Disclaimer: It’s fictional. Characters are mine and are made up and so are most of the places, jobs, activities. Any similarity to anyone living or dead is coincidental.
Sex: Consensual relationship between f/f adults. If this is illegal where you live or you are underage, don’t read it.
Language: Oh, yeah.
Violence: Not much.
Acknowledgment: for she of the infinite patience and disarming smile.
C 2005 sre email@example.com
“I don’t like hot pickles in my sandwiches.” Her voice was edged as she pulled the warm slices covered with dripping sauces out and dropped them into the bag. This was getting more than annoying. He’d done it three times in a row now, not that she liked fast food to start with. “I like pickles, but I don’t like them heated.” Kendal licked the sauce from her fingers after each pickle slice was removed, “And you know that.”
From the corner of his eye Dwayne watched with amusement as the tall brunette’s long forefinger left her mouth. Then he found it incredibly sexy. She would have been shocked at the notion. Tall and lithe with long, full brown hair, olive complexion, high cheek bones and naturally seductive brown eyes rimmed with lashes that didn’t stop, she was drop dead gorgeous but never paid her looks any particular attention. It was never foremost in her mind. She was far more interested in climbing her way up the ladder of law enforcement success.
The hot evening air of summer wafted off the distant Sound into the open windows of their unmarked car as the sun set in the west. Once a small village of lumber and fishing shacks near the much larger, well-known metropolis of Seattle, Edgeway had grown and prospered until their modern sprawl melded into a seemingly unending stretch of professional and trade enterprises. The two people sat in their car hidden beside a concrete pillar in a parking structure on the row looking out, a perfect position to see but not be easily seen in the bustling city center.
Kendal removed another pickle slice, tossed it in the bag, licked her fingers and glanced at the elite hotel across and down the street with its steady flow of customers coming and going. Like Seattle, Edgeway was hilly. Even in the heart of the smaller town, where the Edgeway Convention Center sat surrounded by exclusive, high-rise hotels and rooftop restaurants all within fairly easy walking distance of the other, the hills gave a little challenge to any trek.
On the distant Sound ferryboats moved steadily in and out across the emerald water now streaked with sunset gold. Here in the warm comfortable air of summer, tourists filled Edgeway’s well-lit streets. Taxis lined the area near the hotel’s entrance, waiting their turn to whisk their patrons off to dinner, the not-so-distant Space Needle, a multitude of theaters, a game or a drove of other attractions shared by a string of sprawling metropolises. Three conventions were in the area, a baseball game and a very upscale downtown gallery opening. The Northwest at its finest.
“Umgh,” her pudgy partner answered, chewing his own hamburger with enjoyment before jamming a French fry in his packed mouth as well. At thirty he was four years younger and at 5’10” he was three inches shorter. And she outranked him. She always gets the damn plum jobs cause she’s a fuckin’ woman, he grumbled to himself. Probably sleeps with the boss to get “em, too. Although it was pretty generally thought around the station that she didn’t bat on that team. Though no one knew for sure.
All of this wore on the man’s nerves. Yet, if it came to it, he’d readily put his life in her hands and he knew it. Anyone at the station would. They all trusted her and as head of this newly-formed task force, she was one leader who didn’t take herself too seriously and was even noted for being fun. She’s got the others snowed, he sneered. But not me!
“Forgot,” he replied as his only defense. It had been his turn to get their dinner and it was late when they’d met up at the station. A blob of sauce from his juicy sandwich fell onto his tie and he tried to wipe it off, leaving a greasy stain. “Damn,” he muttered, licking his napkin and rubbing the spot, trying to remove the stain that way.
“Bullroar,” she groused, wondering why she put up with his constant petty jealousies. Yet she had specifically asked for him on her team, much to the complete dismay of her boss, the Captain. This man she was now paired with was noted for being belligerent, disrespectful, drinking too much and being the world’s greatest chauvinist. But he had one talent that stood out like no other in her opinion. He had a nose for hidden trouble. She’d never seen anything like it. He could mention something and the next thing you knew, that was where trouble developed.
“You didn’t forget.” She looked over from where she sat behind the wheel of their car and a slight smile played across her lips. “I know what this is about. This is because I hit a home run at last weekend’s ball game and your new little girlfriend was all impressed. That’s what it is, isn’t it? She called out “Go Kendal, go” and kissed me on the cheek and you’ve been pouting ever since.”
“Have not,” he pouted. Like many officers, he was divorced. It was a bane of the business, along with alcoholism and high suicide rates.
She jabbed him with her elbow. “Get over yourself,” she grinned and he snorted.
“What about you?”
Kendal laughed aloud and for the life of him he couldn’t help finding the soft, rumbling, dulcet tones of her throaty laugh sexy, too.
He favored her with a casual smile, “Shit, you fuckin’ broads are all alike,...” he started.
“Careful,” she advised.
“What, you gonna write me up for insubordination?” he challenged.
“Wouldn’t be the first time you were written up, would it?” she warned.
There was no further comment as their attention was drawn to a group of five or six women, obviously business women in business clothes, making their way up the hill to the hotel entrance, laughing and talking loudly. Some had their arms flung around each other and their laughter and joshing created a small stir as they passed. No one seemed offended, however. The women were too well dressed and obviously too non-threatening for that. They had been imbibing and were having a wonderful time, that was quite obvious.
“Nice,” Dwayne said, pausing from shoveling food into his mouth. “Whoee, very nice. Look at the tits on that freakin’ leggy redhead.”
“Uh uh, none of that,” Kendal cautioned again with a heavy sigh, watching the women’s group. It was downright tiresome dealing with this man, but to her mind his gift justified going to lengths normally not tolerated.
The women’s group looked like a regular assembly of office cohorts out looking for a good time, which apparently they’d found. She wondered if they were in the midst of continued bar hopping. It was still early. “Better be staying there,” she muttered. “From the shape they’re in, I’d say they’re not going to make it too many other places. Must be from one of the conventions.” They were dressed well enough to be customers of this particular classy hotel.
In the group was a small blonde with shoulder-length, slightly curly hair, in a soft toned camel-colored skirted business suit and what must have been a wicked wit, for every time she spoke, they all broke into gales of laughter. She didn’t have her arms around her friends but walked backwards as she talked with them. Not an easy thing to do uphill, drunk and in heels. Someone different in the group grabbed her every few minutes to keep her from tripping. She didn’t seem to notice. Her hands moved in concert with her words.
Kendal watched her in particular. She had an aire of mischievousness and despite her slick packaging, her expensive, well-tailored suit, well-coiffed hair, manicured nails, the small blonde was decidedly cute. A smile spread across the tall Lieutenant’s face just observing the woman.
“Part of the DA Convention, probably,” Dwayne said. His eyes didn’t leave the tall redhead’s chest. “Those folks can tie one on, I hear.”
“Maybe,” she replied, also watching carefully as the women laughed their way into the hotel entrance then turned quickly into the bar.
Now their attention was drawn across the steady stream of traffic on the street to the taxi stand where two drivers had gotten out and were arguing beside their cabs.
“What’s going on?” Dwayne asked.
“I think the customers got in the second taxi and not the first and the first guy is objecting,” Kendal chewed her burger. Gods, she was tired of the kind of food they ate.
The doorman slowly walked toward the cabbies frowning. He said something and they watched the two drivers reluctantly get back into their vehicles. The second cab pulled out squealing his tires into the busy traffic. His passengers sat in back. The two officers watched as the first cab driver flipped the second one the bird.
“Jeez, grow up,” Dwayne remarked to the two drivers. Obviously they couldn’t hear and Kendal grinned.
“Some guys are so competitive,” Kendal tsked, taking another bite of burger. Like at softball games, she thought wryly.
“Hey, isn’t that Johnson?” Dwayne asked. He set his unfinished burger aside and grabbed the camera. Kendal did the same and grabbed the binoculars.
Their attention had moved to the man in the white suit at the entrance to the hotel and the soft click of the camera caught him in several poses. He was their prime suspect. The reason they were there. This man was suspected of being heavily involved in running drugs up and down the west coast. Kendal had stumbled on his name accidentally and only once. He’d initially been connected with ownership of a small fleet of tug boats that worked in the Pacific with large tankers. But the more she dug, the more often he began to show up in unusual places with unusual connections.
He was standing at the door waiting. They glanced in the direction he was watching and saw a young couple heading toward the entrance. They knew the couple. He held the door and let them in, then they saw the small group head the same direction the women had, to the bar. It was imperative that they know everyone that he was meeting.
“I’ll go check it out,” Kendal said. She used a hand wipe to whisk the burger scent off her hands, reached up and turned the overhead light off before the door triggered it and opened the car door. She adjusted her stylish navy jacket and reached for her purse, which she normally didn’t carry. It had next to nothing inside. Her jacket was well cut and did not show her sleekly designed shoulder holster molded to her figure or the new issue handcuffs that she carried in her belt to the side in the back of the matching, well-tailored suited trousers. A white camisole top showed deep, olive tan, a tan she never had to work hard to get, above her soft swell of bustline. This outfit did not come off any store rack.
She pulled her hair back, hoping it would make her look more like the average tourist. She pulled out a pair of wire-framed glasses and slipped them on. The glass had no correction. She patted her pocket where her badge resided and Dwayne let his eyes do a quick once-over. She was a beauty. But she was not to look like an officer or be too noticeable. Her pantsuit looked expensive, more expensive than most police officers could afford. She had purposely chosen it for this assignment.
“Lookin’ good,” he gave a thumbs up, “good and sexy,” he leered. She scowled, shut the door and headed toward the busy street in long, powerful strides. She purposely slowed her pace as she moved all the way down to cross at the light with the crowd at the far end of the street, wanting to blend in with the tourists. She avoided the doorman’s eyes as she entered and turned for the bar.
“There! I tole ya’all she’d show up. Ladies, that is what “The One” looks like.” The blonde’s drunken drawl settled over her group as Kendal entered the room. A modicum of merriment and appreciation arose from the women’s table and all her companions’ eyes tried to focus on the tall, scholarly-looking brunette crossing to the bar.
Kendal spared them only a quick glance as her eyes adjusted to the dimmed lighting. She moved to the end of the bar near a post and ordered a drink. The bartender took her ten and went to get her drink.
The brunette knew where the suspects were and was able to glimpse who they were now talking to. Another man had joined their group and they didn’t have his identity. Who was this fellow? She knew all the players and he hadn’t shown up before. She tried to gather as much information in a short glance as she could. Middle aged, bald, light hair, round face, ruddy complexion, maybe five ten--hard to tell sitting down, about one eighty, expensive dark silk suit but seemed uncomfortable in dress shoes. He kept lifting one foot as he sat to rub at his toes.
Suddenly she saw the small blonde weaving her way towards her. Gods, she thought, don’t draw attention to me. She looked away. Her drink appeared and she took a quick sip. She carefully kept her eyes off the suspects as attention in the room began to settle on the small blonde who was having a little difficulty maneuvering.
“Whoa,” the woman laughed, grabbing an empty chair to balance herself. The refined blonde headed directly for where Kendal was seated. The small woman’s camel-colored suit jacket was unbuttoned and a hint of her firm, well-shaped breasts held snugly in a white lace bra were evident beneath the top button of her lighter, camel-toned satin blouse. Her clothing was designed to make the highlights in her blonde hair and the blueness of her eyes stand out and they did, Kendal had noted briefly as the woman approached. She was a small beauty. Just Kendal’s type. The Lieutenant’s attention went to her drink. She ran a long digit slowly around the rim.
The manicured fingers of both the blonde’s hands began to lightly drum on the flat midriff section of her blouse as she stood directly next to the tall brunette. Kendal did not look. There was a healthy athleticism to the blonde’s small toned build that was not necessarily noticeable in the soft curves from afar. Kendal could smell a faint, powdery scent of expensive perfume. She tried not to look at the woman.
The blonde’s alcohol dazed eyes fluttered then slid over the tall woman on the bar stool as a “cat that swallowed the canary’ look swept over the small drunken woman’s face. She touched the tall beauty on the arm before tilting her head. “You’re The One,” she smiled drunkenly. There was a great deal of tease, even challenge, in her tone.
Kendal could see her make-up was flawlessly understated and soft freckles stood out on her smooth skin. She was definitely cute, but there was something flickering in her eyes, something below the surface, something wilder, maybe. She certainly was the type to take a dare, which Kendal thought this probably was. That also appealed to the tall brunette.
“I am?” deep brown eyes settled on the blonde.
“Yes, you’re The One,” the blonde repeated with certainty. Her slight drawl was not completely unnoticeable. “We’re talkin’ “bout one day makin’ n’ honest women a’ me an’..” Then her brow furrowed momentarily, “Uh, seems like when a lady talks ta fellas in the movies she says,” here the blonde dropped her voice a note, “”one day yer gonna father mah children.’” She giggled, “But, uh,” she ran a hand through her blonde hair then the edges of her mouth tweaked. She giggled again, “doesn’t seem to work zactly right here, ya know?” She giggled once more. “Bi-go-logic-shally impossible,” she slurred and returned one hand to Kendal’s arm to steady herself. Kendal was very aware of this beautiful woman’s hand on her arm.
She wanted to glance at the suspects, but feared they were watching. She kept her eyes on the blonde. “Then you don’t have children?” Kendal asked, wondering how many drinks this woman had had before submitting to this dare. She was wearing no rings and was definitely a captivatingly alluring woman. Not the type, she’d guess, that was used to approaching unknown women in bars. In some other time and place Kendal would not let this chance slip away. But not while she was observing suspects.
The brunette watched the softly swaying, smiling figure beside her and felt her body respond unintentionally to her. How long had it been since she’d responded to a woman’s touch? Too long, apparently.
“No,” the woman slurred, “Genevieve there says “Show us the candidates. The clock’s a’tickin’...’” She threw a look back at her group, apparently to Genevieve. Then she turned back and waggled her brows. “Get it?” She was feeling no pain and looked quite comical waggling her brows. It was all Kendal could do to keep from laughing out loud. This poor gal was going to hate herself in the morning. The ladies at the blonde’s table went into giggling fits at their companion’s waggling brows.
“I see. And how do you know I’m of the, uh, right mindset to be a candidate?” she asked. Kendal was not out at work. She’d found no reason to be. But she harbored no deep-seated trauma at the prospect. It was just easier all around keeping her private life private.
“Oh,” the small woman looked coy. Her eye’s swept Kendal’s long form “It would be a cryin’ shame if you weren’t. But if you’re not, I heartily apologize and pray Ah haven’t insulted you any. Have I?” Her head tilted to the side.
“No, not at all,” Kendal chuckled and reached a hand out for the change the bartender was giving her. She leaned forward and purred in the blonde’s ear, “But I don’t have the equipment to beat the clock. Sorry.” She enjoyed the way the blonde’s eyes shut as she spoke then opened as she finished.
The blonde looked at Kendal with a puzzled gaze. Kendal could see she was thinking about that. The brunette shot a quick glance at the suspects. They were watching. She decided it was better to leave before they became too familiar with what she looked like. She stood and inched to the side behind the post, just out of their view and looked downward at the blonde who was a good head shorter than herself.
“My, you’re tall,” the blonde said looking up, her mind diverted. “How tall are ya?”
“Six one,” Kendal replied softly.
Another of the women from her group had headed over and now grabbed the blonde’s arm. “C’mon, ya old lush. Quit bothering this poor lady.”
“Who ya callin’ a lush, Phyliss Ann? I object, yer honor. Bar her from the court.” Then she chuckled, “Or court her from the bar. I like that better.” She flashed a silly grin at her cohorts then looked back to see the tall woman readying to leave. “Hey, don’t leave yet,” the small blonde said to Kendal. “We gotta talk. I just found ya.”
“Sorry, lady,” Phyliss Ann grinned, dragging the blonde away. “She’s had a bit too much of the old sauce.”
From behind the post Kendal took another quick drink of her plain coke. She was unseen at the suspects’ table but she could still see the blonde.
“You’re The One,” the blonde cheerfully said again, pointing at Kendal as she walked backwards while her friend dragged her back to their table.
“Your head’s gonna explode tomorrow, Savannah,” Phyliss Ann laughed, “You’re sure shit faced tonight.” She glanced at the tall brunette who had thrown a tip down and was now stuffing the change in her pocket, “Hope she didn’t bother you,” she called softly. It was obvious the tall woman’s drink had not been finished.
Kendal muttered, “No, that’s all right.” She took another quick drink and let her eyes sweep the room. People had gone back to their own conversations including the suspects. But they’d noticed her and that was not good. She stepped from behind the post, leaving a half-finished drink and moved out.
