Author's Note: Its been forever, way too long I think. And believe me, I never meant to go this long between updates. But after dealing with stress, work, being laid off and questioning whether or not I should bother to continue writing at all, I am back. I hope that those of you who've followed this story are still hanging in there.

And I need to thank my darling wife for kicking me in the ass when I even thought about walking away from this. You were right sweetie.

As always, read, review and enjoy

For Disclaimers see Ch. 1

Feedback welcome at


A Chance Encounter Ch. 9a


Bobbie Halchishak


* * *

Kylie drifted up slowly, her mind waking to the day but her body completely and utterly relaxed. It was a strange sensation, feeling sated and satisfied; her body felt so alive and yet so loose. She couldn't ever recall a night of sex making her feel like this before. That more than anything else told her that her previous forays into romantic relationships had been in vain, not to mention useless. It was a truly liberating realization.

She opened her eyes, looking over at Luce as she lay next to her, still sound asleep. The taller woman was lying on her stomach, her hair strewn around her like a black curtain. Her face was so relaxed, almost angelic in sleep and so damn beautiful. Kylie reached out, touching her face gently, amazed at what had passed between them the night before.

Luce stirred at the light touch, her eyes fluttering open as she took in a sudden deep breath. Then her brilliant blue eyes locked on her and a smile broke out on Luce's still sleepy face. “Morning.” She gave a lazy stretch as she rolled over and gazed at Kylie.

Her voice was low and husky from sleep and it sent pleasant shivers down Kylie's spine. As did the sight of her lover's body moving sensuously under the blankets. She felt the hunger within her wake again at the sight and moved closer so that she could run her hand over any and all available exposed skin.

Luce leaned into her touch and it made her smile as she continued her gentle explorations. “Morning.”

Luce chuckled as she watched Kylie gently exploring. “You look pretty pleased with yourself today.”

The smaller woman shrugged refusing to be distracted from her ministrations. “I don't know why but I'm feeling on top of the world at the moment. Maybe its what happened last night.”

Luce smiled again as she felt Kylie sliding the sheet out of her way. “Could be; great sex does that.”

She shrugged. “I wouldn't know, I've never had great sex before.”

Luce looked surprised at the sad admission. “Really? Never?”

Kylie stopped for moment as she thought about it. Then she sadly shook her head. “No. I meant it when I said that I wondered if I was frigid; I had at least one boyfriend accuse me of it. I dumped his ass pretty fast after that.” The sheet slid down further as Kylie resumed her gentle ministrations.

Luce bit her lip as Kylie touched a rather sensitive spot. “Glad to hear that.” Then Kylie gave that spot a gentle nibble and she bit back a gasp. She looked down at the smaller woman who was moving slowly down her long body and gave her a wicked smile. “Enjoying yourself?”

Kylie nodded even as she let her hands start to roam. Pleased by the reactions she was getting from Luce, she decided to keep going. “Everything happened so fast last night, I feel like taking my time this morning.” She looked up along the length of Luce's body, her green eyes full of passion as she huskily said. “Do you mind?”

Luce felt herself swallow convulsively at the wild look in her eyes and almost couldn't speak. “No.” She moaned as Kylie's hands closed around her breasts, teasing their suddenly hard points.

Her head fell back as Kylie chuckled. “I can see you like that. Lets see what happens when I do this.” And she set to work with vigor.

Luce could do nothing but fall back to lie on the bed in a sensual haze. Gone was the shy, unsure woman that had so easily seduced and then been seduced herself the night before. This woman she'd woken up with this morning was a fiery, passionate lover who seemed able to dominate her without a thought. Unable to resist, Luce gave in and let herself enjoy the game; after all, she could turn the tables soon enough. Of course, she would have to be able to think to do it. Another gentle, teasing touch between her legs and even that became impossible.

* * *

Some time later, they lay on Luce's bed, both of them panting heavily and covered in a light sheen of sweat. Kylie felt her pulse slowly returning to normal as she stared at the ceiling. “Wow.” Her voice was husky and low and still breathy as her lungs kept drawing in deep gulps of air.

Luce chuckled as she lifted herself on to her elbows and gave Kylie a glazed but utterly satisfied smile. “Yeah, wow. I don't know about you but I'm starving.” She kissed the smaller woman softly.

Kylie felt her stomach growl loudly. “Mmmmm food.”

The taller woman laughed. “I suppose if we have any desire to do that again, we're going to need to eat.”

Kylie nodded. “To say the least. I feel like I could eat a cow. You wouldn't happen to have one handy would you?” She sat up slowly. Wondering if the feeling would come back into her legs soon. Everything from the waist down seemed surprisingly numb.

Luce flopped back onto her back shaking her head. “Sorry fresh out.” Despite all the times she'd witnessed Kylie's appetite firsthand, the voraciousness of it still caught her off guard.

She slapped the bed in forced annoyance. “Rats. Well how bout breakfast then; I make some killer french toast.” She scooted to the end of the bed, dragging the sheet with her.

Luce finding herself slowly being exposed, gave an indignant squawk before diving for the sheet and tugging on it hard. They spent several minutes playing tug of war with the sheet before Luce managed to drag Kylie back onto the bed, completely naked.

She laughed as Kylie simply tore the sheet off both of them and threw it off the bed. With very little modesty, the taller woman simply stood up and walked over to the closet. “As long as there's some meat in there somewhere, I'm game.” She grabbed a couple of robes and threw one at the shorter woman.

Kylie caught it and slipped it on. The sleeves trailed down her arms and with a sigh directed at her rather short stature, she began rolling them up her arms. “Well I'll cook whatever you've got; so what do you have?”

Luce shrugged. “Sadly, not much.”

* * *

Looking through Luce's rather empty pantry had nearly brought tears to the smaller woman's eyes. It seemed so forlorn and abandoned without anything in it. And she wondered how anyone could live that way. Cupboards were meant to be packed with food when at all possible. And refrigerators were meant to house more than a couple of gallons of milk, some butter, a few eggs, some sliced cheese and something she frankly suspected had been around since the last ice age. Whatever it was, she was giving it a very wide berth.

Upon seeing the devastating state of her lover's kitchen, Kylie turned to her with a look of horror on her face. Luce, who had repeatedly admitted she never cooked for herself, simply looked chagrined and shrugged. Seeing a challenge, Kylie simply looked around for what she did have and managed to throw a decent meal together with the meager offerings provided to her. Of course she'd never tell Luce it wasn't nearly as hard as it seemed; after all the woman did have bread, butter, eggs and milk. The french toast was rather plain but well it still tasted damn good after a night and a morning filled with wild and steamy sex.

