what ifs. It didn't happen. She's alive and she's here. We're here, together.

I found her outside, sitting in the dark by the pool, her long legs dangling in the water.

“What's wrong?” she asked as I came up beside her.

I was angry at her for not being there when I awakened and relieved that the fear that she was gone was just the product of a half-asleep mind. I sighed and ran one hand through her hair as she looked up at me. It's okay, Juliana, I told myself. “Nothing, baby. I just missed you, that's all.”

She patted the ground next to her and I sat down next to her.

“Having trouble sleeping?”

“A little. I....” She slid her arm around me and pulled me closer. “Just couldn't sleep.”

I studied her profile. Do I press her about it? Yes, it's time. “Why?”

“Don't know why.” I could feel her shoulders shrug a little. “Just couldn't, that's all.”

I know she knows why. She just doesn't want to tell me. It's still very difficult for us to talk about what happened, more so for her than for me. She stops when I start to get upset, and no measure of reassurance on my part that I'm not upset with her, that I don't blame her for what happened, that I'm not angry with her, will get her to start again. So she opts not to start any conversations.

I know what I went through. I can't even imagine what it must have been like for her. I've tried and tried, but it's incomprehensible to me. I get angry with her. I want to know. I want her to tell me what happened. Every last detail. She thinks it will spare me pain if I don't know. I think it hurts more not knowing. Hence, our impasse.

It's too damn early in the morning for this. I haven't even had coffee yet. I could feel myself getting angry...frustrated. I want this all to go away. I want us to be happy. Like it was. Like it was when Diego was alive. When the toughest thing we were facing was raising our child...not losing him.

I don't want to go through this alone. I don't want her to go through it alone. I want her to talk to me. I don't know what the words will do. Something...anything..... I feel so far away from her sometimes...shut out. I have this dream. It's like she's in this soundproof booth and I can see her...see what this has done to her...what it's still doing to her. I call out to her and she doesn't hear me. I want to take my heart and soul it to her. Point to the wounds and say, “Look! This is what's happened to me. It's what's happened to you. I need you to heal. I need you to heal me.”

There was a time, not so long ago, when there were no walls between us. When we would sit in our old family room, and the world was perfect. At least for me. All three of us cuddled together on the sofa, watching 101 Dalmatians for the hundred and first time, Damian on the floor with Diego playing some game or another...any of a million memories of us. And invariably, at some point in time, I'd find two sets of eyes – one, a pale, ghostly blue, the other, a warm, soft brown - fastened on me with a look of absolute adoration and love.

My breath always caught. There was no other feeling in the world like it. As much as I hate what happened, as angry as I can get about it, as painful as it has was all worth it. I'd do it over and over and over again, for just one of those looks from my two angels.

I could feel the tears running down my cheeks again and I closed my eyes. Soft fingers brushed them away.

“I'm sorry,” she said again.

“Please...don't be sorry. I'm just remembering good things.”

She held me closer and took a deep breath. “I' have the good things.”

“We...Damian...we have a lot of good things.” I felt her body tense.

“I don't deserve any good things.” Her voice shook with the anger I could feel surging through her body.

I shifted away from her and looked at her profile. “Stop it!” I'm surprised when the words come out so virulently. “You are not to blame for this. The people who are have gotten their justice and I hope their corpses are rotting in hell.”

Her head snapped around to look at me. “You...don' you...really think that?” I could see in her eyes that she's confused.

Do I? “All of me knows that you're not to blame for what happened.” I still can't bring myself to say out loud that Diego is dead. I did once, when she was in the hospital and she had just come around. She had looked at me and swallowed a few times. I could see the tiny spark of hope in the haunted blue as she prepared to ask the question I didn't want to answer. I answered before she could ask, and watched that hope, and part of her, die. I don't think I can see that again. Not right now. “A part of me is glad that they...died.”

“And the other part?”

I could hear the fear in her voice. “Scares me...I wanted them to suffer so much do....” I wanted to do what you did, do you understand that, my love? I want to know what it felt like to make them hurt as much as I hurt. Make them feel the pain. Look in their eyes and tell them that I was taking them away from their families. Like they took Diego away from us.

I could see the surprise then the comprehension in her eyes as she listened to my words. She reached out and laid her hand over my heart. “You couldn't have,” she said softly.

I'm not as sure as she is. And that scares me. “I miss him so much.”

Her arms reached out and pulled me close again. “I miss him, too.” Her voice broke. “Very much.”

I slipped my arms around her and held her. She felt so good. If I had lost her, too, I don't know what I would have done.

“I...sometimes, I wish I had died.”

The words surprised me, but only because she said them aloud. I've wondered if she's had thoughts of…. She's so angry and keeps it inside. I don't want to ask, but I need to know. “Do you still wish that?”

“Not….” She paused, then said in a stronger voice. “No, not right now.”

I held her tighter. “I love you, you know.”

“I know.”


I had some trouble sleeping last night. So what else is new. I usually stay in bed and watch Jules sleep, trying to just not think. If I look at her enough, touch her enough…I don't know. I couldn't stay in bed last night, though. I felt like I wanted to jump out of my skin.

I scared Jules again. I could see it in her eyes when she found me out by the pool. She says she doesn't blame me for what happened, that's she's glad I did what I did. But she doesn't know what really happened. I know Joe Duncan told her some of it. I know she saw the aftermath. I don't know if I can ever tell her everything. She'd leave me if she knew. I wouldn't survive that.

Sometimes I wish I didn't know the things that I do. Ignorance is truly bliss. When you have knowledge…information…skills, you can choose to use them, or not. I couldn't tell you how I ended up in law enforcement…learned the things I did. Well, I can, sort of. It wasn't because of any childhood dream. I didn't have those. When you grew up where I did, you just didn't dream. It was easier that way. I still don't dream.

I was out of time. At the home, I mean. Girls could only stay there until they were eighteen. I didn't have many options. I would be turning eighteen in a little over a month. College was not an option. I wasn't stupid, but I had not been the best student in school so there was no way I was going to get a scholarship. Student loans back then required a parent. I didn't have any. Like I said, not a lot of options.