Outside she hurriedly stepped into the busy street, stopping to let a line of cars pass in each of the lanes before she made her way across, muttering about her stupid luck. She gave Dwayne the description of the man who’d been meeting the suspects inside and he entered it in their electronic files and started a quick search. With only a description, there was little hope of an identification and they got none. Then she sighed heavily as she shifted into the seat, “They spotted me in the bar.”
He looked at her strangely. For someone as good looking and tall as she was, she was quite skilled at staying to the sidelines. He’d bet anything that she was rarely spotted. “They saw your gun?” he asked. Sometimes if you forgot and left your jacket unbuttoned that happened.
She winced, “No. One of the drunk ladies from the group came up to me to flirt and everyone watched. Crud, there’s a chance they’ll know we’ve made them if they see me again, depending on what I’m doing. But we need to find out who that fellow was.”
“Well, fuck,” Dwayne grumbled, flashing her a look of annoyance, “they even friggin’ flirt with ya when ya don’t want “em to.”
“I know,” she remarked, deep in thought. The fact that she was so casual about knowing made him even more annoyed on the subject. He had to work to get every one of his dates. Her admirers, male or female, fell in her lap. Not that she went out all that much as far as anyone at the station knew.
Still, it was a point of contention with him. All his girlfriends asked about Kendal once they’d met her and it wasn’t always because they were jealous that he worked with such a beauty. Some of them found her entirely too attractive, more attractive by far than him. He looked at her but suspected she was going over the factors in the case. As far as he could tell, she was never fazed with the personal stuff.
“Okay,” she said, “we know our prime suspect is staying at that hotel.” She licked her lips, “Maybe the other guy is, too. We know the couple is his niece and her boyfriend, who works on one of the tankers. We’ve seen them before. We’ll just wait. If the other guy comes out, we’ll get a shot of him. If he doesn’t come out, we’ll check with the desk once business slows down and see what we can find out.”
“Yeah,” Dwayne stuck more fries in his mouth.
“I want that young couple followed, too. Stasler’s “sposed to be on that.”
“He is. Saw him drive by a bit ago.”
Kendal jammed what was left of her dinner in the sack. She couldn’t eat any more. She’d eaten enough to forget her hunger. What was not forgotten, however, was the small blonde and her declaration that Kendal was The One. She couldn’t help smiling when she thought of the petite woman. She was going to be one sick puppy the next day when the alcohol began to want to pound its way out of her head. She might even be worshipping at the porcelain goddess all night. And she’d for sure feel like a first-class fool when she sobered up. She didn’t envy the blonde any of that. “Been there, done that,” she mumbled, thinking of her long-gone college days. “Never again.”
Dwayne looked over at her but didn’t ask what she’d said.
She settled back in the seat and tossed the bag with the rest of her dinner into the back seat. She might as well get comfortable. It could be a long wait and night had firmly settled over the city now. They’d be viewing everything by city lights.
Even though she headed this group and could have stayed in the office, she felt it was important that she keep her finger on the pulse of what was happening. It was her initial discovery that facilitated the group in the first place. She wanted the edge that being out there gave her.
Surprisingly, before long they saw the young couple leave the hotel. They both sat up at that. Before they’d always stayed with the Uncle. Dwayne got some pictures. And they waited. Through the lobby windows they saw the group of women stagger from the bar and head to the elevators. Looked like it was going to be lights out for them at this point. Kendal hoped the blonde was staying with one of the others or that the other women would be sure and walk her to her room. She was pretty vulnerable seeing how drunk she was.
“Hey, aren’t those the same two cabbies?” Dwayne asked. They moved their eyes to the line of cabs. Dwayne picked up his camera and adjusted the telephoto lens. “Looks like they’re both back. I don’t know. Somethin’s damn hinkey with those two.”
“Looks like it’s them, all right,” Kendal agreed, moving her binoculars that way. The lights from the hotel and the streetlights did a good job of illuminating the area. She let her eyes run over the two men. They were standing outside their cabs saying things to each other again and it didn’t look any too friendly. “Where’s a patrol car when you need one?” she muttered. “Crud, even Stasler’s gone.” Then she noted, “And there’s Johnson.” Through the glass doors they could see him stop at the desk then head to the elevators. The ladies were gone. “But where’s the other guy?”
They both kept intense watch on the lobby. Then she saw the mystery man heading toward the hotel entrance doors. “There he is. That’s him, Dwayne. See the man with the bald head?”
“Got him,” Dwayne’s camera began to click away as the man paused before moving the rest of the way out the door. The fellow jaywalked across the busy street as Kendal had done, headed to the parking garage they were in. “Shit, he’s coming here,” Dwayne said, pressing back into the seat. But they were in a darkened area away from what few lights there were in the parking garage and they weren’t likely to be spotted. He got some very clear pictures of the man’s face by streetlight before the fellow turned and went to the other side of this floor to where his car was parked.
Kendal stuck her head out the open car window and listened. “He’s headed to the northeast corner,” she whispered, “Get his license number, if you can. He’s probably going out the back way.”
Dwayne was amazed at the woman’s hearing. He swore she could hear a raindrop fall into the ocean. He reached up to the dome light but she stopped him. “I already turned it off.” She was whispering so that sounds did not carry on the warm summer air inside the parking garage. He heard the slight “brrr’ of her window as it rolled up. His was still down. He slipped out the door and pressed it shut with a soft click.
She glanced back at the hotel. “Wait!” There was alarm in her voiced whisper. “What’s that cabby doing?” They both drew their attention to the drivers outside the hotel. The two cabbies were still outside their cabs. One was standing, turned, talking to a third driver in his cab and motioning angrily while the other was approaching behind him, something in his outstretched hand. She lifted the binoculars. “Mother of Mary, I think it’s a gun!” she exclaimed. “Where’s the patrol?” She checked the area, her hand on the doorknob.
“Well, fuck! I gotta go if I’m gonna get our suspect’s license,” Dwayne said. He could hear his window rising. “Looks like you’re gonna hafta handle that one, Boss.” He tapped the roof of the car lightly and grinned with something closely akin to delight, “I’ll call it in. Got your phone?” Without waiting for an answer he disappeared into the shadows.
“Yeah, you just don’t wanna hafta deal with this,” Kendal slid out of the car, shutting the door quietly. She automatically felt for the phone in her pocket. “Got it.” She looked once more toward the cabs but there was not a patrol car in sight. The first cabby had turned and backed away, aware now of the danger. She was sure they wouldn’t hear above the traffic if she shouted.
“Damn,” she muttered racing out to dodge her way through the quickly moving traffic to cross the street, “Looks like I drew the short straw.” She tried to keep track of the action unfolding at the cab stand, but had to divert her eyes to make sure reluctant traffic stopped for her.
Dwayne hastened toward the back of the garage at a crouch, his camera in hand. The mystery man started up his car and headed to the back exit. He did not hear the two popping noises that got everyone else’s attention. Nor did he see the man in the shadows with the camera snapping his car’s picture.
The first cab driver sank to the ground while the other looked around quickly. He put the gun in his pocket and started running for the hotel side entrance. In frustration Kendal slammed her hand on a car’s hood, one that had not really wanted to stop for her, as she finally made it through the traffic to get there, then approached the hotel on the run.
“The stairway,” the doorman called to her, recognizing her from her days as a street cop. The stairway emptied into the lobby. Why would he go up? she wondered, unless he’s just panicked. The shooting didn’t look planned. Course, he could try and grab a hostage. That’s a horrible thought. Or shoot someone else. But hiding in a room wouldn’t help him. We could check every room if we had to. She tore for the stairway door. She was glad their prime suspect was no longer waiting for an elevator. He’d most likely gone to his room. With any luck, she wouldn’t run into him and he wouldn’t see her.
The minute she’d entered the stairwell she had heard the man’s foot falls echoing as he quickly pounded up the stairs above her. She could hear his heavy breathing. She headed behind him at as fast a pace as she could. She utilized a daily workout program and was in pretty good shape. He was not likely to be as well off, but he was armed and dangerous and adrenaline could push you to heights you’d never imagine possible. If it comes to that, I’m armed and dangerous, too, she decided.
She knew there were at least fifteen floors in this building. She didn’t think he was in good enough shape for even half that. She hoped not. She also knew why Dwayne wasn’t the one doing this. He wouldn’t have made it up five floors without calling an ambulance for himself.
She was gaining on the cabby as she passed level four and had plans to reach him by the sixth floor. Now if everyone just stayed out of the stairwell. She unbuttoned her jacket as she ran. She was sweating and the bizarre thought occurred to her that she was ruining one of her very best suits. Her blouse, for sure. She heard the sirens and knew from the sounds it was both the ambulance and the police. Dwayne had called it in. Good job, Dwayne, she was panting now, Next time, you chase, though.
She was rounding the corner heading up five and could see the cabby’s legs moving toward six. He was slowing. Suddenly his wheezing torso leaned over the rail and his gun appeared. He was younger than she’d thought. “Stay back, or I’ll shoot,” he rasped. She jumped back and quickly pulled her gun. “Stop! Police!” she warned. “Stay where you are!”
His torso disappeared and he turned on six, fear of pursuit urging him upward more quickly. He had to be wondering how he’d gotten so unlucky as to have a police officer on his trail so soon.
She pushed herself now and climbed two stairs at a time, knowing that subduing him would be the tricky part. She could hear his labored breathing but was forced to stay back half a flight for protection since he was turning back her way often now.
She called to him again, “Police! Stop where you are! Police!” Ignoring her, he passed six and headed to seven. Sweat was pouring down his forehead and his shaggy hair was stuck to his head. She had to get him before he decided to enter one of the floors. The risk of guests being there was much greater than in the stairwell.
She saw him pause and reach for the handle to the seventh floor door. She turned the corner landing and pointed her gun with both hands in a police stance. “Stop where you are,” she called between heavy breaths. He was gasping, his whiskered mouth open full, but he whipped his gun her direction and dove for the stairs going up. Then he turned his back and moved up as fast as he could. Damn! She didn’t want to shoot him in the back. She followed, consciously aware of the danger of his gun.
He was going to get into one of the halls. Probably the next. She had to stop him here. She’d been lucky that no guests had been in the stairway but her luck couldn’t hold forever. Still she was very reluctant to shoot in such an enclosed but ultimately public space. No telling where a ricocheting bullet would end in a tubed area like this. Everything she knew whispered to her to hold fire, check for options first.
She could hear noises in the stairwell below them and knew it was probably the police. However, it might not be. She had to be ready for anything.
As he passed the halfway point towards eight, he had slowed considerably. She quickened her pace, staying crouched and climbed behind him, staying below the rail. He was audibly gasping now, one hand on his chest. Closing rapidly, she made the instantaneous decision and sprang around the turn toward him as he strained upward for eight. She saw him turning his gun her way, and all time seemed to stop.
She saw the chrome automatic and tracked where the muzzle was going as her body moved through the air. She was beyond the cusp of choice. Once she had thrown herself at him, she gave up having the drop on the man. Her free hand wrapped around his ankle as she watched the barrel of his gun steadily walk towards her. There was fear on his face as he squeezed the trigger. She yanked, throwing him off balance and time again flew. His shot was wide, not missing her by much but taking a chink out of the concrete stair by her foot and ricocheting around the well.
Automatically she yanked again with all her considerable might and the husky man began to tumble down the stairs feet first toward her. She chopped his hand as he neared before he could manage to fire again and the gun flew clattering away. In seconds she had stopped his fall with her knee and had her new issue plastic handcuffs out. Then she was cuffing the gasping man to the rail. Both of them were doing a good job of sucking air, he much worse off than she. She stopped to bend over to get her breath as he lay back on the stairs, his chest heaving dramatically.
She kicked the fallen gun out of the way and heard the officers directly behind her. “Hands up, police!” the first officer called, his gun in both hands trained on her. “Don’t move!”
“I’m police, I’m police!” she called to him as she kept her hand with the gun in the air and slowly lifted her wallet from her pocket with forefinger and thumb of the other hand. She flicked it open to show her gold shield. A swarm of officers were panting up the stairs behind him.
“You got him, Lieutenant Deetrie,” one of the trailing officers called. “You ran him down!” The woman officer looked at her admiringly and spoke between her own deep breaths. “Great work, jees.” All the officers with her were also breathing heavily.
“Yeah, but I’m undercover here,” she
frowned, now blowing out small concentrated puffs with each
exhale. “You guys take over. I’ll file my statement
at the station.” She quickly brushed some of the dirt from
the stairs off her suit.
“You got it,” the officer replied. Kendal looked down at the perp. He was sucking in air as hard as he could, wheezing, and his face was agonized. She wondered if they’d have to take him to the hospital before jail. She could hear people opening stairwell doors on different floors, drawn by the noises. She had to get out of there before she was spotted.
She took giant strides and hurriedly pulled open the heavy door. She stepped into the plushly carpeted hall, glad that no one on eight had been curious enough to chase the sound of the gunshot into the stairway.
She leaned back for a minute against the door, calming her breathing while she holstered her gun. Shoulder holsters fit women better than men, generally, because of the natural slope of a woman along the rib cage and hers was such a perfect fit that it seemed to flow around her curves. You simply could not tell she had it on. But, of course, she had to wear a jacket to hide it.
In this suit, her jacket was also designed to make her gun unnoticeable. The cut was perfect and the fabric flowed flawlessly. She slipped her badge wallet into her pocket and brushed more dust off her pants. She wiped her forehead, buttoned her jacket, took one last deep breath and forced herself to stroll the hall with even breaths. If their suspect came out, she hoped she’d look like she was a guest who belonged on this floor.
Breathing more easily, she headed to the elevator. A couple was already there waiting. She joined them, climbing in when the down car stopped. It passed seven then six but stopped on five. When the door opened, there was the blonde holding her room’s empty ice tub with an inquisitive look on her face as she pounded on the elevator button. She was definitely three sheets to the wind. “Where’s the ice machine?” she asked with a giggle. The couple stepped back.
“Uh, down the other end of the hall,” the man said, pointing. The blonde then noticed the tall brunette.
“Well, haaaaay. It’s you. Did I tell ya, yer The One? You’re gonna fath...”
“I’ll show her,” Kendal said and stepped off the elevator. She grabbed the blonde’s arm and turned her the other way. She heard the elevator doors shut behind them.
Fire flashed in blue eyes. “Hey!” the blonde frowned and yanked her arm away. “Don’tcha get rough with me. I’m warnin’ ya. I don’t put up with that...” her voice was sharp with caution and admonition, “...schtuff.” Then she giggled.
How could she change gears like that? Kendal mused. Must be the alcohol. She also wondered what in the world the small woman thought she might do if someone did have violent intentions toward her. She was light enough to throw over one’s shoulder and so intoxicated that she could barely stand. She’d left her heels somewhere because now she was in her stocking feet and was shorter still. She most likely didn’t have any idea of how to fend off any kind of attack, yet Kendal didn’t see her as completely helpless either. Enough, though, to be cautious.
Blue eyes looked up at Kendal as they walked, “My bi-go-logican clock is ticking,” she said almost shyly, unaware she had stumbled over the word “biological”. She spoke as if they’d been close friends forever.
Now that they were alone Kendal wanted to ask exactly what this woman had in mind for her. The small blonde had certainly been more than forward and flirtatious, but she’d also been more than slightly under the influence and that spoke of getting her back to her room, safely tucked in and nothing more. Still, what a fascinating dichotomy of elegance and cuteness, poise and shyness, sensuality and the girl-next-door simplicity she was. Kendal was considerably intrigued.
“Tick tock, tick tock,” the blonde continued. She sighed heavily, “Gotta hurry.” She stopped, put a hand on Kendal’s arm and looked up with great earnestness, “I’m thirty three.”
Kendal had to work at not laughing. Gods, this woman was cute. “Uh, why do you need ice?” she asked softly as the woman removed her arm and they again started down the hall toward the room that held the ice machine. Even intoxicated the small blonde moved her body with a natural almost animal grace. Kendal’s mind registered the perfection of the petite body beside her and wondered how many years of dance she’d taken to move that well when drunk.
“Why, for a drink, of course,” the woman replied. “Could I interest you in a drink?”
“Maybe you should have some coffee,” Kendal suggested.
“Coffee?” the blonde laughed derisively then sobered instantly. She stopped and grabbed Kendal’s arm, peering at her with great concern, “I’m sorry. I din’t mean ta be implite. They have better coffee here than anywhere I’ve ever been in my whooole life.” She swayed for a minute, “But I doan wan any coffee right now.” Now she perked up, “A drink, that’s what I need. How about you? Wanna drink?” She dropped her arm and started busily down the hall again without waiting for a reply.
“All right,” Kendal said, trailing after her. “Do you know where your room is?” They were almost to the ice machine.