Kylie pushed a final piece of the confection around her plate. “Ugh, I don't think I could eat another bite.” Despite that rather bemoaning statement, she stabbed the remaining piece and promptly made it disappear.

Luce laughed. “Never thought I'd hear you say that; every time I've eaten with you, you managed to out scarf me.” Her voice was a combination of annoyance, consternation and sheer disbelief; almost as if she still couldn't understand how someone of Kylie's short stature could possibly accomplish such a feat. Despite the fact that Kylie demonstrated the skill again and again.

Kylie sighed, pushing her empty plate away as she finished her glass of milk. “Not sure I've ever said that in my life actually.” She set the glass down and let out a rather healthy belch. She glanced at Luce, slightly embarrassed at the way the sound echoed through out the kitchen.

Luce shot her a bemused look. “How attractive.”

She shrugged willing her face to stop blushing. She decided a change of subject was in order. “So what's on the agenda for today?”

Luce shrugged as she snagged Kylie's dirty dishes and headed towards the sinks. “Well I don't have much planned this weekend; I think my mother wanted to do brunch or something tomorrow but beyond that I'm totally free. What'd you have in mind?” She started loading the dishes into the dishwasher.

Kylie watched the taller woman as she went about the simple chore of cleaning up their mess from breakfast. And while Luce was gorgeous and fascinating it was the her lover's hands that seemed to catch her attention the most. Long elegant fingers, strong wide palms that tapered to powerful and solid forearms; and the memory of what those hands had done to her had her shivering slightly in her seat.

Then she realized that Luce was looking at her expectantly waiting for an answer. She shook herself slightly, pushing the erotic image of Luce's hands on her skin aside as she stepped back into the conversation they were having. “I have no idea; I think this is the first time in a long time I don't have anything planned.”

“Would you like to spend the day with me then? We could just do some window shopping and just bum around town.”

Her tone was easy and light but Kylie could sense a tension in the other woman and was surprised at the slightly earnest look on the other woman's face. It was rather endearing to see the normally stoic, confident woman feeling a bit vulnerable and unsure.

She gave Luce a small smile. “You? Bum around town? I find that something a bit hard to imagine actually.” She tilted her head a bit as if to get a different perspective. Then shook her head slightly, poking at her lover.

The joke broke the tension and Luce chuckled, her body relaxing. “Corporate image aside, I do have a hedonistic reputation to uphold here.” Luce leaned across the counter her blue eyes glinting as she lowered her voice slightly. There was a hint of flirting in those baby blues and Kylie found herself responding without even thinking about it.

She leaned forward, closer to Luce, her own eyes glinting in response. “Oh really? Anything particular you have in mind?” She dropped her voice a bit, letting her eyes drift down to Luce's chest as she licked her lips.

Luce chuckled. “Well we could clean up here, run by your place so you can feed that demon cat of yours and change your clothes and then maybe you'd come be my victim, I mean teammate in a marathon of violent, first person shooter games.”

Kylie gave a squeal of delight. “Oooo a chance to watch alien heads explode in vivid 3-D? I am so there!”

Luce came around the counter and encircled the shorter woman in her arms. “Then maybe later we can come back here and relax with a movie and dinner.” She bent her head and began to softly kiss Kylie's neck.

Kylie bit back a moan at the feel of Luce's lips on her once more. “Where you will probably get the chance to seduce me once more.” She could feel Luce smile against her skin.

The taller woman chuckled. “If you want to get technical.” She continued her sensual explorations, her hands coming up to join her efforts as they cupped Kylie's breasts through the borrowed robe.

Kylie felt her legs slowly giving out as she tried to keep her mind clear of the passionate haze Luce was weaving around her. “Then maybe while we're at my house, I should pack a bag.” With that final coherent thought, she felt her mind slipping gladly into the fog as the robe parted and those magic hands were once again on her naked flesh.

“I think that might be a pretty good idea.” And with those words, Luce put her focus on the task at hand and the oh so willing body against hers.

* * *


Despite the passionate delay in the kitchen, they managed to shower and dress amid a flurry of teasing touches and stolen kisses. For Kylie the sudden easy turn of their relationship to something physical and intimate amazed her. She had expected there to be a touch of awkward fumbling at first as each of them learned about the other. But that didn't seem to be happening for either of them. Instead they both seemed to know just what the other needed, just what they craved and even how much teasing they could handle before it became too much for either of them.

They found themselves unable to keep from touching each other as they left Luce's place, drove to Kylie's house, feeding the cat and packing an overnight bag before heading to the same arcade Luce had haunted several weeks before. Even there, they seemed to continue to stand close to each other, touching lightly and often.

“Die, blood sucker, die!” With a final squeeze to the plastic trigger, Kylie gave a triumphant shout and began waving her weapon in the air as the screen flashed with a new high score. Turning to her companion, she gave the taller woman a wry look. “Beat that!”

Luce quirked a brow at the challenge, silently taking the plastic gun from her lover before inserting several quarters into the machine and taking her turn. In a few minutes it was over and Luce looked at the flashing screen in triumph.

Kylie snorted loudly. “Beginner's luck.” Her phone chose that moment to ring loudly. Looking down Kylie sighed softly before opening it. “Hey Mol.”

Her sister's frustrated and frazzled voice came over the line, very evident to anyone within ten feet of them. “You have fifteen minutes to drop what you're doing and get your hind end over here; or did you forget movie night with the boys?”

Kylie quietly cursed. “No, no I didn't forget. I just didn't feel up to it tonight.” Kylie sighed softly; she had forgotten but would never tell her sister that truth. Besides, she'd been a little distracted.

“You got the flu?”


“You drunk?”


“Vomiting at all?”

She rolled her eyes. “No.”

“Then what's wrong?”

Kylie chewed her lip slightly before going with the truth. “I'm on a date.”

Her sister paused not quite sure what to make of that tidbit. “A date? I thought that was last night.”

Kylie blushed slightly realizing what he sister must be assuming. “It was but it never really ended.”

That didn't seem to phase Mollie a bit; she just rolled right along. “Fine then, bring her along; the more the merrier.”

Kylie groaned shooting Luce an apologetic look. “Mollie...”

Her sister snorted loudly over the phone. “You're not using her to weasel your way out of this one oh sister mine. Be here and this time when you bring the pizza, make sure there's at least a large extra cheese for Keith; you know how he gets about having to pick toppings off the damn thing.” Her tone left no room for argument.