I had been going on job interview after job interview that the Sisters had set up.. I absolutely hated every one of them. The thought of sitting in an office made my skin crawl. It wasn't that I was ungrateful for their help. I just wanted to be free. My favorite times were when I was outside, in the open air. I didn't want to be stuck in an office somewhere. I tried to tell them, but like everything else, what they thought was best is what counted. Nothing that I wanted ever counted.

I went to the corner on a Sunday and bought a local paper. I remember it like it was yesterday. On the bottom left hand corner of the fourth page of the classifieds was the ad that captured my attention. It read “Become a Law Enforcement Professional - Minimum requirements: 18 years of age. Clean criminal record.” Something I qualified for, and I wouldn't be trapped inside an office. Definitely not something the Sisters would approve of.

The next morning, when I got my bus money from Sister Mary Patricia to go for the interview I was supposed to go on, I thanked her, got on the bus and headed straight for Tulane and Broad, where police headquarters still is. I talked with a grizzled old sergeant, now long-retired, who shuffled me off to City Hall, where I had to take a civil service test. If I passed, then I could come back and fill out and application and begin the process. He told me it would take about a month to go through the whole process.

“Perfect,” I had answered. I walked out with ink smudges still on the tips of my fingers from being fingerprinted. I was soaring, until I remembered that I had to go back and tell Sister Mary Patricia and the others. It did not go well.

That was August 29, 1983. Back then, they didn't do a whole lot of anything when they hired a new officer. Now, there's a battery of psychology tests, physical tests and intensive background checks. I would have failed the psychological tests. It's why I'm not working now. They put me on disability leave because they don't feel I'm mentally ready to go back to the job.

I don't think it has anything to do with that. They think they know what happened and they don't want me back. It's as simple as that. They think I snapped and they're worried that I'm going to snap again and my body count will go higher. Innocent people will be killed and they'll have lawsuits to defend out their ass.

I didn't snap. I knew what I was doing. All of it. I knew every single thing that I was doing and I'd do it over again in a heartbeat. It was a conscious decision. I was not out of my mind. I was a sane and rational being the entire time. I have no regrets. No remorse. And that's something they can't come to terms with. I don't even know if Jules can. It's...we've never talked about it.

They also think I have did the report read...oh yeah. An anger management problem. I do manage to get angry. It's never been a problem. They just don't like what I do with it. For the most part, I do not let my anger get the best of me. I hold it in. They think I should let it out. I don't think I should. It's not always justified. Anger tends to be my first response to, well, pretty much everything.

Jules got a taste of me managing to let my anger out a little more than a week after our little Coast Guard cutter experience. She really is very good at handling me. She always does it in a way that doesn't make it seem like I'm being handled.

I dealt with what happened between us on the Coast Guard cutter like I deal with most things I have no idea what to do about. I ignored it. Seemed to work for her, because no mention was made of it when we both showed up to visit Diego the next morning.

Then, about a week later, we arrived at the hospital at the same time one morning. We ended up riding in the elevator together. She stopped to use the restroom and I continued on to the children's ward.

Diego wasn't in his bed nor was he in the playroom. I...panicked, I guess. I ended up at the nurse's station, demanding to know where he was. The nurse there stared at me as if I had lost my mind.

Then Jules suddenly appeared. I don't know how she does what she does. I think part of it is that she looks me straight in the eye and asks me what's wrong. There's no nonsense about her. I don't feel like I'm being placated and she doesn't tell me to calm down. The fastest thing that makes me lose control is for someone to tell me that I'm not really feeling what I'm feeling. How the fuck do they know? Who are they to judge what I'm feeling? Jules doesn't do that. She lets me have my feelings. She's the only person that ever did.


I heard her voice and I looked up into the mirror, seeing my reflection looking back at me questioningly. I nodded silently to myself. No question about it. Damian was angry. I didn't even bother to dry my hands as I ran out the bathroom.

“Where is he?” she demanded again. Her low voice thundered across the room and I swear the windowpanes rattled.

“Now, ma'am.” The nurse held her hands up in a defensive posture and took a step back.

I took a deep breath and put myself between Damian and the nurse. I looked Damian squarely in the eyes and made her look back at me. “What's wrong?”

“Diego...he's not here.”

I turned back to the nurse, who was staring warily at Damian. She forgets how intimidating she can be. Her size, her voice, the shadows that always seem to surround her face.... Add to that the police uniform and a big gun strapped to her hip, and frankly, it presents a picture that takes a few years off your life if the anger is directed at you. “Could you please tell me where Diego is?”

The nurse fastened her eyes on me and ignored Damian. “He's in surgery.”

My stomach dropped to the floor. It was not the answer I expected. I knew he hadn't been released. In fact, the Social Services agency was having trouble finding places to put the kids until a decision could be made on what was to happen to them. That's why they were still in the hospital.

I could feel the rush of her breath as Damian started to speak. I put my hand on her arm in an attempt to forestall it. I think it surprised her, because she blinked and looked down at my hand. It gave me an opportunity to speak before she did. “When did this happen? Why?”

“This morning...before I came on, about six, I guess. The infection...he had an atrial septal defect. The infection put an increased strain on his heart. They've taken him to surgery to correct it.”

“Where's the surgery waiting area? We'd like to go check on how he's doing.”

“Fifth floor, to your right off the elevators.”

I think I heard the nurse breath a sigh of relief as I grasped Damian's hand and tugged her with me. “Come on. Let's go find someone who can give us some answers.”

We rode the elevator to the fifth floor. I managed, during that short ride, to wrack my brain for what I knew about kids with heart problems. Usually congenital. That's all I knew. I now know quite a lot.

I wasn't sure how Damian was reacting to the news we had just received. She had grown very, very quiet and I could feel the tension radiating from her. That one little muscle she has in her jaw that twitches when she's fighting for control was definitely twitching on that elevator. I hoped that she would let me ask the questions when we got to the surgery desk.

I almost had to jog to keep up with her as we went down the hall to the surgery desk. I was prepared to put myself between whatever poor nurse or ward clerk happened to be there and Damian. When we reached the surgery desk, though, she stopped and waited for me.

Damian says there are advantages to being a police officer. Looking back on that, I realized that having six plus feet of uniformed police officer glaring over my shoulder certainly helped me get my questions answered. I tried to keep my heart from racing and my stomach from churning as I listened to the nurse explain what happened.