“My room?” the woman stopped again. “Uh, where is my room?” She began to look around. Her free hand came up to tap its fingers lightly on her flat midriff as she thought.
“Do you have a key card?” Kendal asked. Maybe the room number was on that.
“Uh, do I have a key card?” the small woman parroted. She tried to put her fingers in her decorative jacket pocket but the pocket was only for show. Then she laughed. “Do YOU have a key card?”
“No. I don’t have anything to drink in my room.”
“Oh, are you here for the DA convention, too?”
“Here I am,” Kendal fudged. “So, where’s your room?”
The blonde looked around puzzled. “Why are we in this hall? My room’s not this way,” she stood wavering, looking up and down the hall as she tilted from side to side, one hand softly tapping on her midriff. She stopped. “My shoes,” she said.
“Yes, you have no shoes on,” Kendal replied looking again at the nylons on the woman’s small feet. Dear heavens, Kendal thought, trying to get a drunk back to their room is not an easy proposition. Then the small woman started off again away from the ice machine back the way they’d come.
“All right. You lead, I’ll follow,” Kendal muttered, following behind, her eyes flickering over the enchanting form of the petite woman before her.
They moved back to the elevators and stopped so the small blonde could look around again. Then she laughed. “My shoes,” she stated proudly.
Kendal looked down the main hall and saw the end of a heel sticking out into the hall. Apparently it was keeping the door ajar. She led the small blonde down that way toward room 5114.
“I’m tired,” the small blonde said as they headed to her room.
“You probably are,” Kendal said softly. “You’ve had a lot to drink.”
“Yes,” the blonde replied. “I had a wonnnndddderful time.” They got to the room and she stooped to pick up her shoe. Kendal put a hand on the door to stop it from closing as the blonde examined the shoe. “Yep, it’s mine.” She stuck it in the empty ice bucket and they entered the room.
As they moved inside Kendal could see that it housed two women. Each queen sized bed had a suitcase on it and clothes were strewn about the room, some in a size too large for the small blonde. “Where’s your room partner?”
The small blonde put the bucket with the shoe on the end of the bed and looked back at her. “She had a hot date,” she laughed then grabbed Kendal by the lapels of her jacket as the slowly shutting room door clicked shut behind them. “Kiss me,” she demanded as her forearms inadvertently brushed against the taller woman’s breasts, causing Kendal to take a swift intake of breath. Even inside her jacket she could feel her nipples harden. The blonde’s arms stretched up to go around Kendal’s neck and into her hair to pull her head down.
“Uh,” Kendal looked down into the blonde’s half-mast blue eyes, closing as the woman rose on her tiptoes, her soft pink lips moving upward, a flush of desire in her cheeks. Was it wise to argue with this woman? No, Kendal decided, she was too drunk. Besides, what was the harm? A quick peck.
Kendal’s arms moved around the smaller woman’s waist and she leaned down.
Once their lips touched, the small blonde pressed her body against the brunette’s with a sensual energy that made Kendal gasp. She was more than aware that silky breasts, tight midriff and firm thigh were taunting her body.
As graceful as a cat with its prey the small woman managed to dislodge them from their standing position, pulling backward just enough for them to lose balance and tumble onto the bed, Kendal on top. Savannah moaned deeply, her hands on either side of Kendal’s face. The blonde’s searching tongue entered Kendal’s mouth again, this time building a white-hot fire at the same time that her hands moved further into the tall brunette’s hair, grabbing handsful and forcing the brunette’s mouth into the full passion of this kiss.
As the slowly writhing body below her moved, forcing a thigh against Kendal’s crotch, the brunette could hear herself joining in the moaning. The blonde was twisting, pressing and demanding and began sucking Kendal’s tongue till perspiration broke out all over the tall brunette’s body and a ferocious hunger rocked her hips, instantly igniting a fiery, passionate blaze throughout the tall woman’s body. Gods! Every cell to her core became alert with a devouring ache.
Sweet Jesus! she couldn’t believe the instant height of her arousal. She tried to free her hands that were pinned under the small blonde’s body. She’d never been kissed like this in her life. Kendal’s eyes sprung wide open as she tried to wrestle free, but the small woman didn’t stop.
Finally the blonde had to breathe. She released her hold and let her head fall back to the covers with the sexiest look on her face. “Oh yeah,” she grinned, blue eyes making contact with brown, “you’re The One all right.” A pleased countenance wrapped itself across the blonde’s face. “You smell like sweat,” she intimated. “I like that in sex, don’t you?”.” She shut her eyes.
Kendal pushed aside her shock and scrambled to get off the bed, vaulting upright with a force she didn’t know she had. As though she had been burned, she moved several quick steps away from the bed. Then she felt her phone vibrating in her pocket. “Uh, ‘scuse me a minute.” She pulled out her phone.
One blue eye opened. “Who is it? Is it for me?”
“No, probably my mother,” Kendal said and turned her back while she flipped open the phone. “Hello, Mother?” she said, still feeling the fiery humm in her body and barely controlling the tremor in her voice.
“Where the fuck are ya?” Dwayne grumbled. “Christ, they said you weren’t hit or nothin’. I had to stand here and listen to “em blow air out their butts about your marvelous pursuit and all that shit. You’d think they’d never seen a damn cop chase someone before. Hell, they’ve nearly got the whole fuckin’ thing cleaned up down here already. What’s the holdup?”
“Yes, I’ll pick you up some stool softener,” she replied evenly. “I’m sure you’ll be regular soon. Don’t worry.”
“What? What in the fuck are you talkin’ about? Regular what? Shit, we need to get a move on. Where the hell are ya?”
“Yes, that’s what I understand it does. Uh huh. I, uh,” she glanced at the blonde who now had both eyes closed, “got held up.” She turned her back to the blonde again. “Soon, all right? Very soon.”
“Just one thing,” Dwayne warned, “Johnson’s out with the freakin’ crowd. You’d better avoid the goddam front entrance. I got the license number. Now THAT took skill. Dammit all, I thought you’d wanna hurry and check it out.”
“Yes, that would be correct.”
“Wait! Did you call me a mother fucker when you answered?” he asked suspiciously, “Is that what you said to me?”
“No, I most certainly did not. Should I have?”
“What? No! What in the hell’s goin’ on? I’m down here in the fuckin’ car waitin’ and you’re in there doin’ what? Gettin’ more babes ta drop at yer fuckin’ feet or some damn thing I suppose?”
Kendal took a quick glance at the small blonde. Her chest was moving rhythmically up and down. “Soon, uh, next street down the hill,” she replied, thinking of the crowd in front. She wanted to avoid Johnson.
“You want me to drive to the back street?”
“Yes. And wait. Soon.”
“Well, why in the fuck didn’t you say so? Shit, I wouldn’t a been down here wastin’ my fuckin’ time waitin’. Honest to Pete, you god-damned fuckin’ women don’t know your asses from...”
“Careful!” Kendal closed the phone and slipped it into her pocket. Yes, she was going to have to do something about Dwayne.
She turned to face the blonde. “I’m sorry I have to run, but...” she looked at the smile on the blonde’s face then heard the soft sound of a snore. She stood and stared. The blonde was sound asleep. She looked around for an extra blanket and put it over the small woman.
“Are you sure I’m the one?” she whispered, “cause I seem to put you to sleep.” She planted a light kiss on the blonde’s forehead. This demon of a kisser looked so sweet and innocent in sleep. Without thinking, Kendal brushed a wisp of blond hair off her forehead. A thoroughly angelic look blessed the sleeping features, which was totally contrary to the distress this small whirlwind had caused throughout the tall woman’s body. You don’t seem to put ME to sleep, though, do you? she noted as the unreleased, awakened hum remained surging within her. It had been a good long time since she’d had to deal with that kind of persistent throbbing.
Kendal had wined and dined and discretely slept with her share of women over the years. But her outrageous hours as a policewoman and even her hours at the FBI Academy seemed to eliminate any chance of a serious encounter of longer duration. Although there had been the tall, thin blonde Swedish girl at the Academy that might have developed into something more serious. Once their assignments took them in different directions, however, they’d lost track of each other.
She looked to the gentle, even breathing of the sleeping blonde. This was a woman she could definitely go for. She heard another soft snore and stifled a chuckle as she quietly flicked the light out and left the room. It was a surprisingly lonely feeling walking away from the small whirlwind. But Dwayne’s waiting car would be in the back street and she had work to do and mysteries to solve.
It was very late by the time she’d filed her report regarding the arrest of the cabby and the shot that was fired. Anytime a shot was fired, the paperwork and scrutiny increased immensely. And it certainly put an extra twist of interference they didn’t need into their own case. She groaned at the extra work.
During the wee hours of the morning Kendal thought of the small blonde again as she finally put her head on her pillow. She hoped the woman’s hangover wasn’t too bad. Then she thought of the kiss. That kiss had been unlike anything she’d ever experienced before. She wondered just how much of a wild cat this little blonde was. She could see there could be benefits to being The One for the lovely blonde Savannah.
Early the next morning Kendal had Dwayne download his pictures then proceed to check on the mystery man’s license number. She suspected her part-time partner was hung over and wondered how he could go out drinking with the boys so late after work and still be in on time in the morning. She didn’t think she could do it.
Dwayne had transferred from a larger police force and was the newer version of the old dinosaur. He drank, swore and had little respect for anyone not a white male, particularly women. He had adequate police experience, on paper at least, although there were some write-ups that were mostly slaps on the wrist. But Kendal recognized more in him.
The Captain called her in and stood at his door giving Dwayne a long look as Kendal walked in. He shut the door and settled his bulk into his chair before he leaned forward to question her once again about the advisability of having Dwayne on her team. “He talks about you behind your back,” he frowned.
Prejudice against women was certainly not unknown in the good-old-boy atmosphere of law enforcement. Even in this modern day it was not all that uncommon. But on a team where the woman was a leader, it could be deadly. Kendal knew that. The Captain folded his arms, “Says things when he’s out drinking and it ferments trouble. It’s not good for morale. Some of the guys, uh, want him gone. I thought you should know that.”
She was surprised the guys had gone to Cap and not to her. She’d have to work on that. “I’ll talk to him,” she agreed. “He’s got a good nose for trouble, Colin. With how hard leads are to come by in this case, that’s a big windfall. I’d rather put up with some of his nonsense to get that.”
“I don’t see it, Kendal. I listened to what you told me and I listened to him. Seems to me like he just makes comments like any of the other fellas. I haven’t seen this great gift you think he has.”
“Are you telling me I HAVE to bump him out of the group?”
“No. This is your team. I’m just saying, he’s trouble. And some of the other guys are uncomfortable with him.” He studied her carefully. Her record was flawless and her background put her on the fast track. But her style was the complete opposite of his. She was all about compromise. He most definitely was not. Still, she was his protŽgŽ of sorts. It was his job to see that she succeeded. After all, the Chief had made it crystal clear to all the police Captains that they were to do everything to make sure their city didn’t look guilty of holding women back. She was his ace.
“Well, I appreciate that you’re watching out for me and the guys. I really do. And I thank you for the advice. But I’d like to keep him on the team for now. I will talk to him, though.”
“It’s your party,” the Commander said dismissively. As she rose to leave, he had to wonder if he’d misjudged her. Dwayne was not good for her team, he was sure of that. Oh, he was a good enough cop. But he wouldn’t rise to any kind of fame. Not in their force under today’s scrutiny. Their Chief was clear about that. And Dwayne’s attitude was deeply antagonistic to women. She should have seen that. After all, it was her the man was constantly attacking.
Kendal pulled Dwayne aside and warned him about talking behind her back. He asked who’d reported him and she sloughed it off. Then she warned him that he was on the fast track to being bumped off the team if it continued. He snorted his displeasure and said nothing, but he thought she was just trying to throw her weight around. So like a broad to try and show she’s the boss. As if! he snarled to himself.
Stasler’s report was phoned in from the country. It let her pulse race a little. It had the potential of being a new lead. There’d been precious few of those after the initial discoveries.
The young couple Stasler was following had ended up staying at a large farmhouse on a side country road off the main road to the mountains. A huge party of young people complete with ultra-loud music, had assembled, still was going on, and she wondered at the drug potential. She assigned Stasler to continue tailing them and pay particular note of anyone they associated with for any period of time, if he could. Another team member was assigned to check who owned the property, who was living there now and any other information he might be able to dig up.
She mentioned it to Dwayne, watching his reaction carefully, but he was uninterested for the most part. Instead he studied the information he’d found regarding the license plate number as Kendal watched over his shoulder. The car was licensed to an unfamiliar company in Washington. “Check that out,” she tapped at the information. “I wanna know everything you can find out about that company.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he remarked with little enthusiasm. He looked to catch the eye of any of the other men, hoping to flash a derisive look of understanding from them, but all were busy. He snorted softly and put his attention back on his screen. He’d do her request later.
She noted his reaction, and weighed it against the potential loss of his “nose for trouble” if she had to push too hard too soon. Till she was more familiar with how he functioned, she decided to let it go. She could always stamp hard later, although it wasn’t the best leadership technique and she knew Colin was watching her carefully in that regard.
Dwayne searched all kinds of files looking for identification on the man. Finally he got a match to go with his face shot. The fellow’d been booked locally for brawling and one DUI but nothing else major. Nothing with drugs. The suspect’s main address was listed as Alaska. “Kinda strange havin’ an Alaskan address, isn’t it?” Dwayne remarked aside as he ran off the information for her.
“Strange how?” Kendal preferred when he used the word “hinkey”. Anything with that word had all been trouble spots as far as she knew.
“Hell, I dunno. Nothin’ I guess.”
“Kinda hinkey, you mean?” she tried to clarify.
“Fuck, I dunno. Maybe. Yeah.”
Kendal made a mental note to have the Alaskan address thoroughly checked out.
After lunch Dwayne made some comment to one of the other fellows as Kendal entered the building. Dwayne laughed but the other man scowled and walked away. Kendal decided she was going to have to keep him so busy that he didn’t have time to get himself into trouble.
She had him begin checking the new mystery company while she set another member checking the Alaskan address. Then she slipped out to run some errands. In between she found herself at the desk of the exclusive hotel asking about the inhabitants of room 5114 from the night before.
“Checked out early this morning. Took the airporter. That’s a Ms. Genevieve St. James, officer,” the clerk said.
“There were two people staying in the room,” Kendal replied, checking quickly to make sure their prime suspect wasn’t around. He didn’t need to hear her being addressed as “officer”.
“Uh, yes, that’s correct. Ms. St. James made a reservation for two. They were with the group from Georgia.”
Georgia? Kendal thought. I thought I heard a soft southern accent there. Crimony, could she be any further away? “Do you have the other woman’s name?” she asked. “I believe it was Savannah something or other.”
“Were they in trouble?” the clerk asked. He knew some of their convention customers had been drinking to excess the night before.
“No,” Kendal replied, “but they might have been witnesses to what, uh, occurred here, uh, last evening.” No hotel wanted to talk about bad things happening in or around their facility, so she was trying to be very discreet.
“I’m sorry. We just have Ms. St. James’ name but I can give you her contact information if you’d like.”
“Yes, thank you,” Kendal smiled, checking around her again. “That will be fine.” She looked at the address for the woman that the clerk handed her and sighed. Who do I know in Georgia to check this out? She didn’t want to use too many of her police means here for fear of being found out. Spending her time chasing down women was not what she considered a valid use of resources. Who can I call to dig up background on the enchanting little Savannah?
Savannah sat in one of the plastic chairs at the gate waiting area, her head down. Their first flight had been ghastly, undeterminably long and she’d felt miserable, holding the provided bag before her ready should she need to throw up, although she’d done enough of that during the night. If she let her head sink any lower now, she figured she could wend off nausea by having it be completely between her legs.
What was it about conventions far from home that allowed attendees to over imbibe and act like stupid fools, she wondered? She could hear her companions softly conversing, but for a long time she didn’t join them. She felt like pure, unadulterated crud.
She’d had aspirin and even a beer. “The hair of the dog,” they’d told her. “LIES!” she wanted to shout, not that shouting was a good idea in her condition. The beer had not helped at all. As it was, she was afraid to even whisper. Nothing helped. She was sure her sweat was pure gin. Her head was pounding and her stomach was doing an unknown version of a fevered break dance. Bloodshot blue eyes lifted to the others as they awaited their connecting flight in Chicago. Theirs was a motley looking crew today. They were far less chipper than they had been the night before.
“Shoot me next time,” she grumbled. “Or do it now.” Her friends all chuckled softly, trying not to jar their own hangovers too badly.
“You nearly beat your biological clock on this trip,” Phyliss Ann said softly, “you and the lady you picked as “The One”.