Resigned to her fate, Kylie sighed. “Yes oh royal majesty. May I do anything else in your benevolent service?”

“Yeah, hurry up.” With those parting words, her sister hung up.

Kylie put her phone back in her pocket and groaned. She looked over at Luce who stood there waiting expectantly.

A dark brow arched delicately. “Something wrong?”

She reached out, lacing her arm through her lover's and began to slowly lead them to the exit. “How do you feel about going over to Mollie's with me and watching movies with three rambunctious boys and stuffing our faces with pizza?”

Luce chuckled. “Sounds like fun.” She paused as she did some mental math. “I thought your sister only had two boys?”

“Yeah well on these nights, Keith counts as one too.” Kylie looked at her, stopping right in front of the door to look at the taller woman in earnest. “You don't have to if you don't want to you know.”

Luce smiled at her, grabbing her hand. “I know and that's why I want to.” She gave it a soft kiss before heading out the door once more.

Kylie smiled, touched by both the gesture and Luce's willingness to spend time with her family. “Well then let me call and get our pizza order in; we can pick it up on the way.”


* * *


They managed to make it to the house in just over twenty minutes. Piping hot pizzas leading the way as they walked in. Mollie looked up in annoyance as the came in. “Took you long enough.”

Ignoring her sister's gruff bark, Kylie set the pizzas in the oven and went over to give her brother-in-law a hug. “Love you too sis.” She stuck her tongue out at the other woman over his shoulder.

Keith let go of Kylie and shot his wife a loving, humoring look. “Don't mind her, she's just grouchy cause she found out she's pregnant again.”

Mollie threw the dish rag at her husband. “Dammit Keith, I wanted to tell her.”

Kylie squealed, looking at her sister. “Really?” Mollie nodded and Kylie rushed over to hug her. “Finally, hopefully it'll be a girl and give you some back up in this overdose of testosterone you've got going on in here.”

At just that moment, Michael wandered past the large kitchen door wearing a pair of high heels and sporting a pair of bright pink sequined plastic sunglasses, singing the Spongebob Campfire song at the top of his lungs.

Kylie shrugged, giggling as he disappeared from view. “Oh wait, looks like I spoke too soon.”

Mollie laughed at both her offspring and her sister. “To be honest I'm hoping for a girl too; I need some back up around here.” She gave Luce a friendly smile waving the taller woman further into the room. “Hi Luce.”

Luce chuckled at the chaos, stepping up to stand beside Kylie at the kitchen island. “Hi Mollie; congratulations.”

“Thanks. And thanks for getting the pizzas on your way here. Any of them have onions?” She lifted her head, giving a sniff at the air trying to tell what was on the pies that were staying warm in the oven. She looked for all the world like a blood hound trying to locate a missing child.

Luce gave Kylie a puzzled look. “I thought cravings didn't start until later on?”

Kylie shook her head, chuckling. “Not with Mollie; that's how we keep figuring out she's pregnant; she just suddenly starts eating really weird stuff.” Gabriel came into the room making a bee line for his Auntie Ky and clambered to be picked up. She reached down and scooped him up, settling him onto her lap with familiar ease.

Keith chuckled at the memory. “Like when she was pregnant with Gabriel; we found out because she came into the living room munching on a log of liverwurst.” He poked his son in the belly, producing a deep baby giggle.

Luce made a face. “Yuck!”

Kylie snorted at the memory. “Yeah and with Michael, it was beef jerky; the cheaper the better.”

Gabriel seemed to have enough of his aunt and wriggled to be put down. Kylie set him down gently, patting his head as he rushed off.

Keith rolled his eyes and groaned. “And don't forget the black cherry ice cream; God I think we bought out every store in a twenty mile radius at least once a week.”

Luce looked at them both like they'd lost their minds. “Beef jerky and black cherry ice cream?”

Mollie, who had been silent for most of the exchange piped in. “Hey I never ate them together; I just wanted them at the same time.” She pointed a finger at Kylie, her eyes narrowing in warning. “You wait until you're pregnant little sister and we'll see just what kind of weird things you eat.”

There was a bit of a pause at that statement as everyone but Kylie shot Luce a piercing look. Luce merely raised a dark brow staying silent while Kylie fought to stop blushing. “And on that awkward note, I am going to go torment my nephews.”

Mollie reached out and snagged her sleeve as Kylie tried to slip past. “Oh no you don't, you and my beloved husband are taking them to pick out the movies.”

Kylie shot her a mutinous look. “What? No way Mol, Keith drives like a maniac and the boys fight over every movie with Scooby-doo or Spongebob on the cover.”

Mollie pointed an authoritative finger at her and waved her towards the door. “Go on if you're lucky maybe you can con him into belting the little heathens into their seats.”

Looking for some support, she looked at the tall woman standing next to her. “Fine. You coming Luce?”

Mollie answered before Luce could even open her mouth. “Nope, she's staying with me. Someone's got to make the popcorn.” She shot Kylie an evil smile as the shorter woman's eyes narrowed.

Kylie was no fool; she knew exactly what was going on. But she ignored the obvious ploy to get Luce alone and instead tried a different tactic. She snorted, pointing a thumb in Luce's direction while giving her sister a bemused look. “If you want it edible and the house still standing, it won't be her.”

Luce rolled her eyes, indignant at the reminder. “One grease fire and you're branded a pyro the rest of your life!”

Chuckling, Mollie rushed over and practically shoved both her husband and her sister out the door with the two boys. “Scat!”

With the boys gone, silence fell over the house. Luce found herself feeling strange at standing in Mollie's kitchen without the back ground noise of the two toddlers to fill the room. Mollie took a deep breath as if enjoying the momentary peace she found herself in.

“So how's your mother doing Luce?” She asked Luce as she began gathering supplies to make a large batch of popcorn. Luce took a step to help the other woman and she held her hand up. “I think I'm going to heed my sister's advice on this one, you stay there.” She pointed at the table.

Luce chuckled ruefully and made herself comfortable in a nearby chair, watching Mollie work quickly and efficiently. “Good; she was really ecstatic to see Tom and Steve when I brought her over.”

Mollie nodded remembering the party well. “I know they were pretty glad to see her to. I've never heard Steve scream quite like that before.” She chuckled as she stood over the stove.

Luce nodded, shaking her head at the memory. “I thought someone had stepped on a cat, while wearing cleats.”

“Yeah it was different.” A strange, awkward silence descended over the kitchen at that point.

Luce wondered just how long it would take Mollie to get to the real reason she wanted to be alone with her. Part of her wondered if maybe Mollie would simply keep picking meaningless topics at random until her family returned. The other part strongly hoped not; she had no desire to find herself forced Into the situation again the next chance it presented itself.