We found out that Diego had a congenital heart defect known as an atrial septal defect, or ASD, that was a small hole between the walls of his atria in his heart. The infection, on top of his malnourished state, had caused significant strain on his heart and the hole had enlarged. Surgery was necessary to repair it. Once corrected, it would save him from significant health problems later in his life. The surgery was to take at least two more hours and we were relegated to wait in the family waiting room.

I think that's the first time I thought about us as a family. Definitely not your typical family. No blood relations, but our hearts were all bound together nonetheless. We sat down in the waiting room. Actually, I sat down and she stood at the window, arms folded, looking out. I could see the muscles flexing and shifting in her back.

“He's going to be okay,” I offered. I said it with much more confidence than I felt. I received a grunt in return. My mind interpreted it as an agreement with my statement. It's what I needed to hear.

We were both silent for a long while. I was lost in my thoughts. How did I get so involved in this story? I'm not supposed to do that. What I'm supposed to do is maintain a professional, detached, calm. View things objectively. I can be empathetic. But I translate what I see objectively into words that capture other people's emotions, events, facts. Not mine. Never mine.

Yet here I was, sitting in an uncomfortable, beat up chair in a surgery waiting room, feeling like my child was in an operating room fighting for his life, and staring at the back of a woman I hardly knew and whose touch I had dreamed of every night since we got off that damned Coast Guard cutter. A memory of those powerful arms wrapped around me and how perfect it had felt drifted through my head. I wanted someone to tell me it would be okay. Not someone, my mind argued. Her. I wanted her to tell me it was going to be okay.

To say that this was one of the more emotionally confusing times in my life would have seemed an incredible understatement at the time. There were so many firsts happening in my life. For the first time in my life, I was...putting something before a story...having maternal instincts...really, truly falling in love. Of course, I didn't realize any of this at the time. I look back now and shake my head and wonder how everything managed to work out as it did without me ending up in an insane asylum somewhere.

The story was always my life. Children never fit into the picture. Neither did lovers, really. I didn't dislike children. In fact, I loved being around my nieces and nephews. I just never thought about having them, being a parent. I had several relationships, if you could call them that, but you usually have to be present for those to work. I wasn't. I tried to make them work long distance, but when you're walking through a war zone surrounded by soldiers, it's not very easy to carry on a “Hi honey, how was your day?” conversation. Small arms fire tends to be loud and the cellular reception wasn't that great to begin with. I had finally decided, after my last Dear Jane phone call over a year ago, that I just hadn't found the one person who would make it worth it to me to make the changes I would need to make so that I could have a relationship.

Then I remembered the stark terror I had seen in those blue eyes when she had awakened in the berth. My mind mocked me. You're feeling something for someone who probably thinks you're crazy and you want to be mother to a child who doesn't even speak the same language you do. Such are matters of the heart, I've found. When it came to my two angels, I always followed my heart. A wise choice on my part, as I eventually found my life enriched in ways I could never have imagined.

I jumped when I felt a hand on my knee and looked up to find Damian squatting in front of me. Her eyes intently searched my face. I don't know what she was looking for or what she found, but my eyes closed as I felt her arms encircle me and pull me to her. “I'm scared,” I whispered into her chest.

“It's all gonna be okay.”

I felt the words, carried on her rich voice, wrap around me. I believed it would be.


I do things. I'm not a talker or an idea person. And when I can't do something about a situation, I feel helpless. I hate feeling helpless. It makes me angry. When I found out that Diego was in surgery, I felt helpless. I got angry. Big surprise.

It's not just about me being helpless, though. He didn't deserve this. How much do you think a seven-year-old little boy can take? He hadn't known anything but a miserable fucking life on the streets. And now he had to fight for his life in surgery in a strange place where no one even understands him. And people believe there is a god. I don't.

I stared out the window. I couldn't tell you what I saw through that window. All my mind saw was the stuffed bear that Jules had bought for him lying all alone in that hospital bed...his smile... his intelligent brown eyes. I could feel the warmth of his little body as I held him and sang to him.

My mind screamed at a god that I know doesn't exist. Who else am I going to scream at? Where else do I direct my anger? The unknown entity. That's who. Who else deserves it? Surely not Diego...not Jules...none of the people in this waiting room who are all suffering in their own private little hells as they waited for loved ones to either live or die.

My mind did what it always does. It shuts down and focuses on the moment. I've got this...ability...curse...who knows. I can focus so intently on one thing that nothing, and I mean nothing, can break my focus. There is no future. There is no past. There is only that moment in time and what is necessary to make it through. No thoughts about me, what I'm feeling, whether I'm hungry or thirsty. No pain. Nothing. Not even if I have to go to the bathroom. Just what needs to be done.

Jules scolds me about the bathroom thing. She says it's not good for my bladder. I usually scowl at her and grumble, but inside, it touches me. It also drives her crazy that I can get so focused. It's one of the few things she's actually yelled at me about. As much as she dislikes it, I think my focus is one of the things that other cops respect about my police work. It certainly wasn't my conversational skills. If we were going through the door, they knew they could count on me to be focused, to watch their backs. I didn't get distracted.

In that hospital waiting room, we were, two strangers for the most part, with one thing in common - a concern for Diego. I looked over my shoulder and saw her sitting in the chair, legs crossed, her dangling foot moving nervously back and forth. Her hands were clenched in her lap and her shoulders were tight with tension. Her head was bowed. I wondered if she was praying.

She didn't have to come to the hospital every morning and night. She didn't have to buy him that bear...cut his bangs...give him her undivided attention. But she did all those things and more. She really does care, I realized.

Thoughts of Katy, a small, seven year old, tow-headed little girl, and her little sister, Tracy, struggled loose from my subconscious and invaded my mind. We slept four to a room at St. Vincent's. They tried to keep us together by age. I remember one afternoon, coming back from school...funny, I just wrote that and realized I have never called it home. It's always St. Vincent's or the home. Not just home. Home is with Jules.