Genevieve, who had consumed far less alcohol, spoke conversationally, “Yeah, you always talk about The One, but you’ve never shown us what you meant by it before. Lordy, that woman was fine. I bow to your great shrewdness of choice.” She did a short bow then moaned from having moved too much.
“Yeah, but Savannah all but attacked the poor thing in the bar,” Phyliss Ann continued. They all chuckled very softly. “Scared her off.”
“Oh, please, don’t remind me,” Savannah groaned. They all chuckled, but soft brown eyes flitted into her memory and she wondered if she’d just imagined the tall beauty in her room. She thought of the kiss. Was it real, she wondered, or just a dream? Was that The One? Oh, yes, it surely was, if it was at all real. “I don’t even know her name,” she moaned.
The next morning Kendal noticed Dwayne doing the same thing. He made a comment to a group of men as she entered then laughed, but Kendal faced them all, looking them in the eye, moving her stern glance from one to the other. “Gentlemen,” she said. They nodded, mumbled “Good morning” and walked away in embarrassment. He’d obviously said something belittling or sexist about her.
She moved to a chair by where Dwayne had just seated himself. “Are you trying to get kicked off this team?” she asked softly so the others couldn’t hear. “Because if that’s your intent, consider it done. You can leave. I’ll assign someone else to your spot.”
Dwayne looked up in shock. “I’m not...”
She raised a hand to silence him. Her normally warm eyes had turned hard and much darker. She was noted for enjoying a joke and having a good sense of humor, but the fellows had warned him that you didn’t want to get on the bad side of her. She was not the deadly serious, brisk, humorless straight-arrow shooter the Captain was. She’d be on the team with you. And compromise was her strength. But there was a line. And crossing it would bring consequences.
“Last chance, Dwayne. The boss wants you off. Some of the fellas want you off. You’ve become an embarrassment. You’re fighting battles that have no place on this team. And you’re playing dirty. I happen to think you’ve got what it takes to be a helluva detective if you get your crap together. But I’m your only remaining hope. Any more of that shit like you just pulled with those guys and you’re gone. And I mean any breath of anything inappropriate. Got it?”
He shrugged and looked away.
“As long as we understand each other.” She got up and walked off. There was no question. He understood her that well. This was his last chance. Damned broads!
Kendal found her mind constantly floating back to the small blonde. No matter how busy she got, beautiful blue eyes and a kiss that took her breath away invaded her thoughts. She made a point in her free time to see what background she could find out.
“Savannah?” Kendal’s friend replied. “Sure, I know a Savannah that’s an assistant DA. Savannah Vollier. Works out of the Melsun Heights office in Tagulla. That’s not too far from here. But you’d best leave that little blonde alone, Tiger. Folks where I work call her Savannah the Ice Bitch.”
“Why?” Kendal found that hard to believe. She’d finally remembered a police friend from the Academy who got a job in Atlanta, so Kendal called her to try and get some information on the blonde.
“Because she can be sweet as pie one minute then turn to ice before your very eyes and rip your heart out, that’s why.”
“And you know this how?” Kendal asked.
“Oh, Gods, you really are interested. Well, all I know is that nearly everyone I know calls her “Bitch’ and most put “Ice’ in front of it. There’re some attorneys in the Tagulla’s DA’s office that are pretty nice people. Us cops all like “em, but she’s not one of “em. Except the fellas. They all drool over her, not that she bats on their team you understand.”
“That sounds pretty general, Joy. What exactly does she do that’s so bad?”
“Okay, look, I’ve got this friend, Carmen. She’s the sweetest person you’d ever hope to meet and a helluva cop. Big girl. She was testifying in a case the Ice Bitch worked. She’s real friendly to the blonde and the blonde is friendly back. Carmmy thinks things are going good. They talk and laugh about the case and Carmmy really likes her. They’re gettin’ real chummy. Then my friend finally works up enough nerve to ask the broad out and that little hussy turned to ice. Couldn’t turn her down fast enough, like Carmen wasn’t good enough for her or something.”
“Maybe she doesn’t do much dating. We’ve all turned people down, Joy. It doesn’t mean we don’t like them. Sometimes it’s just timing.”
“She dates. We’ve all seen her at the club from time to time, but always with some doctor or other lawyer or big social climber. You know the type, phony smiles, money up the kazoo.”
“Oh,” Kendal paused to think. That didn’t sound like the same woman she’d met at the hotel although the blonde did dress fashionably and expensively. “Small blonde about five four, nice figure, long sorta curly blonde hair, blue eyes, wicked smile? Same person?”
“Don’t know about the smile, but the rest sounds like her. I hear she wins a ton of cases. She’s hell on wheels in a drug sting, makes ya cross yer t’s and dot yer i’s. But she’s a shit of a person, you ask me. I wouldn’t put my heart in her care, I’ll tell ya that. Carmmy’s just now getting over it and this happened a good six months ago or more.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Yeah, so how did you meet the Ice Bitch?”
“Uh,” Kendal didn’t want to call her the Ice Bitch, “uh, Savannah was at a convention here in Edgeway.”
“Edgeway? Where’s that?”
“Really? That where you are now? Space Needle and everything?”
“Yep. I like it here.”
“Wait a minute. I remember, your Mom lived there or something.”
“Yes. She has a nice apartment in what they call a retirement village in Seattle proper. She, uh, has talked about moving in with me cause she doesn’t think I eat right. But so far I’ve talked her into staying there.”
Joy snorted a laugh. “I remember the stories you used to tell about your Mom interrogating your dates and driving some of them off. What a hoot.”
“Yeah. Didn’t seem so funny at the time. But it’s humorous now.”
“So what do they call you out there? Bet nobody calls ya Tiger like we used to and gets away with it.”
“No, they just call me Lieutenant or Deetrie or just plain Kendal. Although one of the guys on my team sometimes calls me “ma’am’, the twerp. Does it to annoy me cause I’m older than he is.”
“Gods, he probably has a giant crush on ya like half the other guys did.”
“Dwayne? I don’t think so.”
“Well, if you ever come down this way, look me up. We’ll do the town.”
“Thanks, Joy, I will. And thanks for the information.”
“You bet. Just remember my warning. Watch out for the Ice Bitch. See ya round, Tiger.”
Kendal hung up the phone and sat back. Could that possibly be the same blonde she was describing, the one with the all-consuming kiss? Savannah didn’t seem at all like a heart breaker. She was aggressive for such a little thing, but she was a DA. They tended to be aggressive. And all the other women the blonde’d been with seemed to like her really well. She was the life of their party.
Kendal shook her head. Well, at least it gave her a last name for Savannah...Vollier. And she knew where the blonde worked.
No one could understand why Kendal pursued the Alaskan address with such diligence when she had other developing leads she was not giving nearly as much attention. The address seemed to be relatively insignificant. Even Dwayne found her zealousness puzzling. When they received word that it was a fishing cabin on a heavily wooded island far up river from town, and that it was near a broken down, long-abandoned Indian settlement, most shrugged. All right. Alaska had its share of those.
But Kendal persisted. She called the police force at the nearby small town, sweet-talking one of the officers for a good thirty minutes until he agreed to take a small skiff up to the area to get some pictures for her.
“People there like to live and let live,” she said hanging up the phone. “He didn’t see any point in checking out an area where they’ve had no trouble. But I talked him into it.”
Colin stood at his door. “Hmmm. It’s your party,” he muttered. The Captain wasn’t sure she was utilizing her time well, either. But he’d put his faith in her. No turning back now.
“This’s gonna be valuable, Colin,” she said to the Captain as she moved closer to him. “Wait and see.” She prayed Dwayne meant it when he allowed “hinkey” to be used to describe this address. So far that word had been a 100 per cent accurate indication of trouble when Dwayne used it.
Colin maintained his constant scowl, nodded shortly and walked back into his office. She was his ace. He hoped she had some success with this project, but he was having his doubts.
She worked nervously around the fax machine all morning and most of the afternoon. Finally some pictures came through and she headed directly to Colin’s office with them. “Look at this one,” she put it before her boss. “This old longhouse could easily be used as a warehouse. Notice that while other buildings are collapsed, and one end of the porch on this one looks like it’s ready to fall, the main side here and here..” she pointed, “looks pretty solid.” Where better to have a drug drop off point than some river far from town in a place no one wants to inspect too closely?”
He examined the picture carefully. “Maybe,” he agreed.
“And this,” she pointed to another picture. “See how close this group of shacks is to the water? Again they look old but their framework, what you can see in the picture, looks solid. What do you think’s in there? Boats? Bush hoppers? These could be hangars for small water planes.”
Colin rubbed his face and adjusted his glasses. “Yeah, maybe.”
“Did you notice the river, what you can see in the pictures? It looks wide enough and deep enough to allow tugs in there. And if you look on the map you can see where they could come in on this tributary and bypass the town completely. We have to check this out further, Colin.”
He scoured the pictures and nodded. “Yeah, maybe.” Without changing his expression he looked up. “Go ahead and check your other leads and I’ll handle this one.”
She didn’t know what he meant by “handle” exactly. But she knew how he worked. He didn’t want to be questioned. “Sure.” She left the pictures and went back out to see what else had been found.
Later Colin left the station and didn’t return. She checked out the farmhouse the young couple had gone to, but so far it was turning out to be a farmhouse that had a large party. They weren’t finding a lot of suspicious connections with anything else.
She was surprised the next day when the Chief himself called from main headquarters and informed her that she was to fly to Alaska to personally check out the site there. It was to be done as quietly and surreptitiously as possible. She packed her bag. Colin would give her further instructions. She talked to Colin, got the necessary gear and headed home.
On the freeway, she lifted the phone and placed a call. “Hey, Victoria. Would you consider doing me a huge favor? There’s a dinner at the Space Needle in it for you.”
“Dinner with you, Gorgeous? Fun. So what are we talking here?” Victoria asked.
“Well, I know you know where to order the best of everything in this area. I have to fly to Alaska this afternoon and won’t get back till late tomorrow or the next day, but I’d like to send flowers and a pound of some really good coffee to someone. And I’d like to do it every week. I don’t want to screw it up because my schedule’s so erratic. Could you help me out?”
“Ah ha, this sounds interesting,” Vicky replied. “Who is she? C’mon, pal, what’s the skinny.” Kendal had called on Victoria in the past when she needed such courting services. Victoria got her pen and pad ready to write down a name and address.
“Well, it’s someone I met sort of casually, uh, sort of.”
“Uh huh. This has got to be a “tell all’ for me to do this for you, you understand.”
Kendal sighed. She knew that was coming. Victoria was a wonderful help, but she had the curiosity of a newspaper reporter. She loved the chase but wanted to know every detail. She always explained that she was a voyeur at heart. Her saving grace was that she did not share any information she received with others.
Kendal continued to explain how she and the blonde had met and her good friend laughed with glee and agreed to help, as she always did.
Savannah put down the legal brief and watched the man bring in the flowers and put them on her desk. Everyone in the office craned their necks to watch.
“My heavenly days,” Phyliss Ann raised a brow as she followed the delivery man into Savannah’s office. “Who’re they from?” She watched the delivery man leave then shut Savannah’s office door.
Savannah opened the card and gasped, “Oh, my gosh,” she whispered. She showed the card to her friend. It was simply signed, “The One.”
“The One?” Phyliss Ann remarked, “That tall beauty in Edgeway? How did she find you?”
“Oh, she’s a DA, too,” Savannah grinned happily. “I, uh, ran into her later that night and she said she was there for the convention.”
“Ah ha!” Phyliss Ann’s eyes narrowed and she pointed an accusatory finger at Savannah. “Now we hear the full story. You’ve been holding out on us. C’mon, Savannah, give. I thought you’d been acting very smug. What happened?” She sat in the chair across the desk from her friend. Phyliss Ann was an Assistant DA as well, but she didn’t have as nice an office as Savannah did. Savannah’s win record kept her where the view, for what little view any of them got, was one of the best.
“We kissed,” Savannah grinned. “In my room. That’s all. But, oh Phyliss Ann, it was mind-blowing, I can tell you that. Drunk as I was, I remember that.”
“I’m surprised you remember. She had you alone and she didn’t take advantage of you?”
“No. I’m ashamed to say that I fell asleep.”
“More like passed out, would be my guess.”
Savannah blushed. “Yes, maybe. Anyway, she covered me with a blanket. She was so sweet. I was fully clothed when Genevieve got back, so don’t raise your brow at me like that. It was all very proper.”
“Well, that’s good,” then she waggled her brows,”Or maybe it’s not.”
Savannah’s face continued its reddish hue, “It’s good, it’s good.”
“If you say so,” Phyliss Ann stared for a minute at her friend then let her eyes go to the beautiful bouquet. “Oh, girl, you are in such trouble. Wait till I tell the others you’ve been holding out on us like that! Shame on you. So how did you meet up again with “The One”?”
“I was getting ice and she got off the elevator. Kismet. Meant to be.”
“Oh, how romantic. And you said nothing to us all the way back home?”
“I was nursing a very horrendous hangover as I recall.” Savannah adjusted the flowers in the vase. “They’re beautiful, aren’t they?” Her face became dreamy then she came back to earth. “And look, real coffee. Not like that sludge they fix around here.”
“I wonder where she’s from?” Phyliss Ann mused. “Or what her name is.”
“I’ll call the floral company and see the origin of the order,” Savannah grinned. “I’m not a DA for nothing. I can do a little investigating. Once I get a name, I’ll track her down through every DA office in the country.”
“Like we have a lot of time around here to track down girlfriends,” Phyliss Ann observed.
“I know,” Savannah agreed, looking at her stack of work. They were preparing for important trials with some very nasty drug dealers and that always got her most diligent, careful work. “I know.”
Later that day Savannah discovered the order had been placed in Seattle by a Victoria Spenser. She checked with the Seattle DA’s office, but they had no Victoria Spenser on staff, nor was her name in the local phone directory or in Savannah’s DA Directory. She started checking smaller towns around Seattle but didn’t get far before work required her full attention.
Kendal climbed into the rental skiff, her rain gear, complete with a large hood, masking most of her body. A light mist covered everything. She was quite sure the man at the dock didn’t know if she was a man or a woman. Probably assumed she was a man. The weather was being skittish, but she had a job to do, rain or shine. In some ways, rain might be better. She watched him top off the fuel in the tank and screw on the lid. Time to go.
She momentarily pressed her hand over her holster finding comfort in it. She’d have it more easily accessible when she got closer to the place. She also carried the high-powered rifle she’d need for protection if the word about bears feeding in the area proved true. A charging bear was death on the run. One could never be too cautious about bears.
She nosed the boat from the dock and ran upriver through the pounding chop of the more open channel till she settled into the slapping run past the small town. It looked like many other small Alaskan towns, with a huddle of grey town buildings, some vaguely Russian in design, others log structures mixed with new and more modern buildings, all touched by the hand of harsh weather. They pressed against the grandeur of the deep forest green of magnificent woods. It was wild and full of life and did not feel overwhelmed by humankind. Instead there was a feeling of reclusiveness about it that she found very appealing.
Kendal and her brother had spent many weekends with her parents, camping, hiking, fishing and photographing in the wild areas of the northwest while they were growing up. She had a great love of the out-of-doors. She had even done some hunting with her father when he was alive and that was where she’d first found her love of guns. She found her fondness, however, was far more with the workings of the weapons than the kill. She had never been too fond of that, preferring to photograph her wildlife.
The town faded quickly from view and suddenly she felt alone on this wide river as she pushed on. This would not be the way the drug runners would come. She’d meet that tributary further upstream.
Brown eyes carefully took in everything, from what birds were in the sky to what animals were in the water. Heavy thickets of green worked their way to the water’s edge on both sides and the area was teeming with life. There was not a real silence if you listened carefully enough, though some might think it so. There was a credible peace, at least to her mind.
“This is the forest primeval,” she thought remembering her Longfellow, “The murmuring of pines and hemlocks, Bearded with moss, and in garments green...” He could have been speaking of here. “Ahh, Arcadie,” she mused, “on the other side of the continent.” But this was not less beautiful because of it’s location.
She passed the tributary and watched for company, but no one else was on the river as far as she could see. It took longer than she realized to run up to this place. She touched her hand to her chest. Her inside pocket held the paperwork allowing her to be there, but she knew if she ran into drug dealers, papers would be no protection.
With them she had the map folded and dry in its protected sleeve, but she remembered exactly where she needed to leave her skiff and work her way back down to the site. She would pass the area first and move in from the far end of the island, hiking inland to the abandoned village.
She searched the dilapidated, overgrown area with her eyes as she passed. It looked every bit like an abandoned Indian site with a small log cabin, smokeless at the far end. There was no sign of human life whatsoever and moisture seemed to drip from everything. She passed on without slowing, hoping to give any eyes that might be watching the impression that she was not interested and had other places to go.