Several moments passed with neither of them saying a thing. The silence was eventually broken by the sound of the corn popping in the pan. Luce waited until Mollie had poured the first batch into the paper grocery bag before she took pity on the older woman and brought the subject herself.

“So when are you going to stop tiptoeing around the bush and get to what you really want to ask me?”

Mollie started and gave Luce a sheepish look. “Am I really that transparent?”

She shrugged. “No but then again I spend a lot of time in boardrooms brow beating people to do things they don't ever seem to want to do and tell me things they'd rather I didn't know. You get good at reading body language after a while.”

“I can imagine.” Mollie measured out more popcorn and set some more oil to heat.

Luce walked over to the stove deciding this conversation needed to be as close as face to face as possible. “Besides my mom has already had a heart to heart with Kylie; I wouldn't expect anything less from her family.”

Mollie nodded in understanding. “Especially since the accident.” She stared into the pan, watching the oil heating slowly and sighed before looking at the taller woman. “Sometimes we're overprotective, I know we are but we can't seem to help it. We came so close to losing her. It never really goes away.”

She shrugged. “You care about her; it's to be expected.”

“And you care for her to.” Mollie held up a hand as Luce opened her mouth to respond. “I'm not going to ask you to tell me how much you care or even if you do because right now I don't think either one of you is ready to define what you're really feeling. All I ask is that you take care with her; I think you're the first person that's ever touched her so deeply so quickly.”

Luce appreciated the honesty from the woman and returned the favor with some honesty of her own. “The feeling's entirely mutual. And I won't bother making a promise I have no hope of keeping. But I can promise you I will never willingly hurt her.”

Mollie sighed a bit. “That's about the best any of us can ever do.” She gave Luce a gentle smile before changing the subject. “Lets get this popcorn made; it won't take them long to get back and I am starving.”

Luce laughed. “Remind me not to step in between you and the food tonight.”

She shook her head, quickly popping the second batch. “I may be pregnant but you have more to worry about from Kylie then me.”

Luce snorted loudly. “To say the least. I've never seen someone eat as much as she did this morning after we woke up.”

Mollie shot her an appraising look. “Woke up?”

Realizing what she'd just said, Luce blushed slightly and found herself in the unusual predicament of having just shoved her foot into her mouth. “Ummmm...yeah she slept over last night.”

Mollie laughed at that. “My my, you are a fast worker.”

Again Luce spoke without thinking. “Hardly, I was the one that got jumped last night.” This time she blushed deep red causing Mollie to burst into a fresh set of nearly hysterical laughter. She gave herself a soft mental shake, wondering just when her lover would return and rescue her from her own runaway mouth.

* * *


After their short but rather intense talk, Luce and Mollie fell into a companionable conversation as they finished the popcorn and then set about getting everything ready for the pizza, popcorn, movie fest that was to come. Luce was amazed at how easily and quickly the other woman had accepted her sister's new relationship. More importantly she found herself marveling at how easily the woman accepted her as a part of Kylie's life.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the chaos that burst into the door at the arrival of Keith, Kylie and the boys. One of whom was crying loudly and being carried into the house by his aunt.

Mollie hurried over and clucked her tongue at her son. “What happened?”

“Gabriel decided Michael stepped on his foot on purpose and shoved him down. Started quite the ruckus when Michael started screaming.” Kylie handed the boy over easily, still sniffling loudly, as she reached out to grab the offender as he tried to hurry from the room.

Mollie pursed her lips as she looked Michael over quickly. She turned her attention on her wayward son, grabbing his hand firmly in her own. “Come with me boyo; we need to have a little talk about pushing people. Luce mind Michael a minute.” As she left the room, she easily handed the upset boy off to the taller woman.

Luce took him timidly unsure of what to do but not really knowing how to get around Mollie's request. “Ummmmm....ok.” They stared at each other for several moments in silence. His tears forgotten Michael stared at her in sheer fascination. As for Luce, she stood there holding him for several moments unsure of just what to do to make him feel better. He however had no such compunctions about where he'd ended up. He simply sighed, put his thumb in his mouth and snuggled against Luce, his tears promptly forgotten.

Kylie chuckled as she came over to wipe his nose and face. “Looks like another one's fallen for those gorgeous baby blues.”

Luce look down in astonishment at the toddler sitting quietly in her arms. “You sound like they're dropping like flies around me or something.”

“He knows a good thing when he sees it.” Kylie stood up on tiptoe and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “Welcome to the family honey.”

Unsure of what to say, Luce could only stand there looking like she'd been struck by a mallet, right between the eyes. Keith took pity on her and came to her rescue. “That's enough jabbing from the peanut gallery. Come on Luce, lets go do some macho, manly stuff.” He reached out to untangle his son from Luce's arms.

Kylie laughed at that. A wicked gleam in her eye she switched targets. “I'm sure Michael would love some company parading around in his dress.”

Keith snorted as he set his son down and sent him on his way. “You're just pissed because my heels don't come in your size!” This sent Kylie into a fit of giggles.

Luce gave Kylie a wry look as she followed Keith from the room. “And just what might that macho, manly stuff be?”

This time Keith gave her a serious, solemn look before leading her into the living room. “Who do you think turns on the DVD player around here?”

* * *


Kylie sighed softly as she watched Luce drive the car back to her penthouse, her hands strong and sure on the wheel. Watching those elegant hands, Kylie found herself thinking of the other things they were so very good at doing. The memory brought a delightful shiver to her. She decided to shift her train of thought, quickly before it got them both into trouble. “Sorry we didn't have quite the quiet evening you were hoping for.”

Luce looked over at her smiling softly. “It was really fun spending time with your family.”

The blonde haired woman snorted. “Despite the chaos?”

Luce shrugged. “I'll admit, I never realized that much noise could be that much fun. But I enjoyed it.”

Kylie gave her a searching look. “Honestly?”

She nodded. “Honestly.” She reached out and grabbed Kylie's hand, giving it a gentle kiss as she parked the car. “You don't think I'd lie about that do you?”

“Lie? No. Avoid answering the question for as long as possible, maybe.”

She laughed. “Ever the diplomat.”

Kylie chuckled, stepping out of the car and linking her arm with her lover's as they walked into the building. “So what are your plans for the rest of this evening?”

She gave the smaller woman a wry look. “It seems to me someone promised me a night of erotic entertainment.”

“You expecting a stripper to come by or something?”