Anyway, I remember coming in from school one day. I was eleven, I think. One of the nuns, Sister Ignatius, was coming down the hall, looking for Katy. Sister Ignatius looking for you was never a very good thing. She wasn't the head nun, who was the Mother Superior, but she ranked pretty high up there. She was known as the deliverer of bad news. You would think that they would have gotten a clue and swapped their duties around.

“What do you want her for?” I had to ask. I never got an answer when I asked, but I had to.

She stopped and looked at me. “It's nothing, Damian.”

I straightened and looked her in the eye. I knew she was lying. I wanted her to know I knew it. It always seemed so hypocritical to me. Lying's a sin. But the nuns lied. And nuns aren't supposed to sin. Was it okay to lie because we were kids? If she had told me that it was none of my business, that…that I could have accepted.

I need to stop and make something clear. I am very grateful for St. Vincent's. I had all the necessities of life. I was given a good education. I wasn't ever abused or molested. I had it a lot better than some kids who stayed with their own families. I guess I get angry about it sometimes. Not about living at St. Vincent's. Just about childhood and feelings I had growing up. I need to talk to Jules about that. I wonder if she's had some of those same feelings.

Sister Ignatius couldn't look me in the eye. “You need to do your homework, Damian. Go to your room.”

“Yes, ma'am.” I watched her walk down the hall and wondered what Katy was about to find out. Nothing good, I knew at least that much.

I knew I'd hear about it eventually. Girls talk. A lot. The rumors would be whispered around tonight, after the lights had gone out. Sure enough, after lights went out that night, the rumors started flying. I never listened to them. Eventually, either one of the nuns would show up to give us a distilled version of the truth or we'd find out from whatever girl had been the subject of one of those visits.

I don't know how we end up in the roles we have in situations. I was, I guess, the protector at the home. Being big for my age, not keeping my mouth shut.... It doesn't matter. That was my role. So it wasn't a big surprise to me that Katy ended up in my bed after the lights went out. I held her as she cried softly.

Katy's parents had been killed. I don't know how. She and her sister had been living with us for a little over a year. I found out between sniffles that the nuns had told Katy that Tracy was sick and in the hospital.

“Tracy's gone away and they don't know if she's coming back,” she whispered.

I hugged her tighter. I never knew what to say. Whispered platitudes about it's all going to be okay are lies because it wasn't always going to be okay. I had seen it enough times to know that as a truth. “It will all work out.”

“Why do people you love always go away?” This between more sniffles.

“I don't know.” That was not a lie. I still don't know.

“I'm scared.” I can still hear her shaky little voice. “Are you gonna go away, too?”

“No, Katy, I'm not going anywhere.” She finally fell asleep. I stayed up wondering if I had ever loved anyone who went away...wondering if I had loved my mother.

I shook myself loose from the memories and glanced again at Jules. She hadn't moved. Jules became my focus then. She didn't even hear me come up to her. I startled her. Those green eyes looked into mine, a flash of surprise crossed her face and then I saw the fear. She was scared. I did the only thing that I knew to do. I held her. And I told her it was all going to be okay.

I can be so stupid at times. I don't know why I did that...telling her it was going to be okay. Not that it would work out. Things always work out, either the way you want them to or not. But saying it would be okay? That meant that it was going to go the way you wanted it. And that's not always what happens.


The day Diego went through surgery was one of the longest days of my life. It all worked out at the end of the day, though. He made it through surgery with flying colors. And the pediatric surgeon was a saint. He talked with us for a long time afterwards, answering all our questions. He came to Diego's memorial service. I don't know how he found out. I was so surprised that he had even remembered him.

Damian and I reluctantly left Charity that night. Actually, they were close to kicking us out, I think. When we got into the elevator to leave, I looked over at Damian. She had called in to work and looked exhausted. I've seen her push herself, physically, so incredibly hard and not look as tired as when she's dealing with emotional issues. I, on the other hand, was hyper. I knew it was only the emotions trying to work their way out. I could cook. Cooking always relaxes me.

“Let me cook you dinner.”

She pushed off from the side of the elevator and looked at me. I think she was too drained to refuse. “Okay.”

Having Damian over proved to be interesting. More like a comedy of errors, really, at first.

I dumped a plate of spaghetti and marinara sauce on her as she stood to help with the dishes I was carrying. She went to clean up in the bathroom. I was more than mortified and went back into the kitchen. I ran into her again as I was coming out of the kitchen. I hadn't even heard her come out of the bathroom. The salad ended up on her chest. I made an incredibly stupid comment about her being dinner and turned crimson as soon as the words left my mouth. But not as red as she did.

I babbled apologies non-stop for what seemed like an eternity. She kept saying that it was okay. My eyes fastened onto her badge. There was a piece of shredded carrot wedged in between the star and crescent.

I watched as long fingers plucked the piece of carrot out and then she popped it into her mouth and smiled an incredibly charming smile. “Good salad.”

I started laughing. I couldn't help it. How often can you get away with dumping food on a police officer and not go to jail? And I had done it. Twice. In ten minutes. To a big, intimidating police officer, who, right then, looked more adorable than intimidating.

“I owe you a new uniform.”

“Nah,” she smiled and bent down to pick up the salad pieces strewn across the floor. “Just tell me you have some more food, and we'll call it even.”

My breath caught in my throat as I saw the easy smile on her face...the unguarded look in her eyes. “That, Lieutenant, I can do, since I prepared enough to feed an army.” I smiled back as I bent down to help.

I'm pleased to say that I refrained from spilling anything else on her that evening, although when she asked me to help her, I almost spilled coffee on myself.


That night, after Diego came out of surgery, I don't know what got into me. I found myself at Jules' apartment. I can be such a big goober sometimes. Jules had spilled food on me. Not once, but twice. When I was leaving, I motioned to my uniform and said something incredibly stupid about leftovers for later. Why she ever fell in love with me, I'll never know. She still teases me about that. I grumble about it when she does, but I really do love it.

I also asked her for her help that night. I never ask for help. But I did. I had come to a decision that I wanted to adopt Diego. I didn't know what kind of mother I'd be, but living with me couldn't be any worse than being on the streets. He at least deserved a chance at an education and a better life than what he had.