She found the small inlet, cut the engine and glided in as far as possible. She stepped out to wade in then grunted as she strained to pull her skiff up and onto the short rocky bank. She tilted the motor and pulled it further till it was hidden behind a fallen log, high out of high water area among the saplings and ferny thicket. To be sure, she tied it.
She glanced at her watch, then the clouds to try and determine the amount of sunlight she had left. Most of the night would be illuminated and that was good. It would not be easy going through the thick underbrush, particularly since she wanted to leave as little trace as possible that she had been there.
She took out her hand-held GPS and checked her position. She peeled out of her rain gear, stowing it carefully in the boat. She was dressed in short hiking boots, a black pair of jeans, waterproof jacket, skin tight black leather gloves and had a knitted cap to cover her hair. Underneath she wore a flannel shirt over which she wore her shoulder holster. She left her jacket unzipped. She wore no makeup or perfume or scented deodorant. Nothing that might attract bears or be smelled by any other adversary. Then, with her rifle slung across her back, she checked the lay of the land before carefully working her way through the trees and brush back toward the abandoned village.
It was dusk when she reached the outskirts of the place. She knew she would have little time in darkness. The first discovery proved her right. She spotted a simple, battery-operated security system and moved cautiously to disarm it. You don’t need one of those in an abandoned village. She wondered what other alarms or cameras there might be and where they would be sending their signals. She checked carefully, but saw nothing more.
As darkness fell, she moved through the brush cover from building to building, working to cover all footprints as she went. What she thought might be hangars did turn out to be just that. Shining her flashlight through what loose boards she could find, she discovered what looked like rusty, abandoned puddle jumpers inside. Each shack contained one.
She picked the lock on one of the doors and moved inside the pitch black building. Edging her way carefully, she managed to open one of the engine covers and with her flashlight in her teeth, took pictures of the motor itself. It was in fine condition although the small plane looked rusty and was covered in dust.
Replacing the cover, she moved to the rear of the plane and pulled out a newly designed, tiny GPS tracking device that she had to attach with great care. It had to be placed where the normal visual inspection would not find it. Sweat got into her eyes as she strained to get the job done, but she wiped it away with her sleeve and worked feverishly again with her flashlight in her teeth to beat the loss of darkness, ever mindful of the night noises. Once finished, she labored meticulously to spread dust over any places she might have touched or walked. She listened cautiously as she worked, filtering out nature’s night sounds, straining for any noises made by humans.
Darkness of night was leaving the sky and dawn’s light had appeared by the time she clicked the lock back on the building. She took out her small camera and began snapping pictures as quickly as she could. The longhouse was empty, but was a secure building of warehouse size. By the time she got back to the alarm system, the sun was fully up and only the clouds were creating murky skies. She nervously reset the alarm, watching constantly for any signs of anyone either on the river or on the island. No one was around.
On the long trek back to the skiff she forced herself to pay particular heed to noises that might indicate the presence of bears. There were none and she wondered if the cabin’s inhabitant had spread the tale hoping to keep others away, not that bears were unusual in Alaska.
The trip through the underbrush seemed shorter somehow, perhaps because she was rushing to make sure she was not seen. And she had the same path to follow out as she’d used coming in, although she had to take care to cover her trail. She climbed into her rain gear with relief although this day had far fewer clouds. The journey in the skiff was also faster since she was not fighting the tide. She barely looked at the group of weathered buildings as she flew past. From the dock she took the same small water plane to Anchorage but didn’t sleep until she let her head fall back on the jet’s headrest that took her back to Seattle and civilization.
The Captain was waiting for her as she walked back into the station. They had an appointment with the Chief as soon as she could make it. Barely giving her time to download her pictures and print them off, he cleaned all residue of her information off the computer, took the camera and all pictures and bundled her off to the Chief’s office.
Normally a politically savvy man who was the first to show off his open door policy, the Chief’s measures to hide this meeting were all but draconian this time. They came in the back and were ushered through back halls. Kendal was amazed, although she knew how one story by a reporter could wipe out months of investigative work.
The Chief joined the two for a firsthand report. She spread the pictures out on his desk. One by one she went over what she had found. When she finished she remarked, “Something’s definitely “hinkey”, about this place, as Dwayne would say.”
“Dwayne?” the Chief asked.
“One of the men on her team,” the Captain answered quickly. “He uses the term “hinkey’ occasionally.”
“He’s the one that called it “hinkey’ in the first place,”she remarked. “That’s why I went to such pains to check it out. He has a gi..”
Colin cleared his throat. “His standard suggestion,” he told the Chief. Kendal knew from his tone that she needed to back off this topic. Colin was not comfortable with it.
The Chief looked from one to the other, not understanding their interaction. “Did you have to present your papers? Did anyone see you there?” The head man asked.
“No one was present at the site. The man who rented me the boat saw me, but because of the rain gear I was wearing I think he thought I was a man. Otherwise only the pilot who flew me in and out saw me.”
“He’s one of ours,” the Chief said to himself. She wondered at that. How extensive was this investigation? Why would one of “ours” be in Alaska?
She explained about the alarm and planting the GPS as she had been directed. The Chief nodded.
“They probably have no idea they’ve been found out,” Colin suggested. “They’d clean it out in a New York second if they knew.”
The Chief stapled his fingers and tapped them against his lips. “Right.” He looked at Kendal. “Good work, Lieutenant Deetrie.” He switched his attention to Colin. “You were right, Colin. She’s the perfect person to head this task force. Both of you, keep up the good work. But remember this is a top secret endeavor. We don’t want to tip our hands.”
“Yes, sir,” they both said at the same time. They were dismissed.
On the way back to the station Colin looked over at her as she drove. Regardless of how differently she worked than he did, she was getting results. He took off his hat and ran a hand over his balding head. “Okay, Kendal, keep following your leads, but don’t let anyone outside your team know what’s happening. That’s imperative. And keep your team quiet.”
“Yes, Cap,” she smiled.
Kendal was a little surprised when she was called back into Cap’s office for a serious closed door session again later that same day. She was hoping it was good news about her civil service exam. As it turned out, the information she’d given him and the Chief was already drawing big time attention. It had been decided that the case would be formally expanded to include the Organized Crime Unit, the DEA and would be supervised for prosecution by topnotch Assistant DA’s from the Crime Investigation and Rackets Bureau. The investigation was to be held in the strictest confidence and information was to be given out only on a need-to-know basis. Their findings apparently had repercussions that included four states and at least three countries.
Kendal was to be promoted immediately to Operations Lieutenant and would coordinate all the efforts. The others were to work under her supervision. There wasn’t to be a pissing contest over this, Colin had stated. But Kendal knew there most likely would be unless she could head it off. That was the kind of thing he counted on her to handle.
It was a feather in her cap, she knew. Operations Lieutenant, she mused, Captain’s rank can’t be far behind. Especially if she could just bring this whole thing to fruition without a lot of intradepartmental friction. The thing she also knew was that her time was no longer her own. As of now, fifteen and sixteen hour days would be standard.
Every week the flowers and coffee arrived on schedule and were delivered to a beaming blonde in the Tagulla office. Her schedule had been every bit as involved. Her court time, with big money providing moves and countermoves against her, was still proving successful in putting large numbers of the little fish in jail. It was all leading up to the big trial that everyone knew she would handle. Every one of these convictions added punch to the case against the big fish himself, Quilabus.
Savannah still hadn’t located a Victoria Spenser in any DA’s office, but had precious little time to look. The flowers, however, were every bit as romantic as anything she had ever hoped for. Her friends were tickled to see her finally interested enough in someone to involve her heart, not just her head.
One busy afternoon on the way to visiting her mother before another flight out, this one to L.A., Kendal pulled out her cell phone. She noted that the time on the east coast would be close to quitting. She placed a call to the DA’s office in Tagulla and was very pleased to hear them patch her through to the blonde.
“Savannah Vollier”s office.”
“Hi, beautiful,” Kendal purred.
“Who is this?” Savannah bristled, then paused, “Wait a minute, is that you, Victoria?”
“No, it’s not Victoria. I’m The One, remember? From Edgeway. In the bar.”
The blonde’s voice softened. “Oh, Gods. I thought your name was Victoria.”
“No. How are you? Did you get the flowers?”
“I did. Thank you. They’re beautiful.”
“For a beautiful lady. I’m glad you like them. I, uh, can’t seem to forget that, uh, kiss we shared.” She chuckled, “Uh, do you even remember it?”
Savannah settled back, “Oh, low blow,” she blushed, “Yes, I do remember it.” She put her hands before her face, “but I was pretty far gone, I admit. I hope you don’t think horrible things about me.”
“No. Actually I thought you were kind of, well, cute.”
“Oh, Gods,” she blushed. “My friends said I accosted you. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.”
“No, it wasn’t all that much. I didn’t really mind. If I’m going to have anyone accost me, I’d like it to be you.”
Savannah moaned then added quickly, “I thought your name was Victoria. That’s the name that ordered the flowers.”
“No, it’s Kendal.” Her phone began to break up. “Hold on, I’m behind an abutment. Just a minute. Can you hear me now?”
“You’re in your car?”
“Yes, I’m on my way to visit my mother.” She sighed.
“You visit your mother? That speaks highly of you.”
“Well, I have to fly out of town again tonight so I thought I’d better go see her before she decides to move in with me while I’m gone.”
“She’d do that?”
“Oh yeah. Mom’s pretty assertive. But I’ve been fending her off. She’s got a very comfortable place of her own. She doesn’t need to share mine. Anyway, I didn’t call to talk about my mother. Tell me about yourself. Did you get home all right? I worried. I was afraid you’d have a horrible hang over.”
“Oh, I did, believe me. It was terrible. Longest one day plane trip I’ve ever taken in my life.”
Kendal chuckled. “I figured it would be.”
“It was,” Savannah smiled and played with the phone cord. “Thanks for the coffee, too, by the way. It’s hard to get a good cup around here. Everyone in the office appreciates it.”
“I’m glad. I’ll keep sending it then.”
“You don’t have to,” she said coyly, “Unless you want to.”
“I do. I’ll tell Victoria to arrange it.”
“That’s not your girl friend, is it?” Savannah asked.
“No. Well, she’s a woman and she’s a friend, but she’s not my girlfriend, not like that.”
“Do you have one?”
“Girlfriend? No. Do you?”
Kendal smiled widely. “I’m glad, cause if I’m supposed to be The One, there really can’t be other girlfriends, can there?”
“Oh Gods,” Savannah blushed. “I can’t believe I told you about The One. And the other things I said to you in the bar. Oh, it is sooo embarrassing.”
“Like about your biological clock ticking, you mean?” Kendal teased. She didn’t think she should mention the “fathering” part of their conversation when the blonde had been so drunk.
“Oh, Jeez, can you ever forgive me? I feel like such a fool. I don’t do that normally, you know. I’ve never picked up a woman in a bar before in my life.”
“There’s nothing to forgive. I found it...charming, and, uh, cute.”
“Oh, Gods.” Crimson covered Savannah’s face. She cleared her throat, “So your work is taking you out of town, or is it for pleasure?”
“No, it’s work. But I’m afraid I can’t discuss it at all. I’m with a task force and it’s all locked down right now.”
“I know what you mean,” the small blonde said, “I’m working with a similar situation myself.” The drug stings she’d worked to prosecute in the past were always top secret, sometimes even during prosecution. And often she’d had to work with District Attorneys from other states. “In fact, I’m surprised I had time to get into the office today. Court was adjourned mid day. I’m glad, cause now I’ve had a chance to talk to you. But I guess we can’t talk about work, either of us.”
“I guess not. Tell ya what, I won’t take offense at your job silence if you don’t take offense at mine.”
“Sounds more than reasonable. So, are you an only child?”
Kendal chuckled, “You’d think so. My cowardly brother packed up his wife and three kids and moved clear across the nation so I’d be left alone here to deal with Mom.” She laughed. “He didn’t really. He was offered a good job back east. And Mom’s not all that bad either, really. She’s just kind of, uh, domineering. She’d looove to take over my life, if I let her.”
“What about your father?” Savannah asked.
“Oh, um,.....he’s been dead for a while,” Kendal replied. The way she said it made Savannah think that maybe it was a topic she didn’t like to talk about. They had that in common. Kendal chuckled, “It gives Mother a chance to center her full concentration on me, unfortunately. Sometimes I wish I had a sister to take some of the attention since my brother’s so far away. What about you?”
“My father’s been dead a while, too. We have that in common. But I do have a sister and it’s a good thing, believe me. She takes a lot of mother’s notice, especially since she has a couple little ones. They’re darling. Shelly and Justin.”
“Sounds like you really enjoy your niece and nephew. How old are they?”
“I do. They’re three and one and a half. I adore them, although I’m so busy I don’t get to see them often enough.”
“That happens. Say, tell me, how long did you take dance lessons as a child?”
“What? How did you know I took dance lessons?” She twirled the cord around her finger as she leaned back, a large smile on her face.
“I could tell from the way you moved. You’re so graceful.”
“I bet you tell that to all the girls.”
“I don’t, honest. It’s just that you impressed me with how, I don’t know, how exquisitely you moved.”
“Well, thank you, ma’am. I took four years of dance when I was little and piano lessons, too. What about you? Did you take any special lessons as a child?”
“Oh gods, I took piano, too. It must have been contagious. But I think they developed a vaccine cause kids today don’t take piano like they used to.”
Savannah chuckled. “I think you’re right.”
Their conversation continued until Kendal found herself walking around outside her Mother’s home talking. When they finally hung up, Kendal was every bit as infatuated with the small blonde as Savannah was with her. Her mother, on the other hand, was annoyed. There’d been little time left to visit before Kendal’s flight out of town.
Her prime suspect had shown up in L.A. and Kendal needed to work with some of the DEA people there to go over who the local contacts were and how they might tie in. They already had a file on some of his connections. She couldn’t believe how spread out this investigation was becoming.
Once back in town, she and Savannah talked quite regularly by phone and both found themselves romancing the other. At every opportunity they promoted their budding romance by telephone.
As meetings of her group proceeded, Kendal was surprised and delighted to find that one of the DAs on her team had once worked in the southeast and knew Savannah Vollier. She decided to bide her time till she could get this woman alone, then she’d ask more about the blonde. Although it wouldn’t matter much what the woman told her at this point, she was already well on her way to surrendering her heart to the blonde Assistant DA from Tagulla and wouldn’t even be able to say when it had happened.
“What a sweetheart,” the woman remarked several days later. It was one afternoon before a big meeting. Kendal had seen her go in the conference room early and followed. Now they sat talking.
“Everyone loves her,” the Assistant DA continued, leaning back and crossing her legs. She was an affable, aristocratic woman whose intelligent grey-green eyes missed little. “Why, Savannah’s considered a national treasure in her office. There’s no doubt that she’s exacting, but she wins a large number of her cases because of it. Everyone wants to work with her. She’s warm and friendly and has a delightful sense of humor but she’s like a bull terrier with the opposition. Half the time they don’t know what hit them. She actually makes drug lords think twice about operating in her area.”
The urbane woman looked Kendal over carefully. Who was this striking beauty that headed this little soiree? She was new on the scene and knowledge about her was scant. She’d watched her cajole this group of hardened, ego-ridden representatives from organizations known to be all but ruthless in their territoriality, not the least of which was her own faction. So far they were all working together and this woman was the reason. She seemed to find the common threads and played on them. No small accomplishment for anyone.
Now the seasoned attorney wondered if she’d been looking for information on this virtual unknown in the wrong places. She’d ask her partner if she knew anything about someone that was dating Savannah. Christy kept up with that kind of thing much more than she did. Although now that they were on the west coast, Christy’s information wasn’t always all that up to date. She let her eyes run to the impressive figure before her. Normally Kendal had worn trousers with a fashionable blouse and jacket to their meetings. But today the tall beauty was wearing a pullover sweater that was extremely flattering.
“You’re not wearing a gun,” the attorney remarked with surprise. All the other police personnel were wearing guns. It always struck the attorney as such a macho thing. Even if they knew they were going to spend five consecutive days in meetings, the police faction, the FBI, and the DEA all wore their guns if they were allowed.
A warm smile crossed Kendal’s face. “I always wear a gun.” She watched the surprised look on the woman’s face as she once again ran her eyes over Kendal’s body. The Lieutenant lifted the edge of her pullover to reveal a belt holster molded to her hip.
“I thought most of you plain clothes folks wore shoulder holsters.”