Luce laughed in surprise at the comment, tears coming to her eyes as she gave the smaller woman a one armed hug. “Well how about we curl up with a movie and make out?”

Kylie leaned into her as the elevator door's closed behind them. “As I recall that ended with us both pretty much naked on the couch. You thinking this might lead to the same conclusion?”

Luce shook her head as she leaned closer, her lips brushing against her lover's softly. “No I'm hoping this time we'll be completely naked long before the end of it.” And she pulled Kylie close, pressing her into the corner as they both lost track of everything around them.

* * *


“Do I look like I need erectile dysfunction medication?” Kylie's computer remained silent as she dumped the offending e-mail. She glanced up at the corner of the computer, willing her e-mail indicator to go off. But it remained obstinately silent. She sighed loudly and not for the first time that day soundly cursed the need to be responsible and mature.

She turned away from the computer, determined to try and get some work done. But concentration eluded her; just like it'd been eluding since she woke up that morning. That couldn't go on; she had a business to run, work to do. Just because she'd spent the last three days caught up in a haze of sexual bliss did not mean she couldn't be an adult when she needed to. She was a college educated business woman for God's sake. She was above this kind of teenager, first crush behavior.

Her computer gave a soft chime and she pounced on the mouse like a lioness bringing down a gazelle, all thoughts of mature adult behavior thrown right out the window. She gave a loud groan as another piece of spam mail loaded into her inbox.

Before she could unleash a brutish tirade on the offending piece of technology, there was a soft knock on her door. Kylie looked to see the door open and Marie stepped inside. At least she thought it was Marie; she could only see the lower half of her manager; the rest was covered by a rather large bouquet of lilacs. Their perfume filled the office as Kylie looked at the assortments of light, dark pinks and purples that were straining the capacity of the vase they'd been forced into.

Marie's voice came from somewhere behind the large arrangement. “This just came for you.”

Kylie stared in wonder at it unsure of just where she was going to put it. “Wow.”

Marie decided for her and set them on the corner of her desk, detangling herself from the bush that was now sitting on Kylie's desk. She eyed the flowers appreciatively. “Yeah, wow.”

Kylie leaned forward and buried her face in the flowers, inhaling deeply. Lilacs were her favorites; they always bloomed near her birthday and their scent always reminded her of the beginnings of spring and nights spent sitting on the back porch in the dark surrounded by their gentle, intoxicating scent. She started searching for a card. “Who's it from?”

Her manager shrugged. “I didn't want to pry so I didn't want to check the card.”

Kylie merely looked at her. “You didn't want to pry?”

Laughing she threw up her hands and nearly threw herself in the nearest chair. “Ok fine, I just never got the chance to look, happy?”

Kylie laughed. “Ecstatic; I can still call 'em like I see 'em.” Her hands closed around the card and she pulled it out. She had a very good idea just who might have sent them but was afraid to simply jump to conclusions. She opened the card to find a handwritten note in an elegant, strong scrawl.

I wasn't sure exactly what you liked but based on the candles in your house, I didn't figure you for a roses type of girl. I had a wonderful time this weekend. Luce.

Kylie found herself smiling at the message and on a whim, handed the card off to Marie before burying her face in the flowers again. Now she had one more happy memory to associate with their distinctive scent.

Marie took the card, scanning it quickly. “Luce? Is this the same Luce that rescued you a few months ago?”

“Yeah.” She knew the dumb smile was still on her face and didn't care.

“You had a date with her?” She sounded as if she were trying to work something out for herself even if she didn't look confused yet. She perched on the edge of Kylie's desk, thinking.

Kylie simply nodded. “Yeah.” There was a long moment of silence from the other side of the desk so Kylie pulled her face out of the flowers long enough to look at the other woman. She had a quiet, questioning look on her face and Kylie suddenly found herself in the position of trying to explain something that seemed impossible to explain; even to her own mind.

She sighed. “I wish I could explain it; I wish I knew what it was; hell I wish I could even understand what was going on but nothing I've ever been through has ever been like this.” She took a moment to trying to sort out the intense and chaotic sensations she'd been feeling for the past week. But there was really only one description she could think of that would do any justice to what she was feeling at the moment. “Its like standing on shore, watching a tidal wave come at you and you just stand there not caring while it sweeps you away.”

Marie was silent for a moment, seemingly deep in thought before she simply nodded at the younger woman. “You're happy?”

Kylie simply nodded. There was really no need to expand on that. Marie nodded again. “Bout damn time.”

A bit taken aback, Kylie could only stare at her, flabbergasted. “What?”

Marie laughed. “Give me a bit of a credit here Kylie; I've known you for what, ten years now? Ever since the day I walked in to answer your ad for a store manager and bluntly told you flat out you didn't have the first clue how to do all this and you needed me.”

She laughed. “I don't quite remember it being phrased that way.”

Marie leaned forward, her expression earnest. “And in all that time I have never known you to be fickle or uncertain about what it is you wanted. I've also never known you to ever be really happy. Ever since you've met Luce, you've been walking around here like a kid who got the puppy at Christmas.” She stood up, slapping the desk as she went. “And if Luce is making you this happy, I've a mind to send her flowers myself.”


“And the whole her being a woman thing?”

Marie shrugged. “Honey as far as I see it, love is love. What the two of you do in the bedroom shouldn't be anybody's business but your own.” She reached out, kissing Kylie on the forehead and patting her before simply walking out of the office.

* * *


Luce waited patiently for the elevator, noticing as a small group of people began gathering around her. She nodded politely at them before turning her attention to the polished silver doors in front of her. Her dull reflection stared back at her with a sappy grin on her face. Stunned, she reached up to touch her lips. She cast a quick glance around to see if anyone else had noticed but they seemed thankfully oblivious.

With a soft ding, the doors opened up and she walked into them giving herself a firm mental shake. She had to do a better job of hiding her good mood; she had a reputation to maintain after all. And going around smiling for no reason wasn't going to do it any good. Unless of course they were paranoid. Her brow arched slightly at the thought; then it might just be a good thing. Maybe they'd think she was off to axe an entire department or something. It never hurt to keep the reputation sharp and brutal.

The doors opened again to spit her and her companions out on the top floor. She made her way to Colleen's desk briskly and smiled as the other woman looked up.

“Mornin' sugah.” She held out a stack of papers for Luce.

“Morning Colleen.” She snagged them up. “Carl in yet?”

The admin nodded. “He's waitin' in the boardroom for ya sugah.”

Luce scanned the stack and shot Colleen a wink and a smile. “Thanks.”