I had no idea where to start, or even if I could adopt him. I asked her if she would help me find out how to do it. She said she would. I asked her if she thought I was crazy. She said no. I wonder what her answer to that would be right now. I also asked her out to dinner the next night. I had no idea what I was doing. My orderly existence was very much disordered.

Jules is making a lot of noise in the kitchen. I need to go see what the hell she's up to.


Good morning.

I am feeling quite smug, very happy and extremely satisfied right now. I took a gamble and it paid off.

We've made love since she's come home from the hospital, but it's been...different I was thinking about it the other day and realized that the last time we had good, down and dirty sex, just because it felt good and we loved each other, was before everything happened. Not that it hasn't been good. It's just been a very emotional kind of thing. The need is there, but it's less a physical need and more of an emotional one.

People always make assumptions. Someone asks for a glass of water, chances are that if you assume they're thirsty, you'd be right. It's implied. Someone asks you to pass the butter. Chances are, they want to butter their bread. We don't say, “Could you please pass the butter so that I may butter my bread?” Or “Could I please have a cup of water so that I may quench my thirst?”

We make so many assumptions about things that it becomes a normal part of life. We become accustomed to it, conditioned to it. We believe that our assumptions are right, because, after all, when you pass the butter and then see your assumption reinforced by someone buttering their bread, you know you were right. With so much positive reinforcement, we forget that when you make an assumption, there's a possibility that you're going to be wrong. I've learned never to assume with Damian.

The assumptions I've made about her...I can be so wrong sometimes. One was that she was as sexually experienced as I was. She was thirty-two. How many people do you know at the age of thirty-two who haven't been in a relationship that lasted at least six months? Not too many, I suspect. Even I had been in a couple that had lasted more than six months and I traveled around the damn globe.

And there's certainly nothing wrong with her looks. She's got this really...exotic...intriguing look about her. Beautiful bone structure, but not delicate. Uncommon height. Dark looks, but then these hauntingly pale blue orbs capture you. And her voice...deep, rich, smooth. When she wakes up in the morning, sometimes I don't know how I manage to get out of bed after she says good morning. Her's like she's spent a long night with scotch and cigarettes. A little raspy, particularly deep.... Okay, stop it now. You think you would have gotten enough yesterday afternoon and last night.

I'm sorry. Nothing can sidetrack me faster than she can. Where was I? Oh yes, assumptions.

When we first met, I was amazed at the shape she was in. She worked out...a lot. In fact, as I later found out, she did three things in her off time - work out, work with kids, and work paid details. I believe the term is “cut.” She was this incredible combination of feminine and masculine. I'm happy to say that she's reacquired a little softness this past month. She had lost that when we went through everything.

The point of this is that I assumed that she had at least the same level of experience that I had. She was good-looking and older than I was. How wrong I was. If we were to compare experience levels in the beginning, let's say that I had written the Kama Sutra and she had written a Dr. Seuss book.

Sharing sex...making love with her, teaching her and then both of us, learning together...I feel so lucky. Not that it hasn't been interesting at times. And funny. And touching. And heart-wrenching. And so incredibly wonderful.

Once we made it over the initial stage, she took to making love like a duck to water. You know what they say about having to watch out for those quiet Catholic girls. It's true. Every last bit of it is true. I'm so lucky to have found myself a quiet Catholic girl.

She doesn't communicate well with words, but her looks and her touch leave no doubt about what she's trying to convey. A spoken “I love you,” while I like to hear it, couldn't possibly mean as much as when she looks in my eyes, caresses my cheek, holds my hand. I make my living with words. With her, they're so inadequate.

We look back and laugh about the first time we made love. It seems so funny now, but back then, she was terrified and I was so very confused. We had kissed, quite a few times before that. She always was a very good kisser. Natural talent, it seems, because I found out that she had kissed a total of five people in her lifetime before she kissed me. Based on the way she kissed, I had no reason to know that she wasn't experienced.

Then there was that whole Catholic thing that reared its ugly head. It's still something she fights with, and I suppose that she always will. It's just so hard for her to let go. She looks at me with an almost pleading look in those blue eyes. It's as if she's requesting permission from me to let herself go. I always give her that permission. I could never hold that back.

It's been a really interesting thing to get used to. It took me a while to realize exactly how much power over her she gave...still gives to me. It's an incredible gift, but also very scary. She's definitely gotten better about it, not just as it relates to our sex life.

Damian never had anything as a child or a teenager. We'll go into the store and something catches her eye. She'll smile and get a little delighted look in her eye, on her face. She'll pick it up and look at it. And I can see the wheels starting to turn in her head. She'll examine it all over and around. The smile will start to fade as she examines it. Then she'll stare at it for a few seconds longer, going completely still. A small furrow then appears on her brow and she'll place the item back on the shelf. It's always something for herself that she'll put back. Never anything for me or for Diego.

The first time she did that when we were shopping, I asked her why she didn't get it. I don't even remember what the item was. She shrugged and said she didn't need it, which was probably true. But I could tell that she had wanted it, if just for an instant.

“But you wanted it.”

I received that “alien on the front lawn” look she gives me at times. “Don't need it.” As if that explained everything.

“But you wanted it.” I know it's hard to believe, but I really do write for a living.

“What does that have to do with anything?” She was serious.

“Well, if you want it, and you can afford it, you should get it.”

Now she looked confused. “Why?”

“Because....” I swear I write for a living. You'd think I would be so much better with words.

One of her eyebrows lifted as she waited for me to elaborate. “That's not a very good reason, Juliana.”

“Sometimes, it is,” I replied a bit defiantly.

“Uh huh.” I could imagine her eyes rolling as she walked off in front of me.

I grabbed the item off the shelf and hurried after her. I remember now what it of those book lights that you clip onto a book to read at night. She loves to read. I caught up to her and shoved it at her. “Here, go ahead and get it. I know you want it.”

“I don't need it.”

“Probably not. But it's fun to get something just for yourself every now and then.”

Another one of those “you're an alien” looks and then it dawned on me. All of the things that I had learned about her and I hadn't put any of it together...I can be so incredibly dense sometimes. She never got anything she wanted, just what she needed. It's what she was used to. It's what she did.

“You really don't want it?”


I tossed it into the basket. “Then I'll get it.”

“And what are you gonna use it for?”

“To read, of course.”