“Normally I do. But I didn’t want to wear a jacket today.” Brown eyes sparkled and the attorney found herself appreciating how captivating this woman’s long lashes and deep, dark eyes were. Kendal put her hand on her gun, “These’ll all but pull your trousers down, too, if you don’t take care. Thus the sturdy belt.” The brunette pulled the sweater back in place and quirked a grin that made the woman laugh out loud.
“You could wear it in the small of your back and go around like the joke about workmen always bent over with their behinds half exposed.
“Good way to cripple yourself,” Kendal remarked seriously. “Fall on one of those and you run the risk of doing serious damage to your spine. Not to mention how easy they are to overpower. No, I never wear a gun there, or cuffs either.”
The brunette could feel the attorney’s astute eyes evaluating her and knew the unasked question, but she didn’t want to out herself in this situation. This case she headed was extremely important to her and she wanted to keep everything on as much of a business level as possible.
“So where do you know Savannah from?” the woman casually asked.
“Oh, uh, we just met briefly during the DA’s conference here in town.”
“Funny. I don’t remember seeing you at the convention.” Kendal did not reply. She passed it off in favor of a comment on what a large convention it had been before the door opened and some other team members stood talking, ready to filter in.
The woman lowered her voice. “Savannah’s always had what she calls “The One” that’s she’s been waiting for,” the gal remarked quietly as she gathered her things. “For years everyone thought it was just a figment of her imagination, part of her humor. But word has it, “The One” was really pointed out to some of her friends on this trip.” She smirked and raised a brow, “If I’m not mistaken,” the woman’s eyes twinkled, “her choice was someone right here in the Seattle area. Small world, huh?” She waited for Kendal to make a comment, but the tall brunette didn’t.
The DA stood. “Nice working with you, Lieutenant, I wanted to tell you that earlier. Or is it still Lieutenant?”
“Actually, the title they’ve given me is Operational Lieutenant,” Kendal smiled.
“Ah, then Captain’s rank can’t be far behind,” she replied. “I thought I’d heard that.”
“Yes. So I’ve been told.”
“So young,” she remarked. “Congratulations. Well, keep me informed of what’s happening, please.” The woman thrust out her hand.
“Yes, nice getting a chance to chat with you,” Kendal replied, looking up with her standard wide smile. She shook hands briefly before the woman moved down to the far end of the large conference table with others from her group.
Well, that didn’t sound like the description of an Ice Bitch to me, Kendal thought as she watched the woman move away. Unless you’re the opposition. No, that sounds more like the Savannah I met and kissed and talk to every chance I get. She sighed. She couldn’t avoid it. It was too late now. She was deeply smitten with the chipper little blonde. And every time they spoke on the phone, she surrendered more of her heart.
By now they found themselves speaking by phone at least three times a week, regardless of how busy their schedules were. Everything was still hush-hush regarding Kendal’s task force but the brunette did feel it was all right to mention a name or two of the DA’s she’d been working with. She thought Savannah might recognize them and feel a little closer to her.
Savannah was dealing with her own convoluted cases. Their trips to court had begun pulling convictions that seemed to be moving up the food chain. And it was drawing unwelcome attention from the Colombian drug lord further up. Security was tight and everyone was cautioned not to speak about the cases with anyone. So the two avoided the topic of work all together.
For the most part Kendal talked about her mother or something she’d seen or eaten or heard about that Savannah might enjoy. And Savannah talked about her sister’s family and her own mother. But mostly they flirted with one another and had begun to make references to living together.
Though she’d long since given up any hope of playing softball on the weekends, Kendal did continue to work with Dwayne whenever possible. He had stopped his overt nonsense, but he was often petulant and cross. She couldn’t help feeling sorry that the man was probably not going to rise very far in the system because of his attitude. She found his particular gift to be remarkable although no one else, including Dwayne himself, seemed to be very impressed with it.
Kendal also found that she was in town less and less often. But when she was, she made a point of sitting down with Dwayne going over any current information. The other groups had all added some input, although Kendal’s was still the main coordinating arm. The two of them went over printouts, notes, suspect descriptions, business descriptions, tanker schedules and orders, airplane flight plans and any foreign addresses that appeared. Every time Dwayne questioned something, or said he thought it seemed “hinkey”, she highlighted the area in one color fluorescent pen. Her own questions were highlighted in a different color. Nothing was left unscrutinized.
One thing that Kendal did, and Dwayne began to notice it, was that she was very up front about mentioning Dwayne’s contribution to anything that was found. She was always respectful of his opinions and showed herself more than willing to give him credit when it was due. That knowledge seemed to ease some of his surliness.
Because of their devout attention to detail, they caught a break and some big pieces began to fall together. But now the team had to expand to bring in representatives of the Armed Services as well. A connection was found with one of the military bases, and this new faction had a representative that was a real trial to get along with. It pushed Kendal’s talents to the edge.
Then before they knew it, Kendal and Dwayne found themselves in Alaska working under cover with local authorities there. They only flew back to town for meetings. Dwayne was surprised to find that Kendal, out of all the other choices, had selected him to work with her. He began to comprehend that if he watched himself, he had a real chance for advancement. She wasn’t just using his work to promote herself. She was pointing out his contributions every chance she got. He increased his efforts.
The more they delved, the more they found. A large drug running outfit with known Oriental connections, sending drugs to Canada and the US, hitherto totally unknown, was being systematically exposed before their eyes. From their investigation the Canadians were also brought into the picture.
Dwayne stayed in Alaska and worked and Kendal found herself flying to Hong Kong as other clues developed. The holidays were almost upon them the afternoon that she made her way to the airport from downtown Hong Kong to head back for home. Suddenly Kendal saw a clock in one of the store windows. It was darling. She stopped her cab and hurried in to have the clerk show her how it worked. It was the shape of a regular old fashioned alarm clock except that it had tiny mice on the top with the alarm bell between them. When the alarm was rung, the mice would spin and hit the bell with tiny mallets.
“There it is, darlin’,” Kendal grinned to herself, “there’s your biological clock.” She instantly bought the item, had it gift wrapped and sent to Savannah for Christmas.
The DA’s office in Tagulla was finishing up their trials of the lessor players in the drug ring with a spectacular conviction rate. And Savannah had played a large part. But now they prepared to bring charges against the head drug lord, himself. To that end, the DA’s office had received threats of a very serious nature. So the box containing the clock was xrayed and carefully opened by the local Bomb Squad before the clock was finally unearthed from its packaging. That was how it was delivered to Savannah.
Everyone in the office came to her desk to watch. She wound the clock and set the time and everyone was delighted when the alarm time hit and the mice spun, striking the bell with their small mallets.
“My biological clock,” Savannah grinned. Everyone laughed.
“Oh, darlin’,” Phyliss Ann said aside to her, “this woman is too much. You’d better snatch her up quick before anyone else gets their claws into her. Cause she’s lookin’ mighty fine to me, I can tell you. And I won’t be polite about pushing you aside.”
“Yes,” Savannah agreed. “She is The One. There’s no question at all in my mind.” A soft smile broke out as she thought of the gift she had sent Kendal, a gold locket engraved with the words “The One” on the outside and a small pictures of herself along with a small copy of Kendal’s picture that Kendal had sent her placed inside.
Over the following months, their phone romance developed into a full blown long distance love affair. Some of their late night calls were so steamy, they bordered precipitously on the edge of phone sex, although neither would have admitted it. Kendal remarked that as soon as the current case she was working on gave her a chance to breathe, she’d be on a plane to visit, and they’d finally get a chance to be together like they both wanted. Savannah could hardly wait.
Finally, more than seven months after the initial task force was formed, the most important meeting of all was called. It was time to reel in the suspects and make arrests. Kendal gave instructions for who was to do what. Each group was informed of their part. The DA faction explained in detail how every arrest was to be made exactly according to the law. Everything was coordinated almost down to the last minute. Kendal left to go with her own group to make the Washington state arrests.
As it happened, it took more than two weeks to make all the collars. But by the time those weeks were ended, a very large international drug organization had been brought to a halt. And Kendal was in line to become one of the youngest Captains in her department’s history. However, for the time being she still held the rank of Lieutenant, while Dwayne was advanced to Sergeant.
Prosecution meant they would all be busy in court once the trial circuit began. Kendal took this opportunity to fly to Tagulla to see Savannah before everything got crazy again. She didn’t forewarn the small blonde or tell her of the arrests. She simply got on the first plane headed southeast and spent most of the day traveling across the country.
She stepped out of the final plane into the warmer, heavier east coast air. Her heartbeat increased at the thought of seeing the small blonde again. The cab took her downtown and she gazed up at the stately building. Savannah and her whole future was up there. The world had never seemed more perfect. She smiled with excitement, her heart pounding wildly, and headed for the doors to her future.
Getting to the floor, Kendal made her way past the uniformed officer standing guard. She recognized some of the women’s faces from the convention in Edgeway. The widest smile possible sat on her face as she asked for Savannah. They directed her to a shut door. The secretary outside asked for her name to announce her arrival. “Tell her Lieutenant Deetrie is here to see her, please.” Kendal waited impatiently while the woman entered the room.
“A Lieutenant Deetrie is here to see you, Savannah,” the woman said.
The blonde head looked up from her work and a frown came to her face. “Lieutenant Deetrie?” she asked. “Do I have an appointment?”
“Hey, Savannah,” Kendal said as she came in behind the woman from the desk. The secretary left. “I said I’d make it here to see you, darlin’. And here I am.” She opened her arms to grab the small blonde should she want to run into them.
“Kendal?” Savannah brightened for a moment then her face fell and she paled. Dread flashed briefly across her features. She stayed at her desk and Kendal dropped her arms. “What did you mean by Lieutenant?”
“I’m a Lieutenant,” Kendal replied. “In the police department. From Edgeway. Honey, you know all this.”
“No! No, I don’t. You said you were a DA. That’s what you said at the hotel. You were there for the convention. That’s what you said. I was drunk, but I remember that distinctly.”
Kendal stood dazed. This wasn’t the reception she’d been expecting. What difference did it make? “Yes, I was undercover there at the time. Why? What’s the problem?”
Savannah’s heart pounded so hard in her ears she was afraid Kendal would hear it. “You lied to me,” she whispered with disbelief. Accusatory blue eyes lifted to Kendal. The small woman rose and stepped back from her desk. Her jaw clenched. Her complexion turned nearly colorless. “Why? Why lie to me?”
Kendal watched the face of the woman she loved and a sudden fear struck her heart. What was happening? What did Savannah believe? “Well....I don’t think I did. I mean, I was undercover. I couldn’t tell you the full truth then. But I didn’t exactly say I was a DA. And we’ve spoken a hundred times since then.” She wondered if it was all a joke. “C’mon, you know I’m a police officer.”
A sense of panic overtook the small blonde. Her voice shook, “But you talked about the other DA’s. Why did you try to make me think you were a DA? Why did you do that?” With difficulty she suddenly gained control of herself and her face hardened. Years of dealing with opposition in the courtroom clicked in and her posture tightened. Her voice grew cold. “I can’t tolerate lying, Kendal.”
Kendal felt a shiver run down her back. Lying? What lying? She took a step forward but Savannah put a hand up to stop her from coming any closer. Kendal was confounded. She searched the small blonde’s face and was horrified to see the warm, friendly woman she loved slipping away, “I don’t understand, Sweetheart. I was undercover. It was my job. I didn’t lie. What is this all about, honey? Help me here.” Brown eyes beseeched the woman who was rapidly closing off her emotions.
Savannah sighed heavily then closed her eyes to Kendal’s appeal, “I can’t do this, Kendal. I can’t deal with this. I need you to leave.”
“Savannah, baby. I’ve been in a plane all day waiting anxiously to get here to you. I love you more than I can possibly say. Please, honey.”
Cold blue eyes opened, “No, I don’t care. I want you to leave. I don’t have anything to say to you. I want you to go.”
“You can’t mean that. You can’t..”
“I’ve never meant anything more in my life.” Cold, clear words.
Kendal blinked and took a step back. “Savannah?” her voice broke as she reached a hand out. “Honey? What happened to you?”
“Nothing happened to me,” Savannah replied. Her blue eyes were arctic and her stance had not changed. It was as though she were a statue. But her eyes did not meet Kendal’s. “Go! Find someone else to tell your lies to.”
“What lies?” Kendal’s words were soft. “Baby, I love you. Sweetheart? We talked about being together. We talked about...us.” Her hand unconsciously went to the locket she wore around her neck.
“There is no us. Go away, Kendal. Leave. You’re not welcome here.”
The tall brunette stood blinking her eyes. Her hand engulfed her locket. Her voice was soft, “You said you loved me,” she plead. She was begging now, she knew. And she didn’t care.
Blue eyes looked down, “I did, I thought I did, but you deceived me.” They came back up to bore into confused brown, supplicating eyes. “No, I can’t have that. No, please go. Go right now. Don’t come back.”
This has to be a mistake. What have I done that was so wrong? “Well, I love you. No one could love you like I do. No one. Love is a miracle. Don’t throw it away, Savannah. Please.” Kendal looked hard at the woman she dreamed would share her life. She felt like she was holding out her heart in her hands, defenselessly offering it to this woman and cold terror began to settle around her. Savannah was not going to accept it.
Savannah could see the terrible pain in Kendal’s eyes. How could this nightmare be happening? Why had Kendal lied? She held her breath.
“I.. I don’t think I can survive without you.” Surprise tears filled the tall beauty’s brown eyes. Crying was not something she ever did easily, but tears threatened now.
Savannah bit her lip and dug her nails into her fisted hands. “Yes, you can. You’ll have to. Go.”
Kendal wiped at her tears then saw the clock on Savannah’s desk, “Our clock... our future...”
“Take it.” Savannah swept up the item and held it out. “Go ahead, take it and go.”
Kendal’s words were whisper soft, “No, love, it was for you.”
Savannah coldly dropped it into the garbage can beside her desk with a clunk, her blue eyes frigid. Kendal took a step backward her eyes filled with agony. A stab through the heart would have been less painful. Her mouth opened slightly but she said nothing.
The blonde spoke quickly, “I don’t want it. Don’t send me flowers and don’t send coffee. I don’t want anything to do with you.”
“Explain to me what’s happened. That’s all I ask. Tell me what’s going on. Give me a chance.”
“It’s simple.” Blue eyes drilled directly into Kendal’s soul and as though there were a premonition spoken between them, they both knew this would hurt. “I don’t want you.”
A tear streaked down Kendal’s cheek. Savannah didn’t want her. Kendal’s body felt as though she’d taken a hit from a ten ton truck. She felt a buzzing in her ears and a horrible sinking in her stomach. She couldn’t breathe. She stepped backwards and reached for the door. The room seemed to spin. She lifted baleful eyes toward the statue of a woman at the window, the woman she had been so sure she would spend her future loving. She had not moved. Savanna didn’t want her. Kendal turned the knob and was gone.
She was vaguely aware that there were people in the outer office as she fled past. One called her name. It wasn’t Savannah. She kept going. She had to get out! She had to catch her breath. She had to figure this out.
She didn’t know how she got out of the building or how long she’d been walking. Darkness had fallen over the city but it had swallowed her hours before. She spotted a bar and moved inside. Wild-eyed, she ordered a drink, followed by many more, praying for oblivion or understanding, but finding neither.
Finally she staggered out and caught a cab to the airport. They weren’t going to let her on a flight until she showed her badge. She slept all the way to St. Louis. Then she had more drinks before catching her connecting flight.
Again it was only her badge that allowed them to let her on. She was not the least unruly or even her badge would not have sufficed. She stared in space until blessed sleep took over. In a nanosecond it seemed like all her dreams had been crushed into nothingness and she didn’t have a clue why.
Once home, Kendal decided she must have missed something in what Savannah was saying. There must be some mistake. There had to be more to this than what Savannah thought was a lie. She tried calling but her private number had been changed. She called at the office, but they had been directed not to put her calls through. She wrote letters, deep heartfelt letters trying to explain how she would never lie to Savannah on purpose. All were returned unopened. The flowers she tried to send were not accepted and the coffee was sent back.
Eventually her need to be in the courtroom to give testimony dragged her back into her job. She gave up and quit trying to reach Savannah. It was over, but she knew her life would never be the same. Savannah owned her heart and Savannah didn’t want her.
She poured herself into her work, getting her Captain’s promotion, but it meant little to her. Being in her empty apartment was agony, so she spent most of her time on the job. Everyone noticed her work fervor, but no one spoke of it. Job stress was a big factor for most police personnel. This was apparently hers.
When she wasn’t at work, she was at a tavern, something she had never really done before. One night as she sat working on her fourth whiskey praying she could sleep when she got home, she felt someone slide onto the bar stool beside her. She looked over to see Dwayne.