“Someone's awful chipper this mornin'. Ya get ta run over a small child or somethin'?”

Surprised Luce gave a sharp laugh. “More like a dozen; they were trying to cross the street this morning.”

Colleen gave her a strange appraising look but said nothing more about it. “If ya'll need some more coffee than that there bucket he's got, ya just let me know.”

“Thanks Colleen.” She walked towards the boardroom a slight spring in her step as her mind wandered back to Kylie's smiling face. She reached the boardroom door and heard someone humming nearby. Astonished she realized the pleasant noise was coming from her. She swore softly; being caught smiling was one thing. Being caught humming wouldn't simply break her reputation, it would shatter it beyond all repair. She had to get a handle on this.

She squared her shoulder after the self reprisal, satisfied that she'd made her point. In the next second, she felt her lips curl back into a self satisfied smile and gave a soft sigh. This was not going to be easy. Memories of Kylie and their weekend together were simply to good to ignore. Smiling might not do her reputation any good but doing it sure felt good.

She shook her head slightly, the smile finally slipping from her face before steeling her shoulders, opening the door and greeting Carl. “Morning Carl.”

“Morning boss.”

She arched a brow at the title but said nothing. “Someone's in early today.”

“Thought maybe we might actually get somewhere today.”

She snorted. “Here's hoping.” She sat down at the table, glancing at his scribblings on his legal pad.

He handed it over without her asking. “I'm hoping that maybe today we can pin down the mole.”

Luce swore softly, realizing that she hadn't managed to tell him yet about her conversation with Jack.

He gave her a questioning look. “You all right?”

She nodded. “Yeah just wondering where the hell my brain went is all.” She started scanning his notes.

“Maybe whoever was humming outside the door before you came in stole it?”

Glacier blue eyes looked at him over the pad of paper. “What?”

He gave a slight smirk. “I assumed the jovial sound I heard outside the door a few minutes ago was not you. We both know you're not a hummer.” He sounded disappointed by that truth.

Behind the pad she smirked. “No I'm not.” She handed the pad back to him. “Moving on. I know who the mole is.”

He took the pad from her without thinking. “What? How?”

“I know a few hackers who have no lives.” She smirked as she poured a cup of coffee.

He snorted. “Do any of them have lives?”

Luce simply shrugged. Despite how much she liked Mac, she had to agree that most true geeks really were rather introverted; seemed to come with the territory. Must be something to do with staring at a computer screen all day.

“What'd that set you back.”

“A month's worth of tacos and burritos.”

“Talk about working for peanuts.” He changed the topic back to the more important subject of their investigation. “So who is it?”

“Jack, Don's first assistant. And he knows the name of the front man.”

“Did he give it to you?”

She shook her head. “No. The little shit is holding out on that one. He seems to think he's a dead man if he gives it up.”

“He might be right.”

She sipped her coffee. “Hmmmm.”

“So what's the next move?”

She sighed knowing that he wasn't going to like the answer. “We keep digging. We still don't have any proof about how the hell they're managing to do get the money in and out of this damn place without anyone noticing.”

“Did Jack know how they were doing it?”

She shook her head. “Not really no. He said something about billing but I've been over that department, twice with a fine toothed comb and I came up empty. If we can't find out how they're doing it, we're dead in the water.” She tossed her pencil onto the table in frustration. Weeks of digging into this damn thing and they were no closer to the truth than before. True they knew what was going on but they still had no idea how it was being done.

He sat back and took a deep breath. He was feeling a bit frustrated too. “Not good.”

“No especially when the feds are breathing down my neck to get them some evidence.” She covered her eyes for a moment when she heard a knock on the door.

Colleen came in, her arms full of folders and papers. Someone else was following her, pushing a cart that was also stacked high. Colleen slapped the stack onto the table in front of Luce, the sound resonating throughout the large room. “Ah finally got those reports together for ya sugah. Those boys down in logistics ain't happy with ya. They keep tellin' me that ya'll are killin' a forest with all the damn paper yer usin'.”

Luce whistled softly at the pile of paper in front of her waiting for her attention. “Why do you think we recycle?” She started thumbing through the stack in front of her gingerly. “Thanks Colleen.” She gave her gratitude to the admins retreating back as the other woman fled from the room.

Carl waited until the door shut softly, and then let out a soft whistle. “What in hells name is all this?”

“Before I talked to Jack, I asked Colleen to run reports on every company we purchased in the last six months; even if we turned around and gutted it and resold it.”

He gave another soft whistle. “Jesus Luce, do you realize how busy we've been in the last six months?”

She gave the cart next to Carl a rather wry look. “I do now.” She held out a rather sizable stack. “You still in?”

He grabbed the stack she held out and set it in front of him. “Hell yeah. I want this bastard found.” Despite the daunting task in front of him, he had a smile on his face. It seemed she wasn't the only one who enjoyed the chase at times.

She chuckles slightly and turns her attention to her own stack of files.

* * *

Luce stood feeling her muscles groan in protest as she stretched her back. She began pacing around the room trying to relief the stiffness in her shoulders and the buzzing in her eyes. They had both been staring at reports for the past four hours and she was quickly getting tired of it; despite the desire to catch the people behind it all.

Behind her, Carl continued sitting at the table, pouring over the huge pile of paperwork in front of him. From the look of things, he was making a decent amount of progress. His finished stack was much larger than hers. Then again maybe that had more to do with the fact that she'd found her attention beginning to drift nearly an hour ago and had been forced to reread several sections, slowing her down significantly.

She was just about to call it quits for an extended break when the intercom buzzer went off. Grateful for the distraction, Luce practically lunged to answer it.


“Luce, Ah've got two FBI agents out here askin' ta speak with ya.” Colleen lowered her voice. “If ya want, I can tell 'em that yer gone fer the day. They ain't too happy.”

Her rather caustic tone made Luce smile. “No Colleen, send them on in.” She gave Carl a nod. “Why don't you go grab yourself some fresh air. I don't really think they want to know that you know.” She settled herself at the table while he headed towards the door. He left just as the FBI agents that had interrogated her walked in.

“Agent Jenkins, Agent Smith; what a pleasant surprise.” Luce couldn't help the snide note in her voice and didn't bother to offer them a seat as she grabbed another file.

“Cut the shit Donovan. We want some answers.” Agent Smith leaned across the table, stabbing his finger at her aggressively. His mood had obviously not improved since their last meeting.

She set the folder down and arched a dark brow at his posturing. “Seeing as how I didn't really know a lot the last time you tried to strong arm me, I can't see how this is going to go much better.”