“Of course.”

She still uses that damn light to read. She'll also buy things on occasion, for herself, just because.

How did I get off on such a tangent? I think it's because since she's been back, she's reverted to a lot of that old behavior. What is that saying...under stress we regress? Some definite regression. I'm not very happy about it. Like the sex. I want her to just grab me sometimes, be the one who initiates it. It took so long for us to get to that point.

So I summoned up all my courage yesterday morning, and before common sense got the best of me, I implemented my plan to drive her crazy. To make it so that she had absolutely no choice but to reach for me. I never thought about it not working. With her, failing's not an option. Not right now.

She's really such a sensual animal, and a large part of that is her mind. If I could get that powerful mind and that single-minded focus going in the right direction...towards me...oh my.

I woke up and made her a big breakfast. I was counting on her needing plenty of energy. Did the big shave. Used unscented soap. No perfume. She says she loves my own scent. I set the air conditioner to sixty eight degrees. I didn't wear a bra. I put on a thin white linen button-down shirt. A pair of white silk thong underwear. I was ready.

I got up frequently while we were writing, stopping on my way by to touch her...kiss her. Nothing demanding, innocent really, except for the look in my eye. That was definitely not innocent. I let my eyes devour her...tempt her, for fleeting seconds. The first time, she didn't notice the way I was looking at her. She gets like that. So focused that nothing else makes an impression on her consciousness.

The last time I got up, she had pushed back from her computer and was staring at it intently. I stepped close to the desk and raised my leg so that my knee rested on her thigh. “You want anything in particular for lunch?” I was all innocence as I smiled sweetly.

I watched as her eyes tracked from the computer screen down to my thigh and lingered on the split between my legs that was partially covered by the shirt before they traveled up my body to finally look into mine. I could see her pupils reacting. Her body often reacts before her mind becomes aware of it.

“…no preferences.”

Ah, my mind purred as her eyes fell to my chest and stayed there. Realization is dawning. Sometimes, I think I need a bat to hit her over the head with. I used to think that it had something to do with me. But then, we talked about it and I realized that it has nothing to do with me. She just gets that focused. I took a deep breath and leaned forward, kissing her lightly on the lips. “Then I'll just raid the fridge and throw something together. I'm getting hungry. You?”

“Yeah...yeah...I think I am.” Her eyes didn't leave my chest.

“Good.” I walked out of the room. I could feel her eyes on me as I left. I'm getting to her, my mind chortled gleefully. Of course, I was making myself crazy as well.

I needed sex food. Something that involved eating with your fingers. Something sensual. I opened the refrigerator door and stared at the contents. Damn it! I hadn't planned this as well as I thought I had. I couldn't just take out a jar of honey and a can of whipped cream, plop it on the table and tell her to spread it all over me. Well, I could, but that would defeat the purpose of having her make the first move. Not that I hadn't been making subversive moves, know what I mean. As it turned out, I didn't need any food. Good thing, because there was no sex food in the house. I made a mental note to add a few things to the grocery list.

Light...we'll have to do light today. I took out the lettuce and started to tear it up for a salad. I heard Damian come into the kitchen and stop. I kept doing what I was doing. Her eyes were burning into my back. I wanted so badly to run across the room and jump on top of her.

“Salad okay?” I called out.

“Yeah.” There was that voice…a sensual, slow drawl…the one where it takes her five minutes to get one word out. I know that voice. My mind screamed happily, “We have liftoff!”

I turned and looked at her standing in the doorway as I leaned back against the kitchen counter. Her eyes locked with mine and I felt a surge of excitement travel through my body. Oh yeah, realization had definitely dawned.

“Are you cold?”

Cold? I was burning up. Oh, she meant my nipples, which hurt because they were so hard. “No.”

“I've changed my mind about lunch. I know exactly what I want.”

“And that would be?” I knew exactly what she wanted. I could see it in her eyes. I swallowed and my nostrils flared. My angel.

She leaned against the doorframe, her hands tucked into the pockets of her jeans, her eyes burning into mine, and remained silent.

She is the sexiest person on earth to me. I love doing the things that turn her on. Seeing her reactions...that's a huge turn on for me. She's very curious about sex and we've done a lot of exploration. I decided that she was in the mood to watch me since she had made no move towards me. Besides, I was about to explode. I had been thinking of this all morning and needed some relief.

“Hmm?” I moved my hands to the buttons on my shirt and slowly undid them, leaving my shirt on. Sliding one hand inside my shirt, I played with my nipple. So much for the “letting her pounce on me” plan. Right now, the plan definitely needed some work. I saw the flare in those blue eyes. “What do you want?”

The muscles in her forearms flexed as she cocked her head to the side and dropped her gaze to my chest. “To taste you.”

Okay...I was wrong. She didn't want to watch. I wasn't complaining. In fact, my body shivered in anticipation at her words. “Oh God, yes...please.”

I thought, “So much for the original plan,” as she crossed the distance between us. As she lifted me onto the kitchen counter and removed my underwear, I remembered that a good plan is always flexible.


That was a surprise. A really good surprise. We, um, well, we made love for the rest of the day.

It still amazes me that she finds me attractive. That I affect her the way I do. I don't really think I'm that much to look at. I mean, you don't need a paper bag or anything, but I don't find myself sexy. Jules makes me feel that way.

I wasn't very sexually experienced when I met Jules. I hadn't even kissed a lot. And I certainly hadn't made love to a woman. Hell, I wasn't even that good at masturbation. Kind of hard to accomplish when you share a room with three other girls. There's not a whole lot of alone time.

I wasn't a virgin, but I might as well have been for all the good it did me when I tried to make love to Jules for the first time. I don't know what she expected, but I'm happy to say that, under her tutelage, I think I've improved dramatically. At least, Jules says I have.

I've got some hang-ups about sex. It's that Catholic shit they drilled into my head, I think.'s hard for me to let go. There's some part of me that doesn't think that I deserve to feel that good. That it's wrong. That I'll go to hell. It's weird, though, that I never had a hang-up that she was a woman. Seemed so right to me. She's got to love me to have put up with all my shit.