“Dwayne, old man, or should I say “Sarge’?” she asked, “what are you doin’ here? This isn’t one of the bars the boys use.” It was hard to tell she was drunk. She was not the type that slurred her words easily.
“No, Captain,” he replied, “I followed you here.”
“Why?” she asked in amazement.
“Well, fuck, cause you shouldn’t be here doin’ this,” he said. “Cause whatever it is that freakin’ sent you over the edge won’t be held in control like this. Believe me, I know all about that fucker.”
“That so?” she asked and took another sip of her drink.
“Damn right. I’d like you to let me return a favor.” This was said rather softly for him.
“I don’t understand.” Her eyes drifted out the window to the dark streets, but she didn’t really see anything there.
“I ain’t perfect by a helluva long shot. Shit, everyone knows that,” he started, “but you had me quit some behavior that was pretty damn self-destructive. I want you to let me return the favor.”
She glanced back at him, “How?”
“I’m gonna take you home. And every time I see you head to a tavern by yourself, I’m gonna come in and get you and take you home. Damn it, Captain, you’ll thank me for it later. This ain’t you.”
“I don’t think I know who I am any more, Dwayne,” she said softly.
“Shit, I know that feeling,” he answered. “But it ain’t this.”
“No. So listen up, you had faith enough in me when I needed it. I wanna have you let me have faith enough in you. Deal?” He stuck out his hand and she looked at it. “Ya gotta shake my fuckin’ hand, Cap. Or was everything you did for me just shit to get yourself your Captain’s gold bars?”
She looked in his eyes for a long few minutes. Slowly she reached her hand out. They shook hands. He threw some money on the bar and she walked with him out to his car. He got her to her apartment and covered her with a blanket when she fell onto the couch. “This ain’t you, Cap, believe me.” He turned and walked out.
Kendal sat up after he left and stared out the window. He was right. This wasn’t her. She needed to find another way to stem the constant melancholy and ache inside her.
She didn’t mention it the next day, but neither did she continue the drinking. She still worked to excess, but she didn’t visit the taverns again. Instead she began to carry a small bag of workout clothes everywhere she went. In every free moment, she found a facility and worked out beyond what any normal person would do until her long, lean body was equally hard muscled.
She went to dinner with Victoria, but the tall blonde informed her that she was being a first class wet blanket. She tried to smile, but it was almost impossible. “You’ll get past this, baby,” her friend assured her with a hug. “You will.” She nodded in return, but she had grave doubts.
On the job she worked with the DAs to get convictions on all the arrests and found herself flying to a number of places to make sure things went as they should. She worked to exhaustion in each place. She was polite with all those she worked with, but the fun loving spirit she had displayed before was gone. She was now deadly serious about everything.
She tried to avoid the DA that knew Savannah, but the woman always seemed to stop her to ask how she was doing. Her response never differed, “Fine, thank you. How about you?” The woman would examine her seriously and concern would settle in her eyes. She’d make a non-committed reply and move on.
It was obvious to everyone that the light had gone out of Kendal’s eyes.
Finally she found herself back at her desk with a reprieve of sorts from her busy traveling and testifying schedule. Others were testifying but there was a pause in her own involvement. She worked instead on an Emergency Preparedness Report, lining up information that would help them all evaluate where their community was and consequently what changes might need to be made. In the five months since her fateful trip to visit Savannah, she had put in more hours in the office than any other city employee in any position.
“Captain Deetrie,” her serious voice answered immediately when her phone rang. They’d said the call was from Tagulla.
“You’re one very hard woman to get ahold of,” Phyliss Ann said into the phone. “I can’t tell you how long I’ve been trying.”
“Oh, Phyliss Ann,” the tall woman replied. “They said the call was from Tagulla. I’d hoped....”
“I know, Kendal,” she said. “Savannah is the reason I’m calling.”
“What’s happened? Is she all right? Has she been hurt?”
“No, no, hold on. She’s, uh, she’s not all right, but there’s been no accident.”
“What is it, then? What’s happened?”
“Well, the problem is that she’s spiraled down to such a low level that I’m seriously worried about her. She is severely depressed.”
“Oh. Uh, well, I know she doesn’t want to see me. She made that very clear. She threw me out, Phyliss Ann. She said I lied to her. I don’t think I did. I was working undercover. So I don’t know what I can do to help.”
“I know, I know. But this isn’t what she really wants. This woman is deeply in love with you. She just doesn’t ever date cops. She probably told you.”
“No, she didn’t. Why? What’s wrong with cops?”
“She didn’t explain?”
“No. She just threw me out.”
“Kendal, Savannah never dates cops. Never. Her sister didn’t either. It has to do with her family’s theory that, uh, “trouble’ comes to them in threes. See, her father and her brother were cops and they were both killed.”
“Wait a minute! Hold on! You mean to tell me that all this agony we’re going through has to do with some damn superstition?” Kendal couldn’t believe it. Savannah didn’t seem the type.
“Well, hold on there, Sugar. Don’t come down too hard on her. It’s got her terrified. I do know that for a fact. And, to tell you the truth, her family does have a bit of a reputation here in Georgia.”
“For, uh, “trouble’ coming to them in threes. I know, I know, it sounds like crackpot nonsense. I’ve never believed in that kind of thing myself. It doesn’t happen in my family or most anyone else’s that I know of. But when I began to look at their family history a little closer, it was pretty eerie. I mean, it’s like a family curse, sort of. It’s enough to make a believer out of you.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“No and I don’t want you thinking her family’s into voodoo or anything like that, either. They aren’t. In fact, when she was growing up Savannah didn’t give it all that much credence either, as I remember. I think she thought it was just a superstition, like you said. But, her Grandmama, her Daddy’s momma, she was kind of a strange old woman. She always used to warn that death came to their family in threes, and their history seemed to bear that out. As you can imagine, Grandmama created all kinds of problems. The story is that when Savannah’s parents married, her Grandmama’s ravings did not go over so well with the new bride. Her Momma told her Daddy that the old lady was never to talk like that around her children.”
“Well, the old lady warned her that it wouldn’t make any difference if she talked about it or not. She’d see soon enough. Their family was afflicted with it. Her Momma pooh poohed it all and kept herself and her husband pretty much away from the old gal. They went about their own business and tried to start a family. Grandmama said, “Now you’ll see. Beware the rule of three” and that’s when the miscarriages started.”
“Three, I suppose,” Kendal said.
“That’s right. Understand, this was after their family already had a pretty unusual history of three deaths either occurring at a time or occurring in some category. It got to her Momma a little, I can tell ya, those miscarriages did. Then when Savannah’s father joined the police force, her grandmother went bonkers. She ranted and raved that he must change jobs immediately. This field would bring the family untold pain, she told them, terrible trouble. “Mark my words. Beware the threes,” she’d said. “Our family can’t escape it.”“
“Sounds like some silly horror movie.”
“Doesn’t it? Well, her Grandmama died shortly afterward but no one else in the family had died. So everyone said, “see, there’s no three this time. Grandmama was wrong this time and she was wrong about the police job.” Everyone else in their family was in perfect health so for about a week they all relaxed.”
“Savannah’s mother’s mother, the other Grandma, died shortly afterward of a sudden heart attack while driving her car. Savannah’s aunt was in the car at the time. They were both killed outright. It’s just plain eerie, Kendal. Her family’s filled with that kind of thing. I mean it. It’s not just one or two instances, it’s there a lot. Like I say, it even gives me pause.”
“So when her father and brother were both killed as policemen after her grandmother’s warning, her mother kind of went over the edge. She’d lost her beloved husband and son. She made both girls swear they would not go into police work and they would not marry a policeman. She said they must not let anyone who’s a policeman in their family, not if they loved them. It would be condemning them to death.”
“That’s a little out there, Phyliss Ann...”
“It scared Savannah, Kendal. You can’t know how hard that time was for her. She barely gets along with her mother, but she adored both her father and her brother. And then they were dead. So when she met you, she was so happy falling in love cause she thought you were a DA. She gave her heart so willingly. Then when she discovered you were a policeman, it threw her for a loop.”
“Uh, yes. I guess I see where it could have.”
“It did. Hey, I remember her mother tearing into her sister when she was going to go out with a friend of her brother’s. It was a simple date. This was shortly after their deaths. The boy was a policeman. I remember her mother almost getting hysterical and demanding to know if her sister wanted that boy dead, cause that was what was going to happen. She kept saying that besides their family history, her grandmother had preordained it. Both the girls got pretty frightened by it all. It was after that that she made them promise. Her sister ended up marrying a plumber.”
“And that’s why Savannah was so upset. Not because I’d lied, but because I was with the police force?”
“Yes, she loves you deeply but she felt she had to drive you away.”
“She did that well enough,” Kendal answered bitterly.
“I need to tell you how I found her after you left, Kendal. She was huddled on the floor behind her desk hugging your clock to her chest and sobbing. This has not been easy for her at all, Kendal.”
“Oh, Phyllis Ann, why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
“She made me promise. But I can’t keep standing by watching her disintegrate. I’m really worried. She’s not eating, she’s not sleeping, she’s just going through the motions around here since that day. She’s rail thin and has dark circles under her eyes that don’t stop. And I know she’s keeping track of you.”
“What do you mean?”
“She’s calling one of the members of your team rather regularly to make sure you’re all right. She never asks this person about your project, if that’s what you’re wondering. She’s not spying. She just asks about you. She cares, Kendal. A lot. She’s not recovering from this. I’m very worried. I don’t know what else to do.”
Kendal considered. There had to be a way. Now that she knew the problem, she could work on a way to resolve this. “I don’t think she’d let me in her office, if I came there,” she thought out loud.
“Please, Kendal. You’ve got to help. I don’t know where else to turn. Please. Listen, I’ll get you in her office, if you can talk some sense into her at all. Will you try? Please? This is very serious.”
“I...I love her, Phyliss Ann. I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. I’d do most anything. If you think you can get me in, I’ll be there in a heartbeat.”
“I can. When can you be here? She’s supposed to take a big drug case to court starting next week. Can you possibly come before that?”
“Let me check my schedule. Uh, yeah, I can maybe hop a military transport down there. Wait. Hold it a second.” The sound of rustling could be heard. “Okay, I can fly down during the night Thursday and be at your office Friday. I need to check with some people there in town on my case anyway. I can do that Friday morning and meet you Friday afternoon. How’s that?”
“You’ll have to get me in. It’s my guess she’ll try to have the police protection filter me out if she has any idea I’ll be there. Are you still under protection from that threat?”
“Yes, but I’ll get you in. Try and meet me downstairs just inside the building by around four thirty. I’ll take you right up and in.”
“Okay. See you then.” Kendal hung up and worried. How in the world could she get Savannah to listen to her? Nothing had worked the last time. And what would she say if she did listen? Fear was a huge factor to overcome. She turned her attention to the window. Maybe she needed to rethink her life and her goals. Everything had seemed so full and promising with the prospect of Savannah in it. Then her world came crashing down. And now, every day seemed painfully dismal and without hope. But if she could get Savannah to talk, to take her back...
She sighed heavily. Well, she had a lot of work to get done if she was hoping to leave town Thursday night.
Kendal looked up the length of the building to the floor that housed the DA’s office. Savannah was there, her Savannah. Gods, she prayed this worked. Phyllis Ann stepped out of the building entrance and waved. Kendal hurried over and the smaller woman led her back inside and into the elevator.
The halls were busy when they emerged and Kendal could see the guard stationed outside the DA’s office. “You sure she’ll let me in?” she quietly asked Phyllis Ann.
“She doesn’t know you’re coming. I’ll get you in. Please talk to her. You’ll see. She’s just down to skin and bones practically.”
“I’ll try, Phylliss Ann. Believe me, I want this more than you do.”
“Do your best, Lieutenant,” she whispered.
“It’s Captain now,” Kendal whispered back. They moved through the doors, the officer checking her identification. Phyllis Ann instantly announced Kendal was with her. The tall brunette could see Savannah’s door was shut.
Phyllis Ann went ahead and she followed. Phyllis knocked then opened the door and stepped inside.
“Phyllis Ann? What is it?” Savannah was sitting at her desk and looked up.
“It’s time you talked this out, Savannah,” she said. “You can’t go on like this.” Then she turned and left, leaving Kendal inside the door. The door was shut quietly behind her.
Savannah shot up from her chair, “Kendal, what are you doing here?” She did have bags under her eyes and looked very tired. Her clothes hung on her and it was obvious that she had lost considerable weight.
“Hey, Savannah,” Kendal said softly and moved forward.
“Why are you here? What are you doing in my office?” She took a step back from her desk.
“We have to talk.”
“No, there’s nothing to say. I want you to go.” There were no flowers in the office and the cup on her desk had half a cup of cold sludge in it.
“No darlin’. We’re going to talk this out.”
“You’ve wasted your time, Lieutenant,” she said, and Kendal could see the small blonde’s jaw tighten around the words.
“It’s Captain now,” Kendal offered. “I know about your family. Please, honey. Let’s talk about this.”
“No. I’m not your honey,” tears sprung to her eyes but she steeled her expression. “You picked the wrong person, that’s all. Please, go.”
“You picked me, remember?” Kendal asked softly. “In the bar.”
“I was wrong,” Savannah quickly wiped away the tears.
“No, you weren’t wrong.” Kendal continued moving closer to the desk. “C’mon, we can work this out. Whatever the problem, we can find a solution.” She started to go around the desk.
“No, don’t touch me,” Savannah stated, her eyes flashing. She backed up to the window and crossed her arms. “I don’t want you to touch me. You have no rights to me...officer. Don’t try to express any.”
For a minute Kendal saw the Ice Bitch take control as blue eyes hardened. But she knew Savannah’s motivation and pressed forward till she stood before the small woman. “I love you, Savannah Vollier, with all my heart. I swear to you with everything I am, we can work this out.”
Savannah looked at the floor. “I’d like you to leave,” she whispered. “Go back home and leave me alone.” Her words were cold and uncaring, but her trembling hands betrayed her. “I have work to do. I don’t have time for this.” She turned her back on Kendal and gazed out the window.
Soft words floated over her shoulder, “My dreams are filled with you, Savannah. For all these months I’ve been the willing prisoner of those dreams. But dreams aren’t enough. I’m not going back right now. I can’t.”
Tears began streaming down Savannah’s cheeks. “Please go, Kendal. Please.” Sobs began to wrack her body. Long arms snaked around the small blonde and pulled her back into the tall woman’s embrace.
“Am I not The One?” Kendal asked, burying her face in the blonde’s hair. “You know I am. And I know you’ve been checking up on me through R. J. to make sure I’m all right.”
Savannah brought her head up in surprise then sunk her head forward in defeat. “I’m not strong enough for this,” she cried. “Please forgive me.” She turned and buried her face in Kendal’s shirt. “Yes, oh Gods, yes. You are, but...”
“Talk to me about it, honey. Explain the problem to me. Tell me what’s going on.”
“I, I..” Savannah stammered as her face pressed further into the brunette’s shirt. Her arms moved under Kendal’s jacket and she gripped the tall woman as more tears fell. “Don’t leave me. I can’t do this,” she whispered, then she tried to pull back. “You touched me,” she said, her large blue eyes filled with tears. “I didn’t want to give in.”
Kendal held her firmly. “I know. Yes, I did touch you. And I’m not letting you go until we’ve worked this out.”
Normally Savannah’s temper would have sprung into place and she would have fought, but all the fight was gone from the small blonde. She slowly sunk deeper into Kendal’s chest, her crying filled the room. “Forgive me, please,” she sobbed. “Don’t let her die.”
“Talk to me, darlin,” Kendal waited patiently, her arms tight around the smaller woman. “Help me see the problem.” Regardless of what Phyliss Ann had told her, Savannah could have a totally different take on their problem. They had to work it out together. Kendal held the small woman and waited.
Slowly the sobbing eased and Savannah brought one hand up to wipe at her tears. “Things come in threes in my family,” she cried. “Bad things.” She burrowed her face into Kendal’s white shirt. Her words were muffled, “I promised my mother....and, and myself that I’d never either be a police officer or date one.” She unburied her face, dug out a tissue from her skirt pocket, wiped her eyes and blew her nose. “I didn’t ever mean to fall in love with one. Then you came along. Oh, honey, I’ve gotten mascara on your shirt.”
“It’s okay,” Kendal soothed. “Tell me about the promise. What’s wrong with police officers?” She held her arms loosely about the woman now, not letting her retreat.
“My father was an officer,” large pain-filled blue eyes lifted to meet Kendal’s tender dark eyes. “And my brother.” Streaks of mascara were on the blonde’s face and Kendal gently ran her finger across one line. The small blonde got a far away look and the hardness she showed the world seemed to fight to work its way back into place.