Agent Smith's face went red and he opened his mouth to fire back when Agent Jenkins laid a restraining hand on the other agents arm. He gave her a rather placating look. “Ms. Donovan, we've got you on tape threatening our informant. Although just how you figured out who he was I can't imagine.”

The accusation took her aback for a split second before she slapped her board room face into place. “You've got his office bugged.” She looked at Agent Jenkins for confirmation; he nodded once. She shook her head slightly; she shouldn't have been surprised. If she'd been in their shoes, she'd have done the same thing. Just how they managed to do it without putting their government clearance at risk was something to think about later.

Turning her attention back to Agent Smith, she snapped the folder shut with a loud snap her temper fraying. “I figured out who he was by using my brain. It didn't take much; any idiot could have done it.” She gave Agent Smith a pointed look.

To his credit, he ignored the bait. “Just what the hell did you think you were doing?”

“My job.” She stood giving Agent Smith her full attention. “He's an employee of this company and under my authority at the moment. Whatever you were holding over his head didn't seem to be working very well to make him spill the beans. I figured I'd use another type of leverage.” She let her boardroom face fall into place as she allowed a bit of her powerful personality free reign. If they wanted to play hard ball with her, they were just about to discover they were going to need much bigger bats, not to mention balls.

Agent Smith leaned onto the boardroom table, seemingly unintimidated. “We threatened to throw his ass in jail.” He pushed back with his own attitude.

She gave him a small, evil smile. “I threatened to take his livelihood and his career. Looks like he found that threat more serious.” She smiled at the way he bristled at the brush off.

“So we heard.” Agent Jenkins wry voice broke the tension between them and both of them pulled back.

She took her seat once more, pointedly ignoring Agent Smith's glowering presence. “As much as I appreciate you coming here to interrogate and bully me again, I have to ask, what do you want?”

“Jack's flown the coop.” Agent Jenkins spoke rather bluntly.

His brisk manner took her somewhat aback and she felt herself blink stupidly at him. “What? When?”

Jenkins shook his head. “Some time after you threatened him. The agents tailing him said he went home, ate some dinner and went to bed. Nothing out of the ordinary. They became suspicious the next morning when he failed to leave the house. When they entered his home, he was no where to be found. He must have slipped out in the night.”

She reached for the phone, punching the numbers violently. After a few tense seconds, she was connected.

“Jack Burns office.”

“Claudia? I need you to put me through to Jack.”

“I'm sorry Ms Donovan, he called in this morning. Said he had some sort of family emergency.”

Luce swore to herself softly as she gave the waiting agents a shake of her head. “Did he happen to mention how long he would be gone?”

“No ma'am he didn't. He's not in any kind of trouble is he?

Luce shook her head even as Agent Smith began pacing around the boardroom. “No, no he's not in any trouble; I just needed to speak with him; I'll see if I can't reach him on his cell. Thanks Claudia.” She hung up the phone and looked at the agents.

Agent Jenkins shook his head. “He dumped it.”

She sighed. “Well then boys it looks like you're up shit creek. What exactly do you want from me?”

“Help in finding him.” Agent Smith didn't stop his cagey pacing.

“That would you be your job.” She gave him a rather pleased smile.

Smith stopped pacing long enough to snap at her. “Cut the shit Donovan!”

“Smith.” For a moment it looked as if the agent was going to ignore the blatant order in that one word. But Agent Jenkins didn't even blink at the younger man and he backed down.

For the first time, Luce caught a glimpse of the steel will usually hidden behind the calmer agent's rather placid demeanor. She had to admit she was impressed.

She looked at Agent Jenkins questioningly. “Look I don't know why you think I can help you. You have access to networks and information I don't. How can you expect me to find him if you can't?”

Jenkins sat down across from her, both of them ignoring Agent Smith who continued to pace behind the older man. “Honestly, I don't but you know this guy; you've worked with him.”

She shook her head. “No I haven't, at least not much. But I know someone who has.”

“And who might that be?”

“Jack's direct Supervisor Don, the CEO of the company. I'll call him in here so we can all question him.”

Smith snorted. “Just make sure you keep the real reason we're looking for Jack under wraps Donovan. We don't know who the hell to trust around here.”

She resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the annoyed agent. “At this point, I think that keeping the truth behind the investigation a secret is the least of your concerns. What're you going to do when the cartel finds your informant before you do?” Both agents were silent as she picked up the phone and dialed.

Fifteen minutes later, Don walked into the boardroom, looking askance at the two suited men standing inside. “You needed to speak with me Luce?”

She waved at each agent deciding that identifying them as federal agents might be a really bad idea at the moment. They still had no idea who was really involved. “Don, these are Detectives Jenkins and Smith. They're here looking for Jack.”

“Morning Detectives, is there a problem?” He strode forward and shook each man's hand.

Jenkins took the lead. “Maybe. He was supposed to appear in court this morning as a witness for a hit and run victim. He never showed. We've gone by his house and he was gone. We thought we'd check his work place to make sure nothing had happened to him.”

Don shook his head. “He called me this morning to tell me he wouldn't be in for the rest of the week. Some kind of family emergency or some such. He wasn't specific.”

“Do you know how we can reach him?” Smith reached into his suit for a pad of paper and pretended to scribble down what was being said.

Again there was a shake of the CEO's head. “No, sadly I don't. Have you tried his cell?”

Agent Jenkins nodded. “Yes we have but no one's answering.”

“Is there somewhere he might go to hide out, someone who might be willing to hide him?”

Don thought for a moment and then shook his head. “I don't really know. Are you sure everything's all right?”

Agent Smith gave him a benign smile as he put his notebook away. “I'm sure it is. More than likely he's in a hospital with a family member or something and we just can't reach him.”

Agent Jenkins nodded. “We just want to be sure we find him before the judge issues a bench warrant.”

“Well I'm sorry I can't be of more help, detectives.”

Smith shook his head brushing off Don's apology. “If you hear from him, contact us, please.”

Don nodded. “I will detectives. Is there anything else I can help you with?” The two men shook their heads. “Then I'll be off.” With that he left Luce alone with the two men once more.

“Another dead end it seems.” Jenkins turned to Luce. “I was hoping this might be more fruitful. It seems all we've done is waste your time.”

Luce shrugged. “Not the first time.” Smith bristled slightly but she pushed ahead before he could comment. “Look I'll keep my ears open but I really don't expect to hear from him.”

Jenkins sighed. “Neither do we. We'll let you know when we find him.”