I think our first time would rank up there on the “longest conversation before doing it” list. I also personally hold some sort of record for “the most petrified before and while doing it” and the “most pitiful first attempt at satisfying a woman ever.”

When I finally realized that I was in love with Jules, I had no idea what to do about it. I wasn't even sure if she liked me. I mean, besides that thing on the Coast Guard cutter, but she had been asleep and on drugs, so that didn't count. Turns out she did.

We spent a lot of time together, between the task force and working on Diego's adoption. It was frustrating. Incredibly frustrating. We were conducting raids, but the people we'd find sometimes, the ones who were being shipped off, would get returned to their country, and nobody ever knew anything. We weren't any closer to finding out who was behind it. And trying to adopt…I could have flown to the moon flapping my arms faster than anybody we had to deal with moved.

I don't know how it happened, but we kissed. It happened so fast. Not the kiss. But the starting to kiss. The kiss was long. I almost passed out. I had to sit down. At least Jules didn't laugh. Not that she ever would. She's never been anything but patient and understanding with me.

One minute we were talking about something as I was leaving her apartment. I had stepped onto the patio and turned around and found myself bumping into her as she stepped out after me. The next thing I knew, my head was bending down, her head was tilting up and her arms were sliding around my neck. She told me later that she thought I was a very good kisser. I had no fucking clue what I was doing.

But it was magic. It's always been magic. Every time she touches me, kisses me, looks at me. I've never, ever done anything in my life to deserve to be loved like she loves me. But she does. I don't ever want to lose that. She's taken me places I never imagined existed.

Even the first time we ever made love was magic. It was…interesting. Definitely not like in all those books and stories you read where everything's perfect. Life's not perfect. Sex is part of life. Why should it be perfect? But that's what the implication is when you read about it. And none of my prior sexual experiences had been even remotely close to perfect. Hell, everything you read has the woman having mind-blowing, earth-shattering, multiple orgasms. I'd have settled for one nice one.

I don't know why, but I think Jules thought that I had a lot of experience. I believe that I rapidly changed her mind. It wasn't anything that we had planned. Some people plan on having sex. You know, they set the mood, do the candlelight dinner thing, the lingerie, etc. We hadn't, or at least I hadn't, planned on having sex that day. I don't think Jules had either.

We had been seeing each other for close to two months. Some of the time, I guess you could say we had dates. Most of the time, we were with Diego, who had finally gotten out of the hospital and was in a foster home while we worked on the adoption process. We always did end up kissing, though, no matter what we were doing. I got lots and lots of practice.

We were at her apartment, working on some papers the Mexican consulate had sent. And I thought there was a lot of paperwork involved in police work. The U.S. government has nothing on those people. It was a Monday afternoon, December 16, 1996. The weekend had been great. We got to spend a lot of time with Diego and work had been real quiet. We ended up on the couch, kissing. I wonder why some people call it necking. I mean, for some reason, I always think of long, skinny necks, like ducks or geese. I don't find it very appealing.

Let me give you an idea of my sex education class in high school. Sister Irene taught us. She was eighty-three and proudly told us she had never had sex in her life. I was taught sex education by an eighty-three year old virgin. As a woman, it was your duty to have sex whenever your husbands – note the word “husband” – wanted to so you could get pregnant and bring more little Catholics into this world. As many as possible. If you kept an aspirin between your knees, you wouldn't get pregnant, and if you French-kissed a boy you would. They showed us a film on menstruation. Three girls in my class of twenty-two threw up. You couldn't use tampons, because you wouldn't be a virgin. I lost my virginity to a fellow cop when I was twenty-two in the front seat of a police car. Good thing I hadn't used a tampon so I could save myself for such a memorable occasion. So do I have some issues with sex? You bet.
If you sense a little anger here, you'd be right. It really pisses me off. Not just about the sex thing. It's the whole lack of information/lack of exposure thing. Take the menstruation film. Sex-ed was taught in junior year of high school. Do you know how many girls had already started their period by then? A whole lot of good it did them to see that film after they had already started.

There was no one else I could ask about sex when I was growing up. No one talked about it. And I lived in a home with nuns. And I didn't like boys. When I was a teenager, I had this bizarre reaction to girls. At least I thought it was bizarre until I fell in love with Jules. I tried kissing a girl once at the home and got caught by one of the nuns. Got a pretty good beating then I had to confess to the priest that I had sinned. My penance from the priest was to say a rosary and he made me promise to banish those thoughts from my head. You know what I find strange now, about that whole thing? No one ever said exactly what I had done wrong. Was it the kissing or was it the girl?

Anyway, we were kissing. A lot. Jules was kind of on top of me. She's got the softest lips. Her hands had a tendency to wander. Don't get me wrong. It wasn't a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all. It's…I…hell…I didn't know what to do. I'd let my hands wander, too, but I was absolutely terrified that I'd end up starting something that I had no idea how to finish, so I didn't wander that far.

Jules got a little carried away. I was getting a little carried away. I wandered a little farther than I was prepared to. I guess I would never have been prepared, looking back. I so desperately wanted to touch her…everywhere. To see her naked. Feel her skin against mine. And I was so scared to have that come true.

Somewhere in the midst of all the hormones and heavy breathing and kissing and wandering, my mind did it's little nasty thing it does and started saying, “You have no idea what you're doing. You're not gonna be good enough.”

I panicked and stood up. Jules landed on the floor. It's amazing we didn't kill each other those first few months. She had already knocked me in the pool accidentally and almost shot me at the firing range.

“Do you not like me?” she asked as she looked up from the floor.

I started laughing. I guess it was my nerves. “That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.”

Not exactly something you tell to someone who is really horny. It was the first time she really, truly yelled at me.

She was on her feet, poking me in the chest and yelling before I could even blink. “I have been trying to seduce you forever. Is there something wrong with me? Do you not find me attractive? Do you not want to have sex with me? You sure as hell kiss like you do! What is it?!”

“I…I…I….” It's all I could come up with. Definitely not the stuff romance novels are made of.

Jules was on a roll. My stuttering didn't faze her. “What do I have to do? Sit down and spell it out for you? I find you incredibly attractive. Incredibly sexy. The sexiest God damned person I've ever met.” She stopped poking me in the chest and threw her hands up in the air. “Do I not kiss good enough for you? Is that it? What the hell is it?”