“Please, baby. Keep talking to me, Savannah. We both need to understand.” Kendal sensed that this was the place where the small blonde’s armor took over and her emotions were locked away behind harsh words and uncaring actions. Kendal whispered, “I love you, Savannah. With all I am. Help me here.”
Savannah took a deep breath and fought off the protective shield that had served her sanity so well all these years. Her voice became a whisper. “They were both killed, both Daddy and Bud...in the line of duty.” She looked so vulnerable that Kendal wanted to cry. Obviously Savannah still missed her father and her brother intensely.
“Oh,” Kendal knew that Savannah would block any attempt at sympathy or even empathy. She’d been doing it for years. She did not want that or she couldn’t handle it. Either way. “Were they both patrolmen?” Kendal asked instead without moving her arms from around the small blonde.
The words bubbled up from where Savannah’s cheek rested on her chest, “My father became a Sergeant but he worked on the street. He never wanted to do anything else. He loved being there. And my brother was new to the force. So, yes, he was a patrolman. He was hit first and my father went to help....It...it was so horrible when...when they were both shot and killed in the same shoot-out.”
Extremely sorrowful blue eyes lifted and Kendal saw them harden before her very eyes, “All over stinking drugs!” Savannah’s jaw set and her eyes closed and she cried harder. Kendal now knew why Savannah had such a fierce reputation for prosecuting drug crimes.
Kendal forced herself to stay in the same pose. She did not release her hold nor did she tighten it, fearing Savannah would feel trapped. Finally Savannah calmed and continued, “Everybody said, you know, how that kind of thing almost never happens, two people in the same family being killed in a police action. But we knew what my grandmother predicted, and it was worse. Anyway, two killings did happen, it happened to my family. It happened to me, my sister and my mother.” Savannah leaned against Kendal and closed her eyes, “One day you’re a happy family and the next day half your family is gone. I didn’t think I would ever survive. I know I couldn’t live through that again. I couldn’t. But that wasn’t all of it.”
She gripped Kendal’s jacket lapel and looked up. Her voice was raspy, “Bad things happen in threes in my family and I couldn’t bear losing you. Don’t you see? I could love anyone but a police officer, anyone but you.” She shut her eyes and shook her head, “But I don’t love anyone else. Only you. And now my love could sentence you to...”
Kendal was always amazed by the strength of people’s superstitions. She couldn’t help wondering if maybe they drew negative energy to themselves just with the strength of their convictions. Now she knew it was time for them to check the boundaries of each others beliefs. She spoke softly, “Darlin’, do you think Commanders run the same kind of risk? I mean, this threes thing is really all about risk, isn’t it?”
“No, Kendal, it isn’t in this case. It’s about being a police officer.”
Kendal paused. “Okay, well a Commander isn’t necessarily from a police organization. And their jobs are never as dangerous, do you think?”
“Why?” Savannah gazed into Kendal’s eyes.
“Because I’ve been offered the position of Commander of a special international crime unit. It’s not a police organization, exactly. It’s a group of different organizations in one. It’s going to involve considerable traveling and conferencing, but the actual hands-on work is going to be done by agents in the field throughout the world. That’s where the danger will be. My job would be more in the realm of going to meetings and sending my people where they need to be. My risk factors should be much, much lower. Could you live with that, do you think?”
Actually till now Kendal had hoped that the new offering would be an in-the-field kind of directorship, but she’d just learned that it would not be. Instead she would be working between all the factors. Where she excelled was in her ability to assist varied groups in working together. And all the factions in this last project recognized that. Compromise. She was good at facilitating it. Now she guessed her being out of the street action could be a good thing.
“Are you sure it’s not a police organization?”
“Do you consider the CIA a police organization?”
“Then it isn’t, not really. The CIA will be working with it. It’s funded by a grant so it’s only for a couple years. I’ve also been talking with someone regarding a liaison job with Homeland Security. It would be more of a desk job. Or I thought I’d apply for a Unit Commander’s position when the next job ends or try for a job teaching at the Academy. Could you be comfortable with any of those? What about my doing something like that, being a Commander of this group, let’s say? Would it be easier knowing the risk is lower?”
“What if I said “no’?” Savannah asked mournfully. She dabbed at her eyes and sniffed as she watched the taller woman’s face.
“That’s a fair enough question. As far as I’m concerned, the answer is, that if we decide to have a committed relationship and start a family, I believe we both should have a say in what the other does for a living. We’ll be acting as a family. If you absolutely can’t live with my job, we’ll need to work together to find me something we both can live with. I love my work, don’t get me wrong, but my love for you is greater than all of that. My work does not define me. When I’m old and grey, I want to look back on the love we’ve shared over many, many years. I don’t need just a cold wall of medals or trophies or badges or my name on some plaque.”
“You’d do that? You’d get a different job for me?” large blue eyes lifted to explore any possible misunderstanding.
Savannah had never considered asking anyone to change careers. Most everyone she knew had spent years preparing and working to get to the place they’d attained in the professional career they’d chosen. Would she quit being a District Attorney? Give it up for Kendal? She thought for a minute then smiled a weak grin. “Yes, I would. So things happening in threes.....?”
“Wouldn’t apply.” Kendal knew that sometimes irrational fears, especially superstitions like this one, that were held this deeply for this long, were far more difficult to sway than rational fears. She felt this was definitely one of those occasions and knew she had to be very careful how she worded her thoughts. She wanted to continually pound on the rational ideas, hopeful of assuaging the irrational. But she also had a back-up plan if that didn’t work.
“I don’t necessarily agree with that theory anyway,” Kendal continued. “I mean, sometimes things happen in threes. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes you really have to stretch things to make it seem like things are happening in threes. In any case, this is one of those times when I think they wouldn’t apply even if, let’s say, I had the job of Commander. And I’ll tell you why. Because I wouldn’t be a patrolman. And I wouldn’t be working for the police force, per se. But none of the jobs I mentioned put me on the street. And none of them classify me as a patrolman. So I wouldn’t be eligible to be categorized with your father and brother. The theorem of three would not apply.”
Savannah looked deep into Kendal’s brown eyes. “Oh Kendal, I wouldn’t want your life to be risked for a technicality like that. Please understand.”
“I do. And if those don’t work, we’ll consider other things.”
“We’d both agree on your job, both of
“Yes, if we decided to commit ourselves to one another for all time. But I wouldn’t want to change jobs and have you say two weeks later that you’d found someone else.”
“When I choose a partner, Kendal, it’s for life. I don’t fool around with that.”
“Good. I feel that way, too.”
“But if we agreed on your being this Commander, let’s say. And I’m not saying that I would agree with that cause I’m not convinced it isn’t a police position. But let’s say we did agree. You’d still change from that job if I had really bad dreams about it or something?”
“Yes.” Kendal smiled, “I’d go to the ends of the earth for you, darlin’.” Then her features became more serious, “I wouldn’t want you to spend every minute worrying. My job would not be worth that to me. But remember, a DA’s job is not without risk either. This works both ways. Aren’t you under a threat risk right now? We have to consider the risk factor in your job as well as mine.”
Savannah suspected this was Kendal’s way of trying to drive her thinking towards the middle and not leave it out on the radical ends where it could be too difficult to compromise. Knowing she also might have to give up a job she loved could have a moderating effect on her thinking. But Kendal hasn’t lived with the wretched curse, Savannah thought, and doesn’t know its power.
She nervously tapped the fingertips of one hand on her midriff as she pondered. She looked into the earnest eyes of the tall woman before her. Could she live with Kendal being a Commander? She wasn’t sure. If it wasn’t a police organization, she could. But the thought of things happening in threes terrified her. And what about those other jobs she’d mentioned? She thought most of those were police jobs. She knew she couldn’t handle those.
“You’d really change if I absolutely couldn’t stand it?” the blonde questioned. “You’d do something totally different?”
“Yes,” Kendal replied. “I’ve done a lot of thinking about the future. I’ve been miserable without you in my life. You are my deciding factor. If it comes to it, I do have a BA from the University of Washington. It should be good for something. I’ve always wondered what it might be like to teach at a University. So that’s a thought. Or working in the Fish and Wildlife Service. I think I’d like that. There’s lots of possibilities. A career doesn’t have to go in a straight line, you know. Course I’ve also graduated from the FBI National Academy. Heck, I’d take a job waiting tables if that’s what it takes. I want my life to be with you. My career is secondary.
“Are you sure, Kendal? Would you hate me for making you change?
“I would never hate you. I want my life to be spent with you. Like I said, I find lots of things interesting. I’m sure we could find something for me to do.”
“But this is the time to make absolutely certain. You don’t feel like you have to stay in law enforcement?”
“No,....I don’t. There’s lots of other things out there. But I thought this was a problem with police departments, not law enforcement in general.”
“Yes, that’s right. That’s what I meant.” Savannah tapped her fingers nervously on her midriff. Her heart raced. They could have a future after all. Kendal was willing to do this. She felt her lip quiver. She loved Kendal so very much, more than she ever imagined it was possible to love someone. And she’d been so miserable. Now, here this wonderful tall woman was saying she’d give up nearly everything for Savannah’s happiness. The small blonde thought her heart might burst.
“Can you ever forgive me for the horrible things I said to you?” Savannah looked down, “and the way I treated you? I’m so very, very sorry. I love you so much. I...I thought it would crush me when I saw how I’d hurt you. But I didn’t know what else to do.”
Kendal reached out and stroked Savannah’s cheek. “I know you thought my being with you would sentence me to death. And you suffered as much as I did from it. Certainly I forgive you for trying to do what you thought would keep me safe. But we always need to talk things out, honey. We can’t keep things back from each other like that. Even if we think its better for the other person.”
“Yes, I see that now.” Savannah shyly looked up at the tall beauty, obviously recalcitrant. “Are you sure about your career...that you’d be willing to change? You’ve worked so hard to get where you are...”
“I love you, Savannah,” Kendal said. “I’ve been so miserable without you. My career hasn’t really helped with any of that. My dreams are with you--with us. I’d give up anything to be able to put our lives together as one, to have a future together that’s alive with our love.”
Savannah threw her arms around Kendal’s neck and pulled her down. She stood on her tiptoes, “My darling wonderful Kendal,” tears of happiness filled her eyes, “you absolutely, positively are The One, you know.” Her lips touched Kendal’s. It started softly but quickly became much more intense, giving freedom to all kinds of feelings and desires they had each stored a’plenty. Their hands roamed the other’s body as the steam in their kiss increased.
Breaking for air, but staying in each other’s arms, there was silence except for the ticking clock on Savannah’s desk as they both considered the ramifications of their new direction. They both glanced at the clock and the cute little dancing mice on top, the only reminder Savannah had left of the things Kendal had sent her.
“You kept it,” Kendal noted, remembering what Phyllis Ann had told her.
“Yes. I recovered it the minute you left,” Savannah blushed. “My biological clock from the woman I love. I decided right then that I wouldn’t have children since I couldn’t raise them with you. But I couldn’t throw your clock out. It was all I had left of you.” She smiled at the now bittersweet memory, then added, “I’m not all that old, though, you know.” For the first time she chuckled.
Kendal laughed. “Thirty-three, nearly thirty-four.” She raised a brow, “It takes a while to work out the “sire’ part in our situation, honey.” She stroked some hair from Savannah’s forehead, “I assume we’ll be talking children for the future now, though.”
Delighted, Savannah leaned back to look into Kendal’s large brown eyes, “Do you want children? Or are you just trying to please me?”
“No, I want them. And if that pleases you, it’s all that much better.”
A sharp knock at the door and it opened almost immediately thereafter. “Have a good weekend, Savan.....” Nelson Ellons, head man at the DA’s office, stood stunned.
Savannah pulled away from Kendal and looked down. Kendal’s arms dropped to her sides.
“You all right?” Nelson asked. His eyes went from Savannah’s clearly upset face to the sober look of the tall brunette. What had they been doing?
“I’m fine, Nelson. Thanks,” Savannah replied. “Have a good weekend yourself.”
“Uh, yes, uh, all right. You sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine,” she stood without touching the tall woman.
“All right. Give “em hell on the Quilabus case. Guess you’ll be in court on Monday then.”
“Yes. Good night.”
He nodded. The door was shut quietly.
Kendal sighed. “I guess we both have to be kind of careful about that. We are at your job site. It’s not the place for personal, uh, business.” The tall brunette buttoned her jacket up as high as possible, hiding much of the mascara smudges on her white blouse.
“Yes,” Savannah reached up and stroked the tall brunette’s face. “Let’s go home to my place. We need to talk and, uh,” her voice grew huskier, “...get to know each other better.” She quirked a grin that set Kendal’s heart racing. “Getting to know each other better’ sounded real good to Kendal. “Can you stay, honey?” the blonde asked, “Please say “yes’.”
“For the weekend,” Kendal smiled lovingly, “You know we can make anything work if we try hard enough, Savannah, and if we work together. If you agree that I’m the one for you, we do need to plan. Cause I know you’re the one for me.”
“Then plan it is, my love,” Savannah sighed, this time happily, “Cause as far as I’m concerned, you’re it.” Savannah moved a stack of papers on her desk toward herself. They would need to do a great deal of talking about this, but she could see now that they had a future. She flicked a glance at the tall beauty. How had it happened that suddenly she felt most anything was possible if she just had Kendal in her life?
“Uh, how do you feel about living in Edgeway?” Kendal asked tentatively as the blonde hastily stuffed some papers in her briefcase. “Or even Seattle? I think you’d love the Northwest and I asked around. They always have need of a good DA there. Or it could be a good place to start a family.”
“You asked around? Sure of yourself, were you?” Savannah raised a brow and grinned then became very serious when Kendal’s face fell. Kendal did know how to draw her into this compromising business. The small blonde stopped, grabbed Kendal’s larger hand and kissed it gently, “I think Edgeway sounds like a fine place to live. How do you feel about holidays in the South?”
“I think that sounds like a great idea,” Kendal replied, “I’d like bringing our family here to visit your Mother and sister’s family anytime we can.” Savannah felt a small thrill at the ease with which they both assumed their future would be together forever.
Kendal helped Savannah on with her coat. The blonde quickly whipped out a mirror and wiped at her make-up, doing a quick cleanup. She got most of the mascara, but her red-rimmed eyes remained. Oh, well, nothing she could do about that.
“I’m starving,” Kendal whispered in her ear.
“Well, then, I’d better feed you when we get home,” Savannah said. “I’m an excellent cook, I’ll have you know.”
“You need to eat, too,” Kendal suggested, noticing again the weight the small blonde had lost.
“Yes, I’m famished.” Savannah gave the room a speedy once-over before they both headed to her office door. Kendal held the door for the blonde and followed her into the outer office.
A number of the other attorneys, secretaries, and paralegals glanced their way, then her friends that knew of the blonde’s lifestyle broke into smiles at seeing the two of them leaving together. Savannah waved briefly and started for the main office entrance. Kendal trailed, smiling wanly at the watching eyes and nodding with a wink to Phyliss Ann.
Suddenly Savannah turned back, “Are you sure this is what you want, Kendal? Are you sure you don’t mind making such drastic changes?”
“It’s what I want. A life with you.”
“Well darlin’,” Savannah warned with a twinkle in her eye, “Perhaps you’d better meet Mother first thing then.” She turned and they continued on toward the door and the guard beyond.
“Yes. She might decide we’d need to bring her and her menagerie of pets to Edgeway to live with us, you know.”
“Oh, uh, well, I guess we could do that, uh, maybe,” Kendal said hesitantly. She opened the office door and Savannah headed out toward the elevators.
“I think not,” Savannah said under her breath. Than she added aloud, “I think it would be fair to tell both of our mothers that we’ll be happy to bring the family to visit every time we can. But what isn’t fair is trying to choose one parent above the other to live with us. To be fair, we’ll choose neither.”
“That works,” Kendal grinned as she stepped out into the hall by the guard, following Savannah. “I’ll tell Mom that.” The door closed softly behind them.
“Who was that with our little Savannah?” the newest attorney asked as his eyes followed the two women out. “My, my, my, that tall girl’s a real looker!”
“That?” Savannah’s good friend Phyliss Ann smiled. She glanced at the other workers before saying in a private tone, “That, my friend, is The One. They met in Edgeway.”
“The one what?” the young man asked.
She looked at him with disbelief over the rim of her glasses. “You’ve heard Savannah talk about it a million times, Daryl. That is...” she fluttered her hands, “The One.”
His eyes moved back to the door. “Oh, my God,” he exclaimed softly, “that’s The One? Wow! Maybe I’ll have Savannah shop for me.”
“Yeah,” her friend mumbled, “Me, too.”
On to the sequel Third Time's the Charm
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