She nodded. “And I'll let you know when I find anything.” She stood, escorting the two agents to the door just as Carl came back with fresh cups of coffee. She watched them head towards the elevator glad to see them leaving; it seemed like every time they showed up, her life got more complicated.

She looked at Carl standing there, also watching the two agents leave. “How'd it go?”

She shrugged, going back into the boardroom. “About as I expected.”

“Which is to say it was a pain in the ass.” He laughed.

“I thought that was implied.” She sipped at the fresh coffee as he chuckled.

“Well I'm about to make your day. Want to take a drive?”

Surprised, she gave him a sharp look. “What? Why?”

“While you were talking to Huey and Duey, I got some more info on that damn warehouse where you were arrested.”

That caught her attention. She set the coffee down and promptly forgot about it. “What do you have?”

He shrugged. “Seems the warehouse is legit; we own it lock stock and barrel.”

She sensed something more about to hit the fan. “But?”

This time he gave her a wry grin. “One of our satellite companies is running a small business advisory service out of it; point of fact, they have 31 employees on the payroll.” He held out the folder that had been tucked up under his arm.

She sat up and snatched the folder from his hand and snapped it open in disbelief. “What? There's no way in hell they have a business running out of that thing. It was empty the last time we were there.” She scanned the contents quickly.

He was right the company was supposedly running at the address of the warehouse. But the last time she'd been there the damn thing had been empty; not so much as a random mouse turd to show it was being used. So exactly what was going on?

He shrugged unable to explain it. “So you've said. I think we need to go take another look.”

She nodded, snatching up her cell phone and wallet. “Lets go.”

* * *


Luce didn't speed to get to the location but it was a near thing. Anxious to get to the site and try see if she was going crazy, she drove through traffic a bit maniacally, changing lanes and honking aggressively. Next to her Carl was silent, simply hanging on to the door with a white knuckled intensity that clearly showed his unease.

This time she parked right next to the door. If she was going to be arrested again, she wasn't going to hide her approach. Memories of what happened the last time she was there and the driving need to see what the hell was going on in the damn building had her practically running at the steel door; as it was she just barely resisted the urge to kick the door in.

Giving it a violent shove as she unlocked it, she walked in, sighing loudly at the empty, echoing expanse that greeted her as the door thumped against the wall.

Behind her Carl stood there looking dumbfounded. “Damn, just as empty as the last time.”

Frustrated and annoyed, she started pacing, her footsteps echoing loudly in the vast space. “So what the hell is going on here?”

He shrugged. “Seems the only place this damn advisory service exists is on paper. They've got a payroll, requests for office supply chits, hell they've even been producing medical claims for at least three people needing carpal tunnel treatment.”

She paced for several minutes her mind whirling as she let the pieces of the puzzle fly around in her head. A drug cartel was laundering money through the company; a company which had some smaller satellites that seemed to only exist on paper. Nothing about this made a damn bit of sense to her. Either there were two separate crimes going on within the company, money laundering and billing fraud from the look of things, or the two incidents were somehow connected.

Luce thought the latter; after all the feds thought something was going on in the warehouse she stood in at the moment. Enough so that they'd staked out the damn thing and arrested her when she showed up. According to them, they'd been staking out the place hoping to stumble on a money drop off or something. They'd been doing it awhile; long enough that it seemed like the idea of a drop off was a dead end. So why the fake company?

She stopped walking as something to occurred to her. She snatched the folder from Carl and began looking through it again. She slapped it against her leg as the truth finally occurred to her. “Sonnava bitch! This is how they're doing it!”

Carl gave her a blank look. “What?”

This is how they're laundering money.” She waved her hands to indicate the empty warehouse. Carl watched her patiently. “This place only exists on paper and yet we're billing for services, paying utilities, payroll, medical expenses, whatever. Somehow the money's being shifted through this damn fake company and ending up in the hands of the damn cartel.”

Carl looked around them unconvinced. “You're telling me that they're moving millions of dirty money through here .”

Exasperated, Luce started pacing again. “I don't know, I'm sure the numbers don't add up exactly like you'd think but I know this is how they're doing it. Jack said to take a closer look at the billing department. I thought he meant our billing department. But what if he didn't mean that, what if he meant the billing from the small satellite companies?” She stabbed the folder in her hand.

He gave a low whistle. “Its possible but this seems like a pretty damn strange way to launder money.”

She sighed as she stopped pacing. “I know; I'm not even sure it would work.” She reached up to rub her forehead, looking around in annoyance that despite the epiphany, the larger picture was still out of reach.

“So how do we find out?” He still didn't look convinced but he followed her lead anyway.

She knew that there really was only one thing they could do at this point. “I think right now we need to find out how many fake companies we've got on the books. Once we know how many there are, we can tell the feds what we found and let their forensic accountants figure out the numbers.”

He groaned at the workload she was wanting to undertake. “And how are we supposed to do that?”

“Leave that to me.” She pulls out her cell phone and hit speed dial. “Mack? I need a favor.”

The hacker chuckled on the other end of the line. “That didn't take long. All right Donovan what have you got for me this time? You need me to hack into the DOD? How about Langley this time? You haven't asked me for anything impossible yet this month.”

“I need you to do some investigating for me.”

He snorted, his tone grim and sarcastic. “How special, PI work.”

She chuckled at the cynicism in his tone. “Don't worry, you'll get paid for this.”

“You offering me actual money?” He seemed to scoff at the idea.

“Would you actually take it this time?” She asked surprised.

He snorted loudly. “Not bloody likely.”

She shook her head; she should have known better. “Fine, then I'll pay for your damn burritos for the next six months.”

He gave a long whistle. “Damn Donovan, that's kind of steep.”

“Yeah well by the time you're done with this, you'll have earned it at least twice over.”

“Maybe I should start charging more.”

She snorted. “Don't wimp out on me now. I'll you later with the details.”

“I'll be waiting with baited breath.”

She closed her phone with a click and gave Carl a self satisfied smile. “Now we've got someone else to run down these addresses for us. Someone that no one in the cartel might accidentally recognize.”

“Good thinking.” He headed towards the door. “Now what?” He held it open for her, waving her through.

She arched a dark brow at the gesture as she walked through the warehouse door. “Now, we run back to the office and keep going through that stack Colleen gave us. We've got to start making some calls.” Her eyes shone with excitement at the idea of finally having a direction to work towards.

“Calls?” His shoulders slumped slightly.

She smiled at his discomfort. “Calls.”

He sighed. “Damn why do I get the feeling we're going to be on the phone for the rest of our lives?”

She opened her car door and gave him a wicked smile. “Cause you know me.”

To be continued...

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