The only thing I could come up with was, “You kiss great.”


“But what?”

“But you don't want to make love with me.”

“Yes…I mean no...I mean I…I…I….”

She let out this half-groan, half-yell kind of sound. “Which is it, Damian? You'd better make up your mind. I can't take much more of this.”

I stood there. I guess dumbfounded would be a good word. She thinks I'm the sexiest person she's ever met, I thought. The sexiest person who doesn't have a clue what to do.

“You act like you've nev….” She stopped in mid-sentence and stared at me. Then she came closer and put her hands on my chest and looked up at me with this look on her face…in her eyes. It was love. “Damian…honey…you haven't ever…with a woman, have you?”

I shook my head no. She was so close again and touching me and I found it hard to breathe.

“We should have talked about this. I just assumed…. I'm so sorry. Can you forgive me? Please?” Those green eyes looked into mine, asking for forgiveness.

She's asking me to forgive her? It should be me, asking for forgiveness. For having no idea what to do. For being scared. For…a million reasons. What do I say? What do I do? She made me feel a million and one things. She made me think a million and one thoughts. I saw my future in those eyes…in her smile. I was in love with her.

“I love you.”

“Oh, Damian.” Her arms went around my neck and she kissed me. A long, slow, sweet kiss. “I love you, too. So much.” She looked at me and said shyly. “Well, now that we've got that settled…um….” She sighed.

Her body was pressed next to mine. She felt so good, so warm, so soft. Her skin…. Oh God, it's now or never, I thought. “I don't know how to….” I mean, I had read a lot, but doing it is an entirely different story.

“Let's go sit on the couch…to talk.” Her hand grasped mine. “Come on,” she urged.

We ended up having a three-hour discussion of sex and life and love. It probably would have only taken half that time if I hadn't used “um” and “uh” so much. I had never done that before. Talked about all of that stuff. I was amazed at how easy it was for Jules to talk about all of it. She very obviously had thought a lot about it. I, on the other hand, had never thought about it.

I never thought that I would fall in love. I didn't dream about it. Didn't even think about it. Why would I? Why put myself through all that mental torture? It just wasn't something that was gonna happen to me. But it had happened. I think part of my fear was that if I allowed myself to think about it, then what would happen if it went away. There would be pain. A lot of pain. I remember looking at Jules while we were talking and deciding that whatever happened, one touch from her would be worth the eternity of pain I would endure if she went away.

Weird, how your mind comes up with all kinds of things when you're in a position that you find stressful. I wondered if I was dressed appropriately, then I realized that what we were contemplating required a state of undress. I tried to remember when the last time was that I had shaved my legs. I actually said that out loud. “I haven't shaved my legs today.” I told you I could be a big goober. But Jules didn't laugh. She simply and sincerely said, “If that's a concern, then you can use the bathroom and shave them.”

We ended up in her bedroom. When I had last shaved my legs turned out to not be a problem. In fact, none of the things I had thought of were a problem.

As far as sexual encounters go, our first certainly wouldn't win any awards if you entered it into a contest. But for me, it will always be the best. Not because of the actual sex, but because of what it represented. I feel like I was born that day. I had only existed before.

Jules was so patient with me. We kissed for a long time, just standing there at the foot of her bed. They were easy, simple kisses that led to longer ones. Nothing frantic or rushed about it. Our hands weren't even wandering. Then she looked into my eyes and asked me to trust her. I had to...couldn't have not done it if I had tried.

We talk about it sometimes…our first time. I laugh now and so does she. I was so hesitant, so unsure. She was so gentle, so tender. She looked at me one time when we were talking about it, a sparkle in those green eyes, and said that was probably the most self-control she had ever exercised in her life. Knowing what I know now about Jules, I'd have to say she is right. She is a very passionate woman and sometimes leaps before she looks.

I don't have the words to tell you how deeply she moved me…still does. No one's come up with any words for it…the raw, pure emotion that I felt…probably for the first time in my life. Or maybe it was the first time I let myself feel it. My feelings for her…the ones she stirs in me…have never been tempered.

How could one person's touch, their lips, a look…do that to someone else? To me?

She undressed me, so slowly, taking her time, covering each part of my body with kisses and caresses. I stood there, unable to move. I found myself making small noises and moans in response, my hands reaching out and moving over her body, slipping underneath fabric to feel her skin.

She slid around me and stood behind me, sliding my shirt off. She undid my bra and I slipped out of it. When her hands came up and started massaging my breasts, my knees almost buckled. When she slid my pants off and kissed the back of my knees, they did. She was kneeling on the floor at the time. I landed next to her.

She looked at me and smiled and said, “The bed, Damian…let's get in the bed.”

I didn't argue. I stood and watched as she pulled her dress off. I had never seen anything so beautiful. Still haven't. She's not perfect, but she's perfect for me…to me. I felt disconnected from my body as I reached out and traced her figure with my hands. Her nipples were so hard. It was such a curious sensation. The skin covering them was like velvet, but they were so hard. I forgot what I was doing when her mouth latched onto one of my nipples and she gently pushed me back to the bed as she sucked.

My body's always known what to do when it comes to Jules. I just have to get my mind out of the way. That's always been the problem…my mind getting in the way.

She made love to each cell of my body and my mind. I don't think she missed one. If her goal was to overwhelm me and have me surrender, she succeeded. When my release finally came, I went to a place that I had never been before...that no one but Jules has ever taken me to…will ever take me to.

And then it was my turn. Talk about performance anxiety. I finally decided to do to her what she had done to me. It was amazing. To feel her…be inside of her…to watch her reactions…the way her body moved when I touched her. I still can't believe that I do that to her.

She was so wonderful about it. Putting up with my pathetic attempts to make her feel good. Telling me what felt good. What she wanted. When she came, her eyes locked with mine. I knew then that I was hers.

I…I ended up crying when it was all over with. I don't cry. She cried, too. I made a feeble joke about it being that bad for her. I thought she was going to slap me. She gets very angry when I put myself down. I guess I hadn't been as bad as I thought. I spent the night with her, wrapped up together, naked in her bed. It was the first time I ever remember sleeping through the night.

chapter 4